Saturday, May 30, 2009

Meganisi with Blue Marlin

I received word via email that Blue Marlin were waiting for me 15 miles north in Meganisi "in a paradise". So once I'd filled up with diesel from a portable tanker that arrived especially for me and Nikolas the water-man had unlocked the tap on the quay, I was off in search of the Norwegians.

True to their word, they'd found a paradise and kept a space for me. The anchorage was in a small inlet in a wooded bay in the north of Meganisi. The inlet was 3 boat length wide; boats moored with their bow anchor forward and stern lines to olive trees ashore. Rune helped me secure my lines.Apart from our recent meeting in Aigina, I'd last seen Blue Marlin a couple of times in the Red Sea. One time we met on a beach to which I'd paddled my kayak ashore. The twins had looked covetously on - the kayak was perfect for them, they could lift it, paddle it, swim with it. So once I was safely moored I pumped up the orange kayak and sent it their way. Over the next few days I think it was used more than the rest of the trip combined. That evening Hedda and Marita asked what I'd called the kayak, apparently "orange kayak" wasn't a good enough answer, so I asked if they'd name it for me. The next day they gave me three options:
  • Nemo (from the animated film)
  • Glalaks (raw orange salmon)
  • Humo-humu-nuku-nuku-apoau (Hawian for a fish whose name is longer than the fish
They all seemed equally good, so we decided it should have a first, middle and last name and duly christened the inflatable: Nemo Glalaks Humo-humu-nuku-nuku-apoau

Rune and the twins had built a barbecue ashore, in amongst the terraced olive trees. It provided the perfect setting for our evening meals.

The local town was 30 minute walk away and would itself have been an attractive port to stay. Its numerous shops would allow me to extend my stay indefinitely - highly tempting. However time was pressing on with a rendezvous with my next visitors in Sicily in a week's time. I set-to preparing the boat for the passage to Italy, meaning I dismantled the wind-steering, temporarily destroying the tranquillity of the anchorage while I used a punch and mallet to dislodge a recalcitrant shaft.
My last evening I let slip that my birthday was in a couple of days time, before we parted for the night Idunn insisted that I come for breakfast before leaving the next morning. It seemed as though she's been up all night preparing a birthday breakfast. What a treat; pancakes, cheese, bread, cinnamon apple cake, vanilla sauce, even cards and presents - it was hard to drag myself away from Blue Marlin's wonderful company in such a beautiful setting.

30th May, Paradise in Meganisi: N38deg 40.6' E28deg 46.9'

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cruising the Ionian

I'm always pleasantly surprised when a rendezvous comes together, especially one which is at the mercy of the elements. I'd only the water and fuel to take on when I was spotted by Rob and Joe. They'd cunningly timed their arrival just as Kika became reasonably presentable.

I was a little worried that Rob and family, not being used to life afloat, might miss home comforts especially when compared to the functional but basic facilities on board Kika. For example, although I have an indoor shower, I almost exclusively use the cockpit shower. I needn't have worried, everyone readily adapted, and the Ionian ports cater well for the requirements of their floating visitors with showers available in most ports.

It was an easy fun week exploring the nearby islands, stopping for lunch at an anchorage en-route and arriving late-afternoon in one of many attractive small port-towns. Quite a contrast to the previous week's dash across the Aegean. We even (nearly) perfected a Mediterranean mooring routine, with Rob letting out the anchor chain, Judy improving her warp throwing skills and I attempting to reverse Kika into the available berth. Joe and Grace provided encouragement where needed.

Rob brought lots of exciting technical "toys" onboard. An Arduino board was one, which we programmed to be a rudimentary oscilloscope. The idea being it would help me with autopilot fault finding.

The only slight boat related drama was as we left Astakos. The same burnt plastic smell began emanating from around the chart table. A few days before I'd assumed it was coming from the autopilot. This time it couldn't be the autopilot as I had plenty of steering helpers. There was a bay close by so we stopped ostensibly for a swim, but really it gave me a chance to locate the problem. It turned out to be a melted sparking fuse holder used by the wind-generator/solar panel. Isn't the fuse supposed to blow rather than the fuse holder melt? One mystery solved and I soon was in the water myself after wiring in a spare holder and fuse.

