May, 2012

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Friday Morning May 18 Leaving Hydra

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

A nasty rain storm came up and made harbor a very nasty place to be moored/anchored. The pictures below show some of the mayhem. Boats tossing like match boxes, pulling with incredible violence on their anchor and mooring lines. My French neighbors came to my rescue because my windvane was in danger of being busted to pieces against the quay. My rope scope was stretching too much, whereas they use all chain. Another French catamaran on my starboard side also aided with another line to their boat.

I am going to try and anchor out in the Poros Strait and will most likely not have internet for a day or more.

Wednesday May 16th on Hydra

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

I left Paleochora on Monday morning and an hour ago I set foot on Terra Firma here on the Island of Hydra, Limi Idhras at 37.21 N 23.28 E. It is about 75 miles to the South of Athens on the Peleoponnisos. I took a bath and shaved. This is a delightful spot. In a half houir I am meeting a group of Dutchmen to go to dinner in theb town here. The harbor is crowded, mostly charter boats. I had to double park. See the picture. It will be a circus in the morning.

One of the boats next to me is chartered by 6 men from Putten. Nice people. This small rural town has suffered more than any part of Holland during the 2nd World War. 602 of the men of the village were deported to German concentration camps in September 1944, as a reprisal for an attack by the local resistance on a German unit. Only 48 of the 602 Putten men survived. see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putten_raid.  Practically every one of the six men on the charter boat lost a father, uncle or grandfather. The people of this area in Putten, Barneveld etc. are the hold outs of the strong protestant religion I was raised on of which little has survived in the urban areas where I grew up. This also plays in the “Mastmakers’ Daughters”.

Monday was a great sailing day. I motor sailed along the south coast of Crete and when I made my turn N.W. the wind picked up and started out with full main and 150% genoa and by the time I got to Andikithera I was down to two reefs and the storm jib. At 35.53 N 23.17E a wild anchorage. The williwaws were running down the hills all night. Yesterday was a wild ride. It was force 5/6 al day. But when I rounded Cape Maleas it whipped up to force 7 around 40 knots. This cape is notorious for strong winds. I hang on for dear life, white knuckles. Just the tiny storm jib. The pictures below will show some of the madness. But it is hard to get a picture of the depth of the waves and  the strength of the wind. I took breaking waves over the boat and into the cockpit. The noise of the howling wind through the rigging was the most terrifying of it all. I had decided to head for Athens and then take the Corinth Canal into the Adriatic rather than head around the south end of the Greek mainland peninsula. Because I want to try collect and install the replacement of the running back stay near Athens. There were not a whole lot of choices where to spend the night from Andikithera and I picked a harbor at Ieraka 36.47 n 23.05 E where I arrived in the dark at 10 p.m. I was willing to bag it if I could not feel my way in there and commit to another night sail. But after trying for at least 15 minutes to find the entrance I did make it in and plunked the anchor.  Today the scene of madness had changed to a nearly flat sea with about 10 knots of wind and I had a great sail with full main and my old dacron 150% genoa. I just had dinner with the group of Dutch sailors spread out on three sailboats moored next to me.  I like this spot.

I have noted that some people apparently do not know that you need DOUBLE CLICK ON THE PICTURES to get a better view.

 

 

 

 

Sunday May 13 A trip to Chania

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

When people ask me: “Which stop on your voyage did you like the most?” I’ll have to include Crete in the top. And I only saw a small part of it. Scenery, climate, history and it’s distant location to the rest of the Greek islands make it a very special place. The mass at the Catholic Church was celebrated in Greek and sung in Latin and several of the hymns were sung in English. One of my favorites: “How great Thou art”. Chania has a good size ex-patriate community who have retired here, particularly English. Next I visted the Archeological museum which has a very good collection of artifacts uncovered in the nearby region of the Minoan period, around 3 to 1,5 mileniums B/C.

