Ruairi’s Round Up 2019

Greetings from the land of keels and rudders,

The team is busy beavering away in the yard with the usual plethora of large and small refit jobs. Monsoon season started soon after we finished hauling, which is unusual, probably a result of global moistening; however it has encouraged us to leak find much earlier in the winter, so that’s a win win all round.

One of the frequent laments we hear midsummer is about the number of boats in the area and how crowded it is, somehow the irony never quite reaches the boat owner. Cows complaining of farm smells perhaps?!

Anyhow, in May for my trip aboard SY ‘Morning Calm’ a Trintella 65, we wanted to be local for crew changes but also to escape a bit. Starting in Corfu we buzzed over to Saranda in Albania for a couple of nights. After clearing in, a simple process, we anchored off so the crew could visit the Roman site in Butrint, 25mins away by taxi. A slap up meal ashore and a bit of the night life was cheaper than a gyros in the Ionian! Meandering slowly south, through Paxos and the inland sea by Preveza we felt positively lonely and in need of a quick pit stop at the Yacht Club, before ending the week in Sami for a crew change. Long ago economics of cash beauty and hassle made Sami and a taxi more favourable than the drag around to Argostoli.

Using the prevailing afternoon N’Westerly, two hops took us down to Pylos in the Peloponnese. The long passage from Zante down is made easy by favourable wind and sea conditions, safe in the knowledge that a new cruising area will be the reward at the end of the day.

Pylos is a Vliho sized embayment with lots of anchorages, a marina and a charming higgledy piggledy town, an easy place to spend some time. Methoni just to the south is the next picture postcard stop with an awesome castle to explore. For us though, the jewel in this area is a few miles to the east called Finnikounda. The shallow anchorage fronts a really classy beach town, full of nooks and crannies, liking to a cross between Fiskardo and old Vassiliki! Our other place of note in this area is Koroni, with its safe anchorage behind the breakwater and old Aegean style town tumbling down to the water.

This was the extent of our trip to the south, with the following week spent coastal hopping back north, never as enjoyable as the south bound trip but interesting none the less. In other years we have carried on from Koroni into the Aegean, completing the circumnavigation through the Corinth canal. I have to say this anti clockwise trip around the Peloponnese has to be my favourite in the Med, it’s interesting, challenging and constantly changing with many notable sites en route, a definite for any bucket list.

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I realise that not everyone has the time for this minimum 10 day trip, however if enough people request it we will put a fact sheet together about distances, ports, historic interest, places to leave the boat and transport links. So let’s say if by the end of January the interest is there, I will produce a sheet in February.

A big change for SY ‘Morning Calm’ next season is that she will be available for charter for the first time. After cruising to New Zealand, Alaska, Mexico, the Baltic and of course extensively in the Med, the owner has decided that he no longer has the time to fully use her. Now others will have the opportunity to enjoy this very special boat & in the New Year we shall be launching the details of what’s involved in chartering this awesome boat.

 

Closer to home in November we had the sad task of recovering another beautiful boat which had broke its mooring and ended up on the rocks outside of Nikiana harbour. Not a boat we knew before the incident but became involved with at the request of its insurers. As usual it was a €5 shackle whose failure led to the loss of a well maintained family live aboard. Most tragic was the bad luck of the owner having left the boat only one hour before she broke loose.

Other cautionary tales from the area include boat thefts, a spate of nuisance break-ins; where dinghies, outboards, fenders and solar panels have been taken. Our advice would be to keep as much as possible down below, when the boat is not in use and importantly to ensure your insurance is up to date.

Back in the yard I set off recently to list the boats needing rudder repairs, as this is all small repetitive work we always batch boats together. After looking at twenty or so boats with growing consternation, I went back and rechecked, then with more interest went carefully through all of our charges and found 3 boats out of 87 which need work. This is odd, normally 1 in 4 need attention. What was the change, rising sea levels? No, a better standard of seamanship? Some mix of new and experienced boat owners, so not that either. It took a while, but after much thought I put it together… You will see of late, we seem to spend much less time chasing boats around the bay, completely due to our push for Rocna style anchors. Now I see there is a further knock on effect, less sagging back against the quay while you are in having supper. So our over- riding message this Christmas is forget the shiny new cockpit cushions and if not already done, get a Rocna!

