Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Sunday 30th. May 2010

We left the bay and motored all of 2 miles to Vathi, a somewhat larger bay but still with an essential Greek village feel. A small fishing fleet gives the harbour an authentic atmosphere but the blight of the Ionian, flotillas, detract from its charm. We are currently moored next to some merry Dutchmen, Sunny Sailing is the name of the flotilla company, and they practice coming stern-to right next to us with VHF radios blaring instructions.

We were paid a visit by Chris and Sue who are anchored in the next bay. They too are CA members and we had an interesting chat comparing experiences. They sailed their boat from the UK going via Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, and Malta. That’s serious cruising.

Sunday evening we went to the Rose Garden, the teverna of choice of sailors and had a pleasant meal. We met up with Gill and Tony who are out here for several weeks on their own boat. He used to run a flotilla company – we had to remember that when commenting on the Dutch ‘ducklings’.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Spilia Bay, Meganisi

Saturday 29th. May 2010

We left Vlikho Bay and sailed past Skorpios, a smallish island owned by the Onassis family. Aristole and Jackie (nee Kennedy) got married on the island and are now buried there together with Christina and her brother. Local rumour has it armed guards patrol the island but whether that’s a myth perpetuated by the family or reality who knows. On the south-west corner of the island is a small beach house built in Mykanos style which is, apparently, where Jackie bathed on a small private beach but as it’s quite visible it’s hard to imagine any privacy from paps with long lenses.

We passed the island and headed for Spilia Bay on Meganisi (pics above and below). It’s a wonderfully secluded bay with a view to die for.... although I'm sure that was not the reason for the demise of the four aforementioned Onassis family members. Jerry and Steve run the taverna and moorings. All very unhurried and friendly. Jerry holds out the lazy line as you drift in to the mooring. He later takes your order in the taverna. One nice touch is that they take bread orders for the following morning which saves a serious hike over the hill to the bakers at Spartahori. It’s all very Greek; unhurried, friendly, a bit shambolic and you’d never guess they were in the middle of the worst economic crisis to hit the country for generations. Hospitality is generous or a cynic might think it's just good marketing but after every meals there are 'freebies'. Ours consisted of a free pichet of wine - which considering we'd consumed two glasses and a pichet risked putting up into the high risk category as we teetered along the jetty. We spotted some fellow cruisers we'd seen at another stop and shared the free wine with them. They were delighted, we remained more of less sober and no one ended in the drink because of the drink. This is one of our favourite stops, and not just because of the freebies. We will return....many times.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Maritime Graveyard

Friday 28th. May

From Lefkas to Vlikho, a sheltered bay which seems to be a giant boat park for ex pat Brits. There are two Prout Quest cats here and some Greek rust buckets! Sadly the bay is a dumping ground for boats that have reached the end of their lives. The boat yards to the north of the bay seem active, if a little primitive, but every boating area needs its workshops.

This was one of the quietest moorings of the entire trip. The water is not as clear as elsewhere but that's because of the muddy bottom and, I suspect, it's a result of not being 'flushed' by any tides. Although the view over Rust Mountain was less than enchanting the rest of the bay was picture-postcard fodder. Not surprising, therefore, that there's quite a community of ex-pat Brits here. Red dusters fluttered in all parts of the bay. The mooring is free, it's quiet, the flotilla plague rarely breaks out in these waters and the tavernas and shops are only a few minutes away in the dinghy.

If you find yourself in the Ionian don't be put off by the maritime graveyard. It's only a small part of the bay and Vlikho is well worth a visit.

Friday, 25 June 2010

South from Gouvia

Wednesday 26th. May 2010

Yesterday we stocked the boat. Waitrose is not under threat. From Corfu we sailed south to Lakka on Paxos…lovely picturesque bay on a stunning island (see pic). Excellent WiFi courtesy of the local council. We anchor in the bay and the water is an unreal turquoise – it looks as if someone has overdone the colour settings on Photoshop but it’s real, it’s natural, this is how it really is.

Thursday 27th. May 2010

From Paxos we sailed south to Lefkas via the canal. It’s almost impossible to find the canal entrance. Without GPS and a couple of other boats going the same way I’m not sure we’d have found it. It didn’t help that since the pilot was published they’ve build a harbour wall and added a light so it looks nothing like the photo!

Nice, if expensive , night in Lefkas. £40 mooring for the night…which is about twice what we’d pay in Cowes! Ah, so that’s why Zorba and his missus were smiling.

Health and Safety? I don’t think so.

One of the refreshing things about Greece is that the Health and Safety Police have yet to descend like a blight on the country. Common sense seems to prevail and if someone does something stupid they have only themselves to blame.

We saw some hair raising electrical installations – see picture. The exposed junction box (top right) was at the foot of a power pole and carried 440volts. All the terminals were exposed to prodding fingers and a jolt from that would quickly empty your bilges. But the Greeks are not stupid and refrain from stuffing a digit into lethal electrics. The consumer units (bottom pic) were in Preveza where there seems to be a flexible approach to electricity distribution systems. We saw more than one apparently illicit tap into the public electricity supply. The picture (top left) was also in Preveza, at the marina, where an irate Greek told me that a visiting yacht had approached the jetty in a rather spirited manner and taken out his services post. This did not stop it being used. Power and water flowed despite the post being all but demolished. Who said water and electricity don’t mix?

We were amazed too at how many Greeks you can fit on a motorised scooter. It helps, of course, that none wear helmets or protective clothing and we had to chuckle when we saw several passengers riding pillion and carrying crutches. It did not deter them. As far as the Greeks are concerned scooters were made for multiple occupancy. Three or four on one bike is not unusual. Riding, using a mobile phone and eating an ice cream is pretty normal.

I have to say none look the worse for their lack of H&S. We do love the Greeks.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Ionian - June 2010

Monday 24th. May 2010

Greece is bust. The Germans have bailed out the Greek economy and the IMF has imposed heavy demands on what the Greek government has to do in return for shed loads of Euros.

However, life goes on and Zorba and his wife still manager a smile as we meet them in the street. Maybe it’s the thought of fresh Euros going through their tills that prompts the smile but somehow I doubt it. The Greeks are a happy tribe and it takes more than a mountain of debt and VAT at 23% (from 1st. July) to shroud them in gloom. For a nation that built the Pathenon, invented Euclid geometry and taught the Romans a thing or two about celestial navigation then a blip in the economy is no more than a minor pimple on an otherwise impressive complexion.

We arrived in Corfu on Monday, one place where the air traffic controllers didn’t recently go on strike because they knew the island, and many of their friends and relatives, depend upon tourists for a livelihood. We got in at 10.30 local time, 8.30am UK time, so you can imagine what time we left Gatwick and by backwards plotting what time we left home. Suffice it to say we didn’t have any sleep for getting on for 36 hours. Crazy.

We got on the boat, a 31 foot French production number of a certain age. Perfectly sound boat if a little dated. Biggest minus is the lack of hot water which makes washing up a tad more of a chore than it usually is and a shower becomes a right old palaver involving a ’solar shower bag’, basically a black plastic bag which holds water which heats up with the sun. You then stand under the spray. It’s very green, has no CO2 footprint and is about as useless as a chocolate teapot. We hate ‘em.

The Crew

The Crew
On board at Lymington