Chores once more.
27 September 2017
Chris and Francis
GEEK ALERT: do not enter if you're not interested in boat maintenance!
It is 15th of September and it is that time of the year again where we atone for our summer pleasures aboard Clio. She came out of the water yesterday and is now held up by around 12 pieces of former trees. We've repaired and replaced 'new-for-old' many bit and pieces over the last years during the annual maintenance and this year we're seeing the benefits of that approach. There is still a lot of work to be done, 57 small(er) tasks at last count, before we will set off to the UK for a couple of weeks of cold weather, but none of them the size of a new rudder bearing or stainless steel solar panel arch.
We got in contact with Wim (and son Wim) van de Pelt (Aegina Yacht Services, working from two containers in the Kanonis boatyard), and asked for assistance for some of the jobs. Wim and his family have been in Greece since sometime in the 1980's, so he knows a lot about boat repairs and also where to get things and who to talk to. No-nonsense, get-the-job-done approach for a reasonable price. They were willing to work in with us and with our timeline. That is often not the case, boat maintenance people want to do jobs whenever it suits them (in winter) and when the customer has left. Wim and his team turned out to be excellent to work with!!
A main task this year with the underwater hull will be to correct the quite shabby work the Aktio marina staff had delivered last year. The AF (anti-fouling) paint is peeling off the then newly sandblasted and primed keel in big sheets, the proof that they did not put on AF primer as agreed and paid for. The AF is so thin that it looks like they only put on one layer.
So keel must be stripped from all AF before we can put new Seajet 011 AF primer on. Wim suggested using a Titan AF paint stripper which worked well (to our pleasant surprise) and after 24 hours the old AF could be high-pressure hosed from the keel.
Last year we also asked the Aktio boatyard to give the underwater hull a good sanding to remove about three layers that had accumulated on the horizontal hull between the keel and the rudder. We showed them the area and the job that needed to be done. When complaining about the sanding job that was actually done when we saw it in May this year, it turned out that they did a 'light sanding' job. They could not have taken more than two hours doing it, pocketing €250 for it. Light indeed! So this year we have to remove five layers.
Wim's team, especially Nikos, took on that job and spent almost two full days on it. It is really nasty job as dry-sanding the AF produces quite poisonous dust. It needs full overalls, full face breathing mask, using an electric sander in 32 degrees heat: that is not very relaxing. This may not be the most ideal approach (wet sanding with a pneumatic sander would be much better/faster and would keep the amount of dust down considerable), but that is how it was done. Nikos did an outstanding job, and kept on going until most of the AF was removed. Quite an achievement!!!! Wim is now looking at alternative methods using Mirka sanding mesh disks and pneumatic sanders, good for him!
Along the waterline is another place where AF paint tends to accumulate (we dread to sand too close to the exposed gelcoat) and using a hand-operated sanding board with Mirka sanding mesh and horizontal movements (thanks for that idea Wim) and some masking tape on the gelcoat just above the water line, solved another problem area.
After we applied epoxy shield to the bare gelcoat patches on the underwater hull and primer (when still sticky) on the keel, we put just one layer of AF on. The other one goes on when we come back next year. Apart from relatively small jobs on electrodes and propeller, that finished off the underwater part of the boat.
Over the years the wide blue line above the waterline had faded, especially in the bow regions To spruce that up a bit, we asked Wim to see if he could use a bit coarser cutting paste to get rid of the top layer and restore the colour. Again Nikos was going to do the job, starting with 1000 cutting compound and working his way through to a waxing/polishing compound, doing three rounds around the boat. It worked quite well and much of the colour has been restored.
The last job for the van der Pelt team was for Wim to do some gelcoat repairs: some hairline fractures of the gelcoat around where the shrouds go through the deck, and some minor damage the outboard propeller did on the stern. To match the pure white base gelcoat to the boats gelcoat colour, it needs to be colour-corrected. Mixing the gelcoat with one or two drops of ocher-coloured dye to get it just right is quite a skill and great to watch. The hairline fractures were milled out first and then filled in with the new gelcoat using a small paint brush. Once that has hardened out sufficiently, it is slowly levelled and polished using a series of ever finer wet sanding paper until the repaired gelcoat blends in with the old, all done in the full sun to professional standards by Wim-the-Elder. Jobs well done!
Over the years we have found consistently that boatyards are good at boat-yarding, but less so at boat maintenance and repair. We now prefer the help of more specialized people to do some of the jobs we can't (or prefer not to) do ourselves. The trick is always to find the right people, we were lucky again this year.
In the meantime, Chris was doing a great and big job cleaning Clio's inside. This year we wanted to reorganize and clean out much of the stuff we've been hording over the years in our bunk cabin come storage room. So we bit the bullet and completely cleaned it out. Four or five garbage bags full of stuff were dispatched to the nearest industrial bins and the leftovers rearranged. End-of-season cleaning of the oven/stove and fridge were also part of the program. And of course Francis' favorite job, annual maintenance of the toilets, including cleaning and replacing the manual pumping mechanisms, cleaning pipes and getting rid of the lime (chalk) scale. Lots of plastic gloves, paper towels, 20% hydrochloric acid, replacement kits and Vaseline are part of the process. Happy that has been done again for this year.
