Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Kostas to the Rescue

Adonis with Despina, one of his daughters

Fancy a dip, perhaps?

Getting down to the serious business of "chilling"

Last week's Lazy Day Cruise went as wonderfully as usual. Well, there was one slight hiccup. Having enjoyed a leisurely lunch on board the Magellanos and a further twenty minutes or so anchored on the far side of Lindos Bay with all the guests laying around and digesting their food, Adonis and the crew, who on this occasion consisted of his father Dino and friend Savvas, decided to weigh anchor for the next gentle run up the coast to Agathi (Golden Sand) Bay.

The only problem was, whilst we'd been swimming and then munching on a delicious meal of Pastitsio, fresh salad and tzatziki (plus of course some nice Greek bread), followed by chunks of delicious Karpouzi (water melon), all washed down in my case with a Fix, the gentle drifting of the vessel around its anchor had managed to get the chain trapped between a couple of boulders on the bottom, around twenty feet below.

Did I hear you say, "A Fix? What's a Fix, then?" Surely not!! You must know that (as far as Adonis is concerned) the only Greek beer you ought to be imbibing is "Fix Hellas," the original Greek blonde beer. Mythos has only been around a few years and yet has managed to get itself firmly entrenched in the minds of many tourists as the top selling Greek beer. Plus the connoisseurs will also know about Alfa, Corona, Hellas…

But when I first came to Greece back in 1977, the TV ads were full of a jingle about "Fix Hellas." There were no other Greek beers of note around then. Fix was first brewed in 1864 and is recognised as the first beer ever brewed here. Sadly, due to competition in the marketplace it went out of production in 1983 and looked like it would be consigned to the history books, but, happily, in 2010 the name "Fix" once again appeared on beer bottles and cans and it's now well and truly back. Thus, when I reach into the cool cabinet for a beer, where Adonis stocks both Mythos and Fix, he smiles broadly and nods his approval if I grab a Fix. Yup, folks, Greece is the only place where you can get a fix legally.

Returning to the tale, I mentioned that the anchor chain had become lodged between a couple of huge boulders. This has happened before, it's not particularly unusual, but on the previous occasion - with a little deft tweaking of the boat's wheel while trying to raise the anchor - the crew had managed to position the vessel in such a way as to release the chain by changing the boat's position above it. This time, however, it wasn't going to be so easy. After a few attempts at manouevring the boat, Adonis decided that there was nothing for it but for him to strip to his shorts, don a mask and snorkel and take a look down there himself. Whilst I explained to the guests that there was no cause for alarm, Adonis dived into the twinkling waters, took a deep breath and went under.

He was soon back on the surface and shouting up to the crew that, whilst it looked as though the chain could be freed by hand, it was just too far down for him to do it with one lungful of air. What could be done?

Fortunately, anchored just a few metres away was the Pegasus. I had worked on board this boat last year with Kostas and his dad Spiro. Kostas is a really nice bloke and we were sure that he'd help if he could.  Adonis called him on the mobile phone and was soon explaining our dilemma. There would, though, need to be someone with scuba equipment, so there was no guarantee that Kostas would be able to sort things out. But soon Kostas was heading our way on his launch, accompanied by someone else whom I recognised. Sitting alongside Kostas was Yan, a Belgian guy with whom I'd worked on board the Free Spirit with Perry the season before, if I remember correctly, it would have been 2010.

Now Yan is quite a guy. He's probably about sixty now. Well, if he isn't he looks it to me. Perhaps, too, he wouldn't own up to it either. But when I'd worked with him he used to regale me with all kinds of tales about his former life which had my hair standing on end. He's a wiry bloke with no spare fat on him at all. He's a Belgian who speaks quite a few languages, but not Greek. Well, he understands a little, but he isn't fluent at all. He had proved very useful to me back when we'd worked together, as his German is very good and thus he'd translate my info for the German speaking guests aboard. His hair is a wild mess of formerly dark, but now being rapidly defeated by the peppered grey in there too.  His cheeks are sunken beneath strong cheekbones and he'd think nothing of stripping to a thong before jumping overboard, usually in my opinion thinking he'd be impressing the guests, when in fact I felt he was putting them off their lunch!

