Portrait of a Cruiser #12: Tony & Linda Olin

This month sees a year that we have been running our “Portrait of a Cruiser” series. To celebrate we are featuring one of our dedicated contributors SY DeDanann, with Irish double-handers on board Tony and Linda Olin. Describing themselves as a “typical cruising couple”, the Olins are no-fixed-agenda Mediterranean cruisers.

Published 6 years ago, updated 5 years ago

Names of Owners: Tony & Linda Olin

Nationality: Irish

Boat Name: DeDanann

Boat Type/Model and Size: Amel Super Maramu, 16 meter ketch rigged sail boat

Your Home Port: Dublin. ROI

Blog/website/Facebook pages: HYC.ie, cruising news, DeDanann

How did you start cruising?

We started cruising around the coast of Ireland during holidays and weekends in the summer of 1996. This continued for some years going further to Wales, Scotland, Isle of Mann, and the south coast England as time allowed. We later bought a motor boat in the Balearics in 2006 and cruised between there and the east coast of Spain.

In 2014, having retired from the family property development and construction business in both Dublin and London that we built up over thirty years (we passed it on to our three sons), we gave up the rat race and moved aboard DeDanann to commence our life at sea almost full time, returning home to Dublin to see family and friends at Christmas and New Year.

Describe what sort of cruisers you are:

We are your typical cruising couple. We have no real agenda or need to keep to any schedule, we take life easy, coming and going from port to port as we please. Tony is the sailor and navigator, mechanic and grease monkey, Linda keeps house so to speak and cooks most of the time. Alfie our little terrier is a lay about and keeps us fit walking him. He’s a good little watch dog at night time and a great friend to have onboard.

What type of cruising are you doing currently?

We are presently cruising Turkey having crossed over from Greece in June 2017.

A Turkish Cruise (Bodrum, Datca, Marmaris): Summer 2017

From the Ionian to the Dodecanese: Preveza to Kalynmos

What were the key reasons you selected your current boat?

The Amel is a legendary cruisers’ boat, built to a very high standard of workmanship in La Rochelle. We had often heard it said that when you buy an Amel you will never want another boat and we are inclined to agree as it’s built to cross oceans in safety and comfort. They are simply a great boat easily handled by a cruising couple, in fact Tony often sails her singlehanded on longish passages when Linda returns home to visit family.

What other boats have you owned?

We have owned several over the years, the first was Antelope, a Dufour 29 from the 1970s, she was a grand, sturdy and dry sea boat that we kept in Dublin for many years. The second was an old-timer wooden boat built by Silvers yard in Rosneath in Scotland in 1930 called JuneAmelia after the youngest daughter of the first owner from Glasgow. She operated as a submarine patrol boat off the Western Isles (of Scotland) during WW11 and was returned to her owner when the war ended. Tony just loved painting and maintaining that boat, there is something very special about a wooden boat despite the work involved in keeping them. Our sons keep her in Dublin presently.

The third boat we owned was a Searay motor boat, bought brand new in Spain in 2005. A nice boat that gave us no end of trouble which wasn’t helped by the dreadful after sales service from Searay, who as we discovered when they have your money they no longer want to hear from you.

The fourth was a Hallberg Rassy 42E ketch called Safari that we bought from a neighbouring couple in Dublin after they spent nine years cruising around the world in her. Sadly she went up on fire due to an electrical fault on board in the marina in San Carlos de la Rapita in Spain. It was Friday 13th of December 2013, we were on board, the engine was running to charge the batteries when a fire broke out in the aft cabin and very quickly spread through the wiring to every part of the boat. The batteries started to explode one after the other, the smoke was such that there was just no fighting it without a breathing apparatus. When the firemen emerged having gone down to put the fire out, one of them had both our watches in his hand, both stopped at one o’clock exactly – 13.00. Now I’m not normally superstitious, but !!!!!! I jest you not.

What changes have you made to your current boat?

When we acquired DeDanann after the fire on Safari, she was looking tired! She was just lying in the marina in Port Andratx, Mallorca, having not been used for many years as her German owner was a busy business man and was at that time quite unwell, he passed away before the purchase was completed.

We spent a lot of money getting her ready for the long trip ahead, new bimini, cockpit cushions and sun shade, new suit of SP sails made locally in Palma, new running rigging and furling motors, refit hydrovane self-steering from Safari, serviced Lofrans windlass and the bow thruster, new Rocna 33kg anchor, engine and generator service, serious upgrade of the electrical system, upgrade of the plumbing, new flexible pipes, new electric toilet and black water holding tank, replaced the gas pipes and regulators, serviced the air conditioning, new mattress and upholstery, painted the headlining all over, re-varnishing of the floors, hull polishing etc.

Alot of the work was done by ourselves as this was a great opportunity to get to know the boat and her systems. It was all done in Port Andratx and we enjoyed ourselves, it was a great get-away from the business.

Most useful equipment fitted, and reasons for this choice:

I think without a doubt the autopilot and bow thruster. That autopilot steered us for over thirty hours through a force nine storm on the nose crossing from the Aeolian to Greece in very rough conditions and never missed a beat. I slept for several hours, leaving it to get us there, during that storm.

The drop-down bow thruster that is an Amel design is fantastic. It will push her up into the wind mooring in thirty knots and is also great for reversing in a straight line.

Linda loves the washing machine and air-conditioning.

