This book started it all;

Thinking about a self sustainable life where you can find the last existing freedom on our planet? Thinking about buying a boat but don’t have much money? It is possible! Read this book, it’s the best on the market regarding this subject. Rick Page shares his sea gypsy lifestyle.

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.

Alone on the boat in a storm.

Mutiny we love you, we adore you.
You protect us from all evil and gave us a home.
You grant us our freedom as we grant you yours.
You gave us a place to call home.
A home, that provides us, escapists, with limitless travel.
Let’s sail the seven seas together, to places none of us have ever been.
Let’s say goodbye to the land world and live afloat.

It all comes down to trusting Mutiny. She is strong, build to last, and the perfect bad weather boat.
I guess this refers to her sailing capabilities and not being tied up on a dock, quay, floating dock, for anchor, or on a bouy. In these conditions, we also need to trust the lines she is attached to. They definitely need to be solid. If one snaps Mutiny may transform in a drunken ballerina on ice damaging everything that comes on her path.

“I think I’ll be fine in this storm”

I hope she holds today. It’s terrifying alone on the boat in a storm. Our batteries are so knackered that I might not be able to start the engine in case all goes South… Well, I would have to disconnect the fridge or laptop depends on what device I am using at that time. It’s one or the other. Subsequently, I have to wait until our solars and/or Wendy (our wind generator) charge the batteries sufficiently. This will all be solved when we buy new batteries. We will get the Varta ones because they are the best for our needs.

Being in a storm on an ocean is utterly dangerous people say but at least, in that case, you are free of lines that put tremendous amounts of strain on the cleats. I have read comments of many other sailors that said; “When there is a storm at sea, I just go down below, watch a few films and come back up when it’s over.” This of course is only possible with proper bluewater boats like Mutiny. So I think I will be fine in this storm.

Mutiny’s huge cleats. If you have 45 knots of winds (85km/hour on land), you can imagine the strain on the cleats and lines.

At the moment of writing this blog, Ramon is doing a delivery. He is transporting a production boat. Which are mass-produced, there is no love in them, Ramon calls them toy boats. You can feel every movement, unlike our marvelous Mutiny. Think about cars, in a small car you have the idea you go faster.  Especially, the little Toyota jeeps, which you can push over. Big cars are much more trustworthy and don’t tip over in light winds.

All sorts of things about what could happen go through my head. My neighbors lost their dinghy. The woman was braving the waves to get the dinghy back to her boat. She had to hoist herself in it form the water level. She did it so graciously, it was there and then that I noticed she wasn’t wearing any knickers. Once she made it into the dinghy, I was watching over her, and together with her praying the outboard would fire up. When it purred at once we both cheered and she realized she was still half-naked. “Oh! Don’t look at me, please I am not wearing any clothes.” She laughed. “Well, I don’t really mind and besides I’m a woman too don’t worry about it!” I replied. You just got to love sailor girls, women, they are the best! At that moment it dawned upon me I wasn’t that scared anymore, thanks to that lovely half-naked gypsy mermaid that made me forget about it. I didn’t catch your name but thanks, I needed that. You can’t make these things up, can you? Soon after that incident the storm subsided.

The biggest storm we had was a few weeks ago while we were still in COVID 19 lockdown. It was gusting up to 55 knots -102kph-. The wind came from the East and that always means havoc in this village. The wind builds up to outrageous proportions while tumbeling down the Acarnanian mountain. The first touching point of the accelerated wind is the harbor. Where we were tied up upon. Bows to – the nose of the boat towards the dock – we always go bows to because we have a full keel and that is bloody hard to control, simply said they are not made to reverse. (In the Mediterranean, the preferred way of docking is stern-to) Mutiny’s bum caught all the wind and this is one of the biggest surfaces of the boat.

View on the Acarnanian mountain from rio de Palairos. https://www.facebook.com/RioDePaleiro/

I can assure you we didn’t sleep much that night. Luckily Ramon and I sleep in shifts. We always do, naturally, when he awakes I sleep and the other way around. His sleeping pattern is very different than most human beings. But this is perfect for night sailing on big passages.

The only disadvantage is that you are exhausted, do stupid things as a result, and may lose your moral high ground. Suddenly, you aren’t tired anymore and are running up and down the deck, climbing the mast of an unsteady sailboat. You fix the problem and are not scared anymore. You feel indestructible, high as a kite as if you transcend your physical body and are in a state where you can manipulate your reality completely to your own hand. The same way you can alter your dreams. Wow, this is addictive what is this? Adrenaline! When your body and mind are empty shells, the adrenaline covers you in a warm Gibson – guitar sound – blanket filled up with pure joy, without realizing it you are a superhero. Beware though the toll on your body is considerate.

Here we were just literally: “Riders on the storm.”
For the full episode:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-knpvVjDR

In the picture above we had both some adrenaline running through our veins. We left Palairos before the storm hit. There wasn’t a lot of wind at the start of that day but the clouds embodied a fast approaching cold front. This would entail heavy wind. We took our time to go to Nydri. when we saw the black huge anvil-shaped clouds nearing, we immediately lowered the sails as quickly as we could and fired up the engine in order to stay in front of the storm and hopefully it wouldn’t catch up on us before we made it into the harbor.

The waves hit Mutiny from the stern and we were surfing, for the first time! We both absolutely loved it.

Recently, a competent skipper told Ramon that you have to reef as soon as you can. Even in 15 knots of wind, reefing, reefing, and more reefing. When Ramon told him he didn’t even reef in 35 knots and even had the main completely out, he almost choked on the mezze he was eating. “That is just downright treacherous! Why didn’t you reef?” he was still able to utter. “Well, we didn’t know…”. He brought it to our attention that we should always reef, if you think about it you are already too late. We shared our story underway to Kalamos. You have to get in between two mountain ranges to enter the harbor. The wind is called a dropping wind. The same principle as explained before in Palairos. The air falls down the range and comes straight at the boat. We heeled 50 degrees, without our sails. Thank Buddha we just managed to stow them in time. I don’t know how much we would have heeled if we still had the main sail out. Curious? Check it out here:

If we would have done that with a production boat, it would have fallen to pieces. I love that it always comes down to how strong our marvelous lady is. We are extremely thrilled that we bought her. She is the best thing that ever happened to us.