Life’s Little Trials

July 25, 2011

Today, we are back in Port Kastos, having visited Frikes on Ithaca, Port Leone on Kalamos and Nidri on Levkas not once but twice since we left you here last time, so I need to fill you in on our meanderings between the last blog and today.

The previous blog left us here on Kastos, where we stayed 3 nights, because it was too much like hard work to leave and move on somewhere else! In addition, the place is just beautiful. There is a small shop, where the bread is fetched each morning by boat from the mainland, a collection of tavernas round the harbour and a restaurant called Chef John’s up on the hill, looking out over the bay to the east. Eventually, the front water tank ran dry and, as there’s no water available of Kastos, we decided that it was time to move on to somewhere that we knew we could fill up.

The coastline of Kastos island

After a good deal of looking at charts and pilot books, we decided we’d go back to Frikes on Ithaca. For one thing, it’s a really nice little port. Then there’s a water tanker that comes round so we could fill up with water. There are garbage bins there, so we could dump the rubbish that we’d accumulated in Kastos (no bins there either – take your rubbish away with you!) and there’s Kiki’s supermarket, which not only stocks such delicacies as Patak’s Curry Pastes but also does washing at €6 a load. Oh, and there’s some nice restaurants and the place itself is just lovely.

So we set off at a reasonable hour and headed across the open sea between Kastos and Ithaca. It was only about 12 miles in total and took us about 2 ½ hours to do the trip, getting us into the harbour by about 1230. There was a space on the outer quay, so we moored up alongside and settled down to wait for the afternoon wind, which duly arrived, blowing across the harbour from the shore, keeping us cool but pinning Rampage neatly to the quay.

Then things started to go downhill a bit. We knew that we’d end up with other boats rafted up on Rampage but weren’t prepared to be the host to another 4 boats from a Nielson flotilla moored up outside us! But it was J’s birthday, so we had a great supper in one of the tavernas and retired to bed after a lovely evening out. Sleep, however, was interrupted that night, as people arrived back on board the other boats through the long, long night; the last couple stumbling back on board at about 4.30! Thankfully, most of this didn’t impact on me but J didn’t sleep well at all. I did wake up to hear a drunken conversation between a couple on a bench on the harbour wall to the effect that “you don’t love me anymore” – to which I was tempted to reply “and neither do I, put a sock in it and go to bed” but J stopped me!

The first two flotilla boats are rafted to Rampage on our second night in Frikes

It was for these reasons that we made it very clear, when approached by another flotilla leader the following afternoon, that anyone rafting up to us should make an effort to be quiet once we had retired for the night and that at all times people must remove their shoes. I am sure we came across as grumpy old curmudgeons but we really didn’t care and the message seemed to go in as the flotilla leader ensured that it was only boats with families that rafted up to us – less likely to be up ‘til the wee small hours!

We left Frikes after 2 days and returned to Nidri, in part to say farewell to Bern and Alan who were about to return to UK and in part to go to the chandlery to get a replacement wind indicator, as the old one had finally refused to play any more.

A passing vessel which Duncan admired during our trip from Frikes to Nidri

We spent 3 nights there. One day we did little other than arrive and have drinks ashore with Alan and Bern, the next day J climbed the mast but to her frustration, couldn’t manage to undo the old wind indicator, so I was then hoisted up to do the job – bit of a difficult task actually, requiring drilling new holes and all sorts of fun. (NB I’ll probably have to go back up there again as the damn thing has come loose!) Other friends, Susan and Andy aboard Curly Sue also happened to be in Nidri again and that evening, they invited us to join a group of about 14 others for supper at a taverna set in the hills looking down on Nidri. We had a great time and I don’t remember much of the walk back down to the boats….

You'll just have to trust us on this one - that really is Duncan at the top of the mast and not someone else we happened to see!

The following day we hired a scooter again – this time to explore the island of Levkas. The interior of the island is quite spectacular and it is much cooler up in the hills. However, we wound up doing the best part of 150km that day – frankly too far to be comfortable and in addition we stupidly did not stop frequently enough! That evening we joined Bern and Alan for a final meal together before they set off at 04:30 next morning to catch the 07:00 bridge opening at the top of the Levkas canal.

One of the lovely views we captured while on our scooter trip around Levkas island

We had intended to leave that day but in the end stayed on until last Wednesday, (20th July) which is when we went to Port Leone, a deserted corner of the island of Kalamos, a deep bay on the south eastern end of the island. Once there was also a small village here; a farming and fishing community that had probably been here since forever. However in the 1953 earthquake, not only did the roofs fall in but the wells and springs all went dry, so there was little option left to the inhabitants but to move elsewhere. Today, all that remains of the village are some ruined buildings and the church which seems to be undergoing restoration work at the moment; a taverna that until a few years ago, used to open during the summer to feed the yacht crews that came to anchor here, sadly now looks very closed.

