Saturday, July the 29th 2017

The Aegean sailing trip is completed now. 16 days onboard Matilda with a lovely and highly motivated and skilled crew made this voyage more than just great fun. Day passages of more than 60 miles where not a problem and although we stayed in harbours for sightseeing and because of bad weather for three days, we finally logged 480 miles on the whole trip.

We started in Matilda’s homeport Khalkoutsi where we left early afternoon together with my friend Franz and we sailed with two boats to the sliding bridge of Khalkis which we passed at about 11:00 pm. On the way north the next day, many dolphins came across and stayed for a long time playing at Matilda’s bow. We anchored overnight just around the northwest tip of Euboea Island where the tidal current was reaching about 4kt and the water was freezing cold.

After a stop at Oreoi we sailed to the islands Skiathos, Alonissos and Peristera, which is one of the islands of the Marine National Park of Alonissos (http://alonissostravel.com/national-marine-park/). The Anchorage at Vassiliko/Peristera was quite exciting because of the shipwreck of the freighter Alonissos. The freighter was wrecked some 10 years ago in a violent storm that drove it onto the rocks, despite having two metal chains secured to the rocks and two anchors on the sea bed.


Moored in Skiathos

We sailed further north to Kasandra/Khalkidiki where we met some old friends and finally into Porto Karras on Sithonia for shelter because of the bad weather that was on the way. The phenomenon was extended and unusual for the time of the year with heavy thunderstorms and massive rainfalls (the Sporades further south got half of the average annual rainfall in just two days!). The temperature dropped to 17C and it rained for 24 hours but we were well protected in Porto Karras.


Rain, rain, rain…

Patrick joined the crew the next day and we sailed south to Kyra Panagia and Skyros where we also met our Friends Franz and Rolf again. The harbour staff in Linaria/Skyros was very friendly and professional. They helped us mooring stern to in a relatively narrow space by holding Matilda’s bow with the help of a dinghy. Because of the Aegean Rally stopping here next day we had to move to the permanent mooring field a bit further NW of the harbour Linaria for the following night which was a good choice and a very well protected spot from the still strong going wind.


Hmmmm… not sure if this guy knows the COLREGs


Passing through Kafireas Strait

The following passage through the Kafireas Strait was one of the highlights of the voyage. A steady F7 gusting to F8 was pushing Matilda and she was surfing the waves reaching sometimes more than 8 knots through the water. Being a more traditional long keel design she is quite happy with such conditions and felt safe all the time. When we reached Batsi/Andros, the wind was still blowing at F7 even into the harbour. There were only 4 other yachts there and we were happy to go alongside at the inner side of the peer. After an Island exploring and sightseeing day on scooters the next day, we left for Ormos Fikiadha on Kythnos, just about 1NM NNW of the main harbour Merikhas. We were surprised to see about 50 other yachts in the two bays which are separated by a longish sandy beach when we arrived late in the afternoon. There was still space though and anchoring was not a problem.

Although I had the feeling that I had lived for more than a month onboard now, days were passing quickly and there was only one night left which we spent at Petalioi Nisoi after a nice passage northwards.

The last day finally was sailing home and it didn’t feel right… I could go on like this for months and years …but time has not come yet.

Many thanks to my crew who helped making this voyage such a nice experience!

Saturday, July the 8th 2017

After replacing the accumulators and rewiring the echo sounder transducer to the old depth instrument (which I wisely had kept in place), Matilda is ready to go and will be on an Aegean Sea circle for the next 2 weeks.

She will head north first and pass the sliding bridge of Khalkis on Sunday about 2 hours before midnight. She will visit the Sporades and sail to the Khalkidhiki. Depending on the weather, Limnos, Chios and some of the Cyclades are on the schedule but nothing is fixed.

Location can as always be tracked via “Marine Traffic” on the “location” page of this blog.

There won’t be any posts during the voyage but a little report after completion of the voyage.

Wednesday, May the 03rd 2017

Barbarossa Backstay Adjuster Repair

The wheel has not been repaired yet and Matilda is still hanging in the travel lift. This is not only very disappointing but I am dangerously running out of time now.

Anyway, whist waiting I decided that I should do something to turn the bad experience into a good one. The back stay tensioner had probably never been opened before and was not providing that feeling of a reliably working device anymore. Operation was a bit tight and it was on my to-do list for a longer time.

The device is made by the Italian company Barbarossa and there was no information at all on the web as the company does not exist anymore.  When I opened it I found a seized axial bearing and a bearing washer which was dissolved in pieces. I searched the internet and found that I could replace it by SKF’s AXK2542. I decided not to remove it before I have the new one in hand. Next day, with the replacement needle roller bearing in hand, I tried to remove the old one carefully. It wouldn’t come off easily but after applying some heat and force the job was finally accomplished. Underneath the axial bearing, there was another radial bearing which wasn’t looking much better. The point of no return was reached. I had to find replacement bearings in order to get Matilda in the water when the wheel for the travel lift would finally arrive.


