Category Archives: Sailing Adventures

Day 5 – To The Pitons, St. Lucia

Sheven on the trampoline - the Pitons in the background
Sheven on the trampoline – the Pitons in the background

A minor kerfuffle in paradise: we got Sheven at the airport last night. Kelley dingyed me to the Coal Pot dock, where I met Winston, our scalawag taxi driver. He had ripped us off earlier, but we came back for more. I rode with him to the airport (about 1 mile), grabbed Sheven, then he dropped us back at the dock. We had previously agreed to $20, and (of course) when he dropped us off he said he meant $20 per person. I gave him $40 because I didn’t feel like bickering. Then he said that a tip would be nice. I put on my most menacing face and got very close to his face and said “Look, Winston, you ripped us off earlier today, you just ripped us off again. Now you want a tip. Things will work out a lot better for you if you are honest and people will know you are an operator they can trust. Instead, I’m going to put this on the internet and warn anyone going to Castries – avoid a taxi driver named Winston.”

I wasn’t really that upset, but he clammed up and bolted. I think the psycho persona can come in handy sometimes.

We awoke to the loudspeakers from two big cruise ships that had pulled in near us in the early morning. The captain was giving everyone instructions for disembarking. This is the same place that Susan and I had visited on a cruise ship several years ago. I never thought I’d go on a cruise ship, but we had a blast.

Big cruise ship at Castries
Big cruise ship at Castries. Photo by Sheven

We sailed south along the coast. Perfect sailing conditions.

Mark at Helm, big blue sky. Photo by Sheven
Mark at Helm, big blue sky. Photo by Sheven

We tucked into a small bay called Anse Cochon. This is the same bay we had visited with our friends Daniel and June while on the cruise. I remember watching a Cat come anchor in the bay and telling Susan that I would really like to come back in a Cat. And here we are.

Back to A bay - where we had visited previously with Daniel and June
Back to Anse Cochon Bay – where we had visited on a previous trip with Daniel and June. Photo by Sheven

We got a mooring ball and did some snorkeling on the south side of the bay. Good exercise but the water was quite cloudy due to the surge that was rolling into the bay. We then sailed further south and into Soufriere Bay. Grabbed a mooring ball near the bat caves with an incredible view of the Pitons, two primeval looking peaks that rise 2400 and 2600 FT out of the water.

View of the Pitons from our mooring
View of the Pitons from our mooring. Photo by Sheven

All day, we’ve been harassed by boat boys, aka boat vendors. We first politely tell them that we don’t need anything, but thank you anyway. Sometimes we give them a beer for good measure.

 

Some of them are quite aggressive and keep following us and shouting things at us. I then put on my menacing psycho persona and tell them “Leave us, NOW.” That usually works. I know they are just trying to make a living, but the really aggressive ones are quite irritating.

Kelley, Loren, and Sheven go snorkeling near the boat and get stung by jellyfish. I’d like to find out why they are here, but we haven’t encountered them anywhere else.

Incredible sunset at our anchorage
Incredible sunset at our mooring near the Pitons. Photo by Sheven

I finally figure out how to set the anchor alarm on the chart plotter – an extra bit of comfort/security as we sleep.

This is such a pretty place, we might head over to another mooring ball that is between the two Pitons tomorrow. We don’t need to be in St. Vincent until Sunday to pick up dad, so there is no pressure to be burning the miles.

No access to internet again, so this is going up via Sat phone.

Day 4 – Castries, St. Lucia

Ginger patiently waits for us to return from a lunch on shore.
Ginger patiently waits for us to return from a lunch on shore.

Leisurely awakening. Got things ready for departure.

There is an awesome  cat (I think maybe an Atlantic) who anchored right next to us last night. The captain was out on deck wearing a tiny speedo. This morning, we just about spewed our coffee when the captain of that boat (about 60ish and a heavy build) appeared on deck totally nude with a hose and brush and proceeded to swab the decks in the buff with his various bits exposed to the sun, wind, and us. Kelley says at least his bits won’t get burnt because his belly provided shade.

We hauled anchor and headed out and the captain of the Atlantic stood in the cockpit, waving goodbye.

We have a nice broad reach and downwind run to Castries, then we hook around to the east to enter the harbor. For some reason, we find the sails of Ginger are difficult to drop. A large person has to go on deck and yank the main sail down. We think it’s because she’s so new, things haven’t quite loosened up yet.

