Naxos and Paros with friends and faaaamily!

As soon as we arrived we deployed the dinghy and Ian went to the jetty at Agia Annas to collect the Hill-Cable gang.  They all came back to the boat and Sam and Louis were soon jumping in and defying each other to do more and more intrepid leaps off the boat.  Sam, who had stayed with us in June, was in charge of showing everyone around and explaining the use of the heads!!

We enjoyed a few chilled beers with everyone and I loved showing Sarah and Paddy around Linea.

They headed off to freshen up and and we all met up later for dinner.  Deciding to wander up towards Prokopios we came across an open air cinema showing Zorba the Greek.   It was an interesting film with a young Alan Bates in the lead role and Anthony Quinn as Zorba. It was fascinating to see Crete of old and to learn of the harsh amoral ways of the society then.

The following day Louis was poorly and so Paddy and Sam came out to the boat to chill for the afternoon as the wind was picking up and we didn’t really want to leave her.

My pal Jane, who I used to work with at Malsis, arrived to stay for a few days.   She was thrown right in at the deep end with a trip to the cinema to see Mamma Mia with Bryn and Jill. We all had a good sing!

Next day, Paddy and gang were heading off to Paros.  Jane and I took a bus trip to Naxos town and had a lovely afternoon wandering around the Chora… me reminiscing about the time I spent a night sleeping in the park there with my friend Stephanie Minto in 1979!  (Don’t tell Ivan and Carol!)

 

We were just heading out of the bus station when i heard a familiar voice.  I turned to look and recognised Nikos, whom we had worked for at Powder White during our ski season.  It was quite an extraordinary coincidence as a couple of seconds either way and I would not have seen him. 

On the Sunday, we set sail for the north part of Paros to a wonderful anchorage with safety from winds from any direction.  We anchored in the NE side of the bay and it was stunning despite the power station far off on the south coast of the bay.  Unfortunately, it was a long and exposed dinghy ride to and fro the beach where Paddy and gang were.

Nevertheless, we did manage for them to come to the boat for a day, and for Louis to stay over and watch the meteor shower with us.  We had a good walk along the shore, some snorkelling, a bit of beach time and an exploration of the marina and town of Naoussa.

The town is a lovely jumble of alleyways and squares.  The marina is an interesting place with lots of anchor knitting and big motor yachts taking up a lot of the space.   We decided that we would have to stay at anchor.

We spent lovely, all too few days with the family.  Paddy and gang were due to depart on the Wednesday from Mykonos so we dragged ourselves away just after the sun had gone down and the wind picked up and set off across the bay to the boat, waving a fond farewell as we went.

We were happy to get back to boat after a thorough drenching in the dinghy in huge waves and in the dark!

Spotting a weather window we decided to sail back to Naxos on the Tuesday so that Jane could get back to Athens.  We had a fantastic, heeled over sail back from Paros to Naxos.   We sailed into the anchorage at 8.5kt.  The wind was over 35kts in the bay.  We put away the head sail and switched on the engine.  Just as we were just about to head up to the wind to get the main sail down the engine would not give any power.

Oh shit!  We were quite well into the bay and in reasonably shallow water so we put the anchor down and let out a lot of chain.  Ian went down to inspect the engine.  We were holding nicely. We let out even more chain, cause its better out than in!, and tried to fix the engine and get it started again. 

We took Jane ashore the following morning in relatively calm winds of 22kt. We had sailed only about 50 miles all week and spent most of the time with a load of random people she’d never met.  She handled all this brilliantly, as I knew she would, and we really enjoyed our week with her.   We hope you’ll come again, Jane.

Surfing South (or, ‘I would Sail 5000 miles!’)

The Meltemi is coming

We timed our departure from the Northern Aegean to coincide with the Meltemi; a strong southerly wind that rushes from high pressure in the Balkans to low pressure over Crete.   The wind gathers pace and fury as it heads south and pummels most islands on its way past.  The wind isn’t a constant threat, it comes and goes, so in between there is virtually no wind.  It’s a frustrating because it limits your choices of sailing direction and possible sailing days.  On the plus side, it does mean that temperatures are a very pleasing 27 degrees, which is just about perfect.

So, with the Meltemi due we knew we would be whisked south at a great rate of knots in order to meet up with my brother Paddy, and his family, before the end of their holiday.  We were looking forward to some long days of sailing down wind and surfing along on the waves.

