Date: September 7, 2008
Location: 36º 03' N 05º 24' W at 1200
We left La Linea/Gibraltar this morning and are creeping our way out through the strait. We have a diagram of the current strength and direction as it relates to the tide. It would appear that our diagram is not entirely correct. We have spent quantity time going past a single section of the Spanish coastline. I can describe the windmill farm on shore to you in detail. It reminded me of the Altamont Pass at home. Because the current has been against us when it shouldn't have been, according to that diagram, I have hopes that soon it really will work in our favor and we can be on our way more quickly.
The Rock of Gibraltar was impressive. We took a tour so we wouldn't have to walk too much, like all the way up to see the caves and the siege tunnels. A place called St. Michael's cave was my favorite. It was a huge natural cavern that was adapted for use. At one point a theater was put into the largest chamber they allowed tourists to see. It had tiers of seats and a stage. Music concerts are still held inside. I assume the performers know where to stand in order to avoid having water drip on them from the stalactites. There are monkeys on Gibraltar. Phil, we took plenty of pictures for you. People feed them so they annoy cars and follow innocent tourists from CA who want nothing to do with them. We also saw the Great Siege Tunnels from the late 1700's and more modern tunnels used during WWII. Later we wandered around town and enjoyed reading all the signs in English.
We parted company with our traveling buddies on Phoenix (and Bravo) as we head for the Canary Islands and they make for Portugal. We've got this passage to polish up our social skills so we are utterly charming once we make it to the Canaries so we can make more friends.
Date: September 4, 2008
Location: 36º 09.5' N 005º 21.638' W, anchored in La Linea, Spain
We made it to Gibraltar! The waves around Europa Point were really bad. We were going really slow. I don't know how it happened , but the 5 kts. from the NE that the Grib Files promised turned out to be 18kts. from the SW. I hate weather forecasters. Claire
Spain (Spain & Balearic Island)
Date: September 3, 2008
Location: 36º 15' N 03º 49' W at 1200
It was almost a quiet night, until, The Incident. Be advised that you are about to hear a highly subjective account of what happened, you are only getting our side of the story because well, the other guy sailed off into the night. Geoff was on watch and the rest of us were asleep below. Geoff woke me up to consult on a confusing light. We decided it was a sailboat because it didn't show up on radar, it bobbed, and it only had one white light showing - up high. Geoff had turned on our foredeck lights to make us more visible. I looked through the binocs, but the night was dark and all I could see was the light on top of the mast. Judging by its size, the guy was close. Turns out he was REALLY close. All of a sudden I could make out sails and he was aimed right for us. We didn't have time to do much of anything. Geoff got out the air horn and started blasting away. The dark-hulled boat with no lights showing, other than an anchor light, came so close to us that Claire (did I mention that the air horn woke her up?) could have stepped from our deck onto his. Not to slam any particular nationality, Ach Du Lieber!!!, but not only were there no navigation lights and no radar reflector, there was no one visible on deck even after the air horn blasts. Geoff gave a few parting blasts on the air horn as we passed behind him just for good measure. When the boat was about 100 feet behind us, suddenly there was life. Navigation lights came on and he turned. I guess we woke him up.
Date: September 2, 2008
We left Almerimar this afternoon and we are now on our way to Gibraltar. All of our packages arrived, a bunch of chores have been knocked off the list, and Bravo is in Gibraltar and Phoenix left for Gibraltar 6 hours ahead of us, so we move on. We're ready for something new. I'm curious about The Rock. I'll let you know what we find out.
Date: August 25, 2008
Location: Almerimar Boat Yard
We came into the Almerimar marina last Friday and this morning we hauled out in the boat yard. I pranced around the boat chanting die die die as the remaining barnacles gasped for water. Heh, heh, the power washer removed every last one of them. I saw a few shells on the ground and I stomped on them. I really dislike barnacles. I'm afraid I disturbed the children with my exuberance. Alex said I was not safe to leave alone and that if I kept up that sort of behavior she was going to have to start worrying about me. We're living on the boat in the yard so it's up and down ladders for a few days. A small price to pay for having a fresh bottom and meals out. And the rates were reasonable enough that we're having the yard do the work.
We sold the paddleboat to a couple who have a used boat-stuff consignment shop here. We'll miss it, but it would be impractical to try and cross the Atlantic with it. Claire is agitating for a sailing dinghy as a replacement.
It's a bit odd, but we didn't really do much for the past few days except hang out. I think we all needed some time to just be. We still plan to check out Almeria, but after we get the bottom thing well in hand. Geoff wants to be nearby to keep an eye on things. We met a couple from Seattle (Wind Walker) and they invited us over for drinks and munchies later. Not much else to tell you.
Date: August 21, 2008
Location: (37º 03' N 01º 17' W at 1200 on 8/20/08)
position on 8/21/08: 36º 41.939' N 02º 48.214' W, anchored in Ensenada de las Entinos, Spain (off Almerimar)
We arrived at Almerimar this morning and were anchored by 0830. We got the spinnaker out again yesterday and used it for quite some time. In fact, I was making better speed at night as we were supposed to be slowly approaching Almerimar to arrive at daylight than we had been making all afternoon. Seems to be our way of doing things. We woke the kids up in the dark to take down sails and get ready to anchor. They protested until we showed them clocks that indicated it was actually 0700. I know what you're thinking, and no, we didn't change the clocks. The sun doesn't rise until close to 0800, but that also means it's up longer. That's our new excuse for eating supper after 2000.
Geoff and Claire took the dinghy in to get info at the marina & the boat yard. In terms of Med-pricing this marina is reasonable. And they found a Raymarine representative who can look at our radar. However, the boat yard doesn't allow owners to work on their own boats. The Port Captain is the one who gives quotes for boatyard jobs (getting our bottom re-painted)and he wasn't around when G&C were there, so they will go back later this afternoon to talk to him. Then we will figure out if we will have the yard do the job or if we will find another yard that allows do-it-yourselfers. At any rate, we will probably go into the marina tomorrow and do a few chores. Sailmail doesn't want to talk to the SSB, or vice-versa, so that's one of the chores. I'm giving you two positions for the sake of completeness because of that non-communication.
The beach we are anchored off is quite popular today. This morning windsurfers came by close enough for me to check out the instructor. He reminded me of Fernando, the young, blonde, hunk who taught surfing in Sayulita, Mexico. Later we had the sailing dinghies complete with chase boat. But my personal favorite just zipped by - a small boat with a powerful outboard containing 4 middle-aged guys with beer-bellies. I swear they were giggling. I heard manly squeals and I came out on deck to watch what I thought we be a windsurfer smacking our boat. I was wrong. It was the guys. Two of them were sitting on a seat forward. Another one was sitting straddling the bow with his feet hanging out over the front of the boat. He was hanging onto the bowline as the boat bounced into the waves and splashed. The last guy was standing in the stern and driving with an extension on the outboard handle. He was gunning it into the waves and getting them all wet, and they were all whooping and laughing. The driver waved and grinned at me as they went by, and then we found another good wave to bounce his friends.
So here we are and we'll keep you posted. Oh, kite-boarders just whizzed by. G&C will have to get theirs fixed.
noon position on 8/20/08:
37º 03' N 01º 17' W
Date: August 19, 2008
Location: 38º 03.939' N 00º 00.00' E/W, crossing Prime Meridian at 1259
Woo hoo, another reason to celebrate, we crossed over from east to west and we are back in our half of the world again! Alex made a cake. Adventure Bear recited prime numbers for an hour. We fed him cake to make him stop.
