Three days at sea

Day 16, 17, 18 and 19

The Passenger

The Passenger

We left Ayos Nikolaos just after midnight to take advantage of favourable winds. After rounding Akra Sidheros I set a course of 140° and watched the GPS count down the remaining 300+ NM to Alexandria.

It couldn’t have been simpler. For the first 24 hours we ran with the wind. The next 24 were spent motoring in a calm sea and the last 24 were only slightly marred by a F3 headwind.

I had hooked up my shortwave receiver on day 3 of the passage to confirm the weather forecast (Area B) and have included my data gathering below for posterity:

Meteorological Forecast NE01 [Tu 10:10]

1010 UTC. 18 N*V.



VALID : 1300 UTC 18 NOV.

TILL : 0100 UTC 19 NOV.








H./OF WAVES : 01 – 1.75 MTRS. AT A,B,C

01 – 02 MTRS. AT D


08 – 10 KMTRS. AT B,C,D



CLOUD* : 3 – 5/* LOW + MEDIUM AT A.

* – 4/8 LOW + MEDIUM AT B,C,D


We took 4-hour shifts during the passage arriving in Alexandria by nightfall on the 19th of November.

The city lights were resplendent and as I motored into the eastern harbor.

While winding my way past the myriad of anchored vessels a military official in a small motor boat pulled up alongside and made it known (in Arabic) that he required our passports.

Alexandria Egypt

Alexandria Egypt

Taking them in hand he indicated I should follow as he led us through a maze of fishing boats to a small jetty where members of the Egyptian Yacht Club assisted with mooring. After a surprisingly sincere welcome, and explanations that passports would be returned in the morning after completing the necessary paperwork, I spent my first night in this truly exotic port.

Eileen of Avoca Sails to Egypt

Reference material:

IMRAY Chart G1 Mainland Greece and the Peloponnísos ISBN 08522 805 8
IMRAY Chart G3 Aegean Sea (South) ISBN 9781846230769
Admiralty Chart 4302 Mediterranean Sea Eastern Part
BlueNav XL3 Electronic Chart Number: XLG34 for Magellan GPS Product Number: 980843-20E

November 1st, Day 1

GPS Tack to Egypt

GPS Tack to Egypt

Flight with Olympic Airlines to Athens, 4hrs later I was on my connecting flight to Corfu and by 11pm my voyage begins on Eileen of Avoca.

I was surprised to find the marina full of life as partygoers reveled well into the night. Apparently it was the last day of a flotilla outing for and everyone was “at it” with abandon. “At it” principally being the tavernas supply of alcohol. I happily went to bed as the sounds of nightlife turned decidedly ugly.

A short hop from Italy to Greece

My mum

My mum

It was a trouble free 2000km drive from Belgium to Sibari via Gallipoli (where I left my mum for some R&R at a friendly little hotel ) but without air-conditioning in my FIAT 600 it was a somewhat viscous affair especially when the thermometer rose above 32°C.

The relief at finding Eileen of Avoca safe at her berth in Sibari was palpable. Relegating loading stores to the morning I fortified myself for the task of mounting my Aries vane gear by attempting a world sleeping record. Unfortunately the vane gear was still to be found clogging the companionway upon regaining consciousness.

Taking down the mast

Monday the 9th of April



An afternoon at the marina packing and lowering the mast using Mr Boyall’s concise instructions posted on the Yarmouth 23 user group and quoted below:

I dropped the mast on Eileen of Avoca as follows:-
First the gooseneck was disconnected. Then the gib and stay sail.
The forestay was next and a block attached to the lower end. A rope
was then rove through the block and from there to one of the bow
rollers, the biter end was made of on the bits. The free end was taken
back to the cockpit via the other bow roller and round the winch. The
lower bolt in the Tabernacle was removed, the upper one loosened and
the mast lowered by using the winch. QED

This can be done single handed but a little help to position the mast once lowered helps. Eileen of Avoca was now ready to enter the canal system.

Crossing The English Channel

Saturday the 31st of March 2007



The long term weather forecasts had promised ideal sailing conditions but the high pressure system poised over England and Wales was stubbornly refusing to move south. With the wind blowing from the NE at a consistent Force 6 my planned trip to Belgium was evidently not going to be easy.

