|Bay south of Manolonisi, Poliagos|
|Ormos Kleftico, SW Milos|
The next day was spent monitoring our position, as the winds howled through our rigging, and watching the antics of others who were not as fortunate and whose anchors were dragging in the gusty conditions.
|West coast of Milos|
As the day progressed we were joined by more and more boats who had deserted the jetty at Adhamas and sought refuge in the same anchorage.
At 0700 the next morning there was a lull and so we leapt into action, motored across the bay and managed to occupy one of only two free berths on the inner side of the yacht pontoon. The morning was relatively quiet, stand-fast one berthing incident, two boats along from us, where a Greek skipper managed to severely redesign the push-pit, solar panel supporting frame and dinghy davits of the Dutch boat he was trying to berth next to; once disentangled he didn't return for a second attempt but did have the good grace to return personally, later, once berthed elsewhere, in order to exchange details etc. Later in the afternoon the wind got up for a second time, again rendering the outer side of the pontoon untenable.
|View from Milos Plaaka|
We were snug inside, did some re-victualling in the afternoon, and went for supper in the Chora and an evening visit to the Kasro to see the sunset. Our plan being, weather permitting, to depart at 0530 next morning for the eastern shores of the Peloponnese.
Wednesday, 15 June, dawned bright and clear, 30 minutes after Malcolm had shaken the crew with a welcome cup of tea we were under-way, motoring briefly to clear the harbour and then sailing in a moderate WSW wind to exit the crater and head for Andimilos which we hoped to pass to starboard. Forty minutes later we opted to eave it to port, the wind having shifted, and we eventually opted to motor through the wind shadow of this relatively small island. As we came out of the other side, 15 minutes later, it was becoming increasingly obvious the engine was going to play a larger part in our day's programme than we had planned. The wind dropped to less than 6 kts and, with the residual sea from the strong winds of the previous two days, we were never going to make landfall before sunset if we relied on wind alone. We motored on …...
|Anchored in Ieraka|
Eventually, two hours out of Ieraka, our chosen destination, we found wind, in fact enough wind to require a reef in the main and several rolls in the genoa; typical! For the next two hours we enjoyed an exhilarating sail and eventually entered the inlet at Ieraka sailing onto the anchor behind two French boats and.... yes you've guessed it.... our favourite Belgian, Octopus, who had secured alongside the ferry jetty, with his dinghy outboard to prevent any other boat coming alongside .. ever helpful and accommodating! A little later in the evening we decided to move further into the anchorage, motored gently in, and anchored in 3m of water opposite the tavernas. Here we stayed for a very quiet night anchored in the centre of one of the most tranquil villages in the Peloponnese. The next morning we put Christoph and Yorgos ashore to do a photographic run whilst I got on with a repair of the bow navigation lamp which had shown itself deficient during our early departure the day before. Having proven that it was beyond repair, Malcolm and I then joined the other two for a “coffee ashore” which became a fish lunch at a superb taverna called Zikos. (aka ZHKOS in Greek). The calamari were the freshest I have tasted and the sardines excellent. We ordered two half litres of house white wine with our meal and were then given one and a half litres as a gift on departure; now that is generosity!
At 1500 we weighed anchor, ghosted very gently out of the anchorage and then tacked slowly southwards, on the wind, to Monemvasia which was our next port of call, some 9 miles sailing away.
|Monemvasia, lower town fron the entrance to the upper town.|
Monemvasia is fantastic, a Byzantine settlement restored by the Venetians and now extensively but sympathetically restored by Greece. We berthed on the town quay on the north side of the causeway connecting Monemvasia to the Peleponnese mainland. That evening we did a walking tour of the lower town followed by a tranquil beer in one of the street-side tavernas on the main square. This was followed with a spaghetti bolognese onboard and a relatively quiet night if you discount the couple having an argument at the end of our berth and the individual who insisted on collecting bucketfuls of water from the tap nearby at 0200 in the morning!
|Agios Sophia, upper Monemvasia|
Next day we started early to avoid the scorching sun of midday and climbed to the top of Monemvasia to see the upper town, which is not extensively restored, and the Castro (central castle) which is virtually untouched, other than by time. Three hours of exploring and we were back down in lower town, at 1100, enjoying a coffee croissant at a local cafe before returning to Kurukulla. By 1200 we were under-way, motoring south in a flat calm towards Cape Maleas and the island of Elafonisos.
By 1600 we were sailing in light breezes towards the cape and, after rounding and a frustrating period of variable winds, we set off on a brisk reach for the last few miles to our anchorage. By 1830 we were anchored in the eastern corner of Ormos Sarakiniko, with four other yachts, and enjoying a well deserved G&T!
Next day we opted to motor to the other side of the Elena headland and anchor in Ormos Frangos, the next bay east, which we had to ourselves; well for most of the day anyway; that is if you discount the hoards of Greek holidaymakers on the beach.
Between now and 2009, when I first came here, Elafonisos has been “discovered”!
