Libby, Penny and Rich go sailing………

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August 2010



August 25thPoros, Troizhnia, Saronic Gulf


This is where I began as a Sunsail Flotilla skipper back in 1994. I’d worked the winter from October ’93 as a yard hand, and then as a direct result of taking charge of entertainments during a short ski break at the end of “winter refit”, I was promoted to skipper! Nowadays you need a yachtmaster certificate!!


We saw our fine Sunsail engineer friend “Nails” in Epidavros yesterday. “9 more turn-around weekends to go” he announced happily. I remember that feeling. You didn’t want to jinx anything by talking about it too soon, but by the end of August, talk was almost entirely focussed on the run-down to winter and one’s aspirations for the immediate future. Well, I have to confess there’s a little bit of that aboard the “Bird” as well. Our great friends the Laver family depart on Friday, and it now looks like Penny’s sister will not be joining us in Turkey after all. Therefore we will soon be back to three for the duration. Now of course we love our friends to bits, but we are also looking forward to having the boat to ourselves once more. We will have been “entertaining” for four weeks out of the past five, and we’re a bit tired. Part of this of course is the consumption of far more beer than normal. You can’t help but join in with the holiday atmosphere, and in this searing heat you have to swallow a beer before it gets warm. Then another one is immediately required….when we’re not entertaining I make do perfectly well with tea! (And God bless our guests for arriving with suitcases full of the stuff.)





Transiting Corinth Canal






“George – please take a picture of us all with the canal in the background”


(Note evidence of beer over-consumption)




While awaiting permission to enter the canal, we watched in disbelief as m/v “Tanit”, a beautiful Italian luxury yacht missed the entrance entirely and ploughed straight into the breakwater with a sickening thud.

They eventually managed to extract themselves, but as a result we had to wait another hour before we could transit the canal.






August 22ndTrezonia, Gulf of Corinth


The highlight of the night passage we’ve just undertaken from Ithaka was actually losing the dinghy. Just after the moon had set at around 4.30am, and the legendary inky blackness had settled around us in the time before dawn, Penny rushed into our cabin and alerted me to the fact. The whole crew mobilised and we turned onto a reciprocal course. I got the spotlight working (eventually) and just minutes later while Penny was sweeping the steep seas with it she spotted the itinerant tender. Graham was hugely relieved to see that the rope itself had parted, rather than one of his knots! We came alongside the small boat and man-handled it with boat hooks until the remains of the painter came within reach. A swift bowline and the boat was safe. A replacement tow-line was found and we turned back onto our original easterly course – spirits lifted by the half-hour diversion from the monotony of the passage.


The Laver family joined us last week in Corfu for the passage from the Ionian to the Aegean sea. We chugged all the way down to Ithaka, hardly using the sails at all. The plan was to make our favourite place; Vathi the jump-off point for the main part of the delivery towards the Corinth canal and eventually Turkey. Sadly for Graham, Penny and son George we’d only had an hour or so sailing in the entire week thus far. However with the promise of a robust westerly wind, which almost never ceases in this part of the world we were looking forward to a good long sail towards Athens. Ha bloomin’ HA. Penny (Andrews) downloaded the forecast at Dimitri’s taverna, and revealed to our dismay that we could expect days of Easterlys – strong ones at that. Grrrrr. We elected to start with a night passage having studied the weather charts, and duly set off after a light supper on Saturday night. We got away just before darkness fell; I didn’t want to risk having to untangle an anchor or somesuch in the dark and wanted the boat properly stowed – much easier with daylight on your side.


The trip started well enough – quite a level of excitement as neither George nor Libby had experienced a night passage before. Furthermore we’d not undertaken such a long passage on the “Bird” before, nor had we taken her out in the dark. The moon was bright and the wind light, but on the nose. Libby was despatched to bed under protest, Penny being too nervous to take ANY risks at this stage, but the rest of us stayed on deck, marvelling at the moon - sparkling on the wine-dark sea. The halyards were rigged, but the sails remained stowed; the engine chugging at around 1900 rpm giving us neigh-on 7 knots on a calm sea. After a couple of hours the wind started to build and eventually, once we’d entered the Gulf of Patras we had more than 25 knots right on the hooter. The seas built and built. Libby, her bunk being just forward of the mast was having a restless night but later declared that it was really good fun. The watches were split with Penny Laver and I taking the first 3 hours and Penny Andrews and Graham taking the next. George, able-bodied teenager but lacking much experience was a “floating spare”. He nevertheless has played key roles thus far, especially in the rescue of the tender.


It’s an inescapable truth that if you think something ought to be done, then DO IT!! Graham voiced my own discomfort with the dinghy’s painter soon after we left Dimitri’s. By then however we were up to speed and on course, and quite frankly I just didn’t fancy stopping and adding a beefier line. After all we’d dragged the thing around all summer with little sign of fray or imminent failure. I did check at the fairlead to see if there was any wear and there wasn’t. NOT GOOD ENOUGH ANDREWS!!!


However, as I said before the event actually improved morale, which was by then at a fairly low ebb due to the horrible weather and the pounding the boat and crew were having to endure.


So, my off-watch period was punctuated by two accidentally triggered MOB incidents, the escape of the tender plus two Libby/toilet alerts. Bless her she was SO brave in the dark, lurching noisy stuffy cabin I could refuse her nothing. As I went below the final time, with just 30 minutes of my off-watch remaining to catch up with 3 hours of sleep, Penny suddenly informed me that the bolt which holds the gypsy to the anchor windlass was loose. She’d left it just hand-tight earlier. In a flash of doom in my mind’s eye I saw the gypsy parting from the windlass and going overboard with the anchor and the blessed chain. Now I may be slow to learn………I spun around and strode up the deck asking Graham to kill the engine as I went…….the bolt was fine. Well it would be, wouldn’t it?!


DOLPHINS!! (at last.)


Note Libby entrusted with my precious Steiners!



Alternative activities to sailing: George “rows” his parents into the cave at the bottom of Lefkas Island.