Visiting Delos Greece – a must see if you’re into ancient archeological sites


“Once you’ve seen one Greek ruin, you’ve seen them all” Or have you? What about visiting Delos Greece?

We’ve been in Greece for over a month now and thus far we’ve hit the ancient archeological sites of Olympia, Delphi, Athens/Acropolis and most recently, the uninhabited island of Delos. Furthermore, we anchored below the beautiful ruin on top of the cliff in Sounion (see picture below).

Sounion Greece

Sounion Greece

Thus far, my favorite still stands at Olympia but every archeological site has been magnificent – and for different reasons. I enjoyed Olympia because we were able to run across the original Olympic stadium. To me, that was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Read Running the stadium track at Olympia Greece, where the Olympics first started in the 10th century BC

Delphi was fantastic as the ancient site stood on the side of a mountain containing some incredible ruins and views. Furthermore, we went with two other boatloads of friends, making the trip truly memorable. Read Visiting Delphi – We made it to the center of the ancient World

Athens Greece

Athens Greece

As for the ruins in Athens…I’ve been privileged enough to have seen them a few years ago, so the impact this time wasn’t as strong. Actually, I found the ruins at the base of the Acropolis, like the Agoras to be far more interesting. That aside, my visit to Athens was with my cousin Loryn and her friend Christine which made the day very special. For the first time I was able to go through a museum and archeological site without my daughter. It was nice to look at what I wanted to look at and spend time absorbing things slowly rather than racing around!

But what about visiting Delos Greece? Is it worth the effort to get there?

No one lives on the island of Delos and it’s not a destination you’ll come across by accident. Dating back to 2500 BC, Delos is one of the world’s most important archaeological sites. It’s the birthplace of the mythological sun god, Apollo, and his twin, Artemis, the goddess of the moon and the hunt. The island was the most sacred place of worship in ancient Greece.

Interestingly, in 426 BC, the Athenians decided to ‘cleanse’ Delos and it’s thousands of inhabitants were told to leave. No one was allowed to be born, die or be buried on the Holy island. Since then it’s been uninhabited. Currently there are a handful of people that live on the island but that’s to maintain the archeological site.

Delos being an island, you have to make specific plans to visit it. Close to the Greek island of Mikonos, you can take a ferry to the island for 18 euros or I did notice that you can anchor nearby and take a tender to the little port. The anchorage didn’t look very safe but we had friends that anchored and visited the site successfully. I’m told that you can’t anchor overnight. Once on the island, the entrance fee is 5 euros and another 5 for an optional person-led guided tour.

We moored up just outside the town of Mikonos in a marina and then took a 5-minute waterbus to the main town center. Five of us then boarded the ferry with anticipation. My husband, cousin, cousin’s friend and my daughter entered the ancient site and thought, WOW – look at all the stuff.

Literally, there were columns, building footings, bricks, walls and roads all over the place. As far as the eye could see, there were ruins. A few modern houses and a museum were easily identifiable but otherwise, it looked like a junkyard of rock, marble and old stuff.

One of these days I’ll have to find out why archeologists don’t put the ruins back in place. Perhaps you know the answer to that?

Each building was surrounded by stones, pieces and parts that must belong to the building – or one close by. Maybe it’s just too expensive? I just couldn’t help wanting to see something in it’s original state.

That being said, some of the ruins had walls up to the ceiling, mosaic floors and columns within the building. It wasn’t too difficult to imagine what they looked like back in the day. We also came across a few statues. Furthermore, the descriptive plaques dotted around the site offered an example of what the ruin looked like in it’s heyday.

What I find remarkable is that most buildings and statues were painted vibrant colors in ancient Greece. Even the Parthanon was very colorful. In my mind I always reflected on Greece as everything being white marble but that was not the case.

Anyway, Delos sprawled along the coast with a path leading up to the highest point on the island. Of course we had to go to the top! My 4-year old daughter and I ran ahead of the rest of our crew to make it to the top first. To my surprise, we not only made it to the top but we also managed to stand without blowing over. The winds were seriously blowy.

Once the rest of the crew joined us, we took pictures and kept yelling out, ‘wow – look at these views!’ There’s something magical about making it to the top of a hill or mountain. There is the effort put in to achieve the feat and then the reward of such beautiful scenery. My daughter and I placed a rock on top of the highest person-made rock tower and made a wish.

I’m not sure what those rock towers are for – any ideas?

You find them all over the place when you get to the tops of mountains. I just told my daughter that it’s a way to pay our respect to the mythological Gods and make a wish. We’ve been focusing on Mythology lately so she accepted my answer.

After several hours of walking around, we made it back to our ferry to Mikonos. The crew and I were unanimous – Delos is a must see for anyone interested in Greek ruins. Below are some of my pictures and then scroll down for my top 5 tips for visiting the ancient Greek island of Delos.

Delos Greece Pictures (click to see larger image)

My top 5 tips for visiting Delos Greece

It’s far cheaper to take your boat and anchor across from the entrance to the old port. When we arrived I saw 3 boats anchored with 2 of them tied onto land with a landline to avoid swinging. Once moored up, it’s only a very short tender ride over to the ferry docks.

There is a tiny restaurant and a place to get water and drinks. We brought our own water but I can imagine the prices were steep – there’s no completion.

Definitely wear sneakers/trainers or good hiking shoes. The area is rocking and unsettled. Furthermore, if you got to the top of the hill, you’ll want strong shoes. A day of hiking around Delos in flip-flops would be terrible.

Get a guide! We didn’t get one but upon reflection it would have made the site much more manageable. It’s a bit overwhelming and to have someone take us to the most important areas leaving us to wander later would have been better.

This goes without saying – wear sunscreen! There is absolutely no shade on the island so it’s difficult to take some time out from the sun. Your best bet is to bring a hat or wear some sort of head covering. By the end of our tour I was ready to sit in the shade for a couple days.

The Greek island of Hydra – A swim ashore to enjoy an uphill mountainous hike


Greek Island of Hydra

The Greek island of Hydra

Imagine a cove with beautiful light and dark blue waters surrounded by etched hills and a beach with thatched umbrellas and sunbeds. And further visualize the beach full of day-trippers all leaving the yachties to absolute solitude by nightfall. No roads, no lights, no electricity and no mobile or Wifi connection. No sign of any life in the bay. (The bay we were in was called Ay Nikolos, if you’d like to find it during your travels.)

Finding a beautiful, quiet peaceful bay isn’t always easy

So, when we anchored off the Greek island of Hydra we were very pleased. By 8pm we were joined with only a few other yachts. For the most part, we had the bay to ourselves. Not long after setting the hook, my cousin, Loryn, and I looked over to the mountainous island and thought, ‘we need to climb to the top!’ As the day was coming to an end we decided to wake early, swim ashore and hike as far as we could get. After a lovely nights sleep, we threw on our bathing suits, packed a bag with sneakers, socks, water and our cameras and headed to the aft of the boat. Once there, Loryn and I surveyed the distance between the boat and land. There was a small stretch of water we had to swim across to get to the island. Fortunately, we had a ship to shore line preventing our boat from swinging on the anchor.

The challenge, however, was to slide our bag across the line without it hitting the water!

After a bit of discussion, we fastened Lorry’s backpack onto the landline. We then tied a sail tie onto the bag so that we could swim and pull the bag along. To increase the challenge we also decided to bring our coffee’s with us. Greek Island of Hydra

Greek Island of Hydra

Greek Island of Hydra

Greek Island of Hydra

Greek Island of Hydra

Greek Island of Hydra

The swim to land was full of laughter

Fortunately, the bag made it across dry and we were able to put our socks and sneakers on. We couldn’t bring shorts and a t-shirt and it was hot anyway, so we opted on scaling the hill in our bathing suits. No one was around to see us anyway. Rather than follow the main path to the beach, we instead went ‘off-road’ immediately and encountered some huge spiders. Perhaps keeping to a path might be a better idea?   We eventually picked up a path and headed up the hillside. Our first stop was an abandoned house that may have doubled for a church. From there, we picked up a trail winding up the hillside towards an olive grove.

