With responsible sailing knowledge there is, of course, theory and practical skills to learn and demonstrate.
When you get with your practical instructor, it is highly recommended to complete the appropriate theory courses prior to the practical training. Otherwise, you’ll spend too much time on the basics preventing the instructor from doing their real work which is to get your hands on the helm and the lines. You don’t want the instructor spending valuable on-the-water time explaining who gives way or how the sails create forces. If this is the case, the instructor may not be able to spend the proper amount of time on the practical skills and thus be forced to fail your desired practical competence ability.
Here is the matrix of courses you should complete vs the Practical Competence Ability you are seeking from your instructor. We hope you take this list seriously. It has been designed by professionals to ensure your competence and confidence on the water. Please do your best to complete them PRIOR to your practical training.
MATCH YOUR PRACTICAL COMPETENCE ABILITY WITH THE THEORY COURSES AND RANKS BELOW
Also for Captain requirement, you are required to have been on an extended distance sailing trip of at least 200 miles with one through-the-night sailing whereby you participated in all aspects of navigation, helm, sail trim, life aboard tasks, and watch.
This is a partial section out of our NauticEd Skipper Course and our NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course which discusses lights on ATONs. If you find this useful then perhaps you might consider taking either of the courses. Coastal Navigation is only $39 and covers most everything you need to know when navigating a yacht. When you pass the course it automatically adds to your NauticEd Sailing Resume.
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ATONs are Aids to Navigation. The term is primarily used in the United States and Canada. Most of the rest of the world refer to them as Navigation Marks.
Lights are installed on some ATONs. The lights are usually alternating on and off on some consistent interval to distinguish one ATON from another. The series of “ons” and “offs” are listed on the charts. This helps identify exactly which ATON you are observing. The time between each series is called a “period”.
Lighted ATONs are grouped into Flashing, Quick, Occulting and Isophase.
Flashing: A light in which the total duration of light in each period is clearly shorter than the total duration of darkness – and in which the flashes of light are all equal in duration.
Example: a quick flash on then a longer period off
Example: the flashes might be grouped meaning that the ATON flashes quickly a number of times followed by a longer period of dark then repeating.
Quick Light: A light turning on more than 60 (but less than 80 flashes) per minute.
Occulting: Showing longer periods of light than darkness (opposite of flashing)
Isophase: showing equal periods of light and darkness – remember that “iso” means same.
A Long Flash: (L Fl.) A light which exhibits a long flash of 2 seconds followed by a period of longer darkness.
Morse Code: (Mo. (letter)) A Morse coded letter
Colors of lights are listed with the ATON. They are red (R), green (G), yellow (Y), and white (W). Blue is reserved for law enforcement. Or if the color is not listed then it is white.
Examples of the various types are shown below:
There can also be a composite group flashing light. In the example below the green light flashes twice then one – then repeats after some time.
You can identify the lights on the charts from the information next to the light. In the example below, the Bifurcated Lateral Maker “U” flashes composite green twice then once every 6 seconds – Fl G (2+1) 6s, while the Green Lateral Can number “9” flashes green twice every 6 seconds – Fl G (2) 6s.
At night, you’ll be able to pick out the lights against their backdrop of city lights because of their alternating nature. In the example below you can see Fl G (2+1) 6s and Fl R (4) 6s. Notice however, that you have to concentrate on one at a time, so that the other does not distract you.
Here is a slightly visually annoying summary.
Fl R (2) 5s
Occ Fl R
Iso Fl R
Composite Fl (2+1) 6s
In most countries, including the USA, the white quick flashing light is used to mark Cautionary ATONS
Safe Water Marks
In many countries, including the USA, the Safe Water mark is used and is a white flashing Morse code “A”. One short followed by one long and then repeating at least 8 times per minute. Just remember A – ok.
But also, a safe water mark can be exhibited by other white lights as shown specifically on the chart.
A long 2 second flash over a 10 second period (L Fl. 10s) is also reserved for a safe water mark.
Special Purpose Marks
If a Special Purpose Buoy is lighted it displays a yellow light with fixed or slow flashing characteristics.
Isolated Danger Marks
If lighted, a white light shall be used and the chart will announce the flashing sequence. The image below shows Fl (2) 5s but this is just an example. Any time you see a white flashing light you should be on guard.
Sector lights are sectors of color that are placed on lantern covers of certain lighthouses to indicate danger bearings. On a chart, the sector bearings are true bearings according to the chart and must be converted from magnetic bearing if using a compass. A red sector indicates a vessel is potentially in danger of running aground. Note however, that red can be seen beyond the danger zone as well.
