Spetses to Varkiza
12th October - end of day Hydra
A few hours upwind sail to the island of Hydra. Easy conditions, but have a silly fall whilst checking phone, and put some new holes in the sun damaged sail. Oh well, more clear than ever that a third sail will be needed, and have Insignia repair cloth to patch this mess up once on land. Stop at a beautiful spot on the car-less island of Hydra. Good conditions here - pebble beach, fresh water - to make a nice repair, and time enough left before dark to hike up the mountain behind the hamlet. An open sea and mountain top day - what a wonderful thing life is! Celebrate with a bowl of spaghetti at the beachside restaurant, which is unexpectedly paid for by a friendly stranger I'd had a chat with earlier, though he doesn't reappear to allow me to thank him in person.
13th October - end of day Galatas
Breakfast under the sail, and then a second breakfast arrives from the restaurant people just arrived to open up. Today's evidence that people are nice has come early. Quite a windy upwinder to the mainland. Just another normal day. Another normal great day. Catch a few glimpses of a fin. A shark? Squeeze through a gap which is a shortcut to the upwind side of a headland. A few miles more and am in the shelter of the island of Poros. Job done. Wonderful sailing in the Aegean. Stop at Galatas - opposite Poros on the mainland side - and phone Manos, a pal of Hans who had offereed shelter on the Ionian side of the Peloponnese. Manos - a towering man who has made it his duty to provide all that might be required - delivers board and I to our comfortable lodgings. In the adjacent apartment are two Dutchmen with bicycles. They often rough camp too, and we agree that we want for little living like this, except for access to washing/showering facilities. Over dinner with Manos he explains how he has gone through life towing others, but that recently those being towed had severed the rope.
14th October - no sailing
A simple day. Wash clothes. Shave. Get clean. Sometimes the basic and mundane things can bring real pleasure. Eat with Pietr and Edmund the cyclists. We compare notes on the Peloponnese. They are both retired and Pietr is in his 70's. On this trip they've been touring 5 weeks, travelling as I do with a minimum of gear but rarely in want of more, and living fully. We can't escape age, but a number is no reason to become old.
Mon 15th October - Windsurf Round Poros!
Yesterday evening local contact Tasos called by and we arranged to circumnavigate his native Poros: a diversion for diversion! The sail could do without an unneccesary outing, but sharing experiences add more than just miles to the journey, so I'm happy to sail in a circle today. It's a rather good sail too, rounding the island takes just a couple of hours and the whole upwind side is an ideal angle for a full planing reach. We celebrate the trip with for an excellent lunch spread at Tasos's parents. Then, with stomach full of octopus and fish, its a gentle sail back to mainland side at Galatas.
That evening there's more feasting with Manos. The cyclists and I hear a little of his life's story: a diesel engine fixer, restauranteur, entrepeneur, head of family in a traditional economic sense, then problems, now rebuilding. Good luck Manos, and remember that upon calm waters ducks alight.
Tues 16th October - end of day Agía Marina, Aigina
An easy upwind sail to this island. Cross a kilometre wide 'river' of plastic, but then fail to locate it on the next tack, and the sea is again as it should be - with just sunlight penetrating the depths. Later there's an hour of so of slow progress in the lee of the high ground. Then, suddenly, next to the board there's turbulence that isn't normal. Something big! And a few moments later a small dolphin leaps as it bolts away. I've been missing the dolphins. What joy to be on my way again, sailing a little bit with these animals, and with the freedom to roam as they do.
Easy and pleasant sleep on the beach at this tourist town now in the lowest of low season.
Wednesday 17th October - end of day Varkiza
A great blast across to Varkiza! Yesterday's upwind had created an angle to make this one a reach. This first miles are windy so I head sail tight with daggerboard down, leaving the remainder more open, comfortable and fast. Crossing the shipping lanes at this speed is no bother. At Varkiza the wind switches, and inside the bay are windsurf sails - early arrivals getting some water time in preparation for the Techno 293 European championships. On land most of the GBR team, coaches and parents are here already. They are all very friendly and some bear goodies, including a full set of lightweight footstraps from Tushingham Sales to replace mine which are in tatters.
Meet and have a chat with Greece's double Olympic medalist Nikos Kaklamanakis, and the country's current olympian Byron Kokkalanis, who use the island-dotted and windy Aegean to do some very long runs themselves.
Derig the sail to hide it from any more sun.
Thursday 18th October - Saturday 20th October
Bit by bit the event site fills up. The Spanish team - including menorcan sailors Toni, Alvaro and Billy - arrive and reunite me with a down jacket I'd posted back for safe keeping earlier in the year. There's a pair of winter boots from Wetsuit Outlet. Tasos (from Poros) arrives with some of the Greek sailors he coaches. Patrik Pollak, a friend made at the Raceboard Worlds back in Spain, shows up. Sam Ross kindly donates a few metres of good rope - essential and becoming increasingly difficult to source as I head east. There are plenty of spare sofas available - thanks to Jane and Hugh, and to Ali Masters.
Use time for checks and maintenance on the board: daggerboard cracked, but longitudinal batten rods should prevent catastrophic failure; board hull I think structurally fine despite flex-induced cracking to paint on underside; mast track worn but working; fin has lost a few centimetres but no concerns about it, and luxury indeed to have those new straps. Original Severne boom and mast only just run in... Mostly in excellent shape!
Hope to provide an update on sail situation shortly, and will be chatting with the sailors and coaches here who may have knowledge to share about what lies ahead. Looking forward to sailing again and reporting on the plan from here, but enjoying the pit stop too.