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Greece

3rd May 2009

An old sailor once told us that real sailors are those that at least once, have been towed into a harbour. If that is true, now we became real sailors. It all started 170 miles out of Crete. Making use of  light winds, Graham tried to start the engine so we can head West, the engine got as far as cranking but wouldn't fire. After fiddling with it for a whole day he gave up, it was beyond his knowledge. We decided to head to Rhodes instead as it was closer and possible to make it in one tack. 30 miles out of Rhodes Harbour the wind died down to nothing. Now we were dead in the water. Needless to say we were furious, after all that money spent in Egypt fixing the engine and it let us down at the worst time possible... And we are still cursing the Egyptians.

But there is no point in being angry so instead we took a day rest whilst slowly drifting to Rhodes. Now it was time to catch up with  sleep  and even opened a bottle of sparkling red from Australia to celebrate being back in Europe. With the light winds, the 30 miles to Rhodes took us 24 hours. As morning came up we approached the entrance at 1-2 knots. Now the task was to arrange a tow, we called port control , marina and even signalled for passing yachts for help. Either we were ignored or received a cheerful wave back however no assistance.

Eventually I managed to attract the attention of a private little fishing boat, who was very happy to tow us into the harbour. I cannot remember being this stressed and actually cursing the cruising life. The fishing boat towed us inside the bay and left without giving us chance to offer money. Still getting used with the fact that we are not in Egypt anymore and there is no need for baksheesh.

Rhodes was never in our plans, but so glad we ended up here. Beautiful walled old medieval town, still early for the season so not inundated with tourists and the best of it are the Greeks. They are just so friendly and welcoming. Walking into a tavern soon we are involved in conversation, however since we have been away for a while we were not up to date with the latest news. Six months ago the idea of coming back to Europe was off putting, but now we are glad to be back.

 

04th May 2009

Through word of mouth, we heard that Pierre is a very good engineer. We called him and met in the boatyard. But before getting into business Pierre was in need of a drink, which turned out to be beer. He came onboard and after checking the engine we decided to join in on the beers… For bad news better to drown the sorrow. Three hours later and no beer left, Pierre turned out to be a nice and interesting chap, from Belgium however lived all over Europe and Africa, and same as us, a wanderer.

 

05th May 2009

We decided to lift the boat out of the water, while repairing the engine. In this way we could at the same time antifoul the bottom. However without a functioning engine this was a task. The slot to park the boat for the lift was so narrow, adding a very rough seas caused by high winds made us almost give up on the idea, but what really made our jaws to drop was meeting the boat that would tow us.  It was a fisherman of about 80 years old, the boat as old as the owner, with equally old engine about to pack up as good as ours.

No other option left we still went for it.  The fisherman lined up the boat to the slot but of course with strong winds the boat swung sideways and we were almost sloshing against the concrete wall. Graham was about to have a heart attack and I was almost throwing up with stress, trying to push the boat away from the dock. The shouting going on was unbelievable, Four guys on the dock screaming in Greek at the fisherman, Graham and I shouting between each other trying to line Nomad Life into the narrow gap. Somehow Nomi squeezed in and no damage!!! This is the Greek way... After the ordeal we almost prayed to Allah, but not that bad!

 

07th May 2009

Many beers later and very little work done on the engine, this is how Pierre works. Sija sija" which in Greek means slowly slowly, and a favorite phrase here.

 

11th May 2009

After all the engine is not a throw away, Egyptian dirty fuel blocked the heads and it needs to be taken apart and thoroughly cleaned. Once we left the heads in a workshop we decided to make use of the car hire and drove around the island.  With the spring the island is green with pine trees and grass and this is the best time to visit Rhodes, before summer when the island becomes desert like. From Rhodes town the road along the coast leads  through Faliraki, a well know British resort, followed by Lindos, a beautiful quiet Greek village with a castle on top of the hill.

Pierre did mention that the Greeks do things on a funny way, an example is digging up roads on summer, the busiest time for the island with tourism. And he is right, the road around  the island was half blocked, even the airport runway was full of diggers.

  

15th May 2009

Living on a boatyard is not the most comfortable, but at least here we can see a bit of real Greece since we are one of the few foreign boats. Very often shouting breaks out, the men love to argue about menial things, accompanied by loud shouting and kicking things around, it normally goes on for half an hour, then like a married couple, the issue is resolved and they become best of friends, patting each other’s back. But listening to Pierre's problems working with the Greeks is the most worrying. They do not hesitate to rip off foreigners, payday comes with a few months of delay, if it comes at all.

 

18th May 2009

The last two weeks have been very stressful. Once the engine was fixed it took another whole day to get it firing, due to bad connection and residual dirty fuel in the filters and to finish it off the alternator broke in the process. At times it felt like going backwards rather then forward. However now all the little persisting problems have been resolved and Nomad Life is ready to go back to the water

On the last day at the boatyard a fishing boat from Karphatos, the neighbouring island hauled out here and there was a giantGreek celebration for that. The party started early and by the evening after endless bouzouki songs accompanied by singing and dancing the fisherman were thoroughly drunk.

We also survived an earthquake whilst on the hard standing, at that time Pierre noticed a vibration then he found out later that the earthquake reached 4 in the Richter scale. So glad the boat didn't stumble to the ground while I was painting the bottom!

 

20th May 2009

Despite all the work and not a lot of fun in Rhodes, we loved the island and are sad to leave, it has a very relaxed atmosphere. Saying goodbye to Pierre was also sad, we enjoyed so much his company that at times work did get pushed aside which did delay us a bit, but we had a lot of beers and laughter together! We will miss him. As soon as the boat went back into the water and the engine was tested we turned West and left for Malta.

 

21st May 2009

After 100 miles we detoured to Crete, it was just impossible to head West, winds increasing and rough seas. Try again tomorrow.