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I was reading today that St. Lucia changed hands between the British and the French 14 times before becoming firmly British around 1812. It also said during the French revolution, French republicans in Castries rounded up French nobility on the island and guillotined them on a street downtown. There is a certain finality to guillotines. Unlike guns, knives, beatings, etc. where you might wonder if the recipient is still alive, when the head is in a different location than the body, there is little doubt.

Castries has a very narrow harbor, and there is a big cruise ship in the harbor. The end of the airport is right on the water/harbor and when cruise ships enter or depart, they have to stop air traffic or there would be a ship/aircraft mishap. In 1942, during WW II, amazingly, a German U-boat entered the harbor and torpedoed two British ships. It’s hard for me to imagine a submarine being able to get into this small harbor. Must be quite a story there.

We dingy over to the Coal Pot, a somewhat famous restaurant in Vigne Creek, where we are anchored. Excellent fresh fish with exotic sauces at a waterfront table overlooking our boat.

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The picture on top of this page is from our table, looking at Ginger.

Coal Pot restaurant. Photo by Sheven
Coal Pot restaurant. Photo by Sheven

Susan, Loren, and Kelly take a taxi to get provisions. It went pretty well except the when they return to the Coal Pot dock the driver wants $80 US for the trip. A rip-off, but our lesson is to pre-negotiate the rates.

Sheven arrives tonight at around 11:30pm. I think I’ll dingy over to the Coal Pot, then take a taxi to the airport to retrieve her. Or maybe Loren and I will do paper/scissor/stones to see who goes. Tomorrow I think we’ll head for Marigot Bay or The Pitons.

Life is good.

Day 3 – Hanging at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Susan pointing to our boat.  Ginger is just off the tip of her finger.
Susan pointing to our boat. Ginger is just off the tip of her finger.

I rose with the sun and dingyed solo into the marina at Rodney Bay to clear Customs. After a little searching I found the tiny customs office on the second floor of a retail building.

It felt like I was beamed back to a 1950s office setting. I suppose it’s arrogant & rude of me to find it funny, but a couple of times I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. There were three desks crammed into the small office space, and one person sitting at each desk. I had to fill out the Customs form and there were 5 carbon copies of the document. I hadn’t seen carbon copies for years. The man at desk #1 meticulously checked, then signed and stamped each carbon copy. Then I moved to desk #2, where the lady took the green copy, checked passports, stamped them, and pointed me to desk #3. The man there took the yellow copy of the document, charged me 50 eastern caribbean dollars (about $20), then he produced another receipt form with several carbon copies. He did a bunch of stamping, tearing, stapling, etc. then I was done.  At least I didn’t need to go to separate offices for all three of these steps.  And to their credit, it was overall quite efficient.

Panoramic view from the fort
Panoramic view from the fort, Rodney Bay

We have such a nice anchorage here that we decided to stay another day. Tomorrow we’ll sail south to Castries to pick up our Sheven.

We dingyed over to the north end of Rodney Bay where there is a national park with a very old fort (1700s) on top of a hill. Hiking to the top, there was an awesome view.

Below the fort we also found a nice cafe that had Wifi, so I was able to straighten out my Satellite phone email account. There was a technical glitch, but it’s fixed now. We’re no longer dependent on finding internet to do postings and email – it’s done via the Satellite phone. It actually uses a modem and sends data at 2400 baud, which brings back memories of doing data transfers back in the 1980s. For example, to upload the photo of Susan takes about 8 minutes (!). Super slow, but to me it’s amazing that it works anywhere in the world with no dependence on phone, internet, etc.

Sat phone sending emails/blog posts. Amazing that it works anywhere in the world.  Not the speediest thing, but we are not complaining.
Sat phone sending emails/blog posts. Amazing that it works anywhere in the world. Not the speediest thing, but we are not complaining.

We checked the weather forcast, and the next 5 days are the same as usual – an excellent 15-20 knots from the east. Perfect for sailing south.

Awesome sunset, and some more jumping off the top of the boat for swims. We are running low on water and rum, two critical substances for sailing. We’ll probably do some provisioning when we get Sheven tomorrow in Castries.

Got an email from our friend Linda saying that it was -10 degrees F in Anchorage, and that Portland was expecting a storm with 6-20 inches of snow. That’s a big deal for Portland. We are all very happy to be here in the land of perfect weather.

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Day 2 – Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Kelley & Loren at the Helm, heading for St. Lucia
Kelley & Loren at the Helm, heading for St. Lucia

Awoke with the sun, and motored back to Le Marin. The salon door was stuck open, so we docked and asked Pierre to fix it while I went to customs to clear out.