Amazing that the backstay tensioner was still working


With some effort, the old bearings were finally removed

To keep a long story short, these are the parts that I used to replace the old bearings and they fit quite well:

Radial bearing: SKF RNA4904 (inner ring removed)
Axial bearing: SKF AXK2542, GS81105 and AS2542 (two times).
The axial bearing needs to have a total thickness of 7mm.


The new parts are available from SKF

I heated up the housing for the radial bearing to 200°C and put the RNA4904 into the deep fridge for an hour. When I put it in, it slid down to the bottom without any force applied.

I generously applied high pressure grease and closed everything. It works again like new.

Friday, April the 28th 2017

Today is the day; Matilda is going back into the water. I had detached the struts from the radar pole and had tilted it in a horizontal position. I also had to remove the back stay in order to allow for the small travel lift to move above Matilda and lift her into the belts. Although quite old, the travel lift has been doing what it should for the last years and therefore, I was not expecting any adventures. Matilda was lifted out of the cradle and the areas where the pads had been were sanded and painted with antifouling. After some time in order to allow the antifouling to dry, the travel lift started moving and Matilda was coming closer to the water. Just 50 meters away from the shore, a big bang stopped the journey abruptly. One of the front wheels of the travel lift had burst.


Waiting for the wheel to be repaired

Thursday, April the 27th 2017

It’s spring time and about time to get Matilda back in the water. Several antifouling layers have been removed from the bottom, some work was done at the rudder, new antifouling was applied and the propeller polished. When the old antifouling layers were removed, I noticed that the antifouling was applied directly on the gel coat without any primer in between. I was happy to see that there wasn’t any evidence of osmosis. I had measured the humidity in the hull and found that it was quite low (below 2% in most areas). The hull had time to dry out for the last 4 months on the hard of course but providing that Matilda had been in the water for almost 3 years, I was prepared to see higher values. Good girl :-)


Old antifouling layers removed


New antifouling applied and propeller polished


Ready to go

Sunday, January the 8th 2017

This winter is colder than usual in Greece.  I did the procedures I was used to in Northern Europe (I even had a couple of “antivries” bottles left over from Holland :-) ) to avoide any freeze damade and I am safe. Matilda is now covered in snow waiting for warmer days.

20170108-waiting-for-the-spring-1

20170108-waiting-for-the-spring-2

20170108-waiting-for-the-spring-3

20170108-waiting-for-the-spring-4

Saturday, January the 6th 2017

Although more than one year has passed now since my last post, this blog is not dead. I will compile and post the remaining videos of my Round Europe voyage when I find the time and will also update the page on technical stuff and changes/upgrades on Matilda. So, stay tuned and have a look from time to time.

I didn’t do any longer trips last year and there were many reasons for that but I still enjoyed some local sailing on extended weekends with friends and relatives. On my last trip in October 2016 where I visited a couple of the Cyclades islands I was surprised by a heavy thunderstorm with more than force 10 squalls and almost got washed ashore. I had anchored in a bay at nice weather and clear skies. We went swimming, had a Greek salad for dinner and were enjoying a glass of wine.  Suddenly, at about 21:00 the stars disappeared, the night sky turned black and the light wind veered 90 degrees to W. A few minutes later the scenario changed completely. Heavy rain was flying horizontally such that I couldn’t see the surface of the see any more from the cockpit. The wind meter was showing 48kn of gusts, the anchor started dragging and the big motor yacht behind me on the permanent mooring was coming dangerously closer. I started the engine and tried to keep away from that motor yacht whilst my brother in law was trying to lift the anchor. Although heavy lightening is not sailor’s favorite weather phenomenon I was thankful about it because this way I could figure out where I was in the bay and where the other moored boats were in relation to me. After a 20 min fight with the elements, the anchor was lifted and the wind had dropped to about F6. I moved the boat to the neighboring bay and went alongside at the pier. I went to a nearby pub where I met some other sailors. Everyone was talking about the thunderstorm of course. After midnight, I was sitting on a bench in the rain next to Matilda enjoying my last beer for that day and I couldn’t believe that she was still afloat. Some days later I heard from other sailors that many yachts got damaged that night and one even sunk. The phenomenon was heavy and although very extended it had not been forecasted. Finally I must say that I am quite sure that the anchor (even dragging) had helped preventing stranding. I wouldn’t have managed to turn Matilda into the wind using engine power. If I knew it was coming I would have preferred to stay in open water. In any case, that was another lesson learned.

Now after almost three years in the water, it was about time to get Matilda out in order to give her underwater body some attention and prepare her for the next season.

