11 June 2018
The next port was Poros an island separated from the Peloponnese by a small shallow channel. When we arrived the channel side quay didn't look very busy so we picked our spot. The docking went well the owner of the boat we tied next to helped with the lines then this guy appeared and started to tell us we needed to shuffle down the quay. This didn't really make and sense if we shuffled our anchor it would be skewed which is one of the best way to cause anchors chains to cross. The gentleman that helped us with our lines was getting annoyed with him and informed us he was a guy from a restaurant and we didn't need to listen to him. He just wanted to squish as many boats as possible onto the quay so he could fill his restaurant. Poros is a busy place there were shuttle boats taking people to and from the mainland fast cat ferries from Athens and really big day trip boats promising to visit three islands in a few hours as well as car ferries. Add a cross current and an ever present wind and the canal could prove to be a very difficult place to tie. There was some mention of these obstacles in the guide books but when we arrived none of these things seemed to be in play. When the temp cooled in the evening we did some exploring before settling down for dinner. Day two however took a strange turn of events when a twelve
boat flotilla full of Russian 20 somethings arrived. Every boat was crewed and there were camera men and event planers. They rented quads did group exercises and photo shoots with fruit? it was a little surreal. The next morning at 6 am they started again :( a few hours after that they left to terrorize a new port. This experience would sorta repeat itself but this time a older group of people. The big flag flying on their boats called it a tango the med flotilla and they were tangoing all over the quay. For a small island Poros had a fair bit to explore we wandered around the back streets and marvelled at how some of the residents manage to get their cars down them. We peeked into beautiful little courtyards and climbed stairs lots of stairs to get to a clock tower that overlooked the harbour. The hillside was held together with huge cables and the tower had big windows so people could look in and see the workings of the clock. We couldn't help but notice the weights of the clock were actually casings for the biggest bullets I have ever seen. Best guess was 120 mm artillery shells. The longer we stayed in Poros the stronger the current along the quay
seemed to get it wasn't long before there was a group of us tied to the quay fending off boats and untangling anchors. In a one hour time frame one of the boats in our group had two boats cross anchors with him. His calm handling of the situations definitely helped keep a trying afternoon from becoming a expensive one. The next few days the anchor follies continued we saw a boat actually slide down an anchor chain while leaving. The sound of prop on chain was horrible. We even managed to catch a boat but we threw it back. The learning curve for how to remove another boats chain from an anchor was steep and the people we were working with to get boats tied with minimal damage did an amazing job. I bet you could make a fleet of boats from the amount of gelcoat sitting on the bottom in that harbour. When the weather window we were waiting for opened we made a run for Hydra. It felt good to get away from Poros and the docking nightmare in the canal.
Hydra was unique in that the residents have decided that the only vehicles
on the island would be emergency vehicles and garbage trucks everything else was to be moved by donkey or mule trains. We had been warned that the town of Hydra's quay was a difficult place to park especially for a catamaran so we chose to stern tie in Mandraki bay and walk to town. It was a good choice the bay was quiet with few boats. There were workers renovating a resort that had closed due to the economic down turn. The walk was about 20 minutes mostly up hill the view was amazing.
Hydra's port was a busy little place ferries and day tripper boats dumped off their passengers and way too many boats jostled to find a place to tie in a very small space
hehe There were donkey trains tied to rings at the edge of the quay side. They all wore a sort of saddle and at first glance it looked like they were waiting to take a tourist for a ride.
We stood and watched for a moment and realized this wasn't the case. The donkeys were waiting for their turn to load up with what ever product needed to be delivered from the barge tied to the quay food, fridges, air conditioners, mysterious
brown boxes and the odd train of luggage. Our tumys grumbled for lunch at about the same time as the town clock rang 1 pm so we picked a restaurant and sat down. while ordering lunch a donkey loaded with luguage walked past us through the restaurant then we noticed that the land in the distance was disappearing behind a black wall of cloud. hmm that cant be good. Then off in the distance we could hear thunder and the restaurant people started to roll up their awnings. aahh ya that's really not good. These were big fabric awnings the one we sat under for lunch had to be 40 ft long and 30 ft wide they had metal rings down the length that were strung on big cables and it took several restaurant staff to secure them. We figured the black cloud must have been bringing some ugly wind with the way everyone was reacting. the relaxing afternoon was taking on a sinister feel
and the boats trying to scratch out a placing in the harbour started to become a little less understanding. We took that as a cue to leave we had lunch boxed up and crossed to the front of the restaurant and hopped into a taxi boat. The driver spared no ponies in the less then 10 minute trip. We paid the 20 euros and started running towards the dingy the rain drops where huge in seconds we were soaked but there was no wind? Once on board we ate our still hot lunch had a quick swim and headed off. By the time we passed in front of Hydra on our way to Kheli our port for the night all the awnings were back in place as if nothing had happened.
