The Nice Voyage
It was a relaxed sunny Sunday on the finish of Might 2012 once we arrived on our yacht, Cape Farewell, in Rogoznica Marina, simply north of Cut up in central Croatia. We had been berthed there for 4 years, exploring the gorgeous Croatian coast and offshore Islands every summer time, however now it was time to maneuver on. The earlier November I had booked a berth within the new Cesme Marina close to Izmir and now we had assembled a robust crew for 740 mile voyage there.
Our crew was my spouse Andrea and me as skipper, with an previous seafaring good friend, Malcolm McKeag. Then we had recruited Andrea’s sister Marilyn together with her companion Patrice, a French Advisor Haematologist, who have been resulting from fly in and be a part of us that night from Paris. We went to mattress having readied the boat and eaten early however have been woke up by a name from Marilyn at Cut up airport to inform us she could not discover Josco our common driver. Ultimately they discovered him and arrived on board round midnight.
Through the night time the wind elevated and the rain poured down on our cabin roof. We have been comfortable sufficient with our stern to the concrete jetty and bigger yachts on both aspect, however we had been advised that we needed to take Cape Farewell 5 miles north west to Kremik the next day to clear customs and police in order that we might depart from Croatia.
We bade fond good-byes to the women of Marina Frapa’s reception whom we knew so properly. Then we sailed out into the storm, with south-easterly winds of about 40 knots. Thankfully the wind was on our stern and the seas have been pretty small contained in the islands so the journey was not too tough. Kremik despatched a ship out to information us in to the customs berth simply outdoors marina reception. Kremik Marina is in a kind of Croatian fiord and the wind funnels in via the encompassing hills, coated with historic stone partitions delineating gone household grape, wine and olive rising areas. Three chaps jumped aboard, and a big man took over the helm and engine controls from me. He was an skilled and berthed Cape Farewell very neatly in a clumsy spot with an enormous, gusty cross-wind. A stunning, competent group.
Much less pretty have been the police and customs. The latter did not flip up and the previous wouldn’t full the method if we weren’t crusing that day, regardless of our being stormbound. We definitely could not go for ten hours south-east into the tooth of a 40-knot gale. That night we staggered the few yards to the marina restaurant and managed to have a critical dinner with bottles of Primosten wine to scrub it down. Strolling again to the boat at the hours of darkness, the wind had dropped and a light-weight rain was falling. On the saloon desk was laid out an almost empty bottle of Balvenie single malt whisky and an almost full bottle of Hine brandy. A classical CD was present in a drawer and placed on the ship’s stereo.
“That is MacRaminof’s piano concerto quantity three in C.” opined Malcolm.
Tuesday 22nd Might dawned cloudy, mild rain however mercifully calm. At 0800 sharp a younger, pleasant policemen arrived, full with gun in holster. He fiddled about with a rising heap of papers and the 5 passports, all of which he had checked the day earlier than. The Harbour Grasp arrived and inspected our insurance coverage coverage and my qualifications as captain. He appeared nicely glad, wished us a pleasing voyage in wonderful English and departed. Then a smartly-uniformed customs man arrived in a fairly battered little automotive. He had an air-force blue uniform, a crew minimize and tinted, gold-rimmed glasses. A lot stamping and signing of papers and additional passport inspections after which the policeman stamped them with our exit stamps. Lastly each the policeman and the customs man walked down the dock to Cape Farewell to examine the eliminated elements of their field that we needed to export from Croatia. These consisted, as per the signed listing, of three condensers, an almost new alternator belt and the field itself. They would not cease for espresso and pronounced us free to sail for Corfu, having formally cleared out from Croatia. Ten minutes later we sailed. The ocean was nonetheless lumpy however there was solely a small following wind about the identical velocity because the ship as we steamed south-east. Regularly the wind dropped and the sky cleared and it turned flat calm, heat and sunny. We arrived at Korcula gasoline berth at three thirty and took 230 gallons of diesel in half an hour. With over 500 gallons within the tanks we had loads of gasoline for the lengthy overnighter to Corfu.
Solely towards all laws we pulled into the little remoted bay of Prozura on the distant island of Mljet, the place there was a superb restaurant with a free berth and electrical energy. Dinner ashore; an enormous fish and a grilled crayfish for me, a number of brandies and so to mattress.
Wednesday Might 23rd dawned sunny and calm. We trouped ashore for omelettes, washed down with squeezed orange juice and powerful, black espresso. Marilyn wandered across the adjoining backyard and introduced that she had discovered some ‘marijuana poppies’ which moderately puzzled the remainder of us who thought opium got here from poppies. Marilyn assured us it was not so nevertheless.
