So here we are, to para-phrase The Beatles, Back in the MddR!!!
We are loving the community feel and the gorgeous November weather.
On Saturday, Sheena, a great friend from uni, who lives in Rome, came for a quick weekend visit.
We had a wonderful time catching up with her and phoning Anne, Trish and Clare, our other Brudenell Avenue housemates from 2″1981-84!
Sheen had to leave on Monday and so we cracked on with some cleaning detail!
Laundry; in the new mini washing machine!
Polishing; all shackles, blocks and pulleys.
Oiling; anything that can move.
Taking down; all sails.
Removing lines and ropes; Running mousing lines instead of halyards and sheets.
Scrubbing; the bimini and sail bag.
De-barnacling: the dinghy.
Fixing; De-rusting and cleaning the bikes.
Bilges; cleaning and disinfecting.
Kim has been a model member of crew. She has cracked on with allocated jobs with gusto and been a great giggle to boot. In amongst, we have been to the beach, the market and to have a fabulous burger lunch at Burger Art!
On Wednesday 7th November Kostas and his friends came to pay a visit.
So far we have had happy hours, coffee mornings, rugby internationals, drinks next door, dinner with Di and John, trash Monday beach cleaning, a presentation about sailing in French Polynesia and much more. It’s a very active community here.
Now we have less than a week left to prep the boat for winter, socialise with all our MdR friends and get our heads ready for our winter season in the Sutski chalet.
As soon as Kostas had left, we slipped our lines and set off from Pilos for the 350 mile journey back to Marina di Ragusa. On reflection, perhaps not the best plan, but we were anxious to get on to ensure that we had good weather for the entire crossing. Unfortunately, it was really lumpy at sea and we hadn’t really had chance to get our sea legs; so we all felt a bit grim.
We had a fast sail for the first few hours then during mine and Kim’s watch, on a profoundly dark night, a squall blew in and hit the main sail hard pushing it across and breaking the preventer line on the boom. We managed to drop a reef in and stabalise the boat but it was a little scary for a while.
The next day brought really light winds so we were motoring for the entire day and night. Finally, we were able to sail again from about midnight on the third evening. During our watch on the third night a flock of birds appeared and showed off with a dazzling aerobatics display at the mast head. Two birds stowed away on board to rest up before setting off on their migratory flight again in the morning.
Whilst Ian was on watch, he called me up on deck at 0130h as we had snagged the keel on a thick line attached to some kind of fishing float. In a matter of minutes, the boat had slowed from a respectable 4.5kts down to 2.5kts.
Just as quickly, we began picking up speed again and were confident that the line had slipped away. It was a good thing it was so heavy and that we were sailing, not motoring. We did not want that size of rope around our propeller.
As daylight dawned, we could make out the coast of Sicily.
As we neared MdR, we decided to have a swim.
a) To wash off the accumulated grime from the last four days without showering, and,
b) To double check that there were no ropes around the keel, etc., before we made any strong turns into the marina.
We were soon showered, refreshed and dressed in clean clothes. We looked south and noticed some threatening clouds. Kim said that they looked like Dementors. Within minutes, the wind had whipped up to 35kts and the rain came lashing down. We had just called the marina to announce our arrival but called them back to say that we would stand off and come in once everything had calmed down. We waited for 45 minutes, staying head to wind and bouncing along the waves that had built up from virtually nothing.
A much-needed chocolate boost was distributed and gradually our heart rates and the weather began to calm down.
We made it into the marina and to our berth with no problems. Although, Ian later revealed, the alternator had a final, almost fatal, flurry to add to the frisson of the moment! It stopped working briefly but then rallied and seemed to recover itself!
There was a wonderful welcoming committee on the pontoon.
After pizza and a good night’s sleep we felt much brighter and on Saturday began to winterise the boat, as well as complete the huge list of jobs; cleaning, repairing, and, of course, socialising,
Having decided on the perfect weather window to get us across to Sicily, a further problem with the alternator meant that we missed the chance to leave when we wanted to. We then had to wait for a few more days to be sure of a three day window. Regrettably, this meant that we were not going to be back in MdR in time to see Gaye and Chris. Bloody boat and weather!
On the plus side though, it did mean that we could ask if Kim wanted to help with the crossing. She said, ‘Yes’, and within 36 hours was travelling to Athens and on to Pilos. We also met Carol and Paul on Swallow and Claire and Pete on Blue Vigil and had good times with them.
We were surrounded by ‘dead’ yachts that had been abandoned in Pilos. What a waste!
Ian was taken off by the port police because they thought he had been trying to remove some of the equipment on board one of the abandoned boats – as if!
On Monday 29th October, we explored a little more of the town with Kim and had our last ever gyros.
We provisioned up for the trip across to Sicily and then spent the afternoon cooking and getting ready to go.
We did not fancy these though!
The next morning we were up at 0530hrs and preparing to drop the lines. Ian started the engine as he had every morning since we had the alternator fixed. It wasn’t working properly AGAIN!
We rang Kostas who came out for a third time, to have another look and try to fix the problem once and for all.
He took the offending alternator away to repair it in Kalamata. Kindly, he offered Ian a lift to Messini as we decided to purchase a generator in case the alternator should pack up during our return to Sicily. This was our back up plan.
Kostas soon had the alternator repaired and was happy with everything. He is going to Sicily on holiday next week so we have arranged to meet up.
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!)
Having arrived in the sweltering heat it soon became apparent that Monemvasia didn’t want us to leave. The wind changed to a strong Westerly, grew up into a boisterous teenager and went through full blown adolescence in the course of the following few days.
And so here we were. Pinned against the harbour breakwater with gusts of up to 50 knots rocking us over and slamming the cutlery drawer open and shut in the throes of a proper teenage temper tantrum. Thunder and lightning overhead have caused some yachts to lay chain from boat to sea bed to provide a possibility of earthing any strikes. All of us have put our electronic items in the oven!
One night we all watched anxiously as two charter boats with a large group of Russians aboard demonstrated a Charter boat cha-cha in the middle of the night. Poor things. They ended up side-to the very end of the pontoon in howling winds after some impressive midnight maneuverings.
The up side has been that we have met a great bunch of people. Some waiting to head south, some, like us, to head east.
There have been; Brits, French, German, Dutch, Polish. We have completed a Trash Tuesdays harbour plastic pick with everybody (Four large bags of plastic most of it in minuscule pieces, about 15kg in all) and had coffee and drinks on various boats. There was a breakwater party one evening and a barbecue the next. We have all been out for a meal to the T’Akrogiali taverna run by Tsakis, who is a delight, and whose Mama does all the cooking.
In between fending ourselves off the quay, we have had the chance to walk around the very pretty village of old Monemvasia (It is like a smaller and more rustic Dubrovnic) and do a circular walk around the jagged rock. We have restocked our provisions, gas and water supplies.
We have seen the giant loggerhead turtles that frequent the bay daily. They have distinct markings so we know it is the same two that return. They gracefully swim around and pop up from time to time for a breath. I was cutting Ian’s hair the other day whilst sitting on the back of the boat and one of them swam right under his toes.
Tomorrow the wind will have died down a little which means that:
A) We can actually get off the quay
B) We can sail most of the way to Milos, due east of here.
Of course, we will have to come back this way in order to sail back to MdR in Sicily. So far this year, despite the best laid plans, because of unfavourable winds, we have still seen very little of the Peloponnese, the Argolic gulf or the Saronic gulf.