Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A great day for the race....

The intrepid crew of "Jungle" L to R Dave, Tony, Keith, Mark and Les

Victorious after day one! Liz helps us down a couple of beers.

At the evening banquet
This last weekend saw us starting a new phase of our lives out here by being part of the boat racing community.  I helped crew "Jungle", a small J24 yacht partly owned by our good friend Tony, on a two day race to and from the island of Meganissi, the outward leg starting on Saturday afternoon at Lygia harbour going around the back of Scorpios and on to port Vathi on Meganissi.  We had a five man crew (or perhaps I should say a four man crew plus me) Tony, David, Mark, Keith and myself.

And some Greek bouzouki music into the bargain.
Lots of people eating more than they should
Sandra and Liz (Tony's much suffering partner!) couldn't see the start of the race at Lygia as they had to get down the coast to Nidri in order to catch the ferry for Meganissi and be there for our arrival.  The first leg took us about two hours forty minutes in fairly light winds.  I must confess to pulling the wrong ropes several times but fortunately the rest of the crew were forgiving enough and didn't force me to walk the plank, mind you I think it was only because it would have slowed them down!   Anyway we led all the way although we were fairly closely followed by one yacht.  When we got the entrance to Vathi bay we were unsure of which side of the finishing buoy we should go this caused us to have to tack twice and loose some time but fortunately the following boat also hit some slack air at the same time so we ended up with about a four minute plus advantage to take into the second leg.

The race had been sponsored by a Greek family who had lost a son to some Albanian pirates and used this to commemorate his passing.  They supplied a free evening of food and drink at one of the local tavernas on the harbour front.  The food was excellent and must have been continuously flowing for about two and a half hours with myriad jugs of wine always being passed about the table.  After the food one of the Greek gents produced a bouzouki and the others encouraged the group of people to join in the merriment.  We stayed in an hotel overnight and expected having the mummy and daddy of all hangovers in the morning but surprisingly all heads seemed clear the next day.

Busy getting ready to set off for the second leg.
The next day the race controller said it would just be a straight race back to Lygia, the experienced yachties didn't like this idea as it would just be a straight drag race as no tactics would come into play and it was just downwind all the way with all the big spinika's flying.  This was over ruled and a drag race it was but I ended up being a bit (a lot) of a passenger.  The spinika takes a great deal of tweaking and I couldn't read the signs quick enough to stop the sail collapsing but fortunately Keith and Mark worked very well as a team especially Keith who was stood all the way home pulling and releasing ropes sometimes with quite a heavy load on them when gusts came, and when they did we really flew.  We ended up being second across the line but less than 2 minutes behind the leader who was the same rival we had in the first leg so the overhaul winner came down to times and taking the handicap system into account.  "jungle" being a fast boat owed something like 6 seconds an hour to the other one and with around 4 hours racing time this was twenty odd seconds off our first leg lead but fortunately we still had enough in the bank to end up aggregate winners of the race.
Mingling around the start line at Vathi

I think I have a great deal to learn about competitive racing but it'll come given practice and some expert tutelage.  Anyway, I've got all of two weeks before the next race!!!

Our Landlords arrived back home (next door villa to us) on Tuesday after driving all the way from England, I mean not going to Italy and getting a ferry across to Greece but taking the eastern European route through Romania, Bulgaria etc.  They seem to have very much enjoyed the trip so that may become an option for another time when we drive back to the UK.  They seemed very pleased to see us and we are going to have a meal together at the village taverna on Thursday night so that's something to look forward to.

Thursday, 18 November 2010


Tony and Liz arrived back from their "Italian Job" at the end of last week and came down to our end of the Island to see us on Saturday.  It was really good to see old friends and we spent most of the afternoon slowly consuming alcohol (well Tony and I did) whilst talking of the marvels that they had seen whilst on their tour which went from Venice in the north east to Sicily in the south west, taking in most of the major historical attractions.  Both Sandra and I were quite jealous and resolved to try and see something of Italy the next time we are there rather than just travelling straight through the country.  As a tribute to the Italian afternoon we had, we decided that the Italian restaurant in Nidri was appropriate for our evening meal so with more wine and a very nice meal a great day was completed.  Thanks to Liz and Tony for the Italian gifts and the company.

Grounded Ferry from our house through the mist
We looked out over Vasiliki bay yesterday morning (Wednesday) and to our suprise it looked like a ship was trying to create a shortcut to Italy by going through the peninsular rather than around it.  Later there were some reports on the Greece news websites about it.  It seems it is a Malta flagged ship, "Kolossos", had 20 crew, 58 Lorries and 11 drivers aboard.  It was going from Corinth to Ancona in Italy and there are no injuries. 

