Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Winding down

On Wednesday 10 September we motored round from Lakki to Agia Marina to meet Annie, who was coming from Kos on the catamaran. We tried tying up to the quay, but found it was too shallow, so we went and anchored off. This meant that we greeted Annie with a climb over a wall onto the beach and a climb in and out of the dinghy to get on the boat, which she managed brilliantly considering that she only had a major operation on her back four months ago and now has a rigidly straight spine.
To break Annie in easily we motored for an hour up to the anchorage at Arkhangelos, where we stayed for the night.
The next day, Thursday, we again motored, as there was no wind, and went onto the quay in Arki. The bushes behind the town beach had all been burnt - they had had a fire at 3 am a few days before and everybody had turned out to beat it to death. Nikolas was very tired - Maria, his mother and chief cook, was still in Athens recovering from her operation, so Niko was having to manage the taverna and the cooking on his own. Richard and Ron arrived soon after us and we had a very enjoyable dinner with them at Nikolas's. Annie was able to advise Richard on treatment for his wife's back, which was giving her crippling pain.
On Friday we went round the corner to anchor in Porto Stretto with Richard and Ron, to give Annie a taste of something new. We walked back to Nikolas's for lunch and went back for more swimming and chilling.
On Saturday 13th we motor-sailed to Lipsi and picked up a buoy off Katsadia beach in the South of the island. We rowed ashore for a big and delicious lunch in the taverna and then had an afternoon swimming off the boat and chilling. In the evening we heard live piano music from the taverna, but were eating aboard and it had got a bit windy to row ashore. Annie had a disturbed night with the noise of the mooring lines grating as the boat swung around to the shifting wind.
On Sunday morning we had a good sail down to Pandeli, where Bob and Lidia were due to arrive on Monday morning to stay in the Castelo Beach hotel. Annie slept most of the way, despite the rolling and the noise of the engine. We anchored with a line ashore, then the anchored dragged on the weed so we had to do it all again.
Bob and Lidia arrived next morning. After having coffee with them we motored around to go on the town quay in Lakki, as Annie was taking the catamaran back to Kos the next day. In the evening we took a taxi up to Dmitry's to meet Bob and Lidia for an excellent and enormous dinner.
We had had a great week with Annie and were amazed at how well she coped, with her new back. Moving on each day meant that Annie felt that she had had six different holidays! She took the catamaran to Kos in the afternoon to get her flight home. In the evening we went over to Pandeli to have dinner in their hotel with Bob and Lidia to celebrate her birthday.
We had planned to do some day sails with Bob and Lidia, as Lidia gets quite seasick, but the forecast did not look too promising, with a lot of strong winds. Nevertheless, we managed to take them for a day trip up to Arkhangeli on Wednesday, though Lidia was obviously feeling pretty queezy on the way up. In the evening we went to To Petrino to pig out on their enormous and delicious Bon Filet.
On Saturday 20th we hired a car for the day to give Bob and Lidia a tour of the island. We drove up to Partheni, where we checked out the new marina and went to the church in which political prisoners had painted wall paintings under the Junta. They were rather disappointing as they depicted religious scenes rather than political statements. We then drove round to the little church of Aghios Isidoros on an island at Kokali in Gourna Bay. This is the most photographed sight on Leros, but we had never been there before!
 We then went for a slap-up lunch at Sotos, at the other side of the bay. We had a huge plate of mixed shellfish, a bowl of moules mariniere and two portions of Kalamari, all very fresh and collected and caught by the owner.
On Sunday 21st we met Bob and Lidia for another evening in To Petrino - they couldn't get enough of those steaks - and on Monday 22nd we motored up to Arki for a last visit - again no wind. The quay soon filled up and we found everyone very excited because Maria was on her way back from Athens on the Blue Star and would arrive home next day on Nissos Kalymnos.
Next morning, Tuesday, everybody but us left early, so that we were the only boat on the quay, for the first time since our first visit in 2000.

We joined her family in welcoming Maria back - she looked incredibly well considering her recent major operation (sorry the picture is sideways!).

