Category: Uncategorized

Aug 20

Playing with dolphins

As we headed to the north of Skopelos island, on our way from Skopelos Town to Skiathos, some dolphins decided to make friends with us.

Just amazing.

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Aug 20

Sayonara Jim, Nicki, Alex & Zoe

We set off early this morning from Orei to avoid battling the winds forecast later in the day. By 8am we were motoring across a millpond in a straight line to Panormous. By midday we were already close, so decided to do some sailing and then find a bay for a swim stop. We hugged the coast between Loutraki and Panormous and found a fantastic beach only accessible by boat; it was clean and deserted apart from a small number of boats. Having taken Martin ashore we swam, snoozed and read for a few hours before heading round to meet the Jamieson gang.

No sooner had we turned the corner into Panormous bay than we saw Nicki, Alex & Zoe waving to us from the beach. With light winds we decided to anchor next to the hotel and took a line ashore before enjoying the traditional G&T, reunited with our friends and crew.

After a refreshing power shower in their air-conditioned room we enjoyed a fantastic meal, though I think we all ate and drank too much. By midnight we were all struggling to make sense and/or stay awake and I just about managed to operate the outboard to get us home.

Friday morning we met at 10am and loaded luggage and crew aboard for the final trip over to Skiathos airport. We managed to fit in one final swim stop at “Sayonara Bay”, just next to where we had stopped the day before. When we arrived there wasn’t another soul around and we enjoyed great snorkelling, swimming and the traditional swim ashore.

Around midday some other boats turned up and anchored pretty near us so we set off for Skiathos under sail, with Alex & Jim taking us most of the way across.

It was very sad saying goodbye at the Meltemi bar in Skiathos Town but I think its highly likely that we will do some more sailing together in the not too distant future, wherever we all are next year.

Thanks, it was a pleasure having you on board.

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Aug 18

Martin’s Migration


Hey, my name is Martin. Apparently I’m on the internet now, so I thought I should explain myself.

In the video you saw, I was actually just visiting my  cousin, Marcus, and I overheard a conversation on a boat called Almost Free saying they were going to the island where he lived, so I packed my things (Which didn’t take long) and hopped on board the previous night so they wouldn’t stare at me all the time.

The next day, exactly that happened. I had just found a comfortable pole when suddenly this small human with a camera comes along and starts filming me and saying he’s called David Attenborough even though he’s called Julian by the other humans. At this point I tried to turn my head the other way, but he followed me, so I just sat there waiting for him to go away. He took a whole 5 minutes. Ugh.

When we arrived at the island, I was wondering how I was going to get onto the island because instead of parking on the beach, we were just off the island. I saw a small boat and hoped they would take me there in that, but no. The big male shoves me into a small container for 5 minutes, eventually I got out though, so I was happy. My experience with humans is never really brilliant but I don’t care as long as I don’t get interrupted.

I’m Martin the Mantis. By the way if you’re thinking all mantises have names beginning with m then you are correct. I don’t know why but Mother Mantis told me so I’ll believe her.

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Aug 12

Sheltering in Skopelos Town

After an action-packed week last week and a dodgy looking weather forecast, we decided to stay in Skopelos town for a couple of days. The sail round the south of the island from Panormous was tough, only F5-6 but with some very big gusts, so Marc and I kept one hand on the jammer and the main sheet respectively and let out the main when the biggest gusts came. However, we managed to miss one at the precise point that Simone was in the galley getting some lunch ready. The guard rails hit the water and the boat rounded up into the wind accompanied by some smashing sounds from below:( No real harm done just a mug or two fewer.

Upon arrival in Skopelos Town the quay looked extremely full; a 9 boat sunsail flotilla was already there along with the local annual regatta boats. We spotted half a parking space and decided to go for it; Julian was very nervous as we approached, convinced that we weren’t going to fit. It did turn out to be a very tight squeeze between a 50ft beneteau and a 34ft jeanneau both of whom were very helpful in helping us tie up.

