For the fourth time I went on an 8 day sailboat trip in the Aegean Sea along with a group of sailing enthusiasts. This time, the crowd comprised of 28 souls which traveled on 4 boats of around 50ft length each. More on the very special electrical circuitry in this travel report.
Our boat hosted 6 sailors, 4 male and 2 female. After arrival in Laurium (Λαύριο) via Athens on Thursday afternoon, we went straight to the local grocery store to make the necessary food, drink and supply purchases, though only 3 of us were on the scene already. This is usually a task for the morning of day 1, but this year the first day fell on the orthodox Good Friday and shops were not to open until 1 p.m., a time when we already wanted to have left the harbor.
At night, the other three members of our crew arrived. It was good to see old friends again after such a long time.
On the first day, our skipper and co-skipper took over the boat from the charter company. This is the process, where you check that all equipment of the boat is present and functional and usually takes around an hour.
At around 1:30 p.m. we took off. The sea was calm and the wind was moderate. So we had an easy trip with some intermittent engine support to Loutra (Λουτρά) on the island of Khytnos (Κύθνος), which is ~28NM from Laurium . When we arrived at 7:30 p.m., the small harbor was already filled up with boats and yachts and one of our crews had to anchor in a bay nearby.
We had a nice dinner in one of the local taverns and the waiter turned out to be a multilingual talent speaking Greek, English, Spanish, French and what not.
The logbook mentions almost no wind and a smooth sea at 11:45 a.m., the time of our departure from Loutra, so we were mostly motoring to Livadi (Λιβάδι) on the island of Serifos (Σέριφος) where we arrived at 4:15 p.m. I did the steering of the boat on this trip including the landing on this 23NM leg. Dinner again was held in one of the many taverns, this time with the crews of two other boats of our flotilla.
At night we visited the Easter ceremony of the local orthodox community. Many Greeks gathered in the streets with candles. A service was held in a little church but all the people were on the street. It was said that the crowd would go up-hill to the Chora of Serifos later to illuminate the candles.
After having breakfast on the boat and with light winds we left Serifos at 10:30 a.m.. Finally, we were sailing under full sail most of the time. The northerly winds took us 30NM to the island of Milos (Μήλος) where we dropped our anchor in the harbor of Adamantas (Αδάμαντας). The maneuver was a bit tricky because we were attacked by some side winds and the engine/rudder combination was not strong enough. So we took two trials to attach the boat to the pier. After having the usual round of anchoring beers, we cooked on the boat and had dinner, some drinks and …
It was windy in the morning and the other crews decided to stay in Milos for the day. After checking the weather forecast on Windy we figured out though that the winds would be even stronger the following day. So the decision was to take off in northern directions right away, avoiding shaky seas and strong winds on day 5. We lifted the anchor at 10:00 am.
The first part of the trip was under sails. The course was set to the island of Hydra (Ύδρα) and stern winds were initially ideal for us. At 11:00 a.m. the situation changed: the wind was now coming from south-west and thus not too well for our course anymore. Still checking the weather and wind forecast we decided to re-route to the island of Khytnos (Κύθνος) with a course that would allow us to switch back to Hydra should winds start to blow again from the South. An hour later, the wind ceased to nothing and we decided to re-route to Hydra under motor since we still had a long way to go. It was about that time, when we noticed that the 12V cigarette lighter plugs as well as the 230V converter did not work at all. So we had no chance to recharge our mobiles until we had a land line in a harbor.
At 5:20 p.m., wind came back and we sailed under full sail to the eastern cape of Hydra. At 7 p.m. we started the engine again. We witnessed a nice sundown on our way to the bay of Mandraki (Μανδράκι) where we anchored in the bay at 8:30 p.m. For dinner we took our dinghy to a tavern on the shore. Trip distance for the day: 64NM.
While having a nice breakfast on board of the boat, we decided to stay in the bay and wait for the other boats of the flotilla to arrive. Our skipper had some work to do and the rest of us took a hike to the town of Hydra (Ύδρα) which was a half hour walk along the cliffs.
Hydra itself was crowded by tourists which arrived on ferries and the small harbor was filled up to the last spot. Me and our co-skipper just wanted to do the necessary grocery shopping and get out of this loud environment. The others kept strolling through the town while we walked back to quiet Mandraki bay.
