We continued to do jobs through to Sunday lunchtime as a) there were plenty to do and b) the strong winds forecast came through with a vengeance. We felt really sorry for the charter boats that had to be back in the marina by Friday evening, irrespective of the weather. Some very hairy parking but luckily the marina staff were on hand with their ribs to help.
We made friends with an Australian couple who have just bought a 50 foot Beneteau Sense. They aren’t allowed to sail her until the change of ownership is complete and that can take up to six weeks. In the meantime, the current owners are paying for their berth in the marina and for some remedial work to be done. We were invited to go round for a drink on Friday (June 3) and ended up staying 3 hours. The invite was reciprocated the following evening and they stayed until 1am watching the Platinum Jubilee concert. Wasn’t the concert fabulous?!
Sunday morning was a bit hungover for one of us but by lunchtime we were ready for the off. That was until we found a large amount of water in the engine bilge. We couldn’t work out why it had come from but suspected that it was when we replaced the shower drain pump in the aft heads. Anyway, we pumped it all out, waited a bit and it didn’t fill up again so figured we were good to go. By this time it was 4pm and we had originally wanted to try to get up to Khalkis at the top of Evia some 60nm away in time for the bridge there to open around midnight as our plan is to make for the Sporades (Mamma Mia) islands. Given that we only go between 5 and 6 knots, a change of plan was called for.
Back in 2019, we celebrated Liz’s birthday in the Petali islands just off the bottom of Evia. These are about 4 hours away from Olympic Marine, Lavrion so we were able to get there and anchor before dark. It’s a lovely secluded spot with just a beach, rock formations and goats. We were there with 4 other boats but there was plenty of room as it shelves gradually to the shore so you can get quite close in and be sheltered.
The next morning, having checked the anchor a couple of times in the night, we left around 0800 to make our way north to Khalkis. We needed to register and pay to go through the bridge. We hadn’t realised that the Port Authority office shuts at 1630 until 1800 but luckily we arrived at 1600! That meant we could then go across to a large bay to await instructions sometime after 2100 with regard to when the bridge would open. We were both knackered so had a couple of hours sleep whilst we waited for the Port Police to give us our instructions. A thunderstorm rolled through so Nimmie also got a thorough wash. At 2300, a call came through to tell us to get our boat ready. This means getting the anchor up and standing by for the instruction to go through the bridge. Simple. Except that at that point, the anchor windlass (motor that lifts the anchor and chain) decided to stop working. As it’s quite a deep bay and we knew the storm was coming through, we had 45m of chain out. The bottom of the bay is thick mud so excellent holding but a nightmare to break the anchor out of. Poor Liz pulled most of the chain up herself. The anchor was caked in mud and weighed a ton. Luckily, the other side of the bridge is a town quay where you can moor alongside (unusual for Greece) so we didn’t need to use our anchor and could then look at it in the morning. After a stiff G&T we went to bed knackered, again! I thought this was supposed to be a holiday.
Khalkis is the capital of Evia and is a lively place with bars and restaurants lining the quay. Because of the narrow gap between the Evia and mainland Greece, it’s subject to tides, currents and back eddies that can make mooring up a bit tricky. Luckily for us, the currents weren’t too bad and in fact we used them to ferry glide into a spot between two boats. All very sedate at midnight.
Next morning, it was clear the windlass motor had stopped working and not a temporary glitch. As we were having breakfast contemplating what to do, a van came by with a marine engineer on board to look at one of the other boats. We nabbed him and he diagnosed the motor brushes were the problem. Our windlass is as old as the boat and it is hard to get parts now. Even worse, we were planning on anchoring most of this holiday and when we would be on a town quay, we still have to deploy our anchor and then tie up at the stern (back). Anyway, the kind engineer took the motor away to see if it could be repaired. We had thought that we would have to stay in Khalkis for at least another day so imagine our surprise when another engineer turned up two hours later with repaired motor in hand. Whilst he’s fixed the problem, he did advise to get a new windlass fitted over the winter. Probably a good idea.
So, at 1400 we left Khalkis and made our way up the channel between Evia and the mainland to find an anchorage for the night. We are currently safely tucked into a bay on the mainland side at a place called Ay Ioannis Theologos with a beautiful sunset to finish off our day.