Barry's Blog #108 - Nervously navigating and the nuances of Greek fishing boats

On the phone oblivious to the world around him

Small Greek fishing boats are something we keep a really keen eye out for because they present a lot of unknowns.

They don't transmit AIS so the only information we have to work with is what our eyes tell us and due to the methods they use to catch fish; nets, long lines and traps, our eyes are telling us things that change by the minute.

If they're using trawling nets out of the back of the boat they like to fish in a grid-like pattern, so one moment we're pointing A B Sea to pass well astern of them, we don't want our keel, rudder or prop to get fouled in their trailing net, then the next thing is they've turned 180 degrees and now we're either on a collision course with their boat or their trailing nets. It's the same set of problems for us when they're long line fishing.

Fishing boats deploying or retrieving their traps are somewhat easier to deal with as they generally lay the traps out in a straight line. If we can spot a couple of the poorly marked trap floating flags we can guess the general direction the boat will be travelling in order to retrieve them and avoid as necessary.

Eretria to Chalkis

Why am I giving you a short lesson on Greek fishing methods? Because on our way to Chalkis from Eritria in the Evia channel we encountered a small fishing boat and there were some unknowns.

Through the binoculars we could see that he had no nets out the back and was possibly heading home. He may still have had long lines out the back but he was travelling in a straight line and not the usual grid pattern. We could also see that he had a mobile phone up to his ear and was having an animated conversation. We also noted that he was oblivious to our presence.

Three thoughts happened next.

If he was not engaged in fishing, then we were the stand on vessel and that meant he was obligated to avoid us, which he could easily have done by going astern of us.

If he was still fishing then we were obligated to avoid him.

If he hadn't even seen us then it was up to us to take avoiding action. After all who wants to crash and sink their yacht just because they were in the right. We decided to take avoiding action and this is the first time we got to use the very versatile Greek word 'malaka' which had been taught to us by our friend Nikos.

I suggest you Google it for a full and fun description, but in everyday speech, the word is used metaphorically to mean a person who uses no common sense.

Four more hops until haul out