The Great Voyage

It was a relaxed sunny Sunday on the finish of Might 2012 after we arrived on our yacht, Cape Farewell, in Rogoznica Marina, simply north of Break up in central Croatia. We had been berthed there for 4 years, exploring the attractive Croatian coast and offshore Islands every summer season, however now it was time to maneuver on. The earlier November I had booked a berth within the new Cesme Marina close to Izmir and now we had assembled a robust crew for 740 mile voyage there.

Our crew was my spouse Andrea and me as skipper, with an outdated seafaring good friend, Malcolm McKeag. Then we had recruited Andrea’s sister Marilyn along with her companion Patrice, a French Guide Haematologist, who have been because of fly in and be part of us that night from Paris. We went to mattress having readied the boat and eaten early however have been woke up by a name from Marilyn at Break up airport to inform us she could not discover Josco our common driver. Finally they discovered him and arrived on board round midnight.

Through the evening the wind elevated and the rain poured down on our cabin roof. We have been comfortable sufficient with our stern to the concrete jetty and bigger yachts on both facet, however we had been advised that we needed to take Cape Farewell 5 miles north west to Kremik the next day to clear customs and police in order that we might depart from Croatia.

We bade fond good-byes to the women of Marina Frapa’s reception whom we knew so properly. Then we sailed out into the storm, with south-easterly winds of about 40 knots. Fortuitously the wind was on our stern and the seas have been pretty small contained in the islands so the journey was not too tough. Kremik despatched a ship out to information us in to the customs berth simply outdoors marina reception. Kremik Marina is in a kind of Croatian fiord and the wind funnels in via the encircling hills, coated with historical stone partitions delineating gone household grape, wine and olive rising areas. Three chaps jumped aboard, and a big man took over the helm and engine controls from me. He was an skilled and berthed Cape Farewell very neatly in an ungainly spot with a giant, gusty cross-wind. A stunning, competent group.

Much less beautiful have been the police and customs. The latter did not flip up and the previous wouldn’t full the method if we weren’t crusing that day, despite our being stormbound. We definitely could not go for ten hours south-east into the tooth of a 40-knot gale. That night we staggered the few yards to the marina restaurant and managed to have a severe dinner with bottles of Primosten wine to scrub it down. Strolling again to the boat at midnight, the wind had dropped and a lightweight rain was falling. On the saloon desk was laid out a virtually empty bottle of Balvenie single malt whisky and a virtually full bottle of Hine brandy. A classical CD was present in a drawer and placed on the ship’s stereo.

“That is MacRaminof’s piano concerto quantity three in C.” opined Malcolm.

Tuesday twenty second Might dawned cloudy, gentle rain however mercifully calm. At 0800 sharp a younger, pleasant policemen arrived, full with gun in holster. He fiddled about with a rising heap of papers and the 5 passports, all of which he had checked the day earlier than. The Harbour Grasp arrived and inspected our insurance coverage coverage and my {qualifications} as captain. He appeared properly happy, wished us a pleasing voyage in wonderful English and departed. Then a smartly-uniformed customs man arrived in a slightly battered little automotive. He had an air-force blue uniform, a crew reduce and tinted, gold-rimmed glasses. A lot stamping and signing of papers and additional passport inspections after which the policeman stamped them with our exit stamps. Lastly each the policeman and the customs man walked down the dock to Cape Farewell to examine the eliminated elements of their field that we needed to export from Croatia. These consisted, as per the signed checklist, of three condensers, a virtually new alternator belt and the field itself. They would not cease for espresso and pronounced us free to sail for Corfu, having formally cleared out from Croatia. Ten minutes later we sailed. The ocean was nonetheless lumpy however there was solely a small following wind about the identical velocity because the ship as we steamed south-east. Steadily the wind dropped and the sky cleared and it grew to become flat calm, heat and sunny. We arrived at Korcula gas berth at three thirty and took 230 gallons of diesel in half an hour. With over 500 gallons within the tanks we had loads of gas for the lengthy overnighter to Corfu.

