Greece - The Northern Ionian III
To view our previous log entries please use the following link: Greece - The Northern Ionian II.
First of all, we wish to thank you all for your seasonal greetings, and wish all a Merry Christmas and a very prosperous New Year! We are very pleased that the site's popularity continues to grow year on year!
Log Entry Thursday 30th December - Boys with very expensive toys!
We are busy as usual, Ann painting, an I have our spare sails out on the quay to inspect, wash and store in the new chest we have fitted on the aft deck. "On the back" to you "land lubbers!" A van and a number of cars pull up onto the quay, I have to move the sail to ensure it is not run over.
The van is full of toys, inside is a work shop, they pull out the speed boats, leaving a couple of helicopters and airplanes inside. All are remote control, driven by high revving, two stroke petrol engines.
It is interesting watching them work on the boats, they are started as one would start any two stroke engine - with a pull cord. This is done on a purpose built stand, the protective cover is then fastened on, the "running" boat is then literally thrown into the water and off it goes. The propellers are high revving, exhaust pressure is used to manipulate the water aft of the prop, to increase acceleration I guess? Quite complex pieces of equipment, obviously costly?
The club is well equipped with even a rescue craft to recover disabled racers. I watched one vessel cross another's "wash", it shot into the air somersaulting a few times before hitting the water up side down. They brought it ashore, drained it, washed it with fresh water and in a few minutes it was running again. Ann suggested I should get my battery operated remote control power boat out and play with them! I thought not and went off to cut up our generator and make my own version with washing up liquid bottles and egg cartons?
Log Entry Saturday 25th December - Christmas day, a visit to "Taverna Seilenos" (or, Bill's).
Christmas morning is always enjoyable, last night we lost electrical mains power, so did the whole village for some time due to the storms. The only lights working in the area for some time last night was Sailaway's solar powered Christmas lights - we felt so proud that we were able to get fellow cruisers home safely with our lights? With the heavy rain parts of the quay are under water, flooding would not subside to later in the day.
At eleven o'clock eight of us from the boats, all different nationalities are going up into the hills to "Taverna Seilenos" (or, Bill's). Bill, originally Irish sailed here over 20 years ago and like many, never left. The "pub" for want of a better description is way up into the hills, it could not be "stumbled across" you would have to know of it. The name, "Seilenos" comes from one of the Greek/Roman Gods. SEILENOS (or Silenus) was the old rustic god of the dance of the wine-press, his name being derived from the words seiô, "to move to and fro," and lênos, "the wine-trough." He was also the god of drunkenness who rode in the train of Dionysos seated on the back of a donkey. Some thought went into the naming obviously.
Bill's is only open from eleven till two today, we had planned to go for an hour or so max? Before we knew it, it was indeed 2pm? All out, back to Sailaway for a relaxing afternoon. We had planned a visit to the yacht club later that day, but once settled below decks we did not bother and watched movies for the rest of the day/evening.
Log Entry Thursday 23rd December - Ann turns 40?
This time of the year is full of celebration for us, as a couple, yesterday, the 22nd was our Wedding Anniversary - 15 years! Lets be honest "You get less for murder!" today is Ann's birthday. We have Becky and Eamon around tonight, but we do not tell them of Ann's birthday - they see the cards and the secret is out.
We have a great evening, time passes very quickly - Becky is always ready for another photograph!
Log Entry Tuesday 21st December - A walk with Becky over to Ormos Dessimou.
Becky and I (Ann) take some time out from our "jobs" and under take some exercise to assist with our diets - a brisk walk over to the beach at Dessimou. Dessimou is a large bay across the head land to the south east of us, opposite the north west point of the nearby island of Meganisi. A round trip of about three miles or so?
We walk along the narrow lanes, we pick lemons, they grow by the road side. As we reach the south east corner of Ormos Vliho looking back we see Vliho itself and the boats both at anchor and our selves on the town quay. The back drop gives a clear view of the mountains that centre to the island itself.
Arriving at the beach we look south out of the bay, the beach deserted obviously, the taverna boarded up for the winter.
We have plenty to keep our minds active, other than the "chat", we come across a farmer moving his flock and women in traditional dress. These not so visible in the more populated area of the island where we are moored. We enjoy the few hours we are out, coming back to Vliho we feel we have earned a glass of wine at the yacht club. I call Kevin to let him know we are back, Eamon and he join us to round off our day - we must have burnt off lots of calories?
