Greece 2017!


May 20, 2016 – Ios

Other than departing Nysros Harbor with its shallow entrance/exit bar after sunset, plus the 32knt peak winds clearing the moon-lit NW corner of Nyrsos, the 96nm, 16hr sail was blessedly uneventful.  1605 23 Ios 10 Ferry 4995We came around the south of Ios (pronounced E’ os) and entered the main harbor at ferry ‘rush hour’  (12:30pm – 1:30pm). We had to contend with two large ferries, High Speed 4 & 6, plus a smaller 250-passenger SeaJet.

1605 23 Ios 25 Harbor from Ferry 5018Unfortunately, the unbroken tailed berths on the southern quay were all occupied, leaving us to Med-moor on the East Quay off our anchor perpendicular to the anticipated Meltemi. 1605 23 Ios 12 Berth 4997With a large speedboat and a competent captain on our south side we set and readjusted mid-ship springlines, as other sailboats berthed north of us. Holding in Ios Harbor has always been good, but we can get some significant ferry wash. It was good that we vacated Nysros when we did, otherwise we’d have been ‘trapped’ there by winds, and of course, having a sturdy boat also provides options, unavailable to lighter boats.

1605 23 Ios 15 Hardware closed 3 to 4 4999Since we missed the noon ferries to Santorini, we rested from our overnight, and at 4pm I walked ‘300-meters,’ actually 1,500-meters uphill to Jacobs hardware for a part. It turns out that they are closed from 3-6pm – thank you…

1605 23 Ios 22 Ferry 5007Without good internet service, we booked our Oia Santorini commercial visit (ferry, transfer & hotel) from the travel agent off our boat stern. While expedient, we would tough out the internet next time – lesson learned.

1605 23 Ios 30 Stuffed Calamari 50061605 23 Ios 30 Stuffed Calamari 5001Meanwhile, the stuffed calamari dinner was great, as usual, as was Sara’s stuffed zucchini.

1605 23 Ios 32 Stuffed Zucchini - Sara 5005


May 21, 2016 – Oia, Santorini

With berthing for a boat with our depth unavailable in 1605 23 Santorini 02 Oia Lava Sign 5025Thira (old name) / / Santorini, our commercial ferry/transfer/hotel arrangements worked fine. On the north end of crescent-shaped Thira, Oia (pronounced E’ a) are you getting the drift(?), 1605 23 Santorini 05 Oia Lava 5023is unique in that hotel rooms are along the caldera rim in caves. This affords both spectacular caldera views, and limited privacy. 1605 23 Santorini 06 Oia Lava 5022Walt/Lynn & us had adjoining caves – LoL!

1605 23 Santorini 12 Oia Promanade 5301  Having seen Santorini a few times, embarrassingly we didn’t do much while we were there this time. We caught up on nap time from the overnight sail to Ios, treasured a couple of hours of precious internet availability, ate the best-ever stuffed calamari lunch at 1605 23 Santorini 16 Oia Petros Lunch 5027Pietros, and enjoyed 1605 23 Santorini 16 Oia Petros Lunch 5029late night sushi & unique Santorini wine right off our veranda.1605 23 Santorini 22 Wine 5320    1605 23 Santorini 06 Oia Lava Balcony 4727  In the morning, we had a custom-cooked breakfast on our veranda. It felt wonderfully decadent! Oh yes, a shower in a full sized bathroom, too – quite a treat!

I’d still opt for Filora Suites or the Atlantic in lieu of Lava Oia, if I were to revisit Santorini.1605 23 Santorini 13 Oia Filotera Suites Sign 5303





May 25, 2016 – Naoussa Paros

We caught a moderately calm weather window and were able to sail the 30nm distance from Ios in 12 to 22knt favorable winds up the Paros-Naxos channel to Naoussa on the north shore of Paros. The retail/port portion of Naoussa is a mini, but more laidback version of Mykonos, and the island with its ancient granite quarries has a lot to offer. 1605 25 Naoussa Paros 03 Sigi 5333As it was preseason, berthing was free, including electricity.

1605 25 Naoussa Paros 11 Sigi 4731We had two dinners with Walt & Lynn at Sara’s favorite harborside restaurant, and it did not disappoint us!

While Naoussa is at the top of the 1605 26a Paroikia Paros 4743island, Paroikia on the west coast is the capital of Paros, and this trip we spent a few hours in town. I found a chandlery, and Walt booked a ferry from Mykonos back to Piraesus. We also watched fishermen mending nets, and visited a nicely restored classic windmill.1605 26a Paroikia Paros 47351605 26a Paroikia Paros 4732

While we searched off-road for the ancient marble quarry, and picked up a few pieces, we didn’t relocate the mother lode of our last trip.

1605 26b Paroikia Paros 4746

Circling the island by car, we had lunch literally on the water in Alyki on the southern tip of Paros1605 26g Alyki Paros 47531605 26c Alyki Paros 5359


May 27, 2016 – Mykonos

Departing Paros, we sailed NW to historical Delos 18nm away. We looked to anchor there, however with the winds in the channel kicking up to 18knts and only the breakwater to handle the dinghy, we decided to continue the 5nm to Mykonos, and let Walt & Lynn take a ferry back to Delos. 1605 27 Mykonos from Sea 01 5363  Surprisingly, Mykonos Marina which was empty last October was fender to fender full, and we had to talk our way into a berth. Downtown Mykonos is still overrun with cruise ship & ferry tourists.

IMG_5412 IMG_5413 DSC04763  Avoiding the high in-town prices, we ate dinner 2x under the treed & affordable tavern across from the marina. IMG_5375A nice part about the marina is the frequent sea-taxi shuttle into town, a mile away.

Since we didn’t get to tour the island last Fall, Sara & I rented an ATV, IMG_5410while Walt & Lynn rented car. Although there was a beach IMG_5388next to our marina, we opted to drive to the north end of the island, down dirt roads to a local beach & café.  It was quite a little adventure across the island!

On our return, Sara & I decided to checkout a moreIMG_5384famous beach scene – Super Paradise. While this place runs until after dawn there were some souls in there at 6pm watching the pole dancing, and trying the jet board, or whatever it is called! I wouldn’t made it 10-seconds, for sure, and the girl in the picture could make the board “dance.”IMG_5407With Walt & Lynn departing on Champion Jet, IMG_5415we make Unconditional ready for our 96nm overnight to Pireasus. Departure was uneventful, except that the huge Rhapsody of the Sea chose to depart just after clearing its bow – a distraction, but not an issue.

As Sara was coiling the stern lines, the ‘issue’ rapidly became the Alternator Alarm Light. I heard the engine RPM jump up 2x in succession by 100rpm or so. A quick look revealed, that BOTH alternator belts broke, and yes, I had checked the belts a few minutes before departure.

The engine with its 3rd belt to the raw water pump still worked, but I was not setting out to Athens without the engine alternator. Returning to the slip mystified our Italian starboard-side neighbors. The Italian automobile mechanic wanted to see the issue for himself, and he kindly replaced the belts with 2 of our 4 spare belts. While the alternator bearings appeared good, I think that I had too much tension on previous belts, and a combination of temperature, and a 100amp charging load caused the issue – even more reason to get to Piraeus to replace the defective Mastervolt house battery charger.

Pulling out of our off-anchor Med-moor berth, I had apparently dropped my Roccna OVER the anchor chain of the boat across the fairway. When I requested the Polish skipper of that boat to payout more chain to deconflict, he said “NO. ” I mirrored “no?” Then both of his neighbors told him that he HAD to. and how to do it. As the water was deep, our alternate was to un-set his anchor. Nevertheless, social pressures edicted that he comply, and we raised our anchor.

Raising the sails, we ran the engine so as not to strain the alternator, and there has been no issue since. Our 13hr double-handed crossing in 3-15knt winds was uneventful, and we limped into Zea Marina.


June 4, 2016 – Pireasus/Athens

Zea Marina…


The Eastern Mediterranean

April 13, 2016 – Limassol, Cyprus
My only prior visit to Cyprus was late Sept 1972, when my late wife Kathy, pregnant with our twins said after 3-days plus a moldy egg breakfast, “I am not spending one more day in Egypt.” As we had taken an overnight train from Luxor and hadn’t yet checked into a Cairo hotel, we went directly to the Cairo airport, and discovered that there was a flight to Nicosia which was essentially on our overall route.

Needless to say, we really enjoyed the Greek-oriented portion of Cyprus – Famagusa, now part of Turkish [occupied] Cyprus. After having to be watchful in Egypt (between the two wars) it was relaxing to be in a hotel on the beach in Cyprus, drinking some English Pimms #-something (6?) drink.
Therefore, 44-years later I was pre-disposed to enjoy Cyprus, and Cyprus did not disappoint me. IMG_4218Limassol Marina was clearly the best marina on the island, and after requesting Sara to double-hand overnight, it seemed like a worthy indulgence. Nevertheless, as of April 1st, they called it ‘high season’ (no way) thus doubling the rate, and being 15.4-meters LOA they wanted 40% more than a 15.0-meter boat. They relented to the 113-Euro rate, and they are the most professional of any of the marinas to date. IMG_4216Port Police, Customs, Passport Control, and Health are all there; and personalized ‘welcome package’ was astounding, and the marina is in its 2nd or 3rd year. The area around the marina was upscale, well-designed, well-constructed, and drew many local families.

Our overnight passage was blessedly uneventful, sailing during the day and motoring at night. We heeded the restriction zone south of the UK-airbase at Akrotiri, and then dutifully received permission from Limassol Vessel Traffic Service (VHF-09) to cross the harbor commercial shipping channel (Big Brother). IMG_4227 (2)Of particular interest is that VTS sent a personalized message to us via AIS – I didn’t know that could be done!! I saw it on SIMRAD A50 AIS unit at the navigation table, but it didn’t come across the network to the Garmin chartplotters.
We also skirted the large active fish farm. I am glad we saw these 1st in Shelborne NS, and then in Portugal, as I can now ‘read’ the Cardinal Markers N/S/E/W and understand how they are set-up.
IMG_4219   Elegant Pyxida Fish Tavern within the marina complex, but outside the security gate was extraordinary. We had 49-Euro Fish Meze (an assortment of many of the menu items) for two. Served Tapas-style, we could not finish all the excellent food, and the wait staff was fantastic. Recalling drinking KEO wine in ’72, I had wanted re-sample it but the waiter suggested EPOS, another Cyprus wine which was certainly superior.
Sara’s young Israeli cousin Or Smolnik and his Intelligence Officer girlfriend, Oryan, flew Tel Aviv to Larnica to sail from Limassol to Herzliya with us. The interesting thing is how he located our position in Limassol. From his Israeli cellphone, he googled an AIS service, entered Unconditional, and it showed him exactly which dock we were on! Impressive; and my 2nd AIS surprise in 2-days.
As there was so much food at Pyxida Fish Tavern, all four of us went back there the following night, and they greeted us by name! We had the same Meze for TWO, and we still had uneaten food, but this time not enough to take back to the boat. Or said that it was best restaurant that he ever ate in.
IMG_4224   Our departure to Israel was uneventful. Turning 120-degrees to port out of Limassol Marina, the ONLY planned turn in the 175nm journey would be 50-degrees to starboard into Herzliya Marina itself. I have never had an essentially 100% straight shot anywhere. Back in the old Connecticut days, it took us 7-turns to simply get out to raise the sails in Fisher Island Sound from Mystic Shipyard!

April 14, 2016 – Cyprus to Israel
I stood night watch until 2:30am, by which time we passed into the extension of Israeli waters vs. Lebanon waters. I had marked it on my chartplotter, and I had a few moments of concern as I saw two vessels converging on that very spot, 50nm off land – why/what is that?!… At the time, the vessels were 20-miles ahead and my brain contemplated only ugly possibilities: a blockade, boarding attempt, pirates, Israeli Navy, Lebanese Coast Guard, etc. Should I divert 45-degreed to head due south? Towards EGYPT? Ah, NO. In the end, and thanks to AIS, it was simply two cargo ships on reciprocal courses that happened to choose my enroute border marker to cross at ~1am. I felt relieved passing that point, and at 2:30am I woke Sara to spell me and tell her that we were in her ‘home’ waters. I then went solidly to sleep in the aft cabin leaving Sara with the moral support of sleeping Or & Oryan in the cockpit.
Generally underway I have the Unconditional’s VHF radio scanning Channel 13 ‘bridge-to-bridge,’ plus Channel 16 ‘hailing/distress.’ I would add a local VTS or another marina channel tag into the scan group when appropriate, but usually we are a “16/13-boat.” As Sara neared Israeli territorial waters, she heard a call for a vessel near her location. Later, she heard a call in English from an unidentified source calling her exact coordinates. Since they didn’t identify themselves, she stayed mute. 30-Minutes later the Israeli Navy calls her on VHF-16, and she responds, but she doesn’t seem to make contact. We are now ~10nm off the city of Natanya, Israel, and Sara wakes me up, as a Navy Patrol boat is headed directly for us at high-speed! Since it is barely 1st light, they hit with their power-of-the-Sun spotlight and I arrive in the cockpit as they hail us on Ch-16. While not requesting us to hove-to, it seemed like a prudent thing to do. I responded to them on VHF-16, but I think that earlier Sara delayed in pressing the PTT button without regard for the ‘scan’ functionality, then with a 2-channel inherent 50% probability, she inadvertently responded to them on VHF-13. Obviously, the Israeli patrol boat was not tuned into VHF-13, ergo the personal  ‘visit.’ You know the saying: If we are White, we are here to HELP; if we are Grey, Stay AWAY.
Looking at the business end of a 50-caliber on the stern, and a small cannon on the bow, both manned by sailors in full combat gear, my #1 objective was to establish friendly relations, and specifically, not get shot by accident or otherwise. In English, I stated that “we were a U.S. registered vessel with a U.S. skipper/owner, and 3-Israeli-born passport holders aboard, all on deck. We are headed for Herzliya Marina, with no weapons aboard, coming in to visit family for Pesa (Passover).” After a couple of questions, Sara spoke to them in Hebrew, and since the ice was broken, and they were the 1st to wish Sara “Happy Birthday.” Meanwhile, their guns were still manned and pointed at us, but without the deck crew having their fingers on the trigger – whew. IMG_4232  I had previously sent our credentials to both the Herzliya Marina and the Israeli Navy as suggested by, but not responding on the Navy’s hailing channel probably elicited their show of force. Sara absolutely loved it, but the incident was a lot more drama than I needed. The young sailors on the patrol boat were particularly pleased to chat with Oryan of course, and the process took ~30-minutes; after which, we hoisted sails and broad-reached in light winds.

April 2016 – Israel
We raised the Herzliya Marina on the VHF, but in spite of having forwarded our passport, vessel & insurance documentation [specifically including Israel], plus having Alon of Gal Sails in the Herzliya Marina make the reservation, they claimed that we had no reservation. Indeed, feedback from the marina has been confusing throughout, and their website is strictly in Hebrew. As we approached the breakwater, Sara cell phoned Alon, who replied, “I will call them immediately, so come on into the marina as there is no such thing as ‘they can not make room’.” Alon used a Hebrew slang expression, but this quote will do for this blog – LOL.
IMG_4595I rejected our 1st berth assignment against a fixed finger peer as being too tight, therefore they moved us to Dock A with the ‘big boys.’ Upon arrival, and before anything to do with the marina, an Israeli Security Team came aboard – this appeared to be SOP and nothing to do with the Israeli Navy stop. There were a bunch of questions, plus a thorough inspection of the boat, lifting every floorboard, checking UNDER the engine, climbing into the anchor locker, unzipping bags under the beds, opening portable drill cases, etc. That said, the inspector whose other job was an air marshal, was very smart & very polite.
Meanwhile in Hebrew, his two compatriots were independently quizzing/chatting with the crew. After we passed that 45-60-minute exam, we were escorted upstairs to the Passport Office above the Marina office where an Official arrives from her normal airport duties to clear us in. More questions, but no ‘issues.’
Two or so hours after we enter the marina, we finally reach the Herzliya Marina office itself downstairs. While the forms were in Hebrew, the staff speaks face-to-face English well, and we registered at a surprisingly affordable price considering the high quality of the marina. We berthed literally in front of the marina office, and directly across from the Israeli Navy HerzliyaIMG_4233 patrol boat – an identical, but different boat – not a Zodiac.

Our 2+ week stay in Israel is beyond the scope of this blog however a few highlights:
• Nadav, who picked us up at Herzliya Marina, is a cousin of Sara’s, and is a TV current events anchor on Ch-2, Israel’s most popular station. IMG_4375Rivka, his mother was in her Carmel supermarket the day before Passover, and a neighbor asked her about the fabulous chocolate-coconut cake that she was receiving for desert. Rivka didn’t know what she was talking about, so the neighbor said, “Rivka, YOU may not know about the desert, and everyday ISRAELI’s may not know YOU, but EVERYBODY in Israel knows that Nadav is making his mother a chocolate-coconut cake for desert!” We later saw a DVR of Nadav reminding the on-air, reporter to pick-up his needed coconut flakes – he already had!
• Rivka lived in her current unit for 48-years, and she is finally (overdue, per her kids) buying an under-construction 4th floor unit on a hilltop overlooking Haifa harbor. BTW, all new Israeli construction requires a ‘safe’ (bomb-resistant) room. In the small world dept, Rivka’s unit is directly across the street from where Sara & her sister Paula lived before moving to Brooklyn, and this picture is from Sara’s family’s old apartment.
• Amalia, another of Sara’s Haifa-area cousins was Ms. Tour Director for our stay in Israel. We visited:


 DSC04649 IMG_4255




The Red SeaIMG_4318IMG_4360








The Dead SeaDSC04668

The Sea of GalileeIMG_4410 IMG_4412

EliatIMG_4289 IMG_4299IMG_4311


Golan Heights IMG_4551

IMG_4235Tel Aviv

Border crossings with:

Lebanon IMG_4499



& Jordan.

How many people were crossing these borders? Except for Jordan, virtually ZERO. From the southernmost port of Eliat, we could see Saudi Arabia, across the Gulf of Aqaba, but a tip of Jordan is in between. UN peacekeepers/observers are on both the Syrian & Lebanese borders w/Israel. BTW: UN observers are in Cyprus also.
• Sara’s other cousins that I met included a guy in the Israeli Navy unmanning their patrol boats, the head of Elbit Business Development, and the technical lead for mega-desalination plants – interesting people!

