A Season Of Two Halves (nusu nusu)

From Iain Simpson

We were delighted to find on our return to Basimakapolous, Koladha on the 27th April, that Song of the Ocean was as left in August 2017 but with no mildew or dirty decks; the boatyard had also made an excellent job of polishing the hull. Whilst preparing the yacht for a Monday re-launch, we stayed at the conveniently placed and well appointed Angels apartments in the centre of the delightful town of Ermione, a 15 minutes drive from the boatyard.

Basimakopolos is good at re-launching customers’ boats, although the channel out to the anchorage provided moments of anxiety as we powered through soft mud in 2.3m of water with our 2.7m draft! Recommissioning the boat and re-rigging the sails on anchor was also a matter we hadn’t undertaken for many a decade which together with the shoal water, made us wonder whether we should reconsider our options.

On the 10th May we weighed anchor for Astros harbour on the west coast of Argolikos Kolpos. However, halfway across the bay we met a fearful thunder storm with at least five different disturbances dispatching fork lightening to the sea. Discretion being the better part of valor, we returned to Koladha having completed our shake-down sail over the round trip of 22M. Following morning with blue skies and a helpful SW 3/5, we sailed the 19 miles to Astros harbour. Being the off season, we were able to lay alongside the wall and relaxed in the surrounds of this architecturally interesting town with its welcoming tourist attractions.

Following day in a NW backing SW 3/5, we reached SE across the A. Kolpos and down the Spetses Channel to make NE under Simbo Rig for the Nisos Dokos channel and on to our anchorage at O. Kamari, a run of 34M. This placed us one mile across the bay from Ermione which enabled us to motor to the town next morning to provision the boat and return in the evening to the anchorage . Following day in an E4/5, we tacked down Steno Idhras to make through the Nisos Tselevinia channel for the last 5M under Simbo Rig to Poros. An overall passage of 28M.

After a day ashore soaking up the delights of Poros with its beautiful Greek architecture, excellent facilities and bustling ferry traffic, we set sail on the 15th May east across Saronikos Kolpos to make north through the Sound of Markronisos, for our anchorage in Nsis Praso, a passage of 49M. The SE3/4 backing S. provided a comfortable broad reach to weave through the procession of commercial shipping making for Athens which following the backed wind, led onto a Simbo rig run up to our panoramic anchorage. Our plan was to make through the drawbridge at Chalkis when the currents were at their most favorable and avoid the fearsome waters that can otherwise run through the narrow channel that separates mainland Greece from Nisos Evvoia. We weighed anchor first thing next morning for Notios Limin in a SE 3/4 backing NE which enabled us to sail the whole passage of 48 miles, apart from the last mile from the suspension bridge to south side of Chalki. We lost no time in clearing formalities with the port police and harbour authorities ashore, to permit us to motor past the drawn bridge at 2230 to re-anchor off the N. beach of Chalkis. There were only a half a dozen yachts passing through at this time of the season and the whole exercise was orchestrated by the port police.

We were intent on exiting the long channel between the Greek mainland and N. Evvoia as soon as possible and return to the Aegean. Somewhat wearily, we weighed anchor at day break for a disappointing motor sail over the 54M to anchor off Karavomylos at the head of the Evvoia Sound. This placed us in poll position to beat down Maliakos Kolpos next day against a NE 3/4 later veering SE, along the N. coast of Nisos Evvoia to re-enter the Aegean for Nisos Skiathos. It was a glorious day with blue skies and sunshine and to add to the fun there were a number of yachts on the same course with which to joust. You know what they say when two sailing yachts come together at sea? Jan always tells me, its a boy thing! On arrival at Skiathos town we found the anchorage was full. The quay had been commandeered by the locally based charter company's yachts and what with that and the limited space between it and the prohibited airport flight path plus the adjacent southerly bay being cordoned off for swimmers out to the 10m line, it made finding a suitable anchorage challenging. However, who could complain after such an exhilarating 47M sail.

