Colin & Sue's Gap year (or two)

N 36° 37' E 21° 53'

Delphi Oracle (aka Garry)

July 03, 2010



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N 37° 42' E 20° 49'

Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Ithaca

June 24, 2010

With a succession of visitors flying in to Zakynthos on Easyjet we’ve spent the last three weeks sailing around  Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Ithaca.  We’ve developed a small circuit of some of our favourite stops for a week’s tour which coincidentally have some great bars with big TV’s- ideal for watching the odd footy match now and again!  We’ve also met and got to know quite a few people doing the same circuit.

Currently we are in Poros on the South East of Kefalonia where we’ve been for a few days while the weather has been kicking up – it’s  actually been raining on and off for three days. We hired a car for a couple of days to explore the island- the west coast is spectacular.

The circuit includes Zakynthos Town (good shelter, handy for the airport, but a few sharks on the quay!), anchoring off Keri  and Stosis in Laganas Bay (good anchorage and great for swimming with turtles), Nikoloas on the NE of Zakynthos (Dimitri and his family are so welcoming and helpful, great food prepared by Katerina).

From Nikoloas we head over to Andreou Bay on the south coast of Ithaca to camp out on anchor overnight (long line to rocks).

We’ve been up to Vathi on Ithaca a few times, but after our last experience with the anchor slipping on the town quay and an engagement with another anchor chain which I don’t even want to think about, let alone write down, Vathi is currently off our destination list !

From Ithaca it’s a short hop over to Sami on Kefelonia with the wind gusting down the channel between the islands always guaranteeing a great sail across.  From Sami we head south to Poros, which we’ve grown to like quite a bit (especially after England’s win over Slovenia). 

From Poros its a good sail back to Zakynthos Town and we’re ready for the next crew to fly in.

We’ve enjoyed the last few weeks around here very much, and would recommend Zakynthos as a good base for flying into.  However, it’s time to move on, and with our next visitors (Garry and Annette) flying into Athens we’ll be heading over to Patras on the mainland (3 hours by coach to Athens), and then further around the Peloponnese in the coming weeks.

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N 38° 15' E 20° 38'

Boat Games

May 22, 2010

The rain continued pretty solidly for about 24 hrs, well into Friday afternoon.  Sailing is a bit like golf- I don’t mind the odd shower once I’ve started, but I won’t intentionally start when it’s tipping down, so we stayed another day in Vathi.

However, after a few more games of scrabble there was a problem -Peter started to win.  Of course it’s only proper for the skipper to win any boat game so we had to either outlaw obscure medical terms in scrabble (Peter is a GP) or change the game!  We therefore commenced a few rounds of Texas Hold’Em and the natural order was resumed.

We also amused ourselves watching fine examples of Greek driving along the Quay, where a row of cones had been placed.  If these were to stop parking they were totally ineffective.  On returning from the Taverna we heard a few sharp rasping sounds and saw a car edging forward with a traffic cone stuck under the front bumper, the owner oblivious to this fact or too lazy to care.  Peter came to the rescue and removed the offending cone to restore some peace to the Quay.

Weather looks better for Saturday, so we’ll head back to Samis on Kefalonia

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N 38° 15' E 20° 38'

Tie me passerelle down, sport

May 21, 2010

The weather improved Wednesday and we had a great sail over to Kefalonia.  We were going so well we decided to bypass Fiskardo and head further south to Sami.  Despite everything being flattened by the earthquake in 1953, Sami is a rather mellow little town.  A good quay for stern-too berthing and the usual array of Tavernas lining the dock.  Peter and Roger went off in search of ruins, only to return with the perfect bit of PVC pipe for the passerelle fixing (mark 3 design).  I was rather pleased to get further use of a recently purchased rivet gun and successfully cut and attached said pipe to top of passerelle which now slips effortlessly onto the bar on the stern to which the swim ladder is attached and swivels down to the dock with the main halyard attached via a spring to the top of the ladder- must patent this when I get home, already getting admiring glances from the neighbouring berths!  All that was needed was a couple of straps from the local DIY store and the installation was complete.

The next morning (Thursday) with a stiff southerly blowing, we set off to neighbouring Ithaca with a couple of reefs in, going around the south and running up the east coast to Vathi. Ten minutes after docking on the town quay, the heavens opened, and it tipped down for most of the rest of the day and through the night.  We were moored stern-too with the wind blowing from behind, which led to an event which seemed to cause some merriment on the dock.  The newly designed passerelle attachment worked so well that when the wind got up it blew the ladder up from the quay to an upright position on the boat – unfortunately all three of us were standing on the quay admiring the installation at the time, stranded!  Fortunately the chap on the  boat moored alongside came to our rescue. Must remember to tie it on to the dock next time.

After a great dinner at a local Taverna, we retired to the boat for a snifter of Black Sambouca, a game of scrabble and entertainment by Rolf Harris (Greatest Hits triple album).  Unfortunately, we forgot to adjust the stereo fader setting from playing the outside deck speakers, so the neighbours were treated to Tie me Kangaroo Down and other classics, late into the night.

