Browsed by
Month: June 2019

There and Back Again – 8th to 20th June 2019

There and Back Again – 8th to 20th June 2019

Kastos – Sivota – Kastos in 12 Days

018 - 2019 Summer - Kastos 000Kastos – We left the Iris Hotel pontoon at the leisurely time (for us) of 8:45 am, the sail to Kastos is only 18 miles which will take about 3 hours. There was very little wind until we reached the bottom of Meganisi, where with some excitement, it increased enough for us to unfurl the sails. We enjoyed the silence with the engine off for a change, but it was short lived as the wind dropped to 6 knots after only 20 minutes. Not to be defeated, Mark thought there may just be enough for the cruising chute, but sadly it also only got a flying visit as the wind gave up any attempt at life and dropped to zero.

015 - 2019 Summer - Kastos 004aWe arrived in Kastos at 12:30 and long-lined ashore, unfortunately it took three attempts to get the anchor to dig into the seabed, too much weed and the 18-knot wind pushing us sideways, also did not help. To our surprise, our arrival was under the watchful eye of the ex-commodore of The Royal Southern Yacht Club in Hamble, Karen and her husband, who were holidaying with friends on a Sunsail boat. They had noticed our blue ensign and burgee as we were parking, and shouted hello.

015 - 2019 Summer - Kastos 003aFinally secure, we settled down to lunch. Later in the afternoon we took Hudson for a walk, we detoured to see Karen and her husband just to say hello and then on to the windmill for a cold beer and to enjoy the stunning view towards the mountains on the mainland. As a bonus there was also a very welcoming afternoon breeze.

The evening meal was a bbq onboard, before heading to Alex and Elenor’s bar overlooking the bay.

015 - 2019 Summer - Kastos 005aThe temperature has certainly raised its game now, it is over 30 degrees daily, so I decided to take my first swim of the season, it was still a bit “fresh” when I first dipped my toe in, but as soon as I took the plunge and fully immerse, it was lovely. We passed the next two days, relaxing, dog walking, swimming and catching up with Alex in his bar in the evenings, enjoying his music collection, all Mark’s favourites.

With reluctance we finally left on Tuesday 11th June, heading the 14 miles to Sivota, mine and Hudson’s home for the next few days whilst Mark flies home to England.

016 - 2019 Summer - Sivota 000Sivota – We agreed on a special rate with the owner of the Italian pontoon, which is located between the Liotrivi bar and Christo’s supermarket – 22 euros instead of 35 per night. It has lazy lines and is very secure. We hired a car for the first day so that I could drop Mark at Preveza airport on Wednesday 12th June. On the way back, Hudson and I stopped in Lefkas for lunch. Fortunately, I was also able to get my highlights done, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a hairdresser, Hudson was an angel, he sat quietly for two hours at my feet. We finished off our trip by stocking up on fresh salad and veg for me whilst Mark is away.

Hudson and I soon fell into our routine, firstly a long dog walk before it got too hot, then the usual tidying and cleaning inside of the boat, finishing off with a well-deserved swim. One of my tasks, while Mark was away, was to scrub all 10 fenders, which was hot and hard work, but satisfying when complete – Mark better notice or he will be in big trouble. Most evenings we would walk to Yannis at The Family Café for an early drink, returning to have supper onboard. The four nights passed very quickly and before we knew it, we were picking up Mark from the airport again on the Sunday. We stayed an extra day in Sivota so we could wash the boat and clean the dinghy, as for some reason it had become very sticky. The pontoon had a jet wash for guests to use, saving Mark hours of dinghy scrubbing.

Job’s completed we decided to continue our travels before our friends Keith and Tracy arrive in just over a week.

017 - 2019 Summer - Palairos 000Palairos – We decided to go to Palairos on the mainland, 14 miles north-west from Sivota, as we haven’t been there before. It is a small fishing harbour sitting under the high mountains in the NE in the bay of the same name, Ormos Palairos. As we approached the harbour we were met by a welcome committee of Dolphins. Within the harbour there is a small pontoon owned by one of the flotilla companies which when not in use, can be used by anyone else. It has free electric and water and even though it is a little shallow, is busy with “live-aboards” and yachts out for the whole season.

