January 5, 2016 -- The Best of the New Year
Twenty-three hours after our departure from Calgary set us onto Latitude 34 from 52 and into pouring rain from snowy Canada. Our suitcases didn't make the Toronto to Vienna connection. With our over-sized car rental (in anticipation of our suitcases) Con drove to the boat, and despite being sleep deprived and British-style driving, we arrived without incident. We set about our various tasks opening the boat -- turning on the power, opening the through hulls, flushing toilets, taking off window covers, rinsing out the bleach-water from our three water tanks, pulling out our fold-up bikes, cycling for groceries, collapsing at day's end, exhausted. That made it a grand total of 30 hours without sleep -- for me, Con, sleeps just about anywhere he can lay his head. I laugh remembering our grand kids who thought it was a major task staying up until midnight New Year's Eve.
January 7, 2016 -- Tornado?
We were tucked in cozy for the night, about 6:30 anticipating rain and 25 - 40 knot winds when the sound of a freight train approaching caught my attention, then BANG! The wind hit us hard, Big Sky's pier broke away from the concrete leaving us precariously connected by one chain and our lines loosened enough to cause Big Sky to heel 30 percent and she continued to rock wildly. I jumped from the couch snatching things falling from the ledges like a professional juggler. Con, at the same time was rescuing his spilled cup of soup and sandwich which flew across the kitchen counter along with everything else left on the counter. It happened I saw that we were quite a distance from the pier. You can see our pontoon partially broken free from the pier (road). The water pipes burst on the pontoon, and a waterfall was spewing a few feet straight up. My voice cracked, “Con!” letting my eyes drop to the wind-speed indicator, “76 knots!” and that was AFTER the major wind had already hit us. He scooped everything into the sink, scrambled to the window taking in the scene, as calm as a cucumber, picked up the VHF calling the office for the marinara’s, and headed topside. I picked up the receiver adding, “This is Big Sky, have them bring extra lines!” and went out the cockpit tent cover. The wind was fierce! I held tight to the rail with both hands making my way to the bow, eventually hugging the stay sail mast to keep from blowing away. The marinaras tied the pontoon as best they could to the road (pier) and tied Big Sky more securely to the pier. There were a number of concerns the staff had for our safety, specifically electrocution as the main electric box was now crushed. We were evacuated to the warm office until they could assess and secure the pontoon with temporary rigging. One of the links (the size of my fist) had burst open. Tornadoes, we're told hit this area, but it's rare this time of year. There were electric power poles knocked over like toothpicks in town. The tornado picked its way through the town, through Big Sky, and on. The Queen K,'s captain read 70 knots on their wind-speed indicator and unfortunately sustained some damage. The 76 knots I saw (141 km) was brief, but a stead 35 - 40 knots continued. Another storm is expected later tonight, so we'll be sleeping lightly.
Luggage arrival was promised before 6 pm, and at 5:59 the taxi pulled up with our bags. In our rental, we drove to Nicosia, an hour's drive from the boat, prepared to buy the fondue sets Con had been salivating for, but entering the IKEA parking lot, we quickly realized it was a holiday! Epiphany Day for the Greek Orthodox, marking the arrival of the kings who visited Jesus and it's also his baptism. We returned empty handed, but enjoyed an afternoon at Lady's Mile, a bird sanctuary of sorts.
Fridge repair person promised he'd be on the boat at 9 am, and at 9 am he arrived! Got to like that!
January 8, 2016 -- Surveying the damage
The storm front returned last night for a second visit, with sustained 50 - 56 knot winds before dying off for the night. Beyond street lamps, canvass Bimini’s on some of the power boats near us, and of course our pontoon, it took down the massive Christmas tree in the centre of the marina courtyard. "It had to come down anyway," said Tom, the Assistant to the General Manager. A beautiful double rainbow greeted us by morning with the sun sneaking through rain clouds. Just to prove who has the upper hand, just as we were about to relocate to a safer pontoon, the wind speed spiked again to 50 knots. We stayed put, moving 30 minutes later.
