Flossie joins the crew
10 August 2018 | Taormina
Jackie, hot hot hot
It has been an interesting summer so far, being in one place is not something we are used too and does become frustrating at times, but the monotonous life has been brightened by visitors from home. A major first for us as Tess is usually the only person to visit. Having spent 10 days with Tess, oh and cracked a bone in my ankle by twisting it, I had just under a week to prepare for the visit of our Godson , Nathaniel Hoskin. At 16 we were a little concerned he would be bored but we need not have worried. His arrival was in blazing hot sunshine and he quickly settled into the continuous moving life on a boat.
He is a keen swimmer, so swimming and diving from the bow was great, however he decided he wanted a blow up toy. We went to the ever faithful Chinese shop where he purchased a bright pink blow up flamingo, quickly named Flossie. She became an integral part of the live on board family.
Nathaniel was prone to sitting in Flossie, sunglasses on, peaked cap to stop sun glare and the odd beer in hand. Unfortunately after a particularly big wind gusts Flossie sprang a leak, gaffs tape was applied and although she still deflated she stays up long enough for a bit of a float.
Further fun on the water included trying to stand paddle board style on an inflated dinghy floor, swinging from the spinnaker halyard with a jump into the sea and following a sea rescue of a brand new deflated lightening McQueen car, hysterically funny efforts to fit in something made for a 3 year old.
Other outings included hiring a car and exploring the off the beaten tracks up Etna, when I say off the beaten track I mean almost vertical roads and roads that disappeared off the edge of the mountain. Pretty hair-raising at times but great fun and full of giggles.
Whilst with us Nathaniel also learned to drive a dinghy, large inflatable used to mooring up boats and take guests ashore from the mooring field. He took to this like a pro, manoeuvring up to bouys and even helping with the garbage collection round.
We were lucky to be able to watch the lunar eclipse over clear waters and starry sky getting some good photos as well which was great.
His time with us went all too quickly and he returned back to the UK 12 days later.
Our next guests arrived one week later, our neice Bea(17) and nephew Louis (15).
Again great fun in the water kept the energy zapping heat at bay, playing in issue, trips and lessons in the dinghy and trips to Catania and Taormina, allowed both to mooch the market at Catania, look at the architecture and visit the Greek amphitheatre of Taormina. Amazingly the week found both to be so tired at the end of the day trips ashore for night fun or clubbing just weren't required.
Now I am in the short changeover period of 4 days when our son Nathaniel comes out to help out on the mooring field for a couple of weeks prior to starting his new job in a primary school.
His trip to the states after school and before uni. His work at American summer camp had earned him his safety boat proficiency licence which will stand him in good stead for the weeks to come.
So that is all for now, it is hard to write a blog when you are in one place but that catches you up with out news.
Syracuse with friends
26 June 2018 | Syracuse
After our wet and dozy trip to Noto Tess & Jackie decided to try again. This time we arranged to meet Tess husband and friend in Syracuse.
We boarded the train at 0820 with the aim of just over an hour's trip. Not according to Sicily railway. It took the grand total of 3 hours, with several stops in the middle of nowhere waiting another train who was also delayed.
On arrival we were desperate for a drink so found a small cafe and had coffee, with cake of course!
After a slow wander down to Ortiga ( the small island at the far end of Syracuse,) we meandered through the lively colourful market, being tempted by almonds, cheeses, fruits and vegetables in a variety vibrant of colours.
We met up with Pete ( another one, this time Tess husband) and his friend Jim and walked towards the main square, finding a tiny restaurant on the way. Following a feast of typical Sicilian food we headed to the main square. The architecture is amazing and you could feel the sense of age and grandure oozing from the old churches and buildings.
We stopped to admire the fountain of Diana - The Greek Goddess and huntress ( photos below).
Ice cream then a bit of window shopping, then it was time to say goodbye to Pete and Jim.
Tess and Jackie made their way back to the station to find a train waiting. And that is where we are, on the train, already 20 mins late but on our way back to Argonauta who has been banished from the mooring field to Riposto marina due to bad sea conditions.
