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Month: August 2016

Monemvasia (Part 2) – 25th to 29th August 2016

Monemvasia (Part 2) – 25th to 29th August 2016

Thursday 25th saw the departure of Charlotte on the 7am bus and the arrival of 3 days of strong winds. The last few days, our routine has gone out the window, my planned 7am runs forgotten, as we have had three very windy nights, so windy it totally disrupted our sleep. The gusts reached 40 plus knots in the early hours of Friday morning and never dropping below 30 knots, the boat is totally secure, so we are completely safe, it is just the impact on your sleep. Mark has put on extra lines and our springs to reduce the impact, but you really felt those 40 knot gusts on the beam. The winds have blown all night and most of the day, only calming down for a few hours late afternoon, before they start again late evening.

Sunday afternoon, should be the last of the strong winds, calming down to force 3/4 (a welcome change from the 7 and 8’s we have had). We plan to let the seas calm down on the Sunday and fingers crossed, set sail on Monday around mid-day, getting into Crete before the next batch of strong winds arrive next Thursday (Alice who is already in Crete, has advised there are more winds due next week).61 - 2016 Aug - Monemvasia- 22We feel in a state of limbo at the moment, with not much to do, just the standard washing, cleaning and shopping, so each day we take Hudson out for a long walk. Thursday heading out of town to see the waves crashing on to the beach, reminding us a little of back home, and on Friday we ventured back up to the lower old town had a fresh orange juice and walked back. It is great having company to help pass the time here, Friday evening we met up with Tina and Tim for the customary 6pm beer, which got extended to a few beers and a Gyros, all being happy to be off the boats.61 - 2016 Aug - Monemvasia- 23Saturday 27th, we had hoped to hire a car for today and go exploring to visit Olympia, unfortunately there is only one car Hire Company in the town and no spare cars. It is a shame as it would have been great to go inland for a change and see some sights.  So after catching up with our sleep and doing the domestics, we stocked up with drinking water and food supplies for the trip across and the next few days. There is no activity in the marina with the weather, so its pretty quiet all round.

Sunday 28th, Mark has been a hive of activity today starting the preparations for leaving the boat in 2 weeks, with ropes being washed, the dinghy cleaned, Watermaker pickled, outboard winterised and stuff put away. With the winds calming, we have had a change over off boats in the marina and apparently the largest sailing boat in the world visited the bay, one of the Star Clipper fleet.61 - 2016 Aug - Monemvasia- 21On our last night we will walk Hudson to the village, and had dinner onboard with an early night, ready for our departure tomorrow. We are ready for a change of scenery, Crete here we come.

The Rock – Monemvasia (Part 1) – 20th to 24th August 2016

The Rock – Monemvasia (Part 1) – 20th to 24th August 2016

Monemvasia is our final stop in the Peloponnes before we make the overnight sail to Crete, as you approach the bay, the headland is unmistakable all you see is the monolithic rock rising sheer out of the sea, it is known locally as the “Gibraltar of the East”. 1A bit of history on the Rock – The name Monemvasia means “single entrance”, the rock can only be reached by a narrow causeway. In the 6th century the Byzantines built a town on the summit of the rock and fortified it with thick high walls. Then about 400 years later the lower town was added and it became an important trading point. Over the years the rock was fought over and changed hands many time (although they did seem to surrender without a fight on most occasions) as from here you control the gateway to the Aegean around Cape Malea.2A modern town called Yefira has grown up on the mainland side of the rock. It’s harbour is divided into two area’s, a small one near the main settlement, full of small local fishing boats and visiting ribs, however the main harbour area is a little further out of town (a 10 minute walk), which also has an inner section for the colourful little Greek fishing boats and then the outer quays are filled by visiting yachts and motor boats.3We initially dropped our anchor and moored stern to the inner northern quay, but within the hour with the winds blowing on our beam, we realised our anchor was not holding and we were starting to move sideways at an uncomfortable rate. We later discovered that the sand on the seabed was a very thin layer covering rock, so there really was no chance for our anchor to dig in. We made the decision to move and found a space side on, against the outer mole. A much better location when the winds blow, as it is more protected and you don’t rely on your anchor; we still have access to the water supply and now we can, to our delight, jump off the back of the boat and swim with the many visiting turtles, which really are quite large and impressive.4Saturday afternoon (arrival day) we ventured into Yefira to check out where we could provision the boat, and you will be shocked to hear, we discovered a bar on the water front that does great Mojito’s, so a couple of those later and a Gyros (pronounced yiros) we headed back to the boat.

