Wednesday, 31 July 2013

What a day!

On Monday 29th July Kai had a great time with his Italian friends, Alexandr, Katerina, Katerina and Katerina2's sister, fishing and jumping off the bows of the boat.
Kai offered one euro of his spending money to anybody who dived off the boat, which could have been expensive. They all tried
but only Katerina's sister was brave enough to do it.

We decided to leave for Arki on Tuesday morning as the weather forecast was favourable. We didn't leave until about 11. As we brought the anchor up, the chain snagged on a fishing  boat's grappling hook and we could not get it untangled. Meanwhile we drifted down on the wind and got the mooring lines of another fishing boat caught between our keel and rudder as we drifted on to the fishing boat and the Coastguard boat. Lin and Kai fended us off while Simon went over the side into the water to push us far enough off to get free of the lines, while Lin had to manouvre the boat as Simon called up forward, back, stop from below. Fortunately it was not too windy and Simon managed to lever us free and Lin to drive us off, which left just the anchor to untangle. Just as we went back to the anchor the anchor control broke. Fortunately Simon had just fitted a new foot switch so we could pull it up electrically, but had to let it down manually. We pootled around, as fishermen shouted at us from the shore, trying to drop the grappling hook back into its original position. When we had got it roughly right we dropped our anchor and it came free.
That was not the end of the saga, because when we pulled up our anchor it hooked on two more mooring lines of fishing boats. Simon went over the side again, while Lin drove slowly backwards and forwards, and we finally got free.
We had a fast motor sail over to Arki, where we wanted to get on the quay. There was space on the west end, but we were told that that is now reserved for tripper boats. There was also a space further along the quay, which would have been wide enough if one of the boats had moved over a bit, because he had plenty of space on the other side. He flatly refused to move and we did not feel like barging in. We went to pull up the anchor, but the windlass jammed - Lin had left the handle in and it had locked. The only way to release it was for Simon to dive into the fore peak locker and hot wire it, which he did.
We eventually went back on to the jetty where the fishing boats go, avoiding the rocks with Nicolas's help.
Kai had a great time in the evening playing Rally 123 with a Swedish family.
On Wednesday morning we watched a fisherman feeding his tame cormorant.

Apparently the cormorant catches fish and brings them back, with a neck ring so that it cannot eat them, and is then rewarded with some of the catch.
Kai's Swedish friends left on the ferry at 11 and he played for the rest of the day with his Belgian friend Elliot, whom he has met the last two years, of course most of the time on the ipad together.

We are leaving early tomorrow, Thursday, morning, probably to an anchorage on the eastern end of Amorgos, depending on the wind - the forecasts as usual are conflicting, some offering strong winds. We will see.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Crew change

On Wednesday 17 July we sailed down to Arkhangeli, where we anchored in the shelter of the island. We went ashore to the new taverna in the evening. They were short staffed - the owner's husband had not been able to get there because his engine had broken and her daughter had not been able to get up from Lakki because it was too windy. Nevertheless she and her son managed to feed a good meal to us and a dozen Italians. Just after we had ordered a group of Italians arrived and asked if we had lost our pillow - it was our sun bathing mat, which had blown off the back of the boat and they had recovered from the sea. We just managed to squash it into the dinghy for the ride back to the boat.
The sail down to Xerokampos the next day was uneventful, except that the Sterling alternator regulator cut out, reporting a high alternator voltage. In fact the voltage was normal. I had a quick check of the wiring, but could not see anything wrong. An exchange of emails with Sterling followed, which produced a lot of red herrings but no solution to the problem. After a night in Xerokampos we motored back up to Lakki, where we hired a car for the day, to go out to Mylos restaurant for dinner and take John to the airport for his flight home next morning.
On Sunday 21 July Simon took the catamaran to Kos for his flight back to Birmingham. He got to the airport to find that the flight was delayed three hours and there was a huge queue outside the terminal building. Inside, the check-in was open with no queue, while Thomas Cook continued to herd their customers outside, so Simon checked in before the herd arrived. Despite the flight delay they all went straight through to the tiny departures lounge for a four-hour wait. When Simon went through just before boarding was announced it was like the Black Hole of Calcutta – sweltering heat, every seat taken and bodies piled up all over the floor.
On Monday and Tuesday Simon had to go to hospital for his treatment and on Wednesday he and Kai took the train to London to see Granny and stay with John before getting our flight to Athens on Thursday morning. On the Frankfurt leg Kai managed to slip into Business Class to sit with a Canadian boy he had met in departures, so he got a slap up lunch while Simon had a soggy sandwich. On the Athens leg Kai moved back to sit with a Greek boy he had met, whose dad had to come and sit with Simon. It turned out that they were going on holiday to our ‘home port’ of Nikiana, so we sent our love to our friends.
We had booked into the posh airport hotel for Thursday night as we had an early flight to Leros  next morning. Kai insisted on using his spending money to get some chips from room service and recouping some of the cost by lifting all the shampoos and a pair of slippers. I drew the line at nicking the bath robes and towels.
We had a very bumpy landing in Leros. As the wind whipped over the hills on the run-in to the airport the plane wobbled madly, with the wing tips looking as though they were about to brush the hillside. Some passengers screamed while Kai laughed his head off. We picked up our luggage and got a taxi to Lakki to meet up with Lin, who had had a peaceful week, cleaning, swimming, socialising and improving her French.
We decided to stay over in Lakki for another day so that we could have dinner with Ian, who has got two months in Evros marina on his own, since Jo has gone back to the UK. On Saturday morning we set off for Arkhangeli, beating into a force 5-6 northerly wind. It was blowing very hard at Arkhangeli, so we went instead into Partheni bay, which is more sheltered. In the late afternoon we went ashore, hoping to see Mark and Linda Morpurgo in the yard, but the yard gates were locked and we could see their boat, but not them.

