Kos, Greece

Vasco da Gama
Ian Strathcarron
Thu 3 Sep 2009 12:03

The chief blogateer – Gillian – is busy writing her cook book, so she has sent for her understudy from the Deep to keep all abreast of news from abroad.

Abroad at the moment is the Greek island of Kos, a long Island with a short name, and one that is hard for even the most disobliging of us to mispronounce, especially after practicing on all those lettuces down the markets over the years. Kos is almost the most easterly of the Greek islands, and snuggles up to a large bay, across shallow water, at the head of which lies Bodrum in Turkey a few miles away – and looking at us now.

In spite of having an airport Kos is a successful low rise resort, befriended disproportionately by our euro-friends from Holland. They speak good English, each one is jolly enough for two, and chubbalub distractedly along the waterfront; on the beach it’s clogs'n'kit-off for the great white wobble, but all in good part; in the marina all is earnest endeavour, more Rotterdam than Amsterdam. Ashore there are Hellenistic and Roman ruins, and the spot where Hippocrates first took his own oath. There’s even a half hearted mosque, but no ghastly tannoy racket from the muezzin at 5.00 a.m. - or later for that matter.

We are in the marina, and very pleased to be here too as it has been a bit wild out there for the last three weeks. There’s a summer wind in the Aegean called the Meltemi, a determined northerly fellow caused by the convergence of the Asian summer monsoon low over Pakistan and the mid-Atlantic summer high over the Azores. They meet and blow, as some folks do. The Meltemi can blow from June to September all day, every day, or just in the mornings, or just in the evenings, or sometimes it can’t be bothered to blow at all; it is as hard to predict as a Greek taxi-driver when you ask about the meter, and for the last two years has been sporadic and light-hearted. This year it has been back with a vengeance, and holed-up charter skippers tell us ruefully it has blown day and night for eight weeks.

Each Aegean quay or anchorage fills up with yachts waiting for the Meltemi to run out of puff, and when it dies down to around Force 4, everyone ups and gallants off to the next shelter before it catches its breath and resumes at 6s or 7s. At least the passages are fast – and it is always hot and sunny, and the spray sparkles as it speeds by, sprinkling the Speedos and spliffs – or so I’m told.

Life in the marina has a different, more tied-up pace. On our first night here we had a private party until the next day and the next night we watched Zorba the Greek. Yesterday morning I was practicing on the pontoon: de-dum/left skip, right kick – de-dum, right skip/left kick - diddly-dum, forward skip, left twirl – diddle-diddle-dum, backward skip, right twirl; then blue strobe lights – someone must have called the police. Two of them, one big and hairy, the other small with specs, jumped out of an old blue striped Alfa 33. I jumped back on board Vasco and employed gunboat diplomacy – apparently I’m on British soil on a British flagged yacht. At first I tried to blame the Dutchman on the boat next door, but I’d been caught in flagrante delicto and my denials were undeniable.

Anglo-Greek relations became strained when the fat one told me: ‘Verboten, schweinhund. Morris dancing verboten’.

‘I don’t speak German. I don’t understand. And I wasn’t Morris dancing,’ I countered, with some aplomb one would hope.

‘I thought you said you didn’t understand, pigdog.’ He put his hand on his pistol and rolled up nearer.

‘Well, Morris, I understand, Morris, the word Morris. Anyway that wasn’t Morris, that was Zorba,’ I insisted and started beating my chest in anguish– not sure why.

‘Ha!’ he said, ‘If you Zorba, me Tarzan.’

Quick as a flash I said: ‘If you Tarzan, me Jane!’

‘Exactly’ he laughed, ‘you pisspoor Jane and you big girl’s blouse Morris pooftah!’ Cheeky sod.

With equilibrium regained this weekend we are going to watch the European beach volley ball championships. It’s right here in the marina. They’ve covered the car parks with imported sand – has to be special sand we’re told. My main interest in beach volley ball is the topless women’s section, and I asked at Visitors Reception on which court they would be cavorting, and when, and how much discount could I have for a front-row-centre season ticket. They asked my name and boat name, and I said Rip van Winkle from the boat Dutch Auction. They huddled together and made a phone call. Next I saw some more blue lights flashing in the distance, then a siren’s wail, then a familiar old blue and rust Alfa 33 speeding towards us. I gathered up my infra-red binoculars, old mac, stolen cushion and grubby notebook, and volley balled it back to Vasco ‘tout de flambé suite’ as my old mucker Barry ‘Bazza’ Mackenzie would have put it. I’m safe in here now, typing this as it happens, but need to be careful round this marina from now – one more slip and I’ll be as stuffed as a Greek vine leaf in a plate of meze.

Luckily tomorrow we are moving to the old harbour in Kos town which should be fun too, then at some stage generally drift over to Turkey and head south and east for the winter, probably cause some trouble over there too.


p.s. sorry about the old homepage that is still on the strathcarrons-ahoy website - I won't be able to fix it until we are back in UK end-September and I'm re-united with the laptop.