This is also seen here below in a real case of a Nautical Chart #12354 Long Island Sound Eastern Port. Can you spot the Red Sector light?
Spot the Red Sector Light
Cardinal Mark Lights
Cardinal Marks if lighted use white quick flash lights. They are easily remembered from thinking of a clock dial.
North – Continuous quick flash
East – 3 quick flashes (3 o’clock)
South – 6 quick flashes followed by a long flash (6 o’clock)
West – 9 quick flashes (9 o’clock)
Publications that list all the lights usually exist for each country. In the United States the Coast Guard publishes the Light List, which can be found at http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=lightlists For your country, or the country you are visiting, just search on “coast guard light list (country)” or you might replace coast guard with navigation or atons.
Below is an excerpt. Each ATON is listed by number (from the index at the back of the light list), it’s name and any distinguishing location, its lat and long position, its characteristic, height (if it is a light house), the range that the light can be seen from, the type of structure and any remarks about the light.
Light List Excerpt
Putting It All Together
The graphic animation below shows what a harbor entrance may look like at night.
And the corresponding chart symbols might look like this below
Last week, NauticEd and crew went to the British Virgin Islands and chartered a Lagoon 450 from BVI Yacht Charters. We went down there to specifically get more content for our courses including video and pictures.
Here is a great video we shot for teaching crew members how to operate a dinghy.
As Skipper, you might be fully versed on dinghy operations but we can guarantee that your crew are not and the last thing you need on your sailing vacation is a dinghy accident.
You’re welcome to send this blog on to your crew.
Thanks go to BVI Yacht Charters for providing such an excellent experience. I highly recommend them as a charter company. If you’re wanting to go to the BVI for a sailing vacation, we can arrange at no cost to you the boat charter and give excellent advice on where to go and what are the cool hideaway spots.
Wanting to be completely qualified to Yacht Charter? Take our Bareboat Charter Master Bundle of Courses and log your previous sailing in our free NauticEd electronic Logbook. Yacht Charter Companies worldwide accept the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master Rank. Sign in and start now.
Seven Days of Sailing out from Athens with The Moorings on a Leopard 3900 Catamaran
We chartered a Catamaran from the Moorings in May 2016. The following is a report on what we did and where we went. We have to preface the whole report with a big OMG. What a great place. I was a little hesitant at first at the Athens area just because I’m more used to hitting more remote islands having sailed such places as The Kingdom of Tonga, Sea of Cortez, Bora Bora, and the Leeward islands of the Caribbean. Yet the allure of culture was calling and so I thought we’d give Athens a try. So wrong I was to prejudge. Following you’ll read about all the tiny ports and villages and historic places we went. Just amazing – so amazing I’d do exactly the same trip again. Read on …
Day 0-1 Friday/Saturday Austin, Texas to Athens to Nisos Aigina
I always love the idea of the great circle, otherwise, it seems counter intuitive to fly so far north to Toronto from Texas to get to Athens. Albeit it was also the route that we managed to get also with United Credit card miles. Anyway, the 10 hour flight from Toronto to Athens went quickly and dropped us into Athens at 9:30 am.
First business was to buy 2GB of Data from Vodafone for EUR20 so that I could post the heck out of gorgeous photos on facebook specifically to make friends jealous. The Uber ride to the Moorings Base in Marina Zea, Pireas on the out skirts of Athens was 40 minutes. Yes! Austin Texas we used UBER and we were not killed because the Driver was not finger printed (private Austin joke after the city council suckered to a special interest vote to oust Uber in favor of protecting Taxis).
After a coffee and a few Greek pastries, we checked into the Moorings Athens Base at noon. The base staff were overly friendly and helpful, and eager to get us on the water in our 3900 Leopard Catamaran as soon as possible — but before we could do anything they asked me for my ICC sailing license and took a photocopy for the local port authority. Whew, just as well I bought it. No ICCy no saily in Europe. (More about the ICC)
This is the Base Staff holding up my ICC license after checking it and photocopying for their records
Checking our ICC Sailing License
We discussed our desires for the trip with Kostas the Base Manager. He had two suggestions: One was to head out to the Cyclades which he said was more remote and beautiful. The other was to stay closer in and do some of the islands and ports nearer to Athens with more villages. We opted for the later wanting more of a cultural experience. Kostas then proceeded to give us a really thorough insight to all the cool marinas and places to visit including his hide-away restaurants on the back streets of every port. Thanks a heaping helping Kostas!
Here is us doing the chart briefing.
