Catamaran cruising

Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie
23 October 2019 | Kilada
12 October 2019 | Kiladha
06 October 2019 | Astros
29 September 2019 | Kiladha
29 September 2019 | Porto Heli/Spetsai
21 September 2019 | Monemvasia
11 September 2019 | Astros
11 September 2019 | Tiros
11 September 2019 | Plaka
11 September 2019 | Porto Heli
06 September 2019 | Ermioni
06 September 2019 | Vathy
21 July 2019 | Aigina
21 July 2019
11 July 2019 | Poros
11 July 2019 | Finikas

Lift out and close down

23 October 2019 | Kilada
The last few days afloat were successful. The sun shone for most of the time and we got the mainsail off the boom and made a rather better job of folding it on the side-deck than we had previously managed. This time we pushed the fabric onto the port side of the bimini/coachroof as we undid the loops and batterns that normally support the sail and then, once the sail was free, gradually pulled it over the boom to the starboard side-deck where it was folded. The problem is that the drop from the bimini to the side-deck is about 2m and the sail has always fallen down on our heads before as we were trying to fold it. This time we added additional temporary ties at various points to control the amount of sail that was falling and it resulted in a better folding process. Another learning curve!
Chris also managed to replace the pulley on the d/c side of the water-maker and it seemed prepared to work after the surgery, producing a stable run for 45 minutes without the pressure drops we were finding before.

We made a short dinghy trip to the other side of the bay at Kilada on one of our last days aboard. There's a large cave there where archeologists have found remains of human habitation from as long ago as 40,000 years BC. They think habitation there continued until around 3,000 years BC when the seawater had risen too close to the cave to allow grazing and agriculture. Parts of the cave roof have now collapsed but you can get an impression of the scale of the original space. Particularly when you read that to reach the level of habitation of 40,000BC they had to dig down 11 metres!

The interior of the cave

We were actually ready to lift when the time came around and Splice was eased out of the water at Basimakopoulos Yard with a large travel lift. This has been the normal process at other yards but here they don't transport the boat on the travel lift but put you down and then run a smaller powered trailer under the boat and support her underneath for the move to the hard berth.

Splice lifts from the water in the travel lift

They were very careful and took quite a while to make sure Splice was supported on the stronger parts of the hull before moving her. Whilst this process takes longer than using the travel lift it means the boats can be placed much closer together (no large machinery outside the hull sides) and presumably enables better use of the yard space. It would be interesting to see the cost benefit of the two methods.

The trailer in position. Note the supports under the central section and the blocks supporting the two hulls on steel poles

Splice moving on the trailer

The yard guys were both professional and helpful and we were very happy with the process and our 'winter berth' on the hard right next to the owners house, some very vociferous dogs and with the facilities a short walk away.

Over the course of two days remaining to us we did manage to get all the trades we needed to come and talk to us and sorted out the remaining winter closedown jobs that can only be done at the last minute. We usually only have the canvas/plastic surround for the cockpit up over the winter so inevitably we found a very last minute issue when one of the main zips wouldn't stay closed. This happened just as we were supposed to be meeting the rental company to pick up the car and resulted in a frantic 30 minutes of trying to get the teeth of the zip to engage. It wouldn't, we even tried to sew it up to strengthen the bond. That failed as well. Then Chris remembered a conversation with a previous sailmaker who had recovered a useless zip by replacing the plastic 'pull' with a metal pull. We removed the plastic item and used the metal 'pull' from the sail-bag.......success. The internal structure of the plastic pull clearly degrades over time and is unable to compress the teeth sufficiently to engage well. We just made the rendezvous with the car hire company!

Splice in her 'winter berth'

With finally Splice all ready for the winter and the car delivered we managed a rather late last night meal at taverna 'To Mouragio'. There was another sailing couple at the next table and we had a good chat to Mike and Denise of S/Y Heather who are based in the same yard.

The yard is getting quieter at this time of the year as many boats are tucked up for the winter months and crews return to their home countries. Our journey home was fine if rather long with a 3 hour drive to Athens Airport, wait two hours, a three hour flight to Gatwick and around 3 hours of waiting and train travel to get home.

The blog will take a rest now until next May. We plan to get out to Greece during April and had already booked our launch date on 30th April 2020.

Thanks for taking the time to read the blog this year and hope your'll find some interesting stuff in our travels during 2020.

