Thursday, 27 December 2012

The last blog in 2012 from Lesanda...

We hope you have all had a very merry Christmas and Santa has brought all your heart's desires but more on that later.  As this will be the last blog of 2012 I thought it might be nice just to reflect a little on the massive changes we have gone through this year.  Especially changing to a water based home rather than a land based one.  Up to now that is going very well although not without teething problems.  We have met many new friends this year and wish them all well as we go into 2013.  Last week, through the miracle of Facebook an old acquaintance who we met in Kefalonia years ago got back in touch with us.  It's great to be back in touch June and hope when you are out here again we can get together some time. 
Sanny doing the washing
Alison & Peter's humble little abode.
 A question that we have been asked many times by people who don't have boats is how do you manage to do your laundry, do you have to take it all to a laundrette?  Well, as the picture on the left of San on washday shows, we have a little twin-tub washing machine which stacks away in one of the cockpit lockers and comes out when needed to clean my skiddies.  For drying we just hang things out on the line suspended from the boats rigging or along the guard rails.  You have to be organised though as space is at a premium, especially on a small boat like Lesanda.

 Back to Yuletide   We spent Christmas eve to Boxing day with our good friends Alison and Peter who have the Katoghi restaurant up in the mountains at Vafkeri.  They very kindly provided us with a proper bed, the first time Sandra and I have slept in a "proper" bed since June, so as you can guess we relished the opportunity.  We tried to repay their kindness by helping with the preparations for their Christmas feast in some small way, although as usual we got the better end of the bargain!
The old Olive/Wine press in Vafkeri.
 Christmas itself was an excellent affair, there were eighteen of us including Alison and Peter all around one huge table for an eight course extravaganza.  It was superb and enjoyed by all.  I suppose the only downside was the entertainment as Paul forgot his guitar and he struggled with mine and I was no better, we had better blame it on the booze Paul!  We did have an hours sing song later when most people had gone though, by that time everyone but Pete and Alison was drunk anyway.
Pete & I with the makings of the huge table.

Alison & Sanny just getting the table centres right!

A layout fit for a king.
 We came home yesterday after helping square up the restaurant with them and having lunch up there as well (who wouldn't when you are there?) and now it's back to sleeping with the ceiling one foot above your nose!!  Thanks Katoghi for a great, great Christmas!
Christmas morning just waiting for the arrivals.

Everyone tucking in.
 I leave it there for now but we would just like to wish all our family, friends and everyone who reads our ramblings and very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.  HAPPY 2013.
Debbie, Pete and the infamous cheese board.
 P.S. Please scroll down and look at all the pictures I know there are a few but I think they give a feeling as to what it was like.
The table ain't nearly so pretty now!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A little before Christmas...

I had a strange experience the other day, I was walking through the marina unsuccessfully going from chandlers to chandlers trying to get an oil filter for Lesanda's engine, when I stopped to talk to Paul who in turn was talking to another couple who I did not know.  The lady, Linda, says to me "are you Les".  I immediately did a double take wondering if I owed money to anyone, and then cautiously answered yes.  She then introduced herself and said that she recognised me from this blog and said that I was part of the reason that her and her husband had come back out here to live for a couple of years.  They are currently staying with friends but if anyone reading this knows of a house for a reasonable rent on the flattish bits at the north of the island I'm sure she would be interested.
Some of the "crowd" at the quiz.

From the other end.
 Having as I said earlier failed to get a oil filter I have had to put the oil change on hold until the new year, I was hoping to get it out of the way before the Yuletide merriments began in earnest, but the only place which seems to have the correct filter is closed down until well into January, you'd think given the economic climate, time off would be on hold, not the Greek system I'm afraid.

Sandra and I have organised a meal and quiz night at Remezzo's restaurant on the Marina and this took place on Tuesday night.  I think, with forty attendees it was a great success although everybody, bar the winners, thought the questions too hard.  If we ever do it again, I'll have to get the grand children to write the questions; maybe not, they could be well beyond my feeble intellect.
View from our pontoon towards Lefkas town.

The quiz was very well attended and Sanny and I would like to thank everyone for making it such a special night, and also thank Nikos from Remezzo's for supplying the venue and putting on the meal and wine.  Thanks all.

Finally I would like to wish everyone who reads my weekly diatribe a very happy Christmas and just in case I have not recovered for next week a great, prosperous and healthy 2013.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

It's getting so tha needs t'at on...

