May 15, 2007
Another quick way point to sort out my track…
May 15, 2007
Two days of free sailing and then the fleet is scheduled to meet up in Abelieke Bay on the north coast of Meghanisi for a party night.
Where to go for two days, well we have to call in at Fiscardo so that is an obvious destination for today.
“Have to call in”, well apart from the fact that it is another picturesce village I have delivery to make to one of my mum’s friends…
Ex-pats always seem to get cravings for things that they used to get at home but which local shops don’t stock and I have 2 dozen eggs on board. EGGS? Well not normal ones, these are the Cadbury’s Cream variety, a small chocolate egg about the size of a hen’s egg with a creamy filling.
So it is a short hop over to Fiscardo, and moor up stern to on the floating pontoon at the end of the harbour.
Then dig out the driving licence and hire a car to make the delivery and also give Gary a whistlestop tour of northern Kefalonia to show him some of the sights.
I have had several family vacations in a villa near Fiscardo so I am fairly used to the art of Kefalonian driving, e.g. don’t expect to get above third gear, you can only see as far as the next bend, and expect to encounter goats as you come around any bend.
On one trip we counted the bends between Fiscardo and the airport at Argostoli, came out around 350 or so, and that was all on the main west coast road.
What can you see in an afternoon on Kefalonia? I would suggest down the east coast to Melanisi Cave and Lake (near to Agia Eufumia and Sami) and back over the “hump” to look at Assos on the west coast.
If you are an adventurous driver there is an interesting road linking the east coast road to the west coast and coming out right above Assos. I mean right above it, great views and then seven continuous hairpins to get down to the west coast road opposite the turning for Assos.
Watch out if coming down it though, what looks like a final hairpin turn is actually an oblique junction onto the main road and you can suddenly encounter traffic from both sides.
May 16, 2007
We decided to take it easy the next morning and then leave in time to pick up the afternoon breeze and do an “open water” trip across to Vassaliki on the sourthern coast of Lefkada.
A good sail over, enlivened with the fact that the we encountered two other yachts obviously also going into Vassiliki as we neared the bay.
A good breeze and a challange, great sailing!
As we came up the long inlet of Vassiliki Bay the breeze was picking up and up and swinging around to the North West, beam reaching weather, and the race was going well.
As we got closer to the harbour it was obvious that Vassiliki’s wind-surfing wind “Eric” was in full bore. A fairly consistant good breeze along the beach made this a windsurfer’s mecca in the past although the scene seems to have moved on a bit in recent years.
I came in here in August once (about 15 years ago!) and counted 150 windsurfers out at once and most of them seemed to be on starboard!
“Eric” may be great for the windsurfers but it means a stiff cross wind when trying to slot in for a mediteranean mooring in what is quite a tight harbour. Today the harbour looks quite full and there doesn’t seem to be a space large enough for Aurelia, and that coupled with potential cross wind approach problems convinces me to move on.
(Among things to remember here is that the harbour has a sand bank right in the entrance so don’t go to far to port as you come around the end of the mole.)
May 16, 2007
Out of Vassiliki bay and turning towards Sivota (the one on Levkada!)
May 16, 2007
A quick trip back out of Vassiliki Bay, round the corner and reach across towards Sivota.
This is a sheltered little harbour with quite an expanse of quayside available, and normally lots of room apart from at weekends when it is the southern turn around base for three or four of Sailing Holidays’ flotillas.
Tonight it is busy, the wind has obviously persuaded lots of other boats to seek a sheltered berth for the night.
Ok so its going to be a bit of fenders out and lean on them job..
I much prefer sticking the bows in when encountering this sort of position it makes it so much easier to slot between two boats and use up the slack on their lines but Aurelia doesn’t give herself to “bows to” it is far to high a climb back on board.
So its a case of pick a boat with a space on both sides of it and her crew sitting in the cockpit and then line up to come in astern. Isn’t it suprising how helpful people can be when they are worried about you “leaning” on their boat too hard. Nice crew adjusting their lines to make the space bigger for us.. Ok thats us in for the night, time to hit the showers and pick a taverna.
If visiting Sivota don’t miss the full english breakfast at the Family Cafe, cheap and plentiful, fills you up ready for a day at sea…
May 17, 2007
We need to get to Abelike Bay on the north coast of Meghanisi tonight, and instead of going back up the Meghanisi Channel decide to head east of Meghanisi hoping to find better wind in the open sea between Meghanisi and the mainland.
A sudden burst of activity on the VHF, one of the other boats in the flotilla has apparently lost its engine somewhere north of Ithica and they are getting worried. Strange? Sure engine failure is annoying but there is a good breeze and they should be able to keep sailing. In fact it is strange that they even had thier engine on at all…
We do a bit of radio relay work between them and our lead boat who were still in Siviota having also gone in there last night, well we do have the highest antenna in the flotilla..
Ok there is another very experienced crew close to them all ready who can standby them until the engineer can get out to them with one of the base’s fast ribs. In fact they are taking them in tow, to bring them over towards Sivota to meet the engineer part way.
Every thing in hand, so we can carry on towards the tail of Meghanisi.
May 17, 2007
Abelikie Bay is on the north coast of Meghanisi and is basically just over the headland from the village of Vathi. It has a number of separate fingers which results in a good area for anchoring up for the night.
As we come into the bay several of the boats are already rafted up, bow anchors down, kedge anchors ashore and dug into the beach. We add ourselves onto the starboard side of rhe raft, dropping the main anchor and tying up alongside the end boat whilst we get the dinghy ready to take the kedge in.
