Monday 10th December
We both slept well, but woke to a dripping wet and cold boat, nothing that 20mins on the heater would not cure? Andrea was soon of for a shower while I gave the cabin a wipe down. My turn for the shower and the waters just gorgeous and hot, well worth the 30cents. It's to wet for brekkie in the cockpit, so it's tea and toast down below. The luxury lifestyle of living outside in the sun takes a beating when your stuck inside a 31 ft yacht, and the rains falling down? But Andrea does not seem to bothered about it all. Luckily we have the car, and we are soon of to Lidl's for some supplies and then onto Carrefour, I do like to give all my guests the grand tour of my favourite supermarkets? We head out of town along the coast road and soon pass a shanty town, made up of plastic sheeting and mostly plywood by the side of the lagoon. It makes me wonder just what conditions must be like for the people living there, I should think that they would swap there home for the luxury of Nanjos cabin anytime? We turn around and head back to Messolonghi, then decide to drive down to the point. We get there just as the suns going down and it creates a gorgeous sunset, well worth a couple of photo's. We are both hungry now, and Andrea decides she would like to eat in town. I manage to park the car down a back street, where we had parked earlier and we find a small place for a meal. I just had a small beer and Andrea is on the wine, I'm still cautious about drinking and driving, even though people say it's ok here? The giros plate I had was superb and the pork Andrea had was huge as well. Were soon back on board and the heaters turned on to warm the cabin up, while I get the wine and glasses out. Andrea had picked up some cheeses and nibbles earlier so we tuck into them to round the evening of.
Tuesday 11th December
More rain during the night, the port settee is now covered in plastic because of the drips, and no chance of me trying to do a better job in the rain to seal the windows. The usual morning routine of heater on and then having a shower before breakfast, followed by tea and toast. Andreas putting up with it really well, but I must be honest that after the gorgeous summer days I've had, I can see why people go home for the winter months. We've decided to go of and explore today and find the amphieatre at Oinades, I've only got a very basic map that I picked up in the marina office, but Andrea agrees to navigate. It's well marked on the map, so we have a rough direction to head for, out past the shanty town again. The rains stopped and as we drive past, all there carpets and belongings seem to be hanging up on a line,it does put a perspective on my little moans about a bit of damp and cold, at least I have an electric heater and dry clothes to change into. I think I've missed a turn of so pull over on the side of the road while we both try to make sense of the map. The empty road is now the busiest one I've seen here, and people are pulling in all around me, maybe they are lost as well? We decide that a U turn and back to the next roundabout should do it, after a few minutes of waiting for a gap, I've realised that there probably won't be one, and everybody just pulls out and makes a space. It's time to put my Greek driving head on and drive like the locals, a quick indication (most don't bother) and I'm across the road and heading back to town.Andrea spots a promising dark brown sign and the writing looks just the same as the place we are looking for, so we follow the direction. I reckon that it's the same as we get back in the UK to show the way to places of interest. So we follow it for mile after mile, through small villages, down very small winding roads and onto a main road. All the time I'm telling Andrea we are heading in the right direction, eventually we reach the end, you've probably guessed by now, it lead us to a large wooden wharehouse at the side of the road. Now, I'm still convinced that the Greeks have covered the ampheatre up to preserve it, it's only when we see a truck coming out of the wharehouse. We both think thats just what it is a wharehouse! Andrea remembers a sign further back, where I took a picture of an old truck at the side of the road, so back we go. Find the truck and the road, well it's more a rutted single track path. Andrea points to a broken sign hanging of a shed, which looks like it says Oiniades, to be honest, I'm not convinced. This is meant to be an important site, where they have plays in the summer, and somehow I just can't see bus loads of people driving up that road? I tell Andrea, she's wrong and we should head somewhere else, well, you know that look women give you when they are not happy that your not taking there advice. That's the look I got then! Back on the road and we are driving through some very small villages, and you can see the real Greek way of life, we get plenty of looks as we drive through, and most of the time they look even more confused when we drive back again. Eventually we find a sign for a monastery at Panagia Lesiniotissa, which is actually on my map, and the map shows what look like streets leading from the monastery to the amphieatre. So we follow it for a few miles, approaching a farm entrance, we are attacked by a couple of vicious large dogs, one of them actually lept at the side of the car and hit the passenger door. The other kept pace as I was trying to drive away, we both felt glad we did not break down there. Just around the bend was a large flock of goats, but they slowly moved out of the way. Only another few hundred yards and we had reached the monastery, to be greated by it being closed and a dead end! The marks on the map I thought were un-named roads turned out to be irrigation canals, nothing for it but to back track all the way. The goats were not a problem, but neither of us fancied the dogs, who we reckoned would be waiting for us this time? Luckily an old pick-up truck pulled in front of us, so we thought we would let him go first. The old boy driving knew where all the pot holes were and was jigging from side to side to avoid them, as he approached the dogs he did not slow down, and the buggers actually went for his truck as well. Our turn and they went for us as well, but this time we just kept going fast. Now I like dogs, but I would have gladly got out (wearing a suit of armour) and belted those two. Back on the main road and we are beginning to think we will never find this place, as we drive through villages for the fourth time. Then Andrea spots a small wooden hand painted sign, nailed to a tree, pointing the way. Unbelievably only a few miles up the road we find it, and oh yes, it's closed. There is a side door left open, and I was really tempted to go and have a look, having been driving for hours. But, the thought of getting locked in overnight put me of. It's a large site from what we could see of it, and we have decided to come back again when it's open.We had picked up a couple of pies earlier and just sat at the gate eating our late lunch. Now, you would think getting back to Messolonghi would be easy, now we knew where we were, but no. Somehow I took a wrong turning, and we are driving along side one of the irrigation canals, for miles. We pass a pick up truck with a flat tyre being changed, and he just gives us a suprised look. Not much further up the road and it's a dead end, finishing at a small church.So back we go, the pick up guy waves us down, he does not speak much English, but Andrea works out he wanted a light for his ciggarette, we don't smoke, but Andrea spots the cigar lighter in the car, health and safety must have put it there as it's just a plastic dummy one. We show the guy our map and point to Messolonghi, as I said it's not a good map, and even he had trouble working out where we were on it. Eventually he points to a place and then points to the road, we're a little confused as he gets in his truck to drive away, should we follow him? We set of behind for a few yards then he waves his arm out of the window and shoots off. Andrea reckons he was waving us goodbye, I reckoned he was waving us to follow him? I decide to take Andreas advice this time and follow her directions, we end up in a town that looks very familiar, think it was the 6th time of going through it now. Andrea spots a sign for Messolonghi and we both breathe a sigh of relief. The rest of the way back to town went pretty easily, I only went wrong once. Back on board for a freshen up and relax, the rains been stopped for ages, and it's a nice evening. Andrea fancies a fish dinner and a trip back to the nice taverna with the big log fire. At least I know how to find that place, we are soon there and the fire is raging, the xmas tree is all decorated and the place looks lovely. The woman recognises us and gives us a menu. It's 99% fish, we both order a starter and Andrea orders fish while I go for the pork. The woman recommends the fish for both of us and gets her husband to bring some out to show us. Well, he brings out to very fresh fish one large and one small. Andrea convinces me it's time to try fish again, so she picks the large one for the two of us, the woman says it will be filleted and grilled. Luckily there is a large bowl of toasted garlic bread, for me to eat. It's a lovely atmosphere as we are enjoying our starters and wine, the old boy is keeping the fire well stoked with large logs. The fish arrives and it's my worst nightmare, it's just been cut down the middle through it's head and opened up, head and tail still attached as well. So much for the filleting, Andrea notices the look on my face and instantly says she will sort out the fish for me and put it on my plate. If your a fish lover then, good for you. Personnally I reckon they should just be left in the sea, it's just so much faffing about for so little boney return? I must be honest it tasted better than expected, we both have no idea what make of fish it was, but Andrea really enjoyed it. As for me, I was hungry, but if she had placed a pitta giros on my plate I would have been 100% happier. The kg of red wine helped take the taste away, and they were a lovely couple who ran the place, there were only a coule of other people there. A 10min drive back and we were soon on Nanjo with the heater going, and settling down to some more wine and cheese.
Wednesday 12th December
Slept well, and we woke to a dry day for a change, a quick shower and a breakfast in the cockpit for a change. Now this is a bit better, out came the map and we decided that a drive into the surrounding mountains would be nice. There looked an obvious route, drive out of town to Kokori then hang a left up a nice looking winding road to Elinka then follow the road back to Messolonghi. What could be easier? Well, we found what we thought was Kokori, and the road to the mountains was closed, Andrea susspected because of snow, we later thought more of landslides/rockfalls. So we carried on the national road toward Patra bridge, it's a really lovely coast road with stunning views, we stopped often and took pictures of the flat sea below us. I had no intention of crossing the bridge and paying the tolls again, so we bypassed it and decided to take the first decent looking road and see where it lead to. My choice and I turn left, down a single track road, past a large solar panel farm, then the road just stops! No wonder the people collecting the olives in a field gave us a funny look. Back to the main road again and this time it's Andreas turn to pick a road.We stop at a viewing point past the bridge, and notice a castle in the distance and it's walls running all the way down to the sea and a small harbour and town. We decide that it's well worth a look, I must say now that we had no idea what it was called, as I had left the big map behind on Nanjo. Andrea spotted a road going down from the mountain we were on so we set of. The next few miles were hair raising, sheer drops, hairpin bends, crumbling road, I was really glad we were in a small car. If you went over the edge with no barriers what so ever, you would not be getting out! We, soon ended up driving into the town called Naftpaxos and found a spot along the sea front to park up. It was a short walk back to the lovely harbour, after a look around it, I reckoned Nanjo would fit in easily. But as Andrea said, I reckon that in summer it would be a crowded place pretty quickly. We stopped for a coffee and admired the views, then went for a walk around. It's a lovely town and well worth another look in the summer, when we both reckoned it would be heaving. Back to the car and, we decide to find the road we came down to get out again. Andrea soon found it, so up we went. We came to a fork, which I didn't remember, Andrea said we took the right fork and it was a very tight bend, I had to reverse to get round it. Up we went, and you know that feeling you get, which says this is not safe and the way we came? Well I soon got it, as the road got narrower and more crumbly, it ended up at somebodies house! Trying to back up in the small turning space they had made scared the pants of me, but we were soon heading back the way we came. How those people drive there amazes me, you could not do it at night in the pitch black? We were soon on the slightly larger road and heading up and away from Naftpaxos, the views were really great, but I was more interested in the road. At the top we stopped for some more pictures then set of again, finding a road which we felt would lead us over the mountains and be a short cut back to Messolonghi? It started out really well, as we climbed up, there was some loose rocks about, obviously fallen down in the heavy rain. After a couple of miles, the road started to get narrower and more rutted. We passed a small church and then the road really got bad, as we were driving round fallen rocks and avoiding the large potholes. It wasn't long before we both realised this was not a good idea, and as it would be getting dark soon, this is not the place to be. With no turning place, I had to reverse back to the church. Once again I was glad of a small car, with good visibility. We ended up driving all the way back to the main road again. We both decided that we had done enough off road exploring and would stick to the main road back to Messolonghi now. Driving along we saw signs for a service area, so fancying a leak and a hot drink we decided to stop. By the time I'd realised it, I had driven past the entrance, no problem I will drive in the "out" entrance I thought. Past the No Entry sign, and head for the cafe, only to see a Police car parked outside and two policemen looking out the window at me. Typical, you don't see one all day, and here they are. As we went in, I was given the look over by them. We both went straight to the loo, then bought some drinks and a cake. I was expecting a tap on the shoulder as the police got up to leave, but nothing. We soon left, and further up the road, I spotted them at the side of the road with a speed gun out. I've only seen 2 fixed roadside speed cameras in Greece but plenty of cops with cameras. It was an easy drive back to Messolonghi, luckily the turn of we needed had road works on it, so I did not get lost. Back on board for a freshen up, then out for dinner. We went into town for a walk around, and soon found a pizza/fast food place which looked perfect. They made the pizzas in house and we sat near the large clay oven. Luckily the owner found some English menus, he had put away for the year, and we ordered a mixed pizza. Andrea fancied a coffee, which he ended up going across the street to fetch from another shop, which made us both laugh. You couldn't imagine it back home happening. The pizza when it arrived was just delish, and one of the best I've had. We could not finnish it, so got a take out box for later. A walk around town looking in the shop windows then back to Nanjo and wine and nibbles.
