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Adventures and Misadventures

Sorrento to Greece - Sailing on...

GREECE | Tuesday, 26 August 2008 | Views [2365]

Back to Civitavecchia and reality… hard hard work for the next three days getting the boat ready to leave again. By the time we left for Ponza island I was really looking forward to one of our usual relaxing passages where we can read, lounge around in bikinis and soak up some sun as we glide gently through the normally calm Mediterranean and there being no real wind for the last few weeks I expected nothing else…

WELL – boy was I wrong. Instead we had a strong headwind and incredibly short sharp seas which appeared out of nowhere. We had 2 reefs in the main and were making very slow progress with Marietta shuddering as she came down hard off waves and taking on a lot of water. Our cook was very seasick and inert at the back of the boat whereas I was wide awake having buckets of water thrown at me left, right and centre as I continually struggled up the front of the boat to fix lines, pull reefs, fix the dinghy, check the anchor…. etc. At one point the anchor pin broke so I went right to the bow of the boat with a small string intending to refix the pin with the string… not as easy as it sounds – particularly when the whole of the bow of the boat including the anchor is going under the water when we slammed into the waves. Anita was halfway back and unable to stop giggling as I gasped for breath each time I emerged from being fully submerged under a swell shaking the water off like a drowned dog and attempting to refix the line. Eventually late that evening we made it to the shelter of Ponza’s coastline and settled in but in an ironic twist we rose again at 2am to move anchor to the other side of the island as the wind changed.

One casualty of this day was the loss of our autopilot meaning we now had to handsteer. Dudi made the most of the opportunity by showing me how to steer the boat with full sails up downwind down big swells. Marietta being a big boat the force on the helm is strong so it was interesting to learn how to alter the sails and read the waves in order to steer in a straight line. We headed towards Ischia and anchored, fetching a pizza from onshore for dinner and relaxing on deck knowing that the next day we would be parked outside Sorrento where the owner’s have a cliffside house.

Ah it would be nice to be rich and have a yacht parked outside your mansion perched on the clifftops of beautiful Sorrento… maybe in another life! We spent the next week doing sailing daytrips with the owner’s family which is not so bad when your destinations are Positano (Amalfi Coast) for lunch or the famed Capri for a swim. Of a night we got to go ashore and explore Sorrento which is a beautiful seaside city perched 208 steps up from sea level and is famous for homemade limoncello (lemon liqueur.) On our last night in Sorrento Anita and I had a religious experience perched on the steps of a church but which was largely related to the most enormous gelato cone in the world – we’re talking nutella icecream (trust me this flavor is awesome) combined with dark chocolate and biscuit icecream all wrapped up scrumptiously in a - so fresh you can still smell the cinnamon - waffle cone… OH DIO MIO!

However after a week it was time to move on as time was running out to make passage to Greece given that the owners wanted to arrive on the 31st of August. We started at 5:30am and made a 130 mile jump to Selina island in the Iolie group. This group of islands are UNESCO world heritage recognized for their beauty and unique volcanic landscape. We arrived to anchor at Selina as the sun set and the full moon rose on opposite horizons and in the dim light the island looked dark and foreboding with black volcanic slopes. Still it was a good nights sleep and we rose again at sunrise the next day sailing past Stromboli island with its iconic volcano spewing smoke in the early morning sun. We sailed through the canal between Sicily and mainland Italy where I ran Ila in to shore to drop off some rubbish – meaning I can now claim that my hands have been on Sicily (where I grasped the ladder of the jetty) but my feet are yet to touch its shores! Hopefully when we return J

We emerged out the other side of the canal into the Ionic sea – our first taste of Greece. As Italy faded on the horizon the seas were calm and we settled into shifts with Anita and I taking one and Dudi and Ila taking the other for two hour bursts. I settled into bed after 10 for an hour and a half before feeling the motion of the boat change dramatically. When I poked my head out into the cockpit I saw Dudi in full wet weather gear struggling to grasp onto the helm as Marietta surfed down huge breaking waves with 30 knots of wind from behind. Here we go again… I donned wet weather gear and emerged for my shift with Ila staying to help ease sails etc if I needed. Plugged my new Ipod in, dance playlist on and off I went. Adrenalin surges through your body and at some points I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face even though I was drenched, salty and physically stressed. I remembered how much I enjoyed the ocean sailing, particularly when the hard moments arise and the challenge is you and your yacht against the endless and relentless waves and wind. All the next day the large waves continued. At one point I was set to take over shift and was just sitting at the Navigation table downstairs turning on the fuel pump to refill our tanks when I felt Marietta shudder and stop dead. Next thing I knew water was pouring in through the crew hatch and then to my right it looked like somebody was hiding behind the crew bathroom door throwing massive buckets of water hard at the opposite wall. I struggled in to close the small window we had left open getting soaked in the process right through my wet weather jacket. By this time Ila was throwing down the huge blue cockpit cushions…1…2..3…? “Dove Quattro?” I asked. Turns out the force of the waves took one of the cushions clear over the side as well as a crew seat cushion and ripped the Jon Bouy (life saving device) completely off its hinges and over the side. It was damage control for the next few hours inside and outside until finally we arrived in the safety of Porto Leoni in the Ionic islands.