Then our climb went from easy going to hard work – we went off-road heading for the top

At a certain height the hillside went from shrubs, thorns and grass and turned to rocks and boulders. Having to slightly scale the mountain, we kept going up and up and up. Greek Island of Hydra

Greek Island of Hydra

Finally, we hit the top of the mountain and WOW, the view was incredible. The hike was well worth the effort. We surveyed the surrounding area, took photo’s and even a couple videos. And feeling like a kid I yelled out, ‘Echo, Echo’ and to my delight, I heard it come back to me – ‘Echo, Echo!’ Loryn and I played with our echo’s for a while and laughed like little kids.

Eventually, we realized that we had to go down, but where did the trail go? Yikes!

We had a little chat and decided to just go straight down. It was steep and we had to really concentrate on our footing. A few times we had to alter course as there was a sheer rock face drop. While descending, I yelled over to Loryn, “I feel like a kid again! I used to love climbing up hills, mountains, rocks or anything I could find” And then it dawned on me that I’m acting more and more like a kid every day. It’s as if I lost the concept of playing and now I’m getting it back. Not only am I enjoying playing with my daughter, but I’m also playing just for the sake of playing. Surely over the past land-based years I’ve had the opportunity to climb a hill or jump along some boulders but I either didn’t see the opportunity or failed to consider ‘play-time’ as a legitimate option? I had emails to send, work to do, a house to clean and important things to see to!

Heading back to the coast was more difficult than going up

We found ourselves trapped in thorns or shrubs a few times. We worked together raising branches, checking out potential passages and inching our way back to the boat. All scratched up and at long last, we made it to the beach.

Greek Island of Hydra

My husband, Simon, welcomed us on board and said, ‘let’s release the land line, lift the anchor and head out!’ Fortunately, we got all our work done (lifting the anchor, stowing the lines, securing the fenders and setting the sails) and then Loryn and I collapsed in the cockpit enjoying a nice, slow sail to the next island. I wonder what our next off-road adventure will be?

How to conserve water on a sailboat – bathing with 6 cups of water


“Bathing with six cups of water?! That’s just not possible!”

That’s how I responded when my friend Carole, a world cruising veteran, said that she could bathe/shower with only 6 cups of water. Talk about how to conserve water on a sailboat.

Reflecting back upon my land-based life, I remembered taking 15 or 20 minute long, hot showers. I must have used a whole tank of hot water often! Now that we’re living on a boat, I’ve drastically curtailed my water usage. With a tank holding 1000 litres and an average crew of 6 it doesn’t last long.

Anyway, now that we have a limited amount of water I’ve changed my showering behaviors. Instead of standing in the shower, enjoying the hot water comfortably hit my body for several minutes; I now have the following procedure:

  • Turn water on and quickly get wet
  • Turn water off
  • Put shampoo on and soap up
  • Water on and rinse
  • Water off
  • Put conditioner on and shave (when required)
  • Water on and rinse

Showers are no longer a luxury. Rather, they’re a quick necessity. Looking back, I now realized that I wasted a lot of water. Feeling proud of my new water conservation efforts, I mentioned my routine to Carole, from the sailboat Nepenthe. She indicated that her conservation efforts allow her to shower with 6 cups of water.

Carole upped the game and a new challenge was set!

I just couldn’t fathom how it would be possible to shower with six cups of water so I asked Carole to come aboard Britican and do a demonstration. Not only did we get a demonstration, but also my daughter and I were active participants!

Was it possible for my daughter and I to bath with 6 cups of water?

Well…I’ll get to that but before I do let me sidestep to life onboard a boat. When you’re cruising around the world there are a few ways to get water. One is to fill up your tanks at marinas. That being said, getting good water can often be difficult. Many marinas supply water, but it’s not good enough to drink and at times it can smell really bad.

The second way is by using a water maker. We’re privileged to have a reverse-osmosis water maker – it turns seawater into drinkable clean water. To make water, we need to run our generator. For every hour we run it, it makes 100 litres of water. So, for 1000 litres we would need to run our generator for 10 hours. Usually, we just keep our water topped up – whether by marina water supply or by water maker. We don’t let it get too low so we only ever run our water maker for a couple hours.

And the final way to get water is to catch rain! Currently, while we’re in the Mediterranean we haven’t seen any rain, but surely there will be places we get to where the rain falls. Perhaps when that happens we’ll sort out a rain catcher?

Back to the 6 cups of water to shower with…

While in Patras, Greece, Carole came over to us on Britican with her bucket and a cup. At first, I thought, ‘Are we really going to do this?’

I yelled down to Sienna, who was playing with her Barbies, that it was time to play with a bucket of water. If I told her it was a shower I’m not so sure she’d want to participate.

Carole asked us if we wanted to do the demonstration in our bathing suites or naked. I thought it was great that she asked as that consideration never crossed my mind! What a question! Hehehehe. I quickly, replied, ‘Yes – with our bathing suits!’

‘I’m happy you said that!’ was Carole’s response!

The three of us then found a space on the deck – all of us in our bathing suits with bucket and cup at hand. Carole instructed us to sit with our legs crossed and up so that our knees where near our armpits.

The first cup of water was poured over our bodies starting from one shoulder going across to the next and working down the body – to my surprise, one cup managed to get most of our body wet. By pouring the water while sitting cross-legged it had the opportunity to flow from the top to the bottom. The second cup was for our hair.

It actually took me a couple cups of water to get my hair wet but that’s because I have long hair. Carole remarked that she keeps her hair short as it’s easier to maintain and clean. I’m not sure if I’ll chop mine off yet but I’m sure it’s on the cards.

After we were soaked, we all put our shampoo in and soaped up

Sienna had ball. She thought the whole experience was fun. We used a few cups to rinse off and our bath was over.

I then asked Carole if she only uses 6 cups of water to shower every time she bathes. Carole laughed and explained that she doesn’t pay attention to how much she uses. At a push, however, she could bathe with 6 cups.

Before the exercise I thought there was no way I’d be able to shower with such a little amount of water. Now I know better. The lessons I’m learning are amazing. For me, the action of bathing with 6 cups of water wasn’t a part of my reality. And previous to that, it wasn’t possible to shower using the on and off system!

Conserve water on a sailboat

Conserve water on a sailboat

How to conserve water on a sailboat

How to conserve water on a sailboat

How to conserve water on a sailboat

How to conserve water on a sailboat

As for my next step, perhaps I’ll really enter the world of a salty sea dog and stop showering full stop!

To read more amazing things that Carole (and Jim) aboard Nepenthe have taught us, check out the article: Couple sets off for a 3 year around the world sailing trip – 15 years later they’re still going!

Teak Wonder: How to make the teak deck on your sailboat look amazing in 3 steps

With our old sailboat, Selene, a 35’ Moody I don’t think it ever crossed our mind that our teak deck needed a clean. Of course, we’d spray it down with fresh water and clean off any bird poop but we never thought of properly cleaning the teak.

With our Oyster 56′, we’ve felt a stronger desire to make the teak look amazing

Perhaps it’s because there’s more of it AND maybe it’s because the weather is nice enough to spend time cleaning?

Our Moody was in the English Solent and staying warm, even during the summer, was our main concern. Now that we’re sailing the warmer waters of the Mediterranean and have nothing better to do, we set out to learn the best way to clean and maintain our teak decks.

That being said, we didn’t learn the proper way of doing our teak until after we had one dud attempt. Back in April, when we were in Malta my husband, cousin and I spent the day cleaning the teak with fresh water and brushes. The gunk that came of the boat was disgusting! As we used our brushes, black sludge oozed out the wood and it smelled quite fishy. Yuck!

Furthermore, we noticed that the grey wood turned to wood colored wood

Unfortunately, however, the wood colored teak didn’t last very long. Within a few days it was back to the dull grey color. What a waste of time. We spent some very precious hours cleaning while my daughter was with friends and the end result didn’t last long.