Thursday 13th December
Woke to another lovely day here. Andreas getting used to the dripping condensation now, and having to climb over the bow to get ashore. It's a lot easier having my bow ladder, and I pull Nanjo in as much as I can for her. A quick lovely hot shower, and brekkie in the cockpit again, I quickly scoff yesterdays pizza no problem. We've decided to drive to Preveza today, Andrea never saw it when she came out in September. At least I roughly know the way there this time. We are soon in the car and heading out past the shanty town and on the motorway towards Preveza, I only go wrong once and we do a U turn at the start of another dual carriageway. The only time we hit major traffic is going through Arta a large town. There are some spectacular views on the way, and the snow on the mountains is really impressive. We pass loads of small fruit stalls selling large bags of oranges, and decide we will stop on the way back and buy a bag. It's a lovely bright day as we drive past some ruins on the outskirts of Preveza, which I never knew existed. I park in the bays opposite the marina, and then show Andrea all around the town. I take her to my favoutite internet bar and I have the large club sandwich and Andrea just a toasted one. I'm amazed at how many bars are closed, and the waterfront is completely empty. We pick up some dog biscuits for the dogs at the marina and I get some silicon seal for my windows. I do like Preveza, it's just like Messolonghi always bustling and a lot going on. Back in the car I decide we will drive around the other side of the inland sea to Amfilochia, so go under the toll underpass and head out past the new road works. It looks like a new motorways being built? It's a lovely winding road with plenty of places to stop and take pictures. Once through Amfilochia I'm on a road I've been on before, so tell Andrea to put the map away, silly mistake. It's not long before I'm going through towns that don't ring a bell or look familiar, and I'm soon wondering when the motorway/dual carriageway we drove up will appear? Reaching a very large town I finally pull over, and say to Andrea that nothing looks familiar, she has had that same feeling for some time as well but didn't want to say anything? We are at a town called Arta, and it's a huge place, luckily we find it on the map and the good news is we are at least heading the right way, so carry on. Just outside Arta, we turn a bend and drive through the most amazing gorge we have seen, absolutely spectacular. I slow down so we can get a better look, then Andrea spots a small church carved out of the rocks up high, we both decide that we have to find this place again tomorrow. It's not long before I'm back to a familiar roundabout and we are heading back to Nanjo. Back on board for a freshen up and we are just stepping off, when Ulla says we must get back on board. She is dressed up and so is Sonny, it's dark now, so we climb back onto Nanjos bow and are soon joined by another British couple who have been told to come to my boat and get aboard.It turns out to be a Swedish custom, and soon there are 7 Swedes singing and carrying candles. Stopping at all the yachts with people onboard and giving us hot mulled wine and a piece of cake. It's all really very nice, and Ulla explains it's a custom in Sweden. We have a chat with the British couple who are on board and then hand our glasses back and jump in the car for town and our Greek night at Dimitris. There is nowhere to park, so after a slow drive around I do what others have done and park in the taxi bays, expecting to get clamped or towed away. It's 20:30 as we enter Dimitris taverna and there are only a few other people here. He comes over and introduces himself and we have a long chat, a very interesting guy, who has spent a lot of time in the Uk owning various restaurants, and tells us all about the famous people he has met. We order a starter and main, and typically we are just half way through the starter and the large main course arrives, our tables soon full of food and drink. There are two guys playing, one on guitar and the other on a bazooki and they are very good. There are about a dozen of us enjoying the music, when a bunch of distinguished very old boys turn up and sit behind us. One of them just looks great dressed all in black wearing a brilliant black trilby, Dimitri tells us he was a prominent lawyer and they all meet there once a week. They were singing along and with really good voices, we were on our 2nd jug of wine now and decided we would go when it's finished. Just as it ran out, another appeared and the waiter said it was on the house from Dimitri, oh well. The table in front was really having a good time, and one of the guys got up to dance, really very good. Dimitri said it was the dance for the area and he was a fisherman who dances it really well. I must be honest, it's the kind of dance I would like to learn. He got a large round of applause when he had finished. The wine was nearly gone so Andrea popped of to the loo, while she was gone, another jug of wine appeared, it was a present from the guys on the table in front. So we drank there health, Andreas face was a picture when she saw the new jug of wine though, and I had visions of leaving the car in the taxi rank for the night? We finally managed to get out about 2am, it was a lovely evening and had been a long day for both of us. I felt ok, so drove the car back to the marina no problem. It wasn't long before we were tucked up and asleep.
Friday 14th December
I slept really well, but woke with a sore head and a really bad taste in my mouth. I still think it was the fish from days ago? On with the heater and make Andrea a cup of tea, then shower and brekkie in the cockpit again. This is just so much nicer when the suns out, the whole place seems 100% better and so does the town. We are heading of to the gorge today, so not far to drive. This time we do pack the binoculars after saying we should have every day, and pick up a couple of pies on our way out of town. We had asked Dimitri about the gorge and he said that it was formed by a large earthquake and it's possible to park and walk up to the church as well. We were soon there and found a layby to pull into and take some pictures. We then drove slowly through it, and were suprised to see laybys everywhere, when yesterday we noticed none. Once through we turned around and went back, this time stopping at a layby and then parking in the parking lot near the church, We were the only car there, and could see a kiosk selling stuff, but we passed it and started to walk up the steps. It's an easy walk up and the views just get better as you go higher, we stopped a few times to take a break and some photos and eventually reached the small church, which was luckily open. Inside it was marvelous, with painted ceilings and a small altar. We both donated some money and lit a candle, there were 12 chairs inside and it was about the size of the average lounge. Water was dripping down the walls, we sat for a while and just enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the place. Andrea spotted the close circuit tv cameras, discretly hidden. The views outside were really great, but it was cloudy and hazy. Dimitri had said on a clear day you can see Kefalonia and Zakinthos, at least I spotted the motorway we had missed on our way back yesterday. We were both glad that we did, or we would have never known about this place. As we were walking back down, a small truck came grinding it's way up. We were half way back down when we could hear him flying back down the track, really glad that he had not offered us a lift down? We noticed a dog laying on the grass, so I went to offer it a dog biscuit and it ran of down to the kiosk. We stopped there and the lady had made some fresh cakes and pies, after sampling a couple we bought some, I offered her the dog biscuits and we thought she was going to eat them. It was only when I made some dog signs she realised they were for her dog, Andrea did say later that I should have made Woof Woof noises instead? It was a really great place to visit and I'm glad it was dry and we did it without hoards of tourists as well. We drove into town and got some dinner before heading back to Nanjo. Where we turned on the heater and got out the wine/cheese and nibbles, for Andreas last night on board.
Saturday 15th December
We both slept well, although I seem to have the start of a cold with my nose running. It's another dry day but rain is forecast for later, shower and brekkie in the cockpit, then Andreas packing her bag and getting ready for her flight home. We left Nanjo and had a really easy drive out to Patra bridge, then the crossing was great as the sun was out and the sea was so smooth. The roads were really empty, and the only hoild ups were the toll booths we had to stop at.We talked about stopping at the same service area and seeing if I could get a refund on my i Pad and phone, but figured the mafia might not be that glad to see me again? I was soon at the airport and looking for somewhere to park up, the arrivals only has a set down place, so I ended up parking in virtually the same spot I had picked Andrea up a week earlier. Into the airport and her check in's open so the bag is dropped of quickly, then we find a fast food place for a bite to eat before her flight home. Andreas got a long day ahead as she will get a coach from Gatwick to London then a coach out to Milton keynes. It's soon time to say goodbye, it's been a really great week having her on board, and she has put up with me and living on a cold, wet yacht brilliantly. A big hug and I wave her goodbye, but we will soon meet up again when I return in March. The drive back was uneventfull, and was ok as it was mostly done in daylight this time. I stopped at Lidls for a few bits and then back to Nanjo and on with the heater. I must admit I had a little nap and then woke and made a simple dinner washed down with a can of Fix. Andrea contacted me and said she had arrived ok, which was great news. I turned in about 23:30 after leaving the heater on in the back cabin for 20mins to take the chill off.
Sunday 16th December
I slept really well, but woke early as I had to clean the hire car out. I had plenty of washing to do, so that could get done as well. Brekkie in the cockpit, then drive the car and park it outside the marina office. There was not much rubbish in it, mostly the motorway toll receipts. I was suprised to see we had covered 900 miles in the week. It was due to be picked up at 9am, so I went to the laundry room and made a start on my washing. 10am and the cars not been picked up, so I rang the company. They told me they had nobody around to collect it, so just leave the keys under the drivers mat and they would collect it later that day? They did say I could use it if I wanted to, but after filling the tank up I didn't really need a car that badly. Washing done and it's soon on the line drying. Time to jump on my bike and pop into town for a ride, luckily the bread shop was open so treat myself to a pie, to eat on my way back. Nanjo was a lot quieter without Andrea onboard with her laughter and chat, I will have to get used to being onboard on my own again. I'm not expecting anybody else out now. I spent the afternoon tidying up and having a nap, I soon got back into my old routine? A throw together dinner and a couple of glasses of wine finished the evening nicely.
Monday 3rd December
Up when the sun came though my window. It's windy and wet outside as forecast, so brekkie down below for a change. Had a lovely hot wash, clean clothes and of to the marina office to book in and pay my bill. A very reasonable amount, as I'm now booked into the end of May 2013. In the water until Feb 18th then ashore in a cradle, until further notice. I picked up the marina plastic card, which you use to pay for showers,electric,water and washing machines, stuck 20 euros on it, just to see how it lasts. Asked about a hire car for the week as Andrea arrives on Sat, they put me through to someone who wanted 300e for the week, I declined as I had found Europcar on line at 160e? Back to Nanjo and the rains eased off a bit, so I'm straight into town for a look around and get some supplies. It's a lovely town, plenty of people about and just about everywhere open, tried another spinach pie shop and stopped at a small cafe for a coffee. Popped into a bike shop, but no luck with used ones. Had a nice walk back to Nanjo, and spent the rest of the day down below just relaxing. Dinner was meat balls and rice, with some cheap but very nice red plonk, 2e 50c for 1.5ltrs. Crashed out early as it was cold onboard.
Tuesday 4th december
Woke up early, but decided to stay in bed as it was so cold and damp outside. The interior of Nanjo was dripping, I wasn't expecting it to be so bad. Gave everywhere a wipe over while waiting for the kettle to boil, which probably does not help things with all the steam? Brekkie down below again as it's howling outside with heavy rain. It soon stops a little bit, so I'm of into town again, to check out quilts/blankets and heaters. Call into Carrefour, nice 2kw heater for 12e and into Elephant, they have a quilt for 16e. Believe it or not, both supermarkets had British xmas music playing, the same Wham,Frankie,Slade stuff we get in the UK. I was getting a few looks as I was the only person singing along? Went back to Carrefour and bought the heater,it should make a difference when I connect the electric up? Back on board, and the windows are still leaking badly, the chandlers here is closed so no chance of buying the Simpsons that was recommended to me. The winds howling and Nanjos being blown about a fair bit, I'm really glad that I'm here and not at Kalamos waiting for a lull in the weather. I have to pass my electric lead through the heads window, as Nanjo is not wired for 240volt, then I plug into a rcd and an extension lead. It should all be safe enough, as normally I only have the battery charger on. Because of the heavy rain I decide to play safe and leave the electric off for another day. So spend the evening in my jeans and fleece, trying to keep warm, you might be suprised to hear that the temps actually 13 degs in the cabin, but I'm really cold. Make a large spag bol with soya,pasta,onion and spag sauce for dinner all washed down with 3 large glasses of red. Delish. Another early night, in bed trying to keep warm.
Wednesday 5th December
Slept ok, but I really need that quilt? Brekkie down below again as it's rain and windy outside, maybe this is winter at Messolonghi? I must be honest that it's starting to wear me down a bit. Dig out my waterproofs and it's yellow top and leggings and walk into town, in the rain. I head straight for the Elephant supermarket and buy the quilt, I'm suprised that they only seem to do one thickness. The cash desk lady reckons I should just buy another if I'm still cold? Luckily it came in a big plastic bag, so no problem carrying it back to Nanjo, where it's quickly unpacked and placed inside a quilt cover. It looks the part for sure. Onto the car hire firm on the net, and as expected there had to be a catch to the cheap price, there is a delivery charge to the marina, as there are no car hire firms in Messolonghi. But even with the extra charge involved, it's still a 50e saving over the other quote. have to print of a confirmation docket, as I have no printer on board, it's a job for tomorrow and an internet cafe. Did a bundle of washing in the marina machines, 4e so not bad. I met an English couple in there, they also bought there yacht last year and have rented out there house for a year to see if they like the lifestyle. Chatting to them, we have both been through the same experiences and learning curve. They arrived here in October and have already bought the electric fire and quilt, and are going home for xmas and the new year, like so many others.The tumble dryer helps dry my clothes, and they are hung up on a line below for the last drying session. Dinners a popeye pie bought earlier and a beer. It's a dry night, so the electric leads through the loo hatch and plugged into my battery charger and the fire. I've already loaded the electric hook up with a euros worth. The big shock comes when after 90 mins my electric is used up? The cabins nice and warm though, so climb into bed asap. The Love blanket on top as well, and I'm really snug.
Thursday 6th December
I slept really well, and was warm all night. If it wasn't for the dripping condensation in the morning, it would have been perfect? Up early and give Nanjo a wipe around inside, to get rid of the condensation, I hope that I soon get used to it, as the others have. Brekkie in the cockpit as it's a dry morning. Sonny comes over for a chat, and he is arranging a lunch time get together for everybody tomorrow at a local taverna, so I put my name down. Quick wash and I'm into town looking for an internet cafe, find two and typically they both have broken printers? No problem as I had seen a printing shop and had downloaded the docket onto a memory stick. Into the shop and ask about the printing, show him my memory stick, youv'e probably guessed already, he won't accept it incase it has a virus? Have a walk around town and find a really nice popeye shop on the way back to the marina. Call into the office and explain my problem, straight away the girls offer to print it for me if I e-mail them it, then say I should have seen them first. Got chatting to an Italian who was flying back home, he asked if I needed a bike? Oh yes I said, so I follow him back to his boat and he shows me an old single speed, coaster braked bike with a rear basket and side stand. Just what I wanted, it's mine for 50 euros, so in my budget,it's nicely rusted as well. I agree to pick it up tomorrow morning. Back on Nanjo I send them the e-mail. Time to try and stop those windows leaking, I put plenty of duct tape on the inside seals and a plastic sheet over the outside, and keep my fingers crossed. The next rain is on Sat when I pick Andrea up from Athens, and it's meant to be 70mm worth as well. Cook rice and tinned meatballs for dinner, with a glass or two of wine. I've put 2 euros on the electric meter tonight, crank up the heater and the cabins nicely warm in the hour, so switch it off. Early to bed as I'm nice and warm now. Shame the bedrooms blooming freezing, I should have left the door open?
