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Barry's Blog #102 - Don't get too close

Bringing up the chain and anchor when we're leaving an anchorage is the moment that I have least control over A B Sea. It's also the time that I need to be very aware of water depth, wind speed, wind direction, other anchored vessels and most importantly, people in the water.

I'm telling you this because we recently had a close encounter with a guy that was snorkeling. We'd been anchored for several days and noted that the rocky shoreline, about 150 metres (492 feet) away, was a popular spot for daily swimmers. We had intentionally anchored the regulation 500 metres (1,640 feet) off the un-buoyed beach itself, but didn't realise that the shoreline we anchored close to was also used as a regular swimming area. We noticed one particular guy snorkeling backwards and forwards every single day. We knew it was the same guy because his snorkel had a big piece of orange plastic stuck to the top of it to make him obvious to any boats moving in the area.

Back off buddy

The day we decided to leave was the day that he decided to snorkel a bit further out than usual and have a look at our anchor and chain. The water depth was only 5 metres (16 feet) and it was crystal clear. Our loud diesel engine was running, our loud bow thruster was being used and unless he was completely deaf he could surely hear them. I'm pretty sure he could also see our chain slowly coming up from the sandy seafloor. But instead of looking up to see what the rising chain was attached to he just kept his face in the water and got closer and closer. Eventually I called a halt to proceedings and went to the port side deck to holler at him, that got his attention and he looked up to see Aannsha and I signaling that he should back off from our boat, which thankfully he did. We were then able to bring up the final length of chain and the anchor and safely leave the bay.

Where are we going and why?

We were off on a short 3 hour hop from Porto Rafti in mainland Greece and heading east to Marmari on Evia island where we were going to meet up with our Aussie mates Ian and Shelley who were doing a 5 week tour of Turkey and Greece.

Things didn't quite go smoothly; when we powered up our electronics the GPS and AIS didn't come online and it took 5 attempts to get them to finally play nicely with everyone else. However just 15 minutes later, as we passed by the small islands just off the bay, they dropped out again.

I knew which direction we were heading and I knew we had plenty of time on the trip to try and get them back online. 30 minutes later they magically came back to join the rest of our electronics and they've been working normally ever since. With that being said it's still an issue that's on the winter jobs list. I'll be taking the whole system apart and putting it back together again. There's at least a week's worth of work for that job alone and depending what I discover will depend how big of a chuck of change it's going to take to resolve the problem.

Anchoring at Marmari went smoothly and after Aannsha had snorkeled over our anchor she reported that it was dug in like a tick as the seafloor consisted of fine sand over a mud bottom, perfect for our Mantus anchor.

Ian and Shelley arrived on the 5.30pm ferry and as soon as they'd checked into their AirBnB we went out for drinks and dinner and shared our travel stories.

To car hire or not to car hire

On their second to last day at the AirBnB Ian and Shelley asked us if we'd be happy to drive a hire car as neither of them felt comfortable driving themselves. We happily agreed and Ian and I began a search for a car hire place. We only made it as far as the concrete jetty of the Marmari seafront where we diverted to ask how long the two yachts that were tied there were going to be staying. One yacht was leaving in a couple of hours and the other yacht, crewed by Aussies, was leaving in 10 minutes.

A quick change of plan then happened as we needed to bring A B Sea alongside for topping off the fuel and fresh water tanks. I rushed back to the AirBnB where Aannsha was having a coffee with Shelley, informed them of the opportunity and 5 minutes later we were back on board A B Sea bringing up the anchor.

On the final approach to the quayside the Greek guys on a fishing trawler that was rafted alongside another big Greek boat just in front of the spot we were aiming at, started yelling that the spot was for them and they were moving in. Undeterred and figuring that possession is 9/10ths of the law I got in there first, plus as we were only staying for as long as it took to fill our tanks, I completed my docking maneuver.

Once we had the dock lines secure there was a bit of a power play and at one point one of the Greek fishermen untied our bow line. I explained that we'd only be there for one hour and then they could move their fishing boat into the spot. This seemed acceptable and the two fishermen went back to their vessel.

The quayside is fitted with the modern pedestals which supply water and electricity hook up points for visiting yachts so I'm not sure how the fishing boat claimed ownership of the quay. Plus the local petrol station owner would've been 113 Euros (AU$184) out of pocket if we hadn't been able to fill up our fuel tank.

Onwards to the temple of Poseidon

With all of our tanks now full to the brim we went back out to anchor and decided that as it was now after midday we'd best leave the car hire until tomorrow morning. The next day we found out that there are no car hire places in Marmari and took a taxi trip 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) south to the bigger town of Karistos. Arriving at the only car rental place in town we were informed that they had no vehicles available. Even this late in the season, September 25th, people were still hiring cars.

The next day Ian and Shelley's time at the AirBnB came to an end and they moved on board A B Sea and we headed back to mainland Greece to once again anchor at Porto Rafti.

Nikos our magic helper

One of our cooking gas bottles had run out while we were at Marmari and I called our friend Nikos and asked if he knew where to get a replacement. Taking on a solo mission I went ashore and was pleasantly surprised that the first paint supplies store Nikos and I visited, not only had polyurethane and acetone which were on my shopping list, but they also swapped out gas cylinders. That was a super quick mission and I was back on board A B Sea within 30 minutes. Thank you Nikos.

To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.

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