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How to avoid expensive mistakes when you buy a new or second-hand yacht. 

Available on Amazon here


Icom IC-M35We review the Icom IC-M35 handheld.  Read the full review here.

GMDSS A User's Handbook

By Denise Bréhaut

GMDSS A user's handbook








The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) provides a fast and efficient way of calling for assistance at sea, whatever the size of craft or its geographical position. Since it was first published, this book has helped explain the system for anyone using GMDSS and has been excellent pre-course reading for students.


Rosie & Brian's Big Adventure - 15 Malta, Sicily, Italy & Greece

Melleha Bay MaltaWe have been following live-aboard sailors Rosie & Brian since they left Angelsea, nearly a year ago...

An enforced additional day or two in Agia Efimia, Kephalonia, sitting out gales, and the added benefit of free internet at the dock courtesy of the local town hall means that we can catch up with overdue communications. Not least of these is to add another episode to our Big Adventure, now we are another 1000 miles on and heading towards the first anniversary of our trek.

Happily we are still on speaking terms and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.  Brian continues to find more improvements to carry out on Alixora, as well as the usual maintenance issues of which more later. The season has started in earnest, with far more yachtie traffic on the seas.  When we reached Corfu we crossed the path of about 30 Sailing Holiday yachts heading out of Gouvia marina which were the first flotillas of the year.

The culture shock of Malta lasted for a couple of weeks: cars driving on the left, a thorough disinterest in visitors,  historic attractions that weren’t open and the rickety old buses that took us around the island.  However we enjoyed our stay and managed to see most of the island including a well run bird sanctuary in Mellieha bay where we saw a black winged stilt, bright yellow wagtails and our first ever chameleon.  It was so nice that when we left Manoel Island marina we sailed up to Mellieha bay and anchored for a couple of nights, returning to the sanctuary to see if anything new had arrived.

After the lack of boat bit shops in Tunisia, we went wild in Malta and spent money – replacement halyard rope and a new mooring line to replace one that snapped in the high winds during our first week there, an external tank for the dinghy for longer trips, more shackles, pulleys, flexible solar panels, a new water pump and other useful things.  We bought passage charts for the next leg of our journey and ordered the entire set of leisure folios for Greece and Croatia from the UK which arrived in good time.  We cleaned out the water tanks with Milton again and refilled with fresh water, changed oil and did months worth of washing.

Onwards at the beginning of April via Gozo for a few days waiting for the next break in the weather to get to Pozzallo on the south coast of Sicily.  We had some great sailing on those trips, with the wind fairly steady at F3 or 4 in a reasonable direction and not too much of that horrid Mediterranean swell.  In Pozzallo harbour we found that the small craft section was silted up, so after a trip around the main harbour, managed to squeeze into a confined space next to a coastguard boat.  Another couple of days of high winds and then with calmer weather forecast we set off again eastwards towards our goal of reaching Greece for the summer. 

A bit of bad judgement and gusts of wind pushed Alixora under the high prow of the coastguard boat as we manoeuvred out of the small space – bending two of the portside stanchions.  Ah well, we thought, we’ve got some spares and we can take the opportunity to replace one of the bases which was in poor shape when we get somewhere more convenient.  One night in Marzamemi, then on to Syracuse to meet up with Swyn-y-Mor – friends we had seen last in Monastir.  They anchored out in the bay, but we bit the bullet and paid up for a marina berth so we could fix the stanchions.  Of course then we found that the spare stanchions didn’t fit either one of the old bases or the new ones!  Beneteau stanchions seem to be tapered at the base and the bases machined likewise.  A very helpful chandlers called a machine shop, which reamed out the new base to fit the stanchion and all was well.  The awkward task was to drill out the bolt that held the old stanchion in place as the head had been mangled completely.  It took Brian a couple of days to complete the job with all the toing and froing, losing a grinding head for the drill as it flew into the sea as well!  Always buy two…..Mt Etna

After a few days in Syracuse, when we hired a car with the Parnells and visited Etna, we headed up to Riposto as a pleasant short hop.  From then, our sailing has been mostly on the engine, as the wind has been consistently either too light or on the nose – despite all weather forecasts to the contrary!  My, hasn’t diesel gone up in price!  The cruising chute was up for about half an hour, but the wind wasn’t even sufficient for that.

