With Keira back on board it was time to start heading east to pick up Erin and Josh from Kos.
Even the Meltemi wind had gone on holiday, so we had delightful and stress free sailing and stops in Schinousa, Amorgos, Levitha and finally Kos Marina.
Kos Marina gave us a convenient spot close to the shower block and laundry. Were they trying to tell us something?
The next day, with Erin and Josh too, we departed for a jaunt to Nisos Pserimos, just north of Kos, for an overnight anchorage prior to returning to sit out the next meltemi winds. The anchorage was fantastic although there was a lot of debris on the beach including three knackered old RIBS.
We had a great sail back to the old harbour in Kos Town. The Town Quay is in use despite a shocking 6.7 Richter scale earthquake last year. The quake has created quite a severe kinks and cracks in the concrete but the bollards are still in place. We took a road trip in a hire car round the island and were pleasantly surprised at how leafy and green it was in places.
We had a lovely few days in Kos town (Trash Tuesday turned into ‘Trash Every Day of the Week’ as we collected loads of plastic from within the harbour!) We celebrated my birthday with a meal out and rigging up my new fishing rod! All too soon it was time to say TTFN to Keira who was going back to the UK to work at Oxford Summer School.
We met up with Jacqueline and Peter from SY Dolce Farr Niente, M D R Friends, and it was great to compare notes with them despite the distractions of Wimbledon and World Cup finals on TV.
As soon as the wind calmed to a brisk 18kts we decided to leave Kos for an anchorage to the south of the island. Kamares Bay is well-protected, experiences little swell and has facilities ashore, so was perfect for us. We stayed for a couple of nights and then had a lovely downwind sail straight to Nisos Nisiros.
What a pretty village and pleasant harbour.
We hired a car here to explore the caldera, villages and black sand beaches of this incredible volcano island. The smell of sulphur wafting from the caldera was almost overpowering.
It was truly amazing.
Our next sail was a thirty-five miler east to Symi. This island is tucked in under the Datca peninsula. We anchored in Ay Marina just north of Pethi and enjoyed the crystal clear waters. The wind was a fruity 28kts gusting in here but we were safe. Two nights here, and then we headed to Symi town to check out of Greece.
Symi Town is soooo lovely. The buildings encircle the bay and creep up the steep slopes around. They are all designed as if by a child, each with symmetrical windows, central door, red tiled rooves, colourful doors and window shutters. The clock tower was just like the miniature wooden ones that come in a toy farm set. Heikell describes it as ‘an exotic flower in a desert’, but it’s too cute for that. Certainly, it is a surprising and endearing place. (More of that in a later blog!)
Erin, Ian and I set off for Prevesa. Our aim was to complete the necessary Greek paperwork and to do some laundry. Both necessary evils! We had a wonderful sail up the west coast of Levkas so avoiding the channel and the apparently temperamental swing bridge. We arrived in Prevesa in time for the Saturday night perambulations – known as La Passegiata in Italian, and La Volta in Greek. Perfect people watching.
Ian showed incredible persistence to finally acquire our DEPKA form. He presented a letter from the Coast Guard office in Argostoli saying that they had run out of forms and that we had tried to register. There were also no forms in Prevesa either, although apparently, five were due to arrive…would Ian kindly return tomorrow morning? This he duly did and we were in luck.
The form was given to us, stamped and chocked. All our passports and papers were photocopied. Ian then had to go to the tax office to be given an invoice for 29 euros. From there he was directed to the National Bank to pay the invoice, from where he would take his receipt back to the Coastguard in order to have the paperwork finalised.
By this time the washing had been done and dried. We set off for Paxos to meet our great friend Sue Lowrey.
We moored on the north quay, away from the town centre in the most dramatic of settings yet. An island protects the channel from the open sea and winds. It is the most wonderful anchorage. Understandably busy. We set about tidying up the boat and preparing drinks and nibbles. Sue and Margaret arrived and we enjoyed giving them the guided tour.