We hope to still do an Etna trip before Tess leaves so watch this space.
Hi we are back
23 June 2018 | Riposto Sicily
Well we are back on board Argonauta after yet another rubbish winter with Jackie having to undergo back surgery.
Argonauta herself is looking and feeling very delapitated, lots of deck work required, tarting up after a big clean up but now the throttle has stuck and nothing will shift it. So joy, need to get a mechanic seeing as wd 40 and a hammer did not work.!
Enough bad news, we are in the Taoromina mooring field at George Rizzo Yacht Hotel, really nice place to be and Pete is working the field to see if Jackie can manage with her back. So far things are going OK, not great but getting there.
We have the first of our visitors,Tess, she arrived and J met her at the airport then bus back. We are having great fun, many laughs and disasters that after the fact we can laugh about.
For example we went to Noto, not very near us but George had business elsewhere so offered us a lift. We arrived I. The pouring rain, within a few minutes we were soaked to the skin. We trudged through the streets, water gushing down in huge rivulets. We spent about 30 minutes looking for a nice restaurant to eat a lazy lunch, we didn't understand why everything including restaurants were closed. It seems the thunder storm and rain had flooded the area causing a power cut. We found one little Panini shop, chose two aranchini with salmon and cheese filling along with a salmon and orange salad. Very nice. We decided to have a small glass of wine, literally about 30 mls each and a large glass of water. We had a leisurely lunch , paid and left. Within minutes we both felt excessively tired and odd. We sat on a bench but decided a lie down was needed. We staggered like drunkards down the road, found a wall with an integral seat. We wrapped our handbags in our damp coats ( thankfully) the sun had come out and lay on the stone seat head to head in the hope that if anyone tried to grab bags it would be difficult. Within a couple of minutes we were both asleep, out cold!
We awoke an hour and a half later with muggy heads. We are still not sure what had happened but are almost certain we were slipped a drug of some sort with the hope of being easy targets for mugging. We must have looked like a couple of tramps curled up on a wall asleep.
We got up, walked through the main Street in bright sunshine and shops we're opening again, roads filling with people. However , George had returned to give us a lift home do Noto for us was a washout! We don't think we will bother going back, even though having been before during the flower festival J knows how lovely it is.
Since we have spent lazy days on the mooring, been to meet Donatella in Riposto and braved the cold sea avoiding jelly fish.
We hope to get the throttle mended today before the wind turns and the waves come in, if not..... I guess Tess & J will find a nice b&b somewhere for a couple of days, c'est la vie.
23 October 2016 | Santorini Greece
Having set off early we had a reasonable run onwards Santorini, part sail part motor. As we reached the shores of the caldera we were able to sail on the jib right into the caldera itself. A visit to Santorini on land about 14 years ago had sparked a dream for Pete to someday sail the waters and see the sights from the sea. So dream come true. However we found the wind flukey and wanted to concentrate on taking photos so furled the sail and gently motored around the foot of the cliffs. These alone are something to behold, made from volcanic ash and rock they are a deep brown black in colour, striations of red run through them and there is clear evidence of the major volcanic eruption in 1646 BC when the whole of the islands habitations, plants and wildlife were wiped out. There is a huge striation about the height of a 3 story house. The most recent eruption was in 2012 although little damage was reported.
We did the tourist bit by skirting the major towns of Oia and Fira and snapping away on our cameras. There were some areas of the caldera where you could tie up to huge mooring bouys but these looked rather dilapidated and the risk of catching others lines a very big possibility, that and the vast amount of trip boats zooming around we decided to carry on to Vilychadas marina at the South eastern side of the island.
A very slow motor into the harbour was needed, there are rocks and shallow water and the approach is on a very specific course. The guide book says to keep to the port wall on entering as there are shallows to the starboard side. I inched in with a day hire catamaran on my stern, he was shouting something at me and I was a little flustered. In the mean time the harbour master shouted to Pete telling us to moor alongside the wall, I steered over all the time looking at the depth sounder reading only 1 metre under the keel. It was a textbook mooring, shame no one was there to see it. We quickly tied our lines and hooked up to electricity, after all a cold drink with ice was called for and so the ice asker was put to work where it worked hard for the 3 days we were there.
