The day of our arrival we spent preparing Freja for the trip together with Lasse and Lisa. In the evening also Mats and Sussi arrived and we had a good dinner at our favourite restaurant before hitting the sack, it had been a long day for all of us. Sunday morning we left the harbour early for the close by bay Ormos Thorikou where we had breakfast and a swim in the warm clear water. Wonderful after the bad summer in Sweden. Now the trip started and the goal was Skiathos in the Sporades islands.
The recommendation was to go on the inside of Evia and avoid going north through the strong currents in Steno Kafirea between Evia and Andros. But we also had to make sure that the bridge in Khalkis would open the evening we got there and that we were on time. We called ahead before leaving Lavrion and got a positive confirmation but then we almost arrived too late, it was a close call and we raced against the clock all afternoon and early evening and just made it.
The reason we were late was due to strong head winds on the first day which prevented us from reaching our target the Boufalos bay. Instead we found a good place in Ormos Animboriou on Evia. The unfavourable winds continued also the next day and since Freya's engine is a bit on the weak side with only 27 horse powers we had to tack against the wind with engine and the main sail set. When the wind increased we decided to sail and set the Genoa jib. Then the knot holding the port sheet became undone and we had to retreat behind a small island to make repairs and lost more time. Now the race started. We had information that we needed to report to the Port Authority and pay the fee latest by 20:00h. At 19:45h as we passed the high bridge south of Khalkis I called them (22210 28888) to say we were late but got the reassuring answer that they were open 24/7. Still we had to hurry not to miss the bridge opening that evening. We made it but with very little time to spare.
Passing the bridge was an interesting event. We first left the Khalkis marina and moved to the bay on the mainland side. There I did a radio check as ordered on the VHF channel 12 (first time we ever used the VHF) and my 18 years old knowledge of radio communication from the UN mission in Syria/Israel/Lebanon clicked in automatically "Port Authority Khalkis Sailing Yacht Freja calling, radio check over" etc. Some 5 other private boats and a small freighter were waiting in the dark to pass the bridge which by the way has been there in various forms for some 3000 years! Quite soon some communication in Greek came over the radio and the freighter started moving and then the boats were called up one by one and told to move forward. The bridge is in the middle of Khalkis which meant that we had a lot of spectators watching and cameras were going off both from the boats and the shores as we passed the open bridge.
After passing the bridge we found a spot on the town quay some 400m north of the bridge where we moored for the night. The next day we continued to Limni, a small nice town on Evia. Headwinds as always so the tacking took us all the way to a long bay on the mainland where we had a very Swedish lunch on pickled herring, potatoes, beer and Danish snaps and lots of dips in the warm water. Entering the port i Limni was a bit exiting as the entrance normally is very narrow and requires a 90 degree turn according to the Greek Waters Pilot but this time 3 rather big fishing boats were moored on both the inside and outside of the pier making it impossible to see where we going until the very last ½ minute or so.
To be continued.....