We left Ibizia yesterday morning and have been sloooowly going southwest-ish toward Almerimar. The wind is being fickle. We did get a chance to have our spinnaker up for a while before the wind died again, so we crossed the Prime Meridian under spinnaker power. We just won't tell you our speed.
Date: August 17, 2008
Location: 39º 06.708' N 01º 30.793' E, anchored in Cala Portinatx, Ibizia (Balearic Island), Spain
I just wanted to share with you the information that this anchorage eats boats. No, no, stop worrying Mom, not any boats, just ones chartered by people who ignore storm warnings broadcast hourly. Boats chartered by people who watch an anchorage clear out and probably congratulate themselves on their good fortune instead of wondering why everyone else decided to leave en masse. We noticed a boat stuck up on the rocks this morning and went over to check it out. The poor thing was resting on the bottom in about 4 feet of water. Its keel and a portion of its rudder were resting in the sand underwater beside it. Snorkelers were already "diving the wreck." It's a first world country though, the boat ran aground on Thursday and it still has all of its lines and winches and radar and everything. The story is that a warning was issued for this harbor because it is open to the sea in the direction the waves were expected to come from. Everyone else left, but for some reason two boats stayed. the other boat ended up blown ashore too, but it was on sand so they got it off. The wrecked boat apparently had 10 people on board including a hired skipper. Oh my. The people all went to sleep and didn't notice anything wrong until they met shore early the next morning. One story has them abandoning the boat and another has them climbing out on shore. In either case the people were on the first ferry to Barcelona and they're long gone. Poor boat. I think it's the big news around here. I was getting the scoop from the woman who runs a grocery store ashore. She wanted to add some intrigue to the whole thing, but I don't think it was a charter boat full of fugitive smugglers evading justice.
We spent some time today on water sports. Claire went wake boarding and Alex & I went kayaking. Claire got stung by a jellyfish. Alex and I saw lots of the little things swimming/floating/pulsating around in the water. The girls took the kayak over to a place they dubbed Jellyfish Cove and caught 36 of the things. They brought them back to the boat in a bucket. Geoff and I were suitably impressed and then they let them go, one by one. And thus ends our day. We're off to town to maybe catch some Olympics and find internet.
Date: August 16, 2008
Location: 39º 06.708' N 01º 30.793' E, anchored in Cala Portinatx, Ibizia (Balearic Island), Spain
We left Barcelona around 0900 on 8/15 and had a nice run to Ibizia, the farthest west of the larger Balearic Islands. We left without a clear idea of where exactly we would end up, we decided to let the wind direction determine our anchorage. I think we're getting more relaxed about this destination thing. That said, our next stop is determined, we have school books to pick up in Almerimar, Spain. We'll spend a couple days here, check the weather and then head off to Almerimar. We think maybe we'll haul the boat there too and re-paint the bottom.
I must add a note about the Sagrada Familia (Temple of the Sacred family)in Barcelona. I may have found a new favorite architect in Gaudi. Anyone who can have stone snails the size of VW Beetles crawling down the side of a cathedral is all right with me. I fell in love with Frank Lloyd Wright in college (note the horizontal lines!) but there's room in my heart for more than one architect. Gaudi come on in. The temple is a work in progress. I almost suffered apoplexy when I discovered we had paid 10 euros to see an unfinished building, but after wandering around inside and seeing the museum I was happy to have my money go toward construction costs. Gaudi loved nature and math. He based many of his design features on trees and honeycombs and leaves and then analyzed the math to make them structurally sound. The support structures were like tree trunks and the ceiling culminated in honeycombed arches. Outside, there were sculptures everywhere. One entry depicted the passion of Christ in very block-like figures, powerful. Another entry had the Holy Family at Jesus' birth in a very different style. The angels were more human in form and size, and happy. There were all kinds of animals around the stable too, lambs, cows, a horse and turkeys. There were animals tucked everywhere. Turtles were at the base of the pillars holding up the columns supporting the arches over the doorways. And there were huge snails and lizards and snakes and frogs crawling up and down the building. Oh, and someone tell Sharon Pardini that there were fist-sized spiders too. Much of the building was wrecked when a mob got in some time during the civil war. The sculptures that were destroyed are being re-done at the same time the rest of the work is going forward. At the rate the temple is being completed I may have to return with my great-great-grandchildren to see some more of the towers much less the interior finished, but I think it would be worth it. Those of you with internet access should check it out. Those of you able to visit Barcelona will be happy to know that there is more Gaudi architecture to see, we just ran out of time.
Now that we are here we have discovered that Ibizia is the island that young night-clubbers frequent. Geoff said, "Great!! Let's go ashore! I'm into night cubs and you're young." Alex told him that she didn't think that the guidebook meant that this was a place for night-clubbers and their young. I can only hope that they blast disco into the wee hours.
Date: August 14, 2008
Location: 41º 22.718' N 02º 11.167' E, tied up in Port Vell Marina, Barcelona, Spain
We made it to Barcelona early. How early? We arrived off the city at around 2200, so we tacked back and forth until daylight. Geoff got to have most of the fun as I was sleeping in the cockpit, but I was there in case he needed me. I felt supportive anyway. We had the weirdest barometer readings of the trip so far on the way here too. Weird not necessarily in a bad way, just, um, unusual. I equate falling readings with weather I don't want to see arriving. That may or not be a fair assessment of what is to come, but the ONE TIME we hit totally yucky weather it was preceded by a drop in the barometer readings, so I imprinted on that storm. So I watched what was going on carefully. When we left Ajaccio the baro was at 1013. Ho hum. Why is she going to tell us all about this? Humor me. On Aug 11 at noon the baro read 1010. We write down the baro every 4 hours at watch change. Here are the readings in order for the next day and a half. From noon: 1010, 1008, 1007, 1006, 1004, 1003, 1004, 1003, 1007, 1008, 1009, 1013. My favorite bit is the part where it's going up and jumps from 1003 to 1007 in 4 hours. We had wind the whole time and not an overpowering amount. There was a big wind shift from SW to NE just before it started climbing Hhmmmm, I sense a relationship. I'm still a woman in search of weather knowledge.
The crew sweet-talked Geoff into coming into a marina in Barcelona. Yes it's expensive, but we're right downtown and can walk to almost everything I want to see. Yesterday we went to the Picasso museum. The kids were underwhelmed. We decided we liked his earlier work. Today I'm dragging them off to see some buildings designed by Gaudi which look odd. I must see them. Tomorrow we leave for the Balearics. The weather looks interesting, so we'll either end up in Menorca or Ibizia depending on the wind.
Date: August 11, 2008
Location: 41º 42' N 06º 13' E at 1200
We're moving slowly, but we're making progress. I'm still frustrated by securite announcements on the VHF in not-English. I'm hoping none of them pertain to us because no one on board has reached the graduate level of French required to decode rapid French spoken over a crackly radio. We're still working on public transportation announcement English. But soon we'll get to resurrect our faded Spanish. I remember palapa...
Date: August 10, 2008
Location: 41º 51' N 08º 28' E at 1200
We left Ajaccio this morning. We had a grand time in Corsica. We were in the harbor cruising around looking for a good place to anchor when we found a Dutch boat, Tradewind, that we met in Hurghada & then caught up with again in Katakolon, Greece. It was a pleasant serendipity. They have two boys 12 and 8. We took a train ride through the mountains to the inland city of Corte with them. Paoli led some revolution from there and the Corte citadel is the only one inland. We dragged the kids up to the lookout.
