Captain's Log, Stardate:
Arrived Ormos Zakinkthos!
Olga arrived today, after having spent 40 hours or so enroute with no sleep. She laid down for only one hour, was too wired to sleep so she got up and wanted to go into town. She wanted to buy a cd, then she bought some vegetables even though I told her she should check all that we had on the boat first. Then she wanted to buy meat and wound up buying an entire chicken. I told her we could do all that later after she had some rest because she was going to get sick otherwise. Finally, back at the boat, I got her to try to go back to sleep. She was just falling asleep when a big customs ship came in and loudly demanded we move so they could tie up to the pier!
They said we could just loosen our lines and we could slide over and they would come in between us and the pier. A man on the pier from another boat told me to tell them "no."
"I wouldn't do it," he said.
"You are paying for that slip and until you move, it's yours."
Trouble is, we weren't paying for it! Nick or someone had told me to NOT check in until someone asks you to . . . twice and I was following that advice!
When the yacht Sara Jane arrived, the skipper asked me where the harbor masters office was so he could check in. I told him to let them find him and that they preferred not to be bothered usually. The next morning, as he was getting ready to leave, I saw an official vehicle stop by his boat and touch their siren to get his attention. They talked for a while and left. Later, we had lunch together in the restaurant and I asked him what they wanted. He said they were wondering why he hadn't checked in yet!
Anyway, here we were, in our slip a full week or more without having checked in and guys with sirens on there SUV's driving around asking other yachties why they hadn't checked in after less than 24 hours! Of course, I rationalized it because there was no power and no water anywhere on the dock where we were. And, with our watermaker still busted, we were really getting no effective use out of it at all.
So when the Customs boat ordered us to move, I chose to move out altogether laying down a nice excuse as to why we left without volunteering to pay. Plus the weather was beautiful, I was tired of the big city atmosphere and especially the law that apparently exists in Greece that provides, in order to conserve on fuel, all motorized vehicles--especially motor scooters and motorcycles--shall operate without a functioning muffler!
The English-speaking representative from the Customs ship (120' long or so) offered to help with our lines so I told him I had an anchor out to stbd which, were I to retrieve it, would require the launching and recovering of my dinghy, adding at least 30 minutes to our departure time. I suggested that, if they were to retrieve it using all that male muscle aboard their ship (crew of 8 or so), that they could get into their slip (and head for a bar) that much sooner. He agreed. I had all the lines but two released, engines idling in neutral and all set to go while they were still "bending" on raising my anchor. The problem was that, after Mary and I had tied up to this dock and deployed our anchor off the stbd bow (in anticipation of a strong wind from that direction), another boat had come in and, in true Med-mooring style, laid their anchor down directly out from their bow which, at this point, crossed our line. So the Customs boys were struggling mightily with untangling our anchor with it's 25 feet of chain at the end from our neighbor boat's chain. All the while, the neighbor boat (from Sweden) was eying the paint right off the hull of the Customs boat. After a good half hour, they got it up and returned it to me saving me the ignominy and exertion of doing the same. So we were immediately indebted to them. They gave us a legitimate excuse for leaving and retrieved our anchor saving me perhaps an hour of hot, sweaty work and possible heart attack.
A few minutes later, we were heading out at 3 p.m. on a gorgeous afternoon, to one of the many nice anchorages around the beautiful island of Zakinkthos (or "Zante") in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Mainland Greece. What could go wrong? What had I not anticipated in the complexities of bringing a boat out from the dock. The Customs boat had backed off a 100 yds or so to allow us room to pass and after we passed them, we were all eying each other's vessel when Olga signaled them with the one fingered salute. I yelled, "Olga, what are you doing!" She replied she was just falling asleep after 45 hours with none and then they woke her up. Boy, talking about getting out of bed on the wrong side! I said, "Olga, this is not the US. These guys can lock you up in jail for just looking at them wrong and you just exceeded that threshold!" She replied that I didn't come from Europe and I didn't understand how natural it is to use that gesture and all its implications as well as she did. Nonetheless, I eased the throttle forward hoping to put as much distance between us and the Grecian Armed Forces as possible. Hopefully, they would not have the authority to involve NATO too.
After checking weather, we decided to go around the south end of the island where there was a large bay called "Laganas." With N winds forecast, there was an especially attractive bay within Laganas luring us on some 8 NM miles from the harbor where the potential international incident took place. My guide book says that this is a breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead turtles so no one is allowed on the beach after dark. No matter: We had lots of groceries on board, thanks to Olga's intuition! About an hour later, we were slowing down to drop anchor in the most absolutely serene and beautiful cove you could imagine . . . when I thought I heard the sound of a siren! However, there were no streets ashore from our position. Sure enough, there it was again only this time louder. Looking all around, including behind us, I saw a Grecian Coast Guard gunboat approaching us! It took another five minutes for them to get alongside and, during that interval, I lectured Olga one more time about how the authorities work in non-US countries. She protested that they could not do anything. I was picturing a night in a Grecian jail instead of in our new boat in this stunningly beautiful bay.
As it turned out, neither place was in the offing. The Coast Guard simply wanted to tell us that they had increased the regulations regarding the turtles so that now, no boats are allowed to anchor near their nesting beaches and we would have to go somewhere else! "Our pleasure, sir!," I replied. So it was another eight miles to the other side of the bay where we found an equally beautiful anchorage where the gentle waves rocked Olga to sleep for the whole night. I stood guard making sure nobody aroused her or her wrath again that day.
Hope all is well with you!