Archive for August, 2012

Aug 06

Back to “civilisation”

Today we headed into Skiathos town with mixed feelings. On the one hand we were really looking forward to welcoming Nicki, Jim, Alex & Zoe on board but on the other hand we have an aversion to big towns and cities.

As we approached the town both Simone and I were concerned about finding a space on a Friday, which being changeover day for the local flotillas means that all the boats are in harbour. Our fears were well-founded; the pontoon we were aiming for was already rafting up ie. double parked and there were some yachts anchored off, having not found a space. Next to the pontoon, the town quay in Skiathos is occupied by local day trip boats with their own reserved spaces but after one left we nipped in quickly and tied up to ensure we could at least fill up with water, though we knew that we would get thrown out later in the day.

The local nautilus guy, Evan, was extremely helpful and managed to find us a space where we could stay overnight, where we spent much of the day reorganising, cleaning and reprovisioning. Early evening our friends arrived and we met up at a bar opposite the quay to have a cold beer. We had a chilled out evening and got a fairly early night, hoping for a good night’s sleep.

However, after sunset the quay onto which we were moored was transformed into a tourist market place and once that had finished it seemed we were on the route to the most popular night club in town. Pretty much all night, people were partying and then at around 6am our French neighbours came back from a long night out. One of their crew was definitely in a bad way and it took a few of them to get him across the gangplank onto the boat, accompanied by a huge cheer! This was followed by a long argument between them and their charter company, who had accused them of grounding the boat. Eventually the port police were called and the arguing continued.

We had a quick breakfast watching the local youngsters staggering back from the nightclub and decided to get the hell out asap, so after a trip to the bakery and a short walk round the very picturesque old town, we topped up the water tanks and set off. As we left our mooring, our French neighbours very kindly threw us their inflatable shark, much to the delight of Zoe.

Great to have everyone on board but a big relief to see Skiathos behind us.


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Aug 01

Dancing with Dolphins

Picture speaks a thousand words, always magical when dolphins decide to play.

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Aug 01

Passage to Pigadhi

Simone and I took the dinghy into the sunsail base at milina this morning, had a coffee and said hello to the taverna owners who we met last year. Being cynical we weren’t sure if they really recognised us or were just being nice, but either way they were very welcoming and it was good to see them again. When we got back to the boat, Marc & Julian had prepared a big english breakfast which was fantastic, I just love eating food that my kids have prepared.

We spent the morning sailing about in the bay with not much wind and then headed back past paleo trikeri to cross the channel to the west side of the gulf of volos. As we entered the channel the wind picked up to 15 – 20 knots and we had a fantastic sail with the wind beam on and whizzing along at a consistent 7 knots, 7.3 being the record for the trip so far.

As we approached Pigahdi, the wind was behind us still blowing fairly strong and there were no yachts moored on the quay. Whether this was just by chance or because the conditions made for difficult mooring is difficult to know but feeling bold we went for a stern-to mooring on the end of the quay with a 16 knot crosswind. First attempt failed as we didn’t get enough anchor chain out, but we took the opportunity of leaving Marc on the quay to take the first stern line on our second attempt. We crabbed our way in again being blown sideways and managed to get a line to Marc who initially struggled to hold us against the wind but with the help of a second line on the winch (well executed by Julian) we managed to get tied up under difficult conditions which Simone and I both agreed called for a celebratory sundowner. We would never have attempted anything like this even last year and are now feeling like really hardcore sailors:)

It is now 10.30pm in the evening and what felt like an abandoned village when we arrived is now buzzing with life;  teenage boys cycling around showing off their skills, teenage girls running around screaming and pretending to ignore the boys. Seems so many things are the same the world over, makes me smile.

The meal we had this evening, kalimari, greek salad, cod fish and some other kind of fish, was fantastic and at 55 euros including wine was really good value. The wind has now died completely and it looks like we will have a very comfortable night, though I think the tavernas and bars that are now so animated may mean ear plugs are in order. Marc and Julian found the internet cafe and headed back there after dinner. They have made friends with some of the locals and even teamed up with some of them to play an online game together.

It is almost a full moon tonight and with this as a backdrop to such a beautiful little village it reminds me just how incredibly fortunate we are to be doing what we are doing. Before we came on the trip a few people said that 2 months would be too long but the reality is that it won’t be nearly long enough. Spending my days with my Simone, Marc and Julian in an incredibly beautiful area, on a truly fantastic yacht with nothing to do but live for the moment is even better than I had hoped.

I”m not sure what I have done to deserve this but I am loving every moment.


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Aug 01

Khalkis to Orei

Arriving at Khalkis was a huge step for us: the first half of our journey through the Evia channel achieved, despite adverse weather. Khalkis seemed like one big party; after the bridge opened at midnight (see earlier post) and we got through, we moored up on the north quay, along bars all blaring different loud music. We settled our nerves in one of the bars by the boat with a quite strong cocktail and then slept despite the booming noise, but woke up early by dogs barking. The morning was spent with various necessary tasks: fixing the outboard (again, see future post on the outboard saga), doing laundry (bed linen started to smell peculiarly), shopping and the obligatory internet gaming session for the kids. We did not feel the need to spent another night in Khalkis, so went off late afternoon in search of a quiet bay. We found one just 10 miles up the channel, nearly landlocked, with just a few houses on the shore and a small deserted beach. We loved it and decided to stay 2 nights. Peter needed a haircut and trusted me enough to have a go at it. The scissors were rather blunt and I think he was not entirely without fear for his ears. The results were encouraging though and we dubbed this location haircut bay (the greek name was pretty unpronounceable). The next day we spent lounging, swimming and crocodile/lilo/fender riding behind the boat (see video and Julian’s excellent wee..splash post), very relaxing indeed.

After 2 nights at haircut bay we felt the need though to move on. We left early and were able to sail for an hour in a good force 4-5. Then the wind died down and we motored along when I saw the up-down movement characteristic of the fins of dolphins. Getting nearer we saw that it was indeed a small pod of dolphins, maybe 8 of them, playing around in the water. They were rather curious about the big boat and came quite near. Such an uplifting experience to watch them, maybe for 15 minutes until they moved on. See the short video clip, featuring a real dolphin jump! After that, we covered 40 miles to a little town called Akhladhion where we anchored off just next to a little fishing harbour. The scenery was defiled by the sight of a huge cement factory on the east of the bay, but the town itself was rather pleasant. It turned out that the most important greek dance festival, staged once a year, would take place that evening. Being curious we (Peter, Marc and me, Julian had better things to do) rowed ashore (the outboard not working again) and mingled with the locals. Where all the people came from seemed rather a mystery, there were at least a few hundred in a square by the shore. We could only hear greek and felt a bit like onlookers, strange intruders, guessing what was going on. Interesting though the dancing was pretty abhorrent: interminably long dances of repetitive movements and wailing sort of singing. We managed to sleep (with earplugs), even better after they stopped at 4am. Still, we considered ourselves lucky to have experienced this once a year event.

The next day we only had a small hop to Orei, the end of the channel and the first town we know from last year. We have arrived!! We celebrated by going out for dinner and with half a kilo of rose.

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