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Aannsha’s Blog #116 - Out and about in a Greek fishing boat and hire car

Fishing for Langoustines

I love being out on the water when the sun’s shining. There’s such a great feeling of expanse and being one with the sea. The other day I was lucky enough to be invited with Baz to join Xaris (the boat yard owner) onto his 9m fishing boat. It was his first trip out since the bad winter weather and we joined him and Theo as they went on the hunt for the prized crustaceans, langoustines.

Muscovy ducks in Limni harbour

The weather was crisp and bright as we left Limni’s small town harbour and set out to lay their net. After we’d found good positions where we could use our cameras but wouldn’t be in the way, Baz and I began to film. Even before we left the harbour there was what I’d call eye candy: bright fishing boats, a family of mallard ducks swimming in front of the boat and some black and white Muscovy ducks sheltering in the recesses of the harbour wall. The water in the harbour was a deep pea green and as we entered the sea, the colour changed to deep refreshing blue.

It was pretty cool to see Theo steering the boat by standing with the tiller between his calves while he looked over the top of the cockpit bimini! The first thing I noticed as the fishing boat left the harbour was the way that it moved through the water was different to how A B Sea moves. The 9m wooden vessel with a different hull and keel shape to our yacht rocked a tad more as the light wind blew the waves side to the vessel. A while later, we were heading out to deeper water and as soon as Xaris’s depth instrument indicated 50 metres, he threw out a cluster of buoys attached to a line to mark the begining of his fishing line. All the time both men paid attention to the other fishing boat that was in close proximity.

A length of old yellow net followed the long line and as we kept moving forward, Xaris fed the line through his hands and over the side. He explained that he has a length of old yellow netting at either end as this allows the blue langoustine net to open correctly. It doesn’t matter if the yellow line becomes snagged and he occasionally still catches fish in it.

Following the yellow net came the blue net, which is a specific size to catch the “langostinos”. I was astonished to hear that this net was 3500 metres, or 2.2 miles long. The net sinks to the depths of the sea thanks to a heavy metal ‘rope’ threaded through the base of the net. The top of the net has little floats attached along the length which keep the net open in the water. This net mainly catches langoustines but also fish of a similar or larger size that swim at that depth can get snagged too. They all go to market.

I was reading recently that this part of the Mediterranean, around Limni and Evia’s north west, is well stocked with fish, and when we walked around Istiaia recently, I noticed three fishmongers in that one town.

As Xaris and Theo let out the line and Xaris answered Barry’s fishing questions, I had plenty of time to sit at the bow filming the sparkling sunlight leaving star-flashes of brilliance across the sea’s dark blue surface. Seagulls glided past, some landing in the water, to float awhile perhaps waiting for a fish for breakfast. The distant snow topped mountains on mainland Greece shone in the sun and I relaxed, watching the orange ball fenders bobbing in the foam kicked up by the boat.

Before long all the blue net was out, followed by another length of yellow, then line and I heard the splash of the buoys hitting the water marking the end of the netting.

Time to go home.

Xaris shoved his 125hp engine into full throttle and we powered back to the harbour. It was great to be able to take in some views of the coastline, including an old (possibly) * Magnesite quarry converted into a hotel. Theo then expertly tied us back to the dock and Xaris said he’d show us the catch after hauling it in the next morning.

* Limni is mentioned on page 43 (6 of 7) under 'Magnesite'

A record haul

And what a catch it was! “Better than normal,” Xaris grinned as he showed us the langoustines, graded by size into three cases. These along with a few cases of other assorted fish, were just about to go to market. Evangelis, Xaris’s dad was taking them to Chalkida where a guy was waiting to buy them. They were very happy as langoustines fetch a very good price on the market.

So happy in fact, Xaris gave us a bag of Σαρδέλα (Sahr – THEH – lah) which we’d call Sardines, pilchards, or sprats and could be either: Sardina pilchardus, or Sprattus sprattus

I baked them in the oven with salt, pepper, a little olive oil and slices of lemon. They were absolutely delicious. Thank you Xaris!

Fresh sprats

A day out in the car

If you’ve been following these blogs and are up to date with our YouTube videos you’ll know that the exhaust elbow on our engine got a rusted hole in the neck and while Manolis at the boat yard here in Sipiada did a great job fixing a new neck on it, we don’t like the fact that there is still rusty water seeping out from the inside.

Baz got chatting with Dmitri on Facebook’s Med Sailing page. Dmitri owns a boat yard up on the northern end of Evia just west of the small town of Oreoi. He said he could make a whole new exhaust elbow out of stainless steel, so we hired a car for a week (and wasn’t that expensive by the time we’d added 24% Greek sales tax totalling 322 euros / or a hefty AU$527!!) But the large towns on Evia are spaced well apart and we also wanted to look at the chandlers and hardware stores in Chalkida to the south, as well as explore some of the island. So we bit the bullet and on day one of our car hire, we drove over the mountain road north to DimStef boat yard.

We’d wanted to take the shorter route via the seaside town of Loutra, but there had been bad rock slides after the heavy rains and the road had a large “Road Closed” sign across our lane.

Snow on the pass

There was still some sign of snow along the higher parts of the mountain road and upturned pine trees provided more evidence of how harsh the recent winter weather had been. We realised how protected Limni – and in particular, Livaditis boat yard, is from the winter weather. Good choice Baz.

Dmitri spoke great English and was very helpful suggesting we get a brand new Yanmar exhaust elbow as it would work out cheaper than if he made a new one, saying our old one was in too bad a condition to repair with too much corrosion.

Handy Hint #1: How to increase the life of your exhaust elbow

He did give us a great tip though. When we install the new one, be sure to turn the power off to the engine when it’s not in use, as it’s the residual current coupled with the sea water that is a big cause of corrosion.

Lunch at Oreoi

After ordering the new elbow and a few other things that would be couriered to DimStef by Monday, Baz and I headed to the little fishing port of Oreoi for lunch. It turned out to be quite a large harbour compared to the size of the village. We found a beach front restaurant there and, sitting inside next to the heater, enjoyed lunch and a beer.

Handy hint #2: Don’t travel the road from Limni to Loutra immediately after heavy rains

We discovered that the closed road from Loutra was actually open so after lunch we headed down the coast road and back to Sipiada. There were signs of innumerable rock slides along the way, with bulldozers parked up next to piles of rubble, and a few massive rocks which had been moved to the road side. I held my breath as we drove along the dodgy sections.

Arriving back at the studio, we brought in our other purchases, some of which we’d got at a large hardware store in Istiaia. We’ve included our acquisitions in this week’s YouTube video, #106.

I'm happy to be out and about!

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