I also found out the position that her late uncle had. Let’s just say that when he passed away a year ago the equivalent of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, plus the Prime Minister of Israel rightfully attended the funeral.


April 2016 – Medivac Rescue At Sea!

S/Y Dala from S/Y Unconditional

NO, no, not us, and in case you are also wondering, not everyone in Israel is a relative of Sara’s. In the Azores, Sara noted S/V Dala, an Israeli-flagged Lagoon 48 being part of the WCC ARC Europe. At the Seder dinner aboard Dala in Sao Miguel, we toasted the classic “Next year in Jerusalem.” Well, Albert & Yael/Jocelyn live in Herzliya, so we were guests of theirs in their IMG_4592Moroccan/ Jerusalem Stone/Paris-themed Architectural Digest home, located 2-doors from the U.S. Ambassador’s home.
Back to the Medivac story… Double-handing 15-minutes out of Palma in the Balearics, Dala encountered a sheet jam. The power/tension on large sailing boats are impressive, and in clearing the jam Albert instantly lost a pinky finger, plus the tips of three fingers on his other hand – Ouch!!! Although Yael is a practicing Emergency Room M.D., in spite of her profession she ‘lost it’ for the first minute and then gained her professional composure, whereas Albert, the victim, was in partial shock. Having partially crushed a ring finger tip (not permanent) in Unconditional’s outhaul winch at night on last May’s Atlantic crossing, I have a near-miss hint of what can happen…
In deference to her native France, Spanish Rescue had a French-speaking M.D. on the SAT Phone with her within 5-minutes, a rescue boat alongside Dala in 45-minutes, and a Medivac helicopter overhead 15-minutes later. Sea RescueDirect helo extraction from a sailboat was not possible, so Albert had to jump into the rescue boat before being airlifted. One of the young fellows from the rescue boat then helped Yael get their huge catamaran back to port, and when Albert awoke from his surgery, his wife was by his bedside. What a story, and Albert is incredibility upbeat!

May 2, 2016 – Herzliya Departure
As we still had insurance company Navigation Exclusion Zone coverage, we elected to stay a day longer in Israel to have longer boom preventer replacement lines fabricated by the local chandlery. The evening before we departed, we had wine with Alon & his wife of GAL Sails. We initially met Alon in Halifax Nova Scotia, where he was managing the Israeli paraplegic Olympic sailing team at a practice regatta in horrible wind/wave/temperature weather. In Halifax, he gave Sara a huge Israeli flag, which brought tears to her eyes, and two years later he was back on our boat, now two-continents away, never quite believing that we crazy Americans would really sail over here!
Our formal Israeli exit process was also interesting. We were required to provide 24-advance notice to the Passport Office, which we did. We first needed marina clearance, and then we were personally escorted back to our boat. What was unique was that the Passport Official stayed on the dock until we were out of our berth!
Again we sailed during the day, and Shimi was able to remain healthy by staying in the cockpit. IMG_4607Gil checked in with Noa, her mother, as we left the marina, and she would not do anything that her father wouldn’t. It was nice to see that.

   IMG_4611As the wind died at night we motored and finally Shimi braved it and went down to sleep in the mid-cabin. An hour later, Gil awoke and did the same w/o incident.
IMG_4614Coming out of Israel, the AIS picked up the parade of tankers lined-up to transit the Suez – interesting! Around midnight we passed that same Israeli/Lebanon demarcation point, and I was alone in the cockpit when the boat was suddenly lit from above by a wide spotlight. It wasn’t a search light locating us, it was 1 to 2-seconds of focused daylight. I assume that was an Israeli helo or UAV and that they used FLIR to scan/locate us 1st. I didn’t hear anything, nor see any aircraft lights other than the usual high-fliers heading to Dubai, Delhi or someplace.


May 3, 2016 – Limassol, Cyprus
IMG_4617  With daybreak, we sailed some and motored some, as the wind would allow; mindful that arriving after 2:30pm could entail some official Cyprus overtime fees.  IMG_3066 Over-controlling Limassol VTS requested us, by name, to go astern of an inbound tanker – dah… IMG_4620never a doubt that we would elect that option, and I let Shimi remain on the helm.
Coming into the Customs Dock @ 2:00pm, we knew all four officials that processed us in, plus the marina staff – a nice feeling! That evening, we again ate at Pyxida Fish Tavern, and this w/e is the IMG_4630Limassol Boat Show at the Marina entrance – mostly chartering companies + the local Beneteau dealer, etc.; you didn’t miss anything.
Shimi & his daughter had reserved a room in a boutique hotel in Limassol, and he treated us to a wonderful British-style breakfast next to the pool. Our return walk was on a paved walking/bicycle trail – nicely appointed!
Later, we walked to a well-stocked German-owned Lidl supermarket, and passed the KEO Brewery/winery. While I had fond memories of KEO wine from my ’72 trip with Kathy to Famagusta, their beer is better than their wine. Or, to put it another way, other Cyprus wineries produce superior wine. Think of Anhueser-Bush producing wine…
American marine electrical plugs for sub 60’ pleasure craft are generally yellow-colored, tang-polarized, 110VAC, 1/16th turn 30 & 50-amp service. For larger and non-US boats, the 50-amp plug also serves 220VAC if wired appropriately by the marina. European marine electrical plugs for sub-20m (60’) pleasure craft are color-coded by ampere rating, case-polarized, push-in 230VAC, 16, 32 & 50/64-amp service.
Moving from marina to marina, adaptor cables are recommended, and in departing Limassol, we left one of our adaptor cables on the dock, so we made a new one in Rhodes.IMG_4646
Sara & I didn’t have crew for the 270nm due-West trip from Cyprus to Rhodes, and without hesitation, Sara volunteered to double-hand the boat with me. Did I mention how much I love her? Clearing out of Cyprus was akin to supermarket – everything in one place – nice!

May 8, 2016 – Rhodes, Greece
With a watchful eye on the weather, we allowed sufficient time (42-56hrs) to sail in addition to motor, if required. Generally, winds would be on our nose. As our route paralleled by less than 40nm our Turkey eastbound trip to Cyprus, after the 1st 12-hours, we intimately knew every major divert port – a comfortable feeling.
IMG_4651 IMG_4656  Winds were generally light and on the nose, requiring motor sailing, however we had nice winds after our 1st breakfast and sacrificed time & direction for sailing tranquility. As evening approached, winds died and we were back to motorsailing. I stayed on-watch until 02:00, when Sara relieved me. By that time, apparent winds re-built to 20knts, and seas started to build.
IMG_4659  Around 23:30, I had one instance of two parallel cargo ships, a mile apart, yet 6-miles out, and each bound for Haifa on my exact reciprocal course. At sea, a ½-mile separation seems to be the unwritten shipping rule without requiring VHF confirmation. Maintaining course, I could possibly easily slip between those two ‘mamas.’ Nah, why would I want to try that; and who would be the loser?… Decisively, “20-degrees starboard” and let’s pass them with 1.2nm separation to the nearest one on my port – keep Right! Although unlikely, in building seas with wind on my nose, I didn’t want to rely that either ship closed their 1nm separation.
IMG_4666  Returning to watch at 06:00, winds were 29knts and the oncoming seas knocked our forward progress down to 5knts. Sara said that she would have woken me if the boat saw 30knts apparant. Arriving into Rhodes, there are 2-marinas and 2-harbors. I picked older, non-commercial harbor, which after motoring through the antique IMG_4665lighthouse-guarded entrance, turned out to host the incorrect marina. We U-turned, and motored over to the non-harbor based, new, upscale and somewhat incomplete Rhodes Marina.
IMG_4668   As officials are located somewhat near the commercial port, we used an agent to process us in and get our transit log. While Greece is both Schengen & EU, they have different rules for yachts, especially non-Schengen yachts (sign in/out of each port).  IMG_4684Rhodes, spelled locally as Rodes, and pronounced Rho’ dez, is a major tourist destination, and we were pleasantly surprised on many counts.
While Turkish contractors in Marmaris Marina were extraordinary in carpentry, wonderful in fabrics, and they produced better-fitting sails than North Sails HQ; mechanically they left something to be desired. Our windless, used to retrieve the anchor, was reinstalled improperly after the teak deck replacement. This ultimately required $2,000 in parts & shipping from Lewmar in the UK, routed through Nautilus in Athens. Turkish servicing our watermaker resulted in the filter Dump hose being routed to our freshwater tank vs. overboard. I re-rigged the deck-mounted standing rigging, and a half-dozen tasks were not addressed after 4-months.
By contrast, Greek labor was both inexpensive & competent. Meanwhile, we lost our Mastervolt 2,500KVA 220V 50~ Inverter. Sara said something “went ‘pop’ behind” her. The Oyster Panel meter read a low 200V, but trying DVM#2 (left el-cheapo on the dock in Limassol) it read an appliance-blowing 377VAC!!! Fortunately, the AV circuit breaker was OFF. The Greek electrician was “100% sure” that my 377V reading was wrong, so he got to eat his words when his own meter read 377V. Mastervolt builds, diagnoses & repairs in Amsterdam, and in Greece, all Mastervolt shipments go through Athens. Within 2-days, we also lost our Mastervolt 24VDC house battery charger, meaning that we needed the engine to charge the house battery bank via our Alpha charger. We also began to leak gearbox fluid from the mast roller furler – we needed to ultimately limp to Athens, and we sacrificed our planned Malta visit. While this was disappointing, the good news was that the new fuel hoses installed in Marmaris cured the diesel leak, and the magnetic filter eliminated the fuel bio growth!

IMG_4716  Undeterred, Walter Lincoln & Lynn Noyes arrived in Rhodes and we toured the old walled city together, instead of just chandleries and shipping agents. IMG_4720Meanwhile, Sara & I visited an appliance store in Rhodes and found a Sharp microwave oven that matched the dimensions of the ‘fried’ one. We also found a newer model of Nespresso that makes excellent IMG_4713cappuccino, so the galley is back up to full strength.FJRZ6113

In dining around, the ‘family’ (owner) restaurants seem to out-flavor, and out-quality IMG_4745restaurants that have ‘pictures menus.”IMG_4762

May 14, 2016 – Kos, Greece

Since we had to wait for some windless parts to make their way from the U.K., we decided to make the best of things and sail about. Without a windless, we were confined to marinas, so we selected the long 65nm haul back to Kos Marina. Interestingly, the ‘refugee problem’ in Kos has disappeared!IMG_2853IMG_4771


May 15, 2016 – Bodrum, Turkey

IMG_4773  With our 6-month Turkish boat transit permit expired, we elected to day-trip with Walt & Lynn by ferry over to Bodrum. Everything looked the same there, and a revisit to the fort/museum was interesting for the guys, whereas the girls shopped.


May 17, 2016 – Tilos, Greece

IMG_4816  In traveling, it is the unexpected joys that take your breath away, and the island of Tilos was one of those. IMG_4865We felt that we could find space early in the season with a tailed line (no windless) in the small, cute harbor, and we did. 10-IMG_4819Euro berth fee, and a 5-Euro tip bought water, electricity and a 6-pack of beer to share!

Recommended Taverna Michalis served fantastic fish, and we took a bus to the North side of the island to see the crystal clear water of a fishing village. Walt foraged for fresh bakery products in the mornings!IMG_4867IMG_4849 IMG_4861  .

May 19, 2016 – Rhodes, Greece

IMG_4878  Were the Lewmar parts waiting for us – no!  Nevertheless, a few phone calls and a courier on a ferry solved the delivery problem. I must say that Toby at Lewmar in Havant England was superb in personally following up! I am glad that we visited them last year. When the parts arrived, the electrician returned and we were back in the anchoring business!

Meanwhile to pass the time, Walter rented a car and we drove the length of Rhodes, thinking in places that it would have pleasant to visit by boat…

IMG_4881 IMG_4886 IMG_4891 IMG_4898 From some new-found Rhodes Marina Israeli friends, we were turned onto reportedly the best family restaurant in Rhodes, and it certainly lived up to its reputation – Tamam! Note the line.

IMG_4906 IMG_4909 The other Rhodes Marina experience was a first stay 81.14Euro charge that the desk agent stuttered as 811.14Euro. Greece couldn’t credit the account owing to their financial regulations, so they had to wire the credit to my Bank of America checking account – that was a little bit of a hassle, but they sincerely tried, so it is hard to be upset. Sara & I like Rhodes!

May 21, 2016 – Nysros, Greece

1605 21 Nisyros 05 to West 4916  With the Egypt Air recovery happening on our potential southern route to Crete, and watching weather patterns, we decided on a day-push to the volcanic island of Nysros that fellow sailors in Rhodes highly recommended. A Nysros visit also enabled a return Thira/Santorini visit, for Sara & I. While the sail over to Nysros was fine, upon arrival, we encountered some of the predicted drizzle during our stay. 1605 22 Nisyros 01 Lybian sand 4922We also had to contend with the realized winds in port, and time our departure to avoid more dangerous winds.

The island’s main town is simplicity in itself, very unassuming, and not overtly attractive. Other than very light tourism to visit a crater, it appears to support itself mostly on surface mining pumice on a neighboring uninhabited island. Speaking of minerals, the rain brought 1605 22 Nisyros 05 Harbor 4926what locals call Kaddafi’s Revenge, which is a coating of talc-like yellow-tan Lybian Desert sand. This talc, doesn’t simply wash off, it must be wiped off – thank you, Sara!

Nevertheless, tIMG_4986he island of Nysros is another unexpected find, and the harbor is quite picturesque from above. Walt again rented a car and we visited the crater, plus a colorful mountain village and a nearby seaport village with two types of roads – narrow, and too narrow!

The craters in a caldera are a big local deal with active thermal bubbling just under your feet, but no lava flow – we have videos.1605 22 Nisyros 30 Caldera signs 49561605 22 Nisyros 40 Caldera 4961

1605 22 Nisyros 20 Caldera Stephanos Crater 4935 IMG_4964 IMG_49741605 21 Nisyros 07 Aphrodite Stuffed Zucchini Calimari 4921

  There is one family restaurant in the harbor town, and while simple, it is fantastic, with stuffed zucchini, calamari, fish, etc. Because of the unsettled weather, Sara and I argued about departing after dusk in moderate winds and via a shallow entrance/exit, or likely being trapped there until the pending Meltimis come in and subside in 3 or 4 days. In the end, with Walt aboard to assist me if needed, we departed ~9pm with marginal remaining light, as the winds died a little. Although the winds kicked back up to 30knots as we cleared the island, they were behind us and they soon settled down to the low/mid-teens for the overnight sail as predicted. We made the correct decision, and as that part of the Aegean seems to funnel Meltimis, without a good escape harbor.

May 23, 2016 – Ios, Greece

Back to our safety harbor…

Turkey + Points EAST!

April 2016 – Turkey

It took every bit of the two pre-sailing weeks in Marmaris that we had allocated, to complete the ‘winter’ upgrades. Chief upgrade being the teak deck replacement. IMG_4108Nevertheless, a few chores didn’t get completed: OB motor service, replacement of secondary ground tackle, new/longer preventers on boom, and alarm system installation (not on the list). Extra items to the planned 25-tasks were: magnetic fuel filter, 2nd Plexiglas shelf for wine glasses, cabinet door shelves for AV remotes & VHF handhelds w/recharge socket, plus custom-made teak lattice head & shower flooring.




After high winds and seasonal work overload delayed the sailmaker a week, we finally received the new Elvstrom dual Yankee headsail for downwind cruising. Lots of boats on our dock were receiving new sails. Rigging the configuration took a bit of trail & error to handle mouse line splices, etc. however after rigging, it worked beautifully the first time. The Marmaris University sailing teams were out practicing when we went out, and they certainly noticed the unique headsail configuration which works 180-degrees +-40-degrees, which is a nice wide range.

Just like a single headsail, one person can reef or deploy them together from the cockpit – a pleasure. The initial set-up requires a bit of rigging though. With a fortuitous temporary empty berth on our starboard side, we rigged the sails at the dock with wind just off the nose in essentially a hove-to configuration. While used in a downwind situation, rigging at sea it might require us to head upwind, hmm…IMG_4131

I tested the ‘advertised’ sailing limits, and as we reefed them in Sara complained that she “lost steering.” With the engine running, that instantly got my attention (no rudder?) however with the boat nosing back into the wind towards port with no sails requires engine RPM, not just an idling engine – whew!

I am not sure that I mentioned that we had the dark blue Staysail & Yankee UV covers removed and replaced with TAN UV covers, so now we have a Sara-acceptable, color-coordinated boat. The previous Yankee is stored under the forward berth, along with our 18’ diameter para-anchor and 450’ of 5/8” nylon line. We discarded the extra dinghy, and we now have only the now more colorful gennaker bagged on the less crowded forward deck.



Life is more relaxed regulation-wise in Turkey, so we were able to fill our high-pressure U.S. propane larger tanks with European-standard lower-pressure Butane (think cigarette lighters). After spending almost $500 for ‘adaptors’ we had someone in Marmaris plumb the capability for us to carry either widely available European Camping Gaz (Butane) or U.S. propane – we can cook aboard again w/o the microwave!


Fire Aboard!

No-no, not us, but what is reportedly the 1st ‘super yacht’ in the world had an electrical fire that decimated its superstructure and both delaminated & buckled some of the steel-plated hull. The 180’ (my guess) motor vessel which remained afloat was at a T-dock, but contrary to their insurance requirements, did not have crew aboard, and was therefore apparently NOT covered insurance-wise!IMG_4143

The fire also spread to an adjacent boat that the marina did not cut away to save, so it caught fire and that neighboring $30m motor yacht owned by the owner of the Istanbul football (soccer) team sank from water from the Fire Dept truck, plus a porthole window that popped!

A large salvage ship, after a couple of attempts, raised the sunk vessel while we were there, but the 4-story motor vessel looks like a total loss to me.



We selected Marmaris Turkey to winter based upon recommendation from a couple of people including David & Karen Bowes from the UK who’s Hallberg Rassey is docked past us on H-dock. Our nearby Bravaria 46 UK neighbor was Justin & Helen Blackhouse who provided us with 721 E-Pub books for the Kindle. Then Naile Bayin, introduced us to Mark Salisbury, the new owner of S/V Seashells of St James, Oyster 46-06 again on our dock. Mark, a pilot, lived only ~10-houses away from us in NJ. While we only had 3 days of overlap, he got a feeling how we provisioned our Oyster 49-09. In turn, we got to refresh ourselves on an updated Oyster design, and the brand new-vintage Raymarine electronics that he added. IMG_4145Of course, we also had a UK-heritage program manager in Jes Holman, who ably managed the upgrade work. The Turkish marina staff itself, far from my initial 1972 Turkish culture memories, became remarkably warm. It felt like we were leaving a cocoon as we sailed out of Marmaris Bay 5-months after entering it with a fair amount of trepidation.



