We left Andros just after first light this morning and sailed to Karystos on the small island of Euboia, as we inch closer to the Greek mainland. It was a small sail today of around 20 nautical miles. We saw the snow on Mt Ochi, most of the day as the island of Andros grew smaller behind us and Karystos grew larger.
It’s a pretty and small coastal town of around 5,000 inhabitants which of course explodes and heaves in the summer months with tourists. It is a modern town with a rather irresistible combination showing off mountains, seaside, and lashings of cosmopolitan character with Mt Ochi standing like a snowy sentinel in the background. As is usual for this part of the world, there is history creaking through every pore of the town.
A naval war ship is anchored in the bay to our port side as we sail in under a full main and genoa. We are anchored out in the bay near the Venetian fortress of Bourtzi which was built in the 13th century. It’s no surprise that this was once a hub of piracy, and there are fortifications on the coast as well as a castle around 6 km’s away from our anchorage.
It just happens to be the Greek National Independence Day which means it is a national holiday today. It celebrates the Greek War of Independence which started in 1821 and coincides with the Greek Orthodox Church’s religious celebration of when the archangel Gabriel is said to have appeared to Mary and informed her that she would bear the son of God.
The independence holiday is always on 25 March and is in celebration of the Greek Revolt that brought Greece freedom from the Ottoman Empire (the Turks) which they had been a part of since 1453. But Independence Day also brings thoughts and gratitude for our own independence and how we have created as much of an off-grid floating self-sustainable home as we can. We are independent to generate our own power from the sun and make our own water from the sea which is also worthy of celebration.
And to celebrate the freedom that fair winds and kind seas bring along with a new place to explore, we took Waiata Iti (our tender) into town and checked things out. There was a lot of bunting and blue and white national flags flying on the slight breeze. The restaurants were buzzing with people in convivial joy and we observed that it was mostly a family day which was demonstrated with children holding a range of helium-filled balloons with the usual unicorns and cartoon characters floating on children’s sticky hands as they darted about the stone pavements with over-excitement. So what else was there to do but take a seat in the sun and partake in the joy of the Greek National Day, partnered with a nice cold ale.
Στην υγειά σας (pronounced Stin ygeiá sas) – which means cheers in Greek. Happy Independence irrespective of what type of independence you choose to celebrate.
Today we have a most celebratory song from kiwi icons, with Th” Dudes, Bliss,
Ya ya ya yaThink I’m at full speed
Get it at the Coogee
Hello sailor cruising
Buy some Spanish shoes
Think I need falafel
Get it at the cross
Drink yourself more bliss
Forget about the last one
Get yourself another