Totally towards all rules we pulled into the little remoted bay of Prozura on the distant island of Mljet, the place there was a superb restaurant with a free berth and electrical energy. Dinner ashore; an enormous fish and a grilled crayfish for me, a number of brandies and so to mattress.

Wednesday Might twenty third dawned sunny and calm. We trouped ashore for omelettes, washed down with squeezed orange juice and robust, black espresso. Marilyn wandered across the adjoining backyard and introduced that she had discovered some ‘marijuana poppies’ which slightly puzzled the remainder of us who thought opium got here from poppies. Marilyn assured us it was not so nonetheless.

We sailed south-east alongside the coast till we cleared the land and will set course for the turning level at Vliore, Albania. It was a relaxed, cool day with frequent patches of sunshine. After an hour’s profitable operating whereas Andrea made tea, espresso and sizzling cuppa-soup to nourish the crew, the generator would not begin within the night. It was chilly meals from then on, as we’re an all-electric boat. In any other case the climate remained gentle and visibility good. We cut up into watches for the evening and left Patrice and Marilyn on for the eight to 12, with Malcolm and Andrea for the center watch and me for the morning watch and the arrival.

I used to be awoken by the feeling that we have been now heading into what had been a power three, following wind. I received dressed and went as much as the wheelhouse to search out all was confusion. Marilyn and Patrice had tried to maneuver the plug-in auto-pilot from the flying bridge to the wheelhouse “as a result of we have been getting chilly up there!” That they had each turn out to be disorientated within the course of with the end result that we have been now 180 levels off beam. I grabbed the wheel and steered by hand till we have been again on target once more and the movement had eased. Not greatest happy, I stayed up on the flying bridge with them for one more hour or so.

“What occurs if it rains?” requested Marilyn plaintively.

“Then you definately get bloody moist!” I advised her, “You may maintain a a lot better look-out from up right here. I keep in mind a captain at sea after I was a younger apprentice who mentioned that you just by no means maintain a correct watch at evening via glass, so he despatched me out on the bridge wing to face the sleet and biting wind. Then the steward got here up with sizzling tea and buttered toast for the captain and the officer of the watch which they consumed within the heat whereas I needed to stay outdoors.

The climate stayed calm as we closed the Albanian coast, heading for the mile-wide hole between Corfu and Albania. The daybreak revealed small Albanian cities huddling below the massive and forbidding-looking mountains, stuffed with sq., concrete residence blocks. There have been some brightly painted ones, however the place did not look engaging. We berthed at Corfu Marina at 0815 after a run of 225 miles. Then the paper chase started! Marilyn and I went to the marina workplace to pay for 2 nights berthing. Then we discovered a pleasant taxi driver, Kostas, to take us to immigration. They would not settle for Marilyn’s Australian passport as she was not an EU citizen. So we drove off to the ferry immigration terminal. There Kostas shouldered apart a bunch of Spanish and Japanese vacationers and marched straight via safety to an workplace the place a chap with 4 stripes on his epaulettes and his, closely pregnant spouse have been located. Marilyn received her passport stamped and we proceeded to customs who waved us away after a cursory take a look at the ship’s papers. Then again to the marina to have a ship’s Greek Passage Log made up. There was an extended queue. We received to the top of it, and confirmed the solitary younger man our papers.

“It’s worthwhile to pay within the marina workplace and get me a receipt first,” he defined. Marilyn went off to try this.

“We might fill in all the main points on the Passage Log whereas she’s away,” I prompt because the queue was lengthening.

“First the receipt,” he replied, turning on the TV to have a look at the Greek information. Again got here Marilyn with the receipt for 88 euro-cents and twenty minutes later the official had crammed within the Passage Log and entered each element by hand in two, separate, grubby account books. We departed for a drink within the bar subsequent door. Previous us got here the person who had been subsequent within the queue.

