Cyprus to Rhodes – 2 July to 4 July 2018

Better late than never. Some thoughts on the Aegean Tour 2018. And, to follow, a picture gallery.

Watches

Paul was not an experienced sailor so I decided that he could not take one of the watches on his own.  Also David had injured his knee (or at least he said he had!) so I judged it wise not to have him on watch on his own.  That meant that there would be two watches – Ruth, Paul and me, and David and Jon.  We decided on three hours on three hours off, which we would come to regret later.

Of Stars and Stripes

There is not much to say about the passage to Rhodes.  It was long, at times boring and at the end extremely exhausting.  There was a good breeze throughout – varied from 6 to 12 knots but gusting up to 20 at times – but always head on.  We decided to go on the engine all the way as beating to windward for 48 hours did not seem too tempting and also we needed to ensure good steady progress – no sense in making the passage any longer than it needed to be.  I sensed some disappointment amongst the crew.

We rounded the headland of Akrotiri at 1400.  Two hours later we cleared Episcope Bay.  At 1800 Aphrodite’s Rock was off the Starboard beam.  We had been sailing six hours and we still had not left the Cyprus coast!

At 2100 our navigation lights were on and we were on a heading of 292 for Rhodes.  I checked the keel bolts again before we started moving away from Pafos.  All dry, all fine.  Rhodes by Independence Day!

Goodbye Cyprus.

The boat is equipped with a really cool navigation aid which comes into its own at night.  The AIS system is an international GPS tracking platform that is installed in all large ships and now in many pleasure boats.  It enables us to spot ships/boats/yachts on the electronic chart and to know their speed, heading, closing speed and, very important as far as I’m concerned, the likelihood of them hitting us!

So as we watched Pafos slowly recede behind us we spotted what appeared to be small fishing vessels on the AIS dead ahead, but they had no lights and would not respond to VHF hailing calls.  We proceeded with caution, keeping an eye out in case we ran into trailing lines or fishing nets.  But no sign of the invisible fishing boats.

Pafos put on a firework display just as we were passing by which I thought was very thoughtful of them.  We enjoyed the spectacle and later, glancing back, Ruth said she saw what she thought was a gigantic atomic explosion over Pafos.  It turned out to be the moon rising, but it was an easy mistake to make … hmmmm.  As far as I am aware the good holidaymakers of Pafos have not suffered any kind of catastrophic nuclear holocaust – more’s the pity!

So we settled down to gaze at the stars, with the aid of the Sky Guide app.  Truly amazing.  It is free to download and is well worth it.  As the lights of Pafos disappeared we had a full and spectacular view of the Milky Way.

If we can help somebody ………

From about 1800 on 2nd July we had been receiving security messages on the VHF about NATO activity in the area and advising us that if we spotted anything suspicious we should ‘phone it in to a special number.  An odd thing to request really, I thought.  Presumably NATO knew where their own ships were, and surely the point of the exercise would have been to spot any hostile vessels through their own tracking systems, rather than relying on the observational skills of passing pleasure cruisers and gin palaces.  The problem was that we never had a pencil and paper handy to take down the number, so we were of no use to them!   BUT …

Some time during the first night, during the 0300 watch handover we encountered an unidentified floating object (UFO).  We were busy trying to work out where all of these invisible fishing boats were when suddenly on our starboard side, about 20 meters off a white pole appeared.  About two meters high and steady in the water.  At first we thought it must be a marker laid by one of the fishing boats but on reflection we decided that was unlikely as the water depth was something in the region of 1000 meters. 

Now I have no basis for this theory but I think what we saw was a submarine periscope.  NATO exercise, nobody knowing where anybody is, put the periscope up to see what’s going on.  Ahh Lothian Sky, “It’s OK boys, the SKY is out there looking out for us. No need to worry. Carry on.”  

What? It’s possible.

Rhodes

Anyway, we reached Rhodes almost exactly 48 hours after we left St Raphael.  All crew were exhausted.  The three hours on three hours off was a bad idea as it did not give time to rest between watches.  A lesson learned which would be remembered on the way back from Crete.

Wind speed 12 – 14 knots, good visibility and at 1200 on 4th July Ruth parked the boat in the new Rhodes Marina, almost without incident, and we were home and dry.  Beer!!  Happy American Independence Day!

