Monday, 25 September 2017

Goran Schildt Regatta and after

We had arranged to sail the Goran Schildt Regatta, starting on 10 September, with Frank and Lin in their boat, Hamble Dawn 3. The Regatta is a four-day event this year, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Goran Schildt’s bith (and of Finland’s independence) sailing from Lakki to Lipsi, to Pythagorion on Samos, then to Patmos and back to Lakki.

We flew back to Athens from Heathrow on Wednesdy 6 September to stay the night with Lena. We had planned to see Niko, but something came up, so that was cancelled. We flew back to Leros on the afternoon flight on 7 September and Kostas was waiting with our car. We picked up the key to the yard in the taverna opposite the airport, but we could not get the key to work. Fortunately the gate was still open and Irene was just leaving, so she gave us a remote for the gate.

Patrick and Margaret were in the yard, preparing to launch and repairing the damage when they hit the jetty when they came in to lift in July. Patrick was gung-ho, but Margaret was rather apprehensive, worried about Patrick’s health, though her own health worries are over. It was really good to see them.

Once we had unpacked and tidied up a bit we drove in to Lakki to see Frank and Lin and make our plans. Frank was raring to go! He had rubbed down the bottom and planned to empty his forward water tank to increase our speed. We persuaded him not to leave the dinghy and anchor behind! We had dinner with them in the Evros marina restaurant and drove back to the yard for an early night. We spent most of Friday getting Mia Hara ready for launching, but went in to Lakki to have lunch at Poppy’s with Frank and Lin and met them in the evening for dinner at Milos, where we had an excellent meal. On Saturday we had a day sail up to Arkhangelos and back with Frank and Lin to find our way around the boat. In the evening we went for an excellent dinner with Al and Kitty at El Greco in Pandeli, joined by Ann Tee and Gillian. Al and Kitty have had a busy summer in their hotel, but are looking forward to the end of the season.
Sunday 10th was registration for the regatta in the morning. We collected our Regatta polo shirts, sailing instructions and boat numbers in the morning. In the evening we went to the opening of an exhibition of Goran Schildt’s photos in the Sailing Club clubhouse and then had a quick dinner at Costa’s grill with Frank and Lin, Sue and Steve and Steve and Nia (who were doing the Regatta on Sue and Steve’s boat, Unda). This was followed by a concert in the cinema of music which celebrated Goran Schildt’s voyage from Finland to Greece. The core of the group of Finnish musicians was a family of mother, father and three children. The standard of musicianship was not very high but the concert was not too long and was very enjoyable. The high point was a little speech at the end by Goran Schildt’s widow, saying how she had been looking forward so much to the celebration and was very moved by the concert.

Monday 11th was the start of the Regatta. Frank and Simon went to the skipper’s meeting at 9 am 
Skippers' meeting: Steve, Steve and Frank

and we left the marina at about 10.30 to get ready for the start. We motored right out to the harbor entrance to try to gauge the wind and then back, by which time, of course, the wind had changed. The start was downwind from a line from the committee boat to a yellow buoy. We lined up really well for a start at the pin end, to leeward of boats bearing down on the line, but we had to hold back behind Alexis’s little boat to give him room (we have to keep well clear of everybody because Frank does not have insurance for racing). Alexis just squeezed round the buoy and we followed him, but Simon decided against trying to shoot the mark and calling for water on the windward boats, without insurance), so we tacked off onto port, sailed round the back of the fleet and started last.
Hamble Dawn on the right, Unda centre
We made good progress through the fleet as the wind went round and we had a beat out of the bay, though the serious racers were already way ahead, with a couple of dolphins cruising through the fleet ahead of us. As we left the harbor entrance it looked as though there was more wind offshore, 

so we headed out that way until the wind died and we wallowed alongside a Finnish boat, Manta, 

whose crew took the opportunity to have a swim. We decided that the offshore option was not working, so turned northeast and drifted along in virtually no wind. Frank searched in vain for wind.

