Calm to chaos (unusual?!)
23 July 2014 | Zante Town, Zakynthos
Here we are in Zante Town It’s a surprisingly big place, which shouldn’t be a surprise as it’s the capital of Zakynthos. Then again, Argostoli is the capital of Cephalonia and, other than great yacht and knee services (and people), not much there. Altho lots of watermelons! Great fruit and veges.
Anyway, Zante Town. We moored on the town quay—€10pn plus an optional €5 for electricity and €5 for water.
Hot hot hot! Fortunately, there’s a very handy, beautifully clear beach about 20 metres from Amble so lots of dips between pottering around.
Zante Town, as with most places in Cephalonia and Zakynthos, was demolished after the 1953 earthquake, so although it’s been built on the Venetian plans there are many concrete buildings. (Apart from St Dionysius/StDennis in his silver coffin. Wow.) Also a Venetian castle on top of the hill. Another hill! Am thinking Amble needs a hot-air balloon stowed away as living at sea level does involve much puffy, sweaty exercise up hills. You’d think I’d be fit.
As the castle is only open from 9 to 3, we decided to avoid some sweat by leaving Amble at 8.30 while relatively cool. Not as far as some of the other castles we’d puffed up to and still quite steep but well worth it. This castle actually had bits you could recognise — being a prisoner certainly didn’t look too comfortable. There are the ruins of six churches, several houses, a garrison and gunpowder stores AND a terrific view over the harbour way (way!) down below.
It wasn’t too hot as the wind was building and moving from the N to the S. What? Amble’s stern was on the north wall so a south wind . . . arrghhhhhhhh! But cool!
We arrived back maybe around 11.30 to find that our recently departed German neighbours had reorganised our fenders so that Amble’s stern wasn’t hitting the stone wall. Phewww. Bless them! Our UK charter neighbours, a family with three very nice kids, came over to say we’d missed all sorts of drama. Typical! However, not to be excluded, as Sarah and John were having a cup of tea with us, their anchor dragged swinging their stern into us and their bow into the boat on the other side of them. Their three children (teenagers) all leapt up from their various horizontal positions, unasked, to grab fenders and turn on their boat engine. Brett also went onboard to help while I fendered Amble’s side and helped to tie a line from their amidships to ours —Brett then used the line to winch them back to straight position, while they sorted out their anchor, which was not an easy task in the wind. (Put their spare one in the dinghy and motored it out.)
All good! But their engine churning the water and the weight of their boat on ours upset our anchor chain so we had to choof out, bringing in the anchor chain, to start the mooring process all over again. This time letting out 50 metres of chain rather than 40.
All this took two hours or so, but successfully managed and safe. Certainly makes you appreciate the calm! And not bad for the waistline either.
Now for a swim and a cup of tea. Too hot for chocolate—it melts.
20 July 2014 | Ay Nikoloas, Zakythos
It is just so wonderful to meet met men such as Dimitris Theodosis. Nothing is too much trouble for him, and although young (I'm getting old!) he's endlessly patient helping, if need be, yachties moor their boats on the town quay; his domain it seems. We even watched him row out to yachts, climb aboard and bring them in. Our Italian neighbours needed a small part for something-or-other ,so Dimitris rummaged in his bag and just happened to have one handy — at no cost.
Apart from a mooring spot, he offers water, electricity and even the use of a washing machine. Bliss! Our batteries were in need of a constant line to shore power, and to have an available washing machine . . . tis the little things in life. And his sister is an excellent cook, filling us up for less than ten euros each. Amazing. I'm into Greek meatballs. There's no fat! Just a big slab of juicy beef chipper-choppered and cooked with various spices. And fresh fresh salad. Yummo. Full of flavour.
We'll be back. Thank you Dimitris!
Needless to say, in typical fashion, didn't occur to me to take his photo. Instead cats watching a local fisherman sorting his fish.
Washing machines, Zakynthos
19 July 2014
Being Saturday (now that took awhile) we've been on the island of Zakynthos for three whole days. Two of which here in St Nikoloas, a tiny village of about two tavernas and a tourist shop -- and quite a few boats, caiques, that take tourists to the Blue Caves.
Locals more than helpful, and how they make any money is beyond me. Papanyais motored out to Amble as we were anchoring to suggest, rather firmly, that we move as we were in the way of the local ferry. Hmmm, not according to our research but happy to go with local knowledge. So Papanyais took us to his mooring that was all of 100 metres away, saying there was no charge but perhaps to use his taverna.
Stayed the first night on the mooring, which was great. Sounds of goats and roosters and then the tourists arriving by bus in the morning. Most here to go to the caves, which we did too. Papanyais had one of his boat guys pick us up from Amble and off we puttered, just the two of us with the driver, to see the varying blues of the water as the early morning sun hit the east coast as well as the purples and oranges of the, what, fungi?, below. Really colourful.
