Posted: 15 August 2011
Yasas everyone. Two knives, two forks, two plates, one healthy green salad and two glasses of water (if you believe those last two items Dr Nigel, you will believe anything!). Yes we are back on our own again, after seeing our crew off in the early hours of one morning in Volos, where they had to catch a bus to take them to Thessaloniki so they could then catch another bus to get them to Istanbul, where they then flew back to NZ. It is good getting back in to the old routine with the two of us – Bruce doing all the work and me sunbathing (come back crew all is forgiven).
The last week with all the crew on Board was spent in the Gulf of Volos and I must say we were very impressed with the area. Lots of little lovely spots to anchor and civilisation when we needed it. We found a lovely little bay where we reversed into a wall just in front of a taverna and had a lovely simple lunch there. Magic.
We have had a couple of spectacular thunder and lightning storms that seemed to go on forever. Great for washing the boat down and very good of them to organise it so it only happens at night so it does not interfere with our enjoyment of the day.
We discovered a little old ruined monastery on a tiny wee island and had a good fossick through and around it. The stories that we come up with as to how or why the buildings would have been used, are quite creative – or so we think.
Bruce still has not been successful in catching any fish but we got excited a little while ago when the reel started screaming off and we had to do a fast reversing manoeuvre as Bruce manfully reeled the line in to find that we had caught a small fish but quickly realised that the fish was a bait on long line hook (still connected to the long line!). Yes we had caught some fisherman’s long line! We wonder what he thought when he pulled in his line and found one hook neatly cut off?
After our crew left, it was time to do loads of washing and I must say, Midi’s cockpit is great for setting up a clothesline while you are motoring and by the time you put down anchor the washing is dry. It has been so hot that Midi’s cockpit often looks like a Bedouin tent as we string sarongs and towels up to keep the afternoon sun out. No Omar Sharif and his belly dancing maiden inside this tent – just the Captain and the old trout.
It was then time to head towards Evia Island, the second largest island in Greece, after Crete. We had been told by another yachtie that it was a special experience to go through the bridge that connected Evia to the mainland so we thought we would have to tick that one off the list. After taking a few days to make our way down the channel between Evia and the mainland (Evia is the 2nd largest island in Greece after Crete) we decided we should get serious about getting there as apparently the bridge does not open on a Friday. So on Wednesday we were nearing the bridge when we heard a gale warning come over the VHF so decided to anchor off a bite in the land little way north that gave us shelter and wait it out. We had winds of 40 knots and it always amazes us that our anchor does such a good job in those conditions and when you pull the anchor up to leave, it just comes out so easy. Although on leaving our anchorage we discovered the winds were still blowing at around 25knots so elected to detour to the harbour of Nea Artaki where we found a great anchorage in behind a sea wall and harbour.
The bridge between Evia and the mainland is at a place called Khalkis, which is the capital of Evia Island (or Halkidi as the harbour is known). The bridge itself is only about 50 metres long but it is a very busy thoroughfare. Streams of cars pass over it all the time until they close the bridge to let the boats through. They do this at slack water, in the evening. After arriving and tying up alongside to the town wall (wherever you can find a gap as you cannot anchor here) we headed off to the Port Police where we were to pay our fee. On arriving there we were told to come back at 3.30 – 4pm (typical Greek timing). Of course it is now Friday and we are praying that the bridge will be opened to night and were relieved to be informed that it would be. Eventually we were off to the Port Police and pay our fee. It is according to the size of your boat (18.77 Euros for us) and they tell you that you just have to wait on your boat, have the VHF on channel 12, and they will call you when it is your turn and it will be between the hours of 10pm and 4am! The currents through this small crossing are huge and while we were there, you could see the local boats knew how it worked but to a kiwi novice it looked rather scary. It was amazing to see the small fishing boats sitting out in the middle of the channel with the current running so fast (up to 7knots) that there were overfalls.
Well we are tied up alongside the sea wall of this very bustling café/bar area and at night time the Greeks know how to socialise. They perambulate purposefully along the promenade, calling in to various cafes to wet their whistles. There are people of all ages. Family groups – grandparents down to littlies in their pushchairs and we saw a few paddies thrown as children were not bought the helium balloons or the plastic doodahs that the street vendors were selling. We decided to go out for dinner to make the time go faster but the restaurants are so efficient at getting you fed that we were back on the boat soon after nine. We were anxious to not miss the call on the VHF that could come any time after 10pm. We sat and waited and in the meantime listened to the pounding beat that came from the bars. Some of it was really good but all 30 bars played a different song – very loudly. We were so scared that we would nod off and miss the call but there really was something happening all the time and finally at 3.15 am we got the call to go through. Even though it was slack water, the current was still pretty strong but it was quite exciting to go through the bridge. Quite an engineering feat as the bridge opened and part of the road dropped down and slid underneath the other part of the road. Six boats passed from south to north and we were one of four boats that went from north to south. It had to be all very precise as the bridge was only open for about ten minutes. Needless to say we were very happy to get to the other side and put down our anchor and get a couple of hours sleep before the sun came up. We are now just tootling down the channel between Evia and the mainland, taking our time, stopping off at little bays with nothing in them but stone walls and olive trees.
Two knives, two forks, two plates. NO MORE VISITORS BOOKED TO COME FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON. Old routines! Bah humbug! We have to go in search of other cruising yachties. Can’t be having this only two of us stuff.
So it’s goodbye for now from me and goodbye for now from him (pictured here cooling off underway).
Love from the lonely Tebbutts