On the move – and then again not.

July 4, 2018

Well, what a difference a few days makes. Our last post was full of doom and gloom, mostly caused by the less than seasonal weather. I mean, one of the reasons we keep Rampage in Greece rather than in Falmouth is because the weather is meant to be predictably good. It is now, at last, although the Greek chap running the day charter boat next door was being remarkably English in his outlook about the weather, predicting further rain, unseasonal winds and general doom and despondency.

On the move at last, heading for Paxos.

One of those sort philosophical points that hang round in the back of your mind (well, they do in mine) is just what is it that motivates people into social interaction. I mean, what is it that drives folks to be sociable, opening friendships? Yes, I know, the skippers off on one again. But there is a point to this: our time in the Preveza anchorage turned into one of those social whirls, where suddenly there were people appearing at the stern of the boat with invitations to chat and have a drink.

There was Jim and Alison Golt, off Moondance; they’d arrived from Vliho and came over to introduce themselves as they followed the blog. We had a brilliant evening on Moondance: sorry we stayed so late! Then there were Sue and Ron, off Silvercloud, who joined us for coffee before leaving to tuck their boat up in Preveza Marina. Finally, those tee shirts from the Scillies paid dividends, as Sue and Brian off Darromy who spotted us in Preveza thanks to the shirts and invited us aboard for coffee the following day. An amazing bunch of people: thanks for sharing time with us when we were beginning to get a bit stir crazy!

Lakka, somewhat more crowded than when we arrived…

Instead of the ten days or so we had thought we could take, meandering up the northern Ionian to Corfu, we actually had only four days. OK, we could have added perhaps one more day to the travel time but J wanted to make sure of getting laundry done before her trip to KENYA. I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned in these hallowed pages before, but she’s off to KENYA with the Ruins to visit Maggie.

Having stocked up with victuals before leaving Preveza, we were all set to spend night one anchored off Gaios on Paxos, followed by a night off Petriti and a final night off Corfu town (special stop to allow J to get her eyebrows shaped by her favourite shop). In the event, we were an hour or so into the trip when we got a text from Mike and Sandy on Eos; where were we,what were we doing? They were in Lakka and there was space, so plans changed and we arrived with them mid afternoon.

Eos, Mike and Sandy’s boat, next to us (or are we next to them?)in Lakka

Boat watching is always good value in Lakka. The anchorage is on the small side but the town is wonderful, making it a very popular place. We joined Eos on the side of the bay with lines ashore and sat back to watch the chaos as more and more folk tried to find somewhere to drop anchor. We wound up spending two nights there as we were in such a good position and didn’t feel like moving on.

A quiet run to Petriti the next day was great. Finally, I felt moved to go swimming as the afternoon heat was sufficient to motivate me. We had a quiet evening on the boat and woke to next morning to thick fog. Clearly, the weather gods had not been appeased sufficiently and their final joke was this. We hadn’t planned on leaving early but I was dusting off plans to navigate by chart plotter and radar when it hadn’t cleared by mid morning…. Thankfully, it did dissipate and we didn’t need to resort to extreme measures.

Sunset in Petriti, looking north towards Pantocrator in the distance.

And so here we are in Gouvia. Laundry done and dried (and packed), eyebrows shaped and I’m now settling in to a routine ready for the peace and quiet of the KENYA trip (did I mention J’s off to visit Maggie there?). J flies out tomorrow to UK and then on to KENYA a day or so later. I have been left with a list of jobs to be done whilst she’s away before I fly back to UK for her GRADUATION in Falmouth. So, I think this will be the last post until J returns from KENYA when she will no doubt induce total jealousy in all our readers with her breathtaking account of her trip to KENYA.

