Sunday, 6 October 2013

End of season

On Tuesday September 17th we went to Marathona beach for the afternoon - Lin got a lift with Mick and Hilary while Simon cycled down.
On Wednesday 18th we took Hilary, Mick, Rosa and Fleur for a day trip to Moni. Fleur borrowed Charlie's lifejacket.
Mick felt a bit queasy on the way down, so as soon as we got to Moni everyone but Simon went ashore to the cafe and to swim. When we got back to Aegina we went in our usual place on the town quay, where they were already preparing for the Pistachio festival, which opened on Thursday evening. We went up to Mick and Hilary's for dinner on Thursday night, but it did not look as though we had missed much in town.
We set off early in the morning of Friday 20th September with a bit of a north wind and motor sailed past Poros to a quiet anchorage on the north coast of Dhokos, a sparsely inhabited island north of Hydra.
 By the evening the clouds rolled in.
 Next morning we sailed across to Sabateki, where we had heard there was a new harbour with free water.
 We got on the new quay, but there did not seem to be any free water.
On Sunday morning we motored the few miles up the coast to Tiros, where we were meeting Lin's cousin Simon, his wife Suzie and their son Oliver in the evening. They recently sold their house near Tiros and were now staying for a week in the Golden Beach hotel on the beach at the other end of town.
On Tuesday we took them out for a sail.
At first there was no wind, but as soon as we turned back the wind got up, reaching 20 knots before we got back. Although it was his first time sailing, Olly helmed the whole way and turned out to be a very competent (and enthusiastic) helm. We encouraged him to chase up sailing courses as soon as he got home.

We set off for Khilada on Thursday morning, to be ready to lift out on Friday. We first anchor just off the Frankthi cave, which was continuously inhabited from, at least 30,000 to 3,000 BC, when the roof fell in.

When Simon came a few years ago the cave was open and the excavation trenches remained. Now most of the trenches have been filled in, paths have been laid and there are excellent information boards, so it is more informative, if less dramatic. We then moved over to anchor in the bay

and got the genoa down, ready to lift in the morning.
We had a busy few days in the yard, washing, drying, cleaning and stowing ready to leave the boat for the winter. On Saturday Simon cycled to the neighbouring town, Kranidi, to get some cash and buy our bus tickets to Athens. He took the rough back road through meadows and olive groves, which was very attractive, but led to a yard with guard dogs, one of which squeezed through the fence and attacked him. Fortunately he was able to give it a mighty kick just before it sank its teeth in so he got away with a scratch. He came back by the main road, which turned out to be no safer as he was again chased by guard dogs, but he managed to pedal fast enough to get away.
On Tuesday Simon, Suzie and Olly came over to have lunch with us in town and on Wednesday morning we got a taxi to Kranidi from where we took the bus to Athens. We stayed two nights with Lena in Athens, having dinner with her, Lena and Nikos on Wednesday, and flew home via Copenhagen on Friday, Kai's birthday.
That's it till next year!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

New Visitors

We stayed in Vathi until Thursday 5 September. 
On Tuesday 3rd we were joined by Adrian and Tricia on Ptarmigan, whom we had last met in Agathonisi in July. Tricia had gone home for the windy sail up from the Dodecanese and Adrian had been joined by a friend, which made Lin feel very good at having done it herself.
On Wednesday we walked down the beach road

and across a rough path, past some ancient wells
to the ancient acropolis,
which is said to be that of ancient Methana, before it was destroyed by the volcanic eruption inj about 250bc and rebuilt on its modern site the other side of the peninsular. On the top was what looked the ruins of an ancient Christian basilica.

On Thursday we sailed down to Russian Bay, where we anchored in a little cove which we had all to ourselves. Simon went over to Galatas in the dinghy to stock up at Lidl. He wasn't sure exactly how to get to it, but vaguely remembered that Sue had said that you walked across a field to the road. He tied up the dinghy and walked through the remains of a soviet-style holiday camp to a small road, but could not see a path through to the main road, so had to walk back into town and then out again. 
Loaded down with beer, wine and spirits he tried in vain to find a path across, being chased off the only promising one by guard dogs, and struggled back into town, leaving the shopping on the quay while he went to fetch the dinghy.
We left Russian Bay on Saturday 7 September and motored up to Perdika, on the southwest corner of Aegina, which we had first visited with John Holloway, Elouina, Aiden and Anna Maive at Easter 28 years ago. Although it is much more built up outside and there is a new mole the harbour has changed very little, apart from now being clogged with parked cars, as you can see from these before and after pictures.
Becky, Aiden and Sam walking along the quay in 1985
and the same bit of quay, clogged with cars, today.
Looking across the harbour, towards our rooms, in 1985
and today.
We had a beer and some atherina (little fish) in the taverna where we stayed in 1985, where they claimed to remember us - surely we were not that memorable! It has been tarted up a bit since we stayed in the room with the balcony, now occupied by the owner's son.