26th May, Kastos: N38deg 34.0' E20deg 54.7'
27th May, Kalamos southern anchorage:N38deg 35.9' E20deg 53.2'
28th May, Kalamos town: N38deg 37.4' E20deg 55.9'
29th May, Anchorage close to Astakos: N38deg 30.3' E21deg 02.1'

Monday, May 25, 2009


I awoke in Krioneri to find a heavy dew covering the decks. The unusual conditions continued when I ran into a thick wall of fog soon after leaving the anchorage. Rapidly my world was reduced to a 50m radius. I can see where J.K.Rowling's dementors might have originated. As the fog descended, blotting out the sun, a chill engulfed the boat. I even started to suffer from dementor-like hope sapping, starting to wonder if I'd ever see the sun again as it wasn't until midday when the fog dispersed.

Mark had subtly mentioned that perhaps it would be good idea to clean the ports, dust down-below and wipe out the lockers before my next visitors arrived. As I set to on the ports I saw he had a point. Fortunately I arrived in Astakos in the early afternoon. Plenty of time to clean-up, organise water, fuel and laundry. The laundry was particularly critical as my last load had been over two weeks before and my clean clothes locker was nearly bare.

Astakos was my first single-handed Mediterranean mooring attempt. It wasn't my finest hour. Eventually, with help from half the town, I was secure and able to take up the nearby restaurant owner's insistent offer of a late lunch, "eat now the launderette will be open at 4pm". Most surprisingly he didn't charge for my plate of calimari, "come this evening and invite the other yachts". A marketing technique that seemed to work, judging by the relative popularity of his restaurant that night.

I eventually found the launderette which turned out to be a dry cleaners and quickly realised there was no chance of getting my clothes washed for a reasonable price the same day. Somewhat dejected I returned with my bag of washing. The next door boat suggested I take up the local hotel's offer of a shower and wash my clothes at the same time. Brilliant - back on track. Unfortunately half way through my hand-wash, there was an irate knock on the door. The hotel manager burst in and clearly wasn't impressed. My mitigating plea that I checked with reception, before dragging my sack of clothes off to the room, clearly wasn't permissible evidence. I was guilty of using too much hot water, and using the shower for unintended purposes. I was sent packing with my dripping bag. No matter, I'd washed most of the clothes, just the sheets remained unclean. I needed some new ones anyway, and luckily found a couple of new white cotton sheets in a dusty corner of a general store - what a treat.

Astakos: 25th May: N38deg32.0' E21deg04.9'

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I left Kiato as soon as I'd tested the new circuit breaker in the SSB circuit. As I transmitted the breaker flipped. Nothing wrong there, and no visible sign in the autopilot of burnt wires. The mystery continued....

As I made my way up the gulf of Corinth I couldn't help but notice how much lusher the surrounding hills were after the unremitting scorched barren islands of the Aegean. It made a pleasant change.

I busied myself with boat jobs, while the electronic pilot worked its fragrant magic.
Excitement for the day was passing under the impressive Rion-Andirrion suspension bridge. It seems the Greeks are understandably proud of the structure - so much so that you have to call the bridge control on the VHF to request permission to pass underneath.
I arrived with a couple of hours to spare before sunset in Krioneri and anchored in 3m in the shadow of sheer cliffs.

24th May: N38deg 20.5' E21deg 35.6'

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Aigina to Kiato through the Corinth Canal

The day of Mark's departure dawned. It had been fantastic having him on board, I'd learnt a lot, Kika was better for the experience, I just hope it doesn't take Mark too long to recover from his "holiday".

As we walked round the harbour towards the hydrofoil that would be the start of Mark's homeward journey, I spotted Blue Marlin - what a fantastic surprise. Over coffee we briefly caught up and they tried to persuade me to stay another day and sail together through the Corinth Canal. It was a very tempting offer, but it would mean I'd be late for my rendezvous with Rob and family. Reluctantly I parted, with the hope we'd meet-up in the Ionian.

In a final shopping spree in the hardware shops I found a circuit breaker that I could substitute for the one on the autopilot. Rushing back to the boat I quickly swapped the old for the new breaker and set off. Wonders of wonders the autopilot worked. However I'm starting to learn it's better not to prematurely celebrate autopilot repairs and sure enough after an hour a burnt wire smell started emanating from the area around the autopilot electronics. I decided I should play safe and hand-steer towards the Canal, planning to investigate while waiting for my transit.

