A week sheltering in Merikha

Arriving in Kythnos was ‘officially’ the start of our summer cruise and, after cutting through the Corinth Canal, we were back on schedule.  Moving from our over night anchorage into Merikha we  found ourselves somewhere sheltered from the Meltemi.   The forecasts suggested we’ d be there for 4 or 5 days ……. 1 week later we were still there, waiting.

The plus side to this enforced stay was that we could spent the week with Graeme and Jayne as neighbours, going out for meals, entertaining on board and generally assisting each other with the ‘challenges’ presented by the dreaded Charterers.  It was really great that our paths crossed for so long.

Merikha across the fishing harbour
Merikha across the fishing harbour

Merikha is a relatively new town built around the port  catering for the ferries and coasters which keep the island supplied.  It also provides a small harbour for fishing boats, a town quay and an anchorage for visiting yachts.  Ideal we thought.  Shelter from the weather, a pleasant town and the opportunity to explore a bit of the island.  Oh how wrong were we!  Well, sheltered yes, pleasant town, yes but the place is infested with charter boats whose anchoring and boat handling skills are second to everyone’s, absolutely everyone’s.

It was such an issue that we were not willing to leave the boat during the day in case boats arriving or leaving hit us or took out our anchor!  When not directly involved it was rather amusing!

Merikha is quite busy but pretty quiet despite all the comings and goings.  Mercifully there are plenty of tavernas in which to recover from a stressful day; our favourites were the Ostia Restaurant, and Taverna Yalos Byzantino.

View from the Ostia
View from the Ostia

The Ostria was our ‘local’, not 40m from the boat.  Their WiFi wouldn’t quite reach across the road so we had to go there to get a signal, and a glass or two of wine, and a snack, or a coffee; it would have been rude not to!

Yalos Byzantino taverna
Yalos Byzantino taverna

The Taverna Yalos Byzantio was our favourite place for meals.   The owner, Costas, was a very engaging character who promised we would pay nothing if we didn’t like the food.   Well, obviously we told him the food was terrible ….. but the empty, licked-clean plates told a different story!   Twice we ended up with a bottle of wine on the house!   Excellent place!    One of his waiters by the name of Sam, a good old London boy, was thrilled that he could pick Valeria’s brains about Brazil.   He’s a bit of a world traveller in the winter and has been to Rio and São Paulo but wants to visit Manaus and ended up with a few pointers!  We had a couple of excellent nights there and had our farewell dinner with Graeme and Jayne there too.

Merikha side street

I found a great bakery and went there every morning for my breakfast cheese pie.  He had a whole variety of these, including one with a beef burger inside, and I managed to try one of each in our 7 days there, so, yes I did eat all the pies!   The mini markets had all the supplies we needed, although the lettuces were very poor; Valeria can’t wait to get to Kos!!!     The butchers were very simple, a shop with a large cold storage, a counter and a meat mincer; and you can buy what they have in the fridge, right down to the last half chicken in the village!

The beach next door

There are worse place to be stuck for a week waiting out the Meltemi.   Although the harbour offers protection from the wind, the swell it pushes into the harbour makes the quayside a sometimes uncomfortable place to be.  But the real aggravation was the frequent arrivals and departures of the charter boats which effectively kept us on board, on watch, and meant this was not our most relaxing port of call!

Merikha is really nice, in calm weather it would be lovely, but then that is why it is so popular with Athens based charter boats.

 

Mooring Mayhem in Merikha

Possibly a slight exaggeration, but not by much.  This is a bit of a rant, so I apologise in advance.

Mooring on a town quay involves dropping your anchor off the quay and going astern perpendicular to it, making your lines fast to the quay then pulling in your anchor until you are securely in position.   The difficulties come when you are aiming for a gap between two boats with a cross wind or when other anchors are laid out at interesting angles when people haven’t laid their anchor chain at 90 degrees to the quay side, effectively taking up two or more spaces!  Not an easy manoeuvre, misjudging it and hitting another boat is always a risk as well.