January 10, 2016 -- Sunshine's Back!
It's Sunday -- Chocolate Croissant Day! We are now back into our bad habit of biking leisurely down the promenade Sunday morning to a specific bakery to indulge. Me: chocolate croissant. Con: anything new behind the counter. Never fails, there are always at least a dozen people swimming, and always a sailboat or two or three going by the waterfront. After two failed haircuts for Con, (one in Larnaca the night before our morning flight to Canada and the other in Canada) he's now looking pretty good, thanks to his Big Sky barber (me). In Larnaca, the barber used a white, thick-toothed comb, thickened with years of dirt, and then cut his thin hair with THINNING SCISSORS! Eight euro later, it looked like a rat chewed on it. In Canada, we gave specific instructions to remove the long wings at the sides of his head. CND $30 later, the wings were intact!
January 19 - 21-- Tooth #26 Has Gotta Go -- for both of us! Con and I do everything together, "You're attached at the hip," my mom would say. Coincidentally, we both have issues with Tooth #26. Con's is infected and my root had cracked during the placement of a crown (unfortunate). We're scheduled for implants (of course on the same day). Having the work done here will save us $8,000. The cost here is 1/5 the price in Canada. Somebody ought to investigate the Canadian dentistry's gouging and the insurance companies that allow it. Con compared prices around Europe, and nearly every country is about a fifth of the price in Canada!
It's still citrus season. We enjoy a concoction each day of freshly squeezed oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. These trees are growing on the Limassol Castle grounds.
February 1 -- Rare Monk Seal Visits
Greek-speaking stainless steel fabricator and his British wife visited Big Sky to discuss the reconstruction of our Bimini (the sun shade over the cockpit). Our present Bimini creates an awkward entrance into the cockpit. The new system will have a dual function, larger shade cover in the summer with zip-on side panels, and a large winter tent, replacing the current aging one. Just as the couple was leaving, this rare (endangered) Monk Seal visited our boat, looking up at us with her two big eyes. The government is trying to protect these seals, since only 10 of them have been spotted and they're living near Limassol. They are urging fishers to be cautious with their nets. This seal, sometimes with her pup, visits the marina but never as close to us as she was the other day.
Friday night, the live-a-boards gathered for dinner at a local restaurant. The man taking the photos with our camera was having a lot of fun snapping 30+ pictures, all the while, I tried to catch his attention to tell him to "Put on the flash" to no avail. From the front to the back: Italians Francesco and Enrica (across from each other); Brits Jane and Steven (across from each other), Brits Linda and Mike (also across from each other), Con and I on the left, and Americans Rick and Mary (hidden behind Mike).
Gym time happens every single day! So do bikes rides all over the city. For variety, we took our bed apart, aired the mattresses in the sun, and then cleaning and greasing the hydraulic steering systems locate under our bed.
February 6 -- Happy Birthday Con!
Celebrations were in grand style at a fabulous restaurant in Limassol called Ta Piatakia translated means Little Plates and that's exactly what it is. Little designer-styled plates arrive with just enough good stuff to excite (rather explode) your taste buds. The ambiance is great too. We met Roddy, the owner and chef in the coffee shop/bakery a few months ago and he told us we "must" try his restaurant. I surprised Con for his birthday and had a taxi pick us up at the pier. Roddy greeted us at the door like old friends and made the evening extra special.
On the boat, Con is enjoying experimental cooking. Pictured: a delicious Persian dish called Fesenjoon.
February 12 -- Massage
Each day, we sweat it out at the gym, ending our sessions in the sauna. On Con's birthday the gym staff greeted Con's arrival with a spa package and lots of birthday greetings. He tried to book a time to coincide with my massage, but they were booked. (He wasn't disappointed; he's not a massage fan.) Mine was fabulous.
We've had an annoying leak where water gets between the bow locker and front wall inside the V-berth (only in high seas when water comes topside). When we heel, the water seeps onto the bedding. Today, Con positioned himself deep in the bilge below the bed to drill a tiny hole so any water can be released. The real feat was getting out of the bilge. That took a while!
