Well, here we are back for our fourth season of sailing since retirement. Lucky us.
We left Messalonghi on the 9th May and are now back in Kefalonia and waiting on Andy’s sister Sally to arrive. We even managed a few hours of good sailing on the 8 hour trip coming across.
Andy came out on the 14th April and did a power of work on Vaila, replacing all the old leaky hatches and adding new batteries and rewiring, as well as other jobs. Vaila looks much smarter now and we have sorted out our storage and shed some unnecessary stuff.
I arrived on the 26th April and helped to get Vaila ready for another season. Andy added single line reefing back to the cockpit which makes life simpler and safer. No more going up to the mast to reef in heavy weather.
We had a hire car so managed a couple of trips inland and round about Messalonghi. We walked up into the mountains trying to find a cave used as a church. As ever, the walk was lovely but we never did find the cave. We got up to about 2500feet above a stupendous gorge and had wonderful views down to the Messalonghi lagoons.
We even saw tortoises in the wild and lots of wild flowers. The hillside was covered with big leaves from bulbs so it must have been a fantastic sight when the flowers were out. No idea what they were though!
It was Easter sunday when we did the walk and surprisingly there were no church bells, just the bells from the sheep and goats on the hillside and shotguns going off in the valleys. Driving back along the tiny mountain road was an adventure. Large parts of the road had been partly washed away in the winter storms making driving interesting. The road clung to the hillside contouring round through endless oak forests. It was very wild countryside. The BBQ s were going in all the villages with spit roasting lamb and in one tiny village high up they had to move the chairs from the road to let us past. They invited us to eat with them but we didn’t want to intrude.
We made another trip, to Delphi. It was a long drive along the northern shore of the gulf of Patras with an amazing “alpine” style hairpin road taking us up the last few miles to Delphi. The site is pretty vertical and must have been very imposing when all the temples stood, especially the main one to Apollo. Now you just have to imagine it as it’s mostly ruins with a bit of reconstruction.
We were lucky to see the site at lunchtime as the weather closed in later. By that time we were in the museum which housed the statues and other artefacts.
By the time we left, it was pouring and we were glad to be making our way back down from the mountains. The weather was better in Messalonghi.
We really enjoyed the birdlife of the Messalongh lagoons. We often had flamingoes fly over and there were black winged stilts, egrets, terns and pelicans. Someone told us of lesser kestrels and we saw them in the town. The swallows were busy nesting and serenaded us every morning and evening, sitting on the mooring ropes. The whole boat was covered in cobwebs, with spiders doing a good trade in catching flies and mossies. Wildlife was bountiful. No heavy agriculture and not much spraying in evidence. Wild flowers and butterflies everywhere and lots of open spaces left wild round the town. It makes you realise how controlled by big agriculture our environment is at home and what we have lost!
Despite the lack of large scale agriculture, there is lots of vegetable and fruit growing though and lots of people have small plots. Great tomatoes and courgettes already in season and the oranges are falling off the trees. We had the freshest sardines ever the other day from the local market.
It’s lovely to be back here and the weather looks like it’s improving at last. It has been pretty cold up to now. We have needed fleeces and windproofs and the duvet on the bed. Hard to imagine just how hot it was last summer. The flotillas have just started but the harbours are still pretty quiet which suits us. We now have 7 weeks sailing round the Ionian islands and Peloponnese before we fly back for July and August at home (we have a special wedding to attend!)