Taormina – May 14th

What a picturesque place.

We anchored and looked up at Taormina towering above us. ‘. How the hell do we get up there?’ I said. We couldn’t see a way, or any buses coming past. And there was s railway line along the beach edge. Etna was there too but the cloud concealed it. Shame. So we slept on it.

Next morning we dinghied in towards a little beach bar. There we found a tunnel, which led us to a foot path – up! So up we went. The views back to our boat and others anchored were brilliant.

Taormina is spectacularly perched on the side of a mountain. It’s steeped in history, touristy and expensive, popular, with high end boutiques sporting beautiful clothes I dare not look at!

Founded 4th Century BC, it used to be on the Grand Tour, visited by aristocrats and bankers. It has many attractions:-

Like the Greek Theatre, a perfect horseshoe shaped theatre suspended between sea and sky. It’s the most dramatically situated Greek theatre in the world. With the superb Mount Etna soaring beyond. It’s stunning. D. H. Lawrence lived here for a bit.

The Main Street. Such a delight to wander through. Pedestrian friendly, the building housing the Tourist Office dates back to 10th C. There’s a huge Piazza. (IX Aprile) with panoramic views. A 12thC clock tower with an arch inviting you through to the old town, Borgo Medievale), a 13th C Cathedral,

lots of inviting passages and fragrant courtyards- the jasmine is out and the bougainvillea.

Is Simon expanding or is that a tiny passage?!

Monte Tauro 378m and a tiny chapel partly built in a cave, which we climbed up to. On a proper path.

with views.

And many more historic and attractive buildings.

We had a lovely day here. This place is well worth a visit or even a weekend break.

Gallipoli- May 10th

I fancied a visit here as we were so close. It’s just around the corner from the tip of Italy’s stiletto, towards the instep.

Founded in ‘ancient times’ by Idomeneus of Crete, it was mentioned as taking part in battles 265BC, so it’s old!

The old town is on an island, connected to the mainland by a bridge. It has a castle built in the 13th C by the Byzantines. Which we spent some time looking around as it was so interesting. It had a big dome and a smaller dome. When you stood right in the centre your voice was amplified. Fun! Good job we were there early season.

With views

14thC walls which you can see in a picture above

A Baroque Cathedral -St Agata

Spiaggia la Puritate beach under the city walls

Greek Fountain 16thC once thought to be 12thC

Which we missed!!

And the usual maze of interesting streets

So – we had a good day out , if tiring as it was a diet day. ( we do the 5-2,) We stopped for coffee. Here, whenever you have a drink they bring you at least 3 bowls of nuts and bits and a plate of something cooked. Then they add it on the bill!! So we had to say- drinks but no food!! I expect they thought ‘mad English!’ We didn’t explain.

Italy!

Weds 9th May

Yesterday we crossed the line into Italy. It was a non event as we were at sea!

First we paid a visit to Orthoni, an island north west of Corfu and if you think ‘island in the outer Hebrides ‘ you won’t be far wrong. It was lovely, wild, unspoilt, quiet.

We decided to rope Mike (Simon’s brother) in to our safety mechanisms. With his agreement we will tell him when we embark on a long passage so that someone knows if we don’t arrive. We did the crossing to Italy in about 6 hours and were out of sight of land for a few hours so we told Mike our plans. Luckily we arrived ok at Marina Di Leuca, right on the heelof Italy ‘s stiletto. So he didn’t have to alert the coastguard this time. Thanks Mike for being our safety valve! X

A little visitor along the way. I think he needed a rest poor thing. He stayed for 10 mins or so, kept trying to get shelter from the wind so he hunkered down in front of our spray hood. Then he flew off to god knows where, we were miles from land.

Marina do Leuca was another quiet place but more developed. Maybe it’s a high season place. We found a place for a drink on the promenade, which is very long, but we didn’t find a town centre. Even the next morning when we went for a run, no town centre. Which is unusual.

At last today we’re sailing. I hate motor sailing. Sailing is so peaceful. We saw dolphins in the distance. We saw them briefly yesterday too.

My new iPhone 7 ‘s camera has decided not to focus. I don’t think I can do anything about that until we return to the UK, so I’m using Simon’s and sending the pics to me on Whattsapp, which is a pain. It’s ok for selfies though!

