Wednesday 26th August 2009
Only 3nm to Halkida where we have to tie up and wait for the bridge to open at sometime between 2200 and 0400. We were alongside the town quay by 10.30, avoiding some very nasty metal protrusions which would definitely not do Scott-Free's topsides a lot of good!
The bridge at Halkida which we had to wait for
We set off to find the Port Police with whom we had to register and pay a fee to pass through the bridge. We'd been told it had moved to this side of the bridge, but when we couldn't find it and asked for directions, were told it was on the other side. We duly found a Port police building on the other side and were duly told it was back where we had started! Eventually we found the right place and were told to come back after 15:00 when the officer of the watch would be on duty! We walked around the town, had a nice lunch, bought a computer fan for the watermaker pump and went back to the boat and sat in the cockpit watching the world go by. Steve went back and registered with the Port Police and paid 18 euros fee and was told we should be ready from 22:00 and that the bridge would probably open at 12:30. It is only open for half an hour at the most and we all have to be ready to go or we could miss our slot. He was also told that if we were the only boat wanting to go through, the bridge would not open!
As we waited, however, another four yachts joined us, and we could see boats waiting the other side of the bridge to come North, so we were pretty certain it would open. At 22:00 we made our lines ready to slip - as we were being blown on to the quay we had to rig a bow spring so that we would be able to spring off into the wind. Just after midnight we were called on the VHF and told to start our transit, so having asked the guy parked in front to let off our spring at the last minute, we started to slip. As the bow moved out from the quay, we saw that he had disappeared and there was noone to let go the line! He reappeared just in time (cigarette in hand!) and let our line goand we joined the line of boats waiting to go through. We're not really sure what happened next as it appeared to be a bit of a bunfight as boats went through at will, despite hearing the Port Police telling people to wait. We called up on the VHF and got clearance and went through without incident. Once on the other side, however, it was difficult to make out where to go as the bright lights of the town around the bridge had wrecked our night vision. We were hooted by a pilot vessel as he steamed past and can only assume we were in his way! We had intended going into the Halkida Yacht Club and mooring for the night, but as the entrance was not obvious in the dark decided instead to anchor in the bay along with three of the other yachts. We soon had the anchor down, and after all the excitement decided we needed a nightcap before we could go to sleep. It certainly wasn't the strictly controlled passage that we had been led to believe!
Thursday 27th August 2009
Next morning we could easily make out the entrance to the yacht club and so we weighed anchor and moved there. We plugged into electricity for the first time since Skopelos Town and gave the boat a really good wash down with their free water. We had hoped we might get some info from the locals about jobs we wanted to get done on the boat and a launderette, but there was noone around all day until early evening, and then they seemed so put out by the fact that we had inadvertently not parked on the visitors pontoon (which was not marked as such and had been full when we arrived anyway) that we didn't feel it appropriate to ask for help. Even the guy we had met in Limni who had said we should go to the yacht club was not particularly friendly. We had a drink at the yacht club bar and smiled and sail hello to several people, but none stopped to talk. Maybe it was a language thing, but in Turkey it doesn't seem to stop them chatting. This is a big difference we have found between the Greeks and the Turks - the Greeks are not at all friendly whereas the Turks are sometimes overly so.