We spent a few days in Naxos in an isolated bay with a couple of other yachts before catching up with the Red Sea gang. There were no restaurants or bars and only a couple of farms and of course a tiny little church, but it was an interesting place as the goats had to walk across the beach to get to their milking shed.
The music of the cow bells was delightful and we loved watching the goatherd and his dogs manage the hundreds of goats. Twice a day we witnessed this spectacle and felt a little sad when we left for the much busier island of Paros.
Paros is a touristy island with huge ferries spewing thousands of daytrippers onto the foreshore everyday. Most only come for the day but still thousands patronise the bars at night and after catching up with Terry and Mike we spent a great night listening to Greek music, drinking wine, eating their great food and enjoying a Metaxa shot at the end. The pic at the top is the Ephesus Bar. The next day we hired a baked bean can with wheels to explore the island. This little car only just managed to get up most of the hills and has a hissy 20m, literally, from the highest point and just stopped! Nothing could enduce our little Heinz can to continue so we had to accept it. Paros is very dry like most of the Greek islands and we saw little in the way of cultivated land just olive trees and some grapes.
After a few days we headed off to catch up with Mike on Proud Cat at Delos. We needed a good sheltered anchorage as the Meltemi was due to arrive the next day. The Meltemi is the name for the very strong notherly Mediterranean winds that blow in high summer. They last a few days, cause havoc to a the boats trying to find protected anchorages, and flip dinghys trying to access the shore. On Delos we found a brilliant spot and decided to wait out the Meltemi together. After 2 months, the gang were reunited and we celebrated in style!
I hadn’t been feeling too well since Mykonos where I had seen a dr about my aching shoulders and thighs but the day we were due to go and visit the ruins I woke up and realised something was seriously wrong with me. I couldn’t walk and felt as weak as a kitten so Ian checked out the nearest island that had a hospital and called the guys and told them to go ahead without us as we were heading to Syros. Terry and Mike said they would come with us and help get me off the boat. I slept in the saloon while Ian got us to Syros where we had to Med moor. As I was completely unable to help him dock, Terry and Mike docked first and all I remember is Terry just appearing beside me saying “God you look awful”! The hard bit was getting me down the gangplank as I couldn’t walk. There were diners eating about 20m from the end of our gangplank and I think they were a bit surprised to see me being shuffled down the plank with Ian holding me up from behind and Mike walking backwards in front of me. I gather they all moved their plates as I grabbed their table to stop myself from collapsing!! I don’t remember much of it but it must have been a bit of a conversation stopper…..
The taxi got us straight to A & E and I spent the day in and out of sleep. Mike and Ian stayed but were not allowed into see me which was frustrating as they couldn’t understand anything the Drs and nurses were saying. Blood tests, xrays, drips and a bedside manner that could be improved but still no diagnosis. I was in lot of pain and just kept asking for some painkillers but they wouldn’t give me anything until the results came back. Eventually a delightful older lady Dr came in and was very cross with the younger arrogant, no bedside manner dr and she started the ball rolling. I was to stay for 3 days until the results came in but without any drugs! I was so weak I could hardly argue but knew I had some morphine on board so I said I would return for the results on Monday. I had to sign that I had discharged myself against their advice but having been on a drip for 7 hours I felt strong enough and they let me go. The guys got me back and I just fell asleep in the saloon. My dr nephew called from Australia and gave his opinion and told Ian to get some Prednisalone which luckily is available over the counter in Greece, as it would ease the pain in my arms and legs. With said drugs in my system I fell asleep again while the guys were off for a well deserved drink….. I was woken 3 hours later but a crashing sound of breaking glass and China – to my horror I saw that our gangplank was swinging left to right taking out the diners dinner and drinks! I could just see their horrified faces as this huge plank swung in front of their faces so got on the phone to the boys and told them to get back fast before we killed someone! The spent the rest of the evening on board – too much excitement for one day.
The next day I was feeling much better but still no diagnosis. Syros is a lovely island, not so touristy and with a fully function port. The footpaths are marble and the shops magnificent. There is a lovely square behind the foreshore and little tavernas and bars tucked up little side streets.
The four of us spent the next two days exploring the town and in the Monday I went back for my results. After waiting 2 hours in the queue to pay, which wasn’t expensive- only €182 ($250) we then joined about 50 other people waving their receipts in the air while this poor young dr rummaged through piles of results to match names to receipts. Armed with my results we set off to find the lovely lady Dr who spoke good English. The results were inconclusive- she had thought it was Polymyalgia just like Charlie my nephew thought but it appeared not. There were a couple of other auto immune diseases she thought it could be but they needed more in-depth blood analysis. An African parasite could also be an option. As the Greek system is bankrupt, which was evident in the way the hospital was run on a very skeleton staff, private is the only way to go and so the hunt is on for a rheumatologist. With my daughter and her friend due to arrive within days we had to get to Athens to pick them up so we left Syros a day later and sailed to the island of Kea.
Arriving on Kea’s east coast we found a small bay with just one bar and a few houses. There was only one other boat and Ian and I thought we would have a nice quiet evening. We noticed that the cushion had blown off the other boat and was heading out to sea so Ian jumped in the dinghy to save it. The couple were returning when they saw Ian grab their cushion and then their outboard conked out, so Ian went and grabbed them and towed them back to their boat. They were very grateful and invited us over for a drink, so our quiet evening alone turned out to be a great fun evening with this couple from Prague. They told us all about how the Czech Republic is changing now that they are independent but that the wages are still very low. They wanted to do a similar trip to ours in the future and were fascinated in our journey. We arranged to meet them in 2 days later round the other side of the island which we were going to check out for Steph’s visit.
The next day we set off for the port in Kea where we were going to anchor and dinghy into shore. The anchor wouldn’t hold so after a couple of attempts we decided to Med moor against the dock. Once settled in we were surprised when our sugar scoops suddenly started banging against the quay. Our anchor was dragging again…. “Is our anchor broken?” I innocently asked Ian to which he gave me a look which said “Sometimes….. you say such dumb things” so I stayed quiet and we decided to go to the far the of the bay and anchor again. Again, the anchor didn’t hold and this time Ian saw that …. Yes- the anchor was broken! A weld had broken which held the shaft to the anchor so the anchor was folding rather than grabbing the bottom. Problem now was what were we going to do? There was some tiny mooring boys for small fishing boats so we grabbed one, Ian pulled up the anchor, swapped it for our spare, jumped in the dinghy with the broken one and headed off to shore to find the harbourmaster. He was really helpful and understood what we needed and arranged to have it welded up and returned the next day.
Good to his word Ian picked up the fixed anchor the next day – €20 for the welder and a tip of €20 to the harbourmaster for his help – what could have been a nasty episode turned out well. Had it happened the night before in that small bay where there were no mooring buoys or had it happened while the anchor was dug in the result could have been very different.
The next day our Czech friends turned up and they had had a bad night as well. Their outboard conked out again coming back from shore in the dark and they were being taken out to sea. Mike jumped in the water and swam the dinghy to land which was very rocky. He clambered up giving himself some nasty cuts and she also managed to get up on land but they were stranded in the dark a long way from their boat with strong offshore winds. Female logic kicked in and while Mike was trying to come up with a way to summon help, she opened her phone, googled the island, googled the ph number of the restaurant and called them. They then sent a car out to find them, brought them back to the the restaurant, lent them another dinghy and they eventually got back to their boat at midnight! Wow- that must have been a very frightening experience for them.
Next stop – Athens to pick up Steph and Amenah – love having my kids on board.