After a delicious pasta dinner and yet more wine, we staggered back to the boat and slept soundly..
Next day, Sue picked us up and gave us a tour of the island of Paxos by car. We spend a pleasant afternoon sunning ourselves on the beach and then went back to Margaret’s beautiful hillside home for a delicious dinner.
We had a jobs day on the Thursday and then welcomed Sue and Margaret for breakfast and coffee, after their morning swim, before saying a fond farewell and sailing off to Sivota-Mourtos.
We anchored in Middle Bay since the weather was quite settled and enjoyed some nice swimming around the boat. I tried fishing again but with no luck at all. We shot out in the dinghy to do some beach combing. We were about to go ashore on to the biggest of the islands when we noticed a herd of rather shaggy goats with large horns on the beach. We stayed off some distance and admired them from afar.
Next stop was Corfu. We anchored stern to in the incredibly smelly East Basin. Compensated by the fact that you are right next to the Old Town and tucked under the fort and it’s free! We wandered through the streets to the cricket field and showed Erin the colonnaded Venetian style streets.
The next day, Ian and Alice Daggett arrived and we promptly set off to our anchorage further north where we had a quiet and smell free night. The next afternoon we had to dropped Erin off at the airport. She was returning to the UK to work for six weeks to save money for her up-coming ski season in Tignes.
We zig-zagged across the channel to stay in Plataria and then Pagania. We had some good sailing. The anchorage at Pagania half a mile from the Albanian border was amazing. Once we had driven past numerous large and ugly fish farms we turned the dog leg to discover a completely enclosed anchorage. No tavern, no bars, no body and no signal!
So, back to Corfu Town and another fond farewell to Mr and Mrs D. We had had a wonderful few days with them.
As strong southerly winds were expected over the next few days we decided to head north to Kassiopi on the Northern tip of Corfu. We had a few happy days there meeting up with Andy and Denise Hurley on Comet whom we had first met in Mallorca back in April/May.
Our next visit was from old friend and fellow sailor, William Dear. We had a boozy night with him in Corfu Town celebrating the sale of his boat. As you may know, the happiest days of any sailor’s life are the day he buys a boat and the day he sells it! )
After our top week in the UK, we scooted back to Sicily, leaving Erin behind, as she had to attend interviews for ski season jobs. We met up with Kim (Carnegie friend) and Ollie (Kim’s son) at Wetherby services and travelled with them to Ragusa where we met up with Sheena (Coo-eee!) (Another Carnegie chum). This was to be the super crew to help us sail from Sicily to Kephalonia in one hit – three days and nights at sea.
We had a fantastic crossing, great laughs and pleasant sailing on very convenient winds. We had a stowaway for a small part of the trip…a swift, soon named Taylor, who came into the boat for a sleep and then, as suddenly as she had arrived, disappeared off in the vague direction of Africa.
We arrived in Kephalonia to be greeted by the most amazing smell wafting on the breeze from the island of cypress trees, rosemary and jasmine! Gorgeous! The church bells were peeling exactly as we sailed into the bay at Argostoli.
We were soon tied up and jumped ashore to have a hearty breakfast in one of the many cafes.
We walked down the quay to see the giant loggerhead turtles that frequent the bay. Simply stunning. The conservation group were there telling us all about them. www.wildlifesense.com
Erin flew in to Kephalonia for a holiday on board and we set off around the island. (We met her at the airport and saw this interesting sign.)
Leaving Argostoli we headed south. Unable to get into the planned port of call on the south coast we had to divert to Zakinthos. A fortunate diversion it proved to be. Almost as soon as we arrived alongside, Kostas helped us tie up and offered us discount at his restaurant and hotel and Nicolas arrived on his tractor offering us tastes of his wares. We ended up buying heavenly olive oil, wine, honey, feta, olives, dried sage, fresh bread, tomatoes and currants! Perfect.
