Voyage of Traveler / Blog

June 24, 2009

Traveler Postcard From Aegina (Greek Isles)

June 22, 2009

Aegina, Greece

Hi, Everyone,
Wow, my last postcard was after leaving Santorini on May 28, nearly a month ago.  Lots has happened since then.  Mostly good, some bad.

With my son Scott and his girlfriend Natalie (both will be juniors at Berkeley), we very much enjoyed the Greek island of Ios.  Once we got Traveler tied up at the wharf, that is.  When we entered the small harbor it was blowing about 20 and we had to reverse downwind, stern to the wharf, with the bow anchor out and letting the anchor chain run as we backed down.  But the anchor landed on grass, didn’t set properly and dragged, so the wind caused us to bump the concrete wharf, causing a small ding on the fiberglass hull and the wood trim for one of our stern windows. I couldn’t just motor away from the wharf because the wind so quickly caught my bow and pushed it to the side, toward another boat tied up along side of us and I had no room to turn.  It took awhile to get the spare anchor out and set it from the dinghy, all while others helped by fending Traveler off the wharf and the neighboring boat in the wind and waves. It was a little stressful. I really could have used Barbara to help me.  Scott and Natalie wanted to help but they were new to boating and I needed experienced crew in this situation.

We found Ios to be charming, a lot like Mykonos but without the crowds.  Just enough college kids to make the nightlife fun.  For Scott and Natalie, that is.  I usually fall asleep by 10, totally exhausted from all the day’s activities.  As you may know, on most Greek islands the nightlife starts at 11 or 12, really gets going at about 3, and doesn’t stop till dawn.  Scott and Natalie would usually roll in and crash about when I’m having my second cup of coffee. I’d try to get them up at the crack of noon, but sometimes they would sleep in til 3 or 4 in the afternoon.

Mykonos was another very windy harbor when we arrived, but we managed to do much better this time, mostly because we motored into the wind as we approached the wharf. And now Scott and Natalie were more helpful, with the lessons learned from Ios docking experience fresh in mind. At Mykonos’ famous Paradise Beach we found a late afternoon beach party with about 400 drunk college-aged young adults, the guys shirtless in trunks, and the girls in bikinis, all dancing to a DJ and getting pretty wild.  A lot of loud music, tattoos, silicone and spilled beer.

Our next island, Kea, was very tame, kind of like Avalon in the winter, especially compared to the previous three party islands of Santorini, Ios and Mykonos.  But we all welcomed a little chill time.

In Athens, we took a berth at the huge and crowded Zea Marina in Piraeus, just 26 miles from Athens Acropolis (the original marathon route).  Scott’s other two friends, Christine and Jillian joined us here for a week. A big highlight for them was seeing their favorite DJ, Deadmou5 (that’s right, the last letter of his name is the number 5 and it’s pronounced “dead mouse”.) He stopped in Athens as part of his world tour.  Scott had seen him just a week earlier in San Francisco, and Christine had seen him two weeks earlier in LA.  Ask someone you know in their early 20s.  Deadmou5 is huge.  They got into the show for free (they coincidentally met the bouncers at a cafe just before the show who let them in), they got free drinks all night (the club owner took a liking to Christine), and then Deadmau5 took a liking to Scott, who got to wear his hat (this is a really huge deal, if you know anything about Deadmau5).  After the show at about 7 they all got invited to limo it to his suite at the Athens Hilton to order room service for breakfast.  They got back to Traveler at about 10, raving that it was their best night out.  Ever.

Meanwhile, Barbara took a break from Traveler for a two week side trip.  She was with Kathy Smith from our Transpac crew for the first week to see Prague, and then by herself the second week to see Istanbul, Ephasis, Troy and other sights in Turkey. It was great to have her back. We had a Captain’s Dinner to celebrate Barbara’s return and bid a bon voyage to Scott, Natalie, Christine, Jillian and me.  I flew back, first to Eugene to see my daughter Kellie’s graduation from the University of Oregon (Scott was there too), and then to Newport Beach for a probate trial, to see my CPA, dentist and dermatologist and family (thanks Drew and Linda) and friends (Dick Higbie, Scott Schubert and Dave Beek from Transpac crew and many other members of the BYC, Keith Lumpkin and his parents, Jim Moodey, my niece Katie and her graduation from NHHS, John Sturgess, and then Susan Hillgren, the Ukropinas, the Weiners, the D’Pallitos and others all at the O’Desky’s great graduation party for Aly.)  It felt so weird to be back in NB, especially to walk through my old home on Cumberland and see what the new owners did with their remodel. But it also feft so good just to take a walk in the park with my son, Brian, and our chocolate lab, Coco.

On the flight back to Athens I had a seven hour layover in JFK Airport, so I took the Long Island Railroad out to Bethpage to see the US Open.  It felt strange to be watching Tiger Woods do his thing in New York when I should be with Barbara doing our thing on Traveler in the Greek Isles. While I saw some fabulous golf, I really missed sailing on Traveler.  So following back to back red eye flights, within a few short hours of getting back to the boat, we set sail for the Greek island of Aegina, just 17 miles SW of Piraeus.

We are pleased to have on board as guest crew Barbara’s friend Teresa for the next 13 days.

When we arrived Aegina and anchored, we noticed the bilge pump was going on, and staying on.  This is not a good sound.  We opened the engine hatch and saw a steady stream of sea water pouring in from where the propeller shaft goes through the hull.  Many boats have sunk from this exact problem. Our bilge pump was able to keep up with the flow, but for how long, and what if it gets much worse? Barbara and I tried for nearly two hours to stop the leak, unsuccessfully.  The packing gland already had two hose clamps on it, and they were tight, so we put a third hose clamp on, but strangely that only increased the flow, from about a gallon to two gallons a minute.  That’s when I decided to go ashore in the dinghy to the small town of Aegina, at 10pm on a Sunday night, to try to find a mechanic to come out to the boat to help us. After an hour or so of searching, I got a qualified mechanic to dinghy out with me to Traveler.  He was able to temporarily stop the leak, but to properly fix the problem we had to haul the boat.  So after just a three hours sleep (and no sleep for the previous two nights on planes), we motored five miles to the boat yard at sunrise and hauled Traveler out of the water.

We got the leaky packing gland fixed, and while we were out of the water I had the yard guys patch up some scrapes we got while in Dili, East Timor from bumping a reef, and then put a coat of bottom paint on.  We were in the yard, “on the hard,” for two nights.

The boat yard has a head with a shower that’s more for the employees to use at the end of a hard day’s work.  But for us and a few other yachties staying onboard while the boat’s in the yard, that’s where you go, when you need to go. After showering, Teresa wearing only a loosely tied sarong, had to climb the 15 foot ladder to get back on Traveler.  A gust of wind caught the sarong and quickly unwrapped it, then re-wrapped it around her head as she was hanging onto the ladder’s top rung with both hands, giving a few men working in the yard a little show.

Livin the dream,
Michael and Barbara

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