In today’s edition: we’ve explored mostly new places, our motor broke, we had a day of fails, Ryan zapped himself (hilarious), we almost lost our bed and we broke our dinghy (more so than it already was).
Upon leaving Kalomos we decided to head towards the mainland and see if there was anywhere worth exploring. Well, we didn’t even make it off the island, sailing 2 nautical miles East. The bays on this side of the island were protected enough, and although there were trip boats, it did not look like any other yachts were intending to stay there for the night. We even managed to anchor in a bay without any campers taking over the beach.
It was quite peaceful, with only a few wasps coming and going, but not enough to scare the wits out of me (we had been told about “wasp zappers” available in local shops and I was desperate to get my hands on one). At one point Ryan thought he heard thunder, but I discounted it and told him it was probably our chain moving.
Turns out it was thunder. It looked like a storm was brewing to the East, and another from the North. And then came the lightning. So much lightning. At that point I decided that I like being in the vicinity of other boats when storms come. Other boats with higher masts to reduce the likelihood of ours being hit. Each lightening bolt made me jump out of my skin. They were so bright and appeared so close. That was it though. No wind. No rain. Just lightening and a tiny bit of growling thunder, leaving a very still night in our little bay.
It was lovely waking up and being the only boat there. We enjoyed a peaceful morning swim and fruit salad whilst at anchor, thanks to the lack of wasps. I was even able to squeeze some fresh orange juice. Once the day trippers arrived interrupting our peaceful (nudey) swim, it was time to leave.
We knew that the couple we had met in Porto Kalomos were planning on being in Frikes that day, so we decided to head there for the night. Being able to tie up side to the dock also meant that we would be able to re-spray our anchor chain, where the depth marks are fading…. That was the plan anyway. We never made it, and our anchor chain has not been re-sprayed.
About 200 meters around the corner the motor decided to die. Cough, cough, die. That’s pretty much how it went. The one thing we really really need on this trip is the motor to work.
With that came our first experience at anchoring under sail. About 1 nautical mile away was Mitika, which luckily had a shallow beach nearby where we could anchor. It was a slow sail over, with only little wind, but from a good direction. We focused on getting around the buoyed off swimming area, and cursed under our breath at the swimmers who decided to swim right next to the swimming area rather than inside of it. Eventually we dropped anchor, furling our head sail at the same time. Once the anchor was down and set I looked up and saw the big sign on land which had a picture of an anchor with a large cross over the top. Oh good then, we were anchored straight over some underground cables in a no-anchoring zone. Too bad. We stayed, but only long enough for Mr fix-it to, well, fix it!
We either had dirty fuel, or water in our fuel. Ryan looked at the fuel filter and it was in pretty poor condition. After pulling a few things apart and cleaning out the filter, the motor seemed happy again.
We crossed our fingers and left the no-anchoring zone, deciding it would be best to go to Nidri and find a new fuel filter. The motor ran like a charm and we were able to find a spot on the town quay, but boy it was rocky despite there being barely a breeze. We were keen to get off there, so went on our mission to find a chandlery. A horrendously hot mission. There is no question as to why the Greeks nap between 1 and 5pm.
By the time we got to the chandlery, the fact that the fuel filter they had was tiny and very cheap did not matter. We bought it and decided the motor was working anyway, dreading the walk back. I had already told Ryan I wanted ice cream, but in my head I decided a slurpee (frozen drink) would be better.
We wandered up the street in the intense heat unable to decide where to stop. It’s so difficult to know whether somewhere is good or bad, when all the tavernas serve the same thing. We settled in to one that looked like everywhere else, where they listed ice cream and ice drinks on their menu only to be told that the only ice drink available was in strawberry, and I’m allergic to strawberries. So I asked for sorbet. The lady looked worried and said she would have to check they have it. In the meantime we tried to log onto the internet, which did not work. The lady returned and confirmed we could have sorbet. It was the sweetest sorbet I have ever tasted and it left us feeling more thirsty than before.
Being in a large town, Ryan was keen to bring our date night forward one day (we try to have date nights on Fridays. It is our honeymoon after all. Ok, maybe I’ve just claimed it as date night because I am wifey and I can). I was a bit nervous about this, because we had a day full of fails. I did not want date night to be a fail as well.
Firstly, we had to get off the town quay because it was so choppy. Instead, we anchored out in Tranquil Bay, knowing we would have to row our dinghy in. And then the wind turned, making our row extra difficult.