Friday morning and it’s still raining and quite cool (17 C) – the mood is not lightened by a call from Deborah to let us know it’s in the mid-20’s, fantastically warm and set to get hotter at home.  Meanwhile it looks like the scrabble board might be getting a good workout in Ithaca today.

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N 38° 40' E 20° 47'

Gap year part II gets underway...

May 18, 2010

I know you’ve been waiting a long time since my last blog, but Hilda May is at last back in the water for the second year of our adventures.

It’s a boys only trip for the first three weeks, before Sue joins me at Zakynthos at the end of May.  We then plan to explore the southern Ionian and Peloponnese peninsular before heading across the Aegean to Turkey in September.

I flew out to Preveza with Roger on the 9th May, spent a few days adding a bit of spit and polish, and she was as good as new for the re-launch on the 13th.  All went smoothly, and many thanks to the staff at Preveza Marine who have been very helpful.  Hilda rumbled into action on first click of the key and Roger and I headed off for a nice gentle sail into Amiflaka Bay around to Vonitsa, passing a few dolphin on the way.

With the weather fine and sunny until Friday evening, we headed back on to Lefkas Town and a sheltered spot on the Town Quay to sit out the storm forecast for the weekend and await the arrival of Peter on Sunday, ash permitting!

Saturday was a busy day drawing up a shortlist of suitable bars to watch the cup final, and we finally chose a quiet little establishment with a large screen, where we were the only customers, and treated to a different plate of food to accompany every round of beers we ordered-only a light dinner required afterwards!  Having secured odds of 12-1 for a Pompey victory we were a little disappointed with the result, although as Roger is a Southampton fan, he had mixed emotions.

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Peter managed to dodge the ash and arrive on schedule Sunday evening.  The next day we headed down to Vaathi on Meganissi, stopping for lunch off Scorpios (Jackie’s place).  Took our first swim off the boat, and after spotting some rather sizable Bream off the back of the boat managed, somewhat surprisingly  to quickly land two reasonable large specimens  with a bit of cheese on a line, which the chef at the Olive Garden in Vaathi was happy to barbecue for us in the evening– delicious (they look a lot smaller in the bucket than in real life – honest guv).

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Another storm blew in with thunder, lightning and heavy rain in the evening, and with a strong wind forecast to last all the next day we spent Tuesday walking around Meganissi and looking for discarded bits of water pipe which I have decided is the best way to attach our ladder/passerelle to the back of the boat.  We plan to head off to Fiskardo on Kefalonia tomorrow when the strong winds should have abated.

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N 38° 57' E 20° 45'

Back to Blighty

October 01, 2009

At the beginning of October Hilda May was taken out of the water at Preveza Marine.

You may notice the Ipswich Town flag is still flying at half mast, awaiting the first victory of the season.

 

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Hilda was left on a cradle in a nice quiet corner of Preveza Marine on  Aktio.  We took the sails off, topped up the deisel and water tanks, charged up the batteries and left them disconnected.  I must say Alexia and the staff at Preveza Marine  helpful, and we would certainly take the boat out here again.

 

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We were lucky to have Roger and Carol back with us (they were on our maiden voyage) who were a great help to give Hilda a wash, put her to bed and tuck her in for the winter.  And although we had one or two days almost reminiscent of Gruissan as one or two southerlies blew through (Ok, it wasn’t that bad), we had some great days sailing at the end of September.

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At the last minute we were able to book flights back to Gatwick the following Sunday for £95 with Thomas Cook – it seems they are released just a week before departure, so it’s worth hanging on!

Mixed emotions, of course, after being on the boat since 20th April – looking forward to returning to see friends and family, but we’re sure going to miss Hilda and the lifestyle of the last 5 1/2 months.

I must apologise to regular blog readers (apparently there are 44,282 hits to date!) for being a bit delinquent on posting blogs since our arrival in Greece back at the beginning of July.  I will shortly be posting some of the highlights of the last few months which we spent cruising around Corfu and Lefkas with friends and family that came out to visit.

And, of course, we have to get down to the serious business of planning next year’s adventure!

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N 39° 47' E 19° 56'

Dad

August 31, 2009

At the end of August Mum and Dad came out with my brother Des and his family to stay in a villa at Kassiopi in Corfu.  Kassiopi was an excellent base for us as we could tie up stern-to on the harbour wall and get Mum and Dad on the boat across the plank.  For Dad, at 89 and a dodgy knee, it wasn’t easy, but he was determined to get onboard and went out sailing with us several times – all he kept saying was it was the best holiday of his life!  After avidly following all of our adventures on this blog he was thrilled to be with us, as we were so thrilled to have him onboard (without mishap!).

I am writing this in December – sadly Dad passed away a few weeks ago. We have great memories of the week he was with us in Corfu  -  here he is at the helm of Hilda May –

 

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–alas he still never caught a fish!.

 

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We’ll miss you.

 

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N 38° 22' E 20° 45'

August around Lefkas (part 2)-the case of the "moving" bouy

August 21, 2009

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The second week of August saw Sam and Ben depart and the arrival of the Bush family.  Peter and Deborah rented a villa on Lefkas for the first week and one on Meganissi for the second.  Aswell as the air conditioning and pool, we enjoyed many day sailing trips around both islands and a trip to Ithaca where we anchored off overnight at Sarakiniko and witnessed another fantastic sunset.

