I “screwed” up…

After 12 years I still manage to utterly shock the hubby and myself… A 35+-year-old should be able to make quick and rational decisions, one might assume… 

Suffering from insomnia and painful joints after three days of rolling back and forth might have some influence, but that’s no excuse for a sailor woman, is it? Imagine the gently rocking from side to side as in a trance with the difference that you can’t control the violent rolling and you’re at home, you just want to chill, watch a movie, prepare food or have dinner, just to name a few. Even taking a shower or using the toilet is made difficult.

Parking

As the day made way for the night, a boat left the completely full quay. Immediately pirate mama Gwen -who decided to live permanently on the quay in Palairos- shouted we should take the spot. We discussed it for a minute and ignored the eerie feeling we were experiencing. We hauled up our anchor from the muddy seabed, prepared the mooring lines, and ran the engine. Ready to leave our anchorage and move to the concrete wall.

Mama Gwen and pirate John at Exadas

Also, know as Walhalla for sailors; running water and electricity, good holding, and secure when the god of wind is blowing a hoolie. Perfect for us as we were much in need as our water bladders were punctured and during the rolling, we lost all our freshwater. Secondly, our batteries are old and mistreated by a clueless crew named Ramon and Lotte. Luckily they weren’t the newest so it’s an acceptable loss. 

What can go wrong… went wrong

We left and try to park in the little tiny harbor in Palairos

Birdseye view Palairos Harbor

As you can see in the picture above the quay was on our starboard and the pontoon which is ridiculously close to the quay – at least in my newbie opinion, do you agree? – on our port side.

Mutiny has a full keel, she is not made to reverse, that’s why we always park bows to.

Mutiny parked bows to

The propeller has the tendency to turn right in forwards, which translates into the bow going to port. To anticipate the big turning circle when turning starboard, we initiate our maneuver on the port side of the “waterway”. In order to position the boat at the correct angle, we need to drive a bit past the spot.

Propeller

There was a gentle breeze, while Ramon turned to starboard, I dropped the anchor from our starboard stern and ran to the bow to throw out the mooring lines (these would be fastened in the rings on the quay).

All of a sudden the boat stopped abruptly. The wind pushed us sideways. We came way too close for comfort to another parked boat…

AAGHGRRR… STRESS

Apparently, our stern anchor line wasn’t coiled properly… -Guess who coiled it for the last time… Yup that was me. I thought it was done perfectly- It was tangled before the fairlead. The consequence was that the anchor bit too early and held Mutiny in the middle of the waterway. Mother nature thought this was excellent timing to gust a hoolie.

The next part was the most difficult for us both… Ramon had no choice but to reverse to avoid collisions… This meant we were going to prop wrap our gorgeous, smooth, strong, colorful line to get out of there.  

When parking bows to, we throw out the kedge anchor. This is a second anchor, that is attached to a 10-meter chain and 30 meters line. The chain is there to give the line more weight and only 10 meters because that’s all the chain we have.

A prop wrap means that generally a line get’s wrapped around the prop. The tension on the prop increases as the line wraps around it multiple times. The engine can’t turn the prop over anymore and dies. In the episode beneath you can see our first prop wrap.

 

Don’t freak out, stay calm!

Heartbroken we reversed and hoped the rope cutter would do his work. The moment the engine died we were literally strung out. The line was frayed but how severe? Would it hold us longer?

Absolutely terrified, we tried to think fast to get the hell out of this dangerous situation. My logic brain 🧠 was suffering to think straight due to the deafening alarm that roared within my skull: “SHIT!!!, SHIT!!!, SHIIIIIIITTTTTTT!!! we might sink.” 

I struggled immensely to switch it off and went into the water to try and undo the prop wrap. The sky was turning black and the visibility was close to nothing. We needed goggles to see… but I couldn’t find them because the alarm kept taking hold of me. In these situations, Ramon is the captain and he gives orders. I am just running around like a headless chicken.

Fortunately, he was able to think straight after letting it all out. He dropped our bow anchor and went in and pulled the line out of the rudder and started the engine which failed. SHIT!!! Again and failed again. SHIIIIITTTTT!!! On the third attempt, we were indulged by the black fumed, melodic purring of our Perkins engine. Mmmm that sound, I’m going to tape it and make it my ring tone one day. 

Full throttle forwards and YES the rope cutter did his work. Whoever said that rope cutters are worthless, we need to talk again!!! We got back out the harbor to the anchorage, dropped the Cobra and sat down to comprehend what had happened. 

Back to safety, right??

The following night we were welcomed back with the lovely, violent, rolling of the ocean. We catnapped 45 min in turns. In between the naps, we checked the boat because another boat anchored extremely close to ours. 

After another night filled with trippy, twilight zone states of awareness, we fell into a nice, warm, stressfree coma. Mmmm the luxury of sleep for almost 30 min…. Of course, as we say in Flemish; beautiful songs don’t last that long and definitely don’t sound like: BAM CLANG WEDOWEE. That’s how we woke up, shit, shit, shit… Someone hit our boat. Yup the neighbor that was too close hit us… 

We didn’t know where but we presume that it was our solar panel against his guardrail. There wasn’t any damage. We actively displayed the mantra of hauling up and dropping down the anchor and tried to sleep, to no avail. We installed toothpicks to keep our paranoid eyes open to watch every move of all the other boats around,. Another spot came free on the quay but we didn’t push our luck this time. Our mutual wish was sent into the universe, “close our vision to the world and rest”.

