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Saturday, June 30, 2012


Nordhavn 40 owner, Colin Rae, has posted the question on the blog “when you anchor out and go ashore, are there dinghy docks, or do you just tie the dinghy (tender) up somewhere convenient, or drag it ashore?” Well this has prompted a short dissertation about dinghies! Within a few days I’ll update the blog on our progress etc.
A suitable and robust tender is essential equipment for a live-aboard vessel. It greatly enhances safety and enjoyment, and serves varied uses including:
- Transport to and from shore for up to four people, not always in perfect conditions, often quite a distance from shore, and sometimes with visitors’ luggage.
- Carrying heavy loads, such as supplies, from shore typically with two people aboard.
- Recreational use – the boating life is all about fun, and a suitable tender adds immensely to your ability to safely explore places of interest nearby to the anchored mother-ship, to undertake diving or fishing trips etc.
- Taking lines ashore when mooring stern-to the shore, as is typical in many offshore destinations.
- Deploying and retrieving extra anchors or stern anchors.
- Helping to moor in tight spaces – if you have sufficient crew, one experienced can use the tender to help hold your vessel against the wind or push her into position.
- As an aid to safety, for example assisting in a man overboard situation, or as an additional life raft if weather and sea conditions allow its use.
- Acting as a platform for cleaning and doing maintenance work on the hull when at anchor.
What type of tender is best?
It wasn’t too many years ago that most tenders were traditional wooden dinghies, mostly rowed, but some also powered by small outboards.
Nowadays the tender market is totally dominated by Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs or RIBs. There is however some argument in favour of aluminium tenders where owners do a lot of fishing (fish dorsal spines can puncture inflatable pontoons), or pull their tenders up on very rocky beaches.
RHIBs have the huge benefits of excellent stability and load-carrying ability, robustness, light weight for size, being virtually unsinkable, being able to come alongside a vessel without causing damage, and ease of repair - there is no better testimonial to RHIB’s than their widespread adoption for police, military, search and rescue, and commercial work.
Their few disadvantages would be poor rowing performance compared with wooden or aluminium dinghies (particularly with passengers aboard), the danger of damage to inflatable pontoons in situations like contact with rocks or sharp protrusions from jetties, and long-term deterioration of the pontoons from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The latter two issues can be mostly overcome by fitting “chaps” over the pontoons to protect them, and we have these on our larger RHIB.
Another disadvantage applicable only to small RHIBs compared with conventional dinghies, is they can be rather wet when powering into or across small, but choppy wind-driven seas. This does not apply to medium-sized, higher powered RHIBs which plane over the chop.
Envoy has two RHIBs - the larger one 3.7m long with a 25HP 4-stroke outboard, weighing all-up about 260kg, and a smaller one 2.7m long with a 2.3HP 4-stroke outboard, weighing about 35kg without the motor.
If we were to carry only one tender it would be our larger one as this has met all of our usage requirements, including planing with four people aboard, and being towed in winds up to 50 knots and seas to two metres without problems. But the weight of this RHIB represents its disadvantage, as it can only be launched and retrieved with our electric boom winch, and then only in calm conditions with light winds. For that reason we considered there was a safety risk in case of power failure, winch failure, cable breakage or bad weather, as well as an inconvenience, so we bought the second smaller RHIB.
Most of the time there are only two of us aboard Envoy, and then we normally use our 2.7m RHIB, which without the motor fitted, can easily be manually launched from Envoy’s foredeck by one person, and retrieved by two. This one is ideal for going ashore, and lifting out of the water onto a beach. There are no dinghy docks, except in the fanciest of marinas, so we are normally faced with beaching our RHIB or mooring to a rough concrete wall, or an equally rough wooden jetty with all kinds of sharp protrusions. For this reason fenders (buffers) are essential. Another option we sometimes use is to anchor the RHIB a short distance off the beach with a stern line ashore.
We’ve not had any security issues when leaving our tender, but do normally remove the ignition key (large RIB) or kill switch lanyard (small RIB).

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Santorini has very poor anchoring options in strong winds, especially from the south, and our daughter Amy was due to arrive from London one morning at 0615, meaning we needed to be anchored the night before somewhere safe. Fortunately the weather gods were smiling, and we had only a light westerly breeze and no swell, enabling us to anchor off Kamari Beach on the eastern side of the island. As often happens, this is not mentioned in the cruising guides, which are just that – a “guide”, and not the gospel.

Kamari Beach at Santorini was perfect for anchoring in the light winds

We had all been to Santorini before so didn’t stay there, but headed north to Manganari on the island of Ios. The next day Di and I took a walk ashore on a beautiful, clean sandy beach, and were questioned by two Port Police – they had noticed Envoy, and thought she was a foreign fishing boat.

