Saturday, June 25, 2011

photo link

 Here's a link to a new photo album we posted from recent days......

.....not everyday!!

We keep on ‘keeping on’….…..heading west through the huge, Bay of Corinth and Bay of Patras, before entering the Adriatic sea and head up the Ionian Islands towards Corfu.

The landscape has changed a lot since passing through the Corinth Canal and the mountians surrounding us are HUGE! Also, it’s much greener and more cultivated. There are loads of citrus, olive groves and of course, plenty of vineyards. Some of the best wine from Greece is reportedly grown in this region. It is a nice change from the dusty Cyclades Islands and somehow feels cooler although we are in full Summer now and at mid-day, you had better be sailing with a breeze or swimming!

Leaving Corinth, we had a very calm day, there was no wind and the sea was very flat…..little ripples now and then. So, we were motoring along, at a lazy pace, when I spotted a group of dolphins in the distance. We’ve seen dolphins throughout the Med several times and it’s always pretty special. Whoever spots them (usually Levi) yells out and everyone who’s not on deck runs out and we watch them jump and swim. We’ve had them stay with us, even in rough waves for 15 minutes or more, and looking over the bow seeing them in the water right below Mehari is spectacular.

This time, Emma and I wanted to try and swim with them, and it was so calm and we had no sails to roll up, we thought it was the perfect time. We put the engines in neutral as we approached, and then turned them off, slowly reducing our speed. They kept jumping and splashing, sometimes in groups of three or four. They were having a ball and I don’t think even noticed us. Once we were crawling along, we jumped in and swam out in front toward where we last saw them. It was only a few seconds and they were jumping around us and I took a mask and could actually see them swimming below us. Rachel was on deck trying to get some pictures, but it’s so hard, when you have no idea where they’ll jump next. So, I guess you have to take our word for it for now, but it was amazing!

The whole experience was unparalleled and very special. I'm sure none of us will ever forget this day!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Aegina - Corinth

After we sailed around from Athens, (Porto Rafti), we made a pit stop in Lavrion, and were very glad to see the brown cloud of Athens disappear in the distance. It was amazing how far into the ocean you could see the smog, it was strung almost horizon to horizon, and I read the smog situation in Athens is among the worst in the world. It is compares to L.A., and in fact the geography of Athens is similar in that it seems to trap the smog in its valley.

We headed to an island ‘close’ to Athens, called Aegina, and it was a very quaint little village. There they had big playgrounds next to the beach and cool little backstreets. We had only planned to stay for one day, but ended up staying through the weekend and finally left Monday. The harbor where we anchored, was busy all weekend with people from Athens coming and going for the day. The streets were more narrow that other towns and only added to the cool back alleys for us to explore. 

Finally on Monday, we headed West toward the canal. We had terrible weather and what was supposed to be a mild breeze, wound up to be almost 20 knots in our face most of the day. This made for some choppy seas and most of the day was pretty rolly with Mehari pitching over the waves. The girls were not amused and as usual when it gets rough, they find a corner somewhere and sleep through it. That left Rachel and I taking turns making our way towards the canal.

We arrived at around 1800 and with some credit card issues, (someone has hacked our card, very long story), I ended up needing to go to town and find some cash to pay the transit fees. It ended up even more complicated and I needed to wait for the bank to open the next day.  So, we anchored in a bay next to the entrance of the canal, reserved for derelicks, losers and transients who are waiting to go through the canal……just kidding.  It was actually a very calm bay and it worked out great. The next day, when I went back to town to get the money, the girls spent most of the time swimming and trying to stay cool. The weather has turned very hot and if there is no breeze or you’re not moving, swimming is the best way to cool off. Most of us spend most of the time on the boat in our bathing suits, and make frequent trips in the water.

So, after a one day delay, we made it through the canal. It was a very cool experience! A little history: The area of land connects the Adriatic sea with the Agean Sea, and taking the canal saves some 180nm from going around the bottom of Greece through the Peloponnisos Islands. The canal was first started by Emperor Nero in 80 AD, using slave labor of 600 Jews captured from Jerusalem. However, after they barely started, a war in Asia diverted their attentions and they stopped work, and was put on hold for almost 2000 years.  The canal is fairly new, only completed by French and Greek teams in the late 1800’s.

For today……it’s used to save 180 Nm from sailing around the point at the bottom of Greece and for sailors, it’s just a pretty epic thing to see and do!!

Lily’s comment about the whole thing was: “No offense, but I’m really not sure what’s so great about this thing?!”….……..none taken.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mr. Miles

We heard Miles wake up from his nap one afternoon and went in and he'd found the diaper rash ointment, he just managed to get it on the wrong end.

As you can see, he keeps us pretty entertained!

Athens, acropolis, and airplanes

Well, this week we dropped off Maggie and Levi at the airport for a month in the states for a wedding, so Rachel and I, Emma and the three youngest are on our own for a while! So far it’s been a bit stressful without four other hands to help out. Things like dishes and cleaning and straightening up…..not to mention a little thing like sailing. Mehari is possible to sail single handed, but not easy. So Rachel or I are handing off the baby to Emma, or keeping him busy with toys on the floor while we tack, roll out sails, raise the main, etc.! Also, Emma is now the official anchor person, so she's in charge of putting out the anchor when we head into docks and bays, and she takes her new position very seriously.

