It’s eight days since we reached the end of our quarantine and were able to resume something akin to a normal cruising life. That first Saturday we joined Pat and Tony on a cycle into town via the chandlers, and thence to the butchers and the vegetable market before having coffee in Messolonghi town square. Later we drove in their motorhome up to a local gorge to see if we could find some vultures. They weren’t around but the eagles were and the scenery was spectacular. On the way back we called into Lidl and AB supermarkets to replenish the wine and beer supplies as well as yoghurt and cheese. The pleasure at being able to do simple chores ourselves after so many weeks was immense and we have been pleasantly surprised to find that despite the weeks of confinement to a 14m space we are still reasonably fit. We both expected much more pain from muscles unused to walking or cycling any distance.
Sunday we were taken for a drive up into the hills nearby for a walk amongst the oak trees. Kevin wanted to be somewhere he didn’t have to look at the sea! It was again a real pleasure to be walking on terra firma, enjoying the scenery, spotting birds and plants. Finally the pair of us could begin to relax. Tuesday we cycled into town on our own via the port authorities where they gave us the contact details of their surveyor before buying a few vegetables at the Tuesday market. It’s much like the Saturday one but in a different street on the other side of town. And I popped into the hairdressers to make an appointment; ‘why not now?’ the owner said, forty minutes later my shaggy locks had been transformed into a neat bob again.
Wednesday brought a different adventure, Kevin’s first drive in months. Together with Pat and Tony we hired a car to fetch them from Nidri, where they had driven to the day before to leave their motorhome in a secure parking spot for the summer. The coastal road from Messolonghi offers several hours of spectacular views of mountains and islands and it was a delight to be out and about ambling through the countryside. The roads were very quiet, there are no tourists, just the few cruising yachties who over wintered in Greece and of course the locals.
At the Konidaris boatyard we met up with Aris to go over our plan to leave Temptress in his care once flights open up and he has launched enough boats to have room for us. It’s all agreed except the dates! With Pat and Tony we then went in search of gyros for lunch in Nidri before driving back, stopping for a late afternoon coffee in one of the little coastal towns we missed on the way up. Again hardly a yacht in sight on the town quay.
Over the past week we have meandered our way through the remaining maintenance tasks with varying degrees of success. The starter motor was rebuilt and refitted whilst we were in quarantine with help from Tony & the chandlery here. The new furling drum arrived and was fitted too during our quarantine. A replacement stop solenoid and gearbox fillercap/dipstick have been ordered from a reputable Yanmar spares supplier in Holland but DHL seems to be a black hole for parcels into which two attempts at dispatching them have been swallowed up. Both solenoid and fillercap have been repaired temporarily, replacements would be preferable.
Before Pat and Tony sailed off, the watermaker was re-assembled and installed back under our bunk only to find it wasn’t coming to pressure. Sadly one of the plastic components has cracked so a new one needs to be ordered. For now it can wait, we will visit marinas or quaysides often enough in the next few weeks to refill the tanks when required.
In Nidri we bought rope for a new genoa furling line as recommended by the rigger who fitted the new drum and 30m of thinner stuff to replace the temporary repair on the lazyjacks. Both were quickly installed, though as the area under the false deck was discovered to still be deep in Red Sea dust, we added taking it off, cleaning it out and refitting it properly with sealant to the job list. The latter hadn’t been done since the cobra incident last year! It was promptly carried out a day or so later.
Friday night was a stormy one, the wind buffeting the bow, causing the boat to jerk about on her mooring lines. Uncomfortable but not dangerous. Meow Meow, the marina cat finding Full Flight gone, took refuge under our sprayhood on top of the sailbag. He was snoozing there when we woke early on Saturday morning. With the wind light and the surveyor due to arrive at 09:30 and potentially wanting to take the boat out for a trial sail we hastened to put the genoa back on the forestay as well as get the boat stowed for sea.
In the event the port authority appointed surveyor was really only interested in the engine issues and the new furling drum. He initially couldn’t comprehend why we had not made repairs earlier before things got so bad, why didn’t you buy parts? After a lengthy conversation the surveyor finally understood that we hadn’t been anywhere to have readily got spares since leaving Langkawi in January and that we hadn’t been permitted ashore in any of the countries up the Red Sea. Then he was amazed we had made it to Greece and congratulated us on our survival!
Slowly, slowly the pair of us are returning to life’s usual routines and enjoying things again. It has been a huge help that Greece is also slowly returning to life with shops and cafes opening. Greece shutdown early to protect its island populations where medical care is sparse and as a result there have been very few deaths. Messolonghi has had no cases at all. Now the country is cautiously opening up again.
The town here is not a big tourist destination unless you come by boat or happen to be a Byron enthusiast. The bars and cafes mostly rely on local trade and most evenings walking the narrow pedestrianised streets, it feels as if nothing has occurred. However other towns on the Ionian coast tell a different story; with no incoming tourism the quays are empty, boatyards still stuffed full of yachts that should be out sailing. Crews, both liveaboard cruisers and charterers, remain confined to their home countries, few will be sailing this season. On the quaysides tavernas and restaurants are mostly closed, whilst in the streets behind, shops are also shuttered, as if winter continues.
The Greek government has laid out a clear roadmap for getting back to business as usual with hotels and airports opening little by little and reserving the right to enforce further closures if necessary. It will be some weeks before any volume of tourists begin to arrive by air or road or boat. When they do we will be looking for flights in the opposite direction. Until then for Temptress crew, what matters is that we are able to do a little food shopping, put our laundry through the marina machine, go out for a beer or a meal and walk or cycle wherever we fancy. The simple things in life. Freedom is a precious commodity.