The following day, once we had shopped, filled up with fuel and water and done the laundry we spent most of the day drinking frappe, snoozing and reading, while the boys very quickly found their way back to the internet cafe.

After dinner Simone and I took some deck cushions up to the bow and as we watched the world go by a few rain drops started to fall. This is the first time we have ever been rained on while sailing in Greece but by 3am the storm was in full force with the sound of the rain on deck extremely loud. All of us woke up after some large thunder claps and we rejoiced that we were in the shelter of the port.

This morning the rain was gone but it is much cooler. Today’s activities have been restricted to eating, drinking coffee, reading and snoozing, another tough day.

Although Skopelos Town is large enough to be a ferry port it still retains a great deal of charm, especially once you leave the port front tavernas. All of the cobbled back streets contain lovely homes which are all extremely well cared for. There are plenty of good tavernas and the place generally has a great atmosphere. The clip below is taken from our favourite coffee bar which overlooks the town and the port.

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Aug 11

A Packed Week

We have just taken our friends Nicky, Jim, Alex and Zoe back ashore, after a great week sharing the boat and the adventure. It feels very empty and we are already missing them. They have been a great crew in the cockpit and the galley! Marc entertained Zoe, who is 8, or was it the other way round? Julian, Alex and Zoe linked up their DSs in the morning and all 4 just spent a huge amount of time in the water, together with Rocky (the shark), the lilo and Crocky (the crocodile who sadly escaped overnight in Stargaze Bay). Lots of time left for the adults to talk about the serious issues in life, like what goal we have to achieve next to earn a G&T or if there are possibly any “rock” jokes left (see last post).

We have packed a lot of things into the week. From the first (sleepless) night in Skiathos, stopping for Mojitos in Koukounaris bay (well, we girls did, the boys went shopping), admiring the Milky Way in Stargaze Bay (on Kira Panayia or goat island), climbing a mountain to go shopping in Gloussa ( without a working credit card or enough cash :)), breaking the holidays’ sailing speed record (7.5 knots now in 18 knots of wind with the dinghy in tow) to the sad separation in Panourmous Bay. I guess they need the week in the hotel to recover from it. Thanks guys for a great week!!!

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Aug 10

25 Jokes to Rock Your Socks

As our family is very keen on puns, I felt it was appropriate to post this blog post regarding 25 jokes that we all made up themed around rocks. Enjoy!

‘You know, I’ve kept this rock for 2 years now.’       ‘Why?’      ‘I dunno, just has some sedimental value.’

What’s a rock’s favourite children’s story character? Goldirocks

What does a rock use to  carry things around? A Rocksack

How do rocks navigate? They don’t, they just approximate.

What’s a rock’s favourite girl’s name? Roxanne

How do rocks communicate? They chalk to eachother.

Where does a rock like to sleep?  Bedrock

What does a rock want to be when it grows up?  A Rockstar

How does a rock a rock weigh itself?  Using Stone

What’s a rock’s favourite form of transportation?  A Rocket

What’s a rock’s favourite vegetable? Brocolli

What’s a rock’s favourite boy’s name? Brock

Where do rocks live? Estonia

What do rocks eat with?  Crockery

What do you call a blood-drinking rock?  Drockula

What do female rocks wear?  Frocks

What’s a rock’s favourite shoe brand?  Crocks

What do rocks cook with? A Wok

What do rocks hear when they wake up?  Crock-a-doodle-doo

What’s a rock’s favourite piece of furniture? A Rocking Chair

What’s a rock’s favourite nursery rhyme? Rock-a-by-baby

What’s a rock’s favourite console? An X-rox

Who’s a rock’s favourite band?  The rolling stones

Where do rocks go skiing?  The Rockies

If you haven’t killed yourself yet, congratulations, YOU’RE MAD.

P.S. – Some of these jokes were made up by the Jamieson family who were on board with us for a week, thanks guys!

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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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