Tag Archives: paradise

Alone again- naturally

Looking at the weather and wind for the next few days we decided we would be able to have a great sail south back to the Gulf of Volos which we had by-passed earlier in the week.  Indeed, it was a gorgeous day and the wind was perfect.  We had been sailing for about twenty minutes when Ian went to check the charts.  I was on watch and had a good look around thinking how nice it is to be sailing and not to have the tractor engine interrupting the peace and quiet of the open seas.  Not even the slapping of the dinghy could be heard as it chased along behind us.

I turned to check the dinghy. GONE!

Shouting for Ian I explained that the dinghy had escaped again.

‘Dinghy’s gone!’  I said as directly and simply as I could.

‘Where?’ Ian responded, rather unnecessarily, I thought at the time.

‘Back there,’ I explained as precisely as I could, under the circumstances.

‘Right, go and set a course back along our track but slightly to the right and then get on those ‘knockers and see if you can spot it.’

Houdini, the naughty dinghy.

No sooner said than done!  I could see the miscreant dancing along the waves about a mile or so away.  If it had had arms, it would have been waving vees at us from each hand.  Two other yachts were already heading towards it.  Would they take it hostage?  Quick!  Gun the engine!

With only the loss of one particularly useless boat hook whose handle came right off in my hand when I grabbed the dinghy, we managed to get the beggar back and firmly tied on to the back cleat with a safety loop that even Houdini couldn’t have got out of. Without further incident or insubordination we anchored in a quiet bay in the south east corner of the Gulf of Volos. Now, we are on holiday!

The Race for Skiathos

The depression heading our way has forced an extended stay here in Voufalo, but there are worse places you could be, even if it is raining constantly.

After a productive day; me making new cockpit cushions and Ian doing boat jobs, we set off into the Evia Channel once more. This time the weather was much more like what I ordered and we soon arrived in Khalkis on the south side of the Old Bridge. After completing the paperwork (Ie: complete paperwork, pay the man in the office on the quay; walk round to the port police, show them your paperwork and receipt, which they check. They then issue instructions to be ready on Channel 12 from 2130hrs and to listen to be called individually to proceed through the gap. All noted, we set off back to the boat to eat and wait) and paying the $35 to pass through the narrow gap created by the retracting of the bridge we motored through with a good dozen other yachts at about 2230hrs at night. We anchored in a large bay on the north side and had a peaceful night’s sleep.

Next day, we hoped to make it to the northern tip of Evia and the day after we would be in Skiathos by late afternoon to meet Alice and Ian.

Naughty flag wants to sit on Ian’s head and keep him warm.

We left our anchorage early and arrived at Orei at midday in flat calm conditions, sun blazing down…now THIS is what I ordered!   We re-fuelled, bought a new gas bottle topped up provisions, got rid of rubbish and recycling and stretched our legs. After a brief chat with some Kiwis on Aphrodite we set off again as the breeze freshened – from the North – our precise direction of travel.

We tacked back and forth for hours as the wind really picked up and black clouds moved in. We made roughly five miles headway over the course of four hours in 30 odd knots of wind and big waves. Finally, the wind dropped sufficiently for us to be able to put the engine on. Even so we would still be a further four hours at least until we had covered the remaining 15 miles or so to Skiathos. (In fact it was more like six and a half!)

We motored on, Linea slicing through the waves. As we approached Skiathos the rain arrived – great fat blobs that actually hurt when they landed. By now, we both had our full wet weather gear on as lightning forked around us and thunder clapped away – a proper rousing welcome.

We lowered the dinghy off the back of the boat in preparation for stern-to berthing. Just as I was tidying up the lines I noticed the dinghy belligerently bobbing off its cleat and bouncing silently into the night! A neat abou- face and we managed to grab the escapee with a boat hook and soon had it tied up again, hearts pounding.

As we came into Skiathos harbour we heard a powerful shriek from the quay, despite the howling wind.

‘Saraaaaaaahhhhhh!’ It had to be Alice!

We identified the spot where we wanted to park. Alice and Ian were ready to receive our lines, bravely ignoring the lashing rain.
We rapidly put the boat to bed and Ian rigged the ridiculously short gangplank. I launched myself onto dry land almost kissing it before Alice in my relief to be tied up to something solid!!

It was so great to see our friends after such a traumatic and long journey (15 hours) Nothing that chat with old friends from the Shire, a few beers and a healthy chicken gyros couldn’t help us laugh about!!

From Albania to Italy

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Forgot to mention the rain in Kassiopi. So much that the life jackets deployed in the locker of the dinghy and had to be forcibly removed.
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Wet weather gear. Wet inside and out!

We left Saranda after saying goodbye to our agents Jelja and Gazman and headed straight to Kassiopi.  We exchanged our gas bottle and as soon as we were ready set off from the bay and sailed westwards.

I was lazing about reading the pilot guide when Ian mentioned something about a big black cloud ahead.

I scurried off to get my wet weather jacket.  I had already had to remove my wet weather trousers because I was too hot.  So I was looking rather fetching in my wellies, shorts and waterproof.

Ian suggested putting a further reef into the sail to make it smaller.  I was busy with my zip!  He realised we had no time to put the reef in because by the time you’ve thought of it, it is, of course, already too late!  I had time to release the main sail just when the storm hit us.  The rain came lashing down, Ian had reached the wheel and resumed the helming from the auto pilot.  We turned in a huge circle and ran away down wind.  The wind was gusting up to 46 knots and the boat made a top speed of 13.5 knots.  (I am glad I didn’t know about that until we made landfall in Italy some 24 hours later!) wind-gust Ian was being lashed by horizontal rain as the lightning came down and the wind howled.  He was like King Lear raging against the elements!

As quickly as it arrived the storm left us and thunder continued to rumble overhead for another hour gradually retreating.  Ian put his jacket on over his soaking wet shirt – in an attempt to keep warm.  How am I going to get that dry?

The rest of the day and night went uneventfully as we batted at an average speed of 6 knots towards Crotone, Calabria.  The sea was rather lumpy and so we rolled up and over waves the whole time which made us feel pretty awful.  It seemed like an incredibly long crossing but, in fact, it was quite quick.  We arrived at 0430hrs just off the coast and rather than trying to enter the port in the dark we decided to hove-to and sat bobbing about like that for three hours whilst we had a nap.

Soon we were heading into the Yacht Kroton Club in Puorto Vecchio, Crotone and were looking forward to a pizza, a sleep and some wine later in celebration of Ian’s 56th Birthday!

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Friends in the Ionian

img_3464Erin, 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.img_3439

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 img_3441arrived 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.img_3443

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 the-daggets-in-kalimi-bay-corfuarrived 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.waterbaby

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! img_3580

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 andy-and-denise-hurley-on-cometwhom 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! )

Next stop, Albania

Thence to Sicily.

Go Greece!

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The Crucial Crew, Ragusa day out.

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.

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Ian, Sheena, Kim, Ollie, Sarah
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‘Taylor’ Swift
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Bowline tying lessons en route.

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.

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Doric lighthouse at the entrance to Argostoli, Kephalonia
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First sight and smell of Kephalonia – bliss.

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.

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Sheena, Sarah, Ian, Kim and Ollie.

We were soon tied up and jumped ashore to have a hearty breakfast in one of the many cafes.

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Town Quay at Argostoli where the loggerhead turtles come to feed everyday.

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

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What are ‘Neatness personnel’?

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.)

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New crew – now with Erin too.

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.  img_1725Within 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 andsic-keph-9 exploring the village, it was time to say goodbye to my mates
and then it was just the three of us again.