Homemaking and shakedown cruise on Sunday

At last Sunday, a ten year-old ex-charter Lagoon 420 catamaran, was ours! Now to get to know her and make this floating apartment ours!

Sunday our apartment afloat

First stop was IKEA just outside Athens Airport (the nearer one to Alimos Marina had a height restriction so we couldn’t park there in our campervan).

A full IKEA trolley

Unlike our most recent IKEA experience in the Netherlands, where everyone joins one queue and the person at the head of the queue is called to the next available cashier, in Athens you choose one of the checkouts and hang around there while people try to pay with a phone app that never works and others suddenly produce a second trolley or there is some problem with the till.

Beginning to feel like home

For some reason we ended up going on a Saturday evening. I can’t believe we did that but there you are. The place was absolutely jam packed and the queues for the cashier were so long that staff were handing out free bottles of water.

Celebrating our first night on board

Anyway, we eventually arrived back at the marina with armfuls of cushions, pillows, linen, glasses, mugs, crockery, cutlery and all those other items you need when setting up a home.

The galley starting to be more homely

It was a great feeling to unpack it all and find somewhere to put everything and it was surprising how these additions made Sunday feel much more like home.

Still lots to do but feeling more like ours now
Plenty of room for guests
First breakfast on board
Jonathan’s carved fish, found in Langkawi, will eventually take pride of place

Because security in the marina carpark was a little bit of an issue we decided to take the campervan to the lovely little site in Ancient Corinth that we had found earlier in the year. We knew it would be secure there while we had a few days “shake-down” cruise.

Loved catching sight of the Acropolis in the distance as we drove to Corinth
Beautiful sunset as we make our way to Ancient Corinth
Entering Ancient Corinth in the rain
Fresh pomegranate from the camp ground
Athens has a real problem with graffiti (on the train back to Athens)

As we had no experience of sailing catamarans and were particularly wanting to learn the technique of “Mediterranean mooring” (where you set you anchor and reverse into a space and then tie off at the stern), we had decided to get some tuition before being set loose on Greek waters.

The Lagoon has a very nice outdoor eating area

Nicos and Manos recommenced Igor, a professional skipper originally from Ukraine who had made Greece his home some years ago.

Our skipper Igor (left) chats to Nikos

Under Igor’s watchful eye Jonathan took Sunday out of the extremely tight mooring. He said having two engines helped turn the boat as you can put one in reverse and the other in forward gear but the two bladed prop made the boat less responsive than expected. We are therefore considering changing from from two-bladed propellers to three bladed props.

Igor gives Jonathan tips as we leave our spot in the marina

Carefully negotiating the narrow passageway between the two rows of tightly packed boats all with lines travelling from their bows to anchor points on the seabed providing an additional hazard, we gradually made our way out of the marina.

Carefully negotiating our way out of the marina.

It was wonderful to be out on the water again in our own boat! We had been told that catamarans have a strange motion compared with monohulls so we were prepared to feel uncomfortable at the very least. There was a bit of a swell as we made our way to the island of Aegena in the Saronic island group but we didn’t feel any discomfort at all.

Intense concentration
Leaving Athens far behind

We got the sails up as soon as we were clear of the harbour and although there wasn’t much wind at first it was just wonderful to be out there sailing. We were amazed how easily the main went up (it was always a bit of a mission on Bali Hai) – of course having an electric winch helped!

The winches were in excellent working order
Great to have the sails up
Last time Sunday will go out flying the Greek flag

Gradually the wind became a little stronger – about 18 knots on a close reach and we were humming along between five and six knots. We weren’t going to win any races but hey what’s the hurry?

Feeling happy
Five knots speed over ground and rising

It was almost dark when we arrived at the charming little fishing port at Perdika on the southern end of Aegina. Fortunately there was only one other yacht there but the downside was that we didn’t get practice at reversing in to a parking spot!

It was starting to get dark as we approached Aegina
It was a beautiful evening

A man walking by helped us tie up which made it all very easy and before long we were heading for the shore and a nice stroll along the shore until we arrived at a taverna that we liked the look of.

Snugly tied up in Perdika
Sweet Greek caiques

The following day Igor and Jonathan decided to test the dinghy‘s outboard – an ancient 5 horsepower 2-stroke Yamaha (surely one of the last in Europe as 2-stroke outboards are no longer on sale here).

Perdika in daylight

We were expecting it not to start and thought we would have to replace it but after a few pulls and a little fiddling with it by Jonathan and the engine sprang into life.

Getting the outboard going

Our next mission was to test out our Rainman portable water maker which we had bought in the quiet backwater of Burnham on Crouch on the East coast of England and which had been sitting in the “garage” of our campervan as we toured Europe. The brainchild of an Australian cruising yachtie, the Rainman is a beautiful piece of equipment which has all the elements of a conventional installed water maker but all contained in two elegant blue cases.

The Rainman in its elegant blue cases (with the trusty Honda generator)

GThe other important element in this set up is our Honda EU22i 2.2 kilowatt generator which powers the Rainman. Basically, after removing parts used for transit all that we had to do was to connect a few pipes and sling in the seawater inlet into the sea, switch everything on and in minutes we had beautiful fresh water flowing through the outlet pipe. Watermakers are a game changer to cruising yachties and the Rainman combines the necessary technology in a simple and portable form and provides 140 litres of fresh water an hour.

Lovely fresh water

With these tasks completed we cast off our lines and motored to the other side of the harbour wall to do some reversing practice. There was a bit of a wind and swell to contend with but after several goes Captain Birdseye was getting quite good at lining the boat up and ending up where he was supposed to be.

Just head for those rocks Captain Birdseye
In we go again

We then motored round to the the port of Aegina and under Igor’s direction I laid the anchor out while Jonathan with Igor’s help backed into the tiniest parking spot imaginable. This time we received help with tying our lines from a young woman pushing her small toddler in a pushchair. People from either side of us interrupted their lunch to help as well and didn’t seem to mind a bit. Assistance comes quickly and generously in Greece and sometimes from unusual directions!

Entering the port of Aegina

Igor was keen to show us a small but beautiful store packed with useful boat stuff where we were able to buy a couple of small things that we wanted.

Handy knowing where to find a marine store on Aegina
Lots of stuff here – just got to find it

After a very nice lunch (that we shared with a litter of delightful fluffy kittens) we walked back to Sunday. Igor picked his bag up and we were ready to make our first departure from port unaided.

Sharing our lunch with the kitties
Alone at last!

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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