February 14 -- Happy Valentine's Day
We joined the many leisure-walkers along the water front taking in the beautiful Limassol sunshine. It was "hotter than a fire cracker" as Con says, and like every day, we biked all over town stopping by the sea for people watching.
Each day, Con is gently razor cutting the teak rubber. Next task will be a light teak sanding.
February 20 -- Best Night Ever for Hailey!
Granddaughter Hailey and mom Courtney were gifted tickets to the Flames NHL game in Row 2 seats! That could have been the greatest, but mom bought her a jersey and #1 finger, but... there's more. Garth Brooks was playing on the Jumbotron and while Hailey was dancing her heart out the camera swung around to catch her. It was picked up on TV that night! But there's more... She was invited to ride on the Zamboni to clean the ice, and received the game puck. There's more... Loveable Harvey the Hounds came around to give her a big hug. See the slides to the left. A dream come true for kids and adults. Con's dream: to drive a Zamboni!
February 24 -- Work Topsides has Begun
Bright and early, we motored to the marina lift to begin mounting the new structure Con designed. It replaces our bimini, dodger, sun house and winter house. So far, it's just the frame, but tomorrow, our canvas professional will arrive to take measurements for the enclosures. There will be nothing to store, take down, or clumsy make-shift pieces to fuss with.
Greek music, compliments of Con who found it online, taped from the balcony above Big Sky. We're second boat on the right. Watch and listen here.
Last Friday night, eight live-a-boards set off on foot (about 30 minutes from the marina) to an Italian Pizza café/art gallery and had a fun night. All proceeds went toward the gallery where disabled kids come to express themselves and talents in their art. Thanks to Enrica & Francesco, live aboard friends who learned the charity.
The Almond Festival took place in the small gorgeous mountain village of Limnati, about 45 minutes from Limassol. The area is in full bloom from the Almond trees, and the ground is covered in yellow wild flowers. Along the way, buckets are hanging in the carob trees as they're ready for cocoa production. The video provides a peek at the festival. Traditional almond treats were available and we indulged, all the while Greek music played and traditional Greek dances performed. For lunch, we split an enormous gyro filled with a sausage, barbecued pork pieces, halumni cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded cabbage, all tucked into a fresh thin pita. An awesome day!
March 9 -- Feeling proud of myself I drove Big Sky without my captain from the boat lift back into our winter spot. Our friend Rick climbed aboard to toss the lines to the marinaras and viola, Big Sky was secure. Con had to bike to his dermatologist appointment returning with stitches and a big bandage.
March 15 -- Last Friday, I underwent the dermatologist's knife to have a nasty area cut off my chest, the consequence of living in sunshine year round. Biopsy returned benign. Cyprus is experiencing high winds as spring blows in. We've had NW gusts in the 50s banging hard against the boat. Monday was Clean Monday for the Greek Orthodox (Ash Monday) where people fast on shellfish and a special flat bread. Eating meat and dairy products are forbidden. It's also the day they celebrate the "Kite Festival". Now we understand why people were attempting to fly kites in 30 knot winds.
March 17 -- "When the wind blows, the cradle will rock..." We've clocked 50+ knots of wind off and on in the marina the last two days. As predicted, the wind stopped early evening.
March 20 -- Two days ago, we donated our like-new tarps to a fishing boat in the harbour that has a torn tarp. Since we can never see the fisherman, who likely goes out very early every morning, we tossed them aboard hoping he could use them. Two days later, we cycled passed the harbour and saw that they were put to good use.
March 24 -- Winter house is finished!
April 1 -- It's a national holiday in Cyprus today and also the end of the winter contract for some live-a-boards. Friends Rick and Mary left this morning -- a beautiful sunny warm day to depart. However, there's no wind for sailing.
Con and I scrubbed Big Sky from bow to stern and put our summer screens on our pilot-house windows. Can you believe it, we're already screening our house from the Cyprus heat.