While in Sicily, my husband asked our new contact, George Rizzo, what his thoughts were about cleaning teak. If you don’t know George, he’s a man that knows everything there is to know about boating and boats. Moreover, he knows who you need to know to get anything done.

George not only explained a proper way to clean the teak, he actually helped my husband to get the necessary solutions. I’m not a chandlery dawdler so I have no idea about marine brands. I assume there are a variety of brands, but we used a line of solutions from Teak Wonder.

Teak Wonder

Teak Wonder

The 3-step process of cleaning Teak is fairly easy but quite time consuming

Before starting, you’ll need teak cleaner, teak brightener and then a teak stain-sealant in addition to fresh water. This job cannot be done with salt-water so it somewhat restricts you to doing the job in a marina where a fresh water hose can be sourced.

How to make the teak deck on your sailboat look amazing

Step 1: Clean the teak

We used Teak Wonder Teak Cleaner. It’s a blue solution that we dabbed on our wet deck with a brush you’d use to clean dishes with. We poured the solution into a cut-open 1.5 ltr water bottle. And then we used a larger longer brush to do the scrubbing. Going with the grain of the wood we’d scrub the gunk out, wash away with fresh water and the repeat if necessary. The trick is to get the soap suds to remain white rather than turn dirty colored. Once they’re white, it’s a sign to move onto the next patch. We focused on small square patches. Below is a picture of my cousin scrubbing the deck clean.

Teak Wonder

Teak Wonder

Step 2: Brighten the teak

While the deck is wet, you can slop this stuff on with a 3” paint brush. There’s no need to be precise, you just want to soak the teak with it. To my amazement, the teak bighted up in a big way. It’s always so nice to see results so quickly. See pictures below.

Teak Wonder

Teak Wonder

Step 3: Dressing and Sealer

Once the deck has completely dried, you can then apply a light stain and sealant to really preserve the wood color. This takes quite a while as you can’t slop this stuff on. In fact, it’s really hard to keep it from spraying onto the GRP or the non-teak areas. And it likes to run so you have to keep an eye on it that it’s not draining off the teak and onto the white areas of the deck and hull. The results, however, seem to be worth it. It’s still early days, only a week since we finished, but thus far the deck looks fantastic. It’s still wood colored and not that dull gray!

Teak Wonder

Teak Wonder

Teak Wonder

Teak Wonder

Now…our next problem is to find out how to clean the GRP and get rid of all the stain that dribbled onto it!

Overall, it took us several stops at marinas to get the deck done. We needed to use fresh water and the only time we had that opportunity was when there was a fresh water supply. We did parts of our deck in Riposto, Sicily and then in Greece – Gouvia Marina, Lefkas Marina and one final push at Sami.

If you have any other tips, techniques or comments about cleaning and staining a teak deck, please let me know. Also – any tips on cleaning GPR would be appreciated too.

Visiting Delphi – We made it to the center of the ancient World

If you’ve never heard of Delphi before, it’s an ancient Greek religious sanctuary sacred to the god Apollo. It’s home to the famous oracles which gave cryptic prediction and guidance to politicians and individuals. Furthermore, it was home to the Pythian Games.

What’s very interesting is that the site was first settled in the 1500 to 1100 BC and considered the center of the world. In Greek mythology Zeus released two eagles – one to the east and one to the west – and they met in Delphi (see the picture of the naval of Earth below in the gallery).

The site was abandoned during the 7th century AD and rediscovered around 1880 by some French archaeologists. Lucky for us that they found it as it’s a remarkable place!

But how the heck did we come about visiting Delphi during our sailing travels?

Okay – after our stay in the commercial port of Patras, the 3rd largest city in Greece, we made our way under the Rio-Antirrio bridge. The bridge links the Peloponnese with central Greece and is the largest suspended bridge in the world.

When we went under the bridge we all went to the bow of the boat and enjoyed the view. A few days previously, when we entered the Corinth waters I noticed the bridge from afar but couldn’t figure out what it was. I yelled over to my cousin, Loryn – ‘hey, do you see those four pyramid shapes towards the end of they bay? What do you think they are?’

Loryn grabbed the binoculars and announced that it was a bridge. Little did we know that it was a famous bridge! The things we come across are amazing.

Patras Bridge near Delphi

Patras Bridge near Delphi

Patras Bridge near Delphi

Patras Bridge near Delphi

Patras Bridge near Delphi

Patras Bridge near Delphi

Anyway, we sailed under the bridge and then headed for a town called Itea

Interestingly, my husband, Simon, spent a couple weeks in Itea when he was 7 years old. His aunt took him for a 6-week tour of Greece and he remembers Itea vividly. Simon smiles and explains, ‘Itea is the place where I learned how to swim. My aunt popped my rubber ring and threw me in. It didn’t take long for me to figure out how to float!’

As we got closer to Itea our American friends on Nepenthe called us on the VHS and told us about the anchorage they settled on. We wanted to anchor but getting my father-in-law in the dingy to get to land proved to be difficult. We decided to check out the moorings along the town wall. Fortunately, there was loads of space. Stepping off the boat onto solid ground was easier for dad than the bouncing dingy.

Just as we were mooring, friends of Nepenthe moored up next to us

It was another boat of Americans. Unbeknown to us the sailboat, named Horizons, was carrying a group of future friends. It didn’t take long for us to get settled, introduce ourselves to the crew on Horizons and then head for the beach!

Three-year cruising experts, Vince and Barbie were joined by their niece Marie, her daughter Seaira and Marie’s best friend Cylinda. Cylinda was joining the crew for a couple weeks and Marie and her daughter for a month. We were all pleased to meet each other and it didn’t take long for all three boats to decide to visit Delphi together.

While discussions were going on, Loryn, my daughter Sienna and I went to the beach near Nepenthe and started to swim to their boat. None of us realized how far Nepenthe was so by the time we got to the boat we were all exhausted! We had to ask Jim and Carole, Nepenthe’s owners, to get their dingy in the water and drive us home. Hehehehe.

Before dinner, my husband and I went for a walk into the town to get the bus times for Delphi. We also snuck into a beautiful bar along the water for a beer and wine. Hubby and I don’t get quiet time too often so we took the opportunity to have a drink, enjoy the scenery and just enjoy each other’s company.

The night before our trip to Delphi we all slept well!

The sun came up, we ate our breakfast and then met the other two boatloads of people. All together, there were 12 of us heading for the bus station to Delphi. The ride took a short 20 minutes up the side of a mountain. We were all thankful at how close Delphi was.

I was very surprised at how lush the area was

There were loads of trees and greenery despite us being on the side of a mountain. While driving through the village of Delphi it was very quite and rather old fashion. It didn’t have a commercial or touristy feel to it. Of course, it was loaded with tourist shops but it was simple rather than ‘too much,’ if you know what I mean.

All three groups purchased their tickets and entered the museum. My daughter Sienna and Marie’s daughter, Seaira, hit it off immediately. They went around taking pictures of the statues while us adults kept our eye on them. The group split into two – there were those of us that found the end of the museum quickly and those that took another hour to make it through!

Normally, I’d be with the slow group as I like to get to grips with the archeological site findings in addition to the layout of what we’re about to see. On this occasion, however, I felt that I needed to keep and eye on my daughter so that came first. I did, however, take the opportunity to take a photo of the famous bronze Charioteer (see picture).

Delphi Chariotier

Delphi Chariotier

Delphi Chariotier

Delphi Chariotier

Eventually the split group came back together and we all proceeded on to the archeological site. After recently visiting Olympia (Read my article Running The Stadium Track at Olympia Greece, Where The Olympics First Started in the 10th Century BC), I thought that I’d be a bit tired of ruins, but I was wrong.

Delphi was a magical experience

While combining the history and the feel of the place, I couldn’t help but feel like I was somewhere special. The path led you up higher and higher proceeding through a multitude of amazing ruins. There were temples, columns, an amphitheater and eventually we came across a beautifully well preserved stadium.

