Sept 18. Nana Mouskouri’s Sunday.

Written by Jack van Ommen on September 18th, 2011

Well that keeps me out of trouble :”Never kiss her on a Sunday”. I arrived, last night, after dark in the harbor of Mitilini. No church picture today. It was nearly noon when I was done with the clearing in process.

After plotting my possible destinations, the Greek ones were too far to reach before dark. So, I set my destination on the Turkish main land at Ayvalik. It was a little further than a day light arrival but the port entrance was lighted. My first 15 or so miles down the coast were dead down wind in about 20 knots, since I did not want to constantly gibe the main sail, I ran under the 90 percent jib and the motor. The next 30 miles should have been a nice reach, but when I made my right turn between the Turkish shore and the Greek Island of Nisos Lesvos, the wind just was no where any more. Flat calm, but when I passed the N.E. corner of the Greek island the wind came up strong and there was a big swell and waves.
The last 20 miles were going to be a miserable sail into the wind and waves.
So, I went back to the Greek plan, I had made decent time till then and this wind would be a good sail to Mitilini on the S.E. coast of Nisos Lesvos. It was a hard reach and the wind strengthened to between 25 and 30 knots. I had to put two reefs in the main and was still hitting sevens. The wind vane had great difficulty keeping up with the waves and the tendency for the boat to round up into the wind and I hand steered this part. I had to use all my muscle power to bring her back on the trail after a wave hit the aft quarter. But it was a thrilling ride.

I got inside the harbor without too much difficulty since the opening was lit and my electronic charts helped. But once inside I had a hard time to find a moorage in the dark against the city lights. I
anchored but an hour later the harbor police came to tell me to move and I tied to the dock at the customs section. I could not get through the gate till I cleared in this morning. The Turk Greek crossing has thrown up some dilemmas for me. Technically I should have cleared out from Turkey but then when re-entering I need to go through all the crap again and the expense of another transit log. But the same problems I’ll have on leaving Greece. Their 30 Euro transit log is only good for 6 months. So when I come back after my winter’s stay in Turkey I’ll need to shell out another 30 Euroes. And since I like to make a couple more stops in Greece before going into my Turkish hibernation I’ll be to committing a couple venial sins. But the one hurdle that I had not anticipated is insurance. I am unable to obtain insurance in the United States for a wooden boat, other than for navigation in local US waters. And as a foreigner I cannot get insurance anywhere else. In Turkey they also asked for it but did not insist on seeing the evidence. Greece is the first of the 43 countries I have cleared in that requires it. To be fair I think it is a reasonable request. Who wants to have a visitor like me make a mess and unable to cover his damages? But what to do?

I plan stay here till tomorrow morning and then I might plot another Greek destination. Possibly further down on the same Island. If the port captain let’s me out of here without insurance.

What I have seen so far of my first Greek destinations meets my expectations of the picture we have. I had been to Athens on business trips a couple times 30 years ago.  The blue Mediterranean, bright whitewashed and pastel color buildings. Men drinking their coffee in the sidewalk cafe’s. Listening to their language I find it sounds so much like Castilian Spanish.




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