Ups and Downs

27 Aug

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We sat out a few days of thunderstorms in the marina. Although never a hardship for us, we were nonetheless eager to get out and about again as the weather improved. We’d both been studying the forecasts with a view to heading south to Paxos and while Neil was quite happy, I wasn’t so sure.

You see I’m a nervous sailor. Scrap that. I’m not a sailor. I’m here under completely false pretences. When real sailors come in going “Oh brilliant, great sail today. 30 knots and we were stonking along” I just think “Mad!”

The forecast was for a Force 4, perhaps the sailing ideal. Really nothing to worry about and as Neil pointed out, I can’t have it both ways. If I want a breeze to keep us cool at anchor we’ve got to actually go out when there’s some wind. He’s right, of course.

Off we went, up went the sails and off went the engine. We weren’t heeled over much, the sails cast a pleasant shadow into the cockpit and all was well with the world. Wonderful. Yes, I get it.

Soon we were anchored at the southern end of Corfu in Petriti’s large bay and for a while it looked like we were going to be the only boat there. It wasn’t long, though, before they were rolling in – and so was the swell. Not the annoying, boat-rattling swell of the ferry boats further north but the constant, all-nighter. We were bucking like a rodeo rider but, to be fair, the motion wasn’t unpleasant. It just meant that Neil didn’t get the fried eggs he was looking forward to.

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We didn’t hang about the next day and happily left the crowded bay heading for Lakka on Paxos. Lovely, lovely Lakka. Yes, it gets crowded too but we like to tie up to the rocks, providing a relatively private patch of turquoise water to swim in and the shade comes in early as the sun starts to go down.

This time, though, the last few miles were uncomfortable to say the least. I’ve often felt seasick but never actually reached the throwing up stage. It took about 10 minutes. Just writing about it now makes me feel ill and, would you believe it, a rolling swell has just started here in Lakka. I’ll be sitting next to the bucket.

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Kassiopi Festival

18 Aug

We managed to get on to the quay in Kassiopi on the 15th of August when they celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Although the day is celebrated throughout Greece and is generally a holiday they particularly make a big deal of it in Kassiopi because they regard Mary as “their” saint as the church is named after her.

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The church parade is led by the band followed by the choir competing with the ringing of the church bell

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The boys carrying the banners and cross walk ahead

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Followed by the girls throwing flower petals

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The priests emerge singing from the church dressed in their finery as the elaborately decorated alter that contains the image of the Virgin is paraded through the streets. The image itself, though, never leaves the church.

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The evening is all about celebrating. Tables and chairs are laid out around the harbour as whole lambs are roasted. A band plays traditional Greek songs long into the night.

Idyllic Anchorage?

17 Aug

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It was probably a wasp although we never saw it. A few turned up later but the culprit remained anonymous and unpunished. Nevertheless, my right bingo wing was getting bigger by the second and to say I was a bit undecided by the merits of the anchorage is something of an understatement.

When Neil had suggested we change our plans and divert to a bay described in the pilot book as idyllic and cutting an hour off our journey I’d agreed, of course. I was getting hungry anyway. He duly plotted the new course and handed me the pilot book to read the entry myself. Hmm. Fish farms didn’t sound very idyllic to me.

“It’s up to you, darling” says he. Back to the chart plotter. My stomach rumbled. Hmm. Another hour.
“It might be worth a look” says I.
“No problem” says Patience Personified. Or he may just have gone quiet. I forget.

Half an hour later we were passing the fish farms that took up most of the dog-leg entrance which would be otherwise undeniably beautiful. As Desi turned the final corner the small bay opened up before us and we were completely surrounded by land, just the slightest breeze rippling the water and, best of all, absolutely no swell. That decided it.

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There was already a yacht in the obvious spot to drop the anchor but the bay was easily big enough to accommodate a second without intruding on anyone’s privacy. While Neil fiddled about on deck I went down below to open up. And butter a sustaining bread roll. Thus fortified until lunchtime, I was strong enough to rejoin Neil on deck and help him fix up some shade by handing him the pegs.

It was at this point, Neil balancing rather precariously and hanging off the bimini, me reaching into the table locker for another peg, that the wasp struck. It must have been trapped between the two of us but naturally it was me it stung. As I reached behind me to gently bat the rascal away it was Neil who was the first to cry out. There was some confusion. I may well have smacked his nether regions but I was being very stoic as the poison crept through my body. Calmness itself and abandoning Neil to his fate, I upended the first aid kit and spread its contents to the wind in an effort to identify the antihistamine cream.

Two hours later, we now lounge around the shady cockpit. The other yacht has upped anchor after what must have been a lunchtime stop and the drilling sound from the fish farm has stopped. We have the bay to ourselves. My arm throbs in rhythm with the cicadas. Idyllic?

