Temporarily under construction

Unfortunately my old hosting provider has been infected with a JS virus. Therefore I have moved my site to a new hosting provider.

This was quite a rogue action, so not everything is working as it should and lot’s of stuff is missing (read all the pictures, maps, video’s and other stuff).

Over time I will repair each post, but please be patient with me…

Someone infected me with this...

Someone infected me with this…

Rafal Milach’s Black Sea of Concrete

Institute photographer Rafal Milach’s award-winning self-published book Black Sea of Concrete documents life along the Black Sea coast in the Ukraine. He talks to Gemma Padley of the British Journal of Photography about how the project came about and the story behind the monograph.

Read more at Rafal Milach’s Black Sea of Concrete – British Journal of Photography or go directly to the site of Rafal Milach.

 

Sailing the Atlantic the Pure Way

While sitting in Transit in Madrid, between Amsterdam and Palma de Mallorca, I finally have the rest to sit down and dust off my Blog again.

I realize that my last post is about 1½ year old, having arrived at my Ithaca in Greece. The sail back to Croatia via Italy was fantastic. Being almost the only saling ship along the ancient coastline of Puglia, with cities as Monopoli, Trani and Bari, was impressive. The beauty and the unspoiledness of these cities in combination with the fantastic Italian food and double espresso’s gave you a feeling of utterly peace. I am afraid the rest of the story has to wait as my new adventure has started today J.

 

The Trip

The Pure Atlantic in a larger map

My new sailing trip will sail me from Mallorca (the Island of the Goats in the Odyssey) to St. Lucia in the Caribbean, ca. 3,000 nautical Miles and about 25 sailing days in total.

In between we will have a stop at Las Palmas in Gran Canaria (the Island of the Phaeacians in the Odyssey) before crossing the Atlantic. The distance between Mallorca and Gran Canaria is circa 1,000 nM and will take about 7 days of sailing. I have to be honest, this will be already my longest non-stop trip already.

Unfortunately there is no recollection of St. Lucia ever being visited by Odysseus or Herodotus, hence my validation why I need to make this trip, I have to investigate this matter and maybe I can proof something wrong.

Argo

My Argo – due to the namelessness of Odysseus’ sailing ships, I had to steal the name of Jason and the Argonauts – is a custom built Nordia van Dam of 70 feet.

I have never sailed for me such an amazing ship, the biggest ever was a Swan 441R for me and I found that one already really big and impressive. This yacht is 70 feet long pure luxury…
I am thrilled with expectations by the sailing characteristics of this ship as well as the unmet luxury it contains. The ship has airconditioning in every hut! I also could bring me my electronic toothbrush as there is 220V available with the crossing. The pictures of the yacht, the engine room alone, or the sun deck makes me gasping for air like a 16 year old schoolboy looking at his first Playboy (Disclaimer: off course, I have never touched a Playboy).

Sailing Challenges

A lot of people think you will be bored sailing 20 days in the big emptiness. But so many challenges around:

Celestial Navigation
How did people navigate before the GPS? What to do without any electronical aides? This kind of trip is an excellent training on celestial navigation. From Gran Canaria to St. Lucia I will not touch any electronic GPS but try to locate the ship’s location using traditional tools like sextant, bearing compass, clock and (a rather large scale) map. I have started reading the books on this subject already. Unfortunately it is literally 3 lines of text forward and 2 backward. I was never a real star in trigonometry with radiants, sinuses and all that stuff. So I find the theory a real challenge, but secretly dreaming of Ocean Yachtmaster…

Weather Systems
The weather is still a rather big mystery for me. When do Lows develop to a storm or even to hurricanes? How do you know when not to sail out when you are looking for a crossing of 20 days, when a normal weather forecast is maybe valid for 3-5 days? I can read Grib files and Bracknells, but understanding what is happening is rather a different thing. Luckily I have some very experienced crewmembers around me on this topic.

Bread with fish
I brought baking yeast with me as well as a nice book on all the variations Italy has to offer. This is a skill I long for so many years already. Being able to have fresh baked bread in the morning, having variations with dried tomatoes, nuts, olives etc. etc. And furthermore, an ocean full with fish around you, wow. I can still taste the raw Tuna’s I had when sailing in the Caribbean years ago.

