Milos, Mining and Meltemi

We left Stefanos on Kythnos after breakfast on Wednesday morning to make our way to the island of Serifos, some 22nm south. We managed to get the genoa (headsail) out for about an hour of downwind sailing but then the wind died so on came the motor for the rest of the journey. We had heard that Livadia on Serifos was cute so we headed for there. The names of the islands in the Cyclades can be very confusing – Serifos, Sithnos, Sinos – all within spitting distance of each other.

We anchored off Livadia town in an area that should have been good holding but we knew that many boats had had problems in the past, did a few jobs, launched Baby Nimmie (aka the dinghy) and headed into town. Back to the boat for dinner and then to bed.

During the night it was so calm that all the boats were dancing around their proverbial handbags so the catamaran next to us was very close at various stages of the night. We let out more chain so we would be further away which helped a bit but we ended up staying up all night on anchor watch. The wind picked up around 9am and then our anchor started to drag. Suddenly we had 25 plus knots of wind and moving ever closer to the other boats. We lifted the anchor and tried to re-anchor three times but in the strong winds the anchor was just not holding in the weed and sand. The Meltemi wind was now gusting over 30 knots inside the anchorage. We decided enough was enough and left to go around the corner to another bay called Koutalas. It was only about 6nm but the wind and sea had now got up. We saw gusts of 44 knots as we went round but, as always, Nimmie took it in her stride and we safely entered the bay. Here it had excellent holding so that, despite the strong winds, the anchor set first time and with gusts of 38 knots, we settled in for the afternoon and evening. There were a few other boats around but we had all given each other plenty of space. Well, until a professionally crewed catamaran came in and tried to anchor by us. We told them in no uncertain terms that they were too close. Eventually they took the hint and moved away. Idiots.

We did an anchor watch of checking every two hours overnight but by the next morning you wouldn’t have even realised there had been a blow. Gently blowing around 12 knots with a few boats already left. We left after breakfast and made our way 27nm south to the island of Milos (of Venus de Milo fame).

Milos is shaped like a horseshoe similar to Santorini and for the same reason, a volcanic eruption many years ago. Consequently, it has a deep bay with many anchorages so you can pretty much shelter from any wind there. Perfect. It also has a rich history of mining, with many different ores having being excavated there over the years. We anchored just outside of the marina, near town. It was a lovely evening so we launched Baby Nimmie to look around town and do some provisioning. We also took the opportunity to visit the excellent Mining Museum in town. It made you realise what a hard life these workers had. One quarry employed 150 men to dig the rock out and 100 women to get the ore out of the rock pieces. The town of Adamas was a lovely place so we decided to eat out and splashed out on a couple of gyros at €3 each. We know how to really push the boat out! Finally, we were able to have a proper night’s sleep.

On the Saturday morning we wanted to sail around the island as there were supposed to be several excellent beaches/coves and rock formations. This was our only chance to have a look as we needed to catch a weather window the next day to go north to Paros. However, we had a snag – literally. Our anchor was caught around a huge chain that had been left on the seabed. When I say huge, the links were the thickness of an arm. It was too deep for us to dive down to and we also figured it was going to be too heavy to pull out even if we got down there. We then remembered that a friend of our friend, Jaco, was based in the marina. We contacted him and bless him, Nikos came out to the boat, free dived to the bottom and lifted the anchor free. It took him less than 5 mins. He wouldn’t take anything from us apart from some beer and a bottle of wine.

We had only been delayed a couple of hours so we made the most of the afternoon by motoring along the coast of the island in an anti clockwise direction. As we left the bay, we motored past the shoreline village of Klima, where there are boat garages at sea level.

Garages for their boats have become des res

The most spectacular cove we saw was at Kleftiko, also known as Pirate’s Cove. You can see why pirates based themselves there with a number of caves to hide in, reefs and rocks for the unwary and spots to secrete boats away from prying eyes. It also had the most amazing turquoise water. Gorgeous.

