Greece - The Northern Ionian I (2011)
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Greece - The Northern Ionian III (2010).
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Greece - The Northern Ionian II (2011).
Log Entry Monday 14th February - A short hop over to the island of Kastos.
We wake in a very indecisive mood, do we move, do we not? We check the weather, the forecast strong winds for Wednesday evening appear to be moving towards the weekend? The weather at this time of year is very volatile and occasionally unpredictable. We therefore find it necessary to check the local forecast, of coarse, then the outer regional sea forecast - if they match we are happy? We have breakfast then sit in the cockpit with a further cup of coffee, "what's it to be?" Ann asks. We think long and hard, we are turning into island folk - "some time is OK?" We then look at each other "we go" I say and disappear down below to start the moving process.
In ten minutes we are ready to move, we have no wind so the only issue is to get Sailaway out from between the under water obstructions (rocks!) behind us and a local boat in front of us? Working the engine and rudder we are able to turn on just over a boat length, Ann making sure we stay clear of the harbour wall. We leave the harbour, cross once again, the shallows and turn into open water. We head south east, we have to round the island of Provati and turn south, down the east coast of the island of Kastos to Port Kastos. It is not long before we have Port Kalamos well behind, crossing the Kalamos Channel we can see the island of Formikoula in the mist. Once underway Ann gets to the black strikes on the hull, created by the tyres hung from the harbour wall.
The island of Provati is uninhabited, we hear bells, our attention is drawn to a small herd of goats on the islands shore, they seem very interested in us? The east coast has a number of outlets and small islands off it's shore, we follow the fifty meter contour south west down the coast.
We soon pick up the old mill on the shore, the town becomes visible in time, the harbour entrance now clearly in front of us. We enter the harbour slowly as we have varying information on the depths inside? We nudge our way into the outer basin, Ann at the bow looking for obstructions, there is only one small power craft tied to the south quay - no indications as to a ferry quay? We pick the east quay as our berth, we plan to go "along side", we circle initially to test depths and look for protrusions from the wall? All looks good so we circle again this time tying up on the east quay. It is not long before we have her secured, the town appears deserted, we then see a man walking along the road in front of us paying no attention to us at all.
The harbour does have a town front but all is very sparse, restaurants advertised but clearly shut, a large sign for a supper market is perched high on one of the roofs.
With Sailaway secured and the cloud lifting, we can now make out the coast of the mainland to the east we decide to have a walk around the town.
The inner harbour has a few small boats in it, but nothing seems active unlike neighbouring Kalamos?
The town is deserted, although a few of the houses are clearly occupied. There has obviously been a significant amount of cash spent here - from where? The streets (roads) have been paved and most dwelling renovated recently, but most appear empty?
We continue our walk but find nothing open at all which is fine we need nothing we were curious as to how these people live?
The town has infrastructure, a series of fire hydrants can be seen through the town and it appears to have it's own fire vehicles A small hospital is seen, but again closed?
The church is "palatial", the cemetery has three large popular trees on it's east wall, it's front guarded with what must be ancient olive trees, their trunks are enormous?
As we make our way back to Sailaway we see two women on the quay, clearly waiting for some thing? A third lady joins us and we begin conversation, she is a "New Yorker", lived there for forty three years. We talk about the village, our pilot book tells us the eighty people live on the island, she declares only about forty now full time, most are holiday home for a number of different nationalities. She points out the various houses and associated owner nationalities - no secrets here! The lady who's name we did not catch jokes with us, the people on the quay, now five or six, a couple with vehicles (all with out of date tax discs of coarse) are waiting for the ferry. Their family members have been to the super markets on the mainland, this time of year, out of season one can not even buy a carton of milk on the island all is shut?
Log Entry Saturday 12th February - We move on, further south.
We look to leave early as the local winds begin around lunch time, and from the south the direction in which we are heading so we plan to move ahead of them. The sun rise is quite spectacular, it's warmth welcome, Ann obviously washes the decks?
It does not take long to put Palairos well behind us, our plan was to check out the next small port on the mainland "Mitika". Our pilotage book indicates that a new, additional port is being constructed, worth a look? The town is declared as a "Greek workaday place" so it reads interesting also.
As we head south the only vessels we see are fishing vessels which suits us fine. It is not too long before we enter the channel between the island of Kalamos and the mainland, Mitika appearing to our port (left) and Espiskopi, on Kalamos to our starboard (right).