The engine was winterized and the external instruments nicely packed in plastic, anchor chain and anchor sprayed with a new layer of zinc. The anchor was painted white to make it easier to find underwater and the chain received cable ties at 10m intervals so Chris can see how much chain is being let out. Many bits and pieces of deck equipment need to be cleaned and stored. The sails, Bimini and sprayhood sent off to the sailmaker for cleaning, inspection/repair and storage. The propeller needs to be cleaned of very affectionate marine creatures such as encrusting red algae and barnacles having built their dwellings on it. It also needs repainting again. And so the list goes on.
It is now Sunday 24 September and we're taking a day off from the chores to have a look around on Aegina Island. The island's shape is close to a triangle, 15 km across and 10 km from top to bottom. It only takes a couple of hours to drive around it. Kanonis boat yard, our current home, is on the northern-most island facing Athens on the mainland (about 7 km 'as the crow flies'). Its about an hour on a slow ferry and 40 minutes by fast Flying Dolphin hydrofoil to get to/from Piraeus.
The main produce of Aegina is pistachio nuts. Chris has a slight fondness for them and is happy to spend hours easing them out of their shells, or just eating them in the form of ice creams or in chocolate. And Aegina is pistachio-heaven.
Anyway, back to the real world. It is a very pleasant drive and we're visiting small villages like Souvala, Vagia, Ag. Marina and Portes on the northern and eastern side of the island before we cross the island from East to West. The central part of the island is made up of a couple of fairly steep hills and still pretty much free of Athenian bungalows and celebrities’ infinity pools and has some extraordinary views over the island, Athens and the Aegean. The main city of Aegina is on the West side of the island, where also most of the tourist activity is based. There are a couple of nice beaches south of Aegina town such as Marathona and Perdika with eat-drink-and-be-merry infrastructure. We go as far South as the roads permit, close to Cape Pirogos, and enjoy a swim and a lazy deckchair lunch on the beach, finished off with a gratifying ice cream in the shade of some trees on the beach in Marathona. Time to head back and face the chores again.
This year the new deck tent, which covers all her decks and cockpit, will add another layer of protection against sun and rain. Clio's stern is very close to the shore and spray is coming in when there is a bit of wind, so we bought a big (6x5m) tarpaulin to give her backside a bit of protection. We hope it will survive at least most of the winter weather.
It is 27th of September and most jobs are now done. Some others have to wait until we're back from our UK trip as we're off to Athens for our UK trip now. But our charge is already looking great!
Feedback from Jon and Vanessa
21 September 2017
Jon and Vanessa
Corrine, Jon, Vanessa and Wayde were our second crew in 2017. They were on board for 10 nights (09/06-19/06 2017) and we sailed about 90 NM (170 km) in that time. They joined us in Preveza and we visited Meganisi Island, Wasp Bay and Kastos town on Kastos Island, One-House Bay on Atokos Island, Vathy and Filiatros Bay on Ithaki Island, and Antisamos Bay and Sami on Kefallonia Island. We rented cars and toured around Ithaki Island and Kefallonia Island. These are Jon and Vanessa's memories.
Jon's and Vanessa's Ionian adventure
There is an art to good food, even something as simple as Greek salad where all the ingredients are raw. The body of the salad consists of tomatoes and cucumber, in roughly equal proportions, but these have to be cut to the right size. Too small and the flavours blend too much, too large and it's difficult to eat. Just smaller than bite size is perfect. Olives are the next major ingredient, about a tenth by volume - just enough to add some contrast. Then capsicum and red onion very thinly sliced but as long ribbons, enough to provide some bite, but cut so they don't blend into the other favours. Then a few green capers, two teaspoons of dried oregano, and a dressing of a large spoonful of red wine vinegar plus two of good Greek olive oil. Finally the salad is topped with goat feta, broken into chucks and gently mixed through. Done right this is a brightly coloured summer salad of rich contrasting flavours, the very essence of the Mediterranean.
I learned to make Greek salad during our holiday on board the sail boat Clio. Come to think of it there is also an art to a good holiday. You want to spend it with interesting loveable people who provide the body of the holiday. For us this was provided by Chris and Francis, good friends and the owners of Clio, and our life long friends Wayde and Corrine. You want an interesting distracting environment which takes you out of your everyday self and the Ionian Sea certainly does that. Turquoise crystal clear waters, beautiful sunrises and sets, amazing rock formations, fantastic swimming, and spying abundant sea life, guided by the marine biologist skipper, provide the right amount of distraction. When in harbour exposure to thin slices of contrasting island culture provide a bit of bite, topped by being able to walk in the steps of the hero of the Odyssey, the Ionian hero Odysseus. Oh and don't trust Greek estimates of walking distance (they must drive everywhere!).
The ten days spent on board the Clio were rich in fellowship, provided sufficient downtime to reconnect with ourselves and each other, catch up on reading and sleep, and for some an opportunity to refresh the old skill in watercolour painting.
All this, against a back drop of incredible natural beauty, supported by superb food, the lap of the Ionian Sea against the boat, and Greek wine.
A Sunken City, a HDABED course and a fried egg
14 September 2017
Francis and Chris
Monday 28 August
We hung peacefully behind our anchor in the little cove in Vidi bay, enjoying this very nice spot for almost a week. It is well sheltered from Meltemi attacks, devoid of speedboats towing water skiers, and has nice water for swimming and snorkeling. These are the really nice times to be on board. Everything works, enough water and supplies and things to entertain us. And nobody to interrupt the peace and quiet!
