We spend the morning tidying the rest of our belongings away into its new place and I spend the day making the most of the free water and electricity in the marina, to wash our clothes, towels and sheets in anticipation of our departure from Athens. Then in the afternoon the message arrived from the broker and lawyer that our NZ registration was wrong. We had already organised that about 1 month ago and even got the original couriered from NZ. The lawyer and broker had them for all that time and didn’t pick up on the mistake. Now one day before our departure they pick up on the mistake on the paper!
After airing a bit of frustration and anger we wrote to Maritime NZ again to see if they would be able to issue the corrected form over night. We can’t speak highly enough of Maritime NZ – next morning we had the corrected paper in our inbox and our lawyer said, that the Greek official had very unhappily agreed to accept an e-mailed copy instead of an original. Phew! Our lawyer said she would see if she could still get an appointment with customs, but she couldn’t promise anything – it was Friday late morning by the time she had the paper.
To soothe my nerves I made a banana cake and put it in the oven totally not thinking that appointment would be happening. Then half an hour later we got a call to be at the Customs office in the next town in 20 minutes as the office would close soon. So we broke out in a panic, getting dressed, collecting all the paperwork, sorting the dog, money etc. And once we all where assembled on deck and Tim was just about to look the boat to run to a taxi he smelled the cake in the oven! I had completely forgotten about the cake in all this excitement – imagine if Tim hadn’t smelled it and we would have finally our papers but no boat anymore! That was a close save.
1 hour later at customs, a lot of photocopies and stamps and signatures later and another 3,000 NZ lighter for all the lawyers fees for the boat purchase, transit log and cruising fees we were back at the boat in disbelief that we finally had all our paperwork to leave this marina.
We hurried to the supermarket to stock up on fresh groceries again and Tim did a last few small jobs on the boat to get ready to sail away. We finally put our own boat stickers on, raised all the flags and tidied Polly for the next morning. The cake was till edible by the way, even though I turned it off halfway through the time it usually needs.
The next morning I took Lucy for a last walk at the nearby beach, we had a nice breakfast and said our goodbyes to Armando. I had to squeeze back the tears there. He had become a friend during our 4 months on his jetty. He was always so nice and helpful and really got us and why we are doing what we are doing. He also gave us a good insight into Greek life for people here that are not bureaucrats ;-).
It seems like there are 2 sorts of people – the nice, friendly, helpful and charming ones and the bureaucrats, which make up 10% of Greek population apparently. It made us realise how much the hardworking people on the ground are impacted by the Greek bureaucracy and corruptness of the systems on a daily basis. I guess we both came from relatively well functioning countries and felt at times a bit naive to have thought it would be similar here.
I think we where all slightly lost for words finally untying those lines and seeing the Alimos Marina for the last time motoring out. It had almost become a home, we got to know the workers, we met lots of lovely people and almost felt part of the troups a bit. However once the sails went up, we all couldn’t get the smiles off our faces. The weather forecast looked really good and we set our course for Aegina an island nearby to take it relatively easy on our first sail. Because there was not much wind and we are determined to use the motor only when we need to.
We arrived around 4 pm, set our anchor with a bit of hesitancy. We have a lot to learn and are unfamiliar with all the places we go to, so I think it will take us a bit of time to grow confidence with doing things right. Our anchor was set well, so the kids went for a snorkel, then we took the dinghy to the little sandy beach nearby so Lucy could have her walk and swim. The water was clear and turquoise. The little bay had big rock formations either side with a mansion planted on top of each. In the hills where scattered houses, the cicadas where chirping away and the temperatures really warm. We popped a bottle of Prosecco and prepared some dinner, once we were back on the boat and still couldn’t quite believe our luck.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better a beautiful big red full moon came out over the hill and the most magical scenery unfolded before our eyes. This one day and night rewarded us for our 4 months of patience and struggle. It reminded us why we decided to do this. During the last 2 weeks of our time at the marina both Tim and I had our moments where we questioned our decision.
Because the night was so balmy and the full moon so pretty Nina and I decided to sleep out on the deck. It was so beautiful with the moon as the lantern and the water flapping against the boat, gently swinging us to and fro. The idyll was interrupted for a short time by a group of dogs having a rather loud argument and the the owner of the Mansion right above from where we were anchored deciding to put on a selection of rather curious music really loud. Eventually quite settled in and I got some sleep, waking up to a beautiful sunrise.
Tim made us some crepes to celebrate our first morning in freedom and afterwards we all went for a dinghy ride to the nearby beach to walk Lucy and enjoy the views of the Bay from the hill. The landscape is made up of shrubs, dry grasses and small trees, like olives, figs and cypress. So pretty.
When we came back the kids and I had a swim in the clear water until a rather large super yacht decided to park themselves between us and another sailboat. There were 5 staff on board managing the anchoring and checking out the depth of the water and rocks on land. When they were finally set a lady in a white bikini with a hand bag dog emerged at the dinghy, which was loaded with sun chairs and sun umbrellas. 3 staff took the lady to tiny beach to arrange 2 sun chairs and an umbrella for her.
Meanwhile we were just about to leave for our next destination, the island of Poros. With the precious, large super yacht right beside us and the wind blowing in exactly that direction we where a bit nervous that they might have put their anchor chain on top of ours and that we wouldn’t do everything fast enough to get away. Luca swam out to the rocks to untie our stern line. Nina and Tim pulled it in and Luca started swimming back to the boat, while I started pulling up the anchor. Luckily the wind changed in our favor and we got away looking like pro’s.
Unfortunately we have to be out of Greece by the 20th July because of Tim’s expired visa, so we don’t really have a whole lot of time to explore each island in depth. So we set our sails again with relatively low winds. I was glad, that the weather was so mild. In both days of sailing none of us felt even slightly queezy.
Martin, Yvette and Jason were still in Poros, so they called us to say where they were anchored. On the way saw pretty islands with scattered housed and a church and ruin here and there and the typical rocky, dry, greenish landscapes that look so beautiful set against the clear, blue water. When we arrived in Poros we again had to pinch ourselves. Such a pretty island with the typical whitewashed Greek houses terraced on the island and beautiful port and little anchorages.
We found Pisces 11, the Bali Catamaran from Martin and Yvette and anchored up besides them. They came over for a chat and snack, comparing our planned routes and exchanging our news. In the afternoon our family set off in the dingy to explore Poros village a bit. We had ice creams and ice coffees and had a wander through the little village up to the clock tower with the views over the bays. I just love those small steps leading up and the tiny, beautiful alleyways with the flowers, trees, cactus and whitewashed buildings with their pretty shutters. Poros town is clearly laid out for tourism. There are lots of little shops filled with souvenirs, ice cream parlors, tavernas etc., but it feels charming and comfortable. Once we had a good walk around we were all hot again and needed to cool off in the water. So we went back to the boat, had a swim and snorkel and prepared some dinner.
Again we were treated with the most beautiful sunset with a red fireball setting over the nearby hill and a big beautiful full moon rising on the other side over Poros town. Martin and Tim looked at the weather and wind looked favorable to sail for the island Hydra the next day, so plans were made to leave together in the morning.