I tied-up at the waiting pontoon and bounded into the canal authority building. It was three o'clock and I was unsure if I'd be able to transit the canal that day. After the wait to transit the Panama Canal and the hassle associated with Suez, I couldn't believe how quickly the paper work was sorted; one form "sign here and here" and then was asked if a transit in 5 minutes time would be too soon for me. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was then offered a beer and some snacks - must have been dreaming. Back on the boat I waited and sure enough after a couple of minutes the bridge disappeared into the water and the lights changed to green. Too good to be true, but it was for definitely for real, as I made my way into the canal and was rapidly dwarfed by the 70m+ limestone sides. If I'd thought about it in advance I'm sure I could have recovered my canal fees with some paying tourists. The shortest, friendliest and most impressive canal so far.

I couldn't help but feel a little bit smug as I exited the canal and saw the long line of cars waiting for me. The day continued to improve with a decent wind on a flat sea, giving a great sail towards the bustling town of Kiato.

Kiato: N38deg 00.8' E22deg 45.1'

Friday, May 22, 2009


It was a pleasant change to wake-up without the howl of a gale disturbing my first conscious moments. The sea was still lumpy, but our hard fought northing proved worth-while as we had an easy reach to the southern tip of Aigina.

The passage wasn't without drama, when we nearly hit an uncharted, unmarked reef leaving Kea. I was busy at the mast hoisting the main, when Mark spotted a dark patch of water ahead. It was unmistakably rock-like and wouldn't have yielded if we'd continued in the same direction. Nothing on the chart or in the pilot guide mentioned it. Sobering.

We arrived early afternoon into the upmarket town of Aigina where it seems chic Atheanians go to escape the capital. It took a while sink-in that despite the some atrocious weather we'd made it and we found ourselves in the middle of a stunning Mediterranean town. The hardships of the last few days disappeared - it all seemed worthwhile again.
Not only was Aigina well provided with decent restaurants and boutiques but best of all it had a good selection of well equipped hardware stores. A replacement firling line was our top requirement. On Kika the original firling line had half its length of core removed so it could stow more easily on the firling drum. I was unsure how to modify a rope in this way, but fortunately Mark had replaced the same line on Freespirit and was happy to demonstrate. We initially bought some cheap line - you can tell it's cheap when it's sold by the weight rather than length. Mark explained the procedure and set about prizing the core out of an opening he'd made in the braid. After half an hour of frustration and only a battered line to show for it we decided that cheap line was a false economy - the core wouldn't part from the outer braid. Undeterred we headed back into town in search of a more up market hardware store and eventually found one who sold his line by the metre. It was significantly more expensive but allowed us to quickly complete the job and relax, finishing the day with a celebratory meal out.

22nd May, Aigina: N37deg 44.7' E23deg 25.6'

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Syros to Kea

The calmness overnight was replaced by another gale blowing through the anchorage. Enough was enough. We'd earned our right to an easy passage after fighting through the previous day's gale, couldn't the wind give us a break? The previous day's enthusiasm for doing battle with the weather deserted me. I just couldn't summon up the energy to head out into a gale again especially as this time we'd be close hauled over a larger distance (35 miles). What to do? There were other options, but they'd mean lose our hard-won northing. The sensible decision would have been to explore the island but Mark's imminent departure and the deadline of my next visitors kept me from making a decision. We worked out the latest we could leave would be 1pm and contrary to our experience of the previous day, with the wind increasing in the afternoon, the forecast indicated that the wind would decrease and the angle would improve later in the day. To mask my indecision we busied ourselves with boat jobs - a fuel filter change for the engine and an attempt to fix the previous day's damaged toilet seat supports. Thinking about something else was therapeutic, but the reality of our schedule meant that unless we made for Kea that day, I'd be unlikely to make to the Ionian in time to meet my friends as planned. Outside the wind felt harshly bitter, the sun was obscured - more like early season in northern Europe than summer in the Med. I was all set to call off the day's sailing when a small yacht entered the anchorage whose crew had cagoules covering bathing suits - could it really be that bad out there, perhaps I was going soft. We decided to leave.

We headed off tentatively with three reefs, but as we ventured out of the anchorage the wind died, so slowly we worked our way up to full sail. Perhaps after all, this would be a surprisingly easy trip. It was not to be; as we rounded the head-land the wind and sea increased and I reduced sail down to two then finally three reefs again.
When I left the UK, my waterproofs had already seen years of service and were loosing their ability to keep out the water, but I told myself I was off to the tropics with my years of apprenticeship to the sometimes harsh northern European climate behind me. I enviously watched Mark remain dry in his latest breathable oilskins while I became one with drowning rodents. Fortunately Mark saw the problem and stoically steered most of the way keeping up a great close-hauled course as the spray covered him, while I spent most of the time sheltered pathetically under the spray hood and busied myself with refreshments down below.

