Monday, 1 October 2018

A week with Sam and Alice and then home

Sam and Alice came on the Blue Star from Kalymnos, where they had spent a week climbing, on Sunday night, September 23rd. The weather forecast was for strong winds building from Tuesday, so we decided just to have a day trip to Arkhangelos on Monday and then stay in the marina with a hire car.
On Monday we motored up to Arkhangelos in a light northerly wind - Alice's first trip on a yacht. There was a bit of a sea, but it did not bother Alice.

We anchored off the taverna in Arkhangelos

and swam from the boat.

The taverna looked very quiet, so Lin swam over and saw Dimitra. Georgos and Evropi had set off on their motor cruiser to Naxos for the start of their holiday, leaving Dimitra and Tassos to run the taverna. Evropi was sick on the way over - a week later they were still stuck in the little harbour on the southeast of Naxos, sheltering from the wild weather.
We had lunch in Stigma

and then motor-sailed back to the marina in a flat sea.
On Tuesday our car arrived at 9am. We drove up to the castle,

then over to Liskaria beach, past Alinda, where we lay on the sunbeds and swam.

before lunch with Dimitri at To Steki.

After lunch we drove over to Gourna, where we chilled for the afternoon, but did not swim because a chilly wind was getting up.

Wednesday 26th September was the 75th anniversary of the sinking by German bombers of the British destroyer Intrepid and the Greek flagship Queen Olga, which marked the start of the Battle of Leros. In the morning Lin and Simon went to the laying of wreaths on the Intrepid memorial, which happened half an hour later than schedule because the granddaughter of Albert Poulter, the last living survivor of the sinking of Intrepid, and her wife had overslept. Albert Poulter, now 92, was stooped but mentally completely alert.

He laid a small cross in memory of the last man he spoke to before he abandoned ship, who had died with the vessel. Quite a few of the people at the ceremony were people whose fathers had been in the battle. Nick Jellicoe had been into Tilney's cave, the British headquarters in the battle, and told Simon how to get to it. It is not the cave mentioned in our last post.

We all went over to the ceremony to commemorate Queen Olga at 11, which was much larger than it has been in previous years. There was a warship anchored out in the bay,
an honour guard
and a military band.
Albert impressed everybody with his singing along to the Greek national anthem.
There was a succession of dignitaries laying wreaths, though fewer than planned because the flight and ferries had been cancelled due to the bad weather, including Vassilios Magasianos, a survivor of the Queen Olga, and Albert Poulter, who turned after laying his wreath and saluted the crowd, to great applause.
The dignitaries then walked down to the ferry quay, where they (including Albert) boarded another, smaller, warship, the gunboat Krateos, which went out to lay a wreath over the wreck of Queen Olga.

After the ceremony we drove over to Xerokampos, where we had lunch at Aloni, and chilled on the sunbeds, but again not swimming.
In the evening Lin and Simon went to an event in the cinema, at which various people were to speak about the battle of Leros. It started with half an hour of welcomes from various dignitaries, followed by the talks. Nick Jellicoe spoke about his father, who had commanded the SBS in the Battle of Leros, but just detailed his career, saying almost nothing about Leros. This was followed by a presentation by an Italian who was obsessed with aerophones - the listening devices to identify incoming planes, that preceded radar, of which one on Leros has been restored. Then a German historian read from the recently acquired diary of a German military doctor, which was mostly an account of his time on Kalymnos. Then Julie Peakman gave the only relevant talk, giving the story of some of the combatants. She was also the only speaker who kept to the ten minutes allowed. We left at the start of a presentation of the battle of Leros in the German press and missed a talk by another obsessive about all the gun batteries on Leros.
Fortunately we had left the dinner cooking, so we managed to eat not too late!

Thursday was cloudy, with rain threatening, so we decided to go for a walk to the monastery of All the Angels, a rather ugly modern monastry overlooking Gourna Bay, with the ancient church of Saint Peter, apparently built on the ruins of an ancient Christian basilica.

We walked back down the valley to Merikhia and then back to Lakki.

We had arranged to have dinner with Al and Kitty and Kitty's mum at El Greco in Pandeli, but Kitty and her mum were stuck on Kos as the ferries had all been cancelled, though they managed a day trip to Bodrum, so we had dinner just with Al.