Log Entry Monday 20th December - A cycle ride to nearby Nidri takes us to Katapakte Falls.
It was Sunday morning, not a bad day at all, it had warmed up some what also. We had previously a few days with temperatures in single figures at times, (8/10C) we had been using our heating on board, I guess it is all relative to what you become accustomed too? Temperatures were back up to mid teens and forecast to rise higher, back towards 20C for the next week. Our heating went off! With such a good morning we decided to cycle to nearby Nidri, perhaps have a coffee and wander around, a few jobs to do on Sailaway but nothing that will not keep?
As we make our way out of Vliho, towards Nidri we see clearly the mountains to the centre of the island. A couple of days ago we saw snow on the tops - now all gone. On our way we see the sign for Katapakte Falls (4km) we ponder on the idea of changing our heading, the road in the distance "zigzags" up the mountain side, not for cycles? Trying to gauge distance is always difficult but the mountain track appears to be more than 4km off in the distance? We decide to turn down the lane and make for the falls. Only a few hundred yards on we meet a family (mother, father and the son in a tree above the road side) harvesting olives. We were greeted and spoken to in Greek by the father. We apologise for being English, as is a good phase to know in any language, collectively we under stand that we were being asked to stay off the netting placed on the ground to catch the olives. We do so making our way through the lemon trees on the other side of road.
We continue on, following the signs. We are in a short time, well away from the tourist related part of the island. Any people we do meet seem very interested in us on our fold up cycles? The roads are lined with orange and lemon trees, some being worked on or clearly fenced as a sign of ownership. Many are just "growing wild", with fruit falling to the floor and decaying? We had been hopeful of a Taverna signposted a head of us, we had not brought any water and the steady up hill climb was hard, thirsty, work. We reach the Taverna and it is closed, we pick oranges from the road side to quench our thirst. A couple go into our pockets for the journey ahead.
We eventually come along side a fast running river, we had become a little worried as the mountain road seemed quite close now. We were obviously hoping that the falls were this side of it! The road now narrows to more of a lane and continues up, along the river. Another Taverna is sign posted, but we were not too optimistic, we felt like we had left civilisation behind now.
We came upon a small car park, no cars allowed past this point, with the winter rains and snow the lane was now quite badly flooded. We had come too far, wet feet would dry out eventually? The Taverna was clearly shut for the winter, completely locked up. We made our way through the flooded section, our way forward was now only a narrow foot path.
The path itself was flooded at times, but it did have an accompanying handrail, well at times any way? The area was clearly susceptible to avalanches, at times the path, rail, or both had been damaged of removed completely by falling rocks from the gorge sides now towering high above us. The temperature had dropped now some what as one would expect as we climbed higher. We have to make our way through a small opening past a large boulder, the path is completely destroyed.
Once on the other side of the boulder the falls stand there in front of us, we are soaked by the resulting spray, the wind swirling around the canyon. As we turn around and look down the canyon, retracing our steps, we are looking due east, the mountains of the Greek mainland are visible through the mist. Our journey back is , as it is always, a lot quicker, our route being down hill helps a great deal. We take a slight detour and make our original destination "Nidri". We pop into our favourite Cafe (The Plaza), very modern and you look right out over the winterised tour boats waiting for the tourists to return.
Log Entry Sunday 19th December - More Christmas decorations for Sailaway.
We dig around below decks and what do we find, tinsel and Christmas lights. We knew we had them we just were a little unsure where they were? Other events had also taken over and brought the decoration hanging to a halt.
Most people think we have nothing to do all day, but with "stuff" and other things, our days are over faster than one could imaging.
"Christmas is coming"
Log Entry Wednesday 15th December - Sailaway is decorated for Christmas.
As is tradition in the UK, Christmas decorations cannot be hung until the day of Ann's mum's birthday - today we are very lucky because it is the 14th, Ann's mum's birthday (Happy Birthday Mum!) Over the years I have presented many views on the widely visible breach of tradition with very little progress I feel? I must confess I have research extensively with regards to this ruling but have been unable to validate it conclusively? I once found a brief mention in the "Magna Carta" but I had to wonder "is this the same mum?"