A week ago, an Egyptian plane was diverted to Larnaca, Cyprus by a hijacker. One of the passengers took a "selfie" with the hijacker. He later said that he hoped that would deter the hijacker from killing him if it came to that. It all ended safely and the hijacker has been declared a nut case and returned to Egypt.
Big Sky's topsides have undergone a make over. We asked professionals to assess the work and provide a price. The rubber needed to be cut back, new rubber added in various sections, a few dozen plugs replaces, the teak gently sanded, and then cleaned with a special teak cleaner. Con started the work himself, carefully testing sections and when it looked good, he carried on. I joined him making it a labour of love returning the teak to its original (or close to) look. And the bonus was that we saved a few thousand euro doing it ourselves.
April 9 -- This dinghy takes off from the water and has crossed overhead at least once a week since the weather has been nice. We've never seen a flying dinghy before, and wanted to share it with you in this video, left.
April 10 -- We woke early this morning and hustled across the fishing harbour to the promenade where the Limassol Marathon 42 km run started at 7:15 am. Representation has arrived from all over the world for this event, including Canada and The Netherlands. It's a beautiful day for the event, with morning temperatures around 19 degrees, promising high 20s later today with a bit of an overcast. Con positioned himself in the very best place in Limassol -- the VIP stage where the starter stands -- so he could capture the best pictures. The Cypriots are always polite and tolerant, but they did ask him to leave, since he wasn't wearing a VIP badge. The marathon course is a low degree difficulty race, most of it taking place along the flat coastal road.
April 12 -- Finally rain arrived in Limassol during the night helping fill their dry reservoir to get Cyprus through the hottest months yet to come. In a perfect world, it would be a clean rain, and we would wake to a glistening boat and sunny warm weather -- WE DID!
April 17 -- 2016 – Before our final departure from Cyprus we hoped on a plane for a 3 ½-hour flight to Amsterdam to celebrate what would have been Con’s mom (Nomie’s) 100th birthday. She made it to 98.5 years old leaving this world peacefully. Albertine collected us at Schiphol in the wee hours of the morning, driving us back to her cozy place where we’ll stay for the next week. The three of us became tourists, setting off each day to towns that we hadn’t visited before, or for Albertine and Con some towns that they hadn’t visited in a very long time. We visited Urk, Elburg, Kampen and a day in Amsterdam. A definite highlight was visiting the newly renovated Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” painted in 1642. On the 21st June, we put flower arrangements together and visited Nomie’s grave in Vreeland, located in a beautiful spot beside a working windmill at the edge of the Vecht River. Vreeland is where the family grew up, and we walked all over the small town all the while Con and Albertine reminisced their childhood. “… here’s where the baker lived… the butcher… our first house… second house…” pointing out bedroom windows and sharing stories of a time past. Anna, Geert, Albertine and I visited the Tuesday fresh market for herring and smoked trout (just as we did with Nomie each Tuesday when we were in town) and took it to benches at the river’s edge enjoying the atmosphere and the parakeets in the trees above.
April 25 – BACK ON THE BOAT
With a few days remaining before our Cyprus departure and another day with the car rental, we toured the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus stopping at what was once the Asbestos Mine, now being reclaimed since it was shut down. While in Limassol, we drove to the great Salt Lake and looked at the fabulous bird wildlife. Our final dental visits are now behind us and our new #26 tooth -- each – are firmly in place.
April 30 – Departing Cyprus
With a great dose of excitement and a bit of woe, we departed Cyprus pondering whether we’d return. As much as we enjoyed the island, our curiosity leaves us yearning to explore other locations in this part of the world throughout the winter months.
Departing for our two-day sail to Kastellirozo, we passed the fishing boat going the other way with our donated tarp sheltering the fisherman from the mid-morning sun. Sharing watch, we arrived well rested tying up directly in front of one of our favourite restaurants. “Welcome back,” the proprietor said, offering his WiFi once again.