Sam and Alice were flying out to Athens on Friday afternoon. Fortunately, the wind had dropped, before the Medicane (Mediterranean hurricane) came in at the weekend, so the flight was not cancelled. We drove over to Pandeli in the morning, which was completely empty - not a single boat anchored off, where usually it is packed (there was one charter catamaran in Vromolithos, who soon left).

We walked round to the quay, where we met Kyriakos working on his boat. His mother had just died, with the funeral the day before, for which his sons had come over from Denmark. We then had a leisurely lunch at Pirofani before driving out to the airport. Sam and Alice checked in early - there were quite a lot of people waiting to go standby after the flight cancellations, most of whom were disappointed.

We walked down to the Partheni jetty

then back to the airport, where Sam and Alice boarded and flew off.

We really enjoyed having Sam and Alice, though it was a pity we could not get more sailing in. They were glad to have a quiet time after their strenuous week's climbing.

After they left we were all closely following the weather forecasts to see the track of the Medicane, which at one stage was threatening us with torrential rain, gale force winds and worse. The marina was completely packed with yachts looking for shelter, with queues outside to get in. In the event the medicane tracked northeast and we got off very lightly.

We now have our final week getting the boat ready to leave in the marina before we fly to Athens on October 7th and then home. There is still a lot of rain forecast, which makes it hard to plan the washing, but we have plenty of time.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Winding down

Becky, Andrew and the boys went home on Thursday, 23rd August. Lin's wrist, after her fall at Agia Marina, was still very painful the next day, so she went to Lakki hospital. After a five-minute wait in A and E she was taken to X-Ray, had her blood pressure taken, was told she didn't look 73, and then was lain down and her wounds were sprayed and bandaged. A doctor looked at her X-Rays and thought they were OK, but referred her to the orthopaedic consultant, who said it was not broken, but her thumb needed to be kept apart from her fingers, so they put an enormous bandage on her wrist with a great big cotton-wool ball in her palm, so everyone was very impressed when she arrived at Poppy's for a lunchtime beer. Becky was less impressed when we sent her the picture, declaring it 'ridiculous'.
Nevertheless, Lin kept it on for a couple of days, which meant that Simon had not only to do all the household chores, but also to wash and dress Lin - thoughts of times to come!

That evening we went out for dinner at Persiana with Simon and Christiana, where Lin had a strong exotic Belgian beer. Walking down the pontoon on the way back to the boat she fell flat on her face again, giving herself a nasty graze on the other elbow.

On Saturday evening we went to the christening of Nikos. Anna's son, in a little church at the end of Alinda Bay. The christening went on for ages as the priest read from his holy book, first outside,

Lefteri and Nikos

then blessing the water, provided by his assistant from a jerry can.

Nikos was very calm until he had to be completely undressed to be dunked three times into the font and then anointed with oil.

Tassos and Anna's daughter Eleni held a candle and then processed with Lefteri and Nikos after the priest.

After the christening there was the traditional distribution of ice creams, sweet cakes and little trinkets before everyone went home - Anna called us a taxi, which she insisted on paying for.
The christening was a lovely event in a beautiful setting and it was nice to see old friends - Lefteri, who was the godfather, is now working as a marinero in Rhodes marina. Caterina, now his wife, is working as a nurse in Rhodes hospital and expecting a baby in November.

Lefteri would love to come back to England, where they had both been working in the hospital in Oxford, but with a new baby it is impractical. It was also lovely to see Maria and her little boy. Maria worked in Lakki marina a few years ago, then left to work in the Wind shop in Platanos, but has now got the job she always wanted, working as a nurse in Lakki hospital.

We rested on Sunday while Lin continued to recover from her injuries, but on Monday we motored round to Xerokampos, where we picked up a buoy

alongside Simon and Christiana, with Ray and Carol parked just behind us and Richard, whom we had not seen this year, across the bay. We had lunch at Aloni with Simon and Christiana

and had dinner aboard - a delicious dry-aged steak from the Australian butcher.

We stayed three days in Xerokampos, which was wonderfully peaceful, having lunch at Aloni and dinner aboard each day. On Thursday 30 August we went back to the marina in Lakki to do some washing and shopping and in the evening had dinner with Al and Kitty at El Greco in Pandeli. They were tired after two busy months running their hotel, but it is going very well, beating all booking records while other hotels in Leros are complaining that business is down.

On Friday we sailed up to Lipsi, where we anchored with Frank and Lin and Ray and Carol in Katsadia, the south anchorage. Ray and Carol were already drinking on Frank and Lin's boat and we were invited to join them, but otherwise we spent two days on the boat chilling and swimming.