By the by, I was invited to join the Ruins (as were the other spouses) but having hosted the Ruins for some days in Barcelona, I decided that I should quit whilst I was ahead and let them all enjoy themselves without me or any of the other spouses…

Winning the knitting contest – always something of an irritation when we use long lines is escaping from their clutches in the dinghy…

Oh, and Rampage has had her standing rigging checked over by Sail Your Soul here in Gouvia. J and I were a little apprehensive about the check as Rampage is now 18 years old and still on her original standing rigging (for the landlubbers, the standing rigging is the stainless steel wires and fittings that stop the mast falling down). We needn’t have worried as the rigger, having twanged and thumped all the various bits in a slightly alarming fashion, declared the rigging sound and needing no work. A piece of paper will be issued confirming this so if the mast does fall down we can use it to convince the insurance company to cough up for a new one.


Going Nowhere

June 26, 2018

“I’m bored,” I announced.

“Write a blog,” he says.

“What about?” I ask.

“The awful Greek weather,” he replies.

The anchorage at Preveza yesterday

It is true that fate seems to have conspired against us this year because three and a half weeks after coming out here we are still within sight of the yard where Rampage is stored through the winter. Our last blog left you with the exciting news that a new exhaust silencer was on order. Well it duly arrived and was fitted but still we go nowhere, due now to the most unseasonal weather.

The irony is not lost on me that whilst we endure wind, heavy rain and thunderstorms, my sister and her partner have been holidaying in our little house in Cornwall and enjoying glorious sunshine and ice-creams on the beach. “Karma” I hear you all screaming, “for being smug b*****ds and keeping a boat in Greece and swanning off to the Med every summer!” Undeniable!

On the pumice stone beach at Preveza

So what have we been doing? Not a lot really. We did take advantage of the fact that the car is at hand and spent a day driving round Lefkas island, looking for a few either new or previously undiscovered geocaches. This was while we were waiting for the silencer and the weather was ok. Geocaching, in this country at least, is usually worthwhile as it nearly always takes us to beauty spots, sites of historical interest or places with spectacular views. This time we visited a cave up in the mountains, a former US NATO communications base from the days before satellite communications, and a beach of pumice here in Preveza that we knew nothing about. We also had a glorious drive through the mountains with breathtaking views of the island and a nice lunch in Vasiliki.

Panorama view looking northeast towards Preveza and the mainland

Frankly, other than that, the only thing worth mentioning is Duncan’s latest ingenious device for transferring water from containers in the dinghy into the water tank. Previously this has involved balancing on the stern while holding a 15 litre soft bodied water container and a funnel created out of an old milk bottle. You need a minimum of three hands. As for the 50 litre container – that was a total nightmare – even getting it out of the dinghy was a challenge.

Now however, we have the Mark I Battery-Operated Water Pump as shown below:

Dribbles a bit … the pump, not the Skipper!

Hopefully by Thursday we will be able to start making our way north towards Corfu. In the meantime, thank goodness for books and iPads!


How to maintain a boat and a sense of humour

June 21, 2018

As regular readers of this blog will know, we’ve owned Rampage for some nine years now. She wasn’t new when we bought her, so she’s now some 18 years old. Not all that old for a boat but she has been well used since we bought her. We lived on board her for 6 years or so and have spent about 6 months of the year on board since; we sail her about 1500-2000 miles a year so all of that takes a steady toll on the boat and her systems.

Every year as we stop cruising we compile a list of maintenance jobs that are needed to keep her shipshape along with other tasks which will update her systems and make her a ‘better’ boat. The list is invariably long. And complicated. And expensive, often very expensive. And as with any list, things get deleted (because we can’t afford them) and added (because we really want them and hang the cost).

Last year one of the items that didn’t get deleted was to refurbish the raw water pump. This is a little pump on the engine which pumps sea water through it and out of the exhaust pipe to cool the engine: can’t have a radiator like in a car so we use sea water. Simples: buy the rebuild kit, strip the pump, fit the new bits, refit the pump. Job done. Yes, it really was that simple. But then when we relaunched the thing didn’t work and I wound up doing a frantic bit of work to get it sorted (see J’s last blog for details).

Pull on the red string, go faster. Release to stop. Simples.