May 3, 2016 – Off to Rhodes
Enjoying four days in Kastellirozo, we moved to the largest island in the Dodecanese, Rhodes. The trip was wild and wet with water coming up topsides and storms threatening our journey (video left). Checking into the new (a bit out of town) marina, we booked a lunch date with old friends, Ellie and Per whom we met in Messelonghi years ago. They have their boat on the hard and opened a funky boutique bed and breakfast within the castle town. Rhodes is heavy with tourists, but why not, the ancient ruins, crusader-era castle, once occupied by the Knights of St. John, the medieval streets, and the Palace of the Grand Masters museum, once a Turkish prison makes the area well visited.
May 9, 2016 – Continuing through the Aegean to the volcanic island of Nisiros, we stayed a night, plugged into the city’s free power, paid 7.58 euro for the night.
May 10, 2016 – Moving through the Dodecanese Greek islands it feels like “home”. Our next stop was the butterfly-shaped island of Astypalia, where we dropped anchor and backing up to the quay. Mooring is free, and if you’d like power, it’s 5 euro per day. Astypalia is 18 km long, 13 km wide. White sugar-cube houses climb the hillside to the chora (main town) at the top making a spectacular sight. Every house has blue doors and shutters. A stone castle sits at the very top. We climbed the hill to the chora for groceries and stopped in the vegetable/fruit shop asking the vendor for the butcher shop. “Oh,” the friendly lady told us walking us outside, “it’s easy.” Pointing, “It’s the white house with the blue shutters.”
Our second afternoon at the quay, a 14-meter sailboat attempt to drop anchor and tie up beside us, but smoke began bellowing from their anchor locker. Two men went below, and returned emptying the fire extinguishers but to no avail. The captain wisely lifted anchor and moved to the outer quay away from other boats. Con helped them tie on, videotaping their boat smoking and then it exploded. (See the video left). The volunteer fire department arrived unsure what to do. After a comedy of events, they sprayed the boat. It was completely burned out on the inside. We left the day the insurance adjusters were arriving.
May 12, 2016 – Arriving in the horse-shoe shaped harbour of Katapola, Amorgos, the easternmost island in the Dodecanese, we dropped anchor and backed up to the quay. Weather promised safe winds so we rented a car for a day trip around the small island and we drove it from one end to the other. Our last stop was the monastery of Panagia Hozoviotissa a white-washed structure built in the 11th century, hanging on the cliff side 300 meters above the sea. It takes about an hour to climb to it but it’s stunning. We were the only ones there, (except for the monks inside) as it was closed.
May 14 – Happiest of birthday’s to our seven-year-old granddaughter Hailey!
May 17 – Five days in Amorgos fit our Go Slow new sailing routine and was quite enough so we moved to the island of Iraklia, now in the Cyclades. It’s a sleepy island with just 141 inhabitants (but that was in 2011), there could have been a few births since then. There was room at the quay for just one leisure boat as all the spots were taken by fishing boats. We met a British couple who had been touring the Greek islands by ferry for 40 years and shared a glass of cold white wine with them. About 2 am that night, the enormous Blue Line ferry arrived, backing up to the other side of the quay, towering over Big Sky by three stories, keeping their reverse thrusters going, and then leaving with their back gate still open.
May 18, 2016 – Naxos. Ferries. Snapped lines.
Arriving at the Naxos free-for-all marina, we spotted Neil, our South African acquaintance we moored beside in Astypalia. He caught our lines and warned us of the ferry surges. That was an understatement. We remained there for seven days guarding our boat from chaos that provided us hours of equal entertainment to angst. It would not be possible to have a boat raft to us as we’d sustain major damage with the ferries arrive – at full speed – throughout the day. One French captain tied on at midnight, and I quickly woke Con and we bolted topside to advise them, “NO CAN DO.” He was ornery and continued to plant his boat in front of us (where there was no room) and in between a classic boat and a smaller sailboat, both with their anchors out and tied to the pontoon. The next day, the ferries arrived along with the surges and to call it havoc is mild. The classic boat owner told the captain to, “Untie immediately,” using many more descriptive words. Damage to the classic boat was a moment away. He untied, and immediately got caught under our bow spit. The surges began and it was sheer luck, that his boat didn’t take off our bow spit or we crush his solar panels. The classic boat captain pushed the French boat until he was doing the splits from shore and then leapt to our bow spit, swinging like an act in the circus still using the strength of his legs to push the French out and away. I had one hand on the classic boat captain’s arm, and another holding the jib, because the surge had begun. Eventually, the French boat got away, all the while never an apology or “merci”.