Main Photo: Don't leave your boat unattended at anchor for too long..........someone will find a use for her!

End of Season Duties

12 October 2019 | Kiladha
After Astros we paid a short 24 hour visit to Porto Heli and its A&B supermarket to ensure we had the supplies for the remaining week of our time in Greece. Kiladha is small and has only basic shops. With no wind the following morning our last passage of the year was under motor around the headland to the north. Kiladha is only about 6 miles as the crow flies but by sea it is more like 10 miles as you skirt the coastline. We arrived with a week to go before our lift date and with plenty of time to do the key jobs and maybe some of the 'we really ought to' ones as well.

The bay and the small town are fairly quiet at this time of year. The yard only lift boats in the morning, so a pattern emerges as you hang at anchor and watch. Each afternoon a few yachts enter the bay and anchor. Most then launch their dinghies and motor over to the yard to have a look at the hoist and facitilies, we did the same when we arrived. The next morning some 4 or 5 of the 6-10 yachts in the bay are called on VHF and take their turn to motor down the short channel through the shallows to the hoist and then disappear off into the forest of masts on the yards hard standing. There they will rest for the winter season. Then the 'afternoon entries' take their place and the cycle repeats.

Quite a few people only arrive the evening before their lift, others like us hang in the bay for a few days getting ready. It's better for us to prepare in the water as we can't use our fridges on land (and you cant use the toilets either) so spending a week living on the hard is less pleasant than being at anchor.

We dinghied ashore to find dinner the other evening and were greeted on the quay by Cherie and Gerhard of S/Y Pepino. We had noticed an Amel in the bay but it was on a buoy a long way from us so we hadn't recognised them. We spent a pleasant hour catching up over a beer before eating at Mouragio where the meal was very good. One of our tests of a better quality place has become that there is an option other than chips! Here we were offered mashed potato with our pork tenderloin in orange and honey sauce. The house salad as a starter and the main were very tasty. A bit sad though to be getting excited about mashed potato!

In the time we have been here the genoa has come off and been folded and a number of other small jobs have been sorted, eg soaking and drying the lines to get the salt out - in between showers! We have had quite a bit of rain and this has held us up as it's not a good idea to take a soggy mainsail off, both as it's hard to handle and also it will mould and rot over the winter if left damp.

Kiladha bay, the white travel-lift that will hoist Splice out is behind the yacht in the foreground

We hoped to get the local trades people to come out and give us quotes for work we need, but so far only one out of the three has been willing to hop in the dinghy, the others prefer to say 'wait until you are lifted' despite us explaining there are only a couple of days before we leave for the UK. The local sail-maker consented to come out. Looking at the mainsail on the boom makes it much easier to design a new 'lazy-bag' for the sail than just photos. We spent an hour with 'Jutta' talking through the options, let's hope the quote is reasonable as our current bag is past its expiry date!

Whilst ashore, we have managed to locate the baker, the butcher, a very mini market and a fruit and vegetable shop. We also stopped off at the post office to re-confirm with Mrs Matoula or rather her husband (she doesn't speak English) our reservation for an apartment when we return next April before Splice goes back in the water. We plan to do a couple of weeks work on Splice before we launch her.......always jobs to do!

The sun is due to be out for the next three days which should allow us to get the main off and maybe handle the other big job which is to change the pulley on the DC side of the water-maker.....Chris has been avoiding doing this as the AC side still works at present...but it might not if he starts taking it all apart! When we only have a couple of days to go in the water (and full water tanks) will be the time to try that task.
Main photo: a rainbow over the town of Porto Heli

Astros (again)

06 October 2019 | Astros
We had enjoyed the town of Astros on our first visit and as we wanted a place to sit for a week whilst doing repairs and close down stuff, we headed back across the gulf. Again there was little wind so the motors did most of the work. On our previous visit we had secured side to the western quay as you enter the harbour (most yachts are moored stern to the opposite side). This has the advantages of a much shorter walk into the town, two power and water points between two boats, as opposed to one between about 12 boats and the security of 'side to' where others rely on their anchors. It costs 25% more per night but as a night with power and water is around 11 Euros it's not a huge stretch. We were lucky and the space was free, so we were set.

