4th May - 9th June Drive across Europe, launch and
start of 2013 Cruise
So our 2013 voyage starts. Slightly different to our
last few seasons as this time we are here prematurely
and for up to 6 months (it depends how quickly we spend
our money). We started our trip by taking a week to
drive across Europe to Greece. We took the Newcastle-Amsterdam
ferry on Saturday 4th May and headed to stay with our
friends, Tracy and Adrian, in Haarlem, The Netherlands.
Smudge had to go in the kennels on the ferry and wasn't very
happy about it but there wasn't a lot we could do about this.
The only alternative was leaving her all alone in the car.
The kennels weren't the most pleasant of places but they were
clean and she was on her own in there so she didn't have lots
of other dogs whimpering and barking and upsetting her. She
survived the trauma of abandonment and still loved us the
So we arrived in Haarlem on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning
ready to celebrate Jake
Bank's 1st birthday. Cake for breakfast - perfect! We
stayed in Haarlem and as always had a lovely time. On Sunday
afternoon, in order to work off the cake, we all went for
a bike ride - including Smudge.
Tracy had Rose on her bike and Adrian had a bike with a cart\trailer
at the front and inside was Jake in his car seat and Smudge
harnessed in with her nose sticking out the front catching
the breeze. We're not sure if she enjoyed it or not but we
found it amusing. Karl and I didn't have to take any passengers
so got off lightly.
On the Monday the weather was lovely again so after a good
walk into town with Tracy and the kids (poor Ade had to go
to work) we returned to the Banks residence and had a great
BBQ - the first of the year so a special occasion.
After a good nights sleep in Haarlem we waved goodbye (with
plans in place for a visit from the Banks clan in Edinburgh
at Hogmanay). We headed to Switzerland to stay overnight at
my aunt and uncles', Allison and Thomas, in Zofingen, near
through the Netherlands and Germany was reasonably good except
for when we hit road works in Germany and again in Switzerland.
We arrived in Zofingen about 8pm which was a few hours behind
schedule. Unfortunately the car had started making a funny
noise and we were going to have to keep an eye on it. Thankfully
Thomas had cooked us a lovely dinner ready for our arrival.
It was a flying visit through Zofingen but we managed to have
a good catch up with the relatives and see my cousin Rebecca's
two little boys that we hadn't met yet.
So on Wednesday we set off again this time for Italy. We
were looking forward to driving through the Alps
but were worried about the noise that the car had developed.
Just before the Gotthard Road Tunnel (a 17km long tunnel)
we decided to pull into a garage and ask them to check out
the noise. The owner of the garage thought it was a wheel
bearing and said we should be fine but to get it looked at
in the next few days. So onward we went and enjoyed a lovely
drive down into Italy. After negotiating the mad Milan traffic,
we spent two nights in Italy, one near Rimini and one in San
Vito dei Normanni, near Brindisi. The B&B Grottamiranda
near Brindisi was fabulous and just what we needed. It was
pet friendly and there were a couple of resident dogs for
Smudge (she was missing her Scottish pals although the Italian
dogs were a bit too amorous at times) and also a lovely swimming
pool for us to have a dip after a long days driving. The owners
of the B&B, Fabio and Maria were very helpful and hooked
us up with a local garage to check out the noise the following
morning. We are so glad we did this as it wasn't a wheel bearing
at all but the actual wheel starting to come off. So 1.5 hours
later and 80euros (bargain) the car was fixed and ready to
go again. We wish we could have stayed longer at Grottamiranda
as it was fabulous but we needed to catch the ferry that night
to Greece. We went off into Brindisi after checking out and
enjoyed an afternoon there before heading to the ferry terminal.
Fabio warned us not to put Smudge in the kennels on the ferry
as they were terrible and to discreetly take Smudge to our
cabin so we gladly took his advice. He had done this on other
occasions too. The Grimaldi ferry from Brindisi to Patras,
Greece left us very disappointed. The kennel was shocking
and not fit for purpose, as was the food and we will not be
using it to return home. The only positive point was that
our cabin was a large one so there was plenty of room for
the 3 of us. All the rules went out of the window and Smudge
got to sleep at my feet. Needless to say an email has been
sent complaining about the conditions and I await a response
and a partial refund (delusional I know).
So on Saturday 11th May at 14.30 we arrived in Greece
After giving Smudge a quick comfort break as we stepped off
the ferry we set off for Halkoutsi to see Madison and also
meet our friends, Derrick and Diane - Yacht Kouros, who were
already there preparing to launch. They had kindly arranged
to cook us dinner so we didn't have to worry about this after
all the travelling we had done. They cooked us a lovely chicken
dinner and it was great to see them and catch up.
We had managed to arrange an apartment in the centre of Halkoutsi,
while we prepared Maddie for launch, so we turned in for the
night so as to be ready to go and meet Karl's dad, Ken. He
was to arrive the next day as he was flying in from Edinburgh
to help us for a few weeks and to have a wee holiday too.
