Monthly Archives: September 2017

Using The Sun To Run Dock Lights

As alternative energy sources gain more popularity, companies expand their applications. Self contained solar panels lights are now being used on docks.

Using The Sun To Run Dock Lights

When boating, safety is the most important thing to consider. This is especially true at night, when just the simple act of docking your boat can be tricky. You definitely need to light your way to your dock, whether you’ve got a big boat or a small one. A great way to show your way in are solar dock lights.

Many dock lights rely on batteries or electricity to power them. Both options are fine, however, batteries can be annoying to constantly replace and purchase. Electricity might be a better choice, but you will need to pay that high electric bill, as well as contend with cords and other dangerous items. Solar dock lights are superior to other choices, as they are safer and cheaper to operate.

Solar dock lights collect solar energy during the day. They accomplish this by using small solar panels that are usually positioned on top of the dock light. The energy is then used to recharge a battery located inside the dock light (most of the time the battery is a standard NiCad rechargeable battery). The recharged battery then powers a LED light. These small lights are very bright, but take only a minimal amount of energy to run. Therefore, the energy collected during the daylight hours is enough to power the dock light through many hours at night. Some of the dock lights are able to automatically turn on when the sun goes down, which makes the safety of the lights even greater.

Some solar dock lights even come with the ability to change the color of the LED inside the lamp. This can be very helpful, as you can use different colors such as red and green to mark the left and right of your dock. You can also buy several of the dock lights in order to line a path down your dock in bright white light. These dock lights are also made to fit all standard docks and posts, so you can be sure that they will fit on your own dock.

Solar dock lights are an excellent choice for lighting your boating path. Because safety is the key to boating fun, knowing that these lights will be there waiting for you when sunset hits is a great comfort. Knowing that these dock lights are inexpensive to purchase and run can also add to your enjoyment of boating at night.

Yacht Charter in Northern Crete

Crete was home to one of world’s most important civilisations, the Minoans who ruled the eastern Mediterranean from 2800 – 1150 BC. The art that has survived shows a refined and peace loving culture. There is a good collection in the Museum at Iraklion. Through commerce, shipping and trade with other peoples, the Egyptians, Phoenicians and Syrians they built a powerful civilisation. The Achaians and the Dorians followed. The Romans occupied Crete 69 – 330 AD making Gortyn their major town. Crete fell into the Arabic hands in 824 and was not liberated until 961). Then in 1204, the island passed to the Venetians. They fortified the island with several new castles and broke the ground for new cities of Hania and Rethimno. Inside the walls the cities developed with narrow alleys and houses, interspersed with decorative churches, fountains, piazzas and palaces the remains of which can still be seen today. In 1645 the Turks set foot on the island for the first time and in 1669 the whole of Crete fell to them. Not until 1913 was the island reunited with the rest of Greece.

In the summer the prevailing wind is the infamous Meltemi from the NW – WNW. July and August sees the winds at their strongest, force 5 – 6 on the northern coast but more often a more gentle force 3 – 4. The spring and autumn sees winds form the south, force 2 – 4. The southern coast is notorious for strong squalls the blow down from the mountains. There is little in the way of warning and they can be violent close inshore. It gets very hot on the island during the summer months with the average daily temperature reaching 35 deg C in July and August and temperatures as high as 40 deg C are not uncommon.

Kissamoss lies in the NW corner of Crete. Yachts can berth alongside or anchor of in the harbour. There is good shelter from the W and NW but it is open to the E and SE. In a strong northerly getting away can be difficult, as the yacht will have to beat for 14 miles to escape the bay. Water is available and the re is a taverna close by. The nearest provisions are at Kastelli, which is a one mile bus journey away.

Khania is to the E. Entrance can be difficult in a strong northerly as the sea heaps up around the entrance. The marina is in the E basin. You will be directed to a berth where a laid mooring awaits. There is good shelter in all but northerly gales. There is water and electricity on the pontoons. A mini tanker can deliver fuel. All provisions can be obtained and there are good tavernas in the town. This Venetian city was for centuries the capital of Crete and much of the charming architecture remains.

