Voice of Ex­pe­ri­ence

A week­end cruise can quickly turn into a cas­cade of mis­ad­ven­tures,

SAIL - - Features - as Ed­mund Hull found

Row­ing and an­chor­ing chal­lenges in the Med

Af­ter cross­ing the At­lantic in 2011 and spend­ing two leisurely years cross­ing the Med, I found a home­port for my Cre­alock 34, Panope, in Cyprus. In 2000, we had com­pleted a villa in Tala and the lit­tle plea­sure/fish­ing port in Latsi was a scenic 40-minute drive away.

The Chryso­chou Bay was an im­me­di­ate at­trac­tion, and a dozen an­chor­ages and swim­ming spots dot­ted the coast to Cape Ar­naoutis. Around that head­land, how­ever, was the western coast of the Aka­mai penin­sula, a to­tally un­de­vel­oped na­tional park that of­fered ex­plo­ration.

I re­cruited for my pas­sage there a Greek Cy- priot—Ge­orge Ge­or­giades—a tra­di­tional pot­ter in nearby Lemba, who’d ex­pressed an in­ter­est in learn­ing to sail. Ge­orge, a fish­er­man, knew the Aka­mas from the land, and I prized lo­cal knowl­edge of a coast only roughly charted and lit­tle vis­ited from the sea.

We set off on a Satur­day af­ter­noon in early July in­tend­ing to ex­plore the coast, spend the night there and re­turn via some re­mote beaches that promised drift­wood for my wife’s gar­den. Pre­dict Wind promised west­er­lies of 15-20 knots, and our first af­ter­noon was com­prised of a long tack first to the north­west and then south­west, skirt­ing the reefs that lie about two miles off Cape Ar­naoutis.

Upon our ar­rival, how­ever, a prob­lem was im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent. With west­er­lies pre­dicted through the week­end, there was pre­cious lit­tle pro­tec­tion for an overnight an­chor­age. Ini­tially we scouted the lee of sev­eral islets, but rough wa­ters promised an un­easy night. With dark­ness ap­proach­ing, we had to de­cide whether to carry on with our search or dou­ble back around the cape where sev­eral pop­u­lar an­chor­ages ex­isted. For­tu­nately, Ge­orge had fished in a pro­tected bay a bit far­ther on, and lo­cal charts showed an in­let as did our iNavX chart soft­ware, al­beit with some rocks. Even­tu­ally, guided by iNavX, we lo­cated the mouth of a lovely lit­tle in­let well pro­tected from the west by Geranis­sos, or “Old Is­land.”

Ex­plor­ing cau­tiously, we found no shoals and dropped an­chor on a rocky bot­tom. Be­cause we were now only about 20ft from some cliffs where waves were break­ing, I de­cided to drop a sec­ond an­chor (a Delta) about 60 de­grees from our best bower, a CQR. In the fad­ing light we con­tin­ued to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion as I pre­pared spaghetti bolog­nese. It was a fit­ful night as the wind clocked 180 de­grees, but the an­chors held. Col­lect­ing them in the morn­ing only re­quired a slight ma­neu­ver to un­cross the rodes, af­ter which we were on our way.

Next we in­tended to an­chor off a re­mote beach that promised the afore­men­tioned drift­wood. The CQR held im­me­di­ately, and we launched our Trinka ten­der and rowed (old school) to shore. Waves that had ap­peared to break slightly were an ad­ven­ture in an 8ft boat. But while we were tossed about some­what, we made shore safely, and in a half hour we had a re­spectable col­lec­tion of drift­wood and were ready to head back. Un­for­tu­nately, rid­ing the waves in proved to be child’s play com­pared to go­ing out, and we were soon swamped and over­turned. Col­lect­ing our­selves for a sec­ond try, I dis­cov­ered we had lost an oar­lock. I at­tempted to fash­ion one from a line, but it failed and our sec­ond at­tempt aborted, as did a third.

If we could swim to the boat, I rea­soned, we might re­cover the dinghy by lead­ing a line back to shore and winch­ing the boat through the surf. Rea­son­ably strong swim­mers, Ge­orge and I had lit­tle trou­ble swim­ming to Panope where we had for­tu­nately left the swim lad­der de­ployed—our only prac­ti­cal means of board­ing.