We left Lipsi just after dawn on Sunday July 2nd.

We sailed up to Arki,
 where we anchored in Porto Stretto, the only boat in the bay.

During the afternoon a huge (105 foot) superyacht, Blue Beeze, came into the bay, probably looking to anchor, passed just behind our stern and then did a seven-point turn before leaving.

The next day, Monday, we moved to Arki quay because strong winds were forecast and the Stretto buoys were taken, We went round to the town beach in the morning, which we had to ourselves,
and swam off the boat in the afternoon. It turned out that one Stretto buoy had been reserved for Ray and Carol and the other was taken later in the day, when it had become free, by Nigel and Ann.

On Tuesday we walked round to Tiganakia beach. It is usually deserted in the morning, but today there were ten people there, six of whom had come in a dinghy. We still managed to find a spot and have a lovely swim.

Wednesday was another beach day and on Thursday Paddy and Sally, whom we had spent some time with on our northern adventure, arrived from Fourni. It was really nice to see them again. We had dinner with them on Thursday evening and on Friday they left for Lipsi and we sailed done to Arkhangelos,
 where we picked up the red buoy.
We spent two nights in Arkhangelos, having delicious meals in Stigma each evening.

On Sunday we sailed down to Lakki. We had intended to stay for Sunday lunch at Stigma, but Georgos advised us to go in the morning because it was going to be very windy in the afternoon. Paddy and Sally arrived in Evros in the afternoon.
On Monday we did some shopping and swam from the little beach by the marina. Paddy and Sally had a car and invited us to join them for dinner at Mylos, the posh restaurant between Agia Marina and Crithoni. It is a beautiful location, but at this time of year it gets dark so early that one cannot enjoy the views. But the food is good, if expensive.
On Tuesday we pottered around and had dinner at Skippers, the excellent marina restaurant, with Paddy and Sally and Frank and Lin.
On Wednesday, Paddy and Sally left, while we cycled round Lakki bay to Patela, at the harbour entrance. It is probably the toughest ride on Leros, with a lot of hills, but Lin did very well,
though she did get off and walk now and then when the going got tough.
On the way, we passed a memorial on the spot at which the Germans had executed Greeks, Italians and even Germans during the war.

On the ride up Simon's shorts began to tear, eventually ripping from waist to hem. He was not able to persuade anybody that this was the latest fashion, so his shorts went in the bin when we got home.

At the top of the road is a little church, built into the hillside,

and a pair of tunnels, probably leading to ammunition stores for the anti-aircraft guns which were on the hilltop above.

We left our bikes and walk round the headland, with a view across the harbour entrance,

past the 'dragon's teeth'

through a herd of goats

and along an undulating rough track, heading for a cove,

that we would see on the map and on Google Earth, but neither showed a way of getting there.
We followed the track, past some rather vicious dogs, and reached a walled enclosure, where the track stopped. We could see what looked like a path beyond, so we scrambled round the wall to try to reach it.

We reached what looked like a track leading to the beach, but by now it was one o'clock, we had finished our water and bananas, and Simon's Teva sandal had broken, so we decided to head back. We didn't want to have to scramble back up past the wall and the dogs, so we decided to follow a terrace the then goat paths to get back to the main track. On the way back to our bikes we had to give way to two tourists on motorbikes and two more on a quad bike, gingerly making their way down the track.

When we got back to the bikes we found that Lin had a rear puncture, so she took Simon's bike and rode down to Merikhia for a swim, while Simon struggled back with the punctured bike, carefully riding it downhill and pushing it up. He was very glad of a large beer at Poppy's when he got back!
In the afternoon Simon went into town to leave Lin's wheel for Yanni's son Costas to fit a new tyre and tube. 12 euros for a beefy tyre and tube. He had forgotten that the butchers in Lakki still observe early closing on Wednesday so we had a vegetable stew for dinner.

On Thursday Simon walked up to Meroviglia with Frank. The walking map of Leros is useless, so we used Google Earth to spot trails. We got near to the road, which was our target, when the track petered out so we had to scramble up terraces to reach the road. On the walk up to Meroviglia we explored the cave that we had seen before - this time we had a powerful torch. It was a big tunnel, wide in places,

but was blocked some way in - perhaps this was Tilney's headquarters cave in the Battle of Leros.

At the top of Meroviglia there is an old tank embedded in a blockhouse

and a more modern Greek gun emplacement with a collage on the wall with branches stuck on to the painting

and on another wall there were outlines of Turkish planes and ships for the soldiers to identify.

