Two Finnish boats waved goodbye to the island of Zakynthos. It was late July, and they were on their way to the Peloponnese, and eventually, the Aegean Sea. For us, it was a rare and wonderful chance to buddy-boat together with someone, and even though it was just for a while, it felt very special.
Last time we got to know the island of Ithaca, home of Odysseus. In mid-July, we continued further south. We anchored in a little cove on the southeastern side of Kefalonia. Two goats, a mother and a kid, provided our evening entertainment. They effortlessly jumped from rock to rock along the seaside. In the morning we continued towards Zakynthos.
The most famous sailor to ever roam the Mediterranean sea was, no doubt, Odysseus. All of us later colleagues have heard of him, and in many ways travelled in his wake. Odyssey, the epic poem of Homer, is a story about a war hero trying to find his way back home from the Trojan war (around 1192-1184 BC). He was the king of Ithaca, and it took him ten years of adventuring to make it back. There are many candidates to every place depicted in the story, including Odysseus’ home island. Some have placed his Ithaca on Kefalonia or Lefkas.
After a very long winter and lockdown, we finally began our sailing season in mid-May. But the waiting wasn’t over yet. We sailed to Messolonghi for our first covid vaccination dose and had to wait there for a week and a half. The time was spent catching up with friends we had gotten to know during our stay here in winter 2019-2020. After the first jabs, we weighed anchor and sailed to Lefkas, another place that felt a bit too familiar from the previous year (hot summer months working on a boatyard aren’t easy to forget). We tried to change our second vaccination to the hospital in Lefkada, but without success. So we waited some more in Nidri, and in mid-June, we rented a car and drove back to Messolonghi for the jabs. Now the only thing we still had to wait for was the vaccination certificates, and then we would be ready to roam the islands at our leisure.
Sailboat Aina’s crew is still floating in Greece. No worries – we haven’t accidentally sailed over the world’s edge, or been swallowed by a whirlpool, or even poisoned by the fumes of the Mount Parnassos that used to inspire the oracle at Delphi. But the strict lockdown that has lasted for more than six months has had its effect on my writing inspiration.
At the beginning of the year 2020 we delved into boat projects aboard our sailboat Aina. At that point nobody knew that the world was about to turn upside down. Greece went into total lockdown in March, but we just kept on working. Read more about our time during the spring lockdown in Messolonghi!
The crew of sailboat Aina wishes all of our readers a cosy, warm, peaceful Christmas! We will celebrate ours in the pretty town of Galaxidi, Greece – just the two of us, at home in our safe little nest. The lockdown will continue in Greece until early January, at least, so I guess we’ll not potter too far from home. Maybe we’ll cook something resembling traditional Finnish Christmas dishes, and enjoy long walks along the hills and pine forests, and the views over the sea and mountains.
To tell you the truth: the best bread in the world comes from Finland. But that’s not the whole truth! The world’s best breakfast, snack, travel snack and emergency food – the savoury Karelian pie – also comes from Finland! We successfully tackled our acute rye bread shortage last spring – the sourdough starter created then is still alive and kicking, and part of it actually now lives in Northern Ireland! Apart from the hottest summer months, we’ve been baking Finnish sourdough rye bread every two or three days in our sailboat galley. At times it’s been a little difficult to find rye flour, but the situation is very good at the moment, because a local shopkeeper here in Galaxidi, where we are spending the second lockdown of 2020, was able to order it for us.
The sailing season of 2020 was a bit short. But that was the case for many other sailors, with all sorts of restrictions and lock-downs in most parts of the world. But in the Greek waters the summer turned out fine in the end, even though a little later than usual. Our own adventure was delayed, of course, by the corona virus, and we couldn’t leave our winter base until the end of May. Then our boat had a surprise in store for us, which kept us busy at the boatyard until the end of July. And now another lock-down brought our journey to a halt in the harbour of Galaxidi. Well, it is what it is – we’ll try to make the most of it.
At the same time as hurricane Sally was approaching the American coast, a similar storm was brewing in the Mediterranean – medicane Ianos. We woke up in a quiet anchorage in Paxos on Tuesday, the 15th of September, with the intention of sailing to Preveza. We had the wind straight on the nose, and after hours of tacking back and forth we decided to anchor at Two Rock Bay instead, and continue to Preveza the following morning.
Paxos and Antipaxos, together called Paxoi, are the smallest island group in the Ionian, just south of Corfu. On September the 7th we sailed to Lakka, a small village on the northern end of Paxos. We knew Lakka is a popular anchorage, so we wanted to be there early in the afternoon in order to secure a place. We had some mayhem along the way, however, so we didn’t arrive until 7 pm – the bay looked absolutely packed as I was looking through my binoculars, but we sailed closer to have a look. After all, there’s always room for an optimist – and there was! In fact, more than ten boats came after us, and somehow they all managed to squeeze in.
The Ionian islands of Greece were part of the Venetian Republic for more than four hundred years. Venice conquered the islands one by one – Corfu in 1383, Zakynthos about a century later, Kefalonia and Ithaca around 1500 and finally Lefkada in 1718. The Venetians and Ottomans fought over the territory for many centuries, but unlike the rest of Greece, the Ionian islands escaped the Ottoman rule. Corfu, as the bulwark against the Ottoman empire became one of the most fortified places in Europe.
Greetings from an idyllic cove in the Ionian, where we are anchoring in crystal clear water! We did eventually get back in the water, but this post is still about our boat’s bottom renovation, its third and last part. Replacing our thru hulls was the actual reason for our boatyard visit, but then we discovered more pressing matters with the hull. I wrote about them in the previous posts, parts 1 and 2.
The warning given in our last post still stands: This blog post is about DIY boat refit. We had finally finished sanding our boat’s hull, and because no moisture was found and hardly any other damage, we could start painting on the epoxy barrier coat straight away.
Warning: This blog post is about DIY boat refit. Perhaps in the near future we will be back in the water, which might mean sailing stories from the eternal Ionian archipelago. In the meanwhile, we find ourselves up on the hard, in the pequliarly immobile sailboat, where the refit continues. So hang in there, if sanding and coating a boat’s hull is not exactly your thing – something else is coming! But if you’re into DIY on a boat, by all means keep reading. Just to make sure, though – this is not meant as a how-to for anyone contemplating on a similar project, it’s just our own experience of doing it. Feel free to ask more, if you’re interested!