Sivota 18th – 24th May 2018

Sivota 18th – 24th May 2018

The final part needed for the re-fit of Hapatoni has now been shipped from Jeanneau in France and will arrive in Lefkas on the 23rd May, Paleros will start work immediately (ish), with the work scheduled to take about 3-days (ish) – we are unfortunately now on Greek time so everything is “ish” and a whole lot of crossed fingers. Mark is still merrily pottering around the boat finding things to paint and polish whilst my final task before Hapatoni’s launch was to scrub the ten fenders (finishing of any nails I may have had left).

The decision to base ourselves in Sivota was a good one, it is so nice to relax on the balcony of our apartment in the evening enjoying the picture postcard scenery and watching the yachts jockeying for position in the bay.

The temperature has stepped up again into the late 20’s and early 30’s. so on Sunday we headed for the beach. Port Katsiki is one of the top 10 beaches in Greece. It is located 45 km southwest of the island’s capital and close to Athani village (famous for its honey). Dramatic white cliffs form a magnificent backdrop to the startling clear aquamarine waters of the Ionian. Lush vegetation covers the surrounding area creating an idyllic landscape. Consequently, it is very popular with the large “day tripper boats”, despite this we decided to make the pilgrimage in the hope of visiting before their season starts early in June – or so we thought.

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We arrived at the beach mid-morning and settled ourselves on a couple of sun loungers under one of the many vacant sunshades (10 euros a day for beds and shade) and soaked up the beauty and tranquillity. Shortly after our arrival, Mark was horrified to see the “Nidri Star”, one of the larger tripper boats, round the headland and announce its arrival by ramming its bow into the beach 20 metres from where we had set up shop. It then proceeded to disgorge 100’s of mostly obese tourists and their noisy and obese children, who waddled their way past us to occupy their (large) patch of beach – really not a pretty sight. Fortunately, there was only one tripper boat today, in high season there are at least five, I can’t imagine the chaos!!! Fortunately, they left after a couple of hours and tranquillity returned, it really is a very beautiful place to relax away a day. We returned to our apartment in the late afternoon.

We plan to stay in our lovely Sivota until the morning of the 24th May then move back to Lefkas to supervise the final stages of Hapatoni’s refit.… Read more

Sivota 10th – 17th May 2018

Sivota 10th – 17th May 2018

002 - 2018 - Sivota - 001While we waited for Hapatoni’s refit to finish, we took an apartment in Lefkas for a few weeks. In typical Greek fashion, the building still had a few random wires left dangling and paint blistering from the exterior walls (shouldn’t have used sand from the beaches for cement, should they!!). None the less, it was well furnished and modern, the only real downside being the bed, which Mark thinks was made from left over concrete.

So after 3 weeks, a change of scenery was required … and a softer bed!! As most of the important preparation work was done on the boat, we decided to move to our old favourite, Sivota, 40 mins down the coast.

Sivota is а small port on the southern coast of Lefkada, set in a natural bay surrounded by towering green hills, planted with an abundance of shady, ancient olive trees. It is hugely picturesque with a long “U” shaped town quay and a heavy sprinkling of welcoming tavernas and cafes hugging the waterfront. Consequently, it is much frequented by the flotillas (Mainly Neilson and Sailing Holidays), who cram themselves onto the illegal pontoons that seem to sprout up each year. 002 - 2018 - Sivota - 002aThere are 5 main pontoons, 4 of which are owned by the Tavernas who supply free water, electricity and lazy lines to visiting yachts in exchange for them spending their hard-earned euros in their restaurants of an evening – Stavros and the 12 Gods restaurants seem to be the most popular tavernas and must obviously pull in enough cash to pay the heavy fines they receive each year for their pontoons being illegal.

002 - 2018 - Sivota - 004aWe decided to stay in the Galini Apartments again (same venue as last September), centrally located and 2 roads back, just high enough to have a wonderful view of the bay and boat activity from our balcony. The flotillas seem to be out in strength early this year, but the pontoons, which are fitted with lazy lines mean that the inexperienced skippers are saved the anguish of crossed anchors and anchors that have failed to hold in the weedy bottom of the bay. Unfortunately, that means that the entertainment value for Mark and I is not so high, never mind, just wait till the Italians come in August, they will definitely raise the stress levels.

