Tag Archives: Ionian

Not All Plain Sailing

19 May

 

As I said in the previous post, the journey down to Lakka was fine, just boring which I never complain about when it comes to sailing. And the first night was lovely, free swinging in the bay. The following night, though, the swell rolled in making for a very bouncy bed but nothing to worry about and no sign of the promised thunderstorms, just a rather wet and chilly afternoon cooped up below.

It was the following night that proved to be particularly unpleasant. The day had been a perfect temperature with a pleasant enough breeze lulling us in to a false sense of security. Neil had even gone for a swim – for all of 30 seconds! We’d been for a walk, done a bit of shopping in the small village and lingered over a couple of cokes chatting to another crew who also have a berth in the same marina. The afternoon was spent lounging around reading and watching the comings and goings. This is what it’s all supposed to be about. There had been a bit of thunder and a short burst of rain but that was actually quite reassuring in that it was not an issue at all.

We’d turned in for an early night when a sudden squall hit. The first I knew about it was a howling wind giving the boat what felt like a big shove and the sudden jerk of the anchor chain as it was stretched to its fullest. All I could do was lie there rigid in bed for a few seconds, stunned and disoriented. In the meantime, Neil was up with coat on, heading up top. That finally broke the spell.

Thankfully our anchor had held but others weren’t so lucky. Everybody around us was letting out more chain which allowed us to do the same. Dinghies were somehow returning to their boats from the shore, something I really wouldn’t have relished in those conditions. That was all we could do, to be honest, but sleep was out of the question for a while as we kept watch to make sure we weren’t going to drag and nobody was going to drag into us. The wind eventually dropped as quickly as it had arrived but leaving a very churned up sea. Not a pleasant night.

So leaving the following morning, despite a bouncy sea, seemed like a good idea even to me. I’d had enough of the Northern Ionian in May but it had to have one more pop at us. Just as I was starting to enjoy the long journey down to the Lefkas Canal, flat seas and only just enough wind for the mainsail to help us along, out of nowhere we were hit on the nose by almost 30 knots of wind. With nowhere nearer to run to, we made as much headway as we could against the wind and rolling white seas. Neil gave the sail its head, heeling us over to the water line.

Five minutes before we had been lounging on the cushions eating grapes in true Bacchanalian fashion. Now we were soaked to the skin, the floor was far from horizontal and Desi was crashing down the waves in a truly sickening fashion. For three hours. Perhaps you will appreciate the relief we felt on making it into the canal close to bridge opening time. And the wind was gone. 

Back on Board 

7 May

 

A winter in Spain with a couple of weeks in the UK either side means we’ve been away from the boat for the best part of 8 months. Thankfully, a man (a very nice man, a very, very nice man) has been looking after her in our absence. We returned to a clean and aired Desi, lift-out, antifouling and lift-in all done. Now that is what I call luxury. He’d also fitted the new anchor Neil had ordered, the same as on our previous boat which we’ve grown to trust (a Kobra 2 for those who are interested in that sort of thing – yawn.)
Arriving in the early afternoon with three big holdalls of “stuff” (including much-missed slow cooker and quilts) meant we had a few hours to get the interior back to rights and unpack. For the non-boaties out there I should perhaps explain that the unheated space below deck left over winter can get very damp so anything that might suffer has to be wrapped up and positioned​ away from the walls.

Much to our relief Desi has proved to be a very dry boat and it was only the one pillow that showed any sign of mildew. As well as unpacking and unwrapping, all the loose items from deck including dinghy, sails etc were stowed in the rear cabin needed shifting.

However, our early start got the better of us and a cold beer was giving off its siren call. A glass or two and a delicious stifado later and we were both done in. With enough space cleared to sleep on, we collapsed into Desi’s welcome rocking and the lullaby of creaking mooring lines and rattling halyards. It was 8:30pm.

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

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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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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