We had a bit of drama coming into Samos this week.  We had had quite a bumpy motor over from Arki, the wind had stubbornly stayed in the direction we were traveling in and despite every forecast we looked at, it refused to do as it was forecast to do and consequently we rode into the waves for 5 hours. 

When we arrive in a new town or quay I usually run around sorting the fenders out to protect the sides of the boat (necessary when going alongside other boats) and sorting the stern mooring ropes so that they are easy to throw when we are close enough to the quay.  As we motor into a harbour we are both checking where would be the best place to moor up, where the ferries will be docking, where might be most sheltered or of course, if there are a lot of boats, where there might be room for us.

Generally speaking, in the winter, it has been nice to go alongside so it is easy to walk Lilly and pick up supplies.  In the summer we found it too hot, too noisy and too busy to be moored onto a quay.  When it is hot, being at anchor means that you can swim as often as you like and you are always headed into the wind which means you have a nice breeze as well. 

During February and March it has been great for us to moor directly on the quay and good for Lilly getting used to a lot more activity in a town and able to watch dogs and cats instead of her usual fish entertainment.   At this time of year however, there isn’t anyone to catch your lines so you have to be able to lasso the bollards to secure the boat.   The problem comes when there are cleats (like large staples) which you need to thread the rope through. Jumping from TopCat is difficult as the quays are usually quite high. 

Because our last boat had been much higher than the quays in the UK I refused to jump off and so had to practise my lassoing technique until good enough not to miss.  On TopCat, I often can lasso one bollard and then have to “walk the plank” (walk down the passerelle to the shore whilst the boat is moving), to secure the other side through a “staple”.

So coming into Samos with no other boats around we had the choice of the whole town.  We decided to drive onto the quay so that we could see what types of bollards, cleats or rings were available.   As we drove in we saw there was only rings here which makes lassoing impossible.  We saw, however, that there were thin ropes tied to the rings which probably meant there were lazy lines that we could fix to the bow (front of the boat) which are much better than using your anchor. 

So this time, instead of lassoing a bollard, I grabbed the boat hook and picked up the lazy line attachment whilst calling to Paul to drive forward 3 or 4 feet as he had got too close to the harbour wall.  Meanwhile I reached for the lazy line, pass it to Paul, climb up from the back of the boat to drag the line right to the front cleats on the boat to attach us securely to the mucky, seaweed ridden ropes that cover everything (including me) in mud.   I then go back to the stern and attempt to do the same on the starboard side.  But Paul has a problem, the port engine has cut out.  He can put the starboard engine into reverse, but I cant get anywhere near the next ring with another usable rope attached. 

I have to lower the dinghy, lower the passerelle and walk the plank! I can then grab the rope from the quay side, jump back on the boat, pass it to Paul while I get up on the starboard side and drag it forward to secure it to the front cleat again.   Ok, so we are safely secured now, but Paul is worried about the port engine, cutting out can only mean one thing … we have got the lazy line caught in the prop!

Anything caught in the propellor is not good, trying to get ropes unwind from the propellor is a nightmare, especially when it is 3 foot underwater.  But now we were safely secure, Paul was donning his wetsuit and was ready to jump overboard to see if he could release it.   In March, the water is still cold here in Greece and Paul hates cold water! As neither of us dive we only have snorkels and neither of us are that good at snorkelling and holding our breath under water.  But Paul was in the water, I was keeping a look out for him and ready to assist if needed. 

With the boat hook in hand, Paul was able to unravel the rope several times from the prop but unable to shift it completely.  The main problem with snorkelling with a wetsuit on is you have way too much buoyancy and cannot keep yourself down under the water … you just keep floating to the surface.  After a while he needed to come in for a rest.  We sat down to assess our options:

  1. Keep trying
  2. Find a dive shop and buy a pony bottle and weight belt
  3. Find a diver who can sort the problem for us.

I opt for all the investigation of all three options ….. because then you really know what your choices are.  Because we had arrived on a Sunday of course, we really had to wait until tomorrow to find help, but that was ok.  We were safely tied up, the weather was calm so it was highly unlikely we would need to move in a hurry (and if we did we had option 4 which was to cut the rope and use just one engine).   So we relaxed for the evening.

First thing in the morning Paul headed out into the town and very quickly found the help he needed.   Whilst I was busy in my office, Paul had located a dive shop, bought a weight belt, declined the best offer of 350euros for a pony tank and so had arranged a diver to investigate.   

The diver came and took a good 10 minutes to release the rope so even a pony tank we wouldn’t have been able to sort it (a pony tank is a small hand held tank giving you less than 10 minutes of air).   So for 80 euros for the diver and the weight belt we had a solution and the opportunity to practice our snorkelling with a wet suit on so the next time we might have a much better chance of sorting the problem ourselves.

We are Free to Sail 57

We are Free to Sail 57

We are back on anchor and free to sail.  (In the image above is the bay we are now sitting in). Well that is the theory anyway!  In reality we need to do another shop and we need to pick up a parcel that hasn’t arrived yet So in the meantime we can test all of our...

The Sunday Lunch Club 56

The Sunday Lunch Club 56

Overwintering on a boat in Samos Marina, on the beautiful Greek island of Samos could be quite a lonely affair if it wasn’t for the live-aboard community, let’s refer to them as the ‘exuberant partakers of the odd libation’.... so one naturally forms, The Sunday Lunch...


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