Friday, July 1, 2011

Finally a day of sailing!!

After leaving Zea Marina we motored south to Varkiza.  This is a very nice place when the wind is from any direction except south.  Wind was from the west when we arrived.  We anchored and washed a few loads of laundry and ran the watermaker.   We were the only boat anchored there.  Several hours later the wind had clocked down from west to south.  Not good.  Our boat was riding bow-to the waves.  The hobby-horse movement doesn't bother us and was not bothering the kids, but why endure any of this movement when a more comfortable anchorage is within reach before sunset?

First time sailing close hauled
Upped anchor and motored about 6 miles back north and around a point that looked on the chart to be a perfect anchorage, although it was not mentioned in the Greek Waters Pilot.  Ahhh!  So much more comfortable and calm!  Most of the way we sailed and were close hauled for about 20 minutes.  This was the first time BeBe had experienced this point of sail and she didn't know what to expect.  As soon as the boat heeled over she started screaming "we are going to die!!!"  She was convinced the boat would tip over.  I explained how the wind affects the boat when sailing from different directions.  This was the perfect opportunity because we left Varkiza close hauled, then turned north slightly and were on a beam reach, then turn more true north and were slightly downwind for a couple of miles.  So she was able to see how the same strength wind affects a sailboat as it strikes the boat from different directions.  She seems to be a born sailor, just like her cousin Zach.  Zach sailed with us for 500 miles behind the Great Barrier Reef in Australia a couple of years ago, so he is already an experienced sailor and knows all this stuff.  But she is learning quickly and will soon know as much as he does about sailing.

Sunset from unnamed anchorage
We stayed here 2 nights.  Nothing to do there because there is nowhere to land a dinghy.  But it is a nice pleasant place to anchor anytime the wind is not from the north.  There is a beach resort but it apparently is closed to yachting visitors because as we toured the bay in our dinghy a man waved us away from the beach area.  We weren't going there anyway, we were just looking around the area; but it was obvious by the man's actions that we were not welcome to go to the beach resort.   Our charts identify this bay area as Kavouronisi and it is slightly south of Voula, latitude 37.49.18N longitude 023.45.88 E.  Very heavy patches of thick grass, so use care in finding the perfect white sand patch to drop the anchor.

By the third day the wind had stopped blowing from the south; now it was a gentle breeze from WNW.  So we returned to Varkiza and anchored off the long pretty beach.  We took the dinghy ashore east of the tiny marina.  Bill let me and the kids off at the large rocks near a drainage culvert with nice flat concrete to step on and climb up.   Bill then moved the dinghy to the wall nearer the little marina and climbed up.  Ground level was even with his head when he was standing in the dinghy.  There is no way the kids or I could have climbed up that high without a ladder or something to step onto or grab onto.   I don't know how Bill does that.

Zachary directed us to the restaurant where he and his dad had eaten lunch the previous week.  Three of us enjoyed pork gyros, with Elisabeth just eating bites of the parts she liked.  She doesn't care for the yogurt sauce or onions, so now we know how to order gyros for her in the future -- just meat, tomatoes and bread.   Next Zach directed us to the bakery where we bought a few oatmeal cookies.  Elisabeth wasn't happy because she insisted she doesn't like oatmeal cookies.  Later when she had a taste, she changed her mind and decided that oatmeal cookies are indeed tasty.  

DS-ing while sailing
By the time we returned to the dinghy, the wind had clocked down to be directly out of the south -- the one angle that makes this anchorage rough.  So, up with the anchor once again to search for a more comfortable anchorage.  The wind was kicking up between 16 and 22 knots from the south by the time we motored out of the large bay, so it seemed like the perfect time to sail to the largest island between the Attica peninsula and Peloponnese.  This was the first time since arriving in Greek waters that sailing was actually possible for more than 10 minutes.  We enjoyed four hours for a 25 mile sail ranging from a beam reach to close haul.  The kids played with their DS games during the beam reach portion; with Elisabeth again screaming "we are going to die" when we were close hauled and heeled over -- with a huge grin on her face while saying she was scared.  She says she likes downwind sailing the best, but we see huge smiles when sailing close hauled so I am not convinced which she likes best.  Zach likes it all.

We first checked out the small anchorage just south of the marina on the western side of Aigina island, but it offered no shelter or protection from the southerly wind and waves.  So we motored farther south down the island to a small cove shown on our charts as Profitis Ilias Cove, latitude 37.41.96N longitude 023.27.93E.  The depth remains high until well into this small cove, then it shallows quickly.  Unfortunately, yet another beach resort has buoyed off the shallow areas for swimming; so boats can no longer get up to the best depths for anchoring.  We slowly nosed in and dropped our anchor about 1 boat length from their swimming buoys in 13 meters -- why do they need to mark off for swimming in 40 feet of water?

Not so easy to paddle a RIB
This morning the kids wanted to try paddling the dinghy.  Neither of them would accept our word for it that it is impossible to paddle an inflatable dinghy in a straight line.  They soon learned that their grandparents' experience was true. 
Paddling lessons
Bill insisted they help him wash the engine exhaust soot from the side of the boat (BeBe had a tiny lesson and learned that her "I want" does not take precedence over her grandfather's "I want"); then they took a short dinghy ride over to the next small cove.  The wind predictions are good for us to stay here again tonight and possibly also tomorrow night.  Our next stop will be either ESE or SSE; and, of course, those are exactly the directions from which the wind is predicted to blow for at least the next 2 days.  

Taverna in our little cove
There appears to be a little taverna ashore on the northern side of this little cove.  This afternoon we plan to take the kids over there and see if they will be allowed to play on the adjacent beach.  Maybe have a meal there either today or tomorrow.  This is a lovely spot and we would recommend it. 

View west from our cove

View west from Profitis Ilias Cove on Aigina Island

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