"Egret" N4674 - Scott and Mary Flanders
June 21, 2006
Egret is comfortable running into 1 meter sea swells from the forward starboard quarter. Her speed has been in the mid 5 knot range but is now down to her slowest speed of 5.2 knots. The 7 knot wind on the nose is negligible. We are running into a current of some sort but it really doesn't matter. We'll get there when we get there. We have been to Saracusa, Sicily twice before. Entering at night is not a problem as it appears we will. We know exactly where to anchor, what the bottom is like, wind pattern, etc.
Writing folksy, newsy, light hearted accounts of the Egret crew's adventures is fun for us. We are happy to share them with you and from time to time throw in some technical details learned from vocation, aboard Egret or other boats. What we are VERY serious about is personal safety and the well being of our little ship, our home. We tend to details. We do not 'wish' things to get better. They will not.
Today we'll talk about clean fuel. As I write this our Racor vacuum gauge is showing 4" of vacuum. In lay terms black goo is clogging our filter element. We once went 900 engine hours on a single 2 micron filter element and changed it 'just because'. It was not pulling any vacuum. When we ordered Egret we had the builder put in the small (2 1/2 gal or so) day tank from a 40. Our 2 main tanks are gravity feed. That and other changes cost us 80 gallons of water but we felt it was worth it. Current Nord models have the best fuel system imaginable but we'll talk about Egret. I installed our fuel recirculating pump to pick up its fuel from the bottom of the day tank. The main, generator and wing fuel pickup is well above that. We theoretically could have a gallon of pure water and goo in the day tank before it goes to the primary Racor filter. When under way we run the circ pump non stop quite a bit of the time particularly if we are bouncing and stirring the fuel. During the Med winter while on shore power we recirculate often.
Once a year when we are low on fuel we clean Egret's tanks. This is something every long distance cruiser should do. I will explain it in detail. It IS NOT the job from hell, dirty, or complicated. Other than transferring fuel it can be done in one hour per tank including clean up. Once the inspection plate is reinstalled the smell is soon gone so the admiral will be happy once again.
Here is a list of things you will need. A heavy duty Jabsco commercial duty pump part number 18670-0123 (12V) and 18670-0943 (24V) Spare impeller 6303-0003 that includes the o-ring. 2 ea 1/2"ips X 1/2" hose barb. 12' of 1/2" id non collapsing hose cut in two. 20' of 14-2 wire, 2ea heavy duty battery clamps (pos & neg) 1ea 10 amp circuit breaker, 1ea 5 gal jerry jug, drop cloth, rags/paper towels. Install the hose barbs, attach the hose marking the intake and discharge hose to you don't spray your boat with diesel, wire the circuit breaker at the pump, connect the 20' of wire with battery clamps. The circuit breaker is first a safety device and secondly it is an on-off switch. Sometimes the impeller sticks. If that happens loosen the face plate screws on the pump - flick the breaker on & off to start the impeller spinning then re tighten the screws.
Transfer the fuel to one tank leaving about 2 gallons in the drained tank. Hook up the extension cord to the batteries. Remove the tank inspection plate on top of the tank above the drain fittings/valves. Use the intake hose to pick up the fuel and the discharge hose to power wash the tank walls, behind baffles,everywhere you can reach. Take your time!! Clean it well particularly along the inboard side of the tank and around the valves. (Obviously shut the valves) On a tank with removable baffles that is your call. If the tank is in good shape I would just spray then pump the dirty fuel into the jerry jug. If the tank is bad you really need to remove the baffles and do a thorough cleaning. This is not rocket science. It is four screws, remove the plate, etc. If you feel it warrants it pump back two more gallons of clean fuel into the tank and clean it again. Take your time!!
Repeat on the other tank. If I were going to do an ocean crossing I would clean the day tank as well.Egret took on 500 + gallons of fuel in Bodrum, Turkey. Her tanks were spotless before. Soooooooo we got bad fuel. This is the second 2 micron filter element to go bad and the circ pump element as well. I have replaced the circ pump element with a 30 micron to really flow the fuel and will run it continuously for days. We have fuel to make Gibraltar in August but I promise before we refuel Egret's fuel tanks will be spotless once again.