THEN we found out about a national park and mountain hikes to be had nearby. We bought some cheese and bread and fruit in town and made a pique-nique by a mountain stream on our way to the bus that would take us the 14 km to the trailhead. It was a great hike. Geoff & Claire & Jeroen made it to the lake on the ridge. The rest of us decided that playing in a pool fed by a waterfall lower down was just as much fun as reaching the top. We met up and hiked back to the parking lot where the bus had dropped us off only to discover that being early by 15 minutes was not enough. We felt better when 7 other people missed the same bus too. We suspect it departed from somewhere else without informing the tourist riders. We were in trouble. Waiting for the next bus would cause us to miss the last train back to Ajaccio. Jeroen began to stop cars as they passed us in the parking lot. There were 8 of us but we managed to find 3 cars willing to take us down the hill. Sacha and her boys went in the first car. The occupants were only going to a campground part of the way down, but in the end they got a ride all the way to the train station. The girls and I got the second car. Two very nice German tourists were staying in town and took us all the way to the train station. Geoff and Jeroen were last. They started calculating the differences in cost between getting a hotel for the night or a taxi to Ajaccio, but they got a ride all the way to the train station too. We all met at the train station within 10 minutes of each other. Our faith in humanity has been restored. Sonia, on the train ride back to Ajaccio a local guy traded hats with Alex, so now there is a Robinson Brick hat in Corsica.
We wandered around Ajaccio too, but it turns out that I was the only one really excited about Napoleon Bonaparte's origins, so I took myself to his house and to view several of his statues. A nice one was the fountain that had Napoleon dressed like Caesar in a toga and everything. Last night we took Claire out for steak dinner for her 16th birthday. (She says thanks for all the birthday greetings and good wishes!) After dinner we found two guys dressed like American Indians busking in front that fountain. The guys were pretty good, although I'm not sure they were very clear on the distinctions between North American and South American Indians. They were wearing full leather suits with beads, fringe and feathers while playing rain sticks and pan pipes to a restful new age soundtrack. We could have had a CD for only 15 euros.
Today we left for Spain. We're aiming for Barcelona unless the weather dictates we do something else like head for the Balearics instead.
Date: August 6, 2008
Location: 41º 55.939' N 08º 44.957' E, anchored off Ajaccio, Corsica
We enjoyed the first anchorage we found so much that we stayed another day. We all went snorkeling, although there really wasn't much to see. It was almost a waste of the crystal clear water. We saw rocks and sea grass and some brown fish. And we examined the set of our anchor. For fun Claire scrubbed the prop and the rudder and dislodged some grass and worms. The fish swam over and started following her around and eating. After she climbed out they hung around for a while looking hopeful. When not swimming, we entertained ourselves watching anchorage dynamics. Boats would come in and squeeze themselves into places where we didn't see room. Then when the wind changed people would pop out on their bows and watch how their boats swung. I took a picture of boats pointing about 6 different directions in the same anchorage. We were in our usual place on the edge of the anchorage and just watching all the fun instead of participating in it.
This morning we woke up early and made it to Ajaccio. I wanted to come here because Napoleon Bonaparte was born here. Today I found a map and tomorrow I plan to take the family exploring. My map has a Ville Imperiale walking tour that encompasses the major Bonaparte sites. Woo hoo. There's a Ville Genoese tour too. That tour features the citadel. I can't wait.
Date: August 4, 2008
Location: 41º 29.564' N 08º 55.993' E, anchored in Anse di Roccapina, Corsica
We did leave Sardinia today after all. We woke up bright and early and made the 6 mile crossing from Sardegna to Corsica. Okay, it wasn't that short, anchorage to anchorage we covered closer to 35 miles. Bur Sardegna and Corsica are that close to each other (island to island at their closest points). We spent a lot of today passing through islands making up a Marine Preserve. The islands are mostly barren and rocky, but scenic in that blasted, desolate way. We woke Claire up today specifically to rescue our Sardinian flag. One of its ties had broken and it was only hanging by the remaining one. And that tie had gotten stuck up in the block on the spreader. So, Claire got to climb the mast even before her morning coffee. Our anchorage here is quite nice. We're nestled among some of those blasted rocks, but ours have some windswept shrubs scattered amongst them. And we have 30 of our closest new friends to share the anchorage with. I think the girls will get to practice their French.
Italy (Sicily, Italy & Sardegna)
Date: August 3, 2008
Location: 41º 06.342' N 09º 26.726' E, anchored off Cannigione, Golfo di Arzachena, Sardegna
A quickie note to tell you all not to worry about our spotty communications. We have had miserable connections to sailmail via the SSB. There don't seem to be good stations in the Med. This morning we moved to a new anchorage in the bay so we've picked up internet from town. Later we'll go in and see what there is to see. Yesterday Geoff and Claire saved a 35 ft. powerboat from dragging onto some rocks. An afternoon sea breeze brings good wind into this bay and the powerboat dragged its anchor. Geoff and Claire went over in our dinghy to let him know as the guy on board seemed unaware. The 35 ft. powerboat was actually just the run-about for a large mega-yacht(powerboat) anchored a little farther away. Geoff and Claire talked to the single boat boy who was left in charge. The boat boy was keenly aware that he was dragging, but did not know how to turn on the engine or pull up the anchor and he did not have a way to contact the mega-yacht. Geoff and Claire raced our dinghy over to the mega-yacht and summoned help. The boat was saved. Unfortunately for me they were leaving, so I did not manage to finesse an invitation for cocktails on board the mega-yacht. They waved a lot though.
Date: August 1, 2008
Location: 41º 07.937' N 09º 28.132' E, anchored N of Cala Bitta in the Golfo di Arzachena, Sardegna (Sardinia)
We left the marina yesterday afternoon and headed for Sardinia. We left late enough in the day that it was a toss-up whether we would make it in before unacceptable light conditions kept us outside the bay or not. We choose to boost our sail power with a little petroleum product and here we are. We anchored around 1700 in a gaggle of boats and now at 1900 the day-trippers have gone away and there are only 6 boats left. Claire and I were looking around the anchorage and predicting who would go and who would stay. We said the boats with awnings, non-Italian flags and laundry on the lifelines would be staying. And, we were right. Although one new boat did show up, a powerboat. We don't see any laundry or awnings, we'll have to see if he stays much beyond cocktail hour.
Date: July 30, 2008
Location: 41º 44.279' N 12º 14.632' E, tied up in Porto Touristico di Roma, Italy
We arrived yesterday and were tied up and looking for showers by 1100. We also found a coin-operated washing machine, potable water at the dock and new friends, Greetings from Huntington Beach. This morning we woke up early and took the bus to the train to the metro to Rome. We were touring fools. We did as much as we could in one day in Rome. We saw a bunch of Vatican City (The pope wasn't around though, he was off at some other papal place, saying mass and giving audiences. He left behind some of the Swiss Guard, what goofy outfits.), the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum. By the end of the day we were sitting in the shade of Constantine's Arch, drinking overpriced, tepid sodas and trying to get up the energy to go appreciate some more history and culture. We just couldn't do it. No matter how alluring the Circus Massimo (place where they held chariot races) looked on paper, we couldn't get up any zip to go see it. Eventually we prized each other off the stones we were seated on and herded ourselves back to the metro to the train to the bus to the marina. Alex and I threw coins in to the Trevi Fountain, so we know we'll be back some day. And then we'll see the Forum and the Borghese Museum and the Lateran Cathedral and ...
