WRAPPING UP THIS SEASON
02 December 2019
GREECE – The Beauty and The Beast
We left our home port of Gosport on 7th April 2017. Our ultimate destination was the Greek island of Ikaria. A very special place for Andreas as it was here, as a child, he spent many happy times visiting his grandparents on their farm. His dream was to visit again, but this time to have sailed there in his own boat. That dream came true on 29th October 2019. Needless to say, it was an emotional day.
Since our departure in April 2017, we have visited 6 countries – France, Spain, Portugal, Monaco, Italy, and Greece. We have dropped the hook or tied up in 214 ports and sailed a total of 5,786 nautical miles. We still cannot believe what we have achieved and often marvel at it!
Now we can re-charge our batteries and plan the next phase of our Big Adventure. We envisage the next few years will be spent exploring the mainland and the hundreds of beautiful islands that Greece has to offer, until such time as we either get bored or our health fails. Hopefully neither will be anytime soon!
We have been very dismayed and on occasion very angry at the amount of unfinished projects we have come across. Mainly marinas. The one in Ermoùpolis a classic example of money wasted. Built and then left literally to rot.
Greece has been systematically raped by the EU and is now financially in dire straits.. Huge amounts of money has been borrowed. Projects started and at the eleventh hour before completion, abandoned. What makes us angry is this country is in debt up to its ears but there is now no incentive or indeed funds to complete these projects, get them up and running and have revenue from them. We have learnt that several of these abandoned marinas have met with planning problems. Why the designers didn't get the correct permissions at the design stage just beggars belief and this is a very large part of the overall problem. We can't help but get the feeling that now the Greeks have almost ‘given up'. Compound this with the enormous immigration problem and things are not looking good for Greece, and the people are becoming very vocal and agitated. The capital of Samos, Vathy, has an immigration camp currently holding 6,500 people. Along the coastline, amongst the rocks, we have seen the remains of inflatable dinghys and inner tubes – the tubes are used as large rubber rings for those who choose to swim the 2 miles across from Turkey.
Another interesting observation: there are very few EU flags flying here.
Many of the islands have been sold to foreigners and properties are now becoming holiday homes to non Greeks. Sadly the young people leave their islands and go abroad in search of work and a better living.
However, the yacht charter industry has intensified significantly and we have seen a lot of eastern Europeans out on the water. We seriously question the capabilities of most of them and feel that tighter checks need to be made by the charter companies regarding qualifications. We have also heard a few horror stories of charter boats being badly equipped, essential equipment like anchors and windlasses don't work and the worst of all – a holding tank that was totally unusable.
The most popular form of transport is by motor bike or scooter. It's great to see youngsters, particularly the girls, getting around independently BUT, we have seen some hair raising sights – mum, dad and 2 young children on a scooter, not one of them wearing a helmet. A lady, on her scooter with her very large dog across her lap and a chap on his, collecting boxes of bread from a ferry – he simply stacked them high behind him and took off. There is no health and safety in evidence here but surely the basics like wearing protective gear is crucial. No one wants a head injury or their skin removed on the back of an accident that wasn't necessarily their fault!!
That's Enough !!! On to ..........
But there is no escaping the fact that we both love Greece. The Greek people are so warm, friendly, welcoming and exceptionally kind. They are also healthy – due to their active lifestyles. The yayas swim , the papoos are either out fishing or enjoying an Ouzo over a game of backgammon with their friends. The majority walk everywhere – (the youngsters less so, but that's a sign of the times) and most of them speak very good English.
They are fascinated by our story and by the fact that Andreas speaks their language easily and they always want to engage with him. One of my many tasks this winter is to take Greek lessons – I can't possibly live in a country and at least not try to communicate in their language.
We have dropped anchor in some beautiful bays, swam in the most crystal clear water you could possibly imagine, that is the most exquisite colour of blue and we have sailed along stunning coastline. We have seen dolphins, flying fish and turtles. We have sat with a fisherman, chatting whilst helping him remove the fish from his nets.
The white houses, with their Mediterranean blue shutters and doors, decorated with the most amazing colours of bougainvillea are so quintessentially Greek as are the many chapels and beautiful churches.
To sum up, we are so very happy to be here and look forward to continuing our Big Fat Greek Adventure next year.
The blog will continue during the winter months, maybe not quite so regularly, so please keep reading.
Muse for this post: People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.
WRAPPING UP THIS SEASON
02 December 2019
Our battleflag - depicting a Spartan helmet and the Greek and Union Jack flags - will be flying from the top of the mast on our return. We have arrived!!!
29 November 2019
37 41 46N
026 57 28E
Date of arrival 16th November
Nisos Samos- Pythagorean - Samos Marina
We have done incredibly well and frankly should be giving each other a slap on the back for getting our ETA to Samos just right.
When we left Sicily in May of this year we had planned to arrive in Samos Marina 20th November by the latest. This would allow us 5 days to sort ourselves out before flying back to the UK for our 3 week visit. As it turned out, we arrived on 16th November and we are very pleased to have the extra time. We have a lovely spot – the cockpit is south facing so we get the sun right up until it sets. We have nobody immediately either side of us which gives us a feeling of space. There is one taverna in the marina which remains open all winter and the main town of Pythagorean is a 15 minute walk along the coastline. It has several supermarkets and an outstanding butcher. We will be very happy here I am sure.
The weather has been very settled so the plan has been to get as many jobs done as possible before the weather changes for the winter. So we have managed to wash and dry the Genoa and Main Sail – a huge undertaking and in order to do both these chores, the wind has to be ‘non existent, and the sun shining’ and for 2 days it was just right. The added bonus is that we are still wearing shorts, t shirts and flip flops so getting wet wasn't an issue.
Andreas has changed the engine oil – we like to leave Stiletto sitting out the winter with clean oil in her pipes.
I have done a load of laundry and we got all the rugs out and gave them a thorough power wash. We totally maxed out on the fabulously warm and calm weather.
We are also thrilled to have met up with Kat and T of Yacht Caladh who are also overwintering here. They were our neighbours in Marina di Ragusa on Sicily last winter .
And Paul and Mary ( SY Top Cat ) and their dog Lily are also here – we first met them in Nisos Kithnos and we are delighted to be sharing Christmas with them.
There are several other people of different nationalities who will also be overwintering here and we look forward to getting to know them and hear their stories over the coming months.
All is good.
So we are now getting ready for our flights to UK. Samos to Athens. Athens to Gatwick. We have rented the same apartment in Alverstoke as our last visit in June and the next 3 weeks will be a whirlwind of health and dental checks and time spent with our very dear friends.
Muse for this post: Always remember that your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come.
29 November 2019
Samos marina - our home for the winter
29 November 2019
The view of Pythagorean as we walk along the track from the marina