Soudhas is further to the E. It is the Greek navy’s southern base and yachts have been refused entry at times. If allowed in go bow or stern to on the S quay. Shelter is extremely good. There is water on the ferry mole and fuel can be delivered. All provisions can be obtained and there is a good choice of tavernas. The military presence tends to put a bit of a dampener on things and this is not a must visit.

Yioryiopolis is a small harbour at the mouth of the river Almiros. Go alongside the quay or anchor in the bay to the north. There is good shelter except with winds from the N – NE. There is water in the village and most provisions can be obtained and there are several tavernas. The village is both attractive the locals are friendly making a visit well worthwhile.

Rethimon is an old Venetian harbour. Go alongside inside the N jetty or bow or stern to the E jetty. There is good shelter even from the Meltemi tucked under the E jetty. There is water on the quay and fuel can be delivered. All provisions can be obtained and there are some good tavernas including several fish restaurants in the Venetian harbour. This should be one of the highlights of the charter. The Venetian harbour and town are attractive and the buildings with wooden balconies are a reminder of Turkish occupation.

Iraklion is the capital of Crete. Proceed to the Venetian harbour at the W end of the main harbour. Go bow or stern to at the “marina” in the S or on the N quay. There is water on the quay and fuel can be delivered. There is excellent shopping and fresh fish is sold in the harbour. There are good tavernas many of which serve fresh fish. Try those around the market in town. The city itself has little to recommend it but visits to Knossus, an archaeological site, go early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the tourists. And the museum containing a collection from the Minoan times is worthwhile.

Khersonisos is a small harbour. Go bow to the mole or anchor off. Care is needed because depths vary throughout the harbour and the holding is poor on sand and rock. There is good shelter from the N as the harbour is open only to the SE. Water, fuel and provisions can all be found in the town. The town is a modern tourist development, full of bad architecture and obnoxious holidaymakers.

Spinalonga Lagoon is situated in the N of the larger bay Kolpos Merembellou. Yachts can anchor anywhere in the lagoon. Most provisions can be obtained at Elounda. Take a look at Nisis Spinalongas. The setting for the Venetian fort and deserted settlement are most attractive.

Further to the south is Ay Nikolaos. There is a marina on the S side of the headland. Yachts should bow or stern to where directed and use a laid mooring. There is water and electric on the pontoons. Fuel can be delivered to the yacht. There are numerous tavernas and most provisions can be obtained. This fishing village is now a large tourist development although the marina is sited some way from the noisy area.

Pahia Ammos is situated at the S end of Kolpos Merembellou. There are depths of up to 3m at the extremity of the mole. The harbour is exposed to the Meltemi. Limited provisions can be obtained in the village and there are several tavernas

Further W lies Sitia. Go bow or stern to the inner N mole. The bottom is sand and weed with some rocks. There is good shelter from the Meltemi. There are both fuel and water in the harbour. All provisions can be obtained in the town and there are several good fish restaurants. The inner harbour with its tree lined esplanade is pleasant and watching dusk fall over the harbour while tucking in to a nice sea bass is the perfect end to a day’s charter.

Ak Sidhero is the NE tip of Crete and to the S there are several anchorages in small inlets. There are no facilities but the scenery is imposing with a desolate feel.

Crete’s cuisine is similar to that found throughout the Aegean. Fish plays a large part in the form of tuna, swordfish, sea bass, urchins, octopus, squid and cuttlefish. You will find beef, pork, lamb and goat. A rabbit stew is a speciality. As is cheese pie and fried cheese (staka). For those with a sweet tooth try yogurt and honey tarts (kaltzounia). Cretan wine is fairly good.

Sailing on the Costa del Sol

Spain is part of the European Union and all EU and American nationals can visit the country for a period of no longer than 90 days solely with a passport. EU national can apply for a residency permit if they wish to extend their stay. Non EU nationals can apply for a further 90 day extension. These regulations do not appear to be enforced as far as the yachtsman living aboard is concerned. It is advisable to clear customs if entering Spain for the first time. The vessel’s registration papers and the passports of crew members will be required. A certificate of competence, evidence of the boat’s VAT status, a crew list with passport details, the radio license and a certificate of insurance may also be required. A VAT (Value Added Tax) paid or exempt yacht can apply for a “permiso aduanero” . This allows for an indefinite stay in the country and can be helpful when importing yacht spares from other EU countries. Boats registered outside the EU on which VAT has not been paid may be imported into the EU for a period not exceeding six months in any twelve, after that VAT becomes due. This period can often be extended by prior arrangement with the local custom authorities. There is a legal requirement for foreign vessels to fly their own national maritime flag together with the courtesy flag of Spain.