That said, the crowd was also enhanced as a result of the Greek bank holiday weekend associated with ascension.
At 1100 next day we set off for the other side of the Gulf of Lakonika. Our original intention had been to go to Gytheo but given the light winds and the extra distance involved to go into and out of the gulf we opted for a direct crossing and a night at anchor in Ormos Vathi, a deserted inlet just south of Porto Kayio on the central peninsula of the Peloponnese. Other than a couple of locals on the beach we had the place to ourselves and tied back to the rocks for a very quiet night in delightful, deserted surroundings.
|Anchored in Ormos Vathi|
Yorgos decided he needed some cigarettes and persuaded me to accompany him on the 2 km walk across to Porto Kayio, an hour later we arrived courtesy, in part, to a lift from some of the folks who had been on the beach. Nowhere in Porto Kayio sells cigarettes and so we had to make do with a beer; which I insisted Yorgos paid for! The walk back was even more interesting; the lady of the taverna, who amazingly recognised me from my visits of two and five years back, told us that the direct path, which also led to the local church, had been out of use ever since the road was built some 5 years ago. Not to be defeated we set off in earnest to rediscover it; we never did! After wading through waist high undergrowth for 10 minutes we turned back and resigned ourselves to following the road. Not even goats could have gotten through that path!
At the top of the climb up from the port we discovered a small, unmade road leading in our desired direction which, if it proved passable, would save us 2 – 3 km; it did. It took us to the local cemetery and from there we followed a small goat path which connected it to the church (where the celebrations of the ascension were going on) and from here it was relatively easy walking via a track which led back to the bay and the boat.
Next morning Malcolm was keen to do the trek to Porto Kayio and so we dropped him off on the beach and watched him set off before having a final swim and motoring round to Porto Kayio to pick him up. On arrival we went stern to on the plastic pontoon, installed by the local restaurant, and after a coffee and beer on their terrace we set off, again under engine, in no wind for Porto Asomato where we planned to go ashore to view the “Death Oracle” and several Greek mosaics which are open to the elements.
|Porto Asomato, Oracle of Death|
On arrival a catamaran was occupying the small inner bay but conditions were light enough that we could drop the anchor, tie back to the rocks, and swim the 10m ashore to go and see the sights.
|Porto Asomato mosaic|
By 1630 we were ready to depart and sailed, very slowly, around Cape Matapan, scene of the decisive battle between the British Mediterranean Fleet and the Italian Fleet in 1941, and then northwards up the western side of the peninsula to Yerolimena where we sailed in to anchor at 1830 and, after a brief trip ashore in the dinghy to get Yorgos cigarettes, we settled down to a glass of white wine and a sausage casserole for supper.
|At anchor in Yerolimena|
Next morning was still and very hot, hence we took the dinghy ashore to see a bit of the town and collect bread, from a local taverna who had promised to acquire us two loaves the night before, before sailing off the anchor and ghosting out of the bay heading for the anchorage at Diros. An hour and a half later and we were motoring again with the wind having dropped to zero. By 1630 we had arrived in Diros and anchored in the corner of the bay nearest to the entrance to the spectacular caves, just outside the area with moorings, on sand and in 5m of water. Although the bay was subject to a slight swell we had managed to tuck ourselves in and avoid most of it and a tranquil night was had by all. Next morning we rowed ashore to go in and view the caves.
|The caves at Diros|
Rather than risk getting our clothes wet when landing on the beach we opted for a plastic bag and natures waterproofs, dressing quickly on arrival on the beach; the beach was deserted.
|The caves at Diros|
Our departure was not quite so discrete as two female American tourists had decided to take a swim near our dinghy; they seemed slightly surprised when three men stripped naked on the beach, climbed into a dinghy and rowed off to sea! I am not sure whether Reginald Perrin was ever shown on US television?
|Outside the caves at Diros|
After this we departed northwards again, needing to keep up with our programme, in order to get Malcolm to Kalamata in time for his departing flight 48 hours hence.
Our final overnight stop of this leg was in the beautiful bay of Kardamila where we settled for the night in the SE corner, out of the slight swell that was running, and spent a pleasant evening and quiet night. Next morning it was weigh anchor by 1000 and into Kalamata by 1130 in preparation for his 1300 departure. Once Malcolm had gone we settled for a quiet afternoon in temperatures of near 40 centigrade awaiting the cool of the evening before heading to the supermarkets for a major victualling exercise. Two hours and €250 later we were back onboard, after which we headed for my favourite taverna in Kalamata, the taverna Krini, which is 100m from the marina in the next road back from the waterfront. Great food at a fantastic price.
|Sunset at Ormos Kardamila|
That evening the sole topic of conversation with our European neighbours was the UK referendum, all were heartened by the news that the polls showed a slight lead for “Remain”; the next morning it was difficult to look them in the eye when telling them that “Brexit” was the victor. I personally could offer them no logical explanation for such a result other than to quote Winston Churchill ….. “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”.....
More when we leave Kalamata …..