On Friday September 1 it was time to replenish our supplies again so back to Poros to the mainland for a quick supermarket stop. We anchored pretty much in the middle of the channel between Poros island and the mainland, which did not gain a lot of approval of the little water taxis connecting both sides. After a quick-march round of the shops collecting the items on the shopping list, we got back on board within the hour so to minimize the naval disruption our home-on-the-water caused the local transporters.
The peninsula of Methana (they cling to the more tourists-enticing title of 'island') is just around the corner. We know that the main port on the East side of the island (also called Methana to keep it simple) has terrible water. It is laced with natural Sulphur (thus betraying its volcanic origin) which both stinks and tends to dissolve the galvanizing zinc from steel anchor chains. So we won't go there. On the other side of Methana island is a small (originally fishing) port of Vathy that looks much more attractive. The catch is that we have to go around the whole island to get there. We did not get water in Poros (bad quality, hard to get) so we needed to find an alternative soon. So we motored around the island of Methana to the small harbour of Vathy in the hopes of filling our water tanks.
When we arrived, the small port was pretty much filled to the brim with flotilla boats. We were lucky, one boat was just leaving so we managed to squeeze into a space in between the other flotilla boats made up of English families on their summer holiday. Back in civilisation again it was a good time to sit in the taverna and watch the kids enjoying the water while we enjoyed a wine and a Barbayanni (since 1860) ouzo (pronounced as Varavayanni, and soft on hangovers).
Saturday 2 September and the flotilla left this morning and peace was restored, be it for a very short time before we were joined by another flotilla. This time bearing 50 Israeli marine biology students who were also completing their skipper course, including a mandatory '101 Heavy Drinking of Alcoholic Beverages Early in the Day' examination. Later in the day some of the young men joined us on Clio and Francis enjoyed very much discussing marine critters with them and testing their (mostly failing, possibly due to their very diligent study for the 101 HDABED course) knowledge.
Meantime there was a party happening on the other side of the very small harbour, lots of young Greek men who were celebrating a wedding (we think) by shooting shotguns into the hill above us and by throwing fireworks/dynamite into the water among the small fishing boats. This went on for a few hours and it was a very noisy afternoon as the Israelis consumed still more alcohol and the Greeks increased their explosives, lots of fun. The Israeli were slightly jumpy at the sounds of explosions, we don't know why.
We were also puzzled by a girl being left for considerable time high up in the mast of one of their boats. She didn't mind, it seems, as she took what must have been 1500 selfies in the two or so hours before she was lowered again. Possibly also part of the Skipper coursework?
Eventually all the Greeks headed out in their cars honking horns all the way and the Students visited the nearby Taverna to enjoy their last dinner and honours-level drinking before returning to Athens tomorrow. We decided to make our way around to the quieter part of the harbour to feast on very fresh seafood sitting out on the small quay.
Sunday 3 September, and we bid farewell to our Israeli friends this morning and all is quiet again. The fresh water here is very good quality (TDS 120!) so we will fill our tanks this evening and stay one more night.
Monday 4 September
Time to leave this nice little spot so after disentangling our anchor from our neighbours, we crossed the bay to an area close to Pallia Epidavros to snorkel around the sunken city found just off Kalymnios beach in 1-2m of water. We could not find much info on the history of the site, but it may be a sunken Mycenaean villa, part of a city that sunk under the waves some 3500 years ago due to a volcanic eruption on Methana. We could not find more reliable information.
Chris spotted lots of flying fish along the way. Anchored in this great spot we are soon surrounded by beautiful fried egg jellyfish (Phacellophora camtschatic) and after checking out the sunken city Francis has a great time swimming with and filming the jellies which have magnificent blue tentacles and little fish (young horse-mackerel maybe ) that dart in and out of the tentacles.
Against skippers better judgement we caved into laziness and opted to stay put for the night. Although there was little wind the swell picked up during the night and we were rolled about a bit. Will he ever learn not to anchor at such exposed spots?
Tuesday 5 September
This morning we moved back to Agkistri to anchor in Dhorousa bay . It is a lovely little cove and reasonable anchorage if you can get a spot on the N-side of it. As we expect this to be our last anchorage of the season, we make the most of snorkeling and swimming. One of the neighbours was a super luxury yacht which Chris googled and found that it was only €24,000 (AU36,000) per day to charter, food, drink and fuel not included, of course.
Saturday 9 September: today we moved into the small port of Agkistri and tied up to the quay to begin preparing Clio for her winter beauty sleep. As always skipper got us in at just the right time as later in the afternoon at the end of a regatta between Athens and Agistri, the little harbour was bursting at its seams with 40 more yachts coming in and rafting and tying up to anything and everything. It was soon obvious that though some of these skippers may be experienced racers they were not experienced parkers and lots of yelling and arm waving ensued as we had yachts crossing our chains and getting their keels and rudders caught up on anchor lines. From the state of their yachts scratched and dented hulls, this was not a concern for them. But for live-boards like ourselves it bl... well was. So stay clear of our boat or feel the wrath of my boat hook.
Eventually some calm was restored as the last of them was finally tied to something.