Kleftiko – Pirate’s Cove

You can see how pirates could hide here

After a brief stop there to dinghy into the caves, we continued on passing amazing rock formations, disbanded mining villages and secluded beaches. We arrived in Apollonia on the NE corner of the island just before sunset and tied up to a mooring buoy that Nikos owned and had kindly let us use. We slept well that night!

Sunday morning the SW wind filled in and it was perfect for our trip NE to Paros. Unfortunately it didn’t stay strong enough for us to sail more than half an hour so we ended up motoring (again) the 36nm to Paros. It did mean that we could make water and fill the tanks. We arrived in Paroikia on the West side of the island around 4pm and tried to get into the harbour but there was no room apart from in the entrance itself. We tied up and a port police officer strolled up to us and told us that we didn’t want to stay there as we would hit the bottom with the wash created by the ferries coming in and out. He did think there would be space in the harbour in the morning though so we anchored in the bay for the night. On the Monday morning we kept an eagle eye out for anyone leaving and as soon as they did, we went straight in and tied up. We wanted to be in the inner harbour away from the ferry wash (there seems to be over 20 ferries a day here) and with some protection from the wind. We can only stay until Friday morning and we then have to leave so that there is room for the charter fleet to return but we can then come back in when they leave again on the Saturday or Sunday. There were strong winds forecast from Sunday so we are hoping to be able to pop back in before it blows up again as we have friends arriving next week. Fingers crossed. It does mean that we can provision easily, explore the island and get some chores done like the washing!

The town of Paroikia is quite sweet

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Kythnos

Having spent two days in the marina, we were finally ready to leave. The keel cooled fridge was cold, stocked and working well now we were in the water ( it doesn’t work very well on land as it needs water to cool it). We put the genoa (front sail) back on, pumped up the dinghy (Baby Nimmie) washed everything down within an itch of its life and bought enough fresh provisions to last us several days.

On Sunday morning at 1130 we finally slipped our moorings and headed south east to the Western Cycladean island of Kythnos. There was absolutely no wind so it was a four hour motor. We even passed the point of our collision on the way. Needless to say, we kept a very sharp look out the whole time! Our destination was a bay on the West side called Ormos Kolona, a bay that was the more westerly of two bays that are separated by a sand spit. It was relatively crowded on a Sunday afternoon with Greeks enjoying the weekend and charter boats on their first day as it’s only 20 or so miles from Lavrion. However, we found somewhere to anchor eventually that wasn’t in weed or across a super yacht’s anchor chain. They appear to put out 100m of chain which limits everyone else’s options. Anyway, we got the paddle board out and went to the beach. Daytime temperatures are around 35 degrees in the shade so a swim and a cold beer at the beach taverna was required! More boats came in as the evening progressed but we were settled and didn’t even need to growl at anyone for trying to anchor too close to us. A meal on board and we settled in for the night, having decided that we would stay there another night as it was such a delightful spot.

Nimmie playing with the big boys

Most yachts left on Monday morning so for about an hour all was quiet until an armada of super-yachts arrived. Clearly, they’d all got the same memo about how lovely the place was! Apart from the slightly unnerving sight of them reversing very close to us as they went against stern to with lines ashore, it gave us plenty to watch during the day with all the toys these boats carry. We went ashore again in the morning to find the local thermal spring and to climb up to a chapel on the hill that overlooked the two bays. On the way up, we came across the resident goat herd, complete with kid goats!

The two bays on Kythnos

The afternoon was spent lazying about, swimming and just chilling. Lovely. We decided that we would give the local taverna a try and we weren’t disappointed. Liz had baby goat (how could she after seeing them gambolling about on the hillside?) and I had lamb chops. The piece de resistance was the starter of fried local cheese balls – absolutely delicious. Back on board to watch the sunset and several more boats come in.

Dinner time!

We had a rude awakening this morning when firstly, one of the boats that came in late last night decided to leave at 5am and then a nearby super yacht left at 7am. I decided to stay awake as I figured that more super yachts would be leaving soon and, sure enough, most of them left by 8am. Luckily, none were a problem for us but they could have been so that was a relief.

