Category Archives: Sailing

The “Ruta de la Sal” to the Knight Templars of Malta

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From April 1st to the 4th I will be participating in the Spanish sailing race “Ruta de la Sal“. A regata from Barcelona to Ibiza over a distance of circa 140 nautical Miles and about 300 yachts participating. We will be sailing the race with a Swan 441 R from 1979 and a crew of 10. For sure you will read more about the race in time but today I bought my airplane ticket to Barcelona and had a look at the site.

Some Background

In 1989 the first race was held based on this historic event. The origins of this regata seem to go back to May 1846. At that time Barcelona was under siege by the Carlists armies which led to a disastrous shortage of salt. To end the peril a race was set up. The first ship to arrive with a good load of salt would be paid in gold. The winner was a 30 meter schooner called “Maltese Falcon” from Baltimore with a Greek skipper called Andreas Portus.

The Maltese Falcon? I heard that name before…

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The Maltese Falcon

Every time I read something about a ship called “The Maltese Falcon“, I have to think of the 290 feet high-tech ship built by venture capitalist Tom Perkins for about US$ 130 million. A square rigged ship with 3 free standing carbon fiber masts and more then 75 motors to control the 15 sails. With its three 20-story masts fully rigged the yacht can cross the Atlantic in 10 days. The ship was sold recently (August 2009) by Tom Perkins for “only” US$ 100 million, after he had to reduce the ask price with more then US$ 40 million. Yep, it is a buying market these days.

For more about this ship you could read the the book “Mine’s Bigger: Tom Perkins and the Making of the Greatest Sailing Machine Ever Built” by David A. Kaplan (

But as as my research went further, this ship’s name can be referred back to the movie “The Maltese Falcon” with Humphrey Bogart. A movie from 1941 and one that many film historians consider as the first of the “film noir” genre in Hollywood. In the IMDB ranking it can be found as number 7 in the list of the best movies ever made.

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The story, based on the book by Dashiell Hammett, tells about three adventurers who want to steal the Maltese Falcon and a detective (Humphrey Bogart) trying to prevent it.

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But my research didn’t end here. Because the “Maltese Falcon” itself is reportedly based on the “Kniphausen Hawk” a ceremonial pouring vessel made in 1697 for George William von Kniphausen, Count of the Holy Roman. It is modeled after a hawk perched on a rock and is encrusted with red garnets, amethysts, emeralds and blue sapphires. The vessel is currently owned by the Duke of Devonshire and is an integral piece of the Chatsworth House collection.

Knight Templars of Malta

But it goes on, this is still not the ealiest mentioning of the “Maltese Falcon”. In 1539, the Knight Templars of Malta, paid tribute to Charles V of Spain, by sending him a Golden Falcon encrusted from beak to claw with the rarest jewels. But pirates seized the galley carrying the priceless token and the fate of the [original] Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day…

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Final words about the Maltese Falcon I am glad to leave to Adam Savage, a longtime special effects artist and host of “MythBusters” on the Discovery Channel. His fascination for Dodo’s lead to… the Maltese Falcon.

Quick analysis 24uurs zeilrace

In the weekend of the third week of August traditionally the 24 hours sailing race is held in the Netherlands.  This year for the 45th time.

We participated this race this year for the first time with a crew of 6 and a X-372. Four experienced with sailing races (steering, main sail, foresail and tactics) and 2 (including me) for their positive influence on the overall team efforts (sandwiches, enjoying the sun, the insights of a toursailor on racing and some tweets off course) and I think mainly responsible for the good results.

The rules of the race are quite simple. Just sail as much miles as possible within 24 hours. The winner is the one which has sailed most miles compared to his theoretical distance based on the length of his ship. For the race only a certain amount of tracks are allowed (see picture), which makes it a more strategic game as you have to think about the wind shifts of the next (up to 24) hours and where to go.

We raced the tour-classwith around 500 boats participating and we finished 11th.  We sailed officially 149.67 nautical miles in total, which sums up to an average speed of 6.24 knots in 24 hours.

And off course the route has been deeply analyzed…

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Shopping at Dekker Watersport

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Did some excellent shopping at Dekker Watersport yesterday.