Sailaway is decorated to suit the season, we had brought more solar powered lights back with us from the UK to add to our collection. This was a wise move as we have no mains electricity we are unable to hang our mains powered lighting in or outside?
The internal is decorated, we are proud of our tree decorations, we have only two of our original RNLI glass baubles with small sailboats inside, the rest have fallen fowl to the storms. We have glass baubles from Spain and other decorations from Sardinia - nothing from Greece yet? We are looking at further internal lighting to work around the lack of mains power?
The lights switch on automatically as the sun dies down - I am quite proud of our far superior display. The shop owner from across the street brings his small son to view, I tried to charge, as he does us? Our stern, walk on plank is now guarded by Father Christmas, two in fact and a snow man. I wanted to build a Christmas scene on the stern, visible from the quay - Ann says no, but it is not necessarily a real no? The photographs taken from the quay do not give the lights real justice but I add the pictures because I like them - the pen is mightier than the sword stuff!
Log Entry Wednesday 8th December - A near death experience!
With Sailaway now firmly against the quay we decide to get out our bicycles to give us more accessibility to the next town of Nidri, it has a small shopping area unlike Vliho and, a necessary "cash point." There is a good bus service but the bicycles will give us more freedom. We keep the cycles folded up in the vee berth, before storing, due to the salt air they are washed down with fresh water then sprayed with WD40 oil. Even with this sort of care it does not stop the corrosion. We did consider buying aluminium, or even quality stainless cycles, salt corrodes aluminium faster than steel I believe. With regards to "stainless", one can purchase 3/4 steel cycles verses the cost of one stainless - pure mathematics, especially if you are not "haunted with a reduced street cred" due to visible rust!
I get the cycles on to the quay, clean them down, re-lubricate and test them out - there is always work to do on the brakes or gears, usually just "freeing them off". The first cycle went well with a little work on the gearing, the second gave a lot more trouble, again with the gearing? It was a cool but very sunny day, the sun's heat was quite pleasant - such a lovely day why not just ride the bicycle and work the gearing loose? I began riding up and down the main street (there is only two!) on the water front, I turned onto the extended quay, just north of Sailaway, repetitively changing gear to ease them off. As I circle the quay my attention was caught by one of the local fishing boats throwing out his nets. I wandered onto the area of the quay that had been flooded for some time. It was unnoticed by me in my day dream, covered in a thick green moss. The cycle slid on the moss, it, and I fell to the ground and began to slide towards the waters edge. We seemed to slide for a long time, two thoughts went through my mind, firstly, I was firmly focused on making sure I was well clear of the cycle should we go into the water as I realised the dangers. The second thought was "I bet I looked just like Barry Sheen coming off his motorcycle on a hairpin?" We stopped on the "dry side" of the quay, however the problem now was regaining my feet with the cycle as the moss was like a sheet of ice? I eventually got off the moss, looking back I had slid over 3 meters? I had also shredded the left leg of my trouser, and my left arm was skinned with blood dripping, lack of leathers I guess? My first thought was to get my camera to photograph my slide marks clearly visible in the moss. I made my way back to Sailaway covered in a thick coating of moss down my left side. Ann was on deck, she looked at me and shouts "what have you been up to now, George? The name "George" is that of my father, who died in June of this year, he too experienced "predicaments", Ann is convinced he has been re-born? I explain what had happened, I then had to strip down to my boxer shorts leaving the cycle and my clothes on the quay before I could board Sailaway to shower? Ann threw my clothes into the nearby skip, I showered and dressed my arm forgetting all about the camera - sorry?
Log Entry Saturday 4th December - Santa comes to town.
The yacht club tonight celebrates the official start of Christmas period, tonight they have the "switch on" of their own Christmas lights, and of coarse Santa pops in early to see the children. This local area is a complete mix of nationalities, think of a trade and you will find a tradesman of preferred nationality, all inter linked and all making a living? The yacht club, run by an Irish family is geared up for a truly UK style Christmas, even providing lunch on the day - at a reasonable cost too compared to back home, where ever that is now?
As we approach the club we are greeted at the entrance by two happy chaps, the outside bar area has been completely winterised, closed in and a wood stove supplied to heat, heated mulled wine, with "additives" is given as you enter.
