Autumn Arrives – or does it?

October 15, 2011

The autumn seemed to have arrived in Greece one minute and to have beaten a hasty retreat the next. Having taken Jonno to Athens, we had our first quiet night in Galaxidi with the wind having packed up and gone back to wherever it came from; really quite nice again. We’d been watching the weather forecast quite closely, so the next morning we slipped away from our mooring and headed off to Trizonia, about 25 miles west towards Patras. We’d been there earlier a couple of times earlier in the summer and were looking forward to returning to its peaceful harbour.

On leaving, the wind was too light to sail but once out into open water the wind picked up enough to let us sail. It was a real contrast to the high winds of a couple of days before, with no need to reef, just a gentle sail at about 5 knots that took us nicely into Trizonia for mid afternoon. There was space for us to go alongside the main breakwater and we had a gentle evening playing scrabble on the new set Jonno had brought out for us.

Trizonia is such a gentle place we decided to make our fresh food stretch another day and didn’t leave until the Sunday morning, heading down to Messolonghi in almost flat calm conditions. It’s quite a long hop – about 40 miles – but the tedium of a long trip on the motor was broken by the transit of the Rion Bridge. This time, because we didn’t have anyone with us, we had to bluff our way through with our not terribly good VHF radio.

Looking across the fishing harbour towards Messolonghi marina

Messolonghi is where we are spending the winter and we decided to get here now for a whole heap of reasons, not least of which was the pretty appalling weather forecast for the next few days – force 8 to 9 winds, lots of rain, thunder etc; hence my earlier comments about autumn’s arrival. We got tucked in here and then started to work through some of the more important jobs, like getting the VHF to work at a range of more than a mile or two….. Not to mention doing several loads of laundry and some shopping at a decent supermarket and – well, you can imagine the list for yourself. Messolonghi is a reasonably sized town with a couple of big supermarkets, lots of interesting little shops and a Lidl (vital for the supply of cheap beer, cheap spirits, cheap well, you know, cheap generally!)

Autumn tasks include scrubbing the dinghy clean - reasonably satisfying when you've allowed to get quite so extraordinarily filthy!

Whilst in Galaxidi, we’d tried to use the immersion heater to make hot water. We failed to make hot water but we did succeed in knocking out most of the electricity supply to the rest of the quay….. Once in Messolonghi, I was therefore consigned to the port cabin to investigate the problem and resolve it. It rapidly became apparent that what was required was a complete new calorifier, so I duly informed Julia in her position as controller of the purse strings and we then looked at the cost of the things in UK. This did not make comfortable reading. Ah well. That’s what the operational reserve is for isn’t it?

In the meantime, we’d found out about bus travel to Igoumenitsa from where the ferries to Corfu depart. The buses stop just outside town, they are every 2 or 3 hours and you need to be there early, as they run on GMT (Greek Maybe Time – usually late!) and apparently defy the trend and tend to arrive early.

So, last Wednesday, we got the office to call us a taxi and made out way to the bus stop for the 1030 bus. We got to the stop at about 1005 and the bus promptly appeared and picked us up! It took about 3 hours to the ferry port, where we just had time for lunch before the ferry left for Corfu. It felt very strange arriving back on the island on a ferry, not on Rampage. Quite nice actually, not having to dodge the traffic round the port entrance!

Our friends Bern and Alan had lent us their boat ‘Sanuk’, as they had had to return unexpectedly to UK for family reasons. However, we met up with other friends from last winter including that true stalwart, Glynis, who had been looking after the car for us. She’d brought it down to the bar where she works for us to collect and we had a wonderful time catching up on the gossip that afternoon.

We stayed until Saturday morning, having a meal out with Claudio and Corinne on Friday evening and meeting up with various others in the meantime. It did feel a bit strange not to be staying the winter there but I think Messolonghi will work out better in the long run.

On Saturday, with nasty weather in the offing, we caught the early ferry out of Corfu and set off to join Andy and Susan in Vlikho. We’d arranged to meet them there along with John and Aiveen, who were about to head back to UK. On the way, we stopped in Lefkas and bought ourselves a brand new calorifier. I’d idly looked at new ones during the summer and remembered that one of the shops there actually stocked a few of the things. In the event, it wasn’t much more expensive than in UK (mainly accounted for by the higher VAT here in Greece) so we went ahead and bought one having checked that it would fit into the space available on board… (see later!).