Overall, we are happy with our boat Ginger. I had wanted to rent a Leopard 46 because I’ve never sailed on one, however the only place around here that had a newer model Leopard 46 is The Moorings. The Moorings cat cost almost three times more than the boat we got from Regis Guillemot. We just couldn’t rationalize paying that much more.

Ginger is a nice boat – just a few configuration things seem strange. There is no chartplotter by the helm, it’s inside at the nav desk and thus unusable while sailing. We ended up using my iPad at the helm with the Navionics app for navigation.

I cleared out at Customs, then went back to the charter company office for another embarrassing round of credit card declines. Amazingly, they let us leave with the boat again, with me promising to call the bank with our Sat phone and call the charter company on Tuesday.

Susan testing the trampoline
Susan testing the trampoline

We aimed for St. Lucia, Rodney Bay. Totally perfect sailing conditions. Wind was 15-20 knots straight from the east. This is typical of the trade winds here and as I’ve watched the weather over the last months, pretty much every day has the same conditions. Ginger averages about 8 knots with one reef in the main.

When we get between Martinique and St. Lucia we get some big rolling Atlantic swells – 10+ FT high. The repetitive rolling on the swells causes an unnamed crew member to lose their breakfast over the transom. They were good sports about it, though.

We didn’t see much boat traffic between the two islands. When we get off of St. Lucia, a couple of rain squalls dump rain on us for a few minutes. The iPad, our chartplotter, goes into a big ziplock bag to stay dry.

We anchor in Rodney Bay – we arrived too late to clear in a customs, so we stay on the boat, dining, swimming, and watching the sun set. We marvel at how fast the sun sets here – and bam! It’s dark.

We had our first visits from “Boat Boys”. I’d read about this previously – men/boys in skiffs come out to sell things. I guy came out loaded with fruit and vegetables. We bought a dozen fresh limes and half dozen tomatos, for about $6. We gave him a beer for a tip. These guys make a living servicing the yachts anchored in the bays. I’ve heard that the fresh baked bread in the morning is not to be missed.

Our first 'Boat Boy' experience was good.
Our first ‘Boat Boy’ experience was good.

We fly our yellow flag to indicate that we haven’t cleared in through Customs yet. We are not supposed to leave the boat until we are cleared, so we are boat bound. There are worse places to be trapped. More card games. Late dinner of chicken & beans, then I jump off the bimini top into the awesome warm water for a night swim. When I did this in Greece in April, the water was shockingly cold – here it is truly a perfect temperature.

Sunset at our anchorage
Sunset at our anchorage

Day 1 – Martinique

 

Ginger's Main Sail. Photo by Sheven
Ginger’s Main Sail. Photo by Sheven

We slept in a little too late, but we needed the sleep. Regis Guillemot himself came by to give a boat briefing, but he spoke no English, and we only know about 10 words of French. Very nice guy, though, and he sent another nice fellow (Pierre) by to do the briefing. I went to the office to pay the remaining balance, and (blushing) my credit card was declined. I have plenty of room on the card, so I know it was because it was coming from a foreign country. I had a feeling there would be a problem with this, so I had called the bank several days before we left and gave them a list of countries we would be visiting. I should have known there would be problems when the bank lady asked me what country St. Lucia was in. I explained that it was a country, but they were all part of the Caribbean. She then asked what country the Caribbean was in.

Anyway, I called the bank today, and they were closed because it’s Sunday and tomorrow they are closed for Martin Luther King day. Great. I got ahold of a person at the bank’s Emergency number. Explained we were on a holiday and needed to pay for the boat before we could leave. He said he would do everything he could and to try again in an hour. We did, and it still didn’t work.

As a testament to Regis Guillemot, they let us go ahead and leave, which was quite amazing to me. Letting us leave with their $1/2 million boat and a declined credit card.

Susan getting aclimated
Susan getting acclimated

We needed to clear out of customs, but with all the credit card hassles, we didn’t get there before their noon closing on Sundays. We decided to sail a short distance out, anchor overnight and return to clear out of customs in the morning.

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We sailed out of the culdesac of Le Marin and around to St. Anne Bay. On the way out, a kite boarder whizzed right off our stern. He waved and shouted “hi” – it was Pierre, our boat helper.

