If the headsail gets stuck when you’re unfurling it, someone has to go to the bow and give it a little help. Fortunately when this happened on one of our recent passages, the weather was friendly and the sea was calm. That meant I didn’t have to put on my PFD (personal floatation device) and clip in to avoid falling overboard. And the headsail wasn’t too stuck either. I just had to give it a little twist and Baz was able to furl it out completely. Noticing the slightly worried expression on my friend Shelley’s face (Shelley and Ian were sailing with us for a few days), I grinned as I stepped back into the cockpit, saying: “A little bit of action there, that was cool wasn’t it?” Shelley grinned back.
“Just check those shackles”
No Baz wasn’t giving me a saucy opening for some foreplay – or even foredeck play! When we brought up the anchor before leaving Porto Rafti after a couple of night’s stay, he reminded me to check the seizing wire on the shackles that keep the anchor firmly attached to the anchor chain. He’d had to replace one of them a few weeks previously and, as his little inner voice prompted, the second one now needed replacing. As soon as we’d upped anchor, Baz handed the helm over to me and while I navigated out of Porto Rafti’s large southern bay past the islands, he replaced the seizing wire on shackle number two. It only took a few minutes of his time, but it potentially saved the anchor from disconnecting from the chain.
From Porto Rafti we headed to Sounion where we intended to spend one night under Poseidon’s temple that’s situated on the cliff overlooking the sea. There wasn’t any wind to speak of so we had to motor the 18 nautical miles to our destination.
Blasted by a big tanker
As we approached Siri bay which is home to a large industrial port, we saw a few tankers anchored just offshore. As we began to pass the bow of one which the chart plotter showed Baz was under way (stationary) on our starboard side, it blasted its horn. Baz checked the chart plotter and saw that the vessel was now making way (moving) and its speed was increasing. It blasted its loud horn again. Woops! Baz made a very quick right angle turn to starboard and as we motored past it, we watched as the big red tanker increased speed quite dramatically. A B Sea would definitely have been in two halves if Baz hadn’t changed direction!
Turning to port past the tanker’s stern, we looked in awe at its massive propeller and the beautiful aqua-blue/white wake that the large vessel churned up as it moved forward.
The rest of our journey to Sounion was uneventful in a pleasant way, the sun was warm and the breeze mild. Shelley and Ian were able to get a good look at the mainland’s west coast and the southern tip as we rounded the cliff on the approach to Sounion Bay. We’d anchored there before and Baz chose pretty much the same position on the western side because we’d noticed most boats like to get up close and personal to the restaurant and temple on the cliff on the eastern side. And A B Sea likes to be a fringe dweller. We anchored in 6 metres with 30 metres of chain out. The bay was a little more rolly this time, but nothing too uncomfortable.
Sunset tour of Poseidon’s Temple
Poseidon’s Temple is famous in the area and many people like to visit there to see the sunset from the cliff with the ancient ruins behind them. We all decided we’d like to go there – what a great introduction to ancient Greece for Shelley and Ian before they headed to Athens and climbed the Acropolis.
We piled into the dinghy and were a bit confused as to where to park it. The main beach under the cliff was cordoned off by the hotel with a long row of swimming buoys which looked impassable. After scooting around the rest of the bay, we discovered a tiny stone jetty that looked as if it had been there since the year dot. There was a couple sitting on the jetty with their small children so we approached very cautiously. Eventually they realised we were mooring when I tied the line onto a rusting thick pipe, and they picked their kids up and let us pass as we walked to shore. It was a bit of a dance because the jetty was really only wide enough for one person, but somehow we all made it without anyone getting wet – and probably more importantly – none of our cameras or phones getting a salt water dunk.
We found our way to the main road through what looked like a holiday complex. Walking down the hill we got a glimpse of the temple and the hotel’s cordoned off beach. It was such a pretty view that when we got to Elias Fish Tavern we stopped for drinks. After looking at their menu though we decided food was out of our price bracket! So we continued on our journey to pay homage to Poseidon.