Neil and Sandi (South African’s) had us over to their boat for a good ol’ fashion barbecue. Great company, lots of fun.
May 26, 2016 – Weather was right
We departed Naxos for Naoussa Bay, Poros, a short hop away into a beautiful bay (again territory we’ve visited a few times). We dropped anchor and were once again enjoying the warm waters and leisure despite moving a number of times from one end of the big bay to another playing with the wind.
May 31, 2016 – Serifos another gem
We’ve never been to Santorini, because the marina harbour is too shallow for our boat, however, from what I understand, Serifos is the quiet non-touristy mini replica. The white square houses climb the steep mountainside to the chora where a marble medieval castle sits on the top like a crown. We paid a euro or so each for the bus ride up, walked all over the white painted cobble stones seeing possibly four locals and half that many donkeys. It’s another stunning Greek island in the Cyclades chain. We returned by foot, trekking three kilometer back to Big Sky.
June 5, 2016 – Our next stop was the island of Kythnos, and into the unique anchorage where you can drop anchor on either side of the spit, wind dependent. In our previous visits we dropped on the east side as we did again this time. To our surprise, when there had been two maybe three boats at anchor, we had up to thirty this visit. Neil and Sandi anchored behind us and again, we shared evenings over wine and good food.
June12, 2016 -- A week on the anchor in Kythnos defined the sort of lifestyle we were chasing following our winter in Cyprus. We dropped the anchor in the blue waters (this page's header picture) and swam morning, noon, and night. We met a South African couple, Neil and Sandi a few towns before who had been sailing in the same direction coincidentally, and as typical of the sailing community, we became great friends. Neil hosted us to a South African-styled barbecue aboard their boat, and we reciprocated with a meal aboard Big Sky. The winds were changing, causing us to pull up anchor and move along. Dolphins finally arrived, the first group to visit our boat since departing Cyprus. Two pods of dolphins arrived and visited for a bit longer than usual, which is only a few minutes. See the video left.
Our long-time sailing friends Judy and Bruno were at anchor off Poros (just south of Athens) a beautiful island location between the mainland and the Pelleponese and we charted our course to drop anchor beside them. It was fabulous catching up, since the last time we were together was during the summer when we anchored off Diaporos in northern Greece. It's a small world... beside them were our new friends Hans and Karine (Dutch), who had been traveling in the same direction as us for the last few weeks. The next day, Jamie and Rene from New Zealand arrived. The last time we saw them was when we visited New Zealand a few years ago and they had us over for dinner. Neil and Sandi were on their way, with an anticipated afternoon arrival, but had to detour into a larger port for repairs. That night, we all went to the restaurant where we were enjoying their WiFi and feasted on delicious Greek food.
Sadly, Judy's mom who had been weakening the past few months passed away. Judy immediately made ferry and flight plans for Australia. Bruno stayed aboard their boat, Pacific Pearl.
The promised north rains arrived and Con was prepared to clean off the previous south rains that always bring the Sahara Desert. Dressed in his underwear and raincoat, broom in hand, he cleaned the topsides.
Once again, winds were changing, and in tandem, we (Big Sky, and Pacific Pearl) left Poros for an anchorage on the island of Hydra, specifically, to Molos. On the way, Con and I detoured into the quirky harbour of Hydra, where we had stayed a few times years ago. Hydra is the home of Leonard Cohen, and the island where artists and singers have come since the 50s. There are no cars, only donkeys and boats for transportation. We did a quick U-turn out of the harbour, but not before observing the crazy-chaotic activity that we'd seen before, but this time it was crazier. Boats were moored in V-formation three deep. Cruise boats, ferries, fishing boats... were all crammed into the small harbour. Con at the helm, in his underwear, his usual sailing uniform, was the subject of many tourist's photos. But, tourists will snap pictures of anything and everything. Maybe it was our big Canadian flag.
