The Med

September 1983

Once all the teary goodbyes were said, with Jackie, the kids and Myles and Clare we set off eastward towards Majorca in the hot sun.  Again there was not a lot of wind and we found out exactly how far 85 liters of diesel goes, not as far as one would wish!  As we chugged along in the sun all of a sudden the engine missed a heartbeat, then another and rattled to a complete stop, oh,oh.  We spent quite sometime drifting around on an oily sea but eventually a mere whisper of wind allowed us to creep into Majorca's big harbour and drop the hook, in the middle of the night I might add.
After launching the dinghy and getting a jerry can of fuel we made our way over to the harbour wall, taking the only vacant site.  I quickly found out why it was not occupied, it was right over the sewer outfall and what a smell.  No swimming here that's for sure!  As soon as another slot opened it was up anchor and move, let the next guy have this one.
We had a good time in Majorca and it was just so convenient having the boat almost right downtown.  The shopping was great, cold beer at an American style pub and of course the narrow, ancient streets made it seem all the more exotic.

From there it was off to Ibiza.  Having been part of the flower child generation and hearing of this place we just had to visit.  Well, the '60s were a long time ago and we did not see any hippies, no flower children, no afghans but there were certainly lots of tourists! 

We spent a couple of days wandering about and decided enough of this civilization and found a nice bay not far away.  Funny thing is, as soon as we dropped the hook in comes one boat and then soon after another.  I think they thought we had some local knowledge, silly fools.

After the Balearics we set our sights on Sardinia and had a couple of wonderful days at sea, with very light winds and glorious sunshine.  It was at the time of a full moon and there is something absolutely magic about sailing down the moon's reflection in the water. 

As we neared Cagliari it became apparent that we would not make landfall in daylight, not to worry, I had the latest charts, there was no wind to speak of and it looked a very easy entrance, just pick up the lights on the seawall.  It was pitch black and we were going very slowly as the lights at the end were not visible.  Jackie and Myles were on the bow when all of a sudden they were yelling Reverse! Reverse!  They had spotted a large crane on the seawall just in front of the boat.  We were feet from disaster, so with heart pumping we came about and spent the night going up and down the coast about a mile off.  When daylight finally arrived it all became evident that they were extending the seawall and had not replaced the lights.  Did we learn a lesson here?

After a few days recovering from fright, it is simply amazing what a few Campari and sodas can do, the lure of Malta over came our desire to stay put, as nice as Cagliari was.  Again a couple of nights ghosting along on smooth seas and an air temperature making long pants and jackets unnecessary.  As we slowly made our way down the coast of Gozo the fireworks started and lasted hours, how did they know we were coming?  Actually it was some sort of celebration, the Maltese sure do love their fireworks.
Valletta harbour is really an interesting place, with many buildings built right down to the water's edge.  We cleared into the country easily enough but it was the first time that the officials were gruff and seemed a bit unfriendly.  This was in complete contrast with the rest of the populace and I can only say that we were met with smiles and friendly people the rest of our stay there.  There is a lot to see in Malta,  the statue from the Knights of St. John, baroque buildings lining Grand Harbour to the quaint villages in the countryside.  Our week was not long enough and we only scratched the surface.
It was here that we bought our passerella, what is that you ask?  A fancy name for an expensive gang plank, that's what.  With two little guys it was just too difficult, not to mention dangerous, getting on and off the boat.  Now we had definitely moved up to the big time!

It wasn't long before I could almost taste the Ouzo, smell the souvlaki on the spit and hear the music from Zorba the Greek.  Cast off Spiro, Greece is calling. 
A couple of days found us approaching Zante, aka Zakanthos, and our first time putting into a Greek port.  What a difference to the other places.  We backed in, dropped the gang plank and right there was a great little taverna, with the owner beckoning us to come and sit at a table.  Of course we had to have the obligatory ouzo coupled with a couple of excellent cold beers.  Life is good.
From here we decided to take in the Gulf of Corinth and go through the Corinth Canal.  It was started by the Romans and finished by Napoleon, and I think they are still paying for it, for the cost was about $100 at the time, but saved a lot of distance since we wanted to visit Athens.
There are many delightful little bays and towns in the gulf.  We stopped at Galaxidi
After the quaint little town the bustle of Athens was almost overwhelming.  We found space at Kea marina in the blistering heat and almost no wind, it was hot, but this is Greece, it is supposed to be hot. 
There is just so much to see in Athens and we only wanted to spend about a week, the old Michelin guide got a good workout.  We hit all the 3 stars and a few of the 2 in a mad dash to try to see it all, of course we didn't but we tried.  We dragged those poor little mites around in the heat for days but they stood up well although at the end I think even they were looking forward to some boat time.
It was out of Athens, around Sounia and into Kea and then to Mikonos with its windmills and of course Peter the pelican.  We spent a few days here, with one pretty wild night as the Meltemi was kicking up and gave us winds as high as 35 knots.  The Bruce did it's job well but it was still a pretty sleepless night as some boats did drag, fortunately no damage. 
On our way to Santorini (Thira) we stopped in Paxos and Ios.  Ios seemed to have been taken over by the backpacking/disco crowd as the parties went on well into the night.  I don't know where they got their stamina, I certainly never had that much at their age.
Santorini is one of those magical islands that everyone should have on their bucket list.  The sun shone and the winds was blowing pretty good as we approached.  From a distance it looked like the cliffs had a mantle of snow, but how is this - the temperature was well into the 80s.  As it turned out, the houses are all painted white and cling to the cliff tops giving the illusion of snow.
The island is the remnants of a volcano, with parts of the rim missing so you can actually sail right inside.  The lava is very dark and it was funny to see the floating stones, it seems that there is quite a quantity of pumice thrown up by the volcano and it is still being mined.  At the time we were there no marina or mooring facilities existed near the main dock and the weather was too rough for us to go along side for any period of time as we had to fend off continuously.  It was here that Myles and Clare left us to return to England, from now on it is just our family.

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