It was early morning. A pre-sunrise morning. The alarm went off and it was still dark with a glimpse of light in the eastern sky. I stumbled out of bed, excitingly tired, to the counter for coffee number one of the day.
INDININI was anchored in the bay outside the Teos marina and ready to go. The girls had taken a taxi to Cesme the night before where I would meet them later in the afternoon. I had one crew member to help me sail around the cape and up the coast to Cesme where we would check out of Turkey and head west to the Greek Island of Chios. The wind was light and it took a while to make the first five or so miles under sail but at least we were greeted with a morning visit by some dolphins.
The mapped journey
This is the path we took that started at 5am and ended 10pm. The tricky and slow part was the beginning heading south west to the cape.
Once around the cape things sped up and it was much more fun. The wind picked up and had reached 10knots ground speed. At this point INDININI had very little time under sail. The auto pilot ram had been installed but the controller was not yet connected to the raspberry pi and certainly, no software was running. This meant that all steering was hand steering. While it is possible to tune the rigging and the boat to sail straight without anyone at the wheel, it wasn’t happening on this trip. This is where having a crew member who was excited to sail the boat came in handy.
The flying dingy
This was the first and last time the dingy got to experience such a fun ride behind the boat. Yes the painter is a little short, and why the heck didn’t we bring her on the skirt of the boat? We she hung on and was still tied on when we arrived in Cesme a few hours later. As we headed up the coast we had some fun sailing but once we had to point more north it was a lot of tacking between the islands. This day was the most anxious and rushed day of sailing out of the whole 2022 summer sailing season. We wanted to get out of Turkey so badly that it was going to happen if I had to tie a rope onto the boat and swim her to Greece!
We made it to Cesme and were greeted by Sarah, India, Nina and the agent that was helping us with the paperwork. The agent was simply amazing and had taken care of all the necessary documents for us. Given all the trouble we had experienced in Turkey over the time spent there building the boat, it was a very welcomed experience to have the checkout process go so smoothly. Exchange of paperwork and some cash, followed by an exchange of passengers of and on the boat and we were ready to be helped out of the customs dock where we were temporarily tied for the checkout to occur.
Yes, you heard right, helped out of the marina. The wind was still blowing and not in a favourable way. But most concerning was the electric motor control. This is one area that I could have spent a bit more time on before heading out, but I was not about to go through the painful process of importing parts. The motor seemed to have a mind of its own and liked to stop when it choose to. Sometimes this was 1 min, sometimes 10mins. I knew it was a simple on/off of the power switch to get it going again so I was not going to delay our exit due to this, but I knew it had to be fixed at some point down the track(which I did in Chios over the following weeks). It took a couple of resets as we headed almost head-on into the wind in order to get us out where we could set sail and head to Greece. It worked and we were soon on our way with sails up.
Out of Turkey
As soon as the sails were up and we knew it was just a matter of time, the quick video below was made to record reaching the finish line of a very very long marathon. But we did it. We got to the end. As you can see, Sarah was still not totally convinced by the look on her face;) It was a bit cold so maybe this contributed.
We sailed across the 20-mile channel. At the halfway point where the international border is where we switched the flag with complete happiness and kept going.
Arriving around 8:30 pm in the dark, the water was nice and flat with no wind. A quick radio to the harbour master and we motored to the customs dock. It was pretty exciting and working as our family team we tied up to the dock successfully.
The check-in on this side was not quite so smooth. Given the time of year, and that the Chios port is not mainstream for cruisers, the check-in usually closes at 8 pm. They knew we were coming so they waited for us. After tying up, the girls crawled into bed. I took their passports and went inside. I handed the boat papers and our passports to the customs lady and took a chair beside a guy. While chatting with him, I came to realize that he was the customs lady’s husband and he was there to pick her up from work. Being a 30yr old retired seaman he had lots of stories so I sat there and listened. It was a nice greeting to Greece. The check-in procedure was normal with one small exception. When the lady looked up registration for the boat on the computer, she could not find JERSEY which is the flag of INDININI. I said it was correct, I pointed to a map of where it was but she still looked puzzled. Luckily her husband whom I was speaking with now intervened and told his wife that the computer is wrong! Jersey is a place, boats are registered there and she needs to write a note to Athens and tell them to add it to the database. Wow. How crazy is that? So she did just that. She gave us back what we needed and said good night.
Given that my day started at 5 am and it was now 10:30 pm, (yes 1 paragraph above translates to 2 hours in the customs office) and that I had only had 5 cups of coffee and a slice of toast, I was in no shape to sleep. I went back to the boat, whispered good night to the girls and went for a walk down the street.
With my stomach growling, I followed my nose which caught a whiff of souvlaki. A couple of turns and I ended up in a small local shop. I sat down and in front of me at the food bar was a couple and their daughter running the shop. As I was the only one there at 11 pm they took the time to chat and listen to the day. It didn’t take long to see true Greek hospitality. Not only did the bottle of Fix get set down in front of me, but out came the special stash of a Grapa-type drink as a special welcome to Greece. The only thing I was thinking is that I wish Sarah and the girls could have been there to share this with me. (It was only a few days later when I took them here to eat and meet the family).
Although my family was not there, I still managed to have another couple of guys to talk to, since 10 mins later, in walked a couple of really tall guys. At 6’2″, I am not overly tall, but I am not short either, and for me to say someone is tall, they are usually tall by most people’s standards. They sat down beside me an started talking in English. English that could be recognized as Canadian English. So when i heard that, I turned and asked what part of Canada are you from. The response was Calgary. I responded by saying I’m from Red Deer. The other guy was from California. Now what are the chances of 2 Albertans from less than 2 hours apart in Alberta, sitting at a small restaurant on a remote Greek island having dinner at 11:30 pm. I would say pretty slim. As it turns out, they played for the Greek professional water polo team and Chios is where they practice. This in itself would make me ask the question how does a guy from Cowboy town Alberta end up playing water polo in Greece? What a story.
Well after a beer and souvlaki, it was time to make my way back through the secret customs gate(that they left open for me) and down the customs dock where INDININI and the girls were fast asleep. A good night and good night.