Hit by a Greek 70ft tour boat
The day started out early, we had been in a protected anchorage for two nights now waiting for good winds to cross from Lakka in Paxos to Sivota on the Mainland of Greece, the forecast was promising so we left before breakfast for what was supposed to a nice polite sail. The maximum wind gusts predicted were 14 knots, the core wind around 10 to 12 knots.
The previous day we had seen a parade of boats coming in seeking the protection of the 20 to 25 knots of winds, motoring from the nearby not so protected anchorages, no one was sailing. Although those winds were in favourable direction to us, we were not in a mood of doing an uncomfortable heavy weather style sailing for a two-hour passage. So we had decided to wait for these polite winds instead.
As we left many of the other boats in the anchorage rushed to leave also, a few still motoring despite the nice conditions.
We hoisted the mainsail, one of the anchorage neighbours in a silly attitude crossed in front of us while we were still manoeuvring the sail, soon after we prepared to unfurl the Code 0C (a big light winds Carbon Fibre sail) and set our course.
The silly neighbours that had given us some trouble during our manoeuvre had motored out fast, out of the island wind shade and had just set their Mainsail and Genoa.
Slowly we started picking up speed as we fine-tuned the Code 0C. The winds were still very light but we were doing 5 knots in 6 to 7 knots of wind. Wind blowing from the aft around 120 degrees starboard. We were happy.
As the winds increased a bit we trimmed the sail to 90 to 110 degrees wind angle but kept steering The Dream in a way to keep the wind around 120 degrees instead of allowing the sail to be fully powered up. We wanted to keep it as a polite sail, not a racy style one but every time the shifted to the sweet spot of 100 degrees of wind angle there we were feeling that sensation of the boat lifting and picking up speed to 7, 8 knots of speed.
Our neighbours frustrated with their slow speeds given by the Genoa with such light winds but carrying on with their efforts. Others that had started out sailing packed up their sails and decided to motor instead of making the effort.
Mid-passage the winds started picking up speed reaching the maximum forecasted for the day but soon the maximum forecasted 14 knots of wind gust became the core wind and the wind gusts blew all the way up to 20 knots.
Before that happened we decided to furl the Code0C, although the sail is rated for true winds of 22 knots our experience tells us that for our shorthanded sailing style 17 knots is already stepping out of the comfort zone and that’s when things tend to potentially go wrong, we are cruising not racing.
With the increasing winds we were still doing 5 to 5.5 knots of boat speed just with the full main and that was fine for us, we had only 30 more minutes of sail time ahead of us anyway, no need for the effort of setting the Genoa and then having to perform more manoeuvres to pack up all before arriving the anchorage.
As we approached mainland Greece we would see to our pleasure quite a big number of boats sailing in the opposite direction to us, super-trimmed trying to go super fast, heeling like crazy. Full of testosterone!
We love to see others putting such effort but The Dream is our home, not our vacation or toy and although it performs beautifully going upwind we prefer not to subject equipment to such levels of high stress for just for the joy of the ride on the bay.
The wind kept picking up speed almost to 25 knots but by then we were already entering the protection of our anchorage and getting ready to pick our spot.
As with a lot of the anchorages in this part of the Ionian this one was apparently a popular one “called blue lagoon” and with that in mind we decided to anchor more to the side and around 7 and 8 meters of water instead of going to the prime spot in the middle of the small anchorage in 3-4 meters of water.
We had seen a tour boat a bit bigger than us leave as we arrived so we kept clear of that area assuming that by leaving the best area available to the tourists we could stay safe.
As usual, we went to our tasks of tidying up the sail-bag, dropped the Code 0 and went to the cockpit to think about lunch when we noticed a much bigger tour boat approaching. We looked around and felt comfortable that they had plenty of space to anchor on the prime spot, we were in no way on their way. Or so we thought.
All of sudden we hear them dropping anchor, the sound couldn’t fool anyone, a turn of our heads confirmed it, they were anchoring right on top of us!
There was absolutely no time but to run to the bow to pull a fender out of the sail locker to try and avoid impact.
Even before I had managed to get the first ball fender out John was already leaning off our boat pushing their rail to try and avoid the collision, I had just enough time to retract the bowsprit to avoid having it ripped off our bow by the other boat’s stern.
Grabbed two more fenders and tried to defend our boat, they kept dropping chain and coming back on top of us, us telling them that was not okay and them telling us it was fine, they do this every day.
Lots of arguing, more fenders out, they get two of their fenders to help and I see their huge heavily built long fixed passerelle “boarding bridge” coming straight to our standing rigging amidship. I run to push it out and avoid massive and costly damage that would end our sailing season while the guy all of the sudden no longer speaks English only Greek.
Must have been temporary amnesia!
With that controlled, I run to the cockpit turn the engine while John tries to release the snubber to drop more chain while at the same time fending the bow of our boat.
The only thing we can do is to keep dropping chain to drift further back towards the rocks, they only concede to pick up 5 meters of chain at best (they didn’t pick up any) they haven’t much chain out and are on top of our anchor. It’s impossible for us to do any manoeuvre to lift our anchor and move, they don’t care. We have no option but to stay there waiting until they leave, running our engine on to try and avoid getting too close to the rocks or drop even more chain if they drift further back if the light breeze we feel in the anchorage becomes brisker.
And the “captain” of the tour boat tells me, “you know, I’m a 2.5m draft”. I scream at him “me too” we are in 8 meters of water you have plenty of space to anchor well away from me”.
They don’t care, they say they’ll stay for 1 hour, the longest 1 hour ever. It was actually two hours.
His clients thinking all this is very normal, and look how cute they have a dog let’s just take a million photos and tantalise the dog.
Ella off course oblivious of the real situation is all happy and excited with the proximity of new friends, but being the good girl she is growing into, obediently returned to the cockpit where she couldn’t be the source of entertainment to inconsiderate and irresponsible idiots.
As for us we just couldn’t believe we had just been hit by another boat while at anchor, a boat steered by a “professional captain” in a protected anchorage during daylight. There isn’t anything that could possibly justify the event except ill intention and utterly disrespect for anyone!
Due to our efforts, not due to their efforts, because those were pretty much nonexistent, The Dream didn’t sustain any damages.
Our day ruined, our view of Greek cruising tarnished, fury galloping in our veins!
And then one thinks that for a person to come and sail their own boat in Greece needs an ICC (international certificate of competence), a Yachtmaster etc.
But their local “professional captains” of commercial vessels with length and tonnage that requires specialised qualifications under international maritime law behave like this and think to hit an anchored boat is absolutely fine and no reason to be upset, worry or even stress.
Welcome to Greece, the idiot season here just started.
***In the spirit of sharing our dreams and experiences we have shared this blog post in the NOFOREIGNLAND.COM website sailors community.