Date: July 28, 2008
Location: 40º 32' N 13º 18' E at 1200
We're slowly working our way northward towards Ostia. We've been getting in some pure sailing, but moving slowly in very light winds. Today we saw some other sailboats on the water. One guy - who was going downwind - had his jib out. The other guys weren't going to subject their sails to unnecessary sunlight exposure. They had their sails under covers and were motoring past us.
Date: July 27, 2008
Location: 39º 16' N 14º 40' E ay 1200
We are proceeding slowly. We are motor-sailing when the sailing at below 1 kt speeds gets to us. We were going slowly enough this afternoon to watch jellyfish swim past the boat. Last night's jellyfish were more interesting. They were saucer-sized and phosphorescent. In fact, the entire evening-around-Stromboli experience was worthwhile. Admittedly I slept through most of it, but Geoff and the kids had a good time. They saw the glowing jellyfish. They got to dodge many boats. And, the highlight of their evening, they found strings of fishing net flashies all over the area around the anchorage (and best volcano viewing area) of Stromboli. They woke me up to see Stromboli spit fire into the air and even before I looked at the volcano I spotted the flashies. Shows you how Indonesia has affected my psyche.
Stromboli erupting was cool. It spit lava into the air and we could see it even without binocs. When using the binocs we could see the bits in the stream of lava instead of just a line of red shooting into the air. The farther away we got from the volcano the better the view, until eventually the portion of the volcano with the eruptions was blocked from sight. We could see the volcano itself well into the morning today. I understand why the ancients considered Stromboli a lighthouse to guide them on their way to the Messina Strait.
Date: July 26, 2008
Location: 38º 25.029' N 14º 57.697' E, anchored in Porto Di Levante, Isolo Vulcano (Aeolian Islands)
We did not get up early to go hike around the caldera. No, we waited until 1100 to start up the barren slopes. At least we had the sense to bring lots of cold water with us and wear hats. We were stopped on the trail at a nicely constructed information hut by a man with a walkie-talkie and charged a "tax" to hike on the crater and then we paid an extra fee for a guide and some gas masks. Geoff managed to bargain with the guy for a reduced fee for the kids. We're pretty sure that this was an unofficial shake-down of some sort, but we went along with it. The guy had some very impressive signs describing the dangers of inhaling sulfur fumes. And, we weren't in the mood to argue the system. The fumaroles were hot, smelly and really neat. The sulfur was crystallizing on the rocks making pale to bright yellow patches on the crater's side. In some places just regular white, salt crystals were growing next to the yellow, sulfur ones. I was stopping and taking lots of pictures and the guide wanted to make sure we didn't linger in the fumes too long. I think he was happy to send us on our way up to the top of the crater without him.
We have volcanos on the brain. Tonight we are underway for Ostia on mainland Italy. (We plan to visit Rome from Ostia) We left just before dusk and have routed ourselves past Stromboli Island to see some more volcanic action. Stromboli is supposed to be continually venting and oozing lava. We're hoping for some pyrotechnics and we thought night-time would provide the best viewing.
Date: July 25, 2008
Location: 38º 25.029' N 14º 57.697' E, anchored in Porto Di Levante, Isolo Vulcano (Aeolian Islands)
Last night we could indeed see a red strip of lava on the side of Mt. Etna. We stayed on the boat and observed the port from the cockpit. The buildings looked interesting, Mt. Etna was an imposing presence, the anchorage was busy with boats and swimmers, and we had a bottle of Sicilian wine. It was a good evening. This morning we were up before the sun because we wanted to make close to 70 miles before dark and catch a favorable current through the Messina Strait. Scilla and Charybdis of ancient lore were not in effect this morning. We didn't have to dodge any multiple-armed monsters ready to drag us to our doom on their rocks, nor did we have to avoid any whirlpools ready to suck us down to oblivion. I don't know what Odysseus was complaining about.
As it turned out the most exciting part of going through the strait was seeing swordfishing boats. Swordfishing boats must have been regular fishing boats that evolved to fit their specific game fish. Our guidebook says that swordfish like to sleep or laze near the surface. So, the boats have a tall, really tall, spindly metal mast. The driver and a spotter perch on the tippy top of this thing. The boats also have a spindly metal bowsprit that extends maybe twice as long as the boat itself. A guy with a harpoon sits out on the end of the bowsprit to spear the unsuspecting, lounging swordfish. We can't figure out why the boats don't topple over. They don't look like they have deep keels, maybe they just have a lot of rocks in the bilge. There were several of these milling about near Messina. Guys who couldn't afford the specialized boats were standing up in the general-model fishing dinghy. The little boats were also milling about near Messina. We didn't see any of them catch anything. Alex wants me to also mention the hydrofoil ferry we saw zipping by. It was cool. Alex and Claire want one.
Date: July 24, 2008
Location: 37º 49.636' N 15º 16.441' E, anchored off Giardini Naxos, Sicily (in the shadow of Mt. Etna)
We left Siracusa bright and early this morning and made it to Naxos by 1700. We liked our stay in Siracusa. The most obvious difference between Sicily and Greece was the architecture. Siracusa has lots of balconies with ornate iron-work. We spent a day playing tourist and a day doing chores in Siracusa. We visited a museum that unfortunately had a lot of pots. The girls were almost ready to bolt once they discovered loads of pots and no air-conditioning. The descriptions of the burial caves and the spearheads saved us. It was interesting to follow the migration of the people from inland to the coast and back inland as they had contact with different, sometimes friendly and sometimes not, outside cultures. Then we went to see an impressive Greek theater, a Roman Arena and The Ear of Dionysius. Dionysius' Ear was a cave with interesting acoustical properties, a whisper is amplified and carried far from the speaker. Crafty Dionysius stuck his prisoners down there and then listened to them. We also went to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Tears. Miracles have been attributed to the crying statue. We saw many altars in the sanctuary. One of the altars had a copy of the shroud of Turin. Now that was cool. Claire had her translator with her so we could figure out most of what the placards were telling us. Italy is making me feel very Catholic.
Here in Naxos we are anchored beneath Mt. Etna. We're keeping our fingers crossed that tonight when it's dark we can see lava flowing. We've used the smoke coming out of the summit and the side as a guide to the wind direction all day long on our way here. Tomorrow morning we plan to be up before the sun in order to up anchor and start our way through the Messina Strait on a favorable tide. Fans of the classics will appreciate the Messina Strait as the home of Scilla and Charybdis from Homer's Odyssey. I plan to take pictures.
Date: July 21, 2008
Location: 37º 03.633' N 15º 16.962' E, anchored in Fondo Marino, off Siracusa, Sicily
We arrived off Siracusa in the wee hours and Geoff spent most of the night sailing slowly, slowly at 2 kts toward the harbor. At midnight we were about 17 miles out. In the distance we could see Mt. Etna with a ribbon of red lava near its rim. I took over at 0400 and managed to make the last 7 nm last until the sun rose. We dropped anchor, ate breakfast and then dropped into our beds for a nap. This afternoon we ventured into the Old Town. Sicily is cool. It's always exciting to go ashore somewhere new. We found "European" buildings, an awe-inspiring cathedral, a fountain with Artemis at its center and, the best ice cream since Niue! I have discovered that there is a museum here, and the largest Greek Theater in Europe. I also found out that Archimedes lived here. And I found a wealth of local radio stations, I'm favoring the ones with songs in Italian. What a place. We'll stay here a couple of days and then we're heading up the coast toward the Straits of Messina.