Dropped anchor then jumped off for a swim. The water and the weather were perfect. We could see our anchor nicely set in sand about 25 FT deep. The boat has a fresh water wash-off on the transom steps. Awesome. Played cards out on the deck (Susan creamed us all), then passed out.

Our anchorage
Our anchorage

Day 0: Le Marin, Martinique

This is the  start of our two week charter catamaran trip around the windward islands of the Caribbean.  We plan on visiting Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent, Tobago Cays, Bequia, Mayreau, Mustique, and maybe Grenada.

Everyone is a little jet lagged
Everyone is a little jet lagged

Well, we made it to Martinique. Kelley, Loren, Susan and I converged at the airport in San Juan, then did the small prop-airplane jump from Puerto Rico to Martinique. Regis Guillemot(our charter company) had a taxi pick us up in Fort De France, drive us to Le Marin (about 40 minutes), and drop us right at our boat. The boat seems very nice, a Lagoon 400 catamaran named ‘Ginger’, only 1 month old.

We are kind of wacked out due to time zones – we are off by 5 hours to Anchorage, K&L are 4 hours off to Portland. I type this now and feeling quite awake – it’s 1AM here, 9PM in Anchorage. We’ve hardly eaten in 24 hrs, and we devour a trip care package our friend Scott Wheaton has made. Homemade bread, cheese, pickles, homemade cookies, and lots of other good stuff. Most appreciated.

The plan is to divide and conquor tomorrow. We need to check the boat out via customs, and do our provisioning for two weeks. The stores and customs are all closed by noon tomorrow (Sunday). So, I think Loren and Susan (the chefs) will go to the stores, and Kelley and I (sailors?) will hit customs and get the formalities of the boat checkout processed.

Its quite warm and a little humid here. If the wind wasn’t blowing, I’d call it “hot”.

This is a very nice concept for Susan and I. We left Anchorage and it was about 80 deg F cooler. We’ve also gotten 90 inches of snow so far this year, which is a record in Anchorage. We are very pleased to be at Martinique.

All of our people and baggage made it through the four different hops, which is great.

So far, so good!

 

Day 15: Transition to Previous Lives

Barb, Tom and Michelle are leaving fairly early, so they are first up. They grab a taxi to the airport and it takes a couple of attempts to find a taxi big enough to haul all the gear. They are taking a big box back for us, which is really nice.

Barb packed up and ready to go home
Barb packed up and ready to go home

Daniel and June leave next via taxi to a hotel (Novatel) where they are staying a couple of nights to explore Athens.

Susan, Sheven, and I hang at the boat to meet Nikos for the checkout. We get to spend an hour or so chatting with him.

Nikos (L) and Rauli (sitting) pose for a photo
Nikos (L) and Rauli (sitting) pose for a photo

He takes us into his monohull next door. It’s a Greek-made Ocean Star sloop, 56 FT long. I’ve never heard of the manufacturer, but it seems to be a very excellent high quality construction. The craftsmanship is beautiful and there is a surprising amount of room below. He explains they cost about 20-30% more than the mass-produced boats like Beneteau, but that they are very rugged, high quality boats.

We ask Nikos more about his business. He has 3 sloops like the adjacent boat and also the Catamaran we rented. Sometimes they are chartered through The Moorings and other times through his company.

We have a small list of things that didn’t work on the boat and he carefully goes through the list, making sure he understands. I’m sure he will have them fixed before the boat departs next.

The Moorings representative shows up, has me sign a couple papers, gives me back my credit card imprint for the deposit and offers to call a cab for us. He says the cab will be there at noon and he disappears. The cab never shows.

Nikos is working around the area, calls us another cab, then runs to the front of the dock, gets a cab and brings it back for us.

I’m still scratching my head and wondering what The Moorings actually did for us. At the beginning they took my credit card, and at the end they called me a cab. That’s about it. I suppose they also deserve credit for lining us up with Nikos, since presumably if he was a bad operator, they wouldn’t be doing business with him. I also suppose, though, that I could have done some more internet research and found reviews for local companies and found a good outfit myself.

I didn’t want to put Nikos in the awkward position of probing his relationship with The Moorings and asking what it was that they actually did on our charter. So I avoided any discussion of The Moorings with him.

Nikos’ last name is Zouras, his company is Zouras Yachting and his web site is www.zouras-yachting.gr

When I come back, I’ll go straight to Nikos – he’s an excellent operator.

We take the cab to the same hotel as June and Daniel and get a room. Fairly cheap (107 Euro) and it’s a nice, gleaming, modern hotel.