This boat managed to twist a chain around their anchor!

Other things to consider are how much chain to use and in Merikha the Pilot Book suggests a lot. We had 65 metres out and it held, others came in using 20, others started anchoring too far out and ran out of chain and still others had to be reminded by the Harbour Master to use their anchor at all!!        When a boat started to manoeuvre over our anchor all we could do is stand at the bows and point along the line of our chain and hope they figure out what we were doing and not drop their anchor on ours.   Crossed cables are a fact of life but with some basic planning and understanding you can reduce these problems when mooring.

Unfortunately a lack of planning combined with limited boat handling skills is a trait common to charterers which causes chaos when it comes time for them to leave.    Even if they managed not to lay their chain over someone else’s, instead of controlling their boat and moving to their anchor they simply drag the boat to their anchor, or motor off dragging it behind them, and so dredge up their neighbour’s anchor.    Apparently unaware of what is happening they then try to ‘tow’ their neighbour from the quay by their anchor cable.

Trip hook, essential anchoring kit.

Then of course, once you have snagged another anchor, how do you free yours?   You simply pass a line around the fouling, lower your anchor clear and then slip your line to release the fouled anchor or chain, there is even a simple asymmetric trip-hook to make it even easier.   If someone else has laid their chain over yours it is slightly more tiresome but the principal is te same.  But, having cleared your anchor, where do you drop the anchor you’ve picked up?  Where you found it? Oh no, no, no of course not!   You drift 3 or 4 boats across from where you started and drop the anchor and chain across all their anchors! One boat now has to re-anchor and if it is a charter boat, the cycle starts again. Mercifully with a combination of pointing along our cable, and a little shouting, just a little ….. we only had to re-anchor once.

These guys were a bit greedy, collecting not only an anchor ......
These guys were a bit greedy, collecting not only an anchor ……
…. but another boat’s chain as well !!

One large charter catamaran, a Lagoon, managed to put out so much chain he reached the rope tail, a 10m or so length of rope for emergencies. Their trouble was the splice holding the rope to the chain was so badly frayed that it was about to break, potentially leaving them with no anchor at all.   Luckily for them they were alongside Scarlett and I was there helping our friends to fend them off, and I can splice, but they had literally three chairn links between them and ‘disaster’.   I earned a beer though!   When they left the following day they encountered problems recovering their anchor and I had visions of my splice choking their windlass, but it was nothing so complex!   They had simply managed to break the electrical lead to their windlass control.   What I couldn’t figure out was why they didn’t use the controller at the helm station; it was a Lagoon and their anchor gear was the same as ours!

And then there was the evening a very large charter yacht arrived, all uniforms, stewardess laying tables and rich Texan passengers.   The quay was almost full except for a single small yacht sized gap alongside Scarlett.

Not sure there’s room …….
But we’ll get in there somehow.

This thing was 34 metres long, 7 metres wide and weighted a whole lot more than Scarlett.    Rather than go onto the ferry berth and move in the morning the lazy &*$#@£*’s simply forced their way into said gap.   They could only get their slightly narrower stern and fenders in, leaning on Scarlett while they did it, and then stayed uncomfortably close to, and angled diagonally across, Scarlett’s  bows overnight and through the next morning with just a fender gap, or narrower in wind gusts, between their hulls. Quite normal in similar sized yachts but this thing was 3 times their length and maybe 20 times their weight!     Graeme, Jayne and ourselves did watches all night just in case the Meltemi over came the ‘Captain’s’ RYA qualifed skills and 125 metres of anchor chain; but on the bright side, the passengers had a nice dinner on the stern and a pleasant nights sleep and a good run ashore in the morning.   We tried to involve the Port Police, who did come along and were very nice, but had no power to do anything.  (PADFA)    Mercifully nothing went wrong but the crew hardly presented a very professional image in front of their paying customers!

