Saturday, 21 July 2012

Rules of the Road

I have not been sailing that long..... around seven years.John on the othet hand has been sailing most his life and there is very little he has not done with a yacht! There are are two situations that I still find quite difficult:

1. Other vessels interpretations of the collisions regulations.
This can be particularly tricky when dealing with motor cruiser (stinkpots). For some reason when you have open sea for as far as the eye can see a motor cruisers more often than not feel the need to come virtually alongside you show off their bikini clad bimbos on the bow and then speed off leaving you having to manage an unnecessary swash or worse still shouting at them that as a vessel under sail they should not be passing inches before your bow. John and I now turn our backs on them if they feel the urge to pass so close to us... if they have no audience then perhaps they will eventually find the whole performance a waste of time! I cannot get myself enthused in any way by these machines that guzzle fuel and very often seem to think they have priority over all those around them. At this time in Greece many of them are Italian flagged and have sped across the Ionian for their holiday. Personally it would break my heart to put 2000 litres into my vessel and then have to refuel again hours later. Hardly environmentally friendly!!
We have had one near miss ... we were sailing and I was on the helm a motor cruiser was heading towards us in the distance as a yacht we are stand on vessel and it was reasonable to assume that given he could see us miles ahead he would alter course. John told me to stand on and not alter course he would do this as he got closer and closer my palms got sweatier and sweatier I thaen saw him run from the stern and blow his horn at us ... one blast this means I am turning to starboard but in fact he continued to hold his course and in the end I had no choice than to baer away to starboard my self and collapse the sail. John was like a slavering rotweiller by this time calling him on the VHF and asking him what he thought he was doing!! The reply I am 65 tonnes I just held my course and you must get out my way ... a man who does not know the rules of the road!! who obviously goes for the old addage might is right. Truth of the matter is more likely to be he was at the stern of the vessel fishing and had his auto pilot on so did not see us until he was nearly on top of us. As we passed him a woman on the stern was grappling with a fishing line trying to ensure that we did not get caught on that to add insult to injury.

2 Coming into Port

In the Med coming into port involves mooring stern to which can be a tricky manuoevre but we have had alot of practice now so it is getting easier for me but in a busy port often anchors can get crossed and tempers can get frayed!
Last week there were strong winds forecast. We decided to go int Kalamos an island that should provide us with shelter from the F7 winds. The harbour is effectively run by George one of the taverna owners who helps people with where to lay their anchor and to keep the port in some semblance of order.In strong winds it is best to lay as much anchor chain as possible which we did and as we came into moor we were greeted by two very stern Austrians who informed us that we had laid over their chain. George was insistant that we had not but John said 'what time are you leaving?' the reply 'nine o clock sharp' so says John calmly' we will leave at quarter to no problem'. Well for the rest of the day they continued to get their leiderhosen in a knot as flotilla after flotilla came in to shelter from the wind which was indeed about F7. The difficulty for them was that the flotillas were rafted up right over their anchor chains. They would not be leaving anywhere in a hurry!
On the other side of us were a British family for whom this had been their first stern to mooring he had not put out enough chain and the anchor had not taken so George was forced to take it out in the dinghy and lay it manually and where did he put it? You've guessed it over the Austrians chain if I did not know any better I might have thought that he had done it deliberately!
By morning the wind had gone and slowly people started to leave, our British neighbours took some instruction from John who told them that if their was a problem he would go out in the dinghy and give them a hand. As their anchor came up the Austrians anchor began to twitch he came to the bow and shouted ' you are over my anchor chain' ..... talk about stating the obvious! No offer of help just a lot of hot air... so John went out in the dinghy did indeed sort it for them and as expected no thank you from the Austrian just a stern teutonic glare with hands on hips!
As we prepared to lift our anchor I could feel the eyes boring into my back as I went to the bow ...the operation went like clockwork... anchor came up without touching either of the Austrians chains and we were away. I have met lots of very freindly people so far but I am sorry to say I found the arrogance of these two hard to swallow. Generally the cameraderie amongst fellow yachties is something I enjoy.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Poly zesty!!

The weather here in Greece has been really hot over the last three weeks hitting 38 degrees on several occasions with very little wind. It means coming into port can be a very sweaty affair! John and I went up to Corfu to collect Kaylem Johns grandson who was with us for two weeks. We stopped off at Giaos in Paxos a really nice little town and it looked so much better than when we had arrived in May and it was throing it down. The flights into Preveza are difficult to find now so many people are now using Easyjet into Corfu and generally there are far more flights in and out of Corfu than Preveza. For Kaylem it was his first flight unaccompanied. He is 15. John and I managed to moor in Benitses after a bit of a wrangle with the Greeks. Greece has an abundance of unfinished marinas I cannot quite work out why they have not been finished... but the fact remains they are not. The water and electric have not been hooked up and the places are generally allowed to just fall into disrepair. In reality what happens is that they become populated by people that just dump their boats for the majority of the year and the locals fill the place with small boats so what was intended to make towns money does not. However these are free ports no one should lay a mooring... which happens alot and in some cases the marinas get taken over by the locals who charge visitors and pocket the fees.
John and I managed to squeeze into a spot in Benitses only to have a local come along and tell us that this was his spot, it was his mooring and it was his country!!! Well he backed off very quickly when John told him ' ochi (no)' and if he didn't like it he would get the port police to sort the matter out.
The longer we are in Greece the more it is evident that this year there are more East Europeans sailing and also Greeks and Italians sailing under another countries flag in an effort to avoid paying boat tax in their respective countries. Just a couple of days ago in Sivota John went to help a 'French' boat who had not put down enough anchor chain only to be told that the boat was Italian but flying a French flag.The Italians have just introdced a punitive boat tax for Italian boat owners and registering uner adifferent flag is just one way to try to avoid this wether it will work I am not sure. However it is very difficult to work out who is who with Belgians not wishing to be mistaken for Germans and the Greeks and the Italians flying a variety of flags.... so much for the European community!

I think Kaylem has enjoyed himself. He particularly enjoyed the swimming and spent alot of time in the water. The water here is now really quite warm having had six weeks non stop sun. We also went para sailing which was quite an experience soaring over Skorpios and I have to say we made a perfect landing on the back of the boat as opposed to a lady who got out of the boat before us who was soaked and had obviously landed in the sea!