It's dinner time. Yesterday's fresh tuna sauteed in olive oil & spices, Greek salad, fresh lemon. 297.7 nm to go. Life is good.
June 20, 2006
The alarm went off at 0415. By 0505 we were showered and cerealed with Starbuck's French Roast waiting. Mary was on the foredeck tending to her anchor raising duties. There was enough light to comfortably leave Egret's anchorage just off Spinalonga Island, Plaka, Crete. Egret's destination is Saracusa, Sicily ninety or so hours away. We would prefer to stay a few more days to visit with our Nordhavn Atlantic Rally buddies on Grey Pearl who are in route from Israel. There is a high centered over Sicily with great winds for the next few days so we must take advantage. Soon the summer meltimi winds will be sweeping down from the north reducing the weather windows for comfortable open water cruising. (Be sure to read Grey Pearl's and Autumn Wind's accounts of the Eastern Mediterranean Rally on this website.)
Crete described in a single word is...windy. The high mountains running the islands' length, two over 8,000' and one over 7,000', create their own weather pattern. For four days every 5 minutes or so the 'train' would roar off the mountain with 28-32 knots for a short gust then it would go calm. Mid day it seemed to settle down just a bit. We had no sustained winds while we were here. Dinghy trips ashore were interesting. Fortunately the holding is great, 14' of water with a sand bottom. We dropped 125' of chain. TK (our 110lb anchor) never moved an inch even with the wind reversals.
Surprise, surprise!. The fishing reel has just gone off with a screech of clicker noise. Another tuna! This fat little beauty was 15 lbs. Mary has just finished her sushi marinated in lemon, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Yum. There are tuna steaks chilling for tonight. I boiled the rest. We eat a lot of tomato stuffed with tuna, feta, etc. Boiled tuna freezes well. So lets see, the first tuna we caught on the way to Crete was 10 lbs. Today when leaving it was 15 lbs. So that means the next will be 22 1/2 lbs. I think I'll let my sweetie pull that one in. Too much work for me.
After the small Greek islands Crete seems like a continent. We put a lot of kilometers on our Nissan Micra rental car. Great little car. We spent part of the time lost but not a minute was a loss. Crete is a beautiful and diverse island with overwhelming history. I won't bore you with details but have a few interesting points. From about 4000 to 1450 BC there was a Minoean culture. They organized in the last 1000 years and became a hugely powerful trading country. Crete has fertile soil, large plateaus inland but most of all they have lots of water. They did all of this with NO army or fortifications. They were peaceful. Imagine that? One thousand peaceful years, we should be so lucky. Unfortunately even this ended almost overnight. The great volcano in Santorini, 60 miles north, erupted in about 1450 BC. What the tsunami didn't immediately wash away the ash in a very short time extinguished an entire culture on Crete and the other southern Aegean islands. The guide we had at one site said the islands lay dormant for two hundred years before being repopulated by an entirely different group. The archaeological museum in Iraklio has an amazing amount of Minoean treasures.
Egret is running at 1400 rpm making 5.7 knots into 18-21 knots of apparent wind at 1000 AM Tue. (Our speed has varied from 5.4 to 7.0 knots) Three plus foot head seas. Very comfortable. According to Ocens' grib files weather report (Ocens.com - great weather/email via Iridium satellite phone) we should have 10 knots on the beam letting Mr. Naiad take over.
Rats! No more fishing for us. The freezer is full. We provisioned with chicken and not so good steak in Turkey then loaded up in Greece with great pork chops and bacon. This has happened before in the Bahamas. Oh well, when we are a day out of Sicily I'll put a rod out. What won't fit in the freezer by then we can give away to other cruisers. All you'll catch in the Med is tuna while trolling. Tuna can't be caught for sport like so many fish. Once caught they die. Lunch is ready. Guess what we're having?!