Yan used to tell me about what he'd done for a living when he'd lived in Germany. It had to do with seedy nighttime joints where people watched what he did through glass screens. I don't think I'll explain any further. But for him to have reached this age and now be living in Greece without having contracted something very nasty is a minor miracle. The best thing about Yan, though, is that he's a heavily experience scuba diver and had with him in the launch his cylinder and gear. He was already togged up in his wetsuit. In response to my call about whether he'd find the task easy or not, he called up that he'd "done two anchors like this already this week!"

As Yan dropped backwards over the side of the launch, I found myself at the rail of the Magellanos right beside Kostas, who was standing in the launch and keeping it steady by holding on to the Magellanos' rail.

"How is your season going my friend?" I asked him.

"Hmm, not so good." He replied. I told him how I'd noticed that every Thursday when I did the Lazy day cruise I'd see him anchored in Lindos bay, evidently not working that day. In fact he and I had exchanged a wave on several occasions as we'd come into the bay for our swim & lunch stop. Seems the Pegasus is one of those vessels suffering from the downturn in visitors this year. There don't appear to be enough excursions to go around. I was saddened as I really like the boat and the man. If you've clicked on the link above you'll perhaps have read my post about the day I went aboard in Mandraki Harbour just as he was putting the finishing touches to her restoration back in August last year.

As the Magellanos lurched gently in response to Yan's tuggings from twenty feet down, I offered Kostas my hope that things would improve for him. He told me that she's still available for private hire and so I promised that I'd flag this up on the blog, which, of course, I'm now doing. If you're over here with a party of friends and would like a really excellent bespoke day aboard a beautiful boat, you can call him on (0030) 6955 667101. I have no doubt at all that he'd be willing to strike a reasonable deal - especially if you tell him that John the escort (who runs the blog) put you on to him. He speaks excellent English by the way.

Soon the bubbles on the surface were separated by Yan's head, mask still in place as he emerged from below and shoved a hand in the air with his thumb up.

"You can weigh the anchor now!" He called. "...Chain's free. It was easy." With a few more instructions about the best direction in which to move the boat in order to facilitate the freeing of our anchor and chain, he swam to the launch, where Kostas heaved him back aboard.

Adonis thanked both Kostas and Yan and then asked Kostas in Greek, "How much ought I to slip him for doing this?" When Kostas relayed this to his companion, Yan's reply made Adonis' eyes water a little, surprised as he was with the sum which Yan had mentioned to Kostas. The whole rescue hadn't taken more than twenty minutes. At this rate Yan was well on his way to becoming a millionaire. If, as he'd said, he'd already done this twice this week, he'd netted more readies in seven days than most Greeks earn in a fortnight!

Muttering something which rhymes with moussaka (catch my drift here?), Adonis passed a banknote to Kostas, who signalled his agreement with the sentiment, but showed by his facial expression that, were it left up to him, he'd have simply replied that some day Adonis would be perhaps in a position to return the favour. Kostas and Yan then set off to return to the Pegasus and we were on our way, none the worst for the slight delay, which we made up for by travelling slightly faster between the next two swim stops of the day before returning to Kolumbia at 5 o'clock.


  1. Glad to see Fix is available again!

    For info; I bought the latest version of Marco Polo Rhodes guide yesterday (to join the dozen or so Berlitz, AA, Sunflower, etc.. gathering dust on the bookshelf) - yes, I do still buy some books made of paper!! You have made it onto the Links and Blogs page - unfortunately it quotes the old "Honorary Greek" URL - so you might need to keep the redirection page open a bit longer!!

    Roll on Wednesday!!


    1. Wow, thanks for the heads-up Dave. Just checked it out on Amazon and I see I'm on page 100. I must have finally arrived!!! Incidentally, I'm in Rhodes town every Tuesday from about 11.30 to 4pm. Maybe we could have a drink. Call me if a Tuesday would suit (email me for the mobile no.). What Hotel are you at, or is that a silly question?

    2. A drink would be good. Yes, it was a silly question!! Email on its way.


    3. Seems that the guys at Marco Polo don't like me any more. The new 2013 edition doesn't mention the blog, boo hoo.