Table for one.

As a daily reminder of the recent loss of my husband, dinner, eaten alone, is one of the saddest. It all starts in the supermarket where the portions you can buy are either"for two" or "for four" . The fridge on the boat is only small which limits the amount of leftovers I can keep. So every other day, as yet another reminder, I throw Max's portion away.
When I'm eating I usually play some music or watch the news on my ipad, more as a distraction than a consolation.
One evening, just for a change and a treat I decided to step over the hurdle of going into a restaurant alone.
Why not, I thought, there are always a number of men sitting alone at a restaurant, watching football on the telly.
When I got there all the tables I could see were ready laid for four but I sat down at one with a view over the harbour so I could keep an eye on my boat.
Groups and couples who arrived long after me were greeted and given a menu. I was ignored.
I waited.
At last, when the waiter had nothing else to do, he came and asked me if I was waiting for somebody.
When I told him I wasn't, he showed me to a smaller table with a nice view of the fridge. The good thing was that, having my back to everyone else, they couldn't see the look on my face, it might have spoiled their meal.
I ordered dinner but needless to say, I didn't enjoy it. I just ate half of it as fast as I could, paid and took the dinghy back to the blessed solitude of my boat.
I don't think I'll try that experiment again. I don't want people to feel sorry for me and I don't want special attention, I just want to be treated as a normal human being.
Perhaps I'm not.
This situation is not anything specially related to the Greek attitude to women, I've experienced the same thing at home.
Just when you think none of the other customers have noticed , the waitress comes along and asks very loudly : ARE YOU ALONE? Then everyone turns round, stares, and I feel like something the dog brought in.
My mother in law experienced the same when she was widowed in Finland twenty years ago. I thought times had changed but it must have something to do with our "culture".

Collision at night!!

After 5 nights in the anchorage in strong winds from all directions I thought the anchor must have dug itself far down into the muddy seabed. I was wrong! I woke in horror at one a.m. to the sound of scraping metal! I grabbed my life jacket and jumped on deck and saw the silhouette of a large steel boat Aquarella was leaning on. At first I thought it must have been the other boat that had drifted but realised, by looking at the surroundings, that it was in fact me. The french boat owner was very helpful and tied my boat up to his while I tried to get my anchor up. That wasn't so easy, it was under his chain! I ran back and got in the dinghy, pulled myself along the side of the boat against the wind and the waves and tried to lift the anchor off. I know there's only one way to do this but I was panicking instead of thinking, distracted by the awful sound of shrieking metal. The anchor was entangled with an old fishing net from the sea bed ( probably why it didn't hold) With the help of the other boat owner it was freed and I could climb back on board. I wanted to sail off and anchor well away from the other boats and buoys but the Frenchman took command and insisted I stay the night tied on to their stern. You're safe now, he said, get some sleep and we'll sort it out in the morning.
Well I didn't sleep much, the wind was still howling and the mooring rope between our boats tightened up and jolted the boat with every swinging movement.
My host for the night: Mimosa ll of Brest

In the morning when the wind abated I went over in the dinghy to see if there was any damage to the other boat. There was, - a long scratch in their paintwork. I offered to pay but they said I could give them a drink next time they came. Such nice people. There were a few scratches to my own boat but nothing serious.
I  moved the boat further out in the anchorage but after the french couple sailed away I could come back nearer the quay again within range of the internet hot spot in the town.
In the night when all this happened I thought; this is no good, I can't cope, I have to give up and take the boat back to the boatyard, go home and forget about it. But in the morning, after I'd anchored twice, cleared the deck, filled transmission fluid to the moaning hydraulic steering and WD40 to the squeaking rudder, I felt that I had confidence again. It was after all through no fault of my own that the anchor didn't hold, s**t happens.

First sail

Last saturday was my first sail as skipper with brother-in-law Uffe as first mate. Well to be honest "sailing" wasn't really the word. There was no wind whatsoever so we went by engine. But it was good to get under way and check that everything worked. The GPS, Autopilot, Radar etc. and my somewhat rusty navigational skills. It was only a three hour trip from Kilada to Porto Heli but a good way to start. We talked a lot about how I was going to manage alone after Uffe goes home. Some routines seem simple in theory but how they really would work single handed, in practise and in all sorts of weather will remain to be seen.

