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Friday, October 27, 2017

GREECE AND TURKEY'S WAR OF WORDS

Envoy is now in Lefkas Marina for the winter and we're home in Auckland for the southern hemisphere summer.

Turkey and Greece have fought each other for centuries and during the period of 400 hundred years or so when Turkey occupied large parts of Greece they ruthlessly suppressed any resistance. 
Cyprus is still divided into the southern Greek section and northern Turkish section and Greek ownership of some Aegean Islands close to the Turkish coast is being disputed by Turkey. 
A more recent contentious issue is that Greece provided political asylum to some fleeing Turkish general after the attempted coup.
Currently there is a decline in western tourists going to Turkey because of perceived security threats. Because less charter boat customers are now going to Turkey, some Turkish charter boats, known as gulets have been chartering in Greece. Recently Greek coastguard have been investigating Turkish charter yachts visiting Greek islands without completing official procedures to operate there and Turkey has retaliated by banning all Greek commercial vessels from its waters.

Now they are having a battle of words on Navtex, which is a system where coast radio stations can transmit weather and safety information by text to vessels equipped with Navtex receivers.

This is a recent Turkish text:
"On 3 July 2017 a Turkish flagged merchant vessel was fired upon by a Greek coastguard boat. Turkish flagged vessels sailing in the Aegean are requested to be vigilant against such incidents with respect to safety of life and safety on navigation and should there be a need they are urged to swiftly inform the Turkish coastguard and Turkish navy."

This is the Greek response
"Aegean Sea has always been safe and secure for seafarers. Turkey has repeatedly exploited the Navtex warning system to promote her revisionist national agenda regarding the status of the Aegean to the detriment of safety of mariners. The Hellenic authorities denounce such practices and underline that the Hellenic coastguard stands ready to protect the life at sea, safeguard the freedom of navigation along with the interests of the international shipping community and enforce the rule of law at sea."

Let's hope the situation remains a war of words.

Our next post will cover the last few weeks of our time cruising.


Friday, October 13, 2017

ENVOY HIT BY YACHT DRAGGING ANCHOR DURING STORM

Envoy is now in Lefkas marina for the Greek winter. It's now Friday and next Wednesday we fly home to NZ.

Back to our cruising adventures with Amy.

Amy loves to have dinner by candlelight and we have various candle holders aboard, mostly bought in Turkey.

Early September we're anchored in Sivota with several yachts anchored around us. 
As we return to Envoy from dinner ashore we all comment on how perfectly still the air is and how calm the sea is. Talk about the calm before the storm! 
At 1230 we're all rudely awoken by huge gusts of wind buffeting Envoy, then thunder, lightning and heavy rain. We all immediately get up and reaching the pilothouse see a Belgian aluminium yacht, Grand Chalem, dragging sideways down onto our bow. There is no time to take any evasive action before her starboard side squarely slams into our stretched-out anchor chain, bounces off, then slides bow first down our starboard side before disappearing into the night. 
Other yachts are also dragging their anchors so we put on our deck lights to make ourselves more visible while they maneuver themselves out of trouble. We see gusts over 40 knots, but Envoy doesn't drag and only moves around to the wind shifts – the GPS drift alarm, set for 0.003 miles or about 54 metres doesn't go off. Within about half an hour the storm passes, the boats settle to their anchors and we go back to bed wondering if there is any damage to Envoy's newly painted hull. 
I'm up the next morning at first light checking Envoy's hull from our RHIB, delighted to find no damage except the faintest of minor small paint scratches that's not worth worrying about. 
Grand Chalem's skipper comes over in his RHIB to check and is also relieved there is to damage to either boat, probably because he had fenders on his hull. However he says is wife is somewhat traumatised by the experience and they will spend a few days secured to a pontoon in the harbour until they're ready to venture forth again.

We'd hoped that at least the heavy rain would have given Envoy a good fresh water wash but that wasn't to be either as the rain was laden with red dust, which turns quickly to mud and stains everything unless removed quickly.
Sudden thunder storms are reasonably common here at this time of year and they usually bring squalls and wind shifts so from now on we'll put out fenders at night when anchored close to other boats.

At Meganisi Is this yacht got into trouble trying to reverse to a the quay and ended up broadside to the other moored yachts

Amy and Laurie enjoying late afternoon drinks at Meganisi

After a stopping at Meganisi Island we head back to Lefkas so that Amy can catch a flight back to London.
We had a fantastic time with Amy aboard for 6 weeks, cruising 419 miles, re-visiting some of our favourite places and finding new ones.

We start heading north towards Corfu where we will clear out of Greece, spend a few days in nearby Albania and then come back to Greece. This is partly because we need to take Envoy out of the EU periodically to avoid the need to pay VAT and partly because we need a new Greek Transit Log since our present 18 month one is about to expire.

We spotted this huge open RHIB at Gouvia Marina - about 13m and even has a small RHIB on its stern

On the way we anchor at Preveza, Parga and Mourtos – all of which are now a lot quieter as the season comes to an end.

Envoy anchored at Mourtos

Same anchorage shot from the idyllic beach

An interesting flower bed at Mourtos

A day tripper boat enters a sea cave near Mourtos

When the tour boat leaves we enter the cave

From Corfu we cruise across to Albania. Having already visited Sarande in Albania we only stay a couple of days and on returning to Corfu we refuel for the first (and will be only) time this year taking on 1,300 litres of diesel at Euro 1.41 (approx NZ$ 2.17) per litre. The fuel quay attendant tells me our purchase is relatively small and a motor boat recently took on 200,000 litres, requiring ten tankers each holding 20,000 litres. At the price we paid this would have been Euros 282,000 or about NZ$434,000.

While at Corfu the water maker technician, Angelos, tells us our water maker high pressure pump is ready for installation. It's been checked by the main dealer in Athens who found nothing wrong with it, which doesn't help solve the issue of why the system isn't working properly. After it's installed we test the system and it still doesn't work properly – the output is too low and the salinity too high. Angelos believes there is some restriction in the seawater supply so gets a diver to check the under-hull seawater inlet but that's all clear. The next step is to get a technician from Athens to come and take a look.