So, I can hear you ask, why tell us this? J has already blogged about it. Well, one of the jobs that got binned on cost grounds was replacing the engine and gear control. They’d broken last year but I’d fixed them, thought about a new one but thought it’ll do another year. Then when we got to Vonitsa the engine tick over was too high because the controls were sticking. So I took the binnacle to bits to sort it. Hmmmm, not good, jammed cables and so on. Then I decided to check the engine end of the controls and found that the engine had dumped most of its oil into the bilge: that became the priority.

Turns out that I’d pinched the o ring oil seal on the raw water pump, so had to make a new seal out of circles of card with gasket goo to seal them. That left about 15 litres of very oily water to mop up: we now need a new spare diesel can as the old one is now full of oily gunk…

J’s careful tracing of the cutting template for fitting the new engine control to the binnacle.

And so back to the engine controls. To get the cables out to see if they could be fixed, both aft cabins needed to be emptied: cue total chaos in the saloon. The throttle cable was dead. The gear cable less so, so I refitted it; now we could make the boat go backwards and forwards albeit at idle speed only. Answer to that was a piece of string from the engine, through the cabin hatch to the helm. Pull on the string, go faster; release it, go slowly. And thats what we did all the way back to Preveza, where we took the dinghy over to the yard, picked up the car, bought new cables and control mechanism and came back on board.

New engine control. It lacks the shiny stainless steel handle but it does work! And note the nice new compass as well.

Today has been spent fitting the new cables and control: cue chaos in the saloon again. And I’ve identified another problem! There’s been a persistent minor leak of sea water in the engine compartment; I’d put it down to the raw water pump but that OK now. But the leak’s still there. I’ve found out what it it. The exhaust silencer. It does two jobs: one is the simple making the exhaust quieter. The other is more subtle. The exhaust pipe is rubber but the cooling water is injected into it at the engine, so it keeps it cool and the water is pushed along the pipe by the exhaust gasses. When the engine stops, there has to be somewhere for the water to go and it gathers to the lowest point in the exhaust run: the silencer. So its not terribly surprising that its gone the way of all exhausts and corroded through. A new one is now on order and will arrive Saturday GMT (Greek Maybe Time); once its fitted we can start making our way north to Corfu. Hooray.

Preveza sunset after a long days work. Going geocaching tomorrow…


Cascades and Catastrophes

June 17, 2018

Rampage ready for launch. (Note the “scaffolding” at her starboard quarter on which we balanced to fit the new bumper, paint the boot-top and polish her topsides.)

Last night was our first night afloat this season and we are enjoying the utter peace and tranquillity after a very busy winter and a hot, tiring, two weeks living in the yard doing maintenance work. Our time on the hard has not been uneventful as I shall explain.

The first hint of a problem was when D suddenly leapt to his feet at about 11p.m. and let out a string of expletives. He suddenly remembered having started to fill the aft water tank before going to cook supper and had completely forgotten about it.  The aft tank generally takes five to ten minutes to fill; the tap had been flowing for approximately two hours, (yes, we ate very late that evening.) Suffice to say we had our very own pond on the ground at the back of the boat, the water tank having long since filled to capacity and beyond. However, having hastily turned off the tap, we thought that was the end of the matter. The yard is very dry and drains quickly, so we retired to bed, feeling guilty for having wasted so much water.

Next morning however, Duncan noticed a reflection through a finger-hold in one of the deck plates and we then discovered that the bilges were filled to capacity and about to overflow. Had we gone to bed the previous evening without turning the tap off, we would probably have been woken at some point by water invading our bunk. We hastily turned on the bilge pump and the water started to pour out of the back of the boat. 

Now it so happens that one of the tasks we have done this year is to replace the rubber bumper on the stern which had been much damaged by all the UV. In order to do this, and also some gel coat repairs on the stern, we had scaffolding set up at the back of the boat. This is not scaffolding to conform with U.K. health and safety regs mind you, but a frame on wheels with two layers of planks balanced on it! Anyway, the thing was fiendishly heavy to move so, rather than keep moving it, we had been clambering up and down it whenever we wanted to get on or off the boat. Trust me – it made using the normal 4 metre ladder feel like luxury.