Sheven adapts to civilization and the comforts of shore.
Sheven adapts to civilization and the comforts of shore.

Then we go explore the Acropolis. It is swarming with tourists, but it is still worth it. An amazing place.

Parthenon
Parthenon

Day15Ruins

 

We walk down the hill from the Acropolis and explore the markets and streets below. There are a huge number of street vendors hustling for a buck and trying to sell everything you can imagine.

When you eat at a restaurant around here, you get asked to purchase something (watches, toys, sewing needle threaders, flowers, etc.) by vendors at least 20 times. It’s distracting and I’m surprised the restaurants allow them to come in.

We go back to the hotel hoping to hook up with Daniel and June but they are not there. We leave messages again, then head out to find food. A couple blocks away we find a small restaurant that appears to be full of locals and we have our last, excellent stuffing of Greek food.

In the wee hours of the morning, Sheven jets off to Portland via Zurich and we head to London on our way to Anchorage.

It’s been an awesome trip, despite the rough weather. We had an excellent group of people and the Greek Islands are a perfect place to cruise in a sailboat. I’m happy, and starting to think about the next trip.

According to our GPS tracker, we covered about 600 miles. I think I’ve also switched over and become a Cat person. I might need some counseling when I get home.

Map of our two week trip
Map of our two week trip

Day 14: Triumphant Return to Athens

Forecast (courtesy of Barb’s iPhone and poached WiFi) is for winds 20 kts from north and northeast. We get up and ready at sunrise to ensure that we have time to reach our marina on our last day of sailing.

Daniel at the Helm, returning to Athens
Daniel at the Helm, returning to Athens

Daniel took us out, then handed the helm over to Michelle. Her inner-ear/balance problem seems much better, and she points out the irony of it getting better on our last day. We have one reef in the main.

Wind is about 25 kts, straight from the north. We head up as much as possible and are able to set a course in the general direction of Athens, although we had hoped for a little more east in the wind so we could get a straight shot.

Vertical Sunbathing on the Gangway
Vertical Sunbathing on the Gangway

When we are about 15 miles off of the mainland, Tom takes the helm to give Michele a break. The wind shifts to the west for the first time on the trip and we sail straight north toward the mainland. Far off in the distance we can see Sounion Bay and the Temple of Poseidon where we had hunkered down on our second day and attempted to appease Poseidon.

When we are about 5 miles from the mainland, the wind drops to about 5 kts, and we pretty much grind to a halt. We start the motors and head in the direction of Athens.

We haven’t taken a swim in the Aegean Sea yet (except Daniel’s snorkeling at Santorini to check the saltwater intake for the motor), so we pull into a pretty little bay and drop anchor.

The game we played most days: how many layers do you have on?
The game we played most days: how many layers do you have on?
Lunch at Porno Beach
Lunch at Porno Beach

I’ve been curious about our auto-inflating life vests, so I jump off the top of the bimini into the ocean. It is compellingly cold. About 10 seconds after I hit the water, with a big hiss, the vest inflates with a lot of force. It’s so tight around my neck/head, though; it wouldn’t be very easy to swim. I suppose that’s best, since if you were knocked off the upper deck, you would likely hit a few hard things on the way to the water (dingy davit, gangway, railing, etc.) and could easily be unconscious. The rugged vest would for sure keep your head above the water.

Auto-inflating life vest test
Auto-inflating life vest test

The second part of my mission in the water is to see if I can unplug the starboard holding tank discharge fitting. Tom fashions a sewer snake out of a wire coat hanger. I got the snorkel gear from the boat in an attempt to dive under, find the through-hull fitting and auger it out. The fins are much too small so I try it without fins. I find the thru-hull, but it’s not as near the surface as I thought it was. The mask is completely worthless and I can’t keep water out of it. I get the hanger stuck into the hole, but then have problems getting far enough under the hull to apply some pressure. It’s also quite cold, so I cancel the mission, and climb out.

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Things to bring next time: our own excellent mask/fins/snorkels. It would have been quite easy to accomplish with gear that fit.

We deploy the gangway and Michelle runs off the end and into the water. She confirms that the water is cold, and it doesn’t feel much warmer after you stay in a while.

It’s a beautiful sunny day, and the kitchen crew has made a sumptuous lunch. We enjoy the scenery outside at the table (first time that the weather has allowed this) and upon a closer examination of the shoreline, we see that there is a nude and well-oiled couple engaged in adult activities on the shore directly next to us. Then another guy walks up the beach and takes off his clothes and covertly starts watching the other couple. Ah, finally the nude undulating beaches we have read about! Feeling a little ashamed of ourselves for watching the wildlife so closely (some with binoculars), we haul anchor and continue toward Athens.

