Towards the end of our stay in Greece 2015, we took the plunge and went for a 41 Westerly OceanLord called Loco ,bought from our friends Les and Tina, a boat we had known for over a year. She is well equipped for distance cruising and has a newish engine, only needing work to replace the deck surface and cosmetic update of the interior. We vacated our Leros apartment and headed for the Prevesa Marina to live aboard her on the hardstanding- in effect swapping our usual 6 weeks sanding and varnishing Solon for stripping the treadmaster deck- so no change there! We wrapped her up and left her mid November, hoping that she lives up to our sailing expectations when we return in Spring 2016.
Now we are just back from our usual 5 months winter working as Chalet Hosts in Montgenevre, enjoying the luxuries of a lie in and not having to prepare a 3 course evening meal for guests every night. The season was great fun, and a perfect opportunity for us to continue slowly to improve our snowboarding techniques. It was probably just as well that the snow board park didn’t get enough snow to open this year, as we managed to avoid injury and got plenty of sunshine to keep our face tans topped up!
The last month was spent on the internet ordering goods for the new boat, which all began to form a worrying pile in Ben and Christina’s house.
We are now a week away from returning to Greece, enjoying time with family and our lovely Grandson who is just finding his first words- an exciting stage. Our new adventures will be recorded on www.locomocean.wordpress.com join us and see where we end up.
Taking a break from the tedious task of hunting down our replacement boat, we were offered the chance to go sailing with Steve and Chris to help them try out their new main sail and cutter configuration. Steve is an engineer, and had designed and had built a self tacking cutter that had its own boom, and added this to their American Cabo Rico yacht- a kind of scaled up version of Solon- so we were keen to experience the ride.
Goose winging the cutter and genoa sails with the wind behind us
Steve the proud Captain at the wheel
We visited 3 islands- Astipalaia, Nisiros and Kos, so we had plenty of time to study how another 38 foot boat handled. She sailed much like Solon, but felt much steadier- inclined much less and was slower to respond to any gusts- which reassured us that these were the things we were now looking for from a sailing boat. Astipalaia was a quiet remote anchorage just round from Maltezana on the southern part of the island. Here we found a quiet taverna for a coffee and a swim, which gave the boys time to discuss yachts.
Ahhhh sharing yachting tales- the joy!
Nisiros is an extinct volcanic crater. Armed with hire car the four of us wound our way round the hairpins to the ridge of the crater where the crazy planners allowed construction of Nikia a half ruined but pretty village. Drop down from here on the narrow windy road avoiding the 2 or 3 tourist buses coming up from the crater, full of guests shipped over for the day from Kos by tour companies. Reach the centre and you can walk on the crusty surface, casually strolling around the hot steam clouds that bubbled and hissed from below. The heat from below the ground combined with the intense sun made for sweaty conditions. There is a solitary Taverna at the Volcanoe with trees for shade and toilets and there is also a very informative Volcanoe Museum in Nikia- worth a visit.
The specks in the background are people to give some idea of scale.
The island also had some beautiful neglected old towns, and it was peaceful strolling through the narrow streets exploring.Checkout the pebble mosaics in Nikia.
They say the two happiest days of a sailor’s life is the day he buys a yacht and the day he sells her. We, however, had mixed emotions as we stood on the quay and watched her new American owner and his Greek charter boat skipper mate motor out into the bay. We had spent so much time maintaining her, she felt like an old house you bought and spent hours getting her just the way you wanted everything- all to hand and convenient- looking her best- only to let her go.
However, on the plus side we are now boatless and enjoying this unexpected sense of freedom- without the stresses of carefully checking the weather and the holding of the anchor.We are now holed up in a 2 bedroomed apartment in Leros, not far from the Marina. We have washing machine, fridge, shower and a sunny balcony- all the comforts of home and have a few weeks to reflect on what we want to do next. For all her beauty, Solon was tight for 2 people to live aboard, and we now feel we want something with a bit more comfort to travel further on the high seas- and to be truthful the Mediterranean environment is not ideal for a wooden boat unless you paint it all white…. So reluctantly we will be looking for a plastic boat next time around.
Nelly makes herself at home on the sunny balcony, what a great view of someone’s fruit gardens, we could get used to it here!
