Authors Posts by Stephanie McMillan

Stephanie McMillan

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Cruising Through Greece

Cruising through Greece

Cruising through Greece is like stepping back in time

The charts spread out on the nav desk are intimidating. There’s so much to see in the southern Aegean Sea with more than 200 islands in 1,000 square miles of water. Our challenge is to determine how many places we can explore in just two weeks. We decide to try for a dozen—an ambitious goal given the distances and amount to see and do on the spectacular Cyclades Islands of Greece where, it seems, time has stood still for millennia. Cruising through Greece is an unending pleasure.

Med-Style

We head south out of Lavrion just as the northerly winds pick up. Med mooring (docking a boat end-on as opposed to alongside) in 35 knots teaches us what a treat the Meltemi wind can be. As if it’s not hard enough to reverse into a gap that looks half the needed size, the wicked Greek Meltemi adds to the fun of our arrival at Mykonos Island. We face down some Croatian charterers for the last quay space, tie up and wait for the Meltemi to blow itself out.

Mykonos is where the beautiful people come to party, some on the superyachts that dot the large bay. The island seems to burst out of the sea, spilling chic eateries, artsy galleries, decorated staircases, and classic Greek island architecture in every direction. The town is made up of narrow alleys where tiny restaurants are shoehorned into every corner. Fashion boutiques carry everything from designer dresses to handmade flip-flops that are so beautifully arrayed, it nearly makes a shopper out of even me. Souvlaki (the popular Greek fast food of meat on a skewer) wafts on the breeze that curls around alley corners, and every door is a work of art.

The Meltemi wasn’t letting up so we book ferry tickets to Delos, the neighboring island, all of which is an active archeological dig. There are no tavernas, no discos, no shops, and most important, no anchoring, which is why you take a ferry.

Ancient History

Delos is the antithesis to Mykonos. It’s the birthplace of the twin gods Artemis and Apollo and was a hopping place back in 1500-1200 BC. Today, however, it’s a place to contemplate the ages and how even hearty civilizations can disappear. The island’s ancient homes, shops and temples are amazingly well preserved. We walk along the Terrace of Lions that looks out over the Sacred Lake (drained in 1926 by anthropologists trying to eradicate mosquitos). It’s downright otherworldly. The site steps back a few centuries and you’ll want to dust off memories of high school mythology classes to take it all in. Much of the once-colorful mosaics are left exposed to the elements, which must give museum curators around the world nightmares.

After three days, we dislodge our anchor from an underwater cable and say goodbye to Mykonos just in time to ride the last of the Meltemi to Milos, an island made famous by the discovery of the Venus de Milo, which was unearthed there by a farmer in 1820.

We tie up in the town of Adamas and stroll the circular quay lined with captains hawking the next day’s excursions. They’re all gorgeous, Zorba-the-Greek types and they promise an unforgettable cruise to the western island sites, which are chock-full of caves, rock formations, and sheer cliffs. I walk from one handsome, sunburnt salesman to the next, eye their vessels and learn about the must-see stops.

The Greeks have a bit of a flirtation with the definition of vessel capacity limits, and owners of 45-foot sailboats promise full-day tours “with room for at least 20 people.” We’re seven in 56 feet, and that’s plenty. The highlight of every vendor’s Oscar-worthy presentation is a photo of the amazing lunch that would be served. I pour over their brochures and maps and realize we can do it on our own.

Seclusion for the Win

The next morning, we wait two hours and then follow the tourist boats on their trek to visit the highlights. The delay was a stroke of genius as we arrive at each stop just as the local boats pull anchor to move on, leaving us alone to enjoy the peace and quiet. We dinghy into the topless Sykia cave, which is a treat since no one is there but our own echo. And lunch? Well, our morning’s visit to a small grocery store makes for our own brochure-worthy feast.

Following the trail south, we turn the corner to Kleftiko, an unreal playground ringed with caves and arches that can only be visited by boat and explored by dinghy. There’s no bad place to point the camera, so we lose track of time and decide to stay the night. Protected from the northern wind by steep cliffs, we have the peaceful anchorage to ourselves after all the tourist boats head back to town.

In the morning, we continue on our circumnavigation of Milos and find Sarakiniko Beach. Made up of white sand, tall cliffs and hundreds of caves, the moonscape of Sarakiniko can be visited by land as well as by boat.

Sheer, white cliffs fall into the blue-green water, dotted by pink caves that lure you in for a swim. We have a unique vantage point as we’re the only boat anchored out and are photographed by the visitors deposited on the beach by tourist buses from Adamas.