Our Festive little boat, even in the rain.
The title, for those who aren't of a northern extraction, means it's getting quite cold here.  I'm  still wearing a tee shirt most of time but am starting to get some rather strange looks and I think the shorts have now been abandoned.   It's nothing like in the UK mind but I don't think we've been out of single figures temperature wise all week and in the mountains there has been snow.  Peter and Alison had some up in Vafkeri last week and the mountains on the mainland are showing their winter plumage once more.  We have also had a deluge of rain in the early part of the week making it difficult to have the windows open on Lesanda, thus getting loads of the resultant condensation inside, which is currently causing us a real problem as the bedding gets wet over night, well at Sanny's side it does so not that much of a problem :-)
Snow on the mountains for Chrimble.

I think that we will have to invest in a much more powerful dehumidifier, the one we brought out from the UK just will not remove enough water fast enough to be of any real use, I guess it's just another thing which will be going home with us when we take the car back.

On Tuesday, San and I had our first Daltons, this won't mean anything to most of the people back at home but everyone here will know exactly what I mean.  They are a Giros (Greek fast food) bar, and we have been going to get a giros from there for over four years now and never managed to do it, we have had them all over Greece but not from Daltons.  Some people advise keeping the place at a distance whilst others wax lyrical about it, so basically you've got to try it and draw your own conclusions.
Us with Peter before we left Vlicho.

So with our resident giros expert,Peter, in tow we bit the bullet and went for it!  It was excellent and had grated carrots and green peppers in it which I have not had before, as far as giros goes we will certainly be going again.  Pete did take a couple of pictures of Sanny devouring hers but as yet they have not arrived, if they get here by the time I've finished writing this I'll add them to if not well there's always next week.  In the meantime Pete is in this picture taken while we were still in Vlicho awaiting out cockpit tent..

Visited our Greek friends in Assos yesterday and as usual they were delighted to see us although Jorgos was down in the olive groove getting in this years harvest we still managed to catch up with all that's been going on in the village since our last village and also come away with our head spinning with all the Greek language which we don't very often use nowadays.  On the way back we decided to have a drive to Paleros and go to the Indian restaurant there.  Good job we did as they are shutting down for the winter on Sunday, get you skates on those who want to go!  Great meal and a good day out for us.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Storms in the offing...

After a few days of ill tempered weather Sandra was feeling rather fed up with life in the marina.  We where we were getting bashed by the boat next door whose lines were a little slack.  She is a Portuguese yacht and is much larger than us, so therefore when she swung about she met us with only our fenders between us, and moved us much more than we would have normally moved in the wind (which was recorded at around 50 knots here in the marina).  The Portuguese vessel is unattended but is being looked after by a marine company in the owners absence, until yesterday we had not seen them ever come and look at it though.  We asked the marina staff if they could contact the company and get someone to come and tighten her up a bit to make our lives a little more comfy and low and behold in the afternoon three guys turned up and did exactly that by adding another lazy line to her bows and generally tightening things up. 

Two "lazy lines" on both mine and next door boats.

And two stern lines at each side too.
We thought this was a good thing so Today I have added a spare lazy line to our boat and also doubled up the stern lines to make Sandra feel more secure.  Not that we were unsafe or anything but if you think things are wrong you will never settle.  Anyway we are now belt, braces and an additional bit of "massey harry band" around the middle.

On Monday we went to Ioannina with Alison and Peter from the Katoghi restaurant to get us a new telly (Christmas box to each other) and some decorations for the boat, and also for Pete & Alison's restaurant.  With a little judicious packing it all went in the little clio's boot, not an easy feat!  So yesterday we decorated the boat ready for the festive season.  The set of lights we bought lasted all of four hours before going tits up!!!  So now we will have to buy some more, don't get your lights from Jumbo every one.  You may just be able to see the blue lights around the gantry in the photo, these we have had for at least twelve years and despite one or two being out and a couple of the boxes which go over the lights being lost, they are still working fine, a testament to British standards maybe.

Last night we we went to the movie night at Porto to watch "The Bourne Legacy" an excellent film although I did have doubts about it when it didn't have Matt Damon in it!  As a pre show film Sharky brought along a short film of the Red Devils parachute display team of which he and Kev were both part of (back in the day!)  It was superb with all of the footage taken by the teams own cameraman.  It just goes to show how messed up these squady's really are when they will do things like that.  All hail Kevan and Sharky!


Thursday, 29 November 2012

OIL is safely gathered in...

When Kev & Linda's away, Barney will play.
 We had a visit from Barney while Linda and Kev packed ready to go back to England he had a really thorough inspection of the boat before going to his uncle sharky for tea.

