Posted by: catamarantwooceans | December 5, 2009

Med in the winter – part 2

SCROLL DOWN TO PART ONE FOR PICTURES!

26.11.09 – Continued – In the afternoon we saw a big, mono-hull coming into the marina. I went to investigate and found a French family on board – mom, dad and two kids who seemed to be around ten years old. They told me that they are taking a Sabbatical of one year, planning to spend the winter in the Red Sea. The boat is an Australian design called Sigma 60, originally built as a racer with tall rig and “coffee grinder” winches. They redesigned the interior and also replaced the 4 meters deep keel with a retractable one to fit family cruising. Really an impressive yacht!

Jean Marc and family

Later on we strolled through the town, looking for a restaurant I remembered from my last visit to the island, one that had live Greek music. Most of the eateries and businesses were closed, out of season! We did not find the music place and settled instead for “Zorbas”. We had Greek salad (Horyatiki) eggplant salad (Melitzanosalata) fried cheese (Saganaki) and of course Tzatziki – yogurt with finely cut cucumbers, garlic and dill. Main courses: Kotopolo souflaki and Khtapodi psita – grilled chicken skewers and grilled octopus. The drink was Ouzo on ice with water which is a must in every Greek meal. Back to the boat for a quiet night.

 27.11.09 – Friday – Wakeup at 0500. We have to leave early to get to Levita, about 60 miles away, in daylight. Very light wind from the west meant that all of it was motor-sailing. We wanted to rig the rod and reel that we bought as a present for Boaz but got the line entangled hopelessly. I gave up but Shimon sat for hours trying to salvage it with no real results.

Shimon at work

We went into Levita bay and tied to a mooring. The clear waters were inviting and we all went for a swim in different modes of attire. We were the only yacht in the bay but later two fishing boat came in and one sold us fish they caught – mackerel. Not my favorite but, hey, this is the Med, not a lot to select from.

Levita Swim

 28.11.09 – Saturday – Early departure in the direction of Simi, a 75 miles leg.The mainsail got stuck in the area of the first reef so we waited for daylight to check the reason. We then saw that the halyard somehow wrapped around the upper crosstree. We furled the jib, turned into the wind and released it. We obviously left too much slack when taking the main down the day before. Good wind today, 12-15 knots from astern. Boaz wants to move fast, so one engine is working, giving us a speed of over 8 knots. Oh well, this is a delivery, after all.

Simi is one of my favorite islands, with nice atmosphere and a lot of restaurants and shops. But will they be open on a Saturday off season? Luckily the fuel station was open and we topped up, then tying along-side the northern quay, normally packed with yachts and gullets, but now almost empty. We did find an open, well equipped supermarket and replenished our food stocks. Most of the restaurants were closed, including the Manos fish restaurant which I remember as quite nice. Its aquarium was illuminated and four forlorn octopuses were looking out at the few people passing by.  Aris was open for business with a surprisingly rich menu. We had a good meal and went early to bed, planning a 0300 departure for Kastelorizo, our last point in Greece.

 29.11.09 – Sunday – Went out as planned, motoring almost all the way, until I noticed that the wind rose to 15 knots and convinced Boaz to give the sails a chance. This was about 20 miles to destination and in a short while we started surfing down waves with maximum speed of 12.1 knots seen on the GPS plotter. Close to Kastelorizo the wind went up to 27 true and when turning into the bay a big sea broke on our beam and gave us a salty shower.

On shore we thought we saw some policemen and ask whether we could tie along side the ferry dock. They gave us a thumbs up sign and it was much better than having to anchor and tie stern to. We were, of course, the only yacht in the harbour. After the maneuver Boaz found a deep scratch on the port topside, probably caused by a chain holding one of the dock’s tire fenders. Not a serious matter but we were rather pissed off by it. Boaz filled it with epoxy putty as a temporary repair.

Kastelorizo

We did the check out procedure, had our passports stamped and then, with the recommendation of the immigration policeman, ambled to Billy’s restaurant and had a very satisfying meal, all the while watching a soccer game between Olympiakos and Panathanaikos.

 30.11.09 – Monday – Before going out I replaced a faulty port bilge pump while Boaz and Shimon went to the coast guard to take the latest weather. We went out under blue skies, with flat seas and very light wind. We were going to Paphos in Cyprus, 162 miles away. The forecast was good for that leg but then the wind was going to become easterly, 20 knots, for a day – bad for the next segment to Israel. We came up with the idea of continuing to Limasol, checking the weather again and if necessary waiting a day for better conditions. No wind all day long. Night came, a full moon is lighting the scene and Meka is motoring on at better than 7 knots.

 1.12.09 – Tuesday – 0300 and I am on watch. No traffic in sight or on radar. It is pleasant outside, not cold at all. Later we pass Paphos and then the area of Akrotiti, where the British have an R.A.F base. An exercise of landing a man from a helicopter on a small ship is taking place right in front of us and they send a R.I.B to make us divert a bit further to the left.

Naval exercise

By then the wind is easterly and will be good for sailing towards the San Raphael marina. As we get closer we call them on V.H.F and get a nasty surprise. A woman’s voice says:” We are completely booked. We have no place for you”. This is the veteran marina employee, Athena, whom I met on a previous visit. But the personal touch does not help. We need to go somewhere else.

The options are: Larnaca marina, back to Paphos – both about 35 miles away or Limasol commercial harbour nearby. We call Larnaca marina and learn that they are full too. How can it be? After al this is off season! Calling the commercial harbour, they initially say they have no place but after a few minutes they call again: “Do you have enough fuel?” I sense a will to help and reply: “We do not have enough for the continuation of the trip”. “Wait five minutes” they reply and then: “You can come in”. The radio operator gives us instructions for mooring: “Go to the west quay and tie in front of the bows of the motor vessel Don 2”. We comply with relief and soon we are inside. Boaz, our master goes to see the authorities and we are all set.

In Limassol

 2.12.09 – Wednesday – The wind blew hard from the east that day, We killed time in Limassol, mainly researching weather web-sites. Tomorrow the wind will go west and we will be able to sail south-east to Israel.

3.12.09 – Thursday – We left the harbour at 0830 having a difficult time getting away from the dock with the wind pushing us back onto it. First few hours were a bit rough, when west going seas left from the day before met the westerly wind. But then everything stabilized. Boaz, eager to get to Israel early, was not in a fuel saving mode, powering forward at close to 8 knots.

 4.12.09 – Friday – During the night we had a few squalls, reefing the sails and then hoisting them up again. 24 hours after departure we entered the Tel Aviv marina, checked into the country and then motored 5 miles to the north, to Herzlia marina which will be Meka’s home for the next few months.

 End of a winter cruise/delivery.  It was a nice trip and I was happy to experience once more the views, tastes and atmosphere of Greece.

What next? A friend asked me to join him and his wife on their Amel Maramu (a monohull!) for the Capetown to Salvador de Bahia leg. So, on December 25th I’ll be flying to South Africa and will come back from Brazil sometime in February 2010. Until then – Adios Amigos!

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