Chart Briefing with The Moorings Base Manager
And here are the notes we took from the chart briefing with a highly accurate chart drawn. Actually, this method works out pretty well for any trip. Throughout the week, you can just refer to your sketch and remember the cool places.
Proposed Route Sketch
This then ended up being our actual track map for the week which pretty much followed Kostas’ suggestions.
Athens 7 day charter map
Albeit, I prefer this one that we drew in the restaurant on the final evening due to the authentic Ouzo glass on the left.
Sketch of our Sailing Trip
The grocery store for provisioning our boat in Athens was walking distance from the boat and so we loaded up 3 shopping carts of essentials electing to not buy much dinner food but rather provision for breakfasts and snacks instead since we wanted to spend the week eating fresh Anchovies and Sardines with Greek Salads. Yummy my favorite!
By 4pm we were off the dock and heading out. That’s the first time I’ve done that – landed in the morning and on the water that afternoon. And Kudo’s to the Mooring base staff for the efficiency of the process.
For wind speed, in Europe they extensively us the Beaufort scale so it is a good idea to learn that. Beaufort 3 is 7-10 knots and Beaufort 4 is 11 to 16 knots. The forecast for the week was Beaufort 4 max so no worries in sight.
First stop was the Island of Nisos Aigina and the port of Aigina 16 miles south-west of Pireas. The winds started out at 18 knots (higher than forecasted) and so we hoisted with a double reef in the main. We blew that out to the first reef after a mile or so then blew that out as the wind dropped off to 10 knots.
The Athens area is a major port and so there is significant container traffic to be aware of. Better know your collision avoidance constant bearing rule. If a vessel has a constant compass bearing to yours, then you are most likely on a collision course. You can also watch the land slipping behind or gaining on the vessel – that gives you an almost instant determination.
We elected to slip in behind this one.
I had bets with one of our crew members over an approaching container ship. I won – it slipped easily in front of us. I used the changing land behind method.
We arrived latish about 8pm into Aigina Port. This is a Slide show of Aigina Port click twice to start it.
One thing to know is that you have to get into the ports early to get a mooring at the town quay. The ports are small and so late arrivers should expect to have to anchor out. Thus predictably so — there were no slips left. So we anchored outside in an anchoring area no problem and took the dinghy ashore. Kostas’s recommendation of Skotadis restaurant on the waterfront was awesome – look for this in their doorway and yup you guessed it, Anchovies and a Greek salad.
Afterwards, we played my international travelling game which is – whenever walking around, where ever you look you have to go down that street or alley. It works every time as you end up at the coolest little courtyards and zocalos with statues and interesting things. Playing this game, we ended up in A backstreet and found an awesome little bar and so for blogging purposes only, we sampled the local Ouzo which I highly recommend that you spend quite a bit of time doing.
Our final intention of this day was to stay up as late as possible to power right through jet lag as fast as possible. From a lot of international flight experience, that is definitely how you do it. Back to the boat and for a gorgeous night’s sleep being rocked into jetlag comatose.
If you think this is cool and you’d like to do something like this – Guess what? YOU CAN!!!!
(1) If you’re not qualified, NauticEd has a whole soup to nuts program to develop you into a Bareboat Charterer. It’s simple and this is actually our specialty with theory and practical courses including international qualification. Start with the Bareboat Charter Master bundle of courses.
(2) If you are qualified, NauticEd is a broker for most all of the Yacht Charter Companies including Moorings and Sunsail. We can find the best prices AND give you excellent advice on where to go because we’ve been to them all. We can tell you about the cool hideaway spots and the places to not bother with. You get the same price as going direct. Start by going here.
Bareboat Charter in Athens Greece with The Moorings
Sunday Day 2 Aigina – Perdika – Hydra
Our plan for the week was to get going early each day so as to explore on the way then make it into the stay over port early to explore further. Our first early explore was the village of Perdika – a seemingly innocuous place as you sail in but Kostas had insisted that we stop. OMG what a delightful tiny port. Sunday morning church was in full swing as we pulled in. But our first job was a med mooring into a tight spot.
The concrete marina piers are about 3 boat lengths apart. I nosed the boat up to the windward pier where we dropped anchor and then backed downwind into the spot between two monohulls. I instructed my anchor man keep the chain taught and let out slowly so that I am backing against the pull of the chain. This keeps the bow into wind while I keep backing downwind to the concrete wall. Once the stern was tied to the wall, we tightened further up on the anchor to keep the aft of the boat off the wall. We then pulled out the gang plank and went ashore. Perdika is a must stop – even for an hour as you can see from the photos.
