Log #27f Anchoring in Kea, and Libations to Poseidon in Sounion

October 22, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 27 Summer in Greece, The Logs

Fethiye, Turkey
Oct. 22, 2002

Hi Folks,

I’m catching up on my logs and hope top have another couple out within the week. I hope you were able to read my last log, as I had difficulty copying and pasting without losing the minimal formatting of Notepad. In addition that particular internet café screwed up my floppy disc, and lost all the info on it including my current address list. I hope I can retrieve it from Recent Mail Sent on my server. I will be trying a different internet café here in Fethiye when we go over town to the bi weekly market. We also found a Hamam in the old part of town beside the mosque, and we will be going in for a relaxing Turkish bath some time this week before we leave.

I won”t send this today unless I can send it without complication. If you were unable to read my last one (Log #27e), let me know and I will send it out again. I also got caught for a short time on these Turkish keyboards by the fact they have two letters “i”, as in Turkish they have different sounds, one without a dot above, “ı” pronounced as the “i” in “lips”, and the other with a dot above,  “i” pronounced as the “ey” in “key”. It complicated my password as I have the letter “i” in SVveledaiv, and, hitting the wrong “i”, I had trouble accessing my account.

So I’ll save this on my new floppy disc and try to send it when in town. Hopefully all these problems will clear up when we get back to Kemer, and I can use my laptop from a phone line without having to use internet cafes.

The nights are getting cooler now, going down to 15 C, but warm up to 25 during the day.

This log has a little bit about anchoring which those of you who have anything more than basic boating courses already know, but it gives and idea of the anchoring we do here with Veleda. Enjoy the log.



Log #27f Anchoring in Kea, and Libations to Poseidon in Sounion

Palon, Nisiros, Greece
Oct. 13, 2002

Another 20 mile motoring trip from Fikiadha on Kithnos, Sept. 15, steering a course of about 350ْ (M) into (what else!) a NE but light wind; we arrived at Limin Ay Nikolaou before noon, and anchored in its easternmost bay, Ormos Voukari, near several other yachts and fishing boats, most on buoys. We chose to anchor rather than pick up an unknown buoy, as many of the fishing boats on mooring buoys were smaller than Veleda, and any free buoys might not be strong enough for us. The anchor grabbed nicely, and so we felt we were well secured.

When anchoring, we use the starboard of our two 35 lb CQR anchors on the bow rollers. It has over 200 feet of 3/8th inch chain. Our procedure, which has worked well, involves selecting the area to anchor, preferably over sand or mud, then motoring slowly upwind towards it. When ready to drop, I tell Judy the depth we are in and she pays out the anchor chain hand over hand (we do not just drop it), as Veleda swings slowly downwind, laying the chain in a line on the bottom, until we have about a ratio of 3:1 out (3 feet of chain for each foot of depth, plus a bit extra for the height of our bow roller). To enable us to know how much chain we have out, we have put markers (of plastic wire ties) every ten feet (we are not metric yet in this). So for a depth of 15 feet, Judy secures the anchor chain at the 50 foot mark, and I will give a bit of reverse power to the engine to let the anchor grab into the bottom. If it grabs effectively, it will rapidly swing our bow up into the wind, and possibly across it while surging the boat up towards where we dropped the anchor Then Veleda will settle with the anchor chain streaming dead ahead (“with a short stay forward”) of us.

If this is accomplished without question, Judy gives me a thumbs-up signal, and we are securely at anchor. Then she will put on a “snubber” (a ten foot length of heavy rope with an eye in one end to go on a bow cleat and a metal hook in the other end to grab the anchor chain), easing the chain out until the rope takes the strain. This increases our chain scope a bit, quiets the movement of the anchor chain as the wind swings the boat one way then another, and adds a bit of elasticity to the otherwise solid chain rode. However, if the anchor does not set, and drags, it does not cause us to surge forward, and may let us drift back at an angle to the wind. Sometimes I will keep reverse power on hoping the anchor will grab in a short distance. If not, we (usually me) have to manually haul the anchor and chain up and try another spot.

The chain weighs 1.7 pounds per foot. So if I have to haul up 50 feet of chain several times before finding a spot where it finally grabs, I am hauling up 80 pounds of chain plus 35 pounds of anchor each time. Also the greater the depth, the greater the weight of chain hanging straight down that has to be hauled up. In 15 feet, it is only 15×1.7 = 25 pounds constant pull weight, but if doing this in, say, 30 feet of water, the constant pull weight is 50 pounds, plus the weight of the anchor at the end of 35 pounds for a total final pull weight of 85 pounds. Thus we don’t like to anchor in 30 feet of water or more if we can anchor in only 10 or 12 feet (an advantage of our relatively shallow draft of only 4½ feet (1.5 metre)). I don’t try to pull Veleda up towards the anchor when raising the anchor. Instead, I haul the chain until it extends forward towards the anchor, and then let the weight of the suspended chain (the catenary or hypotenuse) pull the boat forward before I haul up the next section. It may be a bit slower, but is far easier. If this weight is not enough to pull Veleda forward because the wind is too strong, I will then have Judy apply a bit of forward motion using the engine. This manual effort to lower and haul up the anchor is also why we hope to be able to purchase an electric windlass this winter to relieve us of this heavy task when anchoring. We have anchored 15 times in the past month.

Oh yes, our present manual windlass is too slow, ratcheting the lever back and forth, and the chain stripper which disconnects the chain from the gypsy and allows it to fall into the chain locker is defective. Thus we do everything by hand, using the windlass gypsy as a glorified chain-stopper only. At least when I am hauling up chain, I can take a cockpit cushion to sit on, with my feet braced in the open chain locker, and can use my back rather than having to bend over to haul in. Judy is too short to be able to do this. We look with great envy at other boats coming to anchor and someone just pressing a button to lower or haul up the anchor, not worried about how much chain they have to put down or haul up. An electric windlass sure sounds good!

