October, 2011

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Monday Oct 31. Trick or Treat?

Monday, October 31st, 2011

I am looking over the bay and I can just see a few white caps. I am amazed by the accuracy of the Poseidon wind forecasts. They have been right on for the last 10 days.

I will leave the marina here in the morning and catch the midnight Wednesday/Thursday ferry to Piraeus and fly that afternoon from Athens to Amsterdam, arriving late evening. I am booked on a round trip to get back to Athens on April 11, So that I can celebrate Easter, on April 8, in Amsterdam.

Chios has grown on me. I keep discovering new and intriguing parts of the town. I have been lucky to have the company here this week of the Berliners. Last night I spent another delightful evening with them on “Rebell” a Bavaria 38 Ocean. On Sunday there is just nothing open so I had to give the Rebells a rain check for the dinner, they will cash it in this evening. And then we’ll see good bye till we cross wakes next spring.

I am looking forward to see my family and friends in Holland and then fly home for the holidays.


Sunday October 30. Chios

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Just checked the wind forecast for tomorrow, still a little iffy. And the air fare I had picked out turned out to be much higher when I brought it up today. So, still in suspense.

We also turned our clocks back to wintertime, this morning. I went to mass, but it turned out to be a funeral mass. Full church, ladies with heavy Onassis frames sunglasses. At least there was not the for ever making the sign of the cross and a back and forth of ladies kissing the icons, like on the Danube. And I could pick up a few words. But I just did not fit in there.

If I can find the ingredients here on Sunday I will cook dinner for the Berliner B&B’s, on “Fleetwood”.

Saturday October 29. Light at the end of the Wind Tunnel

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Please, let it be a treat and not a Halloween trick. The wind predictions from Poseidon http://www.poseidon.hcmr.gr/sailing_forecast.php?area_id=naeg have been quite accurate and I plan on heading into the haul out facility on Monday.

According to the locals this spell is very unusual for this time of the year. Usually the Meltemp ends in September. I am still a little hestitant to book my flight but it looks like I will most likely take the night ferry at 00.30 hours on Tuesday and arrive at 6.35 in Piraeus and fly out of Athens at 14.10 arriving on SAS from Copenhagen at 19.35 at Schiphol.

I had a very pleasant evening with Berndt and Birgit on “Rebell”. They have only started sailing in the last three years but they have accumulated their sailing and expertise very fast. Beautiful boat. They also plan on leaving Monday for Cesme for their winter stay in Turkey.

I ran into a very nice Turkish couple in Chios, she is a sailor. Ece and Abdulla Aktul. They live in Izmir and they told me good things about a new marina in Seferihisar and I belive this is the web site  : http://www.teosmarina.com/?sayfa=sayfadetay&kategori=alt&id=16 For those in my area, you might wish to check it out.



Friday, October 28. Still in the grip of the Siren’s call in Homer’s home

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Have I been lured into believing it is the wind howling through the rigging? Khios is most likely the islands where Homer lived and wrote his poetry.

The forecast for the next three days is discouraging and it is not till Tuesday that this storm blows out. Just to help the chances that there will be a let up I have put the sail cover on the main sail. It did not work. I am hunkered down. I have visions of being in this old western movie stuck in the saloon of a small desert town where the wind howls, the rusted saloon sign is swinging wildly in the wind and the tumble weeds are driven across a desolate landscape.

Last night was not quite as nasty as Wednesday night, with fewer sleep interruptions. But just to picture the strength of the wind, both Wednesday and Thursday I had to dismount my bicycle and walk it in a couple of exposed places. Unheard of for a Dutchman.

But I have plenty of projects, first of all the book I am editing/writing/translating “The Mastmakers Daughters”. I also started back in reading “Kolumbianische Krawatte” (Colombian Necktie)        ISBN 3-902257-42-3, which the author Michael Jansenberger gave me to read in Constanta. Michael is the Austrian designer, operator of “Inzula” the gorgeous trimaran, see my blogs in the first week of last August.  It is a fascinating true story of sailing in the S.W.  Caribbean, his involvement in a drug transport and subsequent incarceration in Panamanian horror jails. I am about three quarters through the book and I still am in great suspense as to how he and his partner got sucked into the drug transport.
He wrote the book in jail just like “Shantaram” my most favorite reading in the last years. Jansenberger’s book is also being written into a movie script. I recommend this to anyone. What I like so much about Jansenberger is that, in contrast to similar stories written in the first person, his personality does not dominate the story and he succeeds to paint the places, people and adventure clearly. I am sure it will become available in other than German.