We pass the fish farms and make our way to Mitika, the diagrams within our pilot book are miss leading and inaccurate. Clearly the small old harbour is there but the new one is only a row of large concrete blocks dropped into the water, an unlit metal pole marks each block? A night entry would have been interesting?
As we visually explore the old harbour, it is full of smaller craft, a small ferry sound his horn as he leaves. The only sizable area for us is his, so we decide to move on to our secondary destination, Port Kalamos on the island of Kalamos. We turn south, down the Kalamos Channel between Kalamos and the island of Kastos. It is only a matter of an hour or so before we have Port Kalamos in our sites.
The port is quiet easy to enter, but less than one meter under our keel at some times. With the direction of a local fisherman tending his nets we find an alongside berth. There are a lot of concrete "outcrops" from the walls themselves so we edge in very slowly. We are the only sailboat in the harbour and we create some interest from the locals?
The port although small is geared for the charters, mainly "Sunsail", there are a number of Taverna's - all closed! There are a couple of people in two of the smaller ones at least there is some thing open?
The town is built on a steep hillside, surrounded by pine forests rolling down to the water's edge. The streets are barely wide enough for small cars, there are no car ferries, every thing is delivered by boat.
This is a true island, as we walked up the narrow streets we came across this truck, from the inside it had clearly been in use until recently - probably until the tyre went flat? It was also left in a gate way, with a "No Parking" sign on it - beat that we thought to ourselves?
We found a couple of examples of car abandonment, difficult I guess, when they are completely finished what do you do with them - this one stood out side of one of the houses in one of the main streets, opposite the only gift shop?
On the way back to Sailaway we stop at one of the open Taverna's for a coffee, the proprietor, bating a dish of hooks and a few of the locals begin conversation - they are amazed to see any one here this time of year? We meet two seamen. from tankers they tell us that they have sailed out of many UK ports, including Liverpool. We question their way of life, there are three professional fishing boats that sell their catch to the mainland. The many others catch to order, if you want fish, you order it and they try their best! There is no police on the island, few laws "we are the police" they claim, "we all take care of things" - interesting, we thought. There is a Doctor on the island available 24/7, he has an ambulance, but no hospital? On the dockside is a brand new, unused, compact street cleaning vehicle for what ever reason? We spoke to one lady, a USA citizen from New York, she claimed approximately 50% of the 250 inhabitants were supported by "USA Social Security" due to "family entitlement". The proprietor informs us that he is closing, he jumps on an awaiting fishing boat and begins to put on some oilskins - clearly going fishing? We left the Taverna intrigued, and without paying, our drinks were bought for us by one of the seamen.
Log Entry Friday 11th February - A second day in Palairos.
We watched an interesting event in the harbour upon our return to Sailaway last night. We watched a couple of small boats enter the harbour with powerful gas lanterns attached to their bows (fronts to you land lubbers!) the boat owner poised to strike with a fork like spear? We have seen these used prior, off harbour walls, but clearly they were hunting some thing that was attracted to the light. What it was we do not know but there implements were interesting - to me anyway?
The hunting in the dark was not only limited to the harbour, after circling the small harbour twice they made their way outside into the open water - good luck to them?
We spent most of the day in the local Yacht Club on the internet, thing to do, things to catch up on? We sat in the warmth of the sunshine until it eventually fell behind the mountains of Lefkada, it's yellow light casting quite a shade on Arkarnanika behind us.
Log Entry Thursday 10th February - We leave Vliho after a very short winter stay.
It is now time to leave Vliho, the departure time had been arranged between Ann and Becky, they wanted to wave us off - probably more like "want to make sure we leave?" We once again raised our anchor, removing the last of the mud from the chain etc, as we did so the sounds of fog horns could be heard from the quay. Once able, we began to head over to say goodbye, we were held some way off due nets/lines laid by the local fishermen.
We waved our final goodbyes to our neighbours, it would be some time before they planned to move? The way we live you are never sure when you will meet people again - long term plans are difficult? We head to the exit of the Ormos, making our way past one of the winter casualties, left to fend for it's self over the winter at anchor, it was clearly not as secure as the owner thought - a nice surprise to return too? We pass a boat yard, full to the water's edge with charter boats - best place for them!
