Sunday 21st October (Trafalgar day)
We left the boat in Agios Nikolaos marina and returned home to the UK on the 20th of July. The daily temperatures were soaring above 32 degrees C so we were finding it very warm and had to have the air conditioning unit on most of the time. Arriving in the UK was very pleasant,and it appeared we had brought the good weather with us as we had several weeks of sunny days which meant the Olympic Games went off with a real bang with very little rain disruption!
Our time at home passed all too quickly and we arrived back here in Crete on the 25th of September. The transfer courtesy of Resort- hoppa was a private taxi so we were in the marina in under an hour from Heraklion. Not so for our guests who used this company later in the month-more to follow.
The boat was fine and we soon had everything up and running; we hired a car did a shop, cleaned the boat and then drove to Heraklion airport to collect Bertie and Gerry who arrived on the 27th for a 12 day stay. Returning via Knossos (which was really interesting) but it was a very hot day and after 2 hours with the 'guide' we bailed out and returned to the car to get back to Ag. Nik. We had a super time with B and G taking them in the car to see a couple of the ancient sites near-bye and then we motored sailed up to Spinalonga lagoon for a few nights of anchoring and swimming off the boat etc. On one day we moved the boat to anchor directly off the island of Spinalonga and went ashore in the dinghy to explore this former leper colony. having read Victoria Hislop's book 'The Island' it was all the more poignant to see where the inhabitants had to live etc. The weather was glorious and we were able to swim every day either from the boat or when we were back in the marina from the near-by beach.
We tried a couple of new restaurants and particularly enjoyed Despina at Elounda on the bay near to where all the boats anchor on the road out of town going towards Plaka. Graham and Suzanne Nye arrived on the 4th of October and stayed for 3 nights at a lovely Apartotel on the next beach to where the marina is situated called the 'Mare'; they strongly recommended it as being very comfortable and good value; with the added attraction of a small swimming pool for an early morning dip. On the Sunday (7th of October) B and G were leaving and Suzanne and Graham were moving on board the boat so we decided to make use of the marina BBQ facilities situated at the end of our pontoon rather than try to cook on board. We had a lovely evening and were able to watch for the transport arriving to take B and G off to Heraklion airport. This duly arrived - a private taxi again and they were whisked off. However when they arrived the lady driver wanted 75 Euros - which of course they refused to pay as they had already paid for the transfer through Resorthoppa. She stomped crossly off with the paperwork never to return!
Nicky another friend from Shoreham also came to visit and she too used Resorthoppa - her flight arrived around 1800 and she had paid for a speedy transfer (guaranteed only 4 stops). This however did not happen - she was the last to be dropped off after 9 stops and a 2.5 hour journey! needless to say she will be complaining and we shan't be using this company again. Nicky stayed at the Mantraki Apartotel which overlooks the marina. The owners here were delightful and the small apartment very comfortable and just a couple of minutes walk from the marina.
Since the departure of our guests we have made a start on the winterising jobs on the boat. The marina has filled up very fast and there are virtually no spaces left so when new boats arrive they are moved around a bit as other boats lift out for the winter. We are pleased we got here when we did and have a good secure berth on c pontoon with nice strong lazy lines. The various activities that run throughout the winter are beginning to start up - some of the live-aboards have been here for several years so there are plenty of things going on if you want to join in. Singing, painting, computing and bridge are on the list for me to date and we may try the odd walk though it will depend on the length and terrain as by all accounts they are often up very steep hills on rough ground!
When we were in the UK we visited the Southampton Boat show and afterwards decided to buy a new charging system for our batteries. The Fuel Cell is due to arrive here in Crete any day so we now have to decide where it will be best to fit it and then get some help with the installation. Thankfully there are several friendly chaps around who will be willing and able to assist Rob including Martyn from Sandpiper (a boat we wintered with in Alanya in 2010). The old batteries have been giving us grief all season and we finally decided to get a new set so they were installed on Friday and seem to be working a treat. The wind generator has not been working since Folegandros so we were in touch with Marlec (the original supplier) when we were home. They supplied us with a fault finding manual but so far we haven't managed to crack the problem despite Bertie helping Rob to do various things. One or two other maintenance jobs have to be done this winter including changing the 'saildrive' engine oil and flushing out and replacing the engine cooling water. In addition we have a broken valve handle on the outlet from the holding tank. This too has to be replaced but can't be done until we lift out.
The weather has taken a turn for the worse and we are getting strong winds just now - sometimes with gusts around 30 knots here in the marina. The next few days are fore-casted to be unsettled and probably some rain as well - ah well I guess lazing on the beach every afternoon had to come to an end at some stage!
We will be having the boat lifted out on or around the 30th of November and have booked a small apartment near to the marina for a week so we can work on the boat but live a-shore (much better from my point of view). We fly back to the UK on the 8th of December and look forward to catching up with everyone during our stay over the winter months.
Thanks for reading this year's blog - next year we plan to be in new cruising grounds in the Ionian and Adriatic!