On Monday, the 17th, I collected Valeria, Ana and Charlie from the airport in the hire car and we all went out for a celebratory ‘saganaki’. I took Marisa to the airport on Tuesday and it was a bit sad to leave her in the herd of Thomas Cook passengers filling the airport building before I had to return the car. I went back to the boat, collected Valeria, Charlie and Ana, dropped the car off in Lassi and we spent the rest of the day on the beach by a small beach bar lazing under beach umbrellas.
On Thursday we invited Keith and Tracey to join us for a day out and we went round to what I have christened Ivan’s Bay for a BBQ. The chart now shows Ivan’s Bay to be called Ormos Kounopetra. We stayed at anchor for the afternoon and then sailed back under the Cruising Chute in the afternoon breeze.
On Friday we left Argostoli headed for Sami. This would put us 8 hours closer to Lefkas but took Charlie and Ana 30 km further from the airport. Keith stepped in and offered them a ride from Sami to catch their plane so a plan developed.
Rather than heading directly for Sami we decided to stop and anchor for the night off Sparthia again; the weather was calm and settled setting off for Sami on Saturday morning. There was no wind but Charlie was quite happy raising the anchor, under supervision of course, and then ‘driving’ us off towards Sami. By mid morning Charlie announced “Charlie is happy” from the helm station, which for Valeria and I was the best compliment!
We arrived in Sami by 1 pm before the afternoon rush. After a couple of rather fraught attempts to anchor and tie back to the wall we made it and Charlie and Ana went off to explore as we got settled. We then had 2 and a half days in Sami to round off their week with us, dining out, exploring, wandering along the beaches, swimming, enjoying some snacks and beer to keep us going.
But then, suddenly, it was 5 pm on Monday and Keith arrived. Charlie and Ana treated us all to a farewell dinner before it was time for them to leave for the airport. And so another great week came to an end.
It was a fantastic week, the third in a row. It was good to finally host Keith and Tracey to a day out, and it was great to have Charlie and Ana spend a whole week with us.
It has taken a while for them to find time as apparently running a couple of companies and rebuilding a house is very time-consuming! But they made it and we are so happy they did. The time just flew by and we will miss them as we set off towards Lefkas.
Unfortunately, with my ‘hurtie finger’ and a hospital check up I decided it wasn’t really prudent to take a complete novice sailing when not being fully fit; so Marisa and I stayed in Argostoli. But Marisa was quite happy with a lazy holiday, she starts her new job when she gets back so was looking forward to a rest!
We visited the local history museum, which was really interesting. The largest ‘feature’ in Argostoli is a low stone bridge about 800 m long across the shallow southern end of the inlet. It was built by the British between 1810 and 1813, after they kicked the French out of the islands, as a part of the efforts to open the islands up to transport. The centre piece was a stone pyramid inscribed “To the Glory of the British Nation. 1813” which was defaced by the Italians in 1941. The museum had a lot of exhibits about the islands history and extensive coverage of the devastating 1953 earthquake which flattened Argostoli.
Marisa and I walked across the bridge but there is little on the other side other than the abandoned marina.
We took a bus round to Lassi Beach for an afternoon and on Sunday hired a car to visit the caves at Melansani and the village of Asos. Marisa had turned up both these in her ‘holiday research’ and although I’d been to Melansani last time we were here, Asos was new to me.
Marisa was really impressed with the caves at Melansani, and our timing was perfect. There was no queue when we arrived but numerous coaches had arrived by the time we left and getting out through the entry tunnel was the problem!
Asos is a village on the north-west side of the island. It has a small harbour and a large Venetian fortress on the headland. Had I had all 8 fingers my idea had been to sail to Asos on the way to Sivota, and in settled weather it would be an ideal stop over. There is room to anchor a few yachts and there is even a small quay with room for a couple more. The water is crystal clear and the village very colourful and picturesque. The fort looked impressive but the walk up to it looked equally impressive and a light lunch proved more appealing!
On Monday we took a drive across to Skala on the south-eastern corner of the island. It has a large pebble beach, the main street is lined with restaurants and although nice enough it was a little too touristy for me.
We invited Keith and Tracey over for dinner one evening and spent the rest wandering around town sampling the tavernas accompanied by some souvenir shopping. We also played quite a bit of Backgammon and Marisa managed to beat me rather too consistently!
I also had my hospital check up. I spent an hour or waiting for the doctor to take one look at my finger, spray it with some ‘magic spray’ and declare “You can work”. After they revived me I was sent on my way, considerably shaken!!