When the bilge pump was turned on, water cascaded down from the exit point to Rampage’s swim platform, down again onto the first (higher) plank, then on to the next layer before finally dropping the final metre or so to the ground. It was impressive – we created our very own water feature – and emptying the bilges went on for ages. 

Afterwards, Duncan had a happy time contorted and twisted nearly double identifying the source of the leak and then replacing the breather valve on the water inlet which had come adrift and allowed water to fill the rest of the boat. On the plus side, we do now have extremely clean bilges.


This doesn’t really do our water cascade justice but I wasn’t prepared to try and climb down for a better shot while the water was flowing!


Chaos inside as we empty the bilges.

Rampage is, in fact, looking particularly lovely right now as we made use of the scaffolding and the extra time that we’d given ourselves in the yard in order to polish the topsides. Now, you must understand that we are not “Shiny Boaters” and only do this very occasionally as it is very hard work and the result is largely cosmetic. Still, she does now look very shiny and pretty.  

However, as if to prove the point that appearances are not everything, when we were lowered into the water yesterday, the new water pump for cooling the engine refused to work. Since we were blocking the launching berth we were solemnly towed round the pier out of the way and left to sort things out. Duncan spent the next hour or so getting increasingly filthy and oily as he delved into the bowels of the engine bay, taking things apart and putting them back together. Eventually he was successful and with water splurging joyfully from the outlet point, we were finally on our way. 

Our adventures, though paled beside those of others in the yard with us. Our Dutch friend, Eelco, stood up into his propeller and gave himself a five centimetre slice in the top of his head which meant a hospital trip and quite a few stitches. On our final day, a friend of his also cut his head, though less dramatically, by walking into the sharp edge of a solar panel. By far the most serious injury however, was suffered by an American lady who fell four metres off her boat, hit their bicycles below, before landing on the steel framework that supports the boat. We get so used to pottering about the deck that it’s easy to forget how high we are or how easy it is to fall. It has been a salutary lesson to all of us who were there.

As we often do, we have decided to spend our first few days in the anchorage near Vonitsa on the Inland Sea. We have now learned that it is called Ormos Agios Markou (St Mark’s Bay) as opposed to the Bay of Pigs or Goat Bay as we have always previously referred to it. The weather forecast for this week was not encouraging – rain and thunderstorms. However so far, apart from an occasional flash of lightening during the night, it has been very pleasant. This morning we bent on the foresail and prepared the halyard and reefing lines etc. for the mainsail. If it is dry and still first thing tomorrow morning, we’ll do the mainsail – and much bigger job & far more likely to cause problems, frankly.


Rampage at anchor today in Ormos Agios Markou (St Mark’s Bay) in the Gulf of Amvrakikos.







Start of a new season

June 6, 2018

Another season of adventure aboard Rampage has begun, albeit we are not yet afloat…

We left the U.K. on the evening of Monday 28th May to catch the night ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff. This was a first for us but made a lot of sense as it reduced the distance to drive on both sides of the channel. Then, because of ferry timings, we had a fairly relaxed trip across France and Italy to catch the ferry from Ancona to Igoumenitsa last Friday night (1st). We stopped overnight in Tours, Grenoble and Parma. I should have liked to visit one of the chateaux while we were in the Loire, but there wasn’t really sufficient time for sight-seeing.

However I was much consoled on arrival at our accommodation in Parma, to discover that D had booked us into Locanda Abbazia di Valserena. This vast abbey now functions as the 20th century art and design archive for Parma University. The university hold educational seminars and exhibitions etc there plus they have a museum on site, which we duly visited. The accommodation facility is a way for them to help cover costs and we would thoroughly recommend it as somewhere to stay overnight. A very pleasant supper, and breakfast next morning were provided at an on-site bistro and our room with en suite shower room was comfortable and very spacious. We were provided with a fridge, hairdryer and even tea & coffee making facilities – unusual in our experience of Europe though admittedly we normally aim for the budget end of the market!

