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  • Writer's pictureTiago Bertalot

2023 season at a glance, part 1

Updated: Apr 30

Leaving Izmir, Turkey, on March 24, 2023, passing through several islands and ending in Mytilini, Greece on October 27, there were 890 miles sailed and lots of stories, strong winds and adventures. Here's the first part of this new phase in Trouble Maker.

At the end of 2022 we received a proposal to move to Hong Kong, you can find out more here. One of the things we would have to do was sail the boat from Turkey to Greece because Trouble Maker has European registration and, to avoid bureaucracy, it was better to take it back to Europe. So on March 24th wecast off from Izmir to pass through Foça, still in Turkey, check out and sail to Greece, heading to the island of Lesvos (or Lesbos) in the small town of Mytilini.

  • Places visited:

Izmir 038° 24.334' N / 027° 04.119' E

Foça 038° 39.993' N/026° 45.176' E

Mytilini 039° 05.840' N/026° 33.475' E

This was perhaps the most confusing checkout of all the 6 we have done so far, it took us all day and even with the help of an agent the process was slow. The harbor master made a mess of my Dayskipper license from the RYA (Royal Yacht Association - England) saying that I could only sail boats that had an engine if they were equal to or smaller than 9 meters, which Trouble is 14 meters! And that way, he would only approve our departure if we hired a captain (hi?). I explain: the RYA Dayskipper license authorizes sailing a boat with main engine propulsion up to 10m and the sail with auxiliary engine it says nothing (but it is 24m) it turns out that he understood that our sailboat has an engine and we couldn't sail it because it is 14m long and has an engine. The guy said that the definition of auxiliary engine is an outboard engine...

My ICC License based on RYA Dayskipper

What saved us in the end was a good conversation and my Master Amateur license from Brazil. Long live Brazil, saving us from trouble, being Brazilian in these places is a huge advantage, everyone likes us (a bit pretentious here...).

Below is a video of the middle of this crossing, right on the Turkish-Greek border:

Our sail to Mytilini, just 30 miles or 55.5km, took 5h 24min. We averaged 5.5 knots or 10.1km/h, which is great considering our boat weighs 11 tons and the wind was 15 knots abeam our starboard, that is, from the side of the boat. This was a wonderful day, the wind was practically constant and despite the cold (check out the photos below) we glided through the Mediterranean waters of the Turkish coast and across the border to the Marina of Mytilini where our adventure to go to Hong Kong would begin, We were all grateful that Neptune and other gods gave us such a trouble-free passage, it was a small farewell to life on board that deep down made us doubt whether we were doing the right thing in leaving this paradise to return to life on land. A few days later we were boarding for Hong Kong.

Some photos from our last days in Greece - Mytilini - before moving to Hong Kong:

On June 3rd, Dilmar, our partner in the onboard experience project, arrived on the boat with Luciana. In the heat of summer, they faced a setback that delayed their departure for 12 long, hot days: the freshwater pump had stopped working, which seems like a simple problem, but it wasn't. After many replacements for other pumps, none of which really fitted. We had to order a new one from Germany which would take even more days to arrive. Dilmar and Luciana made an arrangement, and managed to cast off from Mytilini on June 15th, then making a complete loop around the island of Lesvos, approximately 150 miles and with several stops, some of which we would also stop later in July.

During this lap, they continued to have another chronic problem: little water coming out of the exhaust and a lot of steam. Since we left Croatia, in April 2022, we have been struggling with this problem and despite having already spent almost 1,500 euros on mechanics with dubious competence - a problem in the nautical area although we can never generalize - nothing has been resolved. There were filter changes, impeller changes, water pump changes, muffle cleaning... until finally, with acid, the last mechanic was able to resolve this issue.

It's worth a comment here: if I ever have another boat, the engine will never be the Volvo again, it was the worst experience I've ever had. Constant breakdowns, expensive parts and a terrible service network, I miss my Yanmar badly.