Next, we set sail to Hydra Island but first we stopped for out first swim at a gorgeous island called Spathi at the eastern tip of the mainland. It’s still May so the water is a little chilly but that didn’t stop us from leaping off the cabin top with our GoPro’s into the clearest water you’ve ever seen. One thing about the Med is that the water is so clear. Dropping the hook was no problem, we could see it lying on the bottom 20 ft down.
Anchor on the bottom in the clear Mediterranean waters
Here is a clip of the fun we had in the bay.
Hydra is like every other place – a must stop. A wow even. A small port packed with fishing boats and charter boats. This is a slideshow of the view coming into Hydra. Click on the show twice to start it.
Our swimming made us arrive a little late and so the port was already full. Desperate, however, we sort of might have illegally parked next to a sign that said don’t park here – maybe. In our defense the sign was confusing, I mean Don’t park here has all kinds of meanings. Anyway, we performed another stellar Med mooring parking job.
In olden times, Hydra was a very rich island with their very own Navy and so walking around the back streets to see fabulous Greek mansions and houses was a real delight especially with the backdrop of the gorgeous Kolpos Idhras ocean. See this Slide show.
On the marine promenade, there are lots of bars and restaurants. So for blogging purposes only, we sampled the local Ouzo which I highly recommend that you spend quite a bit of time doing. There is a fantastic walk from the main town to the west out along the cliff. There are some gorgeous restaurants there also and a swimming area off the rocks. Take your swim suit and a towel.
On the back streets, I tried to blend in.
Blending into the local surroundings
We elected for a back street restaurant for dinner which is pretty much my rule anywhere. The food is always better and the restaurant owners much more keen to engage in conversation. To find such restaurants see Day 1 – international travelling game.
Monday Day 3 of 7 Hydra – Epimioni – Dhokos — Spetsai
6:30 am – now this is the thing to do. Get up super early, leave port and drift the boat about 1 mile out and have breakfast looking at a Greek town off the back deck of the boat. Here was our view of Hydra that morning as the sun rose. Breathtaking!!!!
We then headed west towards Ermioni. If there is such a thing called negative wind we struck it. None – nada – zip – zilch. When you mix this negative zilch wind with the deep blue of the Med you get this. Water so clear and flat it is actually indescribable. Best way to get what I’m talking about is to just experience it. Here is a little video clip on the trip of Hydra to Ermioni. Watch for the bow cutting through the water.
Behind us, we left this amazingly long straight wake. So I made up this overly philosophical statement.
And OF COURSE, we did another perfect Med Mooring up to the concrete quay.
Another Perfect Med Mooring
Ermioni is (I know) a must stop for a lot of reasons but the biggest one I know of is Drougas bakery at the start of the pier. I mean come on look at this – like WOW!
Drougas Bakery In Ermioni
OMG of all my travels, Drougas is hands down by far without a doubt indisputably the most awesome bakery shop of all time ever in anyplace in both the known and the unknown universe. And just for the sake of sake, I’m throwing in another OMG. We ate their three times in the matter of just 1 hour. If you ever want the best Baklava, Spanakopita, Kataifi and other delicious pastry things with greek names you can’t pronounce, go to Drougas. I actually mean don’t go through life with out going here. Even more to say – you will die a happy person if you have knocked this off your bucket list. In the Bakery you also have to meet 6 foot 10 Inch Panagiotis Efstratiou and his wife Athanasia Drouga, owner of the bakery – friendly and nice people doubling as excellent baristas also. I do however worry that they thought we were storking them as we kept on going back. We also picked up some gifties of jam, olive oil and chutney for our friends back home. Disclaimer. Athanasia did ply us with apple pies but my review of Drougas Bakery is unswayed by the bribe and true to its sole. Here is the Trip Advisor link for Drougas if you don’t believe me.
My short crew with Panagiotis Efstratiou @ Drougas Bakery in Ermioni
Ermioni has history going back 4000 years. There are records that a festival in honor of Poseidon was held here with conjecture that this was the site of the world’s very first small sailboat regatta.
Here is a slideshow of the sites around Ermioni
The close by island of Dhokos is another mustie. After we moored in east end of Ormos Skindos bay, Beverly, a crew member asked “so what is here?” Of which my replay was “absolutely nothing”. Check out this nothingness bay.
Here is our 1st mate, Sam gaining his new nick name Sam-On-The-Rocks as he ran our bridled aft longline ashore with the dinghy.
