Loved my party, had a fantastic time! Wish I could do it all over again but speak to everyone and drink and eat a lot more. So whizz back to Corfu, water up, stock up and escape to our favourite anchorage at Ay Stefanos, where we remade acquaintances in cafes and shops. Then we had a wonderful week with Terry and Wendy Earl, great company, good weather and varied experiences as ever. They are intrepid swimmers in Cornwall and made me feel a complete wimp worrying about the sea temperature being only 22C. Now we notice, and have continued to notice, an abundance of Cornish St Petroc flags, they outnumber the Welsh and the Scottish.
‘We sail in the summer’ - I am just thinking how ridiculous an expression that is, what a misnomer. How misleading with its conjured images of hearty activity; halyards hauled and reefs taken, sails trimmed, elements battled with. When if truth be told we are just plonkers! Yes that is what I have been told. We motor or sail gently from lovely place to attractive bay or town then we ‘plonk’ down our anchor and crack open another bottle of ‘plonk’. Well I don’t mind!
Anchoring – plonking by another name ?
You could write a whole book about anchoring, I think Andy will sometime. The shenanigans observed while sitting secure at anchor are endlessly entertaining. Anyone who has sailed will appreciate this. With plonk in hand, sitting in the cockpit we can predict, criticize, give advice and tut tut at anchoring techniques to our hearts content. We watch those who, like the Flying Dutchman, are condemned to constant motion having failed to grasp the concept and plough the sea bottom and haul their anchor out without giving it a chance to gently settle. There is Pop up Belgium a funny little moustachioed Hercule Poirot who dons a white beret with red pom pom by night and a fetching towelling robe by day. It just needs a boat to come within fifty metres of him when up he pops, gesticulating wildly for it to keep away from his anchor. There is Mr Big with his crew of one who ferries him and his guests to the shore for dinner and returns to his pot noodles and a spot of quiet. There is Mr Even Bigger in his big shiny plastic stink pot, crew of five all polishing away and preparing the red carpet as soon as the anchor is set. He appeared but was, in fact, Mr Small and strutted around on his swim deck, the chrome bars of which had just been polished by his crew, before jumping in for a quick swim. Then the girls came down and were able to splash around and play with the pool toys that the crew had prepared earlier. Swim done, boat shown, off they went with a roar and a puff of smoke. Then the flotillas who come in like a brood around mother hen and obediently do as they are told and generally are quite safe. Although we did see one chick who had got separated from the flock. A little Jaguar 27 called Freya came in, sailed around uncertainly, called in vain for mother and after about fifteen minutes, realising they were in the wrong place, disappeared. Kiriacoulis a name to strike dread in the heart as we know one of their boats that caused terrible damage in an Elba marina. They are just one of a number of charter companies operating in the Mediterranean and the competence of the crews vary enormously. We watched one boat, first day out, drop the anchor, go for a swim, have lunch. Then as the crew are relaxing on the boat, reading, the boat begins to drift. Anchor not secure at all, good job they hadn’t swum to the beach for lunch.
The best thing we saw tonight and it’s something I’ve never seen before was an eclipse of the moon. I notice the moon when we are sailing so much more and it has been like a fecund pearl, a great iridescent expectant egg hanging there in the darkness, coyly, not showing her whole face until this night when Andy saw a darkening curve and we watched fascinated as slowly the bright moon was gently obscured by earth’s shadow.
Homer and Odysseus
Taking a left turn out of the Levkas canal there is a fort, Ay Georgios, and we found a tiny little fishing port, really only local day fishing boats, and we anchored here. Next day walking up the hill to the town (Plagia) we met a couple coming down the hill towards us. One, we subsequently named Homer, dressed in long sleeved white shirt and long light walking trousers, head protected by a white sun hat, the other younger, his nephew in singlet and shorts, Odysseus, both with rucksacks on their backs. We said good morning and got talking. They were off on a trek to the forests for the day and had been asking themselves why there was a boat anchored in their little port. ‘Why? Why you put your boat there? Plenty beaches nearby!’ So we got talking among other things about the economic situation and proposed reforms (The People will resist!), the true location of Odysseus’ island – Ithaca or Levkada (Homer’s brother had written a book about this). I imagined this man to be the local schoolteacher akin to the Scottish ‘dominie’ of times gone by, very learned (with the accent on the last e), widely educated, cultured; interested and interesting. We parted and went our separate ways. Later anchored a little further along the coast in a gorgeous secluded wooded little bay, that we have christened Ormos Lacuna, I was swimming in the altogether. We heard voices and who should we see clambering rapidly down towards us - Homer and Odysseus!!! Yikes! A hastily thrown bikini and I was ready to face this unusual pair. We engaged in more conversation and were sad that they couldn’t stop with us a while as it was late and they had to get back before dark.
Hundreds of them, well scores at least, a scene from a horror movie - did something die down in our saloon? What is attracting them? Are they the same flies that were with us yesterday? We’d rather have flies than midgies but really they have to go. I get ruthless and engage in chemical warfare. Hatches are battened down and we retreat above. After some time I climb back down the companion way. It has worked and all I have to do is sweep up and dispose of the bodies. Flies cemeteries those tasty little Scottish cakes, sugary with raisins squashed in the middle, are aptly named.
This morning it is so still I can see all the reflections of town and wooded hill in the water and see how the impressionists saw this and the brush strokes are clear as I watch. All the boats are doing a sun salutation and drifting gently like great seabirds settled on the water.
The inhabitants here abandoned their village when the 1953 earthquake destroyed their water supply. There is a little church and bell tower that someone is restoring. There were goats wandering the coast their bells ringing tunefully in the still night air – the lull before the storm! Butterflies galore on my walk along the coast, jet black with white spots, white with black stripes, yellow, blue and red – all manner of variety. The weather turned nasty, we found ourselves on a lee shore and the surf was beginning to break a few feet behind us. Not comfortable so we decided to ‘up anchor’ a little earlier than planned.
It is lovely to find a living Greek town. So many of the places we have visited are tourist led and only have a very short season, they die in the winter. This place lives all year round for good and bad. There are black clad wizened and lined old ladies sitting outside their houses; plants burgeon from colourful decorated pots; old men sit outside the cafes smoking and discussing. The light is bright; the houses white with blue or green shutters, much more the Greece of the Aegean or the picture postcard than the places we have visited so far. We sniffed out the local internet after having at last found an ATM – very necessary if we want to eat out tonight and I definitely do! The cafe owner was brought up in Canada, speaks French and English as well as Greek is very political and opinionated and enjoys, as most Greeks seem to, animated and fierce discussion about politics. Once lit he was difficult to defuse and so we had a tirade on the corruption and bureaucracy of the government, the lack of political will to change things and on his fears for the future, of Greece being dumped by the EU. He told us that television channels are controlled/censored by political parties and that the interesting news, the real things that are happening in Greece do not reach our media. There is so much potential here in Greece but the infrastructure is not in place. A new harbour was well on its way to being built. This would have made space for yachties and brought more income to the town. But the owner of one of the properties facing it did not want a harbour on his doorstep and so sabotaged the project. The harbour wall lies just below the surface, a danger to boats and an order has been made for it to be removed. At whose cost we know not.
Now we are travelling, sorry plonking our way slowly south toward Zakynthos searching out beautiful places to take friends in the next few months and hopefully to pick up a cousin or two should all be well with them.
Doomed project - now a hazard.
Pop-up at the ready
Port Leone’s deserted church