After 24 hours with our instructor Igor, who gave us, among other things, some tuition on how to tie up Sunday, our newly acquired catamaran, in the ‘Mediterranean style’, we let go our lines, pulled up the anchor and motored out of the busy port of Aegina, an island close to Athens in Greece.
We managed to get out of our spot without damaging Sunday or any of the other boats around which was a great relief and soon we were well clear and on our way to our anchorage for the night at the small uninhabited island of Moni.
The first anchorage we tried didn’t feel quite right as the wind appeared to be blowing straight in, so we decided to go round the corner to another little bay that seemed more sheltered.￼
There was one other boat in the anchorage and it was anchored and tied up “Mediterranean style” to some rocks ashore. We realised why this was such a popular option as the bay was small with not much swing room, so if you wanted to be tucked up in a sheltered spot in reasonably shallow water, tying up would be a good idea. However, on this occasion we decided to anchor in our normal way.
In the early hours we were woken to that all too familar sound of a high wind in the rigging – an onshore wind had blown up and was gusting at 27 or 28 knots. This was the first time we had anchored Sunday and we didn’t know how her 25 kilo Delta anchor would cope (we prefer a Rocna and have ordered a a 33 kilo one).
As we were both wide awake we decided to sit the weather out and do an anchor watch. Thankfully we had let out a good amount of chain (but not too much!) and the anchor held well.
By breakfast time the wind had dropped and soon we were on our way again heading for the pretty island of Poros.
We found a lovely bay to anchor, with only one other yacht already in before us.￼
We learnt that a house on the headland once belonged to the famous Greek poet and diplomat George Seferis. We weren’t surprised to learn that the enchanting view of the bay where we had anchored was a great source of inspiration to him.
Strolling along the coast looking for a cold beer, we realised that the tourist season was well and truly over (just how we like it really) as all the restaurants and bars were closed and had stacked their tables and chairs away for the winter months.
Thank goodness we had a good solid sleep in our calm bay and we woke to a perfectly still and crystal clear morning. It was just so restful being there in this beautiful spot that we decided to stay the there for a couple of nights.
We went ashore again, this time walking all the way into the harbour of Poros past all the holiday homes, closed up tavernas and small hotels.
There were a number of cruising yachts tied up in Poros town – one was getting pumped out by the fire brigade and we wondered if the absentee owner would have to pay for this?
All too soon it was time to go back to Alimos Marina to organise various projects that we wanted to get started before we left Athens on our road trip back to the Netherlands.
We had a very pleasant and uneventful trip back and even managed to dock Sunday without mishap. Thankfully Nicos and Manos, the previous owners were kindly waiting for us and helped us in.
There are a number of things that are really different about staying in a marina in Athens compared with Australia. Apart from the fact there are no finger wharfs in between the boats, one of the things that has surprised me is that people drive their cars and trucks along the piers. Sometimes there is even a bit of a traffic jam!
Another surprise is there are no travel lifts in Alimos Marina despite the vast number of yachts. There are two cranes that are used to lift boats out of the water and a low loader that takes the boats to their hard stand. Sometimes the cranes are used to lift technicians so they can work on the top of the mast without having to be hoisted up on a bosun’s chair!
Back in Athens and we had another change in the weather – from gorgeous sunshine to a downpour of biblical proportions! We were very glad it rained so hard as we discovered a couple of major leaks! Fortunately, Captain Birdseye was able to make excellent repairs by refitting the staunchions (the stainless steel uprights that hold up the safety lines) with double washers and using the yachtie’s weapon of choice – Sikaflex, a waterproof sealant.
As we were planning to leave Sunday from December through to March we decided to take the opportunity to “winterise” her in the way she had been for all her ten years to date. That is, take the sails down and wash, dry, fold them and store them down below; dismantle the winches and clean them; take the anchor windlass off and thoroughly clean it and store inside; take the toilets out, clean and replace pipes and refurbish the motors, clean and deodorise the holding tanks etc.
Fortunately we had Sayeed who has looked after and maintained Sunday from new, to do much of the work and school us on jobs we hadn’t done before such as “mouse” string through the complex running rigging to allow easy replacement – once all the lines had been washed in fresh water and dried.
We also tried to organise some other work that we wanted to sort out before we left, for example, installation of AIS (Automatic Identification System) and other electronic equipment; a complete overhaul on both engines and replacement of the two bladed props for three bladed; quotes for some sunshades and a few upholstery repairs and the batteries tested and possibly replaced.
As the yachting season has finished and with many companies and suppliers winding down for Christmas, progress has been somewhat slow and frustrating. Despite that, we have enjoyed each day – getting to know the boat better, exploring the area around Alimos Marina and of course eating some delicious Greek food.
We particularly enjoyed a long afternoon lunch with Nicos, his delightful wife Vina and their son Manos, at a very busy and typically Greek restaurant called Aristos. Great food and great company!