Rod Heikell's very informal site on sailing around bits of the world and an eclectic collection of things nautical or nearly so.

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Recent new editions and new books


West Aegean

The Attic Coast, Eastern Peloponnese, Western Cyclades and Northern Sporades

Rod and Lucinda Heikell

Rod Heikell’s 'West Aegean' is a cruising guide to the Attic coast, Eastern Peloponnese, Western Cyclades and Northern Sporades. It is the ideal companion for charterers and flotilla sailors providing not only clear pilotage but also background information on visiting Greece, notes on history, food and wine and places to visit on the coast and inland.

It runs from Corinth to Cape Sounion. Covers Aigina and Poros in the Saronic Gulf, and down the eastern side of the Peloponnese, includining Idhra and Spetsai, to Monemvasia and Cape Malea. It includes the Western islands of the Cyclades: Kea, Kithnos, Serifos, Sifnos and Milos.

This new edition has been thoroughly updated and throughout there are many new and revised plans and photos



Corfu, Levkas, Cephalonia, Zakinthos and the coast to Finakounda

Rod and Lucinda Heikell

Like its companions, West Aegean and East Aegean, Ionian contains detailed information on many of the smaller harbours and anchorages which cannot be covered as comprehensively in Rod Heikell's major guide, Greek Waters Pilot. These handy cruising companions are ideal for charterers and flotilla sailors who are in the area for a short time but to make the best of it need all the essential background information on places to visit, history, food and travelling in Greece at their fingertips. Cruisers on their own yachts will also find much of interest and additional pilotage when cruising in the area.
Ionian covers the coasts and islands south from Corfu, southwards to Finakounda and eastwards to Mesolongion. Ionian is essential on-board reference.
This new 8th edition has been thoroughly revised. The text and plans have been corrected and throughout there are new photos, many of them from the air.

Also available to purchase in 5 sections via the free Imray Nautical App (download via the itunes App Store)


Just out from Imray

The Trade Wind Foodie

Good food, Cooking and Sailing around the World

Rod Heikell

The title of Rod Heikell's latest writing only hints at this book's content and coverage. Five years ago the author and his wife, Lu, set out on a circumnavigation and the opening part of The Tradewind Foodie is an account of the successive eastbound passages first to the Caribbean and then on through the Panama Canal to the Pacific, Australia and the Indian Ocean. There's plenty of practical advice as well as entertaining asides in Rod's inimitable style on the incidents that contributed to the adventure. Throughout, however, there is a slant towards provisioning, cooking on board and discovering food and restaurants at the numerous landfalls.
Rod Heikell provides an extensive selection of tried and tested dishes in the second part of the book. Cooking at sea is an art and Rod's selection provides a great range of recipes that are practical under most sea conditions.


Nautical Mind
Staff Pick and book of the month

An artfully presented book with a unique focus. Rod and Lu Heikell write about their voyages with a slant towards provisioning, cooking on board and discovering food at the numerous landfalls. The book has gorgeous colour photos, and lots of practical advice. The first half is divided into the areas they sail in, including the Atlantic, Caribbean, Pacific, Australasia, Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Med. The second half of the book contains numerous tried and tested recipes that are practical under most sea conditions.

Mediterraneo is the Italian for this wonderful enclosed sea and is where we get the present day name from. Mediterranean means the 'inland sea' or the 'sea in the middle of the earth' from the Latin medius (middle) and terra (earth). The Romans called it Mare Nostrum, ‘Our Sea’. The Greeks called it Mesogeios from which the Latin name is probably derived. Mesogeios is Meso (middle or half) and geios (land or earth). In the Old Testament it is simply called the ‘Great Sea’ or just the ‘Sea’. In classical Arabic it was the ‘Roman Sea’ while in modern Arabic and Turkish it is the ‘White Sea’.


The Accidental Sailor

The Unlikely Tale of Two Small Boat Voyages to the Mediterranean

Rod Heikell

In 1976 Rod Heikell set off for the Mediterranean in Roulette, a 20 foot boat that should probably have never left the sheltered waters of the Solent. Via the French Canals and Biscay he somehow got there and sailed to Corsica, Italy and on to Greece. This book records the near disasters, and highs and lows of a voyage which shaped his life in ways he never imagined. He became the accidental sailor and developed a life-long love of sailing and exploring the seas. In 1987 he took Rozinante, a Mirror Offshore 18, down the Danube, behind the Iron Curtain to the Black Sea and Aegean, probably the longest voyages one of these tubby little craft has made. These were simple voyages on small yachts with minimal equipment that shaped what Rod
was to do in ways he never envisaged. 'It's a mystery, an accident' he is fond of saying when asked how it all started.
Rod has gone on to write yachting guides to many of the Mediterranean countries, on the Indian Ocean and on routes and landfalls around the world. His latest book, The Trade Wind Foodie is on food, a subject dear to his stomach.
Also available as a Kindle ebook.


The Trade Wind Foodie and The Accidental Sailor can be found at Imrays, Amazon, W H Smith, Alibris and all those sort of web sites. As well as places like Nautical Mind and Sailing Books in SA. And of course independent bookshops and chandlers.


