Another day in paradise

Aquarella at Aliki
My friends Mike and Sam recently introduced me to a beautiful anchorage nearby called Aliki Beach which I thought would be a good destination for a short solo sail. However on a lovely warm day I asked them if they would like to accompany me there for a swim and lunch. The day didn’t start too well though as soon as they let go of my buoy.
It sank.
 The buoy, the rope and chain just disappeared and I feared it would be a divers job to retrieve it. Then I tried using the GPS navigator, not that I needed it for the short distance but just to test the system.
It didn’t work.

My 20 year old GPS

No indication of speed or course. I did have my Ipad though with Navionics app and an external GPS antenna. 
That didn’t work either.
Then while under way I thought I would prepare the anchor windlass and connected the remote control.
It didn’t work.
Testing the remote control for the anchor windlass

I knew there was a mooring buoy in the bay so I hoped it would be vacant. It was, but I misjudged the distance to it which resulted in a “man over board manoeuvre” for the boat hook.

retrieving the boat hook

Then I finally pulled the stop button for the engine
It broke.
my disconnected stop button for Aquarellas diesel engine

I couldn’t stop the engine! It was very fortunate that Mike was with me and he showed me how to stop it by using the winch handle down in the innards of the engine.
But in spite of all this we had a lovely day and I filmed with my Gopro under water and my drone in the air.
There was a new mooring buoy when I got back, the owner of it had fixed it. The GPS problem on my ipad was solved by updating, downloading and restart. The remote control for the anchor windlass was fixed by a good friend David who also reconnected the cable to the engine’s stop button.
Then it was unfortunately time for my next problem.
The 20 year old outboard engine on my dinghy broke down. In terrible weather with strong winds and torrential rain I couldn’t get back to my boat so thankfully spent the night with my friends David and Sarah who have an apartment here.
Me in my heavy weather gear

The next days I rowed backwards and forwards to Poros while David took the engine apart and meticulously cleaned the carburetter and ransacked all the local chandlers and petrol stations looking for parts. He even consulted a marine engineer in England and ordered a special spark plug from there.
David repairing my outboard engine at Cafe Fresko

Then it worked.
Then it didn’t.
Then it worked again.....
So now I’m training for the olympic rowing regatta for 72 year old women in rubber dinghies.  As at the time of writing there are no other contestants I am hoping to win.
In the meantime David has a very serious discussion with my little 2 HP Yamaha.
His favourite expression is “A friend in need is a pain in the ass....”
Me rowing ashore

Back again on Aquarella

One of the wasps nests. Not the "flight of the bumble bee"
 but the "voyage of the wasps" when I threw the nest in the sea.
Uffe,my brother in law, takes a well deserved
rest after painting the antifouling
Climbing up and down the ladder umpteen times while Aquarella is in the boatyard.
Don't need gymnastics this week.
I'm back on my boat again after the winter in Sweden. This time my brother in law came with me for a week to help getting Aquarella shipshape.  I was very grateful for this as there is always a lot to do, and as it turned out, especially this time when things started going wrong. Firstly there was a wasp nest in the boom and the passarelle cover, difficult to get at without getting stung. We ended up spraying with insect killer and sealing all openings with plastic bags and tape, not very environmental friendly I'm afraid.
Then the new fridge I bought last year kept an even temperature of 19°C!  That problem resolved itself after I'd turned it on and off in desperation many times. Then the car we had hired displayed a warning stating that the particle filter was full and service was necessary (I chose to ignore it, I had enough to think about) The GPS on both of my devices didn't get a fix so I resorted to the old paper charts and my smart phone with google maps (!)

The day after launching we decided to sail non stop from Kilada to Poros. I had sailed this trip on my own the previous year and it had taken 9 hours. This time however because of the wind and current against us it took 12 hours. But we arrived at my reserved buoy in Poros just before sundown so all went well.

arrived in Poros in time to see the sun go down from Cafe Fresko
Friends Odd and Katinka from Gothenborg on their yacht Ellem.
Read Katinkas very interesting blog here 
Uffe taking the ferry from Poros to Athens
after a busy week helping me with Aquarella
Waving goodbye to my friend, the author Katinka Bille.
I have started rowing the dinghy now, when possible, instead of using the engine, saves petrol and builds up my muscles.

My painting on the cover of Odysse magazine

 My watercolour painting is now on the cover of the quarterly Swedish sailing magazine Odyssé
I was asked to write an article for the magazine  about my background and my adventures, trials and tribulations as a solo sailing artist in Greece.
After seeing the article the editors asked me if they could also use one of my paintings on the cover. Although the watercolour had to be cropped to fit the A4 format I am very pleased with the result.

The article I wrote is in Swedish but there is a summery in English

Another article was published in the magazine by the author Katinka Bille who wrote about about my lecture in Gothenburg and an interview with the renowned yachtswoman Christine Schildt. In both an editorial and article Claes Wessberg wrote about my talk in the Mediterranean Sailing Association at Lomma. 



Aquarella photographed from my friend's boat
It took some time to edit all the footage of video I had filmed during the summer. I had wanted to do more but had always put it off to another day. Suddenly the summer was coming to an end so I put my act together and actually got round to doing it.
This time I had a little help. I attached one camera to a friends boat going the same way so I could get some sequences of Aquarella from a distance under sail.

 Another friend Kirsten was with me for a while and was able to film during a period of hard weather. It is otherwise very difficult to even think of filming in bad weather as all concentration is on sailing the boat in the safest way.
A scene from the video, bravely filmed by Kirsten in hard weather.
Sailing alone again

After 9 hours of solosailing I arrived at my last destination for the year, at the bay of Kilada. After a long rest I managed to paint a watercolour of the colourful scene there, just before sunrise. The work in progress can also be seen in the video.

painting aboard

Drama - again!