We left Thassos with an accompanying juvenile dolphin twisting and turning near the bow and made it to Myrini  on Limnos in good time.  Initially, we anchored in the bay but couldn’t find a spot we were happy with in strong winds and so spying a small space on the quay, we reversed in on the end.

The next day,  we awoke to a layer of fine sand over everything in the boat.  The wind had picked up and swept with it tonnes of black sand motes.  A boat sticky with salty air provided a large surface that these particles love to cling to, so very soon the boat, ropes, sprayhood and new bimini had a tinge of charcoal hue about them.  Hey ho!  No point in cleaning anything until the wind dies down in about four days.  Whilst gusts tossed chairs and tables about on the quay, we decided to hire a car and have a little exploration of the island.  It is a dry and dusty place in summer. Myrini was the prettiest place we saw with its imposing castle high above the town and the beautiful neo-classical buildings with their Juliette balconies, tall shuttered windows and tiled roofs.

We enjoyed wandering the vine covered alleyways of the town and sampling the delights of the restaurants away from the sea front.  We felt in with the locals when we played backgammon in a very popular ‘ouseria’.  Six euros for two ouzos, two carafes of cold water, a bucket of ice and a plate of meze snacks.

We spent a very moving afternoon visiting one of the Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries on the island.  The island was the launch place for the ill-fated Gallipolli campaign in 1914 and thousands of lives were lost.  Here we met yet more friendly Australians, originally from Limnos, who come back every year to visit family.

After pre-dinner drinks on board Linea with fellow Cruising Association members Nigel and Lawrence on Cormorant we set sail early the next morning to Lesvos where we were due to meet Bryn and Jill.

After a five hour bus journey from Levkas to Athens, a flight from Athens to Lesvos and a two hour bus ride across the island to our western anchorage they were well in need of a beer or too as we caught up on our respective summer adventures.

Next morning, we set off to Khios.  We arrived in the late afternoon after a great downwind sail and parked stern to the new quay.  Yanis was there to meet us and we were delighted to see that there were showers and loos on the quay.  In the morning, we took a walk up to the village of Volissos where we found an old saddlemaker and joinery shop. The joiner was at home and switched his garden fountain on in our honour!  We had a peek into his workshop all twisted olive wood and wooden saddles for donkeys. The supermarket was small but superbly stocked and I was pleased to be able to buy some eco-friendly washing up liquid for the first time in Greece.

The owners agreed to give us a lift back to the port with all our shopping in an hours’ time so we continued our walk up into the village and found a lovely taverna for a late breakfast and a traditional wood fired bakery complete with sooty walls and doddery baker.

Once back at the boat we motored off to an anchorage at the south part of Khios and spent a calm night there in a deserted bay.

The wind had got up again the next day and we had a fair sail towards Ikaria.  Famous as the place where Ikarus flew off towards the sun.  Our pilot guide says that he believes Ikarus’ feathers were blown off not melted off, as the wind around Ikaria is renowned for its ferocity.  However, on the day we were there, there was no wind.

On arriving at Evdhilos port, we were informed by our lovely Greek neighbours that there was a traditional festival on in many of the mountain villages where there would be food and dancing to enjoy.  So we quickly organised a taxi and headed up to one of the villages at about 2200h.  The square was packed with people, tables and chairs.  The boys queued for food and Jill and I bagsied a table.  The food came wrapped in paper.  A huge amount of roasted goat, chips, Greek salad, tzatziki and bread, all to be washed down with locally produced red wine. Yum!

Soon the music livened up and people started to gather in the centre of the piazza to dance.  They linked hands and began to circle round demonstrating nimble foot work.  Irresistible!  We jumped up to join in.  Some of the dances went on for about 20 minutes.  We struck up a conversation with a lady on our table who told me she was 76 years old.  She was extremely fit and agile.  She lived in California, was married to a Brit and wanted to return to live in her native Ikaria.  She was on her annual sojourn to the island. I asked her about the secrets of the islanders longevity which we had heard so much about.  She said it was too complex a thing to explain in a five minute conversation.  She mentioned that it was to do with so many factors such as diet, exercise, mental well-being, family and social connections and so on.  Makes sense.

The following day we arose a little later than normal and hired a car to go off exploring.  We drove along the hairpin bends that skewer the rocky island slopes and wound our way towards the south coast and Kirikos.  After a quick stop at a pebbly beach and a dip, we headed back to watch the sun set.