Sunday was very productive, starting with an early morning run through Yefira up to the gates of the old town on the rock and back, then Hapatoni got a good clean and polish inside and out … both of these activities were quite tough in this heat. In the evening following dinner on board, we joined the hustle and bustle as the locals walked up to the old town on the rock. It is surrounded by fortified walls and has ancient cobbled streets, much too narrow and uneven for any car to pass through. We were slightly amused to see that they had added concrete slopes to the steps to allow wheelchair access, but the chance of any wheelchair negotiating those uneven streets to get to the steps was close to zero. The town is thriving, full of little shops, tiny boutique hotels, bars and restaurants, all looking out over the bay. It is extremely well maintained, all repairs/restorations are done using the original building techniques and materials, so it really feels authentic and charming.5We woke early on the Monday as we wanted to explore further and go up to the upper town/ruins on the rock before the sun got too hot. We caught the 8am bus that takes you across the causeway to the lower town gates, our timing was excellent, we had beaten the flood of tourists and the town was virtually empty and very peaceful.6We took the path up to the ruins of the upper town, following the very rustic pebble path zig zagging up the rock, at the top it is mainly ruins, but they have restored a few areas to give you a feel of the layout of the old town and of course, the church is fully restored and beautiful (no surprise there). The views are stunning out to the bay and the sheer drops very scary, I don’t think this would be an easy place to invade and capture. We finished our sightseeing trip walking through the lower town and back to the boat. With no wind, we spent the afternoon swimming trying to keep cool and Mark continued work on his list of tasks.7Tuesday 23rd brought the arrival of Tina and Tim on Shiraz and their guest, 21 year old Charlotte who is onboard till Thursday 25th. With the possibility of stronger winds later this week, we secured a space for Shiraz moored side to on the same quay a couple of boats down. It is great to see the guys again and catch up on all our adventures since we last saw them in Sivota back in early July. Supper was aboard Hapatoni and I cooked “Tacita’s” for all. A mixture of dishes based on the ingredients available, Taco mince with Fajita vegetables, tortillas and the standard Mexican dips of homemade salsa and guacamole.  It turned out a great evening, my dish was a success, all plates wiped clean and absolutely none was left.

It seems the strong winds will be with us for four days, possibly till Saturday, so our stay here has been extended. With this in mind we are settling into a routine and Mark is doing any boat tasks he can ahead of Crete.8Every day we see turtles swimming and playing, they seem to have a circuit, towards the fishing boats for food then around the harbour passing next to or under our boat on the way out.  They are both large and very graceful, it is wonderful to finally see some sea life, the turtles have made up for the lack of Dolphins, Mark has taken some great photos and he has captured them on video flirting with each other.

On Wednesday 24th we were up running again, we need to get back into the habit of running every other day, not easy or desirable in this heat, but essential. This was followed by some pampering, I found a great salon and had a shellac pedicure (the ladies will know what that is) for the amazing price of 15 euros, I was shocked as she did a good job and it was just too cheap.

Tina, Tim and Charlotte went site seeing to the rock, missing the activities in the harbour. We had a strong north easterly blowing and some swell coming in, a number of boats left, with one boat getting his anchor tangled with two others, and a couple others hurriedly leaving as their anchors dragged on the rocky seabed. The main event however, was for Mark to see the shocked look on the face of the man in a small dinghy, as his extremely heavy 30 hp outboard engine flew into the air off the back of his boat, and still running, disappear into 5 metres of water. He had obviously not secured it properly, and when he hit a wave, he and his engine parted company. As I joined the show, the guy was rowing against the waves trying to get back to the spot it had disappeared below the waves, he then secured his dingy and jumped into the water trying to dive down and find his engine. We watched on, then Mark being the nice guy leant him a snorkel, fins and some rope. After about 20 minutes he found his engine and tried to pull it back on board his dinghy, but being so heavy he had no chance, so Mark being the savour jumped in the water, swam over and help him pull it back on board. Engine returned, he rowed himself back to his yacht, which we were shocked to find was 20 metres away …. but none of his fellow crew had bothered to help him. He owes Mark a large drink for that, but some people are just ungrateful, not even a thank you wave as they left the bay.

