Log #23e Nidri, Kefallonia & back to Levkadas (Ionian islands)

December 23, 2001 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 23 Greece, The Logs

Toronto, Canada
Dec. 23, 2001

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year Folks,

This will be my last log until after Christmas, and so with this I want to wish you all the best for the holiday season. I have enjoyed writing and sharing my logs with you. It gives me a chance to re-live our experiences. I appreciate greatly any feedback I get from you, as then I know at least the logs are read, and I have had corrections and some interesting additions to my material provided by several of you. For example when I mentioned Onassis’ yacht the Christina, a decommissioned Canadian navy warship, one reader did some research on it and indicated it was the River Class frigate, HMCS Stormont, K327, 91.9 m or 301.5 feet in length, commissioned in Nov, 1943, and decommissioned in Nov. 1945. It was used as Onassiss’ floating home from 1954 to1975. It is available for charter from a Greek agency for $70,000 (US) per day. So keep those letters coming folks, I enjoy them.

I also will not send future attachments or pictures as part of my logs, as  there are too many complications. If I have related pictures or materials, I will mention them in my covering letters and will indicate a website where they may be viewed or downloaded by those interested and able to do so. I will continue to send only text, using a cut and paste method for simplicity. I am enjoying my new Dell laptop, and I can receive and download any attachments sent to me, at least while here in Toronto. I will have to see what limitations I may experience overseas on my mobile, or using phone lines in different countries.

This log marks the return of a functioning cook stove, enabling us to resume our travels. The weather back in September was still quite nice. It is cold, rainy and icy here in Toronto right now, although, I am not complaining, as I like winters in Canada.

I hope you have an enjoyable Christmas, shared with friends and family.

All the best,


Log #23e Nidri, Kefallonia & back to Levkadas (Ionian islands)

Mandraki Harbour, Rhodes (Dodecanese islands), Greece
Nov. 16, 2001
Covers the period Oct. 4 to 17, 2001

Tranquil Bay (38 42.1N, 020 42.8E), across from the tourist and flotilla charter centre of Nidri on Levkas, is a quiet backwater bay that is home to several long-term live-aboards, as well as flotilla and other yachts at anchor for winter in-water storage purposes. It is a well protected bay, only three hundred metres across from the town docks. To reduce our swing, I took a line over to the large wreck which served as secure mooring for three or four boats permanently alongside it. One large ketch from the UK had a family on board and the little girl was dinghied over to town to go to school each day. It reminded me of a smaller version of the anchorage at Boot Key Harbour in Marathon in the Florida Keys, with its large live-aboard community.

On the point is a white (What else?) Greek Orthodox chapel built into the rock, and left open for visitors. On the concrete dock in front of this is an operational water tap at which we replenished our tanks by filling our plastic bags and dinghying back and forth to Veleda. Actually two or three trips was enough to fill our tanks. Feeling a little bit irreverent, I took a shower from our hose attached to the tap a couple of times during our stay there. Around the point from the chapel is the grave of  Wilhelm Dorpfeldt, a noted archeologist who did considerable research on the Trojan War and locations mentioned in Homer’s “Odyssey”, claiming that Levkas was Ithaca, the home of Odysseus. I prefer to agree with Tim Severin who maintains that the island called Ithaca today, is the Ithaca of antiquity as well.

We liked Nidri. It was out of the tourist season, and so we were not bothered by crowds of sun worshippers. The town has a good chandlery, internet access, tavernas, all the services and amenities needed. I can see why people would anchor their boats in Tranquil Bay for the winter, a safe, free, convenient anchorage close to a suitable sized town with car rental and ferry connections.  We particularly enjoyed one restaurant, Ta Kalamia, where we were invited to cooking lessons and to watch the chef Vangelis, prepare the daily dishes. Judy took copious notes as we listened, watched, and questioned him about his recipes. Several dishes involved cooking with additional seasoning, and with Metaxa or ouzo. Mmmmm! As well, once a week they have a traditional Greek dance troupe performing; we watched, and participated with enjoyment.

We called Contract Yacht Services in Levkas Town daily to see if our stove had arrived. After three more days, I gave up for a while and off we went for another short cruise, initially trying to get down to Kefallonia, but because of headwinds we went into anchor at Sivota (38 37.5N, 020 41.0E), around the south tip of Levkas. It was a pleasant anchorage, used by flotilla yachts, and a nice tourist-friendly bay. We didn’t bother going ashore, but noticed small things like a market and showers advertised ashore, as well as the usual yacht charters, boutiques, and tavernas. Less pleasantly, it also had very noisy, early-rising roosters. It is deserted off season.

Leaving early next morning we motored the 12 miles across to Fiskardo on the northeast coast of Kefallonia (38 27.6N, 020 34.6E) for a few hours. We tied up, bows to on the town dock, by some boutiques and tavernas.  The town was not devastated by the earthquake of 1953, and the buildings reflect the Venetian period. We spent most of the morning at the local museum, featuring environmental displays and concerns. We had an enjoyable chat with one of the volunteers to appreciate the activities and some of the local politics involved in their project. I could see spending a winter with free mooring alongside and doing volunteer research work with such an organization as a major winter activity. If I were younger, with more years of sailing time left, I would be attracted to such a volunteer activity for a year or so.

