Saturday, 11 July 2015

Referendum and after

Jade and Elliott left and John joined us on July 2nd. The forecast for the next few days was strong winds, so we decided to stay in Lakki for a couple of days while we did washing and stocking up. We kept our hire car one more day so that we could go for dinner at Dimitri's with Sue and Steve,
 watching the full moon come up over the bay.
We decided not to leave on Saturday because there were still strong northerly winds and big seas. Lin and John walked over to the beach at Marikhia. Simon was going to follow on the Brompton, but as he rode up the first hill a rear spoke broke. On closer inspection he found that three spokes had broken, so the bike had to go away until we could get new spokes. No doubt the bike shop in Lakki would have made us new spokes, but as we were going home soon it made more sense to get proper ones back home.
The forecast for Sunday, July 5th, referendum day, was not much better, but the wind had dropped in the morning so we decided to go for it. We motored up the west coast of Leros, which was in the lee of the wind, in quite gentle wind and seas, but the wind blew up and seas got bigger as we rounded the top of the island, so we decided to go inside Arkhengelos and up the east coast of Lipsi, where the wind was still a solid 5-6, but the seas were much less. We got to Arki at midday, found a good spot on the quay, and went to lunch at Nikolas's.
Lin was very impressed by part of Nikolas's display of shells, which she thought had been arranged to look like a turtle,
but Nikolas assured us that this was not deliberate.

In the afternoon we went up to the school, which acted as the polling station. A woman who was voting at the time did not want to be photographed, so we had to wait until she left.

They count the votes on the spot and phone the results through, so we had the results of Arki's voting by 7.30. Of the 53 electors in Arki, 36 voted no, 11 voted yes and there were two spoiled ballots. This was not unexpected, but by 9 pm we knew that Greece as a whole had voted massively NO.
Tsipras's gamble had paid off with a vengeance. It was clear that the troika was not going to be able to engineer regime change through economic pressure and would not be able to find weapons of mass destruction to legitimate a bombing campaign, so the only way to avoid a victory over resistance to austerity was to engineer the collapse of the Greek economy with their own weapon of mass destruction ( Most people we have talked to have felt that things would be much worse in the short term, but at least they would have some hope for the future. Ominously, a handful of people felt that things were better under the junta, but it is unlikely that the CIA will engineer another military coup. A spoof Russian website claims that the Russian electoral commission, observing the referendum, reported that 85% of Greeks would like to join the Russian Federation and that Putin would appoint Tsipras President of the Greek Republic ( ).
With continuing strong winds there were very few boats coming and going from Arki, in fact four boats had been here when we were here last week with Jade and Elliott, until Wednesday, when the wind dropped and there was a mass exodus.
We spent our time in Arki chilling, reading, following the news, and swimming, on the town beach

and at Tiganakia

We all walked over to Tiganakia on Monday, but it was a bit of a struggle for Simon with his stick, so on Wednesday morning he stayed on the boat while Lin and John walked over there.

On Wednesday morning we heard the shocking news that a yacht carrying 40 refugees had sunk between Agathonisi and Farmakonisi, just a few miles east of here, with 20 rescued by Turkish and Greek coastguards, with 20 still missing. There is no further news, but we hope it is not a repeat of the tragedy in January last year, when three women and nine children died when  their boat capsized while being towed by the Leros coastguard. In that case a Syrian who it was claimed was steering the boat was sentenced to 145 years in jail, but the refugees claimed that the accident was the fault of the coastguard, who were trying to tow the boat back to dump it in Turkish waters ( ).

Most boats left on Wednesday and a couple more came in. Nikolas is very worried that there are so few boats thus year, He has taken on a couple to help him over the summer but there is not enough work for them to do and he does not know how he will pay them, support his large extended family and save enough to see them through the winter.  At least fewer customers mean that Nikolas and Carolina can take a break now and then. 

It is a real mystery why there are so many fewer boats. You wouldn't expect liveaboards to change their plans, there are lots of boats based in Turkey coming to Greece to escape the visa rules and most charterers would have booked months ago.

We left Arki for Arkhangelos on Thursday morning, following Nikolas's dad out of Arki as he went out fishing in his little boat. 

With very little wind we motorsailed, with the sails not providing much power but at least giving John the sense that he was sailing!

We anchored in a good spot in Arkhangelos,
close to the taverna,
where we went for a superb evening meal and brought greetings to Dimitra from Arki.
With Dmitra, Tassos and their mum and dad
Mia Hara from the taverna
The taverna (Stigma) was built by Dimitra's dad, with some help from a friend, and has new developments every time we come. They get their water from an 800 year-old well that used to serve a monastery, of which no trace remains, and their electricity from solar panels. They have now completed the hut, on the right of the photo, in which Dimitra lives, and are just fitting windows to the inner part of the taverna to keep it warm in winter. The food is superb and you can phone them and get picked up from Partheni if you do not have your own boat.

On Friday morning, with almost no wind, Simon went up the mast to fix the wind instruments, which had twisted round so the wind direction readings were inverted. He straightened it up, but will have to go up again to glue it more securely into place. Lin and John then rowed ashore to walk up to the ridge on Arkhangelos to enjoy the view.

In the afternoon we chilled, swam and listened to Test Match Special, before going for dinner at Stigma.

On Saturday morning we left Arkhangelos at 6.15 to pick up a buoy in Partheni, ready to get lifted out before flying home for three weeks on Sunday.

We lifted out at 9 on Saturday morning.

