Family visit

Olivia diving after a clothes peg. Screenshot from the video by Philip Elberling.
My son Philip, daughter in law Henriette and granddaughter Olivia came to visit me on Aquarella last week. I had been contemplating about possible destinations to sail to and decided on a few places nearby that I had seen for the first time last year.
The first short voyage was to the bay of Mandraki on the island of Hydra.
Aquarella looking very tiny between the other boats in Mandraki
With my experience from last year I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. But with planning, only a little wind and daylight this time I was optimistic. There were a lot of anchored boats with lines criss crossing ashore when we arrived and more were coming in. Henriette manned the remote control for the anchor windlass, I was at the wheel and Philip was to use the dinghy as tugboat. Knowing my long keeled boat is nigh on impossible to steer in reverse I thought this was the best strategy. Last time it took me 9 attempts before I succeeded getting my boat in place between the others. Most other boats have either twin engines or bow thrusters and short keels which makes maneuverability simple but not for 42 year old Aquarella. This time though I made it on the fifth attempt. Henriette let all 80 meters of chain out and Philip pushed the side of the boat with the dinghy at all the effort the little old 2 hp Yanmar outboard engine could manage. With my finger nails I hung on to a big catamaran on one side while Philip took lines ashore and tied them to rocks. After pulling 10 meters of chain back we were then perfectly in place.
We left the boat there to take the beautiful walk along the hilly coastal road to Hydra town to eat dinner. The only traffic was one of the locals trotting along on a donkey. After dark we returned by watertaxi which took about 3 minutes and cost 20€.
The next day we sailed to the uninhabited island of Dokos and anchored in the bay. It was a beautiful place and a magnificent sunset there. In the morning Philip and I took the dinghy ashore to send my drone up from the beach. I managed to fly very near to the boat for the first time but was nervous when I lost eye contact with it. I took care of the remote control while Philip kept an eye on the monitor until a warning popped up stating high wind velocity. Then I activated the go-to-home button and the drone became visible again and returned to land at our feet.
Then I realized I hadn’t activated the record button!
I couldn't see the drone anymore but it could certainly see the boat.
 This is a screen shot from the video

Classic mistake.
I will post the final result when I have edited the film but so far it looks promising.
On our way motorsailing to Ermioni,which was our next destination, the dreaded sound of the engine revs going down told me there was something caught in the propeller. On arrival I snorkeled to take a look and found a fishing net firmly twined around. All four of us were then in action trying to free the propeller. Philip worked with a fishing knife while 12 year old Olivia, who is amazing at holding her breath and diving, pulled the lines out and tied them around a boat hook that Henriette was holding in the dinghy. I pulled and unravelled all I could get hold of. Finally, with great relief we succeeded and it was high fives and drinks all round.
the last bit of the ghost net untangled

For the last destination and overnight stay we chose Skillion, a very small bay behind a tiny island on the way back to Poros. This bay has the clearest, most turquoise water I have ever seen. We all enjoyed bathing, swimming and diving here and my underwater gopro camera was in constant use. 

Aquarella as seen by the underwater audience.
Screen shot from the video filmed by promising marine photographer, 12 yr old Olivia Elberling.

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.