As we sat taking in the sun and cold drinks we received an email stating the car I had booked was no longer available!! Typical. So we wandered ashore, found a sign by a taverna and got them to call the rental company where we booked a car but for only a day rather than the two we originally booked. 2 reasons for this, firstly as usual cost and secondly there would be a weather window to go to Crete Sunday but then strong winds for several days. The choice was stay in Santorini marina, probably costly or take the risk and move, we decided we would check again but 'do the sights' in one day. Our first evening on Santorini we sat by the beach looking out over the twinkling water. Charter yachts all motored or sailed around waiting for the sun to set, another great photo opportunity. As the sun set so we saw our first ever 'green flash', very feint, very quick but still we saw it.
The following morning we collected the car at 9am and I drove with Pete navigating using his phone maps. Firstly we drove to Oia. This is well known for its tiny cobbled streets and amazing caldera views of the sunset. We wandered the streets and took many pictures, some traditional and some even a little arty. The weather is still hot in the sun and by lunchtime we were already tired and thirsty so stopped at a small bakery on the outskirts of the main town. We shared a large baguette sandwich and each had a bottle of drink for the cost of €4.90 . In the main town an expresso was €3.50 so we were glad to have waited.
From here we went into the mountains, the road was fairly good but in a little Nissan Micra the hills were challenging. I was often in first gear afraid that I would need to stop and then not get going again. One road wound up and up and up. When we reached the top the views were stunning. It was very windy and Pete got out to take pictures only to find a sign saying no photos as it was a military base. He did sneak a couple of shots away from the base but it was a little frustrating.
On out way to Oia we had noticed a Lidil. To those on boats you will appreciate the excitement of this, to those at home believe me it is a highlight when you find one as basic foodstuffs are both cheaper and things like baked beans are often available. So we made our way back and stocked up, then returned to Argonauta to store our goodies both refrigerated and tinned.
After a quick drink we again left and headed towards Fira, the capital. We were able to find a free parking space and I put a pin in the electronic map in my phone to make sure we could find it again.
We walked up the steep hill to the main square and then on through the tiny cobbled streets, filled with shops aimed at the cruise liner clientele, way out of my price. The views in Fira are stunning. Whitewashed housed, deep blue domed churches and hotels where every balcony had either a small pool or a jacuzzi looking out onto the magnificent caldera.
We looked down on the harbour a long way below, this is accessed by a cable car,
587 steps or donkey/mule. We decided we did not need to go to the port as having seen it from the sea the day before we knew that it was an access point from the water only.
Whilst climbing some of the remaining 587 steps to the very tip of Fira we were overtaken by the donkey/mule train, with the drover calling us to move to the side. We were squashed against the wall whilst they passed, hooves very close to our feet and definitely affected by the mule smell.
We reached the summit about an hour before sunset, a handy concrete seat opposite to the cliff wall meant we could sit and enjoy the view whilst waiting. We shared a drink and some nibbles purchased from the supermarket and got talking to an English couple on holiday.
As the sun dropped so the clouds came and by sunset there was no sign of the sun at all. I did however get some amazing pictures of the sun as it glowed towards the horison.
As it grew dark we wandered the streets again and back into the main square where we went to a small family run taverna and shared a 'plate' that had chicken, pork and chips.
We returned to Argonauta tired but happy that we had packed into our day so much.
Sunday saw the wind calmer, we rechecked the forecast and agreed we would do the run to Crete. We decided it was a better option leaving about 5 pm and sailing through the night as if we were there too early we could reduce sail and slow down, if we aimed for a day crossing and got there too late it would be more of a problem.