After making it to shore, we went up to the beach end of town for happy hour cocktails. They were OK. Then we settled for a nice looking Italian Restaurant, continuing our day of fails. The pepperoni on my pizza was the same spam used as bacon in Ryan’s pasta. Not nice at all, thus confirming my concerns about bringing date night forward.
Being so close to Lefkas, and needing to re-charge our internet simcards, we decided to go face the weekend change over charter crowd and anchor near the town Quay. So many other boats were there, we were all basically anchored on top of each other.
The usual afternoon wind had set in and Ryan almost lost his beloved bucket hat. I had told him earlier that day that he was going to loose it soon. Sure enough, it flew straight off his head. I think I almost saw him cry. I saved it with the boat hook and told him I would wash it for him the next day.
After our failures the day before, we challenged the universe for another date night. Feeling disgustingly dirty and smelly (by that time we had only had 5 or 6 proper showers since our arrival in Greece), we went to Margaritas Restaurant on the town quay, in the hope of a nice meal. The meals were huge, but average. So we went up the main street and bought a nutella crepe for dessert, knowing it would be good as we’d had them there before. The result of that mission was food babies!
The next morning we woke up super early (7am – that’s early for us these days) and moored on Spiro’s fuel dock, knowing he wasn’t due to open until 8:30am. We were able to use the tap to wash the boat and fill our tanks. I was able to do all of the washing that needed to be done, and when he eventually arrived at work we also stocked up on fuel.
We walked around the entire town getting supplies, including a wasp zapper, FINALLY! Picture a tennis racket, where the strings are two sets of parallel wires which zap bugs on impact. I had only just put the money in the shopkeeper’s hand when I heard a big zap and turned to see Ryan wincing, and looking very sheepish. He thought the zapper needed to be tested, and decided it would be a great idea to touch it, all whilst wearing a wet hat!
Apparently that has singed whatever brain cells he had left. He’s on par with me now. My brain cells stopped working several weeks ago. I tried to count the other day, and totally forgot the number 6 even existed. Going back to work after this trip is going to be interesting.
Ryan remained in a bit of a daze as we continued our rounds, failing to find ourselves a good English breakfast. I was very ready to leave this town and explore some quieter bays.
We sailed towards Ormos Marathias, which is a bay on the mainland East of the Lefkas canal. It was absolutely beautiful, with gorgeous blue translucent water and only one taverna on the beach. The beach itself was far from anything, and appeared to be attached to a farm of some sort. The taverna even had hay bales at the back. Although busy in the afternoon, we knew that most of the boats there were charter boats on their last stop before having to return to port. We settled in nicely, and had a relaxing afternoon listening to the smooth tunes playing from the beach whilst the refugee boat had all of the washing hanging and drying.
We also decided to air out the mattresses from the bed. Before going to land for happy hour mojitos, I took in all of the washing except for the sheets.
Surely enough as we were sipping mojitos the wind picked up and it looked like our sheets were going to take off. Ryan did some sweet-talking and convinced the barman to give us a second round of mojitos at 4 euros each, as we had run out of money. That seemed more important than securing the sheets on board.
The pegs just held on until we got back. I was feeling so filthy by this time, that I treated myself to a hair wash using my bucket system. After all, the boat had just been re-filled with water. So I did that, losing my comb overboard in the process.
Just after rinsing off my hair, I looked up to see a pillow floating away into the ocean. I thought it was one of the old pillows that we use to make it more comfortable sitting around on deck. Then Ryan and I both realized at the same time that it could be one of our bed mattresses. Sure enough, it was.
Clearly I was not in a position to get my hair salty. Ryan also did not want to get salty and was wearing thai pants, not board shorts. I have never seen anyone put the dinghy into the water so quickly. He was able to rescue the mattress, but left to row against the strong wind.
His arms were rowing so fast and then all of a sudden stopped. A curse word or two were mentioned and he called out that he had broken the rollick, which is the bit that attaches the oars to the dinghy giving the oars rotation ability. So he was then left with one oar attached and the other separated, and unable to cover any distance.
I started to gather fenders and ropes to make some sort of contraption he could grab onto and be pulled in, but before I knew it he was naked, swimming, with the dinghy tied to him being towed. What a sight for the other boats!
If you are wondering how else our dinghy was broken, well, the sides are being held to the back panel by a rope.
We spent the evening watching the beach, as we saw a spearo head out when we were on our way in for happy hour. He had not returned and it started getting dark. His girlfriend was left on the beach looking for him. As she started to look more and more worried, our concerns led us to trying to figure out how we could help her. We really did not have the right boat to go out looking for him. The boat next to us was a small motor boat, but our attempts to get their attention were unsuccessful.
