21 May 2019

Finn Europeans - The Final Days

That fine sailor is Peter.  Tom trusted his fine new boat to his dad while waiting for the wind to pick up.  Peter hasn't stopped grinning.
Eight spots for the Tokyo Olympics had already been secured at the World's in Aarhus last year.  Tom had qualified Canada for a spot by finishing 5th at that regatta.  But for the rest of the fleet, a lot was hanging on the Finn European Championship results for the competitors.  There were four spots available - not including those that had already qualified, the top four would secure positions at the 2020 olympics for their nations.

Tom stood 14th on the scoreboard going into day 5 for race 9 and 10.  His coach told us that the points were so close that any sailor to have two good races would zoom ahead to get into the important top ten for the medal race.  And, conversely, any sailor that had one bad race would plummet down the standings.  The wind did not pipe up until well into the afternoon and the sailors stayed on shore waiting while we floated offshore.  Finally, the race committee saw enough wind and the sailors were called out to the course only to have a thunder cell roll over the course just as the 9th race was set to start.  Sailors were sent back in and we went to dock.  Not until 6:30pm was racing cancelled for the day!  A long day of waiting for wind...the life of a sailor!  Frustratingly, Tom did not have an opportunity to move into the medal race.
Tom and the fleet and coaches prior to a start sailing to and fro, waiting.

The final day was fraught with drama.  Two of the four olympic spots were taken by Norway and  Brazil who finished in the top ten.  But the second two spots were up for grabs if a race could be run. As the standings stood, Switzerland and USA had the spots but the points were so close that it could easily change during a final race that included the 74 boats in 11th to 84th places.  In order to get the medal race off, the cut off time for this larger race was 3:00 pm.  The wind was light all day.  At about 1:30 the sailors were called out to the course and waited.  Finally, at about 2:30 the committee noted wind further out at sea and beginning to fill.  They moved the start line and at 2:57, after one false start, got a clear start and the race began.
On water coaching.

Switzerland and USA secured their spots.  Much celebration.  Followed by terrible disappointment from Switzerland who had been disqualified after two fouls.  Greece, who finished 13th, was awarded the second Olympic spot.
The final race is called!  Team Canada, who had been grabbing some shade and cold water on Milly, leapt into action to prepare the boats and get to the start line.  

Tom finished 12th in a regatta where all the fastest were competing!

We were so thrilled to be there.  It was fun to be part of the water scene with coaches and competitors. By the end of the week, they were all waving, even some of the judges.  It was great to meet Tom's friends on land and competitors on the course.  And, best of all, it was wonderful to see Tom compete with such determination, sportsmanship and grace.  We are very proud parents!
Team Canada

15 May 2019

Finn European Championships

We can't get this close.  Great action shot today!
We've finally been able to coordinate Milly's whereabouts with Tom's regatta schedule.  And what a regatta!  It's the Finn European Championships in Athens.  There are at least four spots for qualification for the 2020 Olympics so the competition is enormous and all the best are present.  Tom has already qualified Canada for a spot for Finn so he doesn't have to worry about that but, of course, an Olympian always wants to do his best!

Opening Ceremonies:  This is a very big deal for Athens and a very important regatta for the sailors.  The ceremonies, MC'ed by a pink  - very tight - pant suited woman who was actually very good, were full of speeches, children carrying flags of the competing nations, mingling ambassadors of the competing nations, fireworks and amazing electric violinists, followed by a buffet dinner - the athletes had plates piled high with food and went for seconds. Peter and I ate like mice, comparatively.

It is the end of day 3 of racing.  Day 1: no racing because no wind.  Milly bobbed on the course waiting while all the competitors waited on land.  We read, I did Pilates - it was a relaxing day.

Day 2:  The races were postponed for an hour to 2:30 p.m. and then got underway.  We motored back and forth, up and down the course.  My eyes glued to binoculars and commentating for Peter driving Milly.  So fun! They squeezed three races in, ending the day at around 7 p.m. Tom finished the day sitting in 12th!  Fantastic!
The boats cruising around the start line, waiting.  Tom is the Canadian on the left.

Day 3:  We were all gathered around the start line: 84 Finns, about 60 coach boat RIBS, and big Milly.  No wind.  Tom hung out with us, eventually taking down his sail and coming aboard.  At about that time the race committee sent all competitors in to wait on land.  We towed Tom's boat behind Milly to the harbour, while Tom ate a sandwich or two.  Tom sculled to shore and we floated about.  Within half an hour the wind piped up, competitors were sent out and they got two races in.  Tom came 5th in the first.
Tom and coach rolling up his sail preparing to board Milly.

Sailors always help each other.

What a treat!  We want to do this more often!

Our new job, towing the Finn

And here they come!  By the time they get near us, we're way to excited and glued to the binoculars to take pictures.  Sorry!

12 May 2019

Panormos, Tinos - An Unexpected Delight

Milly, sitting pretty, in Panormos bay
It's always a pleasure when the reality of a destination outshines the guidebook description.  So was the case with Panormos and especially, nearby town, Pyrgos, on the Cyclades island of Tinos.

Panormos was a tiny one-street town lined with tavernas along the water's edge of a narrow but lovely bay providing just enough shelter from a north wind.  We hiked over the hill - again doused with wildflowers - backing the town to quintessentially Greek, almost perfect Pyrgos.  Both towns have apparently not yet been discovered by foreign tourists but the Greek holidaymakers are low key and have allowed it to remain authentically Greek in character.