We spent the next day exploring the vibrant town with its intoxicating atmosphere and compelling restaurants. However, our raison d’être for hastening back to the Aegean was to sail and we lost no further time in putting to sea. The 20th May reminded us that we were already three quarters the way through the month and had a lot of sailing ahead before decommissioning in August. We also had to change the seal on the rudder bearing about which we had just been advised by JP3, should be undertaken every 5 years. No one had previously made mention of this since acquiring the N570 in c2011, despite our having completed two Atlantic crossings and sailed over 19K miles. YachtWorks at Didim, Turkey said they could expedite the change-over in a day and that they would have us back in the water in two days. Before leaving Nisoi Voriai Sporades though, we wanted to visit Nisos Skopelos, however on completing the short crossing to the island we were confronted with adverse weather making it difficult to find a satisfactory anchorage and as a result returned to the sanctity of Skiathos.

The 22nd May brought a short break in the weather. We weighed anchor for Skyros laying some 55M to the SE with a NE3/4 which enabled us to reach past Skopelos towards Skyros to pass through the narrow Valaxa channel and anchor in O. Linarias, 0.5M north of the main town of Linaria. As another depression was in the process of exiting the Bospherous though, we set sail next morning to stay ahead of the weather, for Nisos Chios. It had been our intention to stop off at Nisos Psara but unfortunately that would have put is in the path of the strong winds. An upside to this, was being afforded a N4/5 to enable us to sail the 84M at full hull speed to the eastern Aegean. We anchored on the SW coast of Chios in the sheltered virtually uninhabited, bay of Angelia. For us, anchoring alone in a remote haven is the optimum outcome to an exhilarating day’s sail..

Follow day, we set sail for Pythogorion Samos, a passage of 69M in a NW4/5 backing and increasing to W7 along the S. coast of Samos. It felt uplifting to be in sight of the dramatic Turkish coastline with its spectacular backdrop of mountains. Once out of the lee of Samos, the wind settled down to a useful 16/18 knots to provide a perfect Simbo Rig run down to the Ikaria Channel whereupon the wind backed westerly and increased to 30 knots along the southern Samos coast. For us this presented a simple matter of gybing the mainsail and continuing the run, leaving the twin jibs unaffected. We were chased by an angry following sea until rounding up into the Pythagorean Bay to leave both the wind and waves behind, for a gentle reach to the harbour.

Surprisingly, especially for this time of season, the outer harbour was consumed with anchored yachts. However, after a couple of failed attempts, we found adequate space which was as well as the arrival of the depression from the Bosphorus was imminent . We relaxed to enjoy the superb shoreside facilities and while away time in the company of fellow yachties.Three days later on the 27th May, we set sail for Didim, Turkey with another helpful N3/5 to provide a Simbo Rig run over the 29 miles to Didim. On arrival we secured to the favorably rated YachtWorks quay and arranged for SotO to be lifted next day to replace the rudder seal. All good and mission completed…..or so we thought!

The outcome was that the rudder proved very difficult to remove and on its retrieval we discovered that the anodized locking plate, seal and rudder bearing had welded together with electrolysis. There was nothing for it but to contact JP3 in La Rochelle, France and acquire a new assembly. To our dismay, we discovered that a new bearing would take six weeks which would have brought about an end to our sailing season. However, by way of negotiation we had the time reduced to 4 weeks which would leave us with the month of July to complete the season. Having made arrangements with YachtWorks for their undivided attention upon our return, we occupied our month by first returning to Samos where we rented a delightful apartment through Air B&B and hired a car to tour the island before returning to England to spend the following week hiking over Dartmoor and trekking the coastal path from Plymouth to Dartmouth. The highlight of the month though, was returning to the IOM to meet our granddaughter who was born on the 1st June; talk about every cloud having a silver lining! After that excitement, it was time to head for La Rochelle to collect our rudder assembly and return to Didim which all translated into our relaunching on 1st July and slipping lines on the 2nd, in a NW4/5 to sail 36M under Simbo Rig for Karaincir Bay by Bodrum.