Challenging Robin Knox-Johnston
RKJ is rather a legend in sailing. He was the first man sailing solo the world around non-stop in the famous Sunday Times Golden Globe Race. He has claimed that wearing merino wool underwear would not smell after 30 days… I challenge that!

But so many other challenges, what about the cold turkey of no internet for 20 days!!! And why not loose some kilo’s? I could use that and with no drinks for such a period, this might be easier than what all the different books on this topic write.

Update #1: Adriatica 2011 – Mission accomplished, returning home

Some five weeks ago I departed from Murter, Croatia, to sail south to the inland sea of Levkada in Greece…

My sailing yacht Helena, a Beneteau Cyclades 39, is very easy to handle and performs well, including the Genaker, one of my trip gadgetsthe ultimate toy. Top speed we reached was 8.7 knots sailing downwind surfing from the waves, faster then the 7.8 knots we reached with the Genaker. I am speeding I think as she was never pushed to before.

The other gadgets are my BBQ – used well – and a Go Pro high definition wide angle video camera. Only my MacBook is not speeding as I wished due to the installation of a Croatian Internet Stick. So I do feel crippled this sailing trip and I cannot upload any of the video’s made.

After 5 weeks one of the lessons I have learned is that I am now an internet addict officially. So my the gadget for my next sailing trip will be  a high-speed satellite internet connection mounted to the boat :-)

Trip Summary

Since last Tuesday I am heading home, after having thrown my anchor at Ithaca, home of King Odysseus, the ultimate destination of my Odyssean Trail, so time for an update.

The Castle of Odysseus on Ithaka

The Castle of Odysseus on Ithaka

From tomorrow I will be heading back to Croatia. But I have learned from the classics and know never to rush things and unplease the Gods like Odysseus did. So I will sail via Puglia in Italy, enjoy the Italian food and maybe sacrifice some of it to the Gods before returning Helena to Croatia.

Croatia

Of the first 2 weeks in Croatia worth mentioning are the waterfalls of Skradin, Ancient Split with its palace of Diocletianus, Hvar still the Ibiza of the Adriatic and Stari Grad, the BBQ in a bay in Lastovo, brutely disturbed by a thunderstorm  (Lastovo was forbidden to enter until the end of the 1990’sand we anchored left to departed submarine bunkers and VHF monitor buildings), Sipan (I will retire there once), and Dubrovnik and Cavtat (Port of Entry) in Croatia.

Weather conditions where light the first week and brilliant the second week where we had 28 knots of wind between Hvar and Vis. Fantastic to sail so much wind just in your shorts. Of the 2,5 weeks in Croatia, only one day was with rain. We did get some anchor showers though

Montenegro

In Montenegro I have visited Kotor with it’s immense city walls from around 1500 and also Tivat, where a superyacht marina is being build currently. Nice to be provided with a personal naval assistant.

Perast and the islands “Gospa od Skrpjela” are impressive. Perast was in ancient times the maritime center of the Venetian Empire and the church on one of the islands served as votive center for seafarers.

I see Sveti Stefan as the highlight of the country. Similar to what celebreties of the 1950’s like Sophia Lorenz thought. It attractiveness declined after the death of Tito and the civil war of yugoslavia but now it is being restored to it’s previous glamour. The visit to Montenegro ended in Bar, where we left the country.

The weather was not in favour of us in Montengro, although always sunny and around 28 degrees, we had no wind for almost 1,5 weeks.

Greece

Corfu Town was the first city we touched in Greece. It was good to be in Greece but the bureaucratic system is something you don’t want to have to deal with. It took me 4 hours of waiting and formalities to enter the country with my Croatian ship. Later it took me about 2 hours to pay 88 eurocents of taxes in some obscure tax office.

After Corfu town, our destination was Ay Stefanou. A very tranquille bay to anchor and come to strength after the crossing from Montenegro (circa 175 nautical Miles, about 50% of the time 15 – 20 knots of wind from the back). Via Gaios on Paxoi (or Paxos) we arrived at Levkada itself.

IMG_0053

Last week it was my intention to have a more holiday oriented week with low profile sailing, just to digest the almost 800 nautical miles already sailed in the first 4 weeks. Finally time to do some decent snorkeling and firing up the BBQ. But also reached my destination: Ithaca.

