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Friday, 15 August 2014

Well, so much for keeping a blog up on our sailing trip!!! It is now August 15th, and having sailed around the Aegean and the Greek islands, we are now in Norway, and I have some time, and a good internet connection to try and get the blog up to date with a few tales from our trip and our destinations.
   I think I last wrote from Kythnos, around the second of June, and bad weather. So a little recap, and continue....
Loutra, Kythnos. …....What a lovely little place, made even better by all the guys at Sofrano restaurant, it's one of the restaurants along the sea front, but with lovely drift wood pieces, and hand made pottery ashtrays, cups and bowls. Yannis the owner makes the driftwood yachts and pot-holders himself, he is an absolute sweetheart, and we felt so at home there, and like we had made a friend for life. Plus their food is delicious, and a little bit different from the normal Greek fare. Oh and their red wine is to die for, just sorry we didn't get any to have on board with us, and Yannis wouldn't let us pay the last evening we were there either. Loutra was perfect in every way, no traffic, small, quiet, great walks for the dogs, stunning coastline walks. Clean beach and sea. Lovely people, good food.
Plus amazing walks round the coast, stunning rock formations, and natural beauty.
Got the chance to stay there a couple of days as well as the weather was so shitty, and we decided we were better off staying put. But the time did come to leave, and the morning broke with sun at last, so let ropes go, up anchor and Syros.
Not much of a sail, wind was all wrong, but pretty calm considering how it had been. WE stopped just before Finikas to have a swim, and the water was really cold once more, but still felt great. Finikas, a sort of one road village that runs along the sea edge, nothing to write home about, but served its purpose, of a rest over for the night with electric and 200litres of water to top up our tanks, ^th June dawned with a chill wind once more and overcast, but after doing the doggy morning walk and some supplies, the sky had cleared and bit and the wind felt perfect. Mykonos, as our destination, as the wind looked good for that direction. Sails up as soon as we cleared the bay, and we had a wonderful sail for most of the way to the two small islands Iriana and Delos, then the Meltemi hit us, you're just happily sailing at a respectable 7.8 knots and then all hell breaks loose!!! Ok trim sails, reef in genoa, but no, this wind will rip you in half...Mainsail up so turn into wind to get it down, and quick, a lot of flapping and bumpy rocky stuff goes on meanwhile...don't you just love my sailing terms!!!! Anyway, all good fun, and at last sails down and motor on, wind relentless, sea, actually not too bad.
Oh at this point I forgot to say, that we have both bashed our home once each so far! Each time it was whilst trying to move the boat a fraction whilst already moored. Tom bashed the bow against the quay in Monemvasia, and I bashed the stern in Syros, whilst letting the anchor out what was supposed to be a fraction, and I was somewhat too heavy handed to say the least!!!! I also bent the arm of the pasarel, as it hit a bollard, but Tom was able to straighten it again, but the dent in the stern will remain for now I'm afraid. My mind goes blank when faced with numbers...like let the anchor out a metre, like from 37 to 38, on the counter not from 37 to 44 as I did!!!!!! Bang...ooops, did I do that?!!!! Anchor practice for me I think in a quiet bay somewhere, away from concrete quays.
So in Mykonos now, and too many cars, and too much noise....in the marina, as supposed to be best shelter, though still pretty rocky. Tomorrow we'll go and explore the town, as I have always wanted to see it, then maybe we will stay another night, maybe we'll leave, depends on wind really as usual. For now, it's been another long full day and I am ready for shut eye.
Town is lovely, just as I imagined, and full of loads of beautiful shops, luckily I am no longer even the slightest bit tempted.. The most expensive beer so far though, five euros for a small bottle of Mythos!!!!
Time to move on, but it didn't prove so easy....a cat had come in to the marina late in the evening and dropped its anchor chain over ours, then with the situation there of anchor chains and mooring lines, we got in a right mess...Tom managed to get the chain uncaught but then picked up a mooring line, and another chain right under our hull and near the rudder, plus no room to manoeuvre. Eventually after a slightly bent stanchion we managed to get ourselves out, certainly not the easiest marina so far!! Next stop Ikaria, and we had a wonderful sail once more and stopped overnight at a little harbour, went alongside, but a big swell all night so not so comfortable. Had a lovely evening swim though. Off early and out into a messy sea, Jesse does not like this sort of sea, and it takes her a while to settle, not much sailing, but a beautiful sunny day otherwise. Arrived Samos, Pythagorian, where Tom had come fifteen years earlier and had sat on the sea front, looking at the yachts, and wishing that one day he would be sitting on the yacht looking at the people in the bars....so his wish came true...bustling tourist town now, but we met a very nice couple there, so spent a lovely evening with them. A few hitches with the chain knitting problems, and had to re set the anchor at one point, but otherwise a really quiet and calm couple of nights.
A good sail down to Patmos. And a stop overnight in a lovely bay called Agria Livadia...wild pastures....lovely swims, both afternoon and early morning, but a lot of wind coming in the next day, so we left and went around the corner to Skala.....Crazy wind by the time we got there, thought it would be really tricky to moor with the high winds hitting us from the side, but luckily we managed without too much problem, but then sorted more ropes as extra security later, and it was still blowing a hooly.  