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Whilst we have been in Sivota, Mark drives to Lefkas most days to potter, paint or polish something on the boat, whilst Hudson and I stroll around the bay and chill. On Tuesday, we all went to Lefkas for the day to swap rental cars, going from a bijou Citroen C3 to a decidedly compact (but more economical) Citroen C1. After a nice lunch of calamari and Greek salad, we tracked down Alice, who has now moved to the outer breakwater/pontoon of the marina to avoid the weekly flow of Charter boats trying to impale themselves on her anchor as they navigate in and out of their moorings.

002 - 2018 - Sivota - 006Our nightly visit to the Sivota town quay inevitably ends up at the “Family Café” for a cool beer and a game of cards. Yianna and her family (husband and two sons) run the restaurant supported by Nikos, a 22 years old student who works here every summer and studies Hotel Management at the University in Athens in the winter, his relaxed cheery charm is a great asset to the café. The hours are long in the season, staff work 7 day weeks, starting early in the morning and not finishing till well after midnight, but that is the way of these places, you work extremely hard during the five month summer season and have the winter off.

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Lefkas 1st – 10th May 2018

Lefkas 1st – 10th May 2018

001 - 2018 - Lefkas - 008aMay is now firmly upon us, as the weeks pass, and we impatiently await the final parts from Jeanneau for Hapatoni prior to her relaunch. Even though there are still a few of those white fluffy things (and occasionally angry dark fluffy things) above us, the weather has definitely improved, with average temperatures climbing into the mid 20’s. We still have occasional rain showers but they are the exception, interspersed among glorious Greek sunshine. When we first arrived, there was a lot of dust in the atmosphere, blurring the mountains surrounding Lefkas, this also seems to have washed out, so when it rains you just get wet and not covered in a layer of Saharan dust dissolved in the rain water.

We have spent the last couple of weeks fitting out the boat, the 44 boxes of “stuff” that we took out of the main cabin last season are now all unpacked and somewhat disappointingly, 40 of them returned to their original storage places – Mark had been determined that they would not all go back and Hapatoni would have a new, lighter spring in her step, but it does seem that most of what we had was needed, despite Mark’s ruthless attempts to cull. I had to keep a very careful eye on my stuff which seemed to be Mark’s main target for the culling.

In addition to Hapatoni’s usual annual wash and scrub, we had the blue lines on the hull replaced and the 10 years of old antifoul completely removed from her bum, then her exposed posterior received 3 coats of epoxy and 2 coats of antifoul to ensure she glides effortlessly through the salty Mediterranean seas. A final polish and she looks ready to paaaaaarty.

Life has settled into a bit of a daily routine, Mark heads off to the boat and Hudson and I make our two hour pilgrimage up to the Lefkas floating bridge, running the gauntlet of stray dogs who have staked out territories around Lefkas – usually next to their favourite restaurants where they obviously receive a steady stream of unhealthy titbits from the diners, judging by the size of their bellies.

Most evenings we cycle into Lefkas, with Hudson announcing his disapproval at being confined to his trailer “taxi”, although he does seem to resign himself to his incarceration as we gather a bit of speed. We have found a curious little floating watering hole called “Pirates Bar” which we had previously avoided thinking it to be a bit touristy, but in fact it is brilliant and very popular with the local thirty somethings. Our friends Tina and Tim on Shiraz, half a mile away, informed us that they know when we leave the bar as they can hear Hudson howling as he is reinserted in his trailer for the return trip.001 - 2018 - Lefkas - 007a

We have joined the gang for the weekly Friday night Gyros, meeting at a restaurant on the town quay overlooking the marina. Last Friday, we enjoyed a pleasant evening with Tina, Tim, Alice and a couple of their friends, Bruno and silvia from Bern in Switzerland. Whilst having our picture taken, opportunistic Hudson decided to stretch his head, yoga style, over the top of the table in an attempt to snaffle some food. All he found was some silver foil with a few food fumes, nonethe less, half of the foil disappeared in the blink of an eye. 001 - 2018 - Lefkas - 010a

 

001 - 2018 - Lefkas - 011There is always something to buy for a boat, some necessary and others a little more frivolous. The latter always takes some justification with Mark who would have a very minimalist look if he had his way. First on my current list was some very colourful summer quilts which are both functional and decorative, the next item was 100% decorative, I fancied some flowers and a vase to coordinate with the new cushions, not the most practical thing, but we do live on Hapatoni for 5 months, so I want it to feel like a home. With this in mind and the Lefkas shops already explored, we headed to the larger town of Preveza for the morning.

