Friday, September 7, 2012

Greek sailing, day 4 - crossing to Zakintosh

We woke up to a very windy day. Inside the harbor we just felt the wind, but looking over to the bay outside we could clearly see waves raised by the wind.

We started getting ready to leave Kefallonia. Udi went to the store to pick our order of tiropita and spinakopita and check on the weather prediction. The weather seemed to be windy today but the next few days should be nice.

Before we moved out, Ayelet and Udi did check up on the engine oil levels and the workings of the various pumps that remove water from the bottom of the boat. This check turned into a somewhat prolong maintenance session. I didn't go into the details, since they were both busy with it for a while. Instead I strolled toward the harbor entrance to watch the waves and the boats sailing out on the bay.

All the sail boats that left the harbor opened their sailed and seemed to get a fair amount of wind. An interesting observation was of a boat that came into the harbor and tried to dock. It was a rented sail boat, and I suspect the crew wasn't very proficient. They did the usual maneuver of turning until the boat is aligned with the desired docking position, and then lower the anchor while moving backward. They, however, did not take into account the wind that kept pushing their boat sideways. The first attempt they almost smashed into one of the docked boats. The second attempt was on a wide area free of boats, but still did not succeed. After the third attempt they gave up and sailed out of the harbor (I am not sure what did they plan to do then).

Once the maintenance was over, we set on our way. By now the procedure of disengaging from the wharf, lifting the anchor, was familier and routine. We started sailing south parallel to the shore.

concentrating on electronic devices instead of the scenery :-(

Our first destination was a "geocache". I didn't hear about this term before reading about it in Ayelet's blog. The idea in short, is a global treasure hunt game. A geotag is a small treasure hidden in some place, usually a place that you would not normally reach, but of interest. The tag is described on the game's website, with clues how to find it. Once you find it you can enter comments on the website, but you can also replace the treasure in the cache. Udi and Ayelet discovered the game during their travel, and now whenever possible they check for caches that are in areas they tour. Usually the caches lead to surprisingly interesting out of the way points.

Our destination was a geocache hidden in a cave that can be reached by swimming. The note said that it is easy to find and the main issue is finding the cave. This seamed like a great excuse to stop at a cave we did not hear about. About half an hour of sailing brought us to the location, and based on the map given in the cache description we found the cave entrance. We lowered anchor and went into the water to explore the cave (and find the cache).

entrance to the cave 

inside the cave

after a search, the cache was just outside the enterance

We snorkeled in the area a bit, seeing nice rocks with sponges and other sealife on them, and the grassy seabed.

self portrait

Once we all were back and ready, we lifted anchor and continued south. Soon we reached the south end of Kefallonia. Once we moved out of the shelter of the island the wind picked up and so did the waves. We opened the sails and set out across the open sea span. This was the roughest ride we had so far, the boat was tilting between 10 to 20 degrees and the waves that crashed on the boats washed us once in a while. I was happy that experience led Ayelet to make sure all windows are tightly sealed in advance, and so none of our belonging got wet. It took few minutes but then I got used to this ride, and actually enjoyed it.

Early in the crossing we picked up another palamida on the the fish line. We retrieved it and tied it to hang outside the boat while we crossed. I was hoping that we might catch several in one day and then can make dinner with fish as main course. However, our luck did not repeat.

The crossing took about two hours, and brought us to the northeast tip of Zakintosh. Once we had land upwind from us the waves subdued, but the wind was still strong. We passed a series of cliffs with impressive caves and arches (which we will revisit more carefully tomorrow) and arrived in Agios Nikolaos. This is a small natural harbor formed by a bay with an hilly island protecting its entrance. The harbor serves as base point for tourists visiting the north shore of Zakintosh.

approaching Agios Nikolaos

view of Zakintosh north end, with Kefallonia in the distance

When we got close to the harbor entrance, a man in a speedboat came toward us. He waved and then came side by side and talked with Udi. He basically gave us instructions where to dock and how to get there. To make sure we did not get lost he stayed attached to us for most of the ride.

When we got to the wharf he directed us to through a rope (a line?) to a fellow who was standing on a local glass bottom tour boat. We thought they wanted us to dock next to that boat, but it turned out that we were to tie beyond the boat and use it as a bridge to the land. Looking down the reason was clear - the harbor is very shallow, and while the glass bottom boats could get to the wharf, a sail boat with a deep keil could not.

We also learned that we could get water and electricity, but it was expected that we will pay a visit to the restaurant on the shore (that was apparently owned by the operators of the wharf). This is not an uncommon practice in few places. It leaves the cost of docking + services (usually around 15-30 Euro) as unspecified income of the restaurant.

Ayelet sent Roni and me to clean the fish on wharf to avoid a mess on the boat. The second time around it was much easier. This time we made ceviche with a bit more spice and a bit of fresh herbs.

cleaning fish

Ayelet and I decided to go try the internet at the restaurant, so that Ayelet could finally upload a blog entry she was trying to load the whole week. We sat on porch close to the water, and ordered ouzo and a plate of appetizers. The ouzo was nice, and the appetizer plate included quite a few items. The best was pickled octopus (and who would have thought I would enjoy that). Sadly, we found that the internet connection was terrible and so Ayelet could not achieve her goal (the blog was loaded only after I left).
view from the restaurant

We returned to the boat for some relaxed time. Eventually everyone decided they were hungry, except the two of us who snacked. The restaurant was now full of tourists. It was not clear where they all came from as there were no obvious hotels near the shore. The waiters managed to arrange a table for us on the sandy beach. We ordered rather classic souflaki, which turned out quite dry. The "local" wine we ordered was terrible, but we got a second carafe "on the house" (I guess for docking our boat).

During dinner there was a show with a live band and three dancers. The theme was greek music. The band included the expected bouzouki playing a lead role. The dances switched costumes between elaborate designs, and alternated between performing complex dances and dancing with people from the crowd. I guess this was a good show for tourists, we found it a bit overdone and artificial. 

We returned to the boat, and watched The Big Blue. This was chosen as it included scenes in Greece as well as a lot of free diving. I always loved this movie, although I must confess that I don't completely understand the plot. This time, I found the character played by Rossana Arquette somewhat annoying. 

1 comment:

Christos said...

Love the way you storytelling....! I am sailing too sometimes and i m starting a blog on sail stories. Can i republish your story too?

Christos from Sail Stories