Part one: Athens - Ithaca
Part two: Ithaca - Corinth
Part three: Corinth - Santorini
Part four: Santorini - Hydra
Part five: Hydra - Athens
There was a lovely wooded area a short walk away where we went for a swim before we had dinner in one of the local taverns.
Mirjam arrived, we rolled up the main and both vessels continued on a beam reach with the jib.
We found a lovely small bay on the north side just west of the large bay of Porto Heli (Porto Cheli) with the moorings. It took us two hours before we had set two anchors and had both boats tied off to the shore and properly tied to each other. The ferries going in and out of the bays would periodically make large waves which made the rafting more difficult and we had to make sure our shrouds would not touch in these conditions. It was worth the extra effort and after two hours we were secure and in a wonderful spot.
At 3:00 am the anchor drag alarm on the GPS went off. I had set it for 15 meters and as the wind shifted from East to West the boats moved 18 meters, even though we were held in place by two anchors and three shore lines. I reset the alarm to 30 meters and went back to sleep. This modern vessel has an amazing number of alarms. There are depth alarms both for shallow and deep water, alarms on the GPS, low voltage alarms on the batteries, even the bow thruster beeps at you if it feels it has been on for too long.
It was busy and a motor yacht pulled up our anchor when they left. I ended up doing a lot of swimming to check the anchor line twice and between Mirjam's boat and ours after we had rescued the lost anchor ball.
The hills were covered with trees and meadows and the island displayed rugged rocks on its shoreline. At sunset a black and a brown goat climbed the hill and looked at us from the distance.
The forecast was for quite a bit of wind so Mirjam and Peter anchored off separately. After consuming a bottle of wine and a fine beef stew we settle in for the night.
The next morning we got up at 7:00 am and we took a taxi to Mycenae. After the volcanic eruption at Santorini wiped out the Minoan civilization, the Mycenaeans took control of Greece from 1300 - 1100 BCE. It was these people who mounted the legendary campaign against Troy. Mycenae is the ancient city that was once their capital. Even after more than 3000 years the remnants still speak of a strong and rough power. The city walls are built of large stones, so large that it was rumored to be build by giant Cyclops.
Astros was a lovely place and just the right stop after the large and busy Nafplion. There were only a half a dozen yachts in its harbor and the water was so clean that people actually swam from the stern of their moored boat. The harbour was flanked by two beaches and guarded by a medieval fort on the hill above. It was a wonderful place and we decided to stay an extra day as there was too little wind for any real sailing anyway.
Today was Rutger's birthday and we started with a high calorie breakfast of chocolate cake with an inch thick chocolate filling and more chocolate topping. With a full tummy we sailed and tacked our way to Poros. Upon entry we accidentally threw a fender overboard the wind blew in between the moored boats so we could not retrieve it. Poros had plenty of space and good facilities. We moored at the east side of the town in fairly deep water; our anchor was at 16 meter depth. We walked back to the entrance of town where a Greek boat owner gave us our fender back. The boys and I bought a selection of colourful small ropes so we could continue to make Turksheads, Monkey fists and other general braiding. It was a convenient stop.
The keel wedge itself between some large boulders. Peter dived into the water to asses the situation. He quickly saw that there was a clear way out if we could tow the boat to the stern. Using the longest shoreline he fastened both end to his two stern cleats and tied a coloured piece of string around the middle. Peter briefed me on the two way radio and I tied a line to each of my stern cleats as well. I joined both lines by tying a large eight knot. Vincent, our lineman, delivered the middle of Peter's line with the dinghy and I completed the four point tow with a sheet bend. I carefully motored in the direction that Peter had suggested. Mirjam reported that their vessel simply slid out into deeper water. We had successfully executed a stern-to-stern tow without any damage to either vessel! With both vessels together, I re-anchored at the head of the bay and we dove into the water. The line around Peter's propeller was quickly dispensed once it met with Martin's sailing knife. The entire manoeuver succeeded because we all worked well together. That evening we celebrated by smoking a few expensive small cigars while we enjoyed a nice dinner.
It was our last night in a bay so Ruth and I decided to sleep on deck. You have to love the climate in Greece, it is the perfect temperature to enjoy a starry sky.
The check out was extremely efficient. In the span of an hour a diver checked the hull, someone checked all the sailing equipment, they did the complete inventory, a Raytheon engineer showed up to fix the Navtex (a broken connector) and someone showed up to start changing oil and filters on the generator and engine. It all worked like clock work. Both Peter and I got our deposit back. The yacht charter company decided to pay me an additional 300 EURO to cover a part of the expenses and purchases that I had made for the vessel during the eight weeks. I did feel I had been treated very fairly.
It had been a fantastic trip. We learned a lot of Greek history. We swam in beautiful bays and walked in picturesque villages. More importantly, we learned to sail a brand new 50 foot boat as a family. You should have seen us arrive in Kalimaki with Vincent handling the stern lines and Martin securing the mooring line to the bow as we docked the boat without touching the quay or other vessels. At twelve and thirteen, our sons had better boat handling skills than most adults.
The four of us had mastered sailing and it was time to move on to another challenge. At home there was a 2000 square foot driveway that needed paving.
Story and photos by Frank van Mierlo