Our boat batteries are not charging to full capacity as we don't give them enough engine time, so we decided to move to the nearby town quay that has space for about a dozen boats. It's free, along with the water and electricity. Unbelievable, but we should be getting used to this by now. Nahhhhhh! I don't want to get used to it. Anyway, Dimitris is in charge of the quay area. Another young fellow, and in return for the spot perhaps we could go to his taverna. Oh, and while there please help ourselves to the free washing machine and wifi.
I'm getting repetitive. I am repetitive! But the area is gorgeous: full of greens and blues of the sea; the people generous and kind, and the climate is great. No hyperventilating when swimming and lots of people smiling.
Navagio Bay, Zakynthos
17 July 2014
Up at dawn to sail with the tide. Or not! Up at 7 to have a cup of tea, and then leave Argostoli about 7.30 for the five-or-so-hour motorsail to NW Zakynthos. The weather's looking great, which is handy, as the prevaiing winds are from the NW so rather not get caught on the west coast in bad weather. Already one wreck on the beach there, best not to make it more.
Our pilot book warned as that Wreck Bay (Navagio Bay) would be like the 'D-Day landing in Normandy' at this time of year. As we haven't seen too many people around, thought that might be a slight exaggeration but no. Beach packed with people from the tourist boats that reverse onto the beach to spew them all out. Many seeming to lose a thong along the way.
There is no road access to the bay, so by boat is the only way. Luckily for us, there was only one other yacht there, and the commercial boats all park on the beach, more or less, so there was plenty of water space. Just had to breathe in to get onto the beach, which we did via kayak —managing to barely miss lots of swimmers as the small breaking waves took us in.
What a place! Huge white limestone cliffs that take on blue hues from the reflection of the water, and the water is a rainbow of graduated blues, greens and sandy whites. Absolutely gorgeous. Our eyes felt as though they'd been defogged as the colours were incredibly vibrant. Everything was full colour.
As we arrived at lunchtime, we managed to fluke the break in the day as the morning tourists left on the various large cruise boats to zoom back to town. Seems not many come in the afternoon, even in good weather, in case of the prevailing winds. So just the smaller tourist boats coming and going. And us.
The wreck apparently is famous in Zakynthos, crashing into the area in the 1980s. Certainly ran aground in a stunning location.
Relay part for anchor!
15 July 2014 | Argosotlli, Cephalonia
Well, my vocabulary might not be increasing but context is. 'Relay' being my new word of the day.
And my new favourite boat bit being the anchor. Almost. The anchor is now coming second after the engine. (Knocking my hotwater bottle to a distant third.) You stop taking things for granted when they stop working. An anchor is a handy thing really, and ours has been working extra hard of late, Greece being the home of crossed anchors.
Marinas further west, which also cost a lot more, have 'lazylines', ropes that you pick up after reversing into the quay. You collect them up from the stern, trot them up to the bow of the boat to pull them tight before fastening them to the front cleats. These lazylines keep the front of the boat straight and secure while the stern lines tied to the quay do the rest. No lazylines in Greece! You drop your anchor instead, and those who can't reverse straight back to the quay drop their anchor at an angle, thereby dropping it over the anchor chains of other yachts. Makes picking up the first chain dropped an interesting exercise. Our poor anchor had just had enough, so had a hissy fit by refusing to let more than what seemed liked a millimetre a minute, Not good! (Especially when averaging 40 metres of chain at a quay.)
Conveniently we were going to Argostoli as I had a second knee appointment with the orthopod and, being the large town/city it is, there were several yacht services on hand. Diagnosis 'relay' (after Brett had tried cleaning terminals and stuff I've conveniently forgotten about). A part was ordered from Athens, or somewhere!, and later the next day, tadaaaaaaa, a smiling, jolly anchor. What a relief.
Argostoli is a great place! Excellent, I hope, medical system as well. Not much in terms of tourism but friendly people and . . . a Greek town. That has coached two world champion gymnists. And a rhythmic gymnist who on the gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. (I accidentally met the coach.)
Turtles also terrific and all in all a Good Place to be.
(Also a rather lovely Doric lighthouse. Pic above.)
13 July 2014 | Poros, Cephalonia
Poros is a surprisingly pretty spot. The water is fantastic. How many different types of blue are there? And greens? Fun to kayak along the sandy shores, stopping (as I'm not as fit as I should be) to admire the colours.
A bit of a drama reversing into the town quay due to the anchor not releasing as it should, so it took several goes and several hundred increases in my stress level. However, we finally managed it.
We did like, poor things, the drying octopus in front of the tavernas. I really must ask if they are eventually eaten. After all there is a lot of octopus on the menu but this octopus?
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