Supper at Vlikho Yacht Club with Andy and Susan, John and Aiveen

We had a great time together that evening at the Vlikho Yacht Club, a bar/gardinage service/yachty meeting place that serves UK dishes as well as Greek standards. I really enjoyed a fry up for supper whilst J had steak and ale pie that might have been served in a UK pub! Made a change from all the Greek food we’ve been eating.

On Sunday we drove back through the countryside to Messolonghi arriving back mid afternoon after having had lunch about half way home. We also paused en route to visit the waterfalls just outside Nidri. We’d seen the signs for them when we were there earlier in the summer but not got around to visiting them. There was a pause in the rain and the sun broke through as we made our way along the rather muddy path to the falls which were well worth the small detour and the ½ mile or so walk from the car. Rampage was none the worse for the torrential rain that had fallen over the previous 3 days; yet more arrived that evening. The temperature was well down – about 18c – and it had begun to feel a bit like UK….. Not in the plan at all.

J at Nidri Falls (please note the super-cool sunnies, courtesy of our lovely daughter-in-law, Lucy!)

The next morning, our peace was broken by someone summoning us to a barbeque which had been postponed from the night before. We said that we knew nothing about it but Lesley told us that it was open to anyone to attend just be there at about 4pm with something to cook and a dish to share.

D confined to the port cabin until the new calorifier has been installed!

With that to look forward to, I was returned to the port cabin and told not to re-emerge until I had installed the new calorifier. So, I turned the water pump off, undid all the connections to the old one and ripped it out and then tried to fit the new one into the space available…… The trouble was I’d measured the gap not the entrance to the gap….. The thing was about ¼ inch too wide to fit through the hole, so I then had to spend a happy hour or so with a Dremel and cutting discs trimming enough away so that I could get the thing through the hole! The mess was indescribable with fine dust everywhere but the new calorifier fitted through the hole and the rest, as they say, was easy. I even went to Lidl and bought a 7 day timer, so the thing comes on for ½ an hour in the morning and again in the evening. Luxury is hot water on tap; frankly I hadn’t missed it until we had it, if you follow my thoughts. The engine heats the water while it’s running and as we ran the engine for at least an hour a day, we always had hot water through the cruising season. Now we’re in civilization and on shore power, we don’t run the engine, so no hot water until the new thing was fitted – that was complicated wasn’t it?

And it fits! Well, with a bit of persuasion!

The barbeque was fun; apparently it is a weekly event aimed at dragging folk out of their boats (normally on a Sunday afternoon) and provides an opportunity to meet people and chat about boats and things…… After the sun went down, it got distinctly chilly, so we retreated on board Rampage and watched TV for a couple of hours before bed.

The next evening, we went into town with two other couples, heading for what is known as the ‘table cloth’ restaurant (it is apparently the only place in town with real fabric table cloths). We had a very nice meal there, a little different from the normal Greek stuff, and at a reasonable price.

Wednesday was something of a consolidation day, with lots of little jobs being done – J was scrubbing the cockpit cushions to remove a season’s grime – and I took the opportunity to make a start on this blog. That evening we headed over to the bar in the marina where a weekly guitar session is held and anyone who feels inclined can come along to join in with singing the chorus of familiar ballards or merely to heckle and jeer. It was great fun and after just a week in Messolonghi we seem to have done more socialising than throughout last winter in Corfu.

Traditional fishing boats on the salt marshes at Messolonghi

Summer returned on Wednesday when we had three days of hot sunshine and had to dig out our shorts again. J took herself off to the beach yesterday, cycling down a long causeway across the salt marshes. Then last night autumn returned with a vengeance – torrential rain and gale force winds. We dashed out this morning to resupply the larder and have now returned to batten down the hatches and stay snug and dry inside. We have another week of peace to get a few more jobs out of the way before Maggie arrives on 23 October to stay with us for just on a week. I intend to get this up on the site today, so must now trawl through the camera memory cards and see what pictures I can find to illustrate the past week or so.

Another view across the salt marshes from the causeway, this time looking northeast to the mountains.




  1. Great to hear that Maggie is heading your way – got a slightly garbled message today saying she was at Heathrow heading of for another adventure. I wonder what’s my big sis is doing in the meantime? If you find out FB me please!!



  2. Messolonghi sounds like a big improvement on Gouvia (thank goodness!) Winter has definitely reached us too in the SE Aegean (Kos), we have the heating on and not for the first time!

  3. Have a lovely week with Mags.
    Would love to be there, too, but the Evil Toad forbids it at present (that = ‘work’ for those of you who aren’t Philip Larkin fans, in case you think I’m referring to my beloved other half…).
    Lots of love to you all.
    xxx K

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