Assorted Ruins and Maggie’s Self-Demolition Attempt….

November 16, 2011
(Please note that this blog was mostly written some 2 ½ weeks ago while Maggie was with us but for some reason the Skipper failed to publish it after she and I left him to his own devises and returned to the UK.  J)

Well, it’s been a while since I last sat down and put a post together for the blog. I’ve been waiting to write this until after Maggie’s visit had ended and I’d put J on the plane back to the Frozen North for a couple weeks. Perhaps, I thought, we’d be able to go sailing for a couple of days, show Maggie what the Ionian is like. Or we could use the car to go for a couple of visits to where-ever.  In the event, Maggie decided to take things into her own hands and set the agenda. So I thought I’d better get on and write this entry before she left, so that she could have her say before I publish it – or then again, perhaps not. Freedom of the press and all that? (N.B. I don’t believe she ever did review this before she left but she can pass comment now it’s published. J)

Well, I suppose I’d better take you back to the end of the last blog before I can thrill you with the events of the past few days. It is confusing enough for us long-term yachtie types to keep track of the dates, let alone the days, so I find the discipline of writing the blog useful from all sorts of perspectives; one of them being to track the passing of time. Our last post was on 15 October and we were just starting to find our way round the community here in Messolonghi.

It is becoming clear to us that there is much to recommend the place, not just an attractive cost! Because it is a relatively small marina, it means that those of us living aboard our boats through the winter are that much closer together than Gouvia. The marina has space for perhaps 150 boats on the water, whilst Gouvia was about 10 times the size; when you think that there are more people living here than there were in Gouvia, you can begin to understand why it is easy for a community to develop in a way that was impossible there.

Music night in the Sunset Bar

Anyhow, in addition to the weekly barbeque (now moved to Sunday lunchtime), there is a games night on Monday, a musical evening in the bar on a Tuesday, a camera group meets on Wednesday and there is a quiz night on Fridays. This gives shape to the week and is helped along by the daily radio net, which serves 2 functions; firstly, it give you a reason to be out of bed by 9.30am and secondly it’s an information exchange where you can ask for help doing a job, offer surplus kit to anyone who might need it or find out about a short notice event.

One of the hilltop monasteries we visited with Penelope, our local tourist guide

The other thing that happens every couple of weeks is a day trip to some local event or place of interest. There is a rep from the local tourist office who is based part time in the marina office; she has access to a bus about once a fortnight to lead a trip to somewhere local. We missed the first one after we arrived – the signup sheet was spotted by J but she didn’t have her lenses in, so couldn’t sign up and it had disappeared by the time she’d found her glasses. The next one took place the Tuesday after our last post. We had a fun day out, visiting a couple of monasteries and a Roman bath house before making our way to a small village way up in the hills to the north for lunch. A great day out and a chance to explore a part of the countryside we would never have seen left to our own devices.

Demonstration of how to make the traditional Greek spinach pie

Sunday barbeques are the time when everyone has a chance to catch up on gossip and relax. Often in the week, people are buried in their own boats, sorting through all the jobs that need to be done before next year’s cruising season starts. I have a long list which is being slowly tackled but the barbeque gives the perfect excuse to have a day of rest on Sunday.

Anyway, back somewhat to the narrative. The weather had been nice and warm again but, in common with last year, it has become unpredictable. After J had had her cycle ride in the warm sun, the wind started to get up and kept on getting up! It blew a near gale all night and then started to rain heavily and continued to do so for the rest of the week and the weekend. This left us confined to the boat for most of the time. By Monday, I’d read several books, played J at innumerable games of scrabble and rumikub and watched a fair bit of TV. J was climbing the walls by now and needed a change of scene, so on Monday we took the car down the coast to Navpaktos, the small port we’d totally failed to get into back in August.

The very picturesque but tiny harbour at Navpaktos

The trip was OK but the town of Navpaktos is deceptive from the sea: the harbour is tiny and very picturesque but the town behind it is large, sprawling and modern. We wandered round the town and found an agricultural supply shop, where we made their day by buying a suitcase generator from them! I’d been looking for one for some time, as we have found this year with the hotter summer temperatures that we’d struggled to keep up with demand for power for the fridge! Once we got back to the boat and put oil and petrol into the generator, I had a great deal of fun getting it to start. Eventually, after a good deal of swearing and sweating, I found that the label on the petrol tap was stuck on the wrong way round……. Once it was running, I hooked it up to the boat and was delighted to find that it was doing just what it was meant to do! Then J started to call frantically to me, so I popped back into the cockpit to discover it was full of smoke. It turned out we’d put too much oil into the thing and it had dumped the excess into the air filter and thus into the engine…… It was messy but easily sorted and we are now able to generate electricity without the need to run the main engine, a real bonus when you’re away from mains electricity as we are for much of the cruising season.

The next day we had our trip out by bus. When we got back to the marina, the winds had completely died away and we seized the moment to move Rampage from our berth by the offices to the centre pontoon. This is a much better place to be; people all round, clean concrete surfaces and close to the bar….

