Sailing 2002

Chris Moss on Second Wind

Part 1, in Turkey

Setting out from Marmaris where the boat was kept for the winter, I headed down to Kalkan for a few days, where a friend was staying. We got as far as Kas, which was my eastmost point of the voyage, before I returned back to Gocek where I met another friend at Dalaman airport.

We spent a few days cruising round the beautiful bay of Fethiye before heading back across the Rhodes strait and into Bozburun, possibly my favourite spot in this trip.

Part 2, Across the Aegean

Donna left at Datca to go back to England leaving me alone for the rest of the trip. I had decided two things: one to go west to the Ionian as a first step towards coming back to England next year; also to sail not motor as far as it was possible. Though my new motor is acting superbly, sailing's what it's about.

I headed round to Bodrum and then back to the Greek island of Kos and up to Patmos. I wanted to get there to lay some ghosts from my past: John's Revelation was a prominent part of my upbringing and I admire its vision and poetry while hating the grip it has on many people.

Leaving Patmos, I was becalmed just off the south-west tip of the island and GPS would not get a fix. It appeared to be working and I wondered whether it was a problem with the system, as my backup instrument also wouldn't initialize. It wasn't till almost nightfall that I realised that because the backup hadn't been used for a long time, it was confused about where it was and so was took around 10 minutes to initialise. By this time I had become used to fixing my position by compass bearing, which is no problem when sailing through the islands. But since I decided to motor slowly through the night and reach Mykinos by dawn the next day I was grateful to have the instrument back. I was rewarded just before dawn with the sight of a school of seals basking in the grey water.

The wind was fitful through the Cyclades. I had a great sail to Siros, but as I came into the harbour at Ermopoulis, the wind increased to 25 knots and it was so choppy I couldn't anchor stern-to and had to tie up alongside on quite an exposed quay. The next day started well but I got becalmed by mid day and had to motor-sail the rest of the way to Kythnos. I stayed an extra day in Loutra, which is a lovely spot, although the wind was getting up.

In the event, I only just managed to stay ahead of the first meltemi of the season, which started the day after I reached the Greek mainland. On the last stretch across from Kythnos across the Kea channel a weld at the bottom of my forestay broke in a force 6 and I was lucky not to lose the mast, but had to divert into Olympic Marine for repairs. The next day the wind was up to gale force and I only ventured out at dawn the following morning to get round the corner into the Saronic Gulf. I had the best sail of the season that day, getting right through the Corinth Canal with only about an hour of motoring. I just missed a convoy for the canal and had to wait for a tanker coming the other way,but I was rewarded by then having the whole canal to myself. One doesn't half feel grand!

Part 3, Across the Gulfs to the Ionian

Into the gulfs the weather was calm, despite gale warnings in the Aegean and the first day I was becalmed and had to do some motoring, though it finished in style with 20 knots coming into the anchorage. The next day I did most of the mileage using the cruising chute and the day after the easterly winds carried me through to Patras.

Into the Ionian, I experienced the calm of a beautiful anchorage behind the island of Patalas and then a wonderful day's sail with wind on every quarter to get up to Levkas, where I've left the boat over the hot part of the summer.

Part 4, Sailing the Inland Seas

At the end of August I came back to Levkas and found my boat parked somewhat precariously across the end of the jetty that Contract Yacht Services use for their guardinage boats. I found my way up to Preveza and then into the gulf of Amvrakikos, which is sometimes called the inland sea, although that title properly belongs to the stretch of the Ionian south of the Levkas canal, I believe.

I spent around 4 days cruising round this. The last evening I planned to anchor by some islands, but the wind had other ideas as it was blowing from the south east around 25 knots and so I sneaked in behind a cliff on the north side of the bay where I could get reasonable shelter. There was plenty of thunder and lightning in the south west and I later learned the storm centred on Levkas where there were force 9 winds and 15-20 boats by the quay were damaged. And I'd only pulled the boat out of there 4 days before after leaving her for 2 months!

On Saturday I was due to pick up my disabled friend Guy from the airport and stopped off at one of the boatyards near the airport to look it over, as I had decided that Levkas was not for me any more. His flight was ok and we set off immediately to get down to Nidri that evening. The clouds were getting darker as we went back through the canal and tried to find some place to tie up down the coast. We eventually found a spare spot on the Nillson pontoon which the boss generously allowed us to stay in until 8 the next morning. By the time we were moored the wind and the rain had arrived and we scampered ashore to find a restaurant in torrents of rain.

The rest of the week was great. We had a couple of nights on Ithaca, down to Sami on Cephallonia, then up to Fiskardo, where we had to moor bows-to, much to Guy's dismay as when we'd tried that a few nights before he got the closest to landing in the water that we'd ever been (apart from swimming off the boat). But mercifully there were English boats on either side and Guy's gregariousness won the day. We went ashore via much easier route than some of the other gang planks he'd had to negotiate.

The last night was spent on Megalanisi, where we found the restaurants had provided a decent jetty with mooring lines. Would that other places in Greece followed their lead. Then we headed back to Preveza where I had decided to leave the boat this time. The new marina, inside the harbour is still unfinished and therefore free, though the guardinage cost almost as much as Levkas. But the boat was tied securely alongside a very solid concrete pier.

Part 5, The final week

I'd had various things to do in England so it wasn't till the middle of October that I was able to return. Surprisingly it was difficult to find a flight out to Preveza, though there were flights back, so a friend who was coming was unable to make it. So I had to fly to Corfu and take the ferry and bus to get to the boat. I was able to fix a flight back, so I was able to sail for the weekend and get the boat out of the water on the same day as my flight.

I sailed up the coast as far as Parga and then across to Paxos. The bay in Lakka at the north end of the island is delightful and I also managed to get across to Anti-Paxos for a swim at the beautiful Emerald beach. Despite a rainstorm the day before I arrived, the weather stayed clear and beautiful all week.

The last day's sail back from Paxos was amazing: I had light winds as I'd had all week and the anemometer didn't record over 10 knots till late in the afternoon, but after sailing downwind for several hours on cruising chute alone, I got onto a dead run and put the genoa up as well. With 8 knots of apparent wind I was doing 5.5 knots through the water.

Next day, I motored across the estuary at Preveza to Aktio marina and they brought the boat out very efficiently, though I had a race to get the laundry dry before I had to set off to the airport for a 7pm flight.