Pete went to settle our marina fee. We were told when we arrived it was €28, this we assumed was per night. However there is a flat fee of €20 and then €3 a night so our total bill was €26!!!! If we had known we may have stayed longer but the decision was made so we set off out of the channel about 1630 and then once past all obstructions set course for Crete.
There was actually very little wind, again all or nothing. We sailed until 0100 then had to motor sail until sunrise when the wind again returned. When I came up for my watch at 0300 I could just make out lights of land. By 0900 we had reached the turn point for Spinalonga and by 10am we had dropped the anchor in a secluded bay to the east side.
Sailing in company
19 October 2016 | Mykanos and Ios
We had planned to meet up with Gaille and Ian, friends from Princess Orsini and had been keeping a look out as we reached the island of Syros. However we did not see them and so once tied to the dock in Ermopolous we discussed further places we could meet up. Shortly before sunset on our second night a familiar yacht came into view in the harbour, Princess Orsini!!! I went to meet them dockside and helped them tie up, it was so nice meeting up with such good friends. They had guests on board and we decided we would all go out for a catch up meal, also celebrating belatedly Pete’s birthday.
The following day we moved on to Nisos Rina and anchored in the bay of Ormos Miso. A good anchorage where as agreed we met up with all on board Princess Orsini. A lovely BBQ on board Gaille and Ian’s boat led to a relaxed evening with new friends Marion and Al.
We moved on to Mikonos, a bit of a lumpy sail with sometimes scary seas as the wind was picking up, however we did sail at up to 7 knots on jib alone! Again we anchored, this time in Ornos bay. The weather was due to bring another bout of wind and we were comfortable and protected in the bay, safe on our well dug in anchor. The next few days saw us basically stuck in the bay. We took a bus into Mikanos and wandered the narrow whitewashed stone streets, taking many pictures. Looking out to sea there were flecks of white everywhere and we were grateful of our protected bay.
Ornos itself is on the not quite so funky young hip side of Mikanos, the bars and tavernas were still well attended but were a little more luxurious. The sun beds on the beach were more like large deep mattressed beds, they were really inviting with big comfy pillows that just begged to be laid in. However when I asked how much to have one for a day I as told €22 but that included 2 x 250 ml bottles of water, a snip!!!!As I am sure you will have guessed we went to the other end of the beach with our towels and sat on the sand.
Other days we wandered to the windy side of the small spit and watched the kite surfers scooting along and flying high into the air, amazing and such skill to land without belly flopping into the water. We made friends with a local bar owner who kindly took Pete in his car to pick up petrol for the outboard as the petrol station was quite some walk away.
Evenings were often spent with Gaille, Ian, Marion, Al and the new guests Peter, Lennie and Andre, enjoying a BBQ on the beach or a glass of wine and a shared meal. So lovely to have company and time to talk of our adventures with others.
Our final night in Mikanos was a noisy one. There was a wedding party at one of the beach tavernas and the Greek music and dancing went on well into the night stopping about 5 am! Whilst at first the music was different in a good way, serenading us with our dinner, by the early hours the continual wailing of the singer was more than annoying and even earplugs didn't work.
As planned the day before, bleary eyed we set sail in the company of a now depleted crew of Princess Orsini, just Gaille and Ian as all the others had left for home. We took a gentle motor sail to Naousa on Paros and anchored in the bay. It was the most quiet calm night we have had in a while and we slept soundly.
A day swimming, sunbathing, snorkelling and eating followed and another night at anchor saw us refreshed. Once again there was strong wind forecast so we motored the short distance across the bay and into the port of Naousa. We stern too moored alongside Princess Orsini and settled down for a lazy afternoon. As the sun dropped in the sky so the boats began to come in, the port is managed by the local council and the harbour master (well should be mistress as was female) would blow her whistle and shout at the captains ushering them into spaces along the quay. The quay is in places shallow and there were several times she shouted for the ‘capataain’ to stop, move or go out. It certainly made great entertainment.
