All the way to Kos for maintenance…

Saling again at last

Sailing again at last!

I arrived on the 3rd of September to find Eileen of Avoca boasting a new coat of antifoul and looking a little more polished than when I left her in August. Had Kos Marine Services lived up to my exacting standards?

The following morning, I had a close look at the work and my initial enthusiasm became somewhat muted. It all looked just a little hurried. The sea cock had been replaced along with the through hull fitting very professionally, but the three coats of antifoul looked more like one, the varnish for the rudder/tiller (400 Euro), while costing me more than the engine service (300 Euro) had run, and polish leftovers lay everywhere.

No serious workmanship issues, but I do confess to being a little miffed by the (exorbitant?) unforeseen charges, lack of itemized receipts, and requirement to pay more than half the work in cash. Perhaps I harbor unreasonably high expectations.

On the 5th of September Eileen was lifted back into the water. Free to travel at last.

Eileen of Avoca arrives in Kos Marina

I’d made contact with the marina via email months in advance for a haul-out booking and a one month stay. Assured that all I need to do was show up on the specified date, I discovered that reservations are rather pointless as it’s simply first in, first served.

Good thing I won that little morning regatta (even if I did cheat a little).

After curt formalities at the reception desk, the manager was called over to deal with my (special) requirements. Expecting difficulties, I was pleasantly surprised to have everything competently sorted out in less that 5 minutes.

A last hop to Kos

By 11pm I’d rested enough to brave the next leg. In light variable winds Eileen left Chalkis’ pretty little bay and we made our way NW toward Tylos. Rounding Chalkis’ eastern coast, a brisk westerly breeze had Eileen of Avoca zipping along at 4 to 4.5 kts. Four knots is a good speed for a Yarmouth23 and unless I want to play around with the topsail (something I never do at night) I don’t expect much more speed from her without motor sailing.

Less pleasant conditions arrived with the dawn. A one knot north setting current between Tylos and Nisyros made for a wet ride against the NW winds but it did not last. By the time I’d changed course to the NE (toward the eastern tip of Kos) the wind had eased.

Later that morning, several other boats appeared from the west and it did not take long to realize that Eileen was now part of the impromptu race for a berth at Kos marina. Time to hoist the iron topsail… (i.e. start the engine) and get that extra knot or two. A Yarmouth23 motor sailing in light winds can do over 6 knots so they didn’t catch me… nah nah, na nahh nahhh… (said with infantile gusto). Must also have been the sleep deprivation 😉

Idillic little Chalki

Chalki Greece

Chalki Greece

By morning I’d been overtaken by my flotilla partner and Chalki hove into view. What a splendid little stopover. Since the jetty was crowded (well it is August), I rafted up with the boats at anchor. Considerably more chain is required to anchor with enough scope here (15-20m depth), but by 9am the charter boats moved on and I inelegantly made fast to the pontoon.

Dropping the Danforth (with 10m of chain) over the stern I motored to within a meter of the pontoon gently easing out the line. This generally works a treat, except when there isn’t enough line… Must have been the sleep deprivation 😉

Sailing from Crete

English Sailor

English Sailor

In the Cretan heat I didn’t come across any mad dogs, but I did meet this simpatico Englishman (pictured right). As we were to sail in the same general direction it was decided to form a flotilla of two, at least as far as Chalki.

Leaving A.Nikolaos early (7:30 is early for me!), we hugged the Mirabello Bay coast making our way North in light variable winds. As the Aeolian Energy Park on Ak. Ioannis came abeam, gusts from the NW had Eileen of Avoca almost keeled over, even with two reefs. Mind you, my flotilla companions’ Westerly seemed similarly affected, bobbing about in the surprisingly agitated seas.

After two hours of the boating equivalent of “lets play hobby horse”, I set a course of 58 degrees and settled in to some steady tiller-pilot controlled sailing. By sunset Eileen approached the uninhabited island of Astakida. Vrak. Ounianisia had already been passed and was barely visible on the horizon as two conical peaks to the NW.

GPS track from Crete to Kos

GPS track from Crete to Kos

Shortly after sunset, and despite a brilliant moon, Astakida just two miles distant, vanished from view.

The night sailing, though sultry, proved uneventful… until… two massive whales surfaced in a cascade of spume and wash, straddling Eileen…

nah… just kidding…

Still stuck in Agios Nikolaos

Port of Sitia, Crete

Port of Sitia, Crete

I’ve hired a car to stave off cabin fever and excessive skin wrinkling (due to too much time spent in the jacuzzi).

A morning spent diving to scrub the hull, lunch in sleepy Sitia, (much to the delight of the local restaurant strays whose plaintive feline cries I can never deny), then on to revisit Itanos beach Erimoupouli (where I had sheltered from last years gale).

Oh the joys of car air-conditioning. Had so much fun (more praise to ye almighty air-conditioner), it’s off to Irapetra in the South tomorrow.

What to do while waiting in port.

Boat Jacuzzi

Boat Jacuzzi

I’ve been escaping the midday heat by relaxing in the Yarmouth23 jacuzzi and tending my garden.

By closing the drainage sea cocks I can fill the pushpit with water and invite friends to splash about all day. All that’s missing is ice for cool drinks.

You would have thought that some enterprising individual would have cottoned on to that deficiency and made a roaring trade, or am I the only boat in the marina without a fridge.

Oh and before someone makes a snide remark.. no those are not my dainty little feet in the photo, mine are substantially more pallid and hirsute.

Boat Garden

Boat Garden

All is well, the water bottle is growing my next batch of sprouts and the local chili peppers are drying nicely.

R.I.P. Raymarine ST2000

Between Crete and Kasos, Karpathos and Rhodes the winds are Force 7, and having put up with a gale upon my return from Egypt, I was in no mood to relive that sopping experience.

My Tiller Pilot ST2000 never recovered from the gale. Despite my patient attempts at electronic resuscitation, the unit stayed unresponsive. Having opened her up (my Autohelm was so temperamental she warranted gender designation, but I draw the line at that. In my opinion assigning all the inanimate objects on my boat familiar names such as “Tilly the Auto-Pilot” is carrying things a bit too far), I discovered that the casing is not so waterproof after all. I’ll wrap the next one in plastic bags when conditions deteriorate.

Strong Meltemi winds delay Eileens’ departure

Typical Meltemi forecast

Typical Meltemi forecast

I tried and failed to leave Agios Nickolaos and sail to Rhodes. According to the locals in Crete, the Meltemi is a little more persistent this year, making travel by sea somewhat uncomfortable.

I thought dry humor was the sole domain of the English. Apparently not! So I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about turning back to wait for the next weather window.

An uncharacteristically hot engine, vicious swell, sunburn, unresponsive jib furler and seasickness were my other ego consoling excuses for turning back.

A few days extra preparation shouldn’t go astray. Except that a few days looks like becoming more than a week and I have a deadline to reach Kos by the 5th. Let me rephrase that… I have a “preference” to reach Kos by the 5th.