Tag Archives: Skiathos

Mary Poppins!

Gosh, Greece is vast!  We’ve been sailing now for six weeks around Greek waters and have still only touched a minute fraction of its coasts which apparently stretch to some 14000km.

How pleasant an experience it has been, too.  Not just because we are more familiar with the boat and parking techniques but because the harbours, bays and town quays are set up for visiting yachties.  There is usually some welcoming person to help take your lines, to organise refilling water tanks, to arrange for a mini tanker to deliver diesel and camping gas and yer man, in his laden pickup, will generally call by in the morning, baskets overflowing with delicious produce; announcing loudly over the microphone mounted on the cab, ‘Pataatas!’ (I say, ‘Potatoes!’)

Which leads me to contemplate the food available here in Greece. In tavernas we have eaten well.  Chicken and tarragon, pork with plums, lamb with wine and vegetables, beef with baked whole onions, Greek salad, olives and olive oil, grilled squid and octopus, marinated sardines, fava bean dip, (‘Fuh, Fuh, Fuh, Fuh, Fuh, Fuh!’  as Hannibal Lector would say!!) cod’s roe and tomato dip, grilled courgettes and aubergines and all manner of fresh fish and seafood.

All washed down with reasonably priced wine which now comes in far more sophisticated vintages and blends than the rather ghastly retsina of old.  (We bought a bottle by accident and used it, rather effectively, I might add, to de-scale the kettle!!!)

The wealth of edible vegetation in the Northern Sporades is amazing.  Plums are a speciality around Skopelos but there is such a wide variety of vegetation.  From the conifer crowded alpine slopes of the high ground to the lush vegetation lower down.  We have seen walnut, hazelnut, chestnut, pistachio, vine, cherry, fig, plum, lemon and apricot trees.  Nearly every home has some kind of kitchen garden.  Recently, we have eaten a kind of samphire seaweed which looks a bit like lavender but is much more succulent.  It grows on the sea-waters’ edge and is vaguely salty in a perfumed kind of way.  An intriguing seaweed full of minerals and phosphorus, apparently.

Bakeries are another joy, with cheese pies, spinach pies, honey soaked sponges, mille feuilles filled with nuts and coiled rings of stuffed filo pastry that you just know are not going to change shape much when they land on your waistline!  As well as that, there is a fantastic variety of healthy brown, rye, spelt, oat and wholewheat breads.

But, Godliest of Greek goodies, Olympus of oral gratification, the Oracle of the olfactory, the pinnacle of provender, has got to be the humble gyros.  Simple, compact, substantial, tasty, balanced and healthy.

A comforting spongy pitta, (don’t think of those dry oval slippers from home)  cozily encasing grilled slices of chicken or pork, garlicky tzatziki yoghurt and cucumber dip, lettuce, succulent tomato and crunchy onions.  Hmmmm hmmmmm! (Most places now seem to add chips as an added extra but they are completely superfluous to requirement!)

At between €2.40 and €2.80 they are a meal in themselves and extremely good value.

Together with an Alpha, Fix or Mythos beer (€3.40/4) it is Mary Poppins!  –  Practically Perfect in Every Way!

 

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!!