Carrying on further along the high-cliff coast we stopped for the night in Molos, a blue-water anchorage. Bruno arrived shortly after and we stayed just the one night. A swell enters the bay from the Fast Ferries, and heavier winds were expected with gusts to 30 knots. With the additional winds racing down the high cliffs, we decided there were better places to anchor. We crossed the bay and anchored on the east side of the harbour to Ermioni for the night. Bruno anchoring nearby too. The next day, we all headed into the Ermioni harbour for supplies and for us more water. We dropped anchor and backed up to the quay, keeping a good distance from the concrete as swell arrives throughout the day and early evening from ferry traffic. Bruno anchored off the quay, came into town on his dinghy and we shared wine and good company at the waterfront.
June 18 -- With 10 more sleeps until we're reunited with our Canadian family, we are spending every waking moment enjoying the velvet waters off the island of Spetses, reading, swimming, and letting the peaceful surroundings enter our souls and bank as much energy as we can. The moment we land in Alberta, we are full-on with our grand kids, aged 2 - 8. Life is beautiful!
Yesterday, we woke again to the quiet serenity and calm blue waters, marking our forth day here and simply stated, it's "The Best!" Birds were singing, fish jumping, and like we were in a Disney movie, I spied a rabbit hopping along the beach followed by a family of strutting peacocks. By 9 am, we couldn't resist the waters and got in for a swim. About 1 pm, a super yacht, or "Gin Palace" as some call them arrived (full speed) dropped anchor on one side of the bay, motored backward over our friend Bruno's anchor (so his planned departure was thwarted) and set a line on the other side of the bay. Their back gate opened, and perhaps 15 young women emerged, along with all the water toys and 15 sounded like 30. The wind changed, and Bruno's boat came helplessly close to crashing against their bow. See Google Earth photo of Spetses.
The island, you can imagine from my description is quite remote and the isolation hit us the second day we were here when we witnessed five young boys about 12-14 arrive by quads with a boy of the same age appearing limp. My first thought was that they had been drinking (odd for Greek boys). I watched them for a while as they splashed the boy with water and it appeared they were pouring water down his mouth. It didn't look right, but nobody seemed to be in a panic, and eventually our attention was elsewhere. About 30 minutes after the incident, the water taxi arrived full speed, and we witnessed the boys carry the obviously unconscious boy into the taxi, and it raced off. In retrospect, it's an uncomfortable situation, as we took what later appeared to be a serious situation lightly.
June 22, 2016 -- A Two-Day Stop in Porto Cheli
It was a tough decision, but with one meal left in the fridge and four days to go before lift out, we left our Spetses paradise anchorage for a 30-minute motor across the bay to Porto Cheli, a summer resort town east of Ermioni. Bruno left for an anchorage off Porto Cheli earlier that morning, and when we arrived at the quay, dropping our bow anchor, Bruno caught our stern lines, much to the verbal disapproval of the 12-year-old boy who was part of a gang of aggressive Gypsy kids who have declared the quay their territory. We watched charter boat after charter boat toss them their lines and the kids charge 5 euro (if there were two kids, it was 5 euro each). Staying at the quay in Greece is usually free, (often including electricity) or a 5 euro price for electricity. These kids are relentless waiting for what they have deemed their entitlement.
Con and Bruno drove in a rental to the Athens airport to collect Judy returning from Australia. Within 20 minutes of Con's return, we pulled up anchor and untied from the airless quay, where it registered 39 in the boat! We dropped anchor less than a nautical mile and let the breezes find their way aboard. Monday, Big Sky is lifted in the Kilada yard.
June 23, 2016 -- Waking up after a peaceful, quiet night at anchor provides the BEST rest. When we were dropping anchor last night, a two-story super yacht was pulling up anchor. Five staff managed their departure, while their clients, eight young women about 18 were dancing and laughing. When they spotted us they waved frantically. We waved back. "Show them your titties, flash them, c'mon..." we heard. Two girls mooned us followed by a chorus of laughter from their boat.
