Well you all saw how our main sail got taken away in the last post. We were quite nervous about how long it would take to get it back, or even if we would get it back at all!
Given we had a free afternoon, and Ron and Kathleen wanted to take advantage of having to pay for two nights at the marina, we all took a taxi to the Venetian fort located just next to the Rion-Andirrion suspension bridge. We had some trouble actually getting there, given the taxi drive did not speak any English whatsoever and could not understand the word “fort.” It did not help that there is another one across the long bridge, which we did not want to attend.
A quick phone call to someone on his mobile phone, and then he seemed to understand. Although we were still nervous we would end up across the other side of the bridge. It all worked out in the end. We arrived with 45 minutes before the gates were due to close.
It was so hot, I’m glad we did not stay for longer. We looked longingly at the people on the beach enjoying their swims. If only we had known the beach would be there, and brought our swimmers.
Somehow, Ron managed to have the taxi driver understand that we wanted him to come back in an hour. We spent 15 minutes soaking our feet in the cool water beside the fort, watching the large car ferries going back and forth. It is very strange that they run these empty ferries across all day when there is a large bridge giving cars the same access without the need to wait.
Once back at the marina we took advantage of having water, and hosed down the boat yet again. We also hose ourselves to cool down, and had ourselves a bit of a nap. This was followed by some sun-downers at the bar next to our mooring, and then a lovely dinner on Ron and Kathleen’s boat, with goodbyes as they were leaving early the next morning.
By some miracle, at 8:40am the sail maker returned with our main sail. The patches we had asked him to fix were fixed, as were many other small patches. He also re-stitched some of the very old dodgy stitching. In the end, I think we got our monies worth; and we were able to take off to the next destination, of which we were unsure.
It was a “where ever the wind may take us” kind of day. The wind was blowing from the East, which was perfect for us to cross the Gulf of Patras into the Ionian. We were very nervous about using the main sail, so we decided to just use the headsail. The wind was blowing 20 knots, so we were having a really good sail across the Gulf. As we reached the beginning of the Ionian Sea, the wind slowed. We used the motor in the transition from the Gulf of Patras to the Ionian Sea.
Soon we realized that there was a thunderstorm looming to the East. Ryan saw a massive bolt of lightening. At that moment, tensions on the boat were on the rise. We did not want to have to anchor in the middle of a storm. The “special” electronics and wiring on board would probably not cope being hit by lightening either. Our task was to get somewhere sheltered and with other taller masts nearby.
Our little motor can only take us so fast. We pushed it, and hoped some wind could fill the headsail to give us an extra knot or two of speed. It didn’t.
Luckily after traveling almost 30 nautical miles, we made it into the anchorage called Limin Petala where it was eerily calm, and quiet.
Not a single sound was coming from any of the boats already anchored in the bay. Every now and then we could hear a growl of thunder, and at times the naaahahaa of GOATS!!! Now there is a whole story in itself.
Ryan had seen a spearfishing video just prior to our trip where a guy went out to spear fish, and when he looked up he saw a goat on the rocks. His mates were tremendously surprised when he returned to the boat with a speared goat. This is the moment Ryan had been waiting for. He joked about doing the same thing. I told him two things:
- There would be no one to surprise on the boat with a random goat, as I already knew of his plan
- We only have a tiny fridge and nowhere to store the aforementioned goat.
Not to worry. No goats were harmed in the writing of this story.
We made an attempt at climbing up to the cave the next morning. We have seen a photo taken from inside the cave, so knew there had to be a way in. The Cliffside was riddled with weeds and bugs, and some sort of berry trail, maybe for the goats. My plan was to follow the flattened grass of the goat trail. As we got higher, the air became hotter. It buzzed with bees and wasps, of which I have an unnatural fear. The spiders became larger the further we went on.
Needless to say, we made it about halfway, took some photos and then came back down for a swim.
The next day we set off with an idea, but no decision about where our next port would be. Again, it depended on the wind strength and direction.
We started in about 10 knots of wind. It was time to try out the mainsail. It worked without a hitch (my second morning workout, after lifting anchor). We had beautiful sail at first, then the wind died, then it picked up again. As it picked up, we saw what looked like a storm front in the East again. And so the tensions rose, as we decided whether to sail towards the storm, so we wouldn’t have to beat into the chop, or motor straight into the chop to the nearest protected harbor. At first we decided to sail, having reefed the main, as the wind was gusting over 20 knots. Then the wind died again, and changed direction further into the looming storm. That’s when we decided to get the motor on and go straight into Porto Kastos.
What a magnificent find that was. We were able to anchor and then pull a long line to sure on the small beach. If a storm came through, there would probably have been problems given the bottom of the harbor had been dredged and was rock hard. Luckily that looming storm never came and the weather remained peaceful. So we went and had some drinks at the windmill. It was a completely stunning spot.
