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  • Writer's pictureTiago Bertalot

2023 Season, ripped sail

We returned to the boat in July, faced strong winds, breakages and had wonderful moments in paradisiacal places.


Now it's our turn to sail, we miss life on board

A few weeks after Dilmar and Luciana returned to Brazil, I was still waiting for the plane courses to start and we were on vacation so we decided, at the last minute to take a trip that passed at Trouble Maker, we missed sailing in family.


Initially we went to France and landed in Paris on July 21st. There we spent great days visiting the city and its charms, coincidentally we even met a couple of friends from Brazil who were strolling there too. We stayed for a few days but the cold made us think more and more about going to Greece and really enjoying the real summer!



 

On the 25th of July we landed in Mytilini, and as soon as we got off the plane we could feel the heat we so wanted. We went to the marina and lazyly, we didn't do anything much that day.


Toasting being back at the marina

We woke up early next day and went to do the usual checks on the boat and straight away the engine (yes, it again) was releasing more white vapor than before which made us a little worried. In any case, we couldn't go out as the wind was very strong from the north, with gusts of up to 35 knots. We decided to continue with the small maintenance that was necessary and do a general cleaning as at this time in Greece the dry air combines with the strong wind and brings a lot of dust that covers the entire boat, inside and outside.



We spent three days cleaning, tidying, doing maintenance and getting everything ready to go. We were excited and in a hurry to enjoy the Greek summer.

 
Our first outing and a tear in the sail

On the fourth day the wind dropped and a window of weather opened so that we could finally leave, we were all excited to leave the marina behind and so we raised the sails and continued heading southwest towards a bay called Nisos Tilisa, still in the island of Lesvos. The wind, continuously coming from the north, with just over 5 knots, pushed us slowly and the sea was so smooth that Manu and Giovanni were playing chess on the cockpit table. It couldn't be better, we were there happy and expecting a wonderful day ahead, but the sailor's luck can change as quickly as the wind.



While passing off Cape Akra Agrélios we were surprised by a strong gust of almost 40 knots coming across us, the boat tilted throwing the chess pieces on the ground and immediately the autopilot was unable to hold the course and disarmed, the boat swerved and faced the wind.


In that confusion and surprise, we maneuvered the boat to try to furl the all open genoa, and with the strong wind it began to pan violently, ripping the engine light off the mast, exposing the wires and opening a half-meter tear in the jib. As it was impossible to furl up against the wind, we turned the boat downwind and with the genoa hidden behind the main we were able to gain better control and furl it calmly. With these damages, we decided to return to Mytilini to sew the sail, fix the navigation light and check the autopilot who was now "dead". After passing the high wind area, it was calm again for 15 miles and we had to motor the whole way. It's incredible how situations can change so radically when sailing (maybe too close to) the islands!



We were stuck in Mytilini for a few more days, which was extremely frustrating. We lowered the genoa and did a manual repair that took hours but turned out great, we hired a service to climb the mast and try to change the light, which would take more than two months to happen.


The autopilot was more difficult because access to the control computer is difficult and as we had already tested everything, it was the only one that could have caused a defect, and it was, a fuse was blown in the module's internal power input, it seems simple but it took 2 days to be found.


Finally our saloon toilet started leaking everywhere. Pumping out the dirt, some of it remained on the bathroom floor and there was no more fix to it, we had to buy a complete new toilet, which was a super upgrade, but took another 2 days to arrive and again the wind was picking up with gusts of 35 knots forcing us to stay docked, frustrating!

 
We finally left Mytilini

Our vacation was coming to an end and we still hadn't spent a night outside the marina! The work of changing the engine light (and deck) would take weeks to be done and the frustration increased daily inside the boat, so, even with some things still to be done, on 31st of July, 6 days after we landed in Mytilini, the decision was to leave and so we did. We headed towards that little beach that was our initial destination from the beginning: Nisos Tilisa.

We opened our sails and decided that it was better to keep a greater distance from the coast to avoid katabatic winds like the one that tore our genoa and we stayed at 10 miles which proved to be very correct, less gusts of wind and fishing buoys, we were gliding at 5 knots without any setbacks. The feeling of leaving the marina and finally returning to the sea was fantastic, we were happy again.


