Thursday, 8 September 2011

Back to Lakki

Katapola harbour seems to be notorious for mishaps! After our hike on Sunday we decided to have an early night. It didn't quite work out. First the water man, who had promised to come at 7, then kept promising he would be with us in ten minutes, eventually arrived at 9.15, so by the time we had filled up it was almost ten before we got to the taverna for dinner. As we were finishing dinner another charter boat, who thought it was a good idea to arrive at night, came in, looked around and managed to run hard aground. They obviously had no idea what to do, so a heroic Frenchman swam out to help them, then a dinghy and a fishing boat arrived to help them lay out a kedge, while the Port Police stood on the shore, just watching. Eventually, with a lot of tugging and rocking, they got free and the Port Policeman was picked up by the fisherman, no doubt so that he could go and write up his report. Finally the fisherman brought the shivering Frenchman back to his wife and we could all go to bed.
We left next morning about 10, but not before two other boats had struggled to get their anchors up - the ferry had laid its anchors over them and they had no chance. We heard later that it took them three hours and a diver to get free, while when the ferry left next morning it pulled up the anchor of a Danish yacht and was about to steam off with them in tow.
We motored up the coast of Amorgos, in horrible seas but not much wind, to an anchorage behind an island at Kalotiri. Until a French yacht arrived in the evening we were the only yacht there.
In the afternoon we walked up to the very well-maintained church at the end of the bay.
And in the evening we were left to ourselves once the tripper boat had taken all the visitors home from the beach.

We left early next morning for Levitha. Along the north coast of Amorgos the seas were large and confused and there was only a little wind, gusting from all directions, which made it very uncomfortable. To make matters worse the shackle fell off the mainsheet block at the deck and the boom was thrashing all over the place. Simon managed to secure it with a stopper knot, which then smashed the jamming cleat, and got another line on the boom to hold it while he sorted out the mainsheet. Then he just had to untie the stopper knot - easier said than done.
Eventually we got under way and had a great sail, broad reaching away from Amorgos with a knot of current under us, so the GPS recorded a top speed of 9.1 knots over the ground.
There were only two boats in the bay at Levitha when we arrived, but it soon filled up during the afternoon, with every mooring taken. We walked up to the taverna for a dinner of that day's catch of grey mullet, beautifully cooked.
Next morning all the other yachts were soon on their way, leaving just us and Dennis and Gwen on a Moody 336 left in the bay.
We walked up the hill to what Dennis and Gwen had told us was said to be pirate castle, but when we got there the stonework looked too sophisticated for pirates.

The family in the farm didn't know what it was, and we haven't found out any more about it on the internet, apart from a comment that it is at least Hellenistic.
We left Levitha at 7.30 on Thursday morning and got to Lakki by 11, where we went back to our familiar spot in the marina.
Now we have a week of leisurely washing, cleaning and repairing before we go to the yard to lift out at the end of next week.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

On our own again.

We spent three days in Lakki cleaning and tidying and relaxing. The sailmaker took our genoa on Friday evening and had it back by midday on Saturday, with the sacrifical strip resewn and a couple of other repairs.
We left Lakki on Sunday 28th, intending to sail to Agathonisi, but once again as soon as we got out we found the wind blowing at 25 knots from the north, so we just sailed (and motored) up to Arkhangeli, which was beautifully sheltered as always, and anchored alongside Flyer,