When we started this blog it was all about the journey, and the adventure of arriving in new ports, sharing the scary and funny things that happened enroute. Now we have paused in our journey, and are reluctant to rush into getting another yacht, especially as we have our son’s wedding in September to look forward to- now only 13 weeks away! We will therefore not bore you all with our search for a replacement, unless that is the search takes us to exotic locations! The internet is such a useful and dangerous tool, we find ourselves looking at yachts which Noah points out “you do realise that one is in Australia don’t you?”
We have met so many lovely people on our travels, many of whom have spent over 20 years on boats, which makes our 3 years pale into insignificance. They all say the same, that there is a 10 year bench mark which is often a time to sell up and return to grandchildren/ home or friends. We need to find a much loved yacht that someone like this is selling, so that we can continue the travel and benefit from all the work and experience that these seasoned sailors have entrenched into their boats- or of course we could just rush out and get the next thing we see!!!
What a contrast it was from Sunsoaked Greece with its clear blue waters and Tavernas and relaxed slow lifestyle to the snowladen mountains of the Alps and its mountain restaurants and the pace of keeping the clients happy each week in the Chalet.We had great fun in the mountains, and although the snow was one of their worst years on record we had sufficient to enjoy the boarding, discovering new tracks and loving the sunny blue skies. We had high aspirations for our snowboarding, given that we were now going to do a full season, but alas the 360 jump and tail grab still allude us and will have to wait for next year’s season. We were, however, proud to have got around a 180 from a blue jump- and have had to settle for that for the time being!
We also made new friends Shana our Resort Manager and Gerry and Jenny from Ski Etoile amongst many others.Here are a couple of our favourite shots to give you a flavour of our season:
We were lucky enough to be looked after by our families for our 3 week stay in the UK, and we have been stocking up on kisses and hugs with our Grandson to keep us going through the sailing season. We are returning to the boat in the next few days and will update you on our route and intentions for this year’s sailing- once we have decided where to go!
This time last year we had a busy social life which eased our 6 week working schedule on Solon; BBQ, Quiz night, music night (rehearsals for Noah on various boats which got him off work early!) Exercise classes for Nelly 3 times a week, along with ladies coffee mornings and visits to Olive groves to name but a few of the events on offer amongst a community of people. On Leros at the end of October even the marina bar has closed down, and once the Southerly winds and rains blew through the temperatures began to drop, and we have had to dig out the jeans, socks and fleece for the cool evenings. There were a few days when we couldn’t be tempted into the sea at the close of the working day, which is now around 5.30pm forcing us into the cabin, until the wind dropped and the temperatures once again returned to around 20 mid day. Only the odd boat is craned out, the owners waste no time in packing it up and head for the airport. As no one is about we concentrate on the jobs to be done to close the boat for 6 months- all open herbs, flour and cereals to be binned or they will host little beasts over the winter months! We cannot believe the season has already come to a close. That being said it is still very bright and dry- ideal conditions for working on our lovely wooden boat- and we are glad not to be trying to varnish and paint in a British October! Our hard work last year paid off and thanks to the “6 coats” technique Solon was in a much better condition, we shaved 2 weeks off the works programme and have even managed to varnish some of the inside woodwork this year.
Even the little kitchen looked clean and tidy!
We are always amazed by the number of people who come to chat with us as we work on Solon. Quite often their opening pitch is something like “ we used to have a wooden boat like her…….our first boat was a beautiful wooden boat, bigger than this but……….we had a little project boat similar to Solon……” We get the picture, seems like we are not the only ones who were seduced by the beauty of an old wooden boat. For now we are just pleased that she is holding together so well, and she might be a few mm smaller year by year but she scrubs up well. Of course, this is Nelly’s favourite view of Solon recently re-decorated:
Here are a few of our favourite images of Leros, which will keep us going over the winter until we return to her in the Spring.
We think we will treat ourselves to a new flag when we return- thanks to Bobbie and Paul who leant us their spare when our flag and pole were ripped from the boat in a nasty moment in Porto Koufo and to Robi and Giuliyana for crocheting us a new cover for the nose of the boat- thanks mates! We also thank them for their company sailing this year and not to forget Sian and Graham and Lars and Maria and Gordon and Pauline and all the other lovely yachties we met. So its off to work for the winter Chalet Hosting again. Yippee!!!!