Tonight as its Charlottes last night we are meeting for a few drinks and supper on the sea front.

Part 2 on Monemvasia 25th until we set sail probably on Monday 29th to follow.

Hidden Away Ieraka – 19th to 20th August 2016

Hidden Away Ieraka – 19th to 20th August 2016

The entrance to Ieraka is between some moderately sized cliffs which dog-leg to the right hiding the village and protecting it from the ocean swell. The pilot book describes it as “A gem of a place”, the hamlet, a single line of houses, sits wedged along the quay-front hemmed in by rocky slopes on either side. At the western end is a large shallow lagoon, too shallow for most yachts … the pilot book was right, it is a gem.60 - 2016 Aug - Ieraka - 01We moored up on the tiny quay, it would probably only accommodate about seven boats, as it is so small, most yachts pass Ieraka by, which is a shame. On the other side of the quay (20 metres from us) is an equally tiny area allocated for swimming, the locals have added umbrellas and sun beds.  After getting the boat sorted and a cooling swim, we settled down to relax away the afternoon, with Mark asleep below decks and me engrossed in my book. However, after a short while, we had a shock awaking when a 40ft Greek Motor boat hit and gouged some lumps out of the side of Hapatoni as he was trying to moor next to us. After some discussion, the owner said he would contact his insurance company, but that lasted for about ten minutes before he started shouting and ranting at us, obviously not wanting to pay for the damage he had caused.

He decided and told us that “we were not going to stay the night and should leave”, he wanted to drive us out, so on came his engine, up went the volume of his music (we liked the Greek music, so no hardship) and the ranting volume increased. However, he had no idea how stubborn we can be. Things got a bit heated as he was trying to provoke Mark, but Mark stayed calm (ish) and was great, I lost my rag at one point, pointing my fingers at him and shouting, we were not going to let him bully us. Later we went off to walk Hudson, conscious not to leave the boat too long. We enjoyed the hamlet and the locals were lovely, we stopped for a drink (just a drink was the plan), but when we saw a couple on the table next to us having the local sea platter, we had to have one also with a Greek salad, absolutely delicious – prawns, mussels, white bait, calamari and home grown salad, the olives were my favourite so far, also home grown.60 - 2016 Aug - Ieraka - 03Now relaxed and with bellies full, we headed back to the boat, by this time the neighbour had cooled down and Mark and he shook hands putting an end to the shouting. Then, even better he left shortly after, thankfully…. but still with no intention to pay for the damage he had caused. In all our travels in Greece, we have found all the Greeks the most welcoming and friendly, this one exception was a prize a*****e.
It is a shame that guy arrived as he did impact our stay, the hamlet is quiet (except for our neighbour), not much life and no shops but tranquil and pretty. So tomorrow we move on again, an hour down the coast to Monemvasia, which again is different but stunning – seems to be a theme, I think we have fallen in love with Greece.IMG_090a