Leaving the Ormos, especially this early in the year seems a little strange, it has been our home for some months, it is what is ahead now that is more important?
We make our way north, past Nidri and Tranquil Bay towards the Island of Madhouri out in the channel. Ann washes the last remnants of the "Vliho mud" from our decks.
making our way past the small church, we turn out into the main channel separating Lefkada from the mainland, to our north, Levkas and the canal lies in the distance.
We have optimistically removed our sail and winch covers, it is clear that no wind lies ahead of us, we will be motoring the short distance. This will give us a good opportunity to naturally remove any growth from our hull. As we turn east just north of the Onassis Islands we see Palairos in the distance at the foot of the Arkarnanika, rising some 1600 meters above us.
It only takes us a couple of hours to reach Palairos harbour, we prepare to enter, hoping initially, to berth "along side" due to the time of the year? We see a good space on the harbour wall, that was our first option, the second was a private pontoon belonging a local charter company. We make for the wall, but as we run aground on an uncharted sand bank we realise why it is free? We drive Sailaway off the sandbank, not a hint of panic on this beautiful day and make for the charter pontoon.
We tie up "along side" as planned, and have a celebration beer in the harbour side Taverna - toasting our safe arrival!
The town is small, the small fishing boats within the harbour very active, the town seems to be geared also for the tourist industry we were amazed at how much was open, unlike Nidri?
We have a brief walk, gaining one bearings, we need gas, if nothing else, ran out at anchor last night at anchor - we carry a spare obviously! We sort out a recommended Taverna, "Taverna Panorama", famous locally for it's menu of Greek, Chinese, Indian and of coarse Pizza! We found it, looked at the menu and arranged to return at 7pm with the proprietor.
We ate Indian, having the restaurant to our selves, the food (prepared by an Asian Chef) was fantastic, we ate far too much, the price was excellant. We have decided to stay one more night here, heading south on Saturday, my task is now to try and convince Ann to return here tomorrow evening?
Log Entry Wednesday 9th February - Preparing for the off!
We have been preparing to leave now for two days, the weather is settled for some time. We had to remove initially four lines from the quays either side of us, we had a further two lines securing us into the raft. We also, apart from our main anchor, had a secondary anchor off to our starboard side into the predominant winds. All but the "rafting lines" had to be cleaned, it took us five hours with a power wash to clean the rope and chain of mud, weed and general growth. For ease we had recovered the secondary anchor with the dinghy, which meant even with our care the dinghy and Ann and I were covered in mud - all to be cleaned off.
Now we were ready to move off the quay, our plan was to move into the bay, drop anchor and spend the evening there. This would give us the opportunity to clean up and store all that was needed? We had initially as we berthed been offered a much larger anchor by Eamon, we took up the opportunity, exchanging our main anchor. This would have to be recovered and exchanged back to our own, the exchange would take place in the bay, using the dinghy as a base.
All went to plan with the exception of one of the additional anchor lines laid by the neighbouring catamaran (Bernard & Bennett on Kendrick). Laid after ours, it fouled but we were well clear of any issues. Bernard was quick to assist, jumping into his dinghy with the loose end of the line, bringing it out to us to resolve the issue - a muddy job! Once clear the anchor was raised and scrubbed of mud, then dropped into the dinghy and exchanged for our own. We moved off the quay area and dropped anchor, Eamon had earned a cold beer, Ann, pinocolada. As we talked the whiskey came out, time passed quickly.
When all had their fill, I took Eamon, and his anchor ashore.
We said our final farewells, coming back to Sailaway, our winter berth (the quay) looked so distant and our future places now imminent!
Log Entry Friday 4th February - Filling our days
The weather again is beautiful, it is hard to believe it's early February, the fact that there are no tourists at this time of year is perfect. Becky and I decide to drive over to the east peninsular, through Panayia and continue by foot around Tranquil Bay, over to the small church looking over the entrance to Ormos Vliho.
The surrounding terrain is beautiful, photographs never pro tray the true visual beauty? Looking out over to the mainland is of interest as that is our next destination, a short but attractive trip as this will be the earliest we have moved in the year. Here everything is so close, and local weather so easy to obtain. It is amazing for us to have such mild weather, yet in the distance snow can be seen on the highest mountains. The couple who own the Yacht Club currently sky every Wednesday?