Friday 7th December
Slept great, I think I've cracked it with the quilt and love blanket, woke early and the temp is only 8 degs in the cabin. Give the heater a spin for 30mins on max to take the chill off. Brekkie in the cockpit again, as the suns out and blue skies. Pop over to pick up my classic Italian bike, hand over the money, and he offers to buy it back when I go home in March, I've already decided that I will keep it so tell him it won't be for sale. Pedal of into town to get used to the coaster brake (you pedal backwards to operate the rear brake built into the hub),buy a loaf of bread and some milk. The bike can do with a service, so will do that once Andreas gone. Back on board and go for a shower before my lunch date. Meet up with the others on the pontoon and exchange names, there are 10 of us. I'm the only Brit, lucky for me everybody speaks better English than I do, and probably spell it better as well? I'm the youngest in the group, but am amazed when they tell me how old they are, the oldest male is 73 and female is 70. Absolutely nobody looks anywhere there ages, the cruising lifestyle certainly seems to keep people young and fit? It's a gorgeous afternoon and we have drinks and tappas, the newest person has only been away for 2 years. All there yachts are considerably larger as expected, biggest being a 16mtr X 8mtr catamaran, the owners built the interior themselves. I had a great time and plenty to discuss while we walked back to the boatyard a few hours later. The sun goes down now at 17:15, and the temperature drops dramatically then, I've learned to make sure all hatches are closed and I'm tucked up inside, and am now convincving myself that it's really time to put the shorts away? Put the fire on for 20 mins to warm Nanjo up, and cook a nice pasta and plum tomatoes dish. Washed down with the obligatory glass of wine or two? I spent the evening reading my book. Turned in at 23:00, it's been a busy day. I'm getting up early tomorrow, give Nanjo a clean and have a long shower.
Saturday 8th December.
I slept great, nice and warm and woke when the alarm went mental at 7am. Straight out of bed and made a start cleaning the cabin and getting things ready for Andreas arrival. Of for a shower, and was gobsmacked to have only ice cold water to shower in, and I had to pay for the priveledge as well. I was tempted to go back onboard and boil a kettle. Had a long brekkie, then went to the marina office to wait for the car hire guy at 9am. I figured if he was on time it would be a miracle, 15mins late and about right, 30mins late and he's on Greek time, 1 hour late and he's taking the mick? He arrived 20mins late in the end, then we spent 30mins checking the Micra and doing the paperwork. I eventually set of for Athens at 10am, a nice slow drive out of the town to get used to the car then follow the national road for Patra bridge. It's a gorgeous road and the very impressive bridge soon turned up, the big shock was the 13e 20c toll charge each way. I ended up paying about 25euros in tolls in the end to get to Athens. I pulled into a service area just outside Athens on the motorway, and noticed a guy going from car to car selling stuff, he seemed to be selling a fair bit. He was on me before I could get out and head for the loo. Once I explained I was English, he broke into perfect English, and said he was Greek mafia? and had some stuff to sell. He brought out an I pad and an I phone, both wrapped in boxs. The I pad he wanted 300e and the phone 150e, I had to show him my wallet and say I was a poor Brit with only 130e to my name. He walked away, then came back and said I could have the I pad for 110e. Now, I've seen the programs on scams and this seemed like one. He showed me the box, all sealed up and a security seal on it as well. I asked to look inside, so he made a big fuss of ripping the seal and sellophane off the box. He then showed me the I pad in it's protective film, all the jacks and leads, plus the guarantee. Never having owned one, it all looked and felt ok. So I said I would have it for 110e,he then went onto explain that they were knocked of goods and I should know that? As he went away, he turned quickly and said I could have the I phone for my remaining 20e, we went through the same procedure of ripping the box open and showing me the insides, phone with charger and instructions, which were in Greek. So he removed them saying I would not need them? I left, thinking I had just either been put through a great scam or got a real bargain? About a mile further up the motorway, was an unexpected toll booth, for 2e 80c. Oh yes, I only had 1e 20c on me, having handed over all my notes earlier. My turn to pay at the booth and I offer a Visa card as payment, which is refused as they only take cash, by now the cars are piling up behind me. I explain that I have no cash, the booth lady shouts something to the cars behind and they start to try and back up. She probably said "He's a stupid Englishman with no money?". She lets me through and I have to park up on the hard shoulder and wait. I'm soon joined by a policeman and two women (I had hidden my I pad and phone under the seat). I explained that we don't habe many tolls in the UK so I was not expecting to settle the national debt driving to the airport. Checks on my passport/driving licence, then I get a large piece of paper with the 2e 80c charge written on it, and told I have 7 days to pay up, I can pay at another toll booth or send the money. 35mins later I'm on my way again. I tried several service areas, but they just don't have atm's the way we do in the UK. I arrived at the airport with 30mins to spare, and luckily the car park was a take a ticket affair and I managed to get some cash inside as well. Andreas plane arrived 10mins early, and I was soon greating her and taking her to the car, and telling her all about my latest buys. It was really great to see her again, and hard to think it was only a ouple of months since she was last on Nanjo with Debbie. She examined the boxs as I tried to find my way to the main road, luckily I only went wrong once, and we were soon on the motorway and paying tolls again. Andrea does not own an I pad or phone, she turned the phone on and it came up showing low battery, so we decided to wait until we got onboard to charge them both up. I was doing ok with the driving, then after 90mins and looking at the sea beside us, I was getting a growing niggling doubt we were going the wrong way, as the body of water looked a lot larger than I remembered and I thought we were heading out to the end of the coast and no chance of a bridge going over the sea? Luckily Andrea had a better sense of direction than I did, and we carried on. It's now dark, which makes things a 100 times worse. I was convinced we should see the bridge all lit up from a long way away. The rain started to fall and the driving conditions were not the greatest, your expected to drive on what we consider the hard shoulder, to let others pass. Nice in the daylight, but a different experience at night, I'm scanning ahead for any debris as another car forces it's way past. It's getting late now, and I'm telling Andrea we might be booking into a hotel somewhere if the weather gets much worse. Then up ahead she spots the lights of the bridge,when I came aross the spans were lit up in daylight, now it's dark they only have the red flashing top lights and the road lights on? We are soon paying the toll and driving across, now I know Messolonghi is not far. We follow a sign for a while, then typically it ends, nothing looks familiar, so we drive on and on in the rain on a single carriageway. Going through towns who's name does not ring a bell? We eventually come to a roundabout with signs for Preveza 120km, and Astakos 50km so I know I've travelled North to far, a 360 degree turnaround and I'm heading back. Meanwhile Andreas hopefully enjoying the drive, it's been a long day for her and it's not over yet? We spot a sign welcoming us to Messolonghi? Well,it's not a bit I've been to before, but we drive and eventually I spot a familiar place, the Carrefour supermarket. The choice now is, back to Nanjo to unload, or find food first? Andrea fancies food and a chance to get out of the car, we've been going for nearly 4 hours now. I remember Peter talking about a taverna thats open on the sea front, so we head there. The rains still falling as I pull into the carpark, it's open and we are the only people there. We had an excellant meal with wine, and were just glad to be out of the car, and I was very glad to know where I was at last. It was only a short drive back to the marina, all I had to do was not come off the road into the lagoon. Andrea was soon confronted with climbing over the bow, but it was a lot easier with the ladder and me pulling the bow in for her, we were soon below with the luggage and the first thing that I could see was the windows had leaked very badly, the tape was actually bulging where the water had gotten under it's edges and the settee was soaked. So much for the saloon sleeping area, I thought they might have leaked a bit, as we were driving through a lot of standing water in Messolonghi, and they had forecast 70mm of rain today. The heaters soon on and warming up the cabin, get out the wine and Andreas examining my new toys. It's not long before things are not starting to add up? The I Phone charger does not seem to fit anywhere on the phone, The I pad is not doing anything at all, then Andrea notices the I pad screen seems a bit lifted. Being very carefull not to damage it we lift a corner a bit more and can see wires leading to the body. It's now Andreas warning me not to break it, and the edge might have lifted after it fell off the lorry? It's only when I notice the double sided tape holding the screen in place, that things don't look right. We've all read stories of how these are made in the sweat shops of the middle east, but I figured that double sided tape is an economy move a stage to far? Andrea carefully lifts the screen up and it's as expected a fake I pad. The screen is just tinted perspex, there is a small battery leading to an led which will light up a Apple logo through the screen, alongside the electronics is a metal bar to simulate the weight. It's an amazing copy of the real thing, and it's obviously produced somewhere, and I should think in great numbers, purely to be sold to idiots like myself? I will take some picures and post them, so be warned, only buy an I pad from a recognised dealer. The I pad charger actually fitted the I phone? So we plugged it in, but nothing and the screen still saying low battery. A closer examination revealed the phone charger socket to be just a plastic insert. Taking the phone apart revealed pretty much the same electronics as the I pad, all clever stuff, and enough to fool anybody in a car park? It was a great scam and I will put it down as one of lifes learning curves. Meanwhile if anybody wants to buy a virtually new I pad and I phone for 100 euros, please e-mail me and I will post them onto you. We were both soon laughing about it all, as the cabin warmed up and the wine flowed.
Sunday 9th December
Woke to a cold Nanjo, so heater on and heavy rain as expected. Brekkie was tea/toast and cereal in the saloon, which cheered us up and made us both feel a lot better. A trip to the shower block, then back on board to plan the day out. It was Lidls for some food first, well, that was the plan, I did not expect to find every shop in town closed just about. It seems the Sunday trading laws are adhered to here. So we just went for a short walk around town inbetween the showers, and I could show Andrea all the places I had discovered already. Time for some lunch, so we drove back out along the causeway to the channel entrance and had a walk, in the very brisk wind, then found a lovely taverna along the beach. They had a roaring fire going and we made sure we grabbed the seats in front of it, the place was ran by a lovely couple. But we only had a drink and some tappas, but we decided that we would certainly be coming back for a meal some time. We spent the rest of the day just driving about and looking around until it was dinner time. We tried the small bars along by the harbour, and they were all packed, as there was an important football match going on. They only offered club sandwich as well, but it was the smokey atmosphere which put us of. Andrea had spotted a place earlier on our drive, so we went there. A large taverna/hotel, and sure enough the footie was on, but only about 30 men sitting watching it, and we could get away and sit in a corner away from the smoke. The owner gave us a choice of food, ranging from beef steak in a white or red sauce,chicken in white or red sauce and beef burgers. We settled for some toasted bread,tzatziki and meat balls for starters with a kilo of wine and the beefsteak and red sauce for main course. Well, it was obviously the chefs day off, we got a huge basket of lovely toasted bread,huge plate of tzatziki, huge plate of meatballs. It was a good job we were hungry, then 2 mins into our meal and the table pretty full up with food, our main course arrived. Our order for beefsteak in a sauce had miraculously changed into beefburger and chips? and plenty of it. We just looked at each other, had a laugh and tried our best to demolish the large pile of food in front of us, so not to offend the chef of course? The wine was really good, so we ordered another jug. The bill was a very reasonable amount as well. Back to Nanjo and my first priority is to top up the electric meter, then onboard and the heaters on pretty quickly to warm the cabin. My best 12 euro buy so far? Some more wine rounded of the evening nicely.
Monday 26th November
Slept really well, and woke at 08:00 to sunshine and a fair bit of cloud about. My navtex is saying N 3 to 4 winds and a moderate outlook for next 24hrs? Have my usual brekkie in the cockpit and just watch one fishing boat come back into the harbour,the ferries already gone. Decide that 10am is a good time to leave, my gps is showing a trip of 9 miles,so long distance for me? Do my usual checks and get Nanjo ready for sea. I'm getting that good with my checks now that I leave 15mins earlier than planned, cast of my ropes and leaving Kastos at 09:45. It's quite a cloudy day and even a little bit of wind, stow the mooring ropes and secure the fenders to the stern rails. Have a go with the jib for a bit but the winds pretty flukey and I end up rolling it away for the rest of the trip. I actually see a large trawler on the horizon and as I approach the Dhragonera islands I see a large ferry heading for Astakos. Life again? Turn the headland and I motor straight past Port Marithia bay, as I was looking for a bay with a small island in it, it's only once past the island it becomes clear. So, a quick turnaround and head in, get the anchor ready and pass the control box up through the hatch. I can see Astokos up ahead. Head into the bay and have slow motor about, finally drop the hook in the middle of the bay in 4mtrs of water and put out my usual 40mtrs of chain. I'm not expecting anybody else to anchor here? Nanjos all secured by 12:00, settle down to see if I move at all and have an early lunch of spam and hellmans sarnies. Which I soon throw away after a couple of mouthfulls, I think I've gone of spam after the last tin I had left me on the loo most of the day? It's a gorgeous afternoon, very sunny and 26 degrees. Just a handfull of goats and the odd car on the road to spoil the peace and quiet. I decide to go for a swim, but Oh boy, the waters absolutely blooming freezing, even lowering myself slowly down the ladder to get used to the cold does not seem to help! I reckoned I swam about for 3 minutes and was out again. Spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get warm again and reading my book. The sun went down early for me as I'm enclosed on three sides by high hills, quite weird as I'm sitting in semi darkness and look out the bays entrance and can still see the suns glow? I rigged my official anchor light just to make sure I'm seen. Dinner was one of my favourites, tinned meatballs and rice with a can of alfa.Yummy. Spent the evening listening to a new radio station and a whole new bunch of adverts, and reading. It was absolutely completely black in the bay and the only lights were from fishing boats out at sea and the very odd car coming down the main road. Turned in at 23:00. Astakos in the morning beckons and people?
