19 May 2019 | Mytilini, Lesvos - 7,977 NM
Lorraine Chapman | Sunny, warm but no wind
With a flight home booked in 10 days from Lesvos and the weather so unsettled it was time to head back or risk being stuck on the wrong island and missing the wedding! First we needed to visit the Port Police again to pay our fees - so much form filling, it takes ages but all very friendly. Next coffee and then a 3 mile motor to a sheltered anchorage which made our 50nm passage the next day a little shorter. The anchorage was lovely and totally undeveloped and peaceful. Unfortunately it wasn’t as sheltered as we’d hoped. It was rock solid and sheltered from the swell but the wind, which wasn’t that strong, accelerated down the hills and howled through the rigging all night jerking the anchor chain - not much sleep!
We’d been worried about the reported sea state the next morning but the updated forecasts looked OK and as we raised the sails and left the bay all looked good. Venturing out of the shelter it got more and more uncomfortable and the wind dropped so that we could only motor sail. We were both feeling a little sea sick! But after a couple of hours the wind on the beam picked up and things looked better as the engine was turned off. It was still rough but we were now sailing at an average of 6.5 knots and in the right direction - much better. We headed for the small village of Gavathas on the north west coast of Lesvos where we anchored in the bay and had a good night. In the morning we were hoping to head around the coast towards Mytilini but Freya had other ideas! We pressed the button to start the engine and just got a click and a whirring noise! Sounded like the starter motor and so Paul hit it with a hammer a few times but no change. Luckily we had a spare on board and so he managed to change it quite quickly - but still it just whirred! We were then at a loss and so rang Arran and after a long conversation he realised it was a battery problem. Turning to the engine battery the engine it started first turn. Phew, but we now had a power issue to sort which sounded expensive!
Anyway, moving on while analysing the problem, we headed into our 2nd and the biggest lagoon on Lesvos, Kolpas Kolloni and after negotiating the buoyed channel anchored in a pretty, sheltered bay just inside. We paddled ashore and checked out the taverna on the quay. It was closed and so we thought we’d be eating onboard but as we left 4 women flew around the corner in a small battered car leaving rubber on the way and screeched to a halt scared that they were losing customers and said they’d been to church (while crossing herself) and would be open shortly. After a walk along the coast we had a dinner in the taverna by the bobbing fishing boats.
A 4 mile motor across the Kolpas in the morning took us to Skala Polichnitos where we anchored just outside the fishing harbour. Such a lovely place, we fell in love with it after a walk around the village and then along the coast. On the edge were salinas and the huge piles of salt in the distance. A perfect place for flamingos we thought - and as we said it we could see 2! Seconds later there were a huge flock, bright pink with black wing tips flying overhead calling to the 2 in the salinas who quickly followed. They did a circuit and then all landed close by. Amazing! Wandering back we found a taverna who happily put the tv on so that we could watch the Grand Prix- we had the time wrong and so ended up staying for hours and having dinner. When we got back to Freya we were a bit worried about the sloppy sea building up but we had a lovely evening watching the view in the sunshine as the sea settled down for a peaceful night. We realised the batteries were now failing fast and keeping the anchor light on all night was going to be an issue. We had to use the lantern we’d bought for that purpose back in Swansea when we the anchor light had broken.
Moving on again and with no wind, we motored to Plomari on the south coast. Everything we’d read said the the harbour was only tenable in very settled conditions but luckily, or so we thought, that was what we had. We moored alongside the quay and went to explore. As we’d approached the town it looked stunning winding up the steep hill with pretty pastel coloured houses and, of course, the big cathedral. It didn’t disappoint, we loved it as we walked around the narrow cobbled streets with balconies almost meeting in the middle. There were so many empty and sometimes derelict houses too - by the time we’d finished we’d almost moved in! We were joined by a few other yachts in the harbour and we all dutifully visited the Port Police in the office as seems to required in these islands. He was very nice and friendly and all was sorted, inefficiently as always, but with a smile. Later in the evening he came back and told us all we couldn’t leave until we’d all registered for the new cruising tax, recently introduced. We explained that as we had 10 days to do it we’d planned to do it when we got back to Mytilini where we would have better internet on board but this wasn’t good enough - it had to be done now! Paul went back to the office and after lots of phone calls by the policeman they eventually managed to complete our online form. We then had to wait for a number via email. Once this arrived he went back to the office to be told the advice he’d been given was wrong and we didn’t need to do it now and it could wait until Mytilini! Having got this far with the process we thought we may as well finish it which we did meaning all we had to do now was go to a bank to handover the cash which we duly did once we got to Mytilini. It was now almost 11.00 and so off to bed - at about 2.30 the wind picked up to a huge 5knts, nothing, but the swell rolled into the harbour and we rocked and rolled all night! In the morning it had become almost untenable and very uncomfortable. We’d planned another wander and a visit to the bakery but we just got up and left. The harbour is very new but seems to have been built facing the wrong way and with no protection - only in Greece!
And so back to Mytilini for a few days where Freya will stay for a while as we fly home for Lucas’ and Hannah’s wedding. The first job was getting new batteries ordered which we did - but they haven’t arrived! We need them to ensure the automatic bilge pump works if necessary and so the guy in the chandlery is going to fit them after we’ve left - he promised as Paul is his friend! Other than that we did lots of socialising as Gordon is still here with Lily mog plus a German couple we met on route and our new neighbour Ross. Ross has been working as a volunteer at the refugee centre for the last year and offered to show us around. It was really interesting, not least because it’s called One Happy Family and surprisingly it definitely has a happy feel given the dire circumstances of many of the refugees. There were lots of facilities there including a school, clinic, and vegetable garden all run by NGOS plus a kitchen, workshop, gym etc. Definitely food for thought. Just before we left it was Paul’s birthday. We had a very pleasant, relaxing day (mostly waiting for the batteries that didn’t turn up!) including posh birthday breakfast, a huge ice cream on the harbour and a lovely dinner by the sea - clearly mostly eating!