This is to show you the mid match of our clothing- I’m wearing 2 fleeces, long jeans and waterproof over trousers- (and socks- sorry!) Simon isn’t!

As we’re sailing we’ve been discussing our itinerary so I’ll update the Itinerary post. Now we’re actually on the way! We were sad to leave Greece 😥 and hope to return. If we do decide keep the boat and visit it for holidays, it’ll probably be in Greece.

Bookings and Itinerary

(Under construction)(organic)

Bookings

June 4th – 11th Maureen and David to Sicily. Organised. Syracuse. They just need to book flights and accommodation

June 13th – 20th. Gill and Brian – in and out of Catania- organised

August 18-26 Chris and Hilary – then

August 20-26 Dave and Sue join us too

Potential Itinerary

Corfu – End April to beginning of May

Italy- 1st/2nd week in May- Syracuse about 15/05

Sicily and Aolian Isles – middle May till middle June(

Sicily to Sardinia is a bit of a long sail for us. But we think we’ll go for it. It’s 160nm from an island west of Sicily to Cagliari

Sardinia- 3rd week in June

Sardinia to get to Menorca is 190nm- 32 hours sailing , ish

Menorca – in about 1/08 maybe earlier

Majorca – been before so skate over this if time is short.

Cabrera – meant to be a high point

Formentera

Ibiza- 18/08-1/09 roughly

Spain – September middle of?

Cartagena Spain. Late September home.

I wonder if we’ll do all of this??!!

Corfu

So the mast finally got fixed on Monday, (23/04), we quickly said our goodbyes and left on Tuesday before anything else could hold us up! We WRENCHED ourselves away from Lefkas, our winter home!! We passed through the opening bridge at 11.00am.

It was good to be on the open seas- the mast looked like it was holding up!! The sea was SO calm, like a millpond, so we had to motor. Which I find a bit boring, so, first I attended to my new logbook. Apparently we should’ve been filling this in all last year – oh well!! But now I record our coordinates, wind direction and speed, bearing, boat speed, engine hours, trip counter and stuff, every hour or two. That’ll keep me a bit occupied. Then the knitting came out! I was happy doing that.

We stopped at Gaios, Paxos overnight, on the Town quay as Simon wanted an electric boost. That turned out quite expensive 27E’s for one night and 5 E’s for electric. We’re going to have to get used to much worse charges when we leave Greece. That was probably for 2days- Greece often charges by the day rather than by the night.

Anyway it was an attractive little place with a town square. After we’d explored by foot we sat in the sun and had a beer. That’s what it’s all about!! It was lovely. 1st time this year. I almost got my sketch book out- almost!!

So we motor sailed to Corfu. It was good to get the sails out. We played with our new toy- the AIS system. It shows us where other boats are and what they are – if they also have AIS. Automatic identification system. It’ll be handy for night passages too – it tells you if you’re on a collision course. Always a good thing ( to be warned!).

We could see where our friends were on Chin Chin. And they could track us. It’s a stalking system!! We can see where all our friends are!!

We parked next to Chin Chin in Naok yacht club, just close to the fortress, south side. Apparently it is free at present- whoohoo!!

This pic is actually of Chin Chin as they took some friends for a sail.

We received a warm welcome from Andrew and Andrea- including dinner. Which was great! Lovely evening.

It has warmed up. 30deg ish! Feels very hot. The shorts have come out not to mention the swimwear. We’ve been on a great bike ride to ‘Mon Repose’ an old mansion where Prince Philip was born. Had a picnic on a beach within the grounds. I’ve had a bicycle tour of Corfu town.

We all had trip out in Andrew’s dinghy to a nearby island, which was wonderful, spending a very happy afternoon on one of its beaches. Playing Swallows and Amazons!! We look like a pair of old biddies Andrea! But it was very hot! Andrew found the chairs further down the beach and Simon washed them in the sea so that us two princesses could be comfy!!

Andrea and Andrew are very joyful people and like to sing – at every opportunity! And have a wonderful zest for life. They like the things we like. Our kinda people really!! We came back through the sea most around the back of the fort. Great day.

A lot of these places feature in ‘the Durrells’ which belatedly we will watch.

