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  july 2008



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01/07/08  Went over to Storm Dodger in the morning to see if Roger needed a hand with his wiring of chart plotter and hi-fi speakers, but he and Jordan were managing fine, so..........after repeated nagging by Astrid and Ann, and now Jan, Yolly and Roger......I thought it might be easier to go up to the hospital and get the very noticeable swelling of my eye seen to rather than put up with the constant ear bashing!!  Now some people are scared of heights, some of water, some of spiders, some of flying - with me....it's hospitals!  Storms at sea in the black of night, forced landing of a glider into a strange field in a turbulent cross wind, white water rafting, parachuting, sitting with learner drivers = no problem.  Private hospital in sunshine = total wimp!  I dread the thought of them, but needs must.   So I caught the dolmus into town, then went into a cafe for a coke and think about how I would travel the next bit.  Dolmus or taxi?   Decided to walk.......it would keep me away from the hospital longer!  And anyway, it was a nice day and the beach was full of oiled up ladies who appeared to be frying at least two eggs each, which I imagined I might never see again!  At least I knew where the Ahu Hetman Hospital was, as I've been there several times now and I didn't have to wait long in the reception area before seeing the consultant ophthalmologist.  After much prodding, poking, photo taking and looking into a complicated bit of machinery with bright lights and all other manner of gadgets, he decided that my right eye was OK (the one I'm having a problem with) and that it was my left eye which was the trouble.   I thought, "this guy needs an optician!"   Anyway, he wrote a prescription for the swelling of my right eye - and another for glasses!   Specs?  Me? But I'm too young for specs!!  Ah, well, I guess it comes to us all eventually  and I suppose I've  had a good run until now without the need of 'reading glasses'.  Came out of the hospital unable to see a damn thing, eyes full of green dye etc., so I had to recuperate over a beer in the Portofino!  Then walked  back into town to get my prescription creams and catch the dolmus to Aktas and the Orange Bar, where I was to meet  Karen, Yolly, Aiden, Catriona and Leah for dinner.  Got back onboard about 10.30pm and decided to watch a DVD before squirting two lots of cream into my eye and feeling my way into bed, muttering "aarrrr, Jim lad" and "pieces of eight".   Hospitals?  What was all the fuss about, it was a piece of cake!  Yeah, right.....now, where's that crocodile I have to wrestle?

03/07/08  On Roger's boat by 10.30am - which wasn't bad considering Yolly, Astrid and Roger had been on Rhumb Do until after 5am following a meal in the restaurant!  Helped Roger get the boat ready for sea but unforeseen faults with the morse controls and the fresh water pump have more or less scuppered any plans to have a day out in the bay tomorrow.

04/07/08  American Independence Day - but seemingly no celebrations from the Americans who are in the marina?   Helped Roger and Astrid again who are hoping to leave the marina tomorrow for a mini shakedown of all the new equipment and systems, just sailing within, or close to Marmaris Bay for a day or so.   They want me to go with them, so....yippee....a little sailing for us and a forecast showing nothing much worse than 25 knot winds from the WNW.

05/07/08  OK, a sailing time of 0900 disintegrated into last minute changes and alterations but we finally cast off the ropes of Storm Dodger at 1300 and headed out of the bay and into open water, making our way in a general westward direction with an unspecified destination whilst we ironed out any problems which were immediately apparent.   An executive decision (?) to head for Serce about 20 miles away meant we could have a nice beam reach with a promised safe anchorage on arrival.  Ha!  Anyone who has ever sailed the Mediterranean will know what happened next!  The wind was on the nose, it increased to F7 gusting 8's and we started to take waves over the bow.......nautical nausea kicked in......first with Mutley the dog, then Leah and eventually Yolly, so between Roger, Astrid and myself, we decided to turn around and run with the wind back to Gerbekse.  The mizzen sail had detached itself from the mast because of a broken slide gate, but a fast run under genoa alone soon had us entering the bay of Gerbekse.  None of us liked the look of the bay which was open to the westerly wind and we turned out again to go to Ciftlik, the next bay eastward, where we dropped the anchor away from the mooring pontoons.  It was still very windy, gusting up to 35 knots, so Astrid, Roger and I had a restless night keeping one eye open for anchor drag.