Mykonos.

 Windmills in Mykonos.
 Jess, and the cats, Mykonos.

 
That was cheating a bit, as I found I had made some notes and saved them, so up till here was easy to remember...so, to make things a bit easier, I am going to show all the places we visited and in which order, then I will write little snippets about each place, and add some photos, on a daily basis whilst here in Norway.
So, starting from Gouvia Marina, Corfu 11th May, we visited.....
Mourtos
Paxos, Lakka
Lefkas
Meganisi
Kalamos
Gefalonia, Fiskardo
Poros, Cephalonia
Zakinthos
Katakalon
Kiparissia
Pilos
Finakounda
Porto Kayio
Monemvasia
Leonidion
Spetses
Hydra
Kythnos,Loutra
Siros,Finikas
Mykonos
Ikaria,Evdilos
Samos,Pythagorian
Patmos,Agria Livadia
Patmos,Skala
Lipsi
Arkangelo
Leros,Plakoudi
Leros,Panteli
Kalymnos
Turkey, Knidos
Symi
Turkey, Bozuk Buku
Rhodes, Lindos
Rhodes, Mandraki
Turkey, Bozuk Buku
Halki
Tilos
Nysiros
Kos
Astipalea
Amorghos
Naxos
Siros
Kythnos
Poros
Aigina
Corinth Canal
Kiato
Trizonia
Patras
Mesalonghi
Ithaca, Vathi
Lefkas,Sivota
Meganisi, Abeliki
Preveza
Paxos, Mongonisi
Paxos Lakka
Mourtos
Corfu, Benitses. 1st August 

Then we picked up the car,made sure Silfrania was safe and all tucked up, with people keeping an eye on her, and three days after arriving in Corfu, we left on the night ferry to Ancona, on  Monday 4th. We arrived in Ancona at 16.00 on Tuesday 5th  and drove to Norway, stopping in Amsterdam to visit my son Eusebios, and then arriving in Norway on Thursday 7th August 10.30 am!!!!......PHEW!!!!!!
 