Sunday 10 September
The race is on again and after the starter boat was eventually able to get under way after fouling his prop on one of the regatta yacht's ropes, the harbour is peaceful again. We wandered up the hill today to find a lovely restaurant where we relaxed in a cool breeze with a coffee. After chatting to the lovely young woman who served us we discovered that we were welcome to use the swimming pool. As we did not need our arms twisted we returned to Clio to change into swimming attire and returned to swim and lounge about before partaking of a yummy late lunch, bliss.
Monday 11 to Thursday 14
We spend these few days removing Clio's sails. This is a bit of a chore as the head sail (genoa) is quite big and folding it onto into a manageable package on a relatively small foredeck is something you rather leave to others. But we managed with the kind help of our South African neighbour. The next challenge is getting our inflatable RIB Cloe out of the water and onto the front deck. While Chris tried to haul her up on the halyard Francis was attempting to lift her over the rail. Again our new British neighbours came to the rescue as she was just too heavy for Chris to manage.
Of course because we are booked to come out of the water on Thursday the predictions are for stronger northwest winds just what we don't need, but 'you don't always get what you wa-ant' (Stones '69).
On Thursday morning we sit and wait to hear from the guys in the boatyard when local wind and waves has decreased to an acceptable level. At around 11:00 we get the all clear and motor across the one hour stretch to Aegina. To be lifted here we have to back into a small space between two piers and stay clear of the steep boat ramp at the end of it. Together with a fair bit of left-over swell and the customary shouting of instructions by several Greek boatyard staff, we were ably lifted out into the Kanonis boatyard.
We are now safe on land, and the annual hard labor that comes with owning a boat and not being a millionaire starts again. We have two weeks to complete the winterization process before we head off to the lovely colder climate of the UK. Because of the shoddy antifouling job done by someone under responsibility of the Aktio shipyard in Preveza, repairing the damage will be a lot of work. The next day, yet another heatwave of over 32 degr. C sneaks up on us.
27 August 2017
Chris and Francis
We have arrived on the Saronic side of the Peloponnesus a bit earlier than we’d planned and are now faced with a couple of weeks ‘treading water’ (hopefully not literally) before we go onto land to winterize Cleo on Aegina island (close to where we are now) and start out trip to the UK. We don’t want to go further east into the Cyclades as we would wander further into Meltemi country, so we decide to do some more in-depth enjoying of the Saronic region such as anchorages around Poros, Pallia Epidavros, Agistri, Aegina etc..
We arrived in the busy port of Aegina on Tuesday 15 August and after scanning the crowded quay we were directed to a pontoon, usually occupied by charter boats, by the harbour diver who we think is kept well occupied disentangling anchors from mooring lines and each other. We gladly tied Clio to the pontoon and used the available lazy line, happy not to have to throw our anchor into the snake pit of other anchor lines and laid lines. Once settled we had a chat with our Dutch neighbours who gave us a bit of a rundown on how things work here. If you have followed our blog you would know that everywhere we go the systems and processes are different keeping it interesting.
Francis immediately got out the water tester and although it is not as good as the water in Porto Chelli, it is good enough. After some confusion about whether the water is free or not another neighbour explained that he had paid for the water that was being used by the Dutch charterers, but he was happy for us to also help ourselves. We thanked him for his kind offer but Francis headed off to the Port Authority office to check us in and pay our dues. We need to be here until Sunday so we paid the port fees and secured our own tag for water and electricity. As we are in a spot reserved for charter boats we are advised that we need to vacate this spot before Friday when they are expected to be coming back in. So we filled up Clio's thirsty water tanks and settled in for the night, after a visit to town for pizza.
On Wednesday morning (16 August) Chris was on lookout for anyone moving off the quay so that we could move to a non-reserved spot. It was not long before she spotted activity on a yacht located in a perfect spot with access to power and water. So it was all hands on deck and we very quickly moved over and grabbed the spot. Since getting this spot we have observed that these vacancies are rare and fill very quickly.
Now it was time to get to work, and we spent the next four days giving Clio the full spa treatment including head and foot massages, until she is sparkling in the hot Mediterranean August sun. Clio will be having her winter sleep here on Aegina and now that a lot of this work is done, we will have a little less to do when she crawls onto the land.
On Saturday afternoon we jumped in a taxi to go visit the boatyard where she will be stored. While it is a small boatyard with limited, but sufficient, amenities we were impressed with the setup and after meeting the owner and Wim, the Dutch yacht repair shop owner on site we were confident that she will be in good hands.
While in Aegina we have enjoyed trying out several gelato shops and eating their very yummy pistachio for which the island is famous.
On Sunday after we have stocked up on pistachio nuts and ice cream we gladly leave behind the heat and bustle of the harbour and make our way to an anchorage on the SW-corner of Agkistri, where we also stayed last season. It was a beautiful night with cool breezes and we sat on the swim deck watching the lights in the sea.
Monday 21 August till Sunday 27th of August.
After a calm night the wind has picked up this morning and we are getting tossed around in the swell, funnily enough exactly the same thing happened when we were here last time. So Chris jumped into the water to release our land line and we headed back towards Poros for better shelter from the Meltemi predicted to blow for the next week or so. We made our way into Vidhi Bay under our first overcast sky in quite a while. Nicely protected here we dropped anchor near to a ship that had run aground, a sombre reminder to always keep a wary eye on that depth gauge!
We hang about here until Saturday (26 August) in what appears to be a water-ski ground, so there is no shortage of entertainment or bow waves of speedy boats with people hanging on for dear life dragged at high speed behind them. Ozzie sharks would have a field day here.