On Sunday morning we went and had a morning pottering on
Maddie before heading for the airport. We made a very long
list of jobs to do for launch (unfortunately this list never
seems to grow shorter). On the way to the airport the skies
went black and the heavens opened and this was going to be
the weather for the next few hours. After picking dad up we
decided to wait out the weather by going for a lovely lunch
where dad tasted octopus
for the first time. By the time we had finished lunch the
skies had cleared and the rain was clearing.
It's great in mainland Europe as dogs are welcome in most
places so one of us doesn't have to stay behind on the boat
or in the apartment with Smudge. In fact Smudge gets lots
of admiring glances and people stop to talk to us all the
time she is with us - she's quite the celebrity. It probably
helps that she's very well behaved and very quiet so shop
owners and restaurant owners don't have to worry about us
having a frantic, boisterous dog.
For the next 8 days we worked hard on Madison in the boatyard
preparing her for launch trying to get through the long list
of jobs. Big improvements on Madison
include a bimini, a passerelle, a new autopilot (although
not yet installed), a new wooden toerail (installed in October
2012) and 2 new blue stripes down her sides. She's just too
busy looking good. We had a couple of trips to Piraeus
to pick up boat supplies too, which was a break away from
the hard graft.
During this time we sometimes socialised with Derrick and
Diane but other times we were just too tired and went back
to the apartment and crashed.
Unfortunately for the first 3 nights we had fireworks and
a thunder storm directly outside our window/overhead and Smudge
got quite upset and decided she didn't like the apartment
and we used to have to drag/carry her up to the apartment
On 22nd May we were finally ready for launch. The engine
started first time and so we headed onto the island of Evia,
to a little port called Panayia, where Derrick
and Diane were. The wind wasn't great, Force 4 or 5 and
we were beating into it so it was a bit bumpy. We arrived
a bit wet and salty but also hot as the sun was beating down.
Smudge seemed to enjoy her maiden voyage and doesn't seem
at all bothered about being at sea. She just finds a spot
of shade (or sun depending on the time of day and her mood)
and lies down and sleeps - no different from home then!
Derrick and Diane were there to help us tie up and as seems
to happen when we're around Yacht Kouros, we had a few drinks
on arrival that turned into a few more drinks and a meal out
with a few more drinks so the next day we were a little bit
delicate. We stayed in Panayia for a few days until Saturday
25th May working on Madison and generally enjoying the town
as it was lovely. We caught up on boring chores like washing
clothes too. We provided dinner for us and Yacht Kouros on
our 2nd night, a reasonably healthy salad, but as they are
slightly roomier than us we ate on board Kouros for comfort.
An Austrian boat came alongside while we were there with a
couple, Herbert and Kadiya onboard so on our last night in
Panayia we all had a meal out together. It was very enjoyable
and we are thoroughly enjoying being back out on Madison and
Smudge is very good at negotiating the various deck fittings
and obstacles on boat and hasn't yet showed an inkling to
jump off (there is netting all around) so we have our fingers
crossed there are no mishaps.
Ken was due to fly home on 30th May but has changed his flight
and extended it until 6th June. I hope we can survive his
witty repartee for another week ;-D
Derrick and Diane's daughter, Lisa, was arriving on Sunday
26th May with her husband Steve and two boys, Jordan and Hayden
so Kouros and Madison set sail for an anchorage, Porto Rafti,
which is near Athens airport so that the new crew could get
We had a lovely sail
across to Porto Rafti and Derrick got some photos of us under
sail. We also stopped halfway to get our lunch of baked potatoes
delivered by Kouros. We did this by sailing along their port
side whilst they delivered a bag of freshly cooked spuds via
their boat hook - a novel food delivery method. We heaved
to, ate our lunch and then continued sailing to Porto Rafti.
Porto Rafti is a lovely anchorage that we have visited before.
We managed to pick up a mooring buoy too so didn't have to
mess about with our anchor. We stayed here for 2 nights. Lisa
and the clan arrived safely. The boys
are mad about fishing, just like Ken, and they started fishing
almost instantly. They really are crazy about it. We are sailing
in company with them for the next week or so.
On Monday 28th May we left Porto Rafti to go the island of
Kea in the Kiklades. We have never been here before as our
last attempt to cruise the Kiklades was foiled by constant
gales. We had a lovely day sailing to Vourkari, Kea including
a stop off for lunch in a bay on the virtually uninhabited
island (there were donkeys) of Makronisi. Vourkari was a stunning
little village and we had a great evening here chilling out
with the Kouros crew. The fishing competition between the
Kouros boys and Ken continued. Jordan and Hayden caught many
tiddlers, sea urchins and even a starfish. However the competition
got serious when Ken caught a fish big enough to feed the
crew of Madison for dinner. We only stayed in Vourkari for
one night and then moved on but would like to return.