Miles was NOT impressed!
Before the kids left, however, we had a great visit into Athens and seeing the sights. We were a little apprehensive because we’d heard from some other cruisers that Athens is dirty, smoggy, congested and just miserable but everyone ‘has’ to go see at least the Acropolis. Our boat is anchored about an hour from Athens, in a calm bay around the corner form all the craziness. So, we looked into renting a car, but needing a van, we couldn’t find anything less than 170Euro per day, about $250. Plus we’d have to brave the traffic and parking and fuel. Not much incentive to rent. We also needed to sort out the bus for getting Maggie and Levi to the airport, so we thought; maybe we can try that, and use the Metro from the airport to get downtown. It was going to be cheaper and ‘hopefully’ less hassle.

Once we were on the bus, the ticket person explained, why not transfer at the bus station and take a different bus all the way downtown? Why not. So it ended up dropping us right in the middle of town, close to the market and main square, and a close walk to the Acropolis.
As an added bonus, the day before, Sunday, we had rain showers off and on during the day, and Monday was still a little cloudy, so that cleaned all the smog out of the air. That made the hike up the Acropolis a little more bearable and the views of Athens from up top were spectacular. You could easily see the surrounding hills and get a feel for what it must have looked like as ancient ships approached Athens for a beach invasion. I’m sure it was daunting.
As if it couldn’t get better, for us as penny-pinching cruisers, Monday was a holiday in Greece and admission was free! We easily justified spending the savings on a nice lunch in a tree lined back street and had a fantastic meal of grilled chicken, Greek and Cesear salads.

We made it back to the boat around 11:00 that night, exhausted, but an almost perfect day.

The next day was last minute packing and swimming/showering. As boaters who hardly visit marinas, there simply just isn't showers available very often, so we've developed our back deck as our shower. We jump in the water, climb out, soap up, shave, shampoo, jump back in to wash off and do a "final rinse" with a small amount of precious fresh water, no salt. It works actually pretty well, and it feels amazing. 

Sailing Mehari a few pounds lighter,


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Last island of Evvia on our way to Athens. These kids have sailed some miles in 7 weeks!

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

heading to the 'mainland'

Hello all!

Tomorrow we leave the last island for a while, heading to the mainland of Greece, just around the corner from Athens. Right now we're on the island of Evvia, after a one night stop on the island of Kea. Kea was great, it's a very small island, and we had a picnic on the beach all alone, and we were the only boat in the bay. Levi, Emma, Lily and I slept on the beach, with the girls in hammocks and Levi and I on the sand. It was a long night, but loads of fun and memories, nothing a nap the next day couldn't fix!

We are taking Maggie and Levi to the airport on Wednesday for a month long visit/wedding in the good 'ol USA. It's been over 2 years since they've been back and I'm sure they'll have a bit of culture shock once they're back and in a place where everyone speaks English and they can read all the signs. 

Meanwhile, Rachel and I are planning to sail through the Corinthian canal, and up the Ionian Islands of Greece and cross over to Italy, then across the 'boot' to pick them up again in Sicily. Big goals! especially without our most helpful crew! 

We are hoping things go smoothly and Rachel and I are a bit nervous about pulling into docks and anchorages by ourselves. I'm sure it'll be smooth and we're worrying for nothing.......we will certainly miss Maggie and Levi. It's going to be quieter on the boat and I already miss Levi's guitar playing and hanging out with both of them watching movies at night. When you're together 24/7 even a few hours seems strange to be apart, this will certainly be a strange month :(

Keep them in your prayers and us as well, we'll post some pics from Athens and the Parthenon. We're hoping to make a visit there on Monday.

Love you all


Thursday, June 9, 2011

A few pictures...

Hey all-

We've been moving kinda fast trying to get to Athens in less than a week now. So not much internet. Here's just a few pictures from the last few days...

Levi showing Miles the ocean....
Mom making Miles laugh like he does so often! :)
Emma and I enjoying typical small Greek streets
Zoe and Lily playing on shore......I'm guess they're playing a restaurant...Lily being the waitress.
Zoe.....just being Zoe :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Hi everyone!

We're in a small island called Paros. We stayed last night and Today we didn't sail and worked on several boat projects that were long overdue. As well as cleaning! Tomorrow we're headed off for an island called Syros.....

Last few nights we've stayed in small bays that we had all to ourselves. With beautiful sandy beaches that we enjoyed! :) It's finally getting warm enough to swim. Never thought I'd have to wait this long for it to get warm in the Med! But last night and tonight we are on the town dock getting to watch the restaurants fill with people enjoying long dinners in the cool summer night. Add music in the background and Scooters driving by just make it all seem like something from a movie :)

We'll it's almost 9 and I need to head back for dinner since it just finally got dark.....

Til the next island,
Maggie :)