Lazy Line Troubles

Written by Pieter Jan on Sep 19, 2019 — 4 min read

From: Lavrion Port, Greece
To: Mandraki bay, island Hydra, Greece

Some days are perfect sailing days. So was this one. 15 knots, downwind sailing, almost no waves. It didn’t start as the perfect sailing day though.

Rouli and Vassilis came to wave us goodbye in the morning. They brought breakfast, small presents for the kids and an icon of Saint Nicolas, patron saint of sailors.

Rouli and Vassilis, the Parents and the kids
Rouli and Vassilis, the Parents and the kids

They told a story of that one time they went sailing with their friend Giorgos. When they wanted to cast off, Vassilis took in the rope and shouted “Neta!” (Clear!) to the captain. Giorgos untied his rope from the boat, threw it into the water, and also shouted “Neta!”. The captain put the engine in forward, the propellor promptly caught the rope, the engine stalled, and the captain had to dive to cut the propellor loose. Many laughs were had, but not at the time, I imagine.

Around 11AM, it was time to go. We prepared the boat and said goodbye to Rouli and Vassilis. We threw off the lazy lines(lines from the quay to something heavy on the bottom to make it easier to moor stern-to) and the mooring lines(lines that tie the boat to something solid). I put the engine in forward. Then, to my horror, I noticed the starboard lazy line was still caught on the cleat(a sturdy metal thing to tie your ropes to). I sprinted forward, threw it in the water and sprinted back to the steering wheel. But a side wind caught our boat and the starboard propellor promptly caught the sinking lazy line.

Fortunately there was a boat moored alongside. We drifted over and tied Vite & Rêves to the other boat. The captain was very understanding. I dove to free the propellor but lost the lazy line in the process. It was cut and it slipped off between my last two dives. But Vite & Rêves was free! I came up, and shouted “Neta!” to my crew and to Rouli, who was filming the whole ordeal.


I talked to the Perfect Yachts guys about their lost lazy line. Fortunately, some divers were working in the harbor. They agreed to repair the lazy line for €30.

We cast off for the second time, I put the engine in forward, the same side wind caught Vite & Rêves again and we got stuck in the lazy line of the other boat. The captain jumped in his dingy and pushed us off. After a lot of wrestling with bowsprit, lines, and boathooks, we managed to free Vite & Rêves. This time, the look on the other captain’s face was less understanding.

Anyway, we were sailing now and it was glorious. The perfect sailing conditions! But the autopilot was acting up. It seemed to randomly choose a new course after a while. It took a too long time for me to realize it was always pointing between 326 and 330 degrees. Something was throwing the electronic compass off course.

I did not remember where the electronic compass was located.

So I began moving everything that could be magnetic to another place… Headphones, electronics, cables, tin cans, tools, you name it. I finally found the compass underneath the forward port berths. My mother’s suitcase was just next to it and turned out to be highly magnetic.

We could finally let the autopilot do its job properly.

The rest of the journey was less eventful, although we had a few near misses with Huge Ships, among which the MSC Magnifica, a 300m long behemoth cruise ship that passed in less than 200m of us at 20 knots. I radioed them and they said they would pass in front of us, so I trusted them. I took the wind out of our sails a bit just to be sure - you know, in case they underestimated Vite & Rêves’ lightning speed.

Sunset on the way to Hydra
Sunset on the way to Hydra

We arrived at night in Hydra, but a quick look around the port confirmed that more people had had the same idea. Boats were anchored two rows deep. Not wanting to try this manoeuver in the dark, we went to the nearby Mandraki Bay and anchored. The Parents were suitably impressed by our anchoring skills. It only took two attempts.

Because the wind was predicted to shift 180 degrees during the night, I slept in a hammock between the mast and the forestay. Lovely night, albeit a bit short when at 7AM, roofers started their work on the bay’s restaurant — think hammers and blowtorches.

A quiet night but loud morning in the hammock
A quiet night but loud morning in the hammock