Tuesday 27th November
Slept pretty good, just the odd slapping of waves on the transom to wake me up, caused by passing ships. Woke at 07:45 to the sun coming up and a nice day ahead of me, breakfast in the cockpit and take a few sunrise pics. Do the washing up, then have a lovely pamper session, shave and a hot water shower, clean clothes and I reckon I'm ready for meeting humans again? Not much to check over as I'm on the hook,engine oils are ok. So, I'm soon ready to leave. Plenty of cloud about and it's only 17degs, must be my coldest morning yet? The anchors soon up and I'm motoring out of the bay towards Astakos, with the autohelm doing the steering at 09:30. It's a very short trip today and before I know whats happening, I'm getting fenders,ropes and the stern anchor ready for whatever Astakos throws at me. As I approach I pass the small fishing boat harbour, it's to small and shallow for yachts. I can see Astakos harbour and it looks pretty full up, with some large fishing boats and plenty of small ones as well. There a couple of large steel yachts that look as though they have been here for years. A very slow motor around, and there are lines strewn everywhere blocking of spaces, a couple of fishermen tell me the places that I'm heading for are for fishing boats, so I move along the harbour. There are signs warning of "space for fishing boats", "Space for working boats of Fish Farms", 15mins of slowly moving around, and it's obvious the only place is to anchor behind the breakwater as in the pilot book. The one thing I did not expect was to be anchoring? Have a slow motor around and pick a spot about 100mtrs of the beach and breakwater, and drop the hook in 4.5mtrs of apparently mud? Let out 40mtrs and dig the anchor in, switch of the engine and keep an eye on things to see if we move. Tidy Nanjos mooring gear away and watch the large ferry coming in, he has the bow door open way before the jetty, and I get just a bit of wash where I am. Pump up the dinghy and I'm soon throwing my bag in and rowing ashore, pull it up onto the shingle beach. The towns only a 30second walk, and there are plenty of bars and tavernas open, I soon sniff out a bakery and get a fresh loaf and a cheese pie (no spinach available). Go for a walk around town and it's a typical working town, plenty of good hardware shops and clothes shops, nothing touristy at all. Call into the large supermarket, and find some of the cheapest stuff I've seen anywhere, stock up on 20euros worth. Take a few pictures and row back to Nanjo,unpack and spend an hour reading my book with some bread/jam for lunch. It's a very cloudy day and even at 3pm the temps still below 20degs, my navtex is saying the weather should be ok, but there are some dodgy looking clouds about, and sure enough, it soon starts to rain. Rig the anchor light at 17:30 as it's getting dark now, have a look at my navtex and it's now showing Southerly gale force winds for North/South Ionion from 10pm tonight and the same tomorrow. Well, that explains why the harbours blocked of for fishing boats, and I'm in the worst place for a Southerly gale, I thought the dark clouds were building up a bit. Not much I can do now, looks like shore leave has been cancelled? So I bring the dinghy onboard, deflate it and lash it back on the cabin top and get Nanjo ready for some wind? I'm thinking of my options for tomorrow if it's still blowing hard. If everything holds I can stay here as planned, or go over to Limin Petala and anchor there, gps says only 10 miles away and straight into the wind. Other option is leave here as soon as it's light and head for Messolonghi straight into the wind to Ak Oxia then on the beam from there and 32 miles away, so at least 7hrs? The rain came and went, at 20:00 thought I better do some dinner? So, just some soya and a jar of spag bol sauce with a beer, the winds picked up a little bit, but no worries, Navtex said a southerly, the winds from the east at the moment. Worked out that Messolonghi marina are charging me £5:60 a day to moor up with tax,so If I arrive tomorrow it's just over £22 not bad to be safe? The 10pm navtex is still saying Southerly 7 to 8 soon for North/South Ionion and a further increase from 10am tomorrow with a 24hr outlook of "Poor,further increase of wind speed expected". Turned in early,wearing all my clothes just in case I have to leave quickly, and set my alarm for 7am.
Wednesday 28th November
Didn't get much sleep, Nanjos rolling around a lot and the winds picking up, went on deck a couple of times to make sure I'm ok, but have not moved. The winds now in the south as predicted and blowing me onto the beach. Up at 06:45, just before my alarm and it's still very dark outside. latest forecast is worse, it's now saying 7 to 8 till middday then 8 to 9 with thunderstorms, still South/ South East which are no good really. But it's quite calm at the moment, so snap decision I decide to leave and head down to Messolonghi, hoping to beat the worst of it. Find out that my port and stern navigation lights are not working, so will just leave my anchor light and the stbd one on. The anchors soon up and lashed down, and I'm motoring out of Astakos at 07:00, just a few fishing boats about who seem to have less lights than I have? The autohelms on and I'm running the engine at 1,800 rpm and getting 5knots which is great. The clouds getting worse and the winds are picking up a bit by 08:15 as I'm passing the ship breaking yards at Plati Yiali, speed has dropped to 4knots now so I've opened her up to 2,000rpm. Theres a large squall of rain heading my way, so go below and dig out my waterproof jacket, just in time, as it hits us. Winds have gone through the roof and with the torrential rain my visibility has gone right down, and the winds now a very strong southerly, so Nanjos punching into it. My speeds down to 3.4 knots and we are getting thrown about a fair bit. It does not take long to realise that it's not doing Nanjo or me any good bashing into this,so I turn us around 180 degs and head back for Kastos where I know theres a safe harbour and hopefully my old space still vacant? The change in Nanjos feel and reaction to the wind and waves is instant, as anybody who sails will know. The 30mph head wind is now behind me pushing me along as are the waves, the rain squalls gone and my visibilitys back as well. I point Nanjo to the gap between Ak Tourkovigia and Nisos Kaloyiros, as everything has settled down beautifully. Go below and there are a few things been thrown around, and punch Kastos into the gps, I'm well happy when it shows just 10.6 miles to the harbour. Back on deck and I get the jib out and knock the engine down to 1,800 again and we are soon rolling along at 6.8 knots and well under control. I reckon it's the best decision I could have made? It would have been at least another 2hrs to Limin Petala and an anchorage, to be honest, I don't think I would have made Messolonghi before dark and a hell of a lot of bashing about.I keep the jib up all the way to Kastos harbour, and a mile out I crawl out onto the deck and get two bow lines and rig fenders on the stbd side, but leave them inboard as we are being thrown about a bit by the swell of the following sea, rig a stern line as well. Bring the jib in, and take the tiller, we enter Kastos and it's instant peace, jump on deck and flick the fenders over and bring the bow line back to the cockpit. Bring Nanjo in bow first to the jetty, and a couple of metres of turn her sharply, engine in neutral and take both lines and step ashore, secure the stern line first and let her move ahead under her momentum till it's taught then secure the bow line. A quick reshuffle of the fenders, back on board and rig another bow and stern line, rig all my spare fenders on the stbd side and Nanjos as secure as she can be. It's now 10:30, it's been an exciting few hours since leaving Astakos, but I'm a hell of a lot happier knowing I'm safe and tucked up behind a harbour wall. The winds blowing the waves against the wall and rocks on the outside, it's quite shallow so they have lost quite a bit of there strength before they hit. I reckon it will take something to get a wave to come over the wall? Nanjos sitting comfortably, I go below and stow all the stuff thats fallen out, put the kettle on and have a cup of tea and a bowl of wheaties with the milk I got yesterday. I only have 1/3rd of a loaf left so will have to ration it, my navtex has increased the gale warning now for North and South Ionion East of 19:50degs (which is me) to a strong gale 9 storm 10 from 1600hrs. With a poor outlook after that, looks like I will still be here tomorrow then? A quick course plot on the gps and it's 35 miles to Messolonghi from here, so that could be my option after the storms gone. I will have a look at those nav ligts as well, because it will mean another early start. Went ashore for a quick walk to stretch my legs, and take some pics, the storms picking up and I can see Nanjo bobbing up and down. Get back and read my book till the suns gone down, then at 17:30 I'm visited by 3 fishermen who are worried about my place in the harbour. They say the winds going to get really bad about 2am and they are worried about my fenders popping out from between the hull. So I rig extra lines, which is all I can do, they wish me luck, and one of them says "you won't be sleeping tonight" but the wind will start to die down at 08:00. The ferry has not gone out and he's just put out extra lines as well. It seems that the worst is yet to come? I reckon I will be in the cockpit most of the night by the sound of things. 18:00 and Nanjos bouncing up and down quite badly already, maybe I'm not as safe as I thought I was?
I typed the last bits about the fishermen seeing me at l8:00, little did I know just how unsafe I was and how bad it was going to get? I went out at 18:15 and the next time I stepped on Nanjo and I went below was 11:00 the next day for 1minute. The next time I would get to sleep was 19:00 the next day after being awake for 36 hrs and then I would sleep solidly for 13hrs. The next is all about the storm and trying to save Nanjo from suffering serious damage, I partially succeded. It's about Captain Christos of the Xania and the other islanders who helped. I'm writing this now, safely tucked up in Kalamos. After having 13hrs sleep,a hot wash and a big breakfast. The suns out and it's a cloudy but blue sky. All my joints are stiff and my right and left hands keep locking up, I have a list of jobs to be getting on with.
Well, I wrote that last paragraph on the 30th November at Kalamos. I've tried to write what happened at Kastos several times and each time, it just got to emotional just thinking about it. It's now the 16th December and I've been at Messolonghi since the 1st December, safely moored up bow on. Sitting on the settee with the heater going, keeping me warm, and the chill out of Nanjo. It's still emotional thinking about it all to be honest. I just don't think I can put into words how that storm and night has affected me, I never want to experience anything like it again. Maybe one day I will try and write it all down, but it's not yet. I'm having trouble writing this even, as tears are filling my eyes. I can just say, it was the most humbling experience of my life so far. I've been in hurricanes of Singapore and force 12 gales in the Atlantic, I've seen worse weather than I had that day/night. It was the thought of loosing Nanjo and everything I've worked for and dreampt about for so long, being taken away from me, so violently, that made me fight every second, minute and hour to keep her in one piece. We both survived in the end, and both ended up battle scarred, and a lot wiser. I would have sold my soul to the Devil at 2am, when the storm was at it's height, if it would stop or decrease. Who knows, maybe I did?
Friday 30th November
I had been at Kalamos since 16:45 on the 29th now. Today was spent checking over the damage to Nanjos stbd side. The paints been very badly rubbed away, where the fenders were collecting grit which came over the sea wall and stuck to them. The toe rail has moved up about 1/4in and there are two stanchion bases broken, where the fenders had been pulling down on the safety lines. The pics on the blog will give a better idea, it's nothing that can't be fixed, with time and money. I checked all the fittings, and suprisingly only found one bow cleat loose, they certainly built her tough at the Dromor yard. Captain Christos gave me a long blast on his hooter as he came into Kalamos to pick up passengers, it was great to see him again, as I had departed from Kastos without being able to say goodbye and thank you. We had a chat while he was loading up, a great man I will never forget. The weather was fine and dry, which meant I could hang up the carpets and interior stuff that got soaked when the wave which opened the hatch and went below did. Luckily all my electrics were not touched,and a few minutes pumping the bilge cleared it out. The rest of the day was spent giving everything a thorough check over,I bodged the stanchion bases with ty-raps holding them in place, and thinking about how lucky I had been. The forecast was still dodgy, and it looked like I would be in Kalamos for a while, I could have really done with internet access for more detailed weather forecasts. I turned in early that day and slept well, setting my alarm for 7am.
Saturday 1st December
Up at 7am and it's pretty calm outside, had a quick brekkie, and watched the Xania coming in. Got a shout from Capt Christos to go over, he had the latest forecast, and today was the best for Messolonghi after today it was going to get worse and the next lull would be on Wednesday. That was enough for me, as Nanjo was all ready, I got back onboard and was out of Kalamos for 08:30. Stowed everything just outside the harbour as we were punching into a headwind, Messolonghi was 40miles away, so it was going to be a long day. It was a gorgeous day though, bright and dry. At 09:40 I was abeam of Kastos and Nanjo was doing 4.5 knts with the engine at 1800rpm. I was settling down to a long day, munching boiled sweets and fruit in the cockpit. As expected, I only saw a couple of fishing boats, then the ferry to Astakos coming across. My logs shows that in the first two hours of motoring I had covered 7 miles, the headwind was taking it's toll for sure. I was cutting through the islands to try and save distance all the time, and took the inside channel around Ak Oxia, which really helped me out. I was expecting to get the sails up for the last stint as I had turned 90 degrees, but no such luck as the wind followed me around. I had a headwind all the way to the Messolonghi channel, at 13:40 I turned past Ak Oxia for Messolonghi. Keeping far enough ofshore to avoid the sandbanks and shallow water. The suns was starting to go down quickly now, as I had 18 miles to go, to the safewater bouy, luckily the sea state had calmed down so my speed went up to 5.4 knts. I got everything ready as I entered the channel, I had already decided to go bow into the marina, as it was the recommended way. I can't express how I felt covering the last mile to the marina, a great sense of pride in Nanjo and what she had accomplished and been through, and a feeling for me that I had done what I had planned, I did not cover the entire Ionion as I thought I would back in the UK, but I was very happy at where I had been, the people I had met along the way, and the friends who came out to spend some time with me and Nanjo. I called the marina on my vhf and was directed to a berth, where someone was waiting to take my lines. It was 17:00 and Nanjo was all tied up and put to bed by 17:30 and the sun going down quickly. I just had a quick chat with my French neighbours living on a lovely racing design yacht. When I went below, put the kettle on and just relaxed, a tin of meatballs and rice along with a couple of beers helped the evening go very nicely. Nanjo had covered 37:8 miles today, all under engine in 8hrs 30mins. Her last long trip for some time to come, my log reads a total distance of 1,360 miles since she was launched back in April. Not a bad mileage at all I think. I turned in when tired and slept really well.
Sunday 2nd December
Slept in till 10am. then went ashore. It was a wet and windy day, and I was really glad that i had made it here when I did. Picked up a loaf,pie and some milk in the first bread shop open. Back on board, and the old problem of Nanjos windows was still there. The water was falling through the first two on the port side and soaking the settee, so it was saucepans and cloths to keep it dry. The rest of the day was spent below, trying to keep warm, the temp seems a lot cooler here. I rigged another 2 bow lines giving me 4 and also picked up another of the marinas trailing stern lines, to keep Nanjo well off the jetty and in line. I met my immeadiate neighbours, Carel and Murta from Holland on a gorgeous steel yacht, Sune and Utta from Sweden on an Elan 36. It seems that most have already gone back home already for xmas and the new year. The rains and strong winds kept up all day and well into the evening. Dinner on board was a tin of sweetcorn and spag bol sauce with pasta, yummy. I can sometimes get the internet on Nanjo if the conditions are right,which is nice. I turned in early, as my stern cabins the warmest place to be.
