Greece Season 4 (Blog 3)
Mike came in on the 14h00 BA flight. I strolled over to the airport. It was hot and sticky and a beer was called for in the open-air restaurant opposite the taxi rank. The masked monsters were emerging from the airconditioned interior of the Arrivals Hall and even under the masks it was interesting to watch the expressions as they hit the wall of warmth. We walked back to the bay, put all of Mike’s stuff into the dinghy and motored out to the boat.
The bay of Garitsas is super convenient for airport pick-ups and for access to the old town of Corfu via the NOAK marina. The downside is you need a tender to motor around, you have to search for patches of sand between the weed to find good holding, and they have mosquitoes that can fly 200m out to sea to find blood on a boat. In fact, in all our time this year on the water, this was the only time we were bothered by the suckers. We thought we would give Mike the opportunity to see the castle and the Old Town so we chugged around to Mandraki, the spectacular ancient harbour below the towering walls of the castle.
That night we ran into Renata and Kuno who have an Allures 45.9 and had a very pleasant meal in one of the squares in the old town with them. They were heading for Montenegro the next day. We could see a threat of thunderstorms, so we just went for a little sail in the bay and then down to Gouvia, where I started the process with the guys at Ionian Power of ordering a new set of domestic batteries (eight) and three new solar panels. I have decided to go big on power and hope to get to the stage where we don’t even have to think about it. So, if this all works, we will end up with 800Ah of domestic supply and 805 watts of Solar, not counting the ancient walk-on panels on the coach roof. That should do the trick.
While we were in Gouvia we also met Iain, Dylan’s schoolmate Josie’s dad, who Dylan had been trying to get us together with for years. They have a 50 ft Bennetau called Pampa, that they keep in Gouvia.
I had to meet a guy called Croz to discuss an aluminium welding job that we needed to do on the centreboard. This took us to Benitsis for the first time. It used to be a fishing harbour only but it has since been taken over and is now run as a marina. It is just south of Corfu Town, is well organised with all the facilities and quite a lively little village ashore. It is a tad expensive though, at Euro 80 per night. The meeting with Croz was successful and he agreed to come down to Cleopatra when we haul-out, so I might finally get the centreboard reinforced with the plate that Allures has sent me, along with the rest of the service kit.
We went over to Plateria on the mainland the next day, the highlight of which was that Mike and Veronica went for a run in the morning and I took the bicycle up the hill on the road to Syvota. I passed the runners and climbed to the summit of the main road. It was akin to riding up Chapmans Peak Drive in Cape Town from the Hout Bay side. The views were spectacular out to Paxos, Anti-Paxos and Corfu as well as north to the Albanian border.
Later that afternoon we had an interesting sail out to Lakka on Paxos. It was about 10 knots until just past the half-way point and then in rapid succession it went from, shall we have a gin and tonic to, oh shit we need to take a reef to, we need to take a second reef to … we need to take a third reef but only have 1 Nm to go. There was a wicked short sea on the beam and it was quite hairy for a while. Meantime next to us was a chartered catamaran that had full sail up, predictably it was going no faster than us with 2 reefs in the main and about a third of the Solent out. I was waiting for its mast to come down but of course it didn’t. I wonder if the skipper even knew that you must sail a catamaran by numbers, some of the charter catamarans have a table of wind speeds telling you when to reef but I suspect it is often ignored.
The respite, although not total, inside the Lakka anchorage was a stark contrast to the conditions outside. As expected, it was rammed. We were amused, and at times annoyed, by a ranting old German who was screaming at other boats and at his aged long-line swimmer. Meantime, he wasn’t doing a particularly good job himself. After waiting for him we managed to get our longlines to shore despite the cross wind. Lakka is such a lovely place. The next morning was still, the water was clear and the sand on the bottom white and shiny. Check out the gallery for some classic pictures of boats departing in water so clear you can see the bottom of their keels. We stayed two night s. On the second morning, Mike had to do his Covid test on a video call (as a witness) and this took a while. We then headed for Syvota where we ended up stern-to on our ”discovery for this year”, the pontoon at the Karvouno Villas. It is free, no electricity but free water and of course you end up eating in their restaurant although there is no insistence. Only downside is that there is no house wine, so you end up paying at least Euro 20 for a bottle. On balance though, we are able to drink fairly decent wine at relatively low prices.
We had planned to go to Mosquito Bay to drop of Mike but decided that Petriti was a much better idea as there was a moderate blow out of the east and at least the harbour wall would put our back into that. The harbour master was a friendly chap and the First Mate insulted him by saying that she thought he was in his 30s when he was only 22. A very capable and mature 22 year-old! We wandered the restaurants and rudimentary shops in an unsuccessful search for printer cartridges, as we needed to print and sign a sales agreement for the South African house. Mike took a taxi to the airport and we ended up spending another day there walking to the wonderful restaurant about 500m down the coast with the botanical garden and hammocks, complete with a garden bar just above the bay.
From here we made our way, via a night at Benetsis, to Gouvia to have the batteries delivered and fitted. Gouvia is an expensive Marina so we spent 2 days in the anchorage outside, killing time in some rather nice surrounds under a cliff with a lot of pleasantly noisy birds. Two boats away was an 80-100ft American-flagged boat which on the Saturday had a band set up on the foredeck with a girl playing electric violin. The music was pleasant and the people-watching entertaining, we never did quite work out whether it was two girls getting married or just a birthday party, anyway we were all blessed with fine weather. I shall close this chapter here.