Amy and I enjoying a beer in very crude Taverna on Manganari beach at Ios

Amy and Laurie swimming at Manganari Beach, Ios

Ios has one of the best Choras we’ve seen with fascinating, narrow cobble-stone alleyways to explore, filled with interesting shops, and tavernas. Here we noticed quite a few “Staff Wanted” signs on shops and tavernas, so despite overall 22% unemployment in Greece, there are jobs around. We were told that until recently Greek Government workers were able to retire at age 52 on a pension of 90% of their previous wage – what country can afford that? Now pensions have been cut by 50% to about Euro 700 (NZ$1,167) per month, and retirement age increased to (still a very young) 62
I wanted to buy a guitar string, and asked a shopkeeper if there was a music shop on Ios. The answer was no, but he directed me to an art shop run by a musician, and there we met Thomas, who teaches guitar, writes his own music and has released 40 albums. He played us a selection of his music, gave me the guitar string I needed, and we bought two of his albums. I have said before, that we never go ashore without something interesting happening, and here it is again.

Laurie with musician, Thomas

Laurie back in action with guitar

The Aegean is notorious for the “Meltemi” wind – a NW that kicks in at 25-35 knots and creates a vicious short, sharp one to two metre chop, with the odd larger wave. This doesn’t sound much, but the waves are steep and close together. Some friends of ours who sailed their yacht across the Atlantic said they’d rather have a 30 knot wind in the Atlantic than in the Med. Anyway this time a SW was forecast at about 30 knots so we decided to shelter at the island of Amorgos – somewhere we’d been before in 2007. Here the jetty backs into the SW so whatever was coming our way didn’t matter. The cost was a very reasonable Euro 10 (NZ$16) per day including power. Boating back in New Zealand, when we get a strong wind warning (a regular event), or even a gale warning, we don’t think much of it. But it’s very different over here, where we’re not familiar with the anchorages, and we always “play it safe”.
One day we hired a car for a tour of Amorgos Island. The most famous attractions here are the Chora and the Panayia Monastery - built into the side of a grim, craggy, towering cliff high above the Aegean Sea, and accessible only by a steep, stepped pathway. It’s not clear when the monastery was built, but it’s known to have been renovated in the 11th century – so that makes it pretty old. The monks are very traditional, so men are only allowed to visit wearing long trousers and proper shirts, while women must wear a modest skirt and blouse.

Enjoying a drink at the Chora at Amorgos

The steep pathway to the Panayia Monastery

The Monastery is accessed through a small door, now reached by steps but in former times by ladder

Near the Monastery is a tiny cove where one small fishing boat is hauled into a cave, while another is suspended above the sea

Later we found the wreck of the 1,000 ton coaster, Olympia, driven ashore by a gale in 1979. It was quite eerie as we snorkelled around the wreck expecting a conger eel to emerge from within at any moment. Many scenes from the movie “The Big Blue” were filmed around here.

The wreck of the Olympia at Amorgos

That evening, we found an absolutely great, inexpensive restaurant, only 30 metres along the wharf from Envoy and enjoyed a fabulous meal. The owner / chef, Vangelis, said “I am really an electronics engineer, and I only run this restaurant for fun”. Judging by his build, he has plenty of fun!

Diane and Amy with jovial chef, Vangelis

There was only one problem with the harbour at Amorgos. Here in the Med it’s very common that you drop your anchor, then back into your berth. But at Amorgos they have two jetties at right angles to each other, so the anchor chains end up like macramé, and I had to spend some time in the dinghy untangling other boats’ anchor chains from ours.
Fortunately the wind had dropped, as this can be a serious issue in strong winds.

Envoy anchored in Katapola Bay, Amorgos

Next stop was the island of Nisos Skinhousa. We had been here previously in 2007, and although the bay was “crowded” with five yachts, we dropped our anchor and reversed back to tie to the shore in a depth of 1.7m. Here was magic – the water clean, crystal clear and warm, a great sandy beach ashore, and we did lots of swimming.

Amy swimming in Skinhousa - Envoy's stern lines in water

Later in the afternoon we visited the hill-top Chora, and had evening drinks in a taverna with superb views across the bays, then had a great dinner of shrimps and pasta.

View from the taverna at Shinhousa’s hilltop Chora

Dining out in Skinhousa

We planned to finish our trip with Amy in Naxos, from where she could take a ferry back to Santorini for her return flight to London. Naxos is great, and we anchored under the breakwater to shelter from a 20 knot NW and 1.5m choppy swell.
Naxos is hugely historical, and we explored first the old town, and then the Venetian Kastro.

