Sunday, June 28, 2009

Duck or Lobsters

We began our biggest sail to date in good spirits. It was 7:00 pm on the nose when we fired up our pretty reliable, if not a little fussy Yamaha 5 horse out board. Leaving Vis we set a course for the Croatian Island of Miljet. The Island is predominantly a national park but there are two small towns where you can get supplies. For us that was fuel, water and internet for a forecast.
We rounded the southern point of Vis just as the sun was setting clearing the off-shore hazards before dark. Victoria and I took the first night shift, harness on and clipped in. There were a few navigational lights to pick out but over all it was pretty straight forward. The seas were flat and we motored the majority of the way.
Arriving a little later than we had anticipated, we dropped anchor in the northern bay on Miljet around noon. Sean and Harmony had been here before and knew there way around. We got water but the internet place was closed. It was looking like we would have to go on an old forecast. This may not seem too risky but the weather can change pretty fast and we were estimating 3 to 5 days at sea until we reached Greece. The majority of the time we would be off the coast of Albania;( not the safest place to find shelter…in fact not really an option given that many of the harbors and anchorages still have floating mines from WWII). And even if we were to make it past those, the people of Albania are extremely poor and piracy is not unheard of. So we were in a predicament, what to do about the forecast.
Always alert, Sean and I were discussing the situation as we noticed two affluent Australian gentlemen sit down. Ears perked, Sean and I could not help but over hear their conversation with the restaurant owner. It was something to the effect of “Prepare 12 of your roast Duck or Lobsters this evening. I’ll be bringing the guests in tonight”. With a quick bit of deduction we both realized that this was the captain and a crew mate of the four story hundred plus foot mega yacht anchored at the head of the bay…sure to have satellite weather forecasting.
Sean and I repeated our conversation a little louder this time, “What are we going to do with out a forecast when we make the jump to Greece in our small sail boat?”
When we lifted anchor we hailed the British yacht on the VHF as the Captain instructed us. Instead of him sending a crew member as he said he would the captain him self zoomed over to the Heart of Gold in a powerful zodiac about length of our boat to deliver the forecast and wish us good luck. Fifteen minuets later I was startled as a large boat moving really fast approached our stern. The captain had come back to give us a 15 page, double sided, color laser print off of American newspapers. He the said that he noticed our flag and the American chaps on board were done with it. When he handed the print off to us I’m pretty sure there were no creases in the fresh paper.
Out here it is very easy to become spiteful of the gregarious wealth that surrounds us. This was a healthy reminder that regardless of social hierarchy, generosity and good will are often ubiquitous in the yachting community.
As we motored away on the longest sail of our lives our hearts were warmed by the captain’s gesture and our spirits were filled with news from home.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Island of Vis was opened to foreigners just 3o some years ago. We did not venture far from the main town but none the less it was still a very beautiful place. Given the lay out of the harbor it was no doubt that this must have proved a good shelter for war vessels over the centuries. I might be confusing my stories here, but I think Vis is where the ruler Tito had his personal estate and where he made his famous speech where he said, “We will not take what is theirs but we will not give what is ours”.
Looking at the calendar we needed to make our jump to Greece soon. From the southern most town of Dubrovnik it would be 185 miles and we were north and east by a long shot. The winds were forecasted light and in our favor, north westerly, but from Vis it would be 250 or so miles and we could only carry enough fuel, at best, for 30 hours at a speed of 4 miles per hour. We reviewed the carts and decided to leave Vis in the late afternoon had head for the island of Miljet. Here we would stop only to refuel fill water and check the forecast. The sail from Vis to Miljet was almost 60 miles and would take 14 hours. We prepared for our first night sail of the season.

Leaving the protected anchorage of the small island off Havar was a tough decision. The winds were still strong and but they were forecasted to change. On ancor we could not quite tell their true direction. After weighing anchor we rounded the point and it became apparent that we could no not make our intended destination. The winds were east south east. We debated turning back to our previous anchorage after encountering 5 to 8 foot swells and watching 3 yachts 35 to 49 feet turn back. Oh and I forgot mention that before we left our anchorage we put 2 reefs in the main. We regrouped after old iron stomach (Harmony) got out the charts and found us a new destination; the island of Vis. The sail took us about 2 and half hours to cover the 15 or so miles. We had rain and clouds during the sail and we lost the use of one crew member to a bad case of sea sickness. The Heart of Gold has been through some really tough seas and this was not the toughest, but when we tossed our bow lines to fellows on shore at VIS the first out of their mouths was “were did you come from”…the next comment was foreign but is was ubiquitous in any language; they were pretty impressed!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cooking for 5 in a mini kitchenette.ευφυείς άνθρωποι