We wanted to go round to the NE side of Kythnos as we had heard that there was a thermal spring there at a village called Loutra. We even managed to sail part of the way, although, inevitably, the wind died and we ended up motoring.

Loutra on Kythnos

Well, it was a delightful place with a spring that would give you third degree burns. According to the guide books, it is 50 degrees C in the outside pool and I can believe it. We had anchored around the corner in a little bay and walked into the village. On the way we came across a bag full of rubbish that had been dropped by the side of the road. We picked it up and took it into the village but couldn’t believe that someone would just drop it like that. Even a 15 min walk each way was enough to make you want to jump into the water when we got back to the boat.

We had decided that we would head further south to a bay called Ormos Stefanou as it would give us shelter from every direction. It has a chapel on an isthmus that apparently has an icon from Panayia Athenia (Virgin of Athens) who swam here from Athens when it as overtaken by the Turks. That is one hell of a swim! It is a delightful bay though with a couple of tavernas and only two other boats. Liz is complaining that it is too sheltered as it’s still very warm at 8pm as there is no breeze. No pleasing some!

The thermal springs at Loutra

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Finally launched!

We were very glad we stayed around this week as each day was a procession of workmen (sadly no women) coming onto the boat to finish the various jobs off. Between Monday and Thursday, we had the stainless steel guy, the riggers, the painter, the teak deck man, the electrician and various odd jobs men.

Shiny new deck, pulpit and anchor

The boatyard have been amazing (I think we may have said that before!) so that anything we didn’t quite like was rectified immediately. Our insurers, Bishop Skinner, have also been incredible paying for a couple of days in the marina to get the boat ready. To say that Nimmie was covered in dust was an understatement. We washed her down this morning before launch but it only scratched the surface. She was going to need a deep clean once in the marina. The electrician came this morning to fit the navigation light on the bow and the stainless steel guy came back as the anchor securing post on the deck was slightly misaligned. We agreed that he would make us something to fix the problem and it could be fitted whilst in the water. That meant we could be launched. Sotiris, the technical director, told us we would be launched immediately. That meant within two minutes his staff brought round the travel hoist and starting taking away the supports, including the ladder. Seems we were going to stay on board whilst she was launched! This was highly unusual but fun.

Once in the water, we took the opportunity to refuel so that we didn’t have to worry when we set off on Sunday and then went into the marina. Now that we were in the water we could turn on our main fridge, which is cooled by sea water, give her a thorough wash and put up the bimini so that we had some shade. It’s been at least 35 degrees during the day in the yard with the reflection off the surface was like being in a desert. It’s definitely cooler in the water.

Tomorrow, we will finish getting her ready, including putting the Genoa (front sail) on and doing a proper shop (now the fridge is working). Liz decided that it was my turn to go up the mast to sort out the lines for the burgees.

Jo up the mast for a change!

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Road trip!

We hired a car for 5 days and in that time covered 1500 km of mainland Greece from Lavrion in the south up to the Vikos Gorge in the northwest.

Our first stop on the Wednesday was the town of Kalabaka so that we could visit the monasteries of the Meteora. Meteora means suspended in mid air, a very apt description! These monasteries were built in medieval times on the top of rock pillars, looking over a fertile valley. You can now access them via steep steps but before the 1920s, access was via rope ladders or baskets. Quite stunning. We arrived in the late afternoon after the five and a half hour trip and were rewarded with a sunset and only a few visitors – the coach parties having long gone.

The monastery of the Holy Trinity

The next morning we visited the two main ones, Grand Meteora and Varlaam, the latter being our favourite. We also visited the nunnery at Roussanou but the nuns were decidedly grumpy and unwelcoming although they happily took our entrance fee money! By lunchtime, we were ready for our next adventure and stopover in the lakeside town of Iaonnina (pronounced Yanina). This is where the Muslim Albanian, Ali Pasha (Lion of Iaonnina) savagely ruled from until his death in 1822. It is now a thriving university town with an old castle and lively night life on the lake shores.