Finally I want to thank everyone new and old who continues to support the whole Vliho Yacht Club service, I am sure we don’t get everything right all of the time but it’s sure not for the want of trying!

From all the team, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Ruairi

Here comes the summer…

 

March is always a busy month here at the club. It’s the transitional period between winter and summer when boat owners start to return to the island, the yard is a hive of activity and the first brave souls attempt a day at the beach profusely claiming the sea ‘isn’t too bad actually’ (we all know it is in fact still numbingly cold!!)  It’s amazing how quickly spring comes and goes and with the first UK flights into Preveza happening this coming week it seems summer is officially about to start.

In the yacht guardianage circle of life we are now once again prepping for the boats to go back into the water. With the first of our allocated launching slots happening next week it’s all systems go and all hands on deck …quite literally. To give you some scale of the operation, a delivery of antifoul was dropped off at our workshop the other day consisting of 18 tins of the stuff in numerous colours, each weighing around 20kg! All of it more than likely will be used in the upcoming weeks.

Antifouling the hull is of course the end goal. Prior to that there’s gel coat repairs to finish, deep cleaning, polishing, rigging,  engine checks, seacock greasing, anodes to be put on and anchor chains to be painted. With each of the guys allocated their own tasks it’s a military style operation down there, even Vicky is managing to escape the office and into the sunshine to get stuck in too!

 

 

Not only is it full power at the yard, but there’s so much going on at the club too. Keep an eye out for my next posts with a round up of events going on as we head into April.

 

Don’t forget to change your clocks….

 

Laura

Lovely day for it…

It’s Valentine’s Day, and a gloriously sunny day for erecting a mast. I’ve been a bit excited knowing that the crane was coming sometime this week as it meant I had a great excuse to get out the office and back down to the yard, if only for an hour or so.  Two masts needed moving today, one going back on a yacht and one coming off.

I didn’t think it was going to be as straight forward as strapping the crane sling to the mast and carefully swinging it over and down onto the deck of the boat, but turns out it was just that. With the precision of the guy operating the crane, and Ruairi’s great line of sight, the masts were manoeuvred round the busy boatyard easily (clearly not their first time)… turns out pointing vigorously translates in all languages.

Both the yachts are having/had the standing rigging replaced and the furling gear serviced. The rig of a sailing yacht is fundamental to the boats performance and it’s vital that it’s kept well maintained and in good working order. The long winter months in the yard are the perfect time to do all the necessary maintenance checks and replace when necessary.

Here’s some photos I took this morning, keep an eye on our social media also as I’ll put some swingy mast videos up on there too…

Laura

Business as usual…

We did it!! With some major grafting from the team and help from VYC friends, we managed to get the refurb done in time for Saturday’s opening. It was a busy weekend all round with the 6 Nations rugby and a 60th birthday party on Sunday. For the first time in 2019 it was great to see the place back to its usual bustling self, with beers flowing and food flying out the kitchen. To the untrained eye of the not so regulars at the club, the whole revamp may not seem so remarkable as let’s face it, who really pays that much attention to the flooring of a toilet or ever catches a glimpse behind the scenes in the kitchen. However, you only need to ask Vicky and our chef Eleni who spend a vast amount of time in the kitchen, about how much more workable and easy to use the new layout is. The handmade by Ruairi larder store with easy access to every herb, spice and condiment you could ever need is especially appreciated (saving that thought for our upcoming ‘a Taste of China’ evening…yum)

The flooring of the inside bar had tentatively been ripped up, with some reservation that it might have needed relaying. It turned out however to expose a perfectly tiled floor that neither Ruairi nor Vicky could remember the reasoning behind covering up in the first place….BONUS! With a scrub and a polish the tiles were gleaming, combined with the new lick of paint on the inside walls the whole area is lighter and brighter.  Not only this, but the smaller touches like new cushion covers and updated notice board/post area  have enhanced the place… the changes are subtle, but essential to the fresher feel.

