Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reggio Calabria

None of us want to write about Reggio Calabria…. A miserable 5 nights in a filthy drab town. We dealt with half the dirty fuel and one tank.
Sabine- One nice thing was that a Russian lady turned up to chat with the local taxi driver. She managed to say: "Night, si, night! uh… very much, very much!" what she meant was that at night Reggio Calabria was a very beautiful place with all the lights reflecting on the water, and that we should go for a walk because it was very good… She must come from a very ugly part of Russia… :\ Heh. In between her chatting, she couldn't stop laughing! such a happy person… And her laughs were really loud and went for YONKS. So she managed to lift our spirits a tad. :)
At least we had a nice Skype chat with the Markopoulos's, see photo! and Sabine really did do some schoolwork….

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Back across the Ionian Sea

Not the greatest birthday for Anne! We motored two hours up to Pilos before breakfast, filled water and fuel, cleared customs, bought some cheap rope (there wasn't any good stuff) to replace the self furling one which has died. Bought a cake, had a coffee (so we could internet) and set out.
First 12 hours were pretty uncomfortable with confused sea, and changing winds, but we were motorsailing over 6kn (we think this is very fast). There were also the thunderstorms! The early hours were spent tacking between them, following their course on the radar. I did read that metal boats are in theory not likely to be struck by lightning on account of some ion behaviour, but I don't want to test the theory. There were some very big ones, sometimes one on either side with just a couple of miles between us, so noisy and flashy. I did get a pod of Striped Dolphins under the bow for a while, the ones that aren't supposed to come to boats.
The morning brought the wind back to nothing but still very rolley so a most uncomfortable day, we wondered or at least I did, why on earth we would put ourselves through such torture. Second night had another surprise. The rolling around Pelloponisos and the upper fuel tank getting low, probably for the first time in ages, has dislodged enormous quantities of black glump and the motor stopped with a blocked filter. Replaced it while rolling horribly, and went a few more hours when it stopped again. So midnight to midday I spent going over the fuel system, managed to take 40 litres out of the tank, isolate the lower one, change filters, prime system and it's going again. However there is still gunk coming from the bottom of tank and it's the last filter.
Wind has picked up and now, 48 hours into the crossing we're doing 6 knots, sea is flat, saving the motor for when we need it. A couple of diesely days coming up for me as I clean out the tanks.
Sabine fell down the ladder and hurt her back and head, noisily. We managed to find some joy working on her songs with guitar, but it was not the best crossing when…..
Early afternoon we had a treat that made it all worthwhile. Sailing at 4 or 5 on a very calm sea I saw a tuna break the surface like a dolphin coming to ride the bow wave so we all jumped up to look around and…
The next 15-20 mins there were tuna jumping and feeding all around us, right up to the boat as if we weren't there. With the glassy surface we could sea them really clearly and Sabine went to her favourite possie on the bow. She started her screams that mean she's dying of ecstasy and we looked down and saw a carpet of tuna under the boat, all heading almost on our bearing. Like a school of sardines only somewhat bigger and not swimming in fear but with intent! No idea how big the carpet was, we could only see under us, but with them jumping for a long way around we could imagine it to be vast. I took a lot of photos but you'll just have to believe us, as all that shows is the flash of colour from a few on their side. I guess the difference in movement between the tuna and the water surface lets our brain see them, but in the still photo they disappear. Sorry!
I dropped a lure in although the girls are sick of tuna, but these guys were busy, however when I finally went to sleep a few hours later one of them took it. So, you can catch tuna at 4kn mid afternoon on a little plastic squid thing in the Mediterranean! I found a proper gaff hook, but don't have a stick for it yet, and this guy fell off the hook at the boat which is just as well.
80 miles to go, there is Italian on the VHF, doing 6kn and a big dragonfly just appeared. Everything smells of diesel and dinner is ready.