Envoy anchored behind breakwater at Naxos

View of Naxos from Envoy

Soon it was time for sad goodbyes – where did eight days go to? Anyway our family is used to this, and we always focus on the next getting-together and adventures to come.
After Amy left, we moved on to Aliki, on Paros Island
Nothing to report.
Up to 15 June have spent 77 days aboard, and cruised 543NM for 98 engine hours

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


We’ve heard that the Turkish Ministry of Interior has eased its position regarding residency permits for cruisers. In a document published 14/5/12 they openly state that cruisers are beneficial to their economy, and that’s the reason for the change. Cruisers will no longer need to provide a Turkish address or have a long term marina contract in order to obtain residency. The accepted address will now be that of the boat specified in the Transit Log. The process still involves some additional cost and inconvenience compared to the previous 90 day renewable visa system, but is a welcome move. Astypalea is one of the most sheltered island groups in the Aegean, and we spent a few days in a bay called Maltezana, mentioned in the last post as so-named because it was a lair for Maltese pirates preying on shipping plying across the Aegean. Here there is a memorial to a French Naval Officer, Captain Bisson, who was sailing an under-crewed captured prize-ship, Panayoti, back to France with some pirate prisoners aboard in 1862. He was forced by bad weather to shelter in a small cove near Maltezana, and here some pirates escaped and met the Maltese pirates ashore. That night two boats containing about 140 pirates attacked the ship, and knowing that he had no chance, and not wanting the ship to fall into the hands of pirates, Captain Bisson, blew the ship up, killing himself and a good many of the boarding pirates.
Memorial to Captain Bisson who blew up his ship killing many pirates

While anchored here a Dutch-built 18m trawler, Sarah Jane, similar to a Nordhavn joined us. She is crewed by a Croatian couple, Captain Raoul, and his wife, Ditsi, who were taking the vessel to Rhodos to meet the owners. One of the owners is the Irish-born author, Caroline Faver, who recently wrote an excellent cookbook. We all got on great and Raoul gave us some useful advice about cruising in Croatia.
Sarah Jane was built from steel in 1962, powered by a 1930 Gardner 180hp engine. This engine is nearly three times the size of our 143hp engine, and cruises at a very low 900 rpm for 7.5 knots at 14 litres/hour. Her extra 4m in length compared with Envoy gives her a much more spacious cockpit, as well as accommodation for 12, including the two crew, in five cabins, and an engine room you can walk around in. Unusually for a motor vessel she has a wind-driven power generator, and Raoul said this supplies about 75% of their power needs at anchor.

Dutch steel trawler, Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane and Envoy anchored in Maltezana

No this is not one of the Maltese pirates, but Captain Raoul of Sarah Jane, Laurie and Ditsi

Colorful local fishing boat

Astypalea has a hill-top chora, with the remains of a Genoese 15th century castle, inhabited until the 1950s, when an earthquake severely damaged it.
Historically the inhabitants of the castle had an understanding with the local pirates, and all co-existed on the island.

15th century Genoese castle and Chora in Astypalea

We met a butcher here with a distinct Australian accent, and it turned out he was born in Sydney to Greek parents who returned to the family home in Astypalea when he was 14, and he’s stayed there since.
En-route to Santorini we anchored off the island of Anafi for a night, and had dinner ashore at a quaint taverna. Like many small Tavernas, they have no menu but just tell you what food selection is available.

The small port on Anafi Island

Above - Envoy anchored off Anafi Island with flopper stoppers out to reduce rolling in the swell
Popy’s Taverna on Anafi Island.

Nothing to report – great! New house-bank batteries have been ordered from Deka agent in Italy to be delivered to us in Corfu (Greece) early August. By sheer coincidence that’s the arrival time of Doug & Mary. Doug is an electrician and battery expert.
To 2 June 64 days aboard, cruised 291NM for 54 engine hours