Halfway across the furling line dramatically snapped and the full genoa rapidly unfurled. We eventually managed to get the flogging sail under control, by rejoining the line and removing the blocks through which the knot wouldn't pass. It wasn't ideal, but it kept us going.

Finally drenched, cold and exhausted we arrived in the last light of the day at our destination - feeling more relief than elation.

21st May Kea: N37 34.7' E24deg16.7'

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mikonos & Syros

Finally a decent wind allowed us to sail the 70 miles from Lipso to Mikonos. We celebrated our arrival just before dark, feeling that our ambitious schedule might yet be achievable. However all that changed the following morning when we awoke to the sound of a near gale blowing through the "sheltered" anchorage with the forecast indicating that the strong northerly winds would dominate for at least the next two days. The idea of leaving wasn't particularly appealing, neither was the prospect of being storm-bound for two days and ruining our plans. Postponing any decision we hiked across the island and spent the morning in the main town.
The packed tourist centre provided a stark contrast with the tranquillity of our anchorage in Ornos, with the narrow streets overflowing with visitors whose numbers had been multiplied by two large cruise ships in port. Still it killed a few hours and on the return trip we tried to convince ourselves that the wind was dropping - not easy when even swimming pools had white-caps - but despite the evidence we decided to leave. Our plan was make a short 20 mile hop to the next island, Syros. More modest than our original destination, but in the circumstances it felt like a good pragmatic choice.

Back onboard we were nearly foiled in our efforts to stow the dinghy by a couple of ferocious squalls which mocked our attempts at controlling the hoisted inflatable. Eventually we wrestled it onto the foredeck, having to shout to be heard against the howl of the wind. While we busied ourselves preparing the boat for sea, we both tried to ignore the self-evident truth that the wind had increased throughout the morning. How bad could it be? We'd both skippered boats across oceans and Kika felt in good shape, though as we struggled to raise the anchor in the teeth of the gale, I started questioning my assumption that the challenges of the Mediterranean would be trivial compared with the Red Sea. Mark later admitted to having second thoughts about leaving. Once the anchor was up it was a shock to realise that we were heading out of the bay making 5 knots under bare-poles and spray-hood and we anxiously watched the spray being blown off the waves in the squalls. Tentatively we raised a minimum of sail - a tiny genoa and three reefs in the main - Kika raced towards the south-western tip of Mikonos; easy sailing on flat water which lifted some of the apprehension we both felt.

Once round the headland we were exposed to the full fetch of the Aegean and our course brought the wind round to a close reach, however Kika came alive. She felt more like a dinghy than a 13 ton yacht; instantly reacting to the helm and bending to the squalls as they hit. It was a wet, but exhilarating sail as we headed at 7-8 knots in the gale towards Syros.

In no time at all we were dropping sails and negotiating our new anchorage. Unusually we had the bay to ourselves, normally something to relish but we'd hoped there'd be at least one other boat to be impressed with our achievement - like conquering heroes with no-one to welcome us home. The anchor dram of ouzo and water felt well deserved and gradually the waves of tension lifted as the screaming wind ceased and my ears adjusted to the shelter of the anchorage.

Damage report: One bowl shattered beyond repair (poor stowage) and both toilet seat supports fractured, though easily repaired with epoxy.

Mikonos 19/5/09:N37deg 25.1' E25deg19.4'
Syros 20/5/09: N37deg 23' E24deg56'

Monday, May 18, 2009


After Rhodes and Kos I longed for the peace and simplicity of an anchorage. We continued our northerly progress, with a relatively short hop to the southern shore of Lipso. I became caught-up in Mark's boat job enthusiasm and I worked all day fitting a cockpit anchor switch, which I'd decided had become essential if I was to attempt any single-handed Mediterranean mooring. I just failed to complete the job in time to drop anchor in the bay but felt that the new feature required a celebration. The guide mentioned a small taverna at the head of the bay and we ventured ashore enthusiastically only to have faith in the advice of the guide once again shattered with a settlement comprising a couple of boarded-up buildings. No matter we'd arrived in good time so decided to hike across the island to investigate the main town. It seems I set a rather impatient pace - Mark later said he thought we were on an enforced march - but once I'd spied life around the small harbour, there was no holding me back.