Little did we know……
Rob: Anne woke me to take over at 10pm as wind was stronger (12kn or so!) So we started to move a little quicker. The forecast from a few days ago predicted 1kn N for the patch we were covering, but by midnight it was time to reef all sails and soon it was force 7 S with horrible mediterranean short steep seas, up to 3m I guess. Wore the wet weather gear for the first time, including boots (thanks mum!) and kept safety harness on in cockpit. A tough night, started seeing plates of cream buns instead of halyard winch and animals coming up the deck… only while waking after extremely short sleeps! White out rain squalls and direction changes so we were pointing into it the best we could to clear the approaching Italy, and with no guarantee of motor if needed… Anne and Sabine were fantastic, well I would have been too, if I were tucked up in bed, cosy and warm in the lovely safe boat! They sprang up and pulled ropes or steered whenever needed and didn't say anything stupid at all! Come daybreak it was starting to ease and as we entered the Messina Straits the wind died away to nothing and we had to gamble on the motor making the last two hours to Reggio Calabria, which it did.

Sabine: We all thought that we should put an entry in for this night, seeing as it was one to remember… well, what i can say is that I'm really not used to hearing a flapping noise and suddenly the whole house is now horizontal. But slowly through the night I desensitised to the lurching of the boat on the waves, and although the headache did not cease, i managed to get half hour sleeps in between jumping outside to pull a rope. Luckily for me, i have been brought up to be able to fall asleep at zurna concerts.
So for hours and hours the spine shivering creaking of ropes went on and on and on and on and on and on. AND on. The day before, I got excited about cooking something on the stove, and jumped down the stairs happily, but fell and thwacked my ribs on the metal. I also managed to hit my head, and my elbow, and my hip. Talented me! So seeing as nearly every part of my body that i need for supporting myself was a tad uncomfortable and bruised, made it even harder to sleep. Buuut yes, we are here, and we are tired, but here. glad. :)

Anne: I'm just soooo glad to be out of that mess! It was an incredibly tiring and stressful trip but we all handled it very well, especially the enduring Rob; he was Atlas bearing the earth. It's always interesting to see how you personally cope with something challenging. When at times I had to take over the helm whilst the boat was heeling and surfing sideways down foamy waves, the wind howling, everything's wet, the boat gleefully bolting ahead, my eyes wide and knees knocking with terror, I thought, well this is actually pretty exciting! Now don't get me wrong - you especially, Rob - I'm not taking this up as a sport! Got that? :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Porto Kaio to MethonI

Very gusty, anchor dragged once, then wind reversed and we had to move again. Hoping to get across the next gulf before the afternoon headwind we got up at 3am, and rounded the 'entrance to the underworld', Cape Tainaron at 4.30 with a huge dark cloud sliding over the moon and a horrible sea.
Not a relaxing day, almost no wind so no sail to steady us, and always hoping we will make the shelter of some islands before the headwind. The early rise did pay off and we were well inside Nisos Skhiza before the wind came. In the end it was only 20kn, much less than yesterdays, but still nice to have beaten it. Nisos Skhiza is used by the airforce for bombing practice so we were treated to an hour of F111s or something like that screaming down to the poor innocent island and dropping bombs on it. Sometimes there wasn't an explosion so I thought it might be a little bit stuck and perhaps would fall out as they circled back over us.
We need to get up to Pilos to clear out of Greece for crossing back over the Ionian but we can do that in the morning with no headwind.
Methoni looks like another country, buildings are Italian style. Internet bar ashore, so Sabine will get some well deserved Facebook after doing some sterling work on her quadratics.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Skinoussa to Porto Kaio, Pelponissos

Well, that was a long day! Set out for Milos at 6 and arrived in good time, but water was flat, almost no wind, forecast was for 3 days of strong northerlies so we'd be stuck for a bit, so we just keep going. I don't get much sleep on these nights as the AIS gives warnings about ships whose paths might come within two miles of us, and there's a lot of ships in the Southern Aegean going to and from the Black Sea. So I tend to get woken after a short nap to answer the same question "should we slow down so they don't hit us?" yet again…… While I did finally get a couple of hours after dawn Anne decided we might as well keep going even further so instead of stopping at the first landfall we did another 20 miles to Porto Kaio, so named for the abundant quail that were salted and exported. The last hour was into a strong wind, very gusty in the anchorage, but we made it. Prevailing wind here is a strong afternoon breeze in the wrong direction so we'll be up before dawn again to try and make it to the next stop.
Some nice things happened on the way. Magnificent scenery past Milos, saw flying fish, falling stars. We caught two tuna. Sabine hauled one of them in, but we released it as the other was already on deck. You know how tough women are when you see one hauling a tuna in whilst sobbing for the pain of the one on deck! Don't know what he weighs, but he's 87cm, freezer's full, jars in pressure cooker. When I gaffed him it was not perfect and he took off again with the nasty half of the gaff dangling and the nice bit in my hand. When he came back it was sitting between him and the line and I ALMOST got a hand to it, but…… it slipped away to join the rest of the rubbish on the bottom of the Aegean. Cooked up a nice belly for breakfast, glassy calm sea, just a bit rolly.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Patmos to Mirsini, Skinoussa.