Jump In

Young guys and gals dare each other to jump off the 60-foot cliffs above, but I opt for a long swim instead and wonder if Odysseus himself may have been lured here by sirens. That afternoon, we circle back to town and find one more space on the quay for another Med moor, this one executed in windless bliss.

Here, the islands and days flow by and too soon, it’s time to head back north, so we scour the charts to find one more island before returning to Athens. We settle on Kea, which turns out to be a great find. A weekend destination for Athenian yachties, Kea is often overlooked by charter boats and that’s a mistake. The island benefits from frequent rainfall (by Greek standards) so it’s more verdant than the rest of the Cyclades and is covered by row upon row of olive tree terraces and beautiful vineyards; the countryside is more akin to Italy. Like most villages in the Cyclades, Kea’s town of Ioulida is built into a mountainside and practically vertical, which creates unbeatable views and memorable sunsets. We hike to the famous Stone Lion of Kea and its weird and enigmatic smile.

During our somewhat irregular and incomplete circumnavigation of the Cyclades, we learn that there are at least three different ways to spell every island and town name, which makes sailing and driving rental cars interesting. The old town on every island is called Hora or Chora, which doesn’t help. Greek names are a mystery, even when written in an alphabet we could recognize. In the native language, it’s quite literally, all Greek to us.

We visit seven of the thirty islands and barely scratch the surface of all there is to see. Our choice of anchorages often involves keeping a distance from the thumping discos that, in Greece, can go on until dawn. Otherwise, we were immersed in history that we can’t even ponder on this side of the Atlantic, and we revel in the natural beauty of the water, the beaches, the countryside, and the people. Friendly and helpful, the villagers outside the main towns are genuinely unfazed by tourism. They just go about their lives, less hurried and harried, and only the advertising of free Wi-Fi in every taverna suggests that it’s not 1200 BC.

Cruiser Resources

  • May through July and again September through October are good times to charter in the Mediterranean but beware of August when all of Europe is on vacation.
  • The Moorings has a selection of powercats for charter from 43 to 51 feet. You can cover a lot of territory at 15 knots, but fuel is expensive.
  • Provisioning is excellent and affordable everywhere and the restaurants and tavernas are not to be missed. Greece is one of those places where you can go food shopping every day, so keep things fresh by buying small quantities at a time.

By Zuzana Prochazka, Southern Boating October 2018

Photos courtesy of Zuzana Prochazka, The Greek National Tourism Organisation, and Lefteris Papulakis

Volvo’s Hybrid IPS

hybrid IPS Volvo Penta

Volvo Penta’s popular pod drive is going green with a Hybrid IPS.

Eco-conscious captains might feel fuel is flowing foolishly when throwing down the throttles to quickly get to running speeds. It’s called “the holeshot” in performance boating—a measure of the time and effort to go from zero mph to get on plane or reach cruise speed. As the engines gulp fuel, the thought of all those petrol dollars being burned out the exhaust pipes can be nauseating.

Based on its battle-tested, highly successful pod propulsion Inboard Performance System (IPS), Volvo Penta takes the next step with a hybrid concept that might be the alternative to all that foolish fuel consumption. Hybrid concepts have been kicking around for years—Northern Lights launched its Hybrid Marine System in 2011—but the knowledge from Volvo Penta’s IPS system gives the company a step forward in hybrid propulsion design and their goal to provide electric power solutions by 2021.

“Our hybrid IPS system is currently designed for boats from thirty-five feet up to one hundred twenty feet,” says Niklas Thulin, Volvo Penta’s director of electromobility. “The IPS hybrid system is planned initially for the eight- to thirteen-liter engine range, suitable for powering vessels such as ferries, pilot and supply boats as well as yachts. It will be similar to the traditional Volvo Penta IPS installations with two to four individual drivelines (engine/electric motor/pod).”

More Flexibility

A recent Volvo Penta press release detailed how a hybrid provides a flexible solution that maintains the high efficiency offered by the hybrid IPS system and adds the ability to run in zero-emission environments. With full torque from the electric motor available instantly, the boat will maintain responsiveness and controllability and provide a more efficient holeshot using electric power as well as the ability to run at 10 to 12 knots in electric-only mode.

The new hybrid configuration allows boats to operate in low and zero emission zones expected to go into effect around the world in the coming years. The hybrid also brings additional benefits, such as lower noise levels, vibrations and running costs.

Volvo Penta Hybrid IPS
Pod drive system

The hybrid IPS concept design features a clutch and electric motor added between the engine and the IPS pod. The boat runs in an electric-only mode with the clutch open and with the clutch closed, the boat uses diesel and electric power in parallel. The captain selects the desired drive mode through the familiar IPS system control interface.

