Friday, 29 May 2015

Another year begins

We flew out to Athens on May 5th and stayed a couple of nights with Lena. Talked to Nikos about the Greek situation - he is strongly against a default because it would lead to chaos which would open the door to the right, an argument which I find convincing because it is clear that Syriza's hold on power is quite precarious. But my fear is that they will end up with the worst of both worlds - an unplanned default, chaos and a resurgence of the far right.
We flew to Leros on election day, May 7th, and went to bed as soon as we saw the exit poll results. And of course things have only got worse since, with Cameron off the leash and Labour MPs deciding that their problem is that they are not Tory enough. Surely if people are going to vote for the Tory programme, they will vote for the real thing, not for a pale imitation?
Anyway, we are away from it all for a while. We spent five days in the yard, meeting up with friends, cleaning the boat and doing some essential maintenance. We had a car for the first four days so could go around Leros, where we were greeted with hugs and kisses everywhere we went - it is so good to be back. Refugees are pouring in every day, but they are still met with Greek hospitality. The local population give clothes, food and money even though so many of them have nothing themselves, and they do not complain about having to wait in the hospital because the refugees' medicals have priority. One change this year is that refugees are flooding in to Kos and Samos. Apparently in the past, because of their good relations with the Turks, the Turkish police stopped traffickers from going there, but obviously money talks!
We launched on May 13th - the travel lift arrived at 7.45, but fortunately we were ready.

We went onto the buoy off the yard, but it was too windy to hoist the genoa, so we motored down to Lakki, surfing on the rollers. We stayed three days in Lakki marina, but they are doing a major reconstruction of the marina building so there are no facilities for now, and Anna has had to make her office under an umbrella on the quay.
On May 16th we motored up to Arki - no wind - where we found that Nicolas and Carolina had come back from Poland with a new baby!

Carolina had told Becky last summer that she was pregnant, but otherwise was not announcing it. Maria has recovered from her brain operation, but is taking it relatively easy - she even closed the taverna over the winter. Nicolas's dad spent the winter making more model boats, including one named after Varoufakis, the Syriza Finance Minister, though he is now not so sure!

We had a lovely relaxed few days in Arki, even swimming (earlier than  usual),

and the sea is surprisingly warm. We also had some gentle walks, Simon hobbling around with a stick because of his deteriorating hip. The school in Arki

this year has one pupil and one teacher! There is plenty of property for sale.

If you don't fancy that one, there is a whole island, Strongilo, for sale just off the main island (actually it is a lump of scrubby rock) for 2.5 million euros. Nicolas told us that his uncle had kept his goats there for many years, but somebody had just turned up with a piece of paper that supposedly confirmed his ownership and had put it up for sale (so there would be big lawyers' fees as well!).
On May 21st we motored across to Agathonisi (again no wind) to see our friends there. Refugees there have even landed on the town beach. Maria has a problem with her legs - she had an operation over the winter, but is still in a lot of pain, and Voula was away in Samos for the day to see the doctor - she had a bad cut on her finger. Agathonisi was very quiet - only two other boats at first, though more came in later. They have had a difficult start to the year, with few visitors apart from the refugees, and are hoping that things will pick up in June.
On May 22nd we sailed (!) down to Lipsi in a good breeze to do some washing at the best laundry in the region. We had a warm welcome from Manolis and had a good dinner at his taverna. The next day we went down to the anchorage off Arkhangelos and had lunch in the taverna there, again a very warm welcome even though we had not been since the year before last. We had planned to stay, but the forecast was for an increasing south westerly wind, so we went down to Lakki for the night, where we met up with Richard, who had launched after three weeks in the yard.
On May 24th we left Lakki, intending to sail to Levitha, but there was too much west in the wind, so instead we went south to Palionisos,

where we spent two days on a buoy, chilling and swimming.
We came back up to Lakki on May 26th, where we went back into the marina. Richard was still here, meeting up with his friend John, and we had an excellent dinner with them at Ostria.
That night we had thunderstorms and torrential rain and woke up to find the boat thick with Sahara dust that had been dropped with the rain. Everybody spent the morning hosing down their boats, but with more rain forecast there was no point in doing a thorough cleaning job yet.
We will stay in Lakki a few more days because of the variable weather, and up to gale force winds forecast for tonight, so that we can catch up with odd maintenance, repair and cleaning jobs.