Several of the building blocks were filled with ancient Greek words in addition to beautiful images. Around ever turn there was a new an exciting view to take in. And Delphi is set on the side of a mountain so the views from the ancient city were absolutely breathtaking. Pictures just don’t do it justice.

Previous to entering the ruins we tried to get a personal guide but the fee seemed a bit too high. In the end, we all took turns telling stories of what each building was for and why it was there. They were all made up – it was a great contest as to who could come up with the best story!

Eventually, we came upon the naval. Apparently, it was what the ancients called the center of the world. See my photo of the egg type sculpture below. I felt so privilege to see it…and the rest of the site, of course.

Imagine thousands of years ago all the things that were taking place in this very spot? If only I could go back in time and just be a fly on the wall.

Below I’ve added a gallery – you can click on the images to see them enlarged and then click an arrow to the right to carry on seeing the larger images…

After loads of photos, storytelling and laughs we all wondered back down to the museum exit

Then on to the town where we found a place that sold cold beer and soft drinks for the kids. The group members all found places in the shade where we waited ½ hour or so for the bus.

On the ride home, all the girlies sat together showing the photo’s they took in their cameras and phones. My cousin and I had a field day with taking selfies!

Our visit to Delphi was another successful and amazing experience

If you’re sailing around Greece, I’d definitely add Delphi to your list of things to do. There are loads, and I mean loads, of historical sites so you have to be choosey. Thus far, Olympia and Delphi are in my top 10 of all the ancient sites I’ve seen. Others on my list include Rome and Athens…

So…making it to the center of the ancient world definitely received a thumbs up from me and my family!

Journey update: Three months into our around-the-world adventure – will we carry on?

Poros, Greece

Poros, Greece

My father-in-law asked me yesterday while anchored off a beautiful Greek island, ‘Could you live here?’ I looked around surveying the rocky mountains, green hills, deep blue waters and the picturesque village of Poros and responded with a ‘Nope.’

Thereafter, I followed up my thoughtful ‘nope’ with the explanation that I don’t want to live anywhere other than on my boat. I have lost all interests in owning an immovable home on land. Of course I followed my answer up with my ‘get out of jail’ card saying that, ‘that’s how I feel today…perhaps tomorrow will be different.’

Having the ability to pick up our anchor or slip lines, and move to another location, suits us perfectly right now

We find a place to stay for a few days where we explore, do our grocery shopping, spend time swimming, work on the boat and enjoy time with friends. When it feels that it’s time to move on, we just move on and do it all over again but with a different backdrop, new things to explore and often more friends to meet.

Before we left on our adventure I felt that we’d make friends easily, but I didn’t think it would be so easy and so much fun.

Every country we’ve been in, we’ve made friends that will most likely be life-long friends. In Italy, we spent time over the course of a month with 3 sailing couples. While in Greece we’ve recently joined up with two other boats and I’m sure the trend will continue.

And what I’m noticing from the other world cruisers is that the longer you’re out sailing, the more friends you accumulate. Eventually you get to a point where you know someone in most ports of call.

The world cruising environment has a very strong community regardless to the fact that it’s continuously moving all over the world

I’ve also discovered that when a boat with a child finds another boat with a child, the two boats work together to organize play dates. Just over two weeks ago, we met the sailboat Horizons owned by 3-year full time world cruisers Vince and Barbie. On board Horizons, for a month, the owners are entertaining their niece Lalita and her 9-year old daughter, Sierra.

Poros, Greece

Poros, Greece

The girls, Sienna and Sierra, have now played with each other most days since we met

And on our 7-hour sail down from the Corinthian Canal to the island of Poros, Sierra joined us on our boat where the girls played doctor, Playdough, Barbies and watched a couple movies. When we’re anchored up they’re out swimming or exploring our new location together.

Over 10 of us from three boats all organized a trip to Delphi together and it was great to see the girls climb to the top hand-in-hand.

Poros, Greece

Poros, Greece

Yes, the time will come when we move on or when Sierra has to go home, but it won’t take long for another boat to come along with a child or children on board!

Since leaving England back in April, my daughter’s social skills have gone through the roof

She’ll play with anyone speaking any language at any age! I’ve found her telling jokes to a table of old men and enjoying a nice swim with a 21-year-old girl. For the most part, however she’s running around with the local kids trying to catch fish, build sand castles or see who can run the fastest.

Before we left, my daughter would hide behind my leg when we met someone new. Now, she’s so far in front of me that I’m behind her legs! She’s happy to greet anyone and has definitely learned that it’s okay to be confident and go up to kids and say, ‘can we play?’

Thinking back…while in England, I took Sienna to an indoor play gym, crammed with children, and she was too afraid to befriend any of them. I had to crawl around the jungle gym with her for a few hours hoping I could convince her to make new friends. I was quite worried when we left for our adventure thinking how am I going to help her gain confidence but it really hasn’t been an issue.

But what about Sienna’s behavior?

Over a month ago, I wrote an article entitled, ‘Changing our lifestyle caused my daughters behavior to go into rapid decline’ that caught the eye of the UK media. For a couple weeks all the newspapers were really slating us and several commenters had quite negative things to say. Unfortunately, the media only took ½ my story and then they blew it out of proportion.

Anyway, to summarize the article, Sienna’s behavior went into a rapid tailspin 2 months into our journey. She started to freak out and we had a massive blow out one night where she lashed out, lost all control, smashed a plate and bit my arm drawing blood.

As you can imagine, I had a variety of thoughts running through my head. I wondered if our trip was messing her up. I thought that I must be a terrible parent. And then I thought long and hard about how the transition was affecting us all. Heck – we sold everything we owned, up’d sticks and left on a boat destine to sail around the world!

Of course there were going to be some growing pains

After the big blow out, I purchased some books on parenting from Amazon. Thank God for Kindle! Knowing my father-in-law was coming out in days, I also had some hard copy books shipped to him to bring down to the boat. The books all provided extremely helpful information and I was soon armed with several parenting techniques.

I’d love to say that Sienna’s behavior changed instantly, but it didn’t. I can, however, say that we never had a night as bad as the big blow out. Each day things got better and better. I started to listen more and she realized that I was always available to help. Our relationship grew stronger and we became closer.

As I write this article, things are amazing. We haven’t had a blow out in a week and she’s going to bed quickly now rather than having a 1-hour tantrum. My daughter, husband and I are communicating so much better.

Ironically, due to the media frenzy, I had several people read my article and send emails of encouragement. I couldn’t believe the amount of people that contacted to tell me that their child acted the same way and offered tips or comfort. I now feel that Sienna is a totally normal kid acting like several kids do…she would have had the same issues if we were on land.

Aside from all that, life on board it getting more ‘normal’ if that’s the right word to use!

Since the beginning, it’s been my husband, cousin, Sienna and I that have lived aboard Britican. We now have routines and roles that we’ve organically fit into. My cousin, Loryn, does most of the cooking and we both clean together. I’m CMO (Chief Mom Officer) – a new role for me as I use to work full time. Simon looks after the boat and navigating. Loryn and I do all the ropes, sails, anchoring and mooring up.

We don’t even have to talk anymore; we just go about our task knowing what everyone is doing

Let me give you a simple of example of anchoring the boat:

  • Turn on the anchor unit, called a windlass (whoever is nearest)
  • Open the anchor locker and secure it open. There’s often a hose or rope over the anchor so you need to make sure the chain can feed out without obstacles. (whoever gets to the locker first does this – Loryn or me)
  • Drop the anchor and ensure it’s going out correctly (Kim)
  • Watch the anchor feed out and communicate between the helmsperson (Simon) and the anchor dropper (Kim) about depth, direction and whether or not to hover or head in reverse (Loryn)
  • Once we’re all happy the anchor is set and enough chain is out, we relieve the anchor unit from pressure by hooking a rope to the chain and tying it off on a cleat. This creates slack between the rope and anchor unit (Loryn)
  • Raise the anchor ball – it’s a plastic ball that you attached to a line coming from the mast to hoist up. It notifies surrounding boats that we’re at anchor (Kim).
  • Close the anchor door and return the winch if used (whoever gets to it first).

