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ADDITIONS TO THE BLOG as of April 2017: Shamal and her Crew being Mum and Dad are in the Cayman Islands * Should you want to contact us, you can do so by clicking on the Contact Us tab below. * PLEASE subscribe to the Blog, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox.



25 May 2014

Greece


Hello Again
William and Matthew Abu Dhabi
 
It is with some sad news that we open this newsletter.  Our first crew members who were to join us for leg one from The Bay of Islands in New Zealand to Noumea and Vanuatu were Kathy and Dave. They had pervious yachting experience having owned a catamaran, and were so much fun and truly made that leg a memorable one.  Dave even offered to dive overboard to help clear a blocked loo mid ocean.  Most people would leave the skipper to do that. Sadly Dave died in a tramping accident on the west coast of the South Island earlier this year.  He was right into the outdoors. Dave you are sadly missed. Kathy our love and prayers stay with you.

 
House of Flowers, Miracle Gardens
 
Well we finished off our last newsletter in Abu Dhabi.  We were to spend another week there before departing.  It was sad for us when the time came to say goodbye to family, particularly the boys whom we had been with for the last five months. We are not sure when we will catch up with them again.  But as I keep saying, thank goodness for Skype.

 
Alec and I spent the last couple of nights in Dubai with our good friends Judith and Graham who are fast becoming our competent crew members.  They took us out to visit ‘Miracle Gardens’.  Help you would only see something as weird and ‘over the top’ as far as gardens go, in Dubai.  Anything out of the ordinary had (mainly petunias)) growing in or out of it.  I will explain no further, just look at the photos.  This place is only open in their winter months as summer would get too hot for the poor plants to be maintained on the grand scale of planting that there is. It was evening when we visited, and the strong smell of the flowers was quite overwhelming.  My favourite was the peacock.

 
So on the morning of the 17th April we headed out to Dubai airport with 82kg. of luggage!!!  That was check in luggage, we will not mention our hand luggage.  We had been allotted 70kg and were really pushing it trying to get away with the extra 12kg. Judith kindly followed us out should we have to off load anything, and, we needed her.  Alec removed a transformer which he had brought for using in the States which will change the power from 110 volts to 240 volts. It was one of those ‘must have’ buys as the price was ‘so good’ in Dubai!!!  Judith and Graham will just have to come and visit us later in the year and bring it with them – thanks so much Guys.  So we flew out to Athens only a little lighter, then caught the bus for the five hour drive back to the marina in Lefkas.

 
It was a gorgeous afternoon as we descended into Athens with the sun-drenched Islands, and the sparkling  turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, with small white caps being blown up by the old familiar ‘meltemi wind’, which will now be the prominent wind in this area for the rest of the summer.  It was exciting to be heading into yet another sailing season visiting some old familiar grounds, but also to explore new destinations along the way, and with the weather like it was that afternoon, we were looking forward already to that glass of wine to wash down our dolmades – stuffed vine leaves, then stuffed calamari for me, and a piece of grilled Swordfish for Alec, all accompanied by a big fresh Greek Salad, as we sit in that small Taverna overlooking a tranquil bay with SHAMAL gently rocking at anchor. As the bus drove is along the northern shores of the Peloponnisos between Corinth and Rion (where a striking bridge crosses the Gulf of Corinth) we could still see remnants of snow on Mt Parnassos across the Gulf on mainland Greece.  Winter was not quite over yet !!!

 
That feeling of euphoria did not last long.  We arrived in Lefkas around 10.00pm. Everything went smoothly with our ‘tons of luggage’ and we found SHAMAL in excellent condition.  She had ‘wintered’ well.  Talking with the locals later we found that they had a mild but rather wet winter.  That would account for why she was nice a clean – well washed.  We woke the following morning to a rather drastic change in the weather.  For the rest of April and the first two weeks of May we had rain every day, sometimes accompanied by strong winds and some incredible thunder and lightning storms. We worked through our list of jobs preparing SHAMAL, and in doing so needed to order in two spare water pumps from England.  These, along with a pension review back in NZ for Alec, which he is due to receive this year, (yes he is about to become that MAGICAL age) have held us up in this area much longer than we anticipated.  The pumps finally arrived on 15th May supposedly coming courier mail for which we paid £56 !!  They took nine days – by Pony Express Alec says.  Originally we were told they would be with us by the end of May.  Not only that they have more than doubled in price since we brought the last ones three and a half years ago – so Alec REALLY does need to receive that pension.

