Slow Sailing

16 July 2016 | Siracusa, Sicily
08 July 2016 | Anti Paxos, Ionian
30 June 2016 | Paxi, Ionian Islands
16 June 2016 | Syros, Cyclades
05 June 2016 | Poros Island, Greece
05 April 2016 | Aegina Island, Greece
31 March 2016 | Aegina Island, Greece
11 March 2016 | Lavrio, Greece
28 February 2016 | Lavrion, Greece
06 February 2016 | Ao Po Grand Marina, Phuket
28 January 2016 | Rebak Marina, Langkawi
11 January 2016 | Butang Group, Thailand
26 December 2015 | Phuket, Thailand
24 December 2015 | Yacht Haven Marina, Phuket
16 December 2015 | Phuket, Thailand
23 November 2015 | Pangkor Marina, Malaysia
08 November 2015 | Port Dickson, Malaysia
26 October 2015 | Singapore
13 October 2015 | Karimun Jawa
08 October 2015 | Bali

Italy By Sea, Bike, Car and Feet

16 July 2016 | Siracusa, Sicily
Heather
Buongiorno! We are presently in Siracusa on the SE coast of Sicily. The trip from Corfu, Greece to the boot of Italy was an easy one, half sailing, half motoring. That night, the stars & milky way were so bright it didn't matter that there was hardly a moon to light the way. It's been awhile since we've done an overnight trip. Just before we left, I realized we had a stowaway grasshopper on board. He must have come in on the dinghy when we were ashore somewhere. So I looked up what to feed it and found your own produce will do so he came with us and then I let him go once we arrived. Hope he doesn't mind he's now Italian!


We pulled in to a little town with a huge marina called Rocella Ionica. Check-in was a breeze & free and the manager filled out our paperwork for us. The marina served every purpose which was to have somewhere calm to tie up to, not be too expensive, have a hose where we could blast the boat clean (but it still oozes salt even after you do it) and have some real Italian pizza at this famous restaurant there. Well we accomplished all of that and they even had a waterfront bikepath that we rode on. In the grocery store, it was hard to resist buying a selection of cheeses, dry sausages & fresh pasta. Food is even less expensive here and there is all manner of Italian wine to choose from. By the end of the day, our minds were full of all things Italian and the cadence of Italian speak. I keep looking up at the courtesy flag hanging from our spreader and thinking that this an amazing experience. Glad we pointed the bow this way. Funny how in the Med you can move from one whole different country to the next in just a few hours. Thankfully we can read the language now and we know enough Spanish & French to be able to get around here better. It just makes it easier.
From Sicily
From Sicily

In keeping with our plan to try and hit the best of what we read about, we did a long day to the clifftop town of Taormina on Sicily. It is one of the top places to visit and for good reason as it's beautiful. With a knot plus of current with us the whole way, we covered the miles in no time and watching the coastline go by all day was pretty. We saw a turtle along the way. Early in the morning, the VHF chatter included a canary singing that helped wake us up and then later, bits of Italian music! Its universal, all the unofficial use of VHF radio!
From Sicily
From Sicily
From Sicily


We spent the whole next day touring around Taormina and the even higher little town of Castlemola. Even on foot, everything is straight up or straight down. Good thing my back is mostly healed up. Everything is so detailed and picturesque but at the same time lived in. We took time to try and absorb it all. We also had fun feeding a lot of stray cats. You can just see them thinking "is this really for me?" And we ate too, a panini, followed by a canoli! Late in the day we checked out the marine reserve right around the corner from where the boat was anchored called Isola Bella. It has a cute island with a cave that you can dinghy in to and some really pretty stand alone rock formations. They say there is snorkeling here but we didn't find anything too spectacular. It was still nice to cool off. It was a great day.
From Sicily

We rented a car for a couple of days to tour the island. The first day was to climb Mt Etna. The drive up the park road was totally beautiful with all these yellow flowers in full bloom, reminding me of fall in New England. The air vent kept sucking in the perfumy smell. I read that Mt Etna is the largest volcano in Europe, still active, and you can't even hike to the tippy top because of the activity. You can take a chair lift followed by a 4x4 bus to near the top to save as many calories as possible, or you can hoof it up there on your own which is what we did, along with a lot of others. For that, it wasn't our favorite volcano and some parts of the path overlapped the dirt road so when a bus went by, you were left in a cloud of dust. It was better once we got on a walking path. It was another great day and we definitely got our exercise.
From Sicily
From Sicily
From Sicily
From Sicily
From Sicily
From Sicily
From Sicily