In the meantime, our skipper checked out the new Mandraki Beach Resort and talked to the owner. So the three of us decided to take the dinghy over for a very fine and nice lunch. I took the opportunity of a 230V outlet to recharge my mobile.
Later on, the other members of the crew came back from Hydra and we prepared dinner on board of the boat when the other boats arrived in the bay. Looking at their outfits, they must have had a hard time on their trip. Their reports confirmed our suspicion. Using our dinghy, we visited them on their boats and I got a multi-meter from one of the sailors.
Having the multi-meter at hand, I was able to re-wire the 12V installation and got the cigarette lighter plugs as well as the 230V converter working again. See for yourself what I found:
After using the multi-meter and following the wires, I sketched a short documentation of what we found and how we fixed it. I still have no idea what the person who installed that in the first place smoked or drank before doing so.
This ended in a part being superfluous which I simply removed and added to the spare parts of the boat 🙂
Later, we prepared dinner (pasta, tuna sauce and Greek salad) and had a fun evening.
It was 11:10 a.m. when we tried to lift the anchor which somehow did not work as expected, as it got entangled over the last two nights in a mess of dross on the ground of the bay. We found out that
Historically, Mandraki Bay was the site of the ship yard where boats were built on Hydra. The merchant ships of Hydra’s commercial sea-trading days were commissioned on the bay and later, during the Greek War of independence, the battle and fireships of Hydra were made and launched from the space that is now home to Mandraki Resort.Source: The history of Mandraki Bay Resort
No wonder that we found our chain hooked to some old anchor, buoys and moorings. One of the other boats had similar problems, but their anchor was lying at a depth of 28 meters while ours was at maybe 6 to 8 meters. They ordered a diver who could – after releasing their chain and anchor – also help us freeing the chain from the mess and we were good to go at around 3:20 p.m. Before the arrival of the diver we were already able to secure our anchor on board and were discussing where to cut the chain if we had to. Fortunately, we saved some money here and attached the anchor back to the chain.
Being freed, we had a noodle soup for lunch before we left the otherwise beautiful bay as the last boat of the group at almost 4:00 p.m. The destination for the day was the port of Poros (Πόρος), the main municipal on the equally named island. We arrived there at 6:15 p.m. after a 13NM hop and attached our boat alongside of one of the other boats of the flotilla. The adventure-filled day ended with a dinner of all crews in a local tavern.
Two crews wanted to travel to the port of Aegina (Αίγινα) on the island with the same name and stay there. Us and the remaining crew wanted to anchor in the bay of Agia Marina (Αγία Μαρίνα) for the coming night. At 11:15 a.m., we took off and left Poros initially to the west, then turning onto a course of 55° towards Aegina. At 12:45 p.m., we changed course to the bay of Varkiza (Βάρκιζα) on the main land. To reach this bay, we had to cross the traffic separation zone between the port of Piraeus (Πειραιάς) and the open sea. We met and crossed the path of some big vessels.
Sailing under full sail, we arrived at 6:20 p.m. after 28.4NM in the bay of Varkiza and dropped our anchor in shallow waters (3.5 m).
After having the usual anchor beer, the girls took the dinghy to buy some water. The outcome of this trip is another story to be told some time. For dinner, we prepared the fresh fish which we had bought at the fish market in Poros in the morning. Lots of garlic, very delicious.
The last day of the trip started with breakfast after a bit of a bumpy night caused by some swell in the bay and the wind, which fortunately calmed down towards the morning. We hoisted the sails at 10:30 a.m. and sailed almost all the way up to the marina Kalamaki (Καλαμάκι) where we were supposed to return the boat.
After 14.5NM we arrived in Kalamaki at 2:15 p.m. just in time for the check-out with the charter company. Two of our members left that night before we had dinner with all the other members of the trip in a nearby tavern.
Departure / Returning home
Some of us already left early in the morning (between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m.) to catch their flights from Athens airport. The remaning two from our crew cleaned up the boat and took the express bus to the airport at around 10:30 a.m. Our flight via Vienna was pleasant and on time and we returned home safely.
The small print
(C) All pictures by me and Ingrid, proof-reading by my daughter