Thursday 11 June
Well it seems the engine spares, a gearbox oil filler cap and a stop solenoid, at the third attempt have finally reached Athens. This is stuff you can’t make up… the Dutch supplier accidentally shipped our order with another going to the UK, where the recipient, a regular customer was happy to arrange for it to be picked up and sent to us, however the courier company didn’t collect it despite several reported visits. After several days of back and forth the supplier said she would get parts sent direct to us from Yanmar as she didn’t have both items in stock. Yanmar failed initially but it seems have now shipped to Greece. So this attempt has been tracked via Amsterdam and Leipzig to Athens and is out for delivery on Friday after almost two weeks!
As for us, we have been pottering around since Full Flight departed. There are a couple of bikes in the marina that we can use to get around, useful for getting into town (otherwise a 30 minute walk) or to the supermarket as well as exploring the flat wetlands around us. Shopping without a car has to be carefully planned. One rucksack and a couple of carrier bags, one for each front bike basket is about the maximum, without being creative with the rusty carrier frames over the back wheel of each steed. It’s about ten minutes into town from the pontoon and a different route each time means we are becoming familiar with the street plan.
Today’s task was milk, yoghurt, wine and gin plus a teeny battery for the thermometer (more on that shortly). The battery proved easier than we hoped, having no idea where to find a jewellers in town – Google only works if businesses put themselves on the map and it seems only coffee shops in Messolonghi do so. In one of the little squares off the main shopping street is a double fronted store selling homewares like kitchen bins, wine glasses and bath mats plus a very large range of nail polish! Just inside the door hangs a rack of button batteries and it was a matter of seconds for the helpful assistant to find the one we required. At thirty cents each we bought two!
From there we cycled up the main street, through the town gate to the old provincial road that runs mostly along the coast but here passes just north of the town centre (Messolonghi now has a by-pass that keeps most through traffic out of the town’s narrow streets). Turning left we popped into the first of three ‘out of town’ supermarkets that lie along here, Sklavenitis, only because we hadn’t shopped here yet. It proved much the same as AB further along and not as cheap as Lidl especially for wine and spirits. So with yoghurt and fresh milk and a few other bits filling the rucksack we pedalled off west the less than a kilometer to Lidl. Half an hour later with the carrier baskets bulging with things like two 1.5l wine bottles, some crisp breads, salamis and two litres of UHT milk, the pair of us made our way back via the backroads to the marina stopping to photograph flamingos on the lagoon as we passed. Our little expedition had taken much of the morning!
For a long time food shopping has been done on the basis of buying what we can get and if it’s something we use regularly stocking up on quantities of it. Usually in Asia transport has been by taxi making our mass purchases easy to carry back to the anchorage. Here we can finally settle back to getting just what’s needed to see us through the next few days, a whole change of mindset which has been difficult to make. Even today faced with limited carrying capacity, the array of foodstuffs on offer had us running mentally through the stores asking mayonnaise, tinned tomatoes? The answer is no, out in the islands of the Ionian we will find local stores for fresh food, failing that we can eat out. And, after so long away from Singapore’s wetmarkets, the pleasure of Messolonghi’s Tuesday and Saturday markets with their fresh, fresh vegetables and seasonal fruit is immeasurable. The saloon table has bowls of nectarines, plums and apricots from Tuesday’s foray.
If landlubbers wonder how we fill our time the answer lies in all those tasks that many working people with a car cram into a Saturday morning. Now laundry and shopping can fill hours of every day, with a few hours more being taken up with maintenance tasks like greasing loo pumps or tracking down and ordering spare parts. Another purchase we need to make is that of a plank of wood to use as a passerelle, ie as a bridge between the stern of the boat and the quayside. We are borrowing one at present. Temptress used to have one years ago that we gave away, not needing it outside of Europe. Spiros, the marina security cum marinero said he would organise it as the timber place is too far out of town and anyway we couldn’t fetch it on a bicycle. It may turn up later today.
After the market on Tuesday we tried to find the butchers we’d been to with Pat and Tony and failed. However we found a well stocked place on the main street and bought kilos of minced beef and pork mix (for meatballs, moussaka and more), some large chicken breasts as well as a pork tenderloin and a kilo of beef for casseroles, all for around twenty five euros; the little ice box is now fully stocked for the coming weeks. Sadly being just after a national holiday they had none of the local sausage.
The following day we visited the port police office on the quayside. Having managed at the second attempt to pay the Tepai, the Greek cruising tax online, and having a positive report from the surveyor on Saturday, it was time to collect our boat papers and release Temptress. A little more form filling and a long chat as neither of the officers could quite believe what they’d heard from colleagues of our last six months at sea, then our boat registration document was returned to us. They also issued us with a four page instruction document about how to avoid crew and passenger infection and steps we need to take for the next few weeks. This we read over our morning coffee in the town square after another visit to the butchers in the hope of buying sausages or rather sausage. The local sausage comes in metre long lengths and is very tasty BBQd or roasted in the oven with potatoes, garlic and vegetables. This time we were successful.
The Covid-19 regulations state that boat crew (and passengers) need to record their temperatures every day. This record must be available for inspection if requested. Hence our need for a working thermometer. We also are required to have a pulse oximeter on board as well as masks, gloves and the means of cleaning and disinfecting hard surfaces. A new gadget is always fun for a few hours so having purchased pulse oximeter in a local pharmacy, we spent some of the afternoon clipping it on our finger and in my case, comparing the reading with my Fitbit (much the same numbers). It was a relief to find we both have normal temperatures, high oxygen saturation levels and a pulse – we must be alive!
If we are alive and the parts arrive then it’s surely time to go cruising. Our rough plan is to slowly work our way north to Nidri. Enroute there are myriad bays and quays to visit. I would like to revisit a few of the places I sailed to back in 2007. Kevin wants to moor stern to a quayside where he can step off into a restaurant, more specifically Astakos where we stopped for coffee on our way back from Lefkada a week or so ago. Weather permitting we intend to depart early next Tuesday.
PS: as I post this, Kevin went off to collect the parcel that was delivered by DHL this morning and discovered it was two boxes! One from Yanmar and one from the UK.