And actually we watched some of The Durrells and saw the bit filmed at Mon Repose. Can’t wait to see more but it depends on Simon being able to download it. We actually have a shed load of TV viewing, some pinched from Sally and Ian – we took their entire library of both films and music ( thank you so much Sally and Ian xx) and supplemented it with various other peoples. So we can look forward to catching up with The Crown ( all of it so far) and are currently watching ‘The Vikings’- very bloodthirsty!! But good. Loads more. I’m also looking forward to ‘His Darkest Hour’ . Bet you’re all envious!!

So next, we hired a car with A & A. Andrew drove. We went to Paleokastritsa, which we’ve been to before but didn’t recognise and to the monastery. Then to Angelokastro, where we enjoyed a lovely lunch in beautiful surroundings and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The proprietor was funny and very nice to us. Then up the highest mountain- Pantokratorus- stunning views. We stopped at a little olive wood shop – screeched to a halt when we saw it, met the carpenter, he showed us his workshop and bought a few pieces after the necessary haggling/bartering. It was very atmospheric! Then back to Jakc, their lovely Jack Russell who thinks he lives on our boat!! Apparently he NEVER leaves Chin Chin – but he kept ‘appearing ‘ on Sea Dew- so Simon started calling him ‘my dog’!

I had my first swim of the year at Mon Repose- on May 1st- a public holiday so it was rammed. But we found a spot, where the scent of jasmine fell off the hill above us. It was delicious. We saw cricket played on Corfu’s cricket pitch , which dates back to 1823, when the Brits introduced cricket to the island whilst occupying it. Eventually the time came to leave Corfu Town and our friends. We don’t know when we’ll meet again so it was actually very sad. Lots of hugs. They’re going south, we’re going west. We’ve had such fun with them over winter and also here in Corfu Town. I’m convinced we’ll see them again for more fun.

We left, Simon decided to go into Gouvia- all of 30 mins north. Our batteries were new last September and are playing up. So we had one very expensive night in the Marina – filled the tanks with water – cleaned the decks, there’s STILL red sand, dammit!

The battery people are going to give us one new one free but recommend we get a meter to keep checking them, which gives us a 2 year guarantee, otherwise it’s 6 months. The meter is another 300 odd Euros. Bloody boats, they cost a fortune to keep up.

The battery won’t come until Monday today is Saturday May 5th, so we motor to Kassiopi. They will bring the battery to us. Eventually we will leave Greece!! We need to get to Italy.

We’ve been here before. It’s a nice little harbour which is free mooring. We moor next to a Spanish couple with a baby who we met in Naok. They greeted us like old friends. The baby ‘Isla’ get more gorgeous by the minute. She rules the roost there!

Still in Lefkas!!

I’ve sorted out the pictures on my last post now – called ‘ overwintering in Lefkas’.

Well, the winter mooring finishes on April 1st. The weather was blowy, but ok on 2nd, so almost everyone left. It was quite a wrench saying goodbye, not knowing if we’ll ever see these people again who have become our friends.

We decided to stay a bit longer. Our boat is 22years old and has never been re rigged. Talking to people over winter it seems to be a safety issue. Most sailors renew after 10 years! We had ours checked when we bought it and they found it to be ok but someone else said theirs was too but on re rigging the wires were found to be rusted in the core. We talked about it , found that it increases the selling price and decided to go for it. It’s an expensive business if the mast falls off while sailing! And rather disconcerting!! And dangerous! So we found someone who would do it for a reasonable price and our mast was removed in the middle of March. Unfortunately, the boot that seals the mast to the deck broke due to being so brittle with the sun. A new one had to be sourced from the Uk. We wait..

Our mast being removed.

We returned to the Uk briefly in order to return the car. We plan to be in Spain next year so having the car in Lefkas is a complication!! We were there 3 days before flying back, we were able to see our close family and also attend a 60th birthday dinner and dance of a dear friend. We had a ball!! You don’t usually see Simon on the dance floor so much, we even did a few steps of the Jive ( Bill to note!)