Monday 19th November
It was a very bumpy and windy night, I'm well secure where I am, so try to ignore the noises and get to sleep. Up at 07:30 and it's howling outside, all evil clouds and out to sea white horses. After poking my head out of the hatch, I decide to make some tea and toast, no point in going back to sleep. Eat my brekkie sitting in the hatchway, wearing my fleece, watch the water taxi come in,and the guy is tied up in seconds all beautifully done and with the wind blowing him off as well. About 15 people get off along with school kids, he probably comes from Kastos or Kalamos Islands? Watch a couple of fishermen arrive in pick-up trucks and scooters, they all just check there mooring lines,some even put more out, then straight back in there trucks and drive away. I reckon that says it all for the weather forecast for today, if they won't go out then neither am I? The winds start to pick up, so I put out another bow line which seems to be taking most of the weight, and the springs are doing a good job as well, Nanjos in the best place to be and as secure as I can make her. Have a hot wash and just sit around for a bit, I'm hoping to go for a long walk later. There's a lull in the wind, so I spend a nice hour walking around, find a large camp site at the end of town and some well looked after buildings, the church is very well painted. Went to the bakers hoping to get a popeye pie, but no luck, I settled for a ham/cheese croissant which was delish. Back on Nanjo and the winds have started to pick up badly now along with torrential rain, we are being blown off the jetty by 4ft and leaning over about 15 degs, just hope the cleats are strong onboard? My main worry is having to put the spring lines around the rigging base, it's taking side loads it was not designed for, with the snatching. The floating pontoon I'm attached to is moving at a different rate to Nanjo, as I go up and down the pontoon sometimes goes the other way, and the snatch on the lines makes everything shudder, maybe I should invest in some of the springs I've seen about that go on your mooring lines? I put out another stern line and take the bimini cover off, the battery monitor is showing 14.1 volts being pumped into it? The storm carries on all afternoon and all night,cook a large spag bol to make me feel better. Sit below with the wind and rain howling reading my book. Turned in at midnight.
Tuesday 20th November
Had hardly any sleep, the noises in the back cabin are horrendous, just loud creaking and banging of the fenders on the hull and the ropes snatching. I'm awake at 07:30 when the island boat comes in, how those guys do it is amazing, he made it look easy coming alongside.The rains hammering down as I put the kettle on, then we get a sudden wind shift of 180 degs and I'm now being blown onto the jetty which is a lot worse, I'm quickly out and dropping the fenders right down as they were popping out. All my lines are now slack and Nanjos being blown over the low jetty. Theres not a lot I can do, so have my tea and toast and go on deck in the rain everynow and then to check the fenders. I'm sitting below when it goes dark, and outside is a large 50ft fishing boat coming in, he does an expert turn in the confined space and gets in the space just in front of me, missing me by inches. It went well, but if he had got it wrong, I would have been crushed, especially with the wind pushing him against me. His crew all look shattered and I bet they are glad to be tied up, it's not a fishing boat I've seen here before?It's hammering it down, but no rest for the fishing guys as they are sitting on deck mending nets in there waterproofs, who would want there job? The wind and rain carried on for most of the day, luckily the flukey wind shift earlier had gone, and I was being blown off the jetty again? My windows were leaking badly, so just lifted the cushions and put a couple of pans under the big drips. About 3pm it all went quiet and dry, so I grabbed the chance to go ashore for some bread and supplies, buy the cheapest bread of my trip so far, 70c a loaf and it's delish with strawberry jam. I even find another small dustpan and brush, I've been looking for another after I bought the first in Sami, and they are the perfect size for Nanjo, cost 90c, a bargain. Theres a hell of a lot of standing water on the roads in town, I don't think the potholes and drains could cope? Just as I get back onboard the rain and winds back, perfect timing. Then suddenly at 5pm it's all quiet, the clouds are going,the wind and rains gone and peace has arrived again? I'm sitting down in the cockpit with a beer and some bread, people are coming out and the towns coming back to life, just as the suns about to go down. It's to good an oppourtunity to miss, so I climb into my bunk and fall asleep for a couple of hours, sheer bliss. Up at 19:30 and cook some dinner, just some soya and the left over spag sauce,all washed down with 3 large glasses of red wine,I want to sleep later! Turned in at 22:30 and feel asleep pretty instantly.
Wednesday 21st November
Slept really well, no noise and Nanjo staying flat. Woke up at 07:00 for a whizz and it's looking lovely outside, the large fishing boat went sometime in the night, I never heard or felt him go. Looking around I can see people getting ready to take the little fishing boats out as well, the island ferry arrives bang on time at 07:30 and it's packed with people and goods. Make some tea and toast and eat it sitting in the hatchway, the seas flat and the sky is getting brighter, my navtex is forecasting Ese winds of 5 to 6 and thunderstorms again? Quick decision time, and I'm having a hot wash, clean clothes,doing the washing up and then into town for 2 loaves of bread. Back on board, give the engine oils a quick check, stow some stuff and turn on my gps and instruments. Go on deck and single up my mooring lines, start the engine, have a quick look around me and at 09:15 I'm casting of my ropes and Nanjos leaving Mikita, all text book stuff. It's a gorgeous morning and I'm back in my shorts and as I put the ropes and fenders away, I'm setting a course for Episkopi on Kalamos and the autopilot takes over. 30 mins later I'm taking pictures and entering Episkopi harbour, my original intention was to stay and walk to the ruined monastery as put in Rods pilot book, but with the threat of more dodgy weather ahead, I pop in and out again and head for Kalamos main harbour on the East side of the island. The suns blazing down now and I have the Yanmar on 1800 revs, giving me 4.6knts in the calm seas, I can just sit back and enjoy the views. Give the macerator pump a go, and the bloody thing blows a fuse again,so out with the screwdriver and free it off, only to have it spin for another 20 secs then blow another fuse, that pump has been the bane of my life with the holding tank, it seems ok if used daily, but if not! I decide to have a look at it when at Kalamos and alongside. Pass the Northern tip of Kalamos and I can see the harbour ahead of me, I've been here before in April so know the layout, and put my fenders high because of the high harbour wall, I can see it's pretty empty so expect to go alongside. Entering Kalamos there are only fishing boats here and the island ferry, so go port side to, in much the same spot I was at in April, nobody around so step ashore and do it all myself. Nanjos all tied up and secure at 11:00, the suns lovely and hot and there is a nice gentle breeze blowing. Put Nanjo to bed and go have a look around and take some pics, stop for a coffee at an open taverna, and have a chat with the owner, he's only doing drinks. I do notice a couple of small supermarkets open, but I have plenty of food onboard so will be ok. I was planning to sail from here to Port Leone and anchor to have a look at the deserted village, but I might see if I can walk there tomorrow instead, the exercise will do me good? Back on board, have some bread/jam and a coke for lunch, sitting in the cockpit. It's to lovely an afternoon to spend with my head in the cockpit locker playing with the macerator pump,so fill a bottle with water and set of for a walk around. Out of town and start climbing up into the hills a bit, there are some fatastic views over the sea, plenty of beautiful houses and quite a few left in ruins. I turn a corner and get a big surprise, parked next to a ruined house is an American Pontiac Trans Am (Smokey and the Bandit), still with it's Illionois number plates, a little bit dented but looks a runner? Just a shame it's only the small 4.9 ltr Turbo and not the big block 7.6 ! I've seen mostly 4x4's here and even golf buggys as it's only 6 miles long and pretty hilly.Just wonder where he goes with it,can't see much call for "Running Moonshine?". I take a few pics and carry on my way, as I climb higher the road actually starts to get better along with the views, the suns baking down and I have my t-shirt off now, and glad I brought the water but regretting not bringing any of my boiled sweets. I've walked a circular route and can see the harbour way below me,on the way back down I pass what must be the town dump, there are broken fridges,tv's and cookers at the side of the road just rotting away, I do notice that any bits worth salvaging have been removed though. The walk back down is a lot easier and I'm soon back on Nanjo sitting in the cockpit with a beer and relaxing, watching the fishing boats return, and glad I'm not in anybodies spot. It's a lovely evening as the sun goes down, it seems people like to walk to the end of the pier and back, all the harbour lights are on, but nothings open. Pretty soon it's just me in the harbour,after dinner I just sit and read,and at midnight I have some tea and bread/jam for supper and sit in the cockpit. It's 25 degs at 00:30 and an amazing clear sky.
Thursday 22nd November
Slept pretty good, just the slapping of the waves on the transom to wake me up everynow and again. Woke at 07:00 to the sun coming up, a quick look out and the winds picked up and is nearly blowing into the harbour entrance, my navtex is showing a Ene wind force 5 today, which is about right. Watch the full island ferry leave and make some tea and toast which I eat in the cockpit,the skies a gorgeous blue and no clouds about, I reckon it's going to be a good day for a long walk? Watch a couple of fishing boats return, and they only unload 1 wooden box each, these guys might have been out most of the night? Do my washing up and load my bag with,2 bottles water, boiled sweets,torch, Leatherman multi pen knife (I've seen the movie where he has to cut his arm off and wishes he had bought a Leatherman) and spare battery for my camera, sun hat. Call at the small supermarket and pick up an orange/apple and a pack of Popodopulous choccy chip cookies, the owner confirms I can walk there,but it's a long walk? I set of at 10am and head of out of town up the steep road and past the bakery and keep left until I come to a gravel track, just wide enough for one vehicle. There are pretty fresh tyre marks,apparently the villagers always lay fresh flowers at Port Leones church on a Sunday. It's a gorgeous morning and the road follows the coast and climbs quite high,after 15 mins a beaten up pick-up truck passes me coming down, and thats the only vehicle and people I see all the way there. It's an easy walk, I can say that now after all the walking I've done in the past 7 months. But when I think back to this time last year,I had some serious medical problems,weighed nearly 19 stone and got out of breath so easily, I would never have made it out of the town! Plenty of places to take pics and have a drink, and admire the views, pass the islands rubbish dump, as you can see in the pics, it's just tipped over an edge out of town and away from tourists and locals? No wonder they want us yachties to take our rubbish away with us and dump it elsewhere. Theres one cross on a sharp bend, with about 150ft drop the other side straight into the sea, I stop and have a look over the side, expecting to see a car or bike but am glad that I don't. The suns beating down and there's a lovely breeze blowing, as I can see Port Leone bay in the distance and the road I'm taking winds up and down and around, it looks a long way to go? But suprisingly, I'm soon into the bay and can see the well maintained church, and I'm walking down into the small village, with the ruined houses.The village had to be abandoned after the big earthquake in the 1950's and it cut of there natural water supply.There are two small jetties so go and have a well earned sit down and take my sandals off and put my feet in the glourious cold water. It's taken me a leisurely 2 hours stroll, stopping to take pictures and have a drink, at least I now know how far I have to walk back? Stopped for lunch and the Popodopulous cookies are great, I'm glad that I decided not to sail around and anchor here as the winds blowing straight into the bay and kicking up quite a swell. Have a walk about and take some pitures of the olive press and other buildings, theres a portable sandwich/drinks van by the olive press, and I'm glad that I'm the only person here and it's all quiet and serene, to enjoy the atmosphere of the village. I should think it would loose a fair bit if there were people clambering over everywhere? The church is immaculately kept, and I take my last look and pictures as I set of back the way I came. The days a lot hotter now but the suns on my back as I make my way back, I heard some goat bells on the way but never actually saw any. I turn a bend now and theres a gang of them waiting ahead at the next bend, obviously reckoned they would get me on the return trip? But as I get nearer they all scatter of very quickly, some going up but some running down the steep cliff with amazing speed and agility, awesome to watch just how sure footed they are. Half way back I pass an old boy with a shepherds crook at the side of the road,calling his goats. I think we were both just as suprised as each other to see another person up here.A quick hello and good morning and I'm walking past and leaving him alone, what a life he must lead, he looked about 100yrs old? I'm soon back at the dump, and decide to stop and have a look for a push bike, well you never know? I catch sight of a bike frame about 30ft below me, but on closer inspection it's only kids size.and I don't need a bike that badly, well, not yet? As I see the dump as an important land mark on my way back, I stop and finish of the cookies, not far to go now. I'm soon on the outskirts of town and making my way back to the harbour and Nanjo. It was great to step on board and take my sandals of my now aching feet, time was 3:30pm so I'm well impressed with my little walk and day out. Checked the camera and I took 100 pictures, I'm so glad that somebody invented digital photography. In the good old days that would have been 3 rolls of 36 shot 35mm film, now I download them onto my laptop in minutes and delete the bad ones. What a money saver and briliant bit of kit? Spent the rest of the afternoon, sitting in the cockpit reading my book and relaxing. In the evening I gave my poor feet a good soaking and a rub with peppermint foot balm, sheer luxury. Dinner was tinned meatballs and rice with a can of Alfa, and I just relaxed with the radio and my book. I've decided I will stay here tomorrow and take the macerator pump apart (Oh Joy!!). Turned in at midnight, well knackered.