So, if I do not succeed to find a quiet corner this winter to finish my writing project I shall go rob a bank to get locked up for a spell, just like Jansenberger and “Shantaram” ‘s author.

I got company here in the harbor, a Berlin couple on “Rebell”. They are also waiting for things to calm down to sail to Cesme, 8 miles from here on the Turkish mainland. They invited me over for a chat and dinner this evening. A welcome respite from the cabin.

I would like everyone to be aware of what is happening in the country where you are doing most of your shopping, please, check the following link. Iran, Vietnam, Laos and Burma’s record is not any better. I am outraged and frustrated that the civilized part of the world seems to be incapable to respond to this like the way they throw their soldiers lives and money at other (oil producing) countries. http://www.chinaaid.org/2011/10/details-of-brutal-beating-torture-of.html?spref=fb



Thursday Oct 27. Can it get any worse??

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

It blew up a full gale during the night, Force 8, 40 knots plus. It howled and “Fleetwood” was hanging hard on it’s mooring lines. In the middle of the night I added an extra bow line. The spray coming across the bulkhead was like going through a saltwater shower. Everything is covered with a thick crust of salt. It is hard to sleep with the noise and the bouncing. But at least I am in a slightly better protected spot than the boats in the main Khios harbor, see below picture.

It looks like I missed my chance to get to Amsterdam by Saturday. I would have had to take a ferry at midnight today. There are none tomorrow. But there was no way to stick my nose out into this raging terror. So, instead I spent a couple hours finding and dealing with the authorities, immigration, customs, harbor master, pay 30 Euroes to customs 15 to the Harbor master, just like I had done in Mitilini on my first entry into Greece, to become legal. I had seriously considered to skip the nonsense. It makes no sense that a sailor should not be able to sail between these countries that are in many places only a few miles separated from one another. But then I might have run into a problem on leaving Greece from Athens.

It looks like it might calm down some on Friday but only Monday starts a return to more normal conditions.


Wednesday Oct 26. Still playing chicken in the Khios Marina.

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

The wind is still howling through the rigging and the breakers are washing over the reef just outside the harbor entrance. It looks like I missed a golden opportunity, yesterday afternoon when it calmed down for a while. I had hoped that the same would happen this afternoon, but no such luck.

I spent the day going through all my lockers and storing summer clothes and pulling all the items I’ll need to bring to Amsterdam and the Northwest for the winter. And making up lists of the items I’ll need to bring back here from the U.S. and Holland for maintenance and repairs, etc. My back pack is packed. A good part of the weight I’ll carry are the papers and books I use in the completion of the Dutch and English versions of the “ The Mastmakers Daughters” which are my priority to finish and put into a publishable format this winter.

There are two ways of getting to Amsterdam from here, taking the night ferry to Athens or a day ferry to Cesme and then a bus to Izmir, Turkey.  Since I’ll need to buy a $20 Visa  each time I get in to Turkey I’m most likely flying through Athens. But I cannot make a reservation till I know when I get to one of the two airports. First I  have to get up the courage and go on another wild ride to the haul out and then it depends when I can go on the hard and from there to my connections.
I’d really like to get to Amsterdam by Saturday and then be able to go to church on Sunday. The last time I had that opportunity was in Istanbul in early September. That is a problem here, just like it was in Romania, that I had not foreseen. Am I just a creature of habit? But a Sunday without going to church and be with my brothers and sisters and receiving communion just is not a real Sunday. My mind and body are programmed to it. And after all these years I can say that I am not aware that I have ever missed sleeping in on Sunday or having it interfere with all my weekend activities.

I post a few of my retro shots since I have not been anywhere different today.



Wednesday Oct 25. Too much wind for this chicken circumnavigator.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

I had wanted to take a rest day here in the (free) Khios Marina but when I saw that the winds for Thursday, tomorrow, were even stronger I decided to get to the haul out in Langada. It is only 10 miles to the north of here. The waves and wind were even worse than coming in yesterday. I could not make any headway against the wind and waves without hoisting a triple reefed main sail and then I had to bear off the course and tack against the wind. It was a wild ride slamming into the waves. I estimate that the wind was somewhere around 30 knots. I was making reasonable good progress but when I tacked back to the shore hoping to find a lttle smoother waters it only got worse and then I became concerned that I just was not going to be able to check my position to enter the inlet where I am going to go on the hard.  Because I could not leave the helm on the auto pilot or the wind vane in these nasty waves. So, about half way, I turned back to the Khios Marina. That was another wild ride surfing on the waves. I was back at noon. I took a galley sink bath to wash the salt crust outof my hair and face ad cleaned up the boat from the hobby horse ride.