After one particularly entertaining morning the Harbour Master passed me on his way to the Ostria (possibly for a well earned Ouzo) and simply raised his eyes to heaven and shook his head.  I later suggested he had missed a business opportunity.   I suggested he should buy or  borrow a small boat and charge €20 a time to free foul anchors; he could rake in €100 per day easily.   Perhaps in return for the suggestion he gave us a bottle of his home brew local wine; it was very strong and definately an aquired taste!

We had had plans to hire a car between the four of us to see the island but all these comings and goings around us put paid to that.  Instead we were almost continuously watch keeping during the day as leaving the boats unattended for any length of time would have been inadvisable in case our anchor got dredged up or we got rammed while we were out.

All in all a rather stressful week, salvaged only by sharing the experience with good friends and a few glasses of wine!

Korfos to Kythnos

Church in Skala, Nisos Angistri, on the way to Aigina

We left Korfos mid morning on the 22nd and headed east for the island of Aigina, planning to anchor on the south coast, but the weather had other ideas so we ended up in a bay on the west coast just north of the town of Perdika for the night.

Comfortable ?

Grahame, Jayne and Islabela came to us for an early BBQ.  They brought Isabel across in her cat box because apparently she was crying when they left ……. worse than having kids!   But once on board Isabel went exploring, then had a well earned rest, while we ate and chatted before having an early night ready to set off for Kythnos at 6.30 the following morning; a 50 mile, 10 hour passage with the likelihood of some 10 to 15 knot winds from the north and north east.

Scarlett

Wednesday started calm and hazy and, although we set off together, we soon lost sight of Scarlett as Graeme and I had differing sailing plans.   With the expected winds I planned to head north to get up wind for an easier sail when the wind picked up.   It almost worked.   When the wind did start it was a steady 15 to 20 knots but for most of the trip the wind was exactly on the edge of our ‘no go zone’, effectively in front of us, rather than the forecast favourable  beam winds.    It did move round just enough for us to be able to motor sail into it and keep up our 5 knot average; trying to simply sail in these winds gives us about 2 or 3 knots, depending on the sea state, but not in the right direction!    So we slogged it out  and in the last hour or so, just to make a point I suppose, it started to rain!   Nothing torrential, just enough to cover the decks in fine red sand, which began to ‘bake on’ when the sun came out and the wind dropped as we got into the lee of Kythnos and we met up with Scarlett again.

Our intention had been to spend the night in Ormos Fikiadha, the famous and picturesque Sand Bar Bay.   This is effectively a channel between Kythnos and a small island but the channel is blocked by a narrow sand bar beach making two bays.   The trouble with picturesque bays are that they are popular and on arriving we found the bay a jumble of anchored yachts, two of which managed to foul each other’s anchors and were laying rather haphazardly alongside each other.     Most amusing from where we were, but this prompted us to shift to Plan B and go along to Ormos Apokriosis, not half a mile east. This is a large, quiet a bay which boasts 3 tavernas, a church and a scattering of 6 houses, and lots of goats!

Ormos Apokriosis

In the morning we set off again at a more reasonable 10 am for the half hour run round to the port of Merikha intending to settle ourselves on the Town Quay to wait out the expected Meltemi due to blow in force until early next week. Just as we arrived a number of boats were leaving, exactly as we’d hoped, and both we and Scarlett tied back to the quay next door to each other …. and then went for a debrief in the nearest Taverna, the Ostia Restaurant.

… the nearest taverna ….

 

Korfos

Korfos is a small town on the south side of the Saronic Gulf and is a charter destination.   The tavernas here don’t just have docks for tenders, they have their own quays on which you can tie up for free if you eat at the taverna.  We anchored on the opposite side of the bay.

Graeme and Jayne in Scarlett had been here a day before we arrived on Sunday afternoon and we anchored nearby, inviting them across for drinks and a catch up.  Their plans this year are similar to ours last year and so we were able to give them some up to date information about the area.    We then finished our evening with a meal ashore in a taverna on the opposite side of the bay from the main town.