We rowed our dinghy into shore to talk to the girl, who confirmed her boyfriend was meant to be back well before dark. We told her the motor boat next to us seemed to have Greek people on board, and offered to row her out there to ask for their help. They said they could not help because they had too much to drink.
Just as she was calling a search a rescue service, we saw a dark figure walking back along the beach. We were very relieved to know that he was OK. The reprimand from his girlfriend is another story!
He told us that he had caught some good fish, which is why he forgot to come back on time. We asked to have a look, so he showed us two fish about the size of my hands. Ok, maybe Ryan’s hands. They are slightly bigger.
By the time we got back to the boat, it seemed like we had the longest day ever. Between all the washing, walking, zapping and rescuing we were ready for bed! FYI, the bug zapper is awesome!
That spot was so beautiful and relaxing, the fact that the wind was not blowing in the right direction the next day did not bother us. If it changed, we were going to go to another location. If not, we were going to stay and have mojitos. It did not change, so we spent our day listening to the lovely tunes coming from the taverna and then taking enough money in to drink too many mojitos. Very very strong ones at that. I was definitely feeling worse for ware the next day.
The wind was still blowing from the South, and motoring against it whilst hungover was not an inviting option. We discounted that option, and sailed a short way East to Paleros.
Another gorgeous beachside town that was never on our list to visit. This is the home of the Odysseus Charter company, but Monday – Friday their boats are elsewhere leaving their pier available for anyone. Free water and free electricity!!! We had hit a jackpot.
Not only that, but we met Doug and Mary who were regular visitors of this town. They told us the best place to get some gyros, groceries AND CURRY! Something not Greek, and not pasta! And apparently people travel a long way to eat the curry there. They themselves have been many times during this season. Ryan got the curry all over his shirt.
So our one night in Paleros turned into three. The first night we enjoyed a meal of curry and wayyyyyy too much food. The second night we enjoyed drinks on Sibia with Doug, Mary, a New Zealand couple (Mandy and Murray) and Mandy’s mother Edna. Mandy and Murray had been told by friends in Kalamata to keep an eye out for Doug and Mary during their travels. Turns out we got them together by inviting everyone over. What a small world it is.
Edna took a particular liking to Ryan’s abs, blurting out how much she liked them mid-way through conversation.
Even though we had stocked up in Lefkas recently, we needed to get more fresh food for the boat. Our shopping expedition at the Supermarket turned into me walking around the shop trying to find certain items, whilst Ryan enjoyed the slippery floor sliding along as if he was an Olympic speed skater. At times when I was paying particular attention to the shelves, he would moonwalk past me in an attempt to get my attention. I dealt with the situation by handing him the items, so he could speed skate to the front counter to drop them off.
On the third day we were meant to leave, but we had discovered that the beach bar called the yacht club did 2 for 1 happy hour drinks. That’s all it took to keep us here another night. Doug, Mary, Murray, Mandy and Edna also decided to stay. It became clear that not many boats in the harbor left each day. This was really a place that held us there, but was never even on our list to visit.
Other than free water and electricity, part of the attraction was that the harbor was located to the side of the town and not overrun by people in the evenings, without the sound from tavernas traveling over the water. It really was quite peaceful, and the beach was a beautiful spot for a swim when the day got a bit hot. The Yacht Club provided nice beach front tables, lounges, beds and bean bags, catering for all needs. And ice cream, of course.
Happy hour was enjoyed, with a few more happy hours to follow. The Yacht Club also made amazing wood fired pizzas, so we devoured some dinner there, whilst continuing the drinking trend.
The next day we were all supposed to leave, but woke up to a thunder storm with the wind turning to the South. Yet again, we all stayed for another night! Ryan and I took advantage of the extra day to seek out a butcher, to finally eat some meat.
We found him, he was hilarious, his son showed us his abdominal muscles. Abs seem to theme in this post. We bought some very average lamb, but amazing sausages, leaving Ryan wanting more. Unfortunately he had sold out by the next day.
That time we really had to leave Paleros. It was Friday and the charter boats were due back. We reluctantly said goodbye to this nice little town and sailed South. Where to? We weren’t sure.
Exploring the Southern side of Meganisi seemed as good an idea as any. This part of the Ionian is not even mentioned by Rod Heikell, other than being pictured as part of the map of Meganisi. The island forms a very large bay, with smaller ones within it. That is where we found a peaceful little beach, where we could anchor right in the nook created by the rocks.