After Ithaca and having visited the ruins of the castle of King Odysseus (one of the 3 possible locations on the island, not to mention other islands) we went to the Bay of Pandelimon where a Dolphin family was entertaining us during the evening and the next morning. It was the first time I have swum with dolphins.

Weather conditions in the last week was top, no wind in the mornings and around 14:00 the Gods switched on the wind and we got 20 knots of wind almost every day.

Captain Corelli in Greek Cephalonia

When sailing around the Levkas area, anchoring in deep blue bays, hopping around the mountainous islands and mingling with the locals, you don’t think immediately of war and the cruelty people can do to each other in such times. When reading “Captain Correlli’s Mandolin” by Louis de Bernières you will be confronted with life during war and associated crimes in this area based on true facts.

The Facts

tanks-on-the-acropolis-in-athensIn the Second World War the Ionean island Cephalonia (Nisos Kefallínia) in Greece (close to Levkas & Ithaca) was occupied by 9,000 Alpine Acqui soldiers of the Italian Fascists army in 1943. Greece, although a totalarian state at that time and more a partner of “The Dark Forces”, was betrayed by Mussolini who was desperate in need for some success after several fiasco’s in Africa. He didn’t succeed in Greece alone by the way and the occupation of Greece by Italian and German troops was the result.

After Italy was defeated by the English around 1943, the Italian troops in Cephalonia refused to hand the island over to the Nazi’s. For seven days the Italians fought the Germans until eventually the remaining soldiers of the Acqui division, around 6,000 men, surrendered and were betrayed by the Nazi’s and executed, it is said on Hitler’s personal order.

The killing of 5,500 Italian soldiers and nearly 500 officers is thought to have been the second-largest murder of prisoners of war during the Second World War, ranking alongside the infamous 1940 Katyn Forest massacre of Polish army officers by Soviet military police.

One of the last survivors of the massacre is Salvatore Di Rado, now 94, who lives in the Abruzzo region of central Italy. He told in the newspaper Il Messagero that he was lined up in a firing squad but the bullets missed him. “I was saved by the body of a comrade which shielded me. I stayed still under all the bodies, pretending to be dead, and then when darkness fell, and the Germans went away, I hid in the scrub, suffering the agonies of hunger and thirst. But I was alive, and farmers on Cephaloni later gave me help.”

The Novel

captain-corellis-mandolinThe novel by Louis de Bernières deals with the above mentioned occupation and historic events of Cephalonia and adds the love affair between the Italian captain Corelli and the young Greek girl Pelagia during the second World War and the arrival of the Germans and the Communist resistance. This book has been laureated and at the end made a movie of it. Although the movie does not have the depth of the book (again the book is so much better), is hard to watch completely after having read the book, the movie does show you some good shots of the beauty of the Greek islands as a book never could do (but a visit would).

Personally I found the book one of the best novels I have read for quite some time. Besides love as a main theme in the book, as a romantic always good to read (and visualizing Penelope Cruz as Pelagia, well casted I would say), it also clearly provides an image of the horrors of war and what it does with people, weak people becoming in power because of the gun and the bestialities in them that open up and what they are then capable of when suppressing civilians. The book also gives you insights in the occupation of Greece in the second world war and the Civil War after WWII had ended of which I was unaware.

Some links for further reading:

History of Greece: two relevant articles, the first on Greece in the Second World War and secondly on the Civil War in Greece after WWII. The role of the Communist partisans in Greece presented in these page are certainly not in line with the view of de Bernières by the way.

The Telegraph – Investigation into massacre which inspired ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ reopened: In the article some actual news is given on the prosecution of the ones held responsible for the slaughter of the Italians on

The Random House – Captain Corellis Mandolin: The publisher  The Random House provides a summary, short analysis of the themes of book of de Bernières and an interview with the author

IMDB – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin: The movie with Penelope Cruz and Nicholas Cage has been rated a 5.8 on the IMDB


Sailing the trails of Odysseus

In 2011 there is another trip planned and I will be circumsailing the Adriatic Sea with my crew again. This time I will be heading southwards to the birthplace of Odysseus: Ithaca.