When we first started, we had no clue about anchoring. We’d drop the anchor and hope it held! We certainly didn’t communicate and no one knew who was doing what.

We couldn’t really discuss our observations because we didn’t know what we were looking for. Now, our confidence has increased and we feel comfortable doing what we’re doing AND doing things with each other. And when I say all this, it goes for all our tasks – not just anchoring.

Even though things are normalizing, we’re still saying ‘pinch me, I think I’m dreaming’

At least once every couple weeks, my cousin and I go off-road and hike around to see what we can find. While in Sicily, we went for a run that turned into an hour-long rock-climb, during our stay on the island of Cephalonia we accidently went on a 10km hike (read this article The Magic of Fiscardo) and just yesterday we climbed to the top of the hill behind us and carried on until we circumnavigated the island we’re currently on.

If you were a fly on the wall, you’d hear us say over and over, ‘WOW – look at the view,’ or ‘Oh my gosh, how beautiful is that?’ And we always announce at some point, ‘I don’t think I could be any more grateful for being able to experience this!’

My cousin and I have agreed that no matter how often we walk in nature we’ll never get sick of it. We love the views, the smells and the feel of walking amongst the trees and rocks.

On our recent walking adventure, we navigated between narrow walkways, crowded by Greek homes, climbing higher and higher to find a clock tower, an ancient windmill, a few churches and some absolutely amazing views.

Poros Greece

Poros Greece

Poros Greece
Poros Greece

Poros Greece

Poros Greece

Poros Greece

Poros Greece

Poros

Poros

Every day is such a present!

We never know where we’re going to be, who we’re going to be with or what we’ll actually do. A few days before we visited Olympia, where the first Olympics were held during the 10th century BC, I didn’t even know the ancient site even existed! (Read my article Running The Stadium Track at Olympia Greece, Where The Olympics First Started in the 10th Century BC).

Even when we chill out for the day to clean up, do laundry and lounge around the boat, we sit around smiling and feeling absolute gratitude for our surroundings.

But life, by no means, is perfect!

We all still have good and bad days. Some days I just don’t feel very good. Some days Sienna doesn’t want to behave very well. On a few occasions I just want to be alone, but I can’t.

I still get headaches, have down days and want to lay in bed all day

So, although our dreams have come true and we are living life to fullest, it’s not all rosy. We argue, get annoyed with each other and get moody. My husband gets frustrated and feels that my cousin and I gang up on him. I get mad at my husband for playing a game on the iPad rather than washing up. Life’s annoyances carry on…but at least they carry on in an amazing setting. Furthermore, we do have good and bad days but our good days are AMAZING and our bad days aren’t that bad at all.

So – we’re now entering our 4th month of sailing around the world and I’m happy to report that our expectations have been surpassed. I wouldn’t want to be any other place doing any other thing. For the first time in my life, if you asked me ‘what would you do if you won the lottery,’ my response would be, ‘absolutely nothing other than what I’m doing right this very moment!’

I wonder if I can carry on living life to the fullest? We’ll have to see what comes next…

Woooo woooo.

Next up is this…Leaving the rat race to sail around the world…is enlightenment on the cards too?!

Travelling through the Corinth Canal during a Gale Force 8

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

The Corinthian Canal is a passage, created back in 1882 and 1883, that connects the Ionian Sea to the Aegean. Rather than travelling south around the Peloponnese, you can pay a handsome fee to cut through Greece and pop out near Athens. Around 12,000 boats pass through the narrow canal each year including small boats through to tankers and large cruise ships.

Previous to the canal being in place, the ancients used to drag ships across the land on a paved road

I’ve been told that on the north side you can still see remnants of the road. Throughout history the Greeks and Romans drew up plans to create a canal but the task was too difficult.

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

In the late 1800’s the French started on the Canal and the Greeks finished it

For as long as I can remember, my husband always wanted to voyage through the Corinthian Canal so the lead up to the event filled us all with anticipation.

The night before our planned canal transit, and knowing that gale force winds were predicted, we anchored in the northeast area of the Corinth Bay, about 1 mile north of the canal entrance.

We anchored with our friends, Jim and Carole on sailboat Nepenthe while our friends on Horizon went towards Corinth to see if they could get a spot on the quayside. Horizon radioed us to let us know they got the last spot so we had to make due with our anchorage.

Around 9pm the winds started and they were forecasted to increase to 7’s and 8’s (30 to 40 knots of wind or up to 50 mph) by 3am in the morning. When anchored in normal conditions the boat swings around the anchor chain usually swinging no more than 180 degrees with the bow facing the wind. If the wind changes, the boat may swing right around. When things are calm, it’s a very slow paced swing and it’s easy to ignore the movement. And at times, the boat barely swings at all!

When gales hit a boat on an anchor it’s a totally different experience – it’s somewhat scary!

Depending where the boat is on its swing and when the wind hits the boat you can experience different things. The worst is when the wind hits the side or beam of the boat and the boat gets slightly pushed over while it swings quite violently around the anchor chain. The background view spins around!

And it’s not the pushing and spinning motion that freaks me out the most

What keeps me up all night long is the possibility that our anchor may pull loose causing us to drift towards land or out to sea! If other boats are close by, that increases my anxiety. There’s a chance that their anchor may come lose and hit us!

Under normal conditions I sleep fine but during gale force winds I find it difficult to get real sleep. I catnap and whenever I hear the winds hit us, I pop up and look for spots on land that I’ve earmarked.

On the evening prior to our Corinthian Canal transit we had gale force winds and a boat anchored too close to us for comfort. My husband and I slept in the cockpit so that we could keep a constant anchor watch. Around 4am I went to bed while my husband stayed up.

At 5:30am we started our discussions with sailboat Nepenthe and sailboat Horizons about the weather and the necessary requirements to enter the canal. No one on Britcan or Nepenthe slept very well and more winds were forecasted. Horizons at least had the comfort of knowing they were tied down. Carole on Nepenthe suggested that an anchorage on the other side of the canal would provide us with a safer harbor. We chatted over channel 71 for a while and decided it was best for us anchored boats to make a move. The crew on Horizons chose to stay put and wait for the winds to die down.

We were exhausted but the idea of going through the canal gave us all the energy we needed to get going

When reading more about the canal I discovered that boats enter in one direction in convoy until they’re all through and then the authorities open up the other end. So, boats go from west to east and then the east boats go through to the west. Apparently, the canal is open 24 hours a day every day accept Tuesday. On Tuesdays necessary repairs are made to the canal.

After reading the Greece Pilot Book for sailors, we called the required VHS channel 11, using the callsign ‘Isthmia Pilot’ asking for permission to make the transit. My husband made the call on behalf of Britican and Nepenthe. The Corinthian Canal radio operator told us to, ‘leave your anchorage and call us when you’re ½ mile from the canal entrance.’

By 7am we were pulling up or anchors and pointing our boats towards the entrance of the canal. For some reasons I thought there would be locks or gates but upon arrival you could see straight through the canal to the other side!

Being only a few kilometres the trip wasn’t going to take too long

My husband entered between the red and green navigation lights and I noticed that a road was closed and a bridge reclined to prevent traffic from crossing the canal. Jim on Nepenthe (pictured below) radioed us to slow down a bit as the waters were rough. Upon entering the canal we were still experience gale force winds. Water was slashing up onto the deck and I kept having to work fast to protect my cameras.

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

We slowed down as we entered calm waters in the canal. Not long after, the authorities radioed us to speed up. For the amount we had to pay to transit the canal I think we all wanted to last for quite a while. While between the two high cliffs we felt absolutely no wind – it was blissful. The sun was coming up, the water was like glass, my daughter was enjoying breakfast and we all felt absolute awe as we motored down the beautiful Corinthian Canal.