Sam on the Rocks
And of course, since NauticEd are friends of The Moorings, here are a bunch of really cool pics of our Moorings boat in an idyllic setting.
I snapped this shot of the GPS as we pulled anchor. Note that the brown is land, white is water. Hmmm notice anything wrong. This pic is especially for those who think they can navigate at night using GPS only. It is not that the GPS is wrong, it is that the land is placed on the electronic map wrong by about 500 yards (meters).
As the wind picked up for the afternoon we set sail for Spetsai Island. 18 knots Force 5 is perfect for a quick sail at 8 knots in the cat.
Proudly we blasted past a few boats who we saw running around to trim their sails to keep ahead with little effect. I’m sure their excuse was ‘oh but they are a cat – they should be going faster”. The result was the same however, we wasted them. In all sailboat races, it is skill if you win and just bad luck if you loose.
Sailing along, I noticed this potentially expensive mistake. Always chase your lines with your eyes when sailing. A little thing like this would cost you about $1000 when you arrived back at the base for final check out.
A potentially expensive mistake
Spetsai has fantastic little bars but only to be found playing gamous internationalous (see day 1). One in particular had amazing works of iron art all embedded into the functionality of the bar. Very cool! Sticking with our Modus operandi of always arriving too late but with the best intentions of getting there early (just too many distractions enroute) the more popular area to moor to the east of town in Baltiza Creek was full and so we elected to moor in the new harbor outside the main town Dapia. I used my handy Pocket GRiB app to check the wind forecast so that I could see how the wind would shift in the night. I thus picked the east side of the pier to med moor. Albeit, I may be loosing the touch a little, we needed two attempts to do it this time. The first we did not set the anchor out far enough and it dragged in as we hauled on it to pull the boat off the quay. The second time it held but to be sure, I snorkelled it and dug in in better.
Med Mooring in Spetses Greece
This is an appropriate time to talk more about Med mooring. There are two types: One where there is a slime line attached to the pier wall leading out to a sunken mooring in the harbor. You back up to the wall, attach your stern lines then hold off the wall with engine power. You then grab the slime line and chase it forward until you pick up the main mooring line. You attach this to the forward cleat on your bow and tighten up as much as possible. Now you can make adjustments to the whole to nicely position your boat off the wall. Simple enough and the key is in dock line prep and crew briefing.
The second type of med mooring is an anchor off the front. In Spetsai we had a nice display of how not to do it by some guys in a gorgeoud Lagoon 450. Here is how not to do it: Position the boat nicely then the anchor man drops the anchor as fast as possible while the helmsman backs the boat as fast as possible to the dock wall all the while all crew members and the captain are yelling in a foreign language (I think) to each other to watch out and other boats are scrambling, exchanging their gin and tonics for fenders.
Reset: The second type of med mooring is an anchor off the front. The way you do this is to nicely position your boat estimating 5 times the depth of water to the pier plus a boat length (i.e. your anchor is at the front of the boat so add 1 boat length). You use boat lengths to make this estimation. If the water is 8 meters deep and your boat is 12 meters long then set up to drop the anchor 3.5 to 4 plus 1 boat lengths off the pier. Have the anchor man drop the anchor to the sea floor. The helmsman begins backing and taking orders from the anchorman who is paying out the anchor at a rate to lay the chain down at the same speed as the boat. About 1 boat length out, the anchorman stops and allows the boat momentum to dig the anchor into the bottom. The helmsman applies a little extra power to help set the anchor. Now the helmsman applies slight reverse while the anchorman eases the boat back by slowly letting out the chain. This method keeps the chain taught and slowly bring the boat back to the wall all the while slight reverse power is maintained. At 1 meter out from the wall, the anchor man stops and the aft line crew – or even the helmsman can attached the lines to the pier. Once those are set the anchorman can tighten the anchor to pull against the aft lines ashore. This is a sure, calm and safe way of how to do a Mediterranean mooring. It ensures the anchor is well set which is a necessity to hold the boat off the pier wall. And it can be done in any wind direction. For a catamaran this is essentially fool proof. For a monohull, it is a bit more tricky since stopping the momentum of the boat to set the anchor will make you have to deal with propwalk (see our maneuvering under power course). So you do have to keep the boat moving. What is particularly cool however when med mooring downwind is that the anchor will stop your bow from bearing away downwind i.e. It holds your bow to windward. If you have never med moored before, as easy as it is, for goodness sake, DON’T let it be the first time you do it when you’re going up next to a five million dollar bohemouth. Practice it at home preferably with your anchorman to be. A final tip is to check back on your boat frequently to make sure that your anchor has not slipped as this would allow your boat to slide back to the very hard concrete pier wall. Not good!
