|Super Paradise from Jackie O's|
After a prolonged stay in Mykonos, to replace the engine, and with two days of trials completed I finally set off on the 8th of October, single handed, heading south east on the last leg towards the winter lay up venue of Marmaris. Having spent the night anchored in Elia bay I awoke to 20 kts of northerly wind, just as forecast, and was well placed to sail off the anchor and head off, under No2 genoa alone, for the Island of Dhenoussa. The 28 mile passage was completed in 4.5 hours despite not putting up the mainsail! I chose the anchorage at Ormos Dhendro due to its better shelter from northerlies, especially important as northerly, 50+ knot, gusts were forecast for the night ahead.
|Ormos Dhendro, Dhenoussa (showing the wreck outline)|
|Self at the taverna on Ormos Dhendro, Dhenoussa|
|Ormos Levitha at sunset|
On the morning of the 13th I set sail again in a gentle NNW wind which carried me swiftly down towards my next stopover, the island of Levithia. I arrived at 1415 to find I was not the only yacht in the area. There are moorings laid in the east bay of Ormos Levithia (€7 per night) and one other yacht was already there, a second entered shortly after me. Peaceful all the same. What made it even more peaceful was that not a single mobile phone signal was detectable in the anchorage!
Next morning I set off relatively early, well early for me, 0800, to complete the transit from Cyclades to Dodecanese. My plan was to be in Kalimnos by mid afternoon. The crossing was quiet, 2 ships and three yachts sighted in total, and benefited from a gentle NNW breeze; 4 – 5 knots all the way on a beam reach. By 1400 I was berthed stern to on the town quay in Kalimnos town.
|Derelict vessels (and vehicles) in the abandoned marina project.|
The marina project, paid for by the EU, has been abandoned and is occupied by a variety of abandoned or derelict craft. No sign of the pontoons or facilities promised in the Heikell Pilot. On the other hand the local municipality has built a new yacht berthing area on the NW side of the harbour, sufficient for 30 odd yachts, so I suppose this is progress. The town quay, on the other hand, is now mostly occupied by local boats and so I suppose I was lucky to find a spot.
The next day I spent the morning on re-victualling and sorting the boat out. One thing I bought was a Vodafone data card to give me a final 2Gb of data connectivity prior to leaving Greece, it lasted less than 24hrs!
|Kurukulla, stern to on the town quay, Kalimnos|
At 1400 I set off for a night in the anchorage on the S side of Pserimos, in virtually no wind it was an hour plus long motor. Boring but necessary. By 1530 I was anchored in the southern bay and enjoying a swim in the mirror clear waters of the bay. The night was equally calm and I awoke to completely still conditions. Sailing being a non starter I decided to spend another night here and settled down for a quiet day; however, by 1600 the wind started to get up from the west and so I moved the short distance to Ormos Vathi on the east coast of the island which was completely sheltered. It was too late to go any further.The anchorage was shared with five other yachts and so I wasn't the only one to think this anchorage was ideal for tonight. More yachts than I have seen for a week!
|The harbour at Palon, Niseros; showing the new entrance|
By next morning I had eight neighbours, some had arrived after me. I was the first to leave and set off on oily calm seas to head to Palon on the island of Niseros some 35 miles away. The wind showed some interest in increasing as I rounded the eastern end of Kos but only briefly; just long enough to persuade me to put the mainsail up! This was almost a complete waste of time as by the time it was up the wind had disappeared again; however, the last hour and a half of the sail turned into a close fetch in a decent breeze so all was not lost!
