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Cruising Again

May 9, 2011

Well, the wilds of Greece (or at least the island of Paxos) expose the fragility of the mobile internet system in the country.  Since we left Gouvia on Tuesday, giving in to the unbearable wanderlust, we’ve not had very good internet access.  However, rather than leave you all with no account of our wanderings, we’ve decided to resort to a pictureless blog until we get better speed that’ll allow us to upload some illustrations of where we’ve been and what we’ve been up to.  You’ll have noticed that the last blog also lacked illustrations – that’s for the same reason.  It was ready to post before we left Gouvia but we hadn’t sorted the pictures out, so it’s been posted bare for the time being.

Paxos

So, what have we been doing?

Tuesday was a dull, overcast day with occasional rain flurries and quite a strong southerly wind.  Initially, there was no thought of leaving the marina; we intended to do a bit of shopping and wait out the weather.  In the end, after buying a mini sewing machine, we decided that enough was enough and we’d have a few days sailing before Naomi, Ken and the grandchildren arrive on 17 May.  So, off we set.  We didn’t discuss where we were going, nor did we do much in the way of preparation, simply made sure there was enough food on board for a couple of night and set off……

As we cleared the harbour, we held a brief discussion and decided to head to Pagania, a perfect little anchorage on the mainland of Greece about as close to Albania as you can get.  We sailed the whole way there on an increasingly small amount of sail as the wind built from the south.  It was a great sail, always at about 7 knots, and a really nice little shake down for us both.  It’s only about 8 miles to the anchorage and we covered the ground very quickly.

Unfortunately, the furling line for the foresail got in a tangle which we failed to spot.  This led to me putting too much tension on it with the winch and we broke all the little eyes which keep the line up out of the way.  This led to a little tension in the crew and hasty repairs when we got to Pagania….

After a quiet night at anchor, marred only by a torrential rain storm, we set off for Platerias, a favourite little port of ours about 20 miles south.  We motored to start with, then managed to sail for while before completing the journey on the motor.  In a break with tradition, we moored on the town quay as opposed to the harbour wall (‘cos there was space there – normally the place is full of flotillas).  It wasn’t as comfortable as the quay; as there is no electricity or water and it’s more open to the swell running into the harbour. 

The following morning, we had no real intention of moving on but by lunch time the swell was still running and we didn’t see any point in moving to the quay wall so we decided to head over to Paxos, which is where we are at the moment.

Our initial intention had been to go to Lakka, a sheltered anchorage on the north of the island but as we emerged from the lee of Corfu, we were hit by a force 7 wind from the north west.  We rapidly reduced sail until only about a third of the foresail was still up and we were still doing the best part of 7 knots.  Looking at the entrance to Lakka, I decided that the wave pattern was such that it’d be interesting to enter the anchorage and there’d be no guarantee that there wouldn’t be a large swell entering it as well, so we turned south and headed for the main port on Paxos at the town of Gaios.  We made it there in short order, furling the foresail as we approached and entered the harbour. 

Looking down onto the town of Gaios from the island opposite

The port is charming, a natural harbour created by a small island about 100 metres off the main island, giving a channel that runs between the two for about ¾ of a mile.  The channel is deep and there are quays built along the main island shore that you can moor to.  The town of Gaios, more a substantial village really, is built round the shore line, which rises steeply behind the town.  It is a delightful little place with the tourist activity concentrated on the waterside whilst the rest of the town is very much for the locals.

"Rampage" at anchor in the North end of Gaios harbour

Part of the old fort on top of the island in Gaios harbour

Duncan ponders a cannon - is it French or Venetian?

We spent 3 nights there, taking the place in and exploring the off-shore island with it’s ruined fort on the top.  We also went for a long walk, taking ourselves across the southern part of the island and then doing our best to follow the shoreline back to the town.  In the event, this proved impossible, as the paths either didn’t go where we wanted to go or they turned into dead ends.  The paths themselves are remarkable; they lead through terraced olive groves and are narrow, twisting and turning to follow the plot boundaries, and have steep walls on either side, at time up to a couple of metres high.  The wild flowers and butterflies were glorious and we saw some spectacular views of the coast.

Part of the footpath we took on Paxos with dry stone walls on either side.

The spectacular coastline and clear sea

When the footpath disappeared we had to scramble down the hillside to another which led on round the headland

A huge natural archway which came upon

We had intended to stay in Gaios until Monday evening before thinking about returning to Gouvia via Mourtos or Petriti but on Sunday there was a nasty discharge into the harbour, leaving the water stained and polluted by something looking a lot like farm yard effluent, so we decided to leave and move up the coast to Lakka.  We took the long way round, going round the southern tip of the island before heading north to Lakka.  We had another great sail with somewhat stronger winds than had been forecast.  After a late start, we dropped anchor in Lakka by about 5pm.

We’re now chilling at anchor in Lakka and will probably stay here for another couple of nights before we head back towards Gouvia.  Seeing as there’s a bit of work to do on the boat, the aim is to get back there by Thursday, leaving us time to get the jobs done before the invasion we expect on 17 May.

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