Friday 23rd November
As expected, I slept really well and don't remember a thing, it was a quiet night. Woke up at 07:30 just in time to see the ferry leave, it's going to be another gorgeous day by the look of things. Tea and toast in the cockpit as usual, and wave to the fishermen,coming and going. Have a big hot shower,hair wash, I did look a bit scruffy when I woke up (well, more than usual anyway?). First job is the macerator pump, it's soon apart and cleaned up, it can only be a build up of salt when it's not used for days? I have it wih the inlet facing down, maybe I should put it the other way up? Give Nanjo a good clean up down below next, which does not take long. Wondering what to do next, I'm looking up the mast and it's a perfectly still day, and Nanjos well secured to the quayside, time to give my "Top Climber" one man mast climbing kit a try out, the port side flag haliard needs replacing as it broke in Sami months ago, and I've not been able to fly my skull and cutlass's flag. I've never used it yet, so spend a bit reading the simple instructions, rig a 10mm braided line to the mast head using my main haliard to pull it up. Thread the top and bottom jamming blocks through the rope and make the end fast to the shroud plate (I reckon it's the strongest fitting on board?). It all looks good, climb into the seat and tighten the straps up, and give it a go. The idea is you stand up and move the top jammer up the rope as far as you can, it's attached to the seat, then sit down, which jams the rope and you can't move. Then reach down for the bottom jammer which is attached to two foot straps,and bend your knees and move the jammer up. Keep repeating that until your as high as you want to be? I figured to go 5ft first and see how it feels and just to get the hang of it all. There is definately a knack to it, but nothings broke or slipped, and I'm soon on my way to the spreaders, about 20ft up, I reckon thats far enough without an additional safety line, although your not meant to need one, as this was designed for the singlehanded yacht racers to use, but I reckon I should survive a 20ft fall,but the 42ft from the top?. On the way I've learned that doing it in small steps is the way to go. It's a lovely view and I re-thread some more flag haliard rope and take a few pictures. Getting down is the reverse procedure, but is a lot harder to get the hang of as it's a bit alien and does not feel as secure as going up? Back on deck I climb out of the harness, re-read the instructions and found I had put a clip on the rope that's only meant to be used once at the top of the mast? So, have another go without it attached, and it's a lot easier as you can bend out more. I have to sew up my damaged pirate flag, but it's soon fluttering proudly up the mast again. I will go to the top at Messolonghi, as the lights need checking and there are some more lines to feed down through the mast, be good to check all the fittings as well. Spent the rest of my day relaxing and reading my book in the sun, my calves have stiffened up after yesterdays walk now. Cooked a spag bol for dinner and spent the evening listening to the radio and reading. I'm of to Kastos tomorrow, and the forecast looks good. Turned in at midnight.
Saturday 24th November
Up at my usual time, and the ferry's leaving bang on 07:30. Tea and toast in the cockpit, theres a bit more cloud about. Do my washing up, give the fridge a good clean out and check Nanjos engine oils. Thats about it for my prep work to leave this morning. 10:15 I'm letting the lines go and pulling away from the jetty no problems, soon out of the harbour and the autohelms on and I'm taking the fenders in. I leave the mooring lines in place and just coil them ready for Kastos. Theres no wind and it's a gorgeous morning as I motor between Nisis Provati island and Kastos Island at 1500 rpm. Once I'm far enough of land I give the macerator a spin, and I'm so pleased that it does what it's supposed to do without blowing a fuse? I'm soon approaching the islet of Pasonisi and then turn right and head for Kastos harbour, rig fenders on both sides as usual. I've been here in April, but can't remember it and could not find any pictures either. I can see there are no other yachts about though. Enter the harbour and it's just as small as I remember it to be, the harbour walls empty, so come about and moor up starboard side for a change, nobody about as expected, so do it myself easily enough. Nanjos all secure by 11:30, it's only been a 5 mile trip which was just nice. I'm sitting in the cockpit as the island ferry Xania arrives, get a wave from it's skipper and crew, we've been seeing each other since Mitika now. Put on my walking sandals and go of exploring and there is nobody about at all, everything is closed. I did see signs of life with washing hanging out of windows and pass a dog on the way out of town. Took some great pictures of the harbour, and on my way back I can hear bells, and there are sheep coming along the harbour walk, then they turn into a fenced of garden? Theres a bay Rod Heikell mentions in his book called Sarakiniko, which I'm hoping to walk to tomorrow, it's on the other side of the island, so should be a nice stroll? Walking back to Nanjo I pass guy in a pickup truck and another on a scooter, both look suprised to see a stranger. Back on board, I get out a coke and mix up some olive oil and balsamic vinegar with some bread for lunch. I'm glad that I bought two loaves yesterday, as I'm pretty sure there is nothing here. I have enough food for 4 days, so will be at Astakos by then and can restock. Sit in the cockpit reading my book and admiring the views, wave to a fisherman coming back in his boat, and he looks shocked to see me as well. I guess that once the holiday seasons over and everythings closed, they have the island to themselves? Download all my photos and re-size them for my blog, sitting in the cockpit until the sun goes down. It's amazingly still and quiet here, makes Kalamos seem like London? Cooked a simple spag sauce and soya dinner and of course an Alfa. Turned in at midnight after finishing my book.
Sunday 25th November
Woke up a couple of times as the winds picked up and I'm bouncing up and down a bit, but I'm soon back in the land of nod. Woke at 08:00, to the start of a lovely looking morning, suns just coming up and shining it's face on the harbour. The ferries still here, so maybe no service on a Sunday? The big difference I notice straight away though, is no singing priest? Theres a lovely church in town, but maybe there are not enough people on the island, or those that are, don't need telling to go to church? Tea and toast in the cockpit, and contemplate my day ahead. Load my bag with some bread,boiled sweets and some water and set of to find Port Sarakiniko, it's a steep climb out of town and I pass the only person I will see for the next 4hrs, a shepherd with his sheep. After a couple of dead ends I'm on the right road, and end up coming round a bend and there it is below me, some spectacular views on the way. I'm soon down to the small jetty, where there is a large wood working boat, the water looks deep enough to come along the jetty? It's a well sheltered spot for sure, and one I will come back to and anchor in, have something to eat and spent 20mins just admiring the views and peace and quiet. Theres a sign for "Chef Johns Taverna" on a post, so follow it back to the outskirts of town, as expected Johns not cooking today? I branch of down a gravel track and am suprised to come across a little bay at the bottom of the track, and there are some new buildings being built with great views. Take plenty of pics on my walk, I'm soon back in town and come back in past the church. I can actually see two people tending a grave, so I'm not completely alone? Back on Nanjo, I get a new book and a can of coke with some bread,balsamic/olive oil for lunch. It's a really gorgeous day, my temp gauge is showing 27 degrees, looking out to sea and all the way down to the south, there's not a single boat insight at all. It's just occured to me now, I left Vlicho 8 days ago and have not seen another yacht moving at all. I'm of to Port Marathia tomorrow, it's just a bay and anchorage on the mainland, but sounds worth spending a night there according to my pilot book. The forecast so far is good. Read my book till the sun went down and the chill was in the air,then went below. Had a simple dinner of tinned plum tomatos and crumbled toast, delish, with a beer. I should be able to buy supplies at Astakos in a few days, it's certainly doing my budget good with nowhere open, still got 32euros to last till Saturday, and 3 days out of the 6 will be at anchor hopefully. Spent the evening with my new book,Sade,Led Zeppelin,David Gray and Louis Jordan playing on my lap top. It's a very quiet and still night, I can only see 4 houses with lights on ashore? Turned in early and fell asleep instantly.
Monday 11th Nov
Went to bed early and slept really well, a very quiet and still night again in the bay. Woke at 09:00, and really glad that I had drawn my curtains the night before, plenty of cloud about and no wind. Had my usual brekkie in the cockpit and my small gas bottle ran out halfway through the toast! Luckily I still had the new large bottle to connect up. It's going to be an overcast day by the look of things, so decide giving my dirty clothes a wash a miss today. I'm out of bread, so jump in the dinghy and take the empty gas bottle with me, and I'm in luck the first mini supermarket I stop at, not only changes my small bottle for a large one, something I've been trying to do, but nobody would let me do the swap, and for 11 euros. He offers me a glass of home brewed brandy which is just the best, I've tried, very smooth. He's selling it in 1.5 ltr plastic bottles, and I'm very tempted, but it's out of my budget at the moment. Call in at the new bakers and pick up a loaf and a danish, a quick 5min row back to Nanjo and thats one job done? I decide to give my new cooker bolt wood a varnish, and typically then get carried away and start applying varnish all over the place, and soon forget where the wet bits are as well, only finding some after I've placed my hand on them. Obvious thing to do is get my comfy cushions out and sit in the cockpit reading my book, this I do until lunch time. Stop and have my danish and a coke, then straight back onto my book again. Thats pretty well how my day went, book reading with the odd biscuit or mug of coffee thrown in, until I finished reading my book at 17:30 and the little sun I've seen has gone down, and it's starting to get very chilly. Down below and close all my hatches, to keep the chill out. Played a few games of scrabble and the bike sim, before I cooked a big dinner of tinned meatballs in tom sauce,sweetcorn and rice. Cooking the dinner warmed the cabin up nicely. Eaten of course with my usual bread and can of Alfa beer, spent the rest of the evening reading and listening to radio Lefkada. Turned in at 22:30 after some coffee and toast for supper eaten in the cockpit, it's a very clear night and absolutely no wind or clouds about, so a marvelous night sky to look at.
Tuesday 12th November
Slept really well, I was warm enough as well. No need to buy the extra blanket yet. Up at 09:00 and straight away I can see it's a gorgeous day outside, blue sky and no wind. Brekkie in the cockpit, and I just sit and watch the cars and bikes rushing up and down the main road. Quickly do the washing up and clean the sinks, it's a wash my clothes day for sure.It's so handy having the twin sinks and the bucket to do it all in, and within the hour all my stuffs washed and on the line, blowing gently in the breeze and sun. For a little job to do, I've been looking at the wooden blocks that support the cooker, and they really need varnishing, now the new barrel bolt woods been done? Out with the screwdriver,sandpaper,varnish and they are soon on the table and getting there first coat, and look a lot better already. While they were drying I sat out in the cockpit reading a book and enjoying the warm sun. Lunch was some bread and jam with a can of coke,delish. The varnish is dry now, so put on a second coat, and back to my book. 15:00 and all my washings nice and dry, so fold it up and it's straight back in my bag. That's it for another 10 days I reckon, or I might be able to last until I get to Messolonghi? The varnish is dry again, so re-assemble the cooker mountings, and I'm well pleased with the result. The more I'm varnishing inside, the more I can see just how much the wood has faded over the years, no rush to do it all, so I can take my time? The sun's going down at 17:40 and the sudden drop in temperature is really noticeable now, it's not long before everytrhing is damp? Down below and have a play on the laptop, I'm actually winning 1 game in 10 now on the scrabble, no such luck with the bike sim tho. I've made it to the giddy heights of the top bike a V-Max a few times, and lost it all after one ride again! Dinner was a throw together of soya mince,stock cube,tin of plum tomatos and a tin of red beans. To be honest it did not taste of much even after a large quantity of ground pepper, and I've made enough for tomorrow as well? Finally got round to opening the Lefkas wine Pete bought at Lefkada for 2.50 a litre,it's a white wine, and really pretty good, and just seems to be getting better after the 3rd glass? My usual evening spent reading and listening to radio Lefkada, I must have been on my own for some time now, as I'm starting to talk along with the adverts, should I be worried?? Supper was some toast/jam and a coffee eaten in the cockpit, another gorgeous night, clear sky and not a sound or ripple on the water.I'm going to really miss this place when I leave. Turned in at 23:00
Wednesday 13th November
Slept like the dead, I decided to leave my curtains open from now, and wake up when the sun wakes me up. Otherwise I reckon I'm going to miss out on the daylight hours and some lovely mornings? Woke at 08:00 and I can already see the sun shining and blue skies all around me, make a mug of tea and toast the last 3 slices of my bread, brekkie in the cockpit, it's pretty damp, but that will soon burn off. I'm going into Nidri today for a walk and a last look around the town and to take some pics, so I have a lovely long hot shower, clean clothes and give Nanjo a tidy up. The temps up to 20 degs and I reckon I can walk into town in just my shorts/flipflops leave my t-shirt in my bag for later? Load my bag with a bottle of water,some sweets and my camera, throw the rubbish bag and other bits into the dinghy and I'm soon rowing over to the Sail Ionion pontoon. A lovely stroll into Nidri, first thing I noticed is the boat yard on the bend is completely full now, they even have a yacht right in the entrance, making it impossible to drive in or even take a pushbike.The pics I'm posting say it all, and this is the yard where the yachts fell over last year in the hurricane, absolutely no chance this year? Further on and I can see that everybodies getting ready for the olive harvest, the nettings been placed around every olive tree ready to catch them. Into Nidri and it's even more deserted than last time, I'm probably the only tourist and definately the only person in shorts without a t-shirt, it's lovely and hot now. As expected I end up going to the last atm in town for some money. I take a few pictures of the high street and then walk down to the quayside, and it's really empty now, I only recognise one old liveaboard motorboat thats been here for a while, the rest of the space is empty. Most of the tripper boats are being worked on and definately no sign of any trippers? It's a gorgeous walk back to Vlicho and I stop at the new bakers for some bread and popeye pies,it was going to be 2 bread and 1 pie, but the guy missunderstood and gave me 2 of each. Who am I to complain, when I get an extra pie? An easy 5min row back to Nanjo and I'm soon sitting in the cockpit with a pie and a coke, it's been a busy morning, the suns beautiful now and I can feel it warming me up nicely. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the cockpit reading my new book, only going below for a drink or biscuit. But once the sun goes down at 5:30 now, it gets cold very quickly, so on with the fleece and trackie bottoms and even my wooly socks, just so I can spend a bit more time outside. By 6:30 even I have to say enough and go below now, dinner was the leftovers from yesterday, with added onion and some pasta. It did make quite a difference to the taste believe me? My usual evening spent reading and listening to the radio. A quick look at my budget and I have 87 euros left to last till the end of the month, about 5 e 40c about £4:70 a day in cash? Luckily I have quite a bit of food stocked up, the diesel tank is nearly full and easily enough to get me to Messolonghi, so I should be ok? I'm hoping the harbours I'm planning to stop at are all free? Turned in at 23:00
Thursday 14th November