On Sunday the wind was still northerly 5-6 as we set off on a beat to Agathonisi. We decided that it would be more comfortable motor-sailing, with just the reefed mainsail, which was certainly the case as the wind increased and solid white water was coming over the boat. 

I tried to video us crashing into the waves, but only got a tiny clip before a wave broke over me and the camera.
Kai grooved to Bob Marley as the waves crashed over us.

We got on the quay at Agathonisi and Kai got down to fishing. His Italian friends, whom we have met here the last three years, arrived on the ferry at 5 pm and were soon fishing with Kai. After dinner at Yanni’s Kai went off fishing with his new Turkish friends from the boat next to us. When we came back from dinner there was no sign of Kai. We eventually found him entertaining (?) an English family in George’s taverna.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

John's visit

We spent a couple of days in Agathonisi before we had to go to Samos to pick up Lin's brother John. The excitement was the arrival of the mythical dentist/sailing instructor,
who comes up from Leros once a month - he says it gives him an excuse to sail. He has his dentist's surgery in a hut on the beach, which was also the base for his sailing school. He brought a couple of Optimists up to teach the kids to sail on his visits and had then got an instructor to spend a month there in the summer, but now the money had run out so he sticks to dentistry.
We motored up to Pythagorion on Sunday 7 July with a light wind on the nose and tied up on the quay. Water and electricity is still free because apparently they reckon it is not worth employing someone to collect the money. John arrived on Monday afternoon and on Tuesday we hired a car to drive round the island.
We first went to the tunnel above Pythagorion, but it was not yet open, so we went round the ancient theatre,
with a good view down to Pythagorion castle.

We then drove up to the rather ordinary monastery before going back to the tunnel, which was now open, but the tunnel was closed because they had no electricity.We went on to Vathi to visit the archaeological museum, with its enormous kouros:

We then drove along the north coast of the island before crossing over to have lunch at Platanos, up in the hills.

 After lunch we started to walk down into the valley down a dusty dirt road, but it was very hot and a long way
so we got back in the car to drive down to a beach on the south coast. With four different maps and three navigators it was inevitable that we would go the wrong way - we came down a precipitous zigzagging dirt road to get to the sea at the windswept and deserted beach at Pefkos.
We tried to find a direct route back to Pythagorion. We tried to drive through the village of Skureika, but the village streets turned out to be too narrow even for our little car to get through. We ended up retracing our steps, avoiding the precipitous road, and got back to Pythagorion in one piece, hot and Simon was knackered after a day's tricky driving.
On Wednesday 10th we motor-sailed down to Agathonisi, again with almost no wind, and went on to the town quay. A fishing boat was unloaded from a lorry.
On Thursday we walked to the other end of the island to see the archaeological site at Kastraki. The archaeologist showed us around.

It was very different picking up bits of ancient pottery and ceramics from seeing them in a museum. The site has remnants of a late neolithic settlement through to the second century ad, when it was destroyed by an earthquake. After going around the site we swam to the ancient harbour and boatyard, most of which is underwater.
We walked back up to the main road and then across to some early byzantine warehouses
  on the southeast coast of the island, now full of goat shit.
 As we walked back up John didn't feel too well, so hitched a lift up the hill on one of the roadbuilding trucks.
On Friday 12th July we had a good sail across to Arki, the wind having at last got up again. We were lucky to get a space on the quay. On Saturday we walked to Tiganaki beach, which we had to ourselves
until an English couple came and plonked themselves down right next to us.
On Sunday we walked through a farm and along goat paths, with views over the surrounding islands,

 and a friendly donkey
with the strong smell of the thyme that grows wild all over the island