Rod Heikell's very informal site on sailing in the Mediterranean. This site is now up and running and all the pages on the Mediterranean here will eventually migrate there.


There will be no new entries on the Med on this site from May 2010

Like Tell-Tales, the Mediterraneo site will contain an eclectic mix to do with things nautical, or nearly so, in the Mediterranean. For sailing outside the Mediterranean stay here. Eventually, but not just yet, the pages to do with sailing in the Mediterranean will be removed from this site.

There will inevitably be some duplicaton between the two sites with pages that are relevant to sailing within and without the Mediterranean on both sites. These will all have the same page name so don't worry too much.



See the Navigating around page for a brief guide to what is on the other pages.

New bits are added to existing pages when I get time and access to a broadband connection so its worth checking pages you may already have looked at.


My old and salty Oxford Companion to the Ships and the Sea defines a telltale as 'a compass which the master of a ship had in his cabin so that he could always know the direction in which his ship was heading'. Later it morphed into a word meaning any device which reproduces useful information and for yachties 'a name used in yachts to describe the five inch lengths of wool sewn at intervals just abaft the luff of a sail to indicate the airflow'.


I like to think of a tell-tale as a more instinctive thing, that feeling you get when you are off watch and you feel there is something not quite right with the boat. The sound of water over the hull is different. The motion of the yacht is out of kilter. She's staggering through the water not cutting through it. Like a dog sniffing the air, things smell wrong but you can't put your finger on exactly what it is. So you get up out of your berth and go up into the cockpit to see whats happening. First you glance at the sails and you can just see in the dim night that the tell-tales are not sitting right. The winds come round on the nose and you need to bear off a bit to get them sitting right. And then a few mumbled words to the crew on watch and its back to bed. Tell-tales.

And it must also mean telling tales. There is always a danger that this sort of writing can become a boring angst driven diatribe about everything you find wrong with the world so I will endeavour to include as much of that as possible. And any other things that are vaguely related to living and sailing on that watery stuff.

Skylax and Rod Heikell

This web site will record, though not in any structured way, travelling with Skylax in different parts of the world. Some of you may be familiar with some of the sailing guides I've written for the Mediterranean and other parts of the world and a lot of you will not. This site is not intended to plug those books although I may put up some of the supplements that we do for them and inevitably I will mention things about them. It's what I do. It's what I've done for over a quarter of a century.

It is intended to be a lot looser with descriptions of some of the places we sail, on the joys and sheer graft of fixing and maintaining the good ship Skylax, of things on the fringes of the nautical mainstream, on the bizarre addiction to sailing that many of us have that is detrimental to the wallet and often uncomfortable and scary. Try explaining it to those who dwell on the hard bits they call land and you end up muttering some inanity about freedom and romance and self-sufficiency until you see the eyes glaze over and you can't stand to answer questions like 'What do you do all the time' ...anymore. But I'll try. Especially the romance and the addiction to life under sail.

Marriage and the mistress



Before Lu and I got married I had to tell her that I would always spend more money on a mistress than a wife. The mistress at that time was a previous boat, seven tenths, a Cheoy Lee Pedrick 36. 'Likewise', she replied, 'just as I will always spend money on my lover'. So it was a match made in heaven and the two of us have always put the boat first.



Lu is my muse, my shipmate, the one I bless at three in the morning when she comes up to take her watch. She loves getting the boat set up and sailing at its best and she does it all with that smile and hicuppy laughter. She is also the boat electrician, more patient and knowledgeable than me on marine electrics.

Skylax, our present boat is a Warwick Cardinal 46, designed by fellow kiwi Alan Warwick and built by the Tania Yard in Taiwan. She was designed in the mid-80's and is medium displacement with a shallow 6'3" wing keel. Its hard to know exactly what to look for when you are buying a boat if it is new to you. A trial sail can't really tell you very much as the salesman, the surveyor, and anyone else along for the ride ask you questions and are just around. You can't snuggle down on the wheel and get a real sense of the boat - just a glimpse. On our test sail the rigging was set up so badly I was worried about the mast in 10 knots of wind. But I could sense something there and the rest looked alright.

She had been neglected for three years or more. Her equipment was old and in any case the girl had suffered what must have been a fairly direct lightening strike. The B&G instruments, the black box linking autopilot and instruments, radar, SSB, smart charger, all of them contained gobs of molten PCB's and were never going to work again. The grounding plate on the outside of the hull had been blown clean away by the strike. Her sail inventory was tired, the rigging needed replacing, her other electrics and the plumbing were a mess. The tender was useless and her liferaft was destined for the rubbish tip.

So we bought her. The price was around 35 to 45 percent less than other Cardinal 46's on the market. She had beefed up floors and stringers and her construction elsewhere was stout. Her shape looked easily driven and so it has proved. Her layout was an odd one that just happened to suit us.