Here we met some of Dudi’s friends who were chartering a yacht in Greece for a few weeks and we enjoyed a meal together on board Marietta albeit we were all falling asleep at the table. The next day we awoke to find ourselves in heaven… no wind and no need to move anywhere. We started and ended the day with a swim, lay in the sun and listened to music. Porto Leoni is uninhabited but there is on small Taverna which caters solely to the yachties who flock there every summer so at lunchtime we ventured ashore for our first Greek meal. Mmmmmm homemade Tzatziki, Eggplant Dip, fresh bread, Greek Salads, Vine Leaves, Fish and Souvlakis. The food was so good we made a booking to return for dinner as well. In the afternoon Anita and I swam across the bay, thongs and camera in hand, to a little beach to go for a walk and distance ourselves from the boat a little. When we returned we freshened up, donned girly dresses (just because we felt like it) and took cocktails ashore. It was all very elegant and refined except for the part where we clamber in and out of the dinghy with our dresses hitched up around our waists… It was a perfect day and a reminder that sometimes we work really hard but its all made worthwhile when we get a day to relax on a superyacht in Greece. The job has its perks!

The next day we moved on heading east and stopped for the night in Niso Trizonia where the debacle of fixing lines began afresh. When anchoring in Greece everybody anchors and then fixes 2 lines to rocks on shore from the back of the boat. Sounds simple enough but this process involves Anita and I jumping in the dinghy and taking 2 frigging heavy orange lines wrapped around hose reels into the shore, oh and a radio just to make sure that Dudi can point out which rock – something along the lines of “a little more to the left, no the one on the right, not that rope you silly girls, under that other rope, that one there, god isn’t it obvious…” Clearly its not so obvious when you’re trying to find the perfect rock to fix a line at a perfect angle to the back of a moving boat whilst trying to ensure that a) the outboard doesn’t hit the rocks and b) doesn’t get tangled in the millions of other lines already fastened from other boats that got there first… Anywho we moored somewhat successfully in Niso Trizonia and then found a tavern ashore for some more yummy Greek food.

On to Corinto and through the canal the next day which is an engineering marvel and although short is pretty spectacular as sheer rock walls slide past a few metres on either side of the boat. The canal makes the distance from west to east a lot shorter and we emerged to anchor in the Agean sea before dark. We expected to take two days for our passage to Skiathos – the island where we are to wait for the owners to arrive. Let me just say its taken a little longer… The first day started off well albeit early (as always) but within an hour the wind was up to 30 knots, then 40 then 50 knots!! We were all outside and getting soaked with salt spray as Marietta took the waves really hard. Next thing we lost the boom cover and within an hour the main blew out meaning Anita and I struggled up on the front deck in an attempt to throw sail ties over the main but while 100km/h winds hammer at you and you can’t see through the salt caking your sunglasses and eyelashes things become infinitely more difficult. We only managed 35 miles that day and sought shelter in a protected bay for the night.

Protected it was but I could have kissed the anchor the next morning as it managed to hold on through the night as we continually experienced gusts of over 50 knots. We attempted to round the point and continue but although it was a new day the wind hadn’t changed and after a few hours and some more salt caking we turned back. A rest day was declared and Anita and I swam into the beach and went for a walk stumbling upon an abandoned hotel where we spent some time exploring it’s creepy corridors before fleeing in fear as our made-up mental asylum story all became a bit much! Swimming back to the boat we gloated over how good it was to be exercising and how proud of ourselves we were… before immediately putting in the dinghy under the guise of ‘taking the rubbish ashore’ and buying 12 Magnums from the little Kantina we had discovered with which to stock Marietta’s freezer. Here is what I have discovered:

 Double Chocolate Magic Magnums + Dangling Feet in water whilst eating aforesaid Magnums = Second Religious Experience in one week over icecream…

Ummmm so much for exercise… Today we finally left Karystos and after poking Marietta’s bow around the corner we were hugely relieved to find little to no wind. Instead of stopping halfway as planned we have decided to continue to Skiathos – our final destination where we will dock in port and await the owners who arrive in a weeks time. I can’t wait – a whole week on a Greek Island with time to explore, eat yummy food and apparently it’s like a small Mykonos for clubbing… AWOOOHOOO!!

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