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Well, what an eventful day today has been so far, woke in the morning, to reasonable calm, and at 6.00am the yacht one along from us left. Then around 7.00am the wind started to pick up, another yacht left, this time from inside the harbour, so I thought it would be good if we could move to their spot, as it was going to get a bit too crazy for comfort where we were. The French girls, then said they were going to move there, which I was a bit peeved about as I had told them about the gap, and said we would probably move. Then luckily, they put out an extra line, so they reckoned they were ok. We wasted no time, and cast off to move round, the wind was so strong by this point that it pushed us over our other neighbors, some friendly Brits, anchor chain, and dislodged their anchor. Anyway we got moved and into safety, then I walked back to the Brits to see if I could help them move as well, as there was another spot alongside, just big enough for them, plus I wanted to apologize for the anchor thing! So they moved safely, and just the French girls were left on that side of the quay. Wind came up yet more, and it really was looking impossible for them to stay there, their little yacht...a sunsail...was all over the shop, so eventually they moved and rafted up alongside another French yacht ( there are a lot of French here at the moment!!) on the inside of the same quay.
   As we were now all settled, time for some breakfast, then a walk.
I took the dogs and had the most exhilarating walk up and around the coast. Nature at its meanest yet best, angry sea, smashing on the rocks, spray in my face and the wind whistling round my head, the dogs and I walked down on the rocks close to the sea, and I think I can safely say that all three of us enjoyed it equally. It was just a shame Tom had chosen to stay on the boat, just to make sure things were all secure, I tried to film it but obviously made a cock up cause each piece of film is only a second long, I must have been pressing the wrong button on my phone!! By the time I got back to the boat a couple of hours later, the sun was out and I was boiling, Tom was washing down the boat from the red rain we had had earlier so I took advantage, changed into my swimsuit and had a quick shower on the deck, and was dry in a second because of the wind. Then we spotted a couple more struggling yachts making their way here. They both went to take their sails down, but one seemed to be having difficulties, and the genoa ( the sail in the front) was just flapping like crazy in the wind, the boat was bucking and rolling like crazy, and they couldn't get that sail in whatever they did. The other yacht had got in safely and had rafted up against the French girls. But this one was in trouble as it came in, sail still flapping, everyone on the quay...all the French, anyway!!....shouting and screaming instructions, nine people on the yacht looking shell shocked, as they came in with no control and smashed right into the quay whilst trying to throw tangled bits of rope and get fenders along the side. More shouting and screaming from the French, more tying of fenders, all of this you understand while the yacht is tossing all over the place as the wind and waves batter it. Eventually they managed to get a couple of lines tied, but it is not a very safe place to stay, but I left off watching as it started to pour with rain, Tom had tried to help, but as he said it was definitely a case of too many cooks, and he said that no one on the yacht seemed to have the foggiest idea about anything to do with boats, ropes, sea or sailing! I'll have a look a bit later to see if they have manged to get that sail in and maybe raft up somewhere within the harbour.
   The wind has come up even more since I've been writing this, and even we are moving a fair amount now, but we are very secure so no worries, all I can say is I am glad I took note of Poseidon's forecast and not of two Greek ones I looked at.. Meteo, being one of them, they had said it would be about a four today, but Poseidon had forecast a five from the East then building to a six and seven and changing direction.  So thank you Poseidon, I am so glad we decided to stay, and to move inside, and not attempt to get to Syros...tomorrow is another day, and so far it looks like it will be a perfect wind for us to sail there.

Monday, 2 June 2014

 
 




31 st May..Hydra.....Beautiful, sooooo clean and tidy, wonderful having no cars or bikes at all in the town, such peace, though boat noise and church bells, soon broke the quiet! Such a lovely place though. Little alleyways of whitewashed walls and shiny worn paving stones, slippery underfoot.



 1st June....we left Hydra, and had an extremely rock and roll motor sail to Kythnos, around 10 hours. We did see dolphins though, about three different pods of them leaping high out of the water, always such a thrill, but still hope to see some swim beside our bow sometime. Merichas...not to be recommended, a very dirty beach and water, the main port for Kythnos, our intention had just been a quick stop then on to the sand bar bay around the corner, but we sort of stayed as a lot of boats came in and they said there were also a lot of boats in the bay at anchor, it was still pretty windy so we stuck it out there.


