We had not ventured to Astros this year yet as the confusion over the documentation required post Brexit and the potential for being fined in this closely monitored port put us off. A report from 'Operatix' that they had visited without being asked for the dreaded 'Transit Log' made us reassess and so off we went as it's one of our favourite locations.
When we arrived we found a large motor boat had taken our preferred position on the west side, so we had to anchor back with lines ashore to the main quay. It's still very sheltered here and the prevailing afternoon winds that often hit 20 knots plus are directed overhead by the large harbour wall. Sometimes a bit of spray does get you though!
Our first day was spent upside down in the starboard bilge disconnecting each of the pipes that make up the heads system (toilet) then banging them on the dock or riddling them to remove the calcium build up that gradually blocks them up. If you don't do this every few years your loo will grind to a halt, usually just at the wrong time! It's not actually as smelly as you would think given its calcium not sewage but reaching under the floor, undoing jubilee clips and working stiff pipes on and off connectors is a very wearing occupation and by 16.00 we were both very sweaty and exhausted and hadn't managed to do two of the longer pipes... next years penance!
It's getting close to the end of our shortened season now, so the next two days were spent taking the sails off as the winds were very light. Gennaker and genoa came off the first morning and we achieved a tight and neat fold on both sails, not always easy on the side deck of the boat but we were pleased with the result, they went easily in to our new sail-bags. The main came off the next morning and was likewise installed in its new bag.
The Genoa ready for rolling and bagging
Sorry Steve, we haven't really had any good chaotic captains in the last week or so. If you leave aside the normal antics of laying chains over other boats anchor chains, dragging across the line of chains when leaving to hook a couple of other chains etc (these are everyday sights) then the entertainment has been slow. The best attempt at entry into the hall of fame was a Swedish crew who wanted to anchor back to the quay near to us. The floating pontoon opposite is around 80m away and as you need 40-50m maximum chain there it's not in the way. This lot decided to drop their anchor very close to this pontoon and then motor back. We predicted the first part where he ran out of chain before reaching the quay, so he needed to pick the anchor up and try again. This is where his comic genius shone though. These floating pontoons are secured in place by big chains to concrete blocks on the seabed. Very big heavy chains and blocks as they hold the weight of all the moored boats. He'd anchored himself very firmly to the fixings of the pontoon opposite three metres under the water. He spent half an hour trying to get loose and failing before realising he could secure himself to the pontoon itself and, after another 40 minutes or so with boat-hooks and lines from the pontoon, was able to work his anchor free. His next attempted reverse to the quay proved successful, starting a more normal 35m out!
Our last night in Astros was also the skippers birthday, he celebrated it as his 56th but does admit to mixing up digits these days! We went for a walk in the morning when it was cooler, enjoying coffee and 'spinach and feta pie' on our return. The afternoon was pleasantly sunny and we relaxed and Chris helped various boats to moor as they arrived (playing Harbour Master as the First Mate describes it).
The day was going well when, just as we had poured the first beer at 19.00 hours and the birthday phone calls had started, the Port Police arrived. The only document he wanted to see was the 'Transit Log', which we don't have (we have paid the cruising taxes, have insurance, the right boat papers etc). There is huge confusion in Greece over this, the Greek Customs have published papers saying it is not required. Some port police will not issue them to British boats, some will only issue the wrong one which removes your VAT rights....it's a mess. We have simply avoided this and followed the guidance from the Cruising Association not to have one as per the Greek Customs mandate. This is fine until you are faced with a Port Policeman who says otherwise. Thus a discussion on Greek documentation ensued which was going nowhere until it was mentioned that we were to lift the boat in a few days. Luckily by now he was either bored or at the end of his shift as he just waved his hand and walked off. It put a dampener on the day for a while but an excellent dinner at 'Batis' our favourite taverna put it to the back of our minds. It does however probably reinforce our intention to leave Greece next season if time and viruses permit.
Main photo:Birthday Buoy with cards, coffee and pie