Prevesa is a short, twenty minute drive from Lefkas and on the opposite side of the 700 metre wide entrance to the Ambracian Gulf. Interestingly, the Gulf was the site of the Battle of Actum in which the Roman army of Octavian defeated Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, who then fled to Egypt where they committed suicide before Octavian could meet out a more grizzly end.

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So its either a 100 kilometre round trip or 3 euros to use the tunnel, which the Greeks have amusingly signposted as an “Underwater Tunnel” and a “Submerged Tunnel” and which never fails to raise a giggle from Mark, who holds his breath as he enters just in case it really is under water.

To our surprise the sea front bars were packed with locals and the quay side almost full with private yachts, it does seem a bit early in the season for so much activity, but I guess the weather has been unseasonably warm. Following a very successful shop and a pleasant lunch we headed back to Lefkas to deposit our purchases on the boat.… Read more

Our Return to Sunny Greece – Lefkas 16th – 30th April 2018

Our Return to Sunny Greece – Lefkas 16th – 30th April 2018

001 - 2018 - Lefkas - 001Following what seems to have been a very long, cold winter, it is with great excitement that we look forward to the new sailing season in sunny Greece.

This will be our fifth season in the Mediterranean with Hapatoni. We plan to stay in the Ionian most of the time, except in August when we will head south, circumnavigating the Peloponnese to escape the Italian invasion during the hottest period of the summer. We will visit some old favourites from last year on the Aegean side, returning through the Corinth canal late August ready for the arrival of my parents in early September.

We left Hamble bright and early on Monday 16th April for our 12:15pm flight to Athens, the taxi driver was an uninspiring sort with unusually little noteworthy news …… except to gleefully announce that the UK’s spring heat wave had arrived and today would be hotter than Greece. Mark tried to make further conversation to pass the journey, but the going was tough, so the remainder of the journey to Heathrow was spent in silence apart from Hudson’s snoring – Mark tried to claim it was me, tut, tut.

The flight to Athens followed the now familiar and well-trodden format, the only exception being we did not have the customary four large (stuffed to the gunnels) 23kg bags, but surprisingly only three, obviously plus dog and extremely large and cumbersome dog cage. The process for transporting dogs with Aegean at Heathrow T2 is very straight forward, you get to jump the check-in queues and after handing over the luggage, Hudson is commandeered by the “over-sized” baggage team and wheeled of into the subterranean depths of the terminal. He will never be a happy flyer but at least this time would be better as he had another doggie to keep him company in the hold of the aeroplane ….. or so we thought. As we took our seats near the back of the plane, I started to relax and think ahead to the summer, the warmth of the sun, the translucent waters of the Med and the delicious Greek food …… only to have my karma abruptly shattered by the sound of a howling Hudson who seems to have been put in the hold, inches below our feet. His howls and whimpers set the other dog off, so the plane was treated to a heart wrenching duet which only subsided when the engines started up – I would like to think that they settled and went to sleep rather that the engine noise drowned out their remonstrations.

On arrival at Athens, Hudson was surprisingly out before us, he made sure the whole of arrivals was aware he was there and decidedly unhappy at being left in the hold for several hours. I hurriedly left Mark to collect the luggage and with Hudson barking intensely, made a dash for the exit before Hudson could leave an unwanted “present” for the Greeks in their sparkling clean arrivals hall. With Hudson sorted and now relaxed, we picked up the hire car and drove the four hours to Lefkas on the island of Lefkada, arriving at the Ianos hotel which is conveniently placed in the marina a few minutes from Hapatoni, at around 10:30pm, where we planned to stay for a few days.

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Lefkada owes its name to the white (lefkos in Greek) rocks that characterize the southern part of the island, the cape of Lefkata. The Corinthians colonised the island during the 7th century BC, built the new town of Lefkas and started the construction of the canal that separates Lefkada from the mainland in 650 BC, turning Lefkada into an island. Lefkada  has been conquered and under the control of many countries and states since then, including Sicily, Turkey, Venice, France, Russia and England.