Nisos Tilisa 038° 58.778' N / 026° 30.875' E

Hidden behind 3 rock islets and with a mountain forming an arm that leaves only an entrance to the south, this bay is protected and isolated. It certainly goes unnoticed by those who sail off the south coast of Lesvos, here even cell phone reception has been forgotten. This little paradise now was just ours. We dropped the anchor at a depth of 8 meters, the anchor settled perfectly and it remained that way for 3 days. We took advantage of the rest of the afternoon to swim despite the water still being cold! Suddenly, with the strong katabatic gusts, our unicorn buoy decided to take a sail alone to far away, there was nothing we could do as the wind was too strong to go out with the dingy!

We spent the rest of the day living the life without clocks or commitments and now without the unicorn.



As night fell, the wind came even stronger down the mountain, which turned to be great: our natural air conditioning ensuring a good sleep. The moonlight was incredible, it made everything as clear as day and with the binoculars we spent a few hours philosophizing and thinking about the privilege of being there isolated, looking for that beautiful moon rising slowly from the mountains. Could we wished for more? I guess not, life is too beautiful on a sailboat.



The next day we went to visit a small chapel and the only 2 houses in the village. We were scared by some stray dogs that were interested in us, outsiders, they were not that friendly barking on us we decided we were not welcome on land at that place. On the way back to the boat we took a few more dives and in the end we decided to set up an expedition to search for the unicorn. With the dingy andou our small 2.3 Honda outboard we went out touring the surroundings of the bay, I was already without much hope but Giovanni managed to see it in the middle of some rocks, the rescue was successful.


By the third day, with the arrival of another sailboat and some loud music we decided it was time to leave, our corner was no longer ours, that is the romanticism of cruising sailing: the freedom to stay alone as long as you want. We weighed anchor and headed towards a new place to explore.


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

In a very short sail, almost entirely by motor, on the 2nd of August we arrived at the small port of Plomarí, which was highly recommended by Dilmar. There you dock stern-to by dropping the anchor from the bow (Med Mooring), a maneuver that we have done many times and which was peaceful as there was no wind or another sailboat stopped, we were the only ones and once again we were alone.


We went to the port authority to pay the port fee of 16 Euros per day and then bought the card that gives access to water and electricity for an additional 15 Euros. With everything organized we headed for lunch at a very charming restaurant on the edge of the fishing port, Greece never disappoints when it comes to food: good and cheap. From there we saw some masts passing far away, it was the end of the alone state, when we returned to Trouble Maker there were already 4 other sailboats parked on both sides.


Octopuses drying in the sun outside the restaurant

Plomarí is not suitable for any wind other than northwest and the forecast was favorable with calm winds for a few days. But, as the forecast sometimes fails, the wind came in from the northeast, taking us sideways, we didn't worry because our anchor was well set, we wouldn't have any problems if not for a very heavy aluminum boat that was on our port side to get loose and come up of us! The captain was not on board and a small committee was formed with other boaters to help keep the boat away from Trouble Maker and at the same time move the stern of the other boat away from hitting the harbor wall. With the arrival of the captain, a man with a lot of experience, everything was arranged. But the boat on the starboard side now also got loose and had to re-anchor and then crossed the anchor chain with ours, anchor salad as they say there. It happens, but we realized it was time to leave and the next morning we lifted our anchor (without causing too much trouble with the other boat's chain) and left, happy to leave the mess of the port behind, even so, Plomarí is Really charming and worth the visit.


Pamfilla 038° 9.628' N / 026° 32.092' E

Pamfilla, we didn't even get off the boat

With a very fine and already warm breeze, on the morning of 3rd of August we began our route, it would take approximately 05 hours and 45 minutes of motoring if the wind didn't change, which ended up happening.


