With Jaco safely onboard we finally set off westwards. Our first stop was a short hop away across the bay to Petalidhion; a small town, apparently with not much to offer, (we didn't go ashore) but a good anchorage in NW winds and ideal in the time available.
Next morning we set off south to Koroni, a much more interesting place, where we anchored for lunch in the bay to the west of the town and then, in the evening, we motored back into the bay under the walls of the castle, to the south of the main harbour.
|View of the harbour from the Monastery at Coroni.|
A delightful anchorage but in the bay that we chose a little bit of care is needed. There are some rocks on the 4m line which are just below the surface, and easy to miss. Fortunately we saw them and anchored clear. The next morning we set off to explore the town plus visit the castle and monastery (the latter being inside the former). It is a delightful place and well worth a visit. A town not quite forgotten by time but very tranquil.
That afternoon we sailed off the anchor, headed slowly round Ak. Livadhia and headed for the anchorage at Maratho; in the event we did not go that far.
|The major (but now derelict) chapel of the castle|
As we approached Ak. Akritas, the southern tip of the western arm of the Peloponnese, the wind died and we noticed an enticing bay just to the east of the Cape. Thirty minutes later we were anchored there, with the bay to ourselves; swimming and sun were the order of the day and two hours later we settled down to a G&T, on deck, to watch the setting sun. Another piece of paradise.
|Kurukulla anchored in bay to east of Ak Akritas|
Next day we sailed off the anchor, ghosted around Ak Akritas, and headed for Maratho, this was to surpass even the anchorage of the previous night! A fantastic enclosed bay with two beaches to choose from and relatively well protected. We fortunately chose to anchor off the northern beach; not only because the holding and beach were better but we later discovered a team on the eastern beach who were preparing for a “Music Festival” to be held in two weeks time. The east beach could be reached by an unsurfaced road, the north beach had no such connection. The location was so fantastic that we decided to stay two nights and BBQ'd on the beach the second night; it was then that we met Johannes, a man of the road, who was constructing a path to connect the two beaches.
|The bay at Maratho|
He was not being paid for his work, had not been asked to do it but had just taken the initiative and was busily constructing a half mile path, across difficult terrain, of his own. He also spoke good English! Asked when he would move on … “When the path is finished”..... He will leave his mark on the place in his own particular way. Good for him.....
From Maratho it was a very gentle sail to Finakounda where we anchored off the beach, debated going ashore and set sail again. Not an unpleasant place but seemed rather commercialised after the tranquillity of the past two days. We chose instead to go to Port Longos on Nisos Sapientza. The bay here has two possible anchorages and I had been here before. The northern anchorage looks attractive but proved to be very poor holding and rock strewn so after two attempts to find good holding we eventually opted for the southern part where I had anchored before. Sadly the fish farm has expanded and this is now all but impossible to anchor in.
|Anchorage at N end of Nisos Skhiza|
The space is very limited and again the holding not great, the result being that you cannot find enough room to swing to the anchor. After another fruitless hour, trying to find a suitable spot, we gave up and headed for the less protected but much easier anchorage at Ornos Sapientza, a mile and a half up the coast.
This was much better, good holding, a beach to ourselves and idyllic surroundings. It is totally open to the SE but this was not a problem with the current forecast and sea conditions.
Next morning, after a leisurely swim, we set off for Methoni with an afternoon lunch stop in the anchorage NE of Ak. Kolivri.
Methoni is another of my favourite towns and this too was to be a two day stop so that we could get to know the town better and visit the castle etc.
The great discovery was the taverna called “Old Story”, situated 200m back from the waterfront. Excellent food and delightful owners who had mover here to escape the turmoil of Athens some years before. The photographs of Methoni will speak for themselves.
From Methoni it was onwards to Navarino Bay, scene of the last great battle between wooden sailing ships; it was here that Admiral
|Self at Methoni Castle|
Codrington led a combined British, French and Russian Fleet into the bay where the combined Turkish and Egyptian fleet were anchored. One Turkish ship decided to open fire and, despite the lack of any declaration of war between the parties, the British led squadron took up the challenge. They were heavily outnumbered in ships and guns; however, they succeeded in devastating the combined Turkish/Egyptian Fleet and weakened their ability to resupply their occupying forces to such an extent that Greece was able to use the opportunity to advance their fight for independence, this they achieved some years later. The monument in Pilos town square commemorates the battle and the three Admirals commanding the combined British/French/Russian fleet.
|Methoni Tower from the Castle|
With a NW wind forecast we initially chose to anchor in the northern end of the bay, 4 miles from Pilos town, for the first night only and from here we walked northwards along the edge of the lagoon to the small bay at Voidhokoilia where we hoped to anchor the next night. Sadly this was not to be, the weather turned foul for 48 hours and in the event we spent two days in Pilos “Marina”. This is yet another EU funded “white elephant”, unfinished, unloved and untidy.