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The next day began with an inspection of the boat and a meeting with Robert the owner of Paleros, who was doing the refit to Hapatoni for us and which was not due for completion for another couple of weeks. So, with this in mind we found a lovely apartment just on the outskirts of Lefkas, a ten-minute walk into town or to the marina.

With the hire car returned, Mark retrieved the bikes stored on Hapatoni and has started to do his “stuff” on the boat. Hudson and I have been on several morning runs dodging stray packs of dogs who like to let you know whose territory it is. They do come across as a little intimidating, but their bark is much louder than their bite, as the saying goes. When we don’t run, we walk into town, making the obligatory stop at a delightful café called Karma on the North side of Lefkas, for a fresh orange juice accompanied by a free slice of chocolate cake, to re-charge our batteries – well it would be rude to refuse it and we don’t want to offend our Greek hosts. My walk takes in the town quay, which is a hive of activity as the Charter companies get their massed yachts ready for the new season starting on the 1st May, followed by a visit to see what “stuff” Mark is doing to Hapatoni and concluding with a second refreshment stop on Shiraz with Tina and Tim or Alice on Spirit 3.

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Now that Mark is unable to run anymore due to a partially worn out cartilage in his left knee, he has taken up cycling, and so that we can all go exploring more, Mark has invested in a bright red trailer for Hudson to sit in, as it’s far too hot and there are far too many distractions (of the stray food variety) to allow Hudson to run beside the bike. The Hudson taxi service is officially launched.

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On our first trip through Lefkas town, the trailer certainly attracted everyone’s attention as he does look cute with his head popping out the top watching the world go by. Hudson is still not 100% sure about this new transport yet, but it does give us many more options for exploring.… Read more

Final Stop Sivota 22nd – 27th September 2017

Final Stop Sivota 22nd – 27th September 2017

043 - 2017 - Sivota - 00We spent our last few days for this summer in Sivota, can’t think of a better place to be. The temperatures have cooled a little and there is more cloud around. Although the days are still in the mid-20’s, a jumper now accompanies us when we go out in the evenings. Don’t get me wrong, we are still in shorts during the day and I have my daily pilgrimage to the little pebbly beach for a sunbathe, but the swims are more of a paddle than a plunge.

Tim and Tina were with us for the first few days, but have now left for their winter moorings next to Alice up in Lefkas Marina. So that has left Mark and I to do our final chores on Hapatoni and enjoy the last few days of sunshine in our apartment.043 - 2017 - Sivota - 01On our final evening in Sivota, we chilled on the balcony of our apartment overlooking the bay, with a glass of red wine in hand, the sun starting to set, reflecting on this year’s adventures and watching the final few yachts arriving in the vain hope of finding a mooring on the town quay. It certainly feels like a story of two halves, our departure from Crete back in late April seems a long time ago.

We covered a mere 880 miles this year, less than half of what we did last year, with only one overnight sail, making me a happy girl (I am sure Mark will make up for it next year). Our adventures were confined to Greece and although our season was cut short, we still managed to visit 21 different islands, mostly in the Aegean, as well as several parts of the Greek mainland. Despite this, we have not even scratched the surface, Greece has over 6,000 islands/islets mostly in the Aegean. 227 of these are inhabited, although only 53 have more than 1,000 residents and 95 have less than 100 inhabitants.

Of the many Islands we did visit this year, we have had several favourites which we will definitely revisit. The untouched Island of Arki with a human population of 38 and a goat population of several thousand, all living within walking distance of the harbour with its two tavernas. The island of Amorgos, with its uncompromising mountain ranges, the welcoming village of Katapola a short drive from the amazing monastery of Panayia suspended three quarters the way up a vertical cliff. The anchorage at Sandy Bay Kolona on Kithnos was beautiful, but our favourite anchorage was Wreck Cove, which you will all remember for Mark’s very “white shorts”, such an incredibly tranquil spot and remarkedly we didn’t have to share it with anyone else. Finally, one of the most amazing but eerie experiences was to be the only two people standing in the middle of a smoking volcanic crater on the Island of Nisyros …. and of course not forgetting our Ionian favourites, Sivota and Giaos.