Baz did notice a few tenders approaching the beach from either end of the hotel’s private beach and realised that the two outer edges are public and it is possible to dock your dinghy there. You just have to go very slowly as there are swimmers in the water.
Athena and Poseidon
Poseidon wasn’t the only god to have a temple dedicated to him at Sounion. Situated 500 metres north on a hill lower than the cliff, were the remains of Athena’s small temple and alter. To get there we walked along the beach – where Shelley and I found some nice small pieces of sea glass – and up the hill via a rough sandy path that wound through dry shrubs. We headed left to Athena’s temple ruins first. There isn’t a lot to see there, a few stones and the ancient alter (as most stones were taken to build the Agora in Athens), but Shelley and I in particular enjoyed visiting the site that was dedicated to Athens’ protector.
We discovered some tiny purple wild flowers (which I think were cyclamen) growing in between the stones and Ian picked a couple giving one to each of us girls. Baz had asked me what gift I was going to take in homage to Poseidon when we visited to the temple, as in ancient days sailors would offer a prayer or present an offering to avoid drowning. When Baz asked me, I said I’d offer him my words. Now I knew – I’d give Poseidon this flower that had grown in Athena’s Sanctuary.
Built in only four years from the year 440 BC, Poseidon’s Temple is perched atop the 60m tall cliff and even though not all of the columns have survived, you can still see why this was one of the major monuments of the Golden Age of Athens. As I walked around the structure, the play of light and shadows with the sun slowly sinking behind the horizon, tinted the marble columns in shades ranging from gold to ebony. Just beautiful.
We didn’t wait until the sun set completely as we had to walk back down the stony track across the beach and back to the dinghy. But we made it in time to enjoy sundowners and dinner back on A B Sea.
Goodbye to our friends at Varkiza
Shelley and Ian had a flight back to Australia from Athens so we motor sailed north to Varkiza the following day. Varkiza is close to Athens, and was also the bay we thought we’d be anchoring A B Sea while Baz went to the UK for his reunion weekend.
We let out a 10:1 ratio of chain to depth, so that I would be confident knowing the yacht would stay put anchored in the sand, whatever the weather threw at me while Baz was away. The weather however had other ideas and we would have to quickly make new plans for a suitable anchorage, but that was a decision we’d make another day soon.
Shelley and I said our goodbyes and hugged like there was no tomorrow, then I stayed on board while Baz ferried Shelley, Ian and their bags to shore where they had an AirBnB booked for a couple of nights before heading to Athens. As I couldn’t fit in the dinghy too, I took the opportunity to do some much needed laundry.
Washing machine? What washing machine?
Laundry is always a bit of a chore if I let it accumulate, because we don’t have a washing machine and we also have to conserve fresh water as we also don’t have a water maker. Laundrettes aren’t always available and some laundry services charge like wounded bulls, so I’m reluctant to use them unless I’m washing sheets and towels. Thanks by the way to Shelley for bringing a few Turkish towels over because they’re much easier to hand wash than regular fluffy bathroom towels.
I have worked out a little procedure for washing and rinsing clothes on board A B Sea with two objectives:
Conserve fresh water, so use salt water for washing and first rinse
Rinse out as much salt as possible so it doesn’t degenerate the clothes
After washing in salt water (which I can pump into the kitchen sink) and laundry liquid, I rinse first in another lot of salt water. Then I use fresh water to rinse out some of the salt water, and a final rinse in fresh water. Of course after washing and each rinse, everything has to be hand wrung, so my arms get a decent workout! Once the first fresh water rinse gets too salty, I throw that and replace with the final rinse fresh water.
Sounds complicated, but it works for me. If you have a better boaties’ method, I’d love to hear from you.
When the washing’s been wrung out, I hang it all up on a rope hung on deck to dry. Now, as you know, ropes are never called ropes on a boat. This one is called a washing line!
You can see all of this in the video that accompanies this blog. Just click here