  to the Italian fort, a second world war look-out post and prison at the north end of the island.
 Arki, like Agathonisi, was a pirate stronghold in ancient times (Julius Caesar was captured by pirates from Agathonisi), but we will have to visit the remains of their castle on our next visit.
On Sunday the head of Coca  Cola Greece arrived in his modest motor yacht, clearing the end of the quay so that he could have his favourite place. We checked the boat out on the internet - it would cost him over 50,000 euros to fill his fuel tanks.
By now the meltemi was blowing with increasing force. On Monday 15th we sailed the six miles down to Lipsi, as we had to do some shopping to get food and drink for the next few days, where we went on the quay. The wind got up to a solid Force 7 during the day and with it forecast to stay the same we decided to stay another day in the windy security of Lipsi harbour. With the strong winds we have decided to abandon our plan to go to Levitha. Instead we will go to Arkhangeli tomorrow, then to Xerokampos before returning to Lakki on Friday, for John to fly home on Saturday and Simon to go back on Sunday.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Agathonisi's super-highway

After Becky and Charlie left we had a quiet couple of days in Lakki, cleaning and shopping. On Wednesday 3rd July Jo and Ian came for early morning tea and we had drinks and dinner with Simon and Christiana in To Petrino.
We left on Thursday morning and motored up to Arkhangeli, just off the northern end of Leros, where we anchored in the bay. We went ashore to meet the people in the very pretty new taverna, but had already planned to cook so we promised that we would come to them next time.
On Friday we sailed across to Agathonisi, with the usual strong winds of Lipsi and Agathonisi, with the wind dying in the middle. We found ourselves on a collision course with a fast moving Turkish freighter going north. Although he should have given way we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and dumped the main to slow us down. He passed just in front of us.
While we were motor-sailing we actually managed to make water at last, though when the boat heeled too much the raw water inlet came out of the water so it did not work.
In Agathonisi we went stern-to the town quay again.
On Saturday 6th July we set of at 9 in the morning to walk to Catholiko, at the other end of the island, along the new super-road being built at the cost of 1.3 million euros of EU money - funny priorities when the island struggles to get teachers for its schools and has minimal health care.
There are still stretches of the original road, which is a bit rough:

but this had been replaced by a perfectly adequate concrete road, most of which has been ripped up
to make the new super-highway.

It hardly leads to a seething metropolis. Catholiko has a fish farm, one and a half houses and a (closed) taverna.

the fishing boats were attractive
but the only sign of life was a fisherman mending his nets.

Tomorrow we go to Pythagorion on Samos to pick up Lin's brother John. The forecast at last is for the winds to drop. We will see

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Charlie videos

On the beach in Lipsi

Exploring in Arki

Beware of the ghost

Starting the engine (and he stops it too)

Swimming at Crithoni

Peace and quiet!

Becky and Charlie went home yesterday, since when we have been washing, cleaning, tidying and shopping ready to set of to Samos to pick up Lin's brother John next Monday.
We left you last Saturday, 29 June, in Agathonisi, where we tied up to the town quay. Charlie spent the morning playing on the town beach.

In the afternoon he went to Maria's shop,
 where he loved Maria's husband
rode on Nikos's plane

 and played with Mara's children, Nikos and Panayotta.
When we left, Maria gave Charlie a lolly,

which he took with him to dinner at Yanni's

At Yanni's Charlie took photos of us all:

and a lot of photos of trousers and feet

On Sunday morning we were the last to leave the quay.
Charlie got his lifejacket on.

We had a fast sail over to Lipsi, where we picked up a mooring at Kapsadia
Becky even swam 

 while Lin and Charlie looked on in amazement.

 We had a delicious lunch in the taverna (though Charlie did not appreciate the more sophisticated food)
 A kitten got stuck on the palm roof.
Becky rescued it and Charlie played with it

chasing it around the restaurant.

 After lunch we went back to the beach, where Charlie tried on grandpa's hat.

 Charlie was tired, so we went back to the boat and had a fast sail to Lakki, where we tied up on the town quay.
 On Monday morning, 1st July, we walked round to Merikia beach in the morning. After lunch we hired a car for Becky's last day and drove to Crithoni's Paradise, where Charlie had a great time in the pool, swimming on grandpa's shoulders
 before strangling grandpa
and playing with two Greek girls, playing shy at first.

 Once Becky had packed on Tuesday morning we drove over to Xerokampos, where we spent the morning on the beach before having a good lunch at Aloni Taverna.
 Charlie was fascinated by the lobsters in the tank
 and the huge octopus in a bucket
 which Charlie did not like the look of.

 In the taverna was a swallow's nest with hungry baby swallows

while the parents swooped around us.
Charlie took some bread and fed the ducks
 then went over to feed a shy drake.
After lunch we went back to Lakki to put Becky and Charlie on the ferry to Kos for their flight home. In the waiting room Charlie made friends with two Greek Australian kids.
Then it was time to board the catamaran

and off they went for a bumpy ride to Kos.