Jay took some cool photos of the boat, he kept his digital camera high and dry even though he was swimming in the water!! we were anchored in a small protected area on the South Eastern coast of Corfu.
We made some awesome pasta for supper and drank a little wine. It was a relaxing evening, full of chatting, the sounds of fishermen night fishing, crickets and the water lapping against the boat..........όμορφος!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Heading South

After leaving the picturesque town of Promostine the Heart of Gold and her crew were headed south in a hurry. An old friend,(Jay) was flying in to the Greek island of Corfu to meet up with us and we were behind schedule.
When Sean and I arrived to work on the boat we had hot, 90 + weather for the first few days but about half way through getting her ready we hit a week straight of rain. Needless to say this put us behind schedule.
From Promostine we went south east and spent a night in a nice inlet bay on the mainland. The wind was blowing form the north off the head of the bay. The numerous boats in the anchorage made for an exciting obstacle course for us to tack through. As usual we got a few looks. After dropping anchor we cooked a quick meal and hit the sack preparing for a 5:45am departure the next morning.
Heading south to the Croatian Island of Havar we encountered some strong southerly winds lucky our heading was just enough for us to have a close hall heading for most of the sail. As we approached the ancient town of Havar it quickly became apparent that with the winds the anchorage would be no good for us. Luckily one of the off lying islands provided and well protected anchorage and there was even a water taxi to fairy us into the town of Havar. The strong southerly winds kept us hunkered down here for three days before we could head south again.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Our shake down sail took us south east to the town of Promistien, a beautiful picturesque city out on a spit of land surrounded by an ancient wall. We made it ashore just in time to run to the top of the town to catch the sun set. We found a beautiful vista in the town cemetery. Even though it was not discussed, I know for that moment we all tasted the flavor of life. Seeing the sunset over the expanse of islands and ocean was invigorating. Watching this while being surrounded by head stones was a reminded of life’s frigidly and the profundity of our choices. Perhaps there is too much in this world to experience in the brief time we are here…but what else can one do but try.

In the Water

Twelve days after leaving the states we are finally in the water. We set sail later than we had hoped but got under way none the less. The crane operation wet smoothly we were even able to run the toping lift line that we forgot string before raising the mast.

The project list for the year was ambitions…if we got to half the stuff done I think we would have been happy. What follows is what we had come up with before leaving and pretty much all of it got done along with a handful of other projects

• Mount bulk head compass
• Rewire and install 6 new speakers
• Rig up biminay
• Re paint antifouling
• Make abandon ship kit
• Sand and revitalize wood
• Replace hinges on hatch
• Replace hatch seal…Sean’s dad?
• Make rope web for stanchion
• Re calk rub rail
• Running light and other system?
• Make new cushion covers
• Calibrate auto pilot…dad?
• Sand varnish rudder and tiller
• Make guard for furling line
• Repaint topside!
• Focusal light?
• Outside lacerate latches
• Sand varnish door boards
• Paint the anchors white

A little ketchup

Just a little ketchup, The boat was tired when we got to her but that was to be expected after 2 years on the hard in Croatia. The wild card for us was going to be the condition of the interior. Was it nice n dry or did it look a bog with a velvet veneer of mold? Lucky for us it was dry as bone, but still left a long project list.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Other goings on.......

Harmony and I went on a little shopping excursion into Sibenik( in the pouring rain) to get food, gas etc. we went into a couple of the historical churches... a quiet reprieve from the wet. The outside market was still happening and we browsed the fresh fruit and vegetable carts bought cheese and fresh baguettes and of course people watched.
Harmony has been in charge of the dingy sealing any holes......

Good times at Solaris Marina......

We have been fixing the Heart Of Gold up. She is looking beautiful and happy, ready to return to the water. We have been Stuck Here in Sibenik due to weather... rain rain and more rain, and then wind too! But today we are getting craned into the water and then we will be off for the next parts of our adventure......

Sometimes we have had to do a little improv.( safety procedures!!!???)