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Barry's Blog #98 - The north wind doth blow…

Every year in Queensland Australia, the arrival of spring was announced by the first chorus of frog song from the pond in our garden.

At the other end of the year there was no sound to accompany the arrival of autumn, but there was a palpable change in the energy of everything. An unseen, but none the less tangible, stillness seemed to emanate from the trees, plants and even the very air itself.

Why am I reminiscing about Australian seasons? Because as of writing this blog on the 28th of August 2019 I can feel that summer is now changing into autumn here in the Greek Cyclades islands. I know that technically autumn in the northern hemisphere begins on September 23rd, but I prefer to go with what I feel rather than a socially agreed upon date on the calendar.

Winter won't be far behind and we've actually been researching where we want to be and what we're going to do. Last winter we spent 5 months holed up in Kaş harbour in Turkey. Five months is a big chunk of time to spend in one place.

We did get invited to buddy boat with a few other yachts that are going to spend winter based out of Cyprus and sailing to places like Israel and Turkey. The weather is still pretty good in those areas during the northern winter. There are two main reasons we decided not to; firstly our insurance does not cover us past a certain point of longitude in the eastern parts of the Mediterranean and secondly our overall general direction of travel is westward not eastwards.

At the moment of writing this blog our plan is to haul out and put A B Sea on the hard for November, December, January and February at a small boat yard in the northern part of the Evia channel in Greece.

This plan could be derailed by whatever happens with Brexit, so we won't really know for certain until October 31st.

No drone shots

The eagle eyed (no pun intended) may have noticed a distinct lack of drone shots in recent videos. The reason for this is a drone crash earlier in the year managed to knock the camera stabilising gimbal out of its mountings and in an attempt to slip it back into place a small piece of plastic broke away and that meant all drone footage was more bouncy than a kangaroo on steroids.

The good news is that I managed to source a replacement part in Australia for AU$22, so I bought two (redundancy) and hopefully we can have our son mail them to us once we stop in once place for winter.

That should be a fun project, I've never taken a drone apart before; I hope I don't end up with one screw sitting on the operating table once I've put it all back together.

Time to head north

In the Aegean Sea the prevailing wind during the summer months is the Meltemi and it blows from the north. That was the direction we needed to go, so we had to wait for a break in the wind which would allow us to motor north to a few islands and finally into the huge Athens bay area.

As we waited at anchor at Milos island for that opportunity, the constant north wind blew lots of dust onto the solar panels and decks of A B Sea. It was boat cleaning time.

With Aannsha on the brush and me on the bucket we hauled buckets of clear seawater up over the side and slowly scrubbed A B Sea back to looking nice and clean. Cleaning with saltwater does of course leave a salty residue but we planned on hosing her down with fresh water the following day when we tied up at Adamas port to fill our water tanks with 600 litres (158 gallons) of freshwater and our diesel tank with 205 litres (54 gallons) of fuel.

The harbour master said it would be okay to come alongside the harbour wall (as opposed to stern to) if we were only there for a short while. This sounded like a good idea but our timing was a bit off.

Just as we started to fill the water tanks two of the smaller jet ferries came into the port less than 100 metres (109 yards) from where we were tied up. Those little buggers produce a tremendous amount of wake and with A B Sea being side on there was a danger that she could be pushed hard onto the concrete quay and suffer damage. Luckily with the help of two boat hooks and 4 blokes we kept her far enough off until the wake had subsided.

Eventually with all tanks full and the solar panels and decks rinsed with freshwater we untied and headed out of the protected bay to travel east to Polyaigos, the first of 5 islands we planned to hop to each day to get us north into Athens bay.

Wind prediction is not perfect

The wind had been predicted to be 15 knots but as we got to within 30 minutes of Polyaigos it began blowing a steady 30 knots. Luckily the bay we planned to anchor in is well protected from the north and that night we reviewed our plan and decided that we'd go back to Milos the next day and wait out the newly forecast 5 days of strong Meltemi wind.

Time passed, the wind dropped to a manageable 10 knots from the north and we decided to make a run for it. But instead of stopping at 5 islands, we'd be running a bit further each day and only stopping overnight at 2 islands.

Our first stop was Koutalas Bay on the south west of the Greek island of Serifos. It took us 5.5 hours to get there and we even managed to get a little bit of sailing in along the way as the wind shifted slightly to blow from the north west.

We anchored in the protected bay, cracked open a couple of cold beers and checked the wind forecast. It was looking good to climb further north the next day so we had an early night in preparation for an early morning start. I'll tell you all about that in next week's blog.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.

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