After two weeks in Sweden and Denmark I returned to the boat at it's mooring off Poros . It was the first time I had left Aquarella in the water which I was nervous about but everything was fine and as I had left it. It was great to see all my friends there again. One of them was selling his boat and needed some video footage of it under sail. We decided to swap cameras and take a sail while filming and photographing each others boats. This is the first time I actually see Aquarella under sail. The film footage taken will be included in a video I'll upload to Youtube when the editing is finished.
Me sailing Aquarella
Back in Poros many hours, days and weeks were spent writing my book about painting the sea.

Towing the dinghy
The search area between the mainland and Hydra
At the end of September a dear friend Kirsten came to visit me on the boat. She also paints watercolours and the idea was that we would sail and paint together for a week. Other friends suggested they show us some beautiful anchorages I had never seen before so we sailed off on a two boat flotilla. We anchored in the bay of Skillaion and bathed in beautiful turquoise water surrounded by yellow ochre cliffs. The island of Hydra was not far away so we decided to go there too.
Then something I've often had a nightmare about actually happened! The brand new dinghy we were towing behind was gone!
Vanished, nowhere to be seen. I thought if we just backtracked our route by motor we would have a good chance of finding it. We searched and searched to no avail. It was so hard to see anything behind the small waves and we imagined what it would be like if it was a man-over-board situation. Then the wind changed direction and we closely followed the Peloponese coast westwards to Metokhi in the hope the dinghy would have washed ashore there.
Our eyes were sore from staring into binoculars and after an hour or so we decided it couldn't have drifted that far so I turned and followed the coast east again. It was impossible to know where to look considering the wind shift and changing current. It was now getting dark. We would have to stop searching and find somewhere to anchor for the night. Then Kirsten suggested I call on the VHF radio and ask if anyone had seen the dinghy. I tried calling "All ships, all ships, all ships. This is Aquarella, has anyone seen a blue dinghy near Hydra" but I was unsure the old radio was actually working. I thought not, but then after 15 minutes the radio crackled to life. "Person seeking a blue dinghy? WE'VE GOT IT!" Wow what a relief! It turned out to be 6 Russians on a chartered yacht who found the dinghy in the open sea. We arranged a meeting point outside Hydra and tried to give them a bottle of whisky as thanks but they wouldn't have it. We blew them kisses instead.
Aquarella (the smallest yacht) in Mandraki the following morning
I then motored into Mandraki bay in the failing light. The bay is very deep and there were many boats anchored there with lines ashore. This is a worst case scenario for me. My long keeled boat can't steer backwards. I had to drop the anchor from the bow and let 60 meters of chain out, then reverse in a cross wind in pitch black darkness between the other boats to get a line ashore. Fortunately someone from another boat took our line and tried all he could to help but I was tired and stressed and had to try the manoeuver 8 times before it succeeded. The spectator boats gave me 10 points for the evening entertainment. I just needed a drink.
The following day an attempt to film from my drone ended up with it drowned in the sea and even though I fished it up, both the drone and the camera were ruined. When I removed the battery it was red hot and thick smoke bellowed out from it. That was another 700€ gone. On the way back to Poros we encountered such hard wind and rough seas that the drawers with all their contents finished up sliding around the cabin floor.
Despite all this we really had a great time, could laugh at all the drama and enjoyed ourselves so much we almost forgot to paint.
The sun rising over Hydra with the island of Dokos in the foreground
After Kirsten went home I sailed 9 hours to Basimakopolou shipyard in Kilada where Aquarella is now taken ashore for the winter. 

Dinghy kaput!

My wind scoop
I haven't actually sailed for a while. I've been spending every day aboard working on my new book from 7 am to 7 pm with a break for lunch and a nap at the hottest time of the afternoon. The temperature is often 35 c in the cabin and my "air condition" consists of a wind scoop which catches the lightest breeze and sends it down through the boat.
When the heat gets too much I cool off by taking a swim in the sea followed by a 1 litre fresh water shower.
For a few days I stopped writing to paint a new watercolour of the view. This will be an illustration in the book.
Painting the view from the boat
A storm rolling in, Galatas can be seen here on the right, Poros to the left
This is what you might call "a Greek bail out"
Unfortunately one problem was becoming a serious issue. Having my boat tied up to a buoy a few hundred metres from the shore I am totally reliant on my rubber dinghy to transport myself to the town quay to get provisions, water and diesel. 
balancing in the dinghy to use the foot pump
The dinghy was loosing air again and having to be pumped every morning which meant there was a new leak somewhere. I took the cover off and wiped soapy water over the surface but couldn't find a specific leak, it looked like I had washed it in champagne! I ended up alternately pumping and rowing like mad over to Galatas where a dinghy specialist has his workshop. After taking a water taxi back to my boat I felt rather isolated. The following day I got a phone call with the verdict. "Dinghy no good, total kaput!" It was a right off, with all the seams disintegrating!
This meant I had to buy a new dinghy to be sent from Athens for the grand total of 650€. I had to use the water taxi service several times the following days at 10€ per trip before I finally could row my new dinghy back home to the boat.

The next morning I was picked up by watertaxi again for the first leg of my trip back home to Sweden for 2 weeks. I had been asked to participate in an exhibition in Denmark called the  World Wide Watercolour exhibition  and wouldn't miss this opportunity. I had to leave Aquarella to fend for herself in the meantime which I didn't like but there are many other boats left at buoys here so I reckoned she would be safe enough.
The watertaxi came half an hour too early when I was standing there in my nightdress! (No picture of that)
To be continued...

Pick up with the watertaxi