No rain here!
Sun 1st Jul 2012, Vathy, Ithaka
We know all about the weather in Britain and the poor drenched Olympic torch bearers. Our neighbours have another use for umbrellas- keeping the sun out of the cockpit. Its 35 degrees and too hot!
We've hired a scooter and are off to create our own breeze and explore the island.
Back where it all began
Mon 25th Jun 2012, Ormos Ay Andreou, Ithaka
We are back in the Ionian, where we first learnt to sail in 2001 with Neilson on a beginners' flotilla holiday. We are so relaxed we forgot to take any photos last week when we met up with Barrie's sister Elaine and her husband Paul in Meganisi, and we all enjoyed a day's gentle sailing with a swim and lunch (the last of the tuna) off Skorpios, otherwise known as Onassis Island.
We are now on Ithaca, my favourite island, and where Penelope waited for Odysseus to return.
We are at anchor for the night in a small bay on the south of the island, where the only noise is from the bells of the goats as they wander down to the pebbly cove. I doubt if anything here has changed much from Homer's time.
Mon 18th Jun 2012, Messolongi
After weeks of sailing past high mountains dropping down into the sea, Messolongi is quite a change. It sits two miles up a dredged channel cut through marshes and lagoons. It is the town where Byron died in 1826 whilst he was supporting the Greek War of Independence and is a pleasant laid back place.
The wind was on the beam when we reached the shallow but well-marked entrance to the channel, so we chose not to turn on the motor, and sailed gently under a well-furled headsail between fisherman's huts on stilts, enjoying the peace of the marshes on either side. The channel opens into a large basin. We had read about the new marina in one corner but it looked crowded, so we went alongside the quay before wandering into town for a beer.
Barrie got up early to take this lovely photo.
Kath- Sun, 25C, F5 N
Sat 16th Jun 2012, Gilaxidhi, Gulf of Corinth
The Meltemi has really got going, so we are glad to be tucked up on the town quay, between two large motorboats. A flotilla left this morning- brave decision!
Gilaxidhi is a pleasant enough small town, and has some lovely old buildings from the mid 1800's when its wealth came from shipbuilding. But I thought you would prefer to see a photo of some dolphins riding our bow wave yesterday. I can think of no logical reason why they do this- just pure fun.
Tomorrow is Election Day and the locals seem subdued. We chat with other cruisers about the reasons for their present problems, and we all have similar views. There are no doubt exceptions, but Greeks certainly don't appear to like this new concept of paying VAT and taxes, and don't seem to realise this has been the the norm in Northern Europe for some time. Family and community come first, and they distrust the State- a product of their turbulent and complex history. And the troubles are always someone else's fault! But they remain warm and welcoming to us visitors.
A change of Plan
Fri 15th Jun 2012, Corinth Canal
Today started well. We reached the canal entrance at noon, tied up to pay and do the paperwork ashore, and only had 20 minutes to wait for a transit- you can wait up to 3 hours. We went through in a convoy of just three boats. Our last trip through was on a 32 foot yacht, with a Neilson delivery trip at the end of the season, about seven years ago. That transit cost us nothing; today it was €230- a lot of dosh for four miles!
The wind was blowing hard when we came out at the western end. Our original plan was to go into the yacht harbour in Corinth, but the pilot book reported it as often full and it looked very small to manoeuvre in so I was reluctant to head through the entrance. The commercial harbour was not a good place to be with strong northerlies forecast. We calculated we had just enough daylight to get to Galaxidhi, the next safe harbour, and were please to get there at 20.30 to find just one place left on the town quay- everyone had the same idea.
A Stranded Swede
Tue 12th Jun 2012, Aigina
A mile off Aigina harbour in a dead calm, we spotted the skipper of a small yacht waving frantically. We motored over to find Eva, a solo Swede, drifting with a broken-down engine and not enough wind to sail. She had been sculling for an hour!
We towed her in to the harbour, dropped the tow line as she dropped her kedge anchor and drifted bows to the quay. Very neat! We circled around and parked up next to her and invited her for a drink which lead to a stroll around the town and then dinner- defrosted tuna, of course!
With her children grown up, three years ago she departed on her big adventure. She brought her 28 foot wooden yacht through the European canals to the Med, and had lived aboard ever since, having spent last winter living aboard in a Turkish fishing harbour to save the cost of marina fees. She is a teacher and qualified masseuse, and earns her way by offering massages whenever she sails into a suitable port. It made me feel like a spoilt softy in comparison!
Like Ducks to Water
Sun 10th Jun 2012, Naousa, Paros
It took just two hours to go round the corner to Naousa. The wind was on the nose but we had plenty of time so we sailed most of the way. We're becoming a well honed team at tacking at last! We are at anchor in a bay two miles from the town, but as it is quite calm took the rib across this morning for some shopping and a look round.
Naousa is very attractive and quite up-market, with designer shops and designer prices. We could have walked two miles to the Acropolis, but we've reached the "not another old ruin" stage, so opted instead for a cappuchino frappe in a cool cafe-bar. This family of ducks were enjoying a stroll along the harbour side.
Kath - Sun, 25C, F6 N
Sat 9th Jun 2012, Piso Livadhi
Yesterday and today we have had much stronger northerly winds than forecast, and both mornings have had epic sails to windward, fully reefed. Last night we spent at anchor in a sheltered bay on the south of Naxos.
Today the plan was to head for sophisticated Naousa on the north of Paros, but we'd had enough by lunchtime and diverted instead to this quiet small village. My stern-to berth didn't go to plan because the anchor dragged, so yet again we are side-to, pinned against the quay. We've had a lovely lunch of mixed seafood in the village, washed down with a half-litre of local white wine. Greek wine is really very passable these days- not a hint of retsina.
The work never stops for Barrie. He has spent an hour changing the hose on the watermaker, trying to improve the rate of production. He then baked these lovely scones.
A trip round the Island
Thu 7th Jun 2012, Amorgos, Cyclades
We hired a bike today and toured the island. The main road runs along the spine, with numerous hairy hairpin bends. The views were stunning. First stop was the lovely hill-top Hora, and then onto this famous monastery, Moni Hozoviotissis, a dazzling white building built into a sheer cliff face high above the sea. It was built in 1080 when a miraculous icon was found in the sea below. After a short tour, a monk gave us a cube of the local sweet, similar to Turkish Delight, and a small glass of liqueur, tasting of cinnamon and honey. Magic.
After a tasty but huge lunch in Ageali at the north of the island we returned to find Bill and Isabelle, last seen a week ago, tied up to the quay and caught up on news over a G&T in the cockpit of Ocean Dream.
Wed 6th Jun 2012, Katapola, Amorgos, Cyclades
We really like it here! The town straggles round the bay, and there are just enough visitors to give the place life, no tourist tat in the shops, and a pleasant variety of laid back cafes and tavernas. The yachts are mixed in with the fishing boats, and the ferry is berthed for the night right next to us.
Today has been a day of jobs and emails. I had a lie in whist Barrie shamed me by going a run at 06.30, up the hill to the remains of an ancient Minoan town. An old man sat side-saddle on a donkey passed him.