The Venetians, around the 14th/15th century left their marks all around the city. The pictures tell the story. I took advantage of having the rental car to stock up on items that are hard to carry on the folding bike, Diesel, bottles water, etc. I am well stocked and will leave in the morning. Most likely I will be out of internet access till Wednesday. My good friend Matthias Klemm is making up the starboard running back stay and I aske dhim to send it to a marina near Athens. Since I need to go up the mast to replace it I’ll have to be in a regular marina. I had planned to round the southern Peninsula of the Poloponisos but this will take me through the Corinth Canal into the Adriatic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 12 Saturday Evening Post

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Another slight change of plans. When I came to pick up my reserved car at 2 p.m.  it turned out that I would have to pay for two days, even if I returned it within 24 hours. Weird. So, I am picking it up tomorrow at 8 and then return it in the evening. This will still give me enough time to arrive in Hania for 10 a.m. mass. And I will not have to stay in a hotel tonight. Now I will take off for mainland Greece on Monday morning. I am sitting at a sidewalk cafe overlooking the bay. A mega yacht is anchored and the ferry boat just came in. Even the locals are out for the Saturday evening stroll and a drink. I believe that I am the only sailing yacht on the south coast of Crete. This is the only harbor on the entire south coast but the North Coast has lots of harbors and marinas.

I have sent a mail to the “Where is Jack” list  about my friend Howard Richardson who celebrates his 80 th birthday tomorrow. In case you are not on my list here is a repeat:

“Yesterday you got the answer to the question where Jack is. Here is a new one: Do you know the Muscle Man?
The Muscle Man has his 80th birthday today, the 13th of May. He also goes by Senor Muy Elegante, Sonny Kent. His real name is Howard Richardson.
We met in February 2008 in the Green Cove Springs marina on the St.Johns River near Jacksonville.
Howard has been everywhere and has done everything. In August of 2008 he moved to Chile, after a lady there offered him a better deal than the one in Paris, and started sending a number of his friends e-mails about his experiences and interspersed them with flash backs of his early Bohemian days.
I have compiled these into a 60 plus page Word document and Howard agreed to have you share these. You can find it at  www.cometosea.us/albums/Howard.docx
Howard has a unique way with words, outrageous, hilarious, irreverent, etc.
But if you ever wish to travel to Chile and the surrounding countries be sure to read these mails.
You’ll read about him making sleeping room in Aquatic Park for Allen Ginsberg, painted for a living in Paris, Pirates Alley in New Orleans, the Bay area; drinking with Dylan Thomas in Greenwich Village, whipping Jack Kerouac’s ass in North Beach.
Hope you all enjoy this as much as I have and I promise I’ll add to it, from time to time, from his upcoming mails.
Or you can wish him Happy Birthday and twist his arm to be put on his mailing list.
I’ll do the forwarding.”

I patched the rubber duck and the water tank, took a bath, washed clothes. Last night I made a stir fry with Napolitos, the fresh shoots of the prickly cactus, that I picked along the trail.

 

 

 

Friday May 11. Paleochora, Crete. New Plans.

Friday, May 11th, 2012

The North wind blew like stink all night. It howled through the rigging and it woke me up a few times. But than it quit in the morning and now, in the late afternoon it looks like a repeat performance. The forecast for going from here N.W. into the Adriatic are not good for the next few days but on Sunday a westerly starts in that even turns into a mild southerly. So, I reserved a car for tomorrow afternoon and will return it here on Sunday and then take off. I plan to head for Hania/Xania/Chania on the North Coast. It is the next to, Iraklio, biggest town on Crete and it also has a good archaeological museum and a RC mass at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

I emptied the leaking water tank and patched it at the same time as the rubber duck’s punctures. I discovered that one of my running back stays is starting to fail. It attaches with a Gibb tang to the mast and I may have a challenge finding this in Greece. Fisheries Supplies has made it up for me before. I count on my good friend Matthias Klemm to read this. With two reefs in the main I can use both running back stays. And this might have to be my resort till I have found a way to replace it.

I heard from my oldest granddaughter yesterday and her plans for her studies in Amsterdam have been firmed up. She arrives in Amsterdam on May 28th and will stay as long as the end of January. So, I plan to come back to Amsterdam with the boat by way of the Rhone, Moselle and Rhine. This is a slow journey but I will most likely be in France by late August. This will be a unique opportunity to show her our roots and I expect that I’ll be able to coach her mother to spend time as well with us. I had wanted to sail to England when I was in Holland in 2009/2010 and this might be my last opportunity to sail the Baltic in the summer of 2013.

Thursday May 10 Paleochora, Crete. This is a day I’ll never forget.