On Sunday we managed to get the passerelle (gang plank) fitted.  San ended up with bruises on her chest from leaning over the side to hold it while I drilled the holes and bolted it on.  What should have been about an hours work ended up being three but this was mainly due to an acquaintance from earlier in the year finding out where we were and visiting us for an hour. Note to self: Must hide better next time!

Passerelle all fitted and working
Team meeting under the shade of Harry's solar panels.
 Monday and Tuesday we joined in the annual olive harvest with Liz, Tony, Deb and Jez.  They had already got the olives from their own properties over the weekend but we were collecting them from Harry and Eve's place and also Ray and Linda's.  Ray and Linda have tonnes of the things and the neatness and terracing in their garden makes picking them so much easier.  Thanks all you guys for allowing us access in your absence.
Just take the bloody twigs out!!

Our 213 Kg of olives going into the mill.
Coming out as Popeye's girlfriend.
We ended up with 213 Kilograms of olives which milled down to thirty five litres of oil.  We only took five litres as our share as being water bound there is precious little space for keeping any more.

Once again we had a great time getting the harvest in and watching the milling process, much to the amusement of the locals.

Yesterday the weather broke a little and throughout the day the wind gradually increased to force seven with gust of force eight.  This bounced our little boat around somewhat.  It lasted all night and into this morning but we have managed to come through it unscathed.  Sanny did remarkably well and actually slept from eight o'clock last night until seven this morning so that bodes well.  We have found a couple of minor leaks during the thunder storms we had during the night and this morning but nothing too serious.

Around midnight last night I heard some clattering outside in the howling wind and went out to investigate.  I found a wheelie bin floating rapidly towards our boat.  For those who don't know in Greece the bins are like the American dumpsters and will hold, I would guess, over a tonne if filled solid.  Anyway I couldn't get it out of the water so I got some rope and tethered the floating binberg to the side of the quay and went to bed.  This morning it had miraculously gone.  I found it later where it should be with my rope still attached, SPOOKY....  I guess some people much stronger and fitter than I saw it there and rescued it.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Live aboard at last...

Setting off from Vlicho.
 We finally moved Lesanda from Vlicho to Lefkas marina on Sunday.  Sanny piloted all the way except for a little time when she was making coffee for Tony and I, you have to get your women trained properly guys!!

 The water cut up quite choppy around the bottom of Meganissi but that wasn't a problem for her she just carried on brewing up regardless, it must bode well.
On board with Sanny doing the honours.

First cuppa in the new location.
Settleing in before the weather changes.

The weather can do what it wants now!

When we were entering the channel between Lefkas and the mainland Sandra looked at the channel markers and said "what are these malarkies down the side of the channel".  I wondered for a minute if she thought it was a slalom course but at least she kept the deep water.

On entering the marina we called up the tower to let them know we were coming in and Sandra reversed the boat right down the fairway right along to where we were going to moor at the beginning of G pontoon and with a little throttle control help from Tony right onto our mooring first time with no real problems.

Before leaving on Sunday morning we had had (another) final fitting of the cockpit tent so we were not going to have our outside room when we got to Lefkas.  We really could have done with it as Monday and Tuesday the weather was horrid with fairly persistent rain.  However, things picked up on Wednesday and Horatio Todd and his merry band of workers turned up to fit Lesanda winter ball gown.

Snug as a bug...
There are a couple of things need altering or adding but they can wait.  We are delighted with it and can now happily sit in the cockpit and watch the world go by without the night air causing us problems.  You have to be careful when you get to our age.

Sorry about the presentation this week but I've done it in a hurry as my PC has been giving me grief after installing a WiFi aerial and the software screwed the machine up twice, so I guess I'm not having an Alfa antenna.  Good job I borrowed one first :-)

Next week less boats as I'm sure it's boring everyone to death. 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

This time we are leaving - probably!

Sandra filling her up with water.
Recently we seem to have done nothing but boaty things as we get ready to move onto the next phase of our adventure.   This is not exactly true however, we had had a couple of meals out with friends and of course there was the annual pontoon party at the Marina last Friday.

During one of the tent fitting sessions.
There seems to be a very eclectic mix of people who will be overwintering in the marina or locally this year and the pontoon party provides the perfect way of each of them getting to know each other, with snacks and drinks being available all afternoon.  To me there seemed to be quite a few more none British people this year which is a good thing as it will add to the cosmopolitan atmosphere, or at least we hope so.  Of course there are many who have been here for previous winters or indeed stay permanently in these parts but in some ways it's the new ones which make life a little more interesting.

