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Off Corfu

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Moving and sitting

Page 1 - Moving

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The places we've been and the things we've seen...

One of the most enduring and beautiful sights we've ever seen is the night sky from the centre of the ocean. Rachel, the Autohelm, steered and the engine purred away beneath us, the sea was flat, the sky was cloudless and there was no moon, just a billion stars dusting the black sky like flour on black velvet. Now and then a meteor flashed across in a sizzling explosion of light.

An hour out of Sardinia heading for Sicily the seas were four or six feet and steep. Rachel couldn't cope and we steered from the cockpit getting occasionally sprayed but happy enough. Then, off our starboard beam, a pod of dolphin began playing with the waves shooting horizontally out of the front of the steep wave and diving into the water ahead of it. They took turns like kids in a playground.

From Toulon with a force six behind and running like we've never done before or heading for Astakos between the islands where the breeze funnelled and we made the fastest speed we'd ever made under sail. Or a broad reach in a deserted Gulf of Amvrakikos in the afternoon breeze and our own private anchorage in sight.

The places we've been and the things we've seen...

Most of what we do now in the Ionion is bimble around (good old Navy word) for short hops between ports on the islands or mainland. Most of our sea-going navigation is therefore in the past until such time as we get bored with Greece. That said we're pretty well conditioned to do a reasonable passage plan whenever we set sail, albeit directly into the chartplotter and GPS. Ann likes to keep track of the position on paper charts and keeps a logbook. I suppose it's the right thing to do however, I'm content just to carry around spare GPS units; at the last count I think there were three not counting the car's Satnav and the Android phone.

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Our navigation solutions

Aderyn Glas sailing

We have a fixed navigation solution comprising a Garmin 152 GPS feeding an old Dell 420 laptop which runs CMAP charts on openCPN, this served us for many years but the shortfalls in the CMAP charts are pretty apparent when you look at the more modern solution. The laptop is deliberately old because old computers required less Amps (not quite so true any more) and the OpenCPN program is not only free but also integrates an AIS signal from a NASA Marine 'engine'. ♥♥♥♥♥

But now our primary navigation solution is Navionics charts running on either a 7 inch HUDL Android tablet or the iPhone. While there are a few things that the computer solution can do that Navionics can't, the facility of a low power high accuracy chartplotter outwieghs the disadvantages. If only the HUDL would upload routes to the Garmin so that we could see the route in the cockpit and feed the Autohelm! The Navionics chart package for the whole of the Med' amounts to something around the £35 mark which is amazing and the navionics app is free! While the AIS also won't integrate with the Android app we now have a depth sounder which does. Have a look at SonarPhone if that's of interest to you.. ♥♥♥♥♥

Of course we also have Heikell - could anyone venture forth without his suite of guides? ♥♥♥♥♥ - and a Sailing Holidays harbour guide (which SH will sell you if you contact them and beg) which we've always found remarkably useful for the intimate detail of the harbours we go to. ♥♥♥♥♥ Back in France we had Bloc's Votre Livre de Bord the essential bible for that part of the Med and toyed with the idea of buying the Italian version when we travelled through the islands, but never quite did. In the Aegean you need the 555 guide for Albania to Venice. Each guide is ♥♥♥♥♥ essential.

Aderyn Glas is also fitted out with the usual instruments you might expect on a small yacht: the Autohelm, wind speed and direction, log, and the all-important echo sounder, oh - and a compass or three. We found the wheel Autohelm to be essential for long voyages and, I hate to say it, but under some rough conditions Rachel was better at steering a course than either of us (the Autohelm is called Rachel after the beautiful android in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner). When it got rougher still though she gave up and squealed at us and then we had work to do. ♥♥♥♥♥

Is a radar essential? For sea crossings, particularly at night, we think it is. We've also found it helps in anchorages to confirm positions from the shore. If it broke (again) though we might not replace it until we headed back to the open sea - around the Ionion it has less importance.♥♥

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Landing and take-off

Moored in Kioni

Like everyone else we've refined the arts of landing and take-off. Landing is a case of taking plenty of room and time to line up with the chosen slot between boats already moored. We have PMR radios so that whoever is on the bow can talk to the helmsman without shouting. We always have the ropes and fenders sorted before we even line up, after that it's a case of working out where to drop the anchor and manoeuvring the boat to the right place then dropping it in and letting it run. This sounds easy but the judgement about where to drop the anchor requires a good eye (we have a finite amount of rode) and the ability to work out where everyone else's anchors are so that we can miss them all. Once the anchor has been dropped it's a case of lining the boat up and heading slowly for the quayside. Bows-to this is easy and this was always our preferred orientation but this year we've been experimenting going in stern-to which, in a boat whose rudder is not designed for med' style mooring and with a large windage from the deck saloon, has resulted in many aborted attempts. The advantage is better holding with the bow anchor and easy recovery of the anchor.

With a stern anchor deployed take-off is still easy provided it's calm or the wind is directly off the jetty. The secret is to haul the anchor up hand over hand quite smartly remembering that there is absolutely no control over what the boat does until the anchor clears the bottom. This is because you are pulling the boat backwards from more or less the rudder position so there is no turning moment available to turn the boat. We never worry about flaking the rope until we're all sorted and under way, it's too much of a distraction. Although we've not tried it, in really poor conditions from a tricky crosswind or whatever, it might be worth walking the rode to the bow and spinning the boat just to get some steering force.

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A dinghy is another essential for us and ours is either towed or carried on the stern davits. At anchor it takes us to the shore either for shopping, exploring or taking a line to the nearest tree to hold the stern. We have a 3.2 HP outboard for when we're lazy which lives on a bracket low down on Aderyn Glas's stern from where it's easy to lift onto the dinghy.♥♥♥♥♥

Cruising chute and other sails


We had a cruising chute but so rarely bothered to use it that we've now sold it. In fact if the wind is somewhere aft of the mast the Genoa is often the only sail we deploy. ♥♥♥♥♥ Like the Genoa the main is also on a roller reef but it doesn't add much power, it's more useful for balancing than driving. But that's just the Eclipse outfit and you can't sensibly not have a mainsail. ♥♥♥♥♥

(>> page 2 - Sitting)

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