We also took the car across Sicily up into the mountains because we wanted to see what the interior was like and get away from any tourist areas. Well we did! We went to Madonie Park in Sicily's highest mountain range. As we neared the top, we were in thick fog and temps of 70 and Jon was loving it! We took a peaceful hike for a few hours up into the trees and hillsides where there were only horses, cows, wild pigs and deer. They have huge horses here. We saw a deer with quite a rack on its head. The trails were well marked and the only people we saw were a sheep shepherd and a pig hunter. There are some really old trees up there, pointed out by signs such as this old oak that is around 600 years old.
From Sicily
The park road had a lot of jaw dropping mountain scenery and when we would get out of the car to take pictures, there was wild oregano growing, and it would scent the soles of our shoes. We stopped to walk through a couple of Sicilian mountain towns which was so interesting, what a different way of life. We wanted to stay overnight but were afraid since our boat was at anchor.
From Sicily
From Sicily

Yesterday we had a great sail down the east coast of Sicily to the town of Syracuse. It was an odd sail because the wind was on & off again. Like one minute you were doing 7 kts and then suddenly the boat would stand up straight and almost stop. But it all averaged out. This ancient Greek city state once ruled the Western Med for about 200 years until it fell to Rome in 212 BC. The history here kind of blows your mind. And even though we left Greece, we can still enjoy some of its influence here which is nice. We decided we like gyros better than paninis.

We'll spend a couple days here exploring and then head to Malta. Then turn around and come back up this way and through the Straits of Messina toward Rome. We need a boat project day too. Its hard to squeeze one in. It seems everywhere we look there is something that is just about broken. Just little things. Jon's fan is a good example. You put in on low and it has a mind of its own. It will decide that he must be really hot and turn itself on high, then back to low. It cracks us up. But there has been some major progress on the fuel issue! Today, the last troubleshooting was removing the fuel spinner we have (to spin off any water mainly, although we've never had any water in our fuel) because perhaps it was clogged with the crud from the tank since it is before the Racor filters. Well, the engine liked that much better! So.. we think that was the culprit, in addition to the fact that we had a layer of crud in the tank. Hopefully, that problem is fixed and we can move on to others!
From Sicily
From Sicily
From Sicily
From Sicily

Onward & Westward

08 July 2016 | Anti Paxos, Ionian
Heather
Its been a little up & down this past week and I'm not just speaking of the roll in some anchorages we've been in like the one we're in now, on our last night in Greece. We are checked out of Corfu and are headed to Italy tomorrow morning, 190 miles to our first port- Rocella Ionica, which is sort of on the ball of the foot if you're thinking of the boot of Italy. Our friend Tim stopped there on his way through and there's an Italian place (of course) that sells pizza by the meter & beer by the liter- that'll do! From there we'll go to Sicily. I truly can't believe this is happening.

Our daily boat life has us doing everything that is bad for a back. Winching up the dinghy, hauling it up on beaches, crouching over a bucket of laundry (yup, hardly anywhere to do laundry here), hauling fuel & groceries- its not all about margaritas in the cockpit. So a bunch of cumulative insults topped off by foolishly lugging a dozen 5 gallon waterjugs to the boat from shore, strained my back. The last bike ride didn't help either. So I have been hobbling around this past week trying to stand upright to see things but also heal. And Jon's back, well, it is always on the edge so we are quite a pair.
From Greek Islands
When we pulled in to the main harbor on Corfu- Corfu Town, we looked at the anchorage and thought it was just perfect. Plenty of room, protected, a lovely rounded pedestrian promenade, a great view of the fort and the old town buildings- we were so excited. Due to the heat and the long days, no one eats till 10p- restaurants offer happy hour from 8-10p. And when we're home on the boat, all the hatches are open and we're hanging out in the cockpit for dinner where its cooler. Well little did we know that first night that while we were enjoying the cockpit, hoards of mosquitoes were rushing inside the boat to greet us when we retired for the night. Never, in all the tropical areas we've been have we ever had the bloodbath we had that night. We spent a long time going around trying to kill all that we could find. And it wasn't much better the second night even though we buttoned up early because we still had a lot of leftover mosquito friends from the night before. We even took the time to look up what the heck they do all day and it is called torpor. They don't actually ever sleep, they lapse into a slowed state called torpor for their form of rest so they can be all ready to bite you all night long. By the next day, we both looked like we were going through puberty again for all the red bites on our faces. Not healthy.
From Greek Islands