Lin and Lin rested from their crewing duties

 until we still had twelve miles to go and less than two hours to make our time limit, so we switched on the engine and motored up to Lipsi. Eventually everybody had to motor 

– nobody made their time limit. Still, we were quite pleased with our progress. Having started last we had worked our way up to the middle of the fleet before we gave up.

In Lipsi the regatta boats rafted up on the outside of the quay. We went for dinner with Sue, Steve, Steve and Nia at To Pefko, the tavern of Kai’s friend Manolis’s dad. We were dead tired when we got back to the boat and Simon fell asleep in the cockpit until Lin came to fetch him to bed at 3 am.
On Tuesday 12th the next leg of the race started at 9 am just outside Lipsi harbor. This time it was a windward start with what turned into a very biased line. We started on starboard tack and could only just lay the line. We cleared a melee of port and starboard boats meeting. Just after we crossed the line we heard a great crash and yelling. Steve had been starting on port tack, like most of the boats, and another boat had tacked onto starboard in front of him. Steve bore away to cross his stern, but the other boat kept turning, without looking where he was going, and crashed into Steve’s bow. We started beating up the Lipsi shore, but Frank and Lin were not too happy for Simon to sail close in, so we headed out to get clear wind offshore, which turned out to be the best way to go. We cleared Lipsi and then sailed round the top of Arki in a light and variable wind. We had a close encounter with a large cargo ship.

A bit later we saw a swordfish or marlin leaping repeatedly out of the water. By now we had climbed up to the middle of the fleet, but the wind was dying. With six miles to go and three-quarters of an hour left of our time limit we switched on the engine and motored. Twenty-one of the 39 boats managed to finish within their time limit, but we had had an enjoyable sail and did not damage the boat.

We moored up in Samos marina and, after we had showeried, Ray and Carol, whose boat was moored in Pythagorion, joined us for a drink.

We sat down to a barbecue dinner organized for the regatta by the marina. Keith and Louise were on holiday on Samos, on their way home to Australia, and they joined us for dinner – it was great to see them again, having not seen them since last year.

On Wednesday 13th we were due to race to Patmos, but again there was very little wind. This time the race committee decided to move the start nearer to Patmos, so we motored after them for about ten miles 
The only time we headed the fleet!

Until Unda surged past

before a windward start on a shortened course. The forecast was for the wind to veer and to come in from the northwest, so we decided to head off to the right of the course to meet the new wind. We were surprised that nobody followed us. When the wind started to veer we tacked off and got steadily lifted. At first it looked as though we had made a big gain, but the rest of the fleet very quickly picked up the new wind and our gain evaporated so that, by the time we got to Patmos we were near the back of the fleet. We finished less than a minute inside our time limit to find that all the places on the quay were taken, so we decided to anchor off, rather than double parking on the quay.
That evening another barbecue with Greek music had been organized over the hill at Grikos boatyard. Buses had been organized for 7pm, but it turned out there was only one bus, which soon filled up. 

The bus returned for us about an hour later and eventually we got to the barbecue dead tired, but we managed to get the first bus back, though Frank and Lin stayed on for the dancing.
The forecast for Thursday 14th was for a moderate north-westerly wind to take us back to Lakki. Α big ferry decided to leave just as the boats were leaving for the start.

The start of the race was delayed because some boats had been held up with anchor problems in the harbor, but eventually we got away. Again, we held back so as not to risk any collisions, and stared with only Unda behind us – they had not even put up their mainsail when the starting signal went. We goose-winged down the right-hand side of the course and made good progress through the slower boats, 

but the wind died earlier on our side than on the other side of the course, so we could see Steve and Sue and the other boats over that side catching us up. Coming in to Lakki harbor is always interesting because the wind swirls around. For that reason we all usually drop our sails at the entrance and motor in, but this time we had no choice but to sail in. We made a good job of it with some handy sail trimming that took us past one boat and we almost caught another. We could see the yellow buoy marking one end of the finish line, but could not see the other end so we did not know where the line was. We crossed right by the yellow buoy and got our hoot to finish the regatta. 