Rather breathlessly we reminisced about how much we'd both enjoyed tapas in the bars in Spain. Someone must have heard us, as once we settled down to celebrate Kika's new functionality, the landlady provided us with small plates of nibbles including barbecued octopus and salad. The system worked well as we ended-up staying in the bar, ordering larger plates of chewy octopus and Greek salad and spent a great evening watching life in the town pass-by. We even made it back across the island in the dark albeit at a slightly more sedate pace.

18/5/09 Southern Lipso anchorage: N37deg 16.9' E26deg 46.3'

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The parking lot in Kos

With the forecast predicting strong northerly winds for later in the week, we decided to make some northing while we could. The result - another early start and long day motoring to Kos. The pilot again put us off berthing in the old town - "This harbour is very crowded in the summer and it can be difficult to find a berth. Unless you specifically want to go here it is better to go to the marina". We should have investigated before squeezing ourselves into the marina as the old harbour had plenty of space and a great atmosphere. Still we left Kos, freshly showered, full of diesel and finally with the cruising permit the officials in Kastellorizo were unable to provide.

17/5/09, Kos marina: N36deg 53.5' E27deg 18.1'

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A night in the underbelly of Rhodes

A morning mist covered the water as we raised our anchor and sneaked out of Kastellorizo in the first light of day. Our Greek pilot guide states: "In all my sailing around Greek waters in every month of the year, I have encountered fog only rarely". Well despite that reassurance the early morning mist quickly turned into an impenetrable wall of fog. For a couple of hours we slowly edged our way through the bank, blindly navigating with the radar and listening out for other ships.

Apart from the early morning excitement of the fog the 70 miles to Rhodes was uneventful with no wind and engine taking the strain. Mark decided that Kika's cockpit could do with a polish and we both set-to with the rubbing compound and polish - what a crew!

The pilot guide put me off visiting the main harbour - "Madraki is hopelessly crowded in the summer, with charter operators zealously guarding their berths... fouled anchors are a common occurrence in Madraki simply because there are so many yachts." Instead we headed for the yet to be completed (or started) Rhodes marina; an industrial dock fringed by numerous scrap heaps including the last resting place for old Russian built inter-island hydrofoils.
The contrast with picturesque Kastellorizo was stark. One positive was the proximity to a "Euro Spar". My shopping methods still need to adapt to life in Europe. I have to stop myself filling-up the boat, anticipating long periods away from the next well stocked outlet and am still surprised and excited each time I find well-stocked shelves. Sadly extended periods with no use for a wallet seem long gone.

While we were shopping the only other yacht in the harbour guarded Kika from the local youth. Rumour has it that other yachts have returned to discover they have to negotiate a price for the return of their fenders and other removable items.

The next morning as we we sailed past other yachts moored in the well-located old town marina that didn't look particular full, Mark stretched his ability to find a positive with "at least our port wasn't busy, was close to the shops and was free". As our Germanic friends might say "and that was really something".

16/5/09, Rhodes: N36deg 25.0' E28deg 14.0'

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kastellorizo - first taste of Greece

Our first destination in Greece was to be the small island of Kastellorizo. A Greek outpost off the Turkish coast. Friends on Lasse had written excitedly about its beauty and tranquillity. As we approached what looked like a barren rock I started questioning Lasse's judgement. However as we approached the anchorage a small attractive settlement appeared. It wouldn't have mattered either way as the enthusiastic welcome from Lasse was sufficient. Even though we'd seen each other recently in Ismalia there was still a lot of talk about. My trip home, Ben working on the island, their plan to stay a year in the anchorage and Neils' and Lisa's excitement at attending the local school - 40 pupils with 16 teachers. I don't remember being that enthusiastic about starting school - apprehensive perhaps. Could that be a benefit of four years onboard a boat. Once we'd briefly caught-up, Neils drew a map of the island showing how to find the customs office.
After all the trouble and expense we went to obtain our Turkish papers when I checked them I noticed the clearance stated our previous port as Girne (northern Cyprus) - ruining our attempted subterfuge. I needn't have worried it was one of the easiest check-ins ever, with humorous, self-deprecating custom officials - "we've had 3000 years to get it right, but we can't currently give you the document you require without a tax number ... so carry-on and I'm sure we'll sort it out eventually." Handing over 20 Euros cleared us into the EU and I hoped put an end to bureaucratic expensive check-ins.