The next morning, it was clear that the aft head was blocked. Regular readers of the blog will remember that this happened to the front one last autumn, this year it was the other one! However, the aft head is also designed to pump out via a holding tank, so there is a mass of additional pipe work involved, along with several valves. It took me most of the day to resolve the problem; not fun at all!

Maggie visits Messolonghi

The next excitement on the agenda was the arrival of Maggie. She was due to fly into Athens airport, J thought, on Sunday. So we had an early night on Saturday and were up with the lark on Sunday, ready to drive down to Athens to pick her up. Before we left, I thought I’d just check her flight number online. On checking, it was rapidly apparent that she wasn’t due to arrive until Monday: ah well, at least we could go to the barbeque and we hadn’t driven all the way to Athens a day early! Our friends Andy and Susan on Curly Sue also arrived that afternoon, fitting into a space next to us on the pontoon. They’re staying out here most of the winter as well, so we’re looking forward to a good deal of Scrabble, Rumikub and the like.

We left the following morning, slightly earlier than originally planned, as we had found that Ikea has a shop just by the airport. So we had a good wander around Ikea, had lunch there as well as getting a few bits from the shop and picked Maggie up from the airport without a hitch. The long trip back went OK and we arrived back here round about 6 pm, having stopped to admire the Corinth Canal en route.

A new view of the Corinth Canal - from above as we made our way bact from Athens with Maggie

The following day we had a gentle day to get over all the travel (Maggie had flown in from Cairo after a trip round Jordan and the Sinai) before going to the musical evening in the bar. Sue and Andy joined us on board for a nightcap after the evening wound down and we all got a really good night’s sleep.

The following morning we were all taking it easy; J was still in bed in fact, whilst I was checking emails when Maggie decided to go ashore for a leg stretch. Unfortunately, she caught her foot in the power cable as she stepped ashore and managed to fall the rest of the way. She landed on the pontoon face first, with her left knee taking the majority of the impact. It was rapidly obvious that the damage to her knee was beyond the skills of the crew and needed a few stitches, so J took her off to the local hospital, where they spent a jolly morning as Mags was x-rayed, prodded and stitched.

Maggie is now the proud owner of a comprehensive set of x-rays, a nice, neat set of stitches on her knee cap and a significant bandage from thigh to ankle. As she also head butted the pontoon and hurt her jaw, she has been instructed not to chew gum, eat hard food or indulge in passionate kissing for a week or so……..

Hors de combat

The upshot of all of this is that we will not be going sailing, even if the wind dies down a lot, as Maggie’s left leg is not now up to being used on a heeling sail boat! So, the enforced rest should do us all a power of good and it does mean that I will be driving them back to Athens airport on Sunday; the original plan had been that they would catch the 6.30am bus….

PS from Julia:

Maggie inspects the salt heaps of Messolonghi

Just to complete the tale of Maggie’s visit, by Friday she was sufficiently recovered from her trauma (and bored) to be prepared to venture out of the marina in our extremely minute car. She and I drove out along the causeway by the salt marshes to Tourlida , the village on stilts at the end of the causeway. It was a beautiful, warm sunny day so we decided to get out and walk for a while. Maggie found she could walk fairly easily so we strolled for an hour or so past the salt pans and great hills of salt which inevitably , being a science teacher, she studied with interest. She was also please to see quite a number of wading birds. We then had a couple of beers and a light lunch of various meze in town before driving on out of town to the west, stopping at an isolated little church on the salt marshes and then on to a little town in the middle of a lagoon.

The little church in the middle of the lagoon

That evening the three of us, plus Andy and Susan, made up a team at the weekly quiz night. It was good fun ‘though Maggie was incensed to learn that the practice of Trick or Treating originated in the UK! On Saturday we ventured out again. Maggie had decided that she was sufficiently mobile to cope with the bus journey to Athens, particularly as I would be travelling with her so we went to buy our tickets for the next day and then, once again had lunch in town; this time I introduced her to the delights of a pita gyros. We then headed up into the hills, randomly following little twisting roads up to the ridgeline from where we gazed back down to the coast, the salt marshes and the town of Messolonghi spread out below us. It was another beautiful, sunny day and lovely to be up in the mountains for a change.

A view from the mountains above the town

The following day we were up by 5.30am to catch the bus to Athens. The journey went without incident as we made our way from the main bus station across town via the airport bus and then flew to Gatwick together. There we parted company, Maggie being met by her nephew and taken safely home whilst I caught a connecting flight on to Ireland to visit my elder daughter Naomi and her family. That, however, is a tale for another day…



  1. Poor Maggie, health and safety, will have to keep an eye on our power cable and make sure it is not a trip hazard 😦 when we get our boat.

  2. Yes, obviously the Greek attitude to lthnsafety is rubbing off on us!

  3. Well my plan was to have a good rest while on Rampage – and I really did put my feet up. Thank you so much to you both for making me so welcome and looking after me so well.

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