Lu and I spent two months fixing what we could to get her ready for sea. Rigging, plumbing, instruments, radar, autopilot. The list seemed endless. Our shakedown cruise was from Fort Lauderdale to the BVI's in one hit. That was when we knew she was a sweet boat.






On the northeast corner of Salih Adasi there are a few overgrown ruins of ancient Karyanda. The city was never an important one although Skylax does say it had a harbour, though he may have meant a sheltered anchorage - probably the bay on the east side in the channel. It was not a Lelegian town as many on the Bodrum peninsula were at the time and appears to have been a Carian/Hellenic town from the early Classical period (7th to 6th century BC? although pottery found here is dated to 4th century BC). Skylax of Karyanda is 6th to possibly 5th century BC and mentions it as his home. At some time in it’s history, possibly in 300BC, the site of the city was moved to a lake on the mainland, usually identified as that at Golkoy on the coast opposite. Here there is evidence of a Byzantine settlement, under which may be the Mk II version of Karyanda.

I have a personal interest in all this as I have long been interested in Skylax of Karyanda (c. 6th century BC) who probably wrote the first Periplus or pilot for the Mediterranean and was also appointed by the Persians to explore the eastern boundaries of their empire. Herodotus tells us a little about this extraordinary man after whom my boat is named and for the rest we have to interpolate a bit. The map of his travels is my best guess at where he travelled given that he was to explore the eastern boundaries of the Persian Empire a few decades before it’s expansion to the borders shown for 490BC.

Darius appointed Skylax to make the trip possibly in 519-512 BC. He sailed up the Aegean coast to the Black Sea and then east to what is now Georgia where he trekked overland to the head of the Indus River (Greek Sinthos), probably somewhere around present day Islamabad. From here he travelled down the Indus to the Indian Ocean. It is likely he walked the initial stages as the river is difficult to navigate, but in the Indus Valley it slows and can be navigated. In 1857 the British constructed a 377 foot steamer for the lower reaches of the Indus, although it only drew 2 foot and was  powered by paddle wheels for the shallower sections where propellers would foul the bottom. From here Skylax made his way around the Arabian peninsula and up the Red Sea to Egypt and then home to Karyanda. It is likely he used local craft to make the last part of the voyage as we know this was already a popular sea trading route.

No account by Skylax of this expedition remains and we only know of it from Herodotus and Aristotle. A Periplus of the Mediterranean survives, but this has later additions and so is usually known as the Periplus of Pseudo-Skylax. I and a number of others believe that this pilot is probably from Skylax with later additions, but that is all a matter of conjecture and for the time being Skylax is remembered by a few interested scholars and in the name of my boat.

From my East Aegean go to

Karyanda?                                                                        Skylax in Salih Adasi (Karyanda?)




Skylax position reports

We will be posting position reports with Yotreps WHEN WE ARE ON PASSAGE. Position reports can be found at Yotreps from either THE REPORTING BOAT LIST or you can download the YOTREPS POSITION REPORTER and locate our track on the world map.

Yotreps  has a side bar menu with the reporting boat list and also a button to download the Yotreps Reporter (reporter software) and instructions on how to use it. The software is free.

You can find Skylax either by our call sign or name:


Call sign   MGAY


The new edition came out in December but check on the IMRAY site for details. Both me and Andy have put lots of work into this edition and it is a different and better beast than the 1st edition. Well you can all be the judge of that.
Its not for sale here but you can order it from your local bookshop, from Amazon or other sellers on the internet, or from Imrays. Please check you are getting the SECOND EDITION.

Preface to the 2nd edition

Off the coast of Mindelo in the Cape Verdes a small tan sail emerged heading at speed towards Skylax. Balaena had everything up including the topsail on her gaff rig and was fairly skipping over the waves. We had been talking on the radio for days as we headed from divergent ports in the Canaries towards the Cape Verdes and had planned for months to meet up there for the first time on the water in our boats. The fact we met up in the ocean and sailed together to Mindelo was pure chance. We have talked often on the land in different countries, but meeting up on the water was a token, a special sartori, of how far we had come after embarking on the project of writing Ocean Passages and Landfalls. As usual Andy was heading south to the higher latitudes of Chile and Antarctica while I was sailing west for the Caribbean and Pacific along lower lats.

For this edition we have revised large chunks of the original book and have sailed tens of thousands of miles looking at the passages and landfalls. One significant change to this edition is the inclusion of guides to cruising areas around the world. From Greenland to Antarctica and the Red Sea to Vanuatu, we have put together the sort of information that is useful when choosing just where you want to go as well as some photos to give a hint of what is there. It's a big planet and seven tenths of it is covered by sea, so we are fully conscious that there are a lot more places waiting to be explored. We will put future guides to cruising areas up on the Imray web site (

There is one blot on the seascape to this edition. Before this new edition came out Warwick Clay died in NZ and so we can no longer rely on his extensive knowledge of the South Pacific. We have done our best to research the South Pacific ourselves and Skylax has spent a busy year and more trundling along South Pacific routes to landfalls in this book. Hopefully Warwick is looking down benignly on us from his watery Valhalla.

Rod Heikell
Cairns 2009

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