Tom has the helm for our final run back to Athens.

day14TomHelm

It’s stunningly sunny and beautiful. There appear to be several sailing races going on as we head to our boat’s marina. We pass the racers and wave hello to some beautiful big monohulls with crews of about 8 hanging off the windward rail.

Racing boat in bay outside Athens. Photo by Sheven
Racing boat in bay outside Athens. Photo by Sheven
Final sunny ride back to Athens. Drying clothes.
Final sunny ride back to Athens. Drying clothes.
Susan Basking
Susan Basking

We motor into the marina, I take the helm, and we consider calling Nikos (the boat owner) since he said if we call, he would help us get the boat back into its spot. We decide to give it a try ourselves, since we’re also not sure if we can get a phone to work.

The marina is extremely packed, just as it was when we left. As we approach our spot, Nikos runs out the adjacent boat’s bow and motions us in. It’s good to see him. It sure doesn’t look like we can fit back in the space; but nonetheless, I spin the boat around and back it toward the space. Our nimble crew and Nikos grab adjacent boats and fenders and squeeze us in. We can’t quite make it because a couple of the fenders are too big (they were actually pretty small), so they are swapped out for smaller fenders, then Nikos moves his adjacent boat forward and out of its slip a few feet allowing us to squeak into place. It’s amazingly tight, with literally about 4″ between boats and fenders squeezed in the 4 inches.

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As soon as we are stopped, Nikos starts shouting, obviously excited, and smiling “captain, oh captain, you are a beautiful captain!”. I’m thinking it’s because we just backed a 25 ft wide boat into a space that is only 24 ft wide. Turns out he has been watching the weather the last two weeks, and as he puts it “sevens, then eights, then sevens, then eights!” (on the Beaufort Scale). He had been quite concerned about his yacht (and presumably our well being too). He said that he was fully expecting a “bad phone call”. He’s very happy to see us and he bounds over to his adjacent yacht, pulls out a bottle of gin, then bounds over to Sunday and presents it to me.

I can only imagine how he had been worried – we pulled out two weeks ago and there have been many days of gale force winds and he doesn’t have a clue where we are or if we’ll show up this afternoon. I’m sure he’s fully insured, but I can also imagine the amount of time (and lost revenues) it would take to deal with the insurance claims, get another boat, all the proper papers and back in action. I’m sure it couldn’t be done before the sailing season ended.

Anyway, he’s very happy, we’re very happy and there are strangers watching on the dock who seem to be happy too.

He says the boat isn’t rented for another 2 days, so we can check out tomorrow whenever we want. We say between 10 & 11am would be good.

That night, we take trolleys and subways to the Acropolis area, and eat at a restaurant.

Culture Shock: back to urban transportation modes
Culture Shock: back to urban transportation modes
Run Forest, Run!
Run Forest, Run!

The restaurateurs are quite aggressive here, and they chase you down the street. The food wasn’t as good as it was on the islands, but it’s still okay. I am totally drained and feel more tired than I can ever remember. I fall asleep standing up on the subway on the way back to the boat.

Day 14 Map. Return to Athens via Porno Beach.
Day 14 Map. Return to Athens via Porno Beach.

Day 13: Serifos to Kithnos

Wind is medium strong in the morning, from the north with a little east. The forecast is for light winds from the east and we still think that’s a possibility.

We decide to head for the harbor on the northeast side of Kea, which positions us well for getting to Athens Friday night. We turn around the southeast side of Sifnos, motoring into the wind, heading north. When we get to the NE corner of the island, we raise the sails, double reefed main. It’s gusting to around 28 knots.

Our Chartplotter
Our Chartplotter

I really like the Raymarine Chartplotter on this boat. It’s got a big, bright screen. It also has oblique aerial photos for most of the anchorages and marinas. That way, you can have an idea of what a place looks like before you head in. In the photo above, it’s in the split screen mode with a map on the left and a bunch of navigational info on the right (SOG means Speed Over Ground).

We make really good progress west and a little north, around the south end of Kithnos. It starts getting quite gusty – above 30 kts. Wind is almost straight from the north, which is exactly where we want to go. We need to tack upwind along the west side of Kithnos and we realize that for almost 2 weeks of sailing we’ve never tacked upwind. I’m looking forward to seeing how well the boat points upwind and how much progress we make.