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Not on Holiday

10 Aug

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It could just be me but the Northern Ionian seems a lot noisier than I remember. Of course, August was never going to be a quiet period and we’re definitely on the popular sailing route from Italy. We haven’t noticed much in the way of the flotillas so ubiquitous further south, although the charter boats are still plentiful and these don’t have the lead crews helping the less experienced into harbours and bays.

It’s not just the fight for a place on the quay and the inevitable anchor chain spaghetti, though. Millions arrive at this time of year to stay in the hotels and apartments of Corfu and despite initial worries that this might be a slow year it doesn’t seem to be the case. What everybody has in common is the fact that they are on holiday.

The crews want to actually sail all day, arriving late into already packed harbours and anchorages, usually in 50 odd footers or huge catamarans and they’re coming in whether you think there’s room or not. Those who are land based want to hire little shadeless motorboats or go on jaunts to neighbouring islands in big tripper boats which aren’t worth the money unless the same endless loop of Greek tunes is blasting through less than perfect speakers, all with the promise of swimming in the same deserted bays. Then there are the water skiers along with the jet skis and speedy ribs from the massive gin palaces blocking the entrance, all creating a succession of bow waves and wakes to make any sailing boat in the vicinity rock constantly from side to side. Rarely do any slow down.

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And everybody wants to party all night. Where once little tavernas competed with each other using live bazouki players now there’s a cacophony of pounding beats until at least five in the morning all along the waterfronts. Every night. If I sound like a boring old fart it’s because I probably am. We try to take the attitude of “if you can’t beat them, join them” after all, you’re not going to sleep anyway. I’m here to tell you that it can’t be done all summer, not at our age. Well, I use the plural but Neil doesn’t have problem. He sleeps just fine. Anyway, next year I’ll be spending August elsewhere.

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Marina Life

3 Aug

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We’ve taken the plunge. We’ve only gone and reserved a marina berth for 12 months, something we’ve never done before. It’s a logical decision for the way we want to use the boat now and less eye-wateringly expensive with the smaller version. Still enough to make us gulp a bit, though!

So we’re living the marina life for a few days and it feels like a holiday! For a start the boat is still. It seems like she’d been rocking and rolling since we left the canal. There’s a bit of wind but, with a lazy-line and land in every direction, what may have caused a few worries (for me at least) becomes a wonderful cooling breeze as we laze around the pool.

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The water and electricity is included. Yes, shore power!!! Fans everywhere and everything charged up plus unlimited hot water on tap. Desi has had a good wash down and there are showers – real showers, you know, the ones that gush water from overhead and you don’t have to pump out afterwards.

The supermarket on site is good for the basics but a short walk away there’s a huge one (by Greek standards) where we went a bit mad on arrival. Thank goodness for the granny shopping trolly! The whole area is geared up towards yacht maintenance and we’ve sussed out a few places who may be able to help sort out a few things for us over winter.

Yes, it’s been a lovely break but now we’re hankering for the bays near by. And we can come back any time we like. Happy face.

Day Break on the Levkas Canal

29 Jul

Making our way along the Levkas Canal to catch the first opening of the bridge we also caught the sun rise.

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The pre dawn light at the entrance

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The fishermen were already out and about

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But the dredgers had yet to get started

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And the tug boats waited in the early morning light

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As did the seagulls, sitting on the wall at the marina entrance.

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And the old fortifications continue their long watch

Water Maker

28 Jul

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After what turned out to be a better than expected stay in Levkas we were back in Sivota. Again. Now, we both quite like the place. One of our favourite restaurants is there as well as a family run taverna, popular with live-aboards, that has become in effect our local watering hole. However, we’d spent longer there than we’d normally choose as the local engineer has been trying to sort out our non functioning water maker.

It was the engineer who had summoned us this time as the parts he’d ordered had come in. He duly arrived on Friday afternoon with his new apprentice in tow, identified all the necessary piping, surmised that the previous owner had fitted it himself in a rather unorthodox fashion and opened his box of parts. You’ve guessed it, wrong parts. Could we hang about until Monday?

We hung about, the new pump was fitted, fresh(ish) water came out of the tap and fresher water went into the tank. That’s where the unorthodox fitting bit is not so good. The sea water only goes through the final filter after the tap. Neil, with a stronger stomach than me, has happily drunk the tap water, so far with no ill effects but we’ve both decided to stick with the bottled.

So this begs the question ”Is it worth it?”
Well, that really remains to be seen but it is an awful lot of faff. It will have to be run every couple of days at least or the filters will need changing and the whole point for us was that we’d be able to stay longer at anchor. Do we want to do that?

Having said that we’ve already noticed that it has taken some of the pressure off minimising our water usage. It’s quite liberating not having to worry about how much we’re using when we shower, for instance. Each time Neil sets the pump running (I leave all that to him) the time it takes is reduced. It’s early days yet so we’ll see.

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