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

An hour ago I read one of the most gratifying events I’ll ever experience again. I am not sure how much I wrote before on my blog about Melina and her father Costas. Last June 20 I wrote about meeting an American-Cypriot in Zimnecia on the Danube. A little over a month ago I had a comment from Melina on this posting and as it turns out Costas is her father she had been searching for  during her 41 years. I had an e-mail address for her of a half sister, but only today did she get a response and she has also in the meanwhile be able to talk to her father on the telephone. So, the long search is over. We all wish her, Costas and her half brothers and sisters much happiness to flow from this. There are some other very coincidental parts to this story. Melina was born in San Francisco, she lived in Tacoma and years earlier her father had also lived for a while in Tacoma and tended the bar at the Spar Tavern. Melina lives now with her American husband and children in London and she tells me that she now also found that she has two half brothers living in London….

I motored and sailed from Loutro to Paleochora and will be checking the weather forecast for my next moves. I have a good along the quay moorage.

Now that I have everyone’s attention: IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? What is this purple spot? It has been a white spot. Nothing sensitive. But yesterday while on the beach it turned purple.

Thursday May 10 Leaving Loutro

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

My friend here showed the way on the 45 minute hike above the water’s edge to Sweet Water Beach. It is a rough trail and I am glad that I have a good pair of hiking boots with me on the boat.  There are a few fresh water springs in the beach surface not far from the sea’s edge. This makes it possible for some people to rough it and camp out under the shade trees. The water was still a bit too cold for my taste but Lydwien did not seem to mind and went for long swims. Lydwien has travelled to many exotic destinations, back packing in the jungles of Sul;awesi, the back roads of Ecuador, etc. I enjoyed  very much being in company with a fellow traveller.

I found fresh Octopus and made my usual stir fry aboard for dinner for the two of us. It will be difficult to turn my stern to Loutro today on my way west once again. This has to be one of the prettiest and most relaxing stops along my 7 year Ode-to-sea.  The road connections from my next planned stop, the marina at Palaichoras, to Iraklion are challenging, because of the high mountain range. So, I will skip that road plan and the car rental. I will need to address the leak in my water tank and patch the rubber dinghy in the marina. Next I’ll have to try and catch a reasonable good wind direction to get into the Adriatic from here. For the next days there are fairly strong N.W. predicted. And that is right on the nose.

May 9 Loutro, Crete. Paradise discovered

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

I am anchored in a small bay in Loutro on the S.W. Coast of Crete, 35.12 N 24.05 E. At the end of the trail it was worth the long slog from Santorini.Sunday afternoon I took off from Flikhada on Santorini. There was not much wind. For the first time I used my largest and lightest head sail, the 150% Dacron genoa, vintage 1980. With wind strength under 10 knots it works very well and it made for a great sail till the wind dropped to less than 5 knots and I motored most of the night. It was full moon. The moon came up in a a red ball of fire; difficult to photograph on a bouncy boat. There was a fair amount of traffic, mostly ferries. I took short half hour snoozes. I covered the about 100 miles in 24 hours and anchored in a small cove on the south end of Gramvousa island. 35.36.400 N 23.35.000 E off the N.W. tip of Crete. Tricky place to get in and out of.  I will have to do a little sculpturing again to the keel , as usual, on the next haul out. Again the winds on Tuesday were very weak and I motor sailed most of the way. The west and south coast of Crete are much greener than most of the Turkish and Greek coast line. Some of the fertile valleys are covered with hot
houses.  Loutro and many of the villages here on the southern Crete coast have no road access. Just by water to the few larger towns with road access.
The major habitation is on the north coast and one needs to cross the high snow capped mountain range that runs lengthwise from W to E.  I came here because of the description of this unusual spot given to me at my nephew’s birthday, last March, by Lydwien a friend of Fransje, Dirk Jan’s partner.
And when I started reading up on the area and Crete in general I had to come see it. Lydwien has been coming here for quite a few years. Because access is challenging it makes for a perfect peaceful get a away. There are great hikes to be made to nearby villages, a famous “Sweet Water Beach” with waterfalls, Samaria Gorge, etc. The water is crystal clear. I can see my anchor clearly.  I was able to get a hot shower in Lydwien’s hotel. Today we are going for a hike. I am waiting to get to shore to check the weather forecast to make my plans for the next days. But I will most likely  sail back to a marina about 20 miles to the West and leave the boat there and try get to Iraklio, the capital city and check out the very interesting archeological museum to see the Minoan period collection.