The following day was Chris's birthday and he opened his cards from home and presents over breakfast - many thanks to all whose planning was advanced enough to make that happen.
After this we gave ourselves the day off, dragged the bikes out of the 'port forward' cabin and set off to find the local nature reserve. Even with the Navmii map on the phone it was a bit confusing, so we had a chat to a local lady bringing two young girls home. Her English was good and she seemed pleased to practice, but one of the girls sounded like a native speaker, though with an American accent. We were going the right way but the next junction proved to be onto a major road with many trucks and cars, so we abandoned the nature reserve and turned off onto a very quiet local road.

AStros beach looking towards the harbour and the town on the hill

This was much more pleasant and we drifted down towards the beach through olive groves and tiny hamlets. The beach stretches for a few miles, gravel and stones rather than sand but nice enough and very quiet at this time of year. Following the coast brought us back to Astros and we stopped for coffee and croissant at a very nice cafe on the outskirts. It was a very pleasant way to get some exercise and see something of the area.

Birthday coffee time!

That evening we selected a taverna on the other side of the harbour and had a good meal of a grilled local fish they called 'Dentex'. It tasted much better than the name suggests! At the next table were a Swiss couple who looked like sailors and Carolyn got chatting to Anne and George from S/Y Cupidon. After a while we joined them at their table and more wine was added to the bill! We invited them aboard Splice the next evening for drinks and a few hours and bottles passed talking about nautical, cultural and political issues (mostly in French but somehow Chris finds this easier after a drink or two!)

Chris with his Birthday 'Dentex' fish

Our focus however was to make a start on the list of jobs and much of our time was spent on this. Over the course of the 8 days our main achievements were :
- Removed and re-fitted the starboard forward leaky window. This involves removing the internal decorative strip, removing multiple screws and then gradually prising the window from the frame of the boat where it has been stuck for 12 years. As you can't twist it for fear of breaking the glass or get any tool down three sides of the frame due to the shape of the structure it takes a while.... but we succeeded in the end. Then we had to clean up the old sealant on both surfaces, apply the new non hardening mastic strip (which will stay flexible) and then re-position the window back in and tighten up the screws. Sounds simple but as we hadn't done this before it took all day! The most difficult bit being that the structure inside the boat does not allow a normal screwdriver to access the bottom of the window, we have an 'L' shaped screwdriver but undoing 10 screws and then redoing them when you can only apply limited pressure was very frustrating. Our other learning curve was that we should have spent time presenting the window back to the frame without mastic to decide the best position. Of course the 'hole' is not exactly the same shape as the frame so you need to know where to position the frame before applying the mastic.......we did waste some. It has rained since and we have hose checked it so hopefully it will stay dry. We will be better at this next time......as we have another leak to sort out!

Cleaning the old mastic off the window

- Cleaned out the secondary fuel filter cases and replaced the primary and secondary filters. All engines have a main/primary fuel filter to stop muck and water from poor fuel getting into the engine. We have an additional filter on each engine and the generator with a plastic bowl at the bottom that lets you see water or particles in the fuel and drain them off through a tap. Over time this bowl gets grimy and some gunk sticks to its sides so it needs cleaning. To do this you need to close off the fuel and drain this part of the system before using a 'baby's bottle' style brush to clean out the bowls. Then the main filters need changing (messy job as its impossible not to spill some fuel) and the filters and fuel lines primed with fuel before checking everything will still start and run normally.......another day gone by the time its all cleaned up.

Amongst other smaller jobs we also:

- Fitted 'rub-rails' to our bows where the anchor bridle runs as there weren't any before
- Rubbed down, sealed and painted a few rusty areas in the engine rooms
- One quiet morning we unfurled both our gennaker and genoa sails and hosed them down to remove salt crystals and then dried them in the sun until the wind got up. We had to unfurl them again the next day for a few hours to ensure they were fully dry. Unfortunately the weather didn't give us the chance to do the same for the mainsail.