Saturday, April 1st was our planned departure day and dutifully on Friday we said ‘good-bye’ to everyone. Saturday morning, we had our Marina exit papers, pulled up the passerelle (stern boarding ramp) and called the marinos to assist with the bow mooring lines. As luck would have it, Sara took a sleeping pill the night before, and coming up the companionway stairs somehow missed grabbing the railing, falling back sideways onto the edge of the salon table – ouch+.

As weather was not an overriding factor, everything went ‘on hold,’ and we delayed our departure 24-hours. Fortunately, we were just dealing with two large bruises – one on her side, and the other to her ego. 8AM the following morning, with largely moral support from Sara, we departed Marmaris Yacht Marine in Adakoy bound for the Netsel Marina fuel dock across the bay in the center of Marmaris, itself. Without the New England/mid-Atlantic, freeze-thaw cycle, most boats here do not winter with a full tank of fuel. We departed the concave fuel dock after taking on a half tank of fresh diesel, and it took a moment to recall the combination hard right-rudder, left-bowthruster, dock departure trick.

IMG_4150While we enjoyed a couple hours of sailing, a combination of light winds and poor direction required motor sailing for much of the 50nm passage. It was also a little discouraging to have to travel the 1st 15nm around a peninsula to find yourself at sea only 2nm from Unconditional’s winter home – oh well, we knew about it ahead of time. The winds picked up for a couple of sailing hours and were finally great again in Gocek Bay, but by then we were more interested in simply getting into port.

IMG_4160While we had a reservation at the newest Gocek Marina just ½-mile outside town, construction prevented them from accommodating a boat our size. We therefore went to the Municipal Pier at the end of Gocek’s main street. Dock maintenance is not a strong municipal feature, and there are no marinos in dinghy’s to assist, however they did have tailed mooring bow lines in the section that we berthed, and both the location and price were unbeatable. Note the GPS vs. Chartplotter registration issue, with us moored IN the post office – things like this are disconcerting in strange waters.IMG_4153

Gocek itself is a small, well-maintained, deep-water, fjord-setting town that lives off boaters that enjoy winds created by the gorge features. We also met non-boating UK-subjects that take advantage of the affordable living here! IMG_4155There is nothing elegant about the town, but it is cute with what looked to be assorted colorful birdhouses on lines that cross the street between buildings. These ‘birdhouses’ are internally lite at night, serving as festive street lights. It reminds me of NYC ‘Little Italy’ lights on Mott Street during the San Genaro festival.

IMG_4159We had an outdoor dinner at Lotis Restaurant, the closest restaurant to the dock, and the fish, while ‘pricey’ by Turkish standards, was excellent. The next day, Sara felt comfortable enough to go shopping unescorted in Gocek, and she returned very pleased. The town square had anchor designs in the piazza, the single mosque there was well-maintained, a rarity, and it did not have annoying loudspeakers on the spinnerets calling the faithful to prayer, while irritating everyone else. All-in-all, Gocek was very enjoyable, and we would return if we were in the area again.



IMG_4165As the bay is “T-shaped,” tiny Gocek occupies the west side, while only 12-miles away, much larger Feithiye dominates the east side. We motored into the wind out of Gocek, and managed to broad-reach across the top of the “T” into Feithye. Snowcapped mountains were abeam of us plus straight ahead. It took a bit for my conscious brain to convince my subconscious that it was indeed ‘okay’ to be sailing and seeing snow.

Entrance to Feithiye Harbor is protected by an upscale inhabited island that reminded me of ‘The Neck’ in my birth town of Marblehead, MA, and turning to starboard as we passed, we hardened up into what might be katabatic winds in the harbor itself. Opposite the island was an upscale hotel/beach club on a bluff. Feithiye feels very cosmopolitan. There are a few marinas in Feithiye and from Marmaris dockmate recommendations, we were looking to berth at the Classic Hotel Marina deepest into the bay. That single T-pier marina, however looked crowded with a hodgepodge of vessels, whereas next door, the upscale Feithye Marina looked more orderly & appealing, so we gratefully slipped in there.IMG_4168

With a long 54nm to cover the following day, a well-stocked Carrefour grocery store at the end of our dock, and having seen our share of Roman amphitheaters, our reduced 1-night visit suggested that we not attempt to explore the small city this visit. Being pre-season, we were only one of two groups in the high-quality, treed courtyard marina restaurant, where cats outnumbered customers. After dinner, we returned to the boat, pulled up the passerelle, and said “night-night Faithiye. Sorry that we couldn’t explore more.”



IMG_4187Our motorsail to unknown Kas was uneventful – mountains, a couple of resorts, and a couple of sailboats exploring nooks & crannies, but we had to cover ground. In the Med, we have become accustomed to pulling into the center of towns, and generally shunning anchoring with stern lines run to trees on land, or isolated marinas. We like the flavor of being IN-town.

Nevertheless, after millenniums of stern-to anchoring against an in-town breakwater mini-harbor, the center grounding was rated poor, fouled anchors common, and the in-town marina was reportedly very tight, so discretion edicted that we head for the new marina ½-mile away, on the other of a peninsula. IMG_4183The large marina run by the Setur Group was excellent, and the marinos & staff couldn’t be more helpful or friendly. The staff was the best of any Med marina, and facilities were first-rate! Again, we ate in a marina restaurant, but they were so welcoming that we would like to visit Kas again!



IMG_4191From sailing magazines &, we had heard a lot about Finike’s famous down-to-earth, live-aboard sailing community, however after some nice marina experiences, we were expecting more than we found. Yes, it is a Setur marina, but slightly older with a so-so staff. The live-aboards were indeed very friendly and we made close friends with a Toronto couple that were on our dock back in in Marmaris having their engine changed (yuck, but Marmaris has a better facility & marine workmanship than Finike).

Finike is definitely EASTERN, and Muslim. Nonetheless, Turkish officials lecture its merchants to treat foreigners fairly, at the serious risk of losing their vendor licenses. Ankara politics is hurting the local economy with Israelis being told not to visit, Russians boycotting Turkey, and a moderate concern expressed by other countries, including the US. Turkish locals desperately want tourists/yachtsmen to return, but feel powerless in the face of Ankara politics.

There is a market on Saturday morning that value-wise is OUTSTANDING. How about fresh Sea Bream filets for $3/fish, with 3-filets capable of feeding 4 with leftovers. Farmers offering fresh veggies were everywhere, however we visited a butcher for meat & thick, tasty chicken.

In the small world dept, a CT friend of mine was interested in a Hylas 49 offered at a remarkable price in Scotland with only 500-Engine hours, and many things new within the year. He was bummed out that the listing Hylas broker quickly received 3-offers for almost the full asking price, and it was going under contract. Going out to dinner with our Toronto delivery captain friends, he mentioned flying over and seeing the same boat 18-months earlier. It was a complete disaster, being unused and unattended to for the last 5-years. Everything was rusty & mildewed. Robert took some 300-pictures of it. I called my friend and cheered him up, as he is the type that takes meticulous care of his possessions.

I can’t quite figure out Finike. It is largely Eastern culture, no alcohol in restaurants, but it is available in stores. The men sit together, and most older women are under veils. Young women, however are suggestively clad and somewhat attractive, yet I do not sense that they will be allowed to evolve. The town streets are Arab in nature with a state of disorder and dirt about. The large number of boaters can be spotted from afar – white, tall, hats, pale, older, generally English-speaking if you are close enough, but almost no Americans. Finike does take the prize in quantity of barbers, yet the men are not well groomed. There is no real elegance or even ‘charm’ to Finike, and Sara would surely not want to walk the downtown streets alone, although I think that it would be unlikely for something bad to happen.

IMG_4206Its best assets are inexpensiveness [think dinner for two for $20] and good winter climate, protected by mountains. For us, it was a convenient jump off point to Limassol Cyprus, but next time Finike will not be on our itinerary. The scary part is based on those aforementioned articles and the internet, we had considered wintering Unconditional in Finike, yet we did read between the lines enough to question the wisdom of that choice.

Winter ‘15/16 and the Upgrades…

Editor Note: Scan to the bottom “Late March, 2016” if you just want to see sailing related blog information – no issue w/me…

I will add pictures, hopefully tomorrow, otherwise over the w/e.

November, 2015 – Marmaris to NJ/NY

We traded in some United Airline miles for Turkish/Lufthansa DLM-IST-EWR flights back to the US. Sara was a little concerned about flying Turkish Air, but it was rated the #1 European airline, and they did a wonderful job on the DLM-IST and IST-MUC segments that we flew on them.

Upon arrival in NJ, we spent a couple days at my brother Paul’s place, and accomplished Chef Kathy cooked for us and my sister’s family that lives next door. I also received the needed new credit/debit cards with SmartChip technology. I was fortunate to see Paul as he is spending 95% of his time in Pasadena where CIT acquired a subsidiary.

After that, we spent a couple of days in NYC with close friends of Sara’s and we grabbed winter clothes from our Eastchester, NY townhouse storage area. Then it was off to Texas for grandkids visit over Thanksgiving.


December, 2015 – Florida, a NY Wedding & Texas

After Texas, it was 5-days with Sara’s sister, Paula, in Sarasota, followed by 5-days with Sara’s rekindled old-time friends in Boca Raton. Sara just loved the Polo Club community that Herman & Mina live in, and she has totally reversed her opinion about Florida living. Even though I am a die-in-the-wool New Englander at heart, I could move to Florida at this stage in my life!

We then visited my brother up the road in West Palm Beach allowing Herman, Rich & I to play 9-holes in the morning before a Jupiter lunch with the previous owners of our boat who flew in from their Brussels home to their winter season Juno Beach condo the day before. And, very nicely, they presented us with the SERIOUS fishing rod that they used aboard Adesso. Probably 80% of the bites that we had crossing the Atlantic were fish that tore our leader & lures away – we’ll now get them crossing back! Rich’s challenge is to ship the rod to Israel. He claims that anything that we catch on it will tow US around!

Sara & I had a fun seaside dinner in Stuart with Walt Lincoln who crossed the Atlantic with us, and his partner Lynn Noyes. We are hoping that both will join us again in 2016. I also had lunch in Melbourne with a couple of Northrop Grumman procurement people to keep my finger in the industry, in case I need to return in some capacity – I sincerely hope not.

We then flew to NY where Herman & Mina hosted us in their stately Great Neck NY home as we all attended a huge Israeli festive wedding. There was lots of ethnic Israeli dancing.

Following that, it was back to Texas for a warm Hughes family Christmas, and signing up for Medicare, etc.


January, 2016 – Vail, Colorado

New Year’s Eve, together with my son & his family, we all watched fireworks from our gorgeous 5th-floor Vail condo that Sara rented for 8-weeks of wonderful skiing. At 6-years, Holly & Katherine learned to ski, whereas independently-minded 3-yr old Julia wasn’t interested. Vail Spa Condos were located 1-block from the Lionshead gondola, and directly across the street from the free InTown Bus Shuttle Stop, and the Vail Marriott. For trips to Beaver Creek, seniors ride for $1 vs. $7, and the condo van shuttled us to City Market for free.

Being in discomfort after her hopping up & down Israeli dancing, Sara visited the Vail Medical Center for what was diagnosed as a torn meniscus in her left knee, requiring surgery, per the attending physician. A visit to the Steadman Institute upstairs, and after consultation with Steadman’s Chief Medical Officer, physical therapy in lieu of surgery was recommended, and conservative skiing was allowed. This was our 1st experience with Medicare, and in some ways it is more affordable than GE’s plan, although communicating with Medicare Part D (drug) companies is a painful experience in incompetence (wrong drugs, wrong price, etc.). It doesn’t bode well for a national health plan.

Vail had tons of snow this year, and when Sara’s kids and their partners came for a long w/e, Andrew’s opinion of Vail improved dramatically. Food-wise, Sara usually made breakfast and dinner in the condo, and we bought lunch somewhere on the mountain with a shared combo platter at the 2-mile high Smokehouse on Wildwood Peak being our favorite plus being 15% off after 2pm. The Tenth at mid-Vail, was our occasional lunch splurge. Our NYC friends came to visit for a long w/e and on the occasion of his 60th birthday, we all took a snowcat to/from the gourmet Game Creek Restaurant on the Lionshead side of the mountain.


February, 2016 – Vail + San Diego

After January, our 3-weeks in February seemed quieter with the only overnight Vail visitors being Sara’s sister and Rob for a week. As our season EPIC passes were valid at many resorts, we skied 10-miles away Beaver Creek a little, and Sara was always at the base at 3:00pm for the free warm chocolate chip cookies handed out in pairs by 4 chefs. By 3:15, the supply is usually exhausted!

Ski-wise, I improved from a beginner to a solid intermediate skier and my stamina unquestionably improved. We also took advantage of Vail’s little-publicized Friday-only ‘Behind the Mountain’ tour to see where they house the Village 110 gondolas each night, plus their snowcat and snow-making operations. For our final night we went back to listen to Micky Poage on the piano at Vista in Arrowhead. Our Vail stay was a lifetime-wonderful experience, hopefully we will at least get to spend a week there next winter…

IMG_3943After Vail, it was on to San Diego, where Jason & Emily went overboard to make us feel comfortable. What a nice stay we had, and I loved their puppy Maggie, although it will probably take Emily a month to correct the bad habits that I allowed her to acquire. IMG_3971We also had some great dinners together, both in their apartment an in restaurants.

IMG_3959Activity-wise, I caught up with former customers, sailed in San Diego Bay with a GE associate, went sail planing (glider)IMG_3991 IMG_3994and WATCHED paragliding off a cliff in Torrey Pines. We also caught up with a business acquaintance of Sara’s forIMG_3992 seaside lunch at Jake’s in Del Mar. I almost forgot that we had lunch at George’s on the Cove (La Jolla) with former Mystic River YC Commodore Bill Volmar and his wife, Joan, before they headed back to Niantic, CT. Due to time pressure, we missed catching up with fellow Corinthian, Sharon Bell, wintering in Rancho Bernardo, CA.


Early March, 2016 – Texas, NY & CT/MA

IMG_4032Sara & I flew back to Texas for our Grandkids ‘fix,’ and we were fortunate enough (actually, we planned it) to be there for Kathleen’s 15th birthday on March 2nd where we went to Del Frisco’s steakhouse in downtown Ft. Worth. It is easy to remember Kathleen’s birthday, as my mother’s was March 1st. IMG_4007Dinner with just Kathleen & Nick was very, very special. Additionally, we watched the kids in volleyball, soccer, and assorted other activities.

Meanwhile, Tommy & Heidi provided us a car, and allowed us to leave our ski equipment there as we always try to pass through DFW to or from anyplace. I even voted nationally in the Texas primary, ya’ll.

IMG_4048The Eden’s were again kind enough to host us in their fabulous 17th floor Upper East Side apartment, and let us use their car for medical appointments, CPA visits (I finally GET $$ from the IRS) and return of winter cloths into Eastchester townhouse storage. Meanwhile, Sara spent countless hours designing and running around 47th street acquiring an impressive engagement ring for Caroline’s fiancée.

We spent our last w/e in CT with our sailingIMG_4043 friends, Marc & Jane, visiting Defender, a marine store, having dinner with ex-dockmates, and with Emily’s parents, visiting the place in MA where Jason & Emily will get married in a small wedding on June 25th. We also swung by our rented house in Marblehead, MA to check up on things.IMG_4044



Finally, Ed Riozzi, Smith Cove YC Activity Chairman, graciously arranged for me to give a 1-hr PowerPoint presentation at the SCYC mid-Winter lunch. With a limit of 30-memberships, ~45-people attended – they must have thought someone important was coming! Most of the ‘missing’ members were in FL or the Bahamas. Sailing crew Marc & Jane Potkin, plus Evan Gregory attended as guests.

The show was all full-sized pictures, except for a 1-page checklist of items required for international cruising, and a 1-page delineation of our 87-ports of call in 9-countries. As luck would have it, during the lunch I added our planned 2016 itinerary to the file, and 5-minutes later the presentation opened with only location tags to ANY picture – panic! Fortunately, I had a day-older version of the presentation, which worked fine, but didn’t have the refuge tents of Kos in it – no loss.


Late March, 2016 – Marmaris, Turkey

IMG_4051On the ‘Ides of March,’ Sara & I flew Turkish Air JFK-IST-DLM where their Batman vs. Superman Gotham vs Metropolis theme was in full swing with Batman menus, etc. As Unconditional was still on the hard when we arrived, we stayed in a marina apartment for two nights until the boat was splashed.

IMG_4082 IMG_4074IMG_4063


Extensive upgrades over the winter were:IMG_4062

  1. New teak deck – nicely detailed
  2. IMG_4095Built-in laundry cabinet in our aft cabin – great job!
  3. Replacement of the salon cabinet door that held the PAL TV, plus cut out internal panel to allow expanded DVD/CD/Blu-ray storage
  4. Replacement of the dodger windows – I can see again!
  5. Reconfiguration of the refrigerator interior and replacement of temperature control – we will need to use the aft freezer for ice cubes & ice cream (what’s that?)
  6. New dual Yankee headsail – downwind cruising
  7. Added coloration to the Gennaker for distinctiveness
  8. Removal and replacement of the rusted secondary anchor chain
  9. Cockpit cushion replacement (yet again)
  10. Window blinds & curtain replacement
  11. Watermaker repair (lots of older issues)
  12. Engine & Generator service + fuel leak repair
  13. Cabin carpeting replacement
  14. Bottom paint touch-up, SpeedProp application & anode replacements
  15. Replacement of cracked mainsail blocks
  16. Reset backed-off screw in mainsail car
  17. Bathroom flooring replacement/upgrade
  18. Capability to carry either European Camping Gaz (Butane) or U.S. propane – we are cooking aboard again!
  19. Two more fenders for added Med-mooring safety
  20. NE Africa + Caribbean Garmin G2 charts
  21. New/extended boom preventer lines
  22. Replaced Tank Tender water sense line
  23. Replaced masthead lights with LEDs
  24. Replacement of large fender cover (worn-out in Corvo, Azores)
  25. 220V, 50Hz Portable drill

As labor is reasonable in Turkey, and we had a long lay-up here, this is probably the most extensive upgrade I expect for the next 5-years – it better be!