Marisa and I don’t get to spend that much time together and so this was a really good week for us. Marisa really liked what she saw of the island and is already considering her next visit. She is also looking at coming away with Valeria and I next year, hopefully to actually sail somewhere. Fingers crossed!
Our first visitors in Argostoli were Mauro and Adri. This is Mauro’s third visit (search for ‘Mauro’) but Adri’s first and their first weekend away from the kids!
They arrived on Thursday, 6 September, suddenly appearing at the end of the gangway at about 11 pm; the town quay isn’t that big so we weren’t hard to find! After the Prosecco welcome it was off to bed in preparation for a sail the following day and a night at anchor.
On Friday morning Mauro insisted on washing the boat down before we went to get fuel. We had last filled up completely in Bozburun and then taken just 100 litres in Milos to get us here and managed it with about 40 litres left. Running the generator every day I then managed to drain one tank completely. Doh! Manoeuvering on one engine would be a challenging exercise and one I should practice, but it was easier to have a fuel guy deliver us 20 litres in a drum, which was ample to get us to the fuel berth.
So, filled up with diesel we set off at 1 pm on Friday and headed around the coast towards a small village called Sparthia on the south coast. Once out of Argostoli we had the sails up and managed to sail for a couple of hours in light winds, arriving off Sparthia at about 5. Sparthia has a tiny harbour and a number of increasingly inaccessible beaches. We anchored and immediately got the swimming ladder down, the BBQ out and put Mauro to work again.
On Saturday we had planned to head across to the bay where we met Ivan and Lu last year, have lunch there then head back to Argostoli. But we set off late and wanted to get back to Argostoli before the rather stronger afternoon winds picked up so scrubbed that idea. However; we did manage to get the sails up again and made most of the passage back under sail. Returning to Argostoli by 4pm we anchored in the harbour rather than go onto the quay and took the tender ashore for a wander around the town in the evening before getting a bite to eat.
On Sunday morning I dropped Valeria and Adri ashore to do some shopping while Mauro and I went off to explore the marina which is on the east side of the harbour. Mauro drove, which turned out to be a good decision. The marina was built a few years ago and then abandoned after a dispute between the builders and the town council. It is ‘useable’ but has no facilities, is free and as such it is gathering dying boats and appears to be where the Coast Guard store vessels they have seized. It is a dump.
Once we had picked up Valeria and Adri we set off planning to sail up to the north end of the Kolpos Argostoliu to Ormos Livadhi. There we would anchor, swim, and sail back under the Cruising Chute, and as a plan it worked perfectly. We had northerly winds getting up to 15 knots allowing us to tack almost the whole way there, anchoring at 3pm. We had a swim for about an hour then set off south again. The wind was behind us now, still at about 15 knots, so Mauro and I got the Cruising Chute up and sailed the entire way down to Argostoli putting in a couple of gybes along the way. When I say ‘we sailed’, I mean ‘Mauro sailed’ and I just offered help hints. It was a really good afternoon.
I even had a brand new collision avoidance experience. There have been some wildfires here over the weekend and a helicopter was using the approaches to Argostoli to load water, flying at mast height north into the wind as we were heading south. There is no Collision Regulation covering that but staying well clear seemed like a good idea; mercifully Sundays tend to be charter – boat free here otherwise the Pilot would have had fun!
So, after a really good afternoon, which went exactly to plan and gave Mauro plenty of sailing practice and Adri plenty of opportunities to admire our Brasinglish ensign I went and trapped a finger in the hinge of a deck hatch while getting the BBQ out, crushed my finger and almost ripped the nail out. Ouch.
Happily, Mauro knew how to put the tender in the water and had experience driving it so we could go ashore to the hospital.
And that was an experience. We found our way in via what I now know is the sub basement. It was something like the film set for a Zombie movie, all stained concrete, stained floors and bits hanging off the wall, just needed the zombies. Having found our way to the ER, which was one floor above the Zombie set, I was seen, had the nail removed, was bandaged up and sent on my way. We got back to the boat at about 9 to find that Valeria and Adri had got the BBQ underway so we had a late dinner.
In the morning we moved from the anchorage back onto the Town Quay; happily going astern I use my left hand on the engine controls and my right for the frantic waving, so that worked out well. But once tied up, because I had a ‘hurtie finger’, Mauro stowed the tender away, tidied the ropes and bagged up the sails, and Adri washed the boat.
The rest of the day was spent packing, chilling and doing a little shopping before having a late lunch in a taverna. I went off to the hospital for a bandage change and a prescription and got back just before 7pm when Valeria, Adri and Mauro had to leave for the airport.