 

Sunday May 6th Santorini to Crete

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

I went to 10 a.m. mass and just checking my e-mails. I expect not to be within internet access till late Tuesday. I will sail all night. It looks like it might be a lot of engine work since the winds are forecast to be very light. I did get fuel on Friday.

The mass was celebrated by a Mexican priest in Greek. A, Peruvian coouple, renewed their wedding vows on their 25th anniversary and another latin american girl made her first communion.

May 5 Santorini

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

I arrived Thursday evening on the island of Santorini. Tuesday morning started out as a very pleasant sail from Leros and by the time I dropped anchor in a small bay in the N.E. corner of Ormos Vathi on Astapalaia (36.37.238 N -026.24.000 E), I was bruised and sore and the boat was covered with a layer of salt. By early afternoon it was blowing a regular gale. It was a tight reach from the WNW.
Thank God for the tiny storm jib I bought in Cape Town. With the main triple reefed and the jib I had everything under control again. The bay was well protected from the swells with a narrow entrance but the willi-waws kept howling down the hills. The anchor remained firmly set. It was a desolate place. I could hear the bells of the goats finding the rare vegetation. I stayed put all Wednesday and the only communications I had was the weather forecast on VHF-23. It took me a while to figure out how to interpret their version of an English forecast. I had a chance to merge an English and a Dutch editing contribution to the “Mastmakers”. Both of them major improvements. I am waiting for a couple more parts to come in from my volunteer editors for both editions.

Thursday was a great sail for most of the day. I covered 45 nautical miles in 11 hours.  The first couple hours the wind was all over the place and I thought I had to make another plan than Santorini. But then the wind filled in and it varied between a broad and tight reach. For about two hours I was sailing above 6 knots and occasionally hitting above 7. I cannot remember ever having sailed this fast other than with a following current. I am supposed to have lost ½ knot of speed for now having the fixed prop instead of the previous folding prop. Again using the 120% jib and frequently changing between 3 and no rifs in the main sail.

I am moored in the Vikadha Marina on the very S.E. corner of the island. A Bulgarian boat helped me med moor next to them. With my little Bulgarian, picked up on the Danube and on the Black Sea, I surprised them coming in with “Kaksi?”,” Dobar Vechar” . Beyond my Finnish neighbor there was a Russian charter party. They had run out of Vodka and came to share the Raki with the ulgarians. The Bulgarian owner and his friend, Spassov, a laywer fom Sofia, also spoke Russian. (Bulgarian is about the closest to Russian of any of the Slavic languages) and they interpreted my English. The Russians were a lively bunch. And there were a lot of “Vashdrovas” toasted. Thanks to my German cruising friends Inge  Voss and Wolfgang Dinse of the “Stella Maris” I was able to impress them with my history knowledge of the 1877 liberation by the Russians of the Bulgarian occupation of the Turks. Last summer the three of us visited the gold covered spires of the St. Nicholas church at Shipka erected at one of the battle grounds commemorating the many Russian casualties of the liberation. ( see http://cometosea.us/?m=201108) .

Earlier in the evening I had Calamari dinner at the restaurant in the marina. I joined a table with “Bill” a one time U.S. resident, pilot who had worked for Delta Airlines and another Greek charter skipper, Willy Nelson look- a- like, who were later joined by three young Romanian natives living here. Claudiu also a charter skipper, Ady and his gorgeous wife Vera. Another opportunity to
revive my small Danube Romanian vocabulary.

I rented a car for a day and went sightseeing. The pictures will describe it better. The tall volcanic island imploded in one of the world’s biggest earthquakes around 1650 B.C. leaving just the crater’s rim. The views from the town of Fira and Oia are breathtaking. There is this wonderful fragrance all over that I could not identify at first. It were the Olive blossoms. In all the years I lived near olive orchards I have never smelled their blossoms. In Athens many of the street trees are oranges and they had a similar smell when I was there last month. Driving above the fields here there is a smell of sage.

My plan is to sail overnight, leaving tomorrow, Sunday, for the N.W. point of Crete and then sail around the west tip on to Loutro where I plan to meet a friend of my
niece Fransje who I met on in Haarlem at my nephew’s birthday party.  There is a strong S.W. blowing since yesterday and that would be right on the nose, it is supposed to blow out by tomorrow
and change again to the Meltempi Northerly. I am going to try and attend mass at 10 a.m. in English tomorrow morning in Fira at the Roman Catholic cathedral of St.John the Baptist.