We returned hoping to see a mast on our boat – but no! No mast. The boot came a week later on a Monday. The mast went on, on the Weds, the electrician worked all day Thursday- there’s a surprising amount of wiring in a mast. Then he discovered that the connector to the wind indicator was broken. It’s called an Anomometer ( I think!). He didn’t think we’d get one easily and went off on another job the next day. Simon found one in a shop in town the next morning! And Takis returned Friday afternoon. He knocked off at 5.00, telling us that he’s having problems getting the wire down the mast as it has been injected with foam by a previous owner. Maybe to stop the clanking that can occur in winds. He’ll be back on Monday!!! We’ll never get away from here.

Talking to people it seems that the boat builders often do this to discourage water going down the mast and interfering with the electrics.

We wait..

On the plus side we were able to attend a 70th Birthday celebration. Jackie (from Tring-and S.Africa!), down the island at Vlicho. We got a lift down with Kerri(Australian), it was a surprise to see the usually empty bay FULL of boats at anchor. People had returned from nearby islands to attend the party. It was a great reunion of 30, mostly overwinterers.! Good fun!

We’ve also enjoyed

more walking and cycling.

A mention had to be made of my running attempts. Two years ago I couldn’t run for even one minute without being wrecked. I’m asthmatic. A test showed that my lungs are only 45% of what they should be. In order to keep them healthy I have to keep exercising to get out of breath. A friend told me about the App called Couch to 5 K and both my sons encouraged me to do running. This app has an 8 week program with 3 runsper week. I decided to repeat any run I found hard – they start with a 1 min run and work up. I repeated a lot!! But it got easier. So 2 years and 100 runs later, in April, I achieved the 5 K. I am so pleased with myself, I cannot believe that I actually did it! At my age too. So now I’ve downloaded the next app – 10K and we’ll see how I go. I need pics of me running!

Inaptly named ‘a Year Without Socks’!

Who sells a boat at the beginning of the sailing season? What a silly idea that was! So we sail on. Plus we have to admit to wearing socks over winter. Simon named the blog and I think he thought we would be basking in sunshine all winter- wrong! And anyone who knows me will know I wear bed socks for most of the year anyway!

So – the plan – when we get going – eventually- is to sail to Corfu , via Parga. We’ll have a couple of days there. Then to the islands north of Corfu, wait for a weather slot and hop across to Italy. It’s a long days sail I think so we’ll probably set off at stupid o clock so’s to arrive in daylight. That’s the bottom of the Stiletto. We’ll look around Gallipoli. Then another long sail across to the sole, along the sole to Sicily. Spend a month in Sicily. Then it gets sketchy- detailed planning happens en route. Maybe to Tunisia in order to get to Sardinia, Corsica, Sardinia, Balearics, Spain. We are overwintering (the boat at least) in Cartagena and plan to return to the Uk, end September.

We have 3 bookings so far. In May, in June and one in August but I think there are more coming. I’ll let you know when more planning happens. At the moment we’re focused on getting away from here! People say it’s hard to leave, Lefkas is ‘sticking ‘ ‘gluey’ or like velcro. It’s certainly a great place. Tonight (as we’re here) we’ll go to Greek dancing (lesson). There’s always something. Yesterday there was an Art exhibition meet the artist ( Paris Foot), who lives in a treehouse( up market style)! Next Friday ( if we’re here) there’s a concert of Greek music and dancing. Last Friday there was another singing workshop. I didn’t go in the end as I had a sore throat, but I went to the last one. Oh my- was it good or what?! It’s run by a lovely lady called Rosa, who has the most amazing voice and we all think she is wasted here. BUT- she is SO enthusiastic that everyone can sing if only they would let themselves. And she teaches you how. Plus singing in a group is so uplifting, especially if you sound good- and with Rosa’s guidance you bloody well DO!! So me and 4others drove to Kathisima beach in March. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful drive with views, through olive groves filled with wild flowers. Rosa was using a cafe owned by a friend. It wasn’t open yet. There were 12 of us. We looked out onto a long golden beach at aquamarine seas- it was JUST amazing – and we sang. Rosa took us slowly though a program- we did 3 part harmonies, rounds , lovely songs. It was 6 hours (inc lunch which we all contributed to) which went too quickly. I loved it. So did the others. I reckon every community needs a Rosa. She has a ladies choir going in Lefkas and a quite large. Shantyman group – she gets the men to join just by being herself and asking them. They even went on tour – of the bars in the town! She also does private lessons very inexpensively and if I’d known that sooner I’d have had some. I’ll find some pics.