Date: July 20, 2008
Location: 37º 25' N 16º 38' E at 1200
We have gotten closer to a path ships like to take, so we're seeing more of them. No Monkey Man imitators last night though. Oh well, we had to make our own fun. We whooped it up by taking showers. Nothing else worth noting happened. Some days are just like that.
Date: July 19, 2008
Location: 37º 57' N 19º 00' E at 1200
Have we told you about the "Monkey Man" from the Indian Ocean? He was a bored bored bored guy on a tanker that would while away his night watch hours by blabbering on the radio. He was usually profane, often amusing and very distinctive. All kinds of people that we talked to in and around the Red Sea knew about him - from fellow cruisers to the taxi driver in Aden. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Monkey Man should be beaming. Last night the girls heard a bunch of guys on tankers talking on the radio. They were being profane, amusing and mostly imitative. However, Monkey Man didn't inspire coordinated rap riffs between radio guys nor did he spark boat to boat calls for "Fabio, Faaaaaaabioooooo." It had us laughing. I wonder if they'll be back tonight.
Date: July 18, 2008
Location: 38º 29' N 20º 33' E at 1200
I seem to have developed a couple of over-riding interests, monitoring the "neighborhood" and following the weather. Having the VHF on helps me keep on top of both of my hobbies. However, the VHF has not been as effective a tool as it could be lately. I can hear other yachties calling each other, my latest favorite line was "Interlude, this is Liki Liki." I've watched Pirates of the Caribbean one too many times. As soon as I heard Liki-Liki I chortled with glee. Liki-Liki, Heck, I'm smiling now. Anyway, after the yachties call each other they switch into some other language and it's no fun to eavesdrop anymore. That leaves me with weather watch. Olympia Radio broadcasts weather on the VHF in Greek and English. I think. They announce on channel 16 and advise you to switch to another channel near your area and then list about 12 channels to choose from. I can hear the channel 16 announcements, but I have never managed to pick up any of the others. So there we are anchored in Limin Vathy on Ithaca. It is definitely windy. The wind, which is blowing spray - which Beaufort number is that?- has kicked up waves in the harbor. Olympia Radio announces on channel 16 that they have a gale warning and advise ships switch to the other channels for more info. Aaiieee! What is a weather-paranoid-freak supposed to do?! As it turns out, not much other than sit and stew. To be fair, the gale could have been in the Aegean Sea for all I knew. We sat in Limin Vathy for 2 days until whatever it was we had blew over. This morning we topped off at the fuel dock and are now heading for Sicily. By the way, it's very calm and we have up the big jib.
Date: July 15, 2008
Location: 38º 21.976' N 20º 43.054' E, anchored in Limin Vathy, Ithaca
Just a quick check in. We plan to leave for Italy in the next day or two. We came back to Ithaca to get fuel (they have a real live fuel dock) and do some shopping at the small but surprisingly well-stocked grocery store. Lefkas was fun, we got to do a lot of swimming. We were anchored next to some Americans, so we had a lovely time speaking Yank, no interpreters necessary. Claire and Geoff found a kite-boarding beach, but alas, have broken their kite. Further kiting will have to wait until they affect some repairs. Maybe one last trip ashore for some moussaka and wine, drop the dinghy!
Date: July 11, 2008
Location: 38º 42.212' N 20º 42.749' E, anchored in Tranquil Bay, off Nydriou, Nisos Lefkas
Now we're on Nisos Lefkos. We left Nisos Ithaca this morning looking for a yachting center that would have a few odds and ends of line (for new lazy jacks) and info on Italy. Oh boy did we find one. Claire and Geoff were talking to a sailing couple in Vathy, Ithaca, and they recommended coming here. They said it was a charter base and a tourist center, so we expected to find people. Aaaiiieee, it's as if all the cruising boats in Greece decided to come here now. Ha, ha, we thought we had found cruisers in Katakolon when we were in an anchorage with maybe 10 boats. Vathy in Ithaca had maybe 50 boats. I think we sailed past 50 boats just coming up the coast into here. We're in a long bay and it's full of boats at anchor and the edges are lined with med-moored boats. We're starting to think that maybe we miss the stark beauty and empty anchorages of the Peloponnese. All that said, it is lovely here. The hills are green, the water is blue and inviting and the people are still friendly. And I saw a statue of Aristotle Onasis in town.
Date: July 8, 2008
Location: 38º 22.016' N 20º 43.053' E, anchored in Limin Vathy, Nisos Ithaca
Another morning, up with the sun, pull up the anchor and head out for a new anchorage. This time we're off the Peloponnese and out on the island of Ithaca. It is green here, kind of weird not to see barren hills, but a nice change of pace. We're anchored in a harbor surrounded by a lovely, quaint city. It is very protected, almost too well protected. We've taken off as much clothing as modesty allows and are hanging out in the cockpit hoping for a breeze. We're watching to see if anyone gets in the water, none of us wants to be first. We'll stay here a day of two waiting for our friends. In the meantime I need to find out what historical and/or cultural goodies are to be found around here. It's been at least three days since I dragged the girls off to see something educational. Oh, a breeze, I'm gone -
Date: July 7, 2008
Location: 37º 39.122' N 21º 19.449' E, anchored in Ormos Katakolou off Katakolon, Peloponnese
Three of us were up bright and early this morning to cast off the dock lines and leave Piros. About 10 minutes after we were out of the harbor Claire and I crawled back into bed and left Geoff to get us up the coast. Piros was a nice stop. By accident we arrived just in time for a couple of "Music Nights" in the town square. The first night we got to see folk dancing and listen to a local choir sing Greek songs. The next night we only stayed long enough to watch them setting up. The fun doesn't start until well after dark when it cools down and we had an early start this morning. We could hear a municipal band playing from the boat though, so we got to share in the music from afar.
We arrived here in Katakolon around 1600. We found the yachties!!! We've wondered where they've been hiding. All throughout the islands we found mostly chartered boats. Running around the southern Peloponnese we found few boats period. Today we've found an anchorage full of cruising boats. We can tell they are not charter boats because 1) they are flying Greek courtesy flags from their flag halyards and larger, faded country flags off their transoms or backstays and 2) they have a ton of stuff on their decks. We even know one of the boats from Egypt, Tradewind, a Dutch boat with two boys. The 4 kids took Tradewind's sailing dinghy ashore and went crawling around on the rocks. Then they amused themselves swimming and trying to capsize the dinghy and generally having fun. Tomorrow they are heading for some island that starts with an 'S' (according to the kids) and we are heading off for Ithaca. Another early rising, tomorrow we get Alex up to knock chain.
Date: July 5, 2008
Location: 36º 55.113' N 21º 41.950' E, tied up at Piros Marina, Piros, Peloponnese
We slept in until 0700 today and were up and out by 0730. We expected to be going into strong headwinds, but that didn't happen. We were going into the wind, but it wasn't too bad, so we made it to Piros and were tied up by 1300. We came into a marina to get fuel. This isn't exactly a Marina marina. Neither power nor water is available on the dock. There is no fuel dock, a truck delivers fuel. There aren't showers or laundry or even a bathroom. But, it is a protected harbor with a sturdy wall to tie to and it was easy to get fuel. Most boats just come in and tie up, first come first served, stay a while, and then leave. We bothered to talk to the Port Captain, so we're paying a fee. Since we haven't paid anywhere else in Greece maybe we're due. A good karma kind of thing. We feel better for talking to someone official though, because we found ourselves a lovely spot to side-tie that has "Captain" spray painted on the cement right where our gate opens. We'd hate to be awakened in the dark by the irate "Captain" and asked to move. Of course, it could also be a sneaky ploy by someone to keep this spot open. Too bad it didn't work on us.