Our next stop was into the Saronic so that we would be in
the right area for getting back to Athens airport with relative
ease. Our first Saronic stop was Fokaia on the mainland, SW
of Athens. We anchored here for the night before setting off
for Aegina Town on Aegina Island the next day. It was a quiet
anchorage and we enjoyed our fish dinner before getting a
good nights sleep. Kouros still haven't caught a fish as big
We arrived in Aegina town (one of our favourite places) on
29th May and went stern to against the town quay. This is
not our favourite spot as the bars and cafes are very noisy
at night but there was no space at our favourite spot at the
nautical club. It was quite busy but we managed to squeeze
up and let Yacht Kouros in beside us so we were snug for the
next couple of nights. The next day Yacht Kouros headed into
Athens for the day on the flying dolphin, while we did a few
jobs around Madison. Smudge seems to sleep a lot due the heat.
Not sure what she will make of the heat in July and August.
She's hasn't been in the sea yet but this could be the time
she does it.
We had two nights in Aegina which included a great meal at
the Avli Bar which is good for a reasonably cheap meal and
beer. Then we headed for Poros town on Poros Island. We love
it here. We arrived in the late afternoon and both yachts
headed straight to Lidl to stock up (primarily on vodka, gin
and beer ;-D). Then it was another quiet night on anchorage
in the NE of the Poros channel in Russian Bay.
When we anchor Smudge has to don her Aussie
Dog life jacket and get dinghy-ed ashore which she does
without complaining. She doesn't seem to mind being picked
up like a bag of shopping and being taken in/out of the dinghy.
There was a lovely beach in Russian Bay that we took her
too where she had a great run around and went mad for half
an hour. She doesn't always have this opportunity due to the
traffic and it was great to see her running about wild for
a bit. We met a Swedish chap, Harald, who was camping on the
beach with his car whilst doing a tour of places he had visited
40 years ago. So Smudge said hello and we stayed and chatted
awhile. Suspect it was Harald's salmon that was the main attraction.
We had one night on anchor here and then headed for the main
quay in Poros. Going stern-to against the quay in Greece can
be very trying at times as boats foul each others anchors
quite frequently and Poros was to be no different. After attempting
to go to sterns-to two boats crossed our anchor and we decided
to free it and leave for another quay further round the north
of the town before we got in an even bigger tangle. This turned
out to be the best option and we managed to go alongside with
space for Kouros too.
We found a lovely restaurant called, Geia Mas, on the front
at Poros owned by Dimitris who not only did good food but
also offered to take Ken out on his fishing boat. So we ended
up staying in Poros for 4 nights. Ken had an early morning
on the 2nd last day so he could go out on Dimitris' boat.
The autopilot installation was completed so we would have
an 'extra pair of hands' whilst sailing. We also met some
great fellow sailors, one lot were an Aussie bunch on a charter
and the other were a lovely couple, Ray and Natalie who were
on their own 54ft yacht, a Jeanneau 54DS called Boz. We shared
a beer with the Aussie crowd and a lovely meal with Yacht
Boz. We also helped an 81 year old sailor, John, from Shoreham
tie up in Poros just before we departed. We hope we're still
as active as him at that age.
Yacht Kouros headed out for other destinations after a couple
of nights in Poros but we planned to catch with up them later,
hopefully around 8th June just before the grand kids go home
and then maybe tour a bit of the Peloponnese with them.
On 4th June we headed back to Aegina Town, for a couple of
nights, enroute to Zea Marina, Piraeus where we were going
to drop Ken off for his flight home. Zea Marina was an expensive
treat but we got some lovely hot showers which helped soothe
the pain of handing over nearly 50 euros and 3.60 for a frape
(it's only cold Nescafe). Ken got off safely to the airport
and we had a quiet night in the marina.
After a few texts with Kouros we headed to Milos on the north
of Angistri Island on 8th June to hook up with then and say
farewell to the visitors. The fishing competition should be
won by Kouros as they caught many more fish than Ken and a
much wider variety (even if they weren't big enough to feed
the crew). We have decided to stay in Milos for a few days
as we lots of jobs still to do on Madison (the list still
seems to grow longer rather than shorter). Angistri is a beautfiul
place and I would love to come back on holiday staying on
Since we have been away Smudge has had lots of treats including
ice cream, cream, liver (leftovers from a restaurant meal)
and freshly caught fish. Whilst we were sleeping in the saloon,
as Ken had the v-berth, she also got away with sleeping on
the sofa/bed with us. However now Ken has gone and we are
back in the v-berth she is back to sleeping in her own bed/on
sofa (she is allowed on the sofa at home so long as she on
her blanket). I hope she doesn't come to expect this treatment
everyday when we get back to Edinburgh (actually hope she
doesn't expect this everyday in Greece!).