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

I took around 200 photos – several of Nepenthe and several of the journey. I was surprised by how narrow the canal was. And I didn’t realize that the cliffs would be so high on either side.

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Seeing the elation on my husbands face, I had to take a video!

But where are the steps the workers used to get out of the canal?

On my SailingBritican Facebook page a friend sent me a note saying to ‘make sure to take photos of the steps the workers used to get out.’ I wasn’t sure what he was talking about and after traveling for quite some distance I didn’t see any steps.

Eventually I discovered what I was looking for. See the pictures to show how the canal creators entered and exited the canal back in the 1800’s.

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Aside from high cliffs on either side and calm waters in front of us, there wasn’t much to obstruct our view. I took some photo’s of the rock, shrubs, Britican’s shadow and all of the crew enjoying the passage. And we went under a railroad bridge and some car bridges.

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

When coming to the end of the Corinthian Canal we moored up on our starboard side (right side). I jumped off, got us tied down and then ran back to Nepenthe to take their bow line. Simon from Britican and Carole from Nepenthe jumped off with the boat papers and went to the office to pay our dues. Our bill came to 347 euros to go 3.2 miles.

The Corinthian Canal is one of the most expensive stretches of water!

My daughter, Sienna, and I took a walk around the area looking at the views. She found a twig from a palm tree that looked like a witches broom. When she got on it and tried her best to will it to fly, I had to explain that it must have dead batteries!

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Being nosey, Sienna and I then wandered into the offices where Simon and Carole sat showing their documentation. As usual, the staff member saw Sienna and gave her a huge smile. He went to a drawer and pulled out a whole package of Oreo Cookies. We all enjoyed them back on the boat.

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Feeling pressure to get off the wall within the exit of the canal, we slipped our lines and headed towards our new mooring in Kalamaki. Thankfully, the winds died down quite a bit and we felt more secure in the new bay. Although Kalamaki wasn’t very picturesque it was a more comfortable anchorage and we could watch all the boats entering and exiting the canal.

Around 1pm, Jim on Nepenthe radioed Vince on Horizons to tell them that the winds died down. He enquired if the crew might decided to come join us in Kalamaki for a 4th of July celebration.

After a bit of convincing, Horizons cast off, traveled through the Corinthian Canal and met us in the bay. We invited everyone over for a spaghetti meal, some wine and lots of good cheer.

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Corinthian Canal

Carole on Nepenthe brought one of her no-egg, stove-top upside-down cakes that we all love. Jim made some popcorn and Horizons brought a fruit salad. We gathered around the table trading stories, laughing and enjoying everyone’s company.

Many people often remark that ‘it must be so isolating living on a boat,’ and once again this story demonstrates that it’s anything but isolating. No matter where we’re sailing we run into someone we know or quickly meet new friends. Never in my life have I had such an active social life!

When the grown-ups got tired they took their dinghies back to their boats. Sierra, a 9 year old from Horizons, decided to stay longer to watch the movie ‘Flushed Away,’ with my daughter Sienna. The two girls have enjoyed playing together for several days now. As I type this, we’re sailing to Nicos Poros and Sierra and Sienna are downstairs playing Barbies. Perhaps tonight, Sienna will hang out with the Horizon crew.

So, our Corinthian Canal voyage was enjoyed with friends, combined with an American holiday and started off with force 8 gusts of wind – what an experience. One that my family, friends and I will hold in our hearts forever.

Next article: Journey update: Three months into our around-the-world adventure – will we carry on?

Running the stadium track at Olympia Greece, where the Olympics first started in the 10th century BC

A few days before our arrival to the Peloponnese in Greece, I had no knowledge of what we’d find nor did I expect anything of particular significance. As I’ve written before, for the first time in my life I seem to live each day as it comes. In the past month, the most I’ve speculated about the future is that, at some point, we’ll get to Athens and see the acropolis. And at some point, we’ll eventually head across the Atlantic and keep going around the world. Anything in between will be an interesting treat.

After an enjoyable month of island hopping in the Ionian Sea, and after spending a month in Sicily and after we started our adventure with a trip from Gibratlar to Malta… we decided it was time to make our way along mainland Greece, towards Athens and into the Aegean Sea. Our plan was to cut above the Peloponnese through the Corinthian Canal. Prior to our plan, I had no idea that there was a canal that separated mainland Greece from the Peloponnese!

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

On a Sunday evening, about one hour out of Patras, Greece’s 3rd largest city, we radioed the Patras Harbormaster looking for a berth. We were direct to a commercial quayside in front of a £20 million super yacht and a tugboat. Lucky for us, our new friends Jim and Carole were nearby and they walked over to help us dock. It’s always nice to enter a new place knowing that you have an extra pair of hands, if needed. (Read ‘Couple sets off for a 3 year around the world sailing trip – 15 years later they’re still going!’)

While heading towards Patras, my husband says ‘who wants to see where the Olympics started – in Olympia Greece?’

Of course, we all said ‘me, me, me, me.’ It wasn’t that long ago that my husband, daughter and I stood in front of the butchers on the Aylesbury town center high street to watch the Olympic torch make it’s way through England. And the picture of my daughter holding the Olympic torch is also fresh in my mind. One of the parents associated to her per-school had a connection and all the kids were able to hold one of the torches and get their photograph taken!

At the time of the Olympics in England we had no idea that we’d visit Olympia Greece nor did we have any inclination that we’d be living on a boat and traveling around the world.

Thanks to information from Jim and Carole, we choose to rent a car rather than take a 4 hour bus trip! With a crew of five, it was actually the same price as a bus and took 3 hours less. My husband rented a care and my daughter, cousin, father-in-law and I headed off to Olympia.

Not knowing what to expect, I was immediately blown away by what is called the ‘Sanctuary at Olympia.’ Dating back to the 10th century BC, the area flourished until 426 AD when the emperor Theodosius II closed all ancient sanctuaries.

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

My eye’s walked down a very lush road and entered into the archeological site to see descriptive plaques, columns, building outlines, Greek works, Roman works and the site of one of the ancient wonders of the world! Above is a photo of my husband and daughter standing next to the entrance plaque. We saw the spot where the great statue of Zeus was located! Bonus – I wasn’t expecting to see the spot of an ancient wonder of the world. Below, my cousin is modeling in front of where the ancient wonder once stood.

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

The highlight of the visit was having my whole family run across the stadium

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Bar my father-in-law, we all ran the distance of the track that naked Greek men ran all those thousands of years ago. Yes – the first Olympic games were performed by men only and they were naked! Women were not allowed to watch let along partake in the events.

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

The area filled with trees, flowers and lush green countryside was littered with ruins – including mosaics. Most ruins had a plaque in English showing an image of what it looked like back in the day so it wasn’t difficult to imagine the spectacular beauty of the sanctuary.

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

At each plaque, Sienna would point out what the building looked like and we’d read out what it was for. One ruin was a Gymnasium where athletes trained for running events and the pentathlon. Another building was called the Palestra where the sportsmen trained for wrestling, boxing and jumping. There was a place for the priests of Olympia, Baths, a Council Chamber and a Temple of Hera along with the Alter of Zeus and the Temple of Zeus. The place is huge!

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Above is a picture of what the ancient wonder of the world looked like

And, of course, there was the Stadium. This is the bit that my family and I ran across as if we were competing in the running races. See my face below – that’s how happy I was to run the stadium! The stadium did not have seats but it easily held 45,000 spectators along the grassy upslope sides.

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

After taking several pictures and saying ‘wow,’ a thousand times, we all headed to a little café before proceeding to the museum. At this point, I was a bit tired and a museum didn’t sound all that appealing.

We had some snacks, and ice tea and a sweet and proceeded to the museum. Never in my life have I been so blown away by what I saw. When I visit museums I usually feel overwhelmed and overloaded. There’s stuff all over the place and I can’t concentrate on anything.

Well…the museum at Olympia is different

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

It’s small yet the impact is profound. After walking into the main doors and passing the small-scale 3-D model of the grounds, you walk into a hall that has the actual pediments from the temple of Zeus. The pediments are the triangular tops of the front façade of a building. The bit you look up to upon entering.