Mosquitoes aside, we had a pretty good set up in Corfu and enjoyed exploring the old town and a few decent museums. Funny that their most famous museum is one of Asian Art. And another named Mon Repos which is an old mansion filled with Corfu history set in a decent sized park. The old town was the largest we'd been in with many blocks of tan colored buildings with tiny porches way up high and numerous storefronts & tavernas and shiny stone sidewalks in between. There was a great deal of British influence here and you can tell by the architecture as well as the focus on this island of arts & literature. There is a college of music actually within the old fort! We had a nice, home style Greek lunch one day and on others, a good stand-by gyro did the trick. The big fort looks the most impressive from a distance. It has two mounds and one is even capped by a lighthouse.It also has a substantial moat around it. Like some other Greek points of interest, maintenance of the site seems to be lacking. It was big, but too many areas were closed off or in disrepair. I understand that many countries in the Med are having issues with trash collection & disposal. Corfu is apparently having an issue right now- I got whiffs of news that there was a strike- so there were mountains of trash piled around. You know how the Greek villages have all the whitewashed houses and buildings? Well, we saw several whitewashed trash piles too- for real!
From Greek Islands
From Greek Islands

On one of the days we were being tourists, a water bottle leaked in the backpack and our phone got wet and it killed it. Too bad, I really liked that phone. We wanted to get it replaced right away that day but you can't because for the cell phone places, the workday ends at 3p. So Jon researched the phones that night and since we were sick of the mosquitoes buzzing around our screens we moved over to the Gouvia Marina complex & anchored because we had a few things we needed over there. But first things first, we still needed a phone. So we walked in the next day to get some exercise with 2 phones picked out that would work for us. Waited in a very long line of people at Vodaphone only to find out they were out of stock of the one we wanted to get from them. In Greece, everyone has to physically come into the office to pay their phone bill. Hence the line, and the madness. We hobbled over to the other phone company and they had one we wanted so we bought it and sat down with a gyro for lunch while we got it going. The problem was it wouldn't go- it was a lemon, bad right out of the box. So back to the phone store to get a replacement. Only problem was, they didn't have any more. OKKKK, so we asked for a refund and we would go elsewhere. Not OK, there were no refunds. What?! Bite your tongue. We had to pick out another phone but there weren't any that had the specs or price that we wanted. They said to come back tomorrow as they were expecting a shipment. We had a most uncomfortable bus ride back to the marina in a stifling hot bus and decided we needed a new mode of transport for any more trips to town. So yesterday we went back in using our fast dinghy and had a cool breeze the whole way. Although the phone place hadn't gotten any new stock in, Jon spotted an ad on a wall TV that mentioned a new model that would work well for us and they'd forgotten they had it in stock. We got it. The clerk said there was only one problem; she couldn't give us a receipt since the computers were down, could we come back tomorrow? Not likely! Its nice to have a phone again. On the way back in the dinghy, we stopped at Vido Island which is a park and walked around the loop trail in the shade. My back is healing up slow but sure.

We got a whole bunch of laundry done by the marina to save our backs, got more filters and topped up with fuel. Jon got the generator running with a new filter for that but we still haven't finished with the tank sludge issue. We now think there is something plugging the fuel pick-up that requires the polisher pump to be on to help lift the fuel past it. We are making progress though.

Next order of business was to check out of Greece. We got our papers together and went to the Port Captain at the marina to hand in our Transit Log. He started looking at it and said "this is all wrong", we didn't have enough stamps from various ports and the ones we had weren't right and whatever else, we don't know. We didn't get a lot of stamps because supposedly you only need one when you're tied up and we anchored out a lot. We paid an agent a lot of money(not by choice) to get this document done right when we entered. He said he could fine us 1000 Euros for something or other but he was very polite about it. I started to ask what the problem actually was and Jon looked over to me with that look in his eye that said "bite your tongue!" So I did. And the Cap said he would fix it for us, that we didn't have to stress, and he proceeded to make more stamp entries in our logbook that looked official. All the while, we were listening to the classical music he had playing and we knew it was doing him and in turn us, some good. He said he'd had an awful day because the computers were down and he couldn't process passports. Really, our day had been so great! Then he handed it back to us and said to go to Customs to hand it back in, back at the main port. So we got in the dinghy again and made a cool breeze back from whence we had come earlier in the day- it's 3 miles each way but it is the best way to travel around here because the water is always calm. We got in with the customs official and I swear, he looked at our logbook and said the very same words "this is all wrong; I could fine you 1000Euros for this" even though it was a completely different issue this time. Something about the way one of the previous officials had completed her entry. I let Jon go with this one too and he sweet talked his way out of this predicament with sheer fabricated empathy toward the officer. By the time he got out of there they were buds and we were checked out! Problem is, we have near zero tolerance for this sort of thing anymore. It isn't funny unless you're doing it with other cruisers, it isn't fun to be traipsing from one office to another putting your brain on a shelf because none of this makes any sense and biting your tongue to get through it without having to open your wallet for some fine for something you never did. Good thing we have about another 10 countries to check in to before we get home.