Coming back, we retraced our steps down the terraces, rather than taking the long way round by road, and got to Poppy's in time for a welcome beer. After a siesta we went for a swim on the little beach by the marins and cooked dinner aboard.

On Friday we went to Julie's sale of her book, Hitler's Island War, at Poppy's. It was a very enjoyable evening, meeting up with old and new friends. We stayed at Poppy's to have a mousaka before going back to the marina.

On Saturday, September 15th, we sailed down to Xerokampos. We were lucky to be able to pick up a red buoy, which looked solid, so we had to go to To Kima, whose buoy it was, for lunch. After lunch we walked round to Aloni's, where a big group of our old Leros friends were having lunch, so we had a beer with them. We swam and read in the afternoon before Frank and Lin and Sue and Steve came for drinks before we had scrambled egg and salad for dinner aboard.

On Sunday we moved over to a yellow buoy, which became free. Simon went for a walk with Frank up to the ancient castle above Xerokampos, after which we went to have a light lunch at Aloni with Frank and Lin. In the evening we had cheese on toast and salad aboard.

Sam flew in to Kos for his week's climbing on Kalimnos. The flight was delayed so they did not get in till after midnight, too late for the ferry. Some of his group got an AirBandB near the airport, while the others stayed in Kardamena. In the morning Sam phone to tell them that they were getting the 9 o'clock ferry from Merikhia. They walked down to the harbour to find that there were only the tripper boats to Nissiros - they hadn't realised that they were staying in Kardamena, not Mastikhari. They got a taxi to Mastikhari and just caught the ferry.

On Monday we walked over to Lakki to watch the start of the race (Lin got a lift half the way). We had planned to pick up our bikes at the marina to cycle round, but the lock was jammed, so we let them there. Lin was very glad that we had withdrawn from the race because it was pretty windy. We got a taxi back to Xerokampos about midday. We had planned to leave on Monday afternoon, but it was very windy so we decided to stay another day. Xerokampos was packed - all the buoys taken and a lot of boats anchored off so there were about 40 boats there every day - we have never seen it so busy.

On Tuesday morning we set off early for Palionisos, only a few miles down the coast. When Lin went to get her bikini in, there was a huge moth fast asleep on the strap, which took some shaking to wake and get off.

We set off at about 9, under genoa, and were soon hit by the strong northerly wind - initially the top end of Force 6, though it dropped a bit after half an hour or so. We had phoned Pothitos to keep us a buoy, but several boats left as we came in and we picked up a buoy just behind Ray and Carol.

Just after we arrived Sam texted to say that they were climbing at the Secret Garden, near Palionisos, so we set off to walk over to see them. It was rather further than we had anticipated - a stiff walk up the road under the hot sun and then a path over a ridge, round a valley and round another ridge

before we found the Secret Garden

- an hour and a quarter's walk.

We had a warm welcome from Sam and Alice and their friends

before we headed back

to have a light lunch with Ray and Carol at Pothitos's.

On Wednesday we swam

and chilled.
In the evening a German boat came in and tried to pick up a buoy under sail (and with his bowthruster), but failed. He was not showing off - his engine had failed. He went ashore in his dinghy to Iloni and someone came out in their dory and towed him onto a buoy.

On Thursday, early in the morning, we went for a walk up the goat path/climbers' track north from Palionisos beach.

Lin decided that it was too steep and rough for her to want to risk it, so Simon climbed on up to the top, with a panoramic view of Palionisos,

before clambering down again to meet Lin, who had been patiently waiting. We then walked round the other side of the bay to the beautiful little beach by the new climbing routes and had a swim.

When we walked back to Pothitos we had a beer, then went back to the boat, where we found that Ray and Carol had returned. They had planned to go to Nissiros, to pick up Carol's sister, but gale force winds were forecast for the middle of next week, so they decided to head back north for better shelter, though the forecast keeps changing. We had lunch with Ray and Carol and they came for a drink aboard in the evening.
On Friday morning we sailed back up to Lakki, into a comfortable Force 3-4 northerly wind, to get ready for Sam and Alice's arrival on Sunday. Frank and Lin passed us they were going down to Palionisos, but we did not see them - we must have been on a long offshore tack. We came into the marina, picked up our bikes, having cut the lock off with boltcutters, and went for a beer and lunch with Sue and Steve at Poppy's.