Eamon, sorry Santa, eventually arrives to see the kids, it is hard to tell who is the most excited? I have never seen Santa kiss so many women before! After that there is nothing left to do but to give the kids their presents, then mix with "his public" as he states!
Pictures are taken, at a cost, the monies given to local charities, Ann & Beki have to get in on the action of coarse. The celebrations go on late into the evening, too late for us "oldies", we in time make our way back to Sailaway.
Log Entry Friday 3rd December - Sailaway moves to Vliho Town Quay.
We move off the barge in Vliho Boat Yard and place our selves in the last remaining space on the town quay. We have water and the option of electricity , we do not need it so we decline, but it is there if things change. With the temperatures still rising to mid 20'sC during the day there is no need for heat as yet, we also have diesel heating so we are fully self sufficient.
We are now amongst a group of six or pleasure craft secured on the town quay for the winter season, all but one "live aboard's". We are a mix of nationalities, English, Irish, German and last, but not least, Austrian. Over the coming months we will learn to live together, resolving what ever issues life and the weather throws at us. Most are here until April/May we will remain here until probably February, perhaps slightly longer depending upon the weather. When possible we will begin our journey south to Crete, Rhodes, then the Dalaman region of Turkey, our arrival there, being planned for mid May.
We sit in this picturesque, sheltered bay we now know so well, the gales will hit us predominantly from the south, occasionally from the north. We, as individuals are set with two anchors and four lines ashore.
The small quay is used by a charter company "Sail Ionian" in the summer, their boats are now, safely in the yard. During the winter there is an increase in small fishing craft on the quay as their seasonal, better paying, summer work ceases. As the winter approaches they take to the water, launching their boats to keep the monies coming in. The small village is supported by two local shops, one closely behind us. It is run by local family, the Grand father usually takes the late shift. An enthusiastic seller, always pushing the local "Levkas brandy" and it's benefits? As you pass in the darkness, there he sits at his desk watching TV waving you in for company if nothing else?
Log Entry Tuesday 30th November - Back from the UK, plenty to keep us busy!
We arrive back to Sailaway, she has been launched by the yard and secured to a working barge - she looks good. The trip back had been interesting, with "3 extra large check in bags" and substantial hand luggage adding a further challenge. The 6 hour coach trip from Athens had passed well, unexpected to us we caught the earlier coach getting us back to the yard at 10pm.
The temperatures are still good, around the mid-twenties, but the weather is wet. When it rains here it truly does! I measured one storm providing us with 100mm's in a 12 hour period.
Obviously it floods, however being warm takes the edge off it.
On the village quay the boats are seen to be higher than the quay wall as the water floods over it. It has taken nearly 4 days to unpack all we brought, replacing old with new in most cases. With good weather coming we have some painting to do to the top sides, then we will move to the quay, our friends Beki & Eamon (Wayward of Cork) have kept us a place.
Log Entry Sunday 10th October- The storage of the vessels for the winter, a causality and we get an unwanted visitor!
My log entries to date relate to the "traditional method", the wintering boats are taken out by a hydraulic trailer and tractor recently purchased.
It still however involves one or two poor guys in the water ensuring the lift is good, however the whole is very fast and simplistic. A point I thought worth mentioning for the potential winter storage people?
Living at anchor can seem a very simplistic way of life, not every enjoys it, a lot of people are nervous. We have friends who because of their own experiences, just do not do it? We love it, but one can never be too complacent. A few days ago strong winds took a causality, the boat was fortunately unmanned at the time, and broken up on rocks. On saying that if they had been some one on board it may have been saved? The boat had been acquired by the yard, or so I was told for salvage, never a welcome sight for us?
We unfortunately received an unwanted visitor, one of the yard cats, we try at first to ignore it and hope it would return down the ladder from up which it had come? They tend to "wet" on canvas and ropes, not some thing we want? We ignored it's plea for food or attention for some time, then, in an effort to get my attention it bit me? Well without delay it received my attention instantly as long with my willing assistance back down the ladder!
Log Entry Thursday 7th October - We say "au revoir" to Jean - Louis & Madeline and our new neighbours arrive!
Our friends Jean-louis & Madeline from "Mad Too" arrive, Mad Too is the name of their catamaran, not a small town in France! We get on very well with our recently found friends, their personalities are infectious - as a group we never stop laughing. They leave today for Missalonghi, in the Gulf of Patras, following which they are to return to France for the winter.