Just as we were going to bed we heard loud shouting from down the quay - a Ukrainian skippered charter boat was trying to barge its way into the corner, the skipper shouting abuse at the mild Greek man whose small motor yacht he was pushing out of the way. 
We left Perdika early on Sunday morning, 8 September, and were lucky to get into Aegina on the town quay, in exactly the spot we had left the week before. We spent the rest of Sunday and Monday morning cleaning and tidying and shopping, ready for Dave and Sue Cox's arrival on the ferry on Monday evening. 
We hired a car for the day on Tuesday and drove over to the temple of Afaia, 
getting lost in the back roads and having to get out of the car to get it up a not very steep hill.
We then went down to Vagia, to have lunch with Petros, before driving over to Marathona for a swim, where we got stung for 14 euros for four loungers and two umbrellas. On the way back we got some new inner tubes for the IKEA bike and Dave set off for a ride to Marathona. He was gone for a long time - he picked up a thorn and had to walk back. The thorn had put a trail of punctures in the tube so we put in another new tube.
We left Aegina on Wednesday morning
and motored over to the anchorage on the southwest corner of Angistri, where we got the prime spot in the southeast corner.
On Thursday morning we escorted a French boat with a dodgy engine to Angistri town and then sailed (!) down to Vathi,

where we stayed for two days.
On Thursday evening we took an organised trip to the volcano with Dorothea, a Danish woman formerly married to a local Greek man, Theo, who owns the taverna at Kameni Chora, where he has also built a replica ancient theatre. We had walked up to Kameni Chora with Simon and Rachel a few years ago, thinking that this was the caldera, but now realised that the most recent crater, to which Dorothea took us, was about an hour's walk further on - thank goodness we went by minibus this time. 
We had a fabulous walk up the side of the volcano,
through woods dotted with cyclamen,
with wonderful views across to Angistri, Aegina and Athens.
We walked through the crater
to a dramatic cave,
 which was nice and cool after the hot climb (the cave is a constant 17 degrees all year round).
On Friday Dave, who is national chairman of the Cyclists Touring Club, so has a reputation to live up to, set off for a bike ride, making a circuit of the southern half of the peninsular.
He made it harder work for himself because he did not realise that the gear lever was back to front, so cycled all the way in top gear.
Meanwhile Simon, Lin and Sue went for a walk along the road to the anchorages further south,

before meeting up with Dave for a swim.
We left Vathi on Saturday morning and had a gentle beat up the channel,

before the wind died round the headland. After about ten minutes motoring a new wind came in and we had a fast reach across to Moni in a northerly force 4-5. Off Moni the wind blew even harder in the channel and Lin had to work hard to keep us on the wind, while Simon got the mainsail down.
We got onto the quay in Perdika, in exactly the same spot (and with the same neighbours) as we had had last week, in time for lunch. After lunch Dave went off for another bike ride, this time half way round Aegina  to Souvala and back. And although he could now change gear, he stuck to the coast road rather than haul over the mountains in the heat. In the evening we had the usual dramas as new charter boats arrived. A Dutch charter very predictably drifted across the anchors of a fishing boat and a small yacht. Once they managed to get free, they drifted back on again, cut off the anchor rope of the fishing boat and left in great embarasment. All the while a woman was walking round the deck, pulling on ropes with one hand while holding a three-month-old baby, with no lifejacket, in the other! Immediately after a Greek cruiser-racer with an open transom arrived, with two small children (about two and three) sitting on the transom dangling their legs in the water, again with no lifejackets. As the husband and wife busied themselves mooring the two-year-old was walking along the side-decks, unprotected by netting. We yelled at them 'the baby, the baby!' and fortunately she did not fall in - no deaths this time.
On Sunday 15 September we left early to get a space on the quay in Aegina, ready for Dave and Sue to leave on the Monday. We saw a few boats leaving, so presumed that there would be space, but the harbour was chock-a-block, with charter boats rafted three and four deep. We hung around for a while as the charter boats left and got a very good spot on the end of the pontoon on the outside of the harbour - much quieter than on the town quay and less likely to come under attack from charter boats - we hoped! 
Adrian and Tricia on Ptarmigan were on the cafe quay, which is quieter, but they had had quite a lot of swell. In the evening we had dinner in Kappos Etsi, the best restaurant in Aegina town, though only ranked 19th on Trip Advisor, where we again met Adrian and Tricia with their visitors. Dave came with Simon to register with the port police and to look at the Markellos tower, which was the Governor's residence when Aegina was the provisional capital of Greece from 1827-9.