“The electric motor can provide more torque than the combustion engine at low rpm, which makes it very useful at maneuvering and low speeds,” says Thulin. “The combustion engine will have more power at higher speeds and, therefore, be the main power source from half to full speed.”

Electric-Only

The electric motor is supported by Li-ion battery packs that are charged by either external AC or DC chargers or through the primary diesel engine. The battery packs are modular in nature and allow owners to customize their design and performance whether for commercial or recreational use.

Electric-only cruising is extended with more battery capacity, and frequent external charging allows for the use of a smaller diesel engine to lower fuel costs. Service costs are lowered as well with the effectively maintenance-free batteries and fewer operating hours on the diesel engine. Volvo Penta will continue to support customers in tailoring a prop-to-helm configuration based on the specific application needs.

“Our solutions will be based on proven technology within the Volvo Group based on more than ten years of development of electrified solutions,” adds Thulin. “With the deep application knowledge, the solutions will be fit for a purpose and adapted to customer needs…. We’ve also got a great team of naval architects that are able to analyze precisely what energy content is necessary to move a vessel with a given hull at a certain speed.”

The parallel hybrid IPS system is in the early stage of development. It’s being validated at the company’s test center in Gothenburg, Sweden. A test boat is planned for sea trials in early 2020. Customer input will play an important role in the development of the system, which is expected to reach the commercial market in 2021, followed by a leisure boat option soon after. Volvo Penta’s commitment to offer customers flexible technical solutions will evolve this system into more hybrid technologies and all-electric drive variations.

By Doug Thompson, Southern Boating December 2018

Outboard Cruisers Roundup

Hinckley Sport Boat Outboard Cruiser

Outboard Cruisers Roundup

Outboard cruisers are truly the best of both worlds. What are these boats like? It’s like speed and maneuverability met comfort and space to make the most useful of boats.

The first tryst resulted in a goldmine: larger-than-life center consoles. But their second rendezvous created something that seems like it should have been here all along: outboard cruisers. It’s a winning combination.

Outboard cruisers create more interior room and offer plenty of space for the coastal cruising family without sacrificing shoal accessibility or speed. It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that this segment of the market is here. And it’s here to stay.

Whether out for an overnight or a week along the coast, here’s a “baker’s dozen” to consider.

Formula 400 Super Sport Crossover

MJM 53Z

Regal 33 XO

Cutwater C-242 SE

Sealine S330V

Pursuit OS 385

Back Cove 34O

Jeanneau NC 1095

Sea Ray SLX 400 OB

Monterey 385SE

Boston Whaler 380 Realm

Hinckley Sport Boat 40X

Antares 27 

By Steve Davis, Southern Boating December 2018

Antares 27

Antares 27

Antares 27

Bénéteau introduces the U.S. to their new generation of coastal cruising boats, the Antares range. Billed as the ultimate weekend cruiser, the range includes the 21-foot, 23-foot, and 27-foot models and is a perfect introduction to short-range coastal or lake cruising. The Antares 27 is powered by twin Mercury 200-hp outboard engines and with the optional bow thruster, tight maneuvering is smooth and responsive.

Bénéteau’s Airstep hull deflects waves effectively and ensures stability on the water. The pilothouse is bright and airy with 360-degree views, a side starboard door to make maneuvers and moving about easier for the driver, a sectional sliding door aft, and a panoramic sunroof. Two entirely independent cabins and a separate head with shower, a galley and a roomy aft deck provide plenty of space for family and friends.

27′ LOA, 9’8″ beam, 2’11” max draft

beneteaulife.com

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Cutwater C-242 SE

Cutwater-C242_SE

Cutwater C-242 SE

The latest in Cutwater Boats’ versatile sport cruisers is the C-242 SE. The “special edition” C-242 is powered by a single Yamaha 250-hp, V6 outboard, and her deep-V, double-stepped hull that flattens aft and incorporates reversed chines helps her get on plane faster and run smoother. The patented laminar flow interrupters keep cornering sharp and positive. At the helm, a Garmin 942xs Chartplotter come standard along with a color Yamaha engine control screen.

Down below is a double cabin forward with head and sink, while on deck, a full galley with sink, stovetop, microwave, and refrigerator/freezer provide all the comforts of home. Anglers will appreciate that the C-242 SE’s cockpit comes with a draining fish box, deep cooler and sink integrated into the transom as well as plenty of rod holders.

23’7″ LOA, 8’6″ beam

cutwaterboats.com

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