06/07/08  No anchor drag during the night!  After breakfast, we slipped and motored back to Marmaris Bay where we pottered around the islands before heading over to Aktas.   Our intention of anchoring off The Orange Bar was aborted after several attempts (using CQR and Fortress anchors) as the bottom was very soft mud covered with weed which ripped out when the anchor chain took the load.  Our alternative anchorage in the bay off Pupa yacht hotel was more successful and everyone went swimming prior to having an excellent barbeque.

07/07/08   Remained at anchor throughout the day and we were joined by Karen, Catriona, Paul, Toni and Jordan for another barbeque and swimming session until they returned to Yacht Marine in their dinghies at around 10pm.

08/07/08   Weighed anchor in the late morning and motored back into Yacht Marine, mooring up on Oscar pontoon.  It's been great to have a little sail again and a much needed change from marina life.   We all went to happy hour in the bar before eating in the marina restaurant.  Unfortunately, my meal of Adana kebab which I love, went mostly untouched after biting into a very, very hot chilli pepper......my tongue was on fire and two litres of water barely gave any cooling effect!!   Roger reckoned I was soft, tried a bit of it, and immediately broke into huge sweats!   It gave us all a laugh if nothing else!

10/07/08   Into town to visit the optician and get my speccies made.  I was very surprised when he said "Come back in 45 mins and they'll be ready" - and they were.   So, I'm officially an oldie now, and have to wear artificial aids in order to read a book or plot a course on a chart......gloom!!   But hey, not to worry.....I'm going sailing again!I have a delivery job!!    Rob (Slip Anchor) has sold his boat, and the new owner cannot sail.....so he wants it delivering to his home in Cyprus.    Roger and I have agreed to go with Rob, and sail there from Barcelona.   Now I just have to sort out the flights to Spain.

12/07/08    Flights all sorted out!  Cannot fly to Spain from here, so we are having to fly back to UK in order to fly out again to Barcelona.   We leave Dalaman airport on the 6.30am flight on Monday (14th) to Manchester, then out again on the 8am flight to Barcelona the following day.   I now need to quickly sort out my boat and make it safe to leave for a few weeks.  So.....no updates of this site after Sunday for a while, and no replies to any e-mails until I get back from Cyprus!

13/07/08   Roger and Astrid came over for coffee mid-morning and we piled into the dinghy and shot out across the bay for a swim before lunch.  Spent the afternoon clearing stuff away in readiness for leaving the boat for a few weeks, and packed some things into a bag for the delivery job!  Hope we don't have any problems with airlines over gas bottles in our life-jackets!!  

14/07/08   Paul drove Roger and I to the Havas terminal and we caught the 0130 to Dalaman, checked in without any fuss and took off on time at 0630.   Rob met us at Manchester airport, I'd almost forgotten just how mad he is......he was standing with all the other 'meeters', a stupid grin on his face and holding a card in front of him which read "Salty Old Sea Dogs"  - it was going to be an interesting few weeks!  We drove over to his place in Yorkshire, had some breakfast, then went shopping for last minute stuff and bits for both Roger and myself which are impossible to find in Turkey.  We got some very strange looks from the locals ......who are these idiots wandering around a cold Brighouse in shorts??  It was great to see Karen again, and of course Amy (give it up) and Ben were as excited as ever when they came home from school and saw us there.   Sitting on the canal bank, we enjoyed real fish and chips with mushy peas from Blakeleys, a couple of pints in one of Rob's locals, then crashed out in his living room around midnight - it had been a very long day!