Next day, the wind was perfect for the final leg of the journey south.  We surfed down huge waves and in big winds to arrive in Agia Annas on Naxos to a welcoming committee from Paddy, Sarah, Sam and Louis waving frantically from the quay.  How marvellous.

The evening was topped off with a visit to the open air cinema to see Zorba the Greek!

Next day, we chilled on the boat in the strengthening winds and then met up with my friend Jane Blanshard (an ex-colleague from Malsis) back at the open air cinema for a viewing of Mamma Mia!

We waved a fond farewell to Bryn and Jill and look forward to seeing them soon.   We were so pleased to have them, with their sailing experience, on board for the 300 miles surfing south and we celebrated reaching another milestone – our 5000th mile on Linea.

Reasons to be cheerful (in Greece)

Well, Greece IS the word.

Not only is the food fantastic, fresh and delicious;  the countryside and nature varied and beautiful but the Greek people are amazing!

Everyone we have met so far has been the epitome (Greek word, I believe!) of helpfulness and friendliness.

I am not intending any hyperbole (Greek word!) when I say that all of the people we have met have been a delight.

I can site at least three examples.

First new spreader in place.

First, was with the delightful and verbose Stavros of Manitsas Marine, who was arranging for the replacement of our mast spreaders.  We took advantage of his address and ordered some essential boat items from our marine suppliers in Germany – an order that would take a maximum of nine days.  We waited patiently but by the 27th July we were resigned to leaving it behind.  DHL could still not give a firm idea of when it would be delivered, even though it was apparently in Kavala some 20km away. We needed to depart as the winds were favourable and we had a long way to go.

We set off for Thassos Island about 20miles away after a very productive beach clean, up operation (200 litres of rubbish plus about 20 polystyrene boxes).   We arrived at Limenaria where we discovered a huge marina development was still underway.  We counted 14 trucks, diggers, steam rollers, etc., standing idle on the half-finished quay.  Anyway I digress.  In the morning we planned to leave early so Ian was up at 0530h to do his engine checks.  He discovered a bilge full of water and coolant.  Not good.

We called our friend Stavros at Manitsas Marine.  He gave us the number of a mechanic in Kavala.  He put us in touch with a mechanic on the island.  An hour later, Georgio arrived.  He contacted a friend who came to the boat on Saturday and spent four hours fixing new core plugs to the engine block.  He charged us 60 Euros.  All of this involved numerous calls to Theo the mechanic in Kavala who acted as translator.  What a star.

Second, Stavros was concerned because we asked him if he had any of the core plugs we needed. He didn’t have any in stock but said he would go into Kavala and buy some for us and not only that he would bring them to Thassos as he was coming that afternoon by boat with his family.  He also said that our parcel had arrived and he would bring that too – which he did at 2030h at night.  How incredibly kind!

Thirdly, we were keen to go to the Nestos gorge to do the river trip but car hire was very expensive in Kavala so we decided we would have to go by bus.  We found it difficult to suss out where the buses stopped and how we would get to the little village where the tour started.  We rang Helen at www.riverland.gr  and she offered to call the various bus companies to find out the score.  She rang us back in 20 minutes with all the details we needed to know.  Not only that, she agreed that they would drive down to the main road and pick us up at the bus stop and drop us back there after the trip.

Once again, above and beyond!!

Commonwealth War graves commission cemetery on Limnos. A very beautiful and moving place to spend the afternoon.
Windmills on Limnos

I met a lovely lady in Limnos who was down at the quay to drum up business for her laundry service.  (Vicky at FAME laundry 6936815902 2254024727 10 Euros for a 6KG load.)

She was handing out cards to boat owners and chatting.  Just as she was talking to some people about when to pick up their laundry she accidently dropped her car key, house keys and business keys into the sea!  Nightmare!  But she responded to this problem by saying, ‘If that is the bad thing that is supposed to happen to me today then I will accept it.  It is certainly not the worst that could happen!’

Such a positive and optimistic attitude.  I liked her immediately and quickly offered Ian’s services to dive down and retrieve the keys.  She said that wasn’t necessary as her brother is a diver and would come to find them and her husband was already on his way with spare keys!

So, plenty of reasons to be cheerful in Greece.

 

Trevor the Turtle

We don’t see a lot of sea life in the Aegean so it was a treat to see this fella swim past the boat.