As our supplies are running low on Saturday we made a run into Poros to get some laundry done and visit the supermarket. Anchored out from Naval Bay at a fully occupied anchorage, it was a very windy and uncomfortable night with many close neighbours. So after collecting our laundry early Sunday morning we hightailed it out of there and headed back to Vidhi Bay. On the way we spotted a small cove just before the water-ski park so decided to check it out. Perfect little anchorage, very quiet with clear water for swimming and snorkelling and no buzzing speed boats, so here we stay. As our season is winding down, so too are we. With lots of reading, Chris is doing more than her bit in supporting Amazon shares, watching our favourite ABC shows and Chris is still working on the never ending cross stitch (thanks Kylie and James), that is in between swimming and sleeping, of course. Skipper is doing odd jobs and enjoying the occasional South Park. And we roll with the swell handed to us.
Happy birthday Chris
17 August 2017
Francis and Chris
Sunday 6 August, and after four days and nights hiding out in the air-conditioned Hotel Rosso in Porto Cheli (top-right photo, red square indicates most important part) it is time to come back out into the heat and make a getaway from Porto Cheli. It was not a quick getaway as we discovered our chain had become entangled with the mooring anchor connected to our neighbours stink boat. After some jiggling with our anchor-chain-untangle-hook we managed to free ourselves and made our way to the SE-coast of the island of Spetses, Pityoussa in ancient times. Quote from Wikipedia: "In the 15th Century, the Venetians named the island Spezia ("Spice") for its position on a major trade route; over time the name was Hellenised to Spetsai (Spetse/Spetses)".
Spetses also played a major role in supporting and funding the Greek War of Liberation (1821-1832), liberating Greece from Ottoman (Turkish) occupation. It resulted in the First Hellenic Republic, after some heavy-handed intervention from the three then Great Powers (Britain, France and Russia).
We anchored and ran a line ashore in a small sheltered bay opposite another private island called Spetsopoula (Little Spteses). This one is owned by descendants of Stavros Niarchos, a Greek shipping magnate and multi-billionaire in the same class as Aristotle Onassis. He was married five times, Charlotte Ford (indeed of the car magnate Henry II) once and 40% of his former wives died of overdoses. His company operated more than 80 tankers worldwide at one time, helped by the Suez crisis and rapidly increasing need for oil. The island is, of course, a no go zone for the likes of us.
Apart from the multiple charter boats that swarm in for their lunch stops we are along with one other yacht tied up on the other side, alone in this very lovely peaceful spot and a very nice, though not very eventful, snorkel site.
Tuesday 8 August, and after two nights hanging about on Spetses we are moving further along the Peloponnesus coast, we are now back in range of the Meltemi and we need to take shelter from the strong North winds for the next few days. We drop anchor in the bay outside the harbour of Ermioni. So now we are not only dealing with the third heatwave to hit Greece this season, but a very hot and gusty wind as well. Francis has opted to sleep outside in the cockpit for the last few nights and Chris has also finally reached the conclusion that it is a better option than sweating it out in the cabin as the night time temperatures do not drop below 30 degrees C.
Wednesday 9 August: after a day of being blown in circles in strong gusts we managed to head ashore for a very nice 20th anniversary dinner in a lovely restaurant seated right next to the water. A delicious dinner a few glasses of Prosecco for Chris and live entertainment by a young woman and her guitar guaranteed a most enjoyable evening. After loading ourselves back into our trusted inflatable Cloe, Chris ably shone our light and pointed our way back to Clio for another hot night.
After another very windy day yesterday, the gusts have finally settled today Friday 11 August, and we got ashore to stock up on supplies and then head out to continue our journey direction the sheltered anchorages of Poros. We found a nice anchorage on the southwest side of Ydra (or Hydra) that we had all to ourselves. Because it is a bit of a small cove it was necessary to run a line ashore so Chris dived in and swam a line to a suitable rock to secure us to. Unfortunately a sea urchin was sitting (if not sneakily hiding) under the water line on the rock exactly where Chris tried to grab a handhold. Instead she copped a palm full of urchin spikes, ouch.
Once we were settled Francis swam out to check our anchor only to discover that the chain had managed to get itself under a large rock wrapped around a smaller rock and the anchor was sitting on a rock bed. It is all very secure and we are not expecting wind tonight so we will deal with it tomorrow.
This is a lovely spot for swimming and snorkelling after a couple of weeks in murky water this is a treat.
Early rise today, Saturday 12 August, while there is no wind we want to see if we can disentangle our chain and raise anchor without too much drama. (Trust me I'm a)Skipper is very calm and assures Chris that it will not be a problem and he has a few strategies in mind. Much to Chris's relief the first strategy worked brilliantly. We moved up over where the chain had slipped under the rock and by gently turning Clio and slowly hauling in the chain it freed itself and our anchor was free. Whew!
So we moved on a bit further along the mainland coast and stopped at another very nice spot off the end of the island of Spathi. More beautiful water and caves to explore. We had lunch and a swim before it filled up with boats, we then headed out for Poros. Anchoring in Monastery Bay just off the beach a lovely spot.