The tomb of Ali Pasha in front of the mosque at Iaonnina

The next day (Friday) we moved onto the Zagori National Park where the Vikos Gorge is situated. It is claimed that it is one of the deepest gorges in the world but, in truth, whilst stunning it is only a kilometre or so deep.

Vikos Gorge

It appears to be one of Greece’s best kept secrets as there were very few people around. The villages and bridges are all made of the local stone and it has more of an Italian feel to it than Greece. The 30 minute walk in 30+ degree heat to the first viewpoint was more than worth it.

Liz being brave!

The second viewpoint was good but Liz and I differed as to which one was more impressive. Finally, after dodging kamikaze wild tortoises trying to cross the road, we made our way to our hotel for the night.

It was in a small mountain village called Micro Papingo and it was next door to Megalo Papingo (yes, it’s bigger neighbour). Delightful views across the National Park made our sundowner of G&T even more special. We had decided to eat in the hotel and the food was delicious. It was a family run establishment and the daughter was clearly of our “persuasion”. Hell of a small place to be gay in!

The view from our hotel in Papingo

The following morning Liz was keen to try the natural rock pools nearby. We pretty much had them to ourselves for half an hour and even Liz went into the cold, mountain water!

Natural rock pools

We needed to head south now as we were keen to visit the Ancient Oracle at Delphi. We arrived around 5pm so had a couple of hours to take in the sights and the museum before checking into our hotel. Again, we timed it so that we had missed the main tourist crowds of the day. We had again struck lucky with our room with magnificent views across to the Saronic Gulf.

Part of the ruins at Delphi

By now, it was Sunday morning and we, sadly, made our way back to Lavrion. However, we had a few more stops to make. First was the Corinth Canal. It is 4 miles long and a shortcut from the Ionian to the Saronic Gulf bypassing the long boat trip round by the Peloponnese. We were lucky to see a ship transiting the canal just after we arrived. It really is a major feat of engineering.

Corinth Canal looking towards the Ionian

Continuing on, we then drove north east to the site of the Battle of Marathon. This is where a herald ran 42 km to Athens to give the news of the Athenian victory over the Persians in 490BC and so the marathon race was born. Apparently, ‘marathon’ means fennel.

Our final stop before returning back to Nimmie was the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, just south of Lavrion. It was blowing a gale whilst we were there but it was still very impressive. The temple stands on the hilltop and can be seen for miles from the sea. We took advantage of having a car and ate out at a very nice taverna near Sounion as our road trip came to an end.

Temple of Poseidon

We were very pleased to see that the repairs on Nimmie are continuing at pace although they still haven’t been able to paint the bow due to the high winds we have had all week. The scheduled launch date is the end of this week so fingers crossed!

Our road trip with the places we visited starred in yellow

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Mykonos

We arrived back from the U.K. late on Sunday evening but at least with hand luggage we were quickly out of the airport. Back on Nimmie, we could see that repairs had progressed with the bow having been fibre glassed and various parts removed. We popped into the boatyard office on the Monday morning to get a feel for how things were going but Sotiris, the Technical Director, was in a bit of a flap about some other boats. He assured us that it was all progressing but clearly didn’t have time to give us any more detail. We left them to it.

As we had originally planned to be in Mykonos from June 18, we decided to keep with the plan and go over by ferry from Rafina, some 50km north. Our friends, Phil and Gerard, who were supposed to be with us on Nimmie had rented an apartment on the south of the Mykonos island so we joined them for a few days.

View from our apartment

This was my first time on the island whilst Liz had been there quite a few times over the last 30 years.

Lia Beach, Mykonos

It was great to explore the place without worrying about the weather or the mooring. We visited some beautiful beaches including Lia, Elia, Fokos and Agia Anna.

Lunch with Phil and Gerard at the delightful Fokos beach

We even managed to fit in a couple of dives. Our friends, Phil and Gerard, left us on the Saturday to make their way to Paros and we went to Mykonos town to meet up with an old school friend of Liz’s, Denise, at an amazing hotel called Absolut Mykonos.