Piros has an excellently preserved Venetian fort (ho hum, another cool fort) at the port entrance. The mosque inside has long since been converted to a church. The guide book says that the battle of Navarinou was fought here. Something about English boats waging a ferocious battle against a Turkish-Egyptian fleet at anchor in the large bay here. The Brits won and that led to Greek independence on the Peloponnese. There's an historical monument in town. I'm sure I NEED to take the girls to see it.
Date: July 4, 2008
Location: 36º 47.981' N 21º 57.469' E, anchored off Koroni, in Limin Koronis, Peloponnese
We pulled up our anchor and moved today. We were up and out early in order to make some miles and still be able to stop and anchor for the night. We're taking advantage of day-hopping possibilities. We moved down and around one bay and over to a point at the bottom of the next one. We rounded Ak. Tainaron leaving the bay containing Githio. The guide book thinks Ak. Tainaron is "very nearly the most southerly cape of mainland Europe and only Cape Tarifa at the entrance to the Gibraltar Strait is further south by 14 miles." That isn't intuitively obvious, but I suppose the guide book has conscientious editors, so it must be correct.
It's the 4th of July, which for us usually means BBQ, watermelon and fireworks. We've eaten tons of watermelon all over Greece, however, we don't have one with us today. It's Friday, so the girls are making pizza. Pizza isn't barbequed, nor is hot dogs, hamburgers or steaks, but it will be American enough for us. As for fireworks, we still have some bottle rockets...
Date : June 28, 2008
Location: 36º 45.423' N 22º 34.251' E, anchored off Yithion, behind Nisos Kranai, Peloponnese
We moved yesterday. It was so calm in the morning that Geoff and I didn't wake up the kids. We dropped the dock lines and left. The big ones (Claire and Tyler) woke up as soon as they heard the engine. Claire is more used to boat life. When she figured out that no one was actively seeking her, she went right back to sleep to take advantage of the unexpected bunk time. The younger ones (Alex and Remy) are sounder sleepers. About an hour later Alex crept out of her bunk and blinked at the sun. "Are we underway?" she mumbled. It was a pleasant trip and we arrived and anchored behind the island on which Homer (in the Iliad) says Paris and Helen of Troy spent their first night after eloping. The island is named Nisos Kranai. We, of course, went out there and walked around. We found a little church, a museum in an old fort and a lighthouse. The museum was already closed for the day and a caterer was setting up tables and chairs in its parking lot. The lighthouse appeared occupied and was off limits. The church was also setting up chairs outside, getting ready for a wedding. We were on the perifery of much activity. Watching it made us hungry. We wandered back to Yithion and then had squid and stuffed tomatoes for dinner. We watched the wedding at the church from across the water.
Today Phil drove us to Mistros, an ancient city built on a hill. If I have my facts straight, the Spartans migrated from here to Sparta down in the valley below. I've read too many historical markers in the last week to be sure. The kids enjoyed poking around more ruins, although I think they are getting jaded. They are starting to refer to our trips to historical fortifications as excursion to see old, piled rocks. We saw more churches today too. Another group from the USA was there today. They had a Greek Orthodox priest with them, but I'm pretty sure he was a homegrown US one. He had the long robes and beard and squarish hat and spoke Greek, but he was wearing Crocs on his feet.
Date: June 27, 2008
Location: position on 6/25/08, 36º 16.168' N 23º 04.732' E, tied to ferry dock at Dhiakofti, Nisos Kithera
Ah, I'm bad and getting worse about informing you of changes. We moved. We moved two days ago. We had an excellent sail down here from Monemvasia. Surprisingly for us, the wind was in our favor. Geoff was almost so carried away by the experience that he was considering getting out the spinnaker. However, the best wind for spinnakers occurred only a couple of miles from our destination, so we let laziness prevail and we didn't rig everything for the few scant minutes of fun to be had. We'll keep our fingers crossed for our move back to the Pelponnese.
Kithera is a very nice and very non-touristy island. We had a cave all to ourselves yesterday. We almost had to share, but the other car full of family neglected to bring flashlights and were leaving as we arrived. Arnolds do not forget to come equipped with flashlights when visiting caves. We are 8 traveling Arnolds. We had 6 flashlights. The cave was ours. It was used as a Christian hidey-hole during one of the periods of Turkish dominance, so there was a tiny chapel back in the cave. Some painted (fresco) icons are still there. We appreciated the religious artifacts and then crawled all over the cave. Then we went to a monastery and appreciated the Greek Orthodox splendor of it all. Remy lit a candle and won the heart of the elderly woman watching the church, so she took us to a special chapel and side room below the church. It was filled with icons of all style, subject manner, shape and size. We also saw candles shaped like babies, hands and feet. Our lady didn't speak any English so we couldn't ask about them. Anyone?
Today we're off to explore the big city. And eat some more.
Date: June 24, 2008
position on 6/22/08, 36º 47.085' N 23º 05.078' E, anchored off Ieraka, Peloponnese
position on 6/23/08, 36º 41.156' N 23º 02.433' E, anchored off Yefira, Peloponnese (next to Monemvasia)
We've moved a couple of times in the last few days. Kiparissi proved to be too rolly for me, so I "encouraged" the crew to get up early and get underway. I promised to feed them as we sailed. I made French Toast and we went down the coast a little to a very small town called Ieraka. The anchorage was narrow but well out of the direct path of the wind. Until... the wind picked up overnight and the swell reflected against the rocks and found us. We were still in better shape than in Kiparissi as far as rolling was concerned. The kids swam from the boat and had fun watching the boats rearrange themselves on the dock and in the anchorage.
The next morning the kids had one more round of swimming and then we left for Monemvasia to meet Phil & Helen. We went climbing around the old town today. Monemvasia is built out on an island now accessible by a causeway. I am getting used to crawling around things built thousands of years ago. This morning we stopped at an ancient church, Agia Sophia, modeled on the one in Constantinople. The kids liked walking around the citadel ramparts. And then more swimming off the boat to cool off. Tomorrow we expect to move to the island of Kitheria.
Date: June 21, 2008
Location: 36º 58.449' N 22º 59.601' E , anchored off Kiparissi, Peloponnese
Today we made a bold move and left Navplion. We truly enjoyed our stay there, but now we have collected the family and we are touring fools on the move. The family arrived in Athens on the 16th. We took a bus up to Athens and ran around the Acropolis/Parthenon with them the next day. We also spent quality air-conditioned time in the National Museum. Oh, and we had ice cream. The next day Phil & Helen & the boys drove down to Navplion and we had a Brazilian BBQ on Bravo with our yachtie friends on Phoenix and Bravo. They arrived in Navplion on the 16th! We had managed to accumulate 9 teen-age kids, and two dogs. They all had a good time meeting each other and discovering a common interest in soccer. They took a ball over to a plaza near the boats and played a game.