It was fantastic to see Adri and Mauro and we all had a really good time, with the one minor exception, and are so grateful for their help with that!
Visiting Bodrum was always on our schedule and it was an added bonus that Zeynep could be there at the same time; she has absolutely made our visit here.
Apart from showing us Bodrum, Halicarnassus and Gümüslük we spent some great evenings doing totally non touristy things.
There are a series of ruined windmills on the headland that divides Bodrum from Gumbet. So at sunset we took a bottle of wine and three straws up there and watched the sun go down over Gumbet.
On Friday evening we were invited to her parent’s apartment for dinner; the view from their balcony is wonderful. Her parents speak as much English as wé speak Turkish but it was a lovely evening. After dinner we walked down to the local shopping centre and watched a concert over a couple of drinks.
On Monday we took Zeynep and her brother’s family for a day out on the boat to a local beauty spot known locally as ‘The Aquarium’ an hour from Bodrum. We spent the afternoon swimming, having a BBQ and messing about in the tender.
They had a really good time, so much so that her nephews, aged 5 and 9, want to sell their grandparents apartment and buy a boat. We got back to Bodrum and went to the fuel jetty to take on some nice cheap Turkish diesel, about €1 a litre, and say our farewells to Zeynep.
It has been great to see her again and without all the time she spent showing us around we would have left Bodrum rather unimpressed. We loved meeting her family and it was just a shame Steve had to work and couldn’t join us.
It has been over a year since I last saw Valeria, Chris and Windependent so I was excited when we landed at Kos airport around midnight. Kos Marina yacht club was quite busy still. I have been greeted with prosecco and after catching up went to bed around 3am. Stephen was not able to come with me this time due to his meetings but I was not alone in my cabin! My accompany was very handsome and a gentleman.
I could not take photos of Windependent at night while carrying two bags but I did first thing in the morning. Still beautiful..
We checked out at Kos and checked in at Bodrum Marina which took a while, and stepped on land around 5pm the next day. I showed the centre of the town to Valeria & Chris, we sorted out a SIM card for them and I went to see my parents in the evening.
I wanted Valeria and Chris to have the best experience possible so I prepared an itenary for the next few days. We visited the soaks, places serving nice food, farmers market, historical places (unfortunately the castle was closed due to renovation but we have been to the ruins of Halicarnasus mausoleum, amphitheater,mindos gate and tombs around), windmills between Bodrum and Gumbet for the best views on the peninsula, Gumbet ( I could not convince Valeria and Chris to party!), my parents’ house for dinner and ancient city of Myndos (Gumusluk as it is called today). I love Bodrum but it used to be so much nicer before it became so touristic. Best time of Bodrum is when people go back and the temperatures are lower (May or September, October). Now flights from London are so expensive in July and August thus I fly to/from Kos or Rhodes if I visit my parents in summer- also because I love Greek islands and meeting locals there.
On their last day before leaving Bodrum, Valeria and Chris invited us to Windependent. They were brilliant hosts and we had a wonderful day. My nephews Sarp and Demir truly loved Windependent . Demir said ” aunty it is great here! We can swim and jump, we eat burgers and ice cream, can we come here everyday?”. On the way back home Sarp asked whether we can sell the house and buy a boat ;). They were both on cloud nine. Valeria and Chris have been amazing hosts while having kids on the boat, we are all grateful.
We left Windependent while Valeria & Chris were getting fuel in Bodrum for the rest of their trip. I prepared some maps for them showing the nicer bays on their route. It would be great if I could join them but just by coincidence my brother and his family are on holiday at the same time and I decided to join Valeria and Chris later on again with Stephen- I left a cigar that I bought from Cuba for Chris and I will go back to smoke the cigars together. I am still very happy and of course jealous ;). Can’t wait to get my day skipper certificate and eventually anchor next to Windependent with our own boat ;).
Pardon my English.. I dont write in Greek very well.
I had an amazing time in Greece on board of Windependent.
Was my second visit and I will be back soon for sure..!
Valéria is an amazing host! Impressive…she’s a Queen! Great prosseco.. (Bottomless) Great food… And the world most efficient alarm clock in the hangover morning ( Chris “footstomps” and boat engine)
The Butler, my “Darling Saganaki” needed some training…or maybe just food.. (see pic above)
Once we fed him his work improved massively.
Thank you Saganaki. *They have the best and worlds most expensive Drinks ice bucket…. Impressive!
Thank you so much
You guys are 1000 stars!