I con­nected the stern an­chor rode to a long line used for mast climb­ing. Ge­orge donned flip­pers and started his swim back to shore. I was sur­prised that 300ft of rode com­bined

with the other line only reached half the dis­tance, and started scam­per­ing to at­tach other lines as quickly as pos­si­ble. Mean­while Ge­orge reached the shore, col­lected the dinghy and our clothes and sig­naled for a tow. Ini­tially, the sys­tem worked. But then I felt the re­sis­tance drop off and re­al­ized one of my hastily tied knots had failed and that Ge­orge was on his own. Re­source­fully, he de­tached all but the stern an­chor rode and be­gan swim­ming with the ten­der in tow. Im­pres­sively, he towed the ten­der through the surf and back to Panope. Surely, I thought, we could now re­lax.

With that in mind, af­ter la­bo­ri­ously stow­ing the ten­der back on the fore­deck, we pre­pared to weigh an­chor and pro­ceed back to Latsi. Un­for­tu­nately, while all went well as I took in the rope rode, when I raised the chain part, I was stymied, as the 30ft of chain, now ris­ing di­rectly from the bot­tom, wouldn’t budge. Us­ing the nat­u­ral swell of the waves to pro­duce up­ward pres­sure didn’t help. Nor did rid­ing over the an­chor or pulling from var­i­ous direc­tions. With day­light fad­ing and miles to go around the cape and to port, our op­tions were now fad­ing as well. Of course, had we known the bot­tom was rocky and rigged a trip wire, we might have pulled the plough from an ad­van­ta­geous an­gle, but I had as­sumed a sandy bot­tom. As time ran down, I de­cided to de­tach the chain and mark the aban­doned an­chor with a buoy. That way we might re­turn with a diver. We recorded some land­marks and took a GPS lo­ca­tion.

Fi­nally freed, we headed around the cape, tak­ing a short­cut in­side the reef off­shore be­cause we were con­fi­dent we had no less than 14ft of wa­ter for a boat that draws about 5ft. Surely now our prob­lems were be­hind us!

Sud­denly, though, Ge­orge called out as gray smoke be­gan bil­low­ing from the ex­haust—ap­par­ently our pro­longed ef­forts at try­ing to dis­lodge the an­chor com­bined with our speedy de­par­ture had over­loaded our Yan­mar. Shut­ting down the en­gine, we un­furled the jib and used the now weak west­erly to con­tinue mak­ing slow progress to­ward the port. I judged the wind too weak to sup­port the main on a run.

With Ge­orge steer­ing, I started to work on the Yan­mar. We con­firmed a weak stream of wa­ter con­tin­ued to be pro­pelled out the ex­haust. I in­spected the raw-wa­ter strainer, which was clean. My man­ual said the air fil­ter might be a cause of our prob­lems, so I changed that as well. Many of the other prob­lems listed on the trou­ble-shoot­ing list—like faulty in­jec­tors— were be­yond our ca­pa­bil­ity to ad­dress.

With day­light fad­ing, a phone call from my neigh­bor John pre­sented an op­por­tu­nity. My wife was with him, and I asked that they drive to Latsi and con­tact Tom at Latsi Wa­ter Sports to see about get­ting some help. Forty­five min­utes later, Tom called and in­formed us that they would de­ploy a safety boat at the har­bor en­trance to pro­vide as­sis­tance. Mean­while, with a cooler en­gine and my mi­nor re­pairs, we re-started the Yan­mar. Some wa­ter was be­ing ejected, and the smoke had less­ened con­sid­er­able. We pro­ceeded gen­tly. The sun set and night fell as we fi­nally reached port. We ren­dezvoused with the as­sis­tance craft, but felt we could pro­ceed in un­der our own di­min­ished power if they ac­com­pa­nied as a safe­guard. In 10 min­utes, we slid into our moor­ing hand­ily: a wel­come—even stylish—end to a cas­cade of mis­ad­ven­tures. s

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