I had forgotten how fresh & tasty the food is over here, especially vegetables, and a bottle of acceptable local wine is <$10 in a restaurant. Dinner for two with wine and a shared appetizer + desert is ~$35!

Politically, Turkey is moving from a democracy towards a fundamentalist State, and be they Muslim or not, the locals are upset. They are also upset that the country seems to be alienating its former friends while further riling its previous enemies (Russia). The gregarious Muslim female owner of a drapery/canvas marine shop/business who appears very western and is herself the daughter of a mullah, says that her reading of the Koran is nothing like what radical Muslims espouse. Her only daughter attends college in California and has no intention of living in Turkey again – a shame for Turkey.

Our plan still is to shove off 1 April ’16!

Back in the USA!

Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015 – Marmaris/Adakoy/Ephesus/USA

Locale: While our boat’s wintering locale is only 15-miles from Eastern-leaning1511 Delorme inReach Track to MarmarisBozburun, we had to sail 42-miles to reachIMG_3071 Marmaris Bay. In Muslim, but Western-leaning Marmaris, the Greek island of Rhodes is only 20nm SSW, and IMG_3095we are safely 300nm north of Egypt. Marmaris is situated on a 5-mile bay whose entrance is weather-protected by a sizeable island to break Mediterranean swells. There are three notable marinas on the bay, two of which were excellent candidates for wintering Unconditional.

IMG_3079The in-town marina is the 700-berth upscale Marmaris Netsel Marina, whereas the more remote cross-bay Marmaris Yacht Marine, located on a former military base, handles 700-berths plus 1,000 boats ashore. The wintering price difference is 3:1, and MYM has many serious (>100’) yachts. We berthed IMG_3052the 1st night in Netsel, and enjoyed both restaurants everywhere, plus 4-blocks of a permanent yachting boat show environment of stores. They do not have a West Marine store here, IMG_3083but Marmaris is the 1st place that we saw East Marine, which looks like a knock-off, sells West Marine products, but claims no affiliation. I know of no city/town in the world, including Annapolis, Southampton, Sydney, etc. with a greater proliferation of yacht supply establishments – I am in moderate awe…

Our Marmaris Yacht Marine (MYM) is not as luxurious as IMG_3091Netsel’s facility, but it is virtually self-contained with a supermarket, hair stylist, medical clinic, a nice restaurant, hotel rooms, library, inside & outside bars, carpentry & stainless shops, a sizeable chandlery, laundry service, electronics stores, fitness center, IMG_3103ATM, etc. A typical dinner for two with a bottle of local wine, appetizers and a shared desert runs $39, plus each meal is served with a rugby ball-sized hollow iota bread!

There is a $1 Dolmus (shared van) that runs the 5km of bumpy roads into townIMG_3225 every 30-minutes. MYM operates 3-travel lifts  with 2-launch bays, and their largest travel lift 100’ away from us hoists a massive 330-tons, whereas Unconditional is a paltry 25 tons.

We were located at the root of MYM’s ‘Hotel’ IMG_3248Dock which being at the marina hub, is well-protected, and had land on two sides within 100’. IMG_3252Our Vienna neighbor who designed his deck salon 49’ boat with a huge unsupported mast was berthed further out for a couple of years, and he offer the yard crew of a bottle of whiskey got him a slip next to me.IMG_3254

We hauled the last full day that we were in Marmaris, and the bottom looked great. MYM provided a little extra space around the boat to allow erection of a ‘tent’ to allow work to be performed on it.

Schedule: Our Nov 2015 to April 2016 S/Y Unconditional timeframe is:

  • Nov 13: Marmaris Yacht Marine (MYM) hauled Unconditional for 3-months on land
  • Nov 14: Flew DLM-IST-MUC-EWR (US)  THY
  • Feb 13: MYM Launches Unconditional
  • Mar 16: We arrive back at MYM (JFK-IST-DLM)
  • April 3: We set-out to sequentially day-sail eastward to the Turkish seaports of Goecek, Fethiye, Kalkan, Kas, & Finikecyprus_map
  • April 14: 185nm overnight sail to Limassol Cyprus, and then the final 175nm hop to Herzliya (Tel Aviv) Israel.
  • May 1: Post-Passover, we are thinking of taking-in Larnica Cyprus, in addition to Limassol, then we would set-out on a 3-day n/s sail to Rhodes. This schedule doesn’t return us to Turkey, but it brings us to the beautiful Greek Islands in early/mid-May – a great time of year to be in Greece.Marmaris Rhodes

Should some Turkish repairs not be proper, Rhodes is only 20nm from Marmaris – it is just a little more paperwork to re-enter and then depart. Our Transit Log is good for 12-mo in Turkey, but we’d need another e-visa, as our 180-day multiple-entry current Turkish e-visa expires April 23rd.

Boat Servicing: Upon recommendation of a sailing associate that we met in Naxos, we engaged a British surveyor with 10-years of Marmaris experience and residency to look after Unconditional and supervise work while we are in the U.S. We have a few major items to handle:

  1. Cooking Gas: Propane gas (higher pressure) is used almost exclusively in the U.S. Europe and other areas use lower pressure & lower temperature-burning Butane – think cigarette lighters. The fittings etc. are unfortunately different and we need to be able to use either type of gas as we cannot find Propane over here.
  2. Teak Deck: Our deck has always shown some ‘proud.’ Although this is normal Fore%20deckafter a dozen years, it needs work and replacement within 2-5 years is the norm. Fortunately, Turkey this year is the optimum place to have it done, as the labor is less expensive ($25/hr. billing), the Turks aptly work with wood for their unique Gulets, etc., and Turkey is the ONLY place in the next three years where we have the opportunity to lay up Unconditional for 2-3 months with both skilled labor, and in reasonable weather. By far, this is our single most-expensive maintenance item, but Sara wants S/Y Unconditional looking sharp when side-by-side with those other 35-Oysters participating on the Jan 2017 OWR.
  3. Headsails: Once we depart Cape Verde Islands in November, we will be sailing with the prevailing wind behind us for ~2-years. Ernst Mosel, a German in the ARC-Europe and who sailed the WCC ARC, plus a couple of boats in the 1st Oyster World Rally employed a dual headsail configuration and they all swear by it. In our case, that would be a starboard & port Yankee. With the mast-mounted1511 Gennaker pole holding the Yankee ala wing-on-wing, a sheet running through a snatchblock on a preventer-rigged boom acts as the pole on the other Yankee. This configuration is good for easy distance sailing of 140-180 degrees AWA on either side of DDW. While hopefully not needed, our sheeted-in staysail can dampen a yaw, and the dual headsail configuration is great for night sailing as they can be reefed symmetrically by a single crewmember via our Yankee Reef electric winch. This dual headsail configuration can handle light (normal in the Trade Wind zone), or when reefed in heavy winds, and reefing can be safely accomplished even in heavy winds. Dolphin Sails have an easy to understand video My radial-cut headsail is at least 7-years old, and although the laminated Yankee from North Sails is holding up well, in the use I am expecting in a circumnavigation I will ultimately need a new Yankee. For 90-150 degrees AWA in lighter wind, by day at least, we will employ the Gennaker (Asymmetrical). In heavier winds and winds forward of the beam, we will use conventional sails inclusive of the staysail. Along with the previous mainsail that I have carried in the lazarette the last two years, we will now have a redundant set of conventional sails onboard – a cruiser’s luxury J. The new Yankee will be an Elvstrom Tri-optimal Hydra Net radial 58m2 10oz Spectra-woven furling sail with an Oyster (tan) colored UV cover plus Dyneema leech & foot lines, and trim stripes. Naturally, that means that we are replacing the UV cover on both the old Yankee and our bulletproof Staystail to the Sara-required color-coordinated. Color-wise, we will be similar to my friend, Rudy. Oh yes, Sara wants more color added to our Asymm.
  4. Other Repairs & Upgrades: We are replacing the two mainsheet Lewmar blocks themselves (cracks), car, sheet, and boom preventer lines. We are also replacing the lower section of a bent Staysail foil (my fault 2-yrs ago, due to a piece of bad cutter-rig sailing advise) and an engine start battery (1 of 2 bad). Plus, we are revarnishing the toe rail – a yearly event; doing gel coat touch-up; pickling & fixing the watermaker; and replacing the well-rusted galvanized anchor chain for the 2nd bow anchor.

As in April 2015, we installed a zone-free, 50/60/Hz, Sony Bavaria 31″ hi-def, HDMI, Internet TV on the starboard salon bulkhead, we are now removing theOld PAL TV OEM PAL-format TV and replacing the salon cabinet door (near the nav table) that housed it. Behind that door, we streamlined the AV system, replacing the DVD player with a zone-free, multinational format HDMI output Blu Ray/DVD player. Since it is rare to have fast or affordable internet in port, we are upping our onboard library of ~100 titles to over 300-titles.

Sara desires new cockpit cushions (naturally, as ours are 2-seasons old) and rugs, clean the curtains, replace OceanAire blinds; and add a stainless steel refrigerator interior door with stainless steel shelves. I replaced more interior downlights & reading lamps with LEDs, and of course we need to service everything… We tossed some of our shorter & shredded lines, plus partially used hard liquor, and we took stock of the small amount of food that we had left from the Atlantic crossing.

At roughly 10% of the purchase price, this will almost certainly, at least hopefully, be our most expensive winter, service-wise. In addition to the above, we received our invoice for the 2nd 25% for the 2017-19 Oyster World Rally, and we just paid for our place in the 2016 WCC ARC+.

Ephesus: IMG_3113It is difficult to visit Southwestern Turkey and not take-in the expansive Greek/Roman ruins of the former Ionian seaport town of Ephesus located near Selcuk in Izmir province. IMG_3110Due to Kucukmenderes River silting, the ancient Sacred Harbor has filled and the sea has effectively moved 5-miles from hillside Ephesus. In the plain that has been created, tangerine trees and sport parachutists replace triremes & galleys {ancient boats}.

IMG_3114Ephesus was initially built in the 10th century BC, and during the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis ~550 BC, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. With a population of ~40,000 Ephesus flourished as it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC. In 268 AD, the Temple was damaged in a raid by the Goths. Constantine the Great rebuilt much of the city, however what remained of the temple wasIMG_3151 destroyed in 401 AD by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom. The town itself was partially destroyed by an earthquake in IMG_3165614 AD, and the city’s importance as a commercial center declined as the harbor silted up.

In addition to a commercial hub, Ephesus was a religious center, and it was the site of one of the Seven Churches of Asia that areIMG_3173 cited in the Book of Revelation. The New Testament’s IMG_3127Gospel of John was probably written here, and with reasonable certainty, Mary, the mother of Jesus spent her last years nearby. Later, the city was the site of several 5th century Christian Councils.IMG_3186

IMG_3198Awed with the sophistication, history and splendor of 2nd century Ephesus, Sara nevertheless stopped around the corner to pick roadside tangerines – very tasty!

Boat Haul and return to the US: Sunny 75F Nov. 13th was haulout day for us at Marmaris Yacht Marine. Although they have a monstrous 330-ton traveling lift, it was the smaller 70-ton lift that hauled our 25-ton Oyster 49. IMG_3244In the Solomons Maryland, we stripped and coated the bottom with Hydrocoat Ultra 60 SR and between starting from a new undercoat base and the fact that we were on the move for 7-months, both the bottom and the anodes came through the season in unusually fine shape.

While the European/Asian food, weather and hospitality were wonderful, it is really, really comfortable to be back in the good ole USA catching up with family and friends. Our next post is likely to be in February, when we have a better idea of our 2016 itinerary.

Fascinating Turkey

Monday, Nov 2, 2015 – Bozburun

IMG_3044The 60nm run from Bodrum could have been a bit challenging as we are 7-weeks away from the winter solstice, and daylight is now a premium. We therefore uploaded the dinghy onto its davits the night before to allow us to depart pre-dawn, and view the sunrise ~5nm south of Bodrum.

While not encountering any ‘boat people’ on the seas, we did hear a distant exchange between a vessel and the Turkish Coast Guard, where the Turkish Coast Guard told the reporting vessel that they would “handle it.” IMG_3068Indeed, we have seen a patrol boats running at abnormally high rates of speed on this leg – they are certainly not interested in us. Owing to Greece owning virtually ALL the islands off SW Turkey, 20% of our trip was technically back into Greek waters near Kos & Symi. Nevertheless, it was the Turkish Coast Guard that appeared most active. Many times, less than 5-miles separates mainland Turkey from a Greek Island, and judging from the poor VHF reception, the ‘activity’ was thankfully not nearby.IMG_3055

Taking a line from Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ “Toto, I don’t think that we are in Kansas anymore.” Bozburun is more than just East of Bodrum, it IS Eastern i.e. Muslim culture! Unlike Bodrum, Sara is not venturing far in this town/village…IMG_3056

Bozburun’s claim to fame used to be as the sponge capital of Turkey (KalymnosIMG_3065 held the honors in Greece) however it is now the top Gulet-fabrication site. While downtown did not show it, there were some prosperous areas as we came into the harbor.


Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015 – Bodrum, nee Halicarnassus

Bodrum MapMarmaris is only 48nm from Kos as the crow flies. Fortunately, the crow doesn’t have to deal with either Greek or Turkish ports of entry, transit logs, etc. so our route is necessarily more complex. Dacta would have been a convenient Turkish port of entry on our southeast route to Marmaris, however its controlling harbor depths do not accommodate an Oyster 49 onto a quay without long lines ashore, so we selected upscale Bodrum, north of us, and waited for the Meltemi to abate.

While I have been to Bodrum once prior for a w/e escape from a work trip to Ankara, I stayed at an all-inclusive resort here, and opted to visit the ruins at Ephesus instead of exploring Bodrum itself. Nevertheless, I did take a Hobie-16 out for a sail, and I knew that at that time at least, Bodrum was safe and western-leaning. Never did I expect it to be as wonderful as we have just experienced, and we twice extended our planned short stay.IMG_2882

IMG_3040Our 11-nm sail to Bodrum was close to broad-reached in 13-19knts, and the seas had calmed somewhat from the earlier few days’ blow. All of the buildings on this part of the Turkish coast are stark white. From the sea, it looks more like Greece than Greece itself, and all seemingly well-maintained. Sailing into Bodrum, the tinge color was RED, whereas in Greece it is blue. The RED tinge comes from the oversized national flags flying everywhere! I enjoy seeing national pride, even if is that of a different nation.IMG_2891

The Marina: Once in the harbor, one is impressed with the design, size, quality, and quantity of Turkish Gulets (boats). While Turkey is an inexpensive country labor-wise, the price 1395393457_Bodrum marinastructure of Milta Bodrum Marina was 3x that of comparable Kos Marina across the channel in Greece. Nevertheless, Bodrum’s marina is right IN town, andIMG_2884 the location is almost elegant with the marina’s guard house being the superstructure of a pilot boat, complete with appropriate mast lights!

IMG_2897Entrance Formalities: While obtaining a personal 180-day multiple-entry Turkish E-visa IMG_2899was a model of efficiency, the in-country process for a yacht is still Byzantine, and as suggested in guidebooks, we engaged an agent, Sky Marine, to process us into Turkey and obtain an official 12-month Transit Log good for Turkish ports. IMG_2944It appears that we can travel within Turkey from port-to-port without the need to check with Port Authorities, as we unfortunately had to do in Greece. IMG_2900Also, we do not need to maintain a certified copy of our crewlist as we did in Greece. We were processed across the harbor under the impressive harbor entrance fort.

The Parade: IMG_2910The reason for the red flags everywhere became apparent as we walked into town ~6pm. There was to be a parade on the one-way narrow front IMG_2902street bordering the large horseshoe-shaped harbor – cameras, police, kids, and FLAGS & FLAGS. Since it apparently was not for Sara’s arrival, IMG_2914we determined that it was to celebrate the founding of the Turkish Republic. Bordum’s version of a parade is:

  • Bicyclists from a local club
  • Motorcycles
  • Old VW beatles, either nicely painted with the national flag, IMG_2924or drapped over the front hood
  • 40’ national flags
  • The Mayor
  • More dignitaries running for election (the following day)
  • All the bystanders waving Turkish or elected officials’ bannersIMG_2929
  • Flares (especially RED)
  • Two ambulances at the end
  • Short fireworks display

Everyone was in a festive mood, and yes we IMG_2911carried a flag to fit in, not to mention walking with  Bodrum’s Mayor for a block. We ate a wonderfully prepared John Dory fish a flight-up which then overlooked the fireworks and the balance of the festivities.

Haircuts: Sara, having gone a bit au-natural on the boat, noted the number of coiffeurs about and felt confident enough of their quality to get highlights and a manicure, the following morning. After that, she wanted me to get a haircut, since my last one was in Ischia (Italy).

Although no English was spoken at the side-street barber shop, what a super job the young man did. Of note to me was lighting a paraffin stick of some sort to burn the hair off my ear using the cup of his hand – interesting… The second feature other than touching up my beard etc. was 3-minute shoulder massage – Sara wanted to be next!

Wedding Rings: Walking the front street in Bodrum, Sara noted a retail jewelry store owned by a jeweler who made our 24k wedding bands. The story is that ARA Collection (2)two brothers had a small jeweler’s bench in Bodrum, and two decades later with over 200 stores, Ara Collection is known worldwide for its handcrafted 24 karat gold jewelry. Each piece is created by hand in Turkey. Reportedly, inspiration for the collection comes from the ancient Anatolian civilizations.

Of note is that they used a hammered finish on our rings, and Sara noted that the hammered look had worn away to a smoother finish. What Sara had forgotten was that their factory was actually in Bodrum, so in finding out, she called the owner to have them refinish my ring, get a discount two twisted 24k gold accent bands for her diamond wedding ring – it is a nice look, and buy a necklace for future daughter in-law Emily.