Lu got to Kos on Friday afternoon, got a cab from the airport and was on board by 3 pm, and after a restorative Prosecco or two, she and Valeria went into Kos for the evening for a GNO.
On Saturday morning they went ashore for some last minute supplies and Lu bought me a present, some proper Saganaki Cheese! She has even found where she can get it in the UK!
We had paid in the marina up until midday on Saturday so we slipped at 11.35 and set off for Kardemena, half way along the south coast of Kos. The Pilot Book didn’t make it sound too inviting, or even accessible, but we had other sources of information!
A while ago a couple, Mark and Alexandra in Malu Kai were researching Roccella Ionica for this winter and came across the web site and sent me an email ‘Soon to be winter buddies in Roccella’. As it turned out they were in based Kardemena and so we decided to go and introduce ourselves as we were passing. Mark is away at the moment so, once tied up, we went and said hello to Alexandra. They have been based in Kardemena for a while and even have their own reserved berth. With a restaurant recommendation from Alexandra set off for a wander through town.
Rod Heikell in his Pilot Book describes Kardemena as, ‘a sprawl of a resort catering for package holiday makers who want little to do with things Greek and frequent any establishment that resembles the ‘local ’ at home” and this is an accurate description. We wandered along what appeared to be the main street between alternating pubs and bars with large TV screens showing the World Cup and some rather chav souvenir shops. Mercifully the restaurant was a bit away from there and the food was excellent. Back on board Lu and Valeria had a GNI and I left them to it.
Arriving in Kardemena we had planned a BBQ, but the berth we managed to find was alongside a rather scruffy ferry jetty away from the town quay and was not a pleasant setting for a BBQ on one’s yacht dharling. It also seemed to be the sleeping quarters for a large group of travellers aboard a small people carrier with very over worked suspension! We put off the BBQ and decided to move on in the morning to anchor in the bay off the town of Kefalos in Ormos Kamares.
The draw back was that the GNI had gone on until 4 in the morning and so Valeria was a little tired when we left at 9.30 and Lu was rudely awoken when I started the engines ….. that combined with me having deserted my post as wine waiter on the previous evening and our Trip Advisor rating was plummeting!!
We had motored from Kos to Kardemena but on Sunday morning we had a good offshore breeze and as soon as we were out of the port we had the sails up and headed for Paradise Beach; Lu had found it on the web and wanted to visit. We sailed almost the entire way, which is unheard of, only dropping the sails as we reached Paradise …… The trouble with places with names like ‘Paradise Beach’, or ‘Tranquil Bay’ in Lefkas, is that they seldom are and it was the case here. We would have had trouble anchoring close enough to the beach and even if we had managed it we’d have spent the afternoon being buzzed by jet skis and trip boats; we bore away and carried on round the headland to Kefalos and anchored off the small harbour.
Once at anchor we got the BBQ out and Lu fried us some Saganaki as an appetiser. Valeria and Lu then spent the afternoon relaxing / recovering while I put the tender in the water. The outboard wouldn’t start again but this time a new, dry, clean spark plug cured the problem and so, come the evening, we went ashore in the tender.
Kefalos is a very small fishing boat harbour with a commercial quay outside, at the south west end of Kamares Bay. The old town of Kefalos is a short walk in land from the harbour, although we didn’t go to look, and the new ‘town’ is a rather uninteresting strip of restaurants and small hotels along the shore line. We had a wander around before settling down for a snack including saganaki and wine, obviously, as the sun went down. We selected the restaurant / bar of the Sydney Hotel, whose rickety jetty we’d tied the tender to. Back on board, still hoping to bump up our ratings I remained on duty to hthe end although as Lu was travelling on the following day it was a far more reserved evening.
The following morning we spent lazing around, although I did whizz out to try and help an exhausted wind surfer. He was ancient, older than me!!! I was all ready to do a text book RYA recovery but he said my boat was too small and he wanted me to go get the school rescue boat. I didn’t try to explain I had a Rescue Boat ticket and was quite capable of hauling his tired old ….. etc, etc, so, harumphing to myself, I went off in search of the rescue boat. The positive thing was I got the tender up onto the plane and gave the outboard a good blast.
But then it was time to take Lu ashore and wait for her taxi to the airport, the Sydney Hotel had been very helpful and booked one the previous evening. We said our farewells, although Valeria will be seeing her in a week or so. It was lovely to see her again and I have my fingers crossed for that 5 star rating!!!