We motor sailed over to Anti Paxi to position ourselves for tomorrow's overnight & its one of those anchorages where the water drives you crazy. We're the only ones here because all the day boats have gone for the night. We did one last swim and had an easy evening aside from some rolling. I suppose it is good practice for tomorrow night. We have wind forecast from all 4 directions.

This past week has been frustrating but also our experience in Corfu wasn't as great as we'd expected. We found it to be a little rough around the edges. We'd even planned to rent a car to tour the island but it sort of lost its appeal. And we know that part of the reason we have had such a nice time in Greece is because we have sort of stayed on the sidelines and done our own thing. We've had a lot of freedom. As soon as you start leaning on the system, it gets frustrating. But I guess its like that everywhere; we're just tired of it in general. But Greece overall was a great experience and we enjoyed it very much. Hopefully this cloud that has been hanging over us will pass and the sun will come back out again!

With any luck we'll be in Italian waters by tomorrow night. And the best part is we get to go check in again. I wonder what offenses we will have made? I hope the punishment doesn't involve cement shoes!









On The Greener Side of Greece

30 June 2016 | Paxi, Ionian Islands
Heather
Yasas! We haven't mastered the Greek language, but at least we can say hi to people! We've made some tracks in the past couple of weeks (relatively speaking) and are now in the Ionian Sea on the west side of Greece It is more lush over here and we've been enjoying some really pretty anchorages, old world feeling towns and some hip, touristy ones. It seems like you can have it all here and while things are picking up for the summer season, there's always plenty of space for us. We've taken numerous long walks & bike rides and you can quickly get away from the bustle in town. But the pink & cream architecture set against big mountains and a pretty blue sea keep me reaching for the camera but I can't capture it. We've been aiming for places with something special about them like a fort or castle at the entrance or some interesting feature that the cruising guide or Lonely Planet calls out as a do not miss. I can't get over what a unique yacht culture this is to have nearly every town have a quay set up for sailboats to come tie to. Because there is no tide, it's easy to do and it completely changes the feel of a town having all the yachts lined up and the nicely decorated tavernas full of patrons. In a word: cute! You can tell the towns depend on it and it makes it so convenient for the boats too.


It was a little hard to turn back from the Cyclades but we didn't feel like getting too far east with the prevailing NW summer winds and we were really missing seeing much of any green vegetation or trees. We are called EverGREEN for a reason. The thing about the Cyclade islands that we visited was you could see all the flowers and plants that had been blooming and thriving and then it was like someone turned off the water and put them in the oven so they dried without losing their shape- everything was still up like it was but golden. I'd wanted to go to Mykonos since there was this restaurant in Tiverton, RI that we used to go to when we were fitting out the boat back 16 years ago and it was named Mykonos. It had the greatest Greek food and we never forgot it or about the big Greek owner who worked in the kitchen. It seemed fitting to get the boat there, at least in my mind. But it was still another full day away and we lost heart. The long days underway, usually without enough wind to sail are just that- long and boring. We have seen dolphin, porpoise, a turtle and an ocean sunfish and several swirls from creatures that dove without showing a fin. That part isn't boring but we don't see the huge pods like we have in oceans.
From Greek Islands
From Greek Islands
From Greek Islands

So we did a long day back instead to one of the islands in the Saronic called Angistri and found a lovely anchorage that was full of pines on shore and had crystal clear water. We stayed a couple days there to enjoy it. In Greece, it seems like most of the time, if you look up to the highest point around, there will inevitably be a little chapel perched on top and it is up to you to find the path to get up to it but there will be one. We learned that these are usually built by individuals to honor a loved one or a saint. And more often than not, there will be an olive oil candle burning inside. It must be kept lit by a spirit because we hardly see another living soul when we're out on these trails. Great views from these high places.
From Greek Islands

Angistri was quiet, calm and had pretty fire roads to walk on. We often see staffed firetrucks parked atop hills with chairs set up and a sun awning, poking away on their smart phones waiting for signs of fire. It doesn't look like a bad job to have at all.
From Greek Islands

The Corinth Canal is 3km long and saves a few hundred miles going around the bottom of the Peloponnese. We decided to go through the canal like most people do to save the time. It cost $220 and is the most expensive canal in the world, per mile. But it was easy enough to schedule and only took a few minutes to get through!