From Navplion we drove to Mycenaea one day and Olympia the next. We learned that Mycenaea is pronounced Mih-keen-ess and is very hot. And interesting. We all enjoyed Olympia. Hhmmm, maybe even more than Mikinos. We found out that a distance of 120 km translates to about 4 hours travel time when climbing mountains. Phil drove our fine mini-van with itty, bitty get-up-and-go all day, over hill and dale and rocky chasm. The kids started counting the shrines built on the side of the road near the drop-offs. The best corner had 8 of them. Once in Olympia we spent the day wandering in the peaceful grounds seeing fallen temples. Of course we had to run a race on the dirt track in the Olympic Stadium.
This morning we got up early and climbed up the hill to the Palamidi Castle built on the hilltop over looking Navplion. 910 steps, we counted. And then we stopped at the grocery and then we left town, and now we are here. We're working our way to Monemvasia to meet Phil & Helen. The kids made pizza and are now swinging off the boat like mad men (according to Alex). Life is good.
Date: June 11, 2008
Location: ( )
This is a quickie note because I'm in an internet cafe sending this via their airwaves and I didn't bring our position with me. Tisk, tisk, you'd think I carry that sort of info with me everywhere. We arrived in Navplion yesterday and are tied up on the quay.
Date: June 6, 2008
Location: 37º 19.476' N 23º 08.950' E anchored in Limin Cheli, Porto Kheli (Peloponnisos)
Okay, I will be thrifty with words today after the overly long message about Serifos. Claire has been muttering about its length and time spent on the SSB trying to send it. We liked Serifos, but decided to leave anyway. We left yesterday afternoon and arrived here on the Peloponnisos this morning and were anchored by 0930. We plan to spend a couple days in here and then creep closer to Navplion. We think we may look at Ormos Karathona or Khaidhari on the way.
Date: June 5, 2008
The day we arrived I had the binocs out and was just looking at stuff. I noticed an American flag flying from one of the charter boats tied up at the pier. What a mess over there. There were so many wanting on the pier that in some places they were tied two deep. We took our dinghy over and added just one more little boat in order to check out town. As we passed the boat with the American flag the people were sitting out in their cockpit, so I decided to be friendly. My cheerful greeting was not reciprocated in warmth. We chatted for a while. They (adults with college-age children, I think. I was talking to maybe Mom)are doing some college course that requires them to read Homer while cruising the Greek Islands. They are fellow Californians from the LA area. They told me where, but I didn't recognize the place. I was sensing some unfriendliness, so I decided to name-drop. I cheerfully told them that I'd been to LA, I had cousins that live there, they live in Hancock Park. I hope Hancock Park is still a ritzy neighborhood. Mom thawed a little. She asked when we had arrived. It turns out that they had been "stuck in Serifos because of bad weather." That explains the large collection of boats on the pier. So her bad weather that kept them in port was for us strong weather that we sailed in. Hhmmmm, I've always known we're a bit different. As the day wore on more and more boats arrived. By bedtime there were 16 of us anchored out in the bay in addition to the 20 or so tied to the pier - and each other. Oh, the best arrival was the mega-yacht, all 100 feet of it. It came and anchored right next to us. I busied myself by watching their comings and goings. The crew wore matching polo shirts and khaki shorts. The crew got the dinghy down, polished metalwork that might have gotten salt on it, set the table in the cockpit and served drinks and dinner. I told Geoff to buy me one. He laughed.
The wind died down overnight and by morning the exodus had begun. I took my tea and my binocs into the cockpit to watch. The place cleared out. The mob over on the pier sorted themselves out and left. Finally only two guys were left over there. The anchorage cleared out too. I never did get a chance to talk to the family with kids. One boat circled around for hours. He had a suspiciously anchor-less anchor chain hanging off the front of his boat. I had a good time speculating on their problem, clearly, they lost their anchor. They pulled over to the dock and talked to boats over there. One guy took an anchor out of his boat and another man swam off the pier to the circling boat, got their dinghy, went back to the pier and took the anchor out to them. Later they left. So either the one guy had a spare or now he's anchor-less. I wonder if they rented from the same charter company and those were the instructions. Beats me.
We took the bus to a small town on the top of a huge hill. We climbed to the church perched up there and enjoyed the view. The wind continued to die down as the day wore on until there was not even a small breeze blowing. More boats arrived. Yesterday was a moving day. Geoff and Claire critiqued the new arrivals' med-mooring techniques. All the charter boats arrive with their fenders down ready to tie up at the pier. One rebel went straight to the anchorage. We figure he didn't read his charter agreement carefully. He's next to us. Out here space is at a premium, so boats Med-moor. (I think Med is for the Mediterranean.) The idea is to drop your anchor out in the water and then back up to the pier and only tie the stern of your boat, you end up perpendicular to the dock instead of parallel to it. You need fenders on both sides because you are very up-close-and-personal with your neighbors. Those fenders are all that separate you from rubbing up against each other. If you can see light between the boats you left too much room, and someone will try to squeeze into all that space. There is also some obscure politics in play amongst the charter boats. Not one of them stayed in the spot they originally med-moored in. They would come in, med-moor, sit in their cockpit for maybe up to half an hour, then get off the dock and move over a couple of spaces. Perhaps the rebel wasn't that confused after all.
This morning people are leaving again. We plan to hang out here one more day and then make for Navplion. We saw a place on shore with free internet. It probably has expensive coffee, but I'd spring for a cup if they also have baklava.
Evening update: Thursday, June 5. We didn't find the internet place open, but we found very friendly San Joseans to talk to instead. Oh, and we left Serifos this afternoon at 1600. We're heading for Porto Kheli, kind of nearish, sort of, to Navplion.
Date: June 3, 2008
Location: 37º 08.680' N 24º 31.014' E anchored in Ormos Livadhiou, off Livadhi, Nisos Serifos, Greece
We left Astipalaia yesterday morning bright and early, 0900. Ahem. We were tired. We took a "short cut" through a shallow pass. After Indonesia our idea of shallow has changed, this small pass had reported depths of 5.5 m, and we never saw less than 7 m. Piece of cake. Going that way cut a considerable distance off our path here. We went south around the bottom of the island then slogged our way north and west. I've been doing a little reading in the guidebook I borrowed and scanned as much of as I could before its owners needed to leave port. I have learned that there is an adverse wind called The Meltemi. I'm not sure if it is only in and around Greece (and other Med countries just call it something else), but it is seasonal and it blows, oh, from the northwest. We're making shorter hops to get over to the mainland in order to minimize our exposure to it. We haven't really found it yet. We've been able to tack our way north and have had lots of sailing. We feel very nautical again.
In fact, on our way into this anchorage this morning we had quite a blow to head into. All of us were decked out in full foul weather gear with harnesses, red windblown cheeks and amazing windswept hairdos. We came in, set our anchor and then stopped to look around. People on shore were walking around in shorts and tank tops. A boatload of Germans had just gotten into the water and we watched them swim ashore. The cat next to us was full of people in shorts, staring at us. I don't think they were admiring our skills. We think the lady on the cat was telling her husband that they might want to reconsider their plans to leave today. It could also be our large American flag. We haven't seen many other Americans. Lots and lots of Germans though. Or maybe it's the paddleboat we have pulled up on our dinghy davits. Ah, while I've been sitting here four other boats have arrived. We spotted kids on the deck of one of them. Time to go be neighborly.