The sun is going down. Egret is sailing along at 6.3 knots at 1400 rpm. The sea is slick calm. Wind speed is 8.7 knots on the nose of which we are generating most of that. It is good to get to sea again. Really get to sea, not day hops like most of Med cruising is. We will have many days at sea in the next 18 months or so. I remember our first overnighter. We were so proud of ourselves in our little Grand Banks. After time it becomes routine, enjoyable through good and bad weather. Every crew is different but for the Egret crew, we reach our stride after two days and could go forever. Some days we don't want it to end at all. The ocean is alive even 1000 miles from the mainland.
In two hours the lights of Crete and Greece will be gone. Will we come back? Don't know. We enjoy it all and its a big world.
June 15, 2006
After a pleasent trip from Kahlki to the open harbor of Pigadhia, Karpathos, Greece (N35 30.74 E27 12.85) north and a little east of Crete, Egret dropped TK into the sand bottom, 24' of water - 125' of chain, giving him two good snubber stretching tugs. Karpathos is a long, rugged N/S island with a few villages and pretty much off the worn tourista path but more and more people are finding it. We rented a car and drove to Olympus on the north-central end of the island. This village has just been opened up by road. Olympus has been isolated for centuries. The villagers moved inland years ago when their coastal village was raided by pirates. The village ladies still dress with gold coins or medallions around their neck and chest and wear colorful costumes with mid calf goat skin boots. This is their normal dress. Even their language dialect is different than the rest of the island. Unfortunately the very narrow rough rock road, first and second gear most of the 26 kilometers thru the mountains with zero guard rails, is being widened to bring in the sunburned hordes of gawking touristas. Even at this time the main 'street' (they have no place for cars and never have had) has some curio sellers and such. Mary and I ate lunch at Milos Restaurant recommended by a shop keeper. She was raised in Baltimore and has returned to the Greek islands like so many Greek-Americans. The quality of life here is very good and unrushed. Milos means mill in Greek, and yes it is under the windmills. Oh yes, they bake their bread daily in the brick oven next to the tables. Local pasta with feta and caramelized onions, fried zucchini cakes, fresh bread dipped in olive oil salt n pepper, etc. Ho hum...again.
The road construction crew blew up the mountain side after we passed on the way to Olympus. On the way back we got to witness 5 heavy construction pieces madly trying to free the road. Our favorite was the scorpion looking tracked deal with its 'stinger' a hydraulic chisel. It sounded like a tank scene from Saving Private Ryan with the track clatter and squeaking. It made short work of the SUV sized boulders then flicked them down the mountain. Two hours.
The island landscape makes what we thought was rugged in Majorca's north coast look like a soccer field. Wild. I think perhaps someday we'll have to sail Egret back to the Aegean. These islands deserve lots of attention in the early season, April-mid June then Sept-Oct. July and August cruise the eastern Med coast of Turkey (beautiful) & get away from the crowds and the fierce meltimi's. The pine trees on the windward side have flat tops with the branches growing south from the winter storms and summer meltimi's. In some places the pines grow parallel to the ground with perhaps a foot clear underneath. Cruisers who head north in the Aegean Greek islands for the summer get killed by weather.
Egret spent two nights in the anchorage. There are 180 degree wind shifts every evening with strong winds from each direction. There is room for three or four yachts side tied at the quay. Each morning the sailboats would leave en mass after getting pounded for part of the night then a few more would sail in to take their place. Attaboy. Egret didn't get pounded, just rolled. For the first time we deployed our flopper stoppers from our new paravane arms retrofitted last winter in Turkey. AMAZING!!!! There is hope for you future Med cruisers. They are building a new larger breakwater so you should have a sheltered quay.
Unfortunately we had to leave Karpathos after a short visit. Egret's schedule isn't lax as in the past. We need to be in Gibraltar by mid August for fuel to begin our South America trek. We plan to visit Crete, our last Greek island, then make the three day sail to Saracuysa, Sicily before the meltimi's start cranking. We have pushed the RPM up to 1600 to make our Crete anchorage before dark. Our speed is down to 6.4-6.7 knots running into 1 meter ++ headseas and 16 knots of wind. The first Crete anchorage (Mary does the research and picks the anchorages) is between an island with an abandoned leper colony and Crete. That should be interesting.
