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20th Sept - 16th Oct Porto Lagos to Aliverion

And so begins our 2011 cruise which sees us start from Porto Lagos and socialising with our Greek friends before making passage south down to Aliverion in the Evia Channel

We can't believe that 4 weeks of our trip are gone already and within 24 hours of leaving Scotland our new nephew, Oscar Michael Neilson, was born aswell. We will have to wait for cuddles.

We spent the first two weeks of our trip based in Porto Lagos where Maddie was on hardstanding and hired a car for 1.5 weeks, whilst staying in a local hotel. It's safe to say that although we did work on Maddie we also spent a lot of time socialising with our friends and their families. We spent a lot of time especially with Dora and Dimitris and their baby Kosti and also Dimos and Georgia and their two children, Christina and baby (she is only 6 weeks old so doesn't have her name yet). We also saw Yannis and Anna, Nikos and his twin boys and everybody's parents too. Lots of time was spent eating (Maria - Dimitris' mum made us a lovely Sunday lunch of wild boar and Dina - Niko's mum made us a lovely 'birthday' lunch with fresh fish from the BBQ). Soula - Dora's mum made us some beautiful biscuits and Dimitris' dad, Kostas sent us away with a bottle of homemade Tsiporo. So we had a fantastic couple of weeks.

We got our first Greek haircuts too but thankfully Dimitris came with us to translate. Disaster has struck though as Laura's GHD Hair straighteners don't work on the boat invertor...what will she do?

As it was Laura's 40th during our time here we managed two nights out to celebrate. We went out in Komotini the night before her birthday with Dora, Dimitris, Yannis (Dora's cousin) and Natasha (Yannis' wife and Dora's friend). We celebrated with Metaxa and a few shots! At midnight a surprise chocolate birthday cake was brought out too. The following day we celebrated in Porto Lagos with the Tsoukas family (who own the boatyard) and our friend Dimos and his cousin George.

The Tsoukas family are great and the prices they charge for wintering are so cheap that we would recommend them to any of our sailing buddies looking for boat storage. We were charges 1 euro per square meter per month which worked out at 35 euros per month...including tax!!!! This is easily the best deal we have had since entering the Med and we are so tempted to head back there next year.

Finally on September 27th we launched Maddie successfully with a new propellor and on Monday 3rd October we left Porto Lagos to head south. It was great fun being with friends anda big part of us didn't want to leave, but once we had we were happy to be sailing again.

In the last 14 days we have visited the islands of Thassos, Limnos and Skopelos aswell as Evia enroute to the Cyclades islands which we are hoping to cruise before arriving in Crete. The weather may change thses plans though and we may have to head to the Pelopponese. We have been lucky enough to see dolphins on a couple of occasions too. We also witnessed some kind of feeding frenzy by what looked like dogfish or a variety of small shark. The seabirds were also hanging around waiting for the scraps of this. It was like the sea was boiling while it was happening.

Sailing has been great albeit not constant. The new propellor has made a big difference to our speed and manoeuvring. Madison is carrying her speed well through tacks and we are gaining a knot of speed on most points of sail over previous speeds. So far so good. We are even having a lot less prop walk which resulted in Madison actually being able to steer when going astern. This was a first.

In Thassos we had a beach day and in Limnos we moored alongside in the town of Mirina which was stunning and we would definitely come back for a holiday. We managed to foul our anchor in Mirina so Karl had to dive to free it before we could leave. The weather in Mirina was lovely but we couldn't stay too long as we knew some bad weather was coming and we wanted to get into the relative safety of the shelter of the Evia Channel before it hit. In Skopelos we moored alongside Skopelos town for a night and a day. This is another beautiful old town with hundreds of white houses built on a hillside with tiny narrow streets to explore.

We made it to Orei on the north of Evia on Saturday 8th just before the winds started and the rain came. We also got a berth just in time too as within the hour of us arriving about 15 yachts from a local yacht club had all arrived for the night too. We did our good deed for the day in Orei as there was an old stray dog that was starving (you could count it's ribs) so we fed it. Not sure if will make that much of difference to the old dog but at least we knew it had one meal that day.

Unfortunately we have been caught in some bad weather and very high winds and after being stuck in Orei for 4 nights we managed to sail south to Khalkis. Karl had also caught a fish so we enjoyed that for our dinner. We enjoyed a lovely day out in Khalkis in glorious sunshine, with some retail therapy thrown in (Laura went a bit crazy in the Desigual shop) only for the bad weather to come again. So we made a quick trip under the Khalkis bridge and headed further south to Aliverion. The bad weather has again returned and it looks like we'll be stuck here in Aliverion until Tuesday 18th October at least. Thankfully we are rafted up on a lovely big yacht, B-Chewsy, whose owners are from Liverpool and have enjoyed a few beers and some chat with them. Aliverion is a lovely small town with great shelter so it's not the worst place to be stuck. We just wish it would get a bit warmer.

We have captured some nice images on our trip so far, so we hope you have time to browse these. Hi to all and sorry if we haven't been in touch very much so far.























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