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

The actual pediments were reconstructed in the large hall and it was amazing to see what it really looked like! Yes, some heads were missing and various bits were not present but there was enough there to give you a first hand experience of what the building must have looked like in it’s hay day.

I had to pinch myself because I just couldn’t believe something like this existed

As I carried on through the museum, my eyes smiled at larger that life-size statues, metal objects, pottery and more. My daughter, Sienna, kept finding more and more goodies. She’d come up to me and say, ‘Mom – close your eyes…’ She’d then lead me to a statue or glass window and say, ‘Okay – open them now!’

Olympia Greece

Olympia Greece

Each time I opened my eye’s I felt this amazing gratitude to be able to see such wonders

The whole day was surreal. I suppose it’s a good thing that I don’t think ahead and don’t know what I’m going to see and do. Perhaps if I did know what I’d find at Olympia it might have been anticlimactic? I’m not sure…

The one tip I’d give, however, is that I would have preferred to have done the museum first and the archeological site second. That way I’d be better able to place the museum pieces to the appropriate buildings.

By 8pm, it was time to head back to the boat. I stopped off in the town to buy my daughter a sticker book and kids book on mythology and how the Olympics started. Secretly, I couldn’t wait to read it for my own benefit!

Seeing Olympia and running across the very first Olympic stadium, just as the Greeks did during the 10th Century BC was a definite top 100 highlight of my life. And I know my family also enjoyed the experience immensely. If you’re sailing around the Peloponnese, this is a must-do experience.

Corfu Town is not ‘nice’ and this is why – More about sailing around the Greek Ionian Islands

Corfu Town

Corfu Town

Our original visit to the main city of Corfu Town on the Greek Ionian Island of Corfu was by taxi rather than by boat. While our yacht was safely moored at Gouvia Marina, about 10 miles north, we packed our backpacks and headed into the city. Read my article entitled, ‘Sailing Around The Greek Ionian Islands’ to hear more about Gouvia Marina and our first thoughts of entering Greek waters.

Being new to the area, we didn’t know if we could moor at Corfu Town so we took a nice little taxi ride to the city center. It might sound surprising, but going in a car has become a novelty for us. We are almost always sailing or walking so having a car journey is fun.

My family and I have often discussed how we value things that we took for granted in the past. Read my article, ‘I can’t get anything I want anytime I want it,’ to read more about our greater appreciation for the simple things in life.

The one thing, however, that I am consistently grateful for is our ability to visit the most remarkable sights – Corfu Town being one of them!

Several people have told me that Corfu Town is ‘nice,’ but that just doesn’t do it justice

Corfu Town is beautiful, magical, colorful, enchanting and down-right special!

Corfu Town

Corfu Town

After the taxi driver dropped us off, my family and I started to wonder through the narrow streets lined with restaurants, bakeries, butchers and tourist shops. Corfu Town is most definitely a tourist destination so the shops all hold the same made-in-China goods you find at any other tourist place, however, the shop fronts are at least in keeping with the style of the old city feeling.

I did, however, discovered quite a few one-off shops selling clothing, art, jewelry and a variety of knick-knacks. Those are the shops I enjoy looking at!

Corfu Town

Corfu Town

Our first port of call was small little café for lunch – the picture above is me and hubby waiting for our food. While walking along the main street we peered up a side-street towards a square filled with restaurants, a church, official building and beautifully laid tables and chairs.

We stopped at the first café we found and pulled up a pew. The colors of the trees and shrubs drew me in – I immediately saw deep fuchsia, yellow and pinks amongst a beautifully laid out piazza. And there stood the most fantastic palm tree ever (pictured below)!

Corfu Town

Corfu Town

After a bit of discussion, we ordered a meat platter containing chicken & pork slouvaki, turkey burgers, and lamb in addition to a Greek salad and some fries. While waiting for our food, a wedding finished at the church next door and we were able to admire a beautiful bride and groom. Even though I had no clue who the newlyweds were my heart filled with loved and I silently wished them an incredible life together.

Our food came and went quickly. We devoured it with our usual moo’ing sounds. Mmmmmmmm. It was outstanding. How do we always get such amazing meals? Perhaps we’re easily pleased or…we’re so grateful for food that our gratitude creates more opportunities for more good food. Like attracts like – doesn’t it?

My family and I played around taking photo’s of each other. We were all smiles. Our next stop was the seafront and the old fort. We looked out over a beautifully blue bay and cast our eyes on several sailboats moored at the foot of the old fort. The old fort in Corfu town was built by the Venetians and used by the British as a military hospital when Britain ruled Corfu.

Corfu Town

Corfu Town

After seeing the sailboats anchored, I turned to my husband and said, ‘can we anchor there?! Can we? Can we?’ Of course, his response was a ‘yes.’

We took some photo’s and made our way to the fort. We had a ball walking along the walls, enjoying the views and absorbing the history. The breeze was nice and the walk up to the top wasn’t too difficult. Once we got to the end, we enjoyed a panoramic view over the Ionian Sea and Corfu Town.

Corfu Town

Corfu Town

My eye’s smiled with delight

Thereafter, we made our way through the town again thinking that we must spend another day or two taking a slower browse in the cute little shops. Back to the boat went and the next day we were anchored next to the Old Fort. It was great to be anchored – I no longer enjoy the marinas. They’re expensive, crowded, noisy and impersonal. The very top photo shows our boat, Britican, anchored next to the Old Fort but we’re also amongst all the others below.

Corfu Town

Corfu Town

We anchored next to Corfu Town for a couple days

And it’s a good thing we did! We met two of the most incredible people in the world – Jim and Carole. See my write up entitled, ‘Couple sets off for a 3 year around the world sailing trip – 15 years later they’re still going!’ for more about them!

Corfu Town

Corfu Town

While anchored, we took the tender out and pulled our daughter and my cousin around in a tube. All of us jumped off the back of the boat and enjoyed swimming over to our lovely neighbors.

I can’t explain how amazing it feels to wake up, open up our door at the top of our stairs and look up to a historical fort alongside the most bluest waters I’ve seen. Every morning I had to pinch myself and express my gratitude for being able to sleep under the stars next to the incredible Corfu Town.

Corfu Town

Corfu Town

Needing a SIM card, printer, USB stick and a wireless keyboard, my husband dropped my cousin and I off for a trip to the town by ourselves. We were like to little kids let out alone for the first time. We got our chores done – a quick visit to Vodafone to sort out our Wifi and then a visit to Publix, a computer store and we were done.

Corfu Town

Corfu Town

After we had our goods, we decided to get lost in the backstreets of Corfu Town

We walked down the backstreets enjoying the sites and smells of Corfu Town. And of course, we looked over the made-in-China stuff in addition to the handmade offerings.

Being without my daughter for the first time in months gave me the opportunity to dawdle, spend time looking at what I wanted to look at and stop off for a nice glass of wine! My cousin and I wandered around laughing and chatting about all sorts – it was a nice little girly break.

We tried to find a non-touristy place to eat lunch and settled on ‘Slouvaki King’

Hehehehehe. It was probably the most touristy place to go but the wine, food and service were great. It was another perfect day.

A few things to note about Corfu Town…

There’s a high street that has many British stores. I found an M&S in addition to other Brit stores. If you want to spend some time shopping, there’s quite a few boutique stores. The food seemed reasonable – we avoided the places that had the really nice table clothes, as the prices seemed higher.

We decided where to eat based on how well the tables were laid out!

One thing that was a bit bothersome where the cruise ships, but that can be said about any destination. When a cruise ship came in the town was flooded with people wearing stickers with numbers on them. I imagine it was their identification badge for the ship and wondered if it caused the locals to instantly add 30% to the price of things too! If you see a cruise ship, wait until it’s gone and then enjoy the city!

Corfu Town

Corfu Town

Overall, I loved Corfu Town

Visiting the city would make a great weekend break and if you holiday in Corfu for a week or two, it’s a must to see. We found the food, people, history and sights to be excellent!

