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Barry's Blog #89 - No room at the inn

It was time to move on, but before we could leave the Greek island of Samos we needed to get A B Sea tied up at Pythagorion inner harbour quay for one night. The first thing she needed was a good wash as she had gathered a lot of dust during the month she was sitting at anchor. We also needed to refill our 600 litre capacity fresh water tanks.

Departing Samos quay after filling up fresh water tanks.

We had hoped to get in there on Friday the 7th of June but when I went to chat with the harbour master he explained that a regatta of 12 yachts were booked in and there was no space available. The regatta fleet were leaving on Sunday, we could come in then.

When we did go in we were lucky enough to get a spot right next to Edward who is a long time follower of our journey. He helped us with our stern lines and handed us a lazy line so we didn't need to deploy our anchor. Cheers Edward, your help is appreciated.

Washing the boat took a good few hours and because we had access to unlimited water we did a super clean inside too and both of us enjoyed a hot shower before we did a final fill of our fresh water tanks.

That evening as the harbour restaurants and bars came to life, we sat in the cockpit, enjoyed some Samos wine and watched the world go by. This was one of those moments that was quite surreal. Casting our minds back 36 years to 1983 when Aannsha and I travelled to the South of France to work, we remembered walking along the quayside at St Tropez harbour one evening and looking at the people sitting in the cockpits of various sized sailing yachts and power cruisers and at that time we both wondered out loud, what would it be like to be living on a yacht, sitting in the cockpit and sipping on cocktails. I think the Universe smiled.

No room at the inn

The following day we topped off our petrol and diesel at the marina fuel dock near Pythagorion and by 10.30 am on Monday morning we were pointing the nose of A B Sea west towards the island of Fourni.

We had 19 knots of wind from the north and with just the head sail unfurled we were sailing along at an average of 5 knots, at one point we got her up to 8 knots. Of course we knew this blessing from the wind gods couldn't last and as we passed the western side of Samos the wind dropped completely.

We motored the rest of the way and arrived at our plan A anchorage at the southern end of Fourni at 3.00 pm. Fourni is well known for experiencing strong winds and the day we arrived was no exception. It was blowing from the north at 25 to 30 knots. We had 2 attempts at anchoring in anchorage A, but our trusty Mantus could not find purchase and with the strong wind pushing us around each time we brought the anchor up I was concerned that we might end up bumping into one of the other 2 vessels that were already anchored in the small bay.

We moved on to plan B anchorage. This one also proved fruitless as there was simply no space for us to get in and anchor safely.

Plan C anchorage was further north and we had to push hard motoring against the strong northerly wind which was now at a steady 25 knots. Plan C anchorage had one mooring ball and it was already occupied. The only other option here would be to drop our anchor and go stern to taking a line ashore onto one of several concrete posts that a local restaurant owner had installed along the northern wall of the bay. But with 25 knots of wind blowing we were not confident that Aannsha could get the line ashore quickly enough, after dropping the anchor, before the wind blew us out of alignment.

A quick look at the chart plotter showed a big bay with 8 metres (26 feet) of water depth out on the western Island. We slogged over there and took one look at it to realise why it isn't marked as an anchorage. It was a very rocky bay.

Turning the nose of A B Sea south we took advantage of the strong north wind and sailed back to the south of Fourni island, there was one last bay there that offered us an opportunity. Unfortunately when we got there and tried to anchor it was the same story as planned anchorage A. It was now 5.50 pm and we were running out of options and daylight.

Expanding the distance on our chart plotter we could see that the next nearest island was Patmos, 15 nautical miles away to the south. With the north wind blowing we could be there in 2 hours. Decision made we unfurled the head sail and pointed A B Sea south.

Within 20 minutes the wind gods decided to throw a spanner into the works. The wind had been blowing at 30 knots for most of the day, now it dropped away to 8 knots, simply not enough for A B Sea to actually sail.

With the engine on and our Gori folding prop in overdrive we made good speed at 7 knots and arrived at a suitable cove in the north east of Patmos just before sunset. We dropped our anchor into the muddy bottom in 6 metres (20 feet) of water and breathed a sigh of relief.

We were now further south in the Aegean Sea than we had expected to be at this point in our journey, so we'd need to rethink our plans. But that could wait until tomorrow. Right now it was time for a cold beer and dinner before a well earned good night's sleep.

What's the plan Stan?

The following morning we awoke to no wind at all and a calm flat sea, a huge difference to the 30 knots that we'd had the day before. After breakfast we sat down with our Greek Waters Pilot guide, our chart plotter and Google Earth to look at our options. It turned out that the best plan from here was to head a little south and east and then turn west and slightly north.

Roughly translated that is Patmos to Lipsi to Leros to Levitha to Amorgos. Once at Amorgos we had quite a lot of choices and we make more plans from there.

It was at this point that we found out that the Internet data plan that my brother Phil helped us organise from the UK through the 3 network was not going to deliver the expected results. We were paying for 100GB of data per month but the small print, which we hadn't seen, limited data usage outside of the UK to only 19GB per month. We use a lot more than that. Plus we were only allowed to use the sim travelling around Europe for 4 months out of 12 months. Bugger!

The main town of Patmos, where we could potentially buy a Greek data only sim card, was a 5 nautical mile round trip in the dinghy so we ruled that out and rationed our remaining data usage.

Best hair salon ever

There comes a point in time where I simply cannot stand my hair being overly long on top. I'm fortunate that Aannsha is my hairdresser. She's been cutting my hair for more years than I care to remember.

Last time I had a hair cut we did it in the cockpit of A B Sea and because the wind blew the cut bits everywhere we were still finding hair in nooks and crannies over a month later. We weren't going to make that mistake again.

This time we were going ashore to a secluded little cove that you can only get to from the water which was only 300 metres (984 feet) from where A B Sea was anchored.

Armed with beach chairs, towels, scissors and cold beer we spent the morning there chilling, swimming, sun bathing and of course getting an awesome haircut in the best hair salon ever.

Quest for Internet

A few miles down the Patmos coast, south of where we were anchored, was another anchorage which was close enough to the main town that we could use our dinghy to get into the main town and see if we could buy some data.

So we upped anchor and motored over there. Unfortunately we couldn't get our Mantus anchor to go in. The bottom looked like sand, but it was probably just a thin layer of sand over rock. This was another moment that you just have to learn to get used to when living on a boat. Sometimes the decision to move on is made for you by circumstances. We gave up on the island of Patmos and sailed the short distance of 10 nautical miles to the island of Lipsi.

The sail over was uneventful and we anchored just offshore from a typical Greek blue and white painted church in the big bay close to the main town. From here we could continue on our mission for Internet data.

I'll tell you how that all pans out in next week's blog.

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