  • Places visited by Dilmar and Luciana:

Sakala Loutron 039° 02.647' N / 026° 31.616' E

Plomarí 038° 58.473' N / 026° 22.139' And, the capital of Ouzo, an aniseed drink typical of Greece

Aphotikes 039° 06.610' N / 026° 05.919' E

Sigri 039° 12,581' N/025° 51.150' And, from here you can go to the petrified forest of Lesvos

Mithymna (or Molyvos) 039° 22.090' N / 026° 10.111' And, unanimously, it is the most beautiful city on the island

Clockwise tour of the island of Lesvos made by Dilmar and Luciana, scroll forward to see them all:

On June 26th, Trouble Maker was back in Mytilini, ending the first sail of our partnership with great success despite the water pump still working poorly and the lack of water coming out of the exhaust. The water-pump was than replaced for a new model from Jabsco, the same brand as the previous one that lasted 20 years, the little salt water on the exhaust would have to wait a bit more. In the meantime, we had another setback that would last until the end of the season, the tachometer stopped indicating the revolutions, alarms and the number of hours the engine had been running. A simple problem at first if this weren't the part responsible for monitoring all engine parameters such as: cooling temperature, oil temperature and quantity, electrical problems, etc. Dilmar and I decided to continue the season because our first visits of 2023 would arrive in 2 days and we couldn't leave them without the experience of sailing in Greece. We carried out a detailed protocol with constant checks of the cooling temperature with a laser gun, an inspection of the engine compartment every hour to see if oil had escaped and a daily check of all hoses, levels, etc., in this way we feel safe to keep it running.

Marcos and Lucélia arrived at Trouble Maker on June 28th to begin their first ocean adventure with overnight stays in the Aegean Sea. On the first day, as usual, Dilmar gave a briefing on the boat's equipment and how the week was planned. Here there would be two possibilities, one of following around the island of Lesvos as Dilmar and Luciana had already done or heading south for approximately 35 miles to Chios and Oinoússa. Despite the beauty of Lesvos, the second option won unanimous votes!

Plomarí with a rainbow in the background

Leaving Mytilini, the Trouble Maker headed southeast to the cape of Akra Agrelios, skirting it and heading west to the small town of Plomarí, a strategic port to continue to Chios as it reduces the crossing of the islands by 47 miles or 9 hours for 32 miles, or 6 hours. Plomarí is a delightful little place to spend the first night on board, but only if the wind and waves are not entering the port. It was unfortunate to discover in practice that only with a weak north or northeast wind can one expect such calm and that first night was a little rocky. Leaving early, the short crossing, now lasting 6 hours, began with a still weak wind from the northwest, influenced by the Meltemi, enough to raise waves of up to 1 meter in the Mediterranean standard, that is, high and short and precisely on the starboard side, which immediately caused its victims and Dramin was necessary.

From Lesvos to Oinoússa with beam waves

The first stop was on the small and charming islet of Oinoússa after finally catching a friendly westerly wind with up to 20 knots. The landscape is everything you would expect from Greece, with arid mountains and few trees that are already dry at this time of summer, beaches with small pebbles and clear water and a village with little blue windows. Oinússa was once the capital of Greek ship owners, with important and wealthy businessmen and it is still possible to identify some beautiful buildings that date back to that time.

The crew found a special place to park the boat, on the city pier and facing the port's main square. If there's something wonderful about Greece, it's being able to dock in these public ports for a reasonable price, often less than 10 Euros per day and with water and electricity available, what else could a cruiser want, right? Many of these ports are extremely protected from bad weather with breakwaters and good mooring, others are more exposed and require care, like Plomarí or Chios for example. Oinoússa seemed like one of those people who can feel protected on the worst days.

The week of Onboard Experience, No Trouble was wonderful, a little calm but I believe the crew managed to enjoy the Greek air with a lot of learning, stopping at the ports and savoring everything Greece has to offer when you are cruising. Data:

Miles sailed: 131

Nights on board: 8

Ports/Anchorages visited: 6

  • Places visited by Dilmar, Luciana, Marcos and Lucélia:

Plomarí 038° 58.473' N / 026° 22.139' E

Oinússa 038° 30.841' N/026° 13.085' E

Marmaro 038° 32.513' N / 026° 06.896' E

Langhada 038° 28.636' N / 026° 07.432' E

Vrondados 038° 25.019' N / 026° 08.109' E

Chios Marina 038° 23.225' N / 026° 08.342' E

Below are some photos from this first Onboard Experience, No Trouble of 2023, scroll forward to see more:

Dilmar and Luciana on the 6th of July, now alone, sailed back to Mytilini on a great crossing of 53 miles and moored at Mytilini Marina to make the final adjustments before leaving for Brazil, ending this first phase of the 2023 season which despite the setbacks, was great.

Total sailed up to this point: 311 miles.


1. Fresh water pump (solved)

2. Pump in the hall bathroom drain does not draw water

3. Odor from the holding tank in the port cabin

4. Water leak in the toilet also in the lounge

5. Tope light or anchor light, burned

6. Tachometer/alarms/engine hours not working

Improvements: installation of a remote control to lower/raise the anchor

Coming next, part 2 of this adventure....

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