So…Corfu Town is not ‘nice’ it’s far better than that. My family and I had a brilliant time and we all highly recommend a visit.

Keep reading…this is the next article in the Journey thread: Travelling through the Corinthian Canal during a Gale Force 8

Can you believe that I can’t get anything I want anytime I want it ?


Can you believe that I can’t get anything I want

Who would have thought that moving from a land based life to  living full time aboard a yacht would make me see the light? Already, only a few months into our around-the-world sailing adventure I’ve realised that I took cars, food and water for granted.

Read on and find out how living on a boat has given me a new appreciation for the simple things in life…

Travelling by car has become a novelty for us

While living on a boat, our main mode of transportation is sailing, motoring (getting places using our engine rather than sails) and when on land, it’s walking. If you’ve never been sailing before it’s important for me to point out that it’s a very, very slow mode of transportation. We average about 8 miles per hour when under sail or using our engine.

In very winding conditions, we might hit 12 miles per hour. People often think that when we use our engine we can go fast, but that’s not true. At top speed, using our engine, and depending on the tide, wind, etc. we go about 8 miles per hour.

When I get into a car now I get a somewhat giddy feeling

My stomach experiences little butterflies – it’s as if I’m on a rollercoaster and am experiencing the feeling you get when you go fast down that first hill. I think the feeling comes from the fact that I’m just not use to going fast anymore. Travelling at 60 miles per hour is no longer a daily activity…in fact, I’m lucky to hit the speed once a month now!

Not only does it feel amazing to travel at a speed faster than 8 miles per hour, but also a car offers different views. On the boat, we’re usually looking at wide-open blue expanses of water in addition to miles of coastline or quaint little harbors. On occasion we’ll moor up in a city but our view is one of the city rather than being in the city and looking out.

Can you believe

Can you believe

We’re currently in Patras, the third largest city in Greece. As I type this, I’m in our cockpit, moored up next to a 350’ cruise ship with a 100’ luxury motor yacht behind me and a gullet sailboat in front of me. I can see a bit of the city front – a few hotels and apartments – but 50% of my view is blue water, a break wall and mountains. No matter where we are, we’re surrounded by boats and water!

Getting in a car, we see land, countryside, towns, stores and everything that we used to see when we lived on land. Never did I expect to enjoy being in a car as much as I do now.

And being in a car isn’t the only think I took for granted…

Can you believe that I can’t get any food I want at any time I want it?

We discovered in Italy and now in Greece that you can only get seasonal vegetables. For the first time in my life, I can’t go out and get green beans and parsnips. I can’t get in the mood for a papaya and then simply stroll to the local supermarket and find one!

We have to settle for carrots, onions, celery (sometimes), tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, eggplant and lettuce. And on the fruit front, we can only get one variety of apples, bananas, oranges, cherry’s, pears and a pineapple if we’re lucky. (I say this all tongue in cheek)

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining…I’m actually loving it

I come from a country where I can get anything I want anytime I want it. If I want an avocado in February at 3am in the morning, I can surely find and buy one in my hometown of Rochester, NY or in my most recent residence in the UK. Grocery stores are open 24 hours a day and they stock all fruit and vegetables – whether they’re in season or not.

Like the joy of riding in a car, now that I can’t get the variety of foods I’m use to I’m appreciating food in a totally different way.

First of all, it’s actually nice not having everything

It allows me to appreciate and miss things. For example, while in Sicily for over a month, it was impossible to find bacon. You just couldn’t get it. When we first arrived in Greece and saw bacon at the restaurants and at the butchers we were overjoyed.

For me, a breakfast without bacon just isn’t a breakfast at all. When we fried some bacon up, the smell permeated every cell of my body and I couldn’t wait to take a bite of the crispy slice of heaven. My family all sat around the table and we devoured a whole pack of bacon. It was absolute bliss.

Not having bacon made me appreciate it even more when I did get it.

Second, all the meat and vegetables that I am getting are in season, fresh and locally sourced

Everything we eat tastes incredible. The vegetables are full of flavor. Tomatoes have this deep, rich and slightly sweet taste – they don’t taste like slightly flavored pulpy water like the tomatoes you get in America or the UK.

The meat tastes natural. Now I’m not sure how to really explain what I mean by ‘natural,’ but when I eat it I feel as if it’s clean…it hasn’t been tampered with. I don’t think the animals are fed growth hormone feed nor do I think anything is done with the meat when it’s butchered to prolong its shelf life.

Just last week I went to a butcher on a Greek island and asked for 2 kilo’s of ground beef. The woman behind the counter went into a back room, pulled out a huge chunk of beef and then pushed it into a grinder. It’s the first time in my life that I saw my ground beef/mince being made right in front of me. Back in the UK, I remember a report coming out saying that the ground beef/mince that we eat has the DNA of 200 different cows. It was great to know that I was eating the mince from one cow! And the taste was outstanding. We made Greek Hamburgers (get the recipe in our using our Britican Galley Greek Blend) and a Shepards Pie type dish.

Aside from the limited supply and the amazing tastes, we’ve also had an issue finding supermarkets and when we do find them, we’ve had issues finding them open!

In the Mediterranean shops open around 9 am, close for a few hours around lunch when it gets hot and then are often open until 9 or 10pm at night. In some places, stores are all closed on a particular day like Wednesday and nothing is open on Sundays.

It often feels like when we finally get to know a place we move on. We’ve learned to prepare for all eventualities. On board, we always carry enough food to last several days and every time we see a place to get milk, we get it. The mere fact that we can’t get anything anytime we want it makes us appreciate what we can get when we get it. And that leads me to…

“What do you mean we’re already out of water?”

Living aboard a boat causes a massive appreciate for water. Never have I been in a situation where water wasn’t fresh and readily available 24 hours day/ 7 days a week!

Let me explain the water situation we have on the boat

We are very fortunate to have a 1000 litre tank. Furthermore, we have a water maker that takes salt water and turns it into fresh water.

That being said, maintaining our fresh water supply is always a daily topic of conversation. The water maker can make drinkable water, but you must draw seawater from a location far out to sea. In the Med, we don’t have that option so we simply make water for showering, doing dishes and so forth. We buy bottle water to drink.

While moored at a marina or on a quayside there’s often fresh water available and we’ll top up our tank. And when we’re sailing, we’ll run the water maker which is a necessary task to keep it clean. In other words, we must run the water maker every week – otherwise, bacteria grows and creates a problem. It takes about 1 hour to make 100 liters of fresh water and we must run our generator to power it.

With 5 people on board, we can use 1000 litres water in a couple days

If everyone takes a shower, we do some laundry and of course the dishes, it’s gone. Furthermore, our daughter won’t shower unless the water is tepid to warm (who can blame her) so we waste water waiting for the hot water to make it to the shower.

Some of the ‘fresh water’ supplies on the quaysides are not fresh so we can’t depend on them. Sometimes the water we’re traveling through isn’t clean enough for us to pick up for the water maker.

That being said, when we shower we get wet, turn the water off, lather up and rinse

And in a future article I’ll write about how veteran world cruising sailor, Carol, recently taught me how to bathe myself with 6 cups of water – coming soon! (For more on Carol, read my article: Couple sets off for a 3 year around the world sailing trip – 15 years later they’re still going!)

When we brush our teeth, we wouldn’t dare think of letting the water run. When we do the dishes we do so using the least amount of water. And when it comes to laundry, we all try to wear our clothes for as many days as possible. Back in England I used to wear a couple outfits in one day and they’d be put in the dirty clothes bag – nowadays I’ll wear one outfit for 3 days!

I wonder what would happen to our fresh water reserves if we all stopped taking water for granted

I think it’s a lesson that will change my water consumption habits for life.

So…can you believe that I can’t get anything I want anytime I want it? And you know what…it’s GREAT. It’s helped me to slow down a bit and to appreciate the simple things in life… and that can’t be bad.