We spent 3 days here and decided we would pool resources and hire a car. We spent a great day touring the island both inland and ports. We visited a beautiful church said to have one hundred doors in Parokia and wandered through tiny pathways to sit at a taverna Levaki whose homemade meze was delicious. We used the opportunity to stock up with food from the supermarket and picked up 25 litres of fuel in a Jerry can whilst we had the car.
The next day we again set off in company with Princess Orsini, the decision was to go to Andiparos to escape more wind that was expected. We set off first and were soon joined by Gaille and Ian, we were due to go through the straits between Paros and Andiparos but I had a bit of a wobble with the thought of a mere 2 metres of water that was charted in the gap, we draw 1.6 metres and I was scared we may touch so we decided to go the long way, round the top of Andiparos and through the gap between Andiparos and Despotiko. Again there was reduced water depth but no where near as low as the other channel. The wind was mostly directly ahead of us and it was only after the final turn around the island we were able to get out the jib and sail for a few miles. We arrived in the bay of Port Georgio expecting to see Princess Orsini already at anchor but they were no where to be seen, we dropped anchor and dug in as usual and then prepared to swim and check the anchor, as we did so, the sails of Princess Orsini came into view. They dropped anchor near by and we later shared a meal with them. As we sat on board Argonauta the wind picked up, they had rowed across and as they went to leave we decided they would struggle rowing back so we got out our working outboard and put it on their dinghy. I stood on the deck watching them make thier way back in a very dark night, a quick call on the VHF confirming their safety and we went down to bed.
At about 0100 the anchor alarm started sounding and waking suddenly from sleep we both lurched out of bed, the wind was howling and great gusts were making the boat rock. Slightly disorientated we thought the anchor was dragging, we pulled on clothes and went on deck, switching on the engine, instruments and some lighting on deck. We looked back towards where Princess Orsini was anchored to see their deck lights on and a flurry of activity on deck.
After a few short anxiety stricken moments we established we were not dragging our anchor and had just turned 180 degrees from our original position. We spent a while making sure we were safe then called Princess Orsini who told us they had dragged but were now safe. A somewhat disturbed night followed and when we joined Gaille and Ian for a stroll ashore the next day all were quite tired and a little quiet. Evening saw us share a meal again and an early night followed.
Next morning we set off in company towards Folygandros, we had hoped we could photograph each other sailing but as usual there was no wind so we motored all the way. We tied up stern too on the harbour wall and Princess Orsini dropped anchor in the bay to allow a quick departure the following day. We met to say our goodbyes over dinner, not the best, the restaurant was closing for winter and had chicken fillet or pork souvlaki, we all chose the pork but the portion was on the stingy side for the annount we paid. However we had a lovely evening and said goodbye to Gaille and Ian who were moving off to Crete the next morning, as a family issue means Gaille has to travel abroad as soon as possible.
We spent a further day exploring the area, catching a bus to Chora the main town on the Island. Chora is a quaint, beautifully kept whitewashed village, small stone paved streets and amazing views of the island and surrounding waters. Another excellent photo opportunity which we took full advantage of. We spent the afternoon swimming from the beach and lazing in the sun. The evening saw us eating on board to another beautiful sunset.
Having had our fill of a lovely but small Island we set off for Ios. The wind was not kind to us and the majority of the trip saw us motoring into the wind, we did however have a short sail, close hauled which was lovely, just the sound of the wind and water, bliss.
We reached IOS just as the high speed ferry arrived, typical. We increased our throttle to allow us good steerage through the troubled waters kicked up by the jets from the sea cat. Our depth sounder suddenly showed 1 metre and after an initial panic we realised it was due to the turbulent water and not really shallows after all.
We made our way into the harbour and picked up the lazy lines whilst tying our lines stern too. The harbour is pretty choppy and even more so when the high speed ferries come in, bouncing the boat up and down by a couple of metres, not ideal and definitely not great when you have a passerelle attached to the back, clanging onto the quay and then springing into the air. Not fully safe to manoeuvre on and off the boat either but we managed it.