Absolut Mykonos Hotel

We spent the next couple of days being completely spoilt with an infinity pool and air conditioning! Sadly, we had to leave on the Monday evening to get back to Lavrion and find out how the repairs were going. The ferry trip back was uneventful but on time. This couldn’t be said for the taxi ride home which involved going at breakneck speed and cost nearly €90 (one and a half times the cost up there). Funnily enough, he didn’t get a tip.

The boat repairs are coming along and it’s hoped that they will all be complete by the end of next week. We will lose a few days as it’s gusting 40 knots (45 mph) here at the moment and this will continue for the rest of the week so they can’t paint the bow. With this strength of wind, you really feel it several metres off the ground! So, we have decided to venture into central Greece and go on a road trip!

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Repair update

On Monday morning, we went around to the boatyard to see the Technical Director, a delightful man called Sotiris, to find out what the next steps were in getting Nimmie fixed. He could haul us out the next day, Tuesday, first thing and then arrange the various technical people to come on board so that the repair quote could be compiled.

Tuesday morning was a bit blowy but we successfully motored out of our berth into the dry dock area to be lifted.

We then had people come to look at the teak, gelcoat, stainless steel, riggers – you name it. Over the course of the day, we had everyone on board so that Sotiris could pull the quote together by the end of the week. He also thought that the work would take a month to complete as the deck had come away from the hull at the bow and you need to ensure that the deck is very strong there as it is holding the anchor, the anchor windlass as well as the furling gear for the genoa (front sail).

This week has been all about ensuring that the boat could be left and being around for the anyone needing to pop back to check something. Today, they even managed to take the furling gear off without taking the mast down and found that the furling gear is repairable.

In between all of this, we have popped into the local town, Lavrion, to do some shopping as well as finding a delightful bay about a 30 minute walk from us.

Who would have thought this would be round the corner!

Living on the hard is not great as we have a ten minute walk to the toilet and showers, there is dust everywhere and it feels much warmer here than on the water. Still, we are still in Greece with blue skies and warm weather. Liz has been perfecting her drone flying skills and managed to do this amazing video.

I have to say that our insurers, Bishop Skinner, have been amazing. They agreed to the haul out and storage quickly on Monday morning. Today, we have received the repair quote and Bishop Skinner have agreed to it so work will start immediately. As there is not much more we can at the moment, we have decided to pop back to the U.K. for a week and then we can see how they are progressing on our return.

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Crunch Time!

We left our friends on the southern tip of Aegina in a lovely bay to make our way some 40nm east to the island of Kea in the Cyclades. We sailed for a couple of hours as the wind was behind us but then it died so we ended up motoring for the rest of the day. We passed the busy shipping lanes that lead into Piraeus and the Temple of Poseidon on Cape Sunion without too much hassle.

Klima Bay, Aegina

Then at 1630, out of nowhere, a charter yacht came across our bows. We collided at 6 knots. Our anchor hit just below their bow going straight through their hull and in trying to disentangle ourselves the bow roller and anchor fixings were ripped out of our deck. Whilst we were all very shaken, no one was injured and all the damage is well above the water line so both boats were able to go into Lavrion (the harbour where the charter boat was based). We then spent the next couple of hours exchanging details on insurance. It transpires that the skipper is a local and I think he was employed as a professional skipper. He let slip that he had seen us but just assumed we would change course! We should have seen him but didn’t but equally, the rules state that everyone has a responsibility to avoid a collision so I think we were both responsible.

Some of the damage done

We spent the night rafted off a catamaran in Lavrion, on the SE corner of the Athens peninsula, before making our way around the corner to Olympic Marina. Serendipitously, Olympic Marina is the one we had decided to take a 12 month contract out with from August so they were happy to accommodate us until we know what is happening. They have a large boatyard that should be able to do all the work required once we have the go ahead from the insurers. As it happened on a Friday afternoon, we won’t know anything until Monday. Poor Nimmie has the equivalent of a bloody nose and a few broken teeth. Thank god she is built like the proverbial outhouse.