We sailed south-east alongside the coast till we cleared the land and will set course for the turning level at Vliore, Albania. It was a relaxed, cool day with frequent patches of sunshine. After an hour’s profitable operating whereas Andrea made tea, espresso and scorching cuppa-soup to nourish the crew, the generator would not begin within the night. It was chilly meals from then on, as we’re an all-electric boat. In any other case the climate remained mild and visibility good. We cut up into watches for the night time and left Patrice and Marilyn on for the eight to 12, with Malcolm and Andrea for the center watch and me for the morning watch and the arrival.
I used to be awoken by the feeling that we have been now heading into what had been a drive three, following wind. I acquired dressed and went as much as the wheelhouse to seek out all was confusion. Marilyn and Patrice had tried to maneuver the plug-in auto-pilot from the flying bridge to the wheelhouse “as a result of we have been getting chilly up there!” That they had each develop into disorientated within the course of with the end result that we have been now 180 levels off target. I grabbed the wheel and steered by hand till we have been again on the right track once more and the movement had eased. Not greatest happy, I stayed up on the flying bridge with them for an additional hour or so.
“What occurs if it rains?” requested Marilyn plaintively.
“Then you definitely get bloody moist!” I informed her, “You will maintain a a lot better look-out from up right here. I keep in mind a captain at sea once I was a younger apprentice who stated that you simply by no means maintain a correct watch at night time by means of glass, so he despatched me out on the bridge wing to face the sleet and biting wind. Then the steward got here up with scorching tea and buttered toast for the captain and the officer of the watch which they consumed within the heat whereas I needed to stay outdoors.
The climate stayed calm as we closed the Albanian coast, heading for the mile-wide hole between Corfu and Albania. The daybreak revealed small Albanian cities huddling underneath the large and forbidding-looking mountains, filled with sq., concrete house blocks. There have been some brightly painted ones, however the place did not look engaging. We berthed at Corfu Marina at 0815 after a run of 225 miles. Then the paper chase started! Marilyn and I went to the marina workplace to pay for 2 nights berthing. Then we discovered a pleasant taxi driver, Kostas, to take us to immigration. They would not settle for Marilyn’s Australian passport as she was not an EU citizen. So we drove off to the ferry immigration terminal. There Kostas shouldered apart a gaggle of Spanish and Japanese vacationers and marched straight by means of safety to an workplace the place a chap with 4 stripes on his epaulettes and his, closely pregnant spouse have been located. Marilyn obtained her passport stamped and we proceeded to customs who waved us away after a cursory take a look at the ship’s papers. Then again to the marina to have a ship’s Greek Passage Log made up. There was an extended queue. We acquired to the top of it, and confirmed the solitary younger man our papers.
“You must pay within the marina workplace and get me a receipt first,” he defined. Marilyn went off to try this.
“We might fill in all the small print on the Passage Log whereas she’s away,” I instructed because the queue was lengthening.
“First the receipt,” he replied, turning on the TV to take a look at the Greek information. Again got here Marilyn with the receipt for 88 euro-cents and twenty minutes later the official had crammed within the Passage Log and entered each element by hand in two, separate, grubby account books. We departed for a drink within the bar subsequent door. Previous us got here the person who had been subsequent within the queue.
“Needed to pay and get a receipt earlier than he’d concern the Passage Log,” he defined as he trotted again, “he may need talked about that whereas I used to be ready so that you can end!”
That afternoon Angelo the engineer arrived to repair the generator which turned out to have a defective solenoid valve. He ordered a brand new one up for supply Saturday..
Friday 25th dawned high-quality and clear. The crew went ashore for a tour with Kostas, whereas Malcolm and I stayed on board. It was a scorching, sultry day. Malcolm varnished out the naked bits of the wheelhouse and saloon whereas I cleaned the previous oil and cigarette butts out of the engine room bilges, left there by the Croatian engineers. Within the night we obtained the electrical barbecue out and Patrice grilled 5 little fishes he had purchased, wrapped in silver paper. The menfolk sat up just a little late and completed the Hine Brandy earlier than going to mattress.
Saturday Might 26th dawned cloudy, calm and sultry though it turned sunny later. We tried to get our Passage Log stamped however that concerned producing the registration certificates, passports, skipper’s qualifications and the insurance coverage coverage in Greek, all of which have been inspected by the identical individuals yesterday.
“I assumed there was free passage within the EU for residents and their boats,” I queried the woman in cost.
“All of the visiting English say that,” she replied, “It isn’t us, it is the federal government guidelines we’ve to obey.”