After the entertainment at the pier, we enjoyed strolling the back streets and sampling more ouzo before walking back to Baltiza Creek for a nice waterside dinner.
Tuesday – Day 4 of 7 days sailing with The Moorings in Greece: Spetses – Poros
We woke in the morning to find that the wind had swung as predicted by Pocket GRiB. We’d made a good choice on which side of the key to Med moor.
Sam On-The-Rocks went back to town to buy his beloved girlfriend a Mermaid he saw in a shop window the previous evening. Spetses definitely had some cute shops.
Next, a 30 mile sail back to the bay of Saronikos Kolpos to the island of Poros.
From Spetses to Poros
I elected to do some office work while the crew did a stellar job of sailing. Office work meaning writing this. This is work – serious!
Dreaded Office Work
Here is a slide show of sailing from Spetses to Poros
Coming through a cut a small ferry went past creating a huge wake. I didn’t think too much about it but its wake managed to do a crescendo right into Dave and Bev’s cabin through a side hatch while they were snoozing. They claim it was a full 55 gallon drum of seawater. Wet sheets, mattress, clothes, and pillows, they came upstairs looking desperately for the jokester to beat up, only to find it was their fault for leaving hatches open while underway.
Boats like these make huge wakes. Close hatches!!!!!
Many of the hills surrounding were topped with giant wind turbines. A fitting display of technology for such a sailing history nation.
Poros is a must see and visit. It’s a busy little town on an island about 500 yards from the mainland. The channel between Poros and the mainland is about 2 miles long and the quay to dock up to is gorgeous and loaded with great Restaurants.
Here is a slide show of pics entering the cut between the Mainland and Poros.
Our Med Mooring up to the quay at Poros was less than perfect. In fact, it was down right awful and embarrassing. What we did wrong was we did not drop the anchor out far enough in the channel. So that when we backed up to the wall and tried to tighten up the anchor to pull us out from the wall the anchor drug across the bottom and met us back at the boat. This meant we had to release all the lines and go back out and reset. This was all complicated by a strong cross wind. Essentially we pulled off the whole thing like a bunch of amateurs. On the reset, we rigged a forward spring line to go to the wall. Then by using power and rudder we were able to lever the boat upwind to position perfectly in the right spot. Then we set all the shore lines and tightened up on our now dug in and properly set anchor. Our Maneuvering Under Power course describes the use of a forward spring line – either amidships or bow.
An amidships spring line
This is a video debrief.
The quay at Poros is a great place to hang out with shops and restaurants and great quay side tables which we hung out on and had a few glasses of chilled wine with cheese. Here’s a fun embedded video from facebook.
Poros is the site of Poseidon’s Temple. Poseidon is the Greek God of the Sea and so it was fitting that we visit the site and ask for safe travels on our voyage. The ruins of the temple are pretty much just a bunch of rocks these days but just to stand there and imagine the architects and builders from 400 BC was amazing. It’s about a 20-minute taxi ride from the marina.
Another awesome visit was a walk up several hundred steps to the top of the hill to visit the clock tower.
Poros Clock Tower
The view down the channel from the clock tower with all the boating was breathtaking.
View From Poros Clock Tower
Back down on the quay, we got an upfront look at the Bristolian, a 40 meter luxury yacht. Our crew complained that we did not have handrails on our walkboard like they did. Ohhh the shame!!
This was the 4th time we’d seen the Bristolian on our trip. Other times, they were under sail – stunning.
The Bristolian Under Sail
Our dinner selection was courtesy of Trip Advisor whereby we found the most awesome family run restaurant Apagio Taverna. The fish and the lamb was amazing. When you visit Poros you must go visit Apagio Taverna. Directly opposite our berth was a thumping night club called Malibu so we ended the night dancing and sipping more Ouzos. [Trip Advisor Link for Apagio]
Day five of seven: Sailing out from Athens with The Moorings on a Leopard 3900 Catamaran
Wednesday Poros to Russian Bay to Epidavros
Poros to Epidavros
When motoring out of Poros you can’t emotionally go faster than 2 knots because the view of the town is so fantastic, especially the iconic clock tower.
Poros Clock Tower
Here are some more sights around Poros. Click the arrows to run through the slide show.
We motored over to Russian Bay – named because it was the headquarters of the Russian Navy when they help Greece fight and gain their independence from the Ottoman empire in the Greek War of Independence from 1821 to 1832. The decisive battle was near Hydra where the allied force of Russia, Britian, and France defeated the Ottomans.