First time on a boat! – Stuart Mathieson

I promised Ian and Joan that we would visit them in Cyprus as don’t see that much of each other and we’ve spoken about this for the last three years.  However the real reason for going was to see the ‘boat’.

I had no idea of the size, weight, cabin capacity etc. so imagine my surprise and delight when we arrived at the marina and finally saw ‘Lothian Sky’ and could take in its length, its towering mast height, its broad beam, the wooden decks; this wasn’t a  boat this was a yacht no matter how Ian played it down.  Once on board I mentally donned my cap with the words’ Captain’ in gold letters and tried to assume command until I realised I didn’t have a clue what to do so I let Ian take me on a tour.  As he showed me the owners cabin he nonchalantly said it sleeps eight, I said “What the owner cabin” he said “no the Boat.” First gaff to me! Toilets, showers double beds I began to realise this was better appointed than my house in England.

As Ian did some work on board I was able to walk around, climb over the decks, hang on to the rigging and bang my head on the main spar (twice) but I began to get a feel of the size and power of ‘Lothian Sky’ and image myself at sea with all sails set and mountainous seas all around; a bit of a dream has I’m not sure if I suffer from sea sickness or not.  All too soon Ian had completed his work, shown me around and we left the mooring with a promise we would come back and take her for a sail.

Stuart

Regatta Picture Gallery 2017

It’s a bit late but I promised some pics from last year’s regatta.

“Who let this snake on board?”
Getting her bottom cleaned
Ruth and Nick
The end is in here somewhere!
Sail trimmers, navigator and skipper, relaxing as usual. L-R Kay, Ruth, Henry, Alistair and Mike
Henry. So cool!!
Joan and Nick just before the BarBQ went up in flames.
Captain Mike
Ruth
Code 0 in the Marina
Code 0 flying
Isi, Joan and Jon – Jon’s birthday
That’s me, up aloft! Efti in the foreground
Kay, Alistair and Mike.
Foredeckers! VIPs on the boat. L-R Jon, Phoebe and me. Where was Nick?
“OK, let’s just toss it overboard”
Ann. Drunk as usual.
Phoebe, Ruth, Mike and Jon off to the laundry!
Jon with his girlfriend. She was a bit of a scrubber.
The winning owner.
The Trophy
LOTHIAN SKY

The Great Aegean Tour

Well perhaps “the slightly adventurous sail around some of the Greek islands” might be more accurate. We will see!

LEAVING LIMASSOL

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!

Winner Cruiser Class A!

So we came 1st in our class, which was Cruising Class A and we came 11th overall out of a total field of 50+ boats.  See the full divisional results below:

Ioannideia_RESULTS_Offshore_Divisions_2017

and the overall result is here Ioannideia_RESULTS_Offshore_Overall_2017.

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THE TROPHY

For me this is as good as it gets.  Before we started I said to the team that I would be happy with an overall finish in the top third.  In fact we ended up in the top 20% and finishing first in class was just an unexpected but brilliant bonus.

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First of all congratulations to the team.  We had a few new faces this year as, sadly, Paul and Hanna could not join us.  Looking from the left, standing – Kay Melville (new), Alistair Cameron, Jon Over, Mike Melville (new), Nick Geary (new), Henry Castledine and his fiancé Phoebe Griffin-Beale (new).  Kneeling are my daughter Ruth and yours truly.  The furry interloper at the bottom right is Cat.  We don’t know him by any other name, but he is now our official mascot!

Unfortunately, Ann Cameron – a stalwart of last year’s race – was left on the physio’s table with a bad back.  She did however enrol as one of the back-room crew (no pun intended) together with my wife Joan and her sister Isabel Over, without whom nothing would have been achieved.  For reasons not entirely clear to me we do not have a photo at the moment of the girls in the back room.  I’ll put that right later.  Sailing in an average of 35°C, working hard on deck for up to three hours at a time takes a heavy toll, and I cannot tell you how grateful we were for the rolls, water, coke, fruit, crisps, Harobos, whatever supplied on a daily basis by the backroom.  And of course when we got home in the evening dinner was served.  Champion!

So my personal thanks to all of my team mates and everyone involved who made this Regatta a very special time.  We worked hard and had great fun and hardly anybody complained!  My special gratitude once again to Henry, whose exceptional seamanship, extraordinary leadership and all round racing brilliance delivered one of the best weeks of my sailing life.