15/07/08  Up again at 0430 and a lift back to the airport with Mark (one of Rob's mates), for the 0800 flight to Barcelona, eventually arriving onboard Slip Anchor in Badalona Marina at 1330 local time.  We began preparing the boat for what would turn out to be a mixture of sailing patterns, varying winds and frustrating events.  Rob dived under the boat and scraped off any barnacles from the prop which might slow us down (no crusty asians were wanted on this voyage!) before we all went into town with a huge food shopping list.  Rog refused to walk with us in the supermarket because I was pushing the trolley with Rob sitting in it shouting "Dad, can I have that", but he later regressed and joined in the sword fight in the kids toy section!!  We completely filled the taxi boot with food and drinks, then went to the train station to meet Frank, the fourth member of the crew - and we immediately knew that we hadn't bought enough food, 'cos he was a big lad!!  More organising of the boat, filling water tanks etc finished off the day.

16/07/08  We caught the bus into Badalona, had a meal, then walked back along the beach before going back to the supermarket for a second major shop.   Roger bought a big cured serrano joint which would hang in the saloon for the next couple of weeks, swinging hammock like and giving the unwary a whack on the head or shoulder.  Frank wanted to tuck into it - but this was destined for Storm  Dodger's pantry!  Back onboard, the engine was serviced but refused to start, and Rob and myself must have bled the fuel system a dozen or more times before she finally fired into life.  However, the generator now came out in sympathy and wouldn't start either!  We stripped down the starter motor and solenoid, decided after tests that the solenoid  was kaput and began the long process of obtaining another one - tomorrow's sailing time was now out of the window as spares were unavailable in Spain and had to be ordered from Germany. 

17/07/08   Frustrating hours on the telephone to Germany.....yes they have the part, no they don't, yes they do, can be sent by overnight delivery.....maybe.....would have to be sent through their agent in Barcelona....perhaps it could be delivered direct?  We would have to wait until tomorrow for any firm answers and the weekend was looming, which could further delay any delivery to the boat, but we were powerless to do much about it.  We considered hiring a car and driving to Germany to collect, we tried to have it express delivered, we tried every possibility, but we would just have to wait. We decided to have a trip into Barcelona, caught the tram to the outskirts of the city and walked to the centre, strolling the (in)famous La Rambla area of town, running the gauntlet of being molested and pawed by the ladies(?) of the area before finding a quiet backsteet eatery for a meal and a few drinks.

18/07/08   Arrived back onboard via taxi at 0430 and had a few hours sleep before more phone calls to Germany.  They have the part, but it hasn't yet been despatched!  OK.....we decided we could manage without the generator for a day or two and would go now, arranging to have the part delivered to Msida Marina in Malta - hopefully it would be there on our arrival.  The rest of the day was spent getting ready for sea and we fuelled up at 1900, then pointed Slip Anchor's nose out of the marina at 2015 and set our course for Malta under full sail in a ESE wind which varied in strength but pushed us along at 6.5 knots.  Never start a voyage on a Friday goes the superstition, but here we were!  We settled into our night watch routine of three hours on and three off, always two on deck and always clipped on and enjoyed our first night at sea.

19/07/08  We passed Menorca unseen about 30 miles off our starboard side around 1400 - seems funny that's where I first saw Slip Anchor and met this madman I was now sailing with!  Our distance covered in the first 24 hours was 165 nautical miles.  We should pass Sardinia tomorrow night.

20/07/08  Sunrise brought flat calm as we motored on a course of 117o, Roger and I worked on some niggly instrument faults, correcting a calibration error on the wind instrument which saved us a trip up the mast.  It was about 1630 when we sighted the coast of Sardinia off the port bow but as before, the light of Isla del Toro didn't show itself until 2300 hours.

21/07/08  On watch at 0500 as we slipped between the Sardinian coast and the Isla del Toro light.   We hoisted the mainsail but were too close to the wind to do anything other than motor sail.  Continued our course of 117o at 7 knots.    At 0900, we sighted a whale 'blowing' not far off our starboard side and altered course to see if we could get close enough for photo's.  We slowly circled this biggie of the sea, we taking photo's whilst it kept it's eye on us until, finally tired of posing, it brought it's tail up and dived vertically into the depths.  That was the highlight of our day.....shame Frank was asleep and missed it!!   We resumed course and speed, still with a Force 4 wind from the ESE.  

22/07/08  Around mid-day, the wind veered to the NW and increased in strength as expected.  We had planned that we would be in front of this blow but the 24 hour delay in Badalona meant that we would now have to endure whatever came along.  Wind speed went up to F8, gusting F9 and we sailed on with reefed main and genoa.  Rob's claim that "you never get wet in this cockpit" proved to be a figment of his imagination - we got soaked!  Six metre seas meant that sleeping when off watch was somewhat difficult in the forward cabin, Roger's pig leg getting the best of the ride, thumping anyone who dared sit close!  The gale continued throughout the day and night as we sailed through the Sicilian Channel toward Malta.

23/07/08   Sighted the island of Gozo around 0030 and sailed along it's coast line in the now diminishing winds toward our destination of Valletta.   We entered Grand Harbour at 0630 and moored on a pontoon hammerhead in Vittoriosa. After clearing formalities, we hopped into a dghajsa (water taxi) and went across the harbour to what used to be the Customs House in my navy days, then climbed the steps and hills into Valletta and jumped on a bus to Msida where, surprise surprise, the generator part was waiting for us!!  Malta has changed greatly since I used to be here in the mid sixties, Grand Harbour was always a mass of warships,  boats of all sizes flitted across the harbour and sailors on shore leave were rowed forwards in the colourful dghajasas by tanned and wizened Maltese gentlemen who stood with crossed oars in front of them.   Nowadays, the dghajasas and larger luzzus are propelled by noisy outboards, and full of camera wielding tourists from the ugly cruise ships tied up in the harbour.  Some of these unsuspecting tourists got more than they bargained for as they passed close by Slip Anchor and madman Rob 'mooned' into their video cameras!  Can't take him anywhere!!  As a slight aside from that, and for the film buffs, some of the scenes from the film Gladiator were filmed here in Malta.  Whenever I had entered Grand Harbour before, I had always been down in the engine room, so it was a great pleasure for me to helm a yacht into such a famous harbour as this.   After dinner, we all got some sleep before fitting the new starter motor and solenoid to the generator.......it still didn't work!  We tested the solenoid and it was fine, so the new problem lies in the supply circuit which energises the solenoid, or the electronic starter control panel.   None of us are electronics engineers, so we decided to fit a secondary circuit with a push button and make the starting a two hand job, pressing two starter buttons together.  That would have to wait until morning and the opening of shops.  Frank went to bed, so the three musketeers went in search of food and drink - and we ended up in the Borca wine bar where the chef agreed to cook for us despite the time (after midnight).  We chose to have ribs, which on the photo looked like a small plate, but proved to be a mountain of meat on a huge wooden platter!  For the first time in ages.....I was beaten and could not eat it all.  Definitely a recommendation for this restaurant!!

24/07/08  Spent the day shopping and modifying the generator start system.  Like all Med countries, Malta likes it's siesta and this sort of interrupted our shopping and delayed our leaving time.  We motored around into Msida and took on fuel from the barge moored there, before putting to sea at 2030 and heading further eastward under motor through the night.

25/07/08  It wasn't until lunchtime that the wind got up enough for us to consider sailing - and then it was only enough to fill the cruising chute - as yet unused on this trip.  We got the chute out from the forepeak and hoisted it aloft, ran up the snuffer and watched as the snap shackle parted and the sail fell into the sea ahead of the boat!  Fortunately, I was on the wheel and stopped the engine immediately, which avoided tangling the sail around the prop.  Who shackled it on?  It was Rob!  Who now needs to go up the mast and retrieve the halyard?  Yep....Rob!!  I love it when a plan comes together!   We hauled him up the 75 feet of mast where he hung, swinging through the arc of the masthead as the boat rolled from side to side, then a huge shout of "Ian" from on high.  I yelled back "what?".   Rob shouts down,......"I can see the sea from up here!"  Roger suggested  leaving him up there, and we thought about that for a while, but as he makes the best bacardi and coke we decided he may be of more use to us on deck, and let him down again.  We re-hoisted the cruising chute and stopped the engine, then sent Rob below to do his job and pay us back for letting him down.  As night fell, we dropped the chute and motored through the night.

