Sunday, 28 September 2008

Iraklio - the capital of Crete

Hi from Clare, Saturday 27/9

Photo 1 - Getting off the boat
Photo 2 - Minoan Palace 2500BC
Photo 3 - Replication of the wall paintings
Photo 4 - Lunch with Swedish friends
Photo 5 - Artifacts 5800BC

We left Rethimno last Monday heading for Iraklion, the capital of Crete. The weather forecast was for a few pleasant sunny days so we anchored on a small desolate island six miles across from Iraklion and spent three very enjoyable days swimming, reading, enjoying the sun, and trying some new recipes. We have nicked named the island "flying cake island" which had something to do with a cooking failure that went whistling out the galley window missing Andrew by inches, I can't understand why he would complain - I wasn't asking him to eat it!

Night two was very social when we invited our Swedish neighbours, plus their son and his wife, over for drinks. It's always good to chat with others and find out how they organize their life to include months of cruising each year. Unfortunately for the kids the holiday was over and they had to fly out from Iraklion so they left the following morning and we arranged to catch up with the parents later in the week.

We arrived into Iraklion on Thursday. We read in the cruising guide it is difficult to find a place to berth in the inner Venetian harbour so we were very happy to see a new pontoon totally unoccupied. Fantastic, so we moored up along side while our Swedish friends came to help us get settled and invited us over to their boat for lunch, all is going well I thought. But not so fast, out of the corner of my eye I could see this fat little official or should I say a 'fat little officious' stomping towards us waving his hands. We couldn't stay there, he didn't had the official papers for the new pontoon, so we had to tie up to the outer wall, great!

So here we are for the last two nights on the outer wall bobbing around like a cork, being subjected to the wake of numerous ferries arriving and departing. To get off the boat and onto the wharf, I just about need to be a monkey. I have to get into the dinghy, duck under the shore lines of other (much larger)boats, climb up a tractor tyre, get dirty and throw myself up onto the wharf. A bit infuriating when I know on the other side of the wharf there is an unoccupied pontoon in flat calm water and on which I would be able to just step off the boat - but they're the breaks.

Today, with our Swedish friends, we went to the ancient Minoan Palace at Knossos. Some of what we saw dated back to 2500BC and some was replicated to show what it must have looked like. It is an impressive four story palace and town with original roads, stairways and foundations. Below the site archaeologists have found remains of structures dating back to 6800BC.
After lunch we went to the museum and saw many artifacts from the site dating back to 5800BC.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and now we are back on the boat, not so much bobbing, more like rolling. It is even hard to walk around without crashing into the walls. I think I should have a few drinks and see if that evens things up.

Tomorrow I will shop and if we don't get a place in the marina we will get out of here and stop rolling. I forgot to mention, the wharf is also directly under the flight path of the international airport of Crete - what a place!

love CANDY

Friday, 19 September 2008

Rethimno, Crete

Hi from Clare, Friday 19/9

Photo 1 - Success at last
Photo 2 - View of Rethimno from fort
Photo 3 - Fort entrance
Photo 4 - Andrew's next boat?
Photo 5 - Peaceful shopping

We left Khania on Monday and traveled 20 miles to a small bay on the north side of Crete. Near by was the American Mediterranean Fleet Base as well as a NATO air base. As we approached the bay a dozen jet fighters came in for landing flying low over Eye Candy. It was pretty spectacular and for the next two days we watched the jet fighters practicing maneuvers until about 10pm each night. They moved very fast and I took plenty of photos of "nothing" before I managed to get a few decent shots.

Wednesday we sailed another 15 miles to the town of Rethimno which has a well protected marina. We will stay here for a few more days as it is fairly windy. The town is quite modern but also has a Venetian fort and "old town" with lovely small streets, alley ways and pedestrian traffic only. I have spent a few peaceful hours poking around the shops and going for some decent walks along the boulevard which extends for miles along the waterfront.

The weather is a very pleasant 28 degrees with cool nights. I have been reading some good books, watching DVDs and trying my hand at Cretan cooking. The trouble is that we have so much food in the fridge we will probably have to throw a party - no problems we know all the people moored around us as we met them last weekend on Khania wharf.

love CANDY

Monday, 15 September 2008

9 Euros for 1 day's power

Hi from Clare, Sunday 13/9

Photo 1 - Cretan Dancers
Photo 2 - Andrew with our English neighbour
Photos 3,4,5 - Early morning walk around the back streets

Well we just got slugged 9 Euros ($15) for one day's power on the wharf, so I guess we can't dream about staying here free of charge regardless of how indebted we hope the Cretan are for Australia's involvement in the battle of Crete in 1941 he he! However, Andrew fails to understand how we can possibly use 18 kWh in 24 hours? I'm not sure exactly what that means but I get that 18 kWh is a lot of power!