Finally, a word for the beautiful Lothian Sky.  Once again she did all she was asked, and once again surprised me with her versatility and style.  I am now “cock of the walk” in the marina …… well at least for the next week!

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LOTHIAN SKY – Winner Cruiser Class A

In later posts I will touch on some of the lighter moments of our regatta week and some of the preparations, inspired moments and ‘I wish we could have that one over again’ moments!

Ioannideia 2016 ORC Sponsored Regatta | 9th to 11th September

It was almost exactly a year ago and I suppose I should have posted something before now, but you know how it goes, places to go people to see.  Anyway we entered the Regatta last year and came in (in my humble opinion) a respectable middle of the table.  I think the ORC (Offshore Racing Congress) were not kind to me with the handicap, but I hear that everyone says that! The problem was the ginnaker – too big, and the jib was a bit small for the light winds that we enjoyed during the three days of racing.  Look I know I am making excuses but I don’t blame me!

First the crew (from the left standing):

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Henry Castledine, Race Skipper – sailing since a young whippersnapper in the Channel Islands.  I hard task master but a great sailor.  He taught me to sail so he must have something about him.

Ann and Alistair Cameron, Crew – Alistair was part of the intrepid maiden voyage from Slovenia described elsewhere in this blog.  Alistair did a lot of standing around and technical stuff, Anne perfected the art of stowing the gennaker, which at 160 sq meters was no laughing matter I can tell you.  Although their work was as nothing compared to the foredeckers – me with the hat on and next to me Jon Over my brother-in-law.

Jon and Me, Foredeckers – Duties included setting up and then striking the gennaker, gybing the gennaker, cursing the gennaker ….., hauling out the jib, retracting the jib and lying on our backs exhausted.  Foredeckers ( I am told) are immediately recognisable amongst the crew as they are generally carrying an excess amount of muscle, their arms are normally dragging on the ground, they grunt a lot as opposed to actually articulating words, and they have very large foreheads.  They are usually very fit and strong, which is I suppose why Jon and I, the two oldest members of the crew, got lumbered with the job!  All attempts at protest fell on the skippers deaf ears.

Kneeling are Ruth (introduced in other parts of this blog) and Paul Casterton a mate from our days in Doha.  Paul’s wife Hanna was also with us but we did not have enough space for an additional crew member.  In effect Ruth and Paul substituted for each other as Ruth had to leave the boat on the Sunday before the final race.  Amongst many arduous tasks they had to gather in the gennaker and also operate the main and gennaker sheets.

From a catering point of view everybody piled into our place in Parekklisia and Joan (my wife) and Isabel Over (her sister) handled the catering side.  We also had a few evenings at the bar and dined out at the culinary hotspots of Limassol.  A great crowd of folks and we all had a good old time.

THE RACE

The Famagusta Sailing Club organise the race.  They were originally located at Famagusta ( the clue is in the name!) but they had to decamp (temporarily according to their web site  ) to Limassol after the war of 1974.  2016 was the first year for them to hold an ORC accredited regatta, although they had been organising races for years in the past.  The races took place over three days – Friday (practice), Saturday and Sunday.  We all gathered on the Monday before the race to get in a bit of training and for Henry to whip us into shape.  It took some whipping!  As I said earlier we came in a credible mid-table position and I was proud of that.  Lothian Sky did not let us down and next year with a more experienced crew, who knows?, we may just surprise ourselves.

I can’t really go into the details of the race as Jon and I did not see very much of it, up to our ears in gennaker, grappling with the sail bag etc, but we did get some good photographs and I have added a few below to give you a flavour – and also a short video.

So that was last year.  The 2017 regatta starts on 8th September.

Come back later to find out how we get on.

CODE 0

No, The Lothian Sky has not been taken over by MI6.  A Code 0 is a particular type of sail that is officially designated as a downwind sail but performs really well between 40 and 70 degrees off the wind in light winds.  It was developed initially in the Volvo Ocean Race  and has now been adopted as a standard for even casual sailors.  In theory it should work well with the gennaker which is a downwind sail that can be deployed effectively between 80 and 150 degrees off the wind.  In heavier winds the self-tacking jib should come into its own.

