Arriving in Greece we knew we had to clear in and get our official paperwork sorted. We didn’t want to leave it for too long being a non EU boat and authorities may have us on their radar. On Friday morning we left Lakka to head to a port of entry - Gouvia Marina.
Friday afternoon the cleaning lady in the Port Police office told us to come back on Saturday. When we came back on Saturday morning we were told that we needed to go to the tax office first, which is in Corfu Town, but they won’t be open on the weekend PLUS Monday was a public holiday. So we could only check in officially on Tuesday, meaning we were not really able to sail off again…
We thought it was weird that we had to go to Corfu Town, as Gouvia is supposed to be a port of entry. So we decided to do some online research to find out what we really needed to do. We started a thread in a facebook group and got about 20 different answers, we checked the Cruising Association website and got more and more confused….
Finally, we found out what we needed to do – we needed a Transit log and not a DEKPA!
This is what we found out:
Non-EU boat & non-EU residents, VAT paid on boat, also Swiss boats/residents
Go to customs office in Corfu Town, he may send you over to passport control. The passport control officer checks your passport and then sends you back to the customs office who will then take your passports / boat papers to make up the Transit log. Be careful, if you are EU citizens to tell and show him that you are not an EU resident, otherwise he will only give you a Transit Log for 1 month! The only question he asked us was how many litres of diesel we had on board. All in all it took us 40 minutes to get all the paperwork done – cost 30 Euro, the Log is valid for 18 months.
Head to the Port Police in Gouvia Marina with the Transit Log and have yourself checked into the country / port, pay another 15 Euro to the PP for whatever reason and you are free to go… that is, when you leave the marina again, you have to let the PP know. Each port/marina you go to you need to find the PP to check in and then check out again when you leave.
At the end of your stay in Greece you have to hand in the Transit Log before you leave.
EU boats & EU residents
Since April 2017 there is a facility in the 1st floor of the marina office to pay your 50 Euros for the DEKPA, take the receipt/paperwork to the PP. DO NOT go to the PP first and ask for the DEKPA, they will send you to the tax office in Corfu Town, which is completely unnecessary. Maybe by now they know better. The DEKPA is valid for 3 years and does not have to be handed back when leaving Greece.
If you are unsure, you can always ask a taxi driver. The guy who took us to customs knew everything: EU / non-EU, DEKPA, Transit Logs, where to go, how long it takes, what it costs… we should have asked him before we started our web search!
We left Marina di Cala del Sole on Sunday 23.4.17 at 4 am, after checking the weather for a week and waiting for the right weather window to head to Greece. We thought Sunday looked good and so did 4 other boats. We opted for an early 4am start as did SY Sundowner – it would take us about 12 hours to get to Porto Palo at the south east end of Sicily; arriving at 4pm we would still have enough daylight to find a good anchor spot, if the first didn’t suit. The other boats left a little later – all heading east towards Porto Palo / Syracuse.
Were we still able to sail after 7 months in a marina? We didn’t have doubts but we didn’t think we would go without any hiccups at all. We didn’t think, though, that the hiccups would start before we even left the marina!
Our second deck line got stuck and we couldn’t pull it in. Since the guys from Sundowner were up too, I shouted over to them but they had their Passarella up and couldn’t jump over to the pontoon anymore…. Next thing, Alistair climbed onto our neighbours catamaran, ran across the 8m boat to the other side, lowered their Passarella, ran onto the pontoon, freed our line, ran back, lifted the Passarella and jumped back onto our boat. First crisis sorted!
I let the mooring lines go, with all the commotion going on before I was a bit slow and by the time we were free we had drifted slightly into our neighbouring boat and the handle of one of our bikes got caught in the netting around the lifelines – we managed to free ourselves but lost the grip of the handle.
Making our way out of the marina was alright – it didn’t help that it was pitch black and the port lights were not working.
Out on the sea, we struggled with the AIS which was cutting in and out all the time and while Alistair was checking downstairs what was going on… the engine stalled! Panic! Engine turned on again and all was normal – I had accidentally turned the engine off with my knee!
We were rewarded with a beautiful red moon and a superb sunrise and watched the smoke of Mt Etna glow in the red sky. Wind was blowing enough from behind to set the headsail for some downwind sailing.
All went smoothly, until we lost the jib sheets! The headsail was fluttering uncontrollably in the wind while Alistair tried to reattach the sheets – imagine the power that a 120sqm sail exerts! We managed to furl the sail half way in – it took Alistair 3 attempts to attach the jib sheets again! Finally we were on our merry way!