From there we headed north to Effimia on east Kephalonia. We were bossed loudly into our berth on the town quay by an officious but efficient marinero/harbour master, who really knew his stuff. He gave us our best lesson yet in mooring Med style with an anchor and lines to stern.
We pottered further north and stopped en route to swim and relax in a gorgeous bay. The sea bream were out so grabbing my line and rod and stale bread supplies I set to catching fish. Within seconds I had my first bite. Two fish at once. In the next 30 minutes Erin and I had caught another three. They were duly gutted, prepared, marinated, and cooked by Sheen, and eaten by us all for lunch.
Next stop was Fiscardo in the north. We moored stern to the Northern part of the bay with long lines ashore. And had an anxious time trying to get the anchor to bite and to get the lines ashore in a dinghy with a broken rowlock!
Sadly, after a couple of days relaxing and exploring the village, it was time to say goodbye to my mates
and then it was just the three of us again.
On the first evening in Cala Portals Vells I announced to Ian that I was going to do some fishing! He smiled ruefully, remembering his frustrating childhood experiences of fruitless fishing trips, perhaps?
Well, I prepared my line, which is four little hooks and a wine bottle cork, for a float, a very rudimentary affair. I happened to have made some popcorn the night before and thought that it might make good bait, especially since it floats quite well. Looking down I could see shoals of sea bream all around the boat. I tested their hunger levels by lobbing in a few morsels of popcorn. They were immediately snapped up.
No messing, this was the time to get my line in. Ian walked away to do some kind of job. I threw out my line with another handful of popcorn and immediately I felt a tug. Disbelieving my own luck I looked down to see a silvery wriggle below the boat. I shrieked over to Ian who thought I was having him on as he had barely had time to walk the full length of the boat. He rushed back in time to see me pull up my line with not one, but two sea bream on it!
We dispatched the fish, removed the hooks and dipped the line again.They were only small….we needed more. This time I just caught one more unsuspecting fish.
Subsequent attempts revealed that the fish can learn. They would not come near my popcorn bait until it had drifted far off leaving my constellation of popcorn hooks looking so obviously fake.
They did not bite.
So we made do with three. I gutted them and de-scaled them and we had three little fishes on a little dishy, for us tea!
Next day, buoyed by my success I had another go and caught one more fish. Just enough for a small lunch. But after that the fish had wised-up. No more were tempted by my popcorn, bread or tortilla wraps.
We finally managed to drag ourselves away from the turquoise waters and the comings and goings in Cala Portals Vells and, on the morning of our departure, a huge motor cruiser pulled into the bay and dropped anchor.
Staff were busy polishing the stainless steel, laying out fluffy towels on the sun beds and frothing the bubbles in the top deck jacuzzi. Speculation mounted on our boat that this could be Bruce Springsteen since he played in Madrid the night before! Apparently, he had a similar kind of holiday in Mallorca three years ago between gigs. So, we hung around a bit more and sticky beaked through our fabulous binoculars but just saw lots of white uniformed crew members. A quick look on the internet revealed that the cost of chartering this cruiser for a week, low season, was $470,000 plus expenses which would add a further $70,000 on top! Mere bagatelle! We sat in the same cove, with the same sun rise for a lot less than that!
We set off towards Andratx (and thence to Palma) and our surprise assignation with Ian’s parents who had rung the night before to tell us they had booked a last minute cruise to the Mediterranean.
We anchored in the bay and I went ashore in the dinghy to restock supplies as we were virtually out of wine, and less crucial supplies, like fresh fruit and vegetables!
It was sad to see the poor Frenchman’s boat moored up and collecting a light dusting of Saharan sand and salt.
The next day we retraced our route and dodged the race regatta boats that were skimming along around us, and then headed round to Paguera but on looking at the small Cala we decided it wouldn’t offer enough protection against the forecasted strong northerly and northeasterly winds so we continued round towards Santa Ponca which is a wide bay surrounded by tall, sheltering buildings.