|Panorama at north end of Navarino Bay, showing bay (R) and lagoon (L)|
A waste of EU money and totally neglected.
|How else do you tie up?|
Even the Coastguard smash holes in the pontoons to create points to tie up their vessel. If they, a Government Agency, commit such acts of vandalism what hope is there!
|Monument to battle of Navarino and Admiral Codrington|
We were also in need of water, there are two working taps in the whole marina, one for the coastguard (locked) and the other for a small (2 boat) charter operation that operates from there. A polite request for us to take water was refused. Amazing! Later a “traveller” came round asking for
“Payment for the Marina” which on further questioning became “€10 for security”. My request for some proof of his authority to collect money went unanswered; he went away empty handed....
From Pilos we had a cracking good sail to Kaparissia, on the wind but with 15 to 20 kts over the deck for most of the way. Only in the last two miles did the wind die away.
Kaparissia harbour is another EU “White elephant”. The outer breakwater has recently been extended to give good shelter from all directions and so it is now a good place to shelter....but, .. the harbour is resoundingly empty and although we managed to spot a water supply on the NE arm of the harbour, and quickly took advantage of it, we were soon informed by a local that the “Port Police” are not keen on yachts being alongside.
That explained the reason for the mile or so of empty quay and the five yachts (the only vessels of any size in the harbour) anchored in the middle! It is tempting to ask “who paid for all this?” That night we went ashore for a meal. After a long search and walking a half mile to the centre of the town we found the only open taverna that we could find. Good though some of the food was, it was a long way to walk to be left with no choice! Kaparissia is a good place to run for shelter if the weather turns bad but not a great “Run Ashore”.
From here it was a 30 mile fetch up the coast to Katakolon; another newly built or extended harbour. We decided to anchor in the bay overnight and enjoy the beautiful clear water and sand. Next morning we decided to go into the harbour and see what the town was like. (It is also a calling point for cruise liners so that they can ship their clients to Olympus from here.). On arrival in the “marina” (yet another EU White Elephant) we were greeted by the watchman who informed us that it would be €15 to berth there. When told we only wanted to stay for 2 hours and that the first 2 hours should be free he reduced this to €10! We didn't stay!
We anchored 30m off the quay and rowed ashore. I headed straight for his office and demanded a copy of the price list. “No, only if you are staying here.” was his defensive reply When questioned again about the amount he had tried to take from us this became “€10 for the night and yes the first two hours were free!”. The man was a lying thief and I told him so. I also threatened to report him to the Port Police, (I didn't do so because that would have involved us in a process which could have gone on for ever and he probably knew that!) As we were departing we spotted the pontoons for the marina rotting on the wasteland to the north of the harbour wall. They have never been installed and now have concrete cancer! Another marina investment spoilt by the total lack of interest in looking after, managing and maintaining that which the EU has funded for them. After two hours we left for Zakynthos.
The sail across to Zakynthos was a gentle beat to windward and we finally arrived in Porto Roma, on the SE tip of Zakynthos, at 1800. We dropped anchor in the centre of the bay where the protection from the wind was best and the noise from the beach tavernas and hotels was least. Here we stayed for nearly 24 hours.
|The cascade of rubbish, fly tipped!|
The only sadness was the “cascade” of rubbish fly tipped from the top of the cliff and collecting on the beach below or worse still being washed into the sea. No wonder the seas round Greece are full of plastic! Next afternoon we had another visitor, a tourist boat, who anchored 20m from us in an otherwise empty bay, what is it with these people? Half an hour later the wind changed and they had to beat a hasty retreat before their boarding gangway hit us as they swung towards us.
|and then the wind changed........|
They missed by 1m but not before some of their swimmers had been forced to abandon their water toys and make a scramble for the boat! Sheer stupidity on the part of the skipper.
As the day drew to a close we moved into the harbour at Zakynthos town and berthed stern to alongside the other yachts. The plan was that Jaco would leave from here and I would spend the next few days around the island awaiting the next crew member, Tim, to arrive. Needless to say a quick walk along the waterfront confirmed that Zakynthos marina had only gone backwards since my last visit three years back, still dirty, still derelict with no pontoons or facilities; empty except for a few local small craft and tourist boats (some abandoned).
That night Greece qualified for the next stage of the World Cup, the town exploded into celebrations at 0200 in the morning with car horns sounding, motorbike tyres screeching and festivities all round. If only the Greeks would address their other challenges with the same enthusiasm!!!!More when I leave Zakynthos.........