We do a few tacks, tweaking the sail and heading as high as we can into the wind. It seems the sweet spot is around 45-50 degrees off the wind. Definitely not as good as a monohull, which is no surprise. We did about 6 tacks over the course of 1.8 hours, covering 3.6 nautical miles to the north. That’s 2 nm/hr net velocity going north. Not very good, and we won’t make it to the harbor in Kea before dark.
You can see our tacking on the map below.

We scope out harbors on Kithnos’ west side and it looks like there is a good spot on the west side, toward the north. It’s gusting quite enthusiastically and the waves are throwing us around. I decide we should drop the sails and motor to the harbor so we can relax and enjoy our last day on the islands. We can motor in less than an hour, but if we sailed it would probably take 4-5 hours. I feel a little guilty and The Sheven enforces that by questioning if I’m really a sailor. We drop the sails and motor anyway.

We arrive in the beautiful harbor with The Sheven at the helm. Only one monohull is Med Mooring along the quay, all hands on deck, and we execute a perfect Med Mooring. This is in stark contrast to our performance at the beginning of the trip on the east side of this same island when the Germans were yelling at us. Our crew is organized and nimble and we’ve learned a lot.

We moor at the far end, next to the ferry dock, closest to the ferry dock so that no boats will be alongside us and we can fire the sewage canon on the starboard hull at will.

Panoramic on Kithnos
Panoramic on Kithnos

 

The cat I wanted to take home
The cat I wanted to take home

We met this very cool cat who was looking for handouts. I wanted to take him home – he had quite the personality.

The Cat Woman getting off her Cat being greeted by a Cat.
The Cat Woman getting off her Cat being greeted by a Cat.

Soon, we have lots of company. There is a regatta of 34 Russian sloops sailing in the area and some of them start arriving. It gets quite busy with the Russians, then some Italians, a French boat, and several other nationalities that I couldn’t identify arrive. It was funny watching them yell instructions at each other in English (which seems to be the universal mooring language) even though it was obvious that most of them didn’t really speak English. There was a lot of confusion and yelling, but everyone got tied up okay and in the end, seemed to be having a good time.

Barb carjacking a bakery van
Barb carjacking a bakery van

 

The Better Flavours In the Lower Prices
The Better Flavours In the Lower Prices

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We are moored with about 15 gorgeous monohulls that are about 50-55 FT long and rigged for serious sailing. Although I’ve really come to like our cat, and I think, cats in general, they (my opinion) just aren’t as pretty as nice monohulls.

Day13Harbor

Michele and June hike around the island and see about 17 other boats anchored in a cove north of our location.

A friendly harbormaster dude comes by and warns everyone that two ferries will be arriving after 5pm and to expect strong ferry wash. Soon the first comes, it’s quite large and ominous, and we are next to its dock area. I start the engines in case we need to power up to hold ourselves away from the wall and/or in case the anchor slips at all. Everyone else along the wall seems to be doing the same thing. The ferry goes stern-to and keeps its engines roaring as it’s tied up to keep itself off the wall, and the wash spreads to us, while people and vehicles pour on and off the ferry. It powers up and turns as it leaves, blasting us some more.

This is what they call Ferry Wash.  Right next to our boat.
This is what they call Ferry Wash. Right next to our boat.

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The second ferry is about the same size but quite a bit smoother and less dramatic. We wonder if it’s a difference in the ferry design that makes such an obvious difference in the amount of wash or if it’s a difference in the captain’s styles.

Things quite down, and we go on our normal shore eating excursion then pass out.

Day 13 Map. Notice our attempts to tack upwind (going north). Not really good progress.
Day 13 Map. Notice our attempts to tack upwind (going north). Not really good progress.

 

Day 12: Folegandros to Serifos

Awaken to cloudy weather, 15-20 knot winds from the east in the harbor, gusty. East wind is perfect for us today since we want to head north.

We can’t find any weather forecast on the radio or any WiFi. Tom and I take the ship’s papers to the harbormaster, who said someone would be there 24/7. Nobody is there. We don’t know the protocol – we speculate that we only need to pay money if there is water or electricity, neither of which are available here that we can find. So, being uncertain if we owe any money and not being able to find anybody to pay, we untie and head out. The spastic French monohull (which trashed our anchor) has already left, and the stylish/savvy French monohull is still there, but re-positioned their boat to ride more comfortably on the swell.