Don't think I actually had much sleep, the bay was completely still and quiet, I just seemed to keep having little dreams all the time, on any subject and any place? Woke at 08:00 with a very overcast day outside, plenty of clouds about and no sun yet. I could do with some wind as my wind gens not been spinning much lately and my battery bank is down to 11.7 volts! Think I will have to start the motor for a bit later? The forecast is for force 5 to 6 winds S se and possible thunderstorm? Have my usual brekkie in the cockpit now and enjoy the views around me, I do love waking up in this bay. I just can't imagine what kind of view I will have when I'm back in the UK, to be honest, I'm expecting no view at all, just the next house 20ft away if I'm lucky? Spent the morning doing some little jobs,cleaning the rust of 3 sets of pliers,wd40 all the connections behind the engine start panel and working out wiring for plumbing in a shore side electric lead, I ran the engine for 90mins at 1500rpm just to put some juice back in the batteries,the main bank was only showing 11.5 volts. It went back to 12.8 once the engine was shut down. My main electric useage is the fresh water pump, there is no manual system on Nanjo, something I will have to fit. It's suprising that we have had, hardly any wind the last 6 days now,well not enough to power the wind gen for long enough to do any good.Stopped for lunch and had yesterdays spare popeye pie drizzled with chinese dipping sauce and a coke.Yummy. Had a really lazy afternoon, just enjoying the view and sunshine and reading my book. I'm soon in my fleece top and trackie bottoms once the sun went down behind the hill though, but stuck it out in the cockpit for another hour, before going below. Dinner was soya mince and the left over spag sauce mixed, along with the last 3 glasses of the wine. My usual evening followed,and I turned in at 22:30
Friday 15th November
Slept really well, as it was such a still night again. I reckon it will take some getting used to once I get to Messolonghi marina, I'm sure there will be noise and dust I will have to get used to? It's another gorgeous morning, brekkie in the cockpit as usual and just enjoy the magic views around me. I've got a trip to the yacht club planned for later,to say my goodbyes and get on the net for an upto date weather forecast. This mornings navtex is saying E se 5 to 6 locally 7 soon? I bet the weathers going to change dramatically once I hopefully move from here tomorrow on the first part of my trip to Messolonghi? Rowed over to the yacht club at 13:00, Tiffanys working so ordered a blt and a pint, sat down at the bar and got on the net. The weathers looking pretty good, only glitch is rain all day on Monday and winds picking up for next weekend, it's showing mostly westerly winds, which will do me nicely. Update this blog and send a few e-mails, and all to soon I'm having another pint and just surfing the net. Say my goodbyes and on my way out fill up my 12ltr water container, just incase the water at Zaverda is turned off? Lovely row back to Nanjo, put my bags on board, and decide to go for a row around the bay as it's my last day here. Row over to the boat yards and take some pictures of the sunken yachts and steel boats, the Neilson yard is nearly full now, and they are really jammed in solid. Gorgeous row back just before the sun starts to go down, and I'm nice and warm now, so sit in the cockpit reading my book. I'm soon below though and putting on my fleece, dinners going to be a tin of plum toms and some toast, as I'm not that hungry after my blt earlier. It takes 5mins to cook it and about 3mins to eat it, settle down to radio lefkada and my book for the rest of the evening. Turned in at 22:30
Saturday 17th November
I kept waking during the night, no noises outside, just my brain working overtime, thinking of the trip to Messolonghi. Woke at 07:45 and the suns already beaming through my windows, it's going to be another gorgeous day? Up and make my brekkie, and sit in the cockpit as usual taking in the sights and sounds of my last morning in this lovely bay. There are jobs to do, so I'm doing the washing up first, then check the gearbox oil (it just needed a capfull), check the engine over, the oils ok but adjust the alternator belt as it's a bit slack, look for anything loose or rubbing. Take everything out of the back cabin so I can get to the water strainer (very little inside it) and check the volvo shaft seal along with the sea cocks, it's all looking as it should be. Replace the lot and make my cabin look very tidy at the same time. Next job is to lift the two pieces of flooring to get at the bilge, as expected there is a little bit of water in there, two spongefulls and it's all dry again. Row ashore next to dump the rubbish and get a loaf and popeye pie, decide to stop at the supermarket and buy some more small milk cartons and get a bottle of red Lefkada wine. That's all my shopping done,a short 5min row back to Nanjo and then pull the dinghy up on the bow and give it a good wash in fresh water, before folding it up and lashing it onto the cabin top. There are a few anchorages I'm hoping to visit, so want it handy. Nanjo's just about ready for sea now, just a couple of things to stow away below. I start the engine and I'm getting the anchor up at 11:00, covered in mud as expected but it soon washes off. A slow motor out of the bay and a last look round and a few pictures taken, I really hope that I'm back here sooner than later? Motor past Nidri for the last time as well, the quay side is really empty now and so is Tranquill Bay, it can finally live up to it's name now? Theres nobody else about at all, I can see a large fishing boat on the horizon. It's a gorgeous morning, brilliant sunshine and no wind, so motor over to Jackie O's bay at 1500rpm,as there is no rush. Drop anchor in her bay at 12:00 and I'm the only yacht here, the waters crystal clear again but a bit colder than I was here last week. I'm soon diving under and cleaning the prop and bottom, not so much to do this time. The paddle wheel has jammed on the log again, so give it a clean, can't wait to take the thing out and fill the hole in to be honest. I have a wash on the stern, have my popeye pie for lunch and read my book for a bit and just admire the solitary view. You would have to be a multi-millionaire to have a view like I have for my lunch back home? Up anchor at 13:45 and no problems, theres still no wind, so clear the island and set the autopilot on course for Zaverda (Palairos), it's 7.9 miles away. So settle down to two hours of motoring, in the lovely sunshine and calm seas. Get Nanjo ready for the harbour 2 miles out,get the lot ready as I'm not sure how I will be berthing up yet. As I'm approaching I can see it's pretty empty, compared to the last time I was here with Pete, once through the entrance I see there is room to go alongside as well, luckily I'm all prepared, so turn round and go port side to. There's nobody about to help me as expected, but I step ashore with my bow and stern line and Nanjos soon secure, just have to move all the fenders over to the port side for extra proection all done by 16:00. Tidy everything up and I'm soon filling my water tanks with the long hose at the quay side, that should easily last me the two weeks to Messolonghi now. Go ashore for a walk and to take some pictures as the suns going down. It's not a tourist town and just about everything seems open, take some pictures of the sun setting over Lefkas and walk back to Nanjo. Back on board I have a quick hot water wash and go ashore at 18:00 once the suns gone down, I do get a few looks as I'm the only person in shorts,t-shirt and flip flops now, to be honest, I think that it's nearly time to dig out my winter stuff as the chill is in the air. Go straight to the giros shop I've used before, see the same woman and order a pitta giros with everything to go, 2 euros well spent. Take it back to Nanjo and eat it with a glass of the very nice Lefkas wine, which not suprisingly is followed by a couple of more glasses. All the small fishing boats are leaving and it's pretty bumpy alongside until they've all gone, I can now see why the unattended yacht behind me is drawn away from the quay. There are only 5 other yachts here and obviously nobody been on them for a while, the Odysseous pontoon is just about empty as well. Read my book and enjoy the wine, and turned in early at 22:00.
Sunday 18th November
I slept really well, no noise just the odd movement as a fishing boat came back to wake me up, but I soon drifted of to sleep again. Woken up at 07:45 by the church bells ringing out, just laid in my bunk expecting my Vlicho wailing priest to chime in, but nothing, just the bells. Maybe the guy here really can't sing? Got up and had a look outside, and it's a beautiful morning, the suns starting to get up and warm everywhere, blue skies and a gentle breeze. My navtex is forecasting Ese winds strength 3to4 for today. But the outlook is for stronger winds over the Ionion from tomorrow,which will fit in with my long range forecast for Monday of wind and rain all day. I've decided to leave here today and head down to Mitika, a new harbour for me, so somewhere to spend a few days. It's only 8.9 miles on my gps,so a nice easy trip. Make my tea and toast as usual and eat it in the cockpit,admiring the view and listening to the church bells. It's a gorgeous morning, so after getting rid of my rubbish I get Nanjo ready to leave, the engines soon ticking over, I let the bow line go, then the stern line, give her a push off from the quay and were slowly motoring away at 10:15. Outside the harbour, it's absolutely flat seas with no wind, put the autopilot on and get all the fenders stowed away and the ropes. No rush again so 1500rpm and the gps is pointing the way, motor past the Sunsail base and just a few fishing boats to keep my eye on. It's a lovely mountainous coastline, so sit back and admire the views, I'm soon turning left at the headland and catch my first glimpse of the houses of Mitika,all very colourfull and right on the waters edge. Time to get the mooring gear ready, and follow yesterdays arrangement and rig lines for any kind of approach. Through the harbour entrance slowly and straight away it's a lot different from my pilot book, they have added two floating pontoons, which gives more berthing in the harbour. The main wall is pretty full, but the first pontoon has plenty of space, it's quite low down, so steer Nanjo back out to sea so I can safely lower my fenders and put more on the port side. Back in and the winds blowing me off the pontoon which is handy, coming in slowly my first attempt goes wrong, I'm to slow and am just about to step ashore with the mooring ropes and Nanjos blown away from the pontoon. Straight back round again and come in a bit quicker this time, and at a steeper angle. It's spot on and step ashore with my lines and make the bow and stern fast, a few minutes walking Nanjo back along the jetty as far as I can to an Italian motor boat behind her, and I'm happy and make her secure. It's now 13:15 and we have covered 9.5 miles to get here, my next stop is Episkopi on Kalamos Island and thats only 2 miles away? Theres nobody about to ask if it's a local boat berth, so I hang around for an hour before I wander of to have a quick look around the town. It's a lovely place, plenty of bars and cafes and a large supermarket as well, I'm planning to stay a few days here. Walk back to the harbour down the back streets, then watch a landing barge come in and go alongside the harbour wall where I first fancied going, then 20mins later watch a water taxi come in and moor up at another spot I fancied? I decide to sit in the cockpit enjoying the sun and a beer, just incase I have to move? Finished my book and a few small fishing boats come in, but they are all going to the end of the harbour. Once the suns gone down I reckon I'm safe to stay here now, have a lovely hot wash, clean clothes. And because it's suddenly turned chilly, I get out the jeans Pete brought out for me. I must have lost more weight as they are pretty slack, get out my Harley belt and a big problem, it's got metal skulls on it, and because of the weight loss I can't pull the belt tight enough because the skulls are in the way! End up using my multi adjustable webbing belt, while I'm at it I put on trainers and socks along with my fleece. Now, winters arrived for sure, a look at my temp gauge and it's 15 degs? It's very quiet walking around town, most of the bars and tavernas are open but nobody in them. I pass a giros shop so know I will get dinner, walk to the beautiful church then turn back. Stop at the giros shop, and it's one of the best I've had and only 2 euros, find a cosy bar near the harbour and pop in for a beer. They have no internet so will have another look for somewhere else tomorrow. It's a lovely evening so go for a short walk the other side of town before getting back on board, and having a glass of wine and listening to the radio. The forecast has changed to force 7 to 8 and thunderstorms now, so I rig a bow and stern spring before I turn in, the winds blowing me of the jetty so no problems. Turn in at 23:00
Monday 5th November
Slept really well, it was another cold damp night, so was wrapped in my sleeping bag and "Love" blanket. Awoke at 09:00 and it's pretty murky outside, brekkie in the cockpit and there are plenty of grey clouds about. Forecast is for force 4 to 5 Sw and possible thunderstorms? I was planning a run into Nidri, just for a walk, as I've not been swimming much (spotted the jelly fish back). Sitting around and wondered what to do? I suddenly decided it was time to sort out the damaged mirror on the back of the heads door. I had attempted to get it off before with a pallet knife, but it was well masticed on. So I cover the mirror with duct tape, take the door off, and not being superstitious at all,take it out into the cockpit and hit the mirror with my hammer. The pieces are disposed of safely, and to my utter amazement I don't cut myself (I reckon theres a piece of mirror lurking somewhere, that will cut me later though). Spend a fair bit of time scraping the mastic off the door, if they did this at the factory in 1987, somebody really got carried away? I could see the rain approaching now, so down below and carry on scraping, sanding and then a coat of mahogony varnish. It's then I have to close all the hatches as the rains hammering down, just hope the varnish fumes are healthy? I soon discover that varnishing inside with the cabin battened down is not good for your breathing, so open the main hatch, before I pass out! The good news is that it's soon dry though, and for a very brief moment, I was even contemplating putting a 2nd coat on. Spent the afternoon, up and down in the cockpit in between the rain, my window leaks seem to have slowed down a bit as well. Have a nap in my back cabin for a couple of hours. Wake up and it's nearly dark, I decide to make a large spag bol for dinner. I'm getting better with the soya mince and it's slowly loosing it's wall paper paste consistency. Enjoy the spag with a can of Fix, and have enough for tomorrows dinner. Spent the evening playing on my lap top and listening to radio Lefkada. It's been a busy day? Turn in at 23:00
Tuesday 6th November
Slept really well, and woke to a gorgeous morning, blue skys and all calm, the suns out and warming every where up. Brekkie in the cockpit, with the last of my bread. I need some exercise as I'm not swimming much now, so load the dinghy and row ashore. A lovely 25min slow row in calm water. I'm soon heading out of Nidri in just my shorts and flip flops, strange seeing the locals driving past all wrapped up, the temp when I left Nanjo was 24degs. It's a gorgeous walk into town, and I see nobody else walking at all. Into Nidri and although it's 11:30 there is virtually nowhere open and very few people about, and I definately stand out now,without a t-shirt on? Down to the harbour front, and there are only 2 liveaboard yachts there, Neillsons semed to have taken over a fair bit. There yachts are pulled of about 10ft from the quayside, so here for the winter I reckon? It's quite earie really, just a few fishermen about, what a difference a few weeks make. I will come back for a last look before I set of for Messolonghi in a few weeks. The walk back to Vlicho is just as busy, I see nobody walking and only a few cars pass by. Stop at the bakers in Vlicho for some bread and popeye pie, it's really hot and sunny now, so I have a sit down and eat the pie, just watching the world go by, magic! Row back to Nanjo easily, first job is to put another coat of varnish on my loo door. Then pack the guest bed sheets up, load the dinghy and row back to the yacht club. Tiffanys on and luckily she can wash the sheets while I wait, so I better have a cold beer to pass the time? Read a couple of magazines while I'm waiting, and 1 hour later, the sheets are done and I'm rowing back to Nanjo. Out with the washing line and they are soon drying in a nice breeze. The varnish is dry as well, so put on another coat, and sit in the cockpit reading my book with a large fetta/cucumber sarnie and coke for lunch. My temp gauge is reading 30degs now, and it's a gorgeous afternoon. Just wish the jelly fish would leave so I could go for a swim. The sheets are soon dry and folded away,and the varnished door is nearly dry as well. It certainly looks a lot better than all the other varnished woodwork now, theres plenty of wood below, so hopefully it will all get treated one day to a rub down and new varnish? Am absolutely shattered, so time for a nap? Woke at 18:30 and it's still lovely out, no big fuss over dinner as it's yesterdays left over spag bol, washed down with a Fix. Read my book and just relax in the cabin, the varnish fumes are slowly going as well. 23:00 and it's supper time, a mug of tea and some toast/jam eaten in the cockpit, under a glourious clear sky, just millions of stars about, a magic evening to be in Vlicho. Turned in and fell asleep very easily.