On Monday we went shopping, then Valeria did some baking and cooking while I rigged up our new awning. We spent the afternoon under said awning enjoying the shade and the afternoon breeze; it actually worked fantastically so all that time spent sewing was completely worth it. That evening we went across to Scarlett for a Passage Planning Meeting and Graeme and Jayne decided to join us on our trip across to Kythnos to wait out a week of Meltemi before going our separate ways. We decided to leave Korfos on Tuesday, the 22nd, to anchor over night off the island of Aigina and then set off for Kythnos together early on Wednesday morning for a 50 odd mile passage.

Abandoned fishing net caught on our prop.

We all try to do our bit for recycling and hate the ammount of plastic littering the sea.  On our way to Korfos we managed to snag a 5m length of discarded fishing net on our starboard propeller, happily we were running on the port engine at the time so it was east to free.    Before we left Italy, Jayne had asked that we bring her some of her favourite, Bucattini No.9, pasta; this is spaghetti with a hole along its length.  When the conversation got round to abandoned plastic and recycling Jayne recalled reading about someone trying to start using pasta straws instead of plastic ones.  Hold on a minute!  We’d just delivered 3 kilos of narrow gauge pasta straws! So Jayne opened a packet and we tried them; they are a bit too ‘small bore’ but they do work and don’t affect the taste of the wine at all!!!

 

Heading for Korfos

From Mesolongion we now decided to head for Korfos, about 15 miles from Isthmia the eastern end of the canal. Our friends Graeme and Jayne in Scarlett had just arrived there to wait for an opportunity to head north so we decided to drop by to see them.

Canal side fishung huts becoming holiday homes
Canal side fishung huts becoming holiday homes

We left Mesolongion at 6.30 on Friday morning, the 18th had an uneventful 55 mile passage to Trizonia, a small island west of Galaxidi. The weather was overcast and the expected easterly winds did us no favours as we headed towards the Rion Bridge, but, once passed the bridge the wind died away a touch and we anchored at Trizonia at about 3 pm. Unfortunately, once anchored it started to rain on and off for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Trizonia anchorage

Trizonia has a small harbour which is free to tie up in. But, being free, it has acquired a significant number of boats which have been left there to die, some already sunk at their moorings, and others waiting to do so. The village itself looked quaint but we decided to stick with our plan and not spend a day exploring. In fact, checking the weather on Friday night we decided that we would try to push on to clear the canal on Saturday evening rather than waiting until Sunday. But on Saturday morning, checking the weather forecast again, we found this.

Predictwind screenshot

Now you figure out what is actually going to happen; the left hand pane is supposedly based on the data in the right hand one! But as the worst case scenario suggested that we’d be followed through the canal by 30 knots of wind, and the canal does tend to funnel and increase wind speeds, we decided to wait it out in picturesque Ayios Ioannou.

We left Trizonia at 6.30, again, and arrived off Ay. Ioannou at about 2.30 and found the bay to be very picturesque but also too small for us to anchor in; so much for the Pilot Book. Plan B was to follow the Pilot Book’s further advise and head deeper into the nearby bay called Ormos Vathi Noussa and to ‘anchor off the beach where convenient …..’ This is a large enclosed bay with^ a quarry above the north shore and a quay for small ships to load the stone from. It is otherwise completely deserted, desolate even. We anchored in the far south west corner of the bay and it was either very sheltered or strong winds didn’t materialise!

Ormos Vathi Naoussa

At first light on Sunday morning we set off for the Corinth Canal and there was even a slight breeze which gave me the excuse to get our new Code Zero out for the first time for an hour. The only thing is that they have missed the ‘M’ from our sail number!


We arrived at the canal at 1030 and were called straight in without having to wait and it was a far easier transit than last time. Even with tying up to pay the toll in Isthmia we were under way again by 1120 headed for Korfos.

Now we are to the east of the Peloponese we can look forward to hundreds of quiet sun kissed Greek Islands on our way towards Kos and our next visitors.

Mesolongion

So with our revised courses set for the Corinth Canal we left Vathi at just after 7 in the morning on the 17th.    Our first stop was to be in the harbour of Mesolongion on the north side of the Gulf of Patras about 40 miles, or 8 hours, from Ithaca.