Why am I doing this? I could be playing bingo with my peers.

The forecast for the next couple of days shows no improvement at all. So, I might be wasting away here in Ouzoville and strumming my Bouzouki for a while.

But just to tease the wind has dropped at least 15/20 knots in the last hours. So, I’ll just keep an eye on the water and take my chances. I like to be in Amsterdam by the weekend. I want to try and recover my 1200 bucks of VAT on the engine I bought last November before the Nov 5 filing deadline, in Holland. So, please, everyone stretch your hands over these wild  waters and pray with me.


Monday Oct 24 Back on Khios

Monday, October 24th, 2011

I arrived back here at the Khios Marina by 3 p.m., same spot I left two weeks ago.

Tomorrow I go to be put on the hard for the winter in Langhada. It will be a nasty slog to get there against the strong Northerly from here. But I am prepared because I had a good taste of it this afternoon and crossing from Samos, yesterday. The waves and swell get to be really nasty here. If anybody has mastered what the Mediterranean can throw at them the rest of the oceans will be a piece of cake. Trust me. And by this statement I am making my reservations as to how much time I want to spend in the Med’s abuse…. I love the rich history of the Mediterranean and want to visit more of the places that shaped the Western religions and Democracies but a light boat like mine  is challenged with the fluky winds and choppy steep waves. Today I was constantly adjusting the wind vane to the wind changes through the many corridors of the valleys and passages between the islands.

Last night I anchored in a wonderful cove on the Turkish coast in Kirkdilm Bay at 38.08.700 N 26.33.900 E I was the only warm blooded creature in the 40 mile radius. I think. I fried up a pound of frozen chicken wings I purchased in Pythagoria. And nibbled on the cold left overs this evening with my Ouzo aperitif. So, if I make no sense in this blog, blame the chicken w

My Greek God neighbor just came in with some Calamari he caught. Life is good…




Friday/Saturday Oct 21/22 Back on Samos

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Friday evening:

I arrived back in Marathokambos on the island of Samos. I tried to go ashore, like I did last night, with the dinghy but half of it went totally limp. One of the valve covers is broken. I’ll have to search for the part when I am back in the USA. So, no cold beer or fresh vegetables. I am not sure I’ll get this out today. I left my anchorage at 7.30 a.m., at day break. And made it here in good time, by 5 p.m.
The conditions on the water changed from smooth to very nasty bumpy short waves it was like hobby horsing through a mogul slope. I sailed a couple of times but mostly motor sailed.  From here to Khios is about a 12 hour 60 plus miles. Since I know the harbor and it is lit I can arrive after dark if necessary, otherwise I’ll make a stop in mid afternoon in a Turkish bay and get to Khios by Sunday.

I’ll probably get on the hard by Wednesday and most likely will show up in Amsterdam by next weekend. I did finally obtain liability insurance, so, that is good news. It is affordable, 153 Euroes per year. Others had turned me down, the European underwriters are deadly afraid that since I am an American and the boat is registered in the USA that they’ll be hauled before a bunch of American ambulance chasing laywers and our ridiculous injury awards . I can’t blame them.

Saturday Evening:

When I stuck the bow around the N.W. corner of Samos the Northerly hit me straight on the nose with big waves and winds of at least 30 knots. There was no way to buck through this. So I turned back to Marathokambos. This time I tied up at the community pier and took a walk into town. First of all to find an internet connection to check on the wind forecasts. It showed force 6 for the time that I stuck my nose into it for a patch of about 10 miles and then lighter winds north of the passage between Samos and the island to the west of it. And tomorrow even stronger winds…  I decided that my only way to get to Khios is to approach it from the eastern side of Samos where the winds are not quite as strong. So, I took off after 1 p.m. for the marina in Pythagoria about 16 miles to the S.E.  It was a wild fast ride down wind with just the 90% jib to the Southern  corner and then when I turned to the East in the lee of the high mountains the wind died and a milder wind came from the totally opposite direction, the south. This is power for the course sailing between these islands. A totally new experience. I hugged the shore line to avoid the strong northerly and it was just an awesome landscape, a geologist would be totally mesmerized. The weirdest rock formations I have ever seen anywhere. See some of the pictures below.