Alison and Peter from the Katoghi had a break for a week last week and they managed to twist our arms far enough to convince us to go out for a meal on Friday night.  It didn't need that much twisting I can assure you!  We had a lovely night with drinks in the Vass bar and a simple meal at the dolphin in Vasiliki.  (A little plug here, if you like eating at the Katoghi, then you can vote for them on the Telegraph web sites "best of British" poll.)

Sunday evening was spent out with Liz and Tony, always easy company, and another fine meal at Il Sapore in Nidri.  The night always seems to go so quickly and then when you leave you think "Oh I never asked...." or "I forgot to mention..." but never mind we see them all regularly enough.

The BOSS, mistress of all she surveys. 
We have been having regular fittings of the tent on the boat this week and we had a stated finish date of today, although I have allowed tomorrow and Saturday for slippages.  Sandra is chuffed to bits over the big windows, which is what she asked for anyway, don't think I'll ever understand women!  Anyway, we are leaving Vlicho on Sunday (to quote Sandra) "come hell or high water" and going to the marina.  If there is any outstanding work then they will have to come to us.  So this time I can say with some confidence, the next blog will be coming from our H2Ome (the water home).

Thursday, 8 November 2012

A day off and other things...

Sandra in lovely sunny Parga.
 With the disappointments of last weeks, high water, poor electricity etc.  and having to stay in the house a little longer, we decided to treat ourselves to a day off and have a ride up to Parga and along the Epirus coast line.  We couldn't have picked a better day for it with little wind and temps in the mid twenties.  Parga hasn't changed much although things are looking remarkably clean, spick and span for the end of the season, more like you would expect it to look in May and still as beautiful as ever.
The old town of Parga and the castle.

The town was actually bustling for this time of year perhaps the spring like weather had something to do with it.  Of course Sandra can't resist getting fruit and veg when it's fresh and displayed as nicely as it was there, I don't know whether we shall ever get around to eating it all as we are still cooking camping fashion in the tree house.

No day off is complete without fresh fruit and veg.
Tree and Mike have moved some of their furniture back into "our" house in anticipation of us moving out and them moving back in again so we are not quite slumming it as much as we were, we now have a settee and a dining table but of course are not there very often to enjoy using them.  However it is somewhere to lay lay our heads at present and we are grateful for that.

All the olive trees are loaded, bumper harvest?
Looking around the island at the moment it is obvious that this years harvest is going to be a real bumper one, virtually all the olive trees are absolutely laden with olives.  In all our years of coming to Greece I don't think we have ever seen such an abundance of fruit on the trees.  I suppose the downside of this is that there will be a lowering of the price for olive oil when it all hits the market which will mean that the farmers will have to harvest much more to get the same price, it always seems to be the less well off that take the brunt of things here.

The other love of my life getting her winter coat fitted.
 Things on the boat are now happening pretty quickly as the weather has improved.  All the steel work is now finished including the gantry where the solar panels are to be mounted, as is the spray hood.  The cockpit awning work is also progressing nicely we have had a fitting today to ensure that the patterns for the side and back sections is still "true" before they sew them together.  With good luck and a fair wind we should be in a position to move out of the house and onto the boat in the middle of the month.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

A bug in the system...

The Goulash brothers setting the new frame up.
 Last week, Adrian, our stainless steel fabricator, finished off the sprayhood and the cockpit awning frame, he should be working on the gantry for the solar panels now.  We had a visitation from a pair of Hungarian chaps who work for Orkide, who is doing the canvas works, to set all the frame up so she could take patterns for the canvas.  Adrian calls these two guys the Goulash Brothers but they are very helpful.

More or less all our worldly good on-board.
Although we have had all our goods and chattels installed on the boat we now have a situation where we had to bring some things back to the house.  A combination of a low pressure weather system, a full moon (exaggerating what little tide the med has) and the wind blowing straight into the enclosed bay means that there is exceptionally high water all the time.  This is so much so that it is causing us to paddle through ten meters of water with the level being halfway up our shins before we get to our gang plank.  Not a good situation for keeping Sandra on side.

