We left the island of Kefalonia to sail to the Greek mainland. Along the way we anchored for one night on the island’s southeast corner, and continued in the morning towards the town of Mesolongi. We made landfall at dusk. Mesolongi is situated at the mouth of the Patras Bay, and surrounded by extensive salt marshes and lagoons. A narrow, dredged channel leads into the town bay, about a mile and a half inland. There are peculiar houses built on stilts on both sides of it, and many small wooden piers. Numerous bird species inhabit the wetlands, even pink flamingos, of which we saw a great big flock with our binoculars as we motored along the channel.
The sun was beaming from a bright blue sky when we began our ”autumn holiday” on the Bay of Corinth. We had our winter base in Mesolongi sorted out, but the winter was still a long way away! The day turned very hot, and a gentle breeze started in the afternoon. We rolled out our big genoa, and let the boat move downwind at her own chosen speed. There was no hurry, but our big lady seemed to be waking up as the wind gradually freshened, and was making good speed. Soon we could see the Rio-Antirrio Bridge looming in the distance. This imposing bridge that opened just before the Olympic Games of Athens in 2004, separates the Bay of Patras from the Bay of Corinth, and connects the Peloponnese to the Greek mainland.
Delphi was once the centre of the world. According to the legend, the Cretans came here with their god Apollo, who had taken the shape of a dolphin, and built the first temple. But the dawn of Delphi’s history goes back much further. Somewhere in the mountains, there was the cave of Gaia, Mother Earth, where the predecessors of Apollo’s priestess Pythia performed their sacred rituals.
Last time we left our readers hanging on the shore in Itéa, after a wonderful trip to the temples of Delphi. It’s about time to wrap up our October journey on the Bay of Corinth, but before settling down for the winter in Mesolonghi, we still had time to visit the town of Galaxidi. It’s situated opposite Itéa and it took us less than an hour to motor across the bay.
Every once in a while it feels good to take a break from boat life – to travel along roads, live in a house that sits firmly on the ground, sleep in a bed that doesn’t rock from side to side. Before Christmas, we decided to run away from the marina for a week, and headed to a region very different from the usual “Greek Holiday Destination”. Clearly, these few months that we have spent in Greece is just scratching the surface: this country has so many facets and so many stories hidden amongst its thousands of years of history. This blog post is not about sailing or the sea, this time we escape into the mountains!
If you travel to a mountainous area, the first thing you naturally want to see there are the mountains! We found the Zagori area in northwestern Greece to be a true treasure trove of many other things as well – such as distinctive culture, history, stone villages and bridges, rich flora and fauna and all sorts of strange and wonderful things – but the mountains would be a good starting point. And those gorges and mountains are really the reason why the history and culture of Zagori turned out the way it did. Also, you can see very far from high places and easily form a general idea of the area.
During the first days of our mountain holiday in Zagori, we visited the mountains and the spectacular gorge that I wrote about in a previous post. In earlier brief history, I mentioned that there are also 46 old villages built of stone – now it’s time to visit some of them! These days there are less than 4000 inhabitants in the area. In the heyday, the number was many times that. Fortunately, travellers interested in nature, hiking, biking, horse riding, canoeing, climbing and other outdoor activities are beginning to find their way here, as well as those who are into history, architecture and stone construction. And for people who just love rocks – we happen to have those among our friends – it’s an endless goldmine.
After a leisurely Christmas and New Year it was time for some much needed boat refit – plumbing, to be precise. We’re still in the middle of it, and that’s why I won’t go into any detail at this moment. I will write about the project later, when it’s finished. There hasn’t been much time for anything else besides drilling, screwing, demolishing and building during the last few weeks.
In January we began the first boat project we had scheduled for the winter. In March we meant to sail the boat to a boatyard and commence further projects on dry land. Those plans have now been delayed, postponed to a “more suitable time”, or perhaps they might turn into something a bit different. Who knows, unexpected things happen, as we well know. When we first started our journey, we had ambitious route plans and schedules, which soon turned topsy-turvy. Since then we have only sailed (or stayed put, like we now have for the winter) one day at a time. It used to sound a bit cliché to say that to people who asked about our plans. But then came the Coronavirus, and the world has rapidly changed. I bet living one day at a time is much more common now than it was a few weeks or months ago!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.