Well that was a tough day for the girls. Set out for the top of Naxos, hoping to then go on to Paros, homes of tsabouna (island bagpipe) playing, but the wind had other ideas. Start and finish were nice, but the middle went for the major part of a 12+ hr day, 25kn and some pretty lumpy seas. We were 'racing' a much larger German yacht.. I managed to up anchor and get away well before them (they were probably doing everything the correct way) but they gradually gained on us and had just got ahead when they chickened out and ran for a different island so we did win the race after all. It all fades away now we are anchored in a gorgeous cove, sheep bells clanging.
Woke up early the next morning and before breakfast, had a walk up the hill to the whitewashed village to buy bread. It was still being baked, hot bread ready in one hour! So we wandered along on foot towards the other end of the island to the next village and had drinks at the tiny cafe there. Passed three donkeys on the way. A very stony landscape, so there were amazing stone walls everywhere and terraces. It looks like they have been maintained for millennium.
Back at the boat after consuming cheese pies and hot crunchy bread, we had a swim in the refreshing crystal clear water. One of us though, fished for garfish instead!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pythagorion, Samos to Ormos Grikou,Patmos

At the Samos anchorage we had drinks with Australian people from "Silver Heels 2" yacht, Graham and Val, along with Swiss/Portuguese yachties, Helmut and Louisa. Much to talk about and plenty of laughs!It's always fun to look inside other people's yachts; the same ideas but done differently!
Early next morning, measured the genoa, swapped a few files, returned the tape measure to Helmut and set sail. We had a late start, so we arrived with no time to play, but it was a beautiful anchorage, a sleepy little village with a line of kaikis tied up to the dock, dogs barking and goat bells.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kuşadası to Samos

It was sad to leave Turkey with bad thoughts about the post office and marinas….. we've had nothing but kindness from the Turks up to now..
Greece seized the opportunity and the police, customs and port police were delightful and welcoming.
Unknown to us, our arrival and anchoring was closely observed by Graham on Silver Heels, who suspected our boat was a familiar single hander. Seeing Sabine and Anne, he was quite surprised to see what he assumed to be two Swedish backpackers on board. I wandered over to see if I could find a very long tape measure to borrow (hadn't been able to buy one in two towns)

Monday, September 13, 2010


We took the bus to Izmir, quite a big town, 6 million people I think. Walked all day around the covered markets, did finally find some zurna reeds (the main reason for coming to Turkey). Also found some silk thread to make lures to catch garfish! It took some effort as we'd forgotten the word for silk, but with mulberry, tree, insect, 'like that stuff over there' we got by.
Back in Kuşadası we found that the customs in Izmir had seized our parcel ( a small computer for navigation) and if we wanted to claim it we had to make the 5 hour journey again, so have abandoned it, hope it returns to sender so we can have it posted to another country. It was the worst time of year as Ramadam was ending so there was a lot of holiday going on.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Captain Sharkie and Family

Big Sabine took photos of Captain Sharkie and his family for her 4 year old son Piet. Sometimes Captain Sharkie rings Piet up on the phone to say goodnight, so it was quite a thing for him to see the photos!

Ilica back to Kuşadası, our last day with Big Sabine

The six days with Sabine have flown and we had to get her back to Kuşadası.
We left very early before first light for a huge day of sailing. It all went well with favourable winds. Big Sabine was at the helm for much of the afternoon doing a wonderful job. We arrived at the Marina in good time, Sabine had already packed, so we went out for a last dinner together. Chicken soup, lentil soup, and a plate of cloves to chew.

Sabine here now. Just wanted to comment on how great it was to meet Big Sabine! We all felt sad when she left early the next morning, and I reckon she could've stayed a whole other two weeks without getting annoying! :D Would have been great to have more time, but what we had was a good 6 days, spent well… But she didn't get to see dolphins! We DiD order some, but they just didn't arrive in time!
P.S. Big Sabine sends her love to all of the Besters especially Billee and Jeff and to Paul Koerbin and family!xx