The ideal solution would have been to have a 130% genoa but the maximum that Hanse will do is 105% and, as Henry said, that would make little difference to the performance. Its all to do with the rigging.  The shrouds are attached amidships at the gunnels which means that any upwind sail that passes the shrouds could not be fully sheeted in.  Hanse don’t point that out when they market the yacht.

You might recall my complaining about the handicap in last year’s race.  I was penalised for the gennaker and the self-tacking jib was not powerful enough in the lighter winds that we experienced.  So bringing a Code 0 on board might help with that problem …. in theory, which by the way I do not understand!  It will be deliver on 5th September, so we are cutting it fine.  Training starts on 4th September.

The other modification that I have added is a top down furler for the gennaker.  You may recall my moaning about the effort of hoisting and gybing the gennaker in the last post.  I am hoping the furler will reduce the effort and make gybing smoother.  Ann will be happy about that.  No doubt Henry will want to take the purist position and stick to the old format.  We will see!

Anyway see below the design of the new sail.  I have tried to create a stylised representation of the Scottish Saltire.  It sort of works …

Code 0

If you would like to see the furler in action go here.

Home! 13th November 2015. The Last Post

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Moored up in Lefkas

As I mentioned before, the passage to Cyprus was uneventful.  The sea was empty, the winds were kind and the sun was in its sky.  It was with great excitement that we first sighted land at 1820 on 12th November but we still had a full night of sailing ahead of us.  The lights of Pafos came into view just before dawn on the 13th and it was looking good for an early morning arrival in St Raphael Marina in Limassol.  I sent SMS messages to Joan and Isabel, Jon’s wife, so that the reception party could be organised.  Joan suggested we go around again as they were not ready!

The actual length of the trip had been a matter of discussion for the crew.  We organised a sweep steak to guess the number of miles we would have covered by the time we moored in the final marina.  We each put in €10.  My estimate was 1303, which was way out.  Jon Over’s bid was the nearest to the actual mileage – and he won.  Now I am not one to cast aspersions on the integrity of a fellow crew member but I would only say that Jon was on the helm in the final stretch from Pafos to Akrotiri while the rest of us were sleeping below, and I am sure I sensed the boat doing a full 360 turn on a couple of occasions just off Aphrodite’s Rock.  Jon will have to live with his conscience.

Some stats:

  • 1362 miles covered
  • Departed Portoroz 30th October, arrived Limassol 13th November – 14 days
  • Average miles per day (24 hours) – 97 (includes time in port)
  • Number of days at sea – 9.3
  • Fuel consumption (approx) – 2.3 miles/litre
  • Fuel consumed (approx) – 585 litres
  • Fresh water used (approx) – 1775 litres (includes the full tank that emptied into the bilges on the first night)

For me an epic journey indeed but probably modest in the general run of ocean passages.  As John Campbell said, we learned a lot more about sailing and probably even more about ourselves.  Certainly for my part I owe a great debt to those who gave up their time to help me bring my beautiful boat from Portoroz to Limassol.

John Campbell, still a working man unlike we retired gentlemen, and yet a man with a big heart and a joy to be with.  I am hoping that we will be able to do some sailing on the Clyde on his Bavaria.  I have heard that it is good there, but my concern is that I am a fair weather sailor.  It is to John that I now owe my addiction to Hariboos.  It’s OK John, I’m getting help and support.

Alistair Campbell joined us in Athens and immediately added a new dimension to the team, nothing to do with his intellect as I mentioned earlier, but he called the fault with Mr Bean correctly.  He also noticed that the boat did not have cupholders at the helm stations and so when he got home he ran up two on his 3D Printer.  They are too small to take a cup or a coke can but they do fit on the rails perfectly!  Now every time I am looking for a place to put my drink down I will think of Alistair.

What can I say about my brother-in-law, Jon Over?  Well nothing that I could put on this blog!  Jon is a great mate and a man you want to have around in a crisis.  His struggle with the water hose over a period of two weeks was enough to try most men’s soles, but did he give up?  …. well yes he did but that’s a mere technicality.  He won the sweep steak … hmmm. And he managed to clutter up the main saloon after he decamped when Ruth came on board.  But, actually, I am not sure the trip would even have been possible without Jon.  It was his connection with Alan O’Boyle that secured us a great passage director, and through Alan, John came on board.  I really owe Jon, and I am already paying for it!

