Home   Contact  

Madisons Adventure



2013 Voyage

2011 Voyage

2010 Voyage

2009 Voyage

2007 Voyage




Jess' Views



20th October - 26th November Heading north to surprise our Greek friends

The wind calmed down and we left Lavrion on the 20th of October to head up the Evia channel and hopefully north towards Komotini where our Greek friends from University days live.

The weather is so changeable that we weren''t sure it would let us make our way North. The prevailing wind in this area is from the North East so getting to Komotini is a challenge. Porto Rafti was our next port of call around 15 miles further North and took us further into the Evia Channel. Evia is a Greek island that you hear little about, but which is the second largest island in Greece. Porto Rafti was lovely but we were on a tight schedule so we had to leave, bound for Eritrea after a good nights sleep..

However we soon were wishing for Porto Rafti, because all we found in Eritrea was a never ending stream of ferries with no way to shelter from their wash. We did see a multi million pound yacht (not so unusual in Greece) with a private helicopter coming into land on it. All we could do was to speculate who was on board, as we couldn't see the name of the yacht we couldn't even Google it!

After the unpleasant wash and poor conditions we decided to move to anchor. So we soon decided to make our way further into the Evia channel and towards Khalkida (or Khalkis) where we would need to go under the Khalkis bridge. After two nights waiting for the bridge to open, due to it needing repairs, we finally got through and tied Madison alongside in the town to the north of the bridge.

Going through the bridge was exciting, as it drops slightly and then slides into cavities below the road at either side of the channel. We were not able to get a good picture as this only happens late at night when the traffic levels are low. We then decided to take a couple of days exploring the town and re-charging our battieries before fighting further north.

An experienced Greek sailor, Yannis, stopped to talk to us one day and came aboard for a lemonade (a non-drinker sailor) and a chat and told us all about his boat that he had taken ten years to build and was about to launch. He showed us a photo of her and she was beautiful. Khalkis was a great spot and we had better weather which even allowed us to explore the fortification overlooking the town.

Despite the improvements in the weather, the further North we went, the colder it got, so we took the opportunity to buy some warm clothes (we rather optimistically didn't bring enough from Edinburgh). We finally tore ourselves away from the charms of Khalkis and headed North to Loutra Edipsos. Despite being a little run down and far from being in its heyday, Edipsos was a facinating place with hot springs coming up through the ground. We got stuck in Edipsos for 3 nights as gales came. However we were there for a national holiday, 'No Day' (Oxi Mera) and all the school children march through the town and the band plays before everyone congregates at the local Cenotaph to remember fallen soldiers. It was great to watch from the sidelines. The schoolchildren were a mixed bag ranging from being really serious about marching in time and being turned out extremely smart in their uniforms to older students that obviously didn't want to be there.

As we were making passage we left Edipsos once the bad weather passed and headed to Orei in the north of Evia for a nights rest before making the leap to the Sporades Islands and in particular, Skiathos were we found a tiny little harbour in Koukounaries, for our nights rest. This turned out to be a nature reserve too, so it was a lovely place to go for a little wander before nightfall. We wouldn't be staying up late as the next day was a long hop of 65 miles to the south of the middle pennisula of Halkidiki, 'Sinthonia', called 'Porto Koufo'.

We were up early at 5am to head for Halkidiki. Porto Koufo is a wonderful natural harbour that you can't see until you enter it as it is virtually landlocked. We rafted up here confident that we would have a good nights sleep as it was so sheltered. Again we were up at 5am to head for Thassos Island. The hop to Thassos Island was another big one of 65 miles. We would pass the southern tip of the eastern most peninsula of Halkidiki, called Akti. However we couldn't stop on this peninsula as it is prohibited. It is full of monasteries and colonies of monks and hermits. At the tip is Mount Athos rising out of the sea at 2,200 mtrs and it was fabulous to sail past. There are buildings at the side of the mountain that are 100's of years old and you just can't imagine how they built them as you pass.

We had both been commenting on the lack of sealife for the last few weeks, but during this trip to Thassos we saw Dolphins and even Gilbert the Green Bird (Mark III) made an appearance. This one was even more bold than his predecessors and actually landed on Karl.

We made it to Thassos Island, before nightfall to a tiny little harbour called Skala Marion. We were the only boat in and think the locals thought we were a bit mad sailing in November. We did enjoy a fabulous meal here. The next day was a gentle hop of only 15 miles to Thassos Town which is the capital of the island so we didn't have to worry about being in bed early or being up early either. Thassos Town is beautiful and we got there early enough to have a wander around. There are lots of archaelogical sites there, which we didn't manage to get around but we hope to go back to next year when we return.

We were getting excited now as we know the next stop in the next 24 hours would be our last stop of the trip and would mean that we would get to see all our Greek friends from university and their families. So finally on Thursday 4th November we sailed into Porto Lagos, Northern Greece and called our friend, Dimitris to tell him we had arrived. We were expecting him to arrange to meet with us the next day but he simply said "I'll be there in 20 minutes" and put the phone down.