 

Now that chapter is finished its business as usual for everyone at the club. The guys are throwing themselves back into the work down at the yard, with the sun shining more often lately and the weather feeling a little (I may have spoken too soon here) spring like, the gloves and woolly hats are slowly coming off and there’s serious threat of pasty white winterised legs making an appearance soon….watch this space.

Why we’re closed…

 

There’s a constant hum of noise here in the office coming from downstairs, occasionally interrupted by the vibrating rattling of what I assume might be a drill and the startling thud of something being hammered down or ripped away. What on earth is going on you may wonder? Well New Year, new ideas and new beginnings and all that, we (and I mean collectively as a Yacht Club, I personally have made absolutely no contribution to efforts, apart from the occasional brew making) are having a bit of a revamp. We’re completely ripping out and refitting the kitchen as well as re-flooring and painting the bathroom/showers and painting the inside bar.  No small task, but with Vicky and Ruairi as ring leaders and  despite the inside bar currently looking like a herd of elephants have stampeded through, the guys are moving forward with the job at a good pace. There’s nothing like a looming 6 Nations Rugby Tournament and a plethora of beer thirsty locals pushing a deadline to get the job done. I’ve been occasionally popping down to get in amongst it, getting the current low down from Ruairi and taking photos before getting in the way and retreating back to my office chair (the kettles down there too so its unavoidable). The grand re-opening is scheduled for Saturday 9th Feb at 4pm, just in time for the Scotland v Wales game at 4.15pm.

I’ll keep you posted but here’s the progress so far…

Laura

 

 

The lengths people go to in order to obtain a transit log…

As many of you may be aware a non EU flagged boat can only stay within Greek waters for a maximum of 18 months. It must then visit a non EU country before re-entering Greek waters in order to obtain a new transit log. What follows is Heather’s account of our little trip to Albania to obtain one such transit log… grab a blanket and a brew, it’ll make you cold just reading it.

With my hands stinking of bleach, busy deep cleaning fridges, Vicky pops her head around the door and asks “would you like to come sailing?” Of course I agree! Who wouldn’t, given the alternative?

Now, early on I should point out that I am very new to sailing, only experiencing the beauty and relaxation of summer sailing around the Ionian. This was to be an entirely new adventure…

I arrive early at the Yacht Club, layered up as had been advised by Debs (Thank you so much for the layers – I definitely owe you one!). I am given a pair of salopettes; snow is due to be dumped all across Greece, most people are preparing their log fires for a duvet day – not us! We’re going sailing!

As we head up the Lefkas channel I am eager and optimistic. Millie is tucked up in bed under the spray hood; an addition that we all become immensely thankful for (and something that Ruairi will continue to remind us of).  It’s drizzly and grey but not unpleasant – is this what sailing in England feels like?

It is as we approach Santa Maura bridge that my optimism drops. It is now throwing it down, the wind has picked up and as a result the swell has greatly increased. And we still have to collect Yevgeni, the owner of the boat, & his belongings from the quay. I am nervous. The largest waves I have experienced up to this point are those delightful summer breeze waves in the stretch between Lefkas and Ithaka. What am I doing? Get off now. This is a ridiculous idea. I’m 25 minutes from home if I abandon ship now. My lovely warm home, with Netflix and an electric blanket… No, where is your sense of adventure Heather? Pull yourself together – you’ve got this!

Of course my nerves are not warranted. Ruairi and Vicky expertly bring Diana alongside and the process of collecting Yevgeni is seamless. With all his energy and madness, Yevgeni alleviates my mood somewhat. It does not last.

