Interlude

23 Sep

menacing wasp.jpg

The thunderstorms are following us around. We’ve only been here in southern Spain a few days and our second is rattling the shutters as we speak. Being on dry land I’d normally be pretty relaxed about it, though. But no. There’s a huge, great wasp taken shelter in the bathroom. I mean massive. This is the Terminator of wasps. And it chose to make its presence known just as I stepped out of the shower.

Not bothering with the niceties of drying let alone deodorant, I made a run for it, slamming the door – with my glasses on the other side.

“Wasp!”

“Well it can’t stay there.”

“Well, spray it then!”

“Where’s the spray?”

“Should be under the sink.”

“Is this it?”

(Fumbles blindly, dripping, into the kitchen and holds can an inch from nose to examine) It’s labelled in Spanish but there’s a picture of a mosquito on the front.

“Will that kill it?”

Not having an entomology degree I guess it’s a pretty safe bet it won’t like it.

Fumes.

A few minutes later.

“That sorted it”

“Is it dead”

Running water.

“It is now.”

Retrieving glasses I spot the soggy toilet paper in the sink.

“Is it down the plughole?”

“Yes, the paper’s to make sure it can’t come back.”

“Won’t it block the sink?”

Neil removes the paper bit by bit.

“The bugger’s still alive!” More paper is shoved down the plughole.

More running water.

“It’s dead now.”

Yeah, right. I’ve seen that movie. All four of them.

wasp-head-magnified

All Change 

18 Sep

Our final days on board, like so many, were shaped by the weather. Frantic days of trying to get done all the jobs required to put a boat “to bed” for the winter were followed by enforced confinement below deck as the forecast thunderstorms rolled in. It rained, of course. Boy, did it rain! Four days of drumming inches above our heads as thunder growled and lightening flashed, penetrating even closed eyelids as, I confess, I hoped the nearest masts were taller than ours and would catch it first in the event of a direct hit.

After a brief lull, thankfully just long enough to dry out the dinghy sufficiently so it could be stowed in the heads, we got a spectacular encore as we were leaving. Timed to perfection as we hauled our luggage onto the pontoon, raised the bathing platform and adjusted the lines and fenders to keep the boat well clear for the coming months, the storm threw everything it had left at us in a deluge of biblical proportions. I say “we” but I’d run for the nearest bar.

We were lucky that our flight wasn’t cancelled like so many had been in the previous days and an uneventful, if rather soggy, journey to North Wales allowed us a taste of the lingering British summer – a few nice days and, yes, a thunderstorm. With visits to family and just about every clothes shop in a 50 mile radius our time in the UK seemed all too brief but our winter plans had been in place for some months. We’re on our way to Spain🙂

Last Few Days

6 Sep

Our cruising season ended with Desert Dream at anchor in the narrow bay of San Stefano on Corfu. It’s a strange place, undeniably pretty with excellent tavernas and yet.. In all honesty I think it’s more touristy and British dominated than Benidorm. Just because you’re more likely be disturbed by a Hooray Henry than a Lager Lout doesn’t make it less so. Personal opinion, of course, and we had a great couple of nights there.

Anyway, with thunderstorms threatening again we headed back to the marina. There was a lot to do to put the boat “to bed” before we could leave her for the winter months and as much of it was on the outside we needed to get in before the rain set in. So with engine serviced, water maker (which is still costing more money, incidentally) winterised, salt water washed off, cockpit wood scrubbed and oiled, sails secured, dinghy deflated etc, etc, we’re sitting out the last few days in the rain, waiting to go home.

To top it all our dongle has stopped working. We’ve no idea why as there should be plenty left on there but we’ve given up on it and are now struggling with the rather tenuous marina WiFi. I’ll try to post this but there’s no way pictures will upload, I’m afraid.

It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable sailing season despite the odd close encounter with a bucket. We’ve been to new places and met new people, some of whom we hope will become firm friends. With one or two things still to be sorted, hopefully over the winter months, the boat is definitely feeling like our home from home and has lived up to her name. That doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to a real bed, though. And a bath. Oh, and flushing toilets. You get the picture.

Ups and Downs

27 Aug

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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

image

The boys carrying the banners and cross walk ahead

image

Followed by the girls throwing flower petals

image

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.

image

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

image

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.

image

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?

image

Not on Holiday

10 Aug

image

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.

image

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.

image