01 June 2018
We left Kiaton a little after 7 am which was about perfect for a 9 am transit time. The hand held radio was switched to the canal control frequency and as we neared the opening we could hear boats checking in. By now we had been tied to a quay with every one of them. Our convoy ended up being 8 boats in total with Ice bear bringing up the rear. A choice spot we could see everyone in front of us and the view back was of an empty canal. We started our passage by driving over a bridge deck that submerged to about 24 ft every time boats transited. Shortly after the bridge we could see the gentleman we had met the night before taking pictures. Once again a big thank you . The walls were a mixture of stacked brick and the natural stone as it was cut. We could see where this springs collapse had occurred and places that had been reinforced. The pedestrian bridges over head had lots of people
looking down at us and waving. At the south eastern end of the canal there was a concrete jetty that all the boats needed to tie to so we could pay for the transit. In case you were wondering the Corinth canal is 24 m wide 8 m deep and 6.4 km long the wall are 90 m high and were cut at a 80 deg angle. For our transit there was a 1.5 -2 kn current pushing us in the direction we wanted to travel. Several times during the transit I'm certain I heard wow this is narrow however it was near perfect conditions which made for a wonderful experience and a big check mark on the must do list. As the boats in or convoy finished paying they cast off and headed out into the Saronic gulf. We chose to head for Korfos
this time of year it was going to be quiet but during the summer it would be full of Athinians looking for a weekend get away a theme we would see repeated in the whole area. The town looked like it was just waking up there were very few boats and some restaurants were getting a new coat of paint. We thought about anchoring out but couldn't help notice the man on a restaurant quay beckoning us to come hither. Who were we to resist free moorage. As we were completing the stern tie procedure we realized we knew some of the people sitting at the table we had just tied in front of. It was some of the crew from the Catamaran we had met in Preveza seems they had hold up here to pick up the new crew that the owner had found on a crewing web site. They had already picked up two Canadians and were waiting for two Americans which means they were going to be a crew of 7. Wow I mean with the addition of baby Gizmo we might be able to take two more people max.
The second day at the quay someone dove down to check out the rattle on the starboard sail drive and found the zinc had become loose. After about an hour in the water the prop had been removed and all pieces were on the deck. There were some minor adjustments to the zinc and another 3/4 hour in the water and all was good. Not bad for only having a mask and snorkel.
To the Aegean
19 May 2018
Finally the time had come to start the trip to the Aegean we lifted the anchor and scrapped off the goo. About 3/4 of the way out of the bay we noticed that there was no water coming out of the starboard engine. Crap. We turned around and found a new spot in the bay to anchor. Despite cleaning hoses and filters this problem would plague us until Galaxidi when we switched out the new impeller for a different new impeller.
The next day we headed to Kastos and med moored to a wall next to a large power boat. The two people aboard were very friendly and they gave us some helpful tips about the next few ports. We went for a few walks to enjoy the town. There were some of the widest olive trees I have ever seen as well as a large variety of wild flowers in bloom not to mention peoples gardens roses, bougainvillea and geraniums mixed with citrus trees both in bloom and with fruit. The next town was Mesolongion it was our first stop after leaving the ionian sea. We motored down a canal flanked by houses built on marshy land each with its own ancient looking dock. Men in small boats were in the shallow water fishing when they needed to move they pulled up their stakes and poled themselves to the new spot stuck the stakes back into the mud and continued fishing we even passed some cormorants sunning themselves on a fishing weir. From here we traveled under the Rio Bridge. We have drove over this large bridge several times when traveling between Athens and Preveza and going under it made it seem even bigger. Usually when you go under a bridge there is a nagging feeling in the back of your brain that your mast is going to hit. Not with this one. We could hear the boats checking in with the authorities to receive permission to transit under the bridge and we were starting to recognize the names from previous ports. People we had helped tie to a quay and people that had helped us it was kind kewl. Our next stop was Trizonia. someone had started to make a Marina and couldn't quite make a go of it. The concrete break walls were still there as well as some of the floats and as long as you didn't hit one of the sunken boats it was a free place to tie . The local taverna owners helped secure the boats and took the opportunity to hand out menus. One of the guys who helped tie us said we needed to stay five days one day for each of the four tavernas and the
fifth to return to our favourite. The local mini mart took orders during the day for the next mornings bread delivery and for one euro a small passenger boat would ferry you to the mainland if you needed to do a bigger shop. I suspect this island would be an amazing place for a summer get away. We picked our weather window and zipped down to Galaxidi with less then an hour left in the run we were visited by two dolphins. There is nothing quite like dolphins playing at the bows of your boat and the feeling you get when they roll over and stare right at you is amazing. Galaxidi is bigger then it looks from the water. It is near Delphi so many people go there to do a day trip to the site. hehehe our last meal there was like a dinner with a show. The taverna was busy so we were treated to the owner hamming it up while taking orders then two cats got into a fight I see what they mean by when the fur flies wow it was everywhere. Once that was dealt with three geese came and muscled in on the local cats gig. Cats you can ignore ( except for the ones that dangle by their front paws from your table ) three big geese not so much. Eventually one of the restaurant staff lured them away with the offer of bread. While in Galaxidi not only did we fix the engine but we also took the time to modify the mattress for the port cabin something we had been putting off since We bought the new mattresses at an Ikea in Italy last fall. The starboard side fit like a glove. we knew the port side berth was a little smaller but when we unrolled the mattress it resembled a ski jump at least 6 inches in width had to go. With some trepidation we unzipped the mattress cover drew a line down the length of the foam and started cutting. Not only did it cut nice but it cut clean in a matter of minutes we had a mattress that fit the birth like it belonged. If only we had know about these Ikea