Our foresails hung out to dry

- Once dry we removed the larger forward sail, our gennaker, ready for the end of season as quite a bit or rain is forecast and handling big soggy sails is no fun
- Spent time washing out and treating our 'black water tanks' which were getting unpleasant

Our social activities is Astros were mostly in French as we had first one and then another boat from Brittany moor behind us. We chatted a lot to Bernard and Cathy who sail a Westerly called 'Glen Feeling' and spent an interesting evening on board with them consuming Cathy's delicious nibbles (and some alcohol!) Chris was very jealous as they had completed the 'Rallye des Iles du Soleil' which crosses the Atlantic and cruises Brazil and the Amazon River. This was his preferred option for an Atlantic crossing but it ceased around four years ago when the Brazilian Goverment changed the visa rules and it was no longer possible. (We think there is still a version running but it doesn't visit the Amazon)
We managed a few walks locally and sat out some strong winds in relative comfort as some of the boats on the other quay struggled to get their anchors to hold. We enjoyed a lovely swim from the beach on the other side of our quay in very clear water. We tried a couple of other tavernas, but our most interesting meal off the boat was in a cheap 'Gyros' place patronised only by the locals. Our very tasty chicken wrapped in a pitta with tomatoes, chips and Tzatziki sauce, together with 500ml of (rather poor) wine cost the huge sum of 8 Euros! It was fun, they were friendly and the food was good.

We like Astros, its relaxed, sensibly priced, and the people are pleasant. We may well come here again if we need preparation time next year. Mind you we would always want to be on the west quay, not on the main yacht quay.

Main Photo: Astros harbour looking towards the entrance. Splice to the centre right of the shot


29 September 2019 | Kiladha
We motored again for the short trip round to Kiladha. The forecast had another storm in the afternoon and we preferred to get the hook down before that arrived. Luckily it turned out to be mild compared to the previous deluge.

Both these instances demonstrated that we have a leak in the saloon windows. We knew there was one point where water was getting in but during these downpours we found another window leaking. We have one kit to re-bed the frame but not two.......which one shall we do and how do we seal the other for the winter?

Kiladha is where Splice will be lifted for the winter and we spent a couple of days on the hook here getting to know the town and introducing ourselves at the boatyard. It always helps to show your face and we also got their list of approved tradespeople, given the normal long list of things to fix that will come in handy.

Kiladha has a large anchorage, mostly shallow around 3-4 metres deep

We spent a pleasant evening with Colin and Nicole of 'Loch Fyne Lass', friends of Feisty who had told us to say hello, chatting for so long that we cancelled the idea of eating ashore and whipped up a quick pasta dish for dinner. In the end we didn't eat ashore in Kiladha, a treat for the next time when we return for the lift out in a couple of weeks.

We only stayed two nights in the bay this time as we had to pop back to Porto Heli where we duly collected our new fenders. Now the First Mate is worrying about us scratching their shiny new plastic! (they are sacrificial inflated buoys to protect the gel-coat of the boat so they will inevitably take punishment)

Kiladha anchorage looking towards the yard where Splice will spend the winter

Porto Heli and Spetsai

29 September 2019 | Porto Heli/Spetsai
We needed to get back into the north of the Gulf of Argolikos as the forecast showed more strong winds pushing down through the Cyclades and extending into the southern areas of the Gulf. Further north we would be protected from the worst of this with winds only in the 20 knots range rather than the 35 knots which would soon hit Monemvasia and the surrounding coast. Ironically the wind on the morning we left Ierikas was almost non-existant with the NE breeze struggling to make 2 knots. We had to motor the five hours back up to Porto Heli until the last hour or so when the wind gods turned the fan up a bit from the SE.

We established ourselves in much the same area of the anchorage that we had used before and we were comfortable when the somewhat stronger stuff came through over the next few days, it never reached strengths that concerned us.

We spent some of the time doing small boat jobs, for example, previously Chris had removed the old useless solar panels on our coach-roof and filled the screw holes with epoxy filler to prevent water entering. The filler then had to be smoothed off and then painted with gel-coat paint to return the deck to a reasonable finish. You can see the difference in colour between the old and new gel-coat if you look closely but you don't notice it normally, particularly on a non slip textured surface. Boatyards charge a lot for gel-coat paint matching skills!

We met up with 'Feisty' again whom we last saw in Paros when they were victims of the 'Idiot Captain' and his large motorboat. Mel and Jackie have a new anchor and rode but are still awaiting the chance to repair the damage to stantions and rub-rails on the boat. Along with other sailors, Ian and Anthea from 'Australie', Cherie and Gerhard of 'Pepino' and Andrew and Charlotte of 'Ruffin'It' we spent a few morning coffee sessions and a few evening aperitif hours whiling away the time with boat talk, politics and family chat.
Pepino is a French built 'Amel' monohull, a make Chris admires so he was pleased to get an invite for a tour of the boat...time spent inspecting engine rooms, anchor lockers and boat systems as well as the general layout of the yacht. 'Splice' is suspicious that her Captain may have wandering eyes but is confident that the First Mate will not move to the monohull side!

