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 theĀ 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.

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