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 BAYDay 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...
DAY 6 RUNNING DOWN WIND TO PAROSTodays 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