Archive for July, 2012

Jul 18

Sundowners

Sun almost down, G&T time

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Jul 18

To go or not to go?

We are spending our second full day tied up in Lavrio.

Winds are force 7 gusting up to 80 km/h and the direction we want to head in is the direction the wind is coming from, making for pretty uncomfortable progress. We had considered leaving this morning but decided to spend an extra day here as the winds will be lighter at our next destination tomorrow evening, making for a more comfortable night. (sorry about the sound in the clip below, just too much wind to hear us!)

Force 6 is known as a Yachtsman’s gale (an actual gale is force 8) so heading out of port in a Force 7 (near gale) isn’t something to be taken lightly. Lavrio isn’t particularly pretty, as Julian mentioned in his earlier post, but it does have some plus points:

  1. A safe berth, at least until the weekend when the charter boats that live here will return and we will get evicted. Fortunately there is plenty of space around the harbour so if we are still here by then it will be a very short trip to the other side of the harbour.
  2. Electricity and water – no rationing of anything
  3. Internet connection – navigare yachting have very kindly let us use their wi-fi so the kids are plugged in and happy

The plan is that tomorrow, with the winds forecast to be lighter in the evening, we will head up to Porto Rafti and spend one night there before crossing the channel and heading up to the west coast of Nisos Evia. We will then work our way up towards Khalkis where we have to navigate through a road bridge that only opens once a day, after midnight. Once past there, we are free and clear to make a beeline for the sporades, away from the commercialism and industry that is very prevalent around here.

 

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Jul 17

Ouch.

Hi, Julian here.

I am busy being stuck on board with a sprained ankle playing on various Apple devices (Almost Free does not endorse Apple) and eating. Not that I’m complaining. We’re in a port for 2 days due to ridiculous winds that you can hear when you go to bed, when you wake up…well, pretty much any time really. I’ve mainly been watching Youtube or playing either Tiny Wings*, Cartoon Wars: gunner or Cartoon Wars 2 :Heroes.

We went out to try and find a place to eat yesterday and ended up looking around a big building which had 4 very croydon-esque bar/restaurants inside it. Didn’t really fancy that all too much. So we went to a place which was very nice and cool. It didn’t have air-con but at least it had ceiling fans. Today a combination of the wind and drop of 10 degrees in temperature meant that we weren’t drowning in our own sweat., which is quite nice.

I think i’ve probably watched the movies Hot Fuzz and Kung Fu Panda 4 times each since we arrived which is ridiculous. I mainly only watch Hot fuzz repetitively because I’m a filmmaking nut and Hot Fuzz is a fantastically produced film. Greece is very nice and continues to be so as we go on. Apparently it was raining in england recently…location, location, location. 😉

* – I highly recommend you go check out Tiny Wings on the App store, it will waste hours of your life with incredulous fun for only 69p. (Jesus, I sound like a businessman)

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Jul 16

Tonic for the soul

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Jul 16

τσαντίσεις

Yesterday we spent a really enjoyable day with Donal, Sally, Dan and Isabel. We had it all planned out on where to drop them off at the end of the day but as they say “Life is what happens while you are busy planning”.

We arrived at our drop off point of Voulagmeni marina where we had planned to drop off our guests and stay the night. Voulagmeni is a small harbour with some stupidly expensive boats in but well sheltered and ideally positioned on our passage from Athens to the Sporades, in short a great choice!

At around 4 in the afternoon, we motored in very slowly and noticed a good spot between 2 floating gin palaces and started to make sedate progress astern when we suddenly found we had company. The port police guy was wearing shorts, t-shirt and ray-bans but in every other respect was just the same as every other security guard around the world; a bored guy with licence to exercise extremely limited power very infrequently. When he saw us wander in to his territory at the end of a long hot day we probably made his day; gave him a reason to fire up the rib, speed across the harbour standing up at the front (complete with aforementioned ray-bans) and then exercise his uncontested authority by unceremoniously telling us to piss off (I may be precising slightly). I’m pretty certain that he had either hawaii five-o, mission impossible or the James Bond them tune playing on his ipod as he did all this.

Being English, you can imagine exactly what I said …. Nothing at all! Actually, not entirely true, in my best Queen’s English I did politely ask if we could just pull up alongside to allow some of our passengers off so that they could get a taxi back to their hotel even if we couldn’t stay for the night. BOOM, double whammy for Mr securicor meets baywatch, absolutely no chance of allowing that on his shift. In response to the question “why not” I simply got the silent reflection from his ray-bans, either indicating that he was contemplating on what psychological level a response to a question involving “why” would be appropriate or that he had no answer whatsoever to give and was hoping that if he repeated himself enough times, I might just be verbally brow beaten into submission and retreat defeated.

Tension mounted and I considered ordering the crew to roll out the cannons as I circled around menacingly. However, discretion being the better part of valour I decided to save the ammo for another day and shouted “thank you very much” to Mr securiwatch, trying to make it sound as much like “fuck you very much” as possible, without actually getting arrested (extra maturity points for the skipper!).

Mr Securiwatch 1 – Skipper’s ego 0

 

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Jul 16

Marc’s Blog for the week

Marc here, in week 2 of our sailing holiday now. So far we have done nothing but eat, sleep and sail (which is a good thing).
Today we are going 35 nautical miles to Lavrion from Athens. We need to stay in a port tonight due to force 8 winds tomorrow.
Me and Julian discovered Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 on the laptop last night, a game to play in the evenings so we don’t get bored.
Missing the guys on the flotilla already, they were all very nice and quite funny but glad to finally be free of the Athens area.

Yesterday we gave a sailing taster session to Dan and his family. His dad Donal got into the sailing aspect and the rest of the
family got into the stopping for a swim and drink aspect.