Despite having no road access and no houses or villas in sight, the beach was full of rubbish and through the clear water we could see many car tires. How these things got there is a mystery, but very disappointing.
Unlike the other side of Meganisi, the wasps were few in numbers. Still enough for us to do some zapping until the zapper ran out of power. Even though the lady sold us one that apparently was battery powered, we soon found out that it needed to be re-charged in a power socket. So that was the end of the zapping fun for the time being.
After a very peaceful night, we set off towards the North, unsure of our ultimate destination, ending up in Preveza. I’m not sure what we expected of Preveza, but being a base with various marinas where people winter their boats, we expected more. It was disappointing, and just when I thought I started to like it, I would get a whiff of the smell of sewerage. Not only that, but we managed to find the prime position in front of the nightclub yet again. There is a theme here. If there is a large space on the town quay, it generally means people are avoiding it.
Our desire to go to the markets in Vonitsa the next day was quickly quashed after meeting Robert and Cathy in Preveza. They had bought their boat there and had been working on it since November. In their downtime they had taken cars and explored other places. Their description of dead dogs on the side of the road and buildings with broken windows put us off. We were glad to have been given the heads up. As soon as the wind was up and we were done chatting to Robert and Cathy, we set off towards Parga.
I then remembered we had been told about Two Rock Bay South of Parga, so we aimed for that. We were late to leave, and the wind was on our nose, getting stronger and stronger the further we went. It almost became unbearable beating into it, with the swell against us. The 20 nautical miles felt like they took forever. We arrived at 7:30pm, in time to see the beautiful glow of the sunset on the cliffs. FYI, it’s called Two Rock Bay because of the two rocks at the entrance of the bay, but there are more than two rocks. I think they just gave up on counting.
We only had 6 nautical miles to get to Parga the next day. I had imagined a morning of swimming in the translucent water and walking up to the Taverna on the cliff to take photos of the bay. Instead, we had a long sleep-in, noticing all the boats that had been there the night before were gone, and a whole new set had already arrived.
There was a slight breeze from the South and we were worried about having to beat into a horrendous head wind all over again, so we set off before fulfilling any of my imaginations. We did not have to worry about head wind, because there was barely a breeze until after we settled into the harbor around the corner from Parga town. Parga has no mooring space for yachts, so everyone goes to the next bay where there is a small harbor, and long beach absolutely packed with tourists. Parga town itself is also crowded with the tourists taking a break from the beach.
At times like that, we wish we had a good dinghy so we could have taken our time to go to town, take a look around, have a drink and get some supplies. However, Yannis runs a water taxi from the yachts into the town. He doesn’t run often, so we really had to get all of our groceries and head back, otherwise we would have been waiting for another 2.5 hours to be able to get back to the boat.
Unfortunately that meant that we could not enjoy the beauty of the town, or explore much further than the bakery, butcher and various supermarkets. We were warned not to leave the place because of strong wind forecasts. For us, the forecast really doesn’t mean much these days, so we set off in very light winds.
At this point I started getting really sad, because I realised we only had about a month left on the boat. That meant it was unlikely we would get to visit these places again, wanting to take our next visitors to some other spots. Seeing the end of the holiday looming upon us was hard to deal with.
Our aim was to go to Mourtos, but we could not sail there easily with the direction of the wind. So we tried for Lakka on Paxos, but it was just too far North with the wind direction. So we just set sail and let the boat take us. It looked like the next piece of land would be Italy, but eventually the wind got stronger and settled into a better direction. We managed to reach Paxos, though further South than Lakka. A place called Gaios. A really pretty harbor town, but so damn busy. Of course it’s high season and we half expected these things. Arriving at 1:30pm, we though we might get lucky.
We were unable to get a position right in town, which is sheltered by an island. So we continued through the narrow channel between the smaller island and the town, eventually coming to an area where we could anchor and run long lines ashore. For once we would not be at the front door of a nightclub, hearing a heavy bass sound all night.
Having to run long lines meant me jumping in the water. I will never forget the smell that came from the fishing boats just nearby. I demanded Ryan fill a bucket of fresh water and pour it over me as soon as I was out of the water. I will also never forget the sour look the Italians gave us as they returned to their super yacht parked right next to us. Yes, the refugee boat had arrived. They should have counted their lucky stars it wasn’t a washing day. They did, however, have to watch us shower on the front deck using our broken camping shower.