Beachy Leonidhion – 17th – 19th August 2016

Beachy Leonidhion – 17th – 19th August 2016

Today was certainly a contrast to last week, no wind, the sea flat as a pancake and temperatures back up in the mid-30’s – without any wind it definitely feels hotter. En-route to Astrous, we had a change of mind and decided to go south down the Peloponnes coast to a village called Leonidhion and stay there a few days, rather than doing a couple of quick hops … also it had a nearby beach and a cooling dunk was needed.59 - 2016 Aug - Leonidhion - 06As you approach from the sea, Leonidion appears from behind the breakwater, it is quite a petite, pretty village that has a lot going on considering its size. To its right is a long “sandy” beach (actually it is pebbles up to and just beyond the shore line, but then it becomes sand), which continues along part of the breakwater almost directly behind where we moored – good planning or coincidence, I will let you decide. Another beach packed with Greek holiday makers sits within the harbour area near to the tavernas and all this sits directly under some very impressive mountains upon which is perched, almost at the very top, the monastery of Elona … after all, this is the land of the Spartans. Fortunately these mountains are to the west of the village … which means the sun goes down early and we get some much needed early relief from the current temperatures, phew!?The village seems to be run by a couple of families. Margaret, dressed in one of the typical long black dresses off the mourning widow, seems to be the matriarch of one of these families managing her business empire. Her family owns one of the two “supermarkets” and a large brightly painted restaurant on the harbour front, no one passes her premises without a welcoming smile and a friendly hello in either French, German, English or Greek, all of which she seems quite fluent in – very impressive. Vegetables come from their own fields, so super fresh and this afternoon whilst buying a few supplies, Margaret gave me some free vegetables (tomatoes and loads of cucumbers from her field).?However, the main attractions of Leonidion are the pretty beaches, which make it a magnet for the area, the local Greeks and Greek holiday makers lining the roadside with their parked cars. It isn’t however too busy, it seems just right; there is something very attractive about this place. The nights are quieter as the beach goers depart and the restaurants fill up. There is however the one bar that stays open to the last reveller leaves which seems to be about 5:00 am, but the noise is muted, so sleep isn’t a problem.?On our first day here we explored the village centre, it only really took half an hour, so we walked Hudson out through the village to explore a bit more of the surrounding area. I have enjoyed the beach, both afternoons and had “quiet time” sunbathing and reading my book, leaving Mark behind to clean the chrome work and polish, and he has done a spectacular job (had to say that didn’t I). We frequented the local bar for our early evening drinks, they are a bit slow on the service, however the location (right next to the beach) and setting (looking at the sunset over the mountain range) makes up for it. Night two we tried out Margaret’s family restaurant, the food was a little disappointing as the Calamari was a little rubbery, but Mark’s fish and my Greek style Lasagne were ok. We decided to leave, on the Friday 19th, so we could get ourselves settled in our next place before the Athenians come out to play over the weekend.?

Windy Ermioni – 16th August 2016

Windy Ermioni – 16th August 2016

We set sail bright and early at 7am; the mornings are no longer the calm mill ponds of the Ionian, so far the Aegean has been trademarked by lumpy seas and erratic winds. We put a reef in the main and headed down the coast to Ermioni, as we passed the busy touristy town of Poros, a mass of Charter boats joined us heading south, worryingly in the same direction as us. The weather forecast was wrong, lots of swell and much stronger winds than forecast, so we put a second reef in the main and continued south. As you turn west from the town of Poros, the wind gusts off the mountains jumping without notice from 10 knots to 25 knots in a fraction of a second. To Mark’s delight we “battled” these gusts for the next 3 hours, him on the helm and me on the main sheet, continually adjusting as the gusts came in. I would have preferred a more constant wind, but at least he was happy. We were also happy to see the charter fleets sailing past as we turned into Ermioni.

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We arrived at the village of Ermioni about 1.30pm, I gave Mark the pleasure of mooring here, as the wind was blowing at 25 knots on the beam (sneaky I know), that was not the easiest of moorings, especially as a charter boat was trying to sneak into the spot we were lining up for …. a few choice words were exchanged. The town quay is small, with only a few spaces for visiting yachts and we settled ourselves in and hoped the swell would ease by the evening, as the slosh slosh noise on the transom and loud squeaking caused by the constant pulling on the mooring lines would guarantee a disturbed night. On top oh this, the hammerhead is reserved for the quite large ferry, which makes a lot of wash as they arrive and turn you into bucking broncos as the swell hammers into the quay.

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As it was past lunch-time we found a nearby restaurant right on the water front looking out into the bay, so with the afternoon “breeze” keeping us cool, we had the local dishes of Stuffed Peppers and Moussaka. On the south side of the bay is a pine-clad park with an inviting path running under the trees (a great place to run if we were stopping longer) and on the north is the local fishing harbour with a number of bars and restaurants in between looking out over the bay. Early evening we went exploring, Mark found a barbers, who did a professional job but they did cut his hair very very short. The town is full of tourists with the usual tat shops, it also had a lot of grocers and bakers, the Greeks really do like their cakes and biscuits. It is a pretty place but nothing special, we really have been spoiled by Greece.

Luckily the swell calmed down during the night giving us a restful sleep ready to start fresh the next day as we moved on to Astrous ….. or maybe we’ll change our minds and go somewhere else!!!