Tranquil bay has it's own beauty, in the summer it is jammed packed with visiting vessels, in the winter a "storage area". Owners secure their vessels and leave them to the elements until the spring - there are one or two that have sunk over time? It is a shame such actions are allowed, destroying the peaceful bay?
The path narrows and at places becomes over grown, just off the path, over looking the sea was a grave of a German writer and poet, Wilhem Dorpfeld.
Eventually we reach the church, across the water Nidri. Integrated into the church was a shrine within a small cave entered via a series of steps. Within, two formed metal picture, both of The Virgin Mary. A small lantern lights the cave, lit by who ever?
I found these two photographs of two local models, no idea where they came from or, who they were - probably locals caring for the Church?
When the girls return Eamon & I where "playing"?
Eamon & Becky have a "junk rig" fitted to there sailboat, I had never seen such a rig close up - time to learn. Eamon and I raise the main and talk through the technicalities, reefing etc.
Two children fish off the quay, they catch fish to eat as the locals do, unfortunately one of the kids kick over one of the buckets, an argument breaks out as they collect them - fortunately in Greek?
Log Entry Monday 31st January - Ann gets to works!
With our increased storage on the aft of Sailaway the security, or rather protection of our life raft, from the sun need re-designing? We previously had our spare sails and life raft covered with canvas, the new wooden storage area brings about the need for a new life raft cover as it cannot be stored within the new, secure area as easy access is required for obvious reasons.
Ann uses the life raft a as template to take sizes and shape, Ann then "whips" it through her sewing machine and, in no time at all the cover is complete and fitted.
To night we have Becky and Eamon round for what was to be our "last supper" before we left, Ann's dental treatment and pending gales put a halt to that - still, every happens for a reason? On the menu is home made "Steak & Kidney Pie", potatoes and vegetable, truly English/Irish! There is a special desert to follow, declared as also "home made", but was actually bought locally - still, that's our secret? The evening went well, Eamon and Becky brought a large turin of "home made mulled wine" with additional ingredients, lemonade or some thing? The mulled wine gave an excellant start to the evening that went on for some time, some thing made us for the photographs?
The object of this log entry is to declare that Ann is still proving her worth upon Sailaway and has clearly secured her berth on Sailaway for another season, good news for all (especially Ann?),
Log Entry Saturday 22nd January - A further delay to our departure.
It is our experience that as one plans to leave any where, unforeseen issues delay ones departure? The weather has turned very wet for the next few days, but, on top of that we have issues with delayed packages from the UK and our life raft is returned incorrectly serviced - that is another story, or, just Greece perhaps? However on top of all, that Ann has tooth ache, it got so bad yesterday I ran for an appointment, we are given a 1700 hour (5pm, that is) today, Saturday. Our friend Becky drives us down to Nidri, just our luck a rain storm hits us as we leave, so our short trip is a little slow. We arrive at the Dentist at exactly 1700 - it is locked up and in darkness - still this is Greece? The notice on the door states opening hours as 1730, lost in the translation perhaps, as much is? We make our way down the stairs for a coffee in one of the cafes, as we reach the bottom of the stairs "Mina" the dentist arrives, "it is not five o'clock yet" she declares? "No, it's fifteen minutes past" I reply, I then apologises for being on time? "It is not five o'clock yet" Mina replies, sticking to her guns! This conversation could have gone on for hours so I apologise again and we follow her up stairs to her surgery.
There is a small waiting room out side of the surgery, as is the norm, Ann follows Mina in and Becky and I wait in the the waiting room. Mina beckons us in, it is cold and she wants to shut the door? We are now, all three of us in the surgery with Mina, and of coarse a "switched on" television in the corner, we are told we can change the channel if we do not like that one? "It's all in Greek" I reply? Ann gets into the chair in front of us, lies back and explains that she thinks she has lost a filling? Mina is a small, slight woman, she asks Ann to "open wide" - I thought we would loose her for sure? Mina explains that Ann needs "route canal" work, a series of four appointments? Mina asks "would you like to start now, or a later appointment?" Ann looked over to me, "now I think is best?" Mina began work with us in the room, my heart went out to Ann as we watched her being injected. Mina then began the process, pulling out the two nerves with pins, talking us through the process as she does so? Did you know that if the extracted nerve material smells it is a sign that the nerve is dead - neither did we, brilliant? Becky is lucky, she smokes, she looked at me, she had had enough, "I am going out for a cigarette". Mina replies "here is ok, no problem?" Becky went outside to return later. This first stage took about an hour of pulling, stabbing and flushing - we were advised as to what medication Ann should take, given a further appointment for Monday and we left.