Wednesday 7th November
Slept really well, it was a warm night, up at 08:30. First look outside and it's pretty cloudy but dry, my usual brekkie in the cockpit, and the old fisherman I see is bringing his nets in just behind Nanjo. A wave and a good morning to him, and I watch him pull in 100mtrs of net and not one fish! Maybe he should find some way of cooking the jelly fish as those buggers seem to have come back with a vengence today? My navtex is showing a gale for here in the next 12hrs of N Nw winds 7 to 8 with thunderstorms, oh well, here we go again? Luckily I got bread yesterday, so am stocked up with food. The loo door is looking great, just have to stick the new mirror on with double sided pads, then some silicon seal around the edges, re-hang it and it's job done, and I'm really chuffed with the result. Because of the very light winds the last few days I've been watching my battery monitor slowly going down, it was reading 11:7 volts for the main battery bank this morning, so went to start the engine and nothing on position 2, luckily the starter battery has not been drained of power, and a switch to position 1&2 and the trusty Yanmar fires up instantly. I leave it running at 1500 revs for 60mins to put some juice back into my batteries. Maybe it's time I went out for a motor around a bit, and looked at buying those solar panels I've been thinking about as well? Did my accounts this morning, and I only spent 47 euros last week, just over £5 a day. What a cheapskate? It's pretty easy when your at anchor here or I suppose any anchorage really, as long as you don't go ashore? I certainly feel I've eaten enough, and think I've put weight on? They are forecasting strong winds for the evening on the navtex, so better expect the worst? As it's all over Helenic seas and coming from Italy for me. Spent the afternoon having a nap, woke at 18:30 and it's starting to pick up, the wind and waves. Have plum peeled tomatos on toast for dinner, yummy. Spent my evening on my laptop playing games and listening to radio Lefkada on my wind up radio, which is now making a loud grunching noise when I wind it up? Turned in at 23:00.
Thursday 8th November
Slept really well, the expected strong winds did not arrive. It just got a bit choppy for a while. Brekkie in my cockpit as usual. Did a couple of small tidy up jobs in the morning. The afternoon was absolutely gorgeous, with light winds and clear blue sky. It was just to tempting, so jumped in the dinghy and rowed over to the Sail Ionion pontoon,as soon as there yachts had left to go ashore, there was a rush of others to take there places, now rafted 4 deep and obviously here now for the winter. Tied up to the jetty and went to the new bakers for a loaf,popeye pie and then I spotted a large Danish, so bought that as well. An easy row back to Nanjo and I'm soon in the cockpit with a can of coke and the Danish, for lunch. It's a beautiful afternoon, I can see the Neilsons yachts that I had thought were parked up in the mud for the winter, now being taken ashore and propped up, all done on a sledge and very efficient to watch as well. I really fancied a swim, but the jelly fish have returned again, and the thought of being stung by one of them does not appeal. Finished my book, a really cracking sea tale at the time of Francis Drake, very descriptive. Time for a nap already. Woke at 19:00 and the suns gone down already.The wind up radio is really grunching now, so out with the screwdrivers and soon have the back off and the dynamo apart, pretty obvious the problem, the main cog for the dynamo is plastic and it's stripped most of it's teeth. I only paid a few pounds for the radio, probably 10 yrs ago and it got used a lot on my last yacht as well. Luckily it also takes batteries, so I can still use it, as it's the ideal size for the cockpit or below. Dinner was the last of my fetta and cucumber in a sarnie and the last of my olive oil, washed down with a Alfa beer. My usual evening spent on the lap top and listening to the radio, nice and warm below, so no need to be sitting in my sleepng bag! Turned in at 22:30
Friday 9th November
Had a great sleep, everything dead still and quiet. Bliss. Woke at 08:30 with the sun streaming through my windows, and it's a beautiful day outside alreeady. Time for a hot water shower,wash my hair and all clean clothes and a quick brekkie. By 09:20 I'm in the dinghy and rowing ashore for my 10am bus to Lefkada. It's the usual driver and no conductor, the next passenger we pick up is not until we are well out of Nidri. How things have changed, or maybe it's just the Friday bus? By the time we reach Lefkada there are 4 of us on board, and we pick the conductor up on the way as usual. I get of at the top of town and it's just as busy as normal, it's only when I walk along the town quay the difference is obvious, there are hardly any yachts here. Only 4 along the usual visitors spots and they are moored side on as well, maybe I should have sailed up? Pop into CYS for an inline diesel fuel filter and some fuses for the macerator, they have the filter in stock and with 6 fuses it only comes to 4e 70cents a great result. The filters for next year if I come out and will give the fuel system a complete clean out. Have a lovely walk around town, and notice only one other guy in shorts and t-shirt walking a dog, he must be a Brit of a yacht? Wandering around I find a bike shop,I'm still on the look out for one before I get to Messolonghi. He has no used bikes as expected, and the cheapest new one is 137 euros, for a very brief few seconds, I actually thought of buying it and riding back to Vlicho, but that soon passed as my budgets a bit tight at the moment. I did pick up a barrel bolt though, and of course my trip to Carrefour for supplies. Which seem to be mainly beers,cheap cokes (really good) jars of there cheap jam (very good) and some biscuits (my staple diet?). Back at the bus garage and I'm in luck a bus is waiting, a quick look at his clock and it's still showing a hour out compared to mine? Stow my bags in the hold and step onboard, and the clock on the bus is showing the same time as the bus garage clock? Confusing or what? This time the bus is fully packed and standing room only by the second stop, every woman loaded down with shopping bags. Must be the big shop for the weekend? I'm soon back in Vlicho and have a very easy row back to Nanjo, stow all my goodies, and open a tin of spam and have spam/hellmans sarnies with a coke for lunch. Eaten in the cockpit in glourious sunshine, it really is lovely and warm. Feeling I'm on a roll, I have a look at the barrel bolt and work out how to attach it to the cooker, it's to stop it gimballing when it's not needed, and lock it in place. Found some pieces of plywood in my bilge space, and some of the saloon infill stuff in the cockpit locker. Out with the tape measure,saw,sandpaper,screws,drill,drill bits,pencil,sanding block and I'm ready to make a start. A couple of very relaxing hours later and I'm quite chuffed with the result, just needs a bit of varnish and it will look like a factory option? The good news is it works a treat, and just to prove it I make some toast, which before was a wobbly experience as the cooker just wanted to keep moving, but now no problems. Have a good tidy up in the cockpit and get rid of all the sawdust and shavings. I'm thinking of going for a sail and swim tomorrow if the weathers like this again. Sat in the cockpit and started a new book, just soaking up the suns warmth.
Down below when the sun set as the temp drop is very sudden, did not fancy cooking, so used upo the rest of the tinned spam and made a couple more sarnies. My usual evening on the laptop and radio. Turned in at 23:00, and within 30mins I was having bad stomach cramps and not feeling at all well, I soon reckoned it was an overdose of spam and hellmans? Several visits to the loo later and I'm feeling a lot better, that will teach me?
Saturday 10th November
Slept really well in the end, once my stomach had settled down. Maybe the tin of spam had been to long sitting in my non working fridge, getting hot and cold during the summer months? Woke to a really gorgeous morning, even though my temp gauge was only reding 17degs?, brilliant blue sky and little breeze. Made a quick brekkie and I was soon rowing ashore for some bread,popeye pie and a danish pastry. Once back on board I started to stow stuff away, and get Nanjo ready for going out to sea, sounds pretty dramatic, but I was only going out for the day and not preparing for a trip around Cape Horn? Crank up the engine,plot a course for Scorpious and I'm soon ready to get the anchor up. 11:30 and the anchors brought on board, and as expected was covered in thick mud, nothing that a few buckets of water thrown over it does not get rid of. A nice slow motor out of the bay and pass the Neilson guys still putting yachts ashore, they are the only people I see on my way out. Nidri is pretty empty, and I turn right and put on the autopilot, which is making even louder grunching noises now, seems like it will be going back to the UK with me for a repair? The suns beating down and I'm just happy to be moving along again and sitting in the cockpit in just my shorts. There is only one small fishing boat about and a yacht motoring on the horizon by the mainland. 13:00 I drop the anchor in 4 mtrs of crystal clear water in Jackie O's bay, and it's all to myself, within minutes a small van drives down to the beach area and checks me out. He soon drives of when he see's me getting ready to go for a swim, the waters beautifully warm and clear, with not a manky jellyfish in sight anywhere? On with the goggles and snorkel, and a swim around, the anchors not dug in that well, but in the mild conditions and the few hours I will be here it's ok. The big suprise is the amount of growth around the prop and shaft, the engine intake is covered in weed as well. Out with my scraper and heavy duty glove, and I'm diving under to clear it all, the prop and shaft soon scrape off and look a whole lot better, the water intake goes the same way. I'm suprised to see some barnacles in a few places on the hull, the anti-fouling I used is meant to last 2 years, it's only in a couple of small spots, so can only assume it's places I only gave one coat to? They are soon scraped clean as well, the speed paddle wheel was well bunged up as expected, so I gave it a good clean. It's on my list of things to be taken out and glassed over, and replaced with a wind speed/direction indicator. The underneath is looking a whole lot healthier now, so time for a swim around Nanjo, my joints have been suffering through lack of use I reckon. 15 laps and I'm knackered and it's calm water as well, just shows how quickly my fitness level has dropped, by not swimming every day. A lovely cold water wash on the stern and I'm soon sitting down in the cockpit with a coke and my danish. I'm still amazed that there is nobody else out here, the only passing ship is the ferry from Nidri and I just think, what a great job that must be? Sit on the bow in the sunshine and read my new book for a bit, then at 16:00 I'm getting the anchor up and stowed. I head out for a motor about for a bit and give the holding tank a good flush out. As expected the macerator blows a fuse, even after I've given the shaft a couple of turns with my screwdriver. Only thing to do is to empty the cockpit locker, and give it a good turn and free of the vent valve. Luckily there is nobody about and no wind, so I can just drift about, a few minutes later,I pump some fairy liquid through the loo, it's in with a new fuse, and turn it on, and it's spinning away like a good un. Head back over to Lefkas and motor down back along the coast, looking at all the hotels that have obviously closed for the winter. I pass 2 fishing boats, no yachts or motorboats to be seen moving at all. Back into Nidri and I go and have a look at the new pontoon that's at the end of the quay, I've seen boats moored up there, so come alongside as close as I can without fenders and suprised to find 5mtrs of water there. Head on down to Vlicho and the Neilson guys are still putting yachts ashore, a slow motor around to find a spot and I anchor in 4 mtrs just of the Sail Ionion jetty at 18:00, with plenty of swinging room, put out 40mtrs of chain and dig it well in (Hopefully). Tidy Nanjo up and cover all the gauges and put her to bed. Time for my dinner, and it's the popeye pie and a beer, eaten in the still warm and light cockpit. I watch a large German catamaran approaching, a very nice looking one for a change, not one of the mobile condo's that are chartered out here. Now the bay is really empty, plenty of room to park wherever you like, in the summer there must have been 30 yachts near where I am now. This guy decides to anchor just of my stern, I'm just watching and listening to his anchor chain dropping, I reckoned he put out 20mtrs of chain, probably more than enough, but worries me just in case he drags? It's a bit noiseier here as I'm nearer the road than before, but once the sun goes down and I'm below with the hatches closed, I can't hear anything. Spent the evening my usual way, I've had a really great day today, just so glad that I'm out here and not back in the UK. Turned in at 22:00 knackered.
Sunday 11th November
Slept like the dead, it was all peace and quiet in the bay. Woken up by my singing priest and the sun shining through my porthole. No point in staying in bed, so got up and had a look around me. It's another gorgeous day here, brilliant blue sky, no wind, my barrometer is showing it's highest yet at 1030 and saying "set fair", even the navtex forecast backs it up with winds of N ne 3 to 4 and outlook of "a further decrease in winds". Sounds ok to me, maybe I should be setting of to Messolonghi this week and not next weekend? Brekkie in the cockpit and I'm just in my shorts and suprised to see my temp gauge showing just 19 degs, it certainly seems a lot warmer. The Sail Ionion jetty is full of guys fishing already, eat my toast while listening to the singing priest, and it dawns on me that this will probably be the last time I hear his voice until I return. Spent the morning writing this blog and downloading pics I've taken, It's a hard life? Went ashore to the yacht club in the afternoon, and had a gorgeous big burger and a couple of pints, all served by Belinda. I decided that I had better ask her the time, just to confirm the bus garage guys were out? To my amazement, it's been me thats out by being 1hr ahead of everybody else? I've been working on the time given to me by the girls at the bakery, two weeks ago now. So, I've been waking up far to early and going to bed to early as well. At least, this lets the bus guys of the hook, it could also explain why my 9am bus has been so empty and the shops have still been closed? So, what to do with my spare hour? I thought the best option is not to leave the yacht club, just incase something might happen, and have another beer to fill in the time? Just shows how important knowing the correct time has been to me the last few weeks, I'm so glad that my social callender was empty and I did not have to be anywhere on time. Had a lovely row back to Nanjo, and just sat in the cockpit reading my new book. Only trouble now is, it's pitch black at 6pm instead of 7pm? Went below once the sun had vanished and read somemore of my book and listened to radio Lefkada. I made sure that I drew my curtains before turning in, as that suns going to be streaming through my windows at 06:30 now!