That day we noticed that the traffic of ships and ferries was intense, some crossing at three times our speed or more, until, in a brief moment of distraction, we didn't notice a ferry at very high speed approaching from our starboard side and, therefore, in a direct line with the right of way and we only realized how close it was when he blew the whistle heavily, what a shock! We immediately changed course by 90 degrees, and as we crossed, I guarantee that the captain must have cursed us in Greek and 3 other languages, that was so close! From then on we doubled our attention, we had been sailing for 4 hours and were tired from the noise of the engine, so double attention was a must!


We still motored for another 1h and 45min and finally arrived at this anchorage that doesn't have many references either in apps like Navily or in pilot books, so we didn't really know what to expect regarding the bottom and protection from winds and waves and we had to rely on our experience from the region, in the end it proved a great place and we updated Navily.


We didn't go to the city here, we enjoyed the late day sunbathing, swimming, chatting and reading until bedtime. The next morning we would leave for the last place we planned to sail on, Nisos Apronisos.


Nísos Aspronisos 039° 17.712' N / 026° 26.102' E

We woke up early on 08/04 to get to this archipelago as soon as possible as there are few places with sand patches to drop anchor and we read that during the day several tourist boats go there, so we wanted to guarantee the best place and it was worth it. We arrived and there was only a small boat on the corner of one of the beaches. The anchor was dropped on one of the few sandbanks and the water was so transparent that we saw it touching the bottom 6 meters deep as if there was no water. From the distance, it looked like Trouble Maker was floating in the air so clear was this water!


We mounted the outboard on the dingy and went around the islands which are connected by shallow sandy inlets that we passed without difficulty with the short shaft of our outboard. We took photos and spent the whole day in the water, only stopping for the nice greek salad Mari made for us. We were thrilled with the place, with the nature and, even with the arrival of other boats, nothing changed the beautiful scenery with the islands that only had goats as inhabitants.


Is this what they call paradise?

According to the pilot book, it is not recommended to stay there at night as there is no protection from any wind or sea, but at the end of the day with red skies and a forecast of zero wind to cause waves, we decided to stay. In any case, if it became too uncomfortable we already had a plan B, returning to the previous anchorage, which was not necessary.



Our last day before mooring again in Mytilini started in the best way possible, a very gently breeze and a great breakfast. We prepared the boat to continue towards the marina and raised the anchor, already missing this little paradise that we would have to leave behind in exchange for staying in the marina cramped and in the heat.


Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky in morning, sailor's warning
Boat returns to Mytilini Marina

A few minutes after leaving the islets behind, we opened the main and genoa for the only day with any reasonable wind for sailing. The boat soon tilted and started to gain speed, the 15 knot wind meant we were going at 6 knots speed, which would be great if the wind wasn't exactly in the opposite direction to what we needed! We tacked, trying to find a good angle so as not to have to start the engine and repeatedly sailing to the border with Turkey and returning to the coast of Lesvos. A few hours later we surrendered and started the engine again to make the last few miles to the Mytilini marina.


Trouble Maker safely back at the marina
 
Metímna by bus

Taking the advantage of the fact that the boat was already safe at the marina and we didn't have much else to pack, we took a bus to visit a city on the other side of the island of Lesvos, Metímna. This village is the best known to tourists on this island and it really surprised us, very beautiful and picturesque.



We walked through the streets with lots of plants covering the path, everywhere there was someone playing music, and tourists, just like us, were everywhere. Maybe it would be a great place to stop by boat if the wind wasn't so strong on that side of the island.




 
End of our vacation

We returned to Hong Kong and were left with the feeling that it would not be possible to continue with the boat so far away from us. The days lost in maintenance, the cost of marinas and the lack of enough vacation days to enjoy life on board had taken their toll and, even without anyone saying a single word, we knew that this was the end of our sailing adventure in the Mediterranean, it was time to put Trouble up for sale. Together with Dilmar, we made the decision to finalize all the 2023 itineraries and then put the boat on the market. Many adventures would still happen before finally saying goodbye to Trouble, but that was the end of our sailing in family in the Med.



Even so, some more adventures are still to come, in the next post I will be alone with Dilmar and a friend and we will go around the island of Chios. Coming soon.


Fair Winds,

Tiago

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