Once out of the canal, we were in the Gulf of Corinth and we headed to a the town of Galaxidhi. It felt like a quintessential Greek town with mountains towering around, a lively waterfront and old buildings. We were anchored front & center. One thing about Greece and probably the Med in general is that there are places to swim everywhere you look and people swimming. Little staircases, rocky steps, stone pathways, all leading into the water. Beach chairs and bodies everywhere. We read that a peculiar thing that Greeks do is ask each other how many swims they have gotten in for the season. But then maybe the whole Med is this way. One thing is for sure, coming from Indonesia & Malaysia where women were rubbing mud on their faces to avoid getting sun and religion required covering up the body, it is the complete opposite here. There are thousands of sun worshipers here and the person with the deepest tan on the most body parts wins the prize. We're doing our best to get our swim numbers up but we won't be in line to buy the caseloads of Hawaiian Tropic that they go through here.
From Greek Islands
From Greek Islands

We moved to the minute medieval town of Navpaktos with its small, walled in harbor with a Venetian castle turned park looking over it. The harbor has a tower & statue on one side of the inlet and a turret on the other. We found a cat in a culvert by the water and fed it some of our Italian cuisine. We've gotten addicted to gelato and every town has several shops to choose from.
From Greek Islands
From Greek Islands

We went under the Rion bridge to make our way toward the Ionian Islands. Built in 2004, it has the world record for the longest cable stayed bridge at 2,252 meters and 3 navigable channels. It is free to pass under it but when we were doing the land travel, it cost a mint to go over it, so true to things we don't understand about some of the countries we visit, there is a car ferry service that is half the price that runs right underneath the bridge so most people take that! Looks like the trucks are paying for the bridge.

From Greek Islands

The Ionian Islands are beautiful and green. We've been to 3 so far, each one quite different. The sun is so hot but once in the shade, it is dry & cool. Our batteries are always topped up because the sun is up before we are and shines all day. We've walked on old donkey trails, through very old olive tree groves, along rocky beaches and through the sleepiest of island villages where you can't figure out where the people have gone. We had an anchorage all to ourselves the other night and we've also been in the thick of things like we are now, med moored and tied off to a tree off a pretty town named Gaios on the island of Paxi. It is a full-on charter boat & tourist scene but it makes the place what it is. Pretty.
From Greek Islands

We've had our bikes out several times. Each ride is similar in that we are either going straight up or straight down. The towns are usually either on hilltops or at sea level- probably to stay the most cool. So today we biked all day, visiting 3 different towns on an island circumnavigation so we went up, down, up, down, up down and each town we stopped in we got a Greek food item and a big bottle of water to replace the gallons of sweat we lost. It is like the Mt Washington road race where around every bend there is yet more uphill. But it was a great day! We snorkeled afterward to cool down in beautiful, clear water and saw basically nothing!
From Greek Islands
From Greek Islands

That's pretty much what we've been up to. It's fortunate that tomatoes & peaches are good for you because we've been OD'ing on them. We're planning to untie from the tree tomorrow and head to Corfu. There looks to be tons to do there for fun and we also have some boat projects to attend to. It appears our fuel tanks have some sludge in them and we're clogging filters. When we replaced them 15 years ago, they were made without inspection ports so we have no real way of wiping them out. So will have to get that sorted and get more filters too.
From Greek Islands
From Greek Islands
Vessel Name: EVERGREEN
Vessel Make/Model: Tashiba 40 Hull #158
Hailing Port: E. Thetford Vermont
Crew: Heather and Jon Turgeon
Extra:
Over the years, we've explored much of the Caribbean Sea & Atlantic East coast. In January 2012, we left the USA and headed for the Pacific. We visited the Galapagos, French Polynesia, Samoa, Cook Islands & Tonga before heading to New Zealand. We've enjoyed thousands of miles of beautiful sailing, [...]
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EVERGREEN 's Photos -