After an ice cold 11am brewski and a quick history lesson from the local kebarb stand lady on shore at Russian Bay we had a quick dip in the water to liven up the skin follicles.
We set sail for Epidavros out through a cut. This was the absolute best sail of the week. The wind cranked up to 18 knots out of the east and we did a beam reach around the peninsula of Khersonisos Methanon then down to series of deep broad reaches into Epidavros Habor.
This was about a 5 hour sail. We hesitated a little at today’s destination because the harbor is open to the east. So I checked one of my favorite wind Apps, PocketGRiB which indicated that the wind was veering southerly – ok, this means the harbor would be sheltered at night – safe.
On the deep broad reaches the crew were asking why can’t we just head dead downwind to the port. It was a great opportunity to explain the difference between VMG and VMC. Crew member Dave is an ex Air Force Navigator so the initial difficulty is trying to understand that an airplane can just point to where it wants to go with the same airspeed what ever direction. Since a boat uses the wind to propel itself it must point in the most efficient direction. In an airplane VMG is velocity made good. It is the speed that you are approaching your destination taking into account your slippage off course due to wind. Sailboat also have VMG which is the slippage off course due to current – same thing. VMC however, is Velocity Made good on Course. Here is how that works: Your boat goes fast with apparent wind over the sails. When you head dead down wind your apparent wind is the true wind speed minus your boat speed. This is the speed of the wind propelling your boat. As you turn up to a deep broad reach you start to pick up apparent wind and so your boat goes faster. But you are off your desired angle. So you are balancing being off angle with faster boat speed against heading towards your target with lower boat speed. At some point the optimum is reached which is usually around 150 degrees off the wind. Oh well – it made for a great discussion to pass the time.
In the harbor, the wind and thus waves we still easterly and so our Med mooring was to be backing almost dead down wind with slight cross wind about 15 degrees on the starboard. Easy peasy now with my expertly trained crew.
We prepared a starboard midships spring line and two stern lines all coiled ready to throw. Then we simply set the anchor about 5 boat lengths out then backed up into the slip. At about 1 boat length out I set the throttles in idle reverse and handed boat control to the anchorman. He allowed the boat to ease back on the anchor letting out 1 meter at a time. We set the midships windward spring first to hold us then the aft dock lines. Once the aft dock lines were set with a 1 meter gap from the stern to the quay, we tightened up on the anchor. Done! Next door the boat full of Russians visiting Greece for sailing training were quite impressed.
The key to any operation on a boat is preparation, crew briefing and understanding the potential negative variables. In addition when things start to go haywire like a line getting tangled, as the skipper you can not start yelling. The most you can do is to say “if you could do that a bit quicker, that’d be great”. Do that and you’ve increased your success ten fold.
We all went for a walking tour of the town except Sam On-The-Rocks who, while sitting on the back of the boat was given a small sword fish by our local fisherman neighbors. Wow – amazing. He tried to offer money but they refused. As soon as we found this out we went to the grocery to pick up some garlic. Swordfish is particularly amazing when it is flash pan fried with butter and garlic. If you think the fish is still too raw and needs more cooking, that’s the time to get it out of the pan. Raw on the inside and slightly cooked on the outside. On man yum.
Day six of seven: Sailing out from Athens with The Moorings on a Leopard 3900 Catamaran
Thursday Epidavros to Ancient Theater to Vathi
Clang Clang Clang go the Saxons to wake everyone’s ass up. We gotta get to the Ancient Epidavros Theater.
Well at least that was the intention. The crew was dancing pretty hard on the quay last night. Anyway by 9 am we were up and at em. It’s a 40 euro round trip taxi ride to the theater about 15 kms away from the port. Rather than talk about it too much here, here is an excellent youtube video on the Epidavros Theater.
Quick run down – it was built in the 4th Century BC yes that’s BC. What was interesting to me was to note how conceited we are in this day and age to think that nothing was going on back then. Here is an incredibly constructed theater that is an acoustic wonder. You can talk in the center stone at the bottom and be heard at the top. Dave stood in the center while we climbed all the way to the top. When we were ready, he began to sing Elton John’s “Money,” which was very rudely interrupted by the guards telling us that no one is allowed to smile or have fun (not really). Apparently you can’t sing or have fun there. Anyway, Dave was only one line away from the end when he had to stop. Everyone there clapped and appreciated his talent. Rules – bar hum bug.
Here’s the fun video we snapped of Dave Singing at The Ancient Epidavros Theater.