Once we were legal it was time to explore the island. I could well understand Lasse's enthusiasm. There was virtually no traffic in the two small well-cared for settlements. We walked up-to the summit of the island amongst wild oregano, rosemary and thyme with great views across the sea to Turkey. The water around the anchorage was stunningly clear and to crown a perfect day that evening we saw a turtle swimming around the boat.
Sadly our plan dictated we needed to leave first thing the next morning for Rhodes, it would have been fantastic to spend longer with Lasse. We left with sprigs of wild herbs hanging the cabin keeping the memory of their small paradise alive.

15/5/09, Kastellorizo: N36deg 08.9' E29deg 35.9'

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Turkish turn around

With each successive haul-out, the job list mounts and it seems to become progressively harder to make it back into the water. Fortunately the prospect of Mark (of Freespirit fame) arriving still to find Kika unpainted and in-pieces focused my attention on the most pressing tasks. When the "top-end" sailor arrived he found a newly anti-fouled, polished hull, with new upholstery and sprayhood. OK so the decks had yet to be cleaned from the collected grime of the boat-yard and the dusty cabin remained true to the month in the sandy Red Sea - but at least we were more or less ready to depart.

Not only was it great to see Mark again after nearly 3 1/2 years, but as a bonus he also bought spares for the stove and a pilot guide to Greek waters. Mark set-to dismantling the stove and soon returned it to full working order with two reliably functioning burners rather than the one I'd be struggling with for the last few weeks. He also arrived with an embryonic cruising plan - something I'd been too busy too even consider. It would be a full-on two weeks - island-hoping through the Aegean Sea to the Corinth Canal then making our way into the Ionian Sea where I'd meet my next crew. Ambitious but achievable, especially with two ocean-hardened sailors onboard.

A slight complication was where to make our first port of call. Ideally we'd head straight to Greece but after consulting a few of the yard's old hands, it appeared that arriving directly from northern Cyprus would be a significant risk, with scenarios ranging from delays, fines, or even having Kika impounded. Greece doesn't recognize northern Cyprus as a legitimate country, and refers to the presence of Turkish troops in the north as an illegal occupation. The safe option is to head to Greece via Turkey. We decided to play safe and set a waypoint to Kemer Marina on Turkey's south coast.Three of us set off from Girne/Kryenia. Our third crew member, Oscar, joined us for the trip to Turkey. Oscar has learnt to sail in dinghies and his enthusiastic questioning reminded us of our first ventures onto the water. For example, Oscar was used to helming while holding the mainsheet so that it can be released the instant a gust hits the sail. On Kika the main is cleated-off and despite my reassurances about the keel preventing dinghy like capsizes, he kept close to the sheet should an unanticipated squall approach.Unfortunately we needed more assistance from the engine than emergency sail easing, although the calm conditions gave me an opportunity to reinstall the autopilot which had been re-engineered by northern Cyprus's finest machinist. After struggling with the pilot for the last-half of the Red Sea it was magical to see the wheel turning automatically again. Sadly my celebratory dance of joy around the deck proved premature as shortly afterwards the over-current protection switch tripped and Kika circled back towards Cyprus. Optimistically I reset the switch and crossed my fingers, but once again the pilot cut-out after a few minutes of holding a course. Time to rethink. The repair had replaced the worn Lucas motor (used as a windscreen wiper motor in Landrovers) and replaced it with a Bosch motor (used as a windscreen wiper motor in Mercedes cars). I measured the current draw of the new motor verses the original and sure enough the more substantial replacement drew almost twice the current. Time to rethink, it appeared my options would be to either use the gearing of the Bosch motor on the old motor, or upgrade the electronics to cope with the power-demands of the replacement. Swallowing spiders to eat flies or pulling threads and ending up with an unraveled cloth, started to cloud my optimism. Still at least the pilot would work for a few minutes, a marked improvement and could be used while cooking, putting the fenders out or climbing the rigging to check the path ahead.

The 28 hour trip to Turkey was uneventful, mostly motoring interspersed with a few hours of sailing. We did our best to give Oscar the full sailing experience the highlight being dolphins swimming off the bow but the excitement of the day must have worn him out as despite our best ship light identification tuition, he seemed quite happy to sleep through the night watches. I let him off as he'd praised my tortilla as even better than his father's (sorry Julian).