It’s a bit more expensive to drive than to fly out but it has the advantage that we can bring lots of boaty bits out from the U.K. This particular trip the car was absolutely packed and we even had a whisker pole strapped to the roof rack which made us look rather as if we were about to enter some sort of car jousting competition! For those of you who are wondering, the whisker pole is a new acquisition that the Skipper is much delighted with. It’s designed to hold the foresail out when sailing downwind. It’s telescopic but even at its shortest length, it’s too long to fit inside the car.

Another bonus of driving out is that you have transport while we’re working on the boat in the yard. This is very useful when you suddenly realise you have inadvertently bought a left-handed grommet screw when only a right-handed one will do. Anyway, we enjoyed the journey and it gave us a bit of a break after the frenetic few weeks leading up to our departure and before facing up to all the maintenance work required on Rampage. Everything went very smoothly and we arrived at Ionion Yard near Preveza at midday on Saturday.

It’s noticeably hotter here than in Italy and we are taking a little while to adjust. Trying to to do anything much in the middle of the day is nigh on impossible so on Monday we took the decision to postpone relaunch a further week to take the stress out of doing all the maintenance. It was a wise decision and now that our fridge has been restored to full working order by the excellent engineer here, all is progressing smoothly. An added bonus this year is the little family of semi-feral dogs living about 30m from our boat who have approximately five (it’s hard to be completely sure) round, playful puppies. They are oh so tempting but we will resist…


View from the guest cabin on Rampage…

September 11, 2017

This blog has been written by a recent guest on board, Julia Webb-Harvey (thankfully, better known as Jules….).

Duncan and Julia made the generous offer of a week on Rampage at the Flushing & Mylor Gig Club auction of promises… To cut a long story short, Sarah won the bid, and I got to travel with her, as her partner had his fill of small cabins in the Royal Navy. His loss; my gain. The thing that unites the four of us is gig rowing, so it was a leap of faith for all of us to swap oars for sails, and see if we could rub along for a week (the average rowing session is about 90 minutes).

Rampage dressed overall in Argostoli.

 Rampage was positioned in Argostoli to tie in with our flight arrival. There was no evidence of the horrors of her passage south when we first set eyes on Rampage, she was resplendent dressed overall. It made for a perfect start to the week, with the evening lost to pouring over charts, and pouring out of wine.. as well as provisioning and a boat briefing by the skipper. Yours truly is no stranger to sailing, but shipmate Sarah had lessons in marine toilets and the importance of water conservation (we were later awarded TOP guest points on the latter, which delighted us both, and yes, we did shower!). Sarah had ideas of learning to sail, but gave that up in the face of her other objective, to work down through the SPF factors and tan herself on the foredeck. I wanted to be as useful as I could be, knowing that folks who sail oft and long together develop a slick operation, where words are few. Duncan and Julia make no exception to this, and I was a handy pair of hands when asked.

Like any sailing I’ve ever done, there are aspirations and there are realities. I had sailed in the Ionian before (in 2004, when Greece hosted the Olympics), but couldn’t quite remember where I’d been (and I forgot to check my journal before we set off). Argostoli is a functional place, and after we’d seen ‘the’ turtle, we’d just about exhausted the highlights. Duncan and Julia were keen to take us to Kastos, one of their favourite places for cruising.

 In the week that we were there, the wind didn’t blow that much. Obviously it had exerted itself on the days before our arrival. The winds did their August thing, with afternoon sea-breezes, unless weather was lurking. It didn’t really suit the other ambitions for the week – swimming in the sea. That was my request, as a novice swimmer (only having learnt in 2002, I lack confidence in the sea). This demand on the schedule asked for lunch-time anchorages, or nights at anchor so that we could max out on water-time. This didn’t accord with the optimum time for actual sailing. In the week, we probably sailed, with the big white flappy things, for five/six hours. Good job Rampage has a decent engine!

Rampage on the quay in Poros, Kefalonia

Anyway, we spent a night in Poros, on the eastern flank of Kephalonia, a charming little port. The wind was forecast to give us a nice beam reach as we came around the southern end of Kepahalonia, but it failed to make the appointment. In fact, whilst having a ‘we have arrived’ drink in the Taverna, we watched the wind line advance across the sea, with a running swell that would have made the anchorage outside the harbour wall a little lumpy. Duncan cooked on the COBB (does the job) for supper, and we enjoyed pork slouvaki and salad in the cockpit of Rampage.