The Aegean – Palaia Epidhavros – 12th to 16th August 2016

The Aegean – Palaia Epidhavros – 12th to 16th August 2016

After the impressive passage through the Corinth Canal, we sailed along the Peloponnisos coastline towards Old Epidhavros. It is a typical Greek coastal village, though more for land visitors than the sailing type, probably because it is connected to the mainland. It is also the closest point to the Epidhavros Theatre, which the pilot book says everyone has heard of …. Mark and I must be the exceptions then. There are not many places to moor up, so spaces for visiting yachts are limited to 10 or so, but plenty of room to anchor in the sheltered bay. The harbour has a fleet of small multi-coloured wooden fishing boats, which is a good indication that there may be some fish life on this side of Greece. The village is set at the base of steep wooded slopes, surrounded by trees crammed with ripe oranges and pomegranates and a field of Aloe Vera – you’ll have to Google that to see what they looks like, Mark thought they were pineapples.

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Just next to us on the town quay is a little park area, grassed over, with an umbrella of pine trees, it is a lovely shaded spot and a nice separation from the bars and restaurants behind. There are a few stray dogs around scavenging left-overs from the restaurants, they are cute and don’t cause any trouble, but unfortunately carry the unwanted bugs and flea of any stray animal … Hudson is desperate for a play. The village has souvenir shops, bakers and even a barbers and to the side of the bay is a beach area, where the locals swim ….. and on the hour the bells of the local church toll out summoning the faithful in this very religious country.

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On our first afternoon, Mark caught up on his sleep and I went exploring the village (sounds like a familiar theme), checking out the bars and restaurants for possible options for night one, and then stocking up on supplies and gorgeous fresh fruit. Early evening we took Hudson for a walk, stopping for the customary refreshments and a game of cards (I won again 3 day on the trot), we had decided to eat out, but as we were not feeling too hungry so we settled on a Gyros. Our first night in the bay was bumpy; the wind had increased, causing swells to enter the bay and showers with thunderstorms highlighting the sky in the far distance. Even with ear plugs the slosh slosh on the bum of the yacht from the swell was enough to give us a very disturbed sleep. Mark had a restless night with the noise and going up on deck to check the lines on the boat. It seems we are due two maybe three days more of stronger winds 26 knots gusting up to 38 knots from the north-east. Our anchor is secure so the yacht should be fine but we may have another 2 sleepless nights depending on the level of swell. What joy.

Day 2 – Saturday 13th, we had a slow start following a bumpy and noisy night. The day felt much cooler at only around 30 deg C, we have been used to much higher temps so this really is a pleasure. After catching up on the blog we headed out to explore the outskirts of the village, and came across The Theatre at Demos of Ancient Epidaurus, over a thousand years old and accessed by the scruffiest dirt track – this would be a national treasure in any other country.

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As you can see from the photos, it is interesting how the Greeks go about their archaeology and in securing their sites.

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On returning from our travels we found the new Greek way to park your boat if there is no room on the town quay …. this is not recommended as a way to avoid mooring charges. Following a relaxing afternoon, Mark caught up on his sleep AGAIN and read up on his scuba diving, as surprisingly he found a professional Dive Centre in the village and has booked a wreck dive for Sunday.  I have been studying, reading up on my Bridge and catching up with the Blog.

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Day 3 – Sunday 14th – Hudson and I started the day with a run along the promenade and back through the village, then we waved Mark off to go diving for the morning and set to work cleaning the boat and catching up on the washing … well I did whilst Hudson just slept. Tasks done we settled down to a quiet afternoon, relaxing on the boat, but despite the light winds and small waves, the wind direction meant we had a continued slap slap slapping on the bum of the boat, it impacted my “tranquil” afternoon. Mark came back from his dive late morning; he had been to a large tanker that had sunk some 10 years ago, as legend would have it, holed by the rocks whilst the Italian captain made love to his mistress. He was a little disappointed by the lack of coral and fish life, but it does keep his skills up.

Day 4 – Monday 15th – We had not planned to stay so long here, had the winds calmed down we would have moved on yesterday, at least the nights are calmer now so we can get some sleep. So with no excuses we all went for a run, Hudson and I showing Mark around the village avoiding the stray dogs, who seem very friendly and just want to play. We had planned to visit the famous Epidhavros Theatre this morning but destiny was working against us, as today was a religious day with all the locals dressed in their finery attending church, so the Theatre was closed. They very kindly broadcast the priests’ sermons and chantings by loudspeaker over the whole village. So today was now a lazy day, with a film in the afternoon, reading and doing our various hobbies. We are ready to move. We have planned our next few stops along the Peloponnes and the weather is showing calmer seas and winds of force 3-4’s for the next few days.

