2008 on Abraxas
16 April 2009 | Now back in Cheshire
We decided this year to take the car out to Greece as we had some bulky boat kit to take (new photo-panels and lots of miscellaneous chandlery). A few did question our sanity driving a 12 year old VW Polo on a 2,400 mile round trip but we made it there and back with few problems.
The drive through Austria and over the Brenner Pass into Italy was stunning. We got a ferry from Venice to Greece (24 hours) and the route from the ferry berth out to sea passed the Grand Canal and because we were so high the view from the ferry over the Venetian roof-tops encouraged us to spend a day exploring Venice when we returned in October - well worth the 25 euro car park charge but one day was quite enough!
We decided this year to base Abraxas in the anchorage at Vliho (a large almost landlocked bay near Nidri on the island of Lefkas). Anchoring is free and in Greece most of the harbours do not charge - those that do, only charge about 8 Euros per night. This low cost existence coupled with stunning scenery and safe, sheltered sailing may explain why the Ionian is so popular - it may also explain why all the tavernas are packed every night.
Perhaps it was because we were using our dinghy so much that we started having problems with it. The floor should be glued to the inflated tubes making a water tight seal and for the past nine years we have not had much of a problem with it. May-be glued joints only have a certain life because I have just repaired the floor for the seventh time this year - once I re-glue a section the next section gives way a few weeks later. It has been suggested by sections of the crew that I buy a new dinghy but I see that as defeatism - a few inches of water in the bottom of the dinghy is cooling and very pleasant. The most alarming episode with the dinghy was when Maureen's brother, Michael and wife, Mandy, were with us and we were returning to Abraxas following a good night ashore in a Taverna in Port Atheni, Meganisi. I can't remember who got in the dinghy first but when they did the floor seam opened up (when examined later the split was almost 1 metre long). We all then got in without our shoes as the water was at mid calf level.
Michael and Mandy were with us for a week. I think of them as non-sailors as they had not sailed before their first week with us in 2006 but now with three weeks experience they are becoming more at ease on the boat. In July we had what we all christened 'Windy Wednesdays' - three consecutive Wednesdays of exceptionally windy weather. We were in Frikes on Ithica with M&M one of these windy Wednesdays with a plan to head for Fiskhardo on Cephalonia - normally in such conditions we would not have gone out but M&M were on a weeks holiday and wanted to get as much in as possible. Fiskhardo would have been a long slog to windward but a sail across to Sivota on Lefkas was a broad reach so we set off under mizzen and reefed genoa and had the best sail of the season. Mandy is very fussy with her make-up and hair so we all held our breath when, half way across, a wave managed to deposit a couple of buckets of sea water over her head. Amazingly she laughed it off so I got the camera out to preserve the memory (and make a good Christmas card). For some reason we always seem to have eventful weeks with Michael and Mandy so I shouldn't have been surprised when later in Sivota with Abraxas safely anchored in the harbour and the four of us ashore in a taverna waiting for the meal to be delivered - with perfect timing a brand new 54 foot yacht managed to drag over our anchor and dislodge it. With the anchor now tripped Abraxas started to drag. Michael and myself then ran a couple of hundred yards back to the dinghy to retrieve Abraxas and re-anchor (our 200 yard sprint was later compared to the famous 'Batman & Robin' sprint from Only Fools and Horses).
Back on our own in August we enjoyed a leisurely three week tour of the mainland and visiting old haunts (Limin Petela, Sami (Cephalonia), Kioni (Ithica), Fiskhardo (Cephalonia) and then a first visit to Vasiliki. Vasiliki is one of the top wind surfing spots in Europe so we got there early before the afternoon breeze kicked in. We went to bed to be woken in the middle of the night to our passarrelle being rattled and someone in a foreign accent saying 'wakey, wakey eggs and bacon' we usually pull our passarrelle up at night but had forgotten this time, anyway after a little chuckle our group of Greek youngsters moved on and all was well again. After visiting Sivota and Port Athini we finished our mini tour with a good curry in Palairos.
In October we returned Abraxas to the Cleopatra yard in Preveza and returned home. Some may know that we have had a bit of a badger problem (they have burrowed into the bank by the stream and under our drive which caused a rather large hole to appear one afternoon before we left for Greece. Fortunately we do not own the bank so the landowners are responsible for making good the damage - progress has been slow as badgers are a protected species. The badgers have now been evicted but the hole is still to be repaired!
It's now mid April 2009 and I've another couple of weeks to work before 'retiring' again. We are due to fly out on 10th May but Mo's mum is in hospital and we're sure if Mo will leave in May.
This year will see us returning home early for Stephen & Hannah's wedding on 7th August so we expect the excitement will build as we get nearer the date.
Will try to post again after we splash (due in 15th May)