Sunrise on Kastos.

We motored to Kastos, with no interest from the wind. The sea was glassy, and a haze draped the islands and the mainland. Too darn hot. All of us flopped in the sea when we arrived and had safely anchored. The first time the anchor dragged on the weedy bottom, but the second bite, well, we weren’t going anywhere. Kastos was a reminder for me of one of the best things about sailing. It tucks you into places that you wouldn’t get to easily otherwise. Kastos isn’t on a big ferry route, as there really isn’t much there… in a very good way. It is unspoilt, and unfussy.

Sarah and I fell in love with Kastos, and we voted to have two nights there. The wind, of course, arrived on the second day, but we had other things to do. Sarah had baking to do, and Julia, Sarah and I mounted a snorkelling expedition along the coastline. On the first morning, we rose with the sun and the three girls walked around a path on the northern perimeter of the island, seeing no one until we headed back into Kastos town. Duncan came to meet us, and we had the most delicious frappe as reward for our efforts.

 From Kastos it was another motor to Aberlike (Meganisi), a stunning anchorage in a kind of inlet, with the land either side thick with shrubs. Not magnificent snorkelling, and even swimming had its risks as trip boats, jetskis and rental boats bombed up and down. Fortunately they all disappeared with the ebb of the day, and we were left to a perfectly still night. We walked across the headland to provision in the little town, and avail a little cafe of its wifi. It was there I was reminded that the wind is the real determinant of routes. We had made plans over breakfast to head for Kioni, Ithaca. A place that I remembered, and adored, from sailing in 2004. Mid-way through his strawberry milkshake, Duncan announced that the wind was interfering with our plans. Not really for the day, but for the remaining days of the trip. We needed to be tucked up somewhere safe from the weather that was fast approaching. When do we need to leave, I asked. “Four hours ago,” came the response. No time for lolling about, and no wonder there were clouds in the sky. There was weather coming.

 It wasn’t Ithaca we headed to, but Sami, back on Kephalonia. It meant a long day at sea (well, six hours), but we all respected the Skipper’s decision. The channel between Ithaca and Kephalonia was as I remembered – we always found wind (although I seem to remember that it was mostly beating into it). This wind was chasing the sea, making for a lively broad reach down the channel. It never ceases to amaze me that a boat takes on personality when at sail. Whinchat (our Rustler 42) is slow to accelerate in light winds, and then nestles into a running sea as the wind and waves build. Rampage, being lighter, has a livelier response, like a dog that’s been told its going for a walk, but you can sense the delight in being able to do what its supposed to. Ride, roam and be free. It was the highlight of the sailing part of the week, although not necessarily the highlight of the week,

 We made Sami a couple of hours after ideal berthing time, all of us slightly anxious that there would be no room. There’s always room, and the dream-team of Duncan and Julia nestled Rampage into a gap along the town quay. It felt incredibly busy after the remote anchorages, but we were all slightly de-mob happy that we were where we needed to be. Of course that meant a celebratory beer… and plans for the remaining day or so.

Dragouraki cave: the chair gives you some idea of scale!

 The last day wasn’t what any of us would have predicted, but it was a fitting end. That weather? Well it arrived bang on schedule, with the mother of all rainstorms and squally winds. Rampage was usurped by an underpowered Seat, which took us to places inland. The astonishing Drogarati caves (just outside of Sami), a superb lunch somewhere in the heartlands of Kephalonia, and then the idyllic Asos, where the girls had the last swim of the trip.

Assos, a lovely place for a swim.

 As to those highlights? Well, one of them is the effect that a week on Rampage can have on a girl… It comes highly recommended. Seriously, most of the items recorded here are highlights, but the best is the feeling that we have made new friends, and that those friendships will continue and grow over the winter months ahead when we’re all back in Cornwall.

 Thank you Duncan, Julia and Rampage.

