Friday, July 30, 2010

Heading North, Evvia passage

We decided to head north to visit friends, so past Pireus and Athens and out to the Agean Sea. We visited our first island in the Cyclades by accident. Rob was downstairs writing an email to a friend saying we were going past her place- was she there? Meanwhile upstairs Anne was following two yachts to Kea!
We've had a lot of strong winds on the nose so we aborted our attempt to travel north via the east coast of Evvia and went up the inside passage instead, it takes longer but is more sheltered. We anchored one night at an uninhabited island and snorkelled around the boat. Rob caught another fish that spiked him so he let it go… eventually.
The Captain looks grumpy a lot, he's either motoring over lumps of water or fiddling with sails and courses. Last night we passed under two bridges. The second one gets opened up once a day at slack tide. (Can be a 7 knot current there, Archimides drowned in it!) All the yachts gather together at a designated time by port authorities and are told when to go through - in the dark at 11:20pm! People out for the night at the tavernas, line along the banks and wave and call out as the boats pass through.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Corinthian Canal

What a hoot! I did tell them what the wind would be but didn't explain in detail what that actually meant….. Forecast is the same for a few days so no point in waiting. I did put the main up with one reef in it, but the rivets that held it to the boom were too tired, so we ended up with the whole main. 25 knots and 1.5m seas, it was a fun run! Sabine has obviously got a good mix of our genes as she was not at all scared of waves and wind, but was worried a submarine might come up from under us!
Sailed most of the day at 7 or 8 knots and we witnessed 9.9 as we surfed down the best wave of the day! The canal is famous for being the most expensive for it's distance in the world. Greek business…. They know we will come. 200 euro for 3 miles.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Delphi- Apollo's Temple

We behaved like tourists and went up to Delphi on the early bus. First attempt failed as the alarm clock was still in Italy but here we have time, so we went the next day.
The bus passed miles and miles of olive plantations, then contoured high up along the mountain side, the view opening up to a sea of silver-green in the valley. How can they possibly pick that many olives? It was only 8am as we walked over the Delphi site, the early light superb over the backdrop of scraggy peaks and ancient architecture. People once flocked from all corners of civilisation to seek advice from the god and oracle Apollo and they took in a bit of light entertainment at the amphitheatre and stadium.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Itea, Greece.
So nice to be here, there is space, time. Bureaucracy is a bit sad. So many bits of paper to fill out, and computers obviously don't help, they just add to the burden. We were the first yacht to clear customs here in a year, so Mr Customs Man was quite cross and said we should have gone to Patras. It took him an hour of grunting and puffing to earn his government 30 euro.

Italy to Greece

A long 3 days and nights at sea, Anne still stays awake through my watches in case something happens to me. A fishing accident for example.
But it's not an accident, I caught it on purpose!! Half way across the Ionian. Still eating him 4 days later.
We've arrived in Itea, half way up the Corinthian Gulf. It's so not Italy and we are glad. Greece doesn't work in a completely different way to Italy, but the change is wonderful. We can relax.

Goodbye to Italy

So it's Goodbye to Italy.
I'll miss the coffee, no matter where you go it's always great. I won't miss the powerboats. Inflatable dinghies with 200hp outboards, monstrous rooster-tail machines, rows of white bowers at the marina, with the owners constantly cleaning and polishing, waiting till their prize attracts a suitable decoration. To be fair, we met some lovely people with power boats, I think it's the equivalent of our 'shack'.
What I'll miss most is the fireworks! More fireworks in the last month than the rest of our lives, and the best thing is, they do them in the day. Mostly in the day!! I guess it's just a wedding or birthday custom, so you have to do it when you can. 9am, 10am, that's quite a lot of fun, but the absolute best is when they wait till it's ALMOST dark. What amazing commitment and self control, to wait till almost dark, then bang, bang, bang, lot's of noise, a few puffs of smoke.

And for our last view of Italy, here is the most bizarre fishing method ever. This is clearly an example of over-specialisation guaranteed to bring about extinction. The skipper is winched up on top of the tower and the harpoon guy is standing about half way along the bowsprit. When the skipper sees a swordfish sleeping too near the surface he will tell Mr Harpoon Guy to get out to the end and catch that fish.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sleeping under the Vulcano

Could he do anything worse?, you were thinking. Well of course!! Now he has those poor girls sleeping under an active volcano!! Luckily the disco on the beach should cover up the sound of the eruptions.
Last night we slept off an abandoned pumice mine. I caught a small shiny fish...
We are swimming off the boat a lot, it is very hot in the day. There are many jellyfish which are considered by some to be almost as dangerous volcanoes.... I try to be strong....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Overnight to Stromboli

We left Aniko and Anna in Amalfi, so it's back to the small family again. We miss them very much. It was 20 years since we had seen Aniko, but it felt like yesterday, we haven't changed at all.
This was our first overnight crossing and the girls were not keen. Not keen at all. Left at 8am, had some hours of glassy water, then enough wind to put the sails up for the rest of the day. Just before sundown we were joined by our first friendly group of dolphins. They were very small. Sabine absolutely loved it, they stayed under the bow for half an hour, and did some special tricks and all! Just checked the species, and according to the Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, "Striped dolphins ….. do not commonly ride the bow"! so we were especially lucky!

The night was peaceful. Plenty of ships to notice, but no dramas. Drama there was in the morning though, as my other crime (apart from sailing at night) was to bring us to an active volcano for breakfast! We stopped the motor and sat on glassy flat water under Stromboli. It gave the occasional bang and shot smoke for us, also dropped some ash and rocks down it's slope to the sea. We swam before breakfast with 600m under us and a volcano above! Pretty special.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Today we motored over glassy water from Capri to Amalfi. We passed Isolotti Galli, the islands that sirens are supposed to have called from. There was talk of mast lashing, but Anne was confident she could keep me away from the Sirens. Back in the old days there were no women on ships to keep things in order....
There is not really an anchorage here, and the harbour is full, but there are some big flash boats anchored out, and just a couple of French yachts here where we are. Very exposed, but weather is very calm. Forecast variable 2. Again. We have some long distances coming up, so hope there is some more wind soon.
Amalfi is another ridiculously beautiful town.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Well, we almost didn't come here.... surely it can't be as good as they say, and it will be crawling with celebrities? Well the anchorage we planned was untenable, (Italian waters pilot said 'the Napoli sea breeze doesn't blow home in here', well today it was very much at home!) so we dashed across to Capri after all. Anchored under some magical cliffs, with not even one single castle!! Incredible path constructions and some beautiful buildings. 10m, so all our chains out, but there are plenty of boats around to tow us off the rocks..

can you pick which one is us?

So you want to go ashore on Capri….
We're on the south of the island, there are a couple of tiny beaches but we can't go near them, you need a ticket to swim and they are buoyed off. You must queue with the dinghy near a big orange buoy till one of the white uniformed guys calls you in for your turn, then dash into the little stone landing stage to pick up or drop your passengers. There's nowhere to leave the dinghy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day trip to Napoli part 2

Plumb bobs of Pompeii, especially for Steve!

Day trip to Napoli


Girls were afraid so I went to the volcano crater alone. It was really lovely, but what is wrong in the top pic??!!