It a beach party / picnic tonight, the Hostie has been doing dips, punch etc and if everything goes to form there will also be some silly games and a bit of a sing song.
We are getting towards the end of the trip and can discuss our travels, including a chance to hear what everybody got up to during the free-sailing period.
May 18, 2007
Party nights can have an effect on everyone, normally an alcoholic effect, so the lead crews tend to suggest a short trip for the next day.
Today is no exception we have to get round the headland to Vathi tonight, must be about three miles if you go direct…
During the party last night I was chatting with the young couple who had lost their engine on the way up (Alternator failure, and hence flat batteries). It turned out that this was only their second cruise, and their first attempt at going it alone, having done a “Share a Yacht” last year.
They hadn’t found it as easy as they had thought it was going to be, and this, and having the engine die on them, was obviously effecting their confidence.
I had a quick chat with my crew to make sure they would be happy without me and then offered to go out with the others to give them some reminders how do do things so that they could get the sailing bug again.
It is suprising how many novices get worried when the boat leans and how easy it is to re-asure them by simply showing them simple things like how to “heave to”, and to simply say “If your boat is heeling too much then shouldn’t you have already put a reef in?”…
“If you think you are going to need a reef shortly, then do it now, otherwise it will be harder by the time you eventually decide you really have to”
“If you think you could cope if you shake a reef out now, put the kettle on and wait a few minutes, if its still easing then shake it out”
Anyway we had a good morning going backwards and forwards between Meghanisi and Kalamos and then I could take a back seat as they got the hang of enjoying sailing again.
Coming into Vathi (often refered to as Little Vathi to avoid getting it confused with Big Vathi, the capital of Ithica) an enterprising taverna owner has built a jetty along the shoreline in an inlet off to starboard of the main harbour inlet.
“Georges” is our destination for the night and we slip in and tie up.
Suddenly I hear my own boat on the radio reporting that they are coming in, and then watch them sail straight past Georges up to the main village quay….
Eventually they get the idea as to where we are and come back to us!
Little Vathi is really ony the port for the main village of Meghanisi which is up on the hill behind it, but it has its own little supermarket and several tavernas and bars.
The harbour is basically three sides of a square, and can be subject to swells so it is best to go stern to on the end facing the sea. It is also well worth keeping out of the corners, Mediteranean mooring with boats at right angles to each other nomally results in crossed anchors and fun when they come to depart!
I have watched several interesting sessions of untangling anchors whilst enjoying a cool beer here, including one where the guy whose anchor had been caught undid his lines and came out as well. So now there were two boats bow to bow in the middle of the harbour and drifting down on everybody else whilst they tried to sort things out.. Fenders!
Why do we enjoy watching others get themselves into a fix, when we all know that sooner or later it will probably happen to us. Or perhaps we are only wanting to get our own back for having already had it happen to us and remember how embarassed we felt about it at the time.
Anyone going out to the Med for the first time, read up on freeing crossed anchors, it happens to everyone eventually and having already learned how to get out of the situation easily, using a line to support the other guy’s chain whilst dropping your anchor a litttle to unhook it can make the operation quick and easy and prevent red faces. Of course by the time you have hauled up two anchors at the same time your face will probably be red anyway…
Vathi’s other claim to fame is a wrecked aircraft on the bottom of the harbour. I was originally told it was a WW2 wreck but having found it and taken a look I would have said it was far younger and probably something like a four seater Cessna. If the water is calm it is visible from the shoreline. Go along the eastern quay antil you come to a cottage with a fancy wall and gateposts. You should be just past the ferry berth on the other side of the harbour. The wreck is about twenty or thirty feet out with its nose towards you.
May 19, 2007
Back to Sivota tonight, aiming to get in early enough to start packing and clean up the boat.
Then its on with the glad rags, a final group meal at a taverna, and then those with staying power can head for the Yacht Bar until the small hours.
A good mornings sail down the Meghanisi channel with most of the boats close together, time to see who can get to windward faster…
May 19, 2007
Back Aurelia in for the last time and make fast.
Now for the end of trip formalities, packing your gear so that you can tidy up the cabin, cleaning the cooker (but of course you have been doing this all trip so it only needs a wipe over doesn’t it!).
Fill out the report for the engineer on what needs to be looked at before she goes out again on Monday… Ten defect lists and about five hours from when we leave the boat until the next set of crews arrive, so its a good job that they keep these boats in such good order, or at least they usually do.
This was the only time that I have had to leave a formal defects list on a Sailing Holiday’s boat. The engine is still not right, the guard rails need adjusting, the splice in the mainsail reefing line keeps jamming, the anchor windlass won’t always respond when you press the button…
Sorry Aurelia, you obviously never got the proper care and attention in your early years and were obviously a tired out girl, old before your time, when Barry bought you only a few years back.
(I saw her again in October that year, and she had a brand new engine, but she was just not fitting into the company’s operations, she needed different spares to the other boats etc, so this was her last flotilla season. Sold on to a private owner during the winter, I came across her again in 2008, spruced up before the sale and now receiving lots of TLC she’s probably got a lot of years left in her yet)
Over to the group meal and prize giving, with the normal worry about what the lead crew have noticed about you and what silly prize you will get.
Gary gets an award as the most promising newcomer, and I get a wooden replica of a hand-held VHF for my radio presence, probably for being present on it too much!