June 13, 2006
Kalamera, good morning in Greek. Egret is under way from our overnight anchorage in Kahlki, Greece (N36 13.03 E27 37.14). We are running at 1350 RPM making 6.6 knots in a 1 meter beam sea burning very little fuel. Mr Naiad is loafing along keeping our little ship steady. Our course is 203 degrees to our waypoint off the harbor in Pigadia, Karpathos. Today is an easy 45 mile run.
Approaching Kahlki late yesterday afternoon from the north, windward side, the island looked like a set from a B Australian end of the world flick. There is barely a discernible trace of green patina with not the slightest hint of human habitation except the faint outline of terracing on the mountain sides from eons ago. In the middle of this rock and sand landscape there is a lone green bushy tree. What is strange is just 10 or so kilometers away is the pine covered north coast of Rhodes and in the background is the heavily wooded coast of Turkey. Why is there such a difference in foliage in just a few kilometers? Perhaps the reason is around the corner on the southern coast where the remnants of a city lies in ruin with its unusual circular, high walled pens and stone fences. I remember from last year there were ruins of whole cities inland from several thousand years ago. According to the guides the small island supported 90,000 people and was a center of trade because of its protected, deep water and easily approachable harbor. When their trade went away so did the populace leaving little or no trees and barren soil.
Today's population of Kahlki is 250 people in the summer and 120 in the winter according to a local we met last fall. Egret arrived in Kahlki late Sept expecting just to spend the night on a stop over before Rhodes. The town and island were so interesting we stayed 3 or 4 days. The homes surrounding the harbor are unlike most Greek island villages. The setting could easily be placed in Italy with its pastel Mediterranean type architecture. The village is spotless ending a short distance inland. From the village inland there are a few goat herders and a single road that leads to an old monastery. Last year after a three hour march up and down mountains expecting to find the monastery around every bend we fiiiinaly arrived only to find it closed. While we were resting under a tree eying the watch puppy's bowl of water a Brit couple trudged up. After resting a bit we hiked back together stopping at the first taverna knocking back a few Mythos (Greek beer). Rehydration at its best.
Currently we are experiencing an anomaly. Rain in the Greek islands. We got a sprinkle early this morning covering Egret in red mud and now has started again. The perpetual haze in the Med is red dust from Africa. Every rain from Gibraltar to Turkey, and further east I suspect, brings red mud.
In the small Greek island harbors where we anchor (rarely in the major harbors) are so clean we make water every morning when we run the generator for an hour and a half to top up the batteries. We have a surplus of water making it easy to keep Egret shiny and her solar panels clean. We wash in the very early am not wanting to be obnoxious using fresh water around the sailboaters.
Recently in Samos an American sailboat couple from a large steel ketch were onboard Egret with Mary and I having cocktails on the flybridge. We were exchanging pleasant barbs between our boat differences (sail vs power). He was ragging on Mary and I about the cost of fuel so in turn I ragged on him about the cost of sails and rigging. This turned to comments about his toy, 4 gal/hour water maker vs Egret's 25 gal/hour. The final straw was when I told him we throw out our ice every 12 hours when it gets old. They don't have ice. Great fun however they were drinking OUR wine so I think they won. PS... just as I was closing out this report the fishing rod went off. We put a bait out this morning for the first time in a year. Three hours later we caught a fat little 10lb tuna near a sea mount. Life is good.
June 11, 2006
Yesterday was a sad day for the Egret crew. Scott Jr. and his sweetie Kelly left Egret after a whirlwind nine-day four-Greek island tour. We visited Samos, Patmos, Leros and Agathonisi exploring two islands by scooters and one by rental car. One of the highlights of the trip was taking our rental Suzuki 4WD on the unpaved one lane at best mountain road between the villages of Vourliotes and Manolates. What a beautiful trip high up in the mountains among the single family tiny vineyards growing on terraced slopes carved out of the mountainside eons ago by their predecessors. It is difficult to describe in words what we see and do while cruising here in the Med but we will do our best to encourage as many of you as possible to cross the Atlantic and enjoy the islands, countries, locals and the camaraderie of fellow long distance cruisers. We will forward pictures as we can to give life to words.