Angelo got here aboard with the solenoid for the generator and shortly had it going. The generator labored on load so all was nicely so we moved to the gasoline berth to prime up the tanks. Then we sailed on the 65 miles to Levkas on the little canal separating the Peloponnese from the remainder of Greece.
We arrived at 1 / 4 to eight within the night and entered the northern finish of the canal. We waited solely 5 minutes for the floating bridge to open after which to Levkas Marina the place we spent the night time. We had a easy dinner ashore within the wonderful, low cost, marina restaurant and went to mattress, all dog-tired.
The subsequent morning, we loved a very good breakfast on the similar café. At breakfast we found that we had been beneath the impression that Greece was in the identical time zone as Croatia. Not so. We have been an hour behind native time. Malcolm took off the wheelhouse clock and adjusted it, as did Andrea with all the opposite clocks on board. In the meantime I went to the reception to pay the berth charge. No stamps, no papers, only a bank card and the woman gave me the ship’s registration certificates again and we sailed.
We sailed down the Levkas canal and across the little islands. We handed underneath the lengthy Riou bridge at 4 thirty pm after which on to an deserted marina at Trizona Island the place we deliberate to berth for the night time. There was a robust north-westerly wind and we slid in to a really tight berth between two yachts on the within of the outer breakwater. The ahead one was a big crusing yacht with an anxious skipper on its stern. The opposite was the house of Wendy and David, current live-aboards on their aluminium crusing boat ‘Stromhella’. They helped us to fender off the tough concrete jetty as we berthed and we invited them to dinner within the little village sq.. Wendy had beforehand been married to (and later divorced from) a Dutch Jesuit priest. It was a boozy, nice night with a Thai-Greek waitress who was very lovely. Andrea ended the dinner a trifle over-served with wine and beloved everybody. We helped her again to the boat muttering.
At round 4 within the morning there was the sound of an informed English voice aft and the noise of a ship engine. I obtained up in my pyjamas and moved swiftly to the darkened finish of the saloon to see what was occurring. David and Wendy have been making an attempt to motor, bow-first, off the dock, into the wind. They might have made it besides that our passerelle had been left protruding to make room for our stern line. Because it was he simply managed to push his boat clear, with Wendy on the helm gunning the engine,. With a well mannered apology coming throughout from the darkened harbour, Stromhella’s navigation lights progressively vanished into the space.
We left shortly after the large yacht berthed forward for the western entrance to the Corinth Canal and arrived off the canal entrance at 1220 calling them on VHF. We needed to wait an hour steaming up and down. It was a pleasant, sunny run via the excessive banks of the Corinth Canal, three and a half miles lengthy. We stopped to fill out the inevitable sheaves of paperwork and pay the canal authorities on the japanese finish, then off to the Olympic Marina at Piraeus, the place we arrived after a relaxed and sunny 33 miles amongst quite a few anchored ships ready for cargoes. The women went ashore to reconnoitre and I to the marina workplace to cope with the inevitable blizzard of paperwork and pay for 2 nights alongside. The marina introduced us with a bottle of Greek brandy, one other of Ouzo and a few yachting magazines, all in a neat basket to welcome us. In the meantime the shore social gathering reported squalor with graffiti, garbage blowing about and numerous small, crude shelters filled with what seemed to be Rumanian Gypsies. We determined to eat on board and Marilyn cooked up scrambled eggs, fried chunks of ham and new potatoes with a tomato and feta cheese salad on the aspect.
Tuesday Might 29th dawned gray and funky. After fixing the engine room bilge pump I used to be prepared and all of us went ashore. We obtained the safety man to name two taxies and visited the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Regardless of the state of the Greek financial system there’s plenty of restoration work happening. Then to lunch at a household restaurant with an undecipherable identify. We had sardines, calamari, grilled prawns, salad and a few lovely little white fish fillets in a mix of olive oil and lemon, all washed down with good, Greek wine and their home-made liqueur. Marilyn and Patrice, being of a cultural bent, went off to the museum; the remainder of us again to the boat.
A quiet afternoon on board, Malcolm varnishing and me writing up the log and having an hour’s sleep. Early to mattress, though a barely disturbed night time with loud rap music from automotive boom-boxes and far revving of motor bikes outdoors the perimeter fence till 0300 within the morning.
The subsequent day dawned high quality and cloudless with mild breezes from the west. The police, who have been as a result of seem at eight hadn’t turned as much as stamp our papers by ten to 9, so we distributed with their help and sailed for Batsi in Andros Island.