It is worth considering the following equipment when cruising this area. An SSB radio is useful for obtaining weather forecasts. It is very hot in the summer and ventilation is important. It may be worth fitting extra hatches and a wind scoop over the fore hatch will help a lot. An awning or biminy, covering the cockpit, to provide shelter from the sun is a must. A cockpit table is useful as eating outside during the summer months is one of the pleasures of cruising. Mosquitoes can be a problem and many boats screen all openings while others rely on mosquito coils, insecticides and repellents. Sunburn is the other hazard cruisers should be aware of, the sun can be deceptively strong while the boat is underway, plenty of cream and a hat will go along way to avoid the misery of sunstroke.

There is a constant east going current of between 1 and 2 knots flowing through the straight of Gibraltar and between the Costa del Sol and the north African coast. There is some tide to be considered at the western end of the region, Gibraltar sees 1 metre at most. This diminishes the further east traveled. The weather is affected by several systems and is consequently difficult to predict. There is an old saying that in the summer months nine days of light winds will be followed by a full blown gale that is inaccurate. A wind from the northwest is known as the “tramotana”. It can be dangerous because it can arrive and reach gale force in as little as 15 minutes. It often lasts for 3 days and can blow in excess of a week. The wind from the east, the “levante” can also blow for several days at gale force. Annual rainfall at Gibraltar is 760mm. The Costa del Sol will experience about 4 days a month of fog. Summer temperatures can exceed 35 degrees C and the winter months see around 15 degrees.

The remainder of this article looks principally at the harbours of the Costa del Sol. There are also numerous anchorages bbut only a few of the notable ones are mentioned here.

Marina Bay is largest of Gibraltar’s three marinas with 350 berths. Most berthing is stern/bow to. Larger yachts can lie alongside. Water and electricity on the pontoons. Within the complex you will find a chandlers, launderette and a good selection of restaurants and bars. There is an indoor market less than 5 minutes walk from the marina. Queensway Marina is much quieter than Gibraltar’s other two marinas. Security is excellent with all the pontoons being gated. Within the complex you will find several restaurants and bars.
Gibraltar itself was ceded from the Spanish to the British in the early 18th century and for most of it’s history since that time Spain has been trying to get it back. There is evidence of this wherever you go on the rock. The rock itself is honeycombed with tunnels constructed at one time or another for the purposes of adding to the defences of Gibraltar. Many of the older tunnels are open to the public and feature exhibitions of how life was for the soldiers of the day. Many of the tunnels are most definitely not open to the public and there is considerable speculation as to what might be seen in these. You can see Rosia Bay where Admiral Lord Nelson’s body was bought ashore from HMS Victory following his famous victory over a combined French and Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. Nelson’s body was returned to Britain for a hero’s funeral but many of the seamen who died alongside him in the battle are buried on the rock at the Trafalgar cemetery. Take a cable car ride to the top of the rock, stunning views of Spain and across the straights to Morocco. Up here you will also find the famous colony of Barbary apes. Rumor has it that only when the apes are no more will the British leave the Rock. A rumor taken seriously by Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Britain during the Second World War, who on learning of their dwindling population ordered more to be bought to the Rock from Africa.

Puerto de Sotogrande is an attractive marina complex surrounded by apartments, shops, bars and restaurants. The overall design has been inspired by Portofino. There are
sandy beaches to either side of the marina and golf, riding, tennis and squash courts nearby. One of the most expensive marinas on this part of the coast.

One of my favorites is Puerto de la Duquessa. Not too big and not to noisy. The marina is surrounded by apartments, shops, restaurants and bars. The marina offers free medical care to it’s users. There are sandy beaches either side of the marina. The village of Sabinillas is 5 minutes walk to the north. Another bus will take you to the village of Casares which clings to the side of a mountain. Marbella, popular with the rich and famous is another bus journey away. Don’t expect to see the famous on the bus though, they are the ones in the Ferraris. Hire a car and drive up to the picturesque town of Ronda.

