Click here for link for relevant PhotoAlbum Northern Aegean 2015.
10 April 2015 was the date Judy and I returned to Greece. We picked up a CarsNmotion hire car at Athens airport and drove in light traffic up the motorway to Arkitsas on the west side of the Evia Channel. We arrived in the dark at the hotel we had booked into to find that no outside lights were on. After banging on the door, the owner's brother eventually put in an appearance and checked us in.
We were their first guests of the year and it showed. The heating wasn't on and hot water took an age to flow through from the boiler at the other end of the building. Being early April, there was only a couple of bars and one tavern open in the village. Next morning the owner gave us a nice breakfast but he was very pessimistic about the Greek economy and was resigned to having a poor season.
Next morning we took the ferry across to Edipsos and from there it was only 20 minutes drive to Orei. We stayed in a small bed-sit type apartment at the Hotel Elvion which is run by Morphea, the matron of the family who own the boatyard. They could not have been more friendly and helpful. We were invited to share their lamb-on-the-spit, music and dancing at Greek Easter.
We had quite a lot of maintenance to attend to. The hot Aegean sunshine had taken its toll on TB's wooden construction. The main task was to repair the sheathing on the starboard side, which had broken down in the sunshine. The cold moulded hull under the sheathing was fine, which was a bit of a relief. We also painted over the old dark green paint with a lighter Atlantic grey. This proved noticeably cooler in the sun.
Woody arrived from NZ on the 23rd.
On 27 April, TB was launched back into the water and we moved over and moored stern-to in the harbour where we continued doing maintenance.
Judy left on the 07:00hrs bus to Athens on 29 April to catch the 14:25hrs BA flight to Heathrow.
Over the next few days, Woody and I visited Volos, Vathoudi Bay, Milina and Archillion before returning to Orei on 03 May. The highlights were definitely the beautiful anchorage at Vathoudi Bay and an evening meal at the Tsogas Taverna in Archillion where we paid 40Euros for 4 Amstel beers, 1 litre wine and two meals.
Tim Hill arrived in the evening of the 3rd to join the crew.
We motored east out of the Stenon Oreon next morning, passing between Skiathos and the mainland and heading north up the coast. The log read, "Weather clear and sunny. No wind & no wind forecast for next 48 hours." This pretty well summarises the early part of the summer.
We visited Agios Ioannis, Stomion, Platamos, Nea Moudhania (all different and interesting places) before arriving at Aretsou Marine in Thessaloniki on 08 May. It rained overnight and was then unsettled for a few days.
Woody flew back to Athens on 11 May, Tim departed in the morning on 13 May before Roger and John arrived in the afternoon. The marina at Aretsou was one of only 2 places where I was charged mooring fees in 2015. But at 95Euros for 5 nights, including water, electricity and good showers, I am not complaining.
The first night out from Thessaloniki we went into Nea Kallokratia, a big fishing harbour. We tried creeping alongside the north quay, which seemed quieter. But there wasn't enough water there; so we tied up alongside the outer wall behind the fishing boats. The harbour was noisy and very dirty. The meal we had in the touristy town centre was rather ordinary. All in all, rather uninspiring!
We moved onto Sanni Marina on the west side of the Kassandra Peninsular. It has a reputation as being an expensive tourist trap but I needed to use the facilities to catch up on laundry. Which I did with 3 loads of washing in the very good amenities block. Indeed, it is a very smart resort but not at all Greek as it could be anywhere in the Med.
Next morning we doubled back to the north to go through the Portas Canal into the Gulf of Kassandra. It was a bit nail biting as the road bridge over the canal has a reported clearance of 16.0 metres and TB has 14.5 metres from the water line to the top of the mast on TB. And that doesn't include the VHF aerial, masthead light and anemometer! Anyone who has been under a bridge in a sailboat will know how deceptive the clearance looks.
Still suffering from a lack of wind, we crossed the Gulf of Kassandra to Nea Marmaras on the east side of the Sinthonia Peninsula. This is a typically Greek harbour, settled by Greeks displaced from Turkey in 1922, and has a lovely relaxed atmosphere. But it also is typical of the Greek malaise. The battered wave-breaker pontoons are not being maintained and are coming adrift. The inner pontoons which did have water and electricity installed at one time are suffering from neglect. It is such a waste!
Saturday 16 May was another day totally lacking in wind. We motored around the Sinthonia Peninsula and north up the Gulf of Singitiki to an anchorage just outside the shallow caique harbour on the SE of the island of Ammoulani. This was a very unspoilt bay with no light or noise - a peaceful night.
Next morning we got under way just before 08:00 with a favourable wind - F3 from the north. And it lasted exactly 30 minutes before we were back to motoring. Even though the visibility was not brilliant, rounding the Akti Peninsular under Mt Athos was absolutely spectacular. The views of the Monasteries are breath taking.
It was a long day down the west coast of the peninsular then up the east coast to the anchorage at Ormos Plati SW of Ak Arapis. This was a remote quiet place with only the birds for company.
The final leg of our trip was across the bay to Nea Peramos where we tied up to the abandoned pontoon in NE of the bay .John and Roger left at 05:30hrs on Wed 20 May for Thessaloniki airport just before a thunder storm which bought heavy rain.
TB was lifted out at Manitsas Marina in Nea Peramos on 22 May and I flew back from Kavala.
We had cruised 435 nautical miles from Orei.
We finished off the summer but taking TB back to Orei. Pauline came over to the UK from New Zealand for a holiday. We flew with her to Istanbul on 01 Sept for 3 nights. On the 4th we took a six hour bus trip to Kavala and re-launched on the 5th. Fresh south westerly winds resulted in a delay in getting down the Akti Peninsular and around through the Kassamdra Gulf to Nea Moudhania. Pauline left us there for Thessaloniki airport to go home.
Kevin and Lesley joined us next day and we sailed (I should say "Mostly motored") south back to the Gulf of Volos. Kevin, Lesley and Judy left in Volos to return to the UK. I took TB back to Orei where we lifted out on 01 October.
I flew back from Athens on 02 October 2015.