As soon as we were back in the marina and stowed we picked up our hire car and went to Poppy’s for lunch.

After lunch we went back to the yard to take our things back and have a rest. Our key did not work, but fortunately the gate was still open and Irene had not left, so again we were able to get a new key from her.

In the evening was the prize-giving dinner in the Sailing Club clubhouse. It was a very friendly, very well organized and enjoyable event with good food and good music. 

We came 29th out of 39 boats in the regatta.
On Friday 15th we did some shopping before the car back and spent the day getting ready to launch on Saturday morning. Philipe and Concecao lifted their Ovni which was parked next to us. It was good to catch up with them, whom we had last seen at the anchorage on Paros in May.
We were ready to launch at 8 on Saturday morning. Francoise and Philipe lifted out before our launch, so we just had time to say hello and goodbye. It turned out that we were second in the queue, but we still launched at 9.45 and went straight over to anchor in Arkhangelos, where we went on a buoy and swam and chilled. Georgos was going to Athens on Sunday to have an operation on his hand on Monday, but hoped to be back on Tuesday. We promised to get him a bottle of his favourite Samos wine when we were on Agathonisi to drink with him when we came back.

We had a really good sail over to Agathonisi on Sunday morning, arriving just after midday. As we arrived we were overtaken by a large motor yacht, who went on the ferry quay, and a space-age trimaran, which blocked the entrance to Spilia, so we went stern to the rocks. As we drove back to the rocks we saw a water bottle floating in the water, which turned out to be the pick-up buoy for a mooring that we could have used to go onto the rocks, though from the surface view it looked very flimsy, as we discovered when we detached it from its rope when we left next day.

We went ashore for lunch at Glaros and were welcomed by Yanni. Voula is no longer working in the restaurant, but has opened a shop upstairs. They both said they had been wondering where we were as we hadn’t been this year. After a chat with Voula in her shop, we sat down to lunch next to the people who turned out to be the owners of the space-age yacht and a couple of their friends. They turned out to be the billionaire Hong Kong shipowner Anto Marden and his wife Elaine. Their trimaran, Adastra, cost $15 million and has a range of 4,000 miles ( They normally sail between Hong Kong and a couple of islands they own in the Philippines. We had an excellent light lunch and swam and chilled for the afternoon before going back to Voula’s shop, where Lin bought a bag, and another excellent dinner.
On Monday 18th September we passed the trimaran

and sailed over to Arki, though the wind died for the last few miles, and we went onto the quay. It turned out that we had missed Carolina and the children, who had gone back to Poland the day before. Alexandr had been crying for days that he did not want to leave and was inconsolable the day they left. Nikolas was obviously very upset to see them go, but he will go to Poland at the end of October. We decided to stay the next day in Arki, again chilling, swimming and eating, which turned out not to be such a good idea because the bastard in the other tavern, Tripas, played loud music until 3.30 in the morning. We can’t understand how he can be so thoughtless as to keep the whole island awake just to entertain a handful of customers (almost invariably off charter boats, who keep very different hours from people sailing their own boats).

We motored down to Arkhangelos on  Wednesday 20th, taking advantage of the lack of wind to run the watermaker. The wind was forecast to be southerly, to which Arkhangelos is exposed, but not too strong. Frank phoned to say that, because of the wind, they were not coming to Arkhangelos, but would go to Blefouti, which is more sheltered. We anchored at first, but when the wind strengthened and the sea got up a bit we moved onto a buoy, which had become free. Georgos had not returned from Athens. The operation had gone well and he had been discharged from hospital, but was told not to come home until Friday, so we hope to see him then. We had an untroubled night and left first thing in the morning to return to Lakki to meet Annie, who was arriving on the Blue Star from Rhodes on Thursday evening.