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ORANGE IS THE NEW PHAFF

This is the first sailing blog in the Med for over two years. Normally the first entry would be stuff about where we’re going, what we’re planning and something about the boat. But the world has changed A LOT!

Before I start I have to say we feel incredibly lucky and fortunate, we are well and vaccinated, our family and friends are well and vaccinated, so compared with many we are comparatively un-touched by the effects of COVID and very thankful for that.


I’m writing this blog on the plane to Greece, Kos which in particular is important as you’ll read in a bit. Greece is on the Amber list, which if you listen to government ministers on the telly, puts us firmly on the naughty step and there will probably be people who think we shouldn’t be on this plane. However it’s not as simple as that and it feels like we’ve been on a proper journey already.


Our chums already know the story of how we got here so feel free to skip the next bit if we’ve bored you with it before. We booked this holiday in September 2019 for June 2020, never thinking there was any risk we wouldn’t go, but then 2020 happened. In May 2020 we re-booked for May 2021, again thinking all would be well by then. May 2021 arrives, Greece is Amber, so we try to re-book again but we’re only given until the end of the year. September onwards is out because Ellison is having an operation on her foot, so that leaves June and the first part of July that have any availability. So we re-book but change the yacht charter from Paros to Kos because there are rumours that some Greek islands, including Kos may go Green first.


June 7th arrives and there is no change to the Green list with government ministers saying you shouldn’t travel to Greece for leisure. We think we’re in trouble and have lost the holiday along with the money it cost, but then we check the Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCDO) who are advising something completely different! Low and behold the advice is not to go to Greece but that KOS is OK for non-essential purposes:

This changes things dramatically, firstly the yacht charter company are now taking a much harder line – your boat is here, use it or lose it! Our travel insurance, based on FCDO advice, is valid. So after much thought we decide to go, the islands are almost COVID free, most people (the Greek government prioritized the islands and leisure industry staff) are vaccinated, we are vaccinated and the flight is direct to KOS.


We’re not complaining, but the phaff to this point has been significant. There have been cancellations and re-booking of yacht charters, flights and accommodation several times. And if anyone wants a flight from Athens to London on June 21st, we have tickets which you’re welcome to as we can’t get Ryanair to give us our money back.


There is also the phaff of travelling to an amber country, COVID status via the NHS app, Personal Locator Forms (PLF) into Greece and back into the UK, a PCR test before we get onto the plane back to the UK, self isolation for 10 days and a home PCR test on day 2 and day 8, of which you have to provide proof that you’ve ordered before getting on the plane back.


Having done all of this we were expecting the journey through the airport this morning to be full of red-tape, long queues and stern looks before being told to wait for the plane on the naughty step. Nothing could be further from the truth. We uploaded all of our documentation to the BA web site to achieve a big green tick on our boarding pass which meant checking in and security, other than wearing a mask and hand sanitizing was completely normal. We felt very safe – Heathrow was much less busy than Morrison’s or Lidl’s on any day of the week! So hopefully you understand why we’re here, and once again I cannot stress enough how lucky we feel.


So no more of that, our chums can start reading again, and here's a couple of pictures that were are so magical after such a long time of not travelling abroad.




Through all the re-booking palaver, our sailing chums managed to get a credit for their boat (different company) and we decided we would swap for a slightly bigger boat in KOS and sail together. This is a first for the 4 of us together on a boat and may be a pre-amble to similar future occurrences. 4 on a boat makes lots of things easier to deal with, especially parking, which is becoming more problematic as we get older.


So we have a Benneteau 41 for 2 weeks then we’re swapping for a Jenneau 410 for a week (we couldn’t get a boat for 3 weeks. Both are (41’), 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and plenty big enough for the 4 of us. They’re both white plastic yachts that you’d struggle to tell apart but both are lovely and we can’t wait!


Just a little bit about the sailing area, which is a group of islands called the Dodecanese (because there’s 12 islands) that are about 150 miles from Athens and at their closest 5 miles from Turkey. The Dodecanese feature two islands you will have heard of, Kos and Rhodes, some you might have heard of like Symi and some you’re unlikely to know such as Chalki and Astypalaia. As with all Greek islands (we’re biased) they’re all lovely. Here's a map of the Dodecanes.



We have a plan for 3 weeks and which, because of weather, we’re unlikely to stick to. But anyhow it’s good to have a plan. So the first stop from KOS is a short hop north to Kalymnos, then west about 40 miles West to Astypalaia. We have failed on two previous sailing trips in the Cyclades to get to Astypalaia because the prevailing northerly winds have prevented us. However we’re now going East to West across the prevailing winds which for anyone who sails is just the ticket!


We’ll loiter in Astypalaia for at least 2 or 3 days then head off East to Nissiros or Tilos before heading north to Symi, then down to Chalki back to Nissiros or Tilos before returning to Kos to swap boats. The last week seems some way off other than a vague plan to go north, exploring a couple of islands on the way before heading back south to KOS. At this point, if the wind is still the prevailing northerly, we’ll have a lovely run back to KOS with the wind behind us.


Good to have a plan, but of course it’ll never happen! Tomorrow is shopping, boat handover and hopefully departure from KOS. Might just do a very short blog with an annoying picture of the yacht on turquoise water under a blue sky.


I normally finish a blog with Yammas (cheers in Greek), but will prefix it today with –


Stay safe,


Yamas

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2 Comments


mebayley
Jun 19, 2021

I hope you both (and your sailing chums) have a wonderful time

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Unknown member
Jun 19, 2021

Lovely Jubly! As the newly non-elected minister of us, I officialy advise you to step down off the naughty step. You have peered carefully through the clouds of hot air puffed out by Boris and been very sensible despite his waffle, not because of it. You've taken your fully vaccinated selves through an airport and onto a yacht where the ventilation, I hear is superior one of Boris' party polital broadcasts mascurading as press conferences. Have a lovely time xxx

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