After that, it was on to pocketbook shopping, and she bought an end-of-season high-quality button-down shirt for me. That sort of consumed the day, and the fort was closing by the time we reached it. So, Sara bought a cup of fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice for us, and decided that we’ll just stay another day, again…IMG_2954

Turkish Breakfast: In the morning, we ventured into town to try the “traditional Turkish Breakfast for two, which I would describe as a sort of super-sized Continental breakfast with lots of great condiments plus Turkish tea. We could get used to this…

The Castle/Fort/Museum: Bodrum’s Underwater Museum is not ‘underwater’ at  IMG_2958IMG_3020all, but located in the fort overlooking the harbor entrance. The fort, reportedIMG_2959 to be the strongest castle in the Mediterranean, was built by the Saint Jean Knights in the name of St. Peter, from 1406 through 1522 upon the site of a Turkish & Byzantine Castle. The IMG_2969‘underwater’ part documents artifactsIMG_2981 from numerous shipwrecks from the 6th Century BC to the 6th IMG_3033Century AD, and is considered the world’s largest collection of underwater excavations.

Their collections of Amphoras dating to 3000BC is stunning, not to mention gold jewelry. While we think of today’s Turkey & Greece politics under a NATO and quasi-EU umbrella, throughout this IMG_3039whole Turkish coastal region the Greeks, namely the Athenians were clashing with the Spartans. Who recalls WWI, where Turkey was on the side of Germany & Austria?


The Picture: 147Upon exiting the museum proper the gift shop ran a custom photo stand. In as much as the 140garb was exotic, I decided to avail myself of a $15 photo shoot. As it coincidentally happened, it was Halloween so the Facebook picture that Sara posted received much attention.Halicarnassus_Theatre

We missed: In spite of spending two extra days in Bodrum, we elected not to visit yet another Greek amphitheater, although we could see it from our boat. Likewise, we opted not to get a cab to see the remnants of a mausoleum, as it was only recently that I found Maussolleion_model_dsc02711-miniaturk_nevitout that the 350BC mausoleum, destroyed by earthquakes in the 12-14th centuries was one of the 7-Wonders of the World! Oh well…

Overall, our Bodrum visit was unexpectedly exciting and wonderful with nice weather and a cordial atmosphere. Sara would gladly return!

We loved Greece!

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 – Kos

Subsequent to Jason & Andrew’s visit, our overall Greece schedule was to see a few Cyclades & Dodecanese islands and then depart Greece from Kos, rather thanGoogle Kos more-convenient Rhodes. This is because of being in technical violation of our 90-day EU stay/visa requirement, and the reported strictness of the Greek Port Authority administration in Rhodes, it was reported that Kos was more lenient.

The second thing that we paid strict attention to was any forecast for the infamous Meltemi winds, as sailing in sustained 30-45knot winds and associated waves is something to be avoided – I heard my family refrain of “be SAFE.” Compounding the seas is that most Greek islands do not have marinas, so off your anchor Med-moor is the rule, if you are fortunate, or anchor in a non-wind facing bay that is shallow enough to anchor and without anchor-snaring rocks on the bottom. Realistically, how many of us feel secure at anchor in a 40-knot 2-day blow?

All of that being the case, we had a multiday Meltemi forecasted for the Cyclades 3-weeks before we departed Greece, so each day we would adjust plans to allow the most possible time in the Cyclades before we had to depart, and we selected our route, based in part, on the availability of suitable shelter if worse came to worse.

IMG_2842Block Island-sized Pserimos, was in our path to Kos, so we had the choice of running north of it for a 19nm journey and having seas at our back to start with, or running south for 17nm with 6-8’ seas abeam. With the displacement of the Oyster we selected the shorter course as if we could make it the first 5nm or so, the windward northern shore of Kos would gradually take effect and transit life would ease. Under staysail and initially triple-reef main, we were at 8.5knt hull speed until we turned due east under Pserimos and the wind abated. In now calmer seas, we sailed past a huge Greek flag painted on Pserimos’ SE slope facing Turkey only 4-miles away!

Kos from the sea is not memorable. There were less than a half dozen yachts on the Greek side of the channel, whereas there were at least 3-dozen yachts visible on the Turkish side. We were surprised, but we later found out that it was wooden vessel day in Bodrum. IMG_2845The Turkish resort town of Bodrum which I spent a weekend at a couple of decades ago was clearly visible 10-miles away, and more & more it made sense to clear into Turkey at Bodrum and then sail the Turkish side around to Marmaris.

Kos MarinaKos Marina might be the most well-organized, infrastructure-complete marina in the Greek islands. The marina has fuel, pump-out, grocery store, pay-per-minute internet, laundry, café, yacht brokers, conference rooms, 24-hr guarded access, and zodiacs ready to push your boat so that you do not damage anyone else in tight fairways [not needed for Sara & I].

IMG_2868Last night, I felt very strange as while we watched Invictus, the boat was totally motionless. I cannot recall ‘motionless’ on the boat anytime this year… The long-awaited Meltemi arrived in the area Sunday noon, however Kos being south of Turgutreis Turkey, is sheltered from its northerly brute force, and our Kos Marina is well-protected from swells. I am pleased that we ‘pushed it’ the past two days, as opposed to waiting three-days somewhere for the Meltemi to pass, and then more time for the seas to settle.

a-kos-town3Sunday afternoon, we walked into downtown on a beautiful seaside treed & flowered promenade. Kos was more upscale than most Greek Islands, but the warts showed. It started with the sight of a Hellenic Navy patrol boat a mile offshore, and then we happened upon the old fort standing at the mouth of the old harbor. Two patrol boats are stationed in the main horseshoe harbor, whereas we are in well-gated Kos Marina, a 1/2-mile south of the harbor entrance, in an upscale area.

_84899168_greek_islands_migration_624_v5Surrounding the fort was a refugee ‘tent city.’ Most were of Arab ancestry, generally in their mid/late-teens & 20’s, moderately & surprisingly well-dressed, almost exclusively male but a few families also.

IMG_2853 Per the waiter last night, those refugees from Syria, of all places, were the best behaved (escaping a war), whereas those from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, etc. were a little more troublesome. Port police reiterated the identical story, so we have come to believe it. With only 5-miles of water between Turkey and EU-member Greece, they take this jump to gain access to the more northern EU countries & Scandinavia. Along the beach were life-jackets, a IMG_2851beached 20’+ sailboat, life rafts, dinghies, etc.

Kos is almost entirely dependent on tourism, and national reports have cut that business. Yet, get a block away from the fort and things improve dramatically again with busy Greek-populated outdoor cafés and the like.

IMG_2864Kos can trace its history to the 2300-2000B.C. Bronze Age, and it flourished in the Archaic and Classical times of 7th-5th century B.C. In the Middle Ages, Kos was confined within the protective walls of the Knights of St. John, and in 1933 a 6.6-level earthquake leveled the town, thus the city itself is devoid of classical architecture. The town’s most famous citizen was Hippocrates, the great physician of antiquity and the father of modern medicine.IMG_2170

The day before we left was Greek National Day, so shops were closed, but Greek flags were everywhere, and we picked up a few chandlery and grocery items before we departed at noon on the 28th. Overall, we spent 6-weeks in Greece, enjoying the people, culture, weather, food, water, scenery and pricing. We will definitely stop in next May to enjoy a couple of the same islands, but also some that we missed.

Oh yes, true to the reports, we had no trouble exiting the EU/Schengen Greece. We were asked when we arrived, and we said “Catania Sicily on Sept 14th” which satisfied them. The real requirement is that we spend no more than 90-days in the last 180-days in the EU. We would have gotten a visa extension, but it is an incredible hassle.    

Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 – Kalymnos/Kalimnos

Dodecanese-Islands-GreeceIn staying in Amorgos that third day, we crossed 65-nm strait prior to the predictedly fierce Force 7/8 winds, but we still paid a price. That price was rain, mist and impressive thunderstorms. Clearing Amorgos’ massive steeped-to towering cliffs, we encountered a couple of massive thunderclaps which harkened me back to thinking about Zeus, the Greek god of thunder – I almost had second thoughts.

We went in and out of rain all sun-less day, and the wind itself shifted some 140-degrees, so overall, the crossing was ‘sloppy.’ The worst was an hour or two due west of the southern tip of the Island of Kalymnos, where the forecasted 20knot max winds were at 27knots on the beam with gusts of 31knots, and seas reached 7’ – yucky but manageable for a short duration!IMG_2869

When we motored with wind on the nose, we were wave-constrained to 6-knots, however assisted by the wind we would see low 8’s. Of course, the young trans-Atlantic crew would have extracted 9-knots from the boat, but I enjoy my marriage too much… Sara & I were really pleased (actually ‘relieved’) that we had a center cockpit Oyster for the jaunt.

540px-Kalymnos50-sq-mile Kalymnos sports 16,000 inhabitants, and is blessed with a large southern-facing (good), mostly commercial harbor – yuck. While the winds were 20-knots from the south, Kalimnos’ overlapping breakwaters plus being nestled into the NW quay attenuated the weather and alleviated most of my concern. Upon berthing, the marinaro asked me how many meters of chain that I had out. I said “40” (~135’). Although we sat in 5’ of water under the keel, he said, “Not enough, you need 60-meters (200+ feet) as a minimum.” So we went back out and re-dropped the anchor, hoping that no big guy comes into the harbor after us and then on his departure snags us as some sort of toy…

BTW, we carry 100-meters of 10-cm chain on our primary bow anchor. While on the topic of anchoring, that Hanse 540e next to us in Aromgos was interesting in that it had an embedded transom-mounted stern anchor – although not required in Amorgos, a nice idea.

In spite of being only 10-miles from Turkey, and hearing Arab dialects, Kalymnos remains very Christian with mountaintop crosses plus one-room chapels everywhere. It is the third most populous island of the Dodecanese, after Kos and Rhodes. Although it not appear that way to me today, Kalymnos’ historic sponge center440px-Sponges reputation allowed it to be known within Greece for the affluence of its population, and it also apparently stands as both the wealthiest member of the Dodecanese and one of the wealthiest Greek islands overall. Owing to our weather concerns, short visit, and staying close to the dock, I guess that we did not adequately check out the island.

IMG_2838Dinner at Oyzepi Restaurant off the stern of our boat was a large Greek salad with Feta, fresh & moist chicken souvlaki, and zucchini balls. When the owner said that they were ‘out of zucchini balls’ his wife saw our disappointment and she went out and bought the ingredients at a market 2-doors down to make them for us! Dinner for two with a liter of wine: 35-euro!

Now for the final Kalimnos anchor story. It wasn’t a ‘big guy’ that caught us, but rather our neighbor in a US-registered, flag of convenience, Beneteau Sense 50 that re-anchoredIMG_2836 this morning on the marinaro’s instructions that did us in. When one anchors 4-boat lengths from the dock, it is difficult to keep in your lane, so he anchored /over our chain. Therefore, as we raise our chain, his 200’ is on top of ours. Essentially, we pull out from under his (a good thing) however that hi-tech Roccna roll bar designed to keep the shovel pointed down, actually snags the overlaying chain, ala Poros, and one needs to “coax” the other chain off, if the windless is strong enough. Ah, for a tailed to quay mooring line…

IMG_2839Incrementally, the forecasted Meltemi moved a week to the right and we spent unexpected quality time in Paros & Amorgos. Weather-wise, our run to Kalymnos was not for the faint-at-heart, but the encountered rain & thunderstorms bested the impending Meltemi alternative by far. When Saturday’s weather window allowed us to depart Kalimnos for exit-port Kos after just an overnight stay, we happily took advantage of it.


Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015 – Amorgos

Our trip from Paros to Amorgos started dead calm departing Naoussa and thisamorgos_map_greek_islands allowed us to cut Paros tighter than the lee shore inbound approach. We then encountered 20+knots on the bow running south in the windy strait between Naxos & Paros. Rounding the south tip of Naxos and setting an ESE course, we were finally able to set sail in now light wind.

Of note was our passage just south of the barren Cyclades island of Keros. I was IMG_2759looking to slip between two smaller rocky islands/outgrowths [Andreas & Plaki] a mile or two up, and was below updating the ship’s log while keeping an eye on the navigation table chartplotter, when Sara asked, “Which side of this island coming up are you going?” I replied, “WHAT island?”

Upon popping up in a flash, we had a good-sized land mass ~1/8-mile in diameter ahead of us that was NOT shown on the chart! We might have missed colliding with it, but I jogged 35-degrees to starboard and turned on the radar overlay function to get a better representation of theIMG_2761 above water situation. Depth-wise Garmin said that I should have been in 54-60’, when I was really in 240+- feet, and at the time I was giving the smaller ugly-looking rock outgrowth to my starboard a little extra room off my plotted course, opting for added safety vs. shortest distance. THANK YOU, SARA!!!!!!!!!!

Unlike our USCG-supervised coastal waters, safewater & lateral buoys are few in Europe.IMG_2768

Amorgos is the nearest island to the neighboring Dodecanese island group, and is the eastern-most of the Cyclades Islands with three 2,000’ mountains on this 12-mile long island. It is ~50 sq. miles in size, but only has 2,000-inhabitants.IMG_2778

About mid-way on the north side is the port town of Katapola (sounds Hawaiian) at the head of a magnificent deep (200’) bay. We pulled in next to a good-sized catamaran belonging to a New Zealander – Paul. We were planning to just stay overnight, I asked him how long he was here. He said that he came for a day and has been here 3-weeks!

A solo skipper and Agriculture Investment Banker/entrepreneur, Paul gained sort of mini-celebrity status amongst the locals, and they had a departure party for him the previous night. Yet, of course, he was still here! IMG_2771His recommended place to eat was Mythos (like the Greek beer) and we ran into him that evening, plus he introduced us to his friends on the island. While we ate and went to our cabin, Paul partied and the owner of Mythos had to carry him to his catamaran. Although he made plans for the following day, he slipped his docklines at 9am, stunning us and his friends.

IMG_2774Amorgos is a simple place where everyone helps each other without being asked. IMG_2777While Amorgos is well off the tourist path, there is an inner beauty to its people. As the high winds moved to later in the week, we elected to stay for a day, rent an ATV, and visit the 9th  IMG_2785century Greek Orthodox “Holy Monastery of Panagia Chozoviotissa Amorgos,” as Paul’s friends were planning on doing. IMG_2782They naturally invited us also, but we went independently, only to sit with them in the Abbott’s reception area.

Situated about 2/3 up the mountain, the cliff-IMG_2787hugging monastery’s setting is spectacular. Not only is the setting breathtaking, but the only access to the monastery is via a long winding stone walkway with a fence to keep mountain goats off the walkway. IMG_2828Reaching the monastery is thus a little bit of penance itself for humans. The monastery’s entry way cannot be taller than 5’, and the internal stair way is even shorter, inIMG_2804 places.

Two secular deacons(?) provide guidance, enforce dress code {no shorts/ trousers for women} and translate for theIMG_2806 three monks. The Abbott personally greats and receives each visitor providing a shot of wine/raki, a IMG_2792glass of water and a powered sugar-coated jelly cube. From a high of 50-men to 6 in the 1970’s, there are only three in residence today, with the leader being 63.IMG_2799

With the severe windy weather continuing to slip to the right into the w/e, we elected to stay yet a third day. Sara toured an 8th century convent unoccupied since 1741 and brought backShipwreck to life, plus a shipwreck down the coast with our new Australian / Amorgos friends while I reset lines asIMG_2826 the winds shifted 180-degrees, and I caught up on  my blog. In the evening, it was wine & cheese aboard Unconditional listening to Amorgos stories, and then a farewell fish dinner for all, courtesy of the owner of the Mythos Restaurant.

Dock-wise, a German-crewed Hanse 540e high-freeboard monohull berthed to our starboard requiring me to relocate my windward springline, which was not an issue since their IMG_2833freeboard largely blocked the wind for me. In the evening, a 300’ ore ship expertly docked at the town dock without disturbing the yachts on the Quay – impressive. While his stern was only 30’ from my bow, the docking issue came at 6:30am as we were retrieving lines, our port springline was locked under the sternline of this fully-loaded multi-hundred ton cargo ship, and no one was moving on the ship, yet.

Nevertheless, a very nice owner of a mini-produce store behind us assisted me as I utilized my small crowbar to lift the cargo ship’s line by a fraction. We were then free to depart, and our anchor line was fortoutisly unfouled, but the story has a trailer…

In bringing the fenders aboard, we inadvertently dropped one overboard ½-mile out in the bay, so in the pre-dawn light we had a successful motoring MOB drill in 14+ knots of wind. I would NOT want to do one for real under any combination of singlehanded, under sail, and/or at night!

Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015 – Paros

Receiving rave recommendations from other boaters, and while in the opposite IMG_2694IMG_2701direction (NW) to where were ultimately heading (SE), we close-hauled from Naxos Town ~10-miles in 3-4’ seas over to Naoussa on the Northern tip of the 75 sq. mile Island of Paros.IMG_2702 While 3,000-inhabitent Naoussa is not the capital of Paros, it has a privately-run marina enabling us to be more protected than we would be in Paros’ capital of Paroikia. The 10’ high breakwater attenuates the waves however the swells readily get around through the entranceway, and we must only beIMG_2698 75’ from the GREEN starboard harbor entrance marker. A tailed line was definitely appreciated here, and we used both a returned 5/8” IMG_2705dockline (chafe-protected around the bollard on the windward side) plus a tighter dockline utilizing a coil with chain around the bollard, brought to the windward aft quarter cleat. This keeps the boat’s dock jerking reacting only to abnormal swells.IMG_2706

Our overall Greek sailing philosophy is:

  • Have breakfast – many times using a local bakery’s products and/or yogurt
  • Have a Greek Salad or cold cuts for lunch w/lemonade either underway, or anchor off and swim around the boat
  • Sail for a day and pull into port before sunset
  • Once secured, share a chilled bottle of WHITE wine in the cockpit or salon
  • Dinner at a Taverna ashore
  • Repeat… except at times substituting “shop” or “tour” for ‘sail’
  • Decide on next day’s island destination, and then our location for lunch…

All of our guests readily adapt to this philosophy without complaints – life is good!IMG_2708

Unbeknownst to me, the apparently sleepy town of Naoussa is a mini-Mykonos, with winding white-washed shops & alleyways with stores & boutiques. Sara was in heaven, and ‘we’ decided to stay another day. IMG_2712

At a taverna dinner the 1st night, the woman at the next table asked me, “Are you from Marblehead?” I said “yes, I was born there.” Vannesa recognized our Oyster from Ios, and they bought their professionally-skippered Hylas-70 from the US Hylas importer which is on Front Street in Marblehead.IMG_2713

The next day’s lunch was on a piazza around IMG_2715local fishing boats – an exquisite setting, and a gourmet meal starting with a traditional Greek Salad and ending with complementary lime sorbets.