The sea state is quite choppy, so we opt to hook around to the south and up the leeward side of Folgeandros. Much calmer conditions here on the west side. We cruise by beautiful big cliffs that have all kinds of interesting layers/swirl patterns.

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We are headed for Milos, but then we do the math and determine that if we stay in Milos overnight, we will need to do 2 very long days to get back to Athens by Friday afternoon. Not including any slop factor in case we hit bad weather. This doesn’t seem to be a good idea given our expert record of finding bad weather.

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We decide to cruise past Milos, and then continue up to Serifos in the northwest. Our nice French neighbors in Paros who have been cruising this area for 4 years said it was one of their favorites.

We head north along the east side of Poliandros, weather is pretty sketchy, gusting to about 30 knots. There are a couple hours of pounding in waves and wind. Crew retreats to berths to sleep. I sit at the helm with Sheven. About 4-5 times we get doused by rogue wavelets, and laugh it off. When we both finally don full foul weather gear over the top of our soaked clothes, the weather (of course) subsides a little.

When we get into the lee of Sifnos, the sun starts to come out. Tom takes the helm. We hoist sails and have a kick-butt sail the remainder of the way. Gusting to 22 knots, we make about 8-9 knots SOG.

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Crew is eating snacks and drinking in the Saloon like we are tied off on shore. I like this catamaran, or maybe catamarans in general. I think I’m becoming a Cat Person.

We rip up to the harbor on the southwest corner of Serifos. Head into the marina, pull alongside the nice dock and tie off. Perfect position, and very smooth docking.

Susan after hike up to chora
Susan after hike up to chora

We’ve learned to head into a harbor being ready for anything: throwable lines on all 4 corners, The Sheven ready to deploy off the aft gangway (in case nobody is there to grab lines), someone ready with anchor, and a couple of people with emergency fenders. Then when we get to a harbor/marina, we are ready for all combinations of anchoring, Med Mooring, or tying alongside. We also have the sewage cannon ready amidships on the starboard side to clear more space if needed.

After docking, a crew member in the starboard hull goes below to use the toilet, flushes, and fires sludge all over the dock. We decide it’s time to figure out the origin of the sewage cannon and the mysterious “Tank #3”. On the electronic display in the cabin, we can see levels for Water Tank #1, and Water Tank #2. There is also a “Tank #3” and we’re not sure what it contains, but it is ¾ full.

Tom and I pull up all the flooring and start tracing pipes. We find what appears to be a sewage holding tank behind the shower in the starboard hull, aft cabin. Current guess is that the sewage cannon is actually a vent pipe. The discharge is apparently plugged between the holding tank and the through-hull fitting and when the pressure builds, it rises and discharges from the vent. Our problem is that we need to unplug the sewage discharge under the starboard hull.

Sheven attempting to board a local sailing vessel
Sheven attempting to board a local sailing vessel

I go to town in search of a sewer snake to auger out the plugged line. I finally find a tiny hardware store. The nice lady speaks zero English and “sewer snake” is not in the list of 3 greek words that I know. In order to pantomime “sewer snake” I first need to get her to understand “toilet”. It doesn’t go well, but I finally find a chair and pantomime opening the lid and peeing, then putting the lid down and sitting on it. She brightens up … yes! She leads me over to a section of the small store, removes some boxes and bags to reveal a beautiful new white porcelain toilet, and she is ready to sell it to me. I then pantomime a plug in the toilet, then I make an “augering” sound and wave my arms around like I’m a snake. God only knows what she is thinking, but she acts like she understands. She pantomimes that she doesn’t have one. I pantomime a question of who might have one. She says nobody. I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m crazy and the safest thing is to get me out of her store as quickly as possible.

We find a bus ride to the Chora high above the marina.

Daniel prowling the streets on Serifos
Daniel prowling the streets on Serifos

Day12building

Susan and I get accidentally separated from the rest of the crew and we spend about an hour wandering thru the town, looking for our group. The place is totally deserted and we call it the ‘Ghost Chora’.

Susan and Cactus, big ferry departing in background
Susan and Cactus, big ferry departing in background

Susan keeps wanting to walk down, while I want to go up. She refuses to climb a rickety ladder with me, which ends up breaking before I can get up. We don’t see another person for about an hour and we’re thankful when we see another live person.

We finally find our group at a Taverna, and have an awesome dinner, bus ride down the hill to the boat, and a deep restful sleep.

Day 12 Map
Day 12 Map