We spent the past two months since arriving back in Turkey working nearly every day on refit, repair and maintenance projects. Today we decided that we had completed enough of the work to declare ourselves ready for another sailing season. We put away the tools and washed down the decks in preparation for departure tomorrow.
In hopes of the galley countertop project being competed today, we’ve decided to move back onboard our floating home after five months of living on land even though the cabin is a total wreck (see Galley sink and countertop refit). Lisa tried to look at the bright side and commented, “At least I don’t feel like a fish out of water anymore.”
The decks are scrubbed, the topsides are washed down, and the bootstripe is re-painted. But these are just the first three things on a list that is two pages long before we re-splash in two weeks. At least the guys in the yard can get back to work on the second coat of bottom paint while we work the rest of the list.
To say we touched the shores of five different countries on three continents during the 2009 cruising season sounds like a lot, but while we were underway, it just felt like we were slowly island hopping our way from Italy to Turkey. What was impressive is that this year’s cruising grounds happened to take us through the crossroads of the eastern and western basins of the Mediterranean Sea and across the cultural divide between Europe and Africa, and Christianity and Islam.
We arrived in Marmaris, Turkey today and arranged a six month contract at Yat Marine, a large marina with 300 berths in the water and space for 1,000 yachts in the yard. It feels a bit like we are in a protective bubble here — the marina has its own supermarket, bar, restaurant, laundry, etc. That’s okay for us since we will be busy for the next week. Gyatso will be hauled-out of the water in a few days and stored in the yard while we return to the U.S. for family visits. We plan to do some refit projects and bottom painting when we return in January and then to re-splash on 1 March 2010.
After a pleasant day motoring and sailing in light to no wind with the occasional rain shower, we tied-up alongside the ferry dock in Astipalaia with a fishing boat and several other yachts. The ferry is not due in until 9:30 a.m., but we’re not on the part of the pier it uses. This is a good thing because after two long days and 105 miles of sailing, we are ready for a day of rest.
The forecast was for 10-15 knots of wind, and we had hoped that by waiting until today, this would actually be the case. The harbor in Paroika was completely calm, so we decided to get around the north side of the island before the wind picked up too much, but by the time we rounded the point and headed north, the wind was soon blowing 20-25 knots on the nose. We managed to slowly make our way through the rough seas — the staysail is great for this job — and point our bow south through the channel between Paros and Naxos, the island to the east. We had a great downwind run between the islands, admiring the rocky coastline and pretty little villages on either side. Then we turned east, rounding the southern end of Naxos and snaking our way through some small islands before sailing on a reach for the final ten miles to Amorgos. Except for struggling to make it around the north end of Paros, it was one of those great sailing days which made waiting in Paros for five days worth it.
A great sail in 12 knots of wind this morning before the wind dropped off, and then we motored or motor-sailed the rest of the way. We anchored in the protected harbor of Paroika on the island of Paros, Greece and waited out a meltemi (north wind) for what turned out to be five days. We arrived on a Friday, before the wind kicked up, but by Saturday night, both the marina and anchorage were filled with yachts seeking protection from the strong winds.
Calm weather but unfortunately not much wind for the long passage to Kithnos today. We found lots of charter boats in Loutra when we arrived, but the harbormaster managed to find space for us tied alongside the end of the pier and rafted off the stern of a big catamaran.