The Corinth Canal – 12th August 2016

The Corinth Canal – 12th August 2016

Following our early morning wake up call, we left Kiato just after 7am, heading to the canal entrance. We wanted to arrive early as the pilot book advised it can take up to three hours to get permission to enter the canal and we still had a further three and a half hours to sail on the other side before we reached our destination Palaia Epidhavros. So with a super yacht just a head of us, we were lucky and only had to wait ten minutes before we got the go ahead to proceed through the canal.56 - 2016 Aug - Corinth Canal - 03Now a bit of information and history on this amazing construction: The Corinth Canal was completed in 1893, it reduces the distance between the Ionian and the Aegean, the canal is 3.2 miles long, 25m wide and maximum draft that can access it is 6.5m, and the sides of the canal rise to 76m at the highest part.56 - 2016 Aug - Corinth Canal - 05a (1)At each end of the canal they have road bridges that they lower into the sea to let you pass, which is a first for me. As we entered the canal it is a dramatic site, the rock faces rise at almost 90 degrees, bridges cross at the highest points over the canal and when you see the tiny trucks crossing above, you get a sense of the scale of it, amazing to think this was all dug by hand.56 - 2016 Aug - Corinth Canal - 07Hudson’s thoughts of the canal “it’s all Greek to me”

It was fantastic to see, but I was a little disappointed (only a little) in the rock formation, I had an image of the side of the canals being more polished like a marble kitchen worktop, prettier in fact. It took us about 45 minutes to motor through. On reaching the Aegean side at Isthmia, you moor up at the canal authorities’ pontoon and process your paperwork and pay your money, for us it cost 234 euros for the privilege of experiencing the canal, something you must do at least once.  The Aegean side definitely seems to have more wind, so we were able to sail most of the way to Palaia Epidhavros on our foresail with over 20 knots of wind on our stern.56 - 2016 Aug - Corinth Canal - 06a

Gulf of Corinth – Final Stop Kiato – 11th August 2016

Gulf of Corinth – Final Stop Kiato – 11th August 2016

The second stop in the gulf was Kiato, which is only an hour and a half from the Corinth Canal entrance, perfect. The sail to Kiato was the opposite of the previous day, with an average of 20 knots of NW winds almost directly behind us, it was an ideal time to pole out the foresail to Mark’s delight.54 - 2016 Aug - To Kiato - 02aWith the sail set we sailed the full 35 miles, arriving just before two, in time for a swim off the back of the boat as the waters were so clear (you could see 10 metres down) and lunch.54 - 2016 Aug - To Kiato - 03As soon as the weather cooled a touch, we ventured out to stretch our legs and look for a supermarket. The town is a Greek holiday town, with beaches nearby; you could see the locals sitting under their umbrellas watching the kids playing in the sea, it reminded us a bit of the Spanish Costas. The layout of the town was similar to Preveza, but no where near as well maintained or clean and it did not have the same vibe to it. It would not be a town I would visit again as it felt dirty and I was not comfortable leaving the boat, so Mark locked up all the lockers and windows (probably unnecessary but it was just how I felt). We found a local supermarket, bought our dinner ingredients and headed back to the seafront for a swift beer over looking the harbour.

Kiato has a fishing harbour full of local boats with an outer harbour area with one large mole for larger boats, surrounding the inner harbour. We moored up with only a couple of other boat on this outer mole and found out the next morning why this spot was so quiet. At 6am all the locals (and I do mean ALL) go fishing just where we parked, chatting loudly, negating the need for an early morning wake-up call.55 - 2016 Aug - Kiato - 01

Gulf of Corinth to Trizonia – 10th August 2016

Gulf of Corinth to Trizonia – 10th August 2016

We planned two stops in the Gulf leading up to the Corinth Canal and into the Aegean. Stop one being Trizonia, a little Island 37 miles from Mesolongion, which our friends from Shiraz had told us was beautiful. We were keen to be en-route as early as possible and Mark is always up early, so being a kind husband he got us underway at 7am, whilst I lounged in bed. I joined him at a leisurely 8.30am and as usual there was no wind and the sea was a millpond. The most interesting part of the trip was the magnificent Rion-Andirrion suspension bridge spanning the one mile gap between Dhiavolos and Andirrion, it is gateway to the western entrance to the Gulf of Corinth.