Bought more gadgets for my sailing adventure. Things for safety like an extra lifejacket and a lifesling and stuff you just need for sailing like a converter (12 to 220 volt), a head-led, a dry bag of 10 litres and two sea rail bags – just to prevent it gets such a mess in the cockpit.

One thing I couldn’t decide on is the BBQ, never sail the Adriatic without one. Besides the price I have to get used to,  I still don’t know if I should buy a gas lit BBQ or just one with coals. Anyone suggestions?

Single handed Training IJsselmeer

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Eastern weekend this year was an excellent three days of sailing. It was a training on the IJsselmeer as a preparation of An Adriatic 2009, my tour in the Adriatic Sea. Together with Anne, the trainer of the Zeilvaardigheidscentrum Lelystad, we circumsailed the IJsselmeer in 3 days.

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Sailing from Sivota to Frikes via Vasiliki

Today I will continue the log about the sailing trip I made in September 2008.

We sailed from Sivota to Frikes via Vasiliki on the 3rd and 4th day. I’ll combine these trips because the 3rd day we were mainly occupied by finding a good BBQ place for a group of 40 crazy dentists (we were making the trip not alon as you could remember). As we scoured the coastline to find a good spot, we had to it on the engine unfortunately. The next day was a little bit rainy although with excellent wind so we had a good sail but coldish weather. There we sailed from Vasiliki to Frikes, located on the mighty island Ithaca

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Day 3: From Sivota to Vasiliki

In the GPS track it is clearly visible ho we traced the every place available. All the landing stages we found in the first bay – called Ormos Afteli – were clearly privately held or not suitable to hold at least 8 yachts of 40 ft or more. The next bay was Ormos Ammousa and there we were more lucky with 3 public beaches. One was to small, the other one was very cosy with a nice restaurant and beach. I really would recommend this plae for lunch for everyone around and I hope I will come back there some time but it was unsuitable for a group BBQ. So we made a hit and run for the third.

The BBQ was made of everything available in Sivota and was a big success. We had bought all the one-off / throw away after use in all the supermarkets of Sivota. For the meat we had made a deal with a local restaurant and we received bags full of meat for a very fair price. I’m still wondering if there was one sheep left in Sivota after we sailed away.

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After leaving the small little beach and we rounded a little cape, we got a very good wind (about 20 knots) to sail the last part to Vasiliki. Below an impression of Vasiliki. Note the lightly built of the second floor of the houses as this region suffers sometimes from (light) earthquakes.

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Day 4: Vasiliki to Frikes

This was the first day we had excellent wind for the first time in the week, although the sun didn’t favor us today as is was still very chilly (about 18o C). We had to sail a close-hauled course and it was interesting to sea the different effects of the tactical decisions in navigation made by all the different yachts. Some people decided to tack in an early stage while others decided to wait as long as possible. Other just couldn’t stay on a close-hauled course and I won’t discuss them. We decided to stay on course as long as possible and that was at the end the best strategy. This because of the influence of the island on the wind (to be more specific, the friction of the land forces the wind to back due tot the Coriolis force). At the end we used the engine to round the small cape because we had to arrive first in Frikes and after the cape we could sail further. All this can be seen very clearly in the GPS plot in the map above.

Below an impression of Frikes, next post – about the trip from Frikes to Meganisi – more pictures.

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Day 2: Sailing from Kalamos to Sivota

Big City Kalamos

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Kalamos is just such a very relaxed, low speed, easy island. The name Kalamos is said to be coming from reeds. If you see the stony island, you know for sure there has to be some very distant explanation for that.

Some people argue that the origins from the name of the island came from the inhabitants flewn from the mainland from a more swampy area. But a more mythological explanation might also be true. This story would make the island named to a son of the ancient God Maiandros (God of the Maeander river), this guy was called Kalamos. In my eyes the island therefore being the home of a god.

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First day of sailing: Lefkas to Kalamos

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The first day we left Nisos Lefkas (Nisos means island in Greek), Lefkas City or Lefkada to be more specific, with as destination Nisos Kalamos about eleven hour. The weather was cloudy and no wind at all. Therefore we knew we had to use the engine for the biggest part of the trip. The distance is about 20 nautical Miles (1 nM is about 1.852 km) and with a cruising speed of 5 knots of our yacht Yannis it would take us about 4 hours to get there.

