Travel changes your outlook on life
sailing changes your life.
Twenty Ten: where has the year gone??
A summer has past. Yes,
It is September and the season has almost come to a close . . . . . . .
I would like to have you believe that I am here in Greece, the season's end coming up quickly, relaxing, feeling lazy and happy in the Indian summer sun...but, not quite yet (if ever...) !
There is one more charter next week, and there is work to do yet to conclude all the jobs underway up at the house. We have been "camping out" in the south end of the house this summer in the master bedroom, between each trip, staying at the house using the long hours of summer sun to do as much work as the two of us can do; all work this year has been done by the construction company, Captains M&C......not a whole lot of money to spend right now in this economy, but our 4 hands have progressed our home quite a bit.
The sailing trips have gone well and the wind gods have been exceptionally benevolent all season. So has "Murphy" - that capricious gnome that provokes the breakage of all things on Pwyll and all sea going vessels. I have been particularly pleased with how the winds were for each trip, it was nearly a "perfect" season.
All, and I mean ALL who came aboard Pwyll this year were contented sailors...especially Señor Cat.
Pwyll sailed ever so sweetly this season and all systems aboard worked in great harmony! Thank you Gods of the Sea, Sailors and Wind! Things that created problems last year we were able to resolve this year. I managed to find a way to get around the new water pump working "too well" by turning it off when I don't use it, that way the connections in the pipes don't burst or leak, which they did all last year driving me nuts (more than I already am)! The hot water system that for some reason (we think we figured it out) last year kept acting up, this year has worked fine (may have also had something to do with the water pressure...). The "new" used sails purchased end of the season last year in a Marmaris sail loft at a fraction of what new sails would cost (no way could I afford new ones!) have worked exceptionally well and in high winds this year they were great - we were even able to cut up into the wind much better with these smaller sails. Granted, we don't go as fast on low wind days, but who is counting off knots?? All sailors that come aboard Pwyll know I am out there sailing for fun and comfort. I am KNOT out there to beat anyone!
Happy faces abounded on Pwyll even very small ones this year, the youngest sailor was Liam, from Australia, 4 1/2, who finally mustered the courage to take the wheel one of the last days, to his delight! Otherwise he found that sailing lulled him to sleep and was in dream land most of the time spent with the sails up! The motor went on, we got underway, and Liam was usually fast asleep in minutes. Liam took to the water like a fish, to the joy of his parents. He had less fear of that deep blue than many, which is of course always over come once one has taken a swim in our extremely buoyant waters.
It was great to be back in Turkey for the first trip this year, Mesut once again took us on the Dalaman river trip, which I will always love, and although it was a might bit cool David, Coral and Judy all loved every aspect of the trip. Could be that they were up from down under where May is still winter time? Judy and Coral ventured inland at Selcuk, not a place I often get a chance to stop in, wind conditions have to be right to carry us there nicely, it is on down the peninisula from Arap Adasi, which on that day would not have been a good anchorage, the wind was pushing the waves directly into the tiny deep bay.
During the first Greek Island trip with Bob and Barbara, we had a great stop on Marathi where the goats were still being milked. Barbara got up early and watched Dimitri, with the help of his Chihuahaa, "Giorgee" (seriously) herded the goats to the stone enclosure, and then witnessed the age old art of milking the goats; we find it fascinating. Imagine doing it 4 months of the year, rain or shine, early morning and evening, for all of your life? Dimitri and Mihalis, I am sure,have been doing it - and older brother Stavros, since they could grasp the goat's teats, probably at age six or younger. At any rate, it is really something to see and to understand the simple process of creating feta. Feta on every island has a different taste and more than anything else, consistency; only the store bought is always the same. There on Marathi they produce about three types, one hard, one medium soft, and one just a bit harder than ricotta. I have eaten the just-made, just milked ricotta and it melts in your mouth.