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The next morning we called in at Vathi to have a look around and get a few supplies, and then stopped at Kioni for lunch.  At Kioni we had a bizarre experience with some Greek tourists.  I can only assume that in August, Greek holiday makers get (understandably) fed up with the annual invasion of their shores and get a little bit tetchy!

The beaches near Kioni are protected by red marker bouys which stop boats encroaching on the swimming area. We dropped anchor in about 10 meters just a few metres outside one of the buoys which was off our stern.  We were immediately greeted by hysterical shouting from a Greek lady swimming the other side of the bouys, but could only point out that we were outside the buoyed area, and because of the depth could go no further out, and were only stopping for an hour for lunch. Ten minutes later , two chaps come out to us in a boat (I assume they were related to the lady).  We again pointed out that we are anchored outside the bouyed area, to which they replied “you must have moved the bouys –is this what you do in your country?”!!  Before we know it, they lift the bouy behind us and drop it 10 meters in front of us – of course as the depth shelves so steeply, the bouy then sinks and dissappears without trace – much to our amusement, but not the guys in the boat who go off threatening to call the coast guard. Well we finish lunch, have a swim, and move off as planned.

It’s so surprising to encounter this type of behaviour from Greeks, as we have always found them so friendly and welcoming before.  However, two weeks after this we have a similar experience back at Kalami Bay in Corfu.  This time we moored in the same place we had used half a dozen times over the summer, about 100 m off Thomas’ Place, in about 8 metres.  Another lady approaches (this time by Pedalo) to say that there is a law that all boats must moor at least 200 metres from swimmers on the beach (and not even bouyed this time!)– this makes Kalami untenable for anchoring as it gets too deep at this distance (20 metres plus).  Thomas is understandably doing his nut on the beach as this lady tries to drive all of his customers away!  We move out 20 metres (although we are already a long way from any swimmers on the beach), but this time the coast guard does come and asks us (sheepishly) to move out a little further still, so we comply and drop in about 12 metres.

I feel sorry for Thomas, but we have the final dinner in his excellent Taverna and don’t return to Kalami for the remainder of the season, (we use St Stephanos in September when it has quietened down) – we just don’t want this type of hassle when we try to anchor in a bay – I hope the locals at Kalami can remedy this in the future. 

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N 38° 49' E 20° 42'

August around Levkas(part 1)

August 14, 2009

At the end of July it was goodbye to Beryl, Steve and Linda and hallo to our boys Ben and Sam.

 

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We picked them up from Corfu Town stopping at NAOK marina-it’s about 40 Euros for a night in season, but worth it for the access to town and the airport-and Mr Andreaus is always very helpful.

Ben was keen to get some Kiteboarding action in so after a quick trip up to Kalami for their annual music festival in the bay,  we headed down to Lefkas Town and Milos Beach where the wind duly obliged.

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On the way we stopped off at Preveza and then headed into Amflaki bay for a night on anchor, where we were treated to a great show of dolphins – there must of been hundreds of them in the bay.  If you must see dolphin, this is the place to go!

After a few nights on Lefkas Town quay we headed down through the canal to Scorpios and Meganissi.  The anchorages around Scorpios, the Onasis Island, get quite bust during the day, but we only had two other boats for company when we anchored off overnight there.  Having been warned about the boating crowds in August around the Ionian, in general we were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to find really nice anchorages –if you need to get into an harbour it can be more challenging!

 

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N 39° 28' E 19° 58'

July around Corfu

July 29, 2009

Coming back from Ericousa, we stopped off at Kassiopi for a few days and then as the wind got up we headed around the NE of Corfu for a bit more shelter.  St Stephanos was too busy to anchor so we went south a few miles to try Kalami Bay, which became one of our favourite anchorages on Corfu, and to which we were to return to a half dozen times over the season.  The are several restaurants in Kalami, but we soon became fondly attached to Thomas’s Place, notable for its fine food and friendly staff, not least Thomas, who is the perfect host.

From Kalami we headed over to a small and very sheltered quiet bay on the mainland, where the peace was only disturbed by a local fisherman playing his Greek music for a few hours in the evening.

Sue and I had enjoyed spending two weeks on the boat alone for the first time since Majorca, but it was soon time to meet our friends from Tattingstone, Steve, Linda and Beryl.  We picked them up from Gouvia Marina.  It was not an auspicious start as Beryl cracked her head on the bimini the very first time she tried to get on the boat – worse was to follow!

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Steve, being a keen Tractor boy brought along a few welcome gifts including t-shirt and Ipswich Town flag for the boat, which proved to be a popular talking point and magnet for wandering Tractor Boys whom we unfailingly kept bumping into!

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We spent the next week visiting three of our favourite places – Kalami, Paxos, and Mourtos.  Beryl’s mishaps continued when she cut her finger badly on some glass in a bin bag and had to visit the medical centre in Gaios (Paxos) to get stitched up..

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