Adventures in Greece as we cruise the Mediterranean on our boat Matilda, an Adagio Sundeck 44 Trawler
The wind is a beast. It’s a living, roaring animal that devours everything in its path. It rules the waters and you’d better not forget it.
We’re now into day 4 of winds gusting at around 30–35 knots (65 km/h). Things calm down somewhat overnight, but as the sun rises, so do the winds and things get noisy.
You might not expect it, but sound is actually one of the most useful senses on a boat, especially at anchor. You’re comforted by the sound of the freshwater pump pressurising the holding tank and immediately alert if it takes a little longer than it should. The engines have certain sound, and the ropes creaking and fenders rubbing on the dock all contribute. You notice very quickly when something doesn’t sound “right” or when there’s a new sound.
We woke up early (6AM) on Thursday when the wind kicked up for the first time as there were a whole range of new noises that we heard, including halyards (the long rope that runs up to the top of mast used to haul up the main sail) slapping on the masts of boats nearby. I went outside and the bimini on the fly bridge was getting hammered and we were sitting at a 45 degree angle to the finger dock (a small dock that comes out 90 degrees from the main pier) as the wind had both shifted direction and strengthened since we docked the first time.
I dragged Karina out of bed, we took the bimini down to protect it and then I dug out some extra dock lines and added them to the boat, bringing the nose back in so we sat alongside the finger dock again. The dock crew at the marina never rest — it’s one advantage of paying for a slip — as we were doing this, they were out on their electric scooters checking all the boats and making sure they were properly secured.
Since then, it’s been relentless — the boat is moving more, pushed by the winds and the swell that’s creeping into the marina. It’s impacting our ability to do chores — it’s far too windy to sort out storage compartments outside as things blow away and I can’t polish the portals on the starboard side because it’s too hard to be on the tender, hold it still against the wind and polish the portals all at the same time.
After feeling confident in our sea legs, the new motion left us feeling a little queasy for a day or so, but we’ve adjusted again well enough — although sitting inside and staring at your phone will start to make you feel a little ill again, a good excuse to put them down. We do realise how far we’ve come however when we had a new couple we met come by for a visit. We were proudly showing them the inside of the boat and the woman was very quickly turning green and needed to go back out again — three weeks ago that would have been us, but now we’re generally very comfortable inside even with the winds.
Of course it’s not JUST the wind either, the wind builds the waves and the longer it goes on, the choppier the conditions get. A nice calm beach just outside the marina that we visited in the tender earlier during the week now has whitewater crashing over it and throwing spray high into the air, visible from 500m away. Vassilis was back here for a charter and he was telling me that between the islands in the Cyclades (the chain that runs SE from where we are and includes all the popular islands like Santorini) that the waves are rolling between 4–5 metres now out there and the charters are re-directing back around the cape into the Saronikis gulf instead.
Last weekend many of the boats were out around us, but no one has gone out this weekend. A couple of people visited, but they all stayed in the marina. Even the charters are constrained — people have paid good money to go cruising in the Mediterranean, so this weather is very inconvenient. Last night when we were walking the piers with the dog, most of the charter guests were sitting on the dock, not on the boat, just because of the movement making them feel sick.
Major activities this week — lots of boat maintenance and ordering and arranging various things. We continued our speedboat license course — we now have only one lesson left this Tuesday and then sit the exam on Friday 30th with the Port Authority in Glyfada. A major milestone and a critical thing for us to pass.
We continue to try and dig through everything you can find on the boat — last Sunday we wanted to check the holding tanks and finally found them (after referring to the manual for the boat for some clue as to WHERE they were hidden) and as is often the case, we found another chore to do, replace the failing elbow joints!
Good progress has been made on polishing the stainless steel, particularly after we discovered an acid gel onboard left by the previous owners which works a treat! You paint it on, let it sit and rinse it off, rust is gone! Of course you shouldn’t spill it on your clothes as they’ll fade / get holes… don’t ask me how I know this…
We’re slowly building the list of regular tasks as well, working out what we want to do, on what schedule as we get on top of the immediate “make good” we’re gradually moving into the “keep it good” list. One of those is to turn the engines over once a week and let them run for a bit, which was fine but the computer threw some more errors which indicated (in French of course, still yet to get the language changed) that there was water in the fuel.
We have racor pre-filters and then the main filter on the engine itself, so I learnt how to clean and drain both of those and afterwards the error had gone and everything was fine again. The question of course is how does water get into the fuel, well this is a apparently a bit of an issue with boats — I think mostly because they have such large tanks, the diesel contains some condensed water in it, but over time it settles out and separates into a layer of water and diesel in the tanks. After a rough crossing (like we had last week) the water gets mixed back into the diesel and the water can get into the engine. It’s not that unusual, it really means that come winter during our haul-out, the tanks are due for a big empty and clean.
Rosie is settling into boat life very well. The galley is a few steps lower than the salon, so Rosie likes to sit at the top of the stairs in the hope for a treat. She will walk around onto those bench tops if you’re not watching and she’s motivated enough (by food for example).
As we’re so busy on the boat, finding time to get out and walk her is a challenge — there’s also not a lot of great places to go inside the Marina, so one thing we do is take her with us to the toilet when we go, which is about 400 metres away from the boat. Because there’s a lot of stray dogs around, we bring her inside with us (it’s Greece, it’s OK!), and the cleaning ladies love her. She likes to sit and peer under the cubicles which can be a little disconcerting when she makes friends with someone next door, or (more commonly) the cleaning lady wanders in (to the mens as well) and has a conversation with her while you’re on the toilet.
Nothing touristy really this week at all — we did get off the boat on Saturday and head into Lavrion in a taxi to escape the wind for a bit, we went to Jumbo which is kind of a dollar store crossed with the layout of an Ikea (i.e. it’s an endless one way maze of cheap crap), but we did find some useful items and enjoyed being on shore again for a bit too.
So that’s been the week, continuing with boat fix up and maintenance, gradually checking out all the systems (we had our first showers aboard to make sure they work) and hiding out from the wind.
I said at the beginning that the wind is destructive — I’ve now got into the habit of checking the dock lines three times a day and that “emergency” one I fitted on Thursday? Turns out it was a nylon rope and within only a day it had already melted about a third away due to the friction. I dug around to find the proper dock lines and then fitted some rubber snubbers to absorb the shock load.
Until next time!
Tim & Karina