Looking forward to the days ahead as we sail into the unknown! I am slightly worried as we have to rely on my dads navigation skills and sense of direction.

Marc

“awesome blog, best read ever” – Sailingboatsandblogging.com

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Jul 14

Bay 24

Bay 24, our last night with the flotilla. A breathtaking view of our home as we enjoyed a fabulous dinner on the beach. Thanks to Elmar and Justyna for a great week, now we are off into the blue on our own!

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Jul 14

A hot day in Athens

Our much dreaded day in Athens today;  actually, we did not look very much forward to staying 2 days in Kalamaki port, with its filthy waters, noisy bars, car honks and the general pollution that comes by being near a huge city. On top of it it is 40 degrees and the air feels like a hot dryer in your face, rather than the nice gentle breeze out at sea. All this to tick off the obligatory visit to the Acropolis. You know what? It was worth it. The views are just stunning and it is difficult to take in just how big this city is.

After a false start on the tram (when my map reading skills failed me), a wonderfully air-conditioned ride in the metro (we actually considered just driving around in it all day, until Peter just avoided being pick pocketed). We managed to arrive at the foot of the Acropolis and just followed other touristy looking people to find ourselves in the surprisingly small ticket queue and to pay an even more surprisingly small amount to enter (12 euros for the family). Ok, there were a lot of other people around the three buildings, and the Parthenon is scaffolded and it was really hot, but a sense of past times was still in the air and the 360 degree views took a while to take in. One picture is the only possible shot without tourists or scaffolding, the other shows the heads of Peter and Marc, just to prove we were there. We nearly chickened out of doing the tourist thing, but Julian was pretty stubborn about it, as usual. Thanks Julian, we had a good time!

We are all looking forward to leaving tomorrow though. Marc’s friend Dan and his family will join us for a joy ride day out. They seem a bit apprehensive  but we will do our best to give them a good time. Hopefully Dan can be persuaded to stay with us for a few days. Let’s see.

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Jul 12

The Life of a Greek Alley Cat

My name is Jack. I used to live in the big city, high in business, stock options and up for a wealthy bonus. Then the recession hit. Everything we had we were losing. people started quitting their jobs, we were losing money. And we still had debt to pay back. I bailed and ran for it, shedding a tear as I saw my business fall to the cruel truth of politics. I moved to Greece because I had relatives there, it wasn’t the best idea seeing as greece is at the centre of the eurozone crisis, but my family was the only thing I had left.

After a while of living in Athens, my parents were charged with not paying taxes and my parents told me to go and find something else. I had no other options. That’s when I had the idea.

 

A YEAR LATER

*BURP* Aah. That’s the good stuff. humans are so complying. I am now living in an alley near a restaurant called Stavedos restaurant at a port in Greece. It’s not so bad. You get free food. Sometimes you even get leftovers, and you and several cats band up to make a little team. It’s kind of like a business, except it’s one where nothing can really go wrong. . My technique is simple: Do nothing. If you just sit there, you already look cute to the humans, they fall to your hypnosis and give you food under your mental command. My name is Jack, alley cat and proud of it.

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Jul 10

And they’re off

7th July 2012

Easyjet flight – cheap, but my idea of what hell might be like. Bus straight to the marina and then a mountain of paperwork with a guy who looks like a very well tanned Marlon Brando. A different guy who is renting us the outboard had heart failure when we “reminded” him that we need it for 2 months; cue much questioning, gesticulating and sweating, probably all a pre-cursor to the ensuing renegotiation of price. Shame we ended up paying less than originally quoted. I have a strong feeling that this may be exactly how the entire Greek economy got to where it is today.

Almost free is even better than I had imagined, she is in amazing condition and has huge amounts of space. Solar panels mean we have no concerns over electricity and most importantly we can leave the fridge on 24/7. The gadget whore in me is super happy to have bow thrusters for the first time though we’ll probably never use them. The interior is extremely comfortable and Marc has decided to sleep in the converted main cabin rather than the bunks so that he can sprawl over the bed as he does at home. All a great idea until his early riser Dad starts “stomping around” in the early morning (early being anything followed by am). I’m already tempted to put in an offer for the boat once we are back so I had better take another look at my “cost of boat ownership” spreadsheet again before I do something rash!

Disaster number one; Dan (Marc’s friend) managed an hour on board before throwing up, seems he has a stomach upset which his sister had earlier in the week. Thankfully his parents are staying only 30 mins down the road, so this was Dan’s first and probably shortest experience on board a yacht. Hopefully he will get better later in the week and we can pick him up for a few days next week.

 

8th July 2012

Simone’s birthday today, unfortunately her back (arthritis) is giving her grief but I hope her boys will make sure she is waited on hand and foot.
Started the day with an excellent full english breakfast and then plucked up courage to get under way. We managed to avoid crashing into other boats, snagging on lines and doing anything else too embarrassing on our inaugural departure, hopefully a good omen. It feels great to escape Kalimaki which is a dirty, smelly, noisy tourist trap. The bars closed at around 4am but the rubbish carts arrived at 7am so not the best night’s sleep ever.

Got the sails up just outside kalamaki after looking at the many lines and scratching our heads for a while. I knew I should have brought the label machine with me. First time we’ve had a furling main and failed to get it all out (many jokes about middle aged men having trouble getting it up). Probably just snagged on the way out but we reefed it and attempted crossing the shipping lane with sails (almost) fully hoisted. Successfully avoided several tankers and a few ferries with thoughts of a tortoise crossing the M25 springing to mind.

Julian had a lovely long shower today, washed his hair, felt throughly refreshed and managed to empty one of our two water tanks; his new nickname for the trip is “tank”.

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