On arrival the wind had got up but we managed to anchor at a reasonable distance from the quay, the laid moorings and the other anchored yachts in the bay. I put 20 meters of chain out and Uffe reversed slowly to get the anchor to dig well in.  He then instructed me in the use of the outboard engine for the dinghy. I had never used it much before and often prefered to row instead of trying to fight with it. A dinghy with an outboard is after all a lifeline when living aboard a boat at anchor. I didn't want to tie up to the quay where there is very little privacy, a lot of noise, dust and dirt and no possibility to take a swim when it gets hot. After a few tries and Uffes patient tuition I got a little more confidence. The first time I started off on my own from the jetty ashore, I collided with a moored motorboat and got entangled in it's mooring ropes. But practise makes perfect so I am told.
Early Monday morning I took Uffe ashore so he could take the hired car to the airport in Athens for his trip home. It had been a very successful week where nearly everything had gone as planned. We had even found time to explore the countryside in the car, a great luxury.
When he left I felt very much alone.
Fortunately it wasn't for long as I had just got an email that friends Sam and Mike on Master Spy were coming after a few hours. They had sailed to Kilada to meet me but I had already left then. They anchored up within shouting distance for a couple of nights before they went on their way.It was so great to see them again and the pleasure of their company, the long talks, the laughter and mutual memories made the transition easier. The night after they left, strong winds started howling through the rigging at two in the morning. I had to go on deck to take the sun awning down, yet another job Max and I always did together. It took some time to wrestle with the flying and flogging canvas to get it all under control in the pitch black night, good I remembered to put my miners lamp on so I could see but I thought afterwards that I should have had my lifejacket on too.
The next morning the boat was covered with the typical red dust from the rain during the night. It sticks to everything and I had to climb up over the cockpit to the solar panel on top of the bimini to clean it. I'm dependant on the solar panels for charging the boats batteries.

Greece at last

Last Monday I flew to Athens accompanied by my brother in law Uffe who kindly came along to help for a week. We hired a car and drove through the pouring rain for four hours before we reached the boatyard on Pelaponesos where "Aquarella" was standing waiting. I was apprehensive about seeing the boat again which had been our summer home for so many years. While Uffe started cleaning the hull I went about emptying the boat of all Max's clothes. I didn't want to be confronted with sad memories every time I opened a cupboard. So I quickly threw everything in plastic bags and carted them off. The boat was left last summer in badly organised chaos and it didn't help to add all the luggage to it. One bit at a time most of it was put into place and the next day Uffe and I went to work with an exaggerated amount of energy. Up and down ladders we went, cleaning inside and out, waxing, polishing and painting the antifouling. Thursday was booked for launching and we were ready in good time.
Uffe showing me how to mount the zinc anode on the propeller 
The launching ramp at the boatyard has only  enough room for two and a half boats so if you can't move out of the way as soon as your boats bottom gets wet, there's a problem. Everyone has to wait. There was a problem. The engine wouldn't start. I stared down at the big chunk of complicated metal and tried to think of something. Bleeding the diesel was the only thing I had ever tried so Uffe and I did what we could but to no avail. Each time I tried to start, a loud moaning noise filled the air, followed by a choking sound. Fortunately a kind German mechanic saw and heard our plight and offered to help. He started by asking how old the batteries were. About six years I said (in fact they were 8 ) "You'll have to buy new ones" he proclaimed. Off the men went by car to the town while everyone around the launching ramp stared impatiently at me, willing me to move away so they could embark on a circumnavigation before lunch.

In next to no time the men were back with two new batteries, but after they were connected the engine still wouldn't start. The mechanic found out that one of the two fuel filters was blocked and after opening the reserve filter the Yanmar jumped into life and even consented to spitting out cooler water after all the black smoke had subsided. With a an audible sigh of relief from all the impatient spectators (and myself) we got under way and sailed out to the anchorage.
You have to watch out for turtles before dropping the anchor

The boat

"Aquarella", photo: Kimmo Viljamaa 2006
Aquarella at anchor in Kilada, Greece 2012
This is my boat, a long keeled Hallberg Rassy monsun from 1976
She has gradually been modified for the climate and special needs for sailing in the Mediterranean.
From the bow there's a bowsprit which moved the original position of the forestay with furling jib forward about 70 cm. This made her easier on the tiller. It also enables easier access to the boat with an integrated hinged ladder. The anchor is stowed under it. Theres an electric windlass with remote control, this is a must when retrieving 80 meters of anchor chain and a 16 kg Britany anchor.
You can see my wind scoop which catches the lightest breeze and sends it down the hatch. The Monsun has a rolling boom, useful for reefing and stowing the mainsail. It has to be done from the mast though. On the coach roof there is a life raft and two solar panels plus one on top of the bimini. The aft part of the bimini is fixed for the season and only taken down in winter. The forward part can be dismantled when under way. There's a hydraulic powered steering wheel and an autopilot, connected to the radar and GPS.
Her other vital statistics are:
Olle Enderlein
Hull length
9.36 m / 30' 9"
Length water line
7.50 m / 24'  8"
2.87 m / 9' 5"
1.40 m / 4' 7"
4 200 kg / 9 250 lbs
Keel weight
1 900 kg / 4 200 lbs
Sail area with jib
39 m² / 430 sq ft
kW / HP
17 / 23
Diesel tank
120 litres / 32 US gallon
Water tank
160 litres / 43 US gallon