Odysseus-and-the-sirens-waterhouse

I am currently planning the route and doing research to this amazing area. Looking for places somehow attached to the adventures of Odysseus and his crew, the route he did sail and anything else of any significance that happend there the last 3,000 years.

By far the zenith of the trip will be sailing into the city Vathi on the island Ithaca, home of Odysseus (it would be blasphemy saying sailing into Vathi like Odysseus). Unfortunately the more I read, the more I learn and the more I want to know.

This area has just a stinking lot of legendary ancient locations

Some examples: of all the immortal Gods of the Greek mythology, one did die. It was Pan, god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, as well as the companion of the nymphs, and he chose an island just above Levkas to die.

pan-chasing-nymphs Ali-Pasha
Pan chasing Nymphs in better times Ali Pasha and his crew enjoying the lake after some hard labour

A more recent one would be Ali Pasha who lived around 1740 – 1822 and ruled in the area between Korfu and Levaks for the Ottoman Sultan. Ali Pasha’s rule was associated with pure cruelty. One of his better known actions was to drown Kyra Phrosone – the girlfriend of his eldest son – and 17 young girls by throwing her into the water alive bound in a weighted sack in lake of Igoumenitsa after she denied Ali’s sexual advances.

Pending research more of this kind of stories to follow of course in the blog.

The sailing route

The course I envision sailing next year will be start from Murter and I will then heading down via Split, Hvar and Korcula to the one of the most laureated cities of the Adriatic: Dubrovnik. From Dubrovnik I will be leaving Croatia and after a short visit to Monenegro sail to Korfu, Levkas and Ithaca off course in Greece.

 

Chanigng places Large Places Points of Interest Chill-out Places
Historic Places Historic Places Places of Literature Places of Literature

 

From Greece I will return via Italy where I am especially interested in Puglia and some very special cities along the coast like Trani & Monopoli. To the east-coast of Italy close to the “spur” there are the islands known as the Tremiti Archipel and from there I would like to cross the Adriatic See  to Croatia and sail back to Murter via the Dalmatian Archipel and the Kornati.

My best guesstimate is that the total trip is around 1,500 nautical Miles and will take a month or two to complete if the Gods are with me. If not it could took me 17 years to return but then I could at least say that I have been sailing like Odysseus.

Heading to the Needles

Back from an overwhelming sailing trip with the Zeezeilers across the English Channel.

ancientcoasts-english-channel-and-the-channel-islands-2332

In a staccato summary, we sailed from Boulogne-sur-Mer (France) to Cowes (UK), the Mecca for sailors on the Isle of Wight. After which we left England for Guernsey passing the famous Needles (can you see them on the picture above?). Having visited the other Channel Islands like Alderley and Sark, it was our plan to leave Jersey for Granville last Saturday.

We knew we had windforce 8 to deal with and had to change our destination during sailing, all according to our prepared plan. We entered the harbour of Saint Malo in France just before midnight. This last tour was again overwhelming as it is extremely exciting to surf from waves of over 3 metres and see them break in front of you.

More about the sailing trip (pictures, GPS track etc.) to follow…

Storm coming

Thunderstorms were forecasted when we sailed to Terschelling last week. Happy to say we managed to keep it dry. No wind on the first day from Volendam to Makkum so we had to go to Hindeloopen to fill up the tank.

Our stop at Hindeloopen took longer then expected  when some local punks decided to molest our the dinghy (see also our track in the lock of Hindeloopen in the mapmania). We had some argument and at the end they paid so we could continue our trip to Makkum.

The next day was just fantastic sailing to Terschelling in the sun and tacking against about 15 – 20 knot wind from the North.

Virtual Sailing Log

 

Click more for some road statistics…
Continue reading

Ruta de la Sal: The Race from Barcelona to Ibiza 2010

La Ruta: The Epic Version

01 April, 11:00 AM – Leaving Les Botiques

Marina Port Vell, Barcelona

Marina Port Vell, Barcelona

We prepare the  boat from the largest Genua to the Spi, because you never know. It is unlikely to be raised, but you just want the 150 square metre of extra sails up…

Preparing the sails

Meanwhile the tactical team struggles with iPhones and UMTs modems to get the latest Gribfiles downloaded and save the latest Windguru predictions. Fair weather and southeastern wind of 10-15 knots expected, meaning an upwind course to Ibiza.

