|Kalamata to Zakynthos|
Next morning, after a leisurely start, we sailed off the anchor and headed for Koroni, another fortified town, but this time on the south western side of the Gulf of Messiniakos.
|Sunset at Ormos Kitries|
The forecast was for southerly winds and it was a slow passage across but but 1700 we had dropped anchor on the north side of the breakwater and were looking forward to a settled night. Neptune had other ideas! By 2100 we and the other five yachts anchored in the area were all looking nervously at our anchors and wondering whether to put to sea or stay put. The wind had gone back to the north east and was gusting to 28kts producing a nasty chop as well. Two abandoned the anchorage, we chose to move further out when the anchor dragged in order to be able to pay out more cable. We re-anchored at 2300 and although far from comfortable we spent a safe night in the anchorage before moving in the early morning to the beach to the south of Koroni where we anchored relatively close in to allow Christoph and Yorgos to swim ashore and go and look at he town and castle;
I had been here two years earlier and so stayed onboard to look after Kurukulla. Later in the afternoon we sailed off the anchor and set course for the anchorage just east of Ak (Cape) Akritas. I had anchored here before and it is a delightful deserted bay with very good holding on sand. On arrival we found one other yacht in the anchorage but ghosted in and anchored 100m further along the beach. The only other residents were a goatherd and an Austrian couple in their camper van who had found their way down there.
We awoke to find a strong westerly wind wind blowing and in no time had taken the decision that we were going no where; as a consequence we passed a quiet and pleasant 24 hours sheltering in the tranquil waters of the bay. The morning after the wind had mostly abated and the seas had calmed somewhat and so we sailed off the anchor and set off for Methoni our next port of call. Methoni was a brisk two hour beat away but the conditions were such that it was a real pleasure. Once west of the Cape we were able to enjoy almost flat water sailing in 15 to 18 knots of breeze. Ideal!
By 1100 we were sailing into the protected area inside the breakwater and dropped anchor in 3.5m of water on pure sand. After lunch I dropped Christoph and Yorgos ashore to go look at the well preserved castle whilst I caught up on some correspondence and other admin. Three hours later they returned, we enjoyed sundowners on deck before heading ashore to my favourite restaurant here, “The Old Story”, 100m up the main street from the square on the waterfront, where we enjoyed a great meal of traditional Greek cuisine.
The following morning Yorgos and I went ashore to procure bread and a few victuals before we set sail for Navarino Bay, the scene of the sea battle which turned the fortunes for Greece in their batle for independence from Turkish rule/administration. A piece of history which seems not to feature in modern Greek history teaching. We departed Methoni at 1400 and by 1630 we were anchored in the northern end of Navarino Bay. An enjoyable sail! Once here we settled to a late afternoon of swimming and walking, taking the path that skirts the perimeter of the lake that lies to the north of Navarino Bay in order to reach the northern Navarino castle and the cave of Nestor, which is directly below the castle; given climbing ropes one could be accessed from the other. Next morning dawned with northerly winds blowing relatively strongly but the forecast was for better winds the day after. As a consequence we decided to stay put for a further 24 hours and wait for the more advantageous winds before embarking on the next stage of our journey north.
On the 1st of July we set out early to go to Pylos marina for Christoph and Yorgos to visit the southern castle and me to get a “top up” for t he internet sim card that gives us access to the internet onboard.
By 1330 all were back onboard and we set off on the beat to the next port of call, Kyparissia, which was a 34 mile beat to the north, albeit a heavily biased beat. By 2015 we were ghosting into the large but almost empty harbour at Kyparissia and sailed onto the anchor in the SW corner. No sooner had we dropped the anchor than we became aware of at least three, and possibly more , turtles popping their heads up to take a close look at us. Christoph, who was swimming at the time, exited the water rather faster than usual! Next morning they were still there, keeping their leisurely vigil, presumably waiting for the fish scraps jettisoned by the local fishermen.We moved alongside to replenish the water tanks before moving into the centre of the harbour, hoisting sails and heading off north, again, this time heading for Katakolon.
|Jellyfish of Kataklon!|
After a relatively long but again heavily biased beat we dropped anchor at 1800 in the bay just north of Katakolon. The plan was an evening swim followed by a salad supper. The minor problem was that the bay was also inhabited by scores of large white jellyfish which we identified as a type that only delivers a mild sting but we decided not to risk it anyway! We settled for an early supper!
|Hermes of Praxiteles, Olympia Museum|
Next morning we could still count 20 or so near Kurukulla but as we were only moving into the “marina” that morning it didn't matter that a swim was impossible, there was always a wash down under the water hose on the jetty! Katakolon marina had gone nowhere since my last visit two years back. The pontoons still rot on land and the harbour walls are occupied by some local boats and a few visitors. The only real, noticeable, difference was that the grumpy old “so and so” who had tried to overcharge me two years back was no longer in evidence. In his place was a helpful harbour assistant who demanded €10 for berthing, for 24 hours, (not the €30 demanded by his predecessor two years ago!)
|The tunnel leading to the original Olympic Stadium!|
Having left Kurukulla safely berthed, stern to, we headed for the bus stop to catch the bus to Olympia, only to find we had cut it too fine and missed it! Not to be defeated we hired a car from the local Europcar office and headed off independently. Olympia is amazing, not spoilt by restoration, nor so damaged by time as to be difficult to distinguish its grandeur. On site are also two museums, one housing the archaeological finds and the other charting the history of the early Olympic games.
|Self at Olympia|
By 1900 we were back at Kurukulla and decided to have supper ashore in one of the tavernas. Fortunately we had arrived for one of the few days this year when there was no cruise liner visiting and hence the town was quiet.
|Berthed in Katakolon|
Next day we sailed off the jetty, at 1100, just after a cruise liner had disgorged it's 2000 passengers into the village, we breathed a sigh of relief as we sailed quietly away! Zakynthos, our next destination was only 15 miles WNW of us. As we cleared Katakolon we had barely 4 kts of wind and were making only 1 – 2 kts of boat speed but as we drew away from the land, the wind freshened and we enjoyed a beat to windward in winds varying from 10 to 20 kts, verging on ideal; that is if you have to go to windward, which seemed to be the theme of the last 10 days.
By 1700 we were anchored on the southern tip of Zakynthos and settling to a swim and relax before watching the sun set and preparing a curry supper.
Next morning we moved into Zakynthos harbour, some three miles north, to await the arrival of Mike, the next crew member to join. Sadly the “marina” at Zakynthos town remains a half finished and semi derelict project, occupied in the most by local boats berthed illegally and for free! There have to be some advantages to living in a place where such projects seem to always go over budget and run out of money before they are finished!
More when we leave Zakynthos ….....