None of us singing I’m afraid but Rosa has some, I’ll ask her to send it and add it later. Here’s Rosa on the right

Last day aboard

I found this in Drafts, so it’s published out of sync. Should’ve been last September. Sorry Sue.

What a week, we have all  achieved so many personal goals;

For me being terrified of sailing but by the end of the week having embraced  and in love with Greek islands and SiJu  and you guessed it sailing too

Greece has run out of gin.  And Metaxa. And Sambuka. And beer. And wine of all colours. We have had a brilliant time keeping pace with Julie and Simon!!!!!

But to the serious stuff. Day 1 was a bit windy. In fact, we spent most of the day adjusting lazy lines, stern lines, and losing sunglasses blown off into the drink. Yes, too windy to get the boat out, so we drank more gin. And wine. And beer.

But day the days thereafter were so different. Except for the gin😀

The sun shone, the wind was more reasonable.

So the highlights. Sue learnt that sailing does not necessarily mean you will be ill🤢. In fact, it’s quite pleasant 👍

Winter fades into Spring

It’s a long time since my last post- we’ve been so busy!! I can safely say we’ve really enjoyed overwintering in Lefkas. It’s quite a closed community of like minded people, although there are also people, Brits in the main, who have mostly arrived by boat and now live on the island, but retain their connections with the Marina. All Brits or Scandinavians, some Dutch. No Greeks. The people we’ve met have been very friendly and open and welcoming. That’s the best bit really- the people. We reckon, counting roughly, that we now know over 65 new people, many of whom we hope to stay in touch with. It helps that we’ve got involved in various activities, like Bridge, tennis ( we stopped that at Christmas tho) , exercise classes(!), Ballroom dancing lessons ( such fun!), walking, cycling, knit and natter, a crochet group called ‘Happy Hookers’!! Many group dinners, the weekly quiz, Yoga- it’s endless!! Then there’s the people on our pontoon- lots of boats conversations, head scratching, problem solving and just plain shooting the breeze!!

We have managed to explore the Island a bit, we have the car so we’ve been on tours plus various walks which I’ve loved, both on our own, with others or as part of the ‘Wacky Walkers’. Could I get all this on my doorstep in the UK?

Some pics from walks:-

Also, the rest of Greece is a short drive, or a longer drive, depending on your destination. We have been on bus trips to Patras( 3rd largest city in Greece and regional capital of Western Greece)and Vikos Gorge near the Albanian border. ( stunning).

We were home for Christmas- seeing as many family and friends as possible. Again, we have to thank Maureen and David, our hosts. They put up with a lot. David in particular finds our antics amusing! Especially if they’re luggage related! Also Chris, for generously lending us his house while he was away- we were able to have several friends round for dinner. He put new bathrooms in just before we arrived- just for us! Luxury!

On the way back to Greece we passed through Chambery- well!! It would’ve been rude not to turn left there wouldn’t it? We’ve spent many happy holidays there ( thank you Brian and Janet) in Meribel and love the place. It has so many happy memories, with our sons, Ben and Sam and others too. So we went to a hotel and had 2 1/2 brilliant days skiing our old haunts, our favourite pistes- and bars. We had some off piste fun too!!

Some more walking pics:-

Back in Lefkas, we rejoined our cycling buddies and did a whole day ride down the Island, plus several very enjoyable half day rides. I think I could get into cycling! 🚴‍♀️!

Whatever we do, the views are stunning.

Here are a few random pictures that I like:-

Most are my pics but not all! There’s some pics of Patras in there. We went on a St Andrews day and there was a pageant. An Ariel shot of a friends boat, he has a drone. Wish we did too! Skiing in Greece- we met up with the Wood family who have 3 lovely children , Rowan, Darrick and Yewan. Simon was teaching them skiing skills and had a breakthrough with the youngest, Yewan, tracking him to ski. He’s a mad kid on ski’s! boat with it’s conservatory! The hang glider one , Iknicked! As you can see, we had snow on the mountains visible from the Marina. The snow level went up and down according to the weather conditions! We enjoyed watching that. And a pic of our boat conservatory!

We had a carnival in Lefkas. People came flooding into the town. They put such a lot of time and effort into it, planning for the whole year. It was huge!