When we return to the Aegean, I think we will confine our travels to the “less than 100 inhabitants” islands, these are the places we have adored, whereas the larger ones have, in typical Mediterranean fashion, been commercialised and although they haven’t suffered the “high-rise” disfigurement of Mediterranean Spain, they can be a little too “kiss me quick” for Mark and I.044 - 2017 - Lefkas - 02Getting Hudson home is always complicated because of the distance from our cruising grounds in the Ionian to Athens, which is the only place in Greece with facilities to fly pets to the UK. Hire car companies charge extortionate amounts to pick up and drop off in different locations, there are no trains to the Ionian and Hudson is not allowed on long-distance buses, unless he goes below with the baggage. So this year Mark had to return our local hire car to Lefkas, then fly from Preveza to Athens Airport to pick up another hire car, then drive the 5 hours back to Sivota in preparation for our five hour return to Athens on the 27th Sep – I know it sounds complicated but it is by far the cheapest way to get Hudson back home stress free ‘ish. Our return to the UK was uneventful, although I think Hudson knows what is coming when we drop him off in cargo at Athens Airport, he always lets the whole airport know his thoughts on being separated from us for the flight back.045 - 2017 - Athens - 01We arrived back in Hamble at 12:30 am, Mark is talking about lighting a fire.… Read more

Gaios on the Island of Paxos – 18th to 22nd September 2017

Gaios on the Island of Paxos – 18th to 22nd September 2017

042 - 2017 - Paxos - 00We were keen to visit Paxos, another one of our favourite Islands in the Ionian. So, with a few strong coffee’s inside us, we left Sivota in the dark at 6:45 am on Monday, driving the 150km north to catch the car ferry from Igoumenitsa to the port at Gaios.042 - 2017 - Paxos - 01Paxos is the smallest of the Ionian Islands, just eight miles long by two wide, a place where most things can be left until tomorrow and where visitors, mainly Italians, English and Athenians, return year after year to do not much at all. Our studio apartment was a few minutes’ walk from the town quay in Gaios, unfortunately no sea view this time and not quite as spacious as our apartment in Sivota, but pleasant enough. As the car ferries don’t run every day, we decided to stay till Friday.

We quickly unpacked, keen to revisit some of our old haunts and check out the restaurants again …. most importantly, was there a spit roast on the bbq ready for tonight, in our favourite restaurant? We headed for the top of town to Taverna Taka Taka and joy upon joy, there they were slowly turning on the spit, a choice of lamb or chicken calling to us to “come and get some”. The only downside is the restaurant is also home to the largest herd of cats we have ever seen, so we would need to be on our guard with Hudson as they can be pretty vicious with dogs. Despite the glorious appearance of the pork and the vast quantities served up, the flavours were not as intense as they have been in the past, so we left a little disappointed at the end of the meal – can’t say the same for Hudson, who was salivating at the thought of getting the leftovers for breakfast the next morning.042 - 2017 - Paxos - 04Over the next few days we settled into a daily routine, with a leisurely start in the morning lounging around the apartment, followed by an excursion in the hire car in the afternoon and ending the day with the obligatory taverna visit for beer and cards.

The first day’s excursion was to the north of the island, to Lakka. We have been there several times and never tire of visiting this gorgeous horseshoe-shaped bay, its translucent waters crammed with fishing boats and yachts. We did our customary walk around the bay, dodging the many cats who hang out around the tavernas and in any shady spot they can find, waiting to be fed or petted by cooing tourists. One of the more mangy of these creatures tried to attack Hudson, I did a blocking action with my leg which resulted in some more scratches to add to my collection of bruises and mosquito bites. We stopped for lunch at our usual place, the restaurant Arriva on the end of the town quay and had our usual selection of yummy dishes, calamari, stuffed aubergine, Greek salad, etc, all washed down with a glass of wine/beer.042 - 2017 - Paxos - 03The clouds started to mass in a dark and threatening way towards evening so after an early dinner, we arrived back in the apartment just as the heavens opened, monsoon style, with a bit of thunder thrown in for luck.042 - 2017 - Paxos - 02Day two of our sightseeing, found us heading to Mongonissi, a small bay on the south coast which will definitely go on our “must visit by yacht” list. It had a lovely anchorage, several tavernas and a beautiful sandy beach, quite unusual for this part of the world where pebbles are the norm.042 - 2017 - Paxos - 05This was followed by the spectacular Tripitos Arch, later in the afternoon, which in typical Greek fashion took someone with SAS navigational skills to find. It is the remains of a collapsed sea cave, over 20 meters at its highest point. Approaching from above it is very imposing, the arch itself appears scarily narrow but is apparently wider than it looks, nonetheless Mr & Mrs (I hate Heights) Clark both wimped out and decided on a photograph as our memory of the visit.042 - 2017 - Paxos - 07The day finished with a late lunch at Longos, a small fishing village on the northeast coast of the island and also a must see, it is very pretty. Only room for one or two cruising yachts on the mole though, so you are likely to have to visit this one by road.

