Aegina 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!!The 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.The 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.Our 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.Hotel 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.As 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.Further 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.The 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.We 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.