Here’s a few more pics:-

We visited Meteora:-

Which was stunning- again. Monasteries impossibly perched upon great monoliths of rock, like great high pointy fingers.

There was the annualshow put on by the Brits that live here – we laughed so much!

More random pics:-

We’ve been learning Ballroom dancing- this is Bill, who’s been giving us free lessons and Margaret who is good!

Overwintering in Lefkas Nov 11th

We came in to our mooring on October 1st in Lefkas Marina. We were put right on the end of the pontoon and told we would be moving further into the Marina as spaces became free. We need to wait till the Charter boats go. It’s the middle of November and we’re still waiting. But I like the views where we are so I don’t mind yet. After a wild blowy storm I might feel differently! And it’s a long walk down the pontoon.

We have had 2 weeks back in the UK, catching up with family and friends which was so enjoyable. Thank you to Maureen and David for putting up with us and all our bags!

Now back in Greece we’re joining things and generally joining in. Our fellow sailors seem a friendly bunch. We’ve been invited out to eat at other boats twice now and need to get our act together to invite some back!

We had a really lovely afternoon playing Bridge with a Danish couple that we met at the Bridge club. We had lunch in the sun, then played Bridge all afternoon sitting in their cockpit, then spent the evening downstairs and ate again! Lovely!

There was a ‘pontoon party’ where we met loads of overwinterers, a live band at the Porto pub on site and we went for a meal with a crowd – great!

We’ve joined the Bridge club, tennis club, exercise class all twice a week. The walking group, Ballroom dancing lessons-so funny!! They do it in a local restaurant and afterwards eat there. So that’s good for the restaurant in the winter months.

There’s a quiz every weds with home cooked food beforehand. That clashes with Bridge!! (Which is on Monday too – which clashes with some tennis!)

Simon has signed up for guitar lessons which start soon and I’ve been doing some Yoga sessions including Ashtanga, which is new to me and very energetic.

This week we also managed a 13km walk in the mountains to the Melissa Gorge and the Apetasti gorge, we saw wild cyclamen and fab views. There’s not much water around in the rivers and waterfalls but the forecast rain should rectify that! After our walk we played tennis, for 1 1:2 hours! Later, I went to another new Yoga place. I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was an hour of a thing called Yoga Nidra. I spent the hour laying on my mat, covered with blankets, not allowed to move a muscle whilst the teacher guided us through relaxation and meditation. I was sceptical, I thought I’d go to sleep (it was close!), but I loved it- I felt so relaxed, like I’d slept for 3 hours or more. Plus I had the BEST nights sleep that night. It was much needed after the strenuous day I’d had!!

So actually we’re now finding we’ve overbooked ourselves and things are clashing! Can we really do Ballroom dancing 4-6pm and then tennis 6.30-8.00? That’s the plan for next Thursday!! Plus we haven’t got back into our running yet- it’s so cosy in our beds! We miss the chance!

Plus there are other things to do – tabletennis, there’s a knit and natter group, loads more. And people, there’s always someone to chat to. Always something happening, plus a community room where you can leave or take anything! Books, clothes, boaty things, anything. In that room there are notices everywhere about all sorts!!

Lefkas town itself is interesting. You can walk to it in 3 mins. It has a pedestrian street with shops and bars and restaurants and touristy things. But outside that are many interesting shops, all spread out. Many many hardware shops that sell so many things, bazaars, gyms, clothes shops, laundries, doctors, a hospital, dentists, yacht chandlers, a Lidl, numerous supermarkets, butchers a plenty, bakeries, everything you can think of. If you need something, there’s a shop somewhere that sells it. You just need to find it as there are so many streets and roads and alleyways. We need to find the winery, plus there a Still somewhere in town, making and selling local brandy.

There’s an Irish bar! That has live

There’s a Facebook page where people communicate- things that are happening, problems they need help with, offering airport lifts. It’s very educational.

It’s a lively place, very cosmopolitan and the best thing is that it doesn’t close down for winter as many tourist places do. I should take a few pics.

There’s a whole interesting island to explore not to mention the rest of Greece which is on our doorstep.

So I think we should be happy here.

View as we play tennis

Not bad eh? A bit distracting

A few pics from our walk

What do I think I look like?!!!

The gorge walk

Lefkas town.