We have spent the last two days getting her ready for hauling out with the usual winterisation routine including taking down sails as we don’t know how long it will take to do the work, when they have a a lot in their schedule and whether the insurers will want more than one quote.

It’s all very sad but Nimmie is definitely repairable and no one is hurt so we may well be touring the Cyclades by ferry rather than by yacht this summer! However, on a brighter note, Liz’s new solar cooker has worked really well and lunch was delicious!

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Chick Away!

I’m sure you are all desperate to know what happened to the sparrow chick. Don’t worry, we managed to feed it on Saturday morning and it even allowed us to stroke it. We went into town to do some shopping and on our return, it had flown off so our job was done.

Apparently the boom makes a very safe nest!

One of the reasons we went to Epidhavros was to await the arrival of friends who had chartered boats out of Athens for a week. We had planned to join them for some or all of their week. They weren’t due until Sunday evening so we spent our time profitably by finishing getting Nimmie ready for the season. This included putting up the bimini to give us shade in the cockpit, Liz going up the mast to change the anchor light and pumping up the paddle board. We also went to see the famous amphitheatre about 15 mins outside of the town. This was built in the 4th century BC to honour Askeplius, considered by many to be the father of modern medicine. A hospital, hostel and stadium were all built on the same site as the amphitheatre and the small museum holds a fine array of medical instruments used at the time.

It can hold 14,000 spectators and is still used today

We also managed to catch up with Cathy & Jorge, who we had first met in Monemvassia last year and Cathy had introduced us to the Facebook group, Women Who Sail the Med.

Our friends duly arrived on Sunday afternoon so we celebrated by eating out at a local taverna. Some of us had slightly sore heads in the morning! This didn’t deter us and we left Epidhavros mid morning to head towards the island of Hydra. Those of you who have been following this blog last year will know that Hydra Town is to be avoided at all costs due to the number of boats crammed into the small harbour. We anchored in a bay less than a mile walk away where we could swim in crystal clear water and have a peaceful night’s sleep. Some of our mini flotilla opted to go into town that night but we stayed on board to eat and have a quiet night to ourselves. We did venture into town Tuesday morning and it is as cute as ever but still bustling with tourists.

Hydra still busy even in May

We left Mandraki Bay around midday to head towards a (late) lunchtime stop in a bay a couple of hours away. We had a glorious sail, once we had cleaned the bird poo from the stack pack and sails! Lunch in turquoise water (yet again) before making our way to the island of Dhokos to sit out a blow that was coming through. We had used the bay last October for the same thing and it was an incredibly quiet night. We were invited over onto Dioni to have dinner with them. You wouldn’t have known that there were any strong winds nearby at all.

Wednesday morning was spent enjoying the clear water and chatting amongst friends. It was lovely to have company. After another late lunchtime stop for a swim, we went into Poros Town for the night. This was the first time since last year that we were on a Town Quay and even had to pay! Still it was great to be with friends who needed both water and electricity. We had an end of holiday meal at a lovely taverna that gave us free wine – what could go wrong!

The charter boats had to be back in Athens by Friday evening so we spent a lazy afternoon in Russian Bay just outside of Poros Town. It used to be the old Russian Naval Base in the Greek War of Independence (hence the name).

Russian Bay, Poros

Now it is a lovely bay with a trendy bar and beach. Perfect for a few hours. The others headed north to the island of Aegina so that they wouldn’t have too long to go on their final day. We decided to join them as this would shorten our journey to Kea, our first stop in the Cyclades.

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Chicks aboard!

I’ve nicked the title from a friend who commented on a picture we posted – all will become clear later.

We arrived in Greece last Sunday evening and it was 2330 by the time we got to our hotel in Piraeus. We had decided to spend three nights in a hotel rather than on the boat as the boatyard is a bit basic to say the least. This way, we were able to freshen up in a clean shower after spending the day on Nimmie. So, on Monday morning we caught the ferry from Piraeus to Paloukia in Salamina and then jumped in a taxi for the 10 minute taxi ride with two large bags, rucksacks and holdalls. Some of the work had been done but not all completed. Just as well we arrived a few days before we wanted to have her launched.

