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Month: July 2017

Aegina – 2nd to 6th July 2017

Aegina – 2nd to 6th July 2017

029 - 2017 - Aegina - 00Aegina is only two hours away and our final Island for this half of the summer, so we enjoyed the cool early morning on Vathi, starting with a run along the beach road followed by a compulsory cooling off swim. We sailed at 10am and with the weather looking settled for Sunday, the plan was to anchor outside Aegina town for the night, then head round to the boatyard to be lifted out on Monday morning.

Unfortunately the swell was too much at our planned anchorage outside Aegina town, so we headed a mile south to a protected spot around the headland, we dropped the hook, had a swim and relaxed for an hour … but after a while that damn swell started to pick up again as the wind increased, so once more we were on the move. We went back to Aegina Town and tried the quay itself, but this was full and so after much deliberation, headed across the shallows to an unmarked anchorage on the south side of a low lying island between Aegina and Agistri. Once more we had a swim and relaxed for an hour … there is a theme developing here, isn’t there? It was a busy spot with a Dutch Flotilla anchored in a circle (Like the cowboy wagon train defending itself from the marauding Apaches) with their sterns all facing inwards, there was also quite a few private yachts and power boats at anchor. But Mark was unsure about staying the night as there was no information in the pilot book about this spot, so when most of the other yachts left and the wind started increasing we headed back once more to the town quay in Aegina …unfortunately there was still no room, or so we thought!!029 - 2017 - Aegina - 01The weather had really deteriorated now, so the prospect of anchoring was not exciting us at all, it was time to think like an Italian. We spotted a small gap which would mean anchoring at a 45 deg angle and overlapping the ferry boat spot, so we went for it, dropped the anchor, secured ourselves to the town quay and gave a heavy sigh. However, just as we had lulled ourselves into a false sense of security, the harbour police decided to interrupt our new state of calm and told us we had to get clear of the ferry boat spot or move completely … it was complicated. Our neighbour was a little Polish 28 foot yacht (with one man on board who spoke very little English) who was badly parked and also told to reorganise. With some joint jiggling and manoeuvring, it looked like we could both manage to keep the police happy. Things got interesting when our Polish neighbour had his four largish passengers together with their suitcases roll up … it didn’t look like their boat had enough room for the suitcases let alone the people, but it all eventually disappeared below. The comedy of errors now really gathered momentum, the Polish boat re-anchored, dropping their hook 10 metres out (no where near far enough) and right over ours, we then moved ourselves across enough to keep the police happy but still not enough to clear the ferry mooring completely. So we would have to be up early and gone by 8am before the ferry arrived … we told our Polish neighbour that he would also have to be up as we couldn’t move until he uncrossed our  anchor.  Settled for the night, or so we thought, off we went for a well deserved beer.029 - 2017 - Aegina - 05The wind started to gather pace from the forecasted 20 knots to a 34 knot howling gale hitting us hard on the beam at 2am. We were awoken by our Polish neighbour and his passengers, desperately trying to keep his boat from smashing into the quay and also into Hapatoni, as his badly planted anchor did nothing to keep him from jigging backwards and forwards and side to side. He was in for a very busy, sleepless night … and unfortunately all his activity meant we had very little sleep either, even though we were very securely parked. At 6:00 am things resolved themselves as our Polish friend motored off but not without a series of calamities, bumping into our boat, getting his rudder stuck on our anchor chain and struggling to release their anchor which was firmly hooked over ours. Finally they disappeared of into the harbour allowing us to move further sideways, clearing the ferry berth … hooraaaah, we could now stay as long as we liked.029 - 2017 - Aegina - 02Our plan was to get lifted on Monday and then stay in a hotel in Aegina town for our last three days, relaxing and enjoying the air-conditioning, but with the current 30 knot winds creating a large swell, the boatyard was not willing to lift any boats. Monday dragged and I was worrying about our options as it looked like Hudson and I could be flying home alone on Thursday and Mark would have to follow with the luggage, when the winds calmed down next week. But by mid-afternoon the sea had been merciful and following a visit to the boatyard, Mark persuaded them to lift us out. We hurriedly returned to the boat not wishing to miss the window of opportunity and motored the short distance around the coast. As Hapatoni was lifted, I let out a deep sigh of relief, we were back on track. With Hapatoni securely braced and put to bed for 2 months, we headed over to our hotel.029 - 2017 - Aegina - 07Hotel Rastoni is a small boutique hotel with 14 rooms, just a short walk from the centre of the town. The grounds lie hidden behind a high mature hedge concealing a row of tall shady pistachio nut trees around the front of the building. The garden to the rear is amazing, full of scented fragrant herbs, rows of colourful flowering shrubs and hidden seating areas carefully installed to take full advantage of the shade. The rooms are simple with an Indian’ish theme, tasteful done and complete with a lovely cooling breeze blowing through the room from the balcony. There is of course the mandatory air-conditioning to ensure a sweat free slumber for Hudson and Mark. This place is a real gem.029 - 2017 - Aegina - 10As the temperature cooled in the evening we headed into town, the southern quay is lined with busy bars and restaurants – Aegina is very popular with the Athenians who can quickly get here on the many ferries that stop daily.  At the far end of the quay are “fruit boats”, ancient wooden fishing boats that are past their sell by date, permanently moored up and now adapted for use as fruit and veg stalls – very ingenious.029 - 2017 - Aegina - 09Further back from the quay are narrow pebble streets lined with shops selling everything …. it feels like an authentic Greek town, which would continue to stay alive even when the invasion of tourists leave at the end of summer. As we stroll about looking for a place for dinner we came upon the fish market with a restaurant outside specialising in “fresh fish”, surprise surprise. An English couple seated in the restaurant (who are now permanent residents of Aegina), highly recommend the food, so sold on the setting we find a table and order stuffed Calamari, fresh tuna with the compulsory Greek salad and the local pine wine.029 - 2017 - Aegina - 11The couple attempted to explain the curious 20 year old (the son of one of the local fishermen) who rides up and down the quay ALL night on his bicycle, with flashing multi-coloured lights on the front and a speaker strapped to the back, softly piping out traditional Greek music – I’ll let you make your own conclusions. The setting and company were charming, but surprisingly we were a little disappointed by the food, none the less, still a very pleasant evening.029 - 2017 - Aegina - 06We woke on Tuesday morning chilly as Mark had set the air-conditioning a bit too low, but what a novelty that was. The last few days slipped lazily by, walking Hudson around the town and enjoying the cooler temperatures, it is now low to mid 30’s. On our last day, Roger and Sisca from Waterval, who are also heading home for a couple of months, came to stay in our hotel, so we met up for drinks and dinner. Following a very chatty and pleasant evening we say our good bye’s, ready for the early start on Thursday morning, to catch the Flying Dolphin ferry to Athens at 8am and our 1.30pm flight home to sunny Hamble. We are both looking forward to going home and catching up with family and friends and enjoying a summer in Hamble.029 - 2017 - Aegina - 03

