Week 189: Matilda is a boat again!

Matilda is a boat once again -- our first two trips of the season.

Week 189: Matilda is a boat again!
Matilda being a boat

There's a period in winter when Matilda stops feeling like a boat and feels more like an unstable apartment. It is simply a place to live and sleep on the water, full of inconveniences that don't make sense for a normal apartment.

The living space contracts into two rooms because the outside is unpleasant. We have to fill the water tanks (which is never fun when it's cold, wet and windy) or go to shore to use the toilets and the shower block. Maybe it's the diesel heater, which sounds like a jet engine taking off. Then, of course, there's the endless winter maintenance. Boats over winter can be "not fun".

Wisteria is blooming

Which makes spring a delight! The marina has continued to wake from its winter slumber. Each day this week, it's been obvious that there are more and more people around. Boats are returning into the water (not always a good thing – the first "party group" returned, popped their boat in the water, and then played loud music into the night). The maintenance workers are reappearing from wherever they hibernated over winter. More and more boats are moving back and forward through the slips. Life is returning (along with ridiculous amounts of pollen!)

Sunday was a recovery day after far too much delicious meat at the dinner the night before, as well as sleeping after all our travel in Türkiye with Sarah and Peter. We needed to recover our energy to gear up for this week ahead!

The mechanics returned on Monday, and the last of the engine maintenance was complete. Our power steering fluid was re-pressurised, and the generator service was finished. We were ready to go!

Of course, there was some inevitable paperwork to be done, the Greek eTepai or cruising tax and retrieving our documents from the port authority. Both of which were far easier than expected. Karina cleaned Tilly the tender and I helped Frank (watched Frank mostly), one of the other liveaboards here, change the watermaker membrane.

On Tuesday afternoon, we mused over the weather and decided to go for it! Ignacio joined us on board for our first cruise of the season, and Matilda is once again a boat. We headed north a few miles and stopped behind a small island for lunch then returned back to the marina and were very proud of ourselves for remembering how to dock.

Like all shakedown cruises, there were a few small things. We forgot to turn on the engine blowers when we got underway and hadn't yet put out the courtesy flags. But that was it.

Wednesday night there were sundowners out the end of the pier with the other liveaboards. We're all getting ready to start our cruising now. It was fun to hang out for what might be the last time, as many of them are leaving this week.

Sundowners on the pier

On Thursday morning, we slept in a little, and then we headed out for a two-day cruise. This time, we went further afield and took Matilda down to Plomari, on the south of Lesvos. We wanted to visit the Ouzo Museum and explore that town a bit further. We were the only visiting boat in the harbour and were able to side tie. A terrible night's sleep – that particular harbour is renowned for its lack of protection. Even with the wind in the "correct" direction for shelter, it was still very rocky inside.

Plomari is a fascinating village to spend some time in. It was a very wealthy town that used to be on the trade route between Asia and Europe but is now a much smaller, sleepy village. There are a huge number of impressive houses and mansions that are abandoned, and it seems like for sale signs are on at least 50% of them. The Planatas area, really a separate small village that's connected to Plomari now, is fun to wander through.

After a poor night's sleep, we headed to The World of Ouzo museum for Plomari Ouzo—probably the most famous Greek brand of Ouzo, made here under a special EU-protected designation.


Several people had told us that it was worth a visit and they were right. Despite the challenge of finding our way into the factory site, when we were there, it was a delight. The tour guide welcomed us, greeted us with ouzo-infused water and loukoumi and then, after a brief introductory video, gave a factory tour. Then, it was back to the museum to taste the ouzo and generous lashings of cheese, bread and olives. In many ways, this is the "best of Greece", a very generous and delightful experience that leaves a great impression.

After the tour, we left the harbour and headed back towards Mytilini and the anchorage of Skala Loutra. It was a little windy and two other boats (Cooinda and Tulia from the marina) were already there, so we found a spot a little south that was still protected that we could have to ourselves. With all the socialising the last few weeks, a bit of down time alone on the water was just the tonic we needed!

It was an amazing experience. The sun was shining, it was not too hot (still not warm enough for us to swim, although it's becoming tempting), and we enjoyed relaxing. Being on anchor in a calm anchorage is really a wonderful experience—the boat spinning around slowly in the wind and the view changing out the window all the time.

We might have stayed a second night, but the weather was not as promising today, so we made the choice to return back to the marina while it was calm. This had the selfish bonus of meaning that on Sunday, we could sleep in and relax, not have to jump up and race back before the weather arrived.

And that's the week! We're back to being a boat again. There's a doctor's visit on Tuesday (which is part of the reason for returning), and now the weather looks to be unfavourable, so we might end up stuck here for a few more days. But as soon as we can, we'll be back cruising the islands a bit and exploring Greece. Roll on season 2024.

Sunday morning pancakes, this time with a lovely gift from Frank and Loretta for Karina. Dutch syrup for pancakes.

Until next time

Tim & Karina

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Amazon.com: Merit the Name eBook : Miller, Reirin: Kindle Store

PS Our friend has published her first book "Merit the Name"; a mystery thriller set in a corrupt LA. If you enjoy thrillers, Karina is still part way through but says it's very enjoyable to read with lots of delightful language and makes her smile. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CW1H33R9