Week 98 - One year aboard Matilda

Kefalonia and one full year aboard Matilda exploring Greece.

Week 98 - One year aboard Matilda
A lot of people enjoy having gardens full of lovely flowers.

Kefalonia and one full year aboard Matilda exploring Greece.

Strange little anniversaries pop up all the time, “oh it’s a year since we were at Ancient Olympia” or “it’s been a full year since we put an offer on Matilda”. Sometimes though, they feel more significant. It’s now exactly twelve months since we launched Matilda into the water for the first time. It feels more momentous in a lot of ways than say mid-August, which is the anniversary of arriving in Greece for example. The goal was never to just move to Greece — it was to buy a boat and live aboard.

12 months on at the helm.

If there’s one thing that’s really surprised me, it’s been how long things take to complete. A lot has changed in that 12 months. The list of things we’ve repaired, upgraded or replaced on Matilda is fairly significant. We’ve also removed a lot too — stripping out things that we didn’t use, spares that weren’t needed or just things that aren’t to our taste. And yet, we still haven’t completed everything — we have new blinds to replace the curtains waiting for us in Lefkada.

I joked on Facebook about upgrading the captain a bit too in that time. Both Karina and I have learnt a thing or two since then as well. Twelve months ago I wrote:

There are a few days in your lives where you learn more in 24 hours than most times of your life. Perhaps it’s your first driving lesson, or the first time on campus at University, or a new job. You know that things are going to be confusing and you just have to get through it. You know that in a week or two, you’ll look back and think — why was that even an issue! But in the moment, you have to accept that it’s going to be overwhelming and you just have to be OK with that.

Twelve months on, looking back at that, I largely agree — it will all make sense. But I also get why things are an issue. Take having a shower for example, it’s non-trivial and completely different from on land:

  1. Make sure the freshwater pump is on.
  2. Make sure the shower sump is turned on.
  3. Want hot water? Make sure you’ve either run the engines or the generator for an hour before showering.
  4. Freshwater isn’t free — got enough water for that shower you want to take?
  5. Got the right products? It’s got to be ocean friendly as it goes over the side.
  6. And then something breaks — bilge pumps are going off, everything stinks… yup the shower sump float switch has failed again…

Over time it becomes second nature and you don’t really think about it, but it’s not a remotely straight forward process at all.

With over 2,000 nautical miles under our belts and around 350 hours travelled, we’re very comfortable navigating Matilda now. But there’s still new things to be learnt all the time. Every region is slightly different, there’s new ports, new weather patterns and new conditions to adapt to. Each time we get more experienced and familiar. Things that would have bothered us twelve months ago barely rate a mention now. We’re both much more confident and capable with the skills to handle a lot of the situations we come across. An important part of that is cross-skilling too — it’s easy to always take the same role but we’re making sure that we both get practice anchoring, docking and manoeuvring Matilda.

Perhaps one thing that’s been surprising is also enjoying time away from the boat. After all, isn’t this like being on holiday? While we frequently experience change and adventure, it’s also a pleasure to relax into an apartment and know that the weather isn’t a concern, the shower just works and the hot water is always on too. Like any lifestyle, a break from the regular is always healthy — it’s just that in our case, that the break is actually doing the regular for a while instead of the unusual!

This week has turned out largely as predicted. We’ve taken it fairly easy, cruising slowly around Kefalonia and hiding out from the weather. It’s also a good chance to catch up on some people maintenance too!

My prescription sunglasses delaminated/were damaged and not possible to see through anymore, so I needed to get new lenses. This then involved going to the ophthalmologist for an eye test to get a prescription as I couldn’t find my old one. They gave me a good checking over, including dilating my pupils which was rather brutal walking back outside in 38C weather, glaring white marble and eyes that wouldn’t close anymore and no sunglasses. I basically spent the next four hours walking around with my eyes closed. The new lenses arrived yesterday, so tomorrow (Monday) we’ll rent a car and drive over to Argostolion to collect them.

Poros port on Kefalonia. We were able to side-tie which is always a treat!

We spent a couple of nights in Poros where we met a lovely New Zealand couple who are also cruising in a trawler, so that was fun to get to know them and enjoy a beer one evening. Then it was on up to Sami.

Kefalonia (and the Ionian in general) is different from the Cyclades and the Aegean as everything is covered in trees and green.

The latest COVID wave is causing some concerns everywhere and there’s talk of possible restrictions again here although nothing formal has been announced, but the Greek Government opened up the fourth dose (second booster) to everyone over 30. We thought it would be a good idea and we managed to figure out how to set the system in a way that we could get into a clinic in Sami. It was a good thing the weather’s been bad as that booster kicked both of our butts. A day of very achy limbs and feeling tired, so we just hung out on the boat doing not much. All good now though and we appreciate being fully vaccinated again — I’m looking forward to the development of annual boosters though.

Routes of the ancient mariners — we are following in the footsteps of others from 1000’s of years before.

Sami is a nice little port, reasonably well sheltered (the waves can crash over the breakwater when it gets really severe) and with good facilities. We toured the local archeological museum which was interesting and gave a good history of the region. Like any well sheltered port, it’s been popular for a very long time and there’s evidence of people living here since almost 2000BC.

We always enjoy the evening “Harbour Cinema”, last night’s turned a little more dramatic than normal when a boat which was having trouble reversing to the dock with the wind caught its propellor on the anchor chain of the boat next to it. There was a huge “crunch” and the engine stopped. The next three hours was a great example of the real camaraderie of the sailing community as a group of us came together to secure their boat (get some long lines out to hold them in place, get a second anchor out), secure the boat that had it’s anchor caught from hitting the dock and then work with them to help untangle the mess under the water. Eventually (and with the help of the local port diver) the boat was freed and we were able to pull it back into the slip. It was an important reminder that things can go wrong quickly, but also the benefits of that twelve months of experience — there were a few “tricks” we’ve learnt along the way we were able to share and when spares were needed for various things, we had them to hand.

We also enjoyed the (very brief) visit to the Mellisani Caves (The Cave of the Nymphs) which is a deep sink hole (like a Mexican Cenote) that combines fresh and salt water together. Apparently the water enters over near Argostolion (to the west) and travels under the mountains for two weeks where it emerges here, combined with freshwater and then drains into the sea on the east coast.

Next up this week, we’ll continue to explore Kefalonia and Ithaca (the island next door) and then start to think about heading further north towards Lefkas. We’re booked into Lefkada Marina from the 27th — 2.5 weeks from now and have flights arranged to Munich where we’ll be taking a break from the boat for a few weeks.

Want to see where we are, or check where we’ve been? Check us out on NoForeignLand https://www.noforeignland.com/boat/matilda

Until next time!

Tim & Karina