Sunday, 3 August 2014

The nitty gritty

A tentative hand on the helm

Enki parked off the southern entrance to Port Gaios, Paxos

We didn't have a plan for after we picked up Claudia, other than to let our new crew find her feet and then...make a new plan. Head back down to Levkas and Cephalonia, we thought. She'd like that. Cross to Sicily with the next full moon.  Perhaps. What we didn't take into account though was the washing machine. (PICTURE BREAK - just so you don't get bored. A Corfu wedding. Totally random. No photos of washing machine available).

At first it didn't seem such a big deal that the washing machine was playing up. Alex applied silicon. That worked for a while. The rubbery-smelling steam went away. Then it came back. The barrel started to shake violently in its case, a level of vibration which didn't seem so safe in a fibreglass boat. So, it was back to the bucket and suds. What's wrong with that? Good for the soul, a bit of handwringing. And in a hot wind, everything dries practically before you've pegged it out. I could manage. I was sure I could.

But you know the skipper. He starts thinking, and once he's in problem-solving mode, he won't be deterred. He doesn't like broken things. They offend his sense of order. That meant either getting it fixed, or buying another one. Either way, we had to sort it in Corfu.  Only on this island where everything is so much more glamorous than anywhere else we've been in Greece would we find a washing machine small enough to fit on a boat. Perhaps. (ANOTHER PICTURE DIVERSION - Alex's photos are too good not to share)

Getting the thing repaired didn't add up (we do a lot of adding up). It's not only that our Candy front loader (3.5 kg dry load) is nine years old and has spent its life surrounded by salt water. Tight doesn't begin to describe the space it occupies in a cupboard in the shower recess in the forward head. We could hear the repair man's euro meter ticking.

So tomorrow, all going well, a van and two men from Electronet, one of three electrical goods stores on the road from Corfu town to the well-heeled north-east coast, will deliver a new machine to Enki at Gouvia marina. What happens next is what we don't really want to think about too much, though we've done all the measurements and we're as good as sure that we (and the two men) can get the old machine out and the new one in. If we can't, then...we make a new plan.

Corfu old town - lane and laundry
We like Corfu, all of us. The town, and even the island itself, feels more Italian than Greek which is not surprising since it belonged to  the naval republic of Venice for 400 years, from end of the 14th century until Napoleon snatched it in 1797. The old fortress is mostly Venetian work, though the British added some nice touches like a hospital and a classically-inspired church. The British, who inherited the island when they beat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo,  were here for a surprisingly short time, only 60 years or so. But British empire builders were good at getting things done. Their very grand admin centre, the palace of St George and St Michael, was built by the second governor, Thomas Maitland, who also instituted a new elite division for over-achievers, the Order of St George and St Michael (KCMG). The emblems of the order are painted on the palace ceiling. All very camp, if you look at the costume jewellery and satin finery from a certain angle in their glass cases.

Someone's badge of honour

Luscious water
British bannister (see below)

Palace of St George and St Michael
Looking out from the old fortress to Corfu channel

Inside the old fortress

Corfu cityscapes (and below)

Taramasalata - the best ever tasted

Mandraki harbour, beneath the fortress - very small
There's really nowhere to tie up in Corfu, if you don't belong to a yacht club or own an out-sized private vessel like Topaz which, 147 meters long and rising seven levels above the water, doesn't look out of place in the cruise ship port.  The rest of us anchor off under the fortress or near Gouvia marina a few miles north of the town. We've done our time in both places, watching the show-off lights shimmer up the masts and under the hulls of superyachts and bouncing on the wake of tenders, some bigger than an average charter yacht, ferrying well-dressed passengers into town for dinner. It's a ritzy part of the world, Corfu and its small neighbour to the south, Paxos.

Too close - that's our stay

Too close here too - the yacht moved

Town transport for the super yacht
Motor vessel called Guilty, with exterior by Jeff Koons

Whatever the size of your craft, you share the water equally. That's what we're here for. Greek water.  Its shifting colour is hard to capture, as is the density of Greek light which makes what you see - its landscape and towns - so much more than the sum of their parts. There's a summer mood here which is so idle, so charmed, that you almost forgive the super-rich their ludicrous indulgences. They are part of the landscape in July and August.

This is anyone's to enjoy - around Paxos island

Enki and the light

Corn seller in Port Gaios

Summer gal


  1. The Ionian islands look breathtakingly beautiful. I've never sailed to Greece before, but I'm now putting it up on the top of my bucket list, after reading much of your adventures. All the photos you took are amazing, each with its individual charm. Thank you so much for sharing them. I hope you don't meet any more problems with your appliances. Hahaha! All the best!

    Kent Garner @ White's Marine Center

    1. Thanks for your comment, Kent...suggest you put a note on the bucket list to come to the Ionian outside of high season though. Try June or September. Clean clothes hanging on the line as I write!