which was originally Flyer 2, record-breaking winner of the 1981 Whitbread Round the World Race, now converted to a fast crusing yacht ( We met her again in Amorgos a few days later, sailed on their own by a Dutch couple of a certain age - I guess it is not so difficult when everything is push-button, but docking 75 feet of boat on your own in a wind can't be easy.
We left Arkhangeli for Agathonissi on Monday with a moderate north wind and comfortable sailing. In Agathonissi we tied up to the town quay (too shallow for us to go right onto the quay) and saw our old friends (all of whom asked where Kai and Charlie had got to).
After a couple of days in Agathonissi we motored across to Arki as there was absolutely no wind (we had to drift for a bit because the fan belts needed adjusting as they were slipping - and the raw water pump is leaking so we have to pump out the bilges regularly).
In Arki we met up with John and Louise Helliwell on their Moody Grenadier. They have what looks like a beautiful villa in Turkey, which they rent when they are sailing in the summer ( We also got some photos of the flightless bird (that Jade calls a penguin) that waddles around and is the pet of one of the fishermen.
We left Arki at 7.30 on Friday morning, being undecided where we going to go. We first headed for Amorgos, but then the wind got up and we decided to head for Levitha, but then the wind dropped again so we went to Amorgos, where we tied up in Katapola at 5 in the afternoon.  We had settled in, had a nice meal ashore and were getting ready for bed at 10pm when Lin called down to Simon, come up quick. Simon put some clothes on and came up to find a Serbian-registered boat trying to come in on our starboard side, going all over the place. Their anchor dragged, so they relaid it, and it dragged again. The irate Frenchman downwind of him, on whom his boat was lying, persuaded him to reanchor again, which he finally succeeded in doing, now lying on our port side. Everything now seemed fine. But then their Russian-crewed sister boat arrived (it turned out that both boats were owned and chartered by the same skipper, who himself was barely competent) and came in on our starboard side. They too dragged, relaid and dragged again, at last holding. Meanwhile the first boat was also dragging again so they came out to relay. They managed to hook their anchor on our chain, then wrap our anchor chain around their keel and rudder, spin round so that they were bows on to the quay. Simon dropped all our chain to free them, while Lin got the engine started and the by now large crowd on the shore helped to fend us off. They eventually got free, went out and dropped their anchor and dragged it all the way in. They would not believe Simon when he told them their anchor was not dug in, until they had ground away on the windlass and brought the anchor right up. They tried to reanchor again (with the skipper having transferred from the other boat) and again failed to dig it in, but we just hoped that the weight of the (thin) chain and the weedy kedge that they laid would hold them and we all got to bed at 1.30 am (next morning they moved off and managed to get their anchor in the second time further up the quay). The two boats eventually left in the afternoon in a Force 6 northerly for Santorini, the last place in the world you would try to moor in the dark with an incompetent crew.

On Saturday morning we walked up to the ancient site of Minoa, partially excavated and reputedly the summer palace and burial place of King Minos. There is an imposing entrance gate

and cyclopean walls

and it was well worth the hot stiff climb for the views. As we came round to the seaward side we looked down to see a German charter crew bumping into our boat on their way in, so we took a picture in case we needed it for the insurance.

When we got down we discreetly examined the boat and no damage was done!
On Sunday we took the bus across the island to the monastry of Panagia Hozoviotissa, which was built into the cliffs on the south side of Amorgos in 1088. It was a hot steep climb up the steps from the bus stop,

but the monastry was very impressive from the outside

and very cramped inside

We had planned to spend some time on the beach in the little cove, Agia Anna, below the monastry.

We walked down there along the road, but the katabatic wind was blowing about 35 knots, so decided instead to take the bus back to the Hora

and have some lunch
before getting the bus back to Katapola.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Last week of the family

We were stuck in Patmos by strong North winds, but everyone was happy to sit by the hotel pool and swim now and then, while Kai found he could use the computers in the hotel and play on their Wii.  We ate out one night, where Charlie enjoyed his dinner:

The wind had dropped enough to leave for Arki on Sunday morning, though it was still a brisk 25 knots most of the way, close reaching.

We found a good spot on the quay in Arki and Kai immediately made some new friends, particularly Elian, a Belgian boy of his own age and temperament.
We had dinner at our friend Nicolas's taverna to find that his Polish girlfriend was back in Poland expecting their baby. Charlie, as usual, stuffed himself with bread and his favourite kolokithokeftedes (courgette croquettes).
On Monday Charlie and the grownups went round the corner to the beach,

while Kai went fishing in the dinghy with Elian and four Italian friends.

 We had planned to go to Lispi for the big festival on the Monday so that Kai could do some Greek dancing, but we decided that we would all rather stay in the peace and quiet of Arki, where Kai was happy to play with his friends. Jade and Amie found some kittens

On Monday afternoon Kai and Elian went off rowing in the dinghy to find a good spot for fishing,
but they learned that it is much easier to row downwind than to row back, so they had to tie the dinghy to the rocks at the bottom of the bay and clamber back over the rocks.
Later in the morning a fisherman came in with a 45 kilo tuna,

which Kai and his friends watched Nicolas gutting, and Lin and Becky had fresh tuna for dinner.
We left Arki for Lakki on Tuesday morning making good speed with a moderate north wind and the cruising chute. Kai watched a video

and read his Diary of a Wimpy Kid
The girls slept while Charlie played with the iphone

Becky sunbathed
and Andrew tried to catch a tuna.

On Wednesday morning we sailed down to Pothia,
for the visitors to take the ferry over to Mastihari. In the afternoon we went to the town beach, which was pretty mucky and the sea was too warm to be refreshing, but even the girls swam.