We arrived there, having had a good sail round from Nidri. The wind picked up as we left the anchorage and we managed to sail most of the way here. Indeed, the reason we had left Nidri was to escape from a forecast blow that was due to arrive that evening, so we wanted to be somewhere sheltered and quiet.

One of the olive processing buildings in the ruined and deserted village at Port Leone

The bay at Port Leone is such that it is best to drop anchor and then take a line ashore to hold the boat in place, rather than swinging round the anchor. This was accomplished without too much hassle and we settled down for a relaxing afternoon before the wind got up. As we had entered the bay, our anchoring point was carefully selected so that, in theory, the westerly wind that was predicted would be blowing from the shore to us; not blowing us on shore or from one side or the other….. Dream on. The wind in this part of the world does just what it wants to do, not what it is expected to do. Mostly, this is caused by the shape of the islands. The wind may be, in general terms, a westerly but as it hits the western side of the island, the peaks and valleys of the island funnel it into a completely different direction by the time if gets to the other side. So the wind was not arriving on the stern of the boat, but blowing heartily into the side. The result was that the anchor popped out and we started to move back towards the shore at an alarming rate of knots. Luckily, the engine was running to charge the battery, so we put the engine in gear and used it to hold the boat away from the shore line until we had got something sorted out.

As an aside, we had just bought ourselves a brand new kedge (or spare) anchor. When we left UK, we had fitted the boat up with a 14kg Danforth anchor. Having now used this a number of times, it was obvious that we either needed a lighter anchor or some method of recovering it into the boat that didn’t entail me hauling the thing up by brute force; J was starting to get a bit fed up with rubbing my back with embrocation after such events. Instead, while in Nidri we decided to buy an aluminum anchor called a Fortress. Looks much like its predecessor but only weighs about 3kg!

A praying mantis hitching a ride on the old anchor

The main anchor having popped out meant that this was the time to try out the new anchor. We rigged it all up, put the motor on the tender and I then set off and dropped it out in front of Rampage. This stabilised things enough for me to put on diving gear and drop down to reset the main anchor and double-check on the Fortress. All that done, we were now stable and ready to sit out whatever the weather had to throw at us. As I swam back to the boat, I was asked by our neighbour to check their anchor out as well, so all in all I got quite a good dive out of the afternoon!

The wind continued to build throughout the late afternoon and evening, making the rigging sing quite melodiously and Rampage occasionally lurched as a gust hit but we weren’t much disturbed by the wind and got a reasonable night’s sleep. Next day, we stayed put, as the wind was forecast to remain quite strong, although it didn’t really materialize to the extent forecast.

Looking down on Tranquil Bay, Nidri

We then headed back once more to Nidri, as we were concerned that the batteries were just not holding their charge and thought we might need to replace them. The root cause, I suspect, is the fact the they are relatively high tech types and are not really designed for the heat we’re subjecting them to in this part of the world. We decided to motor all the way back to Nidri in order to put a good charge onto the batteries and then see how they coped over the following 24 hours or so. In the event I came to the conclusion that I simply wasn’t running the engine enough to charge them properly. In any event, we have postponed buying new batteries for the time being, thus ducking a significant expense, at least for now. The journey was not wasted however as we met up once more with Andy and Susan aboard Curly Sue. We have been chatting for a while now about heading off together towards the Gulf of Patras, stopping at Kastos first – which is more or less where we came in!

Before we left Nidri, we went to a night out at the local Paladium; the expat community getting together to lay on some entertainment and raise funds for a local charity. We went with little expectation, secure in the knowledge we could duck out at half time if it was too dire. In the event, we had a great evening, with acts that varied from a take off of the Darcey Bussle/Dawn French mirror sketch to some great music and singing.

Curly Sue enjoying the sail from Nidri on Levkas down here to Port Kastos

We had a cracking sail down to Kastos Port today, getting Rampage up to 7 – 7.5 knots as we came down past Kalamos and round the southern tip of Kastos. Arriving before Curly Sue, we were lucky to get the last remaining berth on the town quay when we arrived but helped Andy and Sue moor up on the northern quay before retiring for a siesta….

A donkey here on Kastos - included for our grand-daughter, Jessica, who likes donkeys!

Tomorrow we aim to rise early and have walk round the island before it gets too hot, then move on south to Meganisi the next day. Keep watching for the next thrilling installment!

A cicada (we think!) laying her eggs



  1. Hi guys, its great to see your doing all the things I have been dreaming about. I finally acquired my dream boat. Its a Beneteau 411 celebration 3 cabin. I just completed a voyage of 200 miles with two inexperienced friends and had a fabulous time. I brought maureen out yesterday and she is going to take to sailing like a duck to water. We have planned to spend next week learning the fundamentals here in Crosshaven.

  2. That’s great news, David! Happy sailing!

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