017 - 2019 Summer - Palairos 001We secured a berth and went for a walk to check out the village and have lunch. The restaurant we chose was very nice, right on the pebbly beach, but unfortunately the main street was having a new brick road laid, so it was dusty and noisy.

paleros-yacht-clubPalairos has some charm and it was rustic, but we felt we would rather go to Kastos, anchor in the bay and enjoy a swim as there was no breeze … we feel it also has a prettier view.

018 - 2019 Summer - Kastos 000Kastos – Back again, this time we anchored in the bay for the first time. Being a Tuesday, the quay was full and Sailing holidays had longlined their flotilla in the far corner. After a cooling swim we went ashore, stretching Hudson’s legs and enjoyed a drink at the bar on the beach (another first for us). Again, another lovely setting and you still get to see all the antics as late comers arrive and try to secure their lines. The problem with anchoring outside was that although it was a calm night, at 4 am a large tanker or ferry must have passed along the coast probably miles away, but their wake caused us 30 mins of side to side rolling, waking us up as well as everyone else in the anchorage.

015 - 2019 Summer - Kastos 002aWednesday was another very relaxing day, we stayed in the same place at anchor, the wind increased in the afternoon, with gusts of up to 20 knots and the anchorage was busy, I don’t think many boats wanted to longline to the shore with the high winds. The breeze was lovely and cooling but again we had a night of disrupted sleep so decided it was time to move on, next stop Kioni on the Island of Ithica.

015 - 2019 Summer - Kastos 001a

Nidri The Iris Hotel Pontoon – 5th to 8th June 2019

Nidri The Iris Hotel Pontoon – 5th to 8th June 2019

014 - 2019 Summer - Nidri 000The trip to Nidri, was smooth with no wind and calm seas. Regrettably there was not enough wind to sail, usually we get a favourable breeze blowing off the mountains around Preveza. We made the 12:00 pm Lefkas bridge and continued to Nidri, hoping to find space on the Iris Hotel pontoon, but were prepared to anchor in Vlikho for the night if there was none. A telephone call to Christos at the Iris hotel confirmed we could take the final space … Hurrah. We arrived at 2:00 pm, tidied the boat and headed up to the pool for a cold beer and a swim. The pool was a bit “fresh”, but you soon warmed up lying in the sun.

Christos the owner of the Iris Hotel has a good business going here, the Hotel apartments are fully booked up well in advance and his pontoon is always also full with either Sailing Holidays yachts, as they have a flotilla based from the hotel, or private boats like us who queue up to take any spare spots. His rates are cheap at 15 euros a night although it is expected that you spend some money at the hotel bar or restaurant. I find it so relaxing here, a mini holiday within our sailing holiday, laying on a sunbed around the pool in a stunning setting, ordering food and drinks on a tab … it is like being in an all-Inclusive.

The Hotel is about 30 minutes’ from Nidri so you can walk in and visit but you have none of the noise and distractions of the town. Hudson and I stopping for a nibble halfway through one of our dog walk.

014 - 2019 Summer - Nidri 003a014 - 2019 Summer - Nidri 005bWe hired a car on Thursday 6th June, with several tasks to undertake. The main one being to find and book a secure mooring for me to stay on the boat with Hudson whilst Mark returns to the UK for 5 days. We started the day at the Lefkas lifting bridge to buy two large bags of Oranges from a local seller who bases himself next to the bridge (cheap at 5 euros a bag) and secured fresh orange juice for breakfast for the next few weeks. Then on to get Mark’s haircut, unfortunately his usual barber was busy, so he tried my lady, who gave him a very short, short back and sides.

We popped into Lefkas marina to ask about their availability for a mooring, they had no space for us for the dates we needed, amazing really as it is a large marina. Then the boring task of food shopping, before heading back to the boat to drop off our supplies. Next to Vasiliki, Mark was keen to see if the new marina was open and although it looked finished (and quite spectacular) they weren’t allowing anyone to moor, something to do with the elections was the rumour … what a waste … Greeks. The village is pretty, with restaurants covering every available space on the quay, it is hard to believe they can fill them all up, but I suppose in July and August they must.