IMG_2727In spite of good things concerning Paros, a 52’ charter boat docking two slots from us lost use of his bow thruster during docking and in 14-knt abeam winds before securing his tailed mooring line, had his bow swing over and impact our boat. Damage was mostly scratches to toe rail & gelcoat. Nevertheless, trying to get an estimate out-of-season and in small islands is not easy.

Still in love with the island, we rented a car to tour around. Driving north, we saw a rudimentary boatyard where they recover/launch boats via ramps vs.1600px-Paros_Panorama travel lifts or cranes. We then drove through Paroikia, Paros’ capital town, whose small marina looked to be filled by an idle charter fleet.  IMG_2738

IMG_2737Branching into the hills, we visited an ancient marble quarry and the marble huts in which they carved the stone for Delos, Delphi, Athens, etc. – fascinating! Most of this mining was surface mining, and all of fences & buildings in the area were stone with streaks of embedded marble.

Lunch was literally ON the water in the SW island village of Aliki. At 1pm, weIMG_2744 thought that the reason the place was empty that the season was over, but by 2 or 3pm I guess Church services were concluded and the place was packed by locals. Naturally, IMG_2716the water was clearer than distilled gin, but sorry, much saltier! Seafood specialties were octopus & calamari! IMG_2729

Sara lobbied to stay in Paros yet another day. Nevertheless, consulting with the marina manager and noting the PredictWind forecast of a Meltemi Force 7 predicted later in the week (from the north), and the bay being ‘open’ to theIMG_2758 north, it was the prudent time to bid Paros a fond adieu. We elected to head southeast to the good-sized island of Amorgos which offered town quay berthing surrounded by mountains (not hills). While the first 70% of this trip would be in waters that we sailed before, but in the opposite direction, my concern was that after passing Naxos in the northern portion of the Paros/Naxos Strait, we had few safe areas to take shelter from an unpredicted gale.

Exploring the Cyclades

Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 – Naxos

IMG_2630 Slugging into 3-6’ seas and facing 25+knots apparent wind we slugged our way into the safety of almost unstaffed Naxos Marina. Opting for the tailed quays located more inside, the tailed lineIMG_2700 was too short for even a 45-footer, so we backed out and scooted back to the entrance side of the quay and we alerted a bunch of French guys coming in behind us in a chartered Beneteau 46. With plenty of rode, we anchor Med-moored without incident, however with the wind whipping, the Beneteau guys coming in behind us lost headway and driftedIMG_2642 sideways into two or more berthed boats – crunch.

That 1st night, we ate on the boat and watched Argo in our salon as the wind howled, however the following day we found missed a 1-day playing of Zorba the Greek in the Venetian Castle built in 1207 – rats! Nikos Kazantzakis, who wrote Zorba, taught school here for 12-years before returning to his native island of Crete.

IMG_2675Akin to our Ravello cultural experience, the second night we bought front row seats to the Venetian Castle’s Violin & Piano Concert, and to top it off their commentary was in English. During concert intermission, we met a couple from York England who have the HR 49 on our Naxos dock that always winter in Marmaris. They also know of a Swedish-owned Oyster 575 which will participate in the OWR, wintering there, and they gave us the name of a trusted surveyor to project manage repairs, plus an agent to handle Turkish paperwork!

IMG_2658At 166 sq. miles, Naxos is the largest and most fertile of the Cyclades, and whereas 6,500-inhabitant Naxos town (Chora/ Hora) was unexpectedly beautiful and hospitable, we rented an ATV more powerful than our Ios ATV, and we drove into the countryside. The island is famous as a source of emery a rock rich in corundum, which until modern time was one of the best abrasives.IMG_2656

While a little dicey, this ATV was more powerful than that on Ios, and will do the speed limit on local roads. Of course on the island, they are ALL local roads. Heading into the mountainous country villages, Sara picked ripe Sabra (cactus) fruit by the roadside. She tells me that they are like Israelis: IMG_2666prickly on the outside and sweet on the inside. We had an outdoor lunch in a mountain town café where the owner explained in Greek the dishes made by her mother – fantastic!

IMG_2645Returning to town, the harbor sports colorful fishing boats, and a chapel on a IMG_2647small island.  The major landmark of Naxos is the prominent stunningly white large marble arch on Apollon Bakkos (or Bacchus) Portara_Naxos_26which was part of a never completed 530B.C. temple for Apollo. Naxos was the center for Cycladic culture in antiquity.IMG_2634

We thoroughly enjoyed Naxos, and with good internet connections in outdoor harborside cafes, we had coffee and paid credit card statements, checked bank balances, and investigated marinas for the winter. We also signed up for the 2016 World Cruising ARC+ from Grand Canarias to the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa and then 2,100nm n/s to St. Lucia, arriving December 2016 – homeward bound (sort of).

IMG_2693As we really enjoyed Naxos, with the seas having a long memory, and slightly confused, we elected to depart lovely Naxos to hop over to the neighboring island of Paros. Being that we were double-handling, we were much more deliberate in our decision making and itinerary and Aegean winds were a factor.


Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015 – Ios

Arriving into Ios twice by our yacht plus once by ferry, Ios has become our ‘most visited’ port. With the kids, it was first a stopover for Santorini, and their  departure home. Upon spending overnight at anchor in Vlikadha, Ios Port was subsequently our harbor of refuge for the high winds. Finally, upon returning on the ferry from Oia, we decided to explore Ios via ATV for a mere 15-euro for the day.

IMG_2599We drove up to the Village of Ios, over the hill to Mylopotas Beach, then past it off-road up into the rural hillside.   IMG_2606 Sara let out all sorts of screams, but stayed with the off road ‘program.’ I think that IMG_2601my city girl might now know the difference between sheep & goats, but I do not expect that distinction to last.IMG_2610

Returning to the beach, we had brunch at just about the only open restaurant of a dozen or more on the beach. It appeared to be British owned, with a Thai chef that left for the season.

Just north of the port, in Koumbara, someone is putting a huge amount of IMG_2611capital in to build what looks to be a large Club Med/Sandals complex on the entire peninsula. On our 1st trip, we saw two ore ships unloading crushed stone or other material at the dock, and these guys appear to be the user.

In our hunt for a quality and safe wintering site, we spoke with our 72-yo solo-sailing German dock mate who suggested Eastern Crete, although he had not visited Turkey. Other Oyster people recommended Marmaris, and it seems like there as many favorites as there are sailors.

IMG_2590Having now ‘seen’ Ios, our final and not unexpected issue was a fouled anchor hooked onto a very heavy underwater chain. The tailed mooring lines were broken, so we had to traditional Med moor. 40-Euros to a local fisherman solved that problem, and turning the corner out of the bay, we were off into 25-knt headwinds to Naxos.


Monday, Oct. 12 2015 – Santorini

First, a little history… 35 sq. mile Santorini, officially Thira, is potentially the

Sunset in Oia, Santorini. Here is my version of the sunset shot in Oia. This is a blend of 3 shots, 1.3 to 20 seconds, processed as follows: 1) Reduce noice on all 3 raws. 2) Create HRD in Photomatix 3) Blend using Exposure Fusion, sliders set to produce the most natural looking image while still showing some detail in the very dark areas. 4) PS smart sharpen. 5) PS burn the bottom 6) Nik Brilliance and warming 7) Nik Indian summer to warm th elights, masked to not affect the rest. 8) Nik sunlight, brushed over the buildings to add more light 9) Nik Glamour Glow to remove detail in the dark areas. 10) Detailed curves lightening pn windmills. 11) Dodge buildings that were too dark.
Sunset in Oia, Santorini

most-photographed island grouping in the world. It lie in the southern Aegean Sea ~120 mi SE of mainland Greece. Santorini and is the largest island of an archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a massive volcanic eruption ~3,600 years ago. It is the southern-most member of the Cyclades. The 16,000 resident municipality of Santorini includes the main island of Santorini, and less populated Therasia, plus four small uninhabited islands.

IMG_2621Santorini is essentially what remains after an impossible-to-comprehend  volcanic eruption emitting 16 cubic miles of magma (3rd largest within the last 5,000-yrs.) that destroyed all settlements on the formerly single island, and of course, it created the current caldera. The resulting giant ~4×7 mi lagoon is surrounded by 1,000′ high, steep cliffs on 3-sides. Our complexity is that the depth of the caldera at 1,300′ makes it impossible for any but possibly the largest ships to anchor in the caldera. The island’s principal port is Athinios, and its capital is Fira clinging to the top of the cliff.

Thira from SpaceSantorini is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan/Thera Eruption which occurred at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption left a large caldera may have led to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete 70-miles to the south, through a gigantic tsunami.

A popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Plato’s lost island civilization of Atlantis. Speculation suggesting that Thera was 2 DOT_Greece_33_Santorini_Mapthe inspiration for Plato’s Atlantis began with the excavation of Akrotiri in the 1960s, and it gained increased currency as reconstructions of the island’s pre-eruption shape and landscape frescos located under the ash both strongly resembled Plato’s description.

Another theory is that Mycenaean Israelites fled Egypt after the eruption, and went back to Mycenae. Rather than crossing the Red Sea itself, some argue that a marshy area in northern Egypt known as the ‘Reed Sea’ would have been alternately drained and flooded by tsunamis caused by the caldera collapse, and it could well have been crossed during the Exodus. A study of ancient Greek legends of floods in the Mediterranean Sea and Egyptian records attesting to floods in their country, as well as the interpretation of legendary names associated with various Egyptian kings (pharaohs) support this biblical Moses theory.

With steeped 900’ caldera walls, upscale and picturesque Santorini a.k.a. Thira is strangely not ‘yacht friendly.’ Vlikadha is the only marina facility on Santorini, and is located on the outside southern tip of the main crescent-shaped main island of Thira. Do they answer their phone? No. Do they respond to their advertised/signed VHF channel 10? No.

Being down to day of Andrew & Jason departing on a 1:30am ferry, and knowing that we might have berthing IMG_2482issues, we ducked into the top inside of the crescent at Oia and snagged a commercial mooring up against the wall IMG_2483for lunch and afternoon tactics planning. Following lunch, we looked to offload the kids while we searched for berthing. Cruise ship tenders and day-trippers offload at Fira’s quay in the middle of the crescent. While yachts are distinctly not welcome, we slotted in a 75’ slot for essentially a touch & go between a tender and a square-rigger picking up. We then went another mile further south to theIMG_2487 main/ ferry port [Athinios] and were rightfully chased away as we neared – BIG ferries come in there and the BIG guys rock & roll big time.

At that point, our only option was outside crescent at Vlikadha. While the IMG_2622pilot guide gave us all sorts of warnings about the approach and tightness inside, we had no issues. It was GETTING inside that was the issue as our depth below keel went to 0.0’ after we passed the 1st boat, hmm… We stopped without touching, but a guy on the dock said that our draft was too deep. As we had the kids’ luggage, and the winds were forecasted to be light that night, we anchored outside the marina with 5’ below our keel. Good-sized cats had no trouble with the 2m depth, but we are 2.7m.

The kids took a taxi to meet us, and taking the dinghy in we Dimitrishad a heart-felt good-bye dinner at Taverna Dimitris   – our 2015 cruising season with family & friends was IMG_2505sadly over, and we are on our own. Sara was presented a guest book with three pages filled in that made her tear with joy & fulfillment – so nice! When I left the boat, I forgot my dockers, so Jason bought me slip-on swim shoes so that I wouldn’t tear – LOL. I was touched.

The following morning, the boat docked at the marina entrance departed, so we tried to slip in. I had 0.6’ below my keel, but 3’ to the dock, and Sara noted a boulder to my stern that she thought that we would hit, so in light of 30+ knot southerly winds expected, and advice from a local fisherman, we eased out to return to the safety of Ios 24-miles away.

This was an incredibly wise decision as the wind blew something fierce from the south – unusual, but exactly as predicted. After riding out the storm with most boat owners, including me, at 4am adjusting lines, fenders and passerelles in Ios, later that morning we bought ferry tickets to meet a former customer back on Santorini. High winds & high seas cancelled the Ios 12-noon, 250-passenger, 38-knt SeaJet2 ferry, IMG_2619so Sara bought tickets on the much larger Blue Star Delos ‘ferry’ departing at 2:10pm. Nijel & Elaine met us at the port and we checked into an ‘executive cave suite with IMG_2520heated Jacuzzi’ at the luxury Filotera Suites in Oia [E’ ah].

Crest-sited Oia has been upgraded since my last visit and it is now a world ‘must visit’ site. IMG_2568It is particularly noted for its sunsets, although when we were there the café lost about 50% of its beverage glasses to the wind! IMG_2532It now rivals Fira for Jewelry stores and boutiques, however I was quite impressed with the number of (Greek Orthodox) Churches in Oia taking premier real estate locations.IMG_2574

IMG_2518There are two parts of the main island: the white-washed, tourist, photographic, Maultiercaldera-side; and the quaint, local side where one might still see donkeys and not-so-well kept vineyards.

IMG_2580Dinner was at Kaptiva Seafood Restaurant in the Ammundi fishing area at the base of the cliff. IMG_2579 IMG_2578 IMG_2577To get there you park and walk a stone sea-level catwalk past the 1st restaurant. Being nighttime, unlit, unmarked, and railess, Sara said that there was ‘no way to get there.’ Nijel & I walked around the blind wave-washed corner, and Sara & Elaine followed once they had reasonable confidence that they would not be swept out to sea. With the ferocity of the surf, I was not so sure myself! IMG_2474IMG_2571We passed octopus drying on strung wires. Thankfully, they taste better than they look!IMG_2562

IMG_2560The following morning, breakfast of your choice was served tableside at our suites, and Sara was ‘in heaven.’ IMG_2567Nijel & Elaine were in the honeymoon suite/cave below us.

The large Blue Star ferry had similarities to a real cruise ship and we sat in individual leather chairs with a table and floor to ceiling windows about 3-decks via escalator above the boarding ramp base. IMG_2583On the other hand, the SeaJet2 return trip had seatbelts and felt & looked more like an IMG_2472amusement park ride!

Fondly Greece!

Friday, Oct. 9, 2015 – Ios

Ios LocationWith Santorini being too far for us to sail in a day, we adopted the RCC Pilot Book recommendation of Port Ios as a safe and nearby harbor to visit Santorini from by ferry. Ios is a moderate-sized 40 sq. mile hilly island, mostly steeped down to the sea, situated ~midway between Naxos & Santorini. While not applicable in October, it is apparently popular with young nudists of all nationalities in the summer, although I didn’t note any beaches along the coast coming in from the northwest.

IMG_2447The Port of Ios is at the head of the Ormos harbor. From there you can take the bus or rent an ATV to ride up to Chora. Chora is a white and picturesque village, full of stairs and narrow paths. Reportedly, the main path through  Chora village is taken over by tourism. Apart from the port and Chora, Ios has only a few small settlements in the background of its three major beaches: Theodoti, Kalamos & Manganari. IMG_2452

Our on-anchor Med-moored docking went without incident as the Magida crew is now a well-oiled team understands what is expected of them, and of course each berthing situation is always a little different. The berthing price in Ios, but without power & waterIMG_2454 access was a bargain 8-euro per night, compared to a high of 288-euro in Puntaldia. Dinner & wine for six at a restaurant off our boat’s stern was only 75-euro (~$85). The crushed stone carrying ship offloading on our dock caused quite a turbulence as it departed, but thankfully we were notified and no damage was inflicted. To a Californian, it would have felt like an earthquake.

The following morning, we departed for Santorini under clear skies, and moderate weather not expected for 18+ hours. By now, Margaret was bonding into the family, and everyone was becoming more comfortable with sailing the boat.




Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015 – Koufonisia

Kykladen-koufonisi mapInhabited since pre-historic times, and situated southeast of Naxos and west of Amorgos, the 10-sq mile Koufonisiakoufonisia_F23317 Islands belong to the complex of the Lesser East Cyclades. A couple of years ago, Jason & Andrew spent over a week backpacking in Koufonisia, and c91b74a9916753bbbbdc12f0a83b99c8wanted to revisit the area. Koufonisia comprises the main island of Epano Koufonisia with less than 400-residents, plus the almost uninhabited island of Kato Koufonisia – we visited both.

IMG_2409The first stop was a secluded bay in the NE corner of the main Epano Koufonisia, where clothing on the beach was apparently optional. IMG_2400The four young adults IMG_2403went ashore and Sara’s sons availed themselves of the opportunity. We did not inquire of the girls, but I think that they remained decent. Sara snorkeled in emerald green waters off the swim platform.

IMG_2407Garmin doesn’t bother to delineate depths in remote bays, so we place a lookout on the bow to ‘feel’ our way in, and trace our path out. Remember that you can easily see 30’ down, it is still difficult to say that you have 30’ vs. 10’ depth, however rocks are clearly visible. Another Garmin chartplotting secret is to koufonisia boatswitch from the NAVIGATION chart option to the FISHING chart option.   This provides contour lines at the expense of losing AIS overlay, but when you are feeling your way into secluded bays, it is unlikely that a cargo ship or tanker will sneak up on you. BTW, akin to Shipwreck Beach in Zakynthos, our inbound route took us over a touch of chartplotter ‘land,’ so guess who is really careful about skirting obstacles!

IMG_2446After having a nourishing Sara-prepared lunch (she does it so WELL) we tracked our path back out until we reached 65’ depths, and then headed for the village ~3-miles around the corner. The harbor is small, make that tiny, but there were a couple of other pleasure boats in and we found a nice spot amongst the fishing boats.

IMG_2417 IMG_2416 Once secure, Sara allowed us to open the magnum of RED  (‘red’ stains the boat)Chateauneuf du Pape that ex-crewmember Wally Lohr bought for us, and we drank out of the Mont-Redon wine glasses that my daughter Karen bought for us when we were all in Provence. IMG_2420Upon departure, the girls said that they will miss pulling into port at dusk and watching the sunset with a glass of Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio (white wine).

IMG_2422Once settled, Andrew & Jason wanted to be sure that we ate at their favorite Koufonisia restaurant, which in spite of closing for the season in 3-weeks was still busy.

Next morning, we motor-sailed down to almost deserted Kato Koufonisia.IMG_2424 IMG_2432I saw Billy Goats on the slopes, but no people, as we anchored for a swim. IMG_2433The young adults went ashore and climbed the cliffs surrounding the bay. IMG_2435Again, we ‘felt’ our way in & out.   We anchored in 7’ below the 7’ 7” keel, and drifted back to 4’ at times below the keel. The only disturbing news was that Sara informing me that there was a small rockIMG_2428 outgrowth below the keel which we were easily clearing. Nevertheless, it gets one’s attention.