The theater seats 12,000 people who, in ancient times would come from miles away to indulge in the arts. And here we are in the 21st century thinking all smart and stuff but we still can’t figure out kindness and benevolence and stop warring with each other. Come on humanity – let’s up the game here a little shall we?
The museum next door to the theater was incredible – displaying ornate statues carved in marble which had been dug up from the ruins and recovered and restored. Truly amazing.
Back at the boat, I paid the port authority 2 euros and 30 cents for the mooring fee. Really? E2.30? The ice cream I bought next door cost the same. Compare that to the BVI where you often pay $US 30 for a mooring ball overnight.
In all, we’re all finding that this is a cheap holiday. So far with all the food, booze, taxi rides, ouzo shots and dinners out, we have spent a total of 1000 euros total for 5 of us. Oh and that includes the mooring fees as well.
I’ve always wanted to shoot this photo. Just my weird sense of humor. So here it is shot in the Port of Epidavros.
Down the Hatch
The motor sail over to Vathi for our next evening was about 6 miles on calm seas. The steep cliffs to the west display was another impressive array of wind turbines. A good time to think about how wind has shaped our past from ancient trading and discovery to awesome sailing vacations and generation of electricity to power our modern day “necessities”. Wind is cool!
Epidavros To Vathi
The tiny Port of Vathi is a must visit. It is a small port with space for 8 or so charter boats. You back up to the quay where there are 4 great little restaurants. The staff from the restaurant come out to help grab your docklines – so awesome (which makes you feel obliged to buy a round of ouzo shots from them).
Click the arrows for a slide show.
The bartender Micheaonos (something like that – everything ends in nos in Greek – no offense meant, rather our own ignorance to be able to pronounce things that don’t come off our English speaking tongue so well) suggested that we take a visit to a volcano not far away. Wow! What a highlight and a must do. The track is a bit steep and a bit rocky and a good trek after almost a week on the boat. The view from the top is impressive – we could see all the way to Athens. There is a crack in the rock wall that we were able to climb into. The crack turned out to be the vent of the volcano. Slightly scary for the weak at heart, but kinda cool to say you’ve been inside a volcano – albeit it hasn’t exploded since the 2nd century BC.
Fun Video of some BS we made up along the trail.
For dinner — my favorite, Anchovies and a Greek salad (again) – oh man, yum!
This was Day 6. I mean come on – what a day! These are the kinds of things you do on a trip like this. You just have fun – you sail a bit, you visit a piece of history, you meet cool people, and see cool things you did not expect. Ever thought about being inside a volcano vent?
Cock-a-doodle-doo goes the local town rooster. “Last day” he says in rooster talk. I want to kill him. This has been such an amazing trip. But still … another day of fun ahead.
Over a coffee in Vathi Port, I had a chat to our dock neighbors Di and John. A lovely retired couple from England who spend 4 months every year sailing their boat around the Greek islands. They leave in August they said because it gets too crazy with tourists and “bling” power boats. Next week they are heading up through the Corinth Canal over to the Ionian islands and up to Corfu to spend the rest of the summer. Note to self for retirement ideas!
Remembering the awesome coffee in Pardiki which coincidently is on the way back to Athens we left our Vathi home and set off for a quick stop in Pardiki to visit Remetzo restaurant rated 5 stars on Trip Advisor. They lived up to their rating with me with the Sardines, Baked Feta Cheese and Beetroot salad. Just don’t stir Greek Coffee – learned that one the hard way.
I feel like I am writing up a foodie tour of the Greek islands.
Perdika is about 20 nautical miles from the Athens Moorings Base in Marina Zea. At just over 6 knots (under power no wind L) will take just over three hours. We had to have the boat back by 5 into the marina so we left Perdika at 1pm leaving some time for time sake.
Here is a pic of the route I set up on my Navionics App on iPad showing we will be in by 3:56pm as we rounded the top end of Aigina.
Route To Athens
So this is it – last leg home. Boo!
Summary: A sailing trip around the Greek islands out from Athens is a huge bucket list item checked off. It was just big wow and a fantastic experience. From the people to the food, from getting 3 lbs of swordfish from a local fisherman to the gelatos and bakeries, from the quays to the back street ouzos at local bars, from the amazing sailing to the dead blue flat water of the Aegean sea and from the stories we created to the ones we can’t talk about – we all had an experience not to be missed.
Get trained up to go bareboat chartering.
Get trained up for Med moorings.
Get trained up for maneuvering under power.
Get your ICC license.
Get your butt on an airplane to Athens Greece.
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