We set both anchors just in case and had a very good night with no buffeting at all. Ian had even figured out how to stop the wind turbine so I wouldn’t feel the vibrations from it rotating all night!
We spent three lovely days here. Although the beach front and town are not so attractive as other places we’ve seen, we were able to replenish food stocks again and suss out a great anchorage. All jet skiing is regulated here and must be done from a floating pontoon way out in the bay, so it is a really quiet place to be, even though it’s so huge. Whilst sneaking in to the marina to do our laundry we were pleased to meet up with fellow Soller pontooners on Moondance of Cork. We had a lovely catch up chat, and their dulcet tones reminded us once again of Fascinating Aida’s rendition of Cheap Flights! If you’ve not heard it, please do Google it!
On the 25th we sailed round to Palma de Mallorca, to one of the many marinas there and predictably arrived in time to park up in the strongest wind we had had for days!
We were down to our last drops of water which we had eeked out. So whilst Ian sorted out the recycling and the gas cylinder, I refilled the tanks. We then set too scrubbing the decks, windows and covers so that the boat would look her best for Henry and June’s visit.
Meanwhile, we spent some time marvelling at the super yachts parked up around us. Across the way, in the boat yard, an enormous yacht was having it’s mast stepped. There are 850 berths in this marina, there are eight marinas in total here – that’s a lot of boats and a great deal of wealth is evident. This must be one of the nicest back drops for a marina though. Here we are tucked under the Cathedral and beside the Museum of Contemporary Art and four incredible old windmill towers and sails.
Such a beautiful city.
We were up and at ’em early; my first proper shower in five days! Bliss. Then we walked all the way along the fantastic promenade, people watching the whole time, to meet up with Henry and June outside the Cruise Ship terminal building. It was soooo lovely to see them and we all had little weep. So bizarre to be unexpectedly together in this lovely city, chatting as we wandered back in the warm sunshine. We gave H and J the full guided tour (which takes about two minutes, by virtue of the fact that everything is very compact) In fact, it probably took longer for us to shoehorn them both down the hatch and into the main saloon! ‘From the sublime to the ridiculous’ springs to mind when I think about the difference in size of their ship (20 floors high) and our dinky little boat.
We wandered through the old part of town to eat in a lovely tapas bar called 13 Prozent which had been recommended by a friend of a friend who lives in Palma. Delicious and reasonably priced lunch and then back to our respective ships.
By the time H and J had walked back to the Ventura, we had left our mooring and were motoring across the bay within the breakwaters. We did a sail-by and happened to spot them as they were boarding the ship. We were all waving like crazy things. It was a very special moment!
We then made our way out to the bay to hang about whilst the ship departed. We sailed along with her until she sped away at 16 knots towards Italy. We waved again but couldn’t make out anybody on the port side promenade deck as it was in the shade.
We continued to sail across the bay to our anchorage at El Arenels. The evening sun warm on our backs. As soon as the anchor was down we dived in to cool off and check it was well bedded in.
We watched the sun go down over then distance hill and gazed up at the stars. It is simply heavenly tonight. Very little wind, safely anchored, only one other yacht, and a view of the lights around the whole of Palma Bay!
We left the bay of Palma and sailed off out round the Cabo Blanc with the dark clouds brooding overhead. It was akin to driving the wrong way down a one way street. We passed so many charter boats that were returning to Palma after their week away.
Keen to try out my tuna hooks I carefully removed my new line from my fishing tackle box and tied on my hook and lure. Within minutes I had created the most confounded and inexplicable mess and tangle of line from what was a perfectly looped coil! Confident that I could untangle it I had a go, but no, it became even more mangled and knotted.
I gave up, threw it away and reverted to using my mackerel line.
We trawled that hook and lure most of the day. Not a bloody thing!!!
Since arriving in Mallorca
we have not seen any dolphins or tuna. We have seen sea bream, jelly fish and Velella Velella, (the jelly fish with the sail on their backs!)
Tomorrow, we set off to Porto Pollenca to meet up with the Chown family.