The last couple of days passed in much the same way as the first few, we revisited a few of the sights and spend leisurely evenings on the town quay playing cards and watching the antics of the charter yachts and hordes of tourists disgorging from their tripper boats out of Corfu.

On the Friday 22nd, we caught the 2:00pm ferry back to Igoumenitsa, before returning to Sivota for our final 5 days in Greece.… Read more

Sivota – 15th to 18th September 2017

Sivota – 15th to 18th September 2017

041 - 2017 - Sivota - 00Sivota is just a gem, we say that each time we go there, so our decision to spend three days to try to relax and at least have a small holiday before going home was brilliant. With our hire car loaded to the gunnels, apartment booked and the rest of the gang heading down on board Shiraz, we set off. Our plans didn’t however go entirely smoothly, as the apartment I had booked was in Syvota with a “Y” (Not Sivota with an “I”) which was 150 km in the wrong direction – easy mistake to make I told Mark, who had that highly unimpressed expression that he sometimes gets. Fortunately, we had an option 2, the Galini Studios which turned out to be just wonderful, a 2-bed spacious apartment in a great location a street back from the town quay, but high enough so we could keep an eye on the activity in the bay as yachts crossed anchors and jockeyed for a place to park – the bay was pretty full in advance of the Ionian Regatta later this week.

041 - 2017 - Sivota - 11The first evening (Friday 15th) we joined our friends Tina, Tim, Alice and Aunia for a game of boules and bbq on the beach, this is always a noisy, riotous affair. The boules teams were decided by picking a short or long twig and overseen by Mark, I am sure he cheated so as to not to get stuck with me on his team. The challenge with boules on the pebbly Sivota beach is that the jack is pretty impossible to see, so we had to mark it with a pink ice cream spoon. My team, which included Tina and Tim were on form and despite trailing in the early stages, managed to get ahead and steal an overall victory in the last game. Mark, through gritted teeth, congratulated his victorious wife, blaming his team for more focus on the beer than the game – to say he is competitive is an understatement.041 - 2017 - Sivota - 06

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041 - 2017 - Sivota - 03Saturday 16th (Day 2) began with Hudson and I jogging around the bay, followed by a couple of hours sun bathing/swimming and finishing up with Mark and I, together with Keith and Tracy enjoying a massive grilled Red Snapper with oven roasted vegetables, absolutely deliciously cooked by the Twelve Gods Restaurant. Another item on my tick list of things to do this Autumn … shame we didn’t have Hapatoni. It’s not the same without the yacht, but it comes a close second.041 - 2017 - Sivota - 07Our group of 8 started to expand as other boaties who we had met on our travels, pulled up on the town quay, Greece is quite a small place really, and boaty people are a very friendly lot. We chose “The Family Restaurant” or “Mama’s” as we call it for our final night in Sivota and ended up taking over half the restaurant. Nicos is the young waiter who has a really welcoming disposition and always remembers us from previous years, particularly that Mark likes his food spicy. So, every meal results in weight loss as he tries to increase the spicy heat on everything he serves – this bizarrely also includes the salt and vinegar crisps.041 - 2017 - Sivota - 09Mama is the matriarch, spending much of her time in the kitchen, but venturing out to give her favoured guests a hug and over indulge Hudson with a sneaky sausage snack. She is truly wonderful, the type of woman that everyone would love to have as their mum. As the evening passed the volume increased along with the number of empty glasses, we even persuaded Mark and Justine to play a tune on the guitar, although I ‘m not sure anyone was in a fit condition to “name that tune”. With an early start planned for the next day we headed home after a night cap at the Pirates bar.
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Lefkas on the Island of Lefkada – 11th to 15th September 2017