On 4th April Zilda, Elliott and Sophie came to stay with us again; their second visit. I got the train to the airport, picked up the hire car and brought them back to Roccella. Zilda was somewhat concerned that 8 days on the boat trying to keep Sophie and Elliott entertained and supervised might be too much of a challenge and so was researching Air B&B as a ‘Plan B’, but she needn’t have worried; Angelic Sophie and Saint Elliott were far too busy having fun exploring the castle, playing on the beach, hunting bears in the woods, enjoying ‘Movie Night’ in the Club House and playing in Windy to need much supervising. They were even suitably tired at bed time!
As ever it was fantastic to see them and we look forward to their visit next year !
Last time we were in Cephalonia was May, at the start of our trip around the Aegean, and had been made so welcome by Keith that we had to drop in again on our way passed to say hello.
Sami is a quaint place on the east coast of the island at the south end of the Kolpos Samis, the big bay opposite the south end of Ithica. Keith had taken us here for coffee on our last visit and we arranged for him to come up on Friday for the afternoon.
Keith and Tracey arrived at lunch time on Friday and we settled down to an afternoon and evening of BBQing, sunbathing and socialising. Great to see Keith again and to meet Tracey; all in all a very pleasant visit and we hope to to meet up again in the UK and next year when we stop off in Cephalonia on our way back to explore more of the Aegean.
We arrived as planned in Ágios Nikolaos marina on Friday afternoon, the 25th, and settled down to wait for Marco and Lu; they arrived some time after midnight and we had a glass or two of Champagne and Prosecco awaiting them. I was fantastic to welcome them on board.
Our idea had originally been to leave the marina for the weekend and return to Ormos Porou, anchor and spend Saturday and Sunday there, going to the Kanali Restaurant for Valeria’s birthday dinner and maybe going out for a sail on Sunday. However, the Meltami had other ideas. Getting into the marina had been easy as they put us on a berth against the harbour wall which the wind simply blew us onto. Getting out again would have been a challenge even if the wind was blowing half as strongly as it did from then on. For the entire weekend it was consistently blowing 20 knots, even peaking at 30 on Sunday. Being out at anchor, or trying to sail would have been far from relaxing and so we remained pinned to the wall, quite literally, for the entire weekend.
On Saturday afternoon we went for a wander around Agious Nikolaos. Although a holiday destination it didn’t seem as extreme as I had thought it might be, all 18-30 holiday makers and all day discos. We spent the afternoon chatting and enjoying the ‘breeze by the beach!
That evening we got a cab back to Kanali and enjoyed another great meal, then went for a walk into Elounda, about a mile away.
On Sunday we took another walk around town finding our way to the ‘lake’ which is rumoured to be bottomless. It is apparently just a very deep sink hole just inland from the harbour and connected to it by a short canal. It is quite quaint, is surrounded by a low quayside with lots of small boats tied up to it and wall to wall restaurants behind that. Even though it is almost totally enclosed the surrounding cliffs and buildings did nothing to protect from the wind, that gets everywhere!
On Monday we hired a car. It was half the price of a cab to the airport and meant that we could do a little sight seeing before dropping Lu and Marco off for their flight home. Valeria had found a small beach in Elounda and although it was pleasant, the wind made it a little less than idyllic. We had lunch then set off for Irakleon to visit the ruins of Minos at Knossos on our way to the airport.
Knossos is the home to the Minator of Greek Mythology. Supposedly the Greeks had to provide 7 boys and 7 girls as a sacrifice to the creature who was eventually slain by Theseus in the Labyrinth.
A more factual interpretation is based around the frescos found there which illustrated a sport which involved jumping over raging bulls. The youngsters were participating athletes and anything less than a perfect 10 was probably not good for their health. Add that to the labrinthine layout of the ruins at Knossos and the myth takes shape!
The ruins were heavily reconstructed during their excavation in the early 1900s and a lot of the areas are not open to the public. Our guide described to us a host of Minoan inventions usually credited to others, they had flushing toilets, and drainage for both rainwater run off and sewage. They also piped fresh water in via an aquaduct and used interlocking clay pipes to distribute it; all dating from between 2000 and 1100 BC. Interestingly, Minoan hyroglyphics and their Linear A script have yet to be deciphered.
But then, sadly, it was time to make or way to the airport via a restaurant in Irakleon for a light dinner. And all too quickly we were dropping Marco and Lu at the airport.
Although the weather scuppered most of our plans for a ‘yachty’ weekend it was delightful to see them and were really happy they decided to come all this way to visit us; and thanks to Vania for baby sitting. Hopefully next time we’ll be able to do something slightly more adventurous.