We then walked over to Tiganaki for a swim. Soon after we arrived a RIB came from a ginormous motor yacht anchored off the beach and deposited seven chairs, which they lined up on the beach before driving off. Presumably this was in case their masters wanted to come to the beach, rather than a surrealist art installation.

In the afternoon the wind got up from the south and there was pandemonium on the quay as yachts tried to get in, while others anchored out in the bay. That evening we had a farewell meal at Nikolas's and said our goodbyes, promising to be back next year.
On Wednesday morning, 24 September, we motor sailed back to Lakki with a decent following wind and went into the marina to start preparing the boat to lift out at Partheni on Monday 29th. At the moment the forecast is for very strong winds on Sunday and Monday, so we may see if we can lift on Saturday instead. Then we fly to Athens on Thursday, to stay with Lena, before flying home on Saturday October 4th, Kai's birthday.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Cheating death

Simon took Kai home on Saturday 28 August, leaving Lin on the boat in the marina, and came back overnight on 2-3 September. We then spent a couple more days in Lakki for Simon to catch up on his sleep, to do some shopping and to have dinner with Simon and Christiana, who had just returned from the UK.
On Friday 5 September we sailed and motored up to Arki for a few days of quiet relaxation. We found that Frank and Lin had arrived just before us and managed to squeeze in next to them on the quay.
There was a lot of activity in the square and we learned that the daughter of the head of Greek Pepsi (or Coca) Cola was getting married the next day and we would all have to get off the quay. As soon as they tested the sound system we decided not to contest the order as we would never sleep through the racket.
Nikolas was very stressed. On 23 August his mother, Maria, who is a workaholic and does all the cooking, had found herself paralysed. She did not get any better, so they had taken her to the doctor in Samos. After some tests she was transferred to Athens to have a tumour removed which, fortunately, turned out not to be malignant. She was recovering in hospital, but was still very weak. At the same time Mikhailis, Nikolas's brother, who does the grilling, had gone with his mother and his aunt to Athens. Nickolas's partner Carolina had gone back to Poland with her mother, leaving Nikolas to run the restaurant, and to prepare a mass of food for the wedding, on his own.

Having taken a photo together,
next morning we, and Frank and Lin, motored round to the anchorage, Porto Stretto, just over the hill from Port Augusta, which was beautifully peaceful.

In the afternoon, Simon walked over the hill to check out the preparations for the wedding.

Frank and Lin invited us to join them for a barbecue that evening. We rowed over at 6 o'clock to find that Frank had caught quite a big fish,
an unprecedented event, which Lin (Priddy) suggested we put on the barbecue. Simon agreed, rashly thinking that it might be disgusting, but there were no harmful fish in the Mediterranean. Frank was more cautious, since he did not know what the fish was and could not find anything like it in his fish book. We decided to leave it in the fridge and take over to Nikolas and ask him what it was and, if it was edible, cook it for our lunch the next day. The barbecue was delicious - we couldn't have eaten the fish as well, we were so full.
The wedding seemed to go off well and fortunately we could barely hear it from over the hill, as the enormous speakers were pointing in the opposite direction.
Next morning we went over to Nikolas for lunch. Nikolas took one look at Frank's fish and said, 'throw it away, it is lethal'. He told us it was a lagopsaro. When we looked it up on the internet we found that it was a pufferfish (Lagocephalus sceleratus), which had only recently entered the Mediterranean through the Suez canal, the Japanese fugu, eaten by suicidal Japanese gourmands and lethal if not prepared by a trained and licensed chef (and lethal even then if he makes a mistake). Frank's caution had saved our lives!
Next morning, Monday 8th, we all had a slow downwind sail to Lipsi, where we had to do a lot of washing. We were going to top up our water tanks, but Frank's meter showed that the water was not drinkable, and we saw a lot of muck coming out of the house, so we did not do so.
On Tuesday we had an other slow, but very pleasant, downwind sail to Lakki, where we had to get ready for Annie's arrival on Wednesday morning.