I called Yarmouth Harbour on my GSM and reserved a bridge opening for 19:00. Shortly thereafter, and with some trepidation, I moved Eileen from her pontoon at Yarmouth Marine Services to the visitor berths in the outer harbour to ensure a hassle free and timely start the next day.

Shakedown Cruise

Yarmouth, Isle of Wight

Yarmouth, Isle of Wight

We arrived at the Yarmouth Marine Services boat yard at approximately 2am local time. It was a clear night without a breath of wind. The moon provided ample light as we made our way across the jetty to “Eileen of Avoca” sitting quietly at the seaward end. She was such a pretty sight and I regret not having taken a photo. Not that I could have done the scene justice with a picture.

As it was rather cold Arijen and I hurried to transfer the boat cushions from the car to the berths below deck to make our bed. After 12 hours of travel from Amsterdam we were both eager to get some sleep so loading bags of supplies and equipment for the shakedown cruise was relegated to our morning task list.

My Dutch Crew

My Dutch Crew

Fully clothed we crawled into our sleeping bags and spent the rest of the evening in a fitful shivering slumber. Too lazy or too tired to get up and put on warmer clothes, it was a difficult sleep.

At 8:30 we awoke to a fine day, though the magic ambiance of the night before had vanished with the tide. We made short work of preparing the boat and by 10:30 I called the Harbour Master on my mobile phone to book a bridge opening at 11:30. While waiting I busied myself making breakfast (sausage and eggs on fresh bread) in the small unfamiliar galley. Not that this presented any difficulty because before long both skipper and crew had sat down to a morning feast.

Stomachs sated, we started the engine and cast off to start our little adventure. A motor cruiser joined us to queue for the bridge opening but the wait was not long. Within minutes Eileen led the way past the bridge and its operator, through the outer harbour and on into the Solent.



Clear of the pier we set about hoisting the mainsail and unfurling the foresails. Eileen’s sails, a brilliant contrast with the clear blue sky, were quickly filled, and with the engine silenced she set a brisk pace to the northeast running with the wind and tide.

By 14:15 we were passing Cowes close to the buoyed channel and well away from the restricted shipping area. Apart from the scheduled ferry services and occasional large container vessel there was little in the way of traffic. It would appear that the private pleasure boat owners did not expect the fine weather and had made other plans for the day. A sea of masts in the marinas showed little in the way of activity, but as the day progressed an occasional yacht made a brief appearance on the water.

GPS Track of Voyage

GPS Track of Voyage

Spinnaker Tower Portsmouth

Spinnaker Tower Portsmouth

By 15:30 we had set a course to cross the Solent from the north of Ryde Pier to Portsmouth. In the clear weather the Spinnaker Tower appeared deceptively close but it still took a half hour to reach our transit point. A hovercraft plowed its noisy way past on more than one occasion as did the car ferry from Fishbourne to Portsmouth but by 16:00 we were making good time in gusty conditions on an increasingly agitated sea. From the planned transit we turned to port making our way past the number 4 buoy, bringing the engine to life while simultaneously reducing sail. A quick call to Haslar Marina on VHF 80 gave us concise berthing instructions and before long we were bumping against the pontoon opposite the green lightship. I say bumping because in all the excitement and I am loath to admit also because of my lack of clear instructions, we overlooked lowering the fenders, oops! Well at least I know the rubbing strake has been well positioned.

After some fussing over warps and fender heights I made my way to the marina office to pay our dues which amounted to less than 10 pounds as it was still the off-season. Back at the boat over an Amaretto and Port, we celebrated our successful sea trial. A hastily prepared meal followed by more drinks quickly evaporated all intentions of sightseeing and we prepared for an early night. Having learnt my lesson on how cold it can get in March from the night before I put one sleeping bag inside another just to be sure. Being a few centimeters shorter than my Dutch crewmember I was relegated to the V-berth while Arjen made use of the modified sleeping arrangement in the saloon. While the regular coming and going of rather large ferries set the boat rocking and creaking on several occasions we still slept like hibernating bears.