Our final stop was Sivota, important as we hoped to get a deal with the Italian pontoon which has lazy lines, water and electric. Following various negotiations with the owner and with help from Christo the owner of the Supermarket (who we know well), we got from 180 euros for 6 nights to 130 euros, cash of course.  With the deal secured, off we went to visit Yanna at the Family Café. It was so nice to see her happy and not stressed, she had been facing the prospect of handling the whole of the front of house on her own, but she had one of her sons back working In the Kitchen and a new waiter called George serving out front with her. On our way home we stopped off to look at the progress of the boat below which has been made from scratch, the workmanship is excelllent.

014 - 2019 Summer - Nidri 002aMy final day on the Iris pontoon was spent relaxing by the pool, leaving Mark in peace to sand down and re-varnish the steps into the main cabin. In the evening Tina and Tim came to the Hotel for drinks and supper, it was so nice to catch up with them, a very boozy and enjoyable evening.

Gaios on the Island of Paxos – 1st to 5th Junes 2019

Gaios on the Island of Paxos – 1st to 5th Junes 2019

013 - 2019 Summer - Gaios 000Following a short hop from Lakka, we arrived in Gaios at 9.30am and to our amazement our corner spot (the same spot we stayed at in April) was vacant. You park ‘side-on’ to the quay, so no anchor is required, perfect in Gaios as the town is known for crossed anchor chains due to the angle of the quay and also for charter boats that cannot moor. Below is a good example of crossed anchors.

013 - 2019 Summer - Gaios 002aGaios was certainly a lot different from when we were there in April, all the bars, restaurants and shops were now open and surprisingly, the town quay was full every night with boats, so with the addition of the daily tripper boats, the town was buzzing with activity and life.

013 - 2019 Summer - Gaios 001aFor our first night in Gaios Mark had no choice, we had to go to my favourite restaurant on the island, the Taverna Taka Taka for their famous pork spit roast. It again lived up to its reputation and surprise surprise we had pre-dinner drinks at Mark’s favourite bar. Sorry we are not very original with our selections of restaurants and hostelries.

004 - 2019 Summer - Gaios 016aWe had hoped the weather had finally turned, but on Monday we woke to the sound of thunder and heavy rain … again. Fortunately, we were secure in our mooring and cosy below decks. It rained all day, with a short respite in the early evening, I thought this was supposed to be sunny Greece and it is June. Tuesday improved slightly, the rain stopped, but the clouds were threatening and it was chilly but at least we were able to take Hudson out for a long walk. However, due to the poor weather we decided to delay our departure till Wednesday morning as the big yellow thing was forecast to make an appearance and it would make the eight-hour trip much more pleasant.

The only issue with our corner mooring spot, is that it is very easy to get boxed in and this visit was no exception. A German charter yacht decided to squeeze in the small space next to us and as the tripper boats were parked directly in front, rather than wait or go somewhere else, he dropped his anchor next to the tripper boat. The net result was that he only had a few metres of chain out, luckily there was no wind or he would have been pushing hard on us. We woke early, planning to leave at 6:00 am, there was no wind and the sea was like glass so Mark manoeuvred  us out of our corner with no trouble, although he did use the bow thruster more than he probably needed to, they can be quite noisy next to your hull early in the  morning … particularly if you are Germans who have squeezed into too small a space and annoyed your British neighbours.

013 - 2019 Summer - Gaios 003aMy favorite boat, reminds me of Mickey Mouse.

Lakka on the Island of Paxos – 23rd May to 1st June 2019

Lakka on the Island of Paxos – 23rd May to 1st June 2019

012 - 2019 Summer - Laaka 000We left Roccella at 6 am keen to get going. During the early part of the journey we made excellent speed, over 7 knots. Unfortunately for Mark, this wasn’t due to the wind, but due to a glassy smooth sea and an extra kick from the currents which were going the same way as us … happily though, this saved us two hours on the twenty nine hour, 186 mile trip.

012 - 2019 Summer - Laaka 004As the sun rose on the second day, we could see the island of Paxos on the horizon … hoorah, we were nearly back in our lovely Greece. The passage was uneventful, although the calm conditions meant that we had to motor the whole way.  Being on engine does have some advantages, it means you can function, so Í was able to sleep and read, while Mark played his guitar and wrote his book, making the long passage go much quicker. As a bonus, we were lucky enough to see two large pods of dolphins, although they didn’t stay and play for long. We have only seen three pods in all the years we have been in Greece … unfortunately, that tells you something about the fish life in this part of the Med.

