All The Toys

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Yesterday we went longer than we had planned to see the Rion bridge at sunset, and so today we are taking it easy.   A nice easy pace, through the Corinth Sea and then we will stop on this side of the Corinth Canal, which will be one of the highlights for me personally.

As we untied the lines this morning, the featured photo you see above was the backdrop for our preparation.  I hope that those of you reading the blog are not bored by these landscape photos.   I am not part of the selfie generation although Jinhee tells me people want to see pictures of us in the various locations . . . I still can’t get used to taking pictures of myself.  This blog (and FaceBook!) is a huge step away from my normally secretive and ultra-private behaviour.

Jinhee and I are getting good at the process of docking and setting off.  The wind held us firmly against a pier overnight and when we set off, it was easy to just untie the lines, jump on the boat and then hope that the bow/stern thrusters could hold us off the (cement) pier while I got us out of our spot.    They really weren’t strong enough to push me off, but since there was nobody behind me I backed off the pier into the open channel without incident.

Other than some family, I can’t be sure who is reading this blog, so I will describe a few things at a time, in the context of how we spend our days.   When we sold the house, we found a nice condo to move into and use while Jinhee works in the city.   Toronto condos are quite small, but because we expect the kids to come home for a few more years, and potentially other visitors as well, we leased a two bedroom unit.   Its still really small.   Home Free, the boat, offers about the same living space, but chopped up a bit differently. Every boat is a bunch of tradeoffs, but Home Free met some pretty stringent criteria.  Our criteria were as follows:

  • The boat had to be able to cross an ocean.  Home Free has a 3000 nm range, although at a very slow speed.   To put that into context, we have a single, main engine and at 1500 rpm, we burn about 6L of diesel per hour and travel at about 6 knots.   At 1800 rpm, we burn about 18L of diesel per hour and travel at about 7 knots.    So when we are close to fuel, we may go faster, but the fuel costs rise exponentially.   If you have no agenda, then slow is awesome.   There are a number of other key aspects to crossing an ocean.  We do have a backup engine as well, enough food storage areas to make sure you can eat well on that slow crossing and this is arguably the safest and best built boat in it’s class/size.  The brand is renowned for crossing oceans under power.
  • The boat has to be able to sustain us for a LONG time.   Not just because we need to go slow, but also because its a platform for living on the water, so it has some pretty important items such as:
    • The master cabin is almost the size of our bedroom in the condo
    • The head (bathroom) is quite spacious, and has a very powerful shower (yay!)
    • The kitchen is a gourmet kitchen, with granite counters, Sub-Zero refrigerator (the exact same one as in our condo coincidentally), 5 burner gas stove, oven, microwave and dishwasher.   We added a Nespresso coffee machine so that Jinhee can get her fix everyday.
    • Laundry facilities.   We have a condo sized washer dryer
    • Water maker.  We carry about 1600L of water, and can make about 1500 Litres of water per day from the ocean.
    • Heating and A/C.  There are five reverse cycle AC units on board which is fine for most of our needs.   (If we go to Alaska, we will need to put in diesel heaters.)
    • Generator.  To run all of these bits when you are not plugged in at a dock, a generator is required.  Ours is 12kW, which is a LOT of power (for the A/C).
    • On top of that we have a second cabin and head, for the kids or other guests, and it also functions as a very nice office with desk, chair, and filing cabinets.
  • The boat had to be easy on fuel.   Most people think of yachts like Carver, SunSeeker, Sea-Ray, and other brands you see at the boat shows.   Those boats look pretty fancy compared to our trawler, but those boats carry about 500-2000 litres of fuel and have a range of about 300-500 nm.  They often burn 20-50 litres of fuel per hour but can get you places at 12-25 knots.   As I write this I am going six knots and burning 6L of fuel per hour.   We carry about 5000 litres of fuel and don’t need to worry about finding a station to refill (also, when you refill from a truck, the prices are often better!).
  • The boat had to assume that we are getting old . . . one of the key drivers behind buying this boat, in Greece is the davit (crane) that lifts and launches our tender (dinghy).   Instead of manual cranes and a lot of lifting, this amazing device does 98% of the work for us, and allows us to manage things without outside help as we get older.   Another key issue in this category is the master stateroom is large enough that we don’t have to crawl into a bunk.   Its a normal, queen size bed, easy to get into and out of, and when we get old it will be a significant benefit.

There are many other great things, but these were some of the key constraints and we are absolutely loving the boat as we learn the different systems and get used to living on board.

All of that explanation before I continue with our day . . . Jinhee then made breakfast for us while we were underway.   As you can see the gourmet kitchen constraint was a very important inclusion.


We have now been underway for about six hours and will reach the Corinth Canal in just over an hour where we will stay the night and go through during the day tomorrow.   The canal cuts the transit time between the Aegean Sea (Athens side) and the Ionian Sea (Passages west to Italy, etc).  Originally proposed in the 1st century AD, the effort failed to build the canal, although the effort was taken up again in the late 1800’s and completed in 1893.   The passage is not large enough for modern ships, so is now mostly used for tourist traffic, and we intend to play tourist.

The canal is 6.4km (about 4 nm) long and can have strong winds inside.  Importantly the weather on each side of the canal is different.   Given the wind forecasts for the Aegean Sea overnight, and the likelihood of our arrival very close to sundown/dark, we will stay on this side and go when there is lots of light for us to find a good anchorage.

We have no plans to arrive in Athens until Monday, so tomorrow will be a very light day as well, going through the canal and finding a spot to drop anchor.   Megan arrives next Friday and we will get to Athens on Monday to begin preparing for her visit.

I may update this note later with the sights from Corinth, but that is it for now.

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