Our conversation never continues long without some reason for a good laugh, Ann once said to them over dinner, "but we have met some nice, French people!" A statement, as a group, we will never forget? With all of their issues now resolved they are free to move on, lots of people think we have nothing to keep us busy - "boats" keep you busy?
Our attention is drawn, well especially mine, by activity on the ramp next to us, the guys are "greasing up" the massive sledge? Our new neighbours arrive, a Turkish gullet, converted into a "tourist trip boat", their season now over. I later discuss the vessel with the yard forman, I am told they have a relatively short life span as they are made of soft wood - leak a lot obviously?
With the winch gear in action, the massive vessel is handled with the same ease as we were, no shouting or waving of arms it all just happens?
The transition from wooden ramp to logs is managed well - unnoticeable in fact. I now pledge never to mention the "traditional lift out" again as I am beginning to get complaints, obviously people are not as excited as me about it? What sort of lives must they lead?
We finish our coffee, we are presented with a jar of home made apricot jam (which was beautiful) and Jean-Louis and Madeline climb into their dinghy and leave us, we wish them good winds.
Log Entry Monday 4th October - Sailaway is removed from the sledge and supported in the yard.
The gents start early in the yard, we hear noises down below and against our hull, looking out they have already started work on removing us from the trolley.
The keel is supported first, large wooded blocks placed under underneath, clearances taken up with wedges driven in, the bow is supported in a similar way with the additional use of a steel frame. Jacks are placed under the soft wood planks upon which Sailaway sits, once the load is transferred from the trolley to the supports the planks are raised by the jacks, the wedges removed and then the planking removed also.
The gents begin to support Sailaway with beams either side, cut to the required angles with a chain saw, Ann watches from a seated position on the roadside out side of the yard, she does not seem to have the interest I have?
Along with the beams, four corner, jacking stands are placed on the hull of Sailaway and the screws turned to take up the weight of Sailaway.
In no time at all, with the weight transferred from the trolley to the stand, the wedges are removed from the soft wood planks and the trolley is quickly returned over the beams to the wooded track and the water.
Ann by now has lost total interest, she is however very interested in a fig tree by the road side, I catch her "tucking in" to the fruit. I cannot under stand it she is missing so much going on around her, how can one think of food at such times?
The trolley quickly disappears under the water, and the gents begin moving both the wooden track and trolley along the yard to await the next arrival.
Log Entry Saturday 2nd October - A charity raft race at Vliho Yacht Club.
Today, at Vliho Yacht Club there is a charity event hosted by Ruairi & Vicky Bradley, proprietors of the yacht club, the turn out and weather is excellant.
There are a number of events arranged on the quay side out side the club house, the primary event is the raft race, very well arranged with the raft teams "weighted" accordingly to ensure as fair event as possible.
The drink also flows very well, home made punch at €1/glass goes down well with both the men and the women. When I asked what was in it I was told "Do not ask, it tastes lovely and does the job, now give me your euro?" Fair enough one thinks, we spend some time with Preben and Dolores (Tyfon), Preben and Ann take well to the punch, Dolores and I stay on some thing a little softer? I am driving to day, the dinghy that is!
The raft race is taken in true spirit with almost all of the teams also in fancy dress, a real effort made.
Once the events began there was no mercy, all clearly wanted to win, the races were off the quay to yellow buoys some 100 meters away and back.
It was clear a great deal of effort was made both with the rafts and dress.
There was also a children's event, a much tamer event, not as noisy, nor fear some as the "grown ups" fuelled with punch? There had been a "wet sponge" contest going on all morning, volunteers used as targets. To try and boost the takings Ruairi volunteered his services as a target, the addition money taken was unbelievable, clearly a very well liked character?
Once dried out, Ruairi made the result announcements, prizes were given for various classes/distinctions. Andrew Simpson (PBO's consultant editor) was involved in the selection of the best raft and team? The "Busy Bee's" won a number of prizes, more so because they complained the most to the officials, and made the most noise generally. They also closed off with a lovely little war dance!
There was a €1000 raised, to quote "not bad for an disorganised p____ up!"
Log Entry Saturday 2nd October - Sailaway is lifted out of the water "Greek traditional style".
