Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Sailing in the Argolic and Northen Cyclades

We flew back to Athens and then Taxi's to Alimos Marina, where the checkin process had to be delayed until the boat was cleaned. That gave us plenty of time to sign the liability waivers and get lunch. The checkin process was relatively straight-forward, and light. Our first sign that there was something less than dreamy about Dream Yacht Charters was that the marina did not actually have enough power to run our AC unit and our house lights with the water heater on, and the marina didn't have hot showers! Our boat had a glitch that I did not expect, which was that the V-berth was not connected to the main cabin, which meant that my original plan of having my son sleep in the V-berth wasn't going to work. So I ended up in the V-berth, as did Arturo.
From Greece 2013
The very next day we left the dock at 8am. We dropped all the lines into the water and motor'd out. The wind was too calm to sail, though we managed to try for a little bit in the middle of the day. We eventually got to Epidavros at 4pm, which was much too late to get a berth. We motor'd around to another bay, and proceeded to set up both front anchor with a line tied to the shore to prevent any swinging. This was Arturo and my first time doing it, so it took far longer than expected, and in the hot afternoon sun, was definitely wearing. We did finally get it done, and with that we could swim ashore or take the dinghy to town. Later, we would observe another boat tying up with the dinghy used as a shuttle without having to mount the motor onto the dinghy, and this made us realize why most boats we saw simply did not have the dinghy mounted with its outboard motor permanently, unlike in the BVIs --- most folks would spend their evenings tied up to a berth or use the dinghy as a shuttle this way.
From Greece 2013
From Greece 2013
What with everything going on, it was just easier to have dinner on the boat and swim around and then plan a visit to the ancient theater the next morning. The theater was amazing. More than 2400 years old, you really could hear a pin drop from the middle of the stage to anywhere in the seats. Arturo had been there before and gave us a detailed explanation of the soundbox under the theater and the design features, as well as explaining that the limestone that made up the theater was what saved it from destruction compared to the rest of the site. We managed to get to the theater before the bus crowds showed up, and hence had the place to ourselves.
From Greece 2013
From Greece 2013
It was noon by the time we pulled up our anchor and were on our way to Poros, which was listed in the Pilot's guide as being a pretty town. Once again, the winds were disappointing and we got in at most 15 minutes of sailing before we had to turn on the engine again near Poros. In Poros, we had plenty of room for a berth, but the Mediterranean moor proved easier to execute in Sausalito than in Poros, especially since on the 3rd try we hooked the anchor on an existing chain underneath the piers, meaning that we needed a diver to free us up. There was no warning of this either from the chart briefing or from the pilot's book, but the local diver we engaged to free us indicated that one in 10 boats would find themselves in this predicament. Fortunately, while engaging the diver, we made the acquaintance of the owner of the Oasis Taverna in Poros, and he offered us a spot in front of his Tavern as well as all the power we would ever need and water hookups. We moved the boat and found everything to be as he promised (except we had to run a power cable extra long through the Salon), and we gratefully had dinner at the taverna, which proved to have great food and was excellently priced. If you find yourself in Poros, don't miss this great place.
From Greece 2013
We spent the next morning exploring Poros, and then left for a short drive to N. Soupia. Once again we had enough wind for all of 10 minutes of sailing. We actually scouted another destination prior to this one, but it looked too bleak and desolate with little to recommend it. N. Soupia had 2 beaches, an island which we nick-named "Frog Island", and a bay with water clear enough we could see whether or not our anchor was dug properly into it. It wasn't perfect, though --- there was plenty of trash in the water, including plastic bags and crap near the shores. But it was interesting in some sense: the water temperatures varied throughout the Bay, ranging from cold in the North to positively balmy near the dinghy pier, which was built near what looked like a vacation home. We spent a good day swimming and snorkeling the area, but as Arturo would later say, "The snorkeling went from poor to mediocre."
From Greece 2013
From Greece 2013
The next morning we got an early start to head for Sounion. The fear was that weather would make that an untenable place to stay for the night, but we checked windfinder.com and the winds would be 18 knots the next day, which would make for good sailing! It was a long passage to Sounion pretty much over flat water, and we made it to Sounion by 11:30am with only one other Catamaran in the bay. We made the journey to Sounion, and then decided that we weren't going to sit around and wait for the sunset. We did take advantage of the wonderfully deserted bay to swim and explore and have lunch, however. We made the decision to sail for Kea. The passage along flat water was un-noteworthy, and we noted that we had turned our sailing trip into a motoring holiday. We berthed successfully along the town of Vourkari, only to be told that the post that delivered power wouldn't actually deliver power or water. We then re-berthed ourselves at the other end of the pier, only to discover that just as we berth'd one of the other boats plugged themselves in, apparently because they'd heard that we wanted use of shore power. I'd never experienced such behavior before, and while they were within their rights, it seemed in awfully poor taste to wait until someone else had docked before taking the last power plug.
From Greece 2013
From Greece 2013
Kea was pretty and we had a good dinner. Somehow my son found himself a girlfriend during dinner (the daughter of the restaurant owner), taking advantage of his status as a sailor, no doubt. I awoke at 2am with rain on my face. I looked at the boat and it looked like the wind had picked up and was well over 18 knots. After putting in more fenders between the boat and the dock, I decided that it was not safe to stay at harbor. The Mediterranean moor puts you at risk because if one boat drags anchor, the boats will cascade. It was an ordeal but we managed to undock without hitting any other boats. Rather than weigh anchor and leave, however, I made the mistake of staying in the harbor. While we had a watch going, we did not hear the hails from the next boat to leave and they entangled their anchor with ours. What followed was the most harrowing hour of my years of sailing.
From Greece 2013
In their attempts to untangle the anchors, the other boat, the Anna II, repeatedly hit the Phoenix. Their boat was old and heavy, hence caused damage to our hull while taking no damage. We had all hands on deck with fenders to keep the damage reduced, but nevertheless suffered a dent to the port forward bow and a scratch along the port pontoon. My crew proved themselves to be the best crew I'd ever had that night, fending off repeated attempts by the Anna II to sink us. Nevertheless, the boat was sea worthy. We eventually untangled the boats by using lines to lift their anchors off of ours, and the boats parted ways. In retrospect, we could have lifted their anchor off ours without allowing the Anna II to put us in that dangerous situation by having them leave their anchor down while we raised ours. What I should have done was to immediately leave Kea and head for the Argolic, before the sea rose. We left and anchored near Korissa instead, however, and by the next morning the seas were heavy and our attempts to leave made nearly everyone sea-sick. (We also dragged anchor while trying to raise sails, indicating that the winds were well over 30 knots)
From Greece 2013
We spent the day anchored at Korissa, and left the next morning at 3am, motoring back to the Alimos Marina. While the experience was harrowing, nothing made me as sick as watching Bowen throw up his milk in rough seas. At that point I understood why other parents ended up going to Disneyland year-after-year. While the highlights might never be as good as one of my trips, the lows would never be as low and they'd never have to experience what I did. What made things worse was that the base manager of Dream Yacht Charters was extremely hostile. Despite our bringing back the boat in a sea-worthy condition and mitigating all the damage. He charged us obscene amounts of money (400 EUR for a broken plastic bit off the boat's lock, which he tried to blame on us not closing the door in heavy weather --- which was false. The lock was broken already when we arrived at Kea, 300 EUR for a plastic bag that found itself into the propellor, 200 EUR for a lost cushion, and another 200 EUR for the hull damage). Fortunately we had paid for the damage liability insurance, or he would have found a way to charge us more money. It was quite clear that Dream Yacht Charters doesn't rely on repeat customers.
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