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Well it was always going to happen. Jenny was going to have a baby, yes and Nelly was quite rightly always going to jump ship to go and see him. Solon has even been removed from the desktop on the laptop replaced by the more perfect form of Remy Carl. Life went on at Leros Marina as best it can with the opportunity to get ahead on the years varnish refresh and some badly needed repairs on the bow damaged in Karlovasi. Also guitar practice and cycling rides are optimistically planned. Numbers of texts has also gone sky high and auto top ups seemed to happen every few days until Chris and Anja turned up to relieve Noah’s boardom, dragging him away from the pitta gyros, and sailing resumed to the islands of Patmos, Arki and Lipsoi then back to Leros again.
The first days run up to Patmos was a beat into a swell so all was not well after an hour both the new crew suffered from a bit of seasickness. Thankfully the rest of the week was downwind sailing and all were much happier. Highlights were The Chora at Patmos with its monastery and spectacular views and many cats. The snorkelling at Pandelli where I would swear we had nearly 500 fish all close to us when we fed them with bananas, all different sizes and markings. More pitta Gyros and more wine. Scootering around Leros on one of the windiest days of the summer.An interesting anchorage in Arki where we held in the weed but others around us dragged most notably a Kiwi boat dragged near to us when its crew were all below asleep and it took a mighty shout to awaken them. They politely moved before the night was out.
That’s all a distant memory now as after Nellies return and a couple of settle in days, Solon was craned out and the work began in earnest. We quickly finished off last years sanding machine which died with a cough and a splutter and had to buy a new one. Nelly sanded a hole in her finger whilst working on the varnish and claimed she couldn’t work (Clever she is). The target 6 coats on the lot. Well in reality we probably never really make that but its good to aim high they say !!! We have worked or way through about 20 metres of sandpaper of various different grades but have managed to use just one brush for all of the varnishing and one for the white topsides
Anode off the prop- amazing the corrosion in a year
Its now been 12 days since the craning and we think we have broken the back of it. The wind is due to go ballistic again tomorrow so we will wind back a bit. Once again we watch the GRP boats being craned out around us, the owners promptly heading for the airport only a few days later- as we add sawdust to the air and move trestles around the boat. Before you start to feel sorry for us, there is always the swim off the marina wall afterwards to cool off, temperatures still reaching the high 20’s mid day, the sea is around high teens/ low 20’s. Also, the good news is that the new fridge raced Chris and Anja from the UK, (collected from Anja’s work) it took just over a week to arrive, and Solon can now offer COLD BEER, BUTTER, JUICE and COLD WHITE WINE ! Hooraah!!!
Noah and Nelly decided the best way to drop Nellie at Bodrum airport would be to leave the boat in Leros where it would be safe and take the ferries which were pretty reasonable
Leros – Kos on the very fast catamaran 20 Euros
Kos – Bodrum on the tripper boats 15 euros each way or 17 return if you come back on the same day. St Maria and Kostakis.
Kos back to Leros on the big Blue Star car ferry 14 euros leaves late from Kos so you get in at about 11 at Leros.
Some pics of Kalymnos one of the stops for the catamaran.
Kos where we stayed at the Thomas Hotel clean and near the marina but we could have got it cheaper we paid 50 Euros and only 28 on the next visit. Breakfast was good and included.
Bodrum we stayed at the Marin Hotel shown below.
Never pick a hotel next to a mosque. Its worse than church bells. You get scriptures sung out over loudspeakers at least 3 or 4 times a day. Thankfully not too early in the morning . This mosque was next to the Alamatra Marin which otherwise was fine given it was in a very noisy area in the thick of the town.( If you know what I mean ) Breafast was good and included in the price
The Tango bar in Bodrum. Nice poses Eh Mark. Just managed to catch the ferry back. Nearly missed it due to ordering a pizza at the last minute and it taking more than five to arrive. The ferry had to re lower the gangplank for me and 5 other latecomers. Good job I got my passport stamped otherwise there would have been trouble. Well Nelly is in England now and Noah is on Varnish duty in leros awaiting guests.
More ancient antiquities in Kos and Bodrum. Ever heard the term columned out ?