Sunday 13 August, and it is Chris's birthday today and such a lovely relaxing spot to celebrate. We enjoyed a quiet day topped off with a nice glass of Prosecco and leftovers for dinner. Cheers
Monday 14 August and we need to get fresh water and it would be nice to hook up to shore power again after many weeks of relying on our trusty solar panels that limit exorbitant use of one of the bigger computers on board. We were not sure about being able to get a spot on the quay in this very busy harbour of Poros, but we got lucky and snuck in next to a Canadian yacht right in front of a power and water box. Francis radioed the port authority to organise power and water only to be told the sad story that Poros has a water problem which has been going on for three weeks. In the pecking order of hotels, houses and businesses, yachts were at the very bottom of the list and they have decided to not provide any water to tourist's boats. This was disappointing (annoying) as our tanks are almost empty and we were really hoping to give Clio a well-deserved wash of weeks of salt-crystals accumulating on her decks. Oh well, we do what we can.
So Chris packs up all our washing and takes it off to the laundry and after another very warm day we went out for a belated birthday dinner for Chris. What a treat Chris enjoyed very much a steak fillet with creamy mushroom sauce, the first steak since leaving Oz. Yum.
During our dinner a marching band came by with drums beating and the church bells were busily ringing. It is Saints day of the Virgin Mary (Panagia in Greek orthodox religion) tomorrow and the celebrations have commenced. As we walked back to Clio we followed the procession making their way to the church which is 100 metres from Clio. We then settled in to listen to chanting and singing being blasted out over loud speakers very late into the night.
The bells and the chanting started up again early this morning, Tuesday 15 August, and as we really need to get water soon, it is time to move on again. Our laundry was delivered from the wonderful Mary's Laundry who did a fantastic job. The man who delivered gave us a rundown on the water situation and the nonsense of bureaucracy and their failings to provide adequate services, and we assured him that this does not only occur in Greece. After our discussion we lifted our anchor and made our way to Aegina and in our quest for fresh water.
Feedback from Crew 2, Wayde and Corrine
16 August 2017
Corrine, Jon, Vanessa and Wayde were our second crew in 2017. They were on board for 10 nights (09/06-19/06 2017) and we sailed about 90 NM (170 km) in that time. They joined us in Preveza and we visited Meganisi Island, Wasp Bay and Kastos town on Kastos island, One-House Bay on Atokos Island, Vathy and Filiatros Bay on Ithaki Island, and Antisamos Bay and Sami on Kefallonia Island. We rented cars and toured around Ithaki Island and Kefallonia Island.
Corrine & Wayde’s Clio Adventure - 10 June to 20 June 2017
As virgin international travellers we were excited but a little daunted by the prospect of a yacht cruise around the Ionian Sea islands. It was very reassuring to be travelling with our best friends Jon and Vanessa who also knew Francis and Chris the owners of Clio.
Did the cruise meet our expectations? Yes and far exceeded them. Francis and Chris were very welcoming hosts, friendly and easy to get along with. They were also very organised making the whole process simple and enjoyable. Their knowledge of the area and assistance with transport was invaluable in making the most of our time on board and ashore. Helpful suggestions on each day’s sailing in consultation with the crew (us) made sure we saw and did a variety of what the area had to offer without feeling too rushed or stressed. There was plenty of time for relaxation, reading, chatting and just taking in the views. It was a fantastic stress-free holiday in a beautiful, rugged setting.
And now for a day by day description put together from memory (it is now 2 months since we boarded Clio), diary notes and photos.
Arrival 9 June – Preveza
We arrived at about 6.30 pm local time after 21 hours in planes and 4 hours in a taxi (yes we elected to taxi from Athens airport to Preveza to save another three hours waiting for a six hour bus ride). Needless to say we were very glad to be there. Long haul flights are shit! We met Francis and Chris who made us welcome, showed us our cabins (roomier than we expected) and got us into holiday mode with drinks and nibbles on deck (woohoo).
A change of clothes and freshen up, then a wander around the Preveza waterfront cafes and restaurants for our first taste of local cuisine. Ventura was the restaurant selected and a fine choice it was. The food was delicious, the company excellent and a fun evening was had by all. Back to Clio for sleep in a bed!
One thing we would have to get used to is the long days. Sunrise was around 5 to 5.30 am and sunset not until around 9 pm.
Day 1 10 June – Preveza, Meganisi
The first morning of our cruise started with a long, early-morning walk along the shoreline of Preveza. We were getting a feel of how the locals lived. This was a Saturday so it was pretty quiet. Amazingly we came across plenty of Eucalypt trees so in some ways it was similar to coastal areas in Australia. The local architecture is unique though so you soon come back to reality. We were on the other side of the world in Greece! Wow!
Then it was off on a shopping expedition with Chris to stock up on supplies. We visited the local markets for fresh fruit and veg and also stocked up on some local wine. We got all the colours; white, rose, light red and dark red sold in 1.5 litre plastic screw cap bottles. The whole lot cost 13 Euros so it was obviously a good vintage .
There was one hiccup in our plans before we left Preveza when Wayde went to get some cash from an ATM with one of our cash cards. When he entered more than the daily cash limit the machine withheld the card. He was not happy but it was Saturday and there was nothing we could do. Luckily we had Corrine’s card which accessed the same funds so all was not lost. We would be careful in future and do transactions on week days in case there were any further issues.