A couple of our fenders have seen better days and were slowly deflating despite attempts to mend the valves, so when we saw a suitable replacement in the chandlers here and he gave us a discount we ordered two to replace them. It means we will have to return to Porto Heli after our trip to Kiladha and before heading to Astros but Splice's side will be better protected.

We also had an incredible downpour during a storm one afternoon. It's apparently been four months since they had any rain here so it was needed but it certainly made up for the missing months. We couldn't see anything out of our windows for over 10 minutes and it was still bucketing down 20 minutes later. We can only remember one similar rainstorm on a boat which was in Croatia on a charter, we were under way at that time and Chris had to wear swimming goggles at the helm to protect his eyes!

Spetsai is the town on the island just across the channel from Porto Heli. We had been warned that the 'mooring antics' there were a bit extreme so decided to take the ferry for the 10 minute trip across the water and leave Splice safely anchored in Porto Heli bay. We arrived at around 14.00 hrs and had a return ticket for 18.30. Initially we walked north away from the ferry quay but there was little at that end of the town. We retraced our steps and explored the old town to the south of the area. It's attractive and you could spend a lot of time there if you wanted to by expensive clothes or jewelry.....we didn't and continued on to stroll around the quayside of the old harbour.

The outer harbour at Spetsai before the rush. The ramps are traditionally used to bring boats out on wooden sledges

The inner part of this is full of local fishing boats, very full, moored two out all around. This leaves the outer area for visiting yachts and as the quay is very high they have to moor back to mooring buoys or the high walls themselves. That's where the fun begins as charter boats squabble for the limited number of places. We watched some of the process as the knitting of lines and the propellers tangling in mooring buoys accompanied the boats getting settled. You are too high up to help so all we could do was watch.

Spetsai Harbour
We took a walk around the headland which is pleasant and gives a good view out over the gulf, we had an ice cream and later a drink whilst we waited for the ferry back.

We did find some interesting sculptures on our walk!

Our overall impression was....even four hours was too long there. We didn't really like Spetsai, far to commercialized and not a welcoming harbour, not even a well protected one at that. We are glad we didn't take Splice there.

Main Photo: A Porto Heli coffee morning

Ierakas/Gerakas/Zarax - Same Place, Different Spellings

21 September 2019 | Ierakas
Around the first headland to the north of Monemvasia there is a small inlet that looks as if it just goes into the cliffs. When you enter and turn the 'dog-leg' to starboard the village of Ierakas appears in a channel that then opens out into a shallow lagoon. We decided to look in as we were passing and found a delightful setting with a space 'side to' on the old ferry quay. The weather still gave us time to stop so we tied up in what was a very peaceful backwater.

The road ends at the harbour and occasional cars would drive down, stop a while to walk or swim off the 'concrete beach' prepared there, a few holiday makers staying locally came to swim but otherwise only a few other boats came in and it was a great location to relax. We walked along the village and part of the lagoon that afternoon, went snorkeling around the rocks and then enjoyed a 'fish supper' at Taverna Remetzo and were offered a rather unusual homemade wine based liquor with cinnamon which doesn't have a name!

Looking towards the lagoon from the hill above the village

The waiter was keen that we climbed the hill behind the village to the ancient Acropolis and gave us a pamphlet about it, so the next morning's excursion was set. Another climb but again worth the effort, it only takes 20 minutes and the scale of the stonework is surprising and great views from the top. Constructed of the rocks that literally cover the landscape here the fortifications are extensive and clearly designed defensively to spot incoming threats from the sea.

Ruins in the Acropolis at Ierakas

The site was constructed during the Hellenic era around the third century BC and was at times fought over and controlled by the Spartans and other Greek kingdoms and later by the Romans and Byzantines. It's all a far cry from the sleepy village it is today but a very interesting place to visit whilst you relax in the current more peaceful surroundings!

Main photo: the quay at Ierakas
Vessel Name: Splice
Vessel Make/Model: Broadblue 435 Catamaran
Crew: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie
We have been married for over 25 years and have two grown up sons. Carolyn has dual English/French nationality and speaks French well. [...]
Extra: Contact us at splice435(the at sign)gmail.com
Splice's Photos - Bayona

Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie