Wednesday, November 21, 2012

ATHENS - TEL AVIV OFFSHORE TRAINING


The delivery and advanced ocean passage that the school has just finished has been an interesting experience in different sailing philosophies and safety at sea. The 
school in an attempt to broaden its winter income base, has expanded into the yacht restoration business. We maintain a winter maintenance crew that service our 
school yachts and also do a certain amount of freelance work. The current Greek crisis has meant the decline in school business has required we diversify into more broad 
yacht services. Using our highly skilled winter staff to do yacht restoration was a logical step.
Our first client has been an Old school student that bought a used charter yacht and then requested that we renovate it back to its original condition. This included new teak decks, new standing rigging, upgrading of deck gear and replacement of all running rigging. We also installed a fully comprehensive navigation package from Raymarine, that included their new radar/AIS/plotter interfaced computer screen, with all yacht instruments and the auto pilot. A truly one button navigation system. The system is also very addictive, and in my opinion will create some very bad habits, more about this later.
The owner of the yacht required that we deliver the yacht back to Israel once all work was completed. He was going to accompany the delivery crew with his 90 year old father. The crew was to be 6 but was shortened to 5 when a crew decided that the current situation in Tel Aviv made them uncomfortable. Our first leg was to be Athens to the island of Kos, where the yacht would refuel and then continue on to the remote island of Kastellorizo. Here the yacht and crew would check out of the EU and then continue out into international waters.

The trip started with a short shakedown sail to Poros island. It was a good chance to check out the new Raymarine toys and to do a more detailed tuning of the mast 
and new standing rigging. It was a good 5 hour sail in about 15-20 knts of breeze that came pretty much from all directions.

The following day was a hive of last minute adjustments, both to the rig and to the safety equipment. The yacht left late that afternoon heading out for the Cyclades 
island group and the further island of Kos. As the owner of the yacht was on board, he assumed the role of Captain with my self being more of an advisory role. The other crew members already had there  ASA and RYA licenses, so this was more a mile building exercise as well as offshore experience for them. The first night of any offshore sail is always one that has  sailors getting use to watch systems again as well as finding their sea legs. So a little irregular behaviour needs understanding and flexibility. I have always found that a good evening meal on the first night if possible goes along way to ensuring confidence and comfort for the coming nights watch.
When quizzed about watch our captain was fairly non-committal about what he wanted and said that it was better if everyone did what they felt like. He further went on 
to mention that food was not a priority with him and that a little bread and cheese was all he needed.  At first I was very disappointed with his answers, he had been 
one of our first students to come though the school, he already had a huge back ground of sailing but no real paperwork when he joined the school course back in 
2005. Since then he had completed this very same 'run' Greek islands to Israel some 5 times with his and other yachts.. so he was well aware of the changing weather 
patterns and changing sea states that one can encounter...

We finally arranged ourselves into 3 watches, 2 hours on and 4 off with the owner and father doing their own thing.. the yacht was extremely comfortable with a huge 
cockpit and cockpit table in the middle, long side benches that you could lie out on, full dodger and Bimini, and all major control lines lead back to the cockpit 
coaming allowing for easy dry access to trim and control the sails. Unfortunately the cockpit was so well sheltered that keeping a 'good' watch out at night meant alot 
of craning your head and neck around lots of supports and fabric... which is when the huge computer screen mounted by the helm station became a much more 
easier and dryer way of keeping a watch out.


The trip to Kos is about 190 miles as the crow flies, we logged 230nm with a couple of tacks thrown in. As a result it took us over 38 hours. The latter half of the trip  was in heavy rain and limited visibility.  The Raymarine package with its Chartplotter and interfaced AIS+radar was a very nice toy to have, making identifying shipping  and other objects a simple matter. However what it did not see was more troublesome, the local Greek fishing fleet do not carry AIS.... nor do there fishing long line markers or drift nets... making the old skill of looking at the sea and horizon ie:- keeping a watch still the primary skill to learn..
Once in Kos it was a short stop over with the crew taking a break ashore and looking for some breakfast while the owner took charge of refuelling the yacht. Some 
supplies where purchased but as the crew had not eaten a "Galley cooked meal' since the first night and where self-feeding themselves, not much in the way of 
immediate supplies had been consumed. The yacht was soon under way again this leg was to take us along the Turkish coast, north past Rhodes island and then to 
parallel the coast until we arrived at Kastollrozio island.

That evening was a busy time on watch, identifying shipping coming out of Rhodes and other ships heading to Rhodes. The weather again deteriorated to rain and squall fronts rolling off the Turkish coast. The Rhodes channel can at times have a heavy wind driven surface current running east west; this particular night it was  running at least 2-3 knots which made our SOG as little as 3knts at times. This is not a good speed to be trying to avoid shipping traffic, despite the fact we where  motor sailing for most of the time. Again the Raymarine AIS/Plotter package proved its worth, however it was still imperative to keep a physical eyes out over the horizon  watch and not become glued to this very addictive screen like some video game.

The rest of that evening was a mixture of squalls and washing machine like seas that caused the yacht to pound and bounce around the sea slowly on its way to 
Kastellorizio island.  Up to this point the yacht had been steered almost exclusively by auto pilot, with neither the owner nor our crew steering by hand for more than 
30 minutes. I think I had the most time on the wheel with our 12 hours since leaving Athens.
The rest of this delivery continued with little change in the way things operated or the prevailing wind conditions as once the yacht left Kastellorizo for Tel Aviv, we had 
to face a remaining 350 nm of pretty much windless sea and intermittent rain. The extra jerry jugs of fuel we carried on deck proved necessary and the yacht finally 
made it to Tel Aviv.

Looking back at this particular trip, has brought up quite a few significant issues that where faced and perhaps not dealt with as well as could have been, for example the dependence on too  much modern technology. I am not some one who believes that the Old School Way is the only way, but a healthy mixture of both old and new can prove to benefit all concerned.  Before that is reached you have to start with a Captain that has an idea of what he wants and how to implement his desires and discipline on the crew, skilfully.  Having no plan or idea of what is required from the crew can be more damaging than having too much sometimes. The modern acceptance of just opting out or passing the buck I'm afraid does not cut it on a sailing yacht. Clear leadership is what was required, and having 2 captains on a yacht can complicate things. It was not my place to challenge the decisions made at the time.
However, my observations have lead me to believe that even though the advance of electronic navigation instruments is wonderful and extremely helpful, our addictive 
nature as humans makes us rely on them much to heavily, forgetting our old skills as seaman.
I really do not think it is a good thing to come on deck watch and check the computer screen first for traffic before you have scanned the horizon. I prefer to hand steer as much as is required rather than let a yacht be steered by auto pilot 100% of time come wind or sea state. Auto Pilots allow a yacht to pound and bounce into potholes. There will never be a replacement for hand steering or a good helmsman.
There has been alot of studies on watch systems, sleep patterns and nutrition at sea. Unless I am mistaken they have all basically come to the same conclusion,  regular watch/sleep rhythms and regular feeding time, make a happy and efficient crew. Arbitrarily sleeping and eating leads to fatigue and mistakes. My lesson from all this has been to emphasis more the interaction of modern and old ways but never ever to rely solely on modern technology.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

SAIL THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS WITH US THIS JUNE 2013


SCOTLAND AND THE  HIGHLANDS , SINGLE MALT WHISKY , THE LOCHS AND THE WILD-LIFE


COME AND SAIL WITH THE ASA JUNE 29TH – JULY 6TH  2013.

GROUPS, COUPLES AND SINGLES ARE ALL WELCOME TO JOIN THE SCOTTISH CRUISE AS WE SAIL THE LOCHS AND BAYS OF THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS.

The Clyde has lots of choice of areas to visit, most villages and towns offer excellent harbor facilities, with lots to see in each location, from castles, to ancient embattlements and of course the thriving local fishing industry. The local social activities all center around the local Pubs, many of which have local music and each with its own select brew and single malt-whisky.

The sailing in the area is challenging with tides and currents all made to test your sailing skills. Trips are short 20 miles at the most and some much shorter, so you will never be far away from a comfortable ‘pint’ or relaxing bay, or anchorage.  The waters in Scotland offer a chance to see some of the best in wild life, from whales to sea birds, to dolphins, if you are a fisherman bring your pole as you will un-doubtly catch something from your yacht. The Isles of Scotland are an amazing place to sail that will always keep you smiling.

To find out more about the Cruise and how to register to join us,              please E-mail.. information@athenssailingacademy.com ….  or call 00 30 693 716 3246 and ask to speak with Capt.Chandler about the Scottish Highland Cruise .




LOGISTICS AND RENDEVOUS POINT   


THE CENTERAL MEETING POINT ON JUNE 29TH WILL BE PRESTWICK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. (exact location TBA). When booking your flights from the USA to Scotland most international trans-Atlantic flights now land at this airport when flying to Glasgow, otherwise your next option would be Edinburgh. A bus will leave Prestwick Airport on June 29th to take all ASA participant’s to the yachts that will be moored in LARAGS Marina. The trip will be about 1 hour., traffic dependent.

On JULY 6TH THE REVERSE WILL HAPPEN, THE BUS WILL LEAVE LARAGS AND RETURN TO PRESTWICK AIRPORT. TIMINGS WILL ATTEMPT TO CONICIDE WITH ANY RETURN FLIGHTS TO THE USA.  If you plan to arrive early and explore Scotland prior to the sailing cruise please let us know so that we have a complete picture of who will be on the bus. Like-wise if you plan to stay longer again please let us know.

JUNE 29TH YOU WILL BOARD THE YACHTS IN LARAGS….JULY 6TH YOU WILL DISEMBARK.

PRICEING DETAILS AND WHAT IS INCLUDED. 

The cost of the Cruise includes the following, Coach Transportation from Prestwick International Airport to the yachts, and return at the end of the cruise, one full time professional skipper from the company to act as guide and navigation officer,  a skippers meeting each day to explain the days sail and all possible navigation dangers, all onboard systems, yacht check in /out, ASA hosted party and goody bag, flotilla fees/activities, one set of linens & towels per person, dinghy with outboard and all applicable taxes.

A refundable security deposit will be taken as a credit card imprint prior to boarding depending on the type of boat the deposit will vary. Your card will only be a charge if there are damages to the boat due to negligence.

NOT INCLUDED :-

Yacht provisions, meals ashore, dockage/mooring fees, yacht fuel,  yacht water.

 







SKIPPERS – GUIDES

There will be a full time Professional guide with the cruise as per local insurance requirements. He will be the Flotilla leader, and occupy one of the cabins on one of the yachts. Anyone else that wishes to captain a yacht on the cruise will be required to have their IPC/ ICC (international certificate of competence) with them. The lead yacht will have the English professional Skipper, assistant plus ASA representative. Additional skippers are available to the cruise at a cost of $160 a day plus food and on board cabin.

GROUP – COUPLE – OR SINGLE

If you have a group of 4-6 people we can allocate you your own yacht, with or with out skipper. If you are a couple or a single and wish you join the cruise, then you will be sharing a yacht with other couples/singles. We will do our best to match you up with other like minded sailors who wish to share a yacht.






YACHT DETAILS – TRAVEL DETAILS.

Ø  Your 50% deposit will due at the time of booking. Your balance will be due 90 days before your cruise starts.

Ø  Please designate a skipper for your yacht. The skipper must have a valid ICC permit. You  will need to submit his/her sailing résumé to us for approval. In Scottish waters. Insurance companies and the  Government “Dept of Health and Safety “  requires that Bareboat charter captains are either licensed by the RYA or have an ‘ICC/ICP’ permit issued by their National Sailing organization.

Ø  English professional skippers are available for hire if you wish to sail without the responsibility of the boat and crew. Skipper rates are $160 dollars a day plus food and on board cabin.

Ø  The yachts fuel tank will be full at the start of your charter. After returning to the dock you will top off your fuel.

Ø  We strongly recommend that you purchase insurance for trip cancellation,
accident, sickness, and/or loss of baggage and personal effects. The yacht is insured by the owner during the charter

 Cancellations:

We recommend trip cancellation insurance. Cancellations received 180 days or more are subject to an administrative fee of $100 per person. Cancellations received between 180 days and 60 days are not refundable unless the identical space on the yacht can re-booked and are subject to the $200 per-person fee. Cancellations inside of 60 days are non-refundable.

 Provisioning:

 There is a full supermarket in the marina.

Travel:

Trans-Atlantic flights generally arrive at Preswick international airport, however they may also arrive in Glasgow airport dependent as to where you fly from in the USA.

You will need a valid passport. The Group Coach will leave Prestwick International Airport exact location (TBA). The coach will leave 10am on Saturday June 29th , after a short 1 hour trip. You will board the yacht on Saturday June 29th, so it may be necessary to arrive the day before and stay in a local hotel. Depending on your return flight it may also be necessary to stay again a hotel or B&B (bed and breakfast).

The daily routine would start with breakfast on board, followed by an in depth skippers meeting outlining the days sail to the next destination. On some days you may stop along the way for lunch and maybe a visit to a local point of interest.

Dinner is ashore at your port of call, typically it could a pub dinner or an excellent fish dinner.  The evenings can be spent in local pubs, sampling the local whiskeys or ales or relaxing with an after dinner drink on the boat or take a walk along the water front or through the town. There will be opportunities for group dinners..

The local skipper can suggest great options for dinner for two or groups. There will be a welcome party on the first night of our sail compliments of ASA.






SAMPLING SAILING ITINERARY

Day 1: Arrival in Largs and yacht allocation, orientation, skippers meetings, provisioning. The rest of the day you will be free to explore the village and near by area.

Day 2: Depart Largs through the two Cumbraes heading North to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute.  Approximately four hours.  Rothesay is a fishing harbour which has been converted into a small marina with pontoons/showers and toilets.  The toilets are famous from the Victorian period and are a must to be seen.

HERE IS A QUICK REVIEW FROM OUR LAST YEARS PRIVATE CRUISE ;"We found a secluded bay just around the Kyles of Bute where we stayed for almost a whole day soaking up rays, and the boy could safely play around in the dinghy. we later found a Russian Tavern on the Isle of Bute where the adults were able to let loose a bit."   Russian Tavern

Day 3: Depart Rothesay through the Kyles of Bute to Tarbert on Loch Fyne.  Approximately three hours.  Anchor for a lunch at Colitraive or Tighnabuich can be recommended.  Good hotels if you want to go ashore at both locations. Visitors buoys available.

Tarbert is also a fishing port.  Half has been turned into a marina with pontoons, the other half still used as a working fishing harbour for seafood.  Superb selection of restaurants and hotels with a wide selection of locally obtained food.  The home of the ‘Scottish Series’, Scotland’s  equivalent of Cowes Week.  Excellent  facilities throughout.
Day 4: Depart Tarbert to Loch Ranza on the North side of Arran.  Visitor buoys available only.  Take time to visit the Arran Distillary and taste this newest of all Scottish Whisky’s.  Alternatively sail round to Lamlash wish nestles behind Holy Isle.  Holy Isle is now owned by Buddhist monks and you are welcome ashore.  No alcohol or cigarettes are allowed.  Take time to climb Goat Fell and enjoy the panoramic views from the top. Sailing time approximately 2 hours

Day 5: :  Depart Arran for Campbeltown.  Campbeltown is the stop over for those sailors wishing to go round the Mull of Kintyre.  A harbour now converted to a marina with pontoons and washing facilities, also where the busy Mull Lifeboat operates from. Springbank Distillery is one of the last surviving producers of Campbeltown Single Malts. The distillery, located on the southern Kintyre peninsula, produces three distinct types of single malt Scotch whisky. Sailing time approximately four hours.

Day 6 : Depart Campbeltown for return trip to Largs.  Sailing time approximately six hours. 

ON RETRUNING TO Largs marina the yachts need to be cleaned and refueled, security deposits need to be covered and the professional guide that accompanied the cruise needs to tipped. The bus/coach will be waiting to return the group back to Glasgow.


FOR FURTHER DETAILS PLEASE CONTACT INFORMATION@ATHENSSAILINGACADEMY.COM 
OR CALL CAPT. CHANDLER AT 0030-693-716-3246

CHARTER A YACHT WITH ATHENS YACHT CHARTER GREECE
WWW.SAILCHARTER-GREECE.COM

Thursday, August 2, 2012

AUGUST BAREBOAT SKIPPERS COURSE WITH THE U.S.NAVY

DAY 1 .   ATHENS TO POROS ISLAND


The start of august has brought a ray of sun shine into our school. For the third time this year we are running a bare-boat skippers course with US navy personnel as the students. In the previous 2 courses we have had Navy Seals, Navy medical personnel, and the US naval attache to the US embassy here in Athens. This course brings us a full 4 stripe Captain from Naples Italy with his son. The captain is a submariner, from the ranks of the 688's (Los Angeles Class) and the Nuclear boomers...so we are extremely proud that he chose our school for their training ...

Today was our routine kick off with everyone meeting on the dock in athens, for the usual introduction and orientation of the yacht. Once everyone was settled we slipped lines at 1200 and head out to the open water.
Forecast was for a strong NNE which would have been great for a first day, the best the weather could offer was a merger 17knts true for about 5 minutes before direction and velocity started playing there usual games of being all over the place..
By 1500 we had reached a bit further south of Agia Marina on Aegina before we turned on the engine and went motoring for the North Poros entrance...Once you turn the corner at the north entrance and come into the bay , the town of  Poros opens up before you, its still one of my favorite picture post card first views of a Greek island town....A quick motor by  our Whitbread 60, now swinging on her mooring waiting to go into dry dock for major spare part surgury on her shaft and welding on her boom, and then on to parking the yacht outside Vangelis taverna. As we come long side the low pier Vangelis is thier to meet us and collect lines. Once all lines are secure, Vangelis re-appears with cold beers and the latest news of the island. Its nice to be back with our friends and home on our island.

Tomorrow will bring a fresh day and time for our students to jump on our small yacht and show us how good there sailing techinque is and start there practice on the water with drills, Tacking Gybing, reaching and even get into a few MOB exercises. All good fun when you are sailing in Poros bay...
More to morrow with pictures and video....

 

DAY 2 SAILING PRACTICE IN POROS BAY

videoDay two of this adventure started with a little morning yacht maintenance. The teaching yacht is a 57 ft ketch, that means she has 2 masts. On the aft mast or what is called the mizzen we like to hoist stay-sails and mizzen genoas. One of our stay-sails needed to be put on a roller furling system. The students where tasked to do this more as an initiative test than anything else. In the process unfortunately a pair of the instructors favourite pliers went swimming. Amazingly we had a free diver amongst the students so off he went to retrieve them....

The rest of the day was spent sailing in Poros bay, practicing sailing manourves, looking to sail trim, doing MOB runs and then the instructor giving each student a unique task to do, finishing with bring the yacht to its mooring buoy under sail. The day finished at 5pm, when we came back alongside K3 our teaching yacht and hotel for this part of the Cruise.

The evening lay ahead, with the promise of excellent Greek food for dinner and lots of sight seeing to do and still explore on the island.

Day 3 Motor Handling in crowded Harbours.

Fact of life is that sailing is a reality easy sport, and the basics can be learnt well within a week of training. Once out in the open water away from other yachts you are unlikely to hit any one or hopefully any thing. Of course all this is dependent on how well you know the area you sail in and how well you have read your charts.


The problem with most skippers is their ability to handle a yacht under power in a crowded harbour. Then ask the skipper to perform a series of tasks such as coming along side or berthing the yacht with out doing any damage, and the less experienced skipper will have a certain amount of anxiety about it all. 

Today is going to be about practicing those skills over and over, until the drivers have an understanding of what to expect and how to make a safe and professional landing. Looking good while completing a perfect landing is as important as doing it safely.

After to day we will be free from Poros, it has been a wonderful stay, but tomorrow we will be off to the Cyclades and some real wind, real sailing, and new adventures... see you tomorrow :-)..

.GREEK STYLE MANEUVERING IN HARBOR...


DAY 4 TRANSIT TO THE CYCLADES.



Early morning rise, 0530, god it was like I was back in the navy again !! However it was for a purpose, beat the heat and get to Kithonos for lunch time Ahead of the charter yachts and hopefully the weekend Athenians. Coffee, nicotine, and a quick 
cold shower had by body awake and sort of functioning.. food was next on the agenda but first we had to extricate ourselves from the yachts around us. A fairly simple bow spring and kick the transom out before backing out got us under way...0600 and we where exiting the South Poros channel, 0630 and the main sail was hoisted, and then by 0700 we had food and a second cup of coffee, all at about the time the sun came over the horizon to mark another new day.. and what a sunrise it was..


The goal to day was to finish in Loutra for around 1300, the forecast was for calm lots of calm so we faced a motor over. 55 miles of drone..on went the auto pilot and every one relaxed into there routines some went back to thier bunks others stayed up and watched for shipping, I watched for wind. I wanted to pass the island of  St.George to the north in hope of getting some offshore sea breeze from the main land. By the time we got there is was mid morning and sure enough we hooked in to a 10 knt NNE, rolled out the Genoa cut back on the engine and quietly motor sailed at  8 knts. Soon we had the south tip of Kea island in sight and the Kea Channel. By noon the breeze we had picked up was stating to die off and once in the Kea channel we where back to full engine and no Genoa...things continued that way for the rest of the trip until we finally tied along side in Loutra harbor on the outside finger pier. After cleaning up the lines and stowing every thing we all went for lunch and a cold draft beer , 'Yannis" at SOFRANO'S was happy to see us. The first cold draft tasted like mothers milk and went down quite quickly, as they say the first is for your self the second is for the sea....Really happy to be in LOUTRA, KITHONOS ISLAND. 

tomorrow... WIND LOTS OF BEAUTIFUL WIND, 15-20 AND A 25NM BEAM REACH TO SYROS  ISLAND, TIME TO SEE WHAT THIS OLD LADY CAN DO !! SEE YOU LATER... I SEE 'SOFRANOS'  FAMOUS 'OCTOPUS IN HONEY SAUCE' IN MY FUTURE FOR DINNER...HMMM


DAY 5 POWER REACHING TO SYROS ISLAND


Departure time is 1030, wind starting to pick up out of the North, should be a healthy breeze for a quick reach over to Syros island.
So out the starting gate we go slip lines and off to some clear water to hoist themain. Once she is up a short Motor to get around a small reef, and we are clear forthe open Aegean.
Wind speed starts to increase slowly, 13,15, 17 and there it is a nice 15-17 northly, out comes the No#2 genoa and K3 is off to the races, boat speed jumps into the high 8's , we drop the main traveller to its leeward end ease a little main sheet and take up some vang, and she settles into the low 9 knts...The students take turns on trimming the Genoa and watch as there trimming helps speed and the helmsman weather helm..

Life is good, beautiful sunny day, perfect wind, great yacht, blue sea and some outstanding students....Syros here we come...

1330, enter the main harbor of Syros, 3 hours to cover 24.5 NM, not bad going, Main down and looking for a spot to med moor, by 1400 we are all secure engine off. Time to explore and discover the delights of Syros Island...


video


DAY 6          RUNNING DOWN WIND TO PAROS

Todays start was a slow waking to calm winds in Syros harbour..The students had  disappeared for an early morning swim, the kettle was put on the boil, and coffee was soon forth coming.
The mornings routine began, check the weather on the internet, check our next  destination work out course, distance, review the harbour plan. It was originally planned to go to Naxos about 32 miles further south. However after reviewing the 
over route, it meant that the crew would have to long passages back to back... a 65 mile trip from Naxos to the port of Kamares followed by a long 70 nm transit across the south Aegean to Ermoni town.
It was decided to change destination and sail to Paros island closer and made the next to trips more manageable.

We slipped lines and set of for todays sail to Paros, a realtive downwind leg with wind off the port at 120 -140 degrees. Wind speed a steady 18 knts with gusts to 24 knts. A new experience for the students steering in moderate winds with rolling seas on the quarter.Almost every one had some problems anticipating rolls with the gusts and the tendancy for K3 to want to pick her skirts up and surf off on the occasional wave... all in all every one had fun and we made the 24 nm in 4 hours flat.

Entering the harbour there was only one place left to park. A relative small slot, but with patience we got in stern too, only to discover that we had lost all transmission control... better now then out at sea... Lex went to inspect and came back smiling say no problem the nut holding the transmission wire on the to the selector arm had broken and the wire was now free in the air...phew... oh well a little maintenance later in the day, a good way for the students to learn about how to fix things at sea... you just can not get this in the classroom, valuable experince..

The crew has taken to Paros quickly, exploring the old city and hitting the beaches....tomorrow sail to Serifos before we head back to the Saronic islands and Athens..
See you tomorrow


DAY 7 TRANSIT TO SERIFOS ISLAND

Today we have to head off to Serifos Island, before we transit back to the Saronic Gulf. First things first we have to extracate ourselves from the hole we but our self into orginally. The cross wind and the tight conditions of the marina make this morning manouvre somewhat complicated.

We made ready for sea and slowly left the marina slot without any problems out inot the bay of Paros hoisted the main and set up for 30 miles of some pretty rough seas and not quite close hauled.
The trip its self was not that bad, sea state was moderate with 2-3 meter seas running and winds gusting to 25 with a constant 18-20 breeze. We approached Serifos from the south and the closer we got the usual winds increased as it comes racing off the island down from the mountains, funneling though the entrance to the main bay in Livadhai.
As a result the wind in the entrance can register up to 35 knots +. We droped the main sail and rolled up the Genoa and started to Motor into the bay, what was there to greet us was a full harbor and no where to get to the dock, so we anchored out and talked about our options. Staying the night and transiting over to the Saronic during the day, or staying a short while letting the students ashore by dropping them at the dock and picking them up later, having dinner on board and then doing a night sail across to the Saronic. The Crew opted for the second option, so it was down to the galley to get dinner ready before we continued sailing.

DAY/NIGHT 8 NIGHT SAIL TO POROS


Sunday, April 1, 2012

HYDRA RACE 2012 with "Spirit of Poros "






The Hydra race is the opening yacht race for the 2012 Greek Offshore racing series. This year the fleet consisted of 60 yachts in 3 classes. It also had a Whitbread 60 competing in the ORC International Class, it was our opening race for "Spirit of Poros ".
12 crew which included 6 ASA students and 2 instructors meet in the port of Mikrolimano on Friday morning. The plan was to spend the day sail training and to be ready for the start of the race at 1600hrs the same day.
After a yacht briefing from JC, and talking though crew positions and responsibilities, "Spirit of Poros " slipped lines and headed out to clear water to hoist the mainsail. This huge sail has a luff hoist of 25m and is fully battened. Despite being on a roller ball bearing system it takes 3 crew to sweat it up and the aid of an electric winch to get the last 2-3 meters finished.
With the main sail up, it was time for the small genoa or No#3 Jib. A smaller easier sail to hoist and not as heavy. Its a self tacking sail which is nice when going up wind and you are engaged in a tacking duel with a competitor.
Both sails up and drawing we set off on a reach and immediately hit 12-13 knots in 12 knots of true wind speed. The first set of practice drills would be for the runner crews and the jib trimmer. The yacht has no permanent back stay, and the rig is held up by a series of runners and check stays that brace and bend the mast on each tack. So it is important to time the easing and take of each runner as the yacht tacks.
Meanwhile the jib trimmer is easing the genoa to power up the yacht out of the tacks and slowly trim in the genoa as the yachts picks up momentum..
So what is the rest of the crew doing while these simple tasks are being completed ? Hopefully getting their behinds out on the rail to help keep the yacht level. As the afternoon passed we practiced tacking and gybing the yacht, mean time the below deck crew where busy packing and tieing up the spinnakers  we planned on having ready.

When your sails are this big , it's nice to give the crew a little help when hoisting, in particular the enormous spinnakers that can fill by mistake on the way up which makes their job miserable.
So while packing the spinnakers the crew will tie up the sail in to a sausage star shape using wool thread that will break when it reaches the top of the mast and the wind catches the sail... well that's the theory , it does work providing that you have enough wind and that you do not put the woollies to close to each other....

Race time arrived and we watched as the fleet came out of their respective marinas. Spirit was hove too and the crew where taking a break, eating and talking, it seemed we where quite the attraction, as most yachts took time to sail by us and 'check us out'...

It was time to get the show on the road, half an hour to the 10 minute gun, hoisted the No3, and started our pre-start manouerves. The committee boat was a small sailing yacht about 36 ft long crowded with people, some spectators and some trying to act as committee personnel...
The course had been set  with a short windward leg before letting the fleet hoist spinnakers and head for Hydra Island.... The 10 minute warning was given, no gun, no horn... just a woman screaming on VHF channel 72 count down to the 10 minute warning... hmm..seems the Greek crisis has even hit the yacht racing fleet when they are unable to afford an audible signal, the 5 minute warning followed in the same light....it was not until the 1 minute pre-warning that things on the start line became a little more than crazy... With 30 seconds to go the cruising class yachts still had no cleared the start line area and where now mixed in with the starting 1st class who where looking for position on an ever shrinking line. Meantime the greek race committee was scream her count down to the start and all of a sudden we where racing.. some how we had ended up in the middle of the line with good speed but definatley a strong possibility of being over early.... Murphy's rule no43 you continue racing until you are called back by the committee or they announce a general recall...which they did... well sort of... the race committee announced a general recall with a 3 minute warning to the one minute warning... basically that meant that the lead yachts in the first start did not have time to return to the line and restart with the rest of the fleet....well in racing you deal with what you are dealt, and this is never more true than when racing in Greece. We re-started at the back of the fleet along with Optimum and Astapadia, it was not long before we had tacked our way though the fleet ducked a few starboard tackers and rounded the top mark.

Now is the time to make hay, up went the A2 and Spirit of Poros shifted into over drive. The whitbread 60 loves to run before the wind and is designed just for that, plus waterline length never hurt either. We hugged the coast and enjoyed a solid 15 knts from the NE, boat speed was playing in the high teens, fast enough that we quickly started to roll over the whole fleet to leeward. By the time we had cleared the Old airport nearly all the fleet was behind us, 3 yachts remained in front and we where quickly catching them. Unfortunately we had to start to move off shore away from the land mass and into ever decreasing wind pressure. The sun was starting to go down, and with it the wind... with 3 yachts to catch and now the race fleet at our heels we found our selves in a situation where the wind was decreasing the further off shore we went and our lead was slowly being whittled down...

It was about 2230 when we retired from the race, with the sea state oily and no wind it did not make sense to sit in the middle of a traffic zone any longer. On went the iron genoa and off to Hydra we motored. We arrived in Hydra at 0200 about half an hour before the first finishing yacht, a light weight Farr45, that ghosted over the finish line in 3 knots of true wind....

So what is the moral of our little story,.. wind and more wind will win races for Spirit of Poros, ghosting along in zephyrs and oily seas are not for this yacht, she needs the Meltemi and racing in the Cyclades and Dodecanese islands.
So come and join us this summer as we blast around the islands in real wind on a really fast racing yacht..








Friday, February 10, 2012

GREECE'S REALITY WHEN IT COMES TO TOURISM THIS SUMMER

Travel dilemmas: Greece's reality 
 By CATHARINE HAMM
 Los Angeles Times Published:
Monday, Feb. 6, 2012 - 5:12 am
Q: What is the anticipated effect of the financial problems in Greece on tourists this summer?
 -M. Lowry, Los Angeles

A: That's not an easy question to answer, because negotiations over Greece's financial fate continued last week, and the outcome will determine how uncomfortable - or not - life there will be. What has happened to Greece is a bit like what happens to many of us: It borrowed too much money. But here's the infuriating part: When a new government took power in late 2009, it was discovered that there had been some creative accounting, which made the financial situation look much better than it actually was. Whether you're doing this with a country or with your spouse, it's a bad idea. Although a little spousal deception generally won't destroy your union, when a country like Greece does it, it does jeopardize a different kind of union - the European Union, of which there are 27 members and of which Greece has been a part since 1981.

 Greece has played a big role in destabilizing the union. It has tried to cut its debt by imposing austerity measures, which have led to public outrage, violent rioting and even deaths. The situation there is unhappy. But Greece needs tourist dollars now more than ever to find its way out from under lest it default on its loans.

Tourism is one of its leading industries, and that means you are apt to find bargains. "Greece is a perfect example of how, until they can show the world complete stability and control, it's going to have to generate some substantial value as a way to reel in ... vacation dollars," said Gabe Saglie, senior editor with TravelZoo, a deals site. TravelZoo recently offered an eight-night vacation package in Greece with air from New York for $1,499 a person, he said. It included two nights in Athens, three in Mykonos and three nights in Santorini, plus ferry service and breakfast. (The deal was posted Jan. 25 and may no longer be available.)

 "Is this a package that we'd see if the current situation was much different and much better? Probably not," he said. Will you get caught up in the insanity of a riot or a strike? It's possible, said Nicholas Hadgis, dean of the School of Hospitality Management at Widener University in Chester, Pa.
 "Be prepared to be patient when there are random strikes," he said. "Greece for years - even before the crisis - had random strikes." Being away from Athens also may be a good idea if you're looking to bask in the sun without the overlay of tension. Greece will need to outsmart its competition, Hadgis said, especially to attract Europeans "who just want to get away from the snow and the cold."

Greece has more than 2,000 islands and gorgeous beaches, but it also has competition from the rest of the Mediterranean - Spain also is in a terrible financial situation - for the euros of those who want to shake off the chill, so it might have further incentive to discount. Those nice, warm beaches need your cold, hard cash. So read the news, and keep your eyes peeled for bargains. In 2012, Greece very well could be the word.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

TOURISTS COMING TO GREECE PLEASE READ THIS

After what seems like forever, our home country is finally out of the international headlines. What started as an interesting exposure to the international community quickly develped into massive negative press and the possibilty of Greece becoming a major contributor to a whole another world economic crisis.... Weeks, months later we are still here, some how.... the people of greece have been bloodied, bruised and most of all finacially raped by thier government and the powers of the EU...but some how like war veteranans we are still here standing, dazed and wondering whats coming next....hopefully nothing much more becasue as a people we have nothing left to contribute... I do not have to give endless examples a quick drive around the local nieghbourhood tells it all, for rent signs everywhere, businesses shuttered up and an ever increasing population of illegal refugees from the rest of the world standing on street corners with nothing to do... A pretty damn grim picture of ATHENS and its suburbs I just painted, I live here and its all true, Athens SUCKS, however the Greek islands and summer are coming a time to escape this 'Dune' of a city and go back to the real greece where every day is another in a row of glourious sunshine and sea. The islands will suffer badly this winter, no tourism and little to do for work. So when summer comes the islands need to be ready to welcome all those thousands of returning foreign toruists..... well here is where things will get sticky.... may be you will decide that a holiday in the greek islands sounds like fun and will definately be cheaper than a lot of other places ... then perhpas you will be of the mind that coming here will be a problem... riots, strikes, unhappy people, expensive... I honestly wish that I could gurantee that none of that will happen.... ITS GREECE... any thing can happen, we are proving that now.... What we need to do is have out tourist freinds return to the islands again to see for them sleves how they can help by taking a holiday and letting us show you how much better we can make it then it was in the past.

Friday, January 27, 2012

SILVER SPIRIT BECOMES 'SPIRIT OF POROS'....

Latest News:
After talks with the mayor of Poros, we will be renaming our Whitbread 60 , “Spirit of Poros Island”. The idea is to advertise the island and show it as an Ideal place for yachts to visit and stay. To start the ball rolling we will be entering the Yachting spring Series. Starting with the Hydra race in March, the Poros Race in April finishing with the Kythonos race at the end of April.

We are looking for Crew, we need 15 new crew members. These are volunteer places you pay your own expenses. The yacht will supply basic services during the race weekends only.  Starts and finishes will be in Athens, off Palio Faliron, Marina Flisvos.

Monday, January 23, 2012

TEAM NEW ZEALANDS ''RULES OF THE ROAD"'

Team New Zealand's Rules Of The Road

Racing, Miscellany, Team New Zealand

An excellent set of guidelines for conducting yourself  like a professional sailor.

Rule number 1

No phones at dinner. As soon as a phone comes out the offender is fined. Fines are immediate and can be paid at the bar. Sounds old school but it really bugs me to have a get together and someone is Skyping their sister, surfing the net, or on Facebook. It’s not right!

Special permission can be granted to have a phone on the table. I think we gave permission once in France.  At the time some questioned the wisdom of allowing any exception to the “rules are rules” policy, but Burg’s wife was in labour back in New Zealand.

Rule number 2

Change the shirt or change your beer.  It never fails to amaze me how many people just don’t get it. An example from the past: How can a team member wearing the Emirates Team New Zealand shirt, proudly displaying our sponsors, including Estrella Damm, order a competing beer?  In the bottle no less!  Imagine if a director of  Estrella Damm was socialising with his/her team and seen drinking a competitors’ product. Not a good look for anyone.

Rule number 3

While we are at it, clear away the empties. As the team has matured over the years I don’t have to use this line much. Picture this: You see yachties sitting, having a good time, perhaps a bit loud, at a table littered with empty beer bottles. Now picture the same scene but the only bottles in sight are those in use. A very different perception of the same situation. Better yet, no bottles and the beer is in a glass. All Black management discovered long ago that people tended to drink less if they drink from a glass.

Rule number 4

No job is too trivial.  Wash the sails, clean the container, take out the rubbish or get lunches; doesn’t matter if you the youngest or oldest, skipper or a rookie boat builder. No matter where you are in the pecking order, you do whatever needs to done. Just get on with it, no complaining. And no festering.  Festering is where you are hanging out just…….festering.  Not getting anything done. Everyone get the jobs done and leaves.

Rule number 5

Win, by all means but make it fun. Little things like dinner together, having a beer together after sailing regardless of the day’s results or just being happy. It’s contagious, if you’re upbeat and looking forward the others will fall in line. If you’re walking depression you will drag your comrades down with you.

Life is too short not to enjoy it.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

SPRING DATES AND NEWS UPDATE



     ATHENS SAILING ACADEMY

 JANUARY 19TH 2012       WWW.ATHENSSAILINGACADEMY.COM   



Hello and Happy New year to all our students and colleagues

The summer is now long gone and winter is starting to settle in. It’s time to think about warm sunny days and sailing in the blue waters of the Aegean . This coming summer the school has lots going on,

                        i.         New programs and a new yacht for novices to learn their basic sailing skills.
                       ii.         There are 2 opportunities for crews to join races in the Aegean and a Whitbread 60 that will allow students to experience sailing at high speeds 20 knts +..
                     iii.         Plus we have all the usual programs of mile builders and advanced sailing for offshore experience. 

Details are all below


  •     Racing in the Aegean Rally in July and then a trip North to Lesvos to Explore the Northern Islands followed by a fun race back to the Cyclades in the Aegean Regatta. Students who want to join the crew and learn about racing as well as see the Northern Greek islands can take advantage of our all-inclusive packages for the 2 racing yachts.

  •    Last Easters mile building cruise was a huge success a short video is available here  :-.. http://youtu.be/CCMFreqkqyc  .. The plan is to do it again, the yacht ‘K3’  will leave the dock APRIL 15TH    Cost/10 Days (€1500/person) for a first sail into the Aegean,2012. The Route will be chosen by crew. 4 berths left call send email to reserve your place. SEND ME INFORMATION 

  •     Our 10 Day BBS, Novice to Bare boat course has been updated and adjusted, the 10 day course  now include 3 days of small boat handling, how small do you ask ?..We have a new Farr 25 Keel Dinghy, as well as access to 29 ft small day cruisers.






SPRING  2012 CLASS SCHEDULE

APRIL 15 - 25 CAPTAINS OPEN CRUISE AND EASTER MILE BUILDER  10 DAYS NORMALLY € 1800 A PERSON, BUT WITH THIS  EMAIL DISCOUNTED TO  €1500/PERSON

MAY 5- 14   NOVICE TO BAREBOAT SKIPPER 10 DAYS  €1700/PERSON

MAY 18- 27   NOVICE TO BAREBOAT SKIPPER 10 DAYS €1700/PERSON

JUNE 2- 11   NOVICE TO BAREBOAT SKIPPER 10 DAYS €1700/PERSON

JUNE 16-25   NOVICE TO BAREBOAT SKIPPER 10 DAYS €1700/PERSON

JULY 1- 8 . .  YACHT CREW TRAINING WEEK     7 DAYS   €1200/PERSON
  



SO THAT YOU DO NOT FORGET WHAT’S INCLUDED IN OUR
SAILING SCHOOL COURSES AND OUR CRUISES :-
  • The yacht with all her sailing and safety equipment, also included :- 220volt Generator, Zodiac + Out board, Snorkel and fishing gear.
  • Full time Captain / instructor. 3 Days sailing and personnel instruction on a Beneteau25ft sport yacht.
  • All course materials, books, log books, examination fees and ASA registration for a year.
  • All Linens, Towels, Blankets etc... (Beach Towels not included)
  • Full Breakfast , Full Lunch on board, plus Snacks during the day, Bottled water, Soft drinks, Juices etc
  • All Fuel costs during your cruise, all fresh water and ice as needed for the cruise
  • Harbour Fees, Marina Fees, Local taxes, Yacht Insurance, plus charter contract taxes
  • Cleaning Fee at the end of your charter















































This summer we have arranged to have 2 competitive race yachts available for students to crew on and learn how to ocean race on either of the 2 seasons Aegean race weeks. We have 2 yachts that will challenge you as crew. A Whitbread 60 that will get you to the finish in record time, as well as our school racing ketch. Each event is fully covered and paid for, that means all you have to bring is your tooth brush and foul weather gear. Varied crew positions are available from mainsail trimmers to bow men to hoist and work the fore deck. Training/instruction will be available prior to the racing.
Follow the link below to see details and costs for these events           Read More>>
    



EASTER SPRING MILE BUILDING CRUISE

Last years cruise was a huge success with over 400 miles sailed and 2 students advanced by taking and passing their 106 exam. The yacht sailed from Athens over to the Dodecanese and visited  Leros and Patmos before returning to Athens via Naxos and Kithonos.  The weather was everything, from glorious sunny warm days to full gale conditions and blue skies.             

This year we will be leaving a little later in April to try and avoid some of the early spring rough weather.  K3 will leave the dock form Athens April 15th and return April 25th . The itinerary will be open to the crew, and weather of course. There are 6 berths available and if you book with this letter it we will honour a 25% discount off the regular rate of €1800, that’s    €450 saving…




Our 10 day Novice to bareboat course has been a success now for many . It is a convenient way for clients to get certified so that they can charter a yacht in some of the glourious locations around the world. For the last few years we have used a combination of on hands sailing on a 57 ft yacht and class room style teaching (book learning) to teach our students. One of our concerns has been the lack of small boat sailing that we would have liked to introduce the students too. Learning to sail on a big comfortable sailing platform like a 57 ft yacht is fine . What was lacking was that seat of the pants sailing that all dinghy sailors go though and teaches students more gently about  what can go wrong during a sailing manoeuvre as well as build confidence  with the student in their sail handling ability.
In order to make sailing for our novice students easier we have purchased a 25 ft Farr designed school teaching yacht. This yacht was designed specifically to help teach young sailors the basic’s of sailing before moving on to bigger yachts .       The little yacht will be based on Poros Island. After leaving Athens on the main teaching yacht you will moor in the Poros bay and the new yacht will moor alongside and be available for 3 days of intense sailing practice in and around the island of Poros.

As well as the Farr 25 sailing dinghy we will also have a smaller 28ft cabin cruiser available to be used for practice.
This little cabin cruiser is designed to help the student gain confidence in manoeuvring under power, as well as help him practice sailing in confined areas, like river estuaries, and crowded marinas. The small cruiser is also a good yacht to practice Med style mooring to the quay.
Read More>>



All the best

Jonathan







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