Over the last 24 hours Andrew has spent some time talking to an Englishman moored two boats away (or as the English say, next door but one). Both were sure they had come across each other before, but couldn't place where. Well just now (as I am typing) Andrew has told the guy where and when they have previously crossed tracks. Last year they solved an electrical problem on another cruising boat at Marmaris Turkey (the fellowship of cruising!) So I guess I have lost him again for some time as they reminisce!

Last night as we went into town, a band struck up celebrating the opening ceremony of the European Junior Womens Water Polo Championships being held here at Chania. We witnessed the presentation of flags which was reminiscent of our experience on the EMYR rally. This was followed by speeches (translated into English) Cretan dancing and the Choral Symphony of Chania. We stayed for the concert but slipped away leaving the pursuing rock concert to the young ones. I had bought a Cretan cook book so I made baked fish and vegetables for dinner, which was a hell of a lot better than the previous night's mixed grill.

Early this morning I went for a walk around town (Andrew was talking to our English neighbour). I watched the many restaurants stirring after a busy night's patronage. Cobblestones were being hosed down and new table clothes applied, the smell of baked bread and lunch preparations permeated the narrow back streets. A few people were out drinking frappe coffee which can be served hot or cold. Frappe is so strong it just about blows your head off. If there wasn't any alcohol in the world, you would be content with frappe.

A lot of older Greek woman sit outside the doorway of their home welcoming the morning cool air. I know very few Greek words but I can manage Kalimera (Good Morning). This always evokes a wonderful warm smile, a tilt of the head and a long drawn out K a l i m e r a in reply. Life is sweet!

love CANDY

Sunday, 14 September 2008


Hi from Clare, Saturday 12/9

Photos - Views around the waterfront

We arrived in Khania late yesterday. It was the capital of Crete for many years dating back to Venetian times. The city has imposing Venetian houses, cobbled streets, modern additions and crumbling edges. We are on the town wharf where there are many restaurants and the night life continues till early morning.

We were in need of supplies so we ate out, having a mixed grill, which was the worst meal we have eaten in ages. Far too much meat, greasy chips and little salad, the beer was good. I believe the Cretan diet is viewed as one of the best in the world, olive oil, pulses, wholemeal bread, little meat and plenty of fruit and vege, but that's not what they serve the tourists!

We have spent the day shopping and having a look around town. Andrew went to the Maritime Museum finding great interest in Australia's involvement in the battle of Crete in 1941. After reading the glowing reports about the Australians, Andrew thinks we should be able to stay on the wharf free of charge, that's the least they can do - dream on!

love CANDY

Friday, 12 September 2008

Damsel in distress

Hi from Clare, Thursday 11/9

Photo 1 - A stunning view from the castle Photo 2 - The much talked about ferry Photo 3 - Look out, here they come

Well we have had a couple of interesting days in our "deserted" bay. Each day the ferry brings visitors to the island to climb the rough track to the castle on top of the hill and/or spend time on the beach. It amazes us how they can get over 200 people daily and we wonder how they so successfully market the place!

Yesterday the ferry left a woman sun baking on the beach. At the time Andrew called my attention to the situation as the woman didn't seem at all perturbed. She stood up and repositioned her towel as the ferry departed. Two hours later, help needed, the woman is waving both arms at us (the only boat near by). I immediately imagined having her in a aft cabin overnight and looking after her until the ferry returned the following day. However we took the dinghy ashore and spoke to her, a French woman in her late forties playing cute "You are so kind, oh I'm all alone, what am I to do". Well Andrew was a lot more patient with her than I was (I hate cute), at that point as far as I was concerned, she could stay on the beach all night and not miss tomorrow's ferry!

Thankfully there was a ferry on the other side of the bay at the lagoon and yesterday that ferry came across to the castle before heading out. We called the ferry on the radio but got no response, fortunately it did come across to the castle and took our "damsel in distress" back with them.

This morning we climbed to the castle which was once a notorious pirate stronghold until the Anglo-French expedition flushed the pirates out in 1828. We had terrific views of the surrounding area and the exercise was good. The ferry arrived depositing another 200+ visitors to the island. We chatted to some and found out that it cost 60 Euro each for the one hour trip down here, lunch and a few hours on the beach, a fairly profitable trip I should think.

We are now back on the boat staying below (just joking). Two other yachts have joined us in the bay, so we have decided if there are any leftovers when the ferry departs, it would only be fair for them to look after them, he he.

love CANDY

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Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Crete and a deserted bay?

Hi from Clare, Tuesday 9/9

Photo 1 - A lovely deserted bay Photo 2 - Day trippers and ABR. Photo 3 - What deserted bay?

We had a fast 45 mile beam reach sail from Kithera to Crete arriving around 2pm yesterday. On the way Andrew used the new AIS to call a big ship as it was on collision course with us and we had right-of-way. Motor Tanker Delta Sailor said they would look after us and altered course 12 degrees to starboard, passing half a mile astern. The AIS is a great bit of gear that lets us "see" ships and provides their name and call sign so we can call them by radio (or tell the coroner at the inquest).

Next we will move to the town of Khania, but due to forecast stronger NE head winds, we will shelter here for 2-3 days enjoying the deserted bay and the peace and quiet.