Friday, June 01, 2012


All is going well – summer is now starting to settle with temps around 25d, although the sea is still a slightly breath-taking 21d. We’ve had a week of unsettled, windy weather causing us to pay close attention to the forecasts, as out here in the islands of the Aegean Sea you have to pick your shelter carefully. There are a few cruising yachts around – mostly local, plus French, German and Dutch - although it’s anything but crowded.
Obviously Greece is having its financial problems – but there’s no sign of this at all in the Greek islands where life seems normal. However work is mostly related to tourism, and we’re told that tourist numbers are down because potential visitors are discouraged by what they see in the media about events on the mainland. Island residents make their money in the six months from May to October - after that many of them are involved in harvesting olives. One lady told us that in Athens the average wage is only about Euros 600 (NZ$1,000) per month, and that typical rent is about Euro 400 (NZ$667) leaving very little to live on. In the islands they are better off because most of them plant vegetables, have fruit and olive trees, keep goats and chickens, and in many cases go fishing.
We spent five days at the sleepy island of Tilos - moving to different anchorages as the wind shifted from W to a strong SE, and then back to W again. The wind itself isn’t the problem so much as the seas that get whipped up - at the main harbour of Livadhiou waves were breaking over the top of the breakwater.
For the first time this year we used our flopper-stoppers to effectively reduce Envoy’s roll in a residual swell entering the anchorage.
Di & I both like Rugby League, and we had a great lunch ashore watching the 1st Australian State of Origin match on laptop via WiFi. Brian take note as you’ll be here for the 3rd and final game.
We’ve said before that every island seems to have a military base and police station, and Tilos’s police station seemed quite large for the population of 533.

It’s only 14NM from Tilos to Nisiros, where we spent three days. Nisiros doesn’t have a safe anchorage, so we berthed in the small, all-weather harbour of Palon, for a reasonable cost of Euro 19 (NZ$32) per day including power.
Envoy berthed in Palon harbour

Looking down on Palon harbour

Nisiros is also quiet, and has a population of only 1,000 but is more interesting than Tilos – it is the only Greek island with a volcano, which last erupted in 1422. Here we hired a car and spent a day touring the island, including the volcano’s crater, the quaint choras (hilltop villages) of Emborios and Nikia, and the main village of Mandraki with its two castles – one ancient, and one medieval.

In the chora of Emborious

Lonely Planet describes Emborios as “empty, with the silence broken only by the braying of a donkey or the grunting of pigs”, but we found the mixture of ruins and reconstructed dwellings in the narrow, winding, cobblestone streets interesting. There’s always something special to discover, and we found it in a one-room taverna, where there was a photo on the wall of a Greek Army Captain, Evaugelos Hatzievangelou, executed by Germans in that same room in February 1945. An adjacent mirror was left in the same condition as on that terrible day, much of its glass shattered by bullets.

Photo of Greek Captain killed by Germans, and shattered mirror.

A view from inside the volcano’s crater

A noticeable feature of Nisiros is the hugely extensive terracing of the hillsides, and you can only wonder in awe at the man-hours of labour that were required to do this. Their purpose was to make flat sections of ground for the planting of crops, to hold the rain water (there being no natural water supply), and prevent soil erosion. Although the crops are gone today, the legacy is little erosion and green, fertile slopes.

Nisiros is extensively terraced to hold water and prevent soil erosion

Normal cars are too large to negotiate the narrow streets of the older parts of villages, and these three-wheel cars powered by 2-stroke motorcycle engines are very popular.

After visiting Simi, Tilos and Nisiros, we were reminded of three things about Greece.
Firstly it is noticeably cleaner than Turkey – where there is a huge litter problem, despite numerous rubbish bins being available. Secondly the small towns and villages have more “atmosphere” with numerous historical buildings, and narrow, winding cobblestone streets. Thirdly the taverna food is just as good, but lower-priced. Typically we start with fresh bread with olive oil, garlic and oregano for Euro 0.50 (NZ$0.85) each, have a wide selection of appetizers for about Euro 3 (NZ$5) each, and main courses at about Euro 5-7 (NZ$8-12) each. Main courses are wide in variety including the traditional Greek dishes souvlaki, stifado, moussaka, pastas and local specialties like roasted goat, rabbit in oregano, rooster in red sauce, grilled octopus, fried calamari. Beer is typically sold for Euro 2.50 (NZ$4) and house wines for Euro 3 (NZ$5) per half-litre. If you order wine by the glass you pay about Euro 1.50 (NZ$2.50) and get a full glass, not like the “standard drink” ie third of a glass you now mostly get served in New Zealand (if you think I’ve “got a thing about this” – you’re right!)
We’re now at the island of Astipalaia in a great, sheltered bay called Maltezana, so-named as it used to be a lair for Maltese pirates preying on shipping plying across the Aegean.
A few days ago for the first time since last August, the main Lugger engine would not start first time. Previously when this happened it was caused by a stuck starter relay, and after I tapped the relay with a hammer the Lugger started fine. Same thing happened this time.
The Lugger’s digital tachometer has stopped showing rpm, although it powers up with ignition ON. Not a problem as we have the analogue tachometer. Probably a loose wire from the alternator feed although I’ve not been able to find one.
59 days aboard, cruised 209NM for 39 engine hours