Incidentally, Fiskardo is on Kefallonia, the same island featured in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. We may have a chance to see more of the island on our way back out the Med in a year or so, but we left in the early afternoon to get back to Nidri before dark. En route we stopped at the caves on the southeast cape of Levkas, and I went in to investigate with mask fins and snorkel. Fantastic! These two caves were not as deep as the ones on Meganisi, but the rock formations above and below water were enthralling. It is a high experience to snorkel just below the surface in calm clear waters, to trace the rock formations from the bottom up the tortured sides to the undulating border between water and air, and to see the different colours, shapes, crevices and shadows as they ascend up the sides of the overhanging cliffs. Looking up the towering 500 foot cliff face from water level is a humbling experience, as the grand panorama of the weathered lines, curves, and colours of the rock wall loom above and fill in the periphery of my vision. I swam back out to Veleda and then had Judy go in while I took my turn aboard Veleda as she drifted off shore. Just as we were exchanging places in the water we had a telephone call on our mobile from Judy’s parents. We described to her dad what we were in process of doing at the time. He enjoyed diving and could appreciate the enjoyment we have in such excursions. I still find it unusual to be on the water yet talking on  a mobile phone to some one thousands of miles away.

After Judy finished her exploration , we then resumed our motoring trip back to Nidri for the night, and up to Levkas Town next day (Oct. 12) to the good news that our new stove had finally arrived!.



In April, (Keep in mind, this is now October.) our old galley stove developed some serious rusted out leaks, and we were not able to repair or replace the defective parts. So from Palma on Mallorca, we ordered a new Plastimo Pacific 3000 cook stove with oven, to be delivered to us in Soller on the north coast of Mallorca. It was a couple of days late in arriving, but we installed it and threw out the worn out twenty-three year old Kenyon stove. Off we went, but in a few days realized that not only did the piezoelectric starter not work on any of the burners, but also the oven would not heat up to anything more than a warm temperature. We called the dealer in Palma, who thought it would be the thermostat, and he would get us a replacement. We rented a car from Pollensa and went to Palma to get it, only to be informed the company wanted the stove sent back for repair to Barcelona. It would be back in a week. Ha!

A week later we called Barcelona to be informed they had sent it to France and it would be three weeks! Meanwhile we were cooking on a single burner mounted on our Camping Gaz tank. We did not intend to wait around Mallorca for three weeks, and arranged for it to be delivered to Mahon on Menorca. It was not there when promised (in three weeks) but arrived only three days later.  We were anxious to get going to Tunisia, and left the day after installing it. However, we noticed after a week or so that although the oven seemed to heat up OK, it would spontaneously shut off! We put up with this until we reached Malta in late June, and went through a cooperative chandlery, D’Agata Marine, who also handled Plastimo. They called the headquarters in France for us. We were ready to demand our money back (Pesatas from Spain delivered to us in Maltese lira, or refund on our Visa from the dealer in Palma 750 miles away? – A real can of worms!). France said they would replace the stove. Good, when? We naively hoped there would be one in stock in Malta some place that we could pick up or have delivered. No way!

They were at the end of their run on manufacturing this stove and no more would be available until the third week of August. It was now the first week of July. OK, could they ship it to Greece, to Levkas where we should be by that time or the beginning of Sept.? Yes, they would and we would return their defective stove. OK, the beginning of Sept. Ha!

At least we had a stove instead of an empty space with a gas bottle. However, one of the two main burners did not work, and so we cooked for three months on one main burner and the small back burner. We were later than planned, not getting into Levkas until the 26th of Sept. Surely it would be waiting for us! Ha!

Not there! We called and were assured it was shipped on Sept 21, and should be there within a day or so. Ha! But, we had to hang around waiting for it and so cruised some of the Ionian Islands for two more weeks, until it finally arrived on Oct. 11th. We installed it and cooked a pizza the first night to ensure the oven worked properly. It did. The only defects this time are that the piezoelectric start does not ignite the back burner or the oven. However, we can light them with a match, and can live with these defects. It is good to have a more or less fully operational stove at last, after over six months of using one and a half burners.

There was no note of regret for our inconvenience, and no explanation of what the problem was. We ordered two extra thermocouples so we can repair any further problems ourselves. They of course charged us for the thermocouples. However, they absorbed the costs of shipping the defective stove back. I am not impressed with Plastimo!


Log #23e (continued)

We were now free to resume our trip down the Peloponnese and across the Aegean to Turkey. We stayed for the weekend, as the live-aboard community wintering in Levkadas was having their first weekly barbecue on Sunday. We met several cruisers we had encountered earlier in our travels, and noted that there were several boats from Sweden staying there for the winter. Another couple whom we met up in Korcula in Croatia were there, and we had an enjoyable meal with George and Liz next night on board Amador, their Vancouver 32. The marina complex at Levkas was not completed and so they gave 50% reduction until January, attracting several boaters. However, we were not that impressed at staying at this incomplete marina for the winter and planned on our original choice of Kemer in Turkey.

I noticed a day or so earlier that I had a bloodshot left eye, and it seemed to be getting worse. I purchased some eye drops, but was unsure about the problem and so went to a local ophthalmologist in Levkada. No problem. I had to wait about fifteen minutes for him to see me. He gave me a thorough examination with modern equipment and indicated it was just a small broken blood vessel, aggravated by the fact I am on blood thinners, i.e. aspirin, and it should heal up in a week or two, which it did. The cost was only 6000 drachma or about $25 Canadian. I got a receipt with which I could claim it back on my Form E 111 from England. I doubt I will, unless I have other medical expenses over the next year. This was the first time in three and a half years of sailing that I had to go to a doctor.

We left late that afternoon for a short trip back down to Tranquil Bay in Nidri, and off next day, Oct. 17 for a longer 58 mile run down to Zakinthos.