Panic stricken to make the most of what remained of our season, we weighed anchor first thing following morning in a NW4/5, on a reach to E. Kos followed by a Simbo Rig run down to the Datca peninsular to then return to a reach down the last sector to Pedi harbour, Symi, a passage of 49M. We had noticed of late that when hard on the wind our leeward forward lower slackened. This was a nuisance in so far as there is a shortage of riggers who will undertake rod rig tuning in Turkey. Fortunately though, we were within a day’s sail of Marmaris which arguably provides the best yacht services in Turkey. We made a decision to sail next morning for Marmaris and in doing so were rewarded with another 33M Simbo rig run in a W5, up the Bozburin Yarimmadasi to anchor in the scenic bay of Kumla Buek. This left just 6M to complete next morning before facing the hustle and bustle of Marmaris, to contact Mustafa of M2 rigging services.

The rig was satisfactorily tuned next morning over a 12M test sail in 16 knots of wind which enabled us to return to the anchorage in the evening at Kumla Buek. It was very pleasing to see the substantial improvement in SotO’s upwind performance and as a result, M2 will certainly be our go-to riggers in future. On the 7th July we tacked back down to Pedi harbour to regroup and plan our remaining three weeks. The Meltemi season was upon us and whatever we did, we didn’t want to become harbour bound on the other side of the Aegean waiting for gales to blow through! We decided to remain in the eastern Aegean and beat back up to Samos to leave the balance of the month to enjoy a relaxing couple of weeks cruising downwind to Kemer for the winter lay up.

Following a brief run ashore for provisions, we weighed anchor for Tilos with a light NW on a fine reach. The N570 excels in light wind, even Mustafa of M2 remarked how impressed he was with her performance in light airs, we have certainly found her ideal for Mediterranean sailing. Be that as it may, we sailed all the way to O. Livadhia in 6 knots of TWS pumped up to 12 knots AWS, to provide 6 knots of boat speed. Our decision to make for Tilos proved a bonus, as by next morning the wind had back and increased to WNW 3/4 which enabled us to fetch past the Datca peninsular to the east cape of Kos.To add to the general inconsideration of maritime law which abounds in the Aegean however, we came across a “first" off Kabapinar tourists resort when a windsurfer bore down on us completely oblivious to any traffic in the shipping lane, a mile off the beach! From 500 metres out we continuously sounded our fog horn and whistles but to no avail, to leave us no alternative but expedite a hasty gybe to allow the windsurfer to pass under our stern. If we hadn't acted expeditiously we would have been rammed. However, on taking-up the issue with the surprised culprit, the only response we received was for her to laugh in our face with a vulgar "internationally renowned signal"!

We proceeded to round the N. point of Kos to beat to weather past the W. coasts of Pserimos and Kalymnos for O. Alintos, Leros to complete the 66M passage. The pay-back for our testing day’s sail presented itself next morning with a backing NW4 which enabled us to lay Pythogorion on one tack and reach over the 36M sail under a blue sky and gentle sea. To our relief the outer harbour was virtually empty which was consoling, as another Meltemi was approaching to keep us on anchor for four days. By the 15th July, relieved of katabatic winds, we were more than ready to set sail for the 39M passage in a NW6/7 under Simbo rig down to the Didim peninsular, followed by a reach up to the sheltered anchorage of Akbuek Limini. As there was nothing to detain us at our isolated anchorage, we set sail next morning in a NW5/7 for another Simbo rig run followed by a reach around the Datcha peninsular keeping well clear of a few local craft which in the boisterous conditions, were looking challenged. However, the 36M to Karaincir bay was completed without incident for another peaceful night’s anchorage. That evening we met with David on his Contest 50, Peajay. He was planning to undergo a circumnavigation of the Atlantic for which he was interested in the Simbo rig. It turned out that he had already been in communication with UK Sailmakers in Marmaris which made it an opportune meeting in his being able to run over the rig in situ.