If I had not been forced to turn back to Marathokambos I would have missed that walk into the town I took today and the town would have missed to be included into my most memorable places visited, like Kuantan on the east coast of Malaya I visited in 1962 and that small jewel of a village in Mexico, south of Puerto Vallarta, in 1980, where everything was so harmonious and in perfect balance with the environment that we tiptoed out of the village, because we felt that our intrusion would disturb the perfection. And Hiva Oa in the Marquesas. I should have taken more pictures.

Pythaghoria is also a very nice spot. The marina was opened about 4 years ago. They have just one men’s  shower stall…. for at least 150 berths. But that shower felt good. It is getting a bit too frisky to take cockpit baths. I paid $30 for a night’s moorage. Just in case, I checked their storage and haul out rates, they are just slightly less than Marmaris and at least 4 times more than on Khios. So, off I go tomorrow early in the morning. I provisioned in the town and had dinner. My neighbors here are a really nice group of about six Francais/Francaises, who arrived just after I got in, to charter the boat next to me. They are from Strassbourg and Muellhouse in the Alsace-Lorraine.  Ialso met a really nice group of Austrians from the Innsbruck area.

Most likely I will not make to Khios by this round about way tomorrow and I will probably anchor on the Turkish coast so there might not be a blog till  Monday night/Tuesday.




Oct 19 and 20 Adieu Marmaris. On the way back to Khios

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Wednesday Oct 19

I am anchored in exactly the same spot as the night before I arrived in Marmaris, exactly 2 weeks ago. I left this morning as soon as I could fill my fuel tank at 8.30 a.m. The Poseidon weather site showed the winds diminishing today, nothing over 15 knots after mid day. But my friend Juergen of  s/y “Colonia” warned me last night that www.wetter.de showed still winds between force 6 and 8. And it was rough in places, I practically surfed into the anchorage entrance here.  I hugged the leeward high coast line but the wind just came right down from it in heavy gusts. The water was smoother so I made decent progress under power. I tried motor sailing with a double reefed main but when I went down to check the GPS the auto pilot got overpowered by a gust and jibed the main sail accidentally. So from then on I just used the motor. The fixed prop and the new engine are an enormous improvement on the old engine and the folding prop.  The fixed prop probably slows my sail speed down by half a knot but it has a lot more push in those bumpy waters.

One of the first time in an anchorage that I met cruisers I am not particular fond of. A New Zealand boat “Slam Dunk” with a Canadian-Kiwi aboard and a San Francisco boat by the name of something like “Windsloupe”. They ignored my greeting and the San Franciscan visiting the Kiwi boat told me that: “We may have to ask you to move your boat”. Apparently they considered me too close. It is a small bay and there was not a lot of room but I had a rock solid set and there was no way in the world that our swings could cross. He proceeded by hanging 5 large fenders from the side that was, at that time, exposed to my boat. Totally ridiculous. This morning when I pulled the anchor I could see the bottom and the anchor was completely dug under the sand. I needed to use the engine to break the set. Just as a contrast, I was in the same spot on the way to Marmaris and I was a lot closer to my neighbor, a bunch of Brits. I mentioned to the Brit that I had underestimated my scope but that I had a good solid set. He did not care and we had a good talk across the short distance. They were my neighbors once again in the same dock in Marmaris. Different strokes for different blokes…

Thursday 20 October.

I am retracing my route in I am in  Gumustuk again. This time I blew up the dinghy and rowed ashore and am sitting in a bay side restaurant, Mimoza. I had a little of every wind direction. Quite strong in places. But it turned into  a very nice warm day, in shorts and bare chested, at times.  Tomorrow should be on Samos.






Last night was Happy Hour and buffet dinner for the Marmaris
cruisers again. I met several new people, a few Americans, Dutchmen, even a
(nother) charming Honk Kong Chinese cruiser married to a German.  I had to pull on my training pants in the
middle of the night. I started using a blanket
a week ago but that is not keeping me warm at the current temperature.
It dropped to around 10 Centigrade during the night. I just dug the sleeping
bag out and exchanged it for the mosquito net.