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. 

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