Well perhaps “the slightly adventurous sail around some of the Greek islands” might be more accurate. We will see!
The plan is to do a circle of the Dodecanes and the Cyclades Islands of the Aegean throughout July, returning to Cyprus via Crete. We left Limassol on 2 July at 1200, heading for Rhodes, a passage that I estimated to be around 48 hours. Our initial crew consisted of daughter Ruth, brother-in-law Jon Over and his big buddy David Nicholas, and my friend Paul Leach who agreed to join us at the last minute.
This and the return passage from Crete are the longest and most demanding legs of the tour. The problem with Cyprus is that it is in a relatively isolated location. The nearest country is Turkey and even that is a good 24 hours sailing from Limassol.
Lothian Sky had a full makeover for the tour. My good Cypriot friend Efti and I arranged for the Marina to haul her out, cleaned her bottom and give her a good waxing (top and bottom!).
Thanks to Stuart Mathieson (our cousin) who helped with the burnishing of the Coppercoat – I told him that this was part of the process of learning the sail – you can see below that he learned quickly!
Full service of the engine and repairs to the electric toilet and the cams on the Spinlock clutch housing and we were all set to go. Joan had made sure we were all spick and span inside, bed sheets, quilts, towels were provided in abundance and we were provisioned for the first 48 hours (including a full supply of Haribos – essential for sailing The Sky).
So we were off! ………. well nearly. Readers of this blog will know that my attention to the detail of getting in and out of ports is not an example to show to young or sensitive people. The last task was to fill up on diesel – 201 litres plus two jerry cans of 20L each – which should be enough to get to Rhodes, subject to sea state, wind etc. Anyway, in trying to spring off from the filling station quay I managed to get the Sky stuck on the entrance slipway to the boat lifting area – it’s complicated! Nearly the whole staffing complement of the St Raphael marina, and a few gloating yacht owners, turned out to free us and they did a terrific job. So with a word of caution from the marina manager to check the keel bolts for leaks we were on our way ……. well nearly.
Outside of the marina the crew had a conference about the state of the keel which had touched the bottom. I had checked the keel bolts and all was dry so I was ready to go – we had only touched the bottom and at a very low speed. Others were not so confident. Ruth’s wise counsel was that we should check under the boat – which meant that I would have to dive down!!!!! – a prospect that I was not looking forward to. Paul also had concerns, Jon and David were more optimistic but it was looking like the skipper was about to get wet.
Our dilemma was solved when Paul received a call from his wife. The port police were jumping up and down on the quay because I had not completed the exiting formalities for leaving Cyprus. Look it was an honest mistake. And it gave us the chance to inspect the keel back in the berth. All was well and after completion of port police and customs formalities, we were on our way. Yes, really!