We went ashore in Voukari, a small hamlet with a few stores and tavernas, but not much else. Neliandrah, the Australian boat whom we met in Fikiadha, was on the town dock, but nobody was aboard. We then took Sprite the 1.5 kilometres over to Korissia, the other, larger town in Limin Ay Nikolaou, to do more shopping and check for an internet café. Then it started to rain. Big decision, “Should we wait for it to stop before heading back or go now before it gets worse?” We went, though a light rain, and when back on Veleda, we closed the hatches and zipped across the bridge joining our bimini to the dodger and closed the dodger window. These precautions keep the cockpit relatively dry and let us stay out in the cockpit to enjoy watching the rain.

“Enjoy” was not the right word! Within a few minutes of our arrival the wind picked up and the rain pelted down more heavily. We were glad we were not caught out in the dinghy in that heavier downpour. Then the wind picked up even more, howling at 40 knots and gusting up to 55 knots, driving the rain parallel to the water, blanking out the shoreline only 100 metres away, and causing all the boats to strain on their mooring lines. Would our anchor hold? That is always the question when anchored in heavy weather. It is one thing for it to grab when initially setting the anchor, but if the wind has shifted 180ْ, the question becomes whether the anchor re-bedded itself securely. We have an anchor drag alarm on our Garmin 128 GPS which we always set to warn us if we move more than 0.02 of a nautical mile (about 40 yards). We can set it for any distance beyond 0.01 nautical miles. This drag factor also has to include our swing radius, and so if it sounds, we are not necessarily dragging, but may be on an extended length of a swing. However it alerts us to check physically whether we are or are not dragging, and thus have to take whatever action necessary.

To physically check whether we are dragging we use several references. One is to see if we are moving downwind of other boats. This is not reliable, as the other boats at anchor or on buoys may be shifting too, or have longer lines to the bottom. However it lets me know if contact with another boat is imminent, from my movement or the other boat’s. A more reliable indicator is to take a sighting on an object on shore and to note if we are moving ahead or astern of its bearing. This will change with the swinging of the boat, and the object should be visible at night as well. Another method is to find two objects on opposite sides of the boat and measure their angle with outstretched arms. If that angle changes, then you are moving in relation to them, either moving up on the anchor, or swinging in a different direction with the wind, or dragging the anchor. The one I like best is to find a “transit” abeam on shore using two points, one behind the other, such as a street light in front of a peaked roof, or at the side of a building. If the closer point (i.e. the street light) seems to move right or left of the rear point, the boat is moving ahead or astern. It pays to watch for a period of time so the range of movement of these points as affected by the swing of the boat can be determined. If the range is exceeded, then there is a significant shift of the boat which may be due to dragging. There are a variety of methods to ascertain your position at anchor. It is wise to do so shortly after anchoring, and to check these anchor bearings periodically. Be sure to have bearings usable at night as well (plus any emergency exit strategies in case you drag and have to lift anchor to re-anchor or exit to open water in the dark). We have experienced dragging situations about six times over the past four years, most of them a night time!

Anyway, back at out anchorage, it was blowing full gale force, and we noticed one of the boats on a mooring buoy was starting to drag, but stopped short of contact with the boats astern of him (fortunately we were off to one side of his drift). In the meantime we were concerned about the force of the wind, and started the engine, motoring slowly into the wind to reduce the strain on the anchor. The full brunt of the storm only lasted for about half an hour with torrential wind and rain, then settled down for another half hour of quieter rain before clearing up. Autumn is on its way. That was the first rain we had experienced for four months!

Next day, after going over to Korissa in Sprite to send out E-mail, we left at noon to cross the Kea Channel (Steno Keas) heading the 15 miles for the mainland at Ak Sounion. The shipping traffic was very heavy as this is the main channel for any vessels from Athens (Piraeus) or from the western Mediterranean heading for the northern Aegean, the Dardanelles, Istanbul or the Black Sea. We were crossing the shipping lanes at right angles, and had to alter course a couple of times to stay well clear of the traffic. When giving way, I do so early, as soon as I am concerned about collision bearings or crossing situations. Then, I make a bold alteration of 45ْ or more to clear the stern of any vessel, so that my intentions are obvious. Any slight increase or decrease of my speed would take several minutes to register, but an alteration can be noted immediately. I don’t worry about who has the right of way with merchant ships. Might is right! I stay clear.

We did see several military vessels, supply and support ships of the Greek navy, and a US aircraft carrier, and two US troopships. We later found out the carrier was the Nassau, and the troopships were the Austin and Tortuga, headed for Thessalonica, supposedly with supplies and troops for Bosnia, as reported by one paper, (or possibly the buildup in the area against Iraq).

Passing south of Nisos Makronisos I noticed several ruins on the southwest coast which I would have loved to have explored. Maybe next year if we are in the area. Topped by the pillars of the temple of Poseidon, the headland of Ak Sounion dominates the north entry into the Saronic Gulf (Saronikos Kolpos). We anchored around the headland, beneath the temple ruins, snuggled up in the north cove just off the beach where Rod Heikell indicated there was a good sand patch in 3 metres of water. Once at anchor, we looked up at Poseidon’s columns, reminisced a bit about the past four years of sailing, and poured a libation from our drinks into the water as symbolic appreciation for our safety on the waters. This gesture was not paganism or superstition, but an opportunity to be thankful for our cruising lifestyle, our safety at sea, and to re-affirm our awareness that we have to deal with the Nature of the sea every time we set sail.