As I previously mentioned I am a rookie. Open seas are new to me. The swell does not subside and I find myself in a dilemma; do I go down below and be warm but increase the chances of throwing up over a recently refitted saloon or do I suffer the cold and keep my eyes fixed on the land to try to suppress the sickness? I decide upon the latter and curl up tightly under the spray hood desperately fighting the urge to throw up over the side. Ruairi does offer the kindest of support “seasickness and motion sickness are a state of mind” Thanks Ruairi…

It is night as we reach Corfu Town and all along the headland lights flicker on – night sailing is another first for me and excitement over rides sickness, perhaps it is all in my head (don’t tell Ruairi I thought that!) Gouvia Maina is to be our home for the night and as we follow the buoys in (red on the Port and green on the Starboard – see I am learning!) relief washes over me. I have survived!

We wake to snow covered hatches. Thank god for the heater! I take full advantage of hot showers (and secretly think about staying here all day).

All we have to do now is sail to Albania and back…no big deal…it’s only a little bit of snow right?

Valiantly, Vicky and I take on the role of coffee makers, seeking shelter down below, plotting, planning and dreaming of summer and all that it promises for 2019!

The snowstorm only worsens and the swell is unforgiving as we reach Saranda. Visibility is poor and a hydrofoil whizzes out of the port only just missing us. I have no words for this experience, instead take a look at the video, it gives you an idea…

Click here for the video of us arriving Saranda

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I have three reflections on Saranda;

  1. The people here could not have been more helpful; though this may have been because they thought we were all mad!
  2. Add sugar to the hot chocolate – its proper cocoa!
  3. I would love to return and explore more of Saranda and Albania, the town is quirky with much character – a larger Nidri if you will – and the coastline looks beautiful! Though perhaps I’ll wait until Spring…

The next morning is brilliant sunshine. Everyone is in high spirits; our mission to Saranda and back is complete and with the wind behind us it looks like we can get some good sailing in as we head home! We do one last stock up; predominantly chocolate, bread and cheese – what else? – and head back down south.

All hands are on deck and our sails are raised! The boys take the opportunity to play with the new kite, Vicky retreats into her happy reading corner and I lie on the foredeck basking in the afternoon sunshine, mesmerized by the Spinnaker as it ebbs and flows in the wind.

A sailing yacht, the first one we have seen out this trip, motors towards us – they must be envious of our full sails downwind!

For our final day, Helios is once again kind. The last leg is one we know well, Lefkas to Vlicho and everyone is relaxed. We take full advantage of the gorgeous weather, using our sails all the way.

Our final lunch stop is a little bay on Skorpios, the infamous Jackie O bay. We anchor just off the shore and I can’t help but comment on how inviting the sea looks. Before I know it, the ladders are down. I’ve got to now haven’t I?

And so, ladies and gentleman, the adventure concludes with my first swim of the year framed by a snow capped Lefkada and I must say I am glad to be home!

Goodbye 2018…

Here’s my final post of the year, it’s getting rather quiet around here as staff have left to spend Christmas in their native countries, there’s currently only 2 of our guys left down at the yard cracking on until Friday to make sure everything is wrapped up (bad pun) nicely for the holidays. The gel coat repairs have been an ongoing process and our rib ‘Fred’, that we use and abuse in summer to attend call outs, has been stripped back, dismantled and will be rebuilt to run more efficiently than ever, whilst looking shinier and prettier too (important of course). The weather has been relatively kind to us, with most of the heavy rainfall only gracing us in the hours of darkness, but the temperatures in the clear day times have plummeted. Fear not for the guys working constantly in the outdoors down at the yard however, as Ruairi, with the use of an old gas bottle, some steel pipe, a welding torch and a now dwindling supply of wooden pallets, has kept the team warm on the chilliest of days with his homemade log burner.

Back at the club the festive infused cocktails have been flowing and the Christmas day bookings are coming in for Vicky’s delicious Christmas dinner, made for the local community staying here on Lefkada for the big day. The locals have also been joining in on charity walks the last few weeks, organised in partnership with Get Active Lefkas raising money to buy sports equipment for the local preschool. It’s easy for us thalassophiles to forget that the land and hills around us are also worth exploring, but it doesn’t take long if you head inland to see more of the beauty this island has to offer.