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Trip from Lefkas to Kalamos in Google Earth, waypoints for the harbours and where we anchored for lunch and one for the city Mytikas

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View on Nisos Kalamos from the direction of Lefkas

First two trivial facts about Lefkas…

Pregnant from Greece

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Back from sailing the Ionian Sea. A week with the perfect combination of sailing, learning, ouzing (which is the verbal form of drinking Ouzo – soon to be found in the Webster dictionary), dining and some nice and spectacular variations in the weather.

Now I am trained in anchoring the Greek small and shallow harbours. I have a better understanding of the influence of sea and islands on wind, weather, rain and windwhirls. My love for the easy way of living around the Middle Sea has been revived – call it Greek, Turkish, Italian I don’t care, just call it ancient (“Wow John, I really had an ancient weekend last week” ).

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Is this ancient feeling – as I will call it from now – the mix of the eating fèta, olives, fresh fish, the drinking of ouzo’s and good coffee or beong in this climate: sun, wind, islands offering the refreshing dives into the sea?

On top of that I do know now how it feels to be pregnant.

So many ideas burbled this week inside my stomach or better my virtual womb about ancient places; ancient babes, experiences and the possible trips & itenaries – the first being more the physical thing the latter more metaphysical. And the enormous urge to give birth to all of this ASAP. No normal working day at the office anymore.

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The first of my births will be posting the logs of the trip across Lefkas, Kalamos and Ithaca with some stories about the islands, a lot of pictures and off course the full Google Earth integration for which I am famous now ;-).

But the most remarkable thing of this week, one of things I am most happy with, would be that I might have found my Argo… I could have found my ship to sail the Ancient Coasts of the Mediterrean to find my Holy Grail. So much more fun when all things fit together.

But first things first, coming weeks I will give birth to the posts about Lefkas, Kalamos, Sivota, Vasiliki, Frikes and Vathi on Meganisi, the cities in the playground of my old friend Odysseus aka Ulysses.

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On va rouler

Bought the marine chart (Greece | Ionian | The Inland Sea G121) for sailing around in the Lefkas area next week.

Published by Imray Tetra, so probably there are some copyright on the picture below, so please don’t tell them and buy your carts from them 🙂

As I know the area already – I have sailed there 2 times earlier – every place on the chart provides me a little nice electrical twinkle…

Hiswa Surprise

Yesterday I went to the “Hiswa te water” – they claim to be the largest boat show of Europe. Although my original plan was just picking up some stuff and have a quick look on the sailing yachts to continue my dreaming, some people have just all the luck…

Brunel/Sunergy Teaser

Within 15 minutes after entrance I was invited for sailing on the Brunel/Sunergy with Hans Bouscholte as the Skipper.

For the people unknown to these names, this combination (ship and skipper) took part in the first leg of the “The Whitbread Round The World Race” (currently known as the “Volvo Oceanrace”) in 1997-1998.

This yacht race is one of the heaviest challenges in the sailing world and takes place every 3 year. It consists of 9 legs around the world with over 30,000 Miles to sail in around 8 months. The conditions are spartan where the shit literally hits the ceiling (this is at least the information presented to me by a trustworthy source). Temperatures vary in this race from minus 2 degrees Celsius in the Southern Ocean to around 40+ degrees, waves of over 30m and winds over 60 knots (or no wind at all, and that will make the racer crazy!). Is it typical to humankind that people are dying to do this almost on a voluntary basis? Does this behaviour also happen within other species?

It is the speed I needAnyway, I was invited on board and sailed a leg outside the IJmuiden Marina and the speed and feeling is amazing! With around 20 knots of wind the yacht easily gets a speed of 12 knots under normail sails. Imagine the speed under full sail. The top speed Hans Bouscholte told, was 36 knots in the Gulf of Biskaje when surfing the waves with ruime wind.

Everyone was able to take the helm and well… uhm, now I have sailed the Brunel/Sunergy, well, uhm, er, I think I can sail the Volvo Oceanrace 🙂

All in all a great experience and luckily I did have a camera with me (although I would have preferred my Nikon) and below my pictures.

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