Passage South from Thira, Santorini to Agios Nikolaos, Crete ( 63 nm )

Bootlegger of Mann
Frank Newton
Tue 14 Oct 2014 16:45

Sunday 13th October 2014

35:11.203N 25:43.057E


36:20.08N 25:26.16E  Vlikadha Marina, Thira, Santorini

Weather and sea state: Little or no NW wind; calm. Fine morning with clear skies but with haze.

Passage South from Thira, Santorini to Agios Nikolaos, Crete ( 63 nm )

06:45. Kevin joins me to get us out of harbour before returning to get the rest of his sleep. Mindful of the water depth reading of '0' I am pleased to note we are still floating. We release ourselves from the motor cruiser to which we have been secured alongside overnight and slowly move forward to do a tight 180 degree turn to port in the little basin just ahead. Having successfully turned around and started to slowly proceed back down the narrow channel to the harbour entrance we are just adjacent to where we had been berthed overnight when we ground in the soft silt. Well, they say where there's a will there's a way, particularly when faced with a potential embarrassing situation. After some serious manoeuvring we are free! On the move again we slowly and carefully successfully negotiate the rest of the narrow channel and, minutes later after navigating through the gap between the sandbanks in the harbour approaches, we are once more in clear open sea.

Kevin returns to bed and I set a course of 159 degrees to our destination in northern Crete, Agios Nikolaos where Bootlegger has been booked in for the six month period mid October to mid April 2015.

There is little or no wind and what we have is behind us. So we remain on engine. I settle down for the 10 to 11 hour passage. The sea is empty of traffic. We are alone.

10.15  the wind has picked up nicely so I put out the genny and mizzen leaving the new twisted and defective inmast mainsail furled in. We are now making some 7.0 kts over the ground on what is now a fine day. A great final sail of the season.

11.40  The first of the crew appear.

13.15  With everyone up we enjoy a snack lunch. 

13:45 The wind falls off and with it our boat speed necessitating us to now motor sail as I wish          to be in before darkness.

14: 05. Engine back off and pure sailing once more with a fresh wind astern of us. Shortly after the engine going on we sight land off the starboard bow - the island of Crete ! 

17:10 I radio the marina to alert them of our imminent arrival. They say they have no record of us. Great. Only sent about 30 e-mails (due mainly to no responses) telling them we were coming today.

17:30  We pass the main harbour of Agios Nikolaos to starboard and round the corner and into the port's marina located in the old town, east of it in the next bay.

17:50  35:11.203N 25:43.057E Agios Nikolaos Marina. FWE. We were guided into what will be Bootlegger's home for the next six months here on berth 2, Pontoon B. We were assisted with our lines by the owner of the adjacent boat who introduced himself as Tony Cross, a Brit from the Midlands, judging from the accent.

It transpires Tony and wife Tessa have been wintering their yacht 'Little Round Top' a Bavaria 46 here for the past nine years. I gain the impression from what Tony tells me they are the marina's Guardians and fountains of all knowledge as regards everything and everybody in the marina, the town and where to get things, and of the surrounding areas. They arrange, Tony tells me, organised walks, quizzes, BBQ's and just about everything else that needs to be organised. They are certainly going to be a most useful people to have as neighbours.

A couple, Mike and Monica who Jackie and I briefly met after they sailed their self built ketch into Foki Bay, Kefalonia  came over to say hello. They arrived here a couple of weeks ago. 

Monday 14th October.

We all go into town to explore the town of Agios Nikolaos with its famous lake and three bays which form a part of it. An old fishing village it has now grown considerably into a major Cretan resort with many new hotels and sophisticated town infrastructure containing many bars and restaurants, many of which, we are told, will close down for the winter from the beginning of November. We find the town still full of tourists although told it is now much quieter

Back at the marina we are warned by our Guardian angel Tony about the heavy swells experienced within it during the winter months, causing severe surges that often results in boat damage of one sort or another. All due apparently to the gaps in the harbour wall. Advised by Tony to put on an extra pair of stern lines as springs, c/w with heavy duty spring 'shock' absorbers in addition to the heavy stern lines c/w spring absorbers I already have out. This was never mentioned on the tin ...

Kevin and Do finally leave Bootlegger after three weeks of cruising the Aegean islands. They have hired a car whilst in town to journey west to Chania which is right at the other end of Northern Crete. They are planning to stay there for a few days before taking their Ryanair flight from Chania airport back to Dublin.

So, here we are at the end of the 2014 season, safely ensconced in Crete for the winter after what has been another successful cruising season that has covered the Ionian and Aegean Seas. 

There will be much to do on Bootlegger over the coming winter including addressing the new defective sail with the supplier Waypoint in Lefkas and the manufacturer Quantum Sails in Athens who, in guaranteeing the sail, must rectify or replace it entirely with a another new one. 

Bootlegger also badly needs a new cockpit canopy / enclosure which needs to contain integral forward facing windows so one can stand in the cockpit and be able to look straight ahead and steer the boat or whatever, whilst fully protected from the elements, something one is unable to do at present. This will also require the new canopy 'roof' to be higher than at present. Hoping to have the job done here, but may be necessary to go over to Marmaris, Turkey to have it done.  

Much maintenance work is called for over the winter including winch, stern gland, engine, generator and other servicing. And then there is the lift out next Spring to have the bow thruster serviced as well as the annual antifouling. At least the relatively mild winter down here will enable the works to get done in the period and thus enable an early start in the 2015 season.