Riposto turned out to be very well organised, a big marina with all mod cons including men in dinghies to lead you to your place.  Just as well, we found out.  As we hovered waiting for a place to be allocated, the engine throttle cable ceased to work!  We managed to make way to the pontoons, but then lost power completely as we drifted slowly towards the dock wall at the end.  The marinero realised our problem and by dint of hooking a stout rope to our cleat and reversing his dinghy hard, managed to slow us to a halt and pull us into a slot on the pontoon.  If that had happened at any of the marinas or harbours in the previous few months it would have been a different story!  The next day we took the offending broken cable bracket to the yard and agreed that a new bar should be welded on.  The bracket (a round rod with a 90°bend welded to a bar which bolts to the engine block) seemed to have broken at the bar before and been inexpertly welded around one of the bolt holes.  Come back in half an hour Renato said, and in that time they had done a perfect job and wouldn’t take any money for it!  So full marks to Riposto marina.

Then Brian was delving back into the engine compartment, and soon got us underway again, motor sailing up to a perfect bay in Taormina where we anchored, not being able to see the orange mooring buoys that had apparently been put in place.  A quick excursion up the hill to the Greek theatre was in order, then off early the next day towards mainland Italy and Rocella Ionica.  There we met yachts that we had encountered in Marzamemi and Syracuse.  One couple from Norway overwinter in Malta every year where their daughter lives.  They stay in Grand Harbour marina which is quite posh, but they say much friendlier than Manoel Island.  Another was a German couple who I think had stayed near Rome.  We all set off after a few days to Santa Maria di Leuca, another long hop overnight but hopefully the last overnight passage for a while. 

The weather closed in, so we were able to socialise for a few days.  Brian and I went beachcombing, finding the perfect replacement for a rubber foot that had fallen off the swimming ladder as well as more useful wood, part of which has made a smaller gangplank.  The latter was put into use in Rocella as I took the first dip of the season and cleaned off some of the weed that was still clinging tenaciously to our rudder.  It wasn’t that warm though!  We also saw our first European bee-eater which kindly sat and flew around in small circles for at least half an hour while we watched amazed.  They are bright gold with blue chests and a chestnut head. 

Then on to Greece and anchorage on the north coast of Nisos Othoni.  Perfect setting, clear blue skies, beautiful sunsets and calm seas.  We headed for Gouvia to get our Greek sailing document, just as the civil service went on strike!  Despite Kafkaesque bureaucracy we managed to get it done in a day.  Gouvia was a bit like Malta from the point of view of boat bits, so a few more parts were collected there.  We have gone in for thimbles and shackles in the loops on our longer mooring lines, which we can fasten to harbour rings either directly or on the chains we bought for bollards on rough harbour walls.  Most of the harbours since Malta have rings rather than cleats to tie up to – not very easy when you are trying to tie up quickly!   More thimbles and shackles were needed for the dinghy tow rope too, as I noted that the rope round the towing loops was getting quite deformed.  We have found that Camping Gaz bottles are no longer swapped here (a recent development), so have had to buy a Greek PetroGaz bottle, and will have to find another soon, and find somewhere to store our empty Camping Gaz ones. 

Communication facilities (i.e. wifi) have been varied.  In some such as here we can get online with no problem, others we have paid online for time on the internet – some extortionate, others reasonable, and some places just don’t have any wifi at all so we are forced to use internet cafés and strange keyboards.

Well, I have used up more than my allotted space for this episode.  We wait for the first of our summer visitors in Kephalonia before heading down to the Peloponnese, then across to the Cyclades and Athens.  The Ionian is as we remembered – not a lot of change and full of yachts already, calm mornings and gusty afternoons generally.  The weather has been mainly glorious up until today, and swimming is already a regular activity for me anyway.  Brian is waiting for the sea temperature to rise another couple of degrees!

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