Captain's Log, Stardate:


Arrived Greece!

Hi All:

Started out from Malta on April 16 and arrived at a small island off the W. Coast of Greece on April 19, 2001. 71 hours to the coast for the 450 NM passage. We left with zero wind and motored at 5 kts for a good portion. Total motoring was 35 hours for the 71 hour leg. Not too good. However, while under sail the second day out, I oiled up my old fishing rod and Penn reel that served me so well in the Caribbean for the last 5 years and, having no organic bait, began trailing an artificial lure. But there's more to catching fish than the technical side. You have to psych 'em out too. So I left the two ladies on watch and took a nap. I then fell into a sleep so deep, Heidi said she had to yell "Hey Hemmingway" four times before I woke up. She then shouted, "We have a fish on!" By the time I got up to the cockpit, Mary had our ~5 lb Tuna up to the boat and ready to land. Two hours later, Heidi had outdone herself by placing it in a Caribbean orange marinade and then broiling it to perfection . . . all as we happily sailed on to Greece.

Upon arrival, we anchored off the "Nisas" (island in Greek) Agria Gramvousa. We had been motoring on the stbd engine so we started the port to facilitate dropping the anchor and the port engine wouldn't start! We spent two hours trying to start it. Fuel seems to be getting to the secondary (Yanmar) filter but not past the injector pump.

The next day, we motor/sailed into the port of entry, Khania on the NW coast of Crete. There is a small basin, about 1000 yds in diameter just after you pass by the breakwater and then a marina to the left of the basin. With only the stbd engine running, we could turn hardly at all to stbd and when we tried backing straight back or even to stbd, the boat moved slowly to port! Not a good situation for "Med mooring," which is done all over the Mediterranean. "Med-Anchored" would be more like it. You drop anchor off the bow and then back in. Impossible with only one engine (won't back to stbd at all).

So instead, we dropped anchor in this picturesque basin. There is a promenade all the way around the pond that is lined with expensive restaurants. Our brand new 47 foot long catamaran, with our oversized Stars and Stripes flowing proudly in the light breeze, was the focal point of all eyes. Kodak, Agfa, and Fuji could each have given us a $100 bill and still broke even on the deal. Mary and Heidi became the focus within a focus. Anyway, we dropped the dinghy and I zoomed into the marina to check into the country. It cost 28,000 drachmas for the boat and all its crew which amounted to about $75 US. They of course told us we could not continue to be the center of attraction in the tourist town of Khania and would have to move the boat. The marina official wore stripes and wasn't about to disgrace his uniform by helping us get the boat out of the pond and into the marina. When I returned, I learned that Mary and Heidi were so attractive, they drew four Coast Guard guys, in addition to all the spectators, who nonetheless told them they must remove the boat from the pond.

We motored in front of our assigned spot and then started backing in. As expected, we quickly went kitty-wampus so, according to plan, I left Mary at the helm and jumped into the dinghy. People started gathering on the quay (pronounced "key," as in "Escape Cay," which is an extension of the promenade from the pond. Not many flashes went off because, by now, it was about 4 on a sunny afternoon. I positioned the dinghy on the port stern and pushed it to stbd. If Mary added more power, I would push harder to keep the boat straight. I think a purist would have had to throw a line a long way to get their stern tied off without the use of a dinghy. A guy (Lew Harrison) whom we met in Malta invented the device where a specially coiled rode is packed into a bag allowing you to throw it about as far as you can throw a rock! Says he'll bring one along if he ever visits us. [Update: Lew still hasn't made a passage with us but, in "lieu" of that, he made one up and had it shipped to us so we now have that neat little gizmo on board.]

Winds were forecast to reach force 8 or 9 within the next 24 hours so we put out the second anchor Catana gave us--an "FOBLight"-- about a 30 lb aluminum Danforth-type of anchor, 25 feet of chain or so, and 168 feet of nylon. I took it out in the dinghy as Mary and Heidi paid out the line. After it was down, I ran the rode back to the genoa winch and snugged it up really tight to make sure it wouldn't drag. We didn't quite get our main anchor as far out as we wanted so it did not have as much scope as we could have had. Only about 100 feet out in 12 feet of water. But you have to add about six feet up to the bow roller so a little over 5:1 Scope. I would have preferred 7:1 or more.

