Where have we been for the past few weeks? Essentially we are waiting for flights to the UK to open up. Having decided that flying indirect added extra changes of transport with the attendant additional risk of exposure to CoVid was not a sensible option. Nor was trying to find somewhere to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in either the North or South of Ireland, we decided to hang around in Greece.
Since the middle of June when our month’s berthing in Messolonghi expired Temptress has been sailing in company with our friends Pat and Tony on Full Flight. We quickly realised with few if any other yachts out and about this was a once in a lifetime chance to explore the honeypots of the Ionian Sea – Fiskardo, Sivota and more. The warm welcome the Greeks have given us has been amazing though we have had on numerous occasions to explain we are not necessarily the first optimistic shoots of tourism peeping through.
In the first few weeks the weather was cool enough to embark on regular morning walks into the hills surrounding the harbour or bay we were in. Now in July the sun is getting hotter and our morning excursions have mostly been limited to trips to the supermarket or laundry arranged around coffee ashore. However just as we wondered how to keep reasonably fit without our daily walk, the sea has become warm enough to swim in again though snorkelling is not as rewarding as it is in the tropics. The rise in temperatures has also brought a few afternoon thunderstorms together with brief but strong winds and welcome rain to wash the rigging. Our flotilla guide Pat has gently suggested Tranquil or Vliho Bay near Nidri as a refuge from adverse weather on a couple of occasions; anchored there whilst the wind howls elsewhere, we have come to regard it as the Tobermory of the Ionian!
With the partial lifting of internal EU travels restrictions, over the last week or so the charter fleets are finally leaving the dock and owners are returning to launch their homes. Overnighting in Sivota, in part to fill up with water and gain access to mains electricity to try to track down a potential battery issue, in part to eat out at the friendly Stavros Taverna on Monday was a very different experience from our previous visit a couple of weeks ago. The pontoons are in the water, shops and restaurants are fully open and charter flotillas fill many of the berths. Not quite business as usual but getting there. Handwashing or sanitising is expected everywhere, masks are worn by waiting and shop staff, distance is maintained and only six people can sit at a table.
From a berth in Sami Harbour, on Kefalonia the four of us walked along the coast to the next village where there is a cave containing a lake across which you can go for a short row. Masks and hand sanitizer are required as is spaced out seating in the boat, the four of us sat around the stern, another couple in the bow, our guide between us. This is the face of tourism now. The price of entry has been reduced by a euro to six! The lake itself is not big, the roof of the cave has collapsed making the place like a Thai hong but with very different vegetation overhanging the cliffs above us. Once the sun gets high enough the crystal clear water became an amazing shade of vibrant blue. We were fascinated to hear that the water reaches the lake from sink holes on the west coast several miles away, taking fourteen days to travel underground to the lake then on to a small pond just below on the east coast where it was once used to power a water mill.
Waiting on the Greek and UK governments to raise travel restrictions has become a lesson in patience with the goalposts moving just days before restrictions expire, though with BA promising to be flexible we have booked seats for July 19, four days after Greece-UK flights are due to resume. Any planning has to be a little vague. In outline we intend to lift Temptress at Konidaris Yard in Nidri, prep her to be left until next Spring and then fly to Belfast with as much of our winter clothing as we can carry! Next year Temptress will be relaunched and, today’s plan, left in guardianage so we can fly out for some holiday sailing as Aktion airport close to Preveza is very convenient for the area. In the intervening period we hope to earn a few pennies to fix things like the watermaker. Longer term Temptress will be sailed to the UK and we hope that friends and family will be able to join us for one or more legs.