We left Preveza around midday for our first bit of on water travel and motored over to Lefkada in perfect time for the hourly bridge opening (great navigating Francis) to allow us to traverse the channel and make our first anchorage and swim in the Ionian Sea. It was colder than we expected so it didn’t take long before we were back on board for a quick warm shower and a spot of lunch.
Next stop, a quiet anchorage on the island of Meganisi, for our first night away from port. Chris made Spanakopita for dinner (yum) and we washed it down with some local wine (drunk for effect, not taste). Sleep with the gentle rocking of the boat and lapping of the waves. Francis was not confident of our anchor security so he had a late night keeping watch while the rest of us slept on.
Day 2 11 June – Kastos
Our first snorkelling was at Wasp Bay, a short motor from our last anchorage. After an orientation presentation from Francis about what we might see we donned our gear and gave this snorkelling thing a shot. It was amazing. Thanks to Francis’ tips Corrine and I had a blast. Watching fish in their natural environment was such a wonderful privilege. The water was so clear you could see to quite deep. Wayde wasn’t too confident with duck diving but even just floating along gave stunning views of the flora and fauna. The fish were not too bothered by our presence.
There was a lot of light hearted ribbing about Francis’ Powerpoint presentation about the local flora and fauna but we thought it was excellent. It was exciting comparing what each of us had seen after each snorkelling excursion and the reference books on board aided identification of the species seen; a real highlight of the cruise.
We moved on to anchor at Kastos. The wind was picking up, so a planned dinner ashore in the village became Jon’s Frittata on board with more wine. We were anchored outside the harbour so the trip in on the tender boat (Chloe) would be a bit dodgy in the choppy conditions. It was amusing watching some other boats try to gain a secure anchorage in the increasing blustery conditions. It’s part of what you do for entertainment as a yachty.
Clio travel tip: If you go to the loo at night don’t wash your hands. The water pump is very noisy (deliberately) and you will wake every one.
Day 3 12 June – Kastos, Atakos, Ithaca (Vathy)
It was a beautiful morning and we took a trip ashore at Katsos for breakfast and a walk around the village. There was a funeral at the local church. We wondered what the locals did for a living in this little village on an island in the Ionian. It seemed like a quiet slow-paced kind of place.
From Katsos we had our first sailing experience as we headed to the uninhabited island of Atokos for more snorkelling along a spectacular rock face and a visit to the little chapel on the island. The girls went to the chapel on Chloe while the boys snorkelled. Under sail it was so peaceful and Wayde got to exercise his muscles on the winch furling the headsail. Francis and Chris reckon he set the record but we think they were just humouring him.
Snorkelling revealed some red starfish and Parrot fish along with many other species common to the area. It was a popular spot with at least a dozen other yachts anchored in the small bay.
After lunch it was time to head for our overnight anchorage in the port of Vathy on the island of Ithaca (locally, Ithaki). We plan a two night stay to do a day trip on the island and re-stock groceries.
Dinner was at a local restaurant on the waterfront; Greek cuisine of course. Highlights were the Pork with mustard and the Mushrooms with Blue Cheese. We are beginning to think that Greek wine is not to our palate as we have had none that we would rate.
Wayde was not feeling well with a bit of temperature this night. It was time for drugs (Panadol and cold and flu tablets) so thankfully we were in Vathy and had access to a Chemist.
Day 4 13 June – Vathy (Ithaca)
We hired a seven-seater van and the six of us set off to explore more of Ithaca onshore. Wayde was down with the flu but soldiered on. We were following Odysseus’ trail on Ithaca (one of Jon’s interests) so we explored the ruins of his palace first up. This involved some steep bushwalking and an encounter with some of the local goats who enjoyed some spectacular views from the elevated positions on the walk.
Lunch in Stavros (?). Very nice; calamari, Lamb Moussaka, Greek salad and house special fish baked with spices and currants (amazing). Corrine visited the church in Stavros and lit a candle for her Dad. It was very serene.
The roads are sealed but narrow and winding. Negotiating your way through some of the little villages can be a bit of an adventure with lots of very narrow streets and limited places to park. Other road users are pretty friendly and relaxed about it all. Huge thanks to Francis who was our driver on the islands. The Aussie crew decided that driving on the wrong side of the road on these roads would not be safe with any of them behind the wheel.
We stopped for a swim at a little pebble beach then drove back to Vathy for dinner of pizza and wine. The views from the mountainous terrain were awesome and we had to stop a couple of times for photos.
We marveled at some of the expensive and massive motor boats (stink boats as Chris referred to them) that are around the ports and anchorages as well as the myriad of other yachts. It is obviously a very popular holiday activity in these parts and the ports on each island rely on the trade to survive. Tourism is the main industry and for us newbie Oz travellers it was a relief that nearly everyone spoke enough English for us to have no trouble chatting to the locals.
Day 5 14 June – Vathy, Filiatro
We still have the van till midday so the crew did some more exploring of a Byzantine Church near Vathy. Wayde was still under the weather so decided to sit this one out and rest on Clio. Corrine takes advantage of some land-based public shower facilities with plenty of hot water as a treat from the on-board bathroom (functional but not spacious or luxurious).
Travel tip: wet wipes also make a great alternative to a shower when there is limited hot water. Maybe not recommended for a cold climate but in Greece in summer they work fine.