The rolling hills behind the village were terraced with ancient stone walls.  The stone rubble on the path was marble!

The carpet

How can we not love an anchorage like this!  Only three boats, gorgeous scenery, good eats, and beautifully clear blue water.
A hike out to the point brought us to this incredible wave of sedimentary rock.  The white stripes are marble!

Tinos is famous for it's marble.  The buildings in both villages are decorated with marble accessories - small public water taps, the church window frames, a village well, and "fanlights" over windows and doors of the homes.
And then there was Pyrgos, a hike over the hills away.  It might sound tacky to call it a marble village -  it was anything but.  Really quaint, lovely!  The town was pedestrian only with the centre situated in the valley created by a few steep terraced hills.  The streets were paved in marble stone.

The village square was filled with cafe tables and chairs with the communal water source...in marble.

Just a charming house ...with typical marble fanlights over the windows.

What flower lover could resist this!  Not sure what the sign on the tree said.

Marble, marble everywhere.

The 150-year-old plane tree in the village square.  A bit like a fairy tale.

All the "fanlights" over the doors and windows were different.  Some ornate and some simple suns or flowers - all attractive.

The village church also decorated in...marble.  You really needed your sunglasses in this town.

A sweet church complete with bougainvillaea vine.  A marble craftsman intent on his work carving some script around the water tap.  The village artisans are renowned throughout Greece for skill in marble ornamentation.

Bell tower in...you know what!

Public water depots on street and house corners.

And then there was marble bus stop!

Apart from marble, Tinos is also known for ornate dovecotes.  We only saw one on our hike but the doves seems to like it. They hang around on the second floor, the first is for tools and whatever you need to keep pigeons.

10 May 2019

Hop, Skip, Jump up the Dodecanese

Inside the Stefanos crater, Nissyros.
We are on our way to Athens.  We've been told that the easiest way of getting there in the spring which is dominated by south winds is to head north up the Dodecanese and then west through the Cyclades and then north into the Saronic ending up in Piraeus, the port of Athens.

The myriad of Greek Islands are split into groups based on geology, location and history.  The Dodecanese is the line of islands that run along the Turkish coast, once dominated by the Knights of St John, then Ottoman, then Italian, now Greek with all those influences.  The islands, especially in spring, are greener and less barren then the Cyclades, with craggy mountain slopes, blanketed in wildflowers.

The amazing thing about the Dodecanese and the Greek islands in general is that, impossibly, they are all different.  Here's a brief picture diary of our journey so far - about 500 NM.
We began our hop in charming Kastellorizo located 100 km east of Rhodes, a Greek outpost one NM off the Turkish coast.  For that reason, military lookouts and a base are major players on the island.  We anchored here, off the town of Mandraki.

Just a few flowers on the path up to the paleokastro - old castle with a few chapels.

Kastellorizo Town lines the harbour, said to be the finest between Beirut and Fethiye, Turkey and hence a hotspot for competing nations wanting to lay claim in ancient times.

Beautiful clear water was a consistent characteristic in the Dodecanese.

Island #2: Symi.  An incredibly protected, almost enclosed, remote harbour with only a monastery built to honour Archangel Michael whose fresco images completely cover the entirety of the chapel interior.

Very decorative monastery bell tower from which bells tolled in a celebratory peal every time a ferry tooted it's arrival.  

The don'ts outside the monastery.  One icon blatantly missing.  

I have no idea what these plants were but the blossom was at least 80 cm long.  Amazing looking.

Hike up to one of the lesser peaks to look down on the very sheltered harbour.  Milly is the larger top dot.  

Also on Symi, Pedhi lies on the north coast in a deep bay.

Up and over the ridge from Pedhi - of course, there was a church on the peak - is Symi Town, a tangle of pedestrian alleys circuitously climbing the surrounding steep hillsides.

Just a field of poppies.

Nissyros, a round volcanic island with high steep slopes climbing to the central caldera.  The quay is piled with black volcanic rock.

And the walls of the cliffs around Mandhraki's seaside promenade ooze with sulphur.

Just a little lupin

The soil nurtures wildflowers in a lovely palate.

Taken from the ruins of the paleokastro are the cabal village homes of Mandhraki.  The offshore island is scarred by pumice mines.

We scootered around the island on a route given by the gregarious scooter rental guy, Mike.  He guided us to an ancient sauna - a tiny cave fed by the heat of the earth below.

Emborios - a gorgeous village stretching across the ridge of the caldera.  Many of the crumbling houses on single file lanes for pedestrians only are being slowly purchased and lovingly restored.

The lunar landscape of the Stefanos caldera from Nikia, the second village that clings to the edge of the crater. 

The tiny round plaza ringed by cafe tables marks the town centre.

Nikia creeps along a ridge with stunning views - the sea on one side with distant islands and the otherworldly caldera on the other.

The openings around the craters vent steam and ooze sulphur

On Leros island the sweet village of Pandelli, overlooked by a castle of the Knights of St John.  We had a traditional Easter lunch - lamb roasted over a fire on a spit - at tables set up on the beach.

Some ex-windmills sat on the crest of the ridge overlooking town with the castle in the background.  Of course, we climbed to the top and...it was closed.  But the view was spectacular, taking in the entire island.

The altar at the chapel near the castle was decorated with tin renderings of those praying for a cure.

And so the season begins in Mykonos.  We didn't go ashore.  We checked it out six months ago.

Finally, a field chock full of daisies.