Saturday, 30 June 2012

Our delivery adventure

We have a friend here Simon who runs Sivota Yacht Services. One of his clients wanted their yacht delivering to the Gulf of Volos. John and I volunteered and have spent five days this week sailing SY Nehallinia to Olympic Marine in Lavrion. This was a very different experience for me Nehallinia is a 28ft yacht with a 10 horse single cylinder engine. Orion is 46ft with 60 horse 4 cylinder engine so life on board was a little different.

We went under the Rio bridge at Patras one to Starboard three to Port. Rio bridge control have to be contacted 12 miles out and they then keep track of you telling you exactly where they want you to pass under the bridge. The bridge itself is pretty impressive and as we approached in the dark I was on watch and had to ask John what the laser show was in the distance .... his reply' that is not a disco that's the bridge at Patras!!' The wind was good to us on this part of the journey and whilst we had to motor most of the way to the bridge once we were through we had a good sail to Trizonia where we moored for the night.
It was the night that Greece were playing Germany in the European cup and the atmosphere was tense going from euphoria as Greece scored to equalize to dejection as the Germans scored a further three goals! The owners of Nehallinia are a Belgian couple who had given us a Belgian flag to fly that had a crown on it.... their rationale for this? ....'We don't want people to mistake us for Germans' John had a bit of a taste of the Greeks anomosity towards the Germans when he was coming over in the van. He was able to understand when Greeks on the ferry called him and his German parentage into question and was quickly able to reply I am not German ... I am English and get an apology.
We moved on from Trizonia to Corinth where John and I got up early to go through the canal. The Corinth canal can only be passed one way so you have to wait to be called up on the VHF and told to proceed once it is clear. We went through with a container vessel and a very flash yacht Roxanne going our way. Corinth control called us up once we were in the canal to ask if the speed we were doing was the fastest we could do but having said that I thought we kept up with the other boats well.! The canal is just over three miles long and it took us around 50 minutes to get to the other end and by 10 o clock we had completed all formalities at the other end.

We set course for Aegina and at this time there was no wind and it was really hot ..around 36 degrees
As we rounded the southern tip of Aegina the wind started to come up until we had 25 knots pushing us along. We decided to push for Sounion Bay to anchor there for the night and with two reefs in we made Sounion just before dark. You could see all the other yachts eyeing us suspiciously as we motored slowly in all of them wondering where we were going to anchor. Nehallinia has 1.1metre draught so we were able to go safely in front of the lot of them and put out the hook. However the wind was still howling and we effectively set up an anchor watch . At around 1.30 the yacht on our Port side started to drag anchor causing John to wake up the whole bay with a bellow ...' oih you're dragging!' The German yacht was already up and furiously turning on their engine and bringing up their anchor to re-lay it and I am glad to say they went over to another side of the bay and out of swinging distance of Nehalinnia. After very little sleep we awoke checked the weather and decided that with a Force 5/6 on the nose for some of the way our only option was to go around the end of the Bay to Olympic Marine. It was only just over 5 miles but the wind was such that it took us nearly four hours to get there. With that force of wind on our nose we could only maanage 1.5 knots for a lot of the time.
Once we were safely in the Marina we looked at the weather again.... we had a days respite from the wind which is a local wind called the Meltemi then it was back for 5/6 days at least we decided to ring up the owners to advise them of the situation and they agreed that it would be foolish to try to bash against it. They decided to take Nehallinia out the water and wait for the Meltemi to subside which is usually around August.
We spent all day Tuesday making our way back to levkas on the bus with a five hour bus ride frrom Athens but we are now back on Orion deciding where to go next. John's grandson Kaylem comes out on the 9th so it looks like its back up to Corfu to collect him. Never a dull moment here!!!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

settling down to life on board at last!

We are currently in Sivota and the weather is hot. It has been unbelivably hot of late but for the last couple of days it seems to have settled down at around 33 degrees. John and I have finally managed to get our internet sorted out and this means that we can now skype folks back in UK and more importantly get the weather!! I also have no excuse for not updating this blog on a more regular basis.

We have had friends out at the begining of the month so we sailed up to Corfu to pick them up. Flights into Preveza are not that easy to find and as it is a military airport... flights from UK only come in on Sunday. These are usually full of flotilla customers and as a consequence it is difficult to get what I would call a cheap flight. However Easyjet go into Corfu so you can pick up a bargain. Early this month the weather was decidely iffy with rain and our friends first experience of life on board was sailing into Gioas Paxos with limited visability and the rain hammering down. John and I were in full wets!! Summer sailing .... you can't beat it!

I am glad to say that the weather settled down for them and we were able to move around the islands and show them places that can only really be appreciated by boat. Abelike Bay in Meganisi is a particular favourite and for the first time we used the barbeque on the boat. This was a piece of kit that came with the boat and I have to say it produced some excellent souvlaki and pork chops!

I promised the kids back at school that I would put up the wonderful flags that they made for the boat and take a picture. When we got to Little Vathi John and I did just that. It was the day before the Jubilee celebrations back home and we had our own little celebration on board. Many people commented on them and when I explained that they were not following a royal theme but each flag was designed and produced by the children, everyone who has saw them was impressed..... far more impressive than Union Jacks in my opinion.

Everyone I meet always asks me if I miss the children .... of course I do but I am equally as happy on the boat and on the water you have plenty of time to reflect how fortunate I have been. However life moves on and despite me being happy with my lot it did not stop me worrying when I heard that school had OFSTED inspection the week before the half term holiday. I don't know why I was so worried Sam, the acting head, is as far as I can tell doing a great job and OFSTED confirmed this. Well done Sam and all the staff and wonderful children. In many ways this has helped me to draw a line under my time at Lisburne... what was once my baby has now moved on as indeed I have done.