Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ios -- the sailor part of our visit

The sail from Sifnos to Ios on Monday, 08 August, was lively and fast!  Aaron probably did not think it was a fast trip -- laying down in the passage berth doped up with seasickness meds.  But the rest of us had a great time.  

Sailing to Ios
And we need not have worried about the baby getting seasick again.  He did just fine on the last trip and did great today.  I really believe that his seasickness the first trip was caused by eating and drinking too much prior to departing the dock and then reading and focusing on a book.  This time we closely monitored how much liquid he consumed; fed him only dry foods; and made him look up at the horizon frequently.  Takes some effort to
Cold sailing in August
convince a 2-year-old to stop concentrating on his magnetic trains sticking to a book and to look at a bunch of boring water
Too rough sailing --  just sleep
swooshing past the boat.  He did great even with the rougher conditions today.   The kids each handled sailing in his or her own way.  The baby never slept and remained active; BeBe was cold but remained awake; Zach was not cold and he slept most of the way.

As we approached Ios the wind increased to sustained over 25 knots from the north.  We entered the long harbor and scouted out the tiny harbor to the right.  Boats are no longer permitted to anchor off the beach in this bay because the large ferries need that area for turning room.  Yachts must moor/dock to the harbor wall or docks.  This was not our most successful docking.

Bill dropped the anchor and backed toward the outer dock on the right-hand side of the harbor.  We were going to the starboard side of a red motor yacht, with an old steel Italian yacht on our starboard side.  What a grizzled old dude that Italian was!  Huge bushy gray beard; skinny as a rail; brown as a cigar; and wearing a Speedo.  We had a horrible time getting in because of the wind blowing our bow toward the Italian yacht.  And, then, once we were finally tied up, the motor yacht on our port side said that our anchor was dropped over his and that he was leaving first thing the next morning.  We needed to pull the anchor and re-set.  So, we untied the dock lines; motored forward; pulled the anchor; and did it all again.  Our performance was no better the second time.   Eventually we were tied up.  Then the Italian man said we were now over his anchor.  Why the hell didn't he say something BEFORE helping us tie off the dock lines!  And he also was planning to leave the next morning.  But he agreed that he would handle it the usual way described below.

Bill found the Port Police and had our transit log stamped.  We planned to be in Ios until Sunday, 14 August.  Next we all walked to a harbor side restaurant called Enigma for a nice lunch.   Shortly after arriving back at the boat, a charter catamaran arrived carrying the most enormous speakers and elaborate sound system that we have ever seen in a boat of any kind.  This cat was tricked out like the booming cars one sees back in Houston.  And it was filled with young men, playing their choice of music loud enough for the entire town to hear -- including the mountaintop chora area.  Ios is well-known as "THE" party island of all Greece, and is very popular with the younger set.  But this was really too much.  We stayed mostly inside our own boat and ignored the party music.  Several hours later a resident on the hillside walked down to the Port Police and complained about the loud music.  The Port Police visited the cat and the volume was lowered to a somewhat more acceptable loud level.  Still wasn't really bothering us.  I liked the kind of music they were playing.  We turned on the rear air-conditioning to drown out the music noise so the baby could go to sleep that night.

The music volume crept higher and higher and soon the Port Police were back down at the cat asking for the captain.  The captain was not aboard, but the Port Police did manage to make the charter customers turn down the volume.  This was around 22:00.  The captain returned and learned of the second visit by the Port Police, and the music was immediately turned down to an acceptable level.  Around 23:00 everyone left to go party.

At 06:00 the following morning Bill and I were awakened by 2 girls standing right at the stern of our boat and yelling at one another in German.  They were surrounded by several of their friends, most of whom were carrying bottles of beer.  It looked like they were going to go to fisticuffs any second.  But the smaller girl ran back to the catamaran and returned with some keys.  She threw the keys at her 'friend' and the group dispersed.  Ah, hah.  The smaller girl had returned to the catamaran with one of the charter guys and she had the hotel keys belonging to the taller girl.  Harbor drama early on a Sunday morning by drunk young German women, aided by also-drunk young American men.  As the 6 or 7 German girls walked away toward town, the catamaran slipped its dock lines and motored away from the dock to retrieve its anchor.  The second the dock lines were uncleated from the dock, the music was turned up to full volume -- where it remained until the cat departed the harbor.  So childish!  They were showing the Port Police that they would do what they damn well pleased as soon as the Port Police had no authority over the captain.  By this time I was sitting in the cockpit drinking coffee and enjoying the harbor drama.  When the music cranked up, heads started popping up out of hatches all the way around the harbor wall and docks.  It was funny.