26/07/08  Hoisted the cruising chute again in light following winds, maintaining around 6 knots all day and through the night.

27/06/08  Another cruising chute day, making steady progress to the east.  We ran out of sugar and potatoes, which didn't matter too much although Frank refused to drink coffee or tea without sugar, but the bread was going off - and we had no bacardi left!  We sighted the coast of Crete at 1700 and later, because the moon was in it's last quarter, it appeared like the devil's horn above the mountain tops.

28/07/08  We hadn't intended stopping in Crete, but because of the requirement for supplies, we motored into Ay Galini (Erimoupolis) at 0930 and tied up stbd side to in the small port.  A quick trip ashore, empty and clean out one of the fridges, and we were back at sea by 1215, continuing along the southern coast of Crete in very light winds.

29/07/08  Perhaps we should have obtained fuel from somewhere in Ay Galina because whilst Rob and I were on watch in the early hours, we gave serious consideration to  turning around and making for the east tip of Crete - fuel levels were very low and we had no wind.  The decision was made for us at 0130 when the wind began to blow on our port quarter and we hoisted main and genoa.  We soon had to reef as the wind increased to a north-westerly F8 which lasted the rest of the night and through the day.  Dinner was difficult, a heavy roll to starboard tipped Rob's stew into his lap and I received a blow from the pig leg which knocked me off the seat and across the boat....clutching my dinner on the way to avoid losing any!  It was during this weather  that Roger set the voyage speed record of 11.6 knots, only to have Rob and I break it a few hours later by recording 11.8 knots!  The wind began to drop again around mid-night.  (Max wind speed gust recorded was 53knts)

30/07/08  On watch at 0600, very little wind now and 140 miles to go.  Lowered all sail and started the engine, motoring through a relatively calm sea.

31/07/08  Cypriot coastline in sight at 0600 as the sun came up, but disappeared in the haze until we got close in at 0830.   We arrived off Paphos at 0915 and phoned Pannikos, the new owner for details of the berth......which was when the whole thing became a joke!!  He had asked Rob to deliver to Paphos, but now he told him that the berth was in Latchi, some 30 miles away.  Why hadn't he said that before? We could have steered a different course.  Now we had to head north, and the fuel was by this time, very low indeed.  Less than half way there, we concluded that we would not have enough fuel to reach Latchi, and the wind had completely gone - we turned around, reduced the engine revs to minimum and turned off all instruments to conserve power, then headed back to Paphos.  We were amazed that we actually got back there without running out of diesel, and moored hastily in the small harbour at 1500, dropping the anchor on one side and going stern to on the other.  We met Pannikos there, (with his wife, daughter, two sons and his niece), who was all smiles and laid back (and totally clueless about sailing!) and he took us for a beer in a taverna overlooking the harbour.  At this point, the tourist glass bottom boat came into the harbour and was angrily sounding it's horn - we were berthed in his spot!  Pannikos just shrugged his shoulders and told his son to sort it out.  We eventually held the boat off whilst the other skipper moored up, then rafted alongside him, refusing to start the engine until we had some fuel.  Pannikos arranged for 150 litres to be delivered in jerry cans, and we poured that into the all but dry tanks, before going off to immigration and police to clear into Cyprus.  Three and a half hours later.....the paperwork was sort of completed, but Rob still needed to go to another office in the morning, and I had managed to walk into a plate glass window which was placed at the foot of the customs stairway......much to the amusement of Roger who was standing outside!  We had dinner and a beer or two before turning in for the night.


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