52 - 2016 Aug - Gulf of Corinth - 01Some details on the bridge – It was completed in 2004 and is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world (that’s what the book says) and at 2,252m has three navigable channels each 560m wide, between 4 pillars giving an air height of 25-45m.52 - 2016 Aug - Gulf of Corinth - 02After 6 hours we arrived in Trizonia marina, it was packed with boats despite its unfinished and slightly dilapidated appearance. It is known as a “dead marina”, started but not finished and with no apparent owner – which is why it is packed, no owner means no charge for the local Greek boat owners. We were however surprised that Tina and Tim raved about the place until we took Hudson for a walk 50 yards to the other side of the island.53 - 2016 Aug - Trizonia - 01We were greeted by an extremely pretty, bustling village with a marina for the smaller boats, the usual gaggle of pastel coloured taverna’s full of late lunching red cheeked customers and a beach busy with local Greek holiday makers freshly arrived by rib or ferry from the close by mainland.53 - 2016 Aug - Trizonia - 02It is charming, and then as you walk towards the impressive church (no shortage of money here) and beyond there is a nice coastal walk covered by olive and pine trees along the shore-line.53 - 2016 Aug - Trizonia - 03aThe marina has so much potential, if they tidied it up, and cleared out the old tatty boats taking advantage of the free moorings, added a few cafe’s along the quay they could easily charge for the marina. They may need a little shop in the village to help us boaties, as the locals currently seem to buy everything on the mainland … but then maybe the place would loose some of its charm. We stretched Hudson’s legs and rested in a cafe in the little square playing cards, WHICH I WON AGAIN and watched the locals enjoying their holiday, we concluded the evening with dinner on board.53 - 2016 Aug - Trizonia - 05

Leaving the Ionian – 7th to 10th August 2016

Leaving the Ionian – 7th to 10th August 2016

While it was still dark, we up anchored and left Gaios, we wanted to leave the noise, drama and chaos of the vacationing Italians behind and get on with our trip south to Crete. At the harbour entrance were five 150 ft plus super yachts (sail), not so common around these parts, maybe some sort of regatta for the super rich. It seemed with the departure of Adam and Laura back to England, that England sent some of its weather back to us, we had a few showers en-route to Preveza – which actually was a welcome change, cloudy and cool …… but no wind so we had to motor the whole way. We made good time arriving just before the 12pm Levkas Bridge opening and reaching Vlikho Bay just after two. The afternoon was a mixture of the usual relaxation and swimming, we did not venture far as we are now ready to leave the Ionian and we have done Vlikho Bay several times already this season.51 - 2016 Aug - Paxos to Prevesa- 17aAnother fabulous sunrises caught by Mark

The following day (Monday 8th ) we arrived in Sivota hoping the flotilla’s had left and there would be room in our favourite spot, which there was. We had a busy prep day, 4 loads of washing, supply shopping and the final jobs around the boat. By the late afternoon, all tasks had been completed and Hudson was due his walk along the narrow pine carpeted path with its umbrella of trees, providing that oh so necessary cooling shade. He also got to get one of those rare runs off his lead as there was no food scraps for him to get distracted by. We returned to the village stopping off in our local bar (5 meters from Hapatoni, you can’t get much closer than that) for a game of cards and a beer, which I won for a change. We chose “Mama’s” (The Family Bar) for our final night in the Ionian because we had had some great nights here, the atmosphere is relaxed and the staff feel like friends.

Messalongion is the next stop and is the furthest east in the Med that we have ventured in Hapatoni so far. We are both pleased to have left the Ionian now that it is August and it is swamped with Italians – Just to confirm, we do like Italians but just not those in boats, I will say no more on the subject. The highlight of the trip was sighting a couple of dolphins just outside Sivota. Unfortunately it was a very brief visit and they were obviously not in the mood to play. Later we spotted jumping Tuna or Swordfish …. well they were big fish, so there is still hope that one will jump onto Marks fishing hook. We anchored in the Messalongion lagoon seven and a half hours later, the anchor bighting easily in the muddy seabed. We made dinner on-board and treated ourselves to a film followed by an early night, ready for a pre-dawn start as we travel further east.