After some last minute shopping, we left Vathy at midday for a short hop to Filiatro beach and a quiet anchorage just off the tourist beach. We are getting to know the process of anchoring at a beach or inlet and Francis and Chris do it very well. There is time for some more swimming and snorkelling (2 red starfish and stacks of other fish varieties. We are treated to the sights of a yacht that anchors nearby and the German crew are partial to a bit of naturism. We trust they have applied sunscreen in the right places.
Dinner on board tonight was a delicious combination of aubergine, chicken, bacon, tomato, potato, garlic and oregano. With wine and Retsina to wash it down it was another day in paradise.
Day 6 15 June – Filiatro, Antisamos
Corrine was up early watching the sunrise over the sea. After breakfast we moved the island of Cephalonia (Kefallonia locally); one of the big Ionian islands. Our first anchorage was at Antisamos beach. This is one of the tourist beaches accessible from the port of Sami. Chris refers to it as the Greek Riviera. We anchor a little away from the main beach and enjoy some more swimming and relaxation.
Wayde seems to be recovering finally and even goes for a short swim in the afternoon. We have a nice chat to a couple from Ireland in the yacht anchored nearby. Fried rice for dinner and a very peaceful night’s sleep.
Clio travel tip: Peeing off the back of the boat at night is fine and much more convenient than the toilet. Not recommended if tied up in port though; better for secluded anchorages. Ladies need to hang on tight to avoid falling in
Day 7 16 June – Antisamos, Sami
After a morning swim and breakfast at Antisamos we decide to move around the corner (literally) to the port of Sami. There is a prediction of storms and high winds coming in the next day or so and Francis suggests we would be more comfortable in port rather than at anchorage in Antisamos bay.
Once we dock we go for sight-seeing walk with Jon and Vanessa around the town of Sami. We have lunch at a waterfront restaurant and sample some local Kefallonia beer. It is better than the wine. Chris tells us of a beach with shower facilities so it is off to the beach for a swim and a shower.
Dinner is at the Mermaid restaurant including stuffed tomatoes, lamb in paper, beef and tomato and chips! Nearly every dish comes with chips we have noticed at most restaurants. Is this a Greek thing or is it just for us tourists?
We head off for a coffee before going back to Clio and while is videoing some local musicians singing and dancing ‘Zorba the Greek’ Corrine is encouraged by the singer to join in. She tried to get me up as well but I just laughed and enjoyed the show.
Day 8 17 June – Sami
We planned to get another van for a day trip around some of Kefallonia but due to insurance issues with the rental company we cannot get one without an international license. We tried with Avis Budget but they had to get a seven-seater from their other office and it would not be available till tomorrow. It was also very expensive but we decide there is little option if we want to see Kefallonia so we book it and spend another quiet day in Sami.
The winds are really howling across the bay so it is just as well we are in shelter of port. Sami port is very crowded as many boats make for shelter today. As it turned out the storm didn’t eventuate; just some strong winds and very choppy seas.
With shops available Wayde rounded up ingredients for Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner on board. Unfortunately it appears Francis has contracted the same lurgy as Wayde (sorry!) and he hits the bed early with drugs.
Day 9 18 June – Sami, Fiskardo, Sami
Today is a day trip by car to Fiskardo in the north of Kefallonia. We visited the cave at Melissani and wandered around a monastery with some amazing views on the way there. The port of Fiskardo has many shops and restaurants all clustered around the waterfront.
Lunch was at Panormos restaurant on the entrance to the harbour. Wonderful views from the terrace and excellent food made for 10 out 10 experience. Right next door was a Roman burial ground which we explored. The history of this country is hard to comprehend for us coming from Australia with its short history since white settlement.
Francis retired to the car for rest (still not well), Jono took a breather in the shops, while the rest of us went for a bush walk to a Phoenician Light house and monastery ruin. After gelato it was back to the car for the return journey via Mirtos Beach. This is on the western coast of Kefallonia and has real waves unlike most of the protected waters of the islands we had visited so far. With the high winds the waves were smashing in so we didn’t swim. The water colour here was wild; a really light milky blue. The island is very mountainous and the views down to the beach were stunning on the way in.
It was a scratch dinner on board. Everyone retired early so we sat on deck till twilight (nearly 10 pm).
Day 10 19 June – Sami
Chris had found an easy way to get us to Athens for our flights to Edinburgh on the 20th. We could catch a bus in Sami at 7 am and it would drive to Poros. The bus then went by ferry (with us) to the mainland at Kolini and then by road to the main bus terminal in Athens. From there we could catch a bus to the airport. Simple!
The early start tomorrow meant it was not practical to move to another anchorage so we had another day in Sami. Corrine went to the hairdresser for a wash and blow dry. Intermittent and short showers did not make for good hair care. We sorted out the packing for the next part of our adventure and generally had a lazy last day on board. Many boats left that morning as the weather had abated so the port was quiet. Our farewell dinner was at one of the waterfront restaurants with the crew in their Clio crew shirts. The end of the cruise was nigh.
Farewell 20 June – Sami
We say goodbye and many thanks to Francis and Chris. They have been wonderful hosts and guides on our cruise. It has been a brilliant experience that we have thoroughly enjoyed. We thought it was a great balance between activity and downtime and we got to see a good cross section of the kinds of things available to do in the islands.
Our trip to Athens went as planned without a hitch even though the bus driver chose to speak no English. We managed to wing it without a problem. Our first international holiday was one to remember for all the right reasons.