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Our DOLCE DINA before start of trip (shown left)
Own motor yacht in CY: Sept 2008-…….
After 4 years sailing in the Ionian we decided it was time to get a faster boat as the sailing boat could only reach 7knts max, and it took 4-5 h to cover 20nm to the next island. Sadly we sold our share in REA and after much thought and calculations I bought an Italian motor yacht “SESSA” from our friend Yianos (Nautimar Marine ) in part exchange for the small Mcgreggor sailing boat. It is a 43 feet boat with 2 cabins and 2 bathrooms ,microwave, A/C, hot water , generator, TV with 2 large diesel engines (330hp each),top speed about 36kts and range of about 180nm, enough to get to Greece!, Israel, Lebanon and tour all the Mediterranean including Egypt and Suez canal (if we so wished).
We are very pleased with it and use it regularly around south Cyprus.
Greek islands –Dodecanese trip 4 june-20 july 2010
Now that we have the motor yacht we decided to go to the Greek islands to cover the Aegean islands. As it’s a fast boat and can cover 25 nm in 1 h (instead of 4h) we could cover most islands in 1-2 hours travel time each.
After months of planning, working out distances, fuel useage,max range , identifying refuelling places, getting contact nos. etc etc we decided to go with another friend with his own inflatable boat (RIB) which is only 7 m and its open boat. This way we would not make our first long trip alone! Our friend made many trips to kastelorizon which is the 1st Greek island from Cyprus and its less that half a mile from Turkey, using his small boat and he assured us that with our boat it would be no problem to cover the 150 nm distance. We then set about preparing the boat for the long trip as it would take some 40 plus days. We stocked up on food, water, cooking items, bed linen, towels, etc etc in fact we equipped the boat like another apartment…Then we had to ensure we had all the emergency equipment ready , first aid kit, life vests, liferaft, spare fuel, water lots of ropes(one always needs plenty of ropes),lots of tools for any emergency at sea, torches, batteries and many other bits and pieces …
Having checked the weather and the boat we decided to delay the trip by a week until the weather improved. So we set off a week later 4th June, for Latsi. The sea after Akrotiry became more rough about half a metre or more and Dina felt sick and was sick all the way to Latsi. Took 3.5 h to get to Latsi. Unusual as she is never sea sick! Arrived at Latsi about midday and we berthed as previously agreed with the local “Mr Fix it”! we rested and refuelled and started getting ready for the early morning start the following day. Our friend arrived with his boat too. Also we had another group that were going to Kastelorizon in their own inflatables of about 6m length so we felt much safer knowing that we would not be alone for 6+ hours and 150 miles of open sea! Our friends made this trip many many times over the last 10 years so they had the confidence which also helped us.
So 4am we woke up, had breakfast, made some sandwiches for the trip, water , tissues etc ready outside. We cleared police and customs and we set of about 5.30 am with our friend in his RIB and us in our boat. After about 10 mins the sea became a little wavy! Perhaps a sign of thinks to come….We just cleared the Akamas coast and headed straight for Kastelorizon ,150 nm away. The seas was becoming more wavy and we had already about 0.6m waves. My friend re assured us that this area is always a bit rough and will smooth out later. We pressed on and sure later it became calmer and we did about 22kts for about 1h.
The sea again began to get rough and we slowed down to minimise the boat slamming against the waves, which were dead ahead in front of us and we could not really avoid them. Dina was again sick from the start of the trip at about 6.30 am so she just sat and was sick continuously. About half way our friend stopped and we found out that he had minor engine problem. He said to us to carry on and he would catch us up. The waves now began to get bigger (over 1 metre) and I started taking manual avoiding action which meant we could not use the autopilot. Had to steer the boat continuously! We tried to contact our friend but no luck , we pressed on now as we reached and passed the half way point –point of no return as we could run out of fuel. Eventually our friend contacted us on VHF and said he was returning to Latsi as had to fix the engine and come out tomorrow.
I now had a decision to make fast, as we could just make it back to Latsi or press on with the waves ahead. I decided to press on as if we returned to Latsi I believed we would not try again for Greece!. And also the fuel may not be enough to get us back, although I had spare fuel on board but would be very difficult and tricky refuelling in rough seas.
So we pressed on, Dina completely out of action on the outside settee, and me alone standing all the time half way out of the window as I could not see ahead through the windscreen due to the sea spray from the waves. For the next 80nm ( 6hours) I was like that trying my best to avoid the waves head on as this would be very uncomfortable and possibly dangerous as the boat would rise high up on the wave and then crash down the back of the wave only to meet the next one head on again and possibly be swamped .. dangerous!
The waves now were even bigger some 2 to 3 metres high and I managed to steer the boat at an angle to the waves so the boat would slide up and then slide down the wave minimising the impact. This worked ok for most of the time but not always… The sea spray was everywhere, in the boat the floor (outside) was very wet , I was 80% soaked and the windscreen covers were leaking anyway so it was a very wet trip!
We were about 6 miles from Kastelorizon and low on fuel but I believed we had enough to reach Kastelorizon, however I was contemplating adding more fuel but with the sea so rough it would be very difficult, however as we approached the island “Stongily” 2 nm from Kastelorizon the sea was calm and so we pressed on and arrived ok and safely with about 20% fuel left which was what I planned for.
We moored ok and the local restaurant owner Vangelis, was waiting for us and helped tie up. We then had a good rest and shower and lots of sleep. We had dinner at Vangelis restaurant nice fish soup and we started to relax. The trip took 10 hours instead of 6h.
We met the other group who left 1 hour before us and they also had a very bad crossing to Kastelorizon. They said in the last 10years of making this trip it was the first time they had such bad sea! No consolation for us but at least we were not alone in feeling disappointed.
After about 4 days of rest at Kastelorizon we started our tour of the Dodecanese islands starting with Rhodes some 70nm ( 2.5 hours )away, local to us by now!
Things we did right:
- Prepared food and drink in cockpit ready to be used.
- Lifevests on top
- Paper charts on top
- Plastic bags for being sick in!
- Carry spare fuel
Things we did wrong
- Not personally double checking weather but relying on friends assessment
- Double check weather from more than 1 source
- Have a satellite phone for long passages
- Ideally, have a second helmsman in case of both captain and only 1 crew are sick or otherwise not fit to steer.
- Carry liferaft on top
Peter and Dina Csapo