While everyone wanted to stay longer, at 2pm we departed for the southern Cyclades island of Ios 24nm away to be sure of a daytime arrival, and we were running out of ‘cushion’ for the kids’ Santorini departure in 2-days.


Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 – Starvos, Dhenoussa

IMG_2445Without much being there, we had never heard of the island of Dhenoussa, and it is even too lonely for The Lonely Planet to list, however the island is popular with the Greeks themselves. Jason & Andrew were keen to visit it, so we selected the main port of Starvos as being the most accommodating. IMG_2393Arriving just before dusk, we scooted around the entrance mole and as being the only sailboat in the harbor, docked just prior to the fishing boats that attracted a herd of cats. IMG_2395In fact, Capt. Giorgis’, the town’s only restaurant, has its own brood of cats, and the staff fed them table scraps 2x while we were there for dinner. The Greeks in the restaurant looked like something out of Hollywood central casting, and true to form, there is no sign with the restaurant name.IMG_2388



In the morning, I imagine that Sara must have bought every IMG_2397offering type that their bakery offered – excellent! Then we were off again… 



Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015 – Delos

IMG_2442Legend has it that Apollo was born on this small island ~3miles from Mykonos. Likened to Pompeii in completeness, Delos has extensive 700BC ruins on its western side, and the fame of the oracle of Delos was only exceeded by Delphi. Stone-lionsProtected by other islands around it, its trade route location allowed it to also develop as a political and religious center. Delos was ‘purified’ in 543BC by the Peristratos, and thereafter it was not to be ‘defiled’ by human birth or death. Even today, no one is allowed permanent residence on the island.IMG_2383

IMG_2444            The dangerous part is that when a meltemi is blowing, the funneling effect can result in Force-7+ winds. Fortunately, that was not the case for our visit and we anchored in 20’ of green-blue water with only one other sailboat, and a bunch of day-IMG_2370tripper boats, in what was reportedly the busiest harbor in antiquity.IMG_2363

Owing to the short hop, and like “Michael” in the song, Andrew ‘rowed the boat (dinghy) ashore’ with the rest of the crew to visit the ruins for an hour. Everyone then returned to the boat and swam in the 15’ deep water. IMG_2369Sara inspected the anchor, and Margaret swam to and climbed nearby & deserted Mikro Remmatia IMG_2381Island while I watched for speedy excursion boats not expecting to encounter a swimmer. Following another healthy lunch by Sara, we weighed anchor for Dhenoussa, allowing us opportunity to deploy our blue & white asymmetric spinnaker, for a nice gentle fast sail.


Monday, Oct. 5, 2015 – Mykonos

IMG_2310Spanning 43-years, this is my third trip to Mykonos; 1972 by ferry, 2000 by plane, and now in 2015 by yacht. Mykonos changed the most between my 1st and 2nd visit when it became extremely popular and the infrastructure and accommodations were upgraded. I’ll avoid detailing the more graphic examples of my rustic 1st visit.IMG_2352

For a mere 15-Euro per night, we docked at the only 60% full Mykonos Marina located ~1-mile north of town. As cruise ships & major ferries dock on the outside mole, there is a convenient 2-Euro Sea Bus ferry IMG_2340service that runs in  and out of town every 30-minutes. The marina is not completely finished but has necessary domestic conveniences (no fuel or marine shops) nearby.

Without hiring a car, we did not sample Paradise Beach nor the nearby IMG_2315nightclubs that are open until dawn, but we did walk to and about and about the windy pedestrian streets of town, which is much the same as my last visit – filled with shops, restaurants & souvenirs.IMG_2312

One disappointment is that an outdoor seaside restaurant that had an albatross perched on a stump had changed hands, expanded, and alas – no albatross, nor even a wait staff that recalled it. IMG_2314There was the Greek equivalent of a bagpiper sitting on a wall blowing a note or two into his white pipes.

IMG_2331Mykonos did upgrade its famous windmills, and we walked around them although there is no evidence that they are functional. Modern 3-bladed wind generators are prevalent around the northern Med.IMG_2325

A nice find was the food. We had lunch in town with a spectacular setting on the water – Price: 125-Euro for 6 of us with only 2-beers, no dessert. Abutting the Marina, we ate at Matthew’s Tavern under a fig tree – Price: only 70-Euro for 5 of us with 3-beers, 2-carafes of wine, plus after dinner drinks! We went back a 2nd night! In Greece, all places must have a printed menu with prices on it. Of course, they might not have what is on the menu, so it is not uncommon for them to invite you into their kitchen to see what is good, or freshly made.

 IMG_2328 IMG_2329IMG_2302Mykonos still draws cruise ships with many Americans on them, and while less Orientals seem to be traveling, more and more Russians are about. Of course, the English love to travel, and outside of August there is still a smattering of Italian, French & Dutch.


Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 – Merichas, Kythnos

Kythnos is a northern Cycladic island ~40nm due East of Poros, between Kea and Serifos. It has been called “Thermia” since the 12th century due to hot springs at Loutra Bay. Kythnos itself is ~100-square kilometers, with 100-km of coastline, and 92-bays, coves & beaches. IMG_2438For a mere $16, we had dockage, electricity and water at the main port of Merichas which claims 250 inhabitants with probably under 2,000 on the whole island.

Filled with that bit of trivia, we picked Kythnos because it was full 1-day sail that was 50% on the way to Mykonos. In Mykonos, we could pick up Margaret on Sunday as there is no ferry to Kythnos on Sundays.

The sail itself was broad to close-reach with 15-24-knots of northerly wind, and swells of 3-5’ as a remembrance of the 3-days of 30+ knot winds in the strait. Jason & Emily got a lot of roller furling practice, as the Oyster & crew could easily handle 15-knot winds under full sail, however the Admiral constrained the heeling at higher winds requiring reefing – “Tom, Tom, Tom.”

IMG_2437Kythnos has a popular well-protected islet on the north, and connected to the main island by a sand bar. This provides two bays to anchor in. IMG_2287We checked them out, but due to the chill in the air, the sole taverna appearing to be closed for the season, and the need for another early start to Mykonos, IMG_2436we did not drop anchor, and instead opted for Merichas, a couple of miles away.

IMG_2291With the assistance of a waiter from a restaurant, a common Greek practice, IMG_2292we Med-moored off our anchor near the fishing pier, and ate in the popular fish restaurant “Oasis” to the stern of Unconditional. Our dawn departure to Mykonos was uneventful.



Friday, Oct. 2, 2015 – Poros

With our Zakynthos and Athens dates predetermined by flight arrangements, our Ionian Sea itinerary was largely selected by crewmembers Jane & Marc upon arrival. Sara & I were now striking out on our own as only her kids were our last guests, and we had 6-weeks of fairly open sailing ahead.

IMG_2439Since we had 30+knot winds forecasted in the Aegean Sea straits for the next 3-days, we elected to enjoy the Athens-Poros area in lieu of immediately venturing east into the strait. With Jason & Emily arriving into Athens, we looked at weather, inter-island distances, and ferry schedules to determine where to board Andrew, and yet be able to accommodate their desired visits to the north, middle & south Cyclades island chains. With an eye on infamous Meltemis, we were suddenly time-crunched under the best scenario by their flight return date. IMG_2232 Then, new to our life, we found that we needed to board a ‘Margaret’ for Andrew at yet another subsequent TBD port.

Avoiding the serious winds, the next day we had strong 20-25-knot following winds as we headed south from Piraeus to the island of Poros, just 200-meters north of the town of Galatas on Peloponnesian north coast. With the boom properly ‘prevented,’ Jason sailed wing-on-wing, a hard point of sail, towards Poros Bay. With a mere 4,000 inhabitants, Poros in the Saronic Gulf is scenic from the sea, and due to its proximity to Athens/Piraeus, more yacht-focused than most Ionian islands.IMG_2239IMG_2244Med mooring to the town dock next to a 300’ motor yacht, George, a waiter from the harborside Gia Mama restaurant immediately behind us, helped us with lines which was challenging in the winds & swell. As we were set, a woman came by and told us that ‘around the corner’ (counterclockwise) was far less windy and attenuated swells. IMG_2253Although not for the timid, I thought that we were secure enough, so we stayed without incident as the winds abated in the evening as forecasted. Charter boats arriving after us quickly gave up on trying to Med-moor and they docked lengthwise, then later boats rafted-up.IMG_2441

The next morning, a policewoman said that a cruise ship was arriving later in the day and we’d have to go around the corner. IMG_2440Recalling the earlier woman’s advice, we did so after sleepy-heads, Emily & Jason, awoke. It was indeed calmer around the corner and we payed out 150’ of chain rode to Med-moor in much calmer waters. IMG_2273As we secured, a Jeanneu 57 decided to berth immediately next to us. Skipping forward to our following day 8am departure, the Jeanneau’s anchor chain crossed over ours, so the Jeanneau payed out some slack and we were prepared to sling his line, when it instead snagged our anchor’s rollbar and Andrew boathooked it off. IMG_2269Crossed anchors are a way of life in traditional non-tailed Med-moorings.

  Owing to those 30+knot winds and an augmented crew, we stayed 36-hours in Poros allowing Andrew to have a 90-minute hi-speed cat ferry ride to Poros, plus some rest. Sara was excited to see Andrew, and have both of her boys together! BTW, I like it also 🙂IMG_2250

IMG_2255Meanwhile, I bicycled around the island [it is not that big] and I saw a trans-ocean rowing craft tied to our dock.

IMG_2277The now five of us enjoyed Poros. Andrew & Jason joked at dinner, whereas IMG_2281Emily made use of the restaurant Wi-Fi to catch up on her iPhone. I was even fortunate to pick up a wheel for our Amalfi-broken passarelle, from a small 1-aisle hardware store.

After dinner, I found out the hard way that my BoA ATM card expired as a result of the US-mandate for Smart Chip implementation. Their replacement card is in Texas. Now we would need Sara’s ATM card to withdraw Euros,and with the Greek financial situation, small businesses needed cash vs. credit card slips. IMG_2286My credit cards already had the embedded Smart Chip technology.



Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015 – Athens/Piraeus

IMG_2131After a somewhat calm day dodging tankers at anchor, the wind picked up and we close-hauled the last 25% into Piraeus, the seaport of Athens. I have to say that sailing into a large metropolitan city with such culture was a thrilling experience for me. Although passing through ATH airport a couple of times a decade or two ago, I had last visited the city of Athens when Kathy was 5-months pregnant with our now 42-year old twins, and sailing into the port of Athens elicited unexpectedly strong fond & moving memories.

ys_-_flisvos_marina_2Based on our pilotbook description, we selected the Mega Yacht Athens Marina to stay. Updated for the 2004 Olympics and located next to the Olympic Stadium & Arena, it seemed like a good selection since Zea Marina was described as being in an industrial / commercial area. Nevertheless, thePiraeus Map larger Zea Marina in Piraeus would be my preference next time as being east of the main Piraeus area, the Athens Marina was not logistically as conveniently located, and the ‘commercial’ part was desirable restaurants, chandleries, etc. To compensate, we rented a VW Golf from Hertz in Piraeus’ Port to pick-up Jason & Emily from the airport and drive into and about Athens.IMG_2145

While making Boston Back Bay streets look positively wide, and NYC streets smooth, Athens was not extraordinarily difficult to drive in. The famous Athens smog was fortuitously non-existent, and with one noted Darwin Award female candidate exception, people were overtly friendly.

IMG_2141  Marc & Jane Potkins treated the new crew to a wonderful dinner at The Old Tavern in Athens’ lively Plaka section. After being lost in Piraeus, having a verbal run-in with a woman on a dead-end street there, and being directed out of a restricted driving area near the newly-opened Acropolis, Museum, it is unclear how we located parking less than a block away from the restaurant.IMG_2132

In as much as we have been drinking table wine for most of our trip, Marc kindly treated us to a couple of bottles of wine for dinner. I think that we chose this bottle as much for the whimsical label as the Greek wine itself, which was delicious…

After two weeks on the boat, it was very sad to bid the Potkins adieu. In addition to their friendship, it was comforting to have competent sailors aboard as transitioned some challenging waters and berthing. Jane was pleased that I let her skipper Unconditional through the canal.

IMG_2170The following day Sara properly signed our new crew in with the Port Police located at Zea Marina (where else). We also grocery shopped behind the local hospital, posted for $60 a $120 Delphi souvenir to NY (ed: it arrived broken), checked the weather, tried to determine best airport-to-island connections to board Andrew when he arrived, planned the itinerary for next few islands, re-checked the weather, and ran a couple of chores.

Lastly, we toured the Acropolis, which although the Greeks are working on it, seems almost unchanged since my visit with Kathy, 4-decades ago.

IMG_2151 IMG_2167 IMG_2210 That last Athens evening, we had a bottle of Greek wine with a Mizo at the fashionable but sparsely-populated Acropolis Restaurant as we sat outside watching the sun set and the monument lights turn on – a priceless hour or so.IMG_2222

For dinner, we drove back to the Plaka section, and we ate at a touristy restaurant watching traditional IMG_2231Greek dancing and singing, capped off with the breaking of plates. Athens was surprisingly memorable in a nice way!


Monday, Sept. 28, 2015 – Korynthos & Corinth Canal

IMG_2078Departing Itea just after noon, we had lunch underway while IMG_2077 a developing weather front push us quickly the 40-miles into Korynthos Harbor. Unconditional was sailing well and we dusted off another slightly smaller boat headed to the harbor. Being that we drew too much to enter the smaller yacht harbor, we entered the almost deserted commercial harbor. Tying up was a challenge again, as we had to duck open rebar that would puncture fenders, street drain outlets that capture fenders, and a bow thruster that temporarily stuck ON in the starboard position (I reset it). All of this in a 20-knt onshore wind, which abated after dark.IMG_2080

Korynthos itself lends its inhabitants’ name to yachting’s Corinthians. While Corinthian Logo1classically Corinthians are required to be sharing & helpful yachtsmen, Korynthians/ Korinthians were notorously party-hard (and much worse) creatures, but were excellent mariners. What we saw in town was merely typical street cafes. Clubs must open after we are abed.

IMG_2082At 10am the following morning, all three sailboats (a Brit, a German & us) that arrived in Korynthos were circling ½-mi off the western Corinth Canal entrance awaiting clearance into the traffic-reversing 3-mile, 75’-wide canal. The Brit tried to bluff his way in and was rebuffed, and later the German had to be told 3x to proceed into the canal.

IMG_2090 IMG_2093      IMG_2096The Brit would not have made progress anyway because there is a car bridge on each side of the canal. What makes this bridge unique is that it hydraulically SINKS into the canal floor to let ships pass above it! Crewmember and MSME-graduate, Marc, thought the guidebook had an editing error – nope, the bridge center span goes UNDER water!

The canal is 3.2-miles long, a narrow 75’ wide, and the walls are 250’ high – very dramatic. There are no locks required on the canal, and the current is less than 50% of the Cape Cod Canal, Woods Hole or NYC’s Hell Gate/East River. We transited the canal on a Monday, and as unbeknownst to me, the canal is CLOSED on Tuesdays for repair/maintenance – whew!IMG_2106

IMG_2115At ~$100 per mile for a 15m boat, the canal also has the reputation for being amongst the most expensive in the world. After settling with the Canal Authorities, in cash (a common requirement), Sara went to uncleat the springline and her glasses slipped off her shirt into the drink 25’ below. Solution: call a Greek diver, obtainIMG_2126 2-permits, and wait for big vessels to clear the canal. This is the 3rd year in a row that I have paid $100 to retrieve her glasses!

Sara then prepared one of her usual onboard great healthy & fresh lunches, and we were off to Athens/Pireasus none the worse for wear.


Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015 – Itea/Delphi

IMG_1976Arriving on the mainland of Greece for the 1st time, we parallel docked at the nearly deserted harbor of Itea [It’ e a], gateway to mountaintop Delphi and the Temple of Apollo. While docking is standard practice to us East Coasters, it is usually to a floating dock. Itea, being at the “V” tip of a geographic funnel had more tide than we have experienced in the Med. and we arrived at peak tide. The dock/mole was only a few inches above the water and the crew didn’t have the fenders ON the water, so for the first time since the Azores swell, we scratched our gelcoat – Captain’s fault. Oh well, it could have been worse if we arrived at low tide and were OFF the boat at high tide.IMG_1984

The town itself is not cute, but it has an incredible amount of civic pride & Churches. We saw marching bands, and on Saturday evening, a free big (swing) band concert. IMG_1980Trip Advisor is everywhere and Marc located a nice outdoor seafood restaurant. People drive their cars in town at less than 20-mph – strange, to a native Bostonian.

IMG_2072Under clear skies, the four of us took a taxi to Delphi and passed over an active viaduct carrying water 200-miles away to Athens. Delphi itself, which takes its name from Apollo Delphinios is on the side of Mt. Parnassos dates from 450BC, and was impressive in both artifacts & setting. Map_greek_sanctuaries-en_svgThe ancients regarded Delphi as the center of the world, and the Delphic Oracle was famous throughout Greece.

Being a Sunday, admission was free for even non-Greeks, and taking a taxi, we arrived well before the tour buses from Athens. IMG_2033In addition to the site with temples, treasuries, an amphitheater & stadium, the modern museum was outstanding. IMG_2026IMG_2011 IMG_2007






IMG_2036IMG_2052 IMG_2071


Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015 – Patra

With further thunder showers predicted in Katelios, Marc & I had a discussion about the wisdom of heading back to the safety of Zante Town. Nevertheless, a check of the weather at Patra, on the Peloponnesian Peninsula 50nm away revealed that the rain wouldn’t commence until after 2pm at the earliest. Kefalonia to PatrasAs weather visibly looked to be rebuilding at Katelios and with sufficient fuel & supplies, we weighed anchor pre-dawn and departed into moderate swells & wind on the nose. We then rounded the southern tip of Kefallinia for a NNE 50nm run in moderately open seas to Patra on Peloponnesian Peninsula. Mesolongi was our divert port, however it wasn’t a very appealing option.

IMG_1930Our timing was great as we travelled with the weather just behind us as predicted all the way to Patra, Greece’s 3rd largest city with 215,000 population. Marc was particularly impressed how well the Oyster handled moderate seas – his Hunter would be slamming more into the waves.