2nd June.....left Merichas early this morning, to just go North and up around the coast of Kythnos and down to Loutra on the other side. The sea was exhilarating, big waves crashing and rolling, and a deep azure blue colour. Once round the other side it calmed, and we had a lovely sail almost into the bay of Loutra itself. Loutra is very pretty, and as promised the boiling hot spring water enters the sea on the south side of the beach. I will go and swim from there I think, later today, or early tomorrow morning, and also see if I can get Jesse to come in a bit deeper too.
Took a lovely walk with the dogs, up and around the coast, the rock formations here really are extraordinary, layer upon layer, year upon year. The weather has taken a small turn for the worst, cloudy and not too warm, so hot springs or not, I am foregoing my swim, also seems like we are in for a lot of wind tomorrow...wrong wind! So may stay here another day as Wednesday looks more promising for a sail to Syros. Had a delicious salad in a lovely restaurant on the water's edge, Sofrano, different menu, interesting food, lovely people, and the owner/chef Yiannis is very nice. Highly amused by a darling interior designer/painter arranging, and painting finishing touches to the restaurant next door, I had to laugh, as he did that thing ( that I know I have been guilty of) of walking three paces back and cocking his head to one side to look at his latest arrangement, only to go back to it and move it a “millicentimetre” to the left or right, and all with his hands on his hips. He had splattered paint on his top...there is no way he got that through painting, not there, he had “designed” it , and turquoise was obviously his signature colour as his little jauntily placed peaked cap was a certain hue, that matched the baskets he was “placing” and the paint touches he was artily adding to a metal archway. All in all an entertaining evening. Ronja did her usual party piece of catching her Frisbee, and so entertained everyone else. Ahhhh, the Frisbee I may add...I think I bought her at least eight from Jumbo in Corfu before we left, and she now, after only two weeks has two left!!!! So we are definitely rationing her to Frisbee time, and being more vigilant.
So two weeks have passed since we left and everyday is a new adventure, will I tire of this...no...I think not.

It's now the 2nd of June, and have been unable to get online decently to keep writing on a daily basis, but I am trying to keep notes so that I don't forget things!

                                            
   Sitting in Porto Kayio on the evening of the 26th ( I think) we had been looking at the wind and the general weather for the next couple of days, and made a quick decision to leave Porto Kayio that evening and do a night sail to Monemvasia, which is a good ten hours sail. The evening was calm with little wind, and the wind was going to be wrong the next day anyway, so one way or another we would have to motor. Tom had slept a lot during the day, so I reckoned he could do most of the night, whereas I had swum and kayaked a lot, and knew I would need to sleep, plus, he stays awake most nights anyway!!!! So decision made we upped anchor and set off. It was a very calm night, and the sea was like a mill pond, with very little swell. We knew we had to watch for traffic, as thee is a pretty main shipping line that goes North of Kithira in the gap between Kithira and the mainland, so we stayed pretty north of that. Tom did say it was actually quite exciting as there were ships all over the place, and smaller fishing vessel too that didn't show up on the radar, so he had to really keep watch. The dogs slept the whole journey, so it was better for them. I slept on and off around two hours at a time, and then around 6.00am we came to Monemvasia. Popped in alongside the key happily and felt very comfy.
  What a magnificent place, the rock of Monemvasia reaching up out of the sea, and the little fortified town all but hidden as the stone and tiles of the houses blended in with the rock. We spenta couple of days here, wandering and exploring, walked up the original path to the upper town and battlements, but sadly were not allowed up to the top to the church of Agh Sofia as they were undergoing renovations. It was still well worth the walk for the view though. This is a must visit place, really magical. What made it even more special were the turtles in the harbour, they would come in mid day to get tid bits from the fishermen, then leave again in the evenings. We saw three at one point and they were playing together.

Tom at Monemvasia

Looking down over the town.
Cat alley.

    