"Deserted" well that didn't last long. A large day boat has arrived with at least two hundred passengers. There is an impressive looking ABR on the hill and so the passengers are slowing trekking to the top, like a string of ants.

There is a second day boat on the opposite shore with about 75 passengers on the beach and a gullet in the centre of the bay taking 6 passengers out for a water ski.

Our reading has been replaced with binoculars and I guess a few hours of people watching. Andrew has just informed me that on the gullet, red and green cocktails are being served to the four bikini girls while they participate in being videoed - I think I'll swim over!

"Peace and quiet" well that didn't last long. There are also two fighter jets doing overhead maneuvers. They flash past regularly at a deafening speed - good bye peace and quiet - hello ear plugs!

love CANDY

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Sunday, 7 September 2008

Looks like another hike!

Hi from Clare, Sunday 7/9

Photo 1 - View of the Castle from the boat
Photos 2&3 - Views from the castle
Photo 4 - The town square
Photo 5 - The main street

Yesterday, I read most of the way to Kythira whilst cooking a roast dinner and that's how easy it is with the spinnaker up and calm seas. On arrival around 6pm I wasn't really expecting to see ABR (another bloody ruin) but there it was, a walled chora and fort, high on a hill overlooking the village. It was built by the Venetians in 1316 to protect their trade routes around the Peloponnisos. The island is quite stunning with fabulous views of the surrounding sea.

A five masted cruise ship, Club Med 2, arrived when we did and so the town is bustling with visitors, mostly French with a few Japanese photographing everything that moves - or doesn't!

We took off early this morning and climbed to the Chora. We priced a taxi but he wanted 10 Euro ($17 AUD) to travel the 2 kilometres, so we decided to do our pocket and our health a favour and walk the winding road to the top, it was easy enough.

Today is very windy and the boat is getting covered with grit which is blowing along the wharf and in through every open window. No point doing anything about it until we leave tomorrow on our way to Crete. Once out at sea, thanks to the watermaker and/or the waves, we will be able to wash the grit off us and the boat - happy days!

love CANDY

Saturday, 6 September 2008

On the move

Hi from Clare, Saturday 6/9

Photo 1 - Methoni Castle Photo 2 - Not always easy phoning downunder Photo 3 - Koroni Fort Photo 4 - Down to Diros Caves Photo 5 - Spectacular Stalactites

I was amazed to find that I haven't written for nearly a week. We have been busy moving every day to different towns along the coastline of the Peloponnisos peninsular. Nearly every town has an ancient fort or castle so we have been getting plenty of exercise climbed many hills. Some ruins have been well preserved, others are not so good. One thing is for sure just about every town has one. In fact they are so common that we took photos of one town simply because it didn't have a ruin, that was different!

The towns along the coast are well laid out with brick buildings and terra cotta roves. I haven't seen a Greek whitewash building with a blue roof since we left the island of Milos. The shopping is good, however the older shopkeepers, although very friendly, speak little or no English, thankfully we usually find a young person to interpret. This saves me having to cluck like a chicken or moo like a cow in the butchers, much to everyone's relief. On such occasions Andrew disowns me and stands outside, but at least I get the chicken - I thought men were supposed to be the hunters and gatherers!

There are very few yachts around, we think the Pelopponisos is a well kept secret. We met an Australian couple from Sydney in a Beneteau 47. We called over to say hello at 9.30am on our way to the castle. They (Hugh and Kate) purchased their boat(Indaba)in France three years ago and are living a similar cruising life to us. Hugh was a mechanical engineer so he and Andrew had plenty to talk about and Kate and I certainly weren't short of cruising conversation either. We ended leaving their boat at 2.40pm after morning coffee followed by white wine and olives. We managed to stagger up to the castle feeling a little fuzzy.

Yesterday we went to the underground caves at Diros which the cruising guide recommends as a "must see". We donned hard hat and life jackets before descending down into the narrow passages with little head room. The guide punts and pushes a flat-bottomed boat (which is none too stable) through the subterranean passages which literally drip with stalactites. The spectacular trip is one hour of total peace. The guide spoke Greek but the couple behind us interpreted, just as well because at times the warning was "we are currently in deep water so don't rock the boat". I could just see the ten of us splashing around in the cold water trying to get back into the punt. Judging by the instability of the boat and a huge variance in the weight of the people I imagine the maneuver would have been repeated a number of times before success was achieved.

Earlier this morning we set out to travel along the coast to the bottom of the peninsular, but the wind is such that we can now continue on to the island of Kithera. We have just put up the spinnaker which improved our speed from 4.6 knots to 6.5 knots. It is a beautiful sunny day so I will spread out on deck, read my latest book about the Scottish clans and Bonnie Prince Charlie and enjoy the ride. Andrew is on deck and amusing himself listening to the banter between an Italian warship and the various container vessels entering Italian waters.

All is well on board and we are having a wonderful time.

love CANDY

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