Alan is the consummate professional and a seaman and educator of remarkable quality.  Although I was nominally the skipper there was no doubt who was in charge on the boat.  The relationship between the owner and the “skipper” can be tense but once we had our “clearing of the air” chat a couple of days into the trip I think we all settled down.  I am truly grateful to Alan for delivering my boat and its crew safe and sound into the St Raphael.  I shall try to forget his many anecdotes and “wee stories”, but I will always know where the expression “he is on the fiddle” came from (Google it).  I had underestimated the enormity of what we were undertaking and it is no exaggeration to say that if Alan had not been there on that first awful night it could have been a very sad ending almost before it had begun.  Thank you Alan and may you continue to sail safely.

Of course the real owner of the boat is my daughter Ruth!  Jenny, the other daughter, gets the jewellery.  Well at least that’s what they tell each other.  It was such a joy to welcome Ruth on board at Kefalonia.  For one thing she doesn’t snore, unlike her uncle Jon whose place she took in the forward cabin, but also she is such a supportive person.  I think it is something to do with her bedside manner as a doctor.  Anyway the quality of photography improved immeasurably when she arrived as she had her Sony Gopro, but also the manners of the rest of the crew also took a turn for the better.  In fairness I did say to them that what happened on the boat stayed on the boat and give them their due they have respected that.  For Ruth this is just the beginning of her sailing life.  She is already confident and skilled and I look forward to her lugging me about the eastern Mediterranean for a few years to come.  Hopefully we can get the rest of the family involved a bit more also.

“So’, I hear you ask, “what about Mr Bean?”  Well when we got to Limassol he had to go into hospital (trouble with his plumbing) but I am pleased to report that all his troubles are over and he is now performing in the way all good autopilots should; quietly and confidently.  If he keeps going like this I might even change his name.

A great trip, a great crew and a magnificent boat.  I would not have missed it for the world.  Would I do it again?  Not on your life!

…. or?

To anyone who has managed to get this far may I take this opportunity to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.

Rhodes to Cyprus, 11 to 13 November

As we emerged from Rhodes Harbour we had the first intimation of the tragedy of human despair that we knew was going on all around us.  A patrol ship passed us on the way into Rhodes and at first we thought we saw people on its deck but we were mistaken.

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Greek patrol boat with the coast of Turkey in the background

Rhodes is only 11 miles from Turkey at its nearest point and we were surprised, but also very relieved, that we did not see any evidence of small vessels in the water.  Having said that I for one would not like to have made even that short trip in a dinghy.

But it was time to turn our attention to the final lap of the journey.  The guy in Rhodes had advised us to wait until the following morning to set off as he said there were high winds on the route to Cyprus.  Alan had assessed that we were following the bad weather south but he reasoned, correctly as it turned out, that we would not catch it up. It seemed that those gods of the wind who had treated us so badly in the northern Adriatic had undergone a change of heart and started to smile down on us.  Throughout the first day we had cool breezes and bright sunshine.  As the mountains of Turkey started to recede behind us we moved further and further into the empty sea.  Throughout the first night as we started to clear Turkish waters we had encountered a couple of ferries ploughing their way northwards to Rhodes and a one tanker which looked as if it was heading for Brindisi in Italy.  In the morning, for the first time in the whole passage, we finally lost sight of land.  There was nothing between us and Cyprus; we encountered not one single vessel.

Looking around us it was easy to see how ancient sailors would regard this area as the end of the world.  The early Crusaders were unable to take this more direct route to the Holy Land because they had no way of navigating in the open sea, they didn’t know where the Holy Land was!  They had to follow the coastline, which was much longer and very much more hazardous because it meant they had to fight their way through many hostile countries.  When they got to the Middle East they found that the barbarians and primitive heathens that they had come to conquer had already invented the astrolabe which enabled them to navigate with considerable skill using the stars and the position of the sun and moon.  These navigation skills had taken the Arabs and the Pheonecians as far as the west coast Ireland long before christianity had visited those shores.

By the time of Richard the Lionheart western mariners had caught up and we read about Richard capturing the island of Cyprus on his was to fight Sala’adin and gifting it to the Knights Templar who had been expelled from their castles around Acre.

The passage to Cyprus was uneventful.  We sailed, we ate and we slept, some more than others.  I mentioned the sunrises and sunsets in an earlier blog.  Words cannot really do it justice so I thought pictures would tell the story.