The motor yacht on our port side departed without incident.  The Italian yacht on our starboard side had all kinds of difficulties.  Sure enough, our anchor chain overlapped his.  The way to deal with this is that the boat #1 pulls his anchor chain in until the overlapping chain of boat #2 is brought up near the surface on top of the chain of boat #1.  Then a short rope is looped beneath the top chain and tied off on boat #1.  This normally requires that boat #2 let out additional chain, sometimes quite a lot of additional chain depending on depth and how far out the overlapping occurs.  Then boat #1 lowers his anchor a little and maneuvers his boat until his anchor can be brought completely up to the bow roller.  Then the short rope securing the chain of boat #2 is released and boat #1 goes on his way.  Boat #2 takes back up any additional chain he had to let out.  Simple.  We have done this before when we overlapped their chain in Sri Lanka.  And we have watched many people do it here in the Med.  Tangled anchor chain is a common problem in tight spaces where boats Med-moor.  That is why the lazy line system is much preferred -- no tangled anchors.

Only problem this time is that the Italian guy had a large fisherman's anchor.  Unwieldy thing.  It turned and twisted round and round with our anchor chain as he brought it up.  It was a huge mess and there was no way he was going to be able to extricate it.  So Bill dropped our dinghy into the water; quickly mounted the outboard; and zoomed out to help.  The entire time this was happening I was sitting in the helm seat with the engine running and the bow thruster down just in case we needed to maneuver our boat.  Bill and the Italian finally got the anchor chains untwisted and the Italian boat left the harbor.  I began pulling in the excess anchor chain with the control at our helm.  

And it just kept coming and coming and coming.  I had let out 68 meters in order for them to free the overlapped anchor.  Soon there was only 22 meters out.  That would never do.  It should have been more like 40 meters; definitely no less than 36.

At this point a Greek man on the dock offered to help Bill re-set the anchor.  They went out and tried pulling up the anchor into the dinghy.   They struggled and managed to get the anchor up into the dinghy, but the anchor chain was so heavy that the 15hp outboard was not able to propel the dinghy and anchor and chain out to where the anchor needed to be dropped in order to re-set it.  This was getting a bit ridiculous.  

And, just to add more drama to the mix, another charter boat filled with twenty-something guys and gals arrived while all this was going on and decided to back up on our port side where the motor yacht had left.  There were several empty spaces; I do not understand why they chose the one space that had a spring line tied across it to a bollard on the dock.  In anticipation of dealing with the overlapping anchor mess, Bill has tied a long spring line to a far dock bollard after the motor yacht departed.  This prevented the wind from moving our boat into the Italian as he motored away from the dock and dealt with the fouled anchor chains.  The charter guys asked me to remove the spring line.  I told them, "Sure.  As soon as we finish dealing with the fouled anchors."  This question / answer scenario was repeated at least 6 times.  Finally I got annoyed and told them that they could see we were dealing with a fouled anchor before they backed in; that I was not going to remove the spring line until the anchor was re-set because it was holding us from turning in the cross-wind; and that they could wait until we were finished or they could move to another space.  Their choice.  They decided to wait.

Since Bill and the local man could not bring the anchor out because the chain was so heavy, the only remedy was for me to retrieve all the anchor chain and then lower the anchor and chain into the dinghy.  This is what we did.  I let out 50 meters of chain into the dinghy.  They motored out to the correct spot and dropped the anchor.  We let it settle about 1 minute and then I started bringing in the excess chain.  Sure enough, at 39 meters the chain snugged tightly and the anchor was well-set.  Now I removed the spring line and the charter boat finished docking.  Told them all along that I would remove it when our anchor was re-set.  Don't know why they kept bugging me about it when they could see we were dealing with the anchor.

About 5 minutes after we were properly re-set the local man who had helped Bill returned and suggested to Bill that we move to the inner harbor wall.  The winds were predicted to start howling from a more northeasterly direction on 11 August and he said the dock area where we were would become completely untenable.  There was an empty space right next to his boat on the inner wall.  Another boat had just left there while we were dealing with our anchor.  Bill made an instant decision to move before another boat arrived and took that spot.  Release the dock lines; pull the anchor back up; turn around and back up to the inner harbor wall; picking up the lazy line to secure the bow.  Loved it!

The local man was right.  By Thursday morning all boats had vacated the outer dock.  Waves 1.5 meters high were crashing into the docks out there.  Whitecaps covered the outer harbor and bay.  While in the very tiny inner harbor there was barely a breeze.  The only bad thing about being on the inner harbor wall is the surge from the fast large ferries.  That surge causes the boats to move back and forth.  It is essential that your boat be docked at least 2 meters from the harbor wall.  We have a long passarelle, so that was not a problem.  But that forward and back movement when the ferries arrived or departed really got to me.  I am accustomed to boats moving side-to-side.  It is not normal for a boat to move forward-to-backward.  I had to hold onto something every single time.

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