17 August 2012 | Vivari
Since the last update we've spent most of our time lazing around in the Saronic Gulf, sailing from Epidavros to Angistri and Metopi to Poros and then back to Epidavros. Our work this year has kept us in the Epidavros area as there are more one week flotillas so not so many cleans round in Nafplion. The weather has been incredibly hot with little breeze in the Saronic Gulf so not very comfortable. We've been spending a lot of time in the water which is very warm but the jellyfish are now around and, despite friends saying that they don't sting (apparently you can put them on your head - why would you want to do that!), we don't like sharing our pool with them.
Work has been hard this year due to the heat and lack of breeze. There are currently four of us cleaning 11 boats but after Monday it will be back down to three as Chris is heading back round to the Ionian. Thankfully it is getting a bit cooler so no need to wring out my ponytail quite so often!
We had a lovely peaceful night on Nisos Kira on 31st June, the next day we were invaded by Italians who didn't know how to anchor and Greeks who played their music at full volume! We stayed though as we knew that they'd all leave around 5pm. We'd just finished dinner at 8ish and noticed some black clouds over the mainland so we decided to get the dinghy on the davits just in case we needed to move sharpish. Within a few minutes of doing that we were hit by 25 knots of wind blowing straight into the bay. We both ran around the deck dropping the wind scoops, shutting hatches and getting the boom tent down, by this time the wind was up to 35 knots and the sea was getting a bit bumpy. We were anchored in 20 metres (we could see the anchor on the bottom when it was still) so it took a while to get the anchor up and by then we were in 45 knots! We motored back to Epidavros getting thoroughly covered in salt. The storm blew up so quickly that, although the anchorage in Kira was beautiful, we'll think twice about spending a night there again.
Our wheel has been chattering for a while, the aluminium welds were starting to break down. So Andy decided to remove it and take it for rewelding. He borrowed some pullers from Chris and managed to remove the wheel but leave half the boss behind on the shaft! It took him a couple of hours of drilling to remove the boss and since then we've been steering with the auto-pilot and an adjustable spanner or socket and ratchet! We went straight to Poros to see a chandler that we know, Spyros, to see if he could get us a replacement. Stupid me thought that would be easy, surely you can buy a blank wheel and have the boss machined locally so that it will fit - nothing is that simple! Spyros spent several days contacting all the companies he knew to find a replacement with no luck. We contacted Chris Dawson (the man who had the boat built) and discovered that the wheel had been broken when it was originally purchased and was repaired and machined to fit the shaft. Luckily for us Andrew (Steph's brother) is a dab hand with a welder and he has made us a new stainless steel wheel. It is currently with a courier in Athens, hopefully we'll get it soon, the modified steering isn't easy!
We've seen a few sights over the last month or so: a pushbike upside down on a dinghy to go to shore - it looks like it's a permanent installation; an amazing amount of plastic floating in the sea, maybe another mountain top rubbish tip has collapsed and a moped instructor riding pillion on the learner's bike with no helmet (the learner had a helmet on) - do what I say not what I do!
We've anchored in some new places: near the water skiing area in Poros and an anchorage on Nisos Hydra (see Google Earth map). We were the only boat on Hydra and the water was lovely and clear again. I was swimming around the boat in the morning when about a foot in front of me something small exploded out of the water, then something hit me on the head and then punched me in the belly - you can imagine my rising panic! I carried on swimming (a bit faster) and noticed lots of small fish jumping, I'd been swimming through their playground, panic over!
On our way round to Nafplion we stopped in Kilada (where we were lifted earlier in the year) and met up with Peter, Jenny and Charles for a few drinks on their boat. They've said that considering the heat we should be cleaning the flotilla naked and then we could call it 'Starkers Charters'! We also met up with Sue and Alain in Kilada and went to the annual fish festival with them. For €10 we had a meal of octopus (I still don't like it), taramasalata, king prawns and salad followed by gavros (battered small fish a bit like sprats) and a whole dorada each with potatoes and bread. There was Greek music and dancing and fireworks that went on until late, we left at 2 and it was still going strong. We were forwarned by Alain and Sue to take our own wine as the bar was expensive so we were well prepared and had a great night.
We spent a couple of nights in Nafplion and are now anchored in a bay at Vivari. Most people go to the head of the bay near the village but we've stopped in a bay at the entrance and have had the place to ourselves for the last few days. It's a bit windy each afternoon but that cools us down and we've only seen one jellyfish so swimming is okay. We found two plastic inflatable rubber rings when we were cleaning on Monday so we've been lazing around in those to cool off. We just have to keep the cats off so that they don't puncture them.
I've been employed by Margarita (a Polish woman who works in one of the bars we eat at in Epidavros) to teach her English. We've had one lesson so far but there's time for a few more. Andy has been busy with sail repairs, he always does any work on deck, not just because it's easier - it's also an advert and we've had quite a few enquiries.
Along with our wheel we also have some sail fabric, perspex and a coupling for the engine/gearbox coming. We need to replace our windows as they are starting to crack and the sacrificial strip on the staysail needs to be renewed as it was torn when we left Crete this year. So we're going to be busy once all that arrives. We only have 8 more cleaning days left then we're planning to cruise slowly through the Cyclades on our way back to Crete for the winter. We tried to do that last year but were thwarted by the weather, better luck this time we hope.