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.

Monday, 26 August 2013

High drama!

On Thursday evening, 22 August, the goats came down to the beach where we were moored.

At about 10 pm, Andrew, Simon and Kai went with Sue and Steve and Paul, Angela and Abbie to the beach party at Russian Bay. There were only about 20 people there and a Greek guitarist with a drum machine who was not too bad, but later in the evening a big Italian flotilla ( with about 15 boats and 105 people
set up their own bar and disco and Kai was into his element, chatting up young Italian women and dancing the night away.
Andrew was not feeling well (he had been feeling bad since the afternoon) so about midnight he walked along to the little beach off which we were moored and swam back to the boat. We got Kai back about 2 am and Andrew seemed to be sleeping, but at 4 am he was prowling around the boat in absolute agony. We consulted our medical dictionary and decided that it probably was appendicitis. We phoned the health centre, but got no reply, then phoned the Tourist Police who told us that the Health Centre in Galatas was open all night. At 6 am Lin took Andrew to Poros in a taxi, then to Galatas in a water taxi, then by taxi to the Health Centre. A doctor, who spoke little English, examined him, then an English-speaking doctor came. They decided that he had to see a surgeon and suggested at first that they would fly him to Piraeus, but in the end decided to send him by ambulance to Navplion. By 8 am he was in the ancient ambulance going along the rough road to Navplion. Around 11 Andrew called Becky to tell her that he was being prepared for the operation there and she called us.
We decided that it was too far to sail (motor) round to Navplion, so we motored up to Palea Epidavros with Sue and Steve,
 Charlie tucked himself under the sprayhood, where Kai used to go when he was little.
In Epidavros we anchored in the bay in 20 metres of water.

We had planned to hire a car to get to Navplion, but discovered that there is no car hire in Epidavros, so we took a taxi for 50 euros and got to see Andrew at about 4, having failed to get any information from the hospital. When we arrived someone told us the way to the surgical department, where we could not find any staff - doctors or nurses - but Kai found Andrew in a two-bed room and he was just coming round from the operation, on drips with a dressing on his stomach, but he was still very groggy and did not know what they had done to him.

The hospital was very basic and what little equipment they had was very old and outdated. The operating theatre looked like a cupboard.
An officious nurse came and told us that children were not allowed in the department because they carried germs, as if adults don't, and Simon had to wait outside with the boys while Lin tried to find a doctor and get some more information.

Charlie soon got restless and started playing games.

We eventually discovered that Andrew had indeed had his appendix out but he was well. Simon then went off with Kai to find a car to hire. We had to go to four placed before we could find one that had a small car free, eventually getting a Ford Focus for three days at 40 euros a day, which was not bad. We drove back to Epidavros and Steve picked us up in his dinghy to take us back to the boat, where we had a quick scrambled egg and fell into bed, exhausted.
On Saturday Simon and Kai drove over to Navplion to see Andrew and take him some things. He was much better and had got some sleep, but was still very sore and tired. He wanted to come out immediately, but the doctors wanted to keep him in until Tuesday. He also got caught drinking the lemon Fanta we had taken him and got a bollocking for it.
In the afternoon we all went up to the ancient Epidaurus theatre with Sue and Steve. Kai sang a song on the stage, which we could hear quite well from the back row.

Charlie ran up and down the theatre
from bottom to top, not once but twice.
He was getting very tired, so Kai gave him a carry.
After we got back the boys went on the roundabouts.