… i know, but I like it ….

We left Vathi in rather damp and overcast weather and it never really brightened up.   The ‘highlight’ of an otherwise uneventful crossing was that I actually managed to fly the Chute again for just under an hour.   We arrived in Mesolongion at just before 3 pm.

Mesolongion is a rather isolated place on the edge of the mud banks and salt flats that fringe this coast.   Its claim to fame is that Lord Byron died here in 1824 whilst trying to assist the Greeks in their War of Independence from Turkey.   The harbour is a large ‘lagoon’ of sorts reached via a narrow channel about 1 mile long.   The town is about a kilometre inland from the harbour but is not a must see destination by any stretch of the imagination.  There is a statue to him in town but apparently little else.  The harbour itself is rather desolate with a commercial quay in one corner and a small but rather tired looking marina in the other.   However, it is a safe anchorage for the night a convenient ‘day passage’ from Ithaca, and surprisingly picturesque in the evening!

We plan to be off first thing in the morning for 35 mile trip into the Gulf of Corinth to the island of Trizonia off the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth.

Vathi, Ithaca

We left the anchorage in Port Atheni on Meganisi early on Monday morning in order to reach Vathi on the island of Ithaca just after lunch, so avoiding some afternoon adverse winds.

Our 20 mile trip across started in flat calm conditions but by mid morning we had sailable winds from behind us and so I dragged out the Cruising Chute and gave it an airing.  But that was all it got, the wind took one look at it and dropped away to nothing!   Once the Chute was down the wind picked up from the port bow and we actually sailed under plain sails for the last hour or so until we reached Vathi.

Vathi

Vathi is the main port on Ithaca and is at the head of a large sheltered bay on the east side of the island.   It has a Town Quay but you can also anchor in the bay, which is what we did.   Our intention was to spend a day or so here waiting for an opportunity to move south when the wind changed.   Unfortunately, when it did change it would have got us down to the bottom of the Peloponnese just in time to meet a blow coming from the east.   This would have kept us hiding down there for who knows how long waiting for more favourable winds.   So on Wednesday we decided that heading south was not an option and that we would instead use the Corinth Canal again.  This is not a cheap option but we wouldn’t be spending money on diesel motoring round the Peloponnese, apparently it is 135 miles shorter!  We also wouldn’t have the aggravation of waiting for possible ‘weather windows’.   Instead we’ll spend a couple of days exploring the Gulfs of Patras and Corinth.

So we had 3 night anchored off Vathi.  As with most towns in the area it suffered badly in the earthquake in 1953 and so is fairly ‘new’.   It is quite a big town and is spread around the bay and the brightly painted make it very picturesque.  It is pretty busy with yachts and is a regular haunt of charter fleets heading for the apparently free Town Quay.    The town is quite lively and there are numerous tavernas along the quaysides and more in the side streets.   In amongst these are a lot of boutique type tourist shops, in addition to the odd bakery, fruit and veg shop and even a small chandler.   It is a busy place and seems to come alive in the evening. We had dinner ashore on Monday and had a wander around town on Tuesday before a leisurely dinner and drinks.   On Wednesday we stocked up on fresh food and I visited the Archaeological Museum.   Ithaca was the home of Odysseus and ruins above Port Polis on the west coast are the remains of his palace.  The museum though is a small affair displaying pottery and some coins found at various sites around the island but it was free and an interesting way to spend 20 minutes.

Our stay in Vathi was pleasant despite the uncertainty with the weather and our sudden change of plans.  However; it does mean that when we arrive in the Cyclades our first island will now be Kithnos.   This will put us almost a week ahead of ‘schedule’ but will mean missing Milos, Sifnos and Serifos.  On the plus side, we may get to catch up with ‘Scarlett’.