Puerto de Estapona is a medium sized marina with the usual development of restaurants and bars.

Puerto de Jose Banus, the marina of the rich and famous and the prices reflect this. Whitewashed, Andalucian style building surround the marina, hosting boutiques, bars, restaurants and night clubs. There are several Yacht Charter and Yacht Brokerage operations within the marina complex. Marbella is 15 minutes away by car or bus. Good beach to the west of the marina which belongs to the hotel and allows berth holders access. This can be arranged at the control tower. Many golf courses in the area.

The small marina at Puerto de Marbella is surrounded by tourist developments. The marina can be noisy at night during the summer months. Wind from the east, south and southwest can produce a heavy swell within the harbour. Be prepared to double up on lines. Beaches on either side of the marina but these get very crowded during the summer months. The town itself is well worth exploring. Don’t miss the famous Orange Square which can be found at the heart of the city centre.

Puerto de Cabopino is a pleasant, small harbour surrounded by Andalucian style houses which makes a nice change from the normal high rise developments. Good shelter within the harbour. Limited space for transient yachts and it is recommended that you call ahead to confirm there is a berth available. Marina charges are on the high side. Cabopino beach, with it’s fine sand is reckoned to be one of the best on the Costa del Sol

Good shelter can be found at Puerto de Fuengirola. The nearby town is both noisy and very busy during the summer months. All provisions can be obtained in the town. There are good beaches on either side of the marina but these get very crowded during the summer months.

Puerto de Benalmadena is a huge marina with over 150,000 square metres of water. There is good shelter with the only swell being experienced in a W gale. Whilst the surrounding area is the usual overpowering high rise blacks the marina itself is quite attractive. It was named best marina in the world in both 1995 and 1998. There are over 200 commercial premises including boutiques, night clubs and the usual numerous restaurants and bars. There is also a sea life centre. There are good beaches on either side of the marina. Malaga airport is just 8 km away.

Puerto de Malaga is the major commercial and fishing port of the Costa del Sol. The only facilities for yachts are at the Real Club Mediterraneo de Malaga and there is little room for visitors. Malaga, known as the “City of Flowers” is both interesting and charming. It can be reached on foot from the port.

The small harbour of Puerto del Candado is found 3.5 miles E of Malaga. Suitable for vessels drawing 2m or less. With strong winds from the W – SW considerable swell builds up and the harbour becomes uncomfortable. Harbour charges are low

Puerto de Puerto Caleta de Velez is a quiet fishing harbour 22 miles to east of Malaga. There are beaches on either side of the marina.

The anchorages of Fondeadero de Neja and Cala de Miel are both worth a visit. Cala de Miel has a fresh water spring.

Marina del Este is a purpose built marina set amongst a huge housing development in a beautiful area. Wind from NE – E produces a limited amount of swell within the marina. Harbour charges are high in the summer months. There is a small beach close to the harbour and a pool at the yacht club. There are prehistoric caves to be seen at Nerja. The city of Granada and the famous Alhambra can be seen in a days trip. As can the Alpahurras valley, with it’s charming villages, towered over by the magnificent Sierra Nevada.

Once a small fishing port, Puerto de Motril has developed into a commercial port serving the inland city of Granada. Beaches on either side of the harbour.

The harbour of Puerto de Adra was founded by the Phoenicians and has been in use ever since. Today it is both a commercial and fishing port. The continual movement of the fishing boats makes for much disturbance. Facilities are limited. Harbour charges are high. Beaches on either side of the harbour. Adra town is small and has little in the way of development for tourism.

Puerto de Almerimar, a very large marina with the capacity for over 1,000 boats. Excellent shelter from everything but strong SW winds when some swell can build up towards the entrance of the harbour. Prices are low. Astonishingly so compared to some other marinas on the Costa del Sol. Sandy beaches on either side of the marina. This part of the coast is covered with plastic greenhouses, it has to be seen to be appreciated both for the vast number of acres under cover and it’s ugliness.