Date: June 1, 2008
Location: 36º 34.506' N 26º 23.225' E anchored in Ormos Analipsis, off Maltazana, island of Astipalaia, Greece
We didn't leave on Friday, we left yesterday, on Saturday, around 1100. We arrived this morning around 1100. Not bad, in 24 hours we went approx 90 nm. We got to sail past some more of Turkey. It looked barren and rocky. Night fell and the wind picked up some and I got cold, so I slunk below. I missed passing around some of the Greek islands. In general, a lot of them look barren and rocky too, except on the lee slopes, there we can see trees. There is one other sailboat in this anchorage. The town is very small. It has a countable number of white houses, one taverna and a few churches. There are some small fishing boats moored in here. We passed some large floaties on the way in. I'm getting good at spotting floaties and I don't twitch as much as I used to. Oh, and I can see goats on the hillside. The guidebook said that this island was used by pirates from waaaaay back. Claire wants to put up our Jolly Roger in sympathy with the island's past, but I think we'll refrain. We should find out if the locals have a sense of humor first. Since leaving the Red Sea we've put up our large American flag.
We only plan on spending tonight here, then we move on. So Claire and Alex are getting the dinghy down in order to go wakeboarding this afternoon. Just letting the locals know, the Americans have arrived!
Date: May 27, 2008
Location: 36º 26.584' N 28º 14.133' E anchored in Limin Akanda, Nisos Rhodos, Greece
We've been here for only three days and already we've logged miles of shoe leather walking around the Old Town. Not only am I learning geography on this trip, I am also learning about history and culture. Since landing here, we discovered that the Knights of St. John established a solid presence on the island with a medieval walled city and everything. The architecture is more of what I expect I'd call "English Castle" than what I was expecting from Greek Ruins. We've had tons of fun wandering around the narrow cobbled streets and using our imaginations to put ourselves back in time to the crusades. As luck would have it, last weekend was a Medieval Festival. There were costumed people running around, and arts groups with musicians and crafts, and weapons demonstrations. Of course we've had to have very good imaginations because much of the Old Town has been restored for tourist shops and so far we've counted five cruise ships here in one weekend. We haven't been lonely.
We've also talked to the boat yard. Um, we'll probably wait some more before we haul the boat and paint the bottom. We found the grocery store and inexpensive gyros and a movie theater with movies in English. We saw Indiana Jones and Iron Man with Greek subtitles. Oh, and in religious news, I found and attended a Catholic Mass last Sunday, Saint Francis Church. It was multi-lingual. As I walked into church a very nice man asked which language I spoke and then handed me the appropriate order of Mass and sheet with the readings. They had about 8 different languages already printed. Before Mass started the lector took a little survey: how many here today speak English? a clump of 6 or so of us raised our hands, German? 10 people, Italian? 4 people, French? no takers. The first reading was then in German, the second reading in Italian, the Gospel was in English, most of the Mass was in Greek and the responses were in Latin. I'm not sure if the Latin was an attempt at consensus or if Mass here is more conservative. We did lots more kneeling than at home.
Date: May 22 & May 23, 2008
Location: 5/22, 35º 12' N 29º 33' E at 1200
Location: 5/23, 36º 26.584' N 28º 14.133' E anchored in Limin Akanda, Nisos Rhodos, Greece
A two day message, yesterday things got ripping and we were busy, but first -
I think we must have a sign out that says "Avian Transport & Rest Stop" because we had another couple of guests. As the sun rose I looked up at the windex and got a glance at the mizzen spreader too. Oh, I thought, a pigeon has roosted on the spreader. Then the pigeon fluffed its tail and I saw stripes. I decided to climb out on the foredeck and get a look at the pigeon head on. As I was coming around the dodger I startled a little sparrow. The little bird flew around the boat once. My "pigeon" followed closely. It turned out to be some sort of raptor. I saw sharp claws and a tiny but lethal-looking beak. I woke up Claire again. The Little Guy eventually hid right next to the dodger and the Big Guy went back to the spreader. Claire got out her falcon book. She thinks it was a Peregrine Falcon. Little Guy eventually hopped onto the main sheet and then walked his way under the dodger to the people-side by climbing through the hole for the main sheet. Big Guy flew off his spreader perch and disappeared. About 10 minutes later Claire turned around and there he was, sitting on the solar panel eyeing Little Guy. He didn't appear to want to get past Claire and I to get his snack. He went back to his preferred spreader. Claire says peregrines are known for their persistence. Eventually he left for good and Little Guy stopped cowering behind the pile of extra main sheet and hopped around exploring. We discouraged him from going below, although he was looking. After he rested, he took off too. And that was all the excitement for the day, until, the wind picked up about 2 PM. Headwinds of the on-the-nose variety in our desired direction. Our engine has decided it would be fun to start over-heating again, so we enjoyed the wind at first because then we were going somewhere. The wind kept picking up. We double-reefed the main and then took it down. We reefed the little jib too. We were making tacks that got us toward the goal, slowly. On a different note, the kids heard a good securite' message. Coalition Warship #13 got on the VHF and asked boats to stay out of a particular area. It seems they lost a man overboard. Later they came back on the VHF to let boats know that the area was no longer off-limits as they had retrieved the missing crew member. The VHF is tons of fun for us nosy parker types.
The wind let up a teensy bit for a while around noon. It started picking up again in the late afternoon. We were in a race with daylight. Would we make it to Rhodes before we ran out of light? Would the engine work long enough to get us into the harbor? We spent the day getting closer to Turkey, then tacking the other way and getting closer to Rhodes, then tacking back toward Turkey, then tacking back, then, well, you get the idea. As the wind picked up this afternoon we didn't reef and used speed to our advantage. We were aimed into the harbor at 1900 and sunset isn't until 2000. We were good. The engine behaved too. We took a spin around the marina where everybody and his brother were Med-moored closer than sardines. There was no room at the inn. We went back a couple of harbors because we had seen two boats anchored in there near the boat yard. And now we make three. Tomorrow we'll check in and look for a few boat parts and do the usual shore things, find showers and ice cream. I also need to find out about the Colossus of Rhodes.
Date: May 21, 2008
Location: 33º 45' N 30º 22' E at 1200
The following is a transcript of a conversation the girls heard on the VHF last night.
Tanker 1: (excitedly) You are overtaking me and crossing my bow at 20 knots, you are crazy!
Tanker 2: Is someone calling me?
Tanker 1: (more excitedly) You are 2 cables lengths away! You are crossing my bow too quickly! What is your intention?
Tanker 2: Go to channel 06.
Tanker 1: (even more excitedly) We are on a collision course! What is your intention?
Tanker 2: -silence-
Tanker 1: (if possible, even more excitedly) What is your intention? We are on a collision course, is that your intention??!!!!
Tanker 2: What the hell? This is channel 16, change channels.
We are having a pleasant but slow and wind-deprived trip to Rhodes so far. Oh, we found a drift net out in the middle of nowhere this morning. 120 miles off the coast of Cyprus in 8000+ feet of water and we find fishing floaties with a radar reflector and a flashie. We went between the floats.
Date: May 20, 2008
Location: 32º 20' N 31º 24' E at 1200
Today we began to recover from all of our whooping it up in Egypt. Lots of sleeping on off-watch. Somehow we managed to stay up after midnight almost every night since Port Ghalib when in port. The days are getting longer, so we start thinking about dinner at 7 PM and at 8 PM get around to eating it. If we go to a restaurant, that means eating happens even later. And then we consume adult beverages and talk to friends. The kids finally left us in the restaurant in Ismailia and walked back to the boats in a group. They got past the customs gate without any problems or proposals of marriage.
We are making our way to the island of Rhodes, Greece. It is very close to Turkey, so if we want to we can just pop over and see Turkey before starting in the direction of Athens and Phil & Helen & Tyler & Remy.