It worked. The following day we jumped out of bed and parked on the quay. Our little pumping hearts were in our throats, with shivering hands I threw out the stern anchor and it bit in the right spot and our mooring lines were successfully caught. Finally all was fine and our souls were energized by safety.

We were again warmly welcomed by the fishermen, locals, and expats who make Palairos the safe haven it is.
First thing tomorrow? Go fishing for our anchor. It might not make a good meal, but I have a feeling that this “hook” will come in handy one day.

My first day alone on the boat.

You might wonder how that is? First of all, I am not really alone, Styx is here and the Palairos (the little village where I find myself in) ex-pats. Concerning living on the boat alone as a human is brilliant, awesome, beautiful to name a few. Not that I don’t miss the hubby, he left on a two to three-week delivery -he is transporting a boat from France to Greece at the moment of writing-. It’s just magical. I am even writing this first draft of my blog on a block note with a too short pencil beneath the bloody red light* of the navigation station.

*It’s red because that doesn’t kill your night vision while night sailing. This in case you need to check the old fashioned paper charts. Why don’t we do that anymore?

Studying for the ICC

I just came back to the boat. It’s my first entire day single on our lovely, sturdy, marvelous mum. – Ramon and I call her mum instead of “our baby” as many others do – Just before I was in a restaurant/taverna – as you call them in Greece – with the pirate family (who we spend last summer and winter with) and two newcomers. New to living on a boat that means. They are three weeks old and learning everything about their sailing vessel, a Jeanneau 37, if I am not mistaken.

The super, relaxed eager to unravel the mechanical and electrical system of the boat female half of the couple, was firing up a piston that almost fully rotated the crankshaft once* with her enthusiasm. You definitely do recognize a true-hearted sailor when you cross one.

 “Is it because they’re my generation or have we been living too long in between the elder?”

*A year ago when I started studying engines a whole new world opened up for me. So many actions happen simultaneously and result in one holistic outcome. Unbelievable, it’s a shame you can’t see the crankshaft and the pistons of the engine. And the assuming and presuming of possible issues, it’s almost a philosophy. Maybe material for another blog?

via GIPHY

Back to the couple, they are too modest to display their insecurities. Instead; undergo all ideas is what they breathe. They are here now; in their boat, while I’m writing this draft on paper. – I’m still able to write but it isn’t as fast as typing. I think it might be better because you have more time to think before you scribble. – They have been my neighbors for the last three? Four? days. We hadn’t talked much before tonight. Only basic stuff, as the 10 min talk you do with land neighbors. After tonight I have really spoken to them. Pretty cool peeps! Is it because they’re my generation or have we been living too long in between the elder?

“The Mayday message from the crew in the life-threatening situation, Ramon and I heard, stopped replying at the rescue authorities. Pretty morbid…

There was a connection, in the bubble mind you! Palairos, is a bubble… A place that is very hard to leave, because of the laid back atmosphere, the beautiful combination of all its lovely inhabitants, who are all a bit crazy in their own peculiar way and unexpected things happen. A different vibration in the outgoing frequency. Hopefully, it isn’t a Mayday… The sailor girl and I even talked about that tonight. The more newbie couple than us – funny how fast you learn – also heard a Mayday on the radio during one of their first trips. A boat caught fire and was sinking. Oddly enough, Ramon and I, heard one of these before as well. In their case, the persons were assisted out. The Mayday message from the crew in the life-threatening situation, Ramon and I heard, stopped replying to the rescue authorities. Pretty morbid… Bizarre to talk about it, We haven’t talked about it with battered sailors. They just don’t talk about fears or did they grow used to them?

Mutiny is my girlfriend! Completely chilled out when she is happy in still waters. Ramon, Styx, and I recently got to know her better in rolling conditions. She would roll from port to starboard side or is it the other way around? Ferociously, violently, 50 degrees to port, 50 degrees to starboard. Vomit inducing one might say…

Honestly, I trust her, she is my religion. I fall asleep knowing she will protect me, grant me my freedom, demands me to stay fit by circumnavigating her, and doesn’t tolerate stupidity. The latter she does by accidentally letting me bump into things. Literally you have to watch your step and she’ll keep your intelligence challenged by creating issues we have to research for days in order to fix them.

On our way to catch the bridge in Lefkas. Look at that gorgeous beamy Mutiny beauty…

If we would have standard funds like 90 percent of the normal Westerners – but our standard is to live up to our freedom&happiness ratio and to practice what we preach instead –  we would just call an engineer or electrician to fix our problem and afterward complain about the money we had to spend for that. But seriously? Where is the love in that?

To get to know her, every little sigh; the stretching of the shrouds when she wakes up in the morning, the water sloshing against her outlines, the swaying lullaby that echoes from her submerged heart is the unique transcending joy us non-gods and non-goddesses can master.

When we newbies, meet sun kissed, windswept, and passionate sailors, we melt. Our “I’m tough too” concept vanishes when they share their horrifying, demonizing tales accompanied by delirium engaging, cheap local house wine.

This isn’t it, this will never be when you have a boat. The ten Commandments of sailing;

  1. You’ll encounter the seven seas; 
  2. You’ll consume too much alcohol;
  3. You’ll be an ignorant slave of your boat;
  4. You’ll research, learn and create;
  5. You’ll lose your balance on land;
  6. You’ll love eating from cans;
  7. You’ll never take a cold beer for granted; 
  8. You’ll glorify long showers;
  9. You’ll stay fit;
  10. You’ll interpret sleep as a utopia;