June 24, 2016 – Just when you think you have the right weather report and drop anchor in the right bay (near Porto Cheli) where our stern will blow out and not toward the shore, the wind surprises you and does a 180-deree change. Our forecast 15 knot north winds turned into 20-30 knot south winds, so we pulled up anchor as waves were setting up in the bay and rode the winds for two hours to Klilada making sure to pass very close to the King’s Greek summer house. That’s the Royal Dutch King who owns a controversial water-front property just around the jetty from our Kilada anchorage. In Greece, no one can own or block the water front. You can own property on the water's edge, but the beach front is for everyone, that is unless you’re the King of the Netherlands. They fenced off their house all the way to the beach and built a pier which is also fenced off from the public.
While swinging on the anchor in the lovely light-green coloured bay in Kilada, we followed the UK referendum which has split that country right down the centre in a few ways. The over 65 voted to LEAVE and the youth to REMAIN. Wales voted to LEAVE, Scotland and Northern Ireland to REMAIN. The stock market and the British pound fell so hard we heard it here in Greece!
June 26, 2016 – North (clean) rain has been threatened for days, with the air so thick we could slice it. After washing the boat in salt water finally rain -- five great big sand-filled drops. Our lift in the Kilada yard has been promised between 9 am and 1 pm Monday and we’re anxious to be the first boat so we can wash and tarp it for her six weeks on the hard.
June 28, 2016 -- Relaxing at a resort
Turns out we were the last boat to be lifted for the day, setting our time table back four hours. Working relentlessly in 39 degree weather, we finally climbed down the ladder at 6:30 pm loading our suitcases into the rental. Hungry and beyond exhausted, we began the five-minute drive to the beach resort which turned into two hours of chaos with Con and me in the middle of it. Thirty seconds down the road, a 90-year old man looked left when he should have looked right and backed into our right-side fender leaving a scuff and dent. Immediately the quiet town exploded into loud Greek words as the usually placid old guys spinning their worry beads over cups of coffee raced into the street shouting into our faces (moving from Con to me), "YOU WERE SPEEDING!" One especially aggressive man moved within inches of my face to shout it obnoxiously over and over. Without energy, I pointed to my ears and said calmly, "I hear you." He stopped, but just for a moment. Con asked kindly if someone would call the police. I took photos of the cars and asked for the man's license to take a photo. Now, I like most everybody, and especially have lots of patience with older people, but this old guy was very miserable, maybe because he was afraid knowing he was in the wrong. As I took photos, he spat Greek words at me. I smiled, offered him water; he used his head and hands to shoo me away. The officer arrived, convinced Con was a diplomat, based on what he believed when studying Con's driver's licence. The report was written in Greek, and Con was asked to sign it, but not until he gave the officer his father's name. The car rental guy showed up, driving 10 km from Ermioni to provide the car documents and translated for us the old guys statement, "I was stopped and they hit me." If we weren't so exhausted, we could have laughed. Arriving at the Sunset Resort, the woman at the front desk said, "Go, enjoy the sunset and we will fill in the registration later." Sitting at the outdoor restaurant, the sky filled in shades of orange. Con slunk deep into his comfy chair to enjoy the Eurocup (soccer for North Americans) and nearly jumped out of his skin when Iceland knocked England out. By morning, we braved the same location where the chaos had erupted last night seeking breakfast recognizing many of the same faces. Expecting more unfriendly looks, as if the accident was OUR fault, a rather large intimidating man flagged us over, "Is everything okay now?" We nodded, "Yes, efchalisto (thank you)". "Good, good," he nodded.
June 29 to August 16 -- In Canada!
Visit 2016 Canada pages
TO PANAMA CITY, PANAMA July 2016
For a peek (See Off the Beaten Track)
Visit Diaries 2016 Part II for stories and pictures from August to the end of the year.