For reasons obvious to all, our 2019/20 “over wintering” in Kalamata marina was extended until the end of May 2020.
We arrived here on 21st of October and, as we didn’t know then that Covid 19 was just around the corner, we wanted to get moving straight away on our jobs list to ensure everything was finished by the end of March. Our first task was to organise haul out as there were several things we wanted to do which meant “Owl and Pussycat” needed to be on the hard standing. Initially we thought that we would be out for 4 weeks and booked an Airbnb for that period. Steve and Gill had very kindly offered us a berth on “Coriander” for the duration but we felt that four weeks was probably too long for four people in a confined space. In the end we were out for six weeks…. So the decision was probably the right one especially as the small house had a washing machine and a large TV – what luxury!!
The travel lift operator, Peter, is extremely meticulous and takes great care with haul out, pressure washing and chocking and “Splash”.
We were pleased to find that the “Coppercoat”, put on three years ago, had done its job.
A few small patches needed touching up but overall we were pretty foul free and it all looks good for a few more years.
Our Max prop was immediately sent to France for a full overhaul, we organised “Ioannis” and his Messinian Yacht Centre staff to undertake some cosmetic repair to our transom and polish the hull, and Mike also found “Theodorus Christopoulos”, an excellent local refrigeration engineer who fitted our new keel cooled fridge with a small freezer.
We now have two fridges, this new one and the old, air cooled one which now acts as a cool store for things like salads, vegetables, spreadable butter and my preserved lemons and olives, which I made over the winter.
Whilst out of the water Mike replaced the packing in the rudder sealing gland and fitted a new inner part of one of our seacocks, changing the position of it as he did so because previously we had needed to remove the valve opening/closing arm as it didn’t fit in the available space while attached. We didn’t like the practice of having to fit it to use it… not good should we need to operate it in an emergency situation.
We also made new fender covers, fitted a stainless steel bow protector and finally got round to putting on our bow logos.
It was difficult enough to do balanced on a scaffolding tower…. Heaven knows what would have happened if we had tried to do it whilst balancing on a wave rocked dinghy!
So, we were back in the water in good time for Christmas……
…..when we were delighted to welcome on board our super friend, Malc.
He stayed with us between 19th and 27th December and a good time was had by all.
We were sorry that he wasn’t able to stay for New Year, but we managed to celebrate it in fine style anyway.
As we did last year, we also watched the 3 Kings Day celebrations on 6th January…..
….. found a superb small bar at which to join the locals for a “Burnt Thursday” souvlaki BBQ which, this year, was on 20th February…..
…….and took part in the traditional “Clean Monday” kite flying and beach picnic on 2nd March.
We, and the rest of Kalamata, had been preparing for and looking forward to “Karnival”….
…..which should have culminated in a small parade on Saturday 29th February and a full parade on the Sunday. Acting quickly to the increasing threat of Coronovirus, the Greek government cancelled all Karnival parades and followed this by closing all bars and restaurants on 14th March and a full lockdown from 23rd March.
We had been intending to go to a small town on the Mani peninsular – Areopoli – to celebrate Greek Independence. Although Greece as a whole celebrates Independence Day on 25th March, the Greek War of Independence actually started in Areopoli on 17 March 1821 when an army of 2,000 Maniots advanced on Kalamata where there was an Ottoman garrison. The Maniot army captured the city on March 23rd. A later “invention” regarding the start of the War was that it occurred on March 25th when revolution was declared by Archbishop Germanos in the Monastery of Agia Lavra. Regardless of which of these versions is true the residents of Areopoli honour the anniversary of the uprising on 17th.
Unfortunately neither Independence Day nor Easter were celebrated properly this year as all citizens were subject to lock down at home. From 23rd March to 4th May we were allowed out for a maximum of an hour at a time to visit the supermarket, bakery or pharmacy or for exercise. We believe you could go out twice in one day, but in practice we probably went out 2 or 3 times per week in total. Similarly, all the local people took lock-down equally seriously.
We had to carry passports and a form which stated the time you left your residence, where you were going and the purpose of the visit.
All of this time on the boat gave us plenty of scope for completing other jobs. The list is fairly long, includes all of the annual maintenance and polishing jobs but I won’t bore you with everything we did though have included a couple of photos of us doing it!
Right at the start of the New Year when we were still expecting to leave the Med this year and cross the Atlantic at the end of it, we commissioned a complete re rig, including incorporating the SSB aerial into it. This involved taking the mast off and, just like Peter the travel lift operator, Mixalis and his rigging crew were fantastic.
Although at this time it seems very unlikely that we will even leave Greece this year, never mind the Med, the rigging is now done and good for insurance purposes for at least ten years.
For me, two of the other most significant improvements Mike undertook – not already mentioned above – have been to the cockpit table…..
….and the fitting of stainless steel guard rails to replace the top wire from stern to centre gate.
My sis might also be delighted to know that the lemonade spill marks on the saloon rug have now been totally removed by some lovely, friendly cleaners who turned up “en masse”, spent about 2 hours with various applications and charged us the princely sum of €30.
As you will have seen from many of the photographs, we have had excellent weather throughout the winter. We saw snow, which only lasted for about three days, on the tops of the Taygetus mountain range with “Profitis Ilias” its highest peak at 2,404 metres [7,887 ft].
We generally had less strong winds and only one significant rainstorm which turned the normally near empty river channel into quite a torrent.
What follows rain, but flowers….…. and lots of lovely vegetables, particularly beets, potatoes, artichokes, heritage tomatoes, peas and broad beans.
Perhaps because of the restrictions on travel, the local supermarkets – although national companies – seem to have been stocking more local produce which has been of excellent quality. It is also worth noting that unlike, it would seem, many other countries there was no shortage of anything except sanitising hand-wash which was right at the start of the lock down period. Toilet rolls, flour, yeast, pasta, etc etc which seem to have been stockpiled in other places were plentiful.
So although it has been frustrating not to be able to sail as hoped, we feel that we could certainly have been in far worse places during the past two months. As I write this it is 26th May and we are hopefully free to go sailing again on Monday 1st June. As I hinted above, it is increasingly likely that we will return to Kalamata again next year when we will be able to reacquaint ourselves with all our favourite restaurants which will hopefully be open, maybe commission more work from the fantastic trades people we have found in Kalamata and revisit all our lovely local shops.
In the meanwhile, we are now able to leave on 1st June so I hope that my next few posts will come from whichever islands and mainland towns we are able to visit.