mattresses earlier. We departed Galaxidi for Kiaton it would be our last port before heading through the Corinth canal. The port of Kiaton was mostly full of little fishing boats but we and two others found a spot to tie. There was a lovely quay a stones throw west of the port but we were told a container ship was coming in an it wasn't going to be a good place to be. Sure enough moments after we tied we could see a tug boat zoom out to a ship and guide her in . While relaxing in the cockpit a gentleman walked buy and struck up a conversation seems he had been to the west coast several times. He declined a beer but said he would be walking along the Corinth canal about the same time as we had planned to transit and if we gave him our email he could send us pictures. They are wonderful Thank you very much. Kiaton is also where we picked up our newest crew member Gizmo the second a very cute little basil all he needs is a bigger pot.
10 May 2018
The boat jobs continued in Vliho bay installing the solar panels, new bilge monitoring system, propane detection and shut off plus we removed the wind generators ( I hope we don't regret this ) Nydri Marine was kind enough to let us drop off items that could be resold the old panels and wind generators plus one of the many anchors. Mid April seems to be a little early to be in the Ionian The restaurants, stores and even the Day tripper boats were still being prepared for the hordes of tourist to come. One evening as we were walking back to the dingy we passed a day tripper boat and her crew being blessed by a Priest. When we did find a Restaurant that was open chances were that it was a soft opening and the menu was incomplete. For the next few weeks asking the waiter what was available was the way to go. hehe at one restaurant the owner apologized that there was no dessert available yet and if we wanted he could give us a bunch of lemons. Actually it was more like please take my lemons I'm drowning in them. It felt weird leaving a restaurant with a bag of lemons but now there is enough frozen lemon juice for several pies on board. Then the day came to putter back to Preveza to pick up the trampolines. We stern tied to the town quay wow do they have some wicked currents along the wall and met a crew that had just purchased
a catamaran. We offered some hopefully helpful suggestions to get their genny up and running I mean it was running before we all went to out to dinner. Not that an excuse is needed to celebrate but hey.
The next morning we woke to a Greek holiday they said it was like labour day and there were these weird little gatherings and speeches. From what I understand it was more a day of strikes then an actual day off type holiday. We wandered across the street for breakfast just in time to see our neighbour cast off and veer towards our bow. Despite our best efforts and that of the crew aboard the departing boat they cleaved off our starboard bow light and mashed their life raft cover. To the Captains credit he came back to the dock to discuss the situation in a calm manner. After a few deep breaths and breakfast we cast off from Preveza and headed back to Cleopatra marina to pick up the trampolines and a new starboard light. It was decided we needed some relax time so we headed back down the lefkas canal popped the kite and sailed most of the way to Meganisi stern tied to the island and went for a swim. When we still had the rental car we had gone to a Jumbo store sorta like a Walmart before they added food and recruited 4 new pool noodles to our crew and this was a perfect time to confirm they could float. The water wasn't bath tub
warm yet but if you could keep out of the cooler water currents it was quite enjoyable. Dinner was to be found in the next bay over that's were I made the mistake of making eye contact with the restaurant cat. Normally they back up a few steps but here it seems it was a invitation to sit on my lap. The dingy ride back to Ice Bear was a little on the cooler side just to remind us it still wasn't summer and the weather forecast for the next evening suggested we would need to move. The next morning after lacing the new trampolines into their spot (yes i can fit into the anchor locker ) and a quick swim we untied from the island and headed back to Vliho bay. The predicted winds filled in and there was some rain and thunder but we were snung in the harbour. Two of the dingy up restaurants had opened
so we didn't need to go far to find dinner as someone keeps saying life is good. The cooler weather was nice to work in. We started with the port bow locker and removed most of its contents onto a trampoline one of us climbed down into its depths and finished the new wiring for the pump and sensor. If 1/4 of the things we removed from the locker were put back in when the upgrade was done I would be surprised. Then the same was done for the starboard side including the repair to the nav light which required removing half the pulpit. The last repair while in Vliho bay was to the starboard engine. Last year we noticed steam coming from the engine exhaust now it was time to deal with it. The culprit was believed to be the inter cooler so off it came. hehehe like it was that easy. Never the less it was removed I was surprised how small it was just a tube with a bunch of tubes inside. It took a few hours and all the vinegar on board to clean the scale out of those tubes a quick shot of paint on the outside and the new seals we had brought from home voila repair done. We took one last trip to the town of Nidri to by provisions and a last bunch of bits
from Nydri Marine and we were ready to start our trip to the Aegean woohoo.