Lefkas on the Island of Lefkada – 11th to 15th September 2017

040 - 2017 - Lefkas - 00The insurance company (Navigators & General) was very efficient, a surveyor was organised who arrived promptly the next day and gave us our first really good bit of news … that amazingly, Hapatoni was fixable. Engineers arrived in droves to scratch their heads, sucking on their teeth and shaking their heads in that way that they do to signify, “this is going to cost loads of money”. The net result was that the boat had to be cleared, the interior woodwork would all have to come out in order to assess the extent of the damage and get a quote for the final repair. So over the next few days 45 cardboard boxes arrived and were filled with “stuff” from the main cabin – we soon realised we definitely have too much STUFF!!039 - 2017 - The Rock - 04We stayed at the hotel Ianos in Lefkas marina while we packed up the boat, the weather is still in the 30’s during the day, so the swimming pool is a welcome break to the somewhat soul-destroying hours spent on our damaged Hapatoni. It’s hard to describe the feelings you have when your boat sustains such damage, it is such a part of our lives for five months every year, and we spend many hours in maintenance and a lot of cash keeping her in tip top condition.

040 - 2017 - Lefkas - 01Tina and Tim on Shiraz and Alice on Spirit III have been brilliant, offering loads of support, making lunches and cooking evening meals. We have also met up with Keith and Tracy whose Beneteau 50 unfortunately also sustained damage in a 60-knot blow which arrived unexpectedly at their marina in Preveza, accompanied by a big surge which ripped out their stern cleats and pushed Amonite sideways onto the bows of the facing boats. The damage to their port side was extensive, anchors punctured large holes, the guard rails and toe rails were ripped off. Not a great week for boats.

Our last night in Lefkas was a boisterous meal on the front with the 8 of us as well as a couple of Americans that Keith had met during his travels. Unfortunately, Mark had chipped his tooth, so half way through the meal had to disappear to the local dentist to try to get it fixed. He arrived back after an hour and a half, apparently the dentist had been unable to find the right nerves so it took four sets of injections and an hour waiting for numbness to arrive before Mark finally managed to get his filling – I don’t think he will be going back there in a hurry.

We have completed packing and now it’s time to decide … do we go home to the glorious English (drizzly) autumn or do we stay for a little while and enjoy the 30 degree sunshine of Greece … difficult decision!!!

We decided to take a week or so to explore some of those places that we had been cheated out of by the accident. We booked to stay a few days in Sivota, then up to Gaios on the Island of Paxos and finally back to our lovely Sivota to finish off, before we headed for home on the 27th September.… Read more

The Trip to Lefkas & The Rock – 11th September 2017

The Trip to Lefkas & The Rock – 11th September 2017

We had originally intended to go to the town quay at Kioni on the Island of Ithaca, the mythical home of the legends of Homer’s Odyssey. It is one of our favourite spots in the Ionian, we just wanted to relax and do nothing for 3 or 4 days …. except for maybe the occasional beer, enjoying a mouth-watering spit roast and awarding marks for the inept parking of the flotilla fleets as they swarm in. However, because of some strong southerlies due to arrive over the next couple of days, we decided to head for the safer moorings on the north of the island of Meganisi.

So, after a swift change of course we left the Gulf of Patras and rounded the south side of Nisis Oxia, to head north. This corner leading into the Ionian has always seemed to be an area teaming with fish and this was where we were to land our second catch since leaving the UK back in 2014. Mark was dozing below when I noticed a tugging on his brand new, all-singing fishing reel. Expecting to find the usual bit of seaweed, I pulled in the line to be confronted by an eminently eatable mackerel, which in my shocked haste, I left dangling on the hook and shouted for Mark to come and assist. He immediately came up top and despite his surprise that I had actual managed to reel in a fish, quickly despatched the fish and placed it in the fridge for later consumption.

Looking for shelter, we continued on our way to Spartakhori (on the Island of Meganisi) to be told by Babis, the Taverna owner, that there was no room on his pontoons. There was a similar story at Vathi in the next bay, everyone was heading for cover to hide from the approaching high winds. With options running out, we phoned the marina at Lefkas at the top of the Island of Lefkada, a further two hours away (and one of the most expensive in the Ionian). Lefkas however, did have the bonus that our friends on Shiraz and Spirit 3 were also there and fortunately the marina had spaces, so of we set.

