Wednesday 13 May
What a beautiful, calm place. Our heads were rather sore after yesterday’s celebratory drinks but having slept well I’m sure we will soon recover. Soon after nine the skipper called the port police. There were lots of questions about last port, number of days at sea, the repairs that are needed as well as the usual ones about the vessel’s flag and the nationality of the crew, then they said they would call us back. So now we wait. Will we be permitted entry to the marina today or made to wait at anchor until May 18, a crucial day in Greece’s plan to start opening things up? Will we need to do 14 days quarantine or will we be asked to leave?
Meanwhile we made a list of essential repairs under the headings engine, watermaker and rigging. Kevin has started researching sources for the parts we might need and the galley slave made bread. Then the port police emailed over forms to be completed with a list of the usual documents like copies of boat registry, passports, crewlist etc. There was also a request for a departing certificate, a document only really applicable to commercial ships, we submitted the sanitation certificate issued by the Suez Canal doctor after his cursory temperature taking. The emailed forms proved to be a conundrum to complete as they were aimed at cruise ship passengers or crew disembarking to a local address such as a hotel so that they can be contacted if necessary. We have no address here except possibly the marina and definitely no date on which we disembarked; however we filled them in to the best of our ability and emailed everything back together with a letter pleading our request for an emergency admission to the country. Then we waited.
Thursday 14 May
Fourteen days since we left Port Said, another quarantine period served. Sixty days since our last port Djibouti. We didn’t wake until almost eight this morning, having not slept well. We were just drinking our morning cuppa when Pat and Tony appeared at Temptress’ transom. They had carried off a considerable chunk of the laundry mountain yesterday afternoon and put it through the marina machines overnight. Hung up on the foredeck it dried remarkably quickly in the sunshine. The temperatures here during the day are now pleasantly warm in the light breeze and the air is very dry. I’d guess all too soon this part of Greece is going to become very hot.
During the morning Kevin called the port police again. After some back and forth calls it seems the harbour master holds our fate and that at some point we have to go ashore to the port office. As I write this mid-afternoon we have yet to receive the promised callback. Meanwhile another set of forms was dropped off at the marina and the manager via email requested us to collect them. Sheila was launched for this first time in weeks but the papers turned out to be printed versions of those from yesterday. I filled them in but we have no idea what to do with them apart from the instruction printed on them to hand them to the coast guard official on disembarking!
Tony brought us pork chops, a cauliflower and mushrooms. Mushrooms, we haven’t had those since Djibouti! We swapped them for one of the boxes of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines from Crete. Even having made a large batch of ratatouille this morning I’ve scarcely made a dent in the supplies! The refrigerator pickles were topped up with an entire cucumber, a banana pepper and a jalapeño, apparently you can reuse the brine a few times. The pickles with their tangy spicy hit have become a crew favourite with bread and cheese for lunch. The pork chops were delicious, it’s been so long since we had good quality tender meat of any kind, let alone thick succulent chops.
And now we wait.
Friday 15 May
With no call back from the port police, Kevin called again. The unwelcome response initially was ‘you need to go to Patras’. Our reaction not knowing the area was ‘where?’. Eventually given rough coordinates we located the place some 20nm away to the east on the southern shore of the Gulf of Patras between mainland Greece and the Peloponnese. It’s apparently Greece’s third largest city.
The first issue this poses is that we cannot rely on the engine to start or stop so getting out of here and into there could be one of safety. The next is where exactly do they want us to go? The port is huge and there is a separate marina further along the coast. From our research the visitors pontoons seem to have been destroyed in a storm a couple of years ago.
In a subsequent call, late morning our contact asked more specific questions. Can we safely leave Messolonghi for Patras? Nope. Can we safely get into Messolonghi marina from where we are anchored? Yup using the dinghy as a tow if necessary. Has anyone been on board since we left Djibouti? The answer to this last one was yes the Suez Canal Pilot we were required to have, who was onboard on 30 April, that’s fifteen days ago, for five or six hours. Our health was checked by the Suez doctor at Suez, for which we have a Sanitation Certificate and we were told the pilots had their health checked before boarding.
For our part we asked for instructions from the port police in writing. And so again we wait.
Half an hour later and our world changes again! The marina manager emails to say the port police here are minded to let us in and we will need to do 15 days quarantine. He is waiting for permission in writing from them! Then our contact at the police calls to repeat the same. Brilliant news! So yet again we wait, maybe until Monday.
It’s hot again, the crew have had to dig out shorts and t-shirts, it seems we managed to compress winter into just a few weeks! Now the evenings are long and balmy. The duvet has been removed from its cover and discarded, its far too hot to sleep under it. And in news from elsewhere Silver Tern and her crew are safely anchored off Italy just south of the Straits of Messina whilst Oddity, Mela, Scotia and a fourth boat have arrived off Ierapetra. Slowly the Red Sea fleet of 2020 are escaping.
One final thought for today as we await some sort of update on our position. How do you spell this place? I have always used Messolonghi (I was here in 2007 or was it 2008? Sailing the Ionian for a few weeks onboard Full Flight with Pat and Tony), the chart says Mesolongion, the port police (aka the Coast Guard) use Mesologi and elsewhere I’ve seen Mesologgi or even Missolonghi. Apparently the town’s name comes from the Italian mezzo laghi or between two lagoons or lakes which sounds like the Venetians were here trading a couple of centuries or more ago. The modern mixed spelling on the other hand originates in translations from Greek to Latin characters. We look forward to being able to actually explore the place and discover more.
And finally, finally: Today I spotted a turtle in the lagoon. In fact having spent the past few days, much to everyone’s amusement, just seeing the evidence of their presence in the form of a ring of ripples, today I have even spotted them swimming just below the surface several times! The anchorage has several quite large resident turtles .