Sunday, 31 July 2011

First week with Kai

We flew back with Kai on July 23, getting a 7 am flight from Gatwick with a very tight ferry schedule to get to Leros. Things started badly as were held up for an hour on the runway at Gatwick waiting for air traffic control clearance. Although the flight made up half an hour of the backlog, we waited for ages for our last bag to come off and then faced a taxi strike at Kos airport. We just managed to leap on to a bus to Mastikhari as it was leaving, and the bus driver called ahead to hold the ferry to Pothia until we arrived. We rushed to the ferry and got to Pothia in time for the hydrofoil to Leros, but we did not know where it left from or where to get the tickets. The information office was closed but the Port Police were very helpful – it turned out that the hydrofoil left from right by where we had landed from the ferry. Kai ran ahead to hold the hydrofoil, Simon staggered after him with the bags, and Lin went to get the tickets. Simon and Kai managed to hold the hydrofoil till Lin arrived, jumping on as it pulled away from the quay, and we got to Agia Marina on Leros where, fortunately, the taxis were not on strike, so we got across to Lakki and on to the boat, which was intact but filthy dirty!

We spent Sunday sleeping in, chilling and stocking up, but the mobile shops were closed so we had to wait until Monday morning to get our new SIM cards for the laptop and ipad, which took hours because the Wind shop’s internet connection was down and another shop gave us the wrong SIM, so there was a lot of toing and froing, with the guy at Germanos finally sorting us out. We eventually got away a bit after one, only for the temperature gauge on the engine to shoot up. We dropped anchor off a beach and Simon dived over to see if the intake was clogged, which it was not. When he opened the door of the engine compartment he found that the raw water pump had fallen off – all four bolts had worked loose. He patched it up enough for us to motor sail to Agathonisi, which we reached about 7 pm.
We had promised Kai that we would spend a week on Agathonisi, where he had made a lot of friends last year and when he came in June. The first evening he spent playing on the beach with his local Greek friends, but got annoyed with them when they sat around talking, not unreasonably, in Greek and leaving him out.
The following day, Tuesday, he made a new friend, Emilio, from Athens, who was staying with his grandmother for the summer and who spoke quite good English. Kai and Emilio had fun fishing together, catching a lot of little fish, which they dissected with a plastic knife, concluding that fish are built just like us.

On Wednesday Kai made another friend, Nicolas, who is Norwegian, has an ipad, and was on a one week charter with his family.
In the evening there was a big festival to celebrate the name day of the island, which is on Thursday. Motor boats came pouring in all afternoon bringing people in for the festival, and one tripper boatload arrived in the evening. After a meal at Yanni's we walked up the steep hill to the school in Megala Hora with our Norwegian friends and found a seat in the playground,

where the whole population of the island was sitting at trestle tables having a meal of souvlaki, sausages and so on.
At about 10.30 the music began, with a group of local musicians,

and the local folk dancing group started the dancing.
And the announcer broke into song

Soon the floor was filled with dancers, and Kai joined in almost at once, dancing joyously until 1.30 in the morning.

The next day our Norwegian friends left, Kai went fishing,

and the Greek navy arrived to show the flag - and to have a swim on the beach.

In the afternoon Kai's Italian friends from last year arrived on the ferry. Kai had a great time fishing and swimming with Alessandros, Katerina and Mikhelangelo.
On Thursday night Alessandro slept over

and the boys had great plans for after Lin and Simon had got to sleep, but fortunately the boys slept first.
On Friday another smaller Greek navy boat arrived.

On Friday night Kai walked across the island with his Italian friends to a little taverna in a bay on the other side of the island. By the time he got back we were all ready for bed.
On Saturday morning we decided that we were almost out of water so had to go back to Leros to fill up. So it was goodbye to Katerina
and to Alessandro and Mikhelangelo

and we set off sailing. Kai has become such a good crew that Lin can take a leisurely approach to her duties.

We decided to stop for the night at Arkhangeli, where Kai did some great rowing
and made some new British friends who were on a chartered motor yacht anchored across the bay. They offered Kai a ride back in their dinghy, but he decided to swim back, all of 300 metres.
On Sunday morning we came back to Lakki and filled up with water, where Kai spent his whole week's pocket money playing computer games in the internet cafe.

Saturday, 2 July 2011


John flew off on Friday and we waited for the forecast gales, although each successive forecast downgraded the promised gales and in the end we only had 36 hours of strong winds. Nevertheless we stayed in Lakki until Wednesday, doing odd jobs and making new friends. The forehatch cover had blown away on the way up to Vathi, so we took some material and a pattern into the luggage/shoe shop/general repair shop, where they promised to make us a new one. Unfortunately the new one is too small and we have run out of material, so we will have to try again.
On Wednesday we had a very slow beat up to Arkhangeli, the island just off the north end of Leros, in a light northwesterly wind. We anchored just off the beach. There were quite a few boats there when we arrived, but most people just stop for lunch and there were only three other boats remaining for the night.
Arkhangeli is inhabited only by goats, a few rabbits, lizards and maybe snakes. Every evening the goat man comes across in his little motor boat to give the goats food and water and as soon as he starts sounding his horn the goats run from all over the island.
In the morning we had the bay to ourselves - it is a wonderfully peaceful place,

sheltered from all directions,

with friendly goats

and, from the top of the hill, views to Lipsi (and Patmos) to the north
and sleepy Leros airport and Partheni boatyard to the south.
On Thursday afternoon we were joined by our friends from Lakki, Jacques and Brigitte, who sail a Moody 376, almost identical to our boat but a bit smaller, and by nightfall, when we joined them for a drink, everybody else had gone. We had intended to move on, but since Arkhangeli was perfect we decided to stay another night. During the day a superyacht anchored further out, with a fat old man and his younger female partner serviced by three crew (a quick check on the internet revealed that it was 32.5 metres long, designed by Tony Castro, built in 2002 and sold on in 2009 for 7.8 million, but no good for us because it only sleeps six).
On Saturday morning we said goodbye to Jacques and Brigitte and motored (no wind) down to Lakki, where we are leaving the boat for three weeks while we spend a few days in the Peloponese before going home for a couple of weeks.