20161215-matilda-being-put-in-the-cradle
Matilda being put on the cradle

20161215-after-powerwashing
After powerwashing

20161215-it-was-about-time
It was about time

20161215-removing-antifouling-layers

Several layers of self polishing antifouling can be removed easily with the help of a spatula. The red one seems to be hard antifouling. It comes off together with the other layers where – as it seems – no primer could be applied because of the cradle support pads but holds well on the rest of the surface

Saturday, September the 26th

It has been a while now since I arrived in Greece. I did some local sailing (not much though) and flew back to Germany about one month ago. Although life has become quite “usual” again, trying to compile some videos of the voyage has kept my memories alive. The first video took a lot longer than anticipated but now it is ready. I hope the other ones will follow a bit faster.

Saturday, July the 25th – 23:00 – 38°18.8’N 023°49.9’E / Oropos / Greece

When I was planning this voyage and thinking about the route, I also considered going the safer easier way through the canals of France. I had a lot of respect for the Bay of Biscay and also the Portuguese Atlantic coast which is said to be more dangerous than the Biscay. Many harbours at the Portuguese Atlantic coast are built at river estuaries and can be very dangerous in some situations because of the bars and the resulting breaking waves at the entrances. It is said that one yacht minimum gets lost every year at this coasts. Nevertheless, now after I have completed the voyage, I am glad I took the Atlantic route. Those parts I had most concerns about, turned out to be the best ones. The Biscay was a great experience; first time Atlantic waves and the feeling of real blue water sailing. The weather can change quickly in this part of the world and it often blows at F7 or more off the Spanish north-west coast. You have to be prepared for everything and arriving after three to four days also means satisfaction and relief. I clearly remember Patrick shouting out “Land in sight!”. The Portuguese coast was downwind sailing first class. It was great fun watching Matilda surfing down the Atlantic waves steered by the autopilot. A long(ish) keel yacht sails quite well in such situations but you have to pay for that with the stress you get when maneuvering in tight harbours. I must admit that the weather was nice to us on those two legs and we were not faced with severe conditions. At least nothing I had not been prepared for or had not expected. The first Leg was not as nice. The plan had been to sail along the south English coast (enjoying some nice pints in British pubs of course) and then cross the channel to Brest. Unfortunately, the wind has been blowing hard and almost always from west for the 2 whole weeks of that leg and it was stronger in the north side of the channel. Therefore, we followed the French coast. We had some very unpleasant and wet passages which have not really been funny for every crew member. Lisbon – Gibraltar was the most diversified leg. Atlantic waves surfing, then strong winds and big waves around Cabo de Sao Vincente, the calm and almost Mediterranean Algarve and then F6 against on the way from Barbate to Gibraltar. Most of the passages in the Mediterranean beginning from Almerimar and going east have been hot and windless. Many places especially in Sicily were overcrowded, expensive and offering bad service. Greece on the other hand, was a highlight (yes, I am 50% Greek, but this statement is also at least 50% unbiased  ). Very nice scenery and great anchorages and waters so clear that you think you would ground the boat although the depth was 10 meters. Top food quality at relatively low prices in several tavernas, where almost everyone spoke good English (I can’t really say that about Spain or Italy…). There was one English long distance sailor in the Baleares who I asked whether he was sailing to Greece too and he answered: “No, not yet. I will visit some other places first because if I go to Greece now I will stay there”. The last leg in Greece was singlehanded sailing and that was new to me. The first day I felt a bit insecure but soon I got used to it. Boat handling at sea is not an issue and sailing alone is a nice experience; everything is more intense. There are some issues though: You can’t just go down and have a nap when you feel tired and coming into a harbour is always connected with the question of whether you will be able to find a place that you can manage to get in and out singlehanded. You are also more dependent on some electronics like the autopilot and you have to make sure that you don’t go overboard underway because the chance is quite high that it could be your last time!

At the end of this résumé I don’t want to miss out saying a big thank you to all of the crew members that have accompanied me and Matilda on our voyage. It was great having you on board. You definitely helped making my dream come true. THANK YOU!

crews

“There are two bad things in a man’s life: Not to be able to fulfill his childhood dream …or to have done it”. I can’t remember who said that but there is some truth in this statement and for me it means that I need a new dream now… Sailing south through Suez to the Maledives, Reunion and Madagascar, or Oropos – Gibraltar – Canary Islands and back? Or maybe over the Atlantic to the Caribbean with the ARC? There are many interesting options and I will have some time to think about it. For the time being and the following few years, Matilda will be located here for various reasons. There are also some things that need to be done on her like the rudder bearing, the portholes as well as the removal of many layers of old antifouling and the application of Gelshield. I also want to check the complete cabling and upgrade/redo where needed. During this time Matilda will sail the Greek waters and visit the hundreds of islands and anchorages in this area.

Thank you all for reading the blog!
I hope you enjoyed it,

me
(capn)Evan

P.S. I will try to compile some videos of the voyage (one for every leg). So, if anyone is interested, she/he will find the link in this blog as soon as they are completed.