Athens to Rhodes, 11th November

It took us nearly two days to get to Rhodes.  As far as we could see there had been no signs of refugees and as we weaved our way in and out of the various islands the sea remained relatively calm. Late on the afternoon of the 10th the wind got up to around 25 knots as we passed the narrow passage between Nissos Nisiros and the Turkish coast.  I’m proud to say Ruth, on the helm at the time, handled herself like a veteran.

Chart
The path to Rhodes

Despite our best efforts we did not arrive at Rhodes until just after midnight on 10/11 November.  Strong currents in the approaches to Rhodes and a steady headwind slowed our speed to 2 knots.  Jon reckoned at one point that we were actually going backwards!

This was the first time we had arrived at a destination so late and predictably but in this case understandably, we could not get into the harbour for safety reasons.  I had already called ahead to the Mandrake Marina to be told that they would not allow us to enter the marina after dark.  They advised us to anchor outside and enter in the morning.

So our first exercise in anchoring the boat took place at around 0100 on 11th November.  We dropped anchor just off the three windmills to the east of the harbour wall after a faultless anchoring manouver by Alan and we settled down for the night – all except me as at every bump or scrapping noise I had visions of Lothian Sky slowly breaking  herself up on the rocks and I dreaded to see what I would find in the morning.  I knew that these were the sounds that a boat makes at anchor – just the movement of the chain can sound like the keel coming apart – but it didn’t help.

In the morning we woke to a sunny day and a brisk 10 knot wind which messed up the sea and made the weighing of the anchor a bit of an adventure.  Rhodes would be our port of exit from Greece so we decided that we would call in there for only the time it would take to fuel up and for me to get the exit processes sorted out.  We were now so close to Cyprus that, really, all we wanted to do was get there and make an end to the odyssey.

Rhodes is a beautiful place with a rich variety of architecture mixing the ancient site of the Colossus with crusader castles, Venetian-Style towers and archways and modern marina facilities.  It’s the sort of place you could spend weeks exploring.  As we sailed into the harbour we had given ourselves about four hours.  Arriving at Rhodes is quite something.

The sight of the ancient Colossus can still be seen as you enter between the harbour entrance, guarded by what appeared to be two deer or antelope of some kind – not sure about them.  There are various stories as to the founding, building and dimensions of the Colossus and several paintings show it astride of the harbour entrance

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The look on the statue’s face as the boat mast edges under its nether parts would suggest that the “legs akimbo” stance was probably not recommended!

but the Rhodians themselves seem to be comfortable with its location to the left of the harbour entrance, where stands today some kind of defensive rounded battlement, built I think at the time of the Venetian occupation of Rhodes (or it might have been the Knights Templar).  In the painting it is where the right foot of the statue is planted.  The harbour itself is remarkably unchanged since the time of this painting.  We eventually moored up to the left at about the middle of the picture.

Now to give you some idea of the bureaucratic logistics of Rhodes Harbour, the Port Police Offices are located today at a point just to the right of the statue’s left foot, out of scope of the picture.  The port authority and customs offices are located just about where the blue-domed building is located in what is now a very up-market tourist marina area where the large Mediterranean cruise ships come in.  The distance between them is about a mile and a half.

I was directed to go first to the police office, but that was wrong.  The police officer told me that I had to go to the port authority first to check out the crew list, and then come back to them to hand in the duly stamped Transit Log. A total distance of three miles ….. on foot!

The bureaucracy for once was not a problem.  Everyone was very helpful and friendly and I completed the processes without misadventure.  The problem I had was trying to navigate my way to the tourist area and back.  The streets are narrow and the traffic is challenging.  I decided in the end not to use the pedestrian crossings as it seemed to me that the locals looked on them as target zones, accelerating with obvious indignation towards anyone with the audacity to step out in their way.  I gradually noticed that no one else was using them, I took the hint!

After a good hour or so I managed to get back to the boat, intact, to find that we were all fuelled up and ready to go.

Images of Rhodes

So after a quick coffee frappe,  at 1145 on 11th November

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Restaurant where the crew breakfasted while I grappled with the port authorities

we exited Rhodes and we were on our final leg to Cyprus, a distance of 275 miles that would take us the best part of two days.  We expected to arrive in St Raphael Marina, Limassol some time on Friday morning ….. Friday the 13th!