Equipment regrets, or things you would do differently:

Amels are very well thought out, it can be a big mistake to change things without spending a lot of time on board. Linda would like more light down below, this is something that Amel have addressed in later models. Tony’s one big regret is the engine exhaust exits from the port side close to the cockpit. This is a nuisance with fumes coming on board if the wind is coming from port. It would be better exiting from the stern.

List the countries you have cruised:

Ireland, UK, France, Spain, Balearics extensively, Sardinia, Sicily, Egada and Aolian Islands, Italy, Greece extensively, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, and Turkey.

Future cruising plans:

We are presently enjoying Turkey and will continue south along the Turkish coast for 2018. After that we may decide to head out to the Indian Ocean through the Suez canal for India and Thailand, where we have grandchildren that we are missing badly.

List the oceans/seas you have crossed:

Irish sea, North sea from Zeebruge to Dover, Mediterranean, Adriatic and Aegean.

Approximate sea miles: 8/10,000 miles

Scariest day on the water:

We set off from the Aeolian through the Messina Straits all the way to Fiskardho on Kefalonia, Greece, in October 2014, approximately 350 miles. The predicted forecast was for good sailing weather with a gale forecast in Greece for early Sunday morning. Our ETA at Kefalonia was for around midnight Saturday and we would be tucked up nicely before it hit, or so we thought!

We had the predicted weather up until early Friday morning, at which point we were 120 miles off Fiskardho and over 100 miles from any other safe port. Tony went down to grab some sleep after being on watch all night and Linda stood watch for a few hours. We were on autohelm and with electronic furling she could reduce sail to suit the Northerly winds that were blowing at 15 knots.

Tony was only asleep an hour or so when Linda woke him as the wind was moving to the South East and rising, the sea was building and confused and she was scared. On his way up to the cockpit he noticed the barometer was dropping fast and the Italian Coastguard were putting out a gale warning. As the hours went by the wind rose to over 30 knots and the sea built steadily. By midnight on Saturday we were in storm force winds in excess of 40 knots from the East south East, the sea was at least four meters and conditions were rough to say the least! We had torrential rain with thunder and lightning lit up the sky as white frothy foam washed over the decks of DeDanann.

Tony was suffering with sea sickness, more from anxiety than the motion of the boat. Linda propped herself under the cabin table with some pillows and was very scared, at one point she came up to the cockpit with a can of coke for Tony and quite calmly said “do you think we will ever see our grandchildren again?” Tony replied, “of course we will, put on your life jacket and stay below and try to sleep”. She looked out at the mountainous sea and said, “we end up in there and we’re gone!” We had never worn lifejackets on DeDanann yet, but keep them to hand in case we ever had to abandon her to a liferaft.

We arrived in Assos Bay at 05.30, the sea was calmer there but the wind was raging off the high hills that surround the bay blowing at over 50 knots, our wind meter stops at 50. We hove-to in the bay just off the little port of Assos. I was too afraid of the wind to attempt going in to take shelter in such a confined space, if she did not hold on the anchor in these conditions we may find ourselves grounded or unable to get back out.

DeDanann hoves-to very well with just the mizzen sail set and the wheel tied off, we made tea and toast whilst we waited for the dawn. We tried calling up the Greek Coastguard on vhf 16 but we got no reply. Linda looked up the telephone number in Heikells pilot book and called them up. A kindly voice answered and we told him of our predicament and asked his advice about getting into Fiskardho in these conditions. He said he would call up the port police there and come back to us. Ten minutes later he called us up and advised that they felt we could get in and they would be waiting at the port to assist us with tying up, just call them on vhf12 on our arrival at the entrance.

When we arrived the port was packed with boats with crew on the decks tending their lines in the torrential rain and wind. The port police had moved a small fishing boat and took our lines when we finally tied up. They then arranged for Yanni’s in the Captain’s Cabin Taverna to open up and deliver us a delicious breakfast that was very much appreciated and well received. It was a fantastic ending to what was our worst experience at sea. We have never forgotten the hospitality extended to us from the kindly Greeks that we encountered that morning.

Best cruising moment:

There have been many, too many to mention.

Favourite cruising area and why:

Greece is without a doubt our favourite cruising ground, lots of wonderful islands only a day sail away, not too commercialized, cheap mooring on the town quays, tavernas are good value, the laid back pace of life, but it’s really all about the people for us.

Favourite anchorage:

Lakka on Paxos is special.

This horseshoe bay and the small village are surrounded by hills covered in olive trees, the turquoise water is just so wonderful for swimming and snorkeling, the holding is good on sand and some weed and the shelter from the sea is excellent. We dont particularly like remote anchorages, there is always lots of boats on anchor here and the village has a few good tavernas and a mini market. There is a small town quay to tie up on but it is very low to the water, its much better to be on anchor and take a long line to the shore.

Favourite cruising apps:


Favourite cruising websites:

Noonsite, Amel owners and Med sailing Facebook group.

What advice or message would you want to pass on to anyone new to cruising or thinking about casting off the dock lines?

Go for it! The graveyards are full of sailors who spent their lives working and putting off full filling their dream. I have lived my own life in the belief that you will never plough a field by turning it over in your mind. Living on the sea cruising costs us less than living at home. Do it before you get too old, it requires a certain amount of fitness and strength. We set off aged 54 and would have done it earlier only for business commitments. Missing our grandchildren growing up is the only negative.

Why cruise – what is it that inspires you to keep cruising?

It’s not that life ashore is boring, it’s just that life at sea is far more interesting.

Mark Twain (I think).

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