We are the first to admit that we're total novices at this whole boat owning and sailing malarky and one of the things we really appreciate is constructive criticism and advice from our viewers who are not sailing novices.
When we showed an underwater shot of our snubber attached to our anchor chain in episode #084 we had several helpful comments advising us that the snap hook we were using was not strong enough for the task that we'd assigned it, namely taking the full weight of A B Sea, and that it would more than likely fail if we were anchored in a big storm. Definitely not the time that you want any equipment to fail.
A Mantus chain hook had been on our shopping list for some time but we'd been out sailing around the Greek Aegean islands and although some of the bigger islands do have chandlers, none of them were a Mantus Marine products dealership. We had to go to Athens to buy the chain hook we wanted.
We actually purchased it just in time too, as a couple of days later the Meltemi wind put on a big 3 day show of strength with constant winds of 30 knots and gusts getting close to 40 knots. Anchored in sand in Varkiza Bay our Mantus anchor and new Mantus chain hook did what they were designed to do and we rode out the big blow without moving an inch.
The wind also destroys flags and we've been through quite a few Greek and Aussie flags this year. We are always on the search for flags that are better constructed and when we find one that can stand up to the wind we'll sing their praises.
A couple of near misses
Once the big wind had died down we went ashore to mail our monthly postcards to our Patreons, stocked up on fresh provisions and then upped anchor to head around to Porto Rafti on the eastern coast of mainland Greece where we'd arranged to meet up with long time subscriber Nikos, who'd kindly invited us out for a beer and a guided tour of the local area.
The wind gods had obviously over extended themselves during the big 3 day blow as there was no wind and we had to motor for the whole 6 hour trip.
On one part of the trip we had a choice to either go around the outside or cut through a channel on the inside of the island of Arsida. Our Navionics chart showed that there was 11 metres (36 feet) of water depth in the channel and as A B Sea has a draft of 2 metres (6.5 feet) I chose to take the more picturesque inside channel. The chart was wrong!
When I'm helming A B Sea through narrow and/or shallow areas I always zoom right in on the chart to show maximum detail and I always have the depth sounder displaying our true depth. Most of the time the depth sounder and the chart match up quite well, but this time as I watched the depth sounder rapidly drop from 11 metres (36 feet) to 3.9 metres (12.8 feet) I knew that we had a real potential to run aground so I quickly did a U-turn and got us back out to deeper water. Lesson learned, the chart can be wrong.
Reaching the halfway point of the trip, passing the anchorage at Sunio, I'd been keeping an eye on a charter yacht that was approaching us from the starboard quarter. They didn't have AIS (Automatic Identification System) so I couldn't track them on the chart plotter to determine if they would pass us by or crash into us.
Monitoring their arrow straight course, which indicated that they were definitely on autopilot, I watched as they got closer, we were doing 6 knots they were doing 7 knots, then they cut straight across our bow. Great I thought, no crashing happening today. I did see a person in the cockpit but it appears they weren’t paying attention as the yacht carried on past us and continued heading straight towards the cliff face.
By the time I realised what was happening they were too far away for us to shout and get their attention, it looked like we were about to witness a disaster and we couldn't do a thing about it. However at the last moment the yacht veered to starboard away from the cliffs and continued off into the distance. A reminder that keeping a watch, especially when on autopilot, is absolutely essential.
Meeting new friends
The rest of the trip was uneventful and at 14.40 we dropped anchor in 5 metres (16 feet) of water with 30 metres (98 feet) of chain out in the south bay at Porto Rafti. After testing the anchor holding by applying reverse thrust to 3,000rpm and visually inspecting the anchor we attached the snubber and took a dinghy ride into the harbour to meet Nikos.
We love meeting people who follow our journey and when we meet up the first comment we usually hear is "I feel like I know you." The second comment is "You're just the same in real life as you are on YouTube." This always makes us smile because it means that we're doing our job right in showing what life is really like travelling with A B Sea.
Nikos gave us a quick tour of the local area of Porto Rafti, including a side trip to see the 'Temple of Artemis Vrauronia' before driving us to one of his favourite tavernas perched on the coast overlooking the beautiful clear waters of the southern part of the Evia channel.
Sharing stories and enjoying each other's company we stayed at the taverna until the sun slowly headed towards the horizon and then Nikos took us back to the harbour for our short dinghy ride back to A B Sea for a great night's sleep in a peaceful and protected anchorage.
To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.