Finally, the website has had an update over the last few months if you fancy checking it out.  I’ve been slowly chipping away at updating all the information and adding some new photos we’ve taken over the last year or so. I also updated flight information for UK departures as well as from other European countries; just this week a new direct Sunday morning flight from Stanstead to Preveza  (Thomas Cook) has been released making our little haven of paradise even more accessible than before. Bookings are being taken, new charter boat Euphrosyne has been added to the fleet and another charter boat coming soon in the New Year means it’s already shaping up to be a busy 2019.

On that note, everyone here at Vliho Yacht Club would like to wish all our friends and followers new and old, a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Have a good one, from all The VYC Team!

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Kalo Mina! December has arrived with a bang and has us feeling all festive here at Vliho Yacht Club. Our annual ‘Turning on the Lights’ event at the weekend was a huge success again, this year’s decorations created by Heather and the team are even more imaginative than ever, giving the whole club a merry glow.

 

The guys down at the yard are wearing their winter warmers, as even though the sun is still shining the temperatures are slowly dropping here on the island. The main focus at the yard the last few weeks has been to finish winterization of the yachts, check for any cabin leaks, gel coat repairs and to continue with some of the bigger projects we have to complete this winter. One Moody 43 arrived at the yard to be re-sprayed, but instead the team refurbished the hull to make it look better than ever!

I mentioned in the last post Ruairi, Vicky and Mark heading to the METSTRADE show in Amsterdam. It’s safe to say the boys enjoyed the techie side of things and playing with new gadgets the yachting market has to offer, a lot more so perhaps than the injection of culture they were forced into as Vicky dragged them off to the Van Gogh Museum for an afternoon (Ruairi’s face says it all)

 

We’re ploughing towards Christmas with still lots of things happening and to do lists longer than Santa’s naughty list, so expect a few more updates before we see in 2019.

Stay Warm (I am with the heating on full blast in the office!)
Laura

Our Corner of the Earth

 

Hello all, Laura here! I could previously be spotted around Vliho Yacht Club’s quay preparing our boats for arrivals and charters; I can now be found in the Vliho Yacht Club office where I’ll be hibernating for the winter months. I’m usually all gusto for the great outdoors but as the weather starts to get a little colder as winter fast approaches and with the added bonus of having Millie the Yacht Club dog keeping my feet warm, I’m actually quite glad to be sat at a desk.

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The idea of these updates is to give you all insight into what’s going on here at the club. With all your boats now lifted out of the water into the yards, our yacht team are finishing off the winterising process. Sails off, sheets detangled and neatly stored, boat propellers being cleaned, covers put on, seacocks greased,  yard maintenance and projects have begun.

Ruairi, Vicky and Mark are actually leaving the island this week, heading to Amsterdam for the METSTRADE Show.  The world’s largest trade exhibition of marine equipment, materials and systems, the guys are going to check out all the new developments and products within the industry to report back to us and our clients.

(Check it out at https://www.metstrade.com)

sunset in the bay
Empty Vliho Bay at sunset

As the winter progresses and we move into 2019 when the whole process of summer prepping starts again, I’ll aim to keep you posted from the comforts of my swinging office chair, with photos and news of any significant events as well as the everyday activity too.

 

Leg 4: Part 4

The wind continued to ease all day and I have to say that evening’s watch I shall remember always, 7-8knots boat speed, clear full moon, sorts & t shirts and a good girlie book, coz I had read all the ones where men shoot each other.

By mid morning the wind had died to 15knots and being the last day at sea and harnesses a new found enthusiam onboard, we set the kite. In 6000 miles, it had been up twice before, once leaving La Manga on the fast day and once leaving the Cape Verdes. On both ocassions it took longer to repair, than it was up. Whilst discussing the pros and cons of adding another furler for the No.1 over maybe looking for a smaller kite, nature took over. It started with a gossamer kiss by the kite to the forestay, which opened a 1 foot square hole, then five minutes later same thing, another hole, but not content with that it then collasped and the top end disintergrated. Rob looked crestfallen, don’t worry we won’t need it again. Why’s that then? Wekk coming out of the Cape Verdes when we had the drone, we got great photos, so unless you change the colour of the hull, we won’t ever need to put it up again, simple.