“Needed to pay and get a receipt earlier than he’d difficulty the Passage Log,” he defined as he trotted again, “he may need talked about that whereas I used to be ready so that you can end!”

That afternoon Angelo the engineer arrived to repair the generator which turned out to have a defective solenoid valve. He ordered a brand new one up for supply Saturday..

Friday twenty fifth dawned high-quality and clear. The crew went ashore for a tour with Kostas, whereas Malcolm and I stayed on board. It was a sizzling, sultry day. Malcolm varnished out the naked bits of the wheelhouse and saloon whereas I cleaned the outdated oil and cigarette butts out of the engine room bilges, left there by the Croatian engineers. Within the night we received the electrical barbecue out and Patrice grilled 5 little fishes he had purchased, wrapped in silver paper. The menfolk sat up a little bit late and completed the Hine Brandy earlier than going to mattress.

Saturday Might twenty sixth dawned cloudy, calm and sultry though it grew to become sunny later. We tried to get our Passage Log stamped however that concerned producing the registration certificates, passports, skipper’s {qualifications} and the insurance coverage coverage in Greek, all of which have been inspected by the identical folks yesterday.

“I assumed there was free passage within the EU for residents and their boats,” I queried the woman in cost.

“All of the visiting English say that,” she replied, “It isn’t us, it is the federal government guidelines we’ve to obey.”

Angelo got here aboard with the solenoid for the generator and shortly had it going. The generator labored on load so all was properly so we moved to the gas berth to prime up the tanks. Then we sailed on the 65 miles to Levkas on the little canal separating the Peloponnese from the remainder of Greece.

We arrived at 1 / 4 to eight within the night and entered the northern finish of the canal. We waited solely 5 minutes for the floating bridge to open after which to Levkas Marina the place we spent the evening. We had a easy dinner ashore within the wonderful, low cost, marina restaurant and went to mattress, all dog-tired.

The following morning, we loved a great breakfast on the similar café. At breakfast we found that we had been below the impression that Greece was in the identical time zone as Croatia. Not so. We have been an hour behind native time. Malcolm took off the wheelhouse clock and adjusted it, as did Andrea with all the opposite clocks on board. In the meantime I went to the reception to pay the berth price. No stamps, no papers, only a bank card and the woman gave me the ship’s registration certificates again and we sailed.

We sailed down the Levkas canal and across the little islands. We handed below the lengthy Riou bridge at 4 thirty pm after which on to an deserted marina at Trizona Island the place we deliberate to berth for the evening. There was a robust north-westerly wind and we slid in to a really tight berth between two yachts on the within of the outer breakwater. The ahead one was a big crusing yacht with an anxious skipper on its stern. The opposite was the house of Wendy and David, latest live-aboards on their aluminium crusing boat ‘Stromhella’. They helped us to fender off the tough concrete jetty as we berthed and we invited them to dinner within the little village sq.. Wendy had beforehand been married to (and later divorced from) a Dutch Jesuit priest. It was a boozy, nice night with a Thai-Greek waitress who was very stunning. Andrea ended the dinner a trifle over-served with wine and beloved everybody. We helped her again to the boat muttering.

At round 4 within the morning there was the sound of an informed English voice aft and the noise of a ship engine. I received up in my pyjamas and moved swiftly to the darkened finish of the saloon to see what was occurring. David and Wendy have been making an attempt to motor, bow-first, off the dock, into the wind. They might have made it besides that our passerelle had been left protruding to make room for our stern line. Because it was he simply managed to push his boat clear, with Wendy on the helm gunning the engine,. With a well mannered apology coming throughout from the darkened harbour, Stromhella’s navigation lights steadily vanished into the space.

