Vathoudi to Volos

We weren’t originally planning to go into Volos as once the storm had passed we intended to head to the Sporades and cruise round Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonnisos before heading up towards Thessaloniki.  However, as tends to happen frequently, plans change and we decided it made sense to try and properly fix the dinghy as there were several Yamaha dealers in Volos according to the internet.

We pulled up the anchor around mid-day and left Vathoudi on a course straight for Volos and immediately we were in the middle of the remnants of the storm with the churned up sea once you got out of the protection of the bay.  We remember why we always say that after a storm, you should stay put for a day longer than you think you need to …. the sea always take an extra day after the wind has died down.  It was not a major issue though – just a bit choppy and we had the wind on a close starboard reach at around 12-15 knots – for some reason, Ed didn’t want to put the sails up so we bounced and rolled around – I think he thought it was much closer than it was!

At around 15h45 we were approaching Volos and one of the Yamaha dealers we had found was actually located in a small village, a few miles before the main town – his premises were on the sea front so we decided to try and anchor in front of there and go in with the dinghy to see if he had the spares we needed.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be impossible as the anchor wouldn’t set in the heavy weed plus there was nowhere we could gain land access with the dinghy ….. we therefore decided the easiest way was just to head into the harbour and work it out from there.

The Port of Volos is a major commercial port and until the severe earthquakes in the 1950’s it was almost as important as Piraeus for shipping – it is also a ferry port, and a fishing harbour – meaning there are various “sections” to the harbour, all of which is enclosed with a breakwater.  This means the views are not quite as pretty as we would normally see – but the sunset over the cranes of the commercial port does still have something!

On reading the cruising guides from Rod Heikel as well as Noonsite – the two most respected guides for cruisers – we were a bit dubious as to whether there would be space in Volos.  Everyone said it was busy and full of local boats and that the only likely place to moor would be on the southern breakwater, on dodgy laid lines – and even more worrying, the breakwater was the hang-out for the local youth with yacht damages and break-ins being reports, as well as being the local drug centre!

Fortunately, when we got there, these reports turned out to be exagerations and whilst it is true that the very long southern breakwater (it’s 1.2km long!) IS a popular hangout with the local youth, they are mostly at the end closest to the town and don’t seem to be doing any harm as far as we can make out.  They come onto the pier in the evenings and chat, meet their friends and canoodle with their girls …. it’s also a place where couples and families go to take exercise, jogging or walking the length of the pier.  Walking into town in the evenings, we could smell hash being smoked a few times but there was no evidence of any other drug abuse and certainly nothing sinister.

We were happy that we could moor alongside – as this meant we didn’t have to drop our dinghy and didn’t have the invasion of privacy you get when on a med moored town quay where you can reach out and touch your neighbour.  When we arrived, there were three French yachts alongside on the 1.2 km length of breakwater – we had all the space in the world!  The town quay itself also had plenty of space available and we could have moored there if we wished – although the depths close by the dockside are not very much, so we preferred to go alongside on the pier.

The dockside of the breakwater is very low – so fenders need to be touching the water – and you also need to REALLY watch out for the mooring rings!  These are big old things which are so rusty they hardly move – and they protrude from the dock so if you don’t make sure you have your fenders in the right place you’ll end up with one through the side of the boat.  Inside the harbour, the water is generally flat and you’re protected from the afternoon swell outside in the bay – however, Volos is a ferry port and there are three ferries continually going in and out – Skiathos Express twice a day, and a high speed catamaran and a jet ferry.  They all create big swells which hit the southern breakwater – nothing that is dangerous, but can catch you unawares.

The breakwater and the town quay remained pretty empty all the time we were there – and it is mid July so you would expect it to be peak period.  However, Volos does not seem to have much in the way of tourism – the sea front has bars from end to end, but we couldn’t find a single taverna or restaurant!  They must be somewhere, but all we could find were fast food places in the streets behind and small supermarkets.

It turned out that the Yamaha dealers listed in Volos itself were not marine engine distributors but motorcycles – the only marine distributor was the one we had tried to moor outside.  We called them and they agreed to deliver the impellor we needed to the boat – but the thermostat was not in stock, and had to be ordered.  Over the weekend, I caught up with some work and tried to catch up on filling in the old blog posts – and Ed took to baking.  He made some amazing bread rolls (which we promptly consumed 🙂 and a sultana loaf which was delicious as well!  The bread-maker is a real boon on board …

We also had a bit of excitement as there was a fire on the mountains above Volos – this is a common occurrence in Greece (and other hot countries) and can be caused by someone being careless with a cigarette end, or by a piece of glass igniting the dry bushes in the sun.  We’ve seen this many times before in various places over the years, but it is still amazing to watch the fire planes swoop down over the sea and gather up water while they skim along the surface and then take off to loop around to the fire and drop it from the air.  In this particular case, it was over reasonably quickly – but we have seen these guys busy for hours sometimes!

The parts finally came in on Tuesday 11th and were delivered to us late in the evening – Ed spent Wednesday working on the dinghy and all was fine – and we went into the mast to tighten the bolt on the radar dome which had come loose.  Ed has been unable to get in the mast the last few times he has tried as his legs are just too much in the way – so this time, I decided to give it a go (despite my fear of heights!) and succeeded …. major tick in my book and we got some of it on film ….. 

On Thursday, we cleaned the boat, serviced the generator and did a few outstanding maintenance jobs and prepared to leave first thing on Friday morning – there is a meltemi forecast for Monday and we’d like to get to a bay to lay at anchor while we sit that out, and not have to sit in the harbour!

Unfortunately, when we woke on Friday morning the wind seems to have arrived early with 18-20 knots blowing and the sea outside the harbour wall chopping up to 1-2 metres, so we aren’t going anywhere for the moment.  The sea is crashing over the breakwater and we are rocking and rolling all over the place ….. this never seems to be as dramatic as it is in reality when you take it on film!

We’ll be getting out of here as soon as we can … but for now we’re stuck inside with spray crashing over the roof and I guess it’s more Max Burgers at the local fast food joint tonight 🙂

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