IMG_1931Although the block just off our downtown dock was hopping with a young crowd, we didn’t find Patra itself anything to ‘write home’ about. As we departed the following day in shower-threatening weather, the Hellenic Olympic Sailing Team was on our dock prepping race marks.  Rio Br Elevation

IMG_1957One thing that Patra is noted for is the Rio-Antirrio Bridge built in 2004. With four stations, it is reportedly at 2,252-meters the 2nd longest cable-stayed deck bridge in the world. IMG_1952IMG_1969True to Greece overkill, it has a Traffic Separation Zone Management Authority that one must call into at 5 & 1-nm out – really?! And to beat that, this entrance to the Gulf of Corinth has an active car ferry service running right in the shadow of the bridge – they must undercut the bridge tolls be 1-Euro, or something.

Hello Greece!

Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 – Katelios, Kefallinia, Greece

kefalonia-mapWith our precious time at Shipwreck Beach, the likelihood of thunderstorms, the lateness of the day, there was no way to low-risk cross the Eastern Ionian Sea to reach either the mainland or the Peloponnesian Peninsula, so we opted for a brand-new small fishing harbor on the SSW tip on island of Kefallinia, ~12nm north of Zakynthos. The dual breakwater entrance was narrow, too narrow to U-turn, but it showed 5’ of depth under the keel. With Marc on the bow looking for rocks, we proceeded at dead slow speed until our  depth meter read 0.0’ and, while not touching, but with 150′ to the harbor itself and darkness impending, we backed out and opted for anchoring out.kefalonia_paralies_7

Our next challenge was to find a suitable anchorage with a west wind blowing. That entailed going around a distributed pile of rocks. In that search and in checking out the swing radius, we brushed a sand mound with 0.6’ on our depth indicator, so now I am a true sailor – LOL. Nevertheless we relocated 1,000’ and anchored with not less than 5’ under the keel. In anticipation of the storm, we let 8:1 properly-snubbed all-chain rode out.

kefalonia-location-katelios-123982While we received 25+ knots of wind, however most of the rain stayed in the straits toward the Peloponnesian Peninsula, as did the lightening. Sleeping mostly in the cockpit, it was not the most restful of nights, as with 2′ under my keel in a somewhat flat basin, but some rocky outgrowth a potential, I was not used to straight-line moving 200’ and still be within my swing. As there were no other boats at anchor within 10-miles to judge the situation, I admit to waking Marc for a ‘consult’ on the potential slip. We were ok, however nasty weather was predicted arrive just after dawn – joy… Fight or flee, and if ‘flee,’ where to – back down to Zante or all the way across to Patra (with no really good divert ports).


Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015 – Shipwreck Beach

IMG_1926With forecasts of unsettled weather, we reluctantly said ‘good bye’ to Zante Town and set out to Shipwreck Beach on the NW side of the island 15 miles away. It is reportedly the #1 Beach in the world, with turquoise waters and surrounded by steep cliffs, the beach is reachable only by boat, and true to its name has the wreck of a steel-hull ship exposed in the sand.IMG_1908

Larger (200-passenger) sightseeing & mock-pirate boats Med-moor to the beach and offload on long stern gangplanks, whereas the more prevalent smaller day trippers offload from their bow and then anchor to the sandy bottom for an hour before returning to the beach to pick up passengers.

IMG_1912When we arrived, the wind was blowing 15-20 knots and all of the anchoring was near the starboard side wall as you entered the cove. Since there were so many day trippers anchored we looked around for a suitable wind-depth-swing room spot. Meanwhile, one of the day trippers motioned us over to his spot whereupon, he ducked into a tight spot that we would never fit into. The US flag produces some very nice courtesy behaviors.

IMG_1917 Thanks to Sara & Jane, we enjoyed a nice lunch in the cockpit. Meanwhile, four Cambridge-educated guys in a sailboat arrived and anchored ~100’ from us. One stayed with the boat while the other three swam to shore. With the wind blowing so hard, one UK lawyer, Chris, had difficulty making significant sidestroke headway into the wind, so we welcomed him aboard and provided him a dry towel. His downwind return to their boat was a relative ‘walk in the park’ – yes, I guess that I saved a lawyer, LOL.

In today’s age of GPS, AIS, radar & chartplotters, we come to rely upon the system as gospel. We utilize them to skirt underwater rocks, look out for traffic, and even plot intercept points of ships still over the horizon.IMG_1919

Nevertheless, our chartplotter showed us swinging at anchor 200’ on land, when we were really in the water ~150’ from the cliff. Our AIS showed similar results for ourselves and another boat. Since the AIS report of the other boat is reported from THAT boat’s AIS broadcast, there are only two conclusions:

  1. The Garmin G2 charts are incorrect (either by Garmin or possibly the baseline W64 reference point) or
  2. The steep walls affect the GPS receiver’s perceived location

Disconcerting, and either could be the cause, but we now give underwater rocks a consciously wider berth!


Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 – Zakynthos

IMG_1810After docking and paying a mere 25-euro for dockage, electricity and non-potable water (we washed the boat only), Nick Papageorgis & family hosted the entire S/Y Unconditional crew for a traditional Greek meal inclusive of a duo on mandolin & guitar. IMG_1834Needless to say, it was a fantastic evening, and Alex & Steph were really enjoyable! IMG_1814After dinner, Sara led the contingent around St. Marco’s square, and the shopping district.

IMG_1805IMG_1820At 8:00 the following morning, Nick drove down to the boat with fresh Greek pastries for breakfast onboard. We then jumped in his car, dropped clothes off to the laundry, andIMG_1829 set out to Solomos Winery where the owner’s daughter gave us an enlightening tour. I think that she was just as interested in our trans-Atlantic sailing venture as we were in the Zakynthos wine. The wine won out and we bought a mixed case to lay into the boat. IMG_1822Their Verdea label is their best seller and is their driest white wine, whereas Armond is their best red wine – weIMG_1826 bought both!

After Solomos Vineyards, we looked at some 2,000-year-old gnarly olive trees and visited Nick’s beautifully-set Zakynthos house overlookingIMG_1851 the Ionian Sea, plus an orchard of Fig trees, lemon trees, etc. What a way to live! Sara & Joann picked ripe figs until they either couldn’t reach more, or they couldn’t hold more – I don’t know which!

Joann presented Sara with TWO 2-liter bottles of IMG_1855homemade olive oil which everyone savored. Sara wants to go back to Zakynthos for the olive oil, if nothing else!

In Nick’s house, they have wrought iron ‘deadman stairs’ leading to the bedrooms on the third floor. IMG_1877I have never seen anything like it. Think of a staircase vertically split in half, and then the right side slipped up (or down) by ½ a step. There is enough width for 1-foot. I assume the message is that if you trip, you are a dead man!

We took a couple of pictures of Nick & our crewIMG_1841 overlooking the harbor of Zante Town, said IMG_1839‘good bye’ to Nick , had lunch and went to look for turtles at, where else – Turtle Beach, a marine life protected area! IMG_1885Here we found Sophi, a large sea turtle, coming up for air and to eye us over. While Sophi was large, the sea turtles west of the Azores were more impressive.


Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015 – Tsilivi Beach

My Zakynthos-born ex-GE associate Nick Papageorgis and his family had only Wednesday left in his Zakynthos stay prior to leaving, so in losing a sailing day in Lefkada due to rain, we departed Lefkas Marina oh-dark-thirty, for the now 64-nm trip south. Whereas the Lefkas Marina abuts a 3-mile long narrow canal, and European buoys being notoriously infrequent plus many times requiring maintenance repair we wanted to be reasonably sure of barely-daylight eye contact for channel navigation. IMG_1784Fortunately, he channel was reasonably marked and of the dozen or so buoys, only one light was out, and mostly the channel was wider than I had feared. As dawn matured, and with numerous islands, it felt like we were motor-sailing in Switzerland’s Lake Luzerne, with towering mountains painted yellow by the rising sun, plus calm waters.

Cruising further south we passed the 200’ MY ANNA moored in the cove of Nisis Skorpios, the island formerly owned by Onassis, and now owned/leased (?) by a Russian. As like many things in Greece, facts are somewhat scarce. It felt like I was looking at the island of a James Bond 007 villain – spooky!IMG_1792

Clearing the maze of islands, we had a 10-mile stretch of open water to the north end of Zakynthos Island. Thanks to international cell technology we reached Nick who was with his family at Tsilivi Beach, about 3-miles north of Zante Town (Zakynthos). We located Tsilivi on our Garmin map and re-plotted a beeline course.

IMG_1795 IMG_1796 Anchoring outside the resort-buoyed swim area we all took the Torqeedo-powered dinghy to shore. After some Perrier, a few stories, and watching parasailers flying near our boat, we went to return and the sheer pin broke again. This time the culprit was a snapped skeg – it must have cracked earlier. Nick & Marc paddled into the IMG_1802wind while I used whatever shaft to prop friction remaining to steer the dink.

In coming around the corner to Zante Town, as it is called locally, Nick pointed out his top-of-hill house.




Monday, Sept. 21, 2015 – Lefkada, Lefkas

sail-shop-corfu-lefkas-routeOur Emerald Bay stay duration was dictated the on-the-hour, very unique pontoon (floating) swing bridge opening. The 50-meter bridge is the only land link between Greece’s 4th largest Ionian island of Lefkas and the Greek mainland. A canal has existed in the region since Corinthian days. IMG_1765With our safety-insistence on arriving at ports before dark, we needed to pass through the bridge during the 7:00pm opening.IMG_1769

The entrance to the bridge is akin to the RR bridge going south on the Ansiquam River in Gloucester, MA, however it is a road bridge with a causeway from Lefkas similar to the Marblehead, MA causeway to the Neck. Having no tides in the Mediterranean, the need for protection from the sea is low, therefore when standing in a center-cockpit boat, my eye-level was actually above those riding in cars.  Since many cars had their headlights ON, they light the boat in their turns.IMG_1767

The bridge itself swings not in the center, but at roughly the 1/3 mark. We were lined up behind a professionally-crewed catamaran and in front of a charter monohull. IMG_1771We then entered the very large 620-boat Lefkas Marina, and received a centrally located berth. Multiple charter companies operate from Lefkas, and SunSail alone must have 50-75 boats berthed here.IMG_1782

Another reason for the ‘push’ to arrive was a predicted thunderstorm. Heeding the advice of a Brit charterer who was previously in a syndicate (fractional ownership) here for a number of years, we sat out a torrential storm inside the restaurant IMG_1772while eating octopus and the best Tuna that I may have ever had,IMG_1773 and having great fun with the Taverna owner. Crewmember Jane laughed so hard that she cried.

IMG_1777Rain the following day kept all of the charter fleets in the marina. A21_1s Lefkada itself is a large town of 23,000, I visited 2-marine stores for ‘goodies,’ and had Unconditional’s Transit Log signed-off in town by the Port Police/Coast Guard.

Looking to mainland of Greece


Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 – Emerald Bay, AndiPaxoi, Greece

IMG_1751 hqdefault IMG_1756 The Imray pilot book describes Emerald Bay as having “gin-clear waters” and in as much as it was ‘on the way’ to Lefkas (not to be confused with Lakkas) we stopped in for lunch. While anchored in 30’ of water and could see our anchor.IMG_1753

While Lakka was truly enjoyable, Emerald Bay was so breath-taking that we all elected to swim, and we deferred lunch, another desired activity, to an underway activity. What a great time of year to see Greece, and not crowded!


Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 – Port Gaios, Nisoi Paxoi, Greece

PortGaios IMG_1971 While considering whether to stay overnight in Lakka, we looked strongly at Port Gaios. Since Port Gaios can accommodate more yachts than Lakka, it is very popular with the charter boat crowd, and unique in tightly Med-mooring in a channel around Nisis Ay Nikolaos, an island. Port GaiosIMG_1747 would be a sheltered enclave from a Meltemi. While an interesting setting, especially running stern lines to trees & rocks, it didn’t compare to the natural beauty of Lakkas – right decision!


Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015 – Lakka, Nisoi Paxoi, Greece

IMG_1697 IMG_1724Lakka is a small fishing town blessed with a harbor having stunning turquoise waters. Although now ‘discovered’ its remoteness and lack of yachting infrastructure keeps things very manageable. IMG_1703The stunningly clear harbor may handle only three dozen yachts at best, and there were possibly 20-yacts there on our mid-Sept weekend.

IMG_1716In terms of uniqueness, Harrods at one time sold olive oil only from Paxoi, and one street back from water-front is still native Greece. IMG_1714Sara & Jane loved food shopping at the various specialty stores in Lakka.IMG_1734

IMG_1740Since we anchored at the mouth of the harbor, we were noted by incoming vessels. At one time, we simultaneously had a group of guys from Rome interested in buying an Oyster 485 in Miami, plus a UK fellow Ocean Cruising Club member who swung by to say ‘hello.’

The food was wonderful, as restaurants were family-run – IMG_1719this means the young kids also!

IMG_1739This was a hard place to pull away from, and Lakka might be my favorite Greek harbor!



Friday, Sept. 18, 2015 – Gouvia, Corfu, Greece

greece%20mapReaching a tight port call at tiny Kassiopi Harbor, we cruised down to the city of Corfu in the afternoon. None of the three Yacht Club / Marinas answered their phones, so we elected to pull into the Corfu main yacht marina of Gouvia, a massive 1,200-berth marina. It was our 1st privately owned marina in Greece, and we needed two nights to recoup from the overnight crossing.Gouvia Marina

Although we stopped in Kassiopi in NE Corfu, officially entering Greece is another story… In Cadiz, Spanish authorities insisted upon stamping our passport coming in from Portugal, and again coming in from Gibraltar, yet we went into and out of France & Italy without formalities – a nice EU benefit. It is not exactly like that in Greece.

IMG_1677Greece has many ports, and as you read in the newspapers, needs revenue. Tourism is a major source of revenue for Greece, and they have been balancing charging yachts hefty “cruising permits” predicated on size, and thus alienating the yachting community, to a nominal fee for a Hellenic Republic Ministry of Finance “Transit Log” which must be stamped In and OUT by the Port Police/Coast Guard at EACH port i.e. ports that are staffed. ionian-mapWith ~1,800-islands in Greece, the ‘rules’ are interpreted in a non-uninform manner. Our Ionian Greece plan is to visit the islands north (Corfu) to south (Zante/Zakynthos).

The port police officer in Gouvia Marina wrote down what I should do, and what I could do and what I could do, and they are different! Without bothering you with the details, I took a cab into the port of Corfu and after a couple of offices and some insistence, obtained my official “Transit Log.” It takes an hour of my day at each staffed port for me to find, and the Hellenic Coast Guard/Port Police to fill out and stamp the paperwork. Where could Greece become more efficient, hmm…

IMG_1673Being so large, Gouvion Marina has a fairly well-established infrastructure with the usual restaurants lining the quay. Corfu_2008_09_17_0159In addition to the marina restaurants themselves, there are a couple of streets right off the marina where the support staff eat & shop. Places like these are ‘finds’ in the cruising community – we ate the second night at Georges.

IMG_1689After visiting the Port of Corfu for the Port Authorities, we sailed past it headed to Lakka. While their fort was impressive, the new in-city marina had yet to be completed, and some of the sea-facing buildings looked abandoned, or at least forlorn. One interesting note in retrospect was encountering 3-large fur shops on the road from Gauvion into town. It seems like the stores are owned by Russians, and they sell to Russians that arrive on cruise ships in some sort of tax-free manner – interesting!


Thursday, Sept 17, 2015 – Kassiopi, Corfu, Greece

IMG_1630Sara & I flew from London Gatwick back to Catania on Norwegian Air, which I must say was a very nice low-cost airline. The 737 that we flew on was the 6,000th 737 made – the world’s most-successful aircraft.

IMG_1640With Jane & Marc Potkin from Mystic Shipyard dock, we departed Catania, but had to stop in Riposto for reserve fuel – very strange that we were too deep to fuel in the large harbor of Catania! IMG_1636Over the next two days we non-stop crossed the foot/sole of Italy in the Ionian Sea. Although we had a couple of ‘divert’ cities, the weather held as predicted as we sailed to the larger northern-most Greek island of Corfu. IMG_1634Of interest is that for the 1st time without an experienced racing crew, we flew our A-Symmetrical; and very successfully, I will add!

We had envisioned anchoring for breakfast at the small island of Nisis Othoni NW of Corfu, however since we arrived in the area pre-dawn, discretion said skip Othoni in favor of continuing to the main island of Corfu, the luxuriant green “plump sickle off the west coast of Albania and mainland Greece”. IMG_1651Dawn arose over mountainous Albania; and being really close to Albania was something I hadn’t consciously contemplated in my trip segment planning.

Since it was shoulder season with hopefully berth availability, we selected the popular and charming fishing village IMG_1653of Kassiopi to stop at and have brunch. Located on the NE side of Corfu, Kassiopi provided enough depth for us to Med-moor with our anchor to the stubby mole on the west side of the harbor. There is enough mole length to handle the breadth of possibly 6-yachts, and owing to our early arrival sailboats were departing, allowing us first-come-first-served mole space options. IMG_1664In lining up and backing in, underwater ballasting (boulders) off the quay required us to realign to the next slot.

An alternate would be bow-in, but that orientation would have been painful due to the need to stern-anchor, plus the logistics of deboarding off the pulpit down to the almost awash mole. We realigned stern-to without moving the anchor. IMG_1656Hopping off, we had omelets & Greek salad at an outdoor harborside taverna ~150’ away from the boat – delicious!

IMG_1668Many people swam in the crystal clear water right off the mole, while others sunbather on waterside boulders, as seems more & more common in areas without sandy beached. Swimmers generally wore swim shoes, if they were not snorkeling with fins. IMG_1666There was a ‘beach’ just over the small town hill, however it was pebble-strewn.

It was with a little regret that we departed idealistic Kassiopi for the city of Corfu, which is the capital of the same-named island. IMG_1662Fortunately, afternoon winds arrived and Sara took a little sail training on the 10-miles trip south. With Albania only 1-mile away in the strait’s narrowest point, our tack took us across the border 3x. Does this mean that we can claim that we sailed in Albania? No thank you. Although transmitting AIS data identifying us as U.S., we did not encounter any Exorcet missiles, Zodiac patrol boats, or even a VHF-16 “get outta here” warning.