Sailing the Saronic Gulf with Katy and George

 

Zooming along towards Hydra island… A rare photo of the boat taken by another yacht crew
Monday morning was spent preparing once again. Kate and I took tandem for a spin to the large supermarket so we could stock up on food and drink for the week. We had a very successful cycle there and loaded the panniers with everything we needed. However, we slightly over did it with the beers, tonic and gin and this meant that our panniers were so heavy that when we tried to set off again we kept toppling over onto the concrete. How does Paddy do it!? After a number of attempts we ended up having a, albeit one sided, argument in the car park which consisted of me being very grumpy that I hadn’t managed to be able to steer us home while Katy was weak with hysterics. All’s fair when you’re sisters right?! In the end we had to hail a taxi for Kate and the bags, and I cycled tandem home alone.

In a way it was good that Kate and I took so long because while we were away Paddy and George managed to drop one of the tender oars into the water where it duly sank to the bottom and they had spent a long time designing a lasoo/noose contraption to fish it out.

Once everything was stored and packed away we were ready for the off. We headed out of the marina and got the sails up. The wind was blowing straight from the south at a good 15kns so we got both sails up and reached straight across to the island of Aigina. It was a good sail of 30 nautical miles but we managed to reach the east side of the island by 4pm. We motored around a bit and decided to anchor in a small bay just south of Ayia Marina. There was a bit of swell so we had a slightly rocky night. Paddy woke at 2am to check we weren’t dragging but all was fine.

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Next morning we enjoy a celebratory birthday breakfast for Paddy then all go ashore and hike the 5km around the island to the impressive temple ruins of Aphaia. It was a really lovely walk in the sunshine. Spring is really springing here now with lots of wild flowers out and all the locals milling about tending their fishing boats and gardens. The tourist season is still a way away yet though, and most of the hotels, restaurants and cafes remain closed. The temple is set high on a hill with great views over to Athens on one side and the Peloponnes on the other.

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Once back on the boat we had a quick lunch before pulling up the anchor and motoring south to the island of Poros. There wasn’t a breath of wind and the water was like a glassy lake so we stuck the autopilot on and enjoyed lying in the sun reading, drinking tea and eating digestive biscuits. Poros sits very close to the coast of the Peloponnisos and it’s a spectacular sail into the narrow channel which provides plenty of shelter for boats to moor.

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We tie up and crack open the gin and then take a walk along to find a water front cafe where we all gorge on pork and chicken souvlaki. On our walk home we get chatting to three German lads who are moored near us. Lino, the boat’s owner, is a 21 year old explorer who, with the help of his parents, bought and did up this beautiful 1963 classic Carter 30 named Stella. His companions Ben, who is helping out while searching for his own boat to do up, and Timon Lino’s friend from home, were both lovely guys too and we ended up chatting late into the night around their cockpit table listening to excellent reggae music.

The next morning was beautiful and I enjoyed a fab run around the harbour and up through the higgledy-piggledy streets of the town. After a lazy breakfast we all enjoyed some time on deck in the sun watching and listening to our new neighbours who had arrived just that morning; a big group of friends from Russia who were enjoying the first day of their chartered yacht holiday. They were having a great time already; drinking beer and having a good ol’ sing song. They were so entertaining that the bar just opposite us came out with free 10am shots for them all. Great stuff.

Some time after, the three guys sailed past us on Stella. We had all agreed to meet in a sheltered bay on Idhra island which sits just south around the headland and so around an hour later we set off to try and catch them up.

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It was a perfect day for sailing and we enjoyed following Stella’s wake as we slowly caught up with the guys. Katy and I were chief helmsman and tactician while George and Paddy prepared an excellent spread for lunch which also included a ‘salad off’ – a competition of who could make the best salad, not a salad that was off… Anyway, it was a lovely day with George even getting half an hours read in his favourite spot.

By 3pm Encore had easily caught up with Stella and so we each managed to get some great shots of each others boats as we sailed along. That night we combined dinner forces and managed to cook enough food to feed at least 10 people.

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Mast reading…

Autopilot on!

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Stella!

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George having a sunset row
The next morning George stayed aboard while Kate, Paddy and I walked around the headland to Idhra town which is such a beautiful place. The island itself remains completely motor-vehicle free (apart from the dust-lorries) and so Idhra’s inhabitants either walk, cycle or take one of the little sea taxis which buzz around the island. Donkeys are a very popular way of transporting most things. In fact, that very morning, we had watched four of them deliver eight new doors to a villa which sits overlooking the bay where we were anchored.

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The three of us had a lovely walk around the sleepy town before heading back loaded up with more feta and olives. That afternoon we headed to the island of Dokos which sits just west of Idhra. We anchored in a very peaceful spot after enjoying a short spell with the spinnaker up.

The next morning we all climbed in the tender and rowed the 2km across the bay to the other side of Dokos where we had heard there was a Mycenaean archaeological site. We never found this, but we did spend a great 20 minutes with a very friendly Greek lady and her mother who lived on the hill overlooking the bay. She offered us Retsina and showed us around her house and extensive garden and olive grove before seeing us on our way. We meandered down around the headland through the knotted olive trees and finally came back to the coast where we found a huge tortoise and lots of washed up sea anemones. We were all pretty hungry by this point and were complaining about the fact that we had to get back to the boat before eating when George mischievously produced a block of feta, a bag of olives, a loaf of bread and beers from his bag. We sat eating and sunbathing on the beach before rowing back.

That night was to be Kate and George’s last so we headed back to Idhra so they could easily catch a ferry the next morning back to Piraeus. To celebrate our last evening together we spent a good hour collecting wood and had an epic barbecue on the shore.

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It has been terrific week with them both and now it’s time for Paddy and I to start our two week adventure on our own… The Argolic Gulf awaits…

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