We arrived mid-morning in the marina and I hoped we'd be able to leave the same day for Greece. I explained to the marina official that we'd arrived from northern Cyprus, wanted to check-in and check-out of Turkey on the same day with the additional complication that Oscar would be leaving the boat. Her face dropped with horror at the thought of the endless forms and slow-moving Turkish bureaucracy she'd have to help us negotiate. "But why did you come to Turkey?" [and create all this work for me] "Ah northern Cyprus? I see..."

Half an hour later I headed into the marina office to check on progress and found the marina staff carefully studying a fax. As they saw me enter, they began to quiz me. "What were your last 10 ports of call, and dates", as I reeled them off, they checked with the fax and consulted each other. What was going on? I started to feel a little apprehensive. Had Interpol sent out a "reward for the capture of this vessel" bulletin? Firmly and slightly worriedly they said we all needed to head back to the boat, remain on the boat and if anyone asks we haven't left the boat. I racked my brain for any misdemeanour which might solicit such a change in tone, but although I was convinced of my innocence, couldn't help but feel anxious. Amanda arrived while we were imprisoned onboard, and fortunately soon afterwards a face-mask wearing port health official turned-up and the reason for our confinement became clear. One by one, we were invited off the boat, given face-masks and our temperature taken. Fortunately we were all within the healthy range, and deemed clear of swine flu.

I rushed around trying to organise the check-in/check-out, 3rd party insurance for Kika (which I'd learnt on the trip over was essential for Greek cruising), transfer money between accounts and take on water and food. Our first Greek anchorage was 75 miles away, perfect for a night sail, and our ambitious plan didn't allow for bureaucratic delays. Mark seemed slightly bemused by my manic activity and gently hinted that one option would be to relax and stay the night. Relax? Did he think we were on holiday? Reluctantly I accepted the inevitable and we planned instead to leave first thing in the morning.

Frustratingly it wasn't until mid-day that we finally left, replenished with food, beer, water, fuel and the all important Turkish clearance. We left with a head-wind which resolutely followed our course around each head-land. As the day progressed, the difficulties of a night entry into Kastellorizo become apparent, and my sea-legs started to feel shaky while I was down-below making raspberry jam steamed pudding. Scanning the chart I found an anchorage on the Turkish coast where we could rest and cover the remaining 20 miles in the morning. Mark enthusiastically endorsed the change of plan and we arrived with just enough light to see our way into the anchorage.

13/5/09, Kemer: N 36deg 36' E30deg 34'
14/5/09, Night anchorage: N36deg 12.6' W29deg 53.7'

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Back in Cyprus

It's been a long few days finishing off the work on Kika, but worth it. I'm now back in the water with a polished hull, fresh anti-fouling, new upholstery in the saloon, a new spray-hood, a happy engine, and hopefully I'll soon have a working auto-pilot (new gears are being machined as I write this).I foolishly decided I'd fly in the face of convention and go for a light-blue "to lighten the saloon". I've quickly realised why dark colours are preferred - I'll have to levitate all the way home to avoid the material taking on an uneven brown/black hue.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Back in the UK

One draw-back with low-cost airlines is that the flights tend to be at antisocial hours, resulting in a couple of days of jet-lag even with the shortest of flights. I arrived in Gatwick at 12.30am and by the time I'd made it to west London it was 3.30am. Rob and Judy had moved house since I was last in London and as I let myself in to the unfamiliar surrounding and disabled the alarm, I briefly wondered if I'd got the right house or had started a new career of house-breaking. If the house was unfamiliar the welcome the next day wasn't and I quickly felt at home. Over the next few days as I zipped around London on the tube visiting friends it almost felt as though I hadn't been away. Great to catch-up with friends, only wished I could have stayed longer and visited others outside London. Still plenty of time in August...

I'm not sure who was more excited at the wedding, my sister or me. Fantastic to catch up with immediate and extended family and finally meet my new brother-in-law.

I finished my brief visit back with a trip to Falmouth to see Will, Alyssa and Grace (Ragtime), and we were joined by Matt and Togs (Helene). My luck held with the warm Spring weather which accompanied me during my trip, bringing out a stunning show of blue-bells in the Cornish woods.

Amazingly my car-train-tube-train-flight-bus-taxi trip back went without a hitch, though I had to explain to customs why my hand-luggage contained a wind transducer, four engine glow-plugs, various parts for the wind-generator as well as hinges, wet-and-dry paper, paint brushes and rollers. In the end I was allowed through customs with only the loss of an innocuous pair of mini-pliers and a bottle of sun-tan lotion.