And this is when our world literally came tumbling around our ears.

THE ROCK

039 - 2017 - The Rock - 00A few minutes into the journey, with me below preparing lunch, Hudson at my feet hoping for a few stray scraps, and Hapatoni making 6 knots, we came to an abrupt halt as we hit a submerged rock. The keel took the full force, lifted and flexed the hull which moved a few centimetres upwards, this was enough to cause incredible damage in the main salon. The dining table broke away from the floor and lay in a twisted heap. The fitted kitchen cupboards and chart desk had come lose from there secure mountings, cracking panels and snapping the worktop. The worst damage was revealed when we lifted the floorboards, there were many large cracks in the inner floor laminate, stretching from side to side. We were also taking on water, fortunately not a large amount and the bilge pump was able to cope. We both stared in disbelief at the unbelievable carnage caused and both voiced similar thoughts, that this looked like the end for Hapatoni.

039 - 2017 - The Rock - 01 (1)

039 - 2017 - The Rock - 03

039 - 2017 - The Rock - 02None the less, we decided to try to get Hapatoni to Lefkas which was the nearest marina where we could get her lifted out of the water, but was still an hour and a half away. We both went into auto pilot, deciding to minimise any trips down below, not knowing how attached the keel was, the loss of which would have proved catastrophic. With the passports, money, phones, home keys, etc, secured in our water proof bag and life jackets on, we launched the dinghy and tied it to the transom … just in case. We phoned Lefkas Marina and requested an immediate lift-out also informing the Port Police, who asked us to activate the DSC alarm so they could locate us – not sure that was necessary, as at that point we were not in any life-threatening danger, but we did as we were told. The port police eventually arrived in a rib and escorted up the canal to Lefkas where we were immediately lifted onto the hard.

With Hapatoni out of danger and the knowledge that our possessions were safe, we headed to our friends Tina and Tim’s boat, for a tidy up and very sweet cup of tea to calm the nerves. It was time to relax a little from the stress of the last couple of hours, the impact of what had happened, just starting to sink in.

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Messolonghi – 10th September 2017

Messolonghi – 10th September 2017

038 - 2017 - Messalongi - 00We did not hurry to leave Galaxidi even though the passage was 48 miles and about 8 hours, as we had intended to anchor in the basin outside the now closed marina at Messolonghi and there was never an issue with finding a vacant spot there. We left at around 8:30am motoring across the windless, mirror flat calm of the Gulf of Corinth towards the distant Rion-Antirion Bridge, settling into our now familiar shift system, two hours on and two hours off, taking turns to nap or read or just chill during our off-shift periods.  The Bridge was 34 miles away, but due to its impressive size, became visible quite quickly into our passage. The bridge is considered to be a creation of extraordinary engineering, built in an area with high seismic activity, it spans a 3 km wide straight, linking the town of Rion with the town of Antirion and is the longest cable-stayed suspension bridge in the world.038 - 2017 - Messalongi - 01After the bridge, the final 20-mile passage to Messolonghi was entirely uneventful, arriving at about 5:30pm at the 2 km long channel leading up to the Lagoon, our anchorage for the night, just outside the town.038 - 2017 - Messalongi - 02And now the inevitable history lesson. In 1822 the Turks tried to unsuccessfully take Messolonghi from the Greeks who managed to resist for four years before deciding on a mass evacuation of the town. Tragically, as a result of a betrayal, this led to the massacre of most of the inhabitants.  The famous British poet and philhellene Lord Byron, who supported the Greek struggle for independence, died in Messolonghi in 1824. He is commemorated by a cenotaph containing his heart and a statue located in the town. In 1829 Messolonghi was liberated and started again to flourish and in 1937 the government decided to name it the SACRED TOWN OF GREECE. In the ensuing years, the town produced 5 famous Prime Ministers, many people of history, many poets, artists and scientists, architects and literately men.038 - 2017 - Messalongi - 03We left Messolonghi before daybreak on the following day with high anticipation. This was to be the day we returned to the Ionion.… Read more