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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 16 - Greece – the Ionian and Peloponnese

We follow Rose & Brian on their live-aboard cruise.  It's now over a year since they left Anglsey...

Since our last episode we have entertained two sets of visitors on Alixora.  My sister arrived a few days after I sent the last part of our adventure.  It was an impromptu visit spurred by her husband working away from home.  As she booked the flight to Kefalonia she was beset by doubts, as she suffers from seasickness and has only been on a yacht once – on a short day trip on Alixora in the calm seas of Houmt Souk!  The itinerary therefore needed to provide a gradual introduction to the joys of sailing.  Initially just sleeping on the boat was felt to be enough and it was going to be a bit too windy for the first couple of days anyway.  We rented a car and drove and walked around the wonderful mountains and coasts of Kefalonia, visiting ancient monuments and a big nature reserve.

The third day we set off on what was supposed to be a short trip west round the corner of Ithaka to big Vathi.  Weather forecasts being what they are, the wind turned west instead of south and increased rather more than predicted.  So we changed our destination, turned left up the straits between Ithaka and Kefalonia with the wind following us up the channel and a good choppy sea too.  Our new recruit womanfully stood at the wheel (which was on autohelm) waving professionally at the passing skippers while keeping her eyes firmly fixed on the horizon.  We headed for Sivota – so did the rest of the world – and ended up anchoring in pouring rain and a strong breeze.  Another day on shore served to calm nerves and after another week of better sailing weather, touring the Ionian, our doubtful sailor ended up being a very useful member of the crew, seasickness forgotten.  She is now very excited about meeting up again in August!

We headed round the Peloponnese coast, stopping at many pleasant harbours or anchoring in beautiful bays with clear turquoise water.  Before leaving Holyhead we had purchased 8 metres of chain which we cut into four 2 metre lengths.  These have served well to protect our mooring lines from rough harbour walls.  As described in the last episode, our longer mooring lines are set up to shackle to the chains.  Thus we have ideal midships warps, chained to the rings or bollards and then tied off at the new centre cleats.  These help to prevent snatching when mooring stern to as they provide a longer length of stretch, and also help to prevent the boat moving too far sideways in the wind thus supporting the anchor to an extent.  In extremis, they are tied to the bow cleats with a good angle to the dock!   

The shorter end of the mooring line that had broken in Malta has been pressed into service tied on to a shackle onto which we had bound one of the chain links I had carefully cut to form a hook just big enough for the anchor chain.  Thus we have our snubber – I am sure I picked up this hint from one of the Sailers forums? It has worked well – despite alarming creaks and groans in high winds.  

Along the way we replaced the main halyard as it was becoming quite distorted where the working end went through the jammer and winch.  The original halyard has been pressed into service to make a suspension cable for our gangplank.  The design is still in progress but it does help when we are too far from the dock to easily balance or push the plank away from the boat.  The first reef line has also been replaced, not that we ever use it!  If it’s that windy its 2nd reef or nothing.  I have yet to work out how we might go to 3rd reef which would involve going on deck – we would probably just drop the sail anyway.  Reefing is hard work – our second visitors who are seasoned sailors pointed out that newer versions have more pulleys to make it easier so that is something to review at some stage.  

These visitors met us at Kalamata at the top of Messina Bay.  On the way there we loved Navarinou Bay, where we anchored off Gialova.  Methoni and Finikounda were nice too – with the obligatory castles, but we preferred Koroni.  With four of us on board Brian and I were able to take things quite easy!  We sailed down to Porto Kayio with severe gusts as we rounded Tainaro point.  The holding in the bay was not very good – we eventually re-anchored four times over the two days we stayed.  However the scenery was worth it – very stark and dramatic with huge mountains behind.  Since our friends left us, we have rounded Tainaro point again and the famed Cape Malea – fortunately in better conditions and again with very dramatic cliffs and seascapes.  

To investigate more of Greece we have hired a car on a couple of occasions, once from Katakolon and once from Nafplion and visited some of the famous archeological sites.  The countryside in Arcadia where we visited Olympia and Bassae was amazing and well worth the trip. The sites at Mycenae and Korinth were breathtaking too, but it is difficult to visualise sometimes when so many remains are piled one on top of the other.

Olympia ruinsSince the middle of June the temperature has remained constantly high making working in the cabin almost impossible during the day.  In the absence of a bimini (on the shopping list) our sunshade arrangements have been revised so we can sail with it up.  Not particularly convenient, but from looking at other people squirming round their stern arrangements I can see that biminis cause their own problems.  It was also made worse as our domestic batteries were feeling their age so we had to keep running the engine to top them up.  After a year of constant use it wasn’t surprising.  Amazingly we managed to source new ones in Nafplion while we had the car and manhandled them into place.  All is much improved now.  The fridge doesn’t seem to enjoy the heat either, so we will stuff some ice into it from time to time – it is widely available.  Its easier for us – we just jump into the sea!

Finally the Camping Gaz saga and Petrogaz:  After a drought of replacement cylinders for either, we found refilling stations in Kalamata and Nafplion.  The latter even refilled our Camping Gaz cylinders and didn’t know why we were so surprised!  When we arrived in Ermioni on our final leg up the eastern edge of the Peloponnese, there was Petrogaz for sale on every corner!  So either the company has relented and will now fill Camping Gaz, or has managed to get replacement bottles out to its distributors or something.  But now we have 3½ bottles of gas which should last a while.

A Norwegian couple we met in Syracuse have just let us know that they are a day away from Methana where we Sunset in Navarinou bayare tied up now – with electricity which is a rare treat.  So we will wait for them and compare sailing notes before carrying on towards Andros, hopefully collecting replacement flexible solar panels on the way - these also failed in the heat!  Now that’s a strange thing…….

Fair winds

Rose & Brian

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