CA Cruise on Flapjack Part 1
Yassus shipmates and landlubbers!

You'll be pleased to read that as I'm typing dark clouds are looming overhead in a rather threatening 
‘we're gonna pour down on you' sort of way.

September has been a whirlwind, fab dab month matey's. Chums Robin et Pauline a.k.a Team Flapjack invited us to crew for them in a Cruising Association rally.

Never ones to turn down an opportunity we jumped at the chance to go sailing with them, Flapjack and 12 other yachts. You may remember me telling you that Flapjack's a 55 foot steel ketch that was built by Robin in his back garden in Aldershot!

The rally itself was to last about 10 days, the route
Panormitis bay (Simi)
Spinalonga (Crete)
Agios Nikolaos Marina (Crete).

The sailing was to be followed by a week of land based activities on Crete. The rally organisers did a fantastic job, organising, entertaining and keep track of 12 yachts and their crew, not a job for the faint hearted mateys!
In all we spent about 3 weeks aboard Flapjack as we had to travel up from Crete to the start line in Simi.

Agios Nikolaos marina to Spinalonga

It's about 9/10 miles to Spinalonga from the marina. The final provisioning trip to the market had been done, the canopies were down and the plants were stowed (Did I not mention that our 5 plants Monty Mint, Rosie Rosemary, Mili Moli Chills, Big Bas & Lil Bas Bush, well you can't take one without the other, were coming with us). Anyway I digress, we were just about to slip the lines, when the wily wind decided to join us (it just couldn't wait till  we were out of the marina). Captain Flopjock is a pro so all went smoothly, once out of the marina we had every inch of canvas up and we were flying along, it was marina to Spinny in a nano second or maybe two!

Spinalonga to Alimia

The next morning we decided to leave Spinalonga and head up to Alimnia which was about  120nm away, we were going to have to pull an 'all nighter' to get there. Before we'd left the marina, folks on the pontoon had warned of 'Force 6's & 7's a coming'. 
The thing is Flapjacks no skinny ninny, she's a big hefty curvaceous girl and she needs a bit/lot of wind to get her going. The wind blew and the sea swelled (could have done without the latter).

Think it's safe to say the journey to Alimnia ticked the following boxes

'Very fast'
'Moving canoes before they are lost overboard'
'Water on bimini and in cockpit'
'Going so darn fast (despite reefing) arrived before it was light'

After a good nights sleep, a morning swim and  some of Pauline's fantastic cooking things were looking just peachy! We spent a couple of days in the bay relaxing, reading, canoeing, strolling ashore, helping out fishermen with jammed fishing gear, adjusting rigging, you know how it is when your just chilling!

Rested and ready for action we made the short journey roughly 25nm from Alimia to Panormitis for the start of the rally. Pleased to report box ticked on this journey was 'nice pleasant sail'.

Panormitis bay (Simi)

The bay can get quite crowded (and that's without the 13 CA boats) and as Flapjack is a big girl, we decided to anchor away from the pack and take some lines ashore. As Flapjacks lines weigh about the same as me, I was off the hook for swimming ashore with them. Step up,  Miles who swam off with the line, secured it round a rock then swam back, he was then handed about 3m of chain to attach to the line and put around the rock to stop chaffing. It was at this point that he disappeared under the water only to reappear a second later. In order to get to the chain to the rock without being pulled under again, he pulled himself along the taught shoreline (he's a clever boy you know). It was working fine right up until the point when the shore line went slack and he disappeared again!  After a bit more swimming and disappearing, Miles work was done and Flapjack was nicely tucked up. 

Over the next couple of days  the rally boats arrived one by one (well most of them, one was delayed in Rhodes with engine problems and another were joining in Astypalia)  The rally start date arrived, the proceedings were  kicked off  with introductions, drinks ashore and a potluck diner (each boat brings a dish) aboard various boats. A great start to the rally adventure. 

Simi - Tilos 

I've got  a feeling everyone was up early on the day we left Simi for Tilos, it wasn't that it was a long journey, it was more the excitement of the first sail together, add to that the fact Tilos harbour is teeny (so space is limited on first come first serve basis) and that'll get the anchors up early! 

We left around 7.00am and motor sailed over to Tilos, the journey was fairly uneventful on the wind and fishing front. The radio chatter between the boats brought a feeling of camaraderie to the trip. Our missing rally boat (one with engine probs) arrived in Tilos to join in the fun. 
We enjoyed the hospitality of Tilos for 2 nights, there was some sightseeing, good food and lots of socialising. Just the ticket!

Tilos - Nysiros

A short hop of around 17 miles, we were all ready to ship out when one of the other boats radioed to say they had a slight problem. After a diagnosis and probably a bit of twiddling/fiddling we left Tilos. 

There wasn't much wind around to start off with, so the cruising chute came out we were chugging along nicely until we could chug no more. So it was down with the chute and up with everything else! We were one of the last boats to leave but  were slowly gaining on the others. Just outside the harbour we managed to catch up with some of the fleet and tried to get some good sailing shots of the boats kicking up their keels (without colliding with them). 

If you ever go to Nysiros you must must must go to the volcano, its an eggy fantastic sight/smell to behold and walk in. We had another great night at a taverna that was rounded off with a quiz, which Team Flapjack + crew won! Believe me nobody was more surprised than us, think we shone on the taste challenge (involved sampling various grown ups lemonades) and the question 'who lives next door to Fred Flinstone?' 

Nysiros - Astypalaia 

The trip was about 40nm good sailing all the way, on arrival in the bay of Maltezana, Flapjack hoisted her Union Jack flag to signify 'Party time'. The dinghies came in thick and fast, there was chatting, drinking, nibbling and a soupson of dancing!

The next morning saw us waiting at a bus stop for a bus that wasn't coming (well not for a couple of hours, the times had been changed the previous day). Some people opted to walk the 9km to town, some hitched and we went in the dinghy by sea it was only a couple of miles as the fish swim. 
The town was well worth a visit and the rather warm walk up to the chora rewarded us with fantastic views of the island and bays. 

Astipalyia - Spinalonga bay (Crete)

Okay this journey was to be a biggy, around 90nm down to the windy island of Crete. There were 3 departure groups:

Those going overnight - the smaller boats 
Those making a pit stop at a small island on route (thereby avoiding nightsailing)
Those going at unearthly o'clock in the morning (3am ish) some of the bigger boats.   

The main concern for all was to arrive safely in daylight and maybe just maybe to catch a few fish on the way (the fishing gauntlet had been dropped).

We went at unearthly o'clock! To start with we had a bit of wind, which died off but soon picked up again. After that we were into Flapjack/Flopjock's usual mode of going like the clappers! Around mid morning it was all hands on deck as the fishing line went out and we realised we'd caught a fish, he was soon landed and given a shot of raki! (it’s alcoholic & disgusting) A couple of hours later the line went again, we'd only gone and caught another one! This one was bigger than the first, he needed a double raki to sort him out! 
That was the fishing competition pretty much in the bag for Team Flapjack/Flopjock/Catflap! 

One by one the boats arrived in Spinalonga, all tired, wind/wave swept and pleased to have made it in one piece. It had been a windy fast/feisty sail for everyone (took us just 11 hours). Time has a habit of flying by when your hanging on by the seat of your pirate pants! 

If you've got this far you've done well my lickle munchkins, go and look at the pics if you haven't already. Of course there's more to come but we'll save that for next time.

Take care, be good and remember when opportunity knocks on your door ... let it in!

Love, life & adventures     Team Stells XX
Thursday, 7 October 2010