Dimitris parked next to the boat which we had tied against the commercial quay and couldn't control his trademark smile. It was great to see him and in a heartbeat we were heading for Komotini. We were soon introduced to Dora and Dimitris 3 month old son. That very night we went to the Square for coffee and waffles, following which we were talking about plans to surprise Nikos and Krina when Dimitris spotted Nikos walking across the square. We ran up to catch him by surprise and Laura grabbed him and his face was priceless.

The following day we had a fantastic meal with fried fish at Nikos mums house. Dina is a fantastic cook and we had the pleasure of being joined by both Nikos and Yannis, Nik's brother. By the end of the meal, as well as being full of great food we were also in possession of the keys to Dina and Dimitris (Nik and Yanni's dads) house. After staying on Madison for a while it is nice to get a chance to sleep in a normal sized bed. Beds on the boat are comfortable in terms of being supportive and soft, but the shape of them doesn't always let you spread out and get a great nights sleep. The warm welcome we received from Dina and Dimitris and the hospitality was so great that we soon felt right at home.

Our Greek was improving as the days went by with Laura working particularly hard to improve her range of words and also her reading which is getting so much better than mine. Dina doesn't speak many words of english, which enabled us to practice and learn. After a few memorable nights in Dina's company we have been making good progress.

We decided to spend some nights on Madison as the weather had been a little changeable and there were a few jobs to carry out. We found a great local boat engineering company who arranged for us to be able to lift out in a couple of weeks time and who said they were able to arrange for some modifications that we wanted to undertake to the propeller. We have covered around 5000 Nautical Miles now. A nautical mile is approximately 1.2 land miles and given Madison averages around 4 NM per hour this is something of an achievement, as when we set out we had virtually no experience.

We now wanted to use the time before our lift out and our return to the UK as productively as possible, so we got the phone number for another of our Greek friends, Dimos Garoufas and gave him a call. He couldn't believe it was us (we hadn't seen him in 18 years) and he arranged to come to Porto Lagos and collect us to take us in the opposite direction from Komotini as he lived closer to Xanthi in a place called Genisea (pronounced yenisayer). His car arrived on Sunday during market day in Porto Lagos. So he picked us up near the church on the main road. He then took us for lunch in a nearby town where we had a hugh feast. Dimos is married to Georgia and has a beautiful 4 year old daughter Christina who had us laughing from the word go. She was learning English from her parents and opened with "hello my name is Christina"....Christina was full of fun and liked dancing and most of all loved her favourite television character...Dora the Explorer.

We had come armed with a present of a Barbie Doll for Christina, so the first visit was a great success with the wee one. Laura was soon adopted by Georgia and was taken off for girlie chats at every opportunity. Over the next few days we met with Dimos and Dimitris and their families often, with a most memorable evening being spent making Tsiporro the favoured alcohol, made from grapes and which is very potent. During the making of the Tsiporro there was a big family feast were we met Dimitris and Dora's families who were really warm and welcoming.

Over the next weeks we met a number of new people and I had the pleasure of a night in at Dimitris house which involved more alcohol and a card game called Vither which I hadn't played since my days in Middlesborough. We also had day trips to Kavala and Xanthi as well as further exploring Komotini. More indulgent meals were had, often thanks to Dina with a very memorable lamb and potato dish she prepares in the oven...Heaven on a plate... Everything that Dina cooks is heaven on a plate and we will need to go on a healthy eating plan when we get back home.

We also had a visit to see Yannis and his wife Anna's house which they have just finished building in Komotini. Here we had a lovely meal and stayed very late, chatting and swapping music and movies from the laptop. It is always cool to get a movie or two to help out when you get a night on Madison.

We took some time out to plan our return to the UK, we booked flights and then decided to hire a car from the airport in London that would allow us to visit some of our UK based pals, many of which we made, during our travels on Madison. So our travels will see a Madison Crew UK Tour with a series of 5 or 6 dates at venues across England before we drive north to return the car in Edinburgh. Obviously our tour dates are sold out (so apologies to anyone we don't get to see)!!!!!

Anyway the day of the boat lift came round quicker than we expected :-( and Madison was hoisted from the water by one of the cranes that normally loads the big commercial ships that often come into Porto Lagos and she now rests on a nice metal cradle in a fenced boat yard with 24 hour security cameras which we can check on the web, which will be reasuring.

The day of the lift I set to taking the rudder off so that I could remove the propeller shaft and hand it over along with my new propeller to the engineering company of Mr Petros Tsokas (pronounced chukas). This is a family business in Porto Lagos who are really good. Their help has really saved us much time and effort.

We now have a new propellor ready for next season. It was a present to ourselves as today (26th November) is our 18th anniversary. It is exactly 18 years since we met in the Madison nightclub in Middlesborough.























This Web Page Created with PageBreeze, a free tool to Build a Website