Everyone was up and ready to catch the 8.30 ferry on Thursday morning.
and we said goodbye.

Our visitors spent the day in the Mastihari water park, where they had a great time, before going to the airport for the evening flight home. Lin and Simon decided to head straight back to Lakki, because Pothia was too hot and busy to spend a couple of days cleaning. We had no wind until we rounded the corner of Telendos, where we were suddenly hit by 20-25 knots of northerly wind, with full sail. We rolled up a bit of genoa, but did not bother to reef the main because we did not think it would last, but in fact it kept blowing all the way to Lakki, much of the sacrificial strip of the genoa becoming institched as we rolled it up, so the first thing to do in Lakki was to send it off to the sailmaker for repair.
On Friday morning we slept in until 8.30 and were disappointed not to wake to Charlie's chuckles. Although we can rest at last we are already missing everybody - especially Charlie's laugh and Kai's enthusiasm.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Full House

We ended up spending three nights in Lipsi with Kai. On Saturday we had a hot walk over the island to a rocky beach with beautiful swimming. Luckily we hopped on a bus back.

Kai made some new French Swiss friends and on Saturday night there was another festival - Kai dancing until 12.30, when we managed to drag him back to bed.

On Sunday we went back to Lakki so that we could clean up the boat ready for the arrival of Becky and co and for Kai to play with Dionysus and Kosta, the children of Vassili, the harbour master. Unfortunately Kai discovered that the marina cafe had a Play Station behind the bar, on which he spent all his pocket money and then got credit from the cafe to keep playing. He was such a good customer that they gave him some time free as well, so we had a heavy struggle to get him to do anything else.

The new outboard arrived on Tuesday, giving us just enough time to start running it in. It is a vast improvement - Lin can even start it now and Kai is happy driving it.
We left Lakki on Wednesday 10th to go down to Kos town to pick up Becky. The wind was getting up and by the time they arrived on Thursday evening it had reached a full gale, which was forecast to continue through Friday. Becky and Andrew arrived with Charlie, Jade and Amie late on Thursday evening and we all huddled in the saloon for a takeaway, after toasting Becky and Andrew's engagement,

while the wind howled outside, with a beautiful sunset.

Luckily we managed to stay an extra night in the marina, while loads of people were being turfed out to make way for the returning charter boats, some of whom had a bit of trouble getting in.

It looked better on Saturday morning so we set off for Lakki, motor sailing north-west into a north wind with a double-reefed main, with Charlie happy in his car seat.
  It seemed fine for the first hour or so, but then the wind got up to a solid force 6 and the seas built up so we rolled up the genoa and motor sailed under main alone, though everybody was increasingly miserable, with some of our visitors being sick and the rest feeling bad.

Everyone was very relieved to get to Lakki and to have a day to chill out.

Kai was not on his best form when told that he could not go on the Playstation, and in his fury tore up his last five euro note and threw it into the sea. Becky recovered half of it, but Kai could not persuade the cafe to take it, so he decided to burn it.

We planned to stock up at the shops on Monday morning and go up to the anchorage at Arkhangeli, forgetting that Monday was Paraskeli and all the shops were closed. Fortunately Simon met the old mad who runs the grocers passing in the street and asked him if his shop was closed. He said it was, but he opened it just for us so we could whip enough off the shelves to keep us going and we got to Arkhangeli for Monday night, finding our favourite anchoring spot free and having a gentle afternoon swimming and running-in the new outboard. Jade and Amie summoned up the courage to jump in to the sea from the boat.

Charlie had a bit of a fever and we had run out of Calpol, so we decided to go straight to Lipsi to get to the pharmacy, getting a nice quiet spot on the end of the quay.. We got some Greek Calpol, but Charlie still had a fever so Becky and Andrew took him to the doctor, who checked him over. Kai met some old friends and made some new ones and stayed out dancing past midnight each night, while the girls searched in vain for some decent night life.

On Thursday morning, with stronger winds forecast for Friday, we sailed over to Patmos in the (vain) hope of finding more excitement for the girls. We had a fast reach with some chuckling all the way,
some keeping watch,

some sunbathing,

some keeping guard

and some still sleeping.
In Patmos the girls found no exciting night life, but we did find a hotel swimming pool which Charlie loved, and along the quay was Alinda V, an Alfred Mylne ketch built in Glasgow in 1934 and recently completely refitted ( that is what I call a real super-yacht.
On Friday morning Becky, Andrew and Kai took the bus up to the monastery and walked back down, though they could not find St John's cave.