Mihalis and Dimitri in the milking hut
We saw some dolpins on almost every trip, Ann and
Chris had a great sighting, and long one. in July. The
dolphins found us again in August to play in the bow
wake, during an August with the lowest winds (but
enjoyable!) that I have seen in my 17 years here, and
most of the islanders agreed that they had no
recollection of such strange winds in the month of
We had some very long lasting and strange southerly winds in July during the "ladies go sailing" trip, it was fine with all of us to be lazy in the low south winds, we discovered some great anchorages that can't be used in the normal Meltemi NW winds. These particular ladies happened to be all very "old" friends (40 years of friendship sufficient to call old??!) and it was a really relaxing and fun get-together.
We had good winds for sailing couple Chris and Ann in July. A "last minute" booking that worked out very well for all of us. Obviously we were having quite a cool day for being July when the picture above was taken! We had great sailing conditions that day.
Chris is now
looking for a boat of his own....
Chris took "the plunge" and dragged on a low wind day, found out just how fun it is!
We had just the right winds to sail out to Levita in August, I had not been back in a long time, it is a 20 mile sail and you want the right wind/wave conditions to make it a good trip. Bo, Mac and Pippa - at only 14, handled the helming perfectly during that crossing. Levita is really a unique island; one family and they don't have rooms to rent, just the very traditional outdoor taverna (only Greek coffee served!), within their small compound of 5 or 6 buildings in a tall stone wall enclosure a 10 minute walk up the rocky path from the dock, vast stone walled fields surround the path. the family provide mooring buoys for 15 boats in the very narrow dog leg inlet. You eat what they produce or catch from the sea, and it is all very good.
September brought us some high wind days, which more and more seem to come in this time of year instead of August. We braved the wind and waves and actually had a couple of thrilling sails. Ross, and Alison got their share of the winds with one particularly thrilling day, rolling symphony music in the background that strangely enough seemed to go with the frothy waves and windy conditions (we caught a bit of that froth, didn't we??) and, and more challenging days on the next trip with Kevin who loved it.
I asked him if the conditions bothered him and he replied "I don't see it bothering you, so I am fine with it!"
Great response. He was at the helm until his arms gave out.
Both September trips were graced with very varied sailing conditions.
Kevin at the helm:
Michael has acquired through our Italian friend living on Astipalia (south of Leros about 45 miles, and NW of Rhodes) , the most unique and beautiful sailing dingy, one with quite
Michael has acquired through our Italian friend living on Astipalia (south of Leros about 45 miles, and NW of Rhodes) , the most unique and beautiful sailing dingy, one with quite distinguished origins, coming from a small sailing club on Lago Maggiore north of Milan. It is probably 40+ years old, in mahogany, and a delight to see under sail. Due to needing repairs that Michael could do, and the owner could not (without sending back to Italy - this wooden sailing dingy was purchased at far far below it's worth; it became immediately a source of great enjoyment for Michael.. I am sure that seasons to come will be interspersed with days of dingy sailing, it is quite romantic and relaxing. This is the kind of dingy that Michael has always wanted, and never thought he could afford, quite a treat - quite a find. My last day in Leros, Michael took me for a lazy sail around the bay, I felt pampered! He sails in and out of the harbor under sail; he picked me up on our dock and off we went!
Again this year Pwyll will stay in the water in the Leros Marina- and not be lifted. I have spent a bit of time each trip scrubbing a section of the bottom to keep the algae and white worm down to a manageable level - that would be, eliminating it as much as possible...without spending too much time under the boat! The worst is really just the first 2' (30cm) below the waterline where the sun allows all of this marine life to proliferate. The further down you go to the belly of Pwyll, the less growth there is.
Keel decoration in anti fouling paint............the mermaid of Pwyll
I have found that pieces of old
I have found that pieces of old pottery from the sea floor in Turkey, (usually I get these in Arap Adasi in about 15'-20' of water) really work the best, scraping off the chalky hard worm, and leaving the anti-fouling paint intact. Who would have thought that 2000 year old pottery schards would be used for this?! Most boat owners get carried away with bottom "anti-fouling", you would think that they were racing boats! I have found that this preoccupation leads to wasted money spent on expensive anti-fouling paint, not to mention the cost of lifting! You have to "weed through" the hearsay that runs freely among boat owners until you find your own truth.... I don't care for the saying that many people who own boats quote: "the happiest 2 days of owning a boat are the day you bought it and the day you sold it"....I like to say that I love owning a boat and all the varied types of work involved, and by working on all aspects of the boats ourselves (thanks mostly to "mechanic" Michael" and good ol' elbow grease) we keep the cost of maintenance down.