We weighed anchor following morning, for the 48M run down to Symi in a NW4/5 under Simbo rig. It had been our intention to make for Buyuk Koy anchorage but as is the norm for this time of year it was full of yachts and gullets. We were neither surprised nor concerned and simply let the weather jib fly to leeward for a reach to Pedi to extend the sail. Despite this being our third visit of the season we hadn’t yet visited the town of Symi, so following an engaging bus ride with our local fellow passengers over hair-raising narrow roads, we set about rectifying this oversight. The town is an bustling place for such a small island with its numerous ferry services, a harbour choked full of yachts and the coming and going of numerous holiday makers.The Pedi anchorage at this time of year however, is far too stressful for a longer stay so we evacuated next morning to rid ourselves of the “angst”, for Kuyulu Br. which lays 17M NE up the Datca peninsular for a reviving NW4 reach. There is nothing there but scenery and for those requiring provisions one has to make 2M across the estuary to Marti Marina. Following our arrival, our new found friend David sailed into the anchorage which enabled him to raise a few more questions on the Simbo rig and for us to enjoy sundowners on S/Y Peajay.

On the 21st July, we motor sailed in calm conditions down the estuary to pass Symi and round up towards Marmaris to then complete the balance of the 46M passage under Simbo rig for Kumlu Buek. En route we were surprised to be called-up by our good friends Murray and Lyn McPhail from NZ, on their HR54 Birgitta. Unfortunately, with the constraints brought about by the forthcoming lay-up there was no time to meet; a case of small world and busy lives! .

Our sail planning over the last few days however, brought about big dividends next morning, when we were greeted with a NW backing W5 to Kurtoglu Br. under Simbo rig, followed by 30 knots reach under reefed mainsail and jib to make into Fethiye bay for Kileiskelesi Koyu just south of Gocek, a passage of 46M. Following day we awoke to a forecast of NW4 increasing 7 in the afternoon as another Meltemi approached. At this time of year there is a continuous succession of Meltemis. This didn’t overly concern us as it meant yet another Simbo rig run over 52M down the Turkish coast to Kastellorizon. Once across Fethiye bay, the wind gathered strength to speed us past the Seven Capes toward Cas and onwards to our anchorage. Only on rounding the Ak. Ay Stephanos to make for our sheltered haven on the NE coast of Kastellorizon, did we adjust or in this instance strike our sails on completion of another memorable day’s sailing.

Kastellorizon is one of those jewels in the Greek islands' crown. Many of its inhabitants emigrated to Australia after WW2 and as a result, local fishing boats maintain the connection by flying an accompanying Australian flag. One comes across many an Australian visitor speaking Greek with an aussie accent! We spent a lazy day frequenting the limited amount of shops and cafes before bidding Greece farewell for the season and weighing anchor for Goekkaya otherwise known as cold water springs anchorage. It’s only a 24M passage although it can prove challenging as in this case, against a NW5 weathered current around Icada island creating lively conditions, before making up the the remaining 10M to Geyikova Br. and onto the anchorage . On arrival, we were pleasantly surprised by the absence of anchored yachts. Following day, we set sail in a W3/4 on our last sail of the season across Finike bay for a 34M passage, around Yardimci Br. for Camus Koya on the W of Antalya Bay. A characterless anchorage popular with the local holiday makers for picnics and family time.

This left just the 29th July remaining to motor sail up the 20M coast for Kemer. I have to say that on our departure last year I hadn’t given the place much thought, a matter of grass looking greener on the other side of the fence! However, we had missed it and were delighted to be welcome back with open arms like the “prodigal son”. We are in no doubt that it is the right decision, not just because they have the yacht services to hand, with good lifting and hard standing but because with laying up in the Meltemi season, it is the best place to finish the season with downwind sailing and away from the strong weather, once into Antalya bay..

On a final note of interest, with a Log of 1238M completed for the season, we had sailed 33M further over two months than the three month in c2017. A matter of carpe diem !