A big thank you to Nydri Marine It is run by an amazing family. They had the parts and knowledge we required to complete this years batch of big boat jobs. Plus they let us mail stuff to their store
06 May 2018
We arrived in Greece late on the 11th of April found our rental car and a hotel room and called it a long day. The next morning we checked out of the hotel and took a walk down the street the smell of the orange trees in bloom was amazing. We popped our heads into a bakery and noted some lovely pastries I'm not sure what we said but the lady behind the counter immediately recognized us as Canadian we asked for some directions and promised to come back. Once we found a bank machine and a sim card for a phone we returned to the bakery where the lady behind the counter smiled and held up a older can of maple syrup and asked what is this? Maybe I shouldn't have lead with Canadians stab trees and drink their blood. hehehe she made a funny face and asked if we really drank what was in the can. After some explaining about its uses we bought our breakfast treats and headed to the local Leroy Merlins a Greek home depot and bought a small generator, plywood, silicon some more tools and other odds and sodds. 4 hours later we were standing under Ice Bear. Except for the thick layer of red dirt on her deck she looked great we rinsed the worst of the red off and settled in for the night. The next few days were spent cleaning, servicing engines, painting the bottom, repairing two toilets that broke ( your off the hook for these two Mum ) over the winter, sending the propane bottle to get filled and getting the life raft serviced. For meals we went where all the People working in the yard go Pano's Taverna. They are just a short walk from the yard and serve good food for a good price plus free wifi whats not to like. Almost every night we stopped to watch the fireflies perform their after dinner show. A few days after we arrived a really hot wind from the south blew through and Ice Bear was covered in thick red dirt again so much for the first rounds of cleaning. The red dirt hung in the air for the remaining days in the yard. on the 8th day the travel lift came to get us. I suspect the butterflies we felt were from a combination of having the boat lifted from her supports and transported through the yard and the excitement of finally getting on the water. we spent a few days in the marina to do laundry and put on the sails. With that all done we were of to anchor in Vliho bay to do more boat jobs and wait for the arrival of the trampolines.
Home and back again
25 April 2018
Its been a busy 4 months. We left Ice Bear and headed to Athens. The hotel we went to was a backpacker type it was basic but it was a 5 minute walk from the Acropolis.
Except for one day of rain the weather was good about 20 c and there were very few other tourists which means we have pictures of the Acropolis and several other ancient
sites with no people in them. Athens was preparing for Christmas. Workers were building the Christmas tree in front of the parliament buildings the bakeries were full of
all sorts of fancy treats and vendors selling roasted chestnuts were easy to find. Nine days later we were on a plane. We landed in Vancouver and spent a few days with
friends our timing was perfect any later and they would have been on their own adventure down the Baja. We spent the time home visiting with friends and family and preparing for
the next trip. We applied for a visa to extend our travel time in Greece which required a criminal back ground check, medical tests for lots of different diseases including tuberculosis, confirming out financial stability and proof of medical insurance. One of us received a 3d printer from Santa and spent three months printing all the little pieces
that you break on a boat but can never find or are so expensive you never replace. Plus one gnome and a door that was hidden on a mantle in Vancouver and a army of orcs that ended up in Victoria. We ended up in Edmonton for the first of Jan for a wedding the -30c temp couldn't freeze the spirits of any in attendance. Emmet had many first on this trip home first snow, -30 temp, playing with a backhoe, pouring cement for a patio, getting his Mojo on and spending the night at Bowen island. He even met some fans but declined to sign autographs. Just as spring sprung it was time to return to Greece. This year we will be traveling to the east side of Greece. Aegean here we come