 Before and after…

Sarah and Julia: before and after being Rampaged….

Julia Webb-Harvey


(For anyone wanting to read about sailing a Rustler42)


Excitements at Sea

September 4, 2017

We were expecting guests aboard for the last week of August and had decided to sail to Argostoli on Kefalonia to meet them. The journey to Argostoli from Corfu took several days but all went well – initially. From Gouvia marina we went to Petriti on the southern end of Corfu island, and then on to Preveza. Next day we headed down through the Levkas canal, (now marked with posh buoys all the way down the channel,) and on to Abelike where we felt we could afford to spend a couple of nights. Whilst there we were delighted to meet up with our lovely friends Marilyn and Otto and joined them for a meal at Minas restaurant, before heading on to Poros.  

Note the smart new navigation buoys on the approach to Lefkas canal.

On 22nd August we set off on the final leg of our journey, round the southern coast of Kefalonia. We were quite relaxed as we set off, expecting a five to six hour trip. As soon as we rounded the bottom of the island we started to encounter significant swell and we could see wind approaching. We should have turned round as soon as we realised that the wind was almost straight on the nose but we decided to see how much progress we could make on a tack. We were somewhat surprised to find we were making reasonable ground so we pressed on. Gradually the wind built and we needed to reduce sail and it was at this point that things began to go wrong. The sail would not reef properly and we then realised that a bowline on the first reefing line had come undone and the line had disappeared inside the boom. Great! This was going to be a fun job to sort out at a later date. In the meantime we put in the second reef. Before long we were sailing with three reefs in the main and a pocket handkerchief of foresail.  

We were towing the dinghy which is never good in such circumstances but when we attempted to heave to, in order to haul her onboard, it was simply blowing too hard and we gave up – foolishly, as it subsequently turned out. Despite the weather, by 5pm we could see the airport near Argostoli. However getting to the town involved making our way up a channel down which the wind was now funnelling with ever-increasing ferocity. We came to the conclusion we weren’t going to make it – or at least not in daylight. We took the depressing decision that, despite by this time having been sailing for seven hours and being virtually within sight of our destination, that we had no alternative but to turn and run before the wind – all the way back to Poros, ☹️.

It was at this point that things completely deteriorated. I was at the helm and succeeded in making an unintentional gybe – a risk when sailing downwind and never good. The boom went crashing across to the opposite side of the boat and the windward sheet of the foresail caught round a cleat making the sail impossible to bring under control. Thankfully Duncan managed to sort that but by now the two foresail sheets were thoroughly twisted round each other and more to the point, steering was becoming quite a struggle, so we made the decision to drop the sails and motor. However, in order to drop the main, we were forced to turn up into the wind and doing so caused the dinghy to flip. It was at this point that the dinghy painter finally gave up the unequal struggle.

Thankfully we spotted that the tender had gone AWOL almost immediately and Duncan had the presence of mind to press the man-overboard button on the chart plotter. In order to attempt to retrieve the dinghy we first had to furl the foresail, albeit leaving the twisted sheets to be sorted later. Then, with the help of the chartplotter, we managed to spot the upside down dinghy amid the fairly considerable waves. After several attempts and the loss of one boathook, the handle of which came off in his hand, Duncan managed to snag the bridle and with some considerable effort, to raise the dinghy out of the water on a pulley system we have on the stern. Much relieved we then turned back towards Poros and I went forward to sort out the tangle of foresail sheets.  

We were looking at probably another three to four hours in fairly rough seas and we were both pretty weary by this stage so when we saw various boats at anchor near Pessades we decided to check it out. To our relief, in five metres of water over a splendid sandy seabed, (good holding for the anchor) we finally managed to stop, have something to eat and collapse into bed.

Entering Argostoli harbour on 23rd August

Next morning the sea had merely a gentle swell which vanished to flat calm as we came into Argostoli. After some breakfast D was able, with the aid of a broom handle and a fishing hook, to retrieve the reefing line from inside the boom. However, we resolved that our guests would to return to the airport by road at the end of their visit.