For the last 100miles we had no wind at all, which should have been nice and easy, just motor in. No chance our recurring deisel issues reared their head again and ove rthe course of the next 24hours the engine would run for an hour or so then die. i changed filters, bypassed stuff, ran from a jerry can and probably every other thing you can think of to do with a deseil system to no avail. Some time I would think I had found the smoking gun, only for it to die again. I’m gutted that we will have to leave the boat not working for the moment, but I am out of ideas as to a solution.

We made out landfall in Boccas del Toro and as we passed between the 1st two islands which guard the anchorage, everything became good with the world. This place folks is paradise, all the things we had hoped of the Carribean, Panama has it in spades. Nautal beauty, quaint, cute, undeveloped, un crowded, just absolutely fantastic.

Rob’s agent for his building project pottered up to us shortly after we anchored and after all the greatings were made, he told us that it wouldn’t be a great idea to go ashore until we had been cleared by customs. So he was dispatched ashore and returned with 5 of the biggest nad best pizzas I have ever seen. Needless to say the red wine was broken out, glasses were raised, emptied, refilled and emptied. All onboard filled with an immense satisfaction of a job well done.

Bang on time at 9.30am the next morning, Customs, Immigration, Port authority and some other dude, who I think just liked boats all turned up. Incredibky poilte, couteous and welcoming. They were full of apologies, as the building opposite us, which was to be the new HQ of the officals was not finished yet. The process was a bit disjointed. For me though, this was perfect, it tallied with all the ocean voyages I have read about from yester year, about customs coming onboard as opposed to the modern traisping around different offices. I was slightly miffed that they did not suggest that a bottle of whiskey would be in order.

Once done and all the formalities completed, we shifter our berth 5 miles to Rob’s holiday development. This was pure Swallows and Amazons, threading our way through Mangrove islands, with no charts, glancing off little sand banks, a touch astern then on our way again, just awesome.

Rob’s place, just makes you envious, I cannot image a more perfect location or project, The property is fronted by a horse shoe bay about the size of a Tescos carpark, or as I pointed out a 100berth marina. We went stern to a rickety jetty, then all went ashore to look around. The idea fior the resort is as a rain forest retreat with spa, resturant etc. Accomodation is purpose built 2 story cabins built high up in the trees and very exclusive. 3 of the cabins are complet and landscaping is just beginning to clear the restaurant site.It is boys own adventure stuff, tropical but no snakes, fertile with every imaginble type of tree, but not so dense that moving around is difficult. Still to come is the construction of 4 cabannas, local style cabins which sit on stills ove rthe water, magical. He still has a lot to do but you can understand that this is a retirement project and once he is there almost full time, little foot paths and seating areas and possibly a marina will grow by increment. Its a long project but one that many of us would love.

I’m writing this in the cockpit, finding it very hard to concentrate, everywhere you look, there is water taxis buzzing along or a yacht moving or just nature, its mezmerising.

Andras & Konrad who are spending another month here decomissioning the boat, had to go off on a magical mystery tour this morning to get Visas. The dude that issues them locally is on vacation. Rob, Vicky & I have a 3 day grace period and need to fly out tomorrow. Vicky & Rob are ashore at the moment trying to sort flights. Having been away so long, it sounds like all our credit cards are well passed maed out, so a little bit of international finace is being conducted. It appears that we are off to Colombia in the morning before a flight to Europ. Cool by me, my passport is beginning to look awesome.

Its hard to describe how gut wrenching it is for this trip to be over, one of those things you just wish could go on forever, but I guess even I have to make a living at some stage.

For Vicky and I, it’s been a long over due break together and both feel bring it on in terms of what Greece throws at us next. I know this will not be the only time I am in Panama, firstly it is so good and secondly because there is serious talk of continuing into the Pacific in 3 years time.

Thanks for keeping up with our story, I hope its been enjoyavble.

Ruairi

Boccas del Toro

Panama