Then Kai went fishing on the quay.
On Sunday we all went to visit Andrew and took him a couple of cheese sandwiches. After a while we went to a  cafe to give Kai a rest,
 and Kai was soon fishing with another boy on the quay.
When we went back to see Andrew, he had got caught eating his cheese sandwich and got another bollocking from the doctor - we advised him to take the next one to the toilet.
On the way back we stopped to look at one of the 3000 year old Mycenaen bridges.
In the evening we bought Kai a new fishing rod, on the promise of good behaviour, and all got to bed early.
On Monday morning Simon and Kai set off at 8 am hoping to be able to collect Andrew. Andrew sent us a text warning us that we would have to pay cash, so we went to a cash machine, which refused to give us our money. We went in to the bank, who advised us to check with our bank and call them if the money had been recorded as going out (we called when we got back and it turned out that it had been authorised, but not yet debited, so it may be reversed).
When we got to the hospital we found Andrew sitting outside with his bags and a bill for 740 euros, which had to be paid. They insisted that they had to see his EHIC card, which he had left at home, but fortunately we had got Becky to email us a photo of it, which they eventually accepted so we paid nothing.
Having got Andrew out of the hospital we took the hire car back and got a taxi back to Epidavros. In his excitement Kai left Andrew's bags in the boot. We phoned the Navplion taxi rank and soon the taxi came back with the bags.
After a quick shop we set off for Moni, only for the anchor to get caught on a fisherman's grappling hook, so Simon had to go over the side to untangle it. Everyone was so pleased to get Andrew back and to get to sea again,

with Sue and Steve coming with us.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The boys arrive

On Saturday 17 August we had a windy, Force 6 northerly, fetch from Aias across to Zea Marina in Piraeus, crossing through the parked freighters and past the entrances to Salamis and Piraeus. Lin noticed smoke coming from the funnel of one of the apparently parked freighters just as they let off four deafening blasts on their horn - they were moving slowly on a collision course. We bore away and managed to cross them safely, then avoided the ferries coming and going from Piraeus, arriving in Zea at 11. We got a taxi to Lena's flat in Palea Faliron, where we had lunch with Lena and slept for the afternoon, while Kai played on the ipad. Kai had a burger in Goody's before we got a taxi back to Zea. On Sunday morning we washed the boat and cleaned below before Kai went to the top of the mast.

Kai and Simon then set off to get the bus to the airport to meet Andrew and Charlie. Simon took the wrong road, then everyone we asked gave us different and conflicting instructions. Eventually we went down to Piraeus, where we knew where the stop was, and got the bus to the airport. Kai had a Macdonalds while we waited for the flight, which was half an hour late, the Kai waited with increasing impatience at arrivals
 but eventually Charlie and Andrew came through.

We got the bus back to Zea, where we had a Chinese takeaway before getting to bed.
On Monday 19th August Simon and Andrew went shopping, while Kai took pictures of Lin and Charlie.

Just as we were about to leave Simon dropped the connectors for shore power into the marina. He and Andrew spent half an hour diving for them in the murky water of the marina before we finally found them and could set off to sail down to Poros.
Charlie started the engine, under Kai's direction.

There was very little wind, so we motored all the way, past Aegina

back to Russian Bay in Poros, where we anchored off the beach with a line ashore, in our usual place.
Kai decided to do some serious diving, swimming the length of the boat under the water (about 15 metres), then diving under the keel.

In Russian Bay Andrew blew up the kayak and the boys set off for the beach.

On the beach Charlie practiced paddling on his own
Kai had a great time swimming in his flippers with his new mask and snorkel,

while Charlie snuggled in the forepeak eating yogurt and watching a DVD.
On Tuesday morning Sue emailed from Kithnos, asking for a weather forecast because she could get no connection. At midday we got an email from Sue to say that she and Steve were leaving Kithnos and they arrived to come alongside us in Russian Bay at 9 pm, where we had dinner for them. We were very pleased to see them again and Charlie and Kai to meet them for the first time and they were very pleased to get out of the wind and waves that had complicated their crossing from Chios and, especially, their stopovers in Tinos and Kithnos.
There was to be a Full Moon Party on the beach on Tuesday evening, which Kai was very excited about, but around 7 pm some official turned up and warned the organisers that there had been some mistake in the paperwork and that the party was banned. They were incensed because they had paid out for a bar, bands and dancers for a party that they organise every month, so huge arguments ensued all evening.
On Wednesday morning Simon set off to Poros town in the dinghy to do some shopping, but the engine died just short of the harbour, so he rowed the last bit. Having done the shopping he called Becky to call Lin and ask if Steve could come and rescue him. In the end the engine started and he got most of the way back to Russian Bay before it died again, without seeing any sign of Steve and Andrew until they cam back from Poros, where they had missed him. Steve towed Simon the last bit back.
On Wednesday evening we learned that the Beach Party was now to be held on Thursday evening. On Thursday morning we had to go out to sea to empty our holding tank, which was full up, so we decided to move over to the other side of the bay, where there would be more chance of sleep.
Charlie went in the dinghy with gran

 then went swimming with Andrew in his lifejacket.
When Steve and Sue came back from Poros they tied up alongside us again, 

and they and Paul and Angela, who were moored a bit further along, with their daughter Abbie all came to tea.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Heat and noise