Until I got seasick. I wasn’t so merry then. But it only lasted from 7 to 11, then I got better and I could enjoy the ride.
The wind picked up and we were sailing at about 6-7 knots, sometimes doing more than 8 knots. Coming up to Porto Palo, the winds were gusting over 25knots, going north to our chosen anchor spot, the wind was on the beam. When trying to reef the sail / take it down we actually managed to heave to – quite an interesting experience but that didn’t help us at this moment; engine on and managed to turn into the wind and get the sail down. The anchor spot was not very sheltered and after checking the wind/weather we decided to get something to eat and then sail straight through to Greece making the most of the wind behind us.
We set the sails and tried to sail wing-on-wing for a while. We never tried this before and we had a few jibes along the way and decided to take the main down and just sail with the headsail again. We didn’t want any trouble in the dark.
From then on we had quite uneventful sailing, some motoring when the wind died down, some motor sailing, we saw dolphins in the distance, caught two squid (they somehow managed to jump on board), had a couple of birds sailing with us for a while, caught no fish, managed night watches, got really cold at night, changed the courtesy flags when we crossed to Greek waters....
We expected to arrive in Lakka on Wednesday morning but on Tuesday we made up so much time that our eta had changed to Tuesday 10pm local time. This meant going into an unknown anchorage in darkness. Our friends from SY Sundowner already arrived at 4pm and said they would help us in and Stefan was waiting for us in his dinghy to guide us to our anchor spot. We arrived safe and sound, tired, exhausted and cold in Lakka on Paxos. When we woke up the next day we were able to see the beauty of this place….
We have been living full time on our yacht since end of August 2016 and sailing since September. In that time we have fitted Tiny Nical with some bits and bobs to make things easier, safer, more comfortable. Obviuously, there have been plenty of unscheduled repairs, tons of cleaning, scrubbing, oiling, varnishing, sealing, screwing.... But here is an overview of what we did on our Bavaria 47 Cruiser Tiny Nical since we moved on to her permanently.
For the last couple of weeks we have seen cruisers come back to the marina, who left their boats here in Licata and spend the winter months at home or touring around different countries. They are all back getting the yachts ready for sailing season, lots of boats have been hauled out at the nearby ship yard to get new antifouling and anodes. During winter there has been a lot of growth on the boats - some look like they won't be able to make it to shipyard by themselves. There is a river nearby that flows into the sea next to the marina and there is also a fish farm about 500m away - there are a lot of nutrients in the water to speed up this growth. Jessica and Stefan from SY Sundowner just took her out for a spin in the marina and found that their prop was not working and they had no reverse. They are hauling Sundowner out next week to get her cleaned and antifouled. We are lucky - we do have a bit of growth on the hull but our antifouling has been freshly done in August last year. A dive and a good scrape should get us going again.
31st of March officially marked the start of the sailing season with our first liveaboard cruiser friend heading off to Ragusa, bunny hopping his way to Greece, where we hopefully catch up with him again. Eric is sailing single handed and has come all the way from the Netherlands. I think he is one of the happiest people I know, nothing ever seems to stop him smiling. It was a bit sad to see the first of us leave - we are a tight knit community, especially if you have been living together for the last 6 months. But it was also very exciting, knowing that we will follow suit as soon as possible.
The rest of us are busy working on the boats to get them ready, and/or waiting on the last spare parts to arrive via post. We are done, apart from waiting for the mail and scrubbing/cleaning the boat. We can't wait.
Being newbie sailors and having spent the last 6 months in a marina, we need to recap what we need to do before going out to sail again.
Living in a marina has made us - not lazy, but – homely and comfortable. There are books nicely stacked on the shelves, we have some plants and decorations standing around, the bread section in our galley is stacked high and loosely, dishes are either waiting to be washed on the counter or waiting to be packed away in the rack, toiletries lying around the bathroom, Tiny’s toys are evenly distributed across the floor... This all makes for comfortable living but sailing will be a problem. Soon after leaving the sheltered marina we will be heeling over and everything will literally fly everywhere! So we have to remember to do a few essential things before leaving (and before every sail, effectively).
Here is our Tiny Nical Check List
These are the most important things to remember, for us anyway. Once we start sailing again, we might develop a special pre sail routine, which I will let you know about.
Some people close off all their seacocks. We opt to not close them off, as most of them are in very awkward places and we wouldn’t be able to turn on the engine during a passage. And what we have learned so far is that we do need our engine much more than we hoped for here in the Mediterranean. Lots of sailors call it Motoranean for that matter.
Let us know what you do and who does what on your yacht before you set sail.
Follow Alistair and Nicola as they share their experience of traveling around the world.