We lifted Harmonica out of the water on Mar 14th and noted, to our surprise and delight that she weighed 14000 Kg. almost excatly the design displacement even with the tanks half full and our cruising gear on board. The guages on the travel lift must be suspected, but most boats were coming out over-weight as expected.
A nucleus of cruisers stayed in the marina throughout the winter, and the first 2 boats (both Dutch) have already left. It is the first time we have stayed long enough in one place to feel part of such a community, and we hope to meet up again in unforseen anchorages. Every Sunday there is a BBQ on the tiny beach. This will stop in mid-April when the restaurant behind the beach reopens and would probably object to the questionable quality of music tendered towards the end of the afternoon. (Voice, guitars, recorders, accordians, Irish whistles, banjo, & HARMONICA). There is also a "Happy Hour" in the bar every Thursday, which creates a meeting time for those living aboard. Through March numbers have swelled from 6 or 10 people up to about 30-odd, increased by returning sailors, and by guests & families down from Northern Europe for Easter. There have been some bad coughs & colds going around (not helped by the heavy smoking & the coal stoves of the local buildings). One New Zealander has caught pneumonia and got hustled off to a rented appartment by a French doctor while the rest of us finished painting his boat. This work taught us a new phrase: "Do it like a dutch farmer" means "If there is a more awkward way to do a job then use it".
We have had time to explore the small farming villages nearby. We watched as trout that we bought from the local trout farm were prepared for us to BBQ. The bay leaves stuffed inside the fish came from the tree beside the stream. Most families in the villages have one cow, one sheep, one goat and a few chicken. Most animals have offspring at this time of year. The women in traditional dress (headscarf, baggy pants, skirt and sweater) take the animals to nearby terraces to graze for the day. In the winter, the women carry, on their backs, large bundles of branches from high up the mountain sides. Fine vegetable gardens are being dug and planted in the rich soil (it is not so evident what the men do!). Everywhere looks vividly green with bright wild flowers.....many red poppies and many colours of wild anenomes. Almond and apricot trees are in blossom. A pair of storks are nesting on the top of a telegraph pole near the road. Bees are buzzing in and out of the many lines of blue boxes which are beehives. After one wet walk we ended up in the village cafe where the older men were playing tile rummy and drinking tea with the wood stove roaring in the middle of the room. Life seems simple...what stress there is seems to be relieved by playing with worry beads. Everyone has a friendly "Merhaba" (hallo) as we pass.
The days are lengthening and while some flowers are drooping, others replace them. Pollen from pine trees has created a yellow dust everywhere (Pine honey is lovely). We have woken recently to sparrows singing in the flowering mimosa trees beside the boat.
Back in the water yesterday and not many jobs left to do. The PSS packing gland on the prop. shaft has not leaked a drop (All we are waiting for now is to see whether we sleep calmly in mid-ocean knowing that we rely on one neoprene boot to keep the water out). We bought a bigger anchor of the popular german "Bugle" design and the windless motor is rebuilt again. All our chain is regalvenized. Next week we should have our spinnaker returned one panel shorter, & our new locally-made rigid boom vang fitted (thanks for the suggestions Rick).
We were going to leave for Cyprus today, but we're still doing odd jobs (happilly) because the port police have run out of transit log forms & won't let us out!
best wishes to allJan & Dave