We left shortly after the large yacht berthed forward for the western entrance to the Corinth Canal and arrived off the canal entrance at 1220 calling them on VHF. We needed to wait an hour steaming up and down. It was a pleasant, sunny run via the excessive banks of the Corinth Canal, three and a half miles lengthy. We stopped to fill out the inevitable sheaves of paperwork and pay the canal authorities on the japanese finish, then off to the Olympic Marina at Piraeus, the place we arrived after a relaxed and sunny 33 miles amongst quite a few anchored ships ready for cargoes. The women went ashore to reconnoitre and I to the marina workplace to take care of the inevitable blizzard of paperwork and pay for 2 nights alongside. The marina offered us with a bottle of Greek brandy, one other of Ouzo and a few yachting magazines, all in a neat basket to welcome us. In the meantime the shore celebration reported squalor with graffiti, garbage blowing about and quite a lot of small, crude shelters stuffed with what seemed to be Rumanian Gypsies. We determined to eat on board and Marilyn cooked up scrambled eggs, fried chunks of ham and new potatoes with a tomato and feta cheese salad on the facet.

Tuesday Might twenty ninth dawned gray and funky. After fixing the engine room bilge pump I used to be prepared and all of us went ashore. We received the safety man to name two taxies and visited the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Despite the state of the Greek economic system there may be quite a lot of restoration work happening. Then to lunch at a household restaurant with an undecipherable title. We had sardines, calamari, grilled prawns, salad and a few stunning little white fish fillets in a combination of olive oil and lemon, all washed down with good, Greek wine and their home-made liqueur. Marilyn and Patrice, being of a cultural bent, went off to the museum; the remainder of us again to the boat.

A quiet afternoon on board, Malcolm varnishing and me writing up the log and having an hour’s sleep. Early to mattress, though a barely disturbed evening with loud rap music from automotive boom-boxes and far revving of motor bikes outdoors the perimeter fence till 0300 within the morning.

The following day dawned high-quality and cloudless with gentle breezes from the west. The police, who have been because of seem at eight hadn’t turned as much as stamp our papers by ten to 9, so we allotted with their help and sailed for Batsi in Andros Island.

The wind stayed gentle, the solar stayed out and we arrived in Batsi at three pm after an uneventful voyage. We needed to lay out an anchor forward which was a bit surprising and after we berthed on the sensible, new breakwater point we found that there was loads of contemporary water however the electrical sockets weren’t working because of a really dangerous storm they’d a couple of months in the past. On went the trusty generator. An outdated chap in a fluorescent jacket gave the impression to be in cost and issued quite a few orders. He muttered one thing about giving him cash, so I gave him twenty Euros and received a good friend for all times. All went ashore for procuring (ladies), web (Patrice) and a drink (Malcolm and me).

The following two boats have been manned by professors of philosophy, theology and archaeology and their college students from the College of San Diego. That they had commandeered the 5 rent vehicles within the village to go to an archaeological dig about thirty kilometres away. We had dinner ashore at a restaurant run by an American/Greek woman who had moved again from New Jersey twenty-three years earlier than. Calamari adopted by particular roast lamb cooked in aluminium foil. All was at peace within the little bay with lights twinkling from the homes on the encircling hills.

The following morning began slowly; sizzling and sunny with gentle winds. Marilyn and Andrea collected some additional provisions, Patrice went off to the Wi-Fi café to proceed his work on advertising medical merchandise and Malcolm and I launched the RIB and gave it a run. Andrea and Marilyn went off in a pre-arranged taxi to go to Andros City and at eleven am the gas tanker turned up and gave us a fast 300 litres in every tank. Malcolm and I went off for an extended lunch of a shared Caesar salad adopted by a shared pizza and copious glasses of native, crimson wine. We got here again to Cape Farewell in a mellow temper prepared for a day sleep to be confronted by a really hesitant Andrea reporting that Marilyn had, but once more blocked the visitor head. Malcolm and I fastened it, showered and had a barely belated afternoon sleep. That night Malcolm took the women out for an extended tour of the bay and shoreline of Batsi after which we hoisted the RIB.

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