On arrival at Palon it was obvious that the harbour entrance was not where either the chart or the pilot said it was. The EU had fronted up with €2,880,000 eight years ago to redevelop the harbour, including relocating the entrance to provide better shelter, and it seems to have worked.
|The new yacht berths in the Palon harbour|
|The cost of the harbour upgrade but this time money well spent.|
Next day, when I roused myself for my customary morning cup of tea, they had already gone, headed north for their winter layup venue. After a brief walk ashore, to buy bread from the local bakery and some fruit from the general store, I too set off but eastwards towards Simi. Initially under engine for want of wind but within the hour the wind roused itself and we were then barrelling downwind at 5 to 6 knots. Two hours later I had two reefs in the main and part of the genoa furled. The promised strong winds had arrived.
|The now derelict Hydropathic Institute|
Thus it was that we arrived in Panormitis, the most beautiful and best protected anchorage in Simi. It was here that I had chosen to sit out the forecast 30+ knot winds of Saturday night and Sunday. I chose my anchorage with care to make sure no one could drag onto me and that I was not a risk to anyone else. There were only four other boats in the bay. The next boat to arrive then anchored close and directly upwind of me, just my luck. There was a whole empty bay to anchor in, but no, they had to anchor on top of me! My stare of disbelief was insufficient to encourage them to move and so I had to content myself with photographing their stern, just to make sure I had their details.
It has happened to me before that another boat has dragged on to me in the night, causing damage, and then sailed before exchanging insurance details. Sure enough, at 0245, I awoke to the sound of a particularly severe gust, followed in the lull by an alarm sounding. I decided to check that all was well. On sticking my head out the hatch I realised I had been extremely lucky, the Greek registered, Russian crewed, charter boat was virtually alongside me, their anchor drag alarm bleeping away, a boats width away! A quick grab of a torch and I illuminated their boat trying to get some reaction. Fortunately one of their crew members was asleep in the cockpit; she looked up, and notwithstanding I could see the whites of her eyes, rolled over to go back to sleep! My subsequent, rather more colourful, explanation that they would have to move, seemed to get more reaction; she roused the skipper and within seconds he had their engine running and was on the move. Only just in time, during his departing manoeuvre he missed my bow by less than a metre! I watched them until I was happy that they were re-anchored 75m away; not trusting them not to try and re-anchor in the same place. The old adage “in the Mediterranean there is little more dangerous than a charter boat” proved true again!
The next day dawned windy and with a North Force 8 forecast I determined to stay put. At 0600 the loudspeakers on the monastery started broadcasting the first of the Sunday services, as I type at 0940 it is still continuing, the chants sound anything but musical! Later in the day there was a full Greek wedding in the chapel, quite a sight to see. The only local restaurant of any size was then the venue for the reception, they must do quite well out of it! The subsequent night was also gusty and at least two boats collided due to dragging anchors, (I overheard the apologies being offered the next morning!).
|My favourite restaurant in Symi, "To Spitiko"|
Tuesday dawned with brilliant sunshine but no wind! It was a gentle departure, only slightly delayed by the charter boat which had berthed next to me laying his anchor chain across mine. When you are single handed such things just become that bit more complicated to resolve; however, within a few minutes I had a line on his chain and managed to disentangle myself from him. They just spectated, bemused. No apology and no thanks either!
|Approaching Marmaris in oily calm seas.|
Once underway it was a brief stop at the fuelling jetty (diesel is cheaper in Greece) followed by a six hour motor to Marmaris. Beyond the odd cat's paw on the surface there was no wind! Pleasant nonetheless. That night I anchored just outside Marmaris Yacht Marine and spent the evening planning in what order to take on the laying up tasks of the next seven days. Plenty to do but the weather was not looking to co-operate. The benign forecasts of three days back had been replaced by strong southerly winds and rain; oh joy! Sure enough next morning dawned threateningly grey and windy. I headed for the quarantine jetty at the ferry terminal, for myself and Kurukulla to enter Turkey officially, (you and the boat now have to physically go there rather than as before when the agent did it all for you whilst you sipped gin at the marina bar!) after which I headed on to Yacht Marine to put her into her last afloat berth for this year.
|Awaiting liftout....And it rained!|
The lift out passed without a hitch, notwithstanding the torrential rain that soaked everyone and everything! Kurukulla is now parked ashore, on a stand, in the midst of a vast boat park snug in her winter cover. The end of another season.
|Kurukulla, snug under her winter cover!|
Only the joys of a late night Monarch Airlines flight, back to Gatwick, to look forward to...
More next April, or soon after.