012 - 2019 Summer - Laaka 001aAlso, the tuna saga added another chapter. Once again Mark had the excitement of hearing the fishing line whizzing off the reel, as a fish raced away with the lure at high speed. We jumped into action, moving the dog under the spray hood and stopping Hapatoni ready for Mark to land this long-awaited fish. Imagine the moment … Mark starts to pull in his line, the mystery fish is fighting him for survival, Hudson and I hold our breath in anticipation and then snap … the line goes limp and another tuna breathes a sigh of relief. Such disappointment, no fresh fish for dinner tonight.

012 - 2019 Summer - Laaka 013aWe arrived at 11:55am at the town quay in the village of Lakka, the bay is on the north end of Paxos. We normally anchor in the bay here, but as the weather wasn’t great and we had been travelling for a day and a half, we decided to go for solid ground and stern moored onto the quay. As the day passed, there was a British invasion, every boat seemed to have the red ensign and these were complimented with a flotilla of Sailing holidays charter yachts … which are also British. For most of the week, we ruled the quay, most of the private yachts deciding to stay for a few days. We got to know our neighbour, Keith, on his Bavaria called Broke Aweigh. He was currently on his own, passing time whilst he waited for his next guests. As an active member of the Cruising Association and a very sociable guy, he seemed to know a few of the other boaties, but by the end of the week, he had made friends with the whole pontoon and most of the boats anchored in the bay.

The first few days were a bit windy and I am afraid to say, a little chilly as well. We needed a jumper in the evenings. Keen to enjoy some Greek food, we ate out on the first two days. Night one was the Taverna Nionios which was full and very popular with the flotilla boats, although we thought the food was average … we won’t be going back there again. Night two, we were keen to go to our favourite restaurant, the Taverna Arriva. Fortunately, we found a sheltered spot in the restaurant, the tables can be a little exposed if the wind is in the wrong direction. We enjoyed a supper of delicious grilled Prawns, Mussels in a white wine sauce, Calamari and Greek Salad, all our favourites.

012 - 2019 Summer - Laaka 010aSaturday was a lovely day, no wind and finally the temperature is increasing. I discovered that Lakka has a butcher and as the mini market has a good supply of fruit and vegetables, we are now fully stocked with food, we can stay as long as we like. Just to add the icing to the cake, there is no charge for staying on the town quay and we have managed to find free electric and water which we are sharing with our neighbour Keith.

Following an afternoon at the beach, well I went to the beach and Mark and Hudson popped over on the dinghy for a quick swim and an ice-cream, then back to the boat. Please note, I have now paddled up to my knees, the water is getting warmer, but I am still too much of a coward to submerge fully.

012 - 2019 Summer - Laaka 011aWith the weather improving we enjoyed a BBQ on board, inviting our neighbour Keith to join us, it was the first evening that we have been warm enough to sit on deck after dark.

Just as I thought the sun was here to stay, Sunday was a disappointingly overcast day again, the weather is still not performing as it should at this time of year. In the evening, Keith returned the favour and cooked us a delicious prawn risotto supper on his boat.

012 - 2019 Summer - Laaka 006aWe have been surprised how busy Lakka is for this time of year and despite the variable weather, life is just so easy here, we are in a beautiful location and  we have nice neighbours … so as each morning arrives, we decide to delay our departure till the next day. We had originally planned to move onto Gaios for Mark’s birthday, but as the days passed and Mark’s Birthday approached, we took the easy option and stayed.

012 - 2019 Summer - Laaka 008aFriday 31st May – HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARK. Yet another windy day, although this time it is a north easterly, blowing on our nose and bringing some waves into the bay. This caused our anchor to come lose, so in the early evening we had to motor out and reset it. The forecast was for a calm night, so we left the boat and headed out for Mark’s Birthday supper, once more with Keith, who had recommended the Garden Taverna, which was new to us. It is set in a well-protected pretty garden, Keith and I had the lamb and Mark had a seafood platter special in an Ouzo cream sauce, both were delicious.

Unfortunately, the wind did not ease and a bumpy night with very little sleep followed. The wind was due to increase again on Saturday afternoon, so nearly every boat on the quay decided to up anchor and move to Gaios, 6 miles to the south. Gaios has much better protected from northerly winds and so, keen to get a space, we quickly said our farewells and left early.