The wind stayed mild, the solar stayed out and we arrived in Batsi at three pm after an uneventful voyage. We needed to lay out an anchor forward which was a bit sudden and once we berthed on the sensible, new breakwater we found that there was loads of recent water however the electrical sockets weren’t working resulting from a really dangerous storm that they had a number of months in the past. On went the trusty generator. An previous chap in a fluorescent jacket appeared to be in cost and issued quite a few orders. He muttered one thing about giving him cash, so I gave him twenty Euros and gained a pal for all times. All went ashore for purchasing (women), web (Patrice) and a drink (Malcolm and me).
The subsequent two boats have been manned by professors of philosophy, theology and archaeology and their college students from the College of San Diego. That they had commandeered the 5 rent automobiles within the village to go to an archaeological dig about thirty kilometres away. We had dinner ashore at a restaurant run by an American/Greek woman who had moved again from New Jersey twenty-three years earlier than. Calamari adopted by particular roast lamb cooked in aluminium foil. All was at peace within the little bay with lights twinkling from the homes on the encompassing hills.
The subsequent morning began slowly; scorching and sunny with mild winds. Marilyn and Andrea collected some additional provisions, Patrice went off to the Wi-Fi café to proceed his work on advertising medical merchandise and Malcolm and I launched the RIB and gave it a run. Andrea and Marilyn went off in a pre-arranged taxi to go to Andros City and at eleven am the gasoline tanker turned up and gave us a fast 300 litres in every tank. Malcolm and I went off for an extended lunch of a shared Caesar salad adopted by a shared pizza and copious glasses of native, purple wine. We got here again to Cape Farewell in a mellow temper prepared for a day sleep to be confronted by a really hesitant Andrea reporting that Marilyn had, but once more blocked the visitor head. Malcolm and I fastened it, showered and had a barely belated afternoon sleep. That night Malcolm took the women out for an extended tour of the bay and shoreline of Batsi after which we hoisted the RIB.
We left Batsi at seven the subsequent day for the 100-mile run to Mandraki. It was flat clam and sunny with no cloud within the sky, and twice we have been accompanied by pods of dolphins. We have been approaching the harbour on the south aspect of Mandraki Island when some discoloured water with a inexperienced fishing buoy within the center appeared forward and the echo sounder indicated quickly shoaling water. I slowed down and turned ninety levels to port, and labored our means round what was clearly a really shallow patch. Once we have been safely spherical and on target once more we found that the shoal was proven on the Imray chart, however solely as a really small mark on the plotter when on a really giant scale. Lesson discovered – all the time seek the advice of the paper chart in addition to the plotter.
The deserted marina at Mandraki was disappointing. We berthed and have been greeted by a younger policeman instructing us to convey all our papers to his workplace up the street by the maritime school someday after six that night. We found that there was neither electrical energy nor water obtainable on the dock; as they are saying within the RN, ‘Fitted for however not with.’ The policeman redeemed himself by giving me a carry on his scooter to his workplace which should have been an fascinating sight for the bystanders.
The city was run-down, dusty and fly-blown with some graffiti and weeds rising between the concrete slabs. The marina had been began however not completed. There was no cost for the night time’s berthing however we have been again to operating the generator for lengthy durations. We ate ashore in an open-sided eating area, surrounded by skinny, hopeful cats. The proprietor was sort and attentive though a serial, roll-your-own smoker. Numerous shabby middle-aged locals plus the host’s spouse and daughter sat round sipping espresso and smoking. The meals was roast lamb chopped up into splintery ribs plus calamari and salad.
The subsequent day we sailed the twelve miles to Cesme Marina with out correctly clearing out of Greece. It was a public vacation and I had visions of being requested to attend for a few days till a customs man got here again on obligation. We have been quickly in Turkish waters and hoisted our purple Turkish courtesy ensign changing Greek one. We berthed alongside at ten fifteen in our reserved berth. Then the paper chase started. First to pay the stability of the annual berth payment after which to the harbour grasp to get the transit log crammed out. Then to the physician to get the stamp assuring the world that we have been freed from plague, then all of us needed to troop as much as the port police and customs to get entered formally into Turkey and get our visas and passports stamped.
That night the marina held a barbecue on the terrace to rejoice its second birthday. Our crew all dressed up and socialised. The meals and wine have been wonderful and there was a continuing procession of well dressed, fortunately chattering individuals, younger and previous, by way of the very trendy outlets and eating places that fringed the marina. The pontoon lights shone violet, white and pink and all of the store home windows have been lit up. The harbour was filled with yachts, massive and small and it appeared extra like Good or Antibes than an outpost of Asia. It made an fascinating distinction with the clapped-out and destitute Greek port that we had left solely that morning and which was simply twelve miles to the north.