Monday, March 26, 2018
I did get away from Agios Nikolaos on Saturday afternoon, a bit late in the day, and am currently sitting at Anchor just outside of Sitia. Originally I thought I would go and see the town, however I have decided to stay at anchor and try a few skills that will be necessary while travelling later on in my adventure.
There are many skills associated with cruising on a yacht, and I have read endlessly on them, as well as practicing a few on the sailboat, however the practical application of those skills is important. Over the past few days I have worked on same and have not set foot ashore.
To begin, I actually did go into the marina, but it was packed to the gills with fishing boats, and being late in the day, I decided to simply anchor out. So the first skill is dropping that anchor yet again, but this time tying it off so the pressure was not on the windlass. As well, the winds have been significant over the past two days, so getting appropriate scope out was also important. I have about 150′ of chain out for 20′ of depth, about 7:1. With no other boats near me, I have lots of room to spin if the wind were to change direction. The only change in the wind however has been from light (< 5 knots) to wild (gusts > 35 knots), and I have been bouncing around like crazy. One issue here is that the wind and the low frequency waves are coming from different directions, meaning that the wind turns me bow to the wind, and then the waves come at an angle to that, causing Home Free to roll. I also swing back and forth pretty significantly (you don’t get that on a sail boat, and a bit of sail out helps to minimize any swing).
The second skill was deploying my flopper-stopper. A flopper-stopper is a big plate of steel with a one way door that you throw over the side of the boat to slow the rolling. The vents or doors open when it sinks and they close when the boat tries to pull it back up, causing a one way drag effect and dissociating the boats movements from the waves. It is essentially a stabilizer when the boat is not moving (as opposed to the TRAC stabilizers used when the boat is underway). Home Free is equipped with a long pole off the port side that holds the flopper-stopper out, away from the boat and dramatically reduces the roll. It works really well. I was able to deploy it on my own. Getting it back in alone may be a bit trickier, but I have the davit (crane) to hook it to if necessary. I have found this piece of equipment to be amazing at slowing the roll of the boat, and except for some significant vibration from the pole which transfers quite a noise into the main cabin, it is a nice improvement when at anchor. I will definitely be using it more.
Another job needing my time is checking some of the mechanical equipment. I checked oil on the generator, the ZF transmission. Also the hydraulic fluid in the davit, the passerelle and the autopilot. I cleaned the engine room a bit and looked at the speakers on the flybridge to see why they aren’t working so well. They are essentially dead from exposure to the elements. The amplifier on the flybridge may also be shot, but I will replace the speakers first. Their decay is obvious and I suspect the cones have completely failed. Summer is coming and I think outdoor music will be a good thing, whether it is classical music while looking up at the stars or something more modern with drinks on the flybridge, music will help to create atmosphere.
After many excuses why riding on the boat isn’t necessary, I set my bike up on my Tacx trainer in the salon so that I could ride without going ashore. While I love riding the roads around here, the training effect of riding on a trainer is different, and since I have signed up for the 24H time trial championships in California in October, I have to improve a lot of things in the next 6 months so I don’t look completely ridiculous. It is setup so that I can watch TV too!
I have adjusted my plans. The weather window to get back to Santorini is opening tomorrow, so I will head there as soon as I can get away in the morning. I have to figure out how to pull in that flopper-stopper and secure everything, then get the boat moving to get there before dark. The winds are going to be pretty significant beginning early Wednesday, so timing will be important. If the winds are truly dying here (and for the first time in three days, they appear to be), I may pull in the flopper-stopper this evening.
The damage done by the weather a few days ago has caused a new problem. On the side where I normally tie up, that strip of metal that was broken loose against the wall in Agios Nikaolos has been pushed back by the force of the water while underway. It is a significant piece of steel and can’t be bent while aboard. I usually dock on this side (this is where the boarding door is located so I will have to delicately back into the docks/pier at my next stop and let the pier push it back into the boat.
I would launch the dinghy to get at it and remove it or something, but the winds are too fierce to even consider launching the dinghy single handed, so I will manage the risks of this piece of metal sticking out best I can until I can find a place to effect a repair.
All-in-all, I have enjoyed being out here alone dealing with all of these little things. I have slept a lot, read a lot and done quite a bit of work. I spent some time looking up at the gazillion stars that are visible out here, and while it is still a bit chilly to stay out hunting the different constellations, the views are spectacular.
Sorry there aren’t more pictures . . . I know what all of you really want. 🙂