Puerto de Roquetas del Mar is a small fishing harbour. Strong winds from the SE – NE make the harbour uncomfortable.

Good shelter can be found at Puerto de del Aguadulce except with wind from the ESE which can cause some swell making conditions uncomfortable. The marina can cater for some 150 boats. The complex includes a swimming pool and squash court. Sandy beaches to the S with waters clean enough to merit a blue CE flag. Two 18 hole golf courses.

The Puerto de Almeria is a commercial & fishing port. Yachts use the Club de Mar del Almeria. There are several large rusty industrial structures close by a dominating the view and giving the place a rather grim feel. Overall the shelter is good but strong winds from the E produce swell that makes it uncomfortable within the marina. The Alcazaba inAlmeria, a Moorish castle, is well worth a visit.

Riding In The Lap Of Luxury Travel With A Virgin Island Yacht Charters

If you’ve never had the experience of being at the helm of a yacht as you sail through the crystal waters of the Virgin Islands, then consider making that your next vacation goal. A variety of yacht rental and/or vacation facilities are available that will provide you with a complete line of vessels from which to choose for your luxury excursion.

Yacht Chartering Services

+ Bareboats BVI – Located in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, this facility offers a comprehensive line of yachting models and services. Complete with Caribbean sailing charters, motor yacht vacations and crewed yachting holidays, there’s something for everyone – with every level of experience – at this premier yacht chartering establishment. They can be located online at www.bareboatsbvi.com.

+ Island Yacht Charters – Be the skipper of your own chartered yacht or rent a crewed charter when you choose a vacation package through this top-of-the-line Caribbean facility. Located in the Red Hook area of St. Thomas, these folks also offer land packages which include accommodations at Villa Nathalie – a two-bedroom villa on the island’s east end. For more information, visit their website at www.iyc.vi.

+ St. John’s Classic Motor Yacht – Complete with public cruises and private charters, this establishment – located in Cinnamon Bay – offers a variety of vacation and charter packages. Destinations include Virgin Gorda, Outer Cay and Norman Treasure Caves, and will personally customize your trip to accommodate up to 40 guests. Their luxurious yachts include amenities such as spacious salons, teak and mahogany construction, awnings, oversized sun decks, on-board heads and more. Visit their website at http://motoryachtcinnamonbay.com to check out their vessels and vacation options.

+ Destination BVI – This wonderful online travel facility allows you to charter a yacht, plan a vacation and virtually tour the surrounding areas that you may choose to sail by visiting www.destinationbvi.com. Both motor and luxury yacht charters are available to guests, as well as special holiday options that are available during designated times. Whether you prefer a sailing yacht, motor yacht or luxury crewed yacht, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Destination BVI.

+ VIP Yacht Charters – With more than a dozen models to choose from and a variety of locations throughout the 75 islands which comprise the Virgin Islands territory – including both the US Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands – VIP Yacht Charters offers comprehensive packages for vacationers who are looking for more than the run-of-the-mill boating excursion. Their website, www.vipyachts.com, includes fully linked pages that provide information on all aspects of your Caribbean vacation.

Amenities and Activities

For the most part, the basic types of activities and amenities that can be expected from a yacht chartering vacation are pretty much the same, regardless of which facility you choose for the planning of your excursion.

Although the particular attractions will vary from one destination to another, you can expect to enjoy excellent opportunities for fishing, water skiing, wind-surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking, in addition to other water-related sports. For those who prefer to soak up the sun at the water’s edge, there are plenty of beaches throughout the Virgin Islands, and most of the chartered yachts are equipped with spacious decks that are just right for getting a bit of sun without ever leaving your lodgings.

If you’re booking a crewed yacht charter, or taking a group tour with others on a luxury yacht, then the menu is often prepared in advance, offering a delectable assortment of foods that will appeal to just about everyone. In addition, most will offer custom dishes for those who wish to enjoy a special favorite, since the chefs that accompany such cruises are generally pleased to accommodate guests in such a manner. Other amenities include a wide variety of luxury items, specific to each model.

For a great sea-going vacation in the Virgin Islands territory, treat yourself to a chartered yacht, and enjoy the best of all possible worlds.