Sadly time to move on, though I really loved it here. Next stop is a little harbour called Leonidon, or Plaka a bit further up the coast, A fairly  nondescript place, with two main tavernas that both vie for your custom. A sailing holidays flotilla came in just after us, so there was plenty of entertainment, and met some nice people. We sat in on their morning meeting, and heard all about the wind expected that day. We needed to get two new batteries, so thought we would go to Port Kheli, as we thought there would probably be more chance finding them there.
  A force six to seven was due to come in from the South East, which was fine for a sail to Kheli, but when we got there there was actually no space, and being at anchor in the middle of the bay would not have been very easy with the battery situation. So we decided to leave, head into the wind and go to Spetses.
29th 30th May Spetses.  Big winds, found the bay and quay not as Mr Heikell syas in his book!! No where to park so to speak, Tom had, the not so brilliant idea of tying up along side a big old ship, well, I suppose it was pretty solid and not going anywhere, but the wind was howling and pushing us up hard against it, so after having all the fenders turned orange from the hull of the ship, we gave up on that one and anchored in the bay. I was not that happy about it all, the wind was so strong and there was a pretty big swell coming in to the bay so we were all over the shop. Eventually the wind changed a bit, though not much less, and we managed to get a rope ashore for extra safety and to keep us straight. A very tiring evening and night, very little sleep. Spetses itself is lovely, a lot of roads with no cars so good for the dogs. The next morning the wind had dropped considerably and the sun was shining so I sat at the back of the boat and proceeded to scrub all the fenders to get the orange off them. We went ashore for a walk, and walked towards the fishing harbour, there were a couple of yachts in there, one, preparing to leave, so we reckoned it would be a good chance for us to move there. We had found the batteries that we needed as well, and this would make getting them onto the boat much simpler. So back to the boat, up anchor, and as we went towards the fishing harbour, the other yacht that we saw was also leaving. Yay. At one point we were told we may have to leave around six pm as a big super yacht, stink pot was coming in, but luckily there was space, and we stayed where we were and it came in beside us. That evening there was a big posh wedding party at a taverna just along from us, looked like all the models and beautiful people from the States were there!! Great people watching evening. Next morning early departure for Hydra.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Sitting in Porto Kayio in Mani, a beautiful quiet bay, that looks protected but when the wind blows as it did last night it can be pretty blowy to say the least. We sailed down yesterday from Pilos in Ormos Navarinou, where in 1827 a British commander defeated the Turkish and Egyptian fleet with almost half the number of ships to theirs. I had a rather unpleasant experience in the morning there though whilst taking Jesse for a walk up to the fortress. I walked into a series of huge spiders webs, and disturbed a couple of indignant rather large spiders, that I don't think were too pleased with me, judging by their expressions...I was looking at them that close!!! Any way as I said we left there yesterday, and with no wind set off for the Southern most part of Europe, although apparently Gibraltar beats it by about 14 miles. A way down the the coast of Mani the wind came up perfectly so we had a wonderful sail, but we needed to tack to change direction at the bottom of the cape to go up the other side to Porto Kayio. We knew the wind would be stronger at this point, but I was not quite prepared for how strong, well, I wanted to sail, and this was the most extreme sailing I have ever done, we did have too much sail out, so ended up trimming three times, the wind was probably a force 7 and we were doing a good 8.8 knots, heeled over till the sea almost came over the toe rail...in other words really tipping over, certainly makes the adrenalin pump!!!!! Eventually we had to give up on the sails as it really was just too much wind, the sea was spraying right up and over the boat as well, and of course I hadn't closed all the hatches...another lesson learned...whatever you think the weather is going to be, always close hatches before you set off, every day I am learning so much, and my check list of things to do before we set sail is getting longer every day. But yes, I am enjoying every moment of it.
 Perfect sunrise this morning and the perfect early morning swim off the boat as Tom took the dogs ashore for their morning walk. We met up with Tessa and Tony here as well, which has been lovely, they have come from Crete with their yacht Little Roundtop, and they are heading to Cephalonia, so basically doing the route that we have just done, they also keep a blog at tntatsea.wordpress.com  .



Monday, 19 May 2014

                                                        Early morning in Katakolon.

                                                              Lush green. Katakolon.


                                                         The dogs at the railway station.  



                                                     Silfrania in the early morning sun.
Katakolon...built in 1875 for the then thriving currant trade. Now used by small cargo ships and cruise ships as their base for visiting Olympia. It is a bay backed by lush, almost tropical forest, below which the rusty and overgrown train track runs. A huge car park lies between the tracks and the sea,space for the many tour coaches waiting to pick up their cruise ship punters, and transport them to Olympia. I string of bars and restaurants runs off along the sea to the left as one looks at the bay, and a long sandy beach to the right. We have decided to visit Olympia tomorrow, as the weather is supposed to be better, then leave here for Kiparissia on Wednesday, apparently the train is supposed to arrive here around 12.00 or 12.30, or even 1.00pm, couldn't really find out what time, or even if it returns, as I haven't seen a train as yet!!

Jesse's Journey.
   She stirred and sniffed the air
   A thousand scents.
   Land, once more and somewhere new
   A thousand smells.
   Come on come on
   Impatient to run
   To explore and sniff some more.