 

 


Lefkada (levkas) is not too bad a place to be ‘stuck’ in for a while. Alec’s old flying colleague Peter Fidder also has his boat in the same Marina which he purchased recently, and he arrived to work on her.  We have also run into people we have met before.   New Zealand couple Laurence and Diane returned to their boat ‘Envoy’ and were moored on the same pontoon as us.  Another lovely couple Vincent and Barbie off S/Y ‘ Horizons’ from the USA, and Bruno and Judy off S/Y ‘Pacific Pearl’. Bruno is French and Judy an Australian.  So time has been spent with long conversations putting boats, and the world, to rights over coffee’s, drinks and dinners.  That’s what part of the CRUISING life is all about.  Your boat is just a means of getting from place to place to meet up with like-minded people. Then there are the locals who are friendly and always helpful.  Alec and I arrived at a paint shop the other day and it had just closed and the owner was about to return home on his motor bike for a late lunch.  But he opened up again and we purchased what we needed.  He apologised he could not find everything as he had just moved into new premises, and had also had a couple of Ouzo’s as it was closing time !!  His English was good and he told us he had worked on tankers for Shell and had visited NZ. He liked New Zealanders as his neighbour had told him how they had helped the Greeks during the war.  We left thanking him and set off up the road on our bikes.  He arrived at his ‘local’ Taverna and seeing us peddle by insisted we stop and join him for a drink.  Out came the Ouzo for him, Beer for Alec, and I just stuck to a coffee as it was a bit early in the day for me.  He chatted away for another hour introducing us to all his friends, then inviting us to visit him at his home in another bay on the island.
Charter Yachts in Ormos Vlikho

 
So now we have moved SHAMAL out of the marina as our wintering over time finished at the beginning of May.  We have come back for a second visit this season to Ormos Vlikho, a superbly sheltered bay about 8nm south of the township of Levkas.  It also has the nick-name Velcro Bay among boaties as the holding is so good – thick mud !!!!  On our first visit here just over a week ago as we were motoring into the bay we noticed a small motor launch with its bicycles on the back.  We looked at each other and it immediately dawned on us that we had left our bikes chained up to the bike stand at the marina.  All was well as when we returned a few days later, there they were still waiting to be picked up.  So glad we had not set sail for Sicily !!!!  We had our first swim of the season and have also managed to give the spinnaker an airing which was great.  So, we will wait until next week when we hope to hear the outcome of Alec’s pension review.  We are very much hoping he does not have to return to NZ to sort this all out, as it is time to move on.

 
Alec at work
Just a little bit of information for other cruisers out there.  We had to hand in our Greek Cruising Log to Customs here in Lefkada over the winter months while we were away.  When we went to pick it up again we were asked to visit the Port Police so they could work out the “tax” we owed. They sent us over to the tax office to pay.  At Euros 14.67 per mt. (we are 11.6mt) it came to Euros 170 plus the 23% Vat.- total Euros 210 for three months.  Therefore we paid a total of Euros 418.62. That was for the period of six months.  That is for a non-EU boat.  The tax office would not accept a credit card – only cash !!!  For Euros 20 our cruising log has been extended for another 6 mths by the Customs office.

 
OK on that wonderful note on ‘How to Spend another Boat Buck’ we will sign out

 

Love from

The Admiral and the Commander

5 comments:

  1. I love reading about your adventures. Things and places I can only imagine come to life. Be blessed. From your "home" in the states. Putnam, Connecticut.

    ReplyDelete
  2. G'day Anne and Alec,

    I read your article in the May Cruising Helsman, and we have both been reading your blogs. They are great and you have had an amazing time.
    That photo of Shamal leaving Ragusa looks like the one that I sent you when I saw you leave for Malta?

    We are about to fly to Venice ( 24 July) to pick up Fan Fan and then sail the northern part of the Adriatic ending up in Zadar in late September.

    Take care and have fun.

    Ray and Donna Daley
    "Fan Fan"
    Avalon Beach, Sydney

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