We rented a car for the last day and went for a swim and lunch at Alinda and into Lakki for the evening, before flying out on Sunday midday.

Lin has asked me to make it clear that this blog is Simon's work and she does not want to be associated with it!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Life with Jade and Elliott

We spent another day chilling in Palionissos after Frank and Lin had left, feeding the ducks.

We left Palionissos on Tuesday, June 23rd, to sail down to an anchorage on the east side of Pserimos, but when we got in the wind was blowing quite hard so we decided to go straight to Kos marina, where we were picking up Jade and Elliott on Thursday evening. As soon as we arrived Simon went to find an engineer to look at our overheating engine. He came that afternoon, checked everything over and took out the heat exchanger - problem solved, it was clogged up with debris from the impeller that was destroyed in April last year!
He took away the heat exchanger to clean it and brought it back next afternoon. He also changed the coolant, telling us that we should only use Yanmar coolant.
Simon got a lift to Lidl with an English couple, who had a rented car, and stocked up for Jade and Elliott's visit.
Jade and Elliott arrived on Thursday evening - having spurned the Resorthoppa transfer we had booked for them, they shared a taxi and arrived, starving, about 10.30pm, so we took them straight to the marina cafe.
We were parked next to a Polish charter boat, who had arrived noisily the night before and now kept us awake till 1 am talking very loudly.
We had to leave the marina on Friday morning, although it was still very windy, because they needed all the spaces for returning charter boats. We set off at 8 o'clock and motored up to Palionissos in strong wind and big seas, with waves breaking over the deck - Jade did not like it! But our overheating problem was solved so we could make a good speed.
Jade and Elliott soon got into their sailing routine, playing with their phones
and sunbathing.

As we passed Kos town we heard an American boat radioing to the Greek coastguard that there was a rubber dinghy with about twelve people in it, paddling towards the shore.
We got to Palionissos by 11 and went to the beach bar for beer, burgers and kebabs. In the evening we ate at Pothitos's taverna, with beautiful views of the anchorage and the evening sun on the cliffs.

Next morning we motorsailed up to Lakki, where we had booked a place in the marina. As the forecast for Sunday was Force 7 northerly, we decided to stay two nights in Lakki and hire a car for the day.
Everyone is suddenly very worried about the crisis. People had been queuing all night at the cash machines, which soon ran out of money. The butcher told us that he is having big problems with supplies. The wholesaler has to pay cash in advance for his meat, but he has a cash flow problem. A taverna owner told us that he had problems paying for his meat because he had to pay cash, but he could not transfer cash because the banks were not working, so he just had to send it in an envelope.
We got the impression that there will be a massive NO vote in the referendum. Some people said that they had not decided how to vote because they had not seen the question, but a lot of people, even conservative ND supporters, say that 'we have had five years of it and we cannot take any more'. There have been a lot of cancellations of holiday bookings. A big rally of RIBs, which would have brought over 1000 people to Lakki over two or three days has been cancelled, as has the tour of the islands by Athens doctors, who travel round in their RIBs treating people for free and staying in the islands.

On Saturday evening Simon drove Jade and Elliott up to the cafe in the windmill on the ridge above Pandeli.

On Sunday we drove Jade and Elliott round the island to see the sights (mostly the beaches at Xerokampos and Pandeli) and went to see Sue and Steve, who had just arrived in the boatyard. Sue had forgotten to get any euros, so they only had 20 euros. Fortunately we could ask John to bring some out for them when he comes on Friday.
At Pandeli Jade not only went into the sea, despite her fear of sharks, she even swam a couple of strokes!

On Monday, June 29th, we motor-sailed up to Lipsi in another strong northerly wind, arriving at midday. There were only a couple of boats on the quay when we got there. It turned out to be Jade's least favourite place, not least because it was windy and cloudy so no good for sunbathing or the beach, but Lin needed to do some washing because water had got into the forepeak on the drive up from Kos and soaked all the bedding.
We left Lipsi on Tuesday morning to motor sail up to Arki, where we arrived at half past ten, again to find it almost empty. Nikolas told us that there had been very few boats the last week or more, which was a complete mystery because we would not expect sailors to be put off by the talk of crisis.
Elliott bravely dived into the harbour

and he and Jade rewarded themselves with ice creams.
After lunch in Nikolas's taverna,

in the afternoon we went to the beach, which was almost deserted.

We left Arki early on Wednesday morning to motor sail back to Lakki in light northerly wind, arriving about 11 and picking up a hire car for the day. Jade wanted to go to Crithoni Paradise so she could swim in the shark-free pool, and Simon and Elliott had disgusting burgers. We then drove over to the windmill cafe for a drink before coming back to the boat. Simon drilled out the fitting for our new bow anchor light, burning up two drill bits getting through the stainless steel.
On Wednesday evening Elliott treated us all to a steak dinner at To Petrino. Jade and Elliott thought they were the best steaks they had ever tasted. We had planned to go to a concert after dinner, which was to have been in the castle but was moved to the school in Agia Marina, but after dinner we decided we were all too tired to have a late night.
On Thursday morning, July 2nd, Simon drove over to the airport to pick up John and we went straight to Poppy's for breakfast. Then we all drove over to Agia Marina to put Jade and Elliott on the catamaran to Kos to get their flight home.
After a club sandwich

they got on the catamaran

and sailed away

We had a really enjoyable week with Jade and Elliott and all wished they had come for longer. Elliott was really interested in the sailing. It was a pity that there was either too much or too little wind to give him a proper sailing course.