Gawd, what a night! The bay we were anchored in turned out to be plagued by large wind gusts off the land and A B Sea lurched around all night as the wind hit her from different directions. I awoke at one point when I heard a different noise, which turned out to be the anchor lifting as a gust moved us quickly in a 180 degree arc. The boat dragged anchor for a few metres before it eventually reset itself into the sand. By that time Baz and I were both awake and so unnerved in case it happened again, that neither of us really slept after that.
We were in the dogleg shaped bay of Lipsi, one of the Dodecanese islands. The bay is quite large with the main harbour situated on the inside. We’d read in the 2004 edition of the Greek Waters Pilot guide that the small bay off the chapel in the northern side would afford good shelter from the meltemi. Our boat’s chart plotter also had a note that there were strong gusts coming into the bay close by. We went with the first recommendation and found in practise that those gusts can cause a yacht to dance around enough to lift the anchor. That is quite an achievement considering we have an over-specked Mantus anchor and shows just how powerful nature can be.
On the search for data
Groggy eyed the next morning, we decided to head to the bay on the south of the island that looked on the charts to be a better anchorage. First though, Baz headed into town to get a Greek Cosmote sim and extra data. We were very relieved that he managed to find a sim and our data problem was solved. Or so we thought.
You see, internet data is a veritable lifeline for us. We need data to upload our YouTube videos, blogs and Instagram pics, and talk to our followers and subscribers. And as you’ll already know from our previous blogs, the “3” sim that we’d got from the UK on the promise of having virtually unlimited data throughout Europe for a year didn’t pan out as we expected. That particular sim only allowed us 19GB data a month and was only usable for three months out of twelve. After much research, that seems to be standard when you buy a sim in one country to use in Europe. You’ve got to love phone providers.
The sea was quite choppy and I eagerly awaited Barry’s return, hoping the anchor would hold. It did and Baz got back armed with a Greek sim that would need activating and extra data that would need adding once the sim was activated. If we’d bought it in a service provider outlet, they would have done that for us, but they didn’t have one on Lipsi, and Baz had to buy them at a small supermarket.
So of course, we all know at this point, that the data and the sim card aren’t going to be compatible, don’t we? More about that a bit later.
Local fisherman’s haul
Before upping anchor, we were approached by an old fisherman in a typical brightly coloured small wooden Greek fishing boat. He had a bucket of fish that he offered to us. On the spur of the moment, we decided that we’d have a fish dinner and happily bought four fish from him which looked like two types of sea bream.
Heading for Katsadia
It took just 20 minutes to motor south to what turned out to be a beautiful bay – Katsadia - which is one of four bays in a cluster situated behind the tiny island of Lera. The bottom was sand and weed and our anchor went in straight away.
When Baz tried to activate the sim the phone signal kept dropping in and out and he also couldn’t access the web app to add data. He gave up on that and we focused on dinner instead.
The fish that got away!
While I was descaling and gutting the fish for dinner from the back of the boat, I lost one! It was so small and slippery that it just shot out of my hand. (For the shopping list, item (1): a fish descaler). By the time I’d taken off my glasses and dived in, the little fish had disappeared! We both had a giggle at that, although Baz did shake his head in disbelief at the same time.
I cooked them simply in a little oil with lemon juice in our frying pan, which isn’t as non-stick as it used to be. (For the shopping list, item (2): one frying pan). I served them with a lovely fresh green salad and simple oil/vinegar/crushed garlic dressing. Even though we had three instead of four fish, they were very tasty and filling.
On the search for connectivity
The following day we took the dinghy over to shore and went to the little beachside taverna in the hopes of getting a better signal from their free wi-fi, however the signal kept dropping out. There was a nice young man (gawd, that makes me sound old) who served us and it turned out that he used to work for a phone company. He offered to help us and took our phone into the taverna where he was able to get consistent coverage. He came back a while later and explained that while he’d activated the phone sim, the young lady in the supermarket had sold us credit for a data sim and that couldn’t be added to the sim in the phone. We’d have to buy a data sim card! We thanked him for his help, finished our beer and planned our next move.
It was too late to walk the 30 minutes over hill and dale back into Lipsi town as the shop might be closed for lunch and wouldn’t reopen until 5pm. So we enjoyed the ambience of the taverna setting, watching the water gently lapping against the shore while we listened to the dulcet tones of bamboo wind chimes and cicadas, which is a sound that always represents summertime to me. The plan we came up with was: back to the boat, lunch, snorkelling. Perfect. It didn’t solve the data issue, but alleviated the mental strain considerably!
The next morning we headed into town nice and early. I thoroughly enjoyed the walk which took us up and over the hill from the beach, through the countryside and into the town. After half an hour we arrived in Lipsi and headed for the post office where we hoped we’d be able to get a data sim card. But the post office was closed, despite it being Monday. A lady in the taverna nearby told us there was a fiesta that day and shops would be closed too. What to do? Have a beer and a coffee of course. No point being totally miserable from the failed attempt! After our refreshment we returned to the taverna in Katsadia where the nice young guy suggested we return to town (really it’s more like a small village) the following day and see if we could get a Cosmote What’s Up sim which would probably be the best deal for us.
So that’s what we did. Baz managed to buy the suggested sim and more credit to add to it. We were smart this time and activated the card while we were still in town and it all seemed fine. The What’s Up sim did seem to have more phone/messaging potential than available data but we were relieved we had at least something we could use. However, we really had to find a larger island where we could get a data sim card and activate the original 30 Euros of credit that we had. A retired English fellow sitting at the table next to us suggested we go to the next island south, Leros, anchor in Alinda bay and in the old town on the south side of that bay was an internet store that would give us what we needed.
We had the plan. We had the motivation. We just needed to get there. The following morning we lifted our anchor, and headed south to Leros.
Did we get the solution we wanted at Leros? I’ll tell you next week. In the meantime, you can walk around the lovely island of Lipsi, have a drink in Delaila’s taverna, and eat a fish meal with us in this week’s YouTube episode of Sailing A B Sea.