Grounded ferry again taken from Vasiliki ferry terminal
This morning (Thursday) the ship is still wedged firmly onto the rocky coast with a couple of tugs in attendance.  It seems that there is some damage and divers are now looking to see what the extent of this is before they move it.  A couple of comments on face book suggested it may be a "Greek Radar" or "Ouzo navigation" which caused the problem but local opinion is that the skipper was asleep!  With modern instrumentation this really shouldn't happen even though the weather was foggy they don't really need to see where they are going! and there is a light house on the point of the peninsular anyway.  I think the Captain may be looking for another job now.

Gourde given to us by a neighbour
One of our Greek neighbours came yesterday to give us a gift of a carrier bag full to the top with tomatoes and also a gourde and we don't really know what to do with it, (clean suggestions on the back of a ten euro note).  Sandra says that she'll treat it like a pumpkin or marrow but time will tell.  I'll let you all know next week what it's like assuming I survive the experience.
 I've just printed him off a copy of the picture of the ferry accident as they are very excited about it all.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Looking to the heavens...

Happy Birthday to Claire, the wife of number one son, who's birthday it is today Thursday 11th November.

The new dish after I had dismounted it from the wall
You can see the stand arrangement which is really not strong enough.
This week has been dominated by trying to set up the big Satellite dish which we brought out from the UK.  We have always been able to get ITV C4 and C5 as well as many of the SKY channels although struggled with the +1 versions.  We could also get BBC News channel which is very handy as it gives access to the interactive things on BBC such as F1 racing etc.  However, I still think that the BBC produces the best drama and comedy programmes on TV and as such we thought that getting a larger dish would give us a better chance of being able to get BBC 1 to 4.  With this in mind we had the opportunity of a 2mt dish which was surplus to requirements from our good friends Allen and Jean.  It didn't have an LNB so I bought one which was matched to this dish off EBay for 75 quid whilst in the UK over the summer.  Our existing dish is only about 1mt but has performed quite well in the time we have been here in Greece.  The new dish took a day to put together correctly as misalignment of the panels would affect the performance.  I then had to wait a couple of days before I could mount the thing as we had quite stiff breezes and I didn't want to use it as an hang glider.  Anyway, it took another day to get it mounted and tuned into the Astra satellite; it can be quite tricky because you are aiming at something the size of a mini 33,000 miles away in space.  I was very disappointed because after several hours of tweaking I still couldn't get as good reception as I was getting with my other dish which is half the size.  In the end I have taken it down and mounted my old dish in a permanent location, I had it temporarily mounted on the balcony after moving house but now it's down in the garden in a nice sheltered location and getting better reception than ever, even getting some of the missing channels!  Moral to the story is that BIGGER isn't always better!  Anyone want to buy a big dish with an LNB?

Thursday, 4 November 2010


Sandra outside in her nighty doing a bit of computing!
It makes a real difference being in the new house in Vournikas, we really feel at home here.  Sandra has been getting used to  baking and cooking with the Arga type cooker which is very different to a conventional cooker, but the food is just as good as ever!  It's much warmer in this house although we have had a small fire on an evening it's not really necessary.  It makes us smile to think of the old house at Assos with the "thermansi" blasting away in the corner burning more oil than would run the car for a week and producing more black smoke than heat.  We would sit huddled near the heater with the side facing it being very warm but the side facing away being very cold, me visualizing Euros going through the roof.  This place is well insulated so even though it's a much bigger lounge/kitchen it's an even temperature all around.  The other thing is it's considerably warmer here on Lefkas than it is up in the mountain and at this time of year up at Assos there seems to be always cloud surrounding the village thus it's a very damp atmosphere.


We have spent much of this week bringing the garden back into shape.  It was originally laid out with minimal maintenance in mind but things were a tad overgrown.  Some things have been put in the wrong place as they are choking each other but will have to wait until Tree & Mike get here to see what they think, whilst many of the creeping plants were many feet over the stone covered walking area.  Anyway most of this has been completed now and the garden looks a real picture as you may be able to tell from the pictures.
The gathering at Lefkas Marina
 Sandra and I went out for a meal at an Italian restaurant in Nidre on Sunday night, we thought we would have something a little different to what we had been eating recently  and very nice it was too.  We even saw a couple of people who we hadn't seen for some considerable time so that was nice also.  Of course we had to be home for 10 o'clock for the X-factor!

Today, Thursday, we have been to a pontoon party on the marina at Lefkas.  This is just really a social get together for the people who are on the island for the winter as a way of introducing people to each other or re-establishing with old acquaintances, a bit of take along some food and drink for a communal table, what we used to call an American supper back in our caravanning days.  Very enjoyable afternoon and met some new people also arranged for Christmas Lunch, thanks  to Linda and Debs and thanks to Debbie and Jez for inviting us today.