We flew from Gatwick to Athens on 11th August, only three and a half months later than the original plan. This flight had originally been booked to be our return to Greece after a summer break with Splice resting in Samos in the Dodecanese islands..... that clearly didn't happen and Splice was still sitting in the boatyard in Kilada where she had spent the winter.
We had allowed ourselves two weeks preparation in the plan for April but now, with a shorter timescale, we set out to launch in a week. Knowing it would be hot we had rented a small one room apartment in the village which was just as well as the temperatures were a consistant 43 degrees C from mid-morning onwards. After working through the first day and almost expiring we changed the approach to getting to the yard around 7.00 hrs, working until about 13.00 and then retreating to the aircon in the apartment until around 17.00 when we returned and put in a few more hours of work. Luckily the yard and the aircon were only a 5 minute bike ride apart!
After abrading the hulls to freshen up the coppercoat, painting the props, getting the mainsail back on, laying in the stores (we kept the hire car for two days to help with this), refuelling from tankers for diesel (very good value) and water together with many other tasks, Splice was staring to look like a ship again and not a storage shed.
Whilst we were working on Splice we were visited by Gerhard and Cherie from S/Y Pepino who were anchored in the bay and whom we met last year, so arranged to have a drink with them later on that evening to catch up. We also had a long chat (drinks) with Momchil and Antoni a Bulgarian couple who had just bought 'Amarante' the next boat to us in the yard (and were in the apartment above us) and were preparing to sail her north, so not all hard work!
Painting the props!
We had invested in a new sailbag for the mainsail from 'Franks Yacht-Station' and this is a lot smarter and neater than the old one which had passed it's 'dump by date'. They also seemed to do a good job with general repairs on our sails. George Nakis had fixed a broken strut in our stainless steel bimini frame and re-made the passerelle base very nicely. We would use both of these again as well as the Basimocopoulus yard who did work for us.
We then spent another few days anchored in the bay of Kilada getting sorted inside and putting the two foresails on (easier at anchor as the wind is always from the bow). We quickly found a problem with a leak from the motor-seal in the electric head (toilet), luckily solved quickly with the help of the yard who sent an engineer with a replacement motor. The old one is retained for dismantling for parts.
Our first sail was from Kilada northwards to Vivari. We had visited before and liked the place and it was a useful 2 hour test sail for the new season.
It was one of the days that make cruising so good, perfect wind from the quarter at around 12-15 knots, main and genoa flying nicely, the sun shining and Splice making 7 knots through clear calm waters. The skipper was very happy, even all the reefing lines were threaded correctly!
We spent one night at anchor in the company of two other boats and ate ashore in Psarotaverna Boreli. Very tasty hummus and an unusual and very good dish of 'Saganaki shrimps' (large whole prawns cooked in tomato and feta with spices). Well worth a try.
In general there are fewer boats and tourists than you would expect at this time of the year. It's more like September numbers than peak season. The restaurants and bars are open as are the shops and launderettes and the vibe is normal. Many of the local males ignore the edicts on masks and the young wait-staff mostly wear their masks under their chins, but otherwise social distancing is fine and masks are obligatory in shops and enclosed spaces. Other than the flight out where we got the loony Brit who wouldn't wear his mask properly sat next to us, we haven't felt uncomfortable.
Main photo: Splice about to 'splash' for the shortened 2020 season