We were so relieved to have made it to our new home – the good ship Sunday – waiting patiently for us in Alimos Marina in Athens, Greece.
Fortunately we just made it with a day or so to spare as only a day – maybe two -later, all Greek borders were closed and flights to Athens halted in order to keep the Covid-19 virus at bay. On arrival we had to hunker down and stay on board in quarantine for fourteen days.
The time went quickly as we plenty to do – unpacking, finding places for everything and getting to know our new-to-us Lagoon 420 which was not only our new boat but also our new home.
We had to make ourselves scarce “down below” while the canvas enclosure in the “cockpit” received its final fitting. Aeronautica, the company who we chose for the project did a fantastic job and we are thrilled with the result.
The new canvas gives us so much shelter from the sun and also fantastic privacy!
We were so happy to be back on the boat but it was strange not being allowed to leave it at all for fourteen days. During this time we enjoyed some great “lockdown” meals including wonderful Greek salads and also homemade soup as it really was quite chilly.
One day soon after we arrived, Tim Whittaker from New Zealand came and introduced himself. He was on tenterhooks waiting for his wife Silke and two children Luca and Nina, to join him for the start of their sailing adventure on their newly acquired boat Polykandros.
With flights being cancelled all over the planet and Tim’s family in the midst of flying across from the other side of the world, it was it was nail-biting stuff. Would they arrive safely? And even they did, would they be allowed in? Greece had instigated a ban on the entry of non-EU non-resident nationals from March 18.
Thankfully, all was well we found out later (fortunately Silke and the children hold German passports) and there was another joyful reunion when their delightful little dog Lucy arrived in a special crate on a later flight.
We had some pretty average weather during our first couple of weeks including some heavy rain storms that dropped copious amounts of red dust all over our once white and gleaming decks. So quite a lot of time was spent cleaning!
Soon enough we were able to go out for exercise or to shop for food at the supermarket. The whole of Athens was by then in strict lockdown (from 23 March – six days after we arrived) and we were meant to text a special phone number to detail our movements and our reason for being out and about.
As we just had our Dutch phone numbers, with data only plans, we were unable to comply with this rule. Fortunately we were only stopped once by the police just a couple of days before Lockdown was ended. They were fine and just reiterated what the rules were and gave us the number to send messages to.
Once we could venture out life was a little more interesting as we could walk along the seashore or around the massive marina (with at least a thousand boats!) or inland to the shopping street ( although the only shop open was the supermarket!)
We also paid a visit to the newly arrived Kiwis and met their little dog Lucy. The whole family soon endeared themselves to us and we extended our “bubble” to include each other.
At first it was a matter of borrowing Lucy for walks but then we started having tea and biscuits in the cockpit of each other’s boats and eventually a great mutually helpful and supportive friendship developed.
One day early on in “lockdown”, we sent 13 year-old Luca up the mast to investigate a faulty steaming light. He was amazingly brave and miraculously seemed to enjoy be hoisted up in the bosun’s chair. This was a great relief to Jonathan and I as we both hate heights!
His Dad Tim also had a turn as Luca tried but was unable to extract the steaming light globe. Unfortunately nor could Tim but he did take some great photos from the top of the mast.
A photographer by profession, Tim has shared some of his wonderful shots with us. He and Silke also have a You Tube channel – if you are interested (you might get a glimpse of us too!) follow this link: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UC4qQDTkZBmiuWPZyyU4cb5A
Another of the positive outcomes of “Corona Lockdown” is that we have had wonderful video sessions with family and friends, many of whom we had not communicated with this way before.
We have really enjoyed and appreciated these Zoom, What’s App and Skype sessions and have had many great chats and good laughs.
It’s been especially lovely seeing the younger members of our extended family grow in confidence during these sessions. We have been introduced to hamsters, new kittens, been read creative stories, received demonstrations of home made lip gloss and entertained by one of our great nephews as he struck comical poses as he walked on and off camera behind his unsuspecting parents.
In our own little family one session was devoted to being introduced to our “grandduckies”. They were just so cute and it was delightful to see them at such close quarters while they were still very young.
Another excellent Zoom session was with the bookgroup I belong to in Brisbane. Since we have been travelling (five years now!) I have just been reading the selected book and sending in my comments, with the occasional “live” participation when back in Brisbane. It was therefore so wonderful to hear in real time what everyone else thought about the book of choice for the month.
Our first month of lockdown provided many unexpected elements. Normally when we are travelling our world is very small and we are well used to being “just the two of us”. Lockdown meant reconnection with great friends, more extended family time than ever before, making new friends, and staying in one spot but “Zooming” all over the place!