We were glad to get away from roaring winds and crashing seas, but Aegina town quay was stiflingly hot and, at the peak of the Greek holiday season, very noisy. We had come to get a load of washing done. We took two big loads up to Nektarios as soon as we arrived on Tuesday 13th, but he told us that he was closing for a holiday at 1 on Wednesday. We rushed back for another big load which he promised to get done for us before he closed.
On Wednesday, once we had collected the washing, we got the bus to Vagia, on the northeast coast, where we had discovered that our old friend Petros, who had owned our favourite of all tavernas, Ippokampos, which went bust three years ago, was now working as the cook. Unfortunately the beach outside the taverna smelled of sewage and the sea was very warm, but Kai had a great time surfing the little waves in his new mask and snorkel.

we had an early dinner and Petros's food was just as good and his welcome as warm as it ever used to be, though he seemed a little embarrassed to be found in such reduced circumstances.
As we were eating our old friend (and Petros's) Nikos Petralias and Lena phoned to say that they were on their way to Aegina and invited us to meet them for dinner at 9 pm. We warned them that we would not be able to eat much as we were stuffed, but we got a taxi back to Aegina, got cleaned up, and walked down the coast to their taverna, where we had an excellent meal and ate too much.
Nikos and Lena had come over to welcome some German friends and we arranged to see them on Thursday if they had time, so we decided to stay another night in Aegina, strongly encouraged by Kai, who had discovered a computer games place on which he spent nearly all his pocket money, and had found the most delicious ham and cheese toasties at the Yacht Club, where he spent the rest.
On Thursday evening Kai went up the mast to fix the Greek courtesy flag and to remove a piece of string that had got stuck in the crosstrees.

Having finished the job, he chilled with a drink of iced tea.
and had a swing on the way down.

Simon also started to go up the mast to fix some things at the top, but it was so noisy that Lin could not hear him calling stop and go, so we gave it up as a bad job, to try another day.

On Friday we left Aegina and beat up to Aias, a little bay on Salamis,
ready to sail over to Zea marina in Piraeus the next day.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Aegina at last!

 We left Serifos and sailed past the beautiful (but crowded) beach on which we had spent Friday afternoon
and motor-sailed up to Kithnos on Saturday, beating into a force 4 wind and only metre waves.
Kai went on sleeping with the leecloth to hold him in bed.
When he woke up, Kai came up on deck and said "This is how I remember it, light winds and calm seas", though the waves were still breaking over the deck. On the way we met two converging schools of small dolphins, which briefly played around the boat, but as usual avoided being photographed or filmed.
We anchored with a line ashore in Kolona Bay,

near the sand spit at the end,
 and had dinner in the taverna overlooking the spit.
We left for Poros as soon as it got light on Sunday morning, with a good Force 6 wind until we got to the halfway point, Agios Georgios, after which the wind dropped to Force 4.
Kai again slept most of the way.
In Poros we anchored in Russian Bay. Soon after we arrived two boats of Americans came in alongside us and Kai was delirious with joy. He had a great time with his American friends, Ben, Nicki and Dai Lin, sitting on their boom,
swinging from their davits,

and, most exciting of all, the swing of death on the spinnaker halyards, ours
.and theirs.

Kai completed his death-defying feats by swimming under the keel.

Scott and Lynette invited us all for dinner on Sunday night, which made a really pleasant evening. Kai was very jealous of their kids, who spend six months each year on the boat, but not so envious of their having to do boat school.
Kai slept in the hammock now it was not so windy.

After two nights in Russian Bay we said goodbye to our new friends and had yet another beat up to Aegina, though this time in gentler winds, and tied up on the town quay ready to start the round of washing and cleaning ready for our new visitors.