Egret is anchored in a fiord-like narrow passage between the high cliffs of Vathy, Kalimnos, Greece (N36 58.44 E27 01.83). We are positioned just outside the tiny harbor with TK, our Turkish built 110lb anchor, buried to the roll bar in white sand with a line ashore. Egret carries three 20mmX100 meters (slightly larger than 3/4"-320') polypropylene floating lines with thimbles on one end. On the thimble end we attach a large shackle with a large snap shackle and one end of a 25' 8mm stainless steel wire with thimbles on both ends. The other end of the wire gets clipped into the snap shackle after being wrapped around a rock or tree. We use stainless wire because we mostly put the line ashore around rocks where line would chafe. Here is the procedure we use quite a lot in Turkey, occasionally in Greece and elsewhere. This method expands our anchoring options where there isn't enough room to swing. If we know we are going to take a line ashore we drop the dink and tie it tight to the swim platform BEFORE dropping the anchor. (In the Med we use our second dink, a 9' inflatable and 8hp outboard, because we don't explore long distance by dink and is so easy to use in the tight anchorages or simply drag it up on the beach.) This is because of wind you need to get a line ashore asap. The long length is necessary because the boat usually blows away from where you want it so a long length of floating and easily flaked line is a must. We had Sunbrella bags made with a mesh bottom for the lines. To warp the line back aboard and suspend the boat between the anchor and shore we use the self tailing winches we installed on either side of the transom cap rail for paravane retrieval. (Yes, occasionally power winches would be nice......like yesterday in 20 knots of wind.)
The small fishing village is ahead with scattered red roofed homes in the green valley beyond between the high mountains. There are a few tavernas on the waterfront catering to the occasional touristas who stumble onto this little jewel. There is so little room in the harbor the local boats tie to anything they can, rings in the rocks, rocks, even bushes for the smaller boats then take a line to the quay. A few have mooring lines to hold the boat off the quay. This morning while we were eating our breakfast on the flybridge there were goats eating their breakfast on the near vertical cliff walls just behind us. I think we'll stick with our Sub-zeros. Not a goat's life for us.
After the ferry comes and goes in an hour or so we'll go exploring ashore. There are lots of brown signs (historical sights - rockpiles) we saw last night from the taverna. Lets hope there is no trauma with the ferry. Like I said, this is a very narrow fiord.
June 8, 2006
Egret lies to her anchor in the small Aegean Greek island village of Pithagorion, Samos. (N37 41.31 E26 56.86 for you Google Earth fans) Turkey's rugged mountain landscape is visible through the haze just 3 kilometers out the starboard pilothouse window. The sun has just come up illuminating the red tile roofs of the village and reflecting the sailboat masts in the still water. The anemometer is reading 0.0 knots, the temperature is in the mid 70s this early in the morning with 39% humidity. Samos is our favorite Greek island for a number of reasons.
Before we tour Samos let us backtrack to May 2004 and give you an abbreviated itinerary of Egret's travels to set the stage for this posting and more to come. It is best if you dust off your atlas to place in the world where all of the countries/locations are. If you are like us, geography was on the back burner for most of our life when raising a family and work was the priority. The Egret crew and all Nordhavn contributing writers are giving you a first hand insight into boat travel and history that is fascinating, fueling the desire to expand our comfort zones and strike out to see for ourselves. There are no new discoveries today. That said there is a new personal discovery with every landfall, every island, every country, and every new culture. When time goes on we want more and more. As time and health allow it is near to perpetual motion. We are all following in the footsteps of others however in comfort and safety never dreamed of before.
M/V Egret, Nordhavn 46-74 joined the Nordhavn Atlantic Rally in May 2004 crossing the Atlantic with 17 other long distance motor boats. All but three were Nordhavns. After the July 4th rally finale Egret sailed east along the Costa del Sol of Spain, Balearic Islands, Costa Brava (NE) coast of Spain, wintered in Barcelona, May 05 cross to Corsica, Sardinia, cross to Rome, train to Venice, south down the Italian coast to the Pontine Islands, Sicily, Malta, Sicily, Ionian Greek islands, through the Corinth Canal, Aegean Greek islands, Marmaris, Turkey for the winter of 05/06, and now back to the Aegean Greek islands. Included with the boat travel we took quite a number of trips inland primarily by rental car but also by bus and train. Inland travel particularly during the winter adds a lot to the overall experience.
