Auf Wiedersehen, Messolonghi!

Auf Wiedersehen, Messolonghi!

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.

Rigging check before we go – everything’s in order. It’s always a bit scary on the way up, but on the way back down you’re already used to the view.

We had long ago finished all of our projects that we had planned for the winter – the plumbing refit and rebuilding of our saloon – and were free to spend the last weeks at the marina enjoying good company, barbecues and even a number of birthday parties. The small number of people who had spent the winter in Messolonghi had become a tight circle of friends during the lockdown. It felt almost sad to be going, but the beauty and freedom of the Ionian islands was calling very loudly. And before we could really taste that freedom, we had to spend a few sweaty weeks at a boatyard, working on projects that had been postponed because of corona, but could not be postponed any longer. So we ground away the last days to make our boat seaworthy again, and planned to untie the lines on May the 30th.

Before the departure, we still had time for a glorious day in the mountains with our dock neighbours, Pat and Tony. We travelled up to the small mountain village of Ellinika on their motor home, and from there hiked up the mountain side. It was a warm and sunny day, flowers in bloom and beautiful scents in the air along the vallies and pine forests and magnificent views across the landscape. We could see the lagoons and salt pools that surround Messolonghi, its harbour and anchorage, and further off the Ionian islands as far as Kefalonia and Lefkas.

Finally it was time to leave! We got up at an (for us) unusually early hour. I hadn’t enjoyed much sleep the night before, as there seemed to be so much to remember. It would only be a leisurely cruise of one or two days, but after seven months of marina life the idea of sailing felt very strange. Would I even remember what it was like to be on a moving boat? Would there be any wind, and if so, did we still know how to sail? And had we really arranged and fastened everything so that the first lean would not produce tremendous clamor, mayhem and broken things?

Fishing huts along the Messolonghi channel in the morning calm.

The morning was almost cloudless and very still. Our engine fired right up (we had naturally tested it a few times before), the lines became untied, and then we motored out of our winter base towards new views and different winds. Along the Messolonghi channel we met a couple of fishing boats returning home, otherwise the world was still asleep. After the canal, there was the open sea with the sun beaming on its flat surface. Aina’s bow turned towards the western horizon quite by itself, and we were on our way! It felt so good we both let out a long sigh. I’m sure I could hear Aina doing the same!

The sails are raised and a nice summer breeze carries us towards the Ionian adventures!

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