We timed the crossing of the Dora Strait well and we got across without any dramas. The wind and waves were actually higher coming up the first part of the Evia channel so we decided to take a break and have breakfast in the lea of the first island. We then set off again and with every hour that passed the wind slowed and the waves calmed.
Half way up the channel is Khalkis, this is where the island almost meets the mainland. There are two bridges, the first we can go underneath. The second is a folding bridge that opens at slack tide during the night, somewhere between 10pm and 4am in the morning. There aren’t many places in the Med that have tidal worries, but this is one of the few. The problem for us of course was if we could make it to the bridge in one sail or would we lose half a day by arriving there at lunch time the following day and having to wait to go through the bridge.
We voted to continue and make for Kalkis in one haul. We arrived as the sun was setting, although industrial, it was calm and peaceful. We tied up alongside another boat waiting to get through the second bridge and Paul went ashore to get the necessary paperwork signed off.
The poor boat we tied up alongside had problems. They hadn’t managed to get their cruising tax sorted and the port police were not going to let them go through. The Cruising tax is a new tax that the Greeks introduced in May of this year. You fill out the form online and then you take the form complete with special number to a bank to pay the fee. Unfortunately a lot of people were struggling to get the website to work and found it crashed before completing the entry.
Paul had successfully done all of our payments and Depka renewals whilst in Rhodes earlier in the year, for those just sailing for a few weeks it has been a much harder process and the port police are taking every opportunity to stop you in your tracks.
We were all set for our passage through the bridge estimated at 10.30pm. And then we would be able to anchor up and put the boat to bed for the night! Of course, we should have known better. The other side of the bridge the wind was blowing in front of us and the anchorage around the corner would be right in the blow. We would have to sail on until we could find an anchorage in the lea of the land! So, back to the book.
This would be our first anchoring during the night. We didn’t know the lay of the land, and although the moon was big we knew that it has a habit of disappearing right when you need it. (Why does the moon do that?). The closest possible anchorage now sheltered from the north was an hour and a half away. We settled down to yet more motoring! Eventually we arrived at 12.30am, and when we were completely sure the anchor was well dug in, we retired to sleep. What a long day that had been! (19.5 hours of sailing)
Waking in the morning was great. We had been so tired we had slept solidly and now the seas were flat calm and we could see our surroundings. A little worrying that a huge buoy was less than 200 metres away, we hadn’t seen that on our radar and it could have got caught under the catamaran if we had anchored closer. Still, that is not worth worrying about now, we had taken Lilly ashore for her early morning constitutional and now we had to locate somewhere to fill up with fuel before the end of the day.
The island of Evia had much more of a mainland feel about it because of its locality and the fact that cars could drive there, but what really surprised us was the lack of sailing vessels. There was just no-one around … no tourist boats, no sailboats, no fishing boats, no luxury motor yachts …. Nothing.
The mini ports in the book (A Green Guide for Sailors) were hardly big enough to get our little catamaran in so the chances of finding a fuel station were minimal. Many of the village quays have details of fuel tankers that will come and deliver to the boat. So, in an ideal situation, we could ring the harbour man, book the tanker, arrive at the right time, fill up and sail on. We have a plan!
So we start by ringing all of the numbers in the book, we had a possible lead with Paul talking to the harbour master of Lemani and he said, oh just speak to the Italian boat when you arrive as they had fuel yesterday. Ok, it seemed like a long shot but when needs must. We arrived just as a boat was leaving, guess what nationality they were??? Yes Italians. So near and yet so far!
But we don’t give up that easily. Paul scooted around to the local shops to ask, they would know who the mystery diesel tanker was. He arrived back with tomatoes and yoghurt but no information about fuel. I had one more plan. Lets ring the yard at the far north of the island and see if we can get a number of someone who could drive and meet us a bit closer. And this is what happened.
It all worked fine, we arranged to ring when we arrived at Loutra and he was happy to drive around the headland from Orio.
The amusing thing is that when we actually topped up, we could only put in 203 litres, which meant we had 82 litres left which, in theory is another 100 nautical miles of motoring (2 full days) at our current sail-less sailing record!
But the good news was we had fuel, we could stay at … for the night free of charge and it was hot with out a breath of wind! No swimming though when tied up on a town quay. But the town was quiet from 10pm, no motorbikes racing up and down, no bars blaring music, the occasional fisherman coughing as he lit another cigarette sat behind the boat …. But quiet!
We planned our final day through the Evia Channel and out to Skiathos …. The first of the three islands in the Northern Sporades. An easy day of 42.8 nm with a perfect anchorage in Plantanis on Skiathos. (Mama Mia island). What a treat! Sun, sea, no wind, swimming, trees, cicadas, one other sail boat, no litter, no mess, just green, beautiful green! Perfect!
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With all of unknown surrounding Brexit, many UK sailors have been exploring all of the different ways in which we might or might not be affected by Brexit. Before we left the UK, we were approached by several doom and gloom merchants who felt that there was already...
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