Vathi on the Methana Peninsular – 28th to 2nd July 2017

Vathi on the Methana Peninsular – 28th to 2nd July 2017

028 - 2017 - Vathi - 00Vathi is a small fishing harbour on the northwest side of the Methana Peninula. The peninsula is 25 miles SW of Athens, jutting out from the coast of the Peloponnese and connected by only a very small isthmus at Taktikoupolis (try saying that with a mouthful of olives). It was originally volcanic, as many places in the Aegean were, with the volcano crater in the northwest of the island near Kaimeni (which translates into the “burnt village” … I wonder why).028 - 2017 - Vathi - 08You enter the small harbour between submerged rocks extending towards you, on either side of a very narrow channel – you would definitely think twice about entering if the Meltemi was blowing. None the less Vathi was an instant success. You are welcomed into the cutest of harbours, with its fleet of small fishing boats lining the north side ready to provide their fresh catch direct to the tavernas. There is room for about 15 yachts on the southern quay, electricity and water is available, there are three delightful quayside tavernas, all of this is surrounded by steep protective pine covered hills with only a few red tiled houses for the resident families AND A PLACE TO SWIM a few metres from the boat, we were in heaven.  It reminded us so much of a Sivota in the Ionian, which is one of our favourite places in the Med, just a much smaller version.028 - 2017 - Vathi - 02This is getting a little bit like a stuck record … but the temperature is now a cloudless, windless, very hot 38 deg C. Everything is done extremely slowly, any quick movement requires a change of clothes as the perspiration pours off – bit like being in a 24 hour sauna, fortunately the swimming opportunity is only 20 metres away and we do take frequent advantage of that. Even Hudson gets a daily dip and not surprisingly there are no complaints, he appreciated the opportunity to cooool down.