We were too lazy to make dinner on the boat, so treated ourselves to dinner out. There is also a concern that we are not getting enough Iron, making us feel a bit worn down. So we ate lamb and meatballs at a restaurant, because that was the only red meat other than pork. The food was rather average. We are terrible at looking around and usually end up at the first place we see.
I am going to try and get some more iron rich foods from the Supermarket to make on board.
We decided that Porto Kastos is a port we would like to return to at some point. Even if it is just to have a drink at the windmill. Next time, with mosquito screens in place. We barely got any sleep because of the millions of mosquitos buzzing around us. Putting up the screens was something we kept putting off as the weather had been cool enough to shut the hatches. Not anymore.
Our next sail was a short one (which was lucky because there was no wind), only about 8 nautical miles to the Northern side of Meganisi, where there are multiple beautiful bays to choose from. We ended up in Abelike, as it was only a short walk to the town of Vathi. Little did we know the walk was up and down a mega hill!
We used the outboard motor for the first time since Porto Kheli, and let me tell you it was a mission! It started with heavy revs in neutral, but as soon as we kicked it in gear the engine would turn off. So we just had to brace ourselves and hold on tight as we just kicked it into gear and took off as fast as possible. We must be such good entertainment for the yachts around us.
The port town of Vathi was very beautiful. The walk there was absolutely scorching hot. Surprisingly we did not stop at the first bar we came across, and ended up walking ALL the way to the other side, for optimal view of the harbor. The icy cold beer and pina colada were totally worth it.
We contemplated staying there for more drinks and to watch Greece play in the world cup, but opted for the hot walk back to the dingy for the sunset and dinner on the boat.
We had set up the mosquito nets and were sure to have a nice sleep in a peaceful anchorage. WRONG!
The mosquitos must be breeding inside our cabin, because they were in there all night long and kept multiplying. Ryan the mosquito hunter was up most of the night with a flashlight squishing them against the walls (which are carpet). What’s a few more stains anyway?
We have no idea how they got in, but it was yet another restless night. No wonder we are tired. Maybe it’s not a lack of iron after all.
Today we only had 10 nautical miles to go from Meganisi to Lefkas, where we pick up Bek and Adam (they arrive by bus from Albania). It was all downwind and we were cursing our spinnaker for not having a sock. We are not really sure how to use it without the sock, but it would have been perfect conditions. Instead, we motored and used the jib, which struggled given the wind was directly behind us.
I suggested that whilst in Lefkas we should find out if the sailmaker has a spare spinnaker sock for cheap.
The Lefkas canal is very skinny. It is a charter boat center, and boy were there a lot of charter boats. They were everywhere and heading in every direction. Ryan told me I’d better get used to it, because the Ionian is packed with them. It’s not even high season yet.
The Canal is really only wide enough for a boat to pass each way, making it a bit risky if boats want to overtake one another, which a 66ft gunboat catamaran did right at the entrance. As they went past we noticed an Aussie flag on the back. The poor charter boat coming the other way must have gotten a hell of a fright.
Once we were moored in Lefkas, the owner of the catamaran, Rob (who is also from Brisbane), came to apologise to us for making that move. He explained that last time he entered the canal he got stuck behind a slower boat, and because of the windage he could not slow down enough behind them. That was a fair enough excuse. We decided we would go for beers with Rob and his crew. He invited us on board his boat first, to have a look, given we kept asking him lots of questions about it.
Not wanting to be a total feral, I quickly washed my hair with my bucket system and we each had a deck shower with actual soap! We went onto the boat smelling nice for the first time since Patras, and our mouths open in awe. What a magnificent boat.
Rob, his wife, his sister and the two crew on board were absolutely lovely people. We kept teasing Rob about his tricky little maneuver in the canal, and everyone was very light hearted about it. We listened to Rob’s amazing stories, having had the boat built in Cape Town and done many ocean crossings.
This led into going for drinks with the crew, Nikki and John, who have been crewing on yachts for the last 20 years. Their stories were also fabulous, and it ended with us buying a midnight gyros on the walk back to the boat.
This is the night we thought we would get a really good sleep. We were safely moored to the town quay. The boats were so squished in there was no real room for movement. We had closed the hatch super early to ensure no mosquitos entered, and even did a mosquito patrol before getting into bed. There were lots of splattered ones, but no others.
Unfortunately the 5 Bulgarian guys two boats down were out in their cockpit for drinks… until 4am. Man their voices were loud. Yep, it was a struggle to sleep yet again.
Our socializing yesterday, and the need to get clean beforehand, meant that we did not complete any chores (such as putting mosquito nets in the guest cabin, or shopping for something to clamp our autopilot belt on, finding the nice wine shop, and fixing a few other things).
Today Adam and Bek arrive from Albania, if they make it over the border and onto the correct bus. We look forward to having them on board to share in this experience, and catch up with them after their 6 months of travels. This means more stories to be told. I love stories.