Vhliko and Port Atheni

On Saturday we slipped from the town quay heading for Ormos Vhliko and Port Atheni.  Vhliko is 9 miles south of Lefkas and from there north coast of the island of Meganisi, where there are a host of small bays to anchor in, is only 4 or 5 miles away.    Then we planned to head south to Vathi on the island of Ithica, a mere 20 miles away.   This is the sort of cruising we hope to do when we get into the Agean again, short hops between islands only making long passages when absolutely necessary.

Leaving Lefkas Town at 11.30 we headed south through the canal which separates the island from the main land.   In fact it is only this canal across salt flats which makes Lefkas an island.   It was first dug in the 7th century BC by the Corinthians and has been in use in various forms ever since.   On leaving the canal we had a slow motor along the coast towards Ormos Vhliko.   Slow because we needed to make water as 5 days in Lefkas, where there isn’t any, had depleted our supplies.

Taverna Elena

Ormos Vhliko is a land locked bay well protected from almost all winds, not that wind was going to be an issue, there wasn’t any ……   We selected our anchor position off the village of Geni on the east side of the bay very carefully, on the basis of its proximity to a couple of tavernas.   These tavernas have their own jetties and just before the sun went down we took the tender to the nearest one and tied it up next to our table and spent a very pleasant couple of hours over a light dinner and some wine, returning to the boat to continue using their internet!

Taverna Elena with jetty, or vice versa …

On Sunday we set off at 11.30 again for the trip across to the north coast of Meganisi.  The island’s north coast is heavily indented with coves in which you can anchor but need to tie back to the shore because the water is quite deep and there is no room to swing; this is not something we’ve done before.

Captain on Deck!

In Lefkas I had purchased two 50 metre lengths of floating mooring line and had already bought two heavy lifting strops so I decided to use the windless conditions to practice with my new toys.   We headed to a bay in Porto Atheni which I knew would suit as a test site; we’d anchored here for lunch last year with our friends Graeme and Jayne in Scarlett, so it was familiar ground.    Anyway, long story short, we anchored and while Valeria BBQ’d lunch I ran my two new lines ashore in the dingy and we successfully tied back to a couple of large rocks on the shore. You wouldn’t want do this in strong winds but now I’ve had a practice I reckon we should be able to do it for real when the time comes.

Long lines ashore

So our second night of generator supported freedom was spent in silent relaxation in a delightfully tranquil bay with just three other boats for company, and none of them charter boats !!!!!!

Languishing in Lefkas

We hung around in Lakka for an extra weekend so as to arrive in Lefkas on Monday, 7 May, hoping for an engineer’s visit on Tuesday morning to assess our generator problems, until this was fixed we would be pretty much stuck in Lefkas, the last service area for a few hundred miles …… hence Languishing in Lefkas!

We had an uneventful passage from Lakka and arrived off Lefkas at about 2.45pm, as planned giving us 15 minutes to hang around waiting for the swing bridge between Lefkas and the mainland to open at 3pm.

Lefkas sunset, one of the few we saw!!

Once through the bridge our next challenge was finding somewhere to tie up.   There is a long Town Quay but it is ‘infested’ with charter boats and this early in the season there are still a lot without charterers.  Our first attempt was to anchor but the holding was dubious and there was no room to swing. We ended up tying back to what was effectively an overflow town quay on a causeway leading out of town to the swing bridge, in amongst a load of unchartered charter boats.   It transpired that although technically public by Wednesday the ‘Charter Company’ made it quite clear we were not welcome.  Rather than push the point, on Thursday, we moved to a now vacant spot on the Town Quay for the rest of our stay at €10 per night …. mercifully we didn’t need to even think about using Lefkas Marina at €82 per night!!!

The generator problem was a not simple one and we were very grateful for the attentions of the engineer from Contract Yacht Services.   Unlike Engineers from certain service companys in the UK, Panos arrived exactly when he said he would and, although it took three days of elimination, testing and phone calls to Fischer Panda in Athens, he finally identified a temperature sensor as the villain of the piece.   Prior to that he found, and replaced, a leaking exhaust hose (jubilee clip probably never tightened correctly in the first place)  and a burned out electrical connector (badly fitted originally).   Neither of which were easy to find and neither affected the original problem.   He also took the outboard and serviced that.  Not our cheapest week as we also had to fill up with diesel but we now have a generator, our tender and 400 litres of fuel so are set for a summer of anchoring in isolated, hopefully, charter boat free bays.