It was time for our lift out and have our two yearly "scrub and clean". Once again we for some reason have lost both our anti foul and primer - could be electrolysis or incompatibility, for all the experts say it cannot be the latter? We have always used a "brand name" products which obviously has meant greater expense - not this time, we will apply local products as they live here? We are sick of seeing Greek vessels with lovely clean hulls. To have greater mobility, we have spent this season scraping clean the hull with weight belt and snorkel. I had never used a weight belt before, so putting lead around my waist and jumping into the water seemed a bit "daunting" at first. I got used to it and would use an anchor line to pull me down further to the keel.
Today we got the call from Maria, the lady that runs the yard, we are to be lifted out "traditional Greek style", quite a feat once seen, all one can do is what one is told - they are the experts!
Ann takes to the dinghy to take photographs, I take Sailaway towards the wooden sledge and ramp, the yard guys boast "the same process has been used for centuries!" they know how nervous "us westerners" can be. As I get nearer I am met first by a guy in a small open boat, in his hand a long pole, feeling and jacking Sailaway between the sledge runners, closer still a half naked man up to his neck in water "man handles" the bow?
The gent in the boat calls out the instructions, forward, back etc - the gent forward, is totally invisible to me? Once they are happy with our position, I am instructed to motor Sailaway hard forward? It seems a little odd deliberately grounding you vessel onto any thing to me? At the same time the winches begin and the sledge containing both Sailaway and I are slowly eased out of the water.
The instruction is given to stop the engine, we slowly make our way up the incline into the yard - as easy as that! The lifting process far more relaxed than that in Sardinia with crane and slings, I am fascinated by the process?
We come to a transition point where you move from the now floating wooden ramp to the "yard ground", bit of a roll as the sledge is transferred from the wooden track to hard logs laid on the ground in front of us. We come to a stop, the sledge now completely on wooden logs, this is where Sailaway will sit while the work is under taken. The sledge is locked into position with wooden wedges, in prompt time a ladder appears on my port side, I climb down onto the yard. Sailaway is sitting on a substantial sledge runner, lubricated with some sort of grease (I was told pig fat?), Sailaway's hull directly resting on soft wood planking - no damage to the hull what so ever.
I had not seen the winching gear, equipment of what era, but it works well, they regularly lift over 200 tons using this method? The unguarded tow lines are directed to various sledges and ramps within the yard by large anchored chain and pulley sets.
Sailaway is now "power washed" down, we will be moved off the sledge on Monday - as one can tell the simple, low tech process totally fascinates me!
Log Entry Saturday 25th September - Raining again, work stopped, not that we have a lot to do!
The rain stopped work today, it began early this morning and has not really stopped, it only weakens then gets stronger, the surrounding mountains are barely visible? The last time we were here (1st September) it rained too, what sort of a place is this?
The rain is torrential, and we have a slight problem, we removed some fittings from the roof, and yes, the water is pouring through the fifteen open M5 tapped holes at a tremendous rate - they need to be sealed as this looks to continue through out the day!
With out fear, nor question the Captain steps forward to take on the task, the task is completed in good time, with the water ingress terminated I look to return below decks. As I do so Ann appears on deck in her bikini to see if I need a hand?
Boredom is a terrible thing!
Log Entry Friday 24th September - Back in Vliho, plenty of work to do, thanks to "Jenny"!
We now have, in theory any way 6 days before we are lifted into the yard, as previously mentioned we have a list of work/maintenance to complete before the lift out. The plan is, at the moment, once we return from the UK to keep moving throughout the winter as much as we can, we have to be in Turkey for mid May.
Very little has changed from the last time we were here, the line fisherman still catch their fish, some thing we have not yet mastered, the old fishing boat still sits at anchor, but now appears to have a visitor and the jelly fish still make their way around the bay. They are sizable, well over 300mm across of jelly mass although we are not sure if they are poisonous?
Meet "Jenny", recently acquired during our last visit here she can run all of our power tools so she enables us to under take any work/maintenance that requires power tools without having to wait until we are in a yard or marina. She will also charge our batteries!
So, for the next few days it's "work! work! work!" I explain to Ann that she would be far more productive utilising both hands! There is no serious work, just the regular maintenance a steel boat needs, attacking rust mainly, then as we do, taking steps to eliminate it reoccurring. We will be finished long before the lift out.