The rot started when we had a storm towards the end of last week which resulted in Horatio Todd, the company who asked us to moor there for the work to be done, moving our boat to the outside of a much larger yacht which was side on to the quay.  This meant having to climb over the first yacht to get to ours, not another good situation, in fact Sandra could not have done it and I struggled.  Not only this but they disconnected our electricity (so the potentially full fridge went off), and never asked us if they could move it or informed us that they had.  We were not happy bunnies, but thought this was probably a precautionary action because of the impending storm.  So on Tuesday when it had passed I got them to move it back stern to the quay and thus much more accessible.  The water was high even then but got much worse over the next couple of days and the electricity supply was flooded resulting in me getting shocks from the rigging on the boat before it finally blow out altogether.  People in the next boat to us have moved because of the water and electricity situation saying they have not had any power for over three days.

Unfortunately we ain't. Note the water back here!
I have sorted out as best I can his electrical supply to the boats and at least now it is safer, although as an electrical engineer I should really condemn the lot of it.  There are about six to eight take off points all fed from one extension lead which crosses the main road inside a hose pipe.  much of the southern half of this cable is at least part of the time submerged in water and goes through several joints wrapped in plastic bags or similar "protection".   The black bag in the picture is our power pole! and it's still stood in water.

With this in mind we have contacted our long suffering landlady, Tree, and asked for a couple of weeks stay of execution which she has kindly agreed to, Thanks Tree.  We will therefore be staying in the house until the work is complete and we can leave Vlicho.  And it least with typical British stiff upper lip we are still smiling and warm and safe, which at the end of the day is all that you can expect.  Hopefully there will be some brighter weather and news next week.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The boat now known as Lesanda...

Once again we have the temporary "redeye" factory.
 Driving down to Vassiliki the other day we noticed that the temporary still for making tsiperou had started up again, which means the grape harvest is in full swing.  There were several locals Greeks sat chatting inside as the raw spirit fire water was being  produced.  They are selling off the product €5 per litre, I did think of buying some but I really do want to keep my eyesight as long as possible.

Who needs an engine or sails, this is Eco - fishing!
Saturday was Sandra's birthday and the day set aside to do the all important job of renaming the boat with no name.  We asked Kev to officiate over the proceedings which involved throwing into the sea an ingot bearing the old name of the vessel after having first removed from the boat all things which bore the name but prior to having anything on which had the new name.

Kev officiates over the renaming ceremony.
This is easier said than done so having already endowed her with her new decals, we covered them up for the duration of the ceremony.  Kev offered copious quantities of champaign to Poseidon and asked the ancient sea god to remove the old name from the records whilst thanking him for keeping her safe in the past and also for her safekeeping in the future.

A little libation for Poseidon
Then he turned to the gods of the north, south, east, and west winds and with yet more cheap champaign attempted to curry their favour.  Sandra and I had to drink the remnants of both bottles as skipper and first mate.  Then a little party with a few close friends and a few toasts to the boat and her future and also removing the covering from her new name so the world can now see her as she should be.  Following this Kev and I went to watch the footy on the TV!!

Liz has front row seat at the name unveiling.
I don't claim to know much about the superstitions around changing a boats name but we thought it would be wiser to be safe rather than sorry, and it was an excuse not to do anything much that day.  It was certainly the most unusual birthday that Sanny will ever have I think!

 On Monday we had arranged to move the boat to the next village up the bay to have her new steelwork and canvas work installed.

A new name for a fine vessel. 
So it was to Vlicho or Velcro as some people may call it because many of the people who turn up there never seem to be able to get away from the place!  The trip was eventful as when we set off we discovered that the anchor was stuck.  It had been set there by the Sailing Holidays people and we had not shifted it since taking ownership of her.

A bit of bovver.
At first we thought it was the guy moored next to us who has crossed our anchor as when we pulled on the windlass there was movement on his anchor chain.  We got the guy to un-moor and lift his anchor from ours but found he was in the same situation.  Fortunately he had a very powerful windlass and with both of us lifting we found the nature of the problem.  On this pontoon there had been lazy lines installed (for mooring without an anchor) this had almost vanished and through neglect had just rotted away.  This meant that all the kit on the bottom had just been left in-situ.  When we eventually got it to the surface we had five anchors, thirty yards of rope and about the same of chain dangling from our anchor.  Fortunately the owner of the pontoon came in a dingy and cut it all free for us but lost my very good knife in the process.  He was very quick to tell us that they are having proper lazy lines put in over the winter and this won't happen again! 
Bright shiny new steel work being installed.
Anyway we are now safely moored at Vlicho and the steel work is well on the way to being completed.  In the picture you can see they are just making templates for the canvas for the new spray hood and cockpit enclosure.  If all goes according to plan the next blog should be written from the good ship Lesanda.