We did have a few evenings to kill in Lefkas and found a number of very pleasant tavernas to indulge our newly rekindled hunger for Saganaki, grilled cheese, generally accompanied by a half litre of white wine and sometimes a meal.  On two of these evenings we got caught in torrential rain showers, and so had to shelter in tavernas ….

…. see why we had to hide with a half litre of wine ….. It was terrifying ….
Lefkas main shopping street

Lefkas is far from picturesque or even quaint. One of the victims of the ’51 earthquake it is now a mixture of old buildings which survived, rebuilt ones finished in wriggly tin and new concrete ones.  There is definitely a tourist feel to the place but there is life not involving tourists.   Lefkas is a working town, heavily centred on the charter market as evidenced by the very high ‘Chandlers per Square Mile’ figure!   It is lively without being overly busy and, under less traumatic circumstances, would have made a pleasant stop over.

Lefkas Extremes. Earthquake survivor beside wriggly tin reconstruction, bathed in sunlight under a rainbow

But now, fully functional again, we are resuming our passage south. Valeria will go to the market tomorrow as I get the boat ready for sea and we plan to be away before the afternoon wind sets in!

 

My birthday in Lakka

After our swift passage to Paxos we decided to hang around for a few days and spend my birthday in Lakka.

Coincidentally we arrived exactly at ‘Pimms o’clock’

Having settled in we had a series of suprises, one nice, the others not so much.  First we discovered that some friends from Roccella were here, Jim and Karen in Mai Tai had arrived a few days earlier.  We spent an evening with them before they set off again.  That was the nice suprise.

The not so nice ones were mechanical.  The generator still won’t run properly. The leaking salt water impeller which I had fixed in Roccella was likely only the symptom and not the actual problem as it appears the exhaust cooling water is not getting through to the exhaust, causing it to over heat.  We have arranged for repairs in Lefkas but now have to annoy the anchorage every day running an engine to top up the batteries.

And being anchored, we need our Tender to get ashore. The out board engine has decided to pack up and I think it is the carburettor float valve is stuck.  Not so difficult to fix if you have the spare gaskets …… which I don’t. But we’re off to Lefkas so in the mean time I can row, having glued the rowlock back on which decided to fall off just as I needed it.

Lakka

So, my birthday started with loads of texts from friends and relatives.  I then rowed us ashore as we were in search of Paxos Olive Oil, once exclusively sold by Harrods.   We found the Olive Oilery but it was deserted and so sat and drank wine and used the WiFi at a bar over looking the anchorage for lunch.  They were only serving omlettes and toast so I decided to save my self for my birthday BBQ, and a quick turi pitta (phonetic Greek for cheese pasty) from the baker on the way to the Olive Oilery on our second attempt at a purchase.  Whilst in the bakery we asked if the lady knew when the Oilery might be open.  She pointed to a guy chatting in the street, “That’s Antonis” (the Oiler).  Don’t you just love tiny villages!  So we have 5 litres of Paxos Olive Oil!

It was then back to the boat for the Birthday BBQ; nice big home made burgers and a couple of steaks ……… and some salad, because I am so healthy ……..

At this point, under more favourable mechanical conditions we would probably have set off south again as the wind turned around to the north. However; we now needed to be in Lefkas on Monday, arriving after all the Charter boats had left. So we planned an early start on Monday. As it turned this was a good plan as the weather over the weekend worsened progressively ending up with 30 knot winds and lots of rain on Sunday night.

Lakka was a pleasant stop over for our first visit of the year.   The town is small, quaint and we could have enjoyably visited on a daily basis, outboard and weather permitting.  Maybe another visit in September as we return to Roccella?