I have been writing this over a period of time, it is now early October. We are lucky that here in Greece we have 30 hour days and 10 day weeks....!! Sometimes with our long summer days it seems that way. There is never enough time to get everything done, especially before a trip! I often wonder what longer days would be like, I suppose I would run out of time just the same!
Once the trips are over and I decide that I am not going to go out again, "winterizing" Pwyll begins; the main sail comes down and is laid across the boom waiting for the first heavy rains to wash it clean. I prefer this method rather than washing the sail with the marina water which, due to the lack of water on the island in general, the water is quite brackish and not very good for the sail. The skies have opened early this year and my main sail is washed and ready for storage in a few days. All lines get a good washing too, some stay on the mast, the sun is too low in the winter to damage them, the rain does them good.
Then there is attending to all the "blisters" in the varnishing in the saloon of Pwyll. Every year the salt air weasels its way in to the varnish and each little blister must be sanded down and re varnished lest the blisters spread and ruin the wood beneath. The steps down from the cockpit to the saloon must always be re varnished, that is a given. The teak handrails must be sanded cleaned and oiled. Curtains come down and are washed, they too become quite salty. Most lovely of jobs is maintaining the WC in the head! That item which everyone has so much fun dealing with on board.....The toilet pump, from year to year, requires different work....this year it has to come apart as the main "O" ring has worn and it is not keeping the vacuum as well, as those of you who were on board this year can attest to! Suction was sometimes hard to achieve with this vital mechanism aboard every sailing vessel...
Lines must be washed; all the lines, even though they have been repeatedly rinsed between every trip, must be soaked in soapy water for some time and then rinsed thoroughly before they are put away for the season. You actually "taste" these lines to see if there is still salt in them. Some of my running rigging (everything that holds something up but is not rigid) can stay where it is and the winter rains will rinse them. Some of these ropes are very UV resistant and so for the 5 months that I am away the low winter sun does not really effect them that much.
The spray hood and bimini (shade over the wheel) have also been washed by these first rains. I have used some cleaner on both and the second rains - on their way - will give it a final rinse before it also is taken down and stored for the winter.
All bedding is taken to the laundry along with the custom made Turkish cotton "pillow tops" of the bunks. The salt from the ocean air - now in everything - has to be removed before winter storage or I will find things soggy and moldy when I return in April. Salty anything absorbs moisture from the air, and as dry and hot as it is in the summer here in these islands, it can get very humid and cold at times in the winter - that humidity can ruin anything in a closed environment. Even though I manage to close up Pwyll quite well, the humidity gets in, damn stuff! Having said this, Pwyll suffers a lot less than wooden Tricia so I try and get my belongings off of Tricia -much to Michael's delight. All in all I probably spend more than a month each year between getting Pwyll ship-shape, and closing her up for the winter; this process is the "behind the scenes" activity which makes up a big part of chartering....the sailing is the fun part!
And so the season ends, again. The years do go by faster, and I do wonder how a spring and summer, and now autumn, disappears as quickly as the white foam of the sea breaking across Pwyll's hull. The sun is setting much earlier and has crept past south of west; we look out to sea across Gourna Bay and it disappears behind Levita Island.
The islands are very different without those seemingly endless days of 12 hours of sunlight... there is chill in the air when the last rays have faded, even here, we put on a sweater when late fall rolls around. Here and gone, the the excitement and challenges of sailing upon the Aegean sea; packed away, the pictures, summer clothes and swimsuits; but in the memories Pwyll's crews, summer's adventures are still fresh.
HOPE TO SEE YOU ON BOARD SOME TIME SOON!
All photos were taken by the captain or crew memebers of Pwyll.
PHOTO CREDITS: thank you Judy, Barbara, Ann, Chris and Kevin for the use of your photos in this update.