A trip on the bus to another town named Chora got us walking up to the churches at the top of the town. I didn't count the steps but there were definitely many of them. The views were spectacular, so much so Pete waked back up just before sunset to take more pictures whilst I stayed in the harbour trying to get to grips with the manual use of my camera at night.
Another bouncy night with the lines snatching saw us looking to move on although by morning the swell had calmed somewhat but we had already decided to move. We had spent 2 nights in Ios town quay, had electricity for free (left over from someone else) and no mooring charge, not bad!!
As we left the harbour we bounced into the oncoming swell, crept out around the entrance checking for ferries and were relieved when none appeared so we hastily moved across the entrance and on track towards Manganari bay. Typical, although forecast to be some wind and from our stern the rolling of the sea along with the light wind made it impossible to sail. Sometimes I think we should just have a motor boat as the white flappy things seem to get little use.
There is nothing at Manganari bay other than a beach which was deserted, so anchoring in a safe spot we swam, sunbathed and took it very easy, checking the pilot book we planned our next stop, Santorini. The evening was a little rolly and we watched the sun setting by the reflection of light on the rocks and then in the soft glow of the houses on Santorini just 12 miles away. Early dinner and bed as we plan to leave by 0700 to make Santorini in time to find a berth prior to another blow due on Saturday.
Hydra to Ermoupolis
12 October 2016
The town of Hydra was very busy as we approached a large cruise ship anchored off with its attendant lifeboats ferrying passengers back & forward. The main Quay was filled with Large motor super-yachts and their seemed little chance of getting a berth so we continued past and anchored in the bay of Mandraki Most boats were Tied with a line to shore. As we planned to leave early the next day I didn’t fancy swimming to untie the lines at 03:00am so we backed in Dropping the main anchor then continued backing till we were in 3 Mtrs depth and dropped a stern anchor pulling ourselves out again so we were moored between the two. Now when we were ready to leave we just let out the main anchor till we were over the stern anchor, recover it, then pulled in the main anchor, No swimming! The theory was fine till a German flagged boat came in at 22:00Hrs and dropped his anchor on top of ours. I yelled across to tell him he was on our anchor and were were leaving in the early hours 'No Problem' was the reply. I don’t think he really believed us but at 2am when we started hauling chain he finally realised we were telling the truth. He didn’t complain but I am sure he wasn’t happy at having to get out of bed in the early hours.
The Night was Pitch black, No stars, Moon or any other light once clear of the bay it was difficult to tell where the cliffs started and the sea finished. Relying on the GPS & Chart-plotter we set a course for Kithnos. Once clear of land Jackie want back to sleep & Pete Kept watch. Half way across there was a whole mass of red flashing lights Checking the Charts showed no Buoys, or other obstructions in the sea. Looking at the timing it seemed that half of them flashed in Sync and the other half were out of Sync. We worked out that they were probably wind generators but nothing was marked on the map and the depths seemed to preclude them in the water. Even so we approached carefully. As it got light we realised yes they were wind turbines, but on a small island the whole of the Island was covered in them. Probably installed after our charts had been published. Either way panic over. On rounding the north of Kithnos we headed for Ormos Livadhi Strong winds were forecast for the following few days so we wanted somewhere sheltered. Approaching the harbour we were hailed by the harbour-master who directed us alongside inside the Harbour arm. As we sat there relaxing, boats just came & came. Eventually we had three boats rafted alongside outside of us and the outer arm was also full of boats at final count we reckon about 50 boats came in there that day the poor Harbour master was rushed off his feet Jackie Kept him topped up with juice much to his delight & amusement. One great feature at Livadhi was the Hot water spring on the Beach. We were able to sit and relax in hot water watching the yachts go by into the harbour. Pete said this was his first hot bath for seven months! Livadhi was a great little place again the main tourist trade had lowed down but the tavernas had a late season boost from all the boats coming in to shelter from the winds. After 3 days the winds declined and we left for Siros with just Jib out we scooted down wind at 7.5knts down around the bottom of the island and up to Ermoupolis here we entered the large harbour and tied up against the town quay right in front of a taverna.
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