Around 1100 AM we leave the harbour with the other participants heading to the startline. In the middle of the harbour one of the bigger ships hit grounds. Damn, that just looks very stupid in front of everyone.

12:10 PM – The Start

Start of Ruta de Sal

At 11:50 AM the 10 minutes before start signal is given. Hundreds of boat make their moves to get the best position for the start. A flag is raised, a delay of the start for 10 minutes. Reasons unknown, no one really cares. All boats, from a classic cut schooner to a big dark Wally, have to rethink their strategy. Stick to the strategy shown to the sharp observer or change plans to the best start approach.

Sailing Ruta de la Sal

We have a good start and because we expect a windshift more from the North we head for a port tack first.

14:35 – The Chase

ancientcoasts-sailing-ruta-de-la-sal-the-race-1636-2

About 80% of the participants do the goose walk down mainstreet and went starboard along the Spanish Coast. Some brave challengers tried to follow the Eagle and are heading their first tack also to the east expecting the more northern wind.

17:00 PM – The 5 O’Clock Show

[media id=9 width=450 height=300]

At Five it the ancient wisdom prevails, a “kopstoot” (I am told it is translated something like a “gin with a chaser“) along with our Dutch national bard & boozer André Hazes.

Statistics: Sailed 26.8 nM in 4.8 hours with an (ergo) average speed of 5.54 knots

20:00 PM – Dinner

ancientcoasts-sailing-ruta-de-la-sal-the-race-1851

At 8 oclock we have a lucios dinner. A special prepared meal by the top chefs of Barcelonetta.

The delicate mix of the finests ingredients of Catalunya combined with the splendour of powerfood. No iceberg will stop us with this ménagerie à trois of bami, rice and pasta.

02 April, 00:00 New watch

An impressive moon is born out of the sea. The gracious star-spangled sky is replaced by the full moon coloured to red by the asscloud of Icelandic Vulcano called Eyjafjallajokull. The cloudless night gives a panoramic view over the Balearic Sea lighted by the full moon of Eastern.

Unfortunately this poetry just does not cover for the extreme coldness of that night.

In reality five deepfrozen people dive down looking for their berth. Five just awakened but still sleepy people have to go outside taking an ice-bath. Picking everything up that can provide some shelter (from hot coffee to a nice comfortable warm sock).

Statistics: about 61.30747 nM further from start in 10.8 hours averaging it out at 5.7 knots


11:00 AM – Sailing Racing Sleeping

ancientcoasts-sailing-ruta-de-la-sal-the-race-1867

The old ancient wisdom of racing the Balearic: it is just better to sleep and enjoy.

02 April 13:58 Finish

ancientcoasts-sailing-ruta-de-la-sal-the-race-1870

Raced from Barcelona to Ibiza with S/Y Colombe, a Swan 441 R from 1979 during Eastern. The track distance of the race was 138 nautical Miles (nM), we sailed 152 nM in 25.8 hours and had an average speed of 5.9 knots. We had finished as 2nd in our class.

Colombe crossed the line as second in our class and 10th overall of the ca. 300 participants. “Jay Walker“, a Dutch J-35, finished first in our class and “La Floresta del Mar” a Swan 56, won La Ruta de la Sal overall. The complete overview can be found here.

Time for a drink in the Pacha

More pictures at Flickr (including the directors cut of the return to Barcelona)

The Beancounters Voice

A more quick way of telling about a sailing race would be just showing the numbers. It is the beancounters way of telling a story and it would go something like this:

Raced from Barcelona to Ibiza with S/Y Colombe, a Swan 441 R from 1979 during Eastern. The track distance of the race was 138 nautical Miles (nM), we sailed 152 nM in 25.8 hours and had an average speed of 5.9 knots. We had finished as 2nd in our class.

Nice? This is just the start…

Step 1: Data Visualisation

To get it a little bit more attractive you could start visualizing the data. Using the combined magic of Google Earth, GPSBabel, GPS Visualizer and good old Excel you could tell the story of route, speed, distance, heading as a more attractive story:

 

avarage-speed-per-hour

 

speed-per-20-minutes

 

Average Speed per Hour Speed per 20 minutes
speed-versus-heading-over-time

measurement-statistics

 

Speed versus Heading over Time
Measurement Statistics