On Monday morning, once Sue and Dave had packed, Sue and Lin went shopping and after lunch in  the fish market we put Dave and Sue on the hydrofoil to get to the airport and home.
An hour after Dave and Sue left, Mick and Hilary, who are spending a fortnight in a house on Aegina, arrived with Rosa and Fleur, though we did not meet up with them until the evening. Lin was a bit reluctant to leave the boat as the wind had got up and was on the beam. Simon reassured her that the anchor was hard in and that it was just a squall off the edge of a big cumulus cloud, but when we got back to the boat the wind had got up to 25 knots, gusting a bit more.
Just after we had gone to bed the boat shook and there was a harsh grinding noise. We both leaped out of bed, to find a large charter yacht, coming in late, had run over our anchor chain. Fortunately they got off before becoming inextricably tangled with the chain and they did not dislodge the anchor, probably only digging it in even harder. After hanging around for a while they went onto the town quay, banging into a small yacht as they did so.
So much for being safe from charter boats! On Tuesday morning Simon was just getting out of bed when he heard voices nearby. It was another charter boat, which had been thrown off the town quay to make way for the ferry. They asked if it was OK to come alongside and Simon said he would rather they didn't, so they tied up to the quay instead. When they left an hour later they had picked up an anchor chain and in trying to get off it reversed onto us at some speed, making a nasty scratch in our hull. Simon helped them get clear and they disappeared, with some apologies. To make us more secure, Simon attached our bows to a mooring line to take the strain off the anchor. Lin wanted to move onto the town quay because she felt we were more exposed on the pontoon, but Simon thought that, despite our experiences last night, we were more secure here, with the anchor very firmly in. Aegina is definitely a place where there is danger rather than safety in numbers at least two-thirds of the boats leaving on Monday morning pulled up other people's anchors!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Just chilling

The boys went home on Thursday August 29th and we were on our own for the first time in two months, which took some getting used to. We did the final loads of washing, filled up with water and left the heat and noise of Aegina town on Friday morning, motoring round the north of Angistri (no wind) to the beautiful anchorage in the southwest corner of the island. In the afternoon we had it almost to ourselves, but by Saturday morning it was absolutely packed with yachts, motor yachts and gin palaces coming down from Athens for the weekend,
though it was still remarkably peaceful (once we had asked our neighbour to turn down his radio, which had been blasting out the most god awful modern Greek crooning.
On Sunday we tried to find our way round to the next bay through the woods,
but the path petered out, so we went round in the dinghy to Aponisi, which had a cafe and taverna, packed for the weekend.
Most boats left on Sunday evening, so by Monday morning we had the bay more or less to ourselves again.
We motored down to Vathi, on the Methana peninsular (again no wind). Usually Vathi is very busy, but this time there were only a couple of boats in when we arrived. We made a mess of anchoring - the first time we had not let out enough chain and the anchor just came up through the soft mud, the second time the chain caught itself around a couple of big rocks, so Simon dived to clear it and we settled in next to Lillibelle, with its all-women Scottish crew of Christine, Margaret and Elaine.
 We had a light lunch and dinner in the taverna To Vathi, since we were using their wifi, but went on for pudding (galaktobureki) and drinks in Athena's taverna at the other end of the quay, with our new Scottish friends and Theo, who runs trips up to the volcano, getting to bed very late. We were woken about 3 in the morning by three big bumps. Lin went up on deck to find that our neighbours had also been woken by it. We decided in the end that it must have been a turtle coming in to explore the harbour and bumping its shell on our hulls.
On Tuesday morning we said goodbye to Lillibelle
and got back down to our odd jobs of cleaning and mending ready for Dave and Sue's arrival next Monday.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The boys go home

On Monday afternoon we anchored off Moni, but it was quite crowded and exposed, with the wind going all round, so after a swim we tried the bay at Profitis Ilias, only to find that the bay was buoyed off for swimmers, so we went to anchor of the beach by Aegina town. Overnight the wind went round north and we were pitching quite heavily. Sue and Steve headed for the quay and we followed soon after, finding a good space at the north end.
We spent most of Tuesday resting. Lin cleaned and dressed Andrew's wound,
 and we had a beer (or a few or, in Sue's case, a lot) with Sue and Steve, before we went to the Navsiki beach for a swim in the later afternoon. When we got back, Kai, Charlie and Andrew went for a ride in a horse and cart.

We went to a taverna for Andrew's first meal out since he had arrived, but everyone was very tired and Charlie accidentally elbowed Andrew in his wound, so we went back and Lin checked the wound, which was OK.
We had planned to hire a car and go round the island on Wednesday, but Kai wanted to go to the internet cafe and we decided instead slowly to get cleared up and packed, with a short trip to the beach in the afternoon.
In the evening we went to a very nice restaurant in town. Soon after we arrived Paul popped his head in, looking for Kai (they had been on the quay and had just lifted out at Asprakis yard in the north of Aegina), and soon Paul, Angela and Abbie arrived to eat there, the boys moving over to their table. Kai and Abbie were very pleased to see each other and had a great evening.
On Thursday morning it was time to go.
Simon took Andrew, Kai and Charlie on the ferry,

while Sue, Steve and Lin waved goodbye

On the ferry we were followed by dozens of seagulls,
which Kai tried to feed with his sausage roll.
We also saw a school of young dolphins, though, as usual, they hid when they saw the camera.
In Piraeus there were three enormous cruise ships. We all agreed that a cruise on one of those would be a voyage from hell. Kai grabbed a taxi and the boys headed for the airport, while Simon headed back to Aegina, passing Sue and Steve on the way as they headed for Sounion.