We planned to go to Jimmy’s Fish Restaurant for our first evening meal out, but on climbing the steps we were greeted by the largest herd of cats we have seen, they definitely owned the place and Hudson was going to be an unwelcome intruder, which was a shame as the fresh tuna steaks looked really good. Plan 2 was our local called “Taverna to Vathi” (Must have spent ages thinking that name up), five metres from the back door, which was a pleasant place for a beer, particularly as we sat right under the biggest of fans, but unfortunately the food was decidedly “average”, we won’t be back for food.028 - 2017 - Vathi - 03The next day (Wednesday 29th) started with a walk for Hudson to the next bay which is home to several guest houses and apartments next to the “beach” and is what would be describe as a “budget” holiday destination. As you can see from the photos, it is has a highly questionable “beach”, but a stunning view over the Peloponnese mountain range.028 - 2017 - Vathi - 04The afternoon alternated between chilling out and swimming and Hudson takes his second uncomplaining dip, he is a bit reluctant at first, but as soon as he is clamped securely in Mark’s arms, he relaxes and checks out his surroundings … for food no doubt – what else would go through Hudson’s brain??

028 - 2017 - Vathi - 07

Mark had requested his favourite Greek pork dish with roasted vegetables and feta for tonight (obviously with a Debera twist) and like the locals I did all the preparations and pre-cooking in the morning. By 14:00 the sun is at its strongest and it does not cool down till at least 20:00, too hot to stand in front of an oven in the confines of the boat. In fact, after eating on deck at 20:00, we still had to wait a few hours for the oven and the main cabin to cool to a reasonable temperature, before we could go below decks. Sorry Mark, but I think the oven door is now firmly closed until the outside temperature starts to cool in September.

Friday started with a 7:30 am run along the mostly flat road to the next village, only one small hill separating the two bays, by the time we get back it is starting to heat up and Mark and I have lost several pints of fluid – I think the runs will have to be even earlier. On Friday, the temperature climbed to new highs, achieving 40 deg C, with NO WIND till the evening and when it did come from the west, it felt like it had come straight from a furnace. The rest of the day and Saturday alternated between swimming every hour or so and melting.028 - 2017 - Vathi - 06You know how we said we wouldn’t eat in the Taverna to Vathi again, well on Saturday we were there having a beer and playing cards when our neighbours ordered some calamari which looked good, so Mark, without thinking ordered some as well. That was probably the tastiest calamari we have ever had, so we ordered a second plate together with a Greek salad … I know they have other uninvited house guests and there was another one scurrying around the floor, trying to climb as high as it could up one of the pillars, but this is Greece, and its just not the same as in the UK, so you just have to accept it !!!!!028 - 2017 - Vathi - 01The Taverna to Vathi is a typical family run restaurant, with brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts all doing there bit. One of the key tasks of all the family is to assist any visiting boats to moor and encourage them into their restaurant to dine, they are also very active in providing fresh seafood for the diners. As well as owning a fishing boat, one of the sons went out in their dinghy to collect sea urchins to be served up 100% fresh to one of the flotilla captains. Another in his wetsuit and clutching a harpoon gun, waited for an hour at the harbour entrance for an unsuspecting octopus to come into his crosshairs. Very enterprising.

Sunday morning we move on to our final island for the first half of this seasons sailing, the Island of Aegina where Hapatoni will be lifted, have her bum cleaned and await our return in September. We have also copped out, the temperatures have got so high that we have booked an air-conditioned hotel in Egina Town for the last three days before we fly home on Thursday … can’t wait to get a good nights sleep.