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!
After leaving our winter base, Messolonghi, we rounded the southwestern corner of mainland Greece. Next to a small but very high, rugged island called Oxia we hoisted the sails for the first time. Our destination was a boatyard on the island of Lefkas, to the northwest, where our boat would be lifted out and we would spend a month or so doing boat projects “on the hard”. But before that, we would have a little mini holiday of at least a couple of days, and we planned to use it anchoring in pretty coves and getting a little first glimpse of the Ionian archipelago.
Everything must come to an end, and that fortunately includes the corona lockdown. Our winter home, the town of Messolongi, emerged from its long slumber, and more and more people could be seen around town. The shops and services opened up one by one, and our small world: the marina, Lidl and AB supermarkets – the triangle our daily life had pretty much evolved around – was growing bigger. Finally pleasure boats were given the green light to sail from one port to another, that is those boats that already happened to be in Greek waters. Boats coming from abroad will have to wait for their turn a little while longer.
Finnish people who have spent a long time away from their homeland tend to miss the same things: sauna, salmiak and rye bread. There are many other things besides, but these three can’t be replaced by anything else. Sure, many traditional dishes can be made in a foreign place, using local produce and spices creatively, or by making a pilgrimage to the nearest Ikea for Scandinavian products that are close enough to our own. But you can’t bathe in the sauna if there’s no sauna. Nothing tastes like salmiak, except salmiak – the strong, bitter and slightly salty black candy you can only find in Finland. And Finnish rye bread, well, it just has to have that real sourdough taste with 100% rye flour and no yeast or added flavours.
Last time I wrote about our boat plumbing project. Our freshwater system was now ready and working, and the next phase was to rebuild the saloon that had been pulled apart. The old cushions were also ready for the dumpster (one was good enough for Anouk the marina dog’s bed in the cockpit) – we would buy new ones and upholster them ourselves. The settees would be rebuilt with only minor changes to the measurements. The starboard settee would slide out to make a wider sea berth, and the port settee would be a little deeper than before. The new water tanks had found their place under the settees, and we could add some storage on both sides as well.
Now that most of the world is in lockdown mode, some of us have time to write about boat projects – and maybe some have time to read about them! In January, when we began our boat’s freshwater system refit, no one had heard of the Coronavirus. We were enjoying a nice Greek winter with sunny, warm days and cool, sometimes cold nights, and occasional rainy spells. The perfect time to work on the boat, especially if it happens to be of an older vintage with plenty of things needing improvement.