Pithagorion is a typical small Greek fishing village with its waterfront protected by a breakwater. Most all Greek island harbors are on the south side of the island to protect them from the winter storms and the July/August northerlies, the dreaded meltemis summer sailors must watch carefully. The original small harbor was built pre-Roman however was improved by the Romans with the exact stones and seawall being used today. Today there is a second large breakwater to give additional protection and a place for the ubiquitous ferrys and the hydrofoils carrying tourists. Samos is a beautiful island with pine forests in places, unlike most Greek islands that are dry, weather beaten scrub in places, small fishing villages and beautiful mountain villages. The people are so genuinely friendly, many speak English, they are a delight. Samos is not overrun with tourists like the more well known Greek islands: Rhodes, Kos, Corfu and Mykonos.
Not to be too lengthy but will give you a bit of history and several personal jewels of Samos. Anthony and Cleopatra had a summer place on the beach nearby. The ruins of their compound are still visible. Over the centuries earthquakes have ruined most all structures through the Greek islands and Turkey. Many have been rebuilt, some over the top of older ruins.
Unique to Pithagorion and a few other villages the fishermen blast traditional Greek music on boom boxes leaving and returning to the harbor. One just went by. I remembered him from last night when he left port to fish all night. He is an old man dressed in his brand new yellow foul weather bibs skippering a tiny 16' wood boat. The small boats have a single cylinder cast iron gasoline engine with a dry exhaust popping away through a piece of water pipe laid on top of the gunwale. They have a small house sheltering the engine, a single roller on the bow to hand over hand the nets back in, tiller steering and a stick wired to the carburetor linkage for the throttle. He sets his nets in deep (100-200') water with weights on both ends and water bottle floats marking the set. After an all night set he has to hand over hand the nets back up, chug back to port, clear his catch from the nets, sell his catch, return to the boat to clean up, repair the nets then try to get a bit of sleep before he goes out again. It s a very tough life but we see them around here and there on the waterfront and they all are happy.
During an 'off road' rental car experience with another American couple from a large steel ketch, we traveled the remote unpaved mountain back roads. We forded three shallow streams and had to push the car when the clutch started slipping going uphill. We finally gave up going forward so had to back a long way until we could turn around. Yes, they walked and I had my seat belt off so I could leap if need be. Later, Mary, our Maine buddies and I were eating lunch in the tiny (perhaps 200 residents) mountain village of Vourliotes. Vourliotes is in an area that is known for its white wine. There are small family vineyards scattered thoughout the northern mountain region on the terraced slopes. We ate lunch at the Blue Chair Restaurant in the village square (yes, it has blue chairs-duh). I asked the waitress where we can buy some local white wine. She announced with a big smile "from my Daddy". After sampling we ordered as much as we could comfortably carry then visited the rest of the village. When we came back it was ready - all in used 1 1/2 liter water bottles. Their white wine has a different taste from any we have had. After the initial flavor there is a second flavor that kind of 'kicks in' unlike any wine we have tasted before and is delicious. We will stock up with 'Blue Chair' before we leave Samos. In fact, wine in Samos is so inexpensive we will stock for 6 or more months with great wine costing from 1.29-1.79 euros per bottle from the local grocery store. It makes us wish we had the storage of a 47 Nordhavn or bigger.
This brings to mind another story. We visited the large grocery store in another town on Samos after a driving trip to buy provisions. We didn't have a euro coin to release the grocery cart so we were going to buy what we could carry. Along the first isle we discovered the wine. Instead of groceries we bought 5 bottles of wine and a dozen eggs. We wanted to sample each then stock up before we left Samos. There is no way we were going to waste a drop so we invited sailboats anchored around us, Aussies, Brits, Kiwis & Americans. They in turn brought a few bottles so you can guess the rest - what a great night with new friends. In the course of the looong evening we found two that were exceptional. "Ain't life grand" to quote a cruising buddy.