New lettering on the stern

Over the next two days we set about doing the various jobs required to get her launched but we hadn’t reckoned on either Greek bureaucracy or sparrow chicks. The former meant they had “lost” my online payment for the new Greek Cruising Tax that came into effect on May 9th and you only had 10 days grace to pay it. We were safe until we entered the water (and the authorities are being very keen to ensure people have paid it) so several hours of Wednesday were spent waiting in line at a bank to pay our €300 and hope it got credited to the correct account. The latter, sparrow chicks, was also a delaying factor. Local sparrows had built a nest in our boom and the eggs had hatched a few weeks ago according to our neighbour.

Who knew that birds liked to make nests in booms!

We were in a real quandary as to what to do. Luckily, on Thursday afternoon it appeared to have flown off so we were safe to launch. However, once we were on our way, we heard chirping again coming from the boom. Now, we aren’t sure whether this is a second chick or the original one but it’s joined us on our first passage of the season.

Launching was an uncomplicated affair with a low hydraulic trailer and a tractor. Twenty minutes was all it took.

Keeping it simple

Our journey from Salamina was uneventful although we had some great wind. We decided to only use the Genoa (front sail) so as not to disturb the chick if we used the main sail pso motorsailed all the way.

We are now in Palaia Epidhavros, anchored in the harbour for the next couple of days. Not sure what to do about the sparrow chick but a local sparrow must have heard it as it came to investigate once we had settled here. Hopefully, it will fly off soon. We’ll keep you posted.

Palaia (old) Epidhavros looking across to the other anchorage.
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Happy 21st birthday!

Nimmie reached the grand old age of 21 earlier this month so Jo popped over to Greece for a few days to check on her and, of course, wish her a happy birthday! We were slightly worried as there had been radio silence from the boatyard since mid December. No replies to emails or anyone answering the phone (not that we would be able to understand them if the English speaking nephew wasn’t in the office!). We were starting to worry that they’d gone out of business or just abandoned the yard. Jo sent an email in late March in Greek (thanks Duolingo and Google translate) to the office in case the problem was the nephew. Amazingly, within two hours we had a reply  from him and also his mobile number. Phew!

So, on a cool Monday afternoon in April, Jo set off down to Gatwick to fly out to Athens. Laden down with a suitcase full of boat stuff, she caught the bus from Athens airport to Piraeus where we’d found a cheap hotel for a couple of nights. Jo had decided to stay in a hotel in Piraeus and get the ferry and then taxi each day rather than stay on the boat in the boatyard as it was very basic there as well as being in the middle of nowhere.

IMG_5546

My commute each morning and evening!

The ferry was all of €2.90 each way and the taxi €7 so not exactly exorbitant. Salamina town is about a 20 min walk from the boatyard and then a couple of miles on to the ferry port at Paloukia, hence the need for a taxi part of the way. The ferry is a commuter boat taking people into Piraeus in the morning and stopping around 6/7pm at night. The hotel was only about 5 minute walk from the ferry dock.

It was useful to be over there as Jo met with the boatyard people to discuss the work that had yet to be done as well as try out the new portable solar panels that fold away. We were going to buy new solar panels at the Dusseldorf Boat Show to replace those on our aft deck but we decided to wait and get a new smart controller for the panels that will show us exactly what we are (or aren’t) getting through the current panels (no pun intended!) and then take it from there. The temporary panels don’t require any hard wiring so you can just clip the wires straight onto your battery bank.

IMG_5568

The new solar panels fitting neatly on the side

They were working well even in the April sunshine giving us nearly 6 amps of power. Very impressed. As they are portable, we can place them wherever is best for maximum exposure so this should help to keep the batteries topped up whilst we sort the fixed solar panels.

Generally, Nimmie was looking good after the winter but the real test will be when she is relaunched in May and we find out what’s decided to stop working in the preceding seven months because there is bound to be something.

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