As for the engine, I thought it was a fuel problem--which is usually the case with diesels I'm told--and worked a couple hours bleeding injectors, switching fuel filters, etc but no go. So I hired a local diesel mechanic--"Stellios," quickly dubbed Starbros"--and he had it running 11 minutes after coming on board! However, it took him another three hours to get the thing to start each and every time. What we finally found was that the stop solenoid had some grit in the return spring mechanism. Cost? 45,000 . . . Draculas (Drachmas), or about $120 US. Not too bad, I thought. Now, if we can get Catana to pay for it, great. I'm supposed to get an estimate first and then submit it to them for approval so they may complain I didn't follow procedures. We'll see.

About an hour after the engine was fixed and starting reliably, the wind hit, only 30-35 kts I'd say. It came from the starboard side where I had our secondary anchor out from the bow. The dammed thing started to drag! Lots of wind resistance with this boat. So Heidi dealt with the gang plank (on the spinnaker halyard) and Mary used the engines and fenders to keep us off the concrete seawall. Had the port engine not started, we would have done serious damage to the port stern! (I had already anticipated a dragging and fendered the port side well so going broadside into the wall wouldn't have been so bad, except for the stern. In the US, we would have already BEEN broadside to it but here, they figure they can get three times as many boats in this way. Ugh!) So, fwd on port, reverse on stbd did the trick but also put tremendous strain on our primary, new fangled Spade anchor. Nonetheless, it held! It has always held, "always" meaning all 5 times we've used it so far! Will probably get a third anchor someday and it will be a Spade. After the wind died down, I went out in the dinghy and reset the FOB--now called SOB--anchor, again with maximum scope.

Next to us on the quay was another boat, Seventh Wind, owned by a British couple and their two kids 11 and 13. They came through the Suez a week ago and are poised to complete the last leg of their two year circumnavigation of the earth. We see quite a few sailboat owners doing that. Nice boat--Halberg-Rassey 46 with bow thrusters.

So, while Mary was below, she heard the same bow-thruster sounds we heard the day before when they were resetting their anchors in anticipation of the "blow." She noticed that the woman was at the helm with her husband nowhere in sight. Mary yelled to me to check it out. Sure enough, with the wind, now from the west or their port side, the anchor out to that side had started to drag! Immediately next to them was a big fishing boat tied alongside the pier (how do they rate not having to Med-moor?) with its prow now threatening to impale them. I jumped in the dinghy, still in the water from the day before, and rushed over to see if I could help. The woman yelled YES with tremors in her voice. So I followed her existing anchor rode hand over hand to the point where it went straight down and then hoisted away. It came up easily, being a Fortress (aluminum) lightweight anchor not unlike our SOB. However, this one had no chain leader like ours. I had to reset it twice before it held, all the while the woman staving off a collision by using her bow thruster which no doubt was becoming quite heated by now, some 15 minutes later, and batteries getting low inspite of her diesel idling in neutral. Never a dull moment around here, as Heidi summarized it.

Although the weather was nicer in Malta, we so far have liked Greece better. Malta had some nice sights with very unique old streets and spectacular views of Valletta Harbor below. Mary went to Church while Heidi and I toured the War Museum. However, the food is better here in Crete. Mary and Heidi go shopping every day for fresh veggies, etc. and then Heidi produces gourmet meals on board. I think the food in Greece will deteriorate when Heidi departs next Sunday.

The wind is still blowing 25-32 kts out of the west and we are contemplating leaving tomorrow (Tuesday) for Thira (Santorini). Strong winds but on our quarter for that NE course. We'll keep you posted.

Hope all is well with you,

Lee and Mary

Arrived Greece!