As we climbed down the stairs I declared "Best Saturday night I have had, can not wait for Monday?"
Log Entry Sunday 16th January - Off to the beach.
Today we plan to visit Dissimi with Eamon & Becky, to spend the day at the beach, more importantly for Kevin to have his first diving lesson. He is naturally excited, we have spent the the last week watching every movie we have related to diving, and in fact re-in acting some of the scenes between the two of us- hard to believe he is 50 years old at times? We are to make a day of it, including a winter picnic, plenty of hot home made soup, coffee and sandwiches - Becky and Ann prepare enough for a bus trip!
The beach is pebbled as most are in Greece, the cove looking south east over Meganisi and a neighbouring island, the water is calm - perfect.
It is now that moment I have been waiting for, Eamon, a commercial diver, gives detailed and clear instruction on the gear, its function and best operation. The BCD (jacket), bottle and regulator are assembled and tested first.
Becky is clearly there to assist? The most difficult part of the process is putting on the suit it can only be described "very strenuous".
Now once fully dressed one takes a breath, I had not read that part in the PADI Instruction Manual? The equipment is then all brought together, Becky always ready for another photograph opportunity?
After a safety briefing we make our way to the water, the exercises beginning in waist deep water, we gradually work our way to deeper water, Eamon taking me through various exercises and tasks.
The girls now clearly jumping at all photo opportunities, we made our way eventually to shoulder depth. At this depth it was not long before we were skimming along the sea bed opening up a completely different world not visible from the surface. I was still a little short of ballast (lead weight to keep me down), I was carrying a full waist belt and a couple of extra weights tucked into my BCD. Eamon handed me a couple of small rocks, perfect, with little effort I was able to keep my chest a set depth from the sea bed. We made our way back and forth along the shore, Eamon providing various tasks as we did so, by now we were able to communicate well below the surface - I loved it!
In time we called it a day, a hot coffee was the order of the day, Eamon continued the discussions as we made our way out of the water, not an easy task carry all of this equipment and ballast over a stony sea bed.
I eventually, with some assistance made it a shore with out falling, that surprised me.
To get the gear off was just as exhausting? The girls had set up a small area in the sun and by the time Eamon and I were dressed, had the soup on heating. We discussed the day, the exercises, achievements and of coarse "when we do it again?"
Once we had been fed and watered the girls decided to take to the water for one last time, they enjoyed them selves as Eamon and I continued to discuss our day.
A good day had by all - rounded off with a "coffee".
Log Entry Sunday 2nd January - How better to recover on New Years Day.
First of all, let Ann and I wish you all a very prosperous 2011!
Ann and I saw the New Year in one of the local bars "Seilenos, or Bill's" we had gathered earlier on one of the boats on our quay for an early start and conversation. We had firstly made our way to Vliho Yacht Club but, at about 10pm, for what ever reason it had closed early - no customers one presumes? We then made our way up to Bill's, leaving there in the early hours we finished the evening on Eamon & Becky's boat for coffee.
Our start on New Year's day was a little slow, we finished off a few small jobs to keep our minds and parts of our body occupied? By early afternoon we were brightening up some what - a bike ride was now the order of the day! Off we disappeared around the bay, off to get some fresh air and exercise!
As we reached the very south of the bay, looking north we see Nidri and the channel out - a route we plan to take in the coming weeks. Previous winter locations had held us stationary until March or April earliest, so this year we would be moving far sooner that we had done so previously. That was a real plus for us, it is nice to settle for a period, but "wandering" is what we like best. This early in the year will also mean more options with none of those dreaded "Charter Flotillas!" and the havoc they cause, often keeping you away from lovely location due to lack of availability of space. Taverna's with berthing quays will turn you away if they have a flotilla due - bless them, this time of year they will be glad of our/your tiny business?
We make our way on past small holdings, one in particular takes our interest as they have a couple of small goats suckling sheep - must have lost their own mother poor things?
As we round the bay and head north the scenery is beautiful, we look across the bay to Vliho, the small town quay where we are moored. We discuss our intentions to leave, it will be good to move, but, we will miss our friends.