Kurukulla at Anegada, BVI

Friday, 28 October 2011

The final leg.

Symi waterfront
The transit between Symi and Bozburum was windless and as a result we motored the whole way. To break the monotony we anchored for lunch and a swim in a bay just short of the Kizil Adasi passage, only two miles short of Bozburum. Ashore was somebodies folly, a potentially beautiful house on the waterfront, that had been allowed to go to ruin. Occupied only by goats. Oh for the cash to buy it and restore it!
The folly
After a short passage, again under engine, we ultimately arrived in port at 1700 just in time to catch the harbour master before he went home. Bozburun only became a port of entry in 2010. It is by far the most convenient that I have heard of, the harbour master is also the local health authority, customs authority and is next door to the immigration police for whom he deputises. The result is that all the required four stamps on the cruising log and visas can be obtained in the same office, at a price ... the official price of the cruising log plus two visas' should amount to ~€90; the Bozburum price, “service included”, is €140. Notwithstanding this bit of profiteering it is still a good deal. The same process in Canakkale took almost a whole day and including a €30 taxi ride to the immigration authorities outside town, ultimately it cost more!
Bozburun main street
Bozburum is a small town, well remote from other centres of population. Only recently was it connected to the rest of Turkey by metalled road. It has a good selection of waterfront restaurants and a fair selection of shops plus a well protected harbour, all the ingredients of a good place to visit. We dined ashore, managed a pre return home haircut (at 10pm, how's that for service) and then retired onboard for a late evening film.
En route Marmaris
Next morning we replenished our gas, purchased a few last minute victuals and motored out of the harbour. Ten minutes later the wind came up and we set full sail and headed for Gerbekse, a small inlet two thirds of the way to Marmaris. On our arrival the wind dropped to nothing half a mile short of the entrance but interestingly inside the anchorage the wind was again quite strong, falling down the face of the mountain to the NW of us. We anchored in 4m and settled down for the evening. An hour later a large catamaran entered the inlet and for half an hour tried to squeeze himself between us and the beach; eventually he took note of my frowns from the foredeck and decided that there was not room for him to swing to his anchor without hitting us, something that had been obvious from the start! He then moved further out in the inlet, anchored near the windward shore and very close to the rocks. Next morning he had already gone before daybreak, I suspect as a result of the wind change in the middle of the night and driving him ashore. Charter skippers!
Ready to lift out
Into storage along with 1300 others!
From here we set off late the next morning, just as the tourist gullets started to arrive. Our destination was only two miles away, Kadirga Limani, an anchorage where we planned to spend the last afternoon before going into the marina at Marmaris. On arrival there were several other yachts in the anchorage but it was pleasant enough and not crowded. A final Sunday brunch, afternoon relaxing and swimming and then it was time to sail off the anchor and head for Yacht Marine marina in Marmaris.
The gentle final sail ended at 1800 as we berthed as directed by the marina staff and started the sad process of putting Kurukulla to bed for the winter. The marina is excellent, swimming pool, restaurant, bar and all the chandlers and supermarket facilities that you could ask for in a complex like this. In addition there are engineering and electronics companies on site for repairs etc. As well as putting Kurukulla to bed for the season I also took the opportunity, whilst Steve was there to do the winching, to go aloft and install the new cabling in the mast for the replacement wind instruments; a job that had been awaiting a willing volunteer and sufficient time since the start of the season.
View from the mast-head
The final act was to book the taxi to Dalaman airport, €60, and survive the Thomas Cook Airlines flight to Stansted, departing at 0150 in the morning, that was more of a challenge than anything else in the past five days!
More in April next year............................
A wave goodbye from the mast-head

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The best laid plans

Skala port.
Self at castle
The new port facility at Skala in Astipalaia was funded by the EU at a cost of €3.05M and already it has been mostly destroyed by, I suspect, the locals; fishermen who do not want boats berthed in their fishing spots. Of the 12 or so power and water points installed for visiting craft only two are still functioning; that is not counting the 6 or 7 adjacent to (and used exclusively by) the local fishing boats, all of which function! The remainder no longer exist, vandalised . The harbour, although poorly finished, is well protected from the Meltemi. This is all a real shame because it is a beautiful town with lots to offer and the locals are friendly. Whilst there we climbed up to the castle, quite a hike, and enjoyed the spectacular views. The castle itself is being restored into a tourist facility with an event stage and visitors' centre.
Eventually we sailed off the jetty at Astipalaia at 1630 on Saturday 15th to head out and find an anchorage in the islands six miles to the east; the majority of these islands are uninhabited and we chose the eastern anchorage on Nisos Kounoupia. We arrived at 1845, and after a brief search for a patch of sand to anchor on (the majority was rock), we dropped anchor at dusk. This anchorage was less peaceful than we had hoped; although the wind was in the north and the entrance faced south east a small but noticeable swell found its way in causing Kurukulla to rock and roll all night.
The coast of Tilos
Next morning dawned grey and windy. At 0800 we were glad to hoist the sails and get under-way, heading for Tilos our next planned port of call. We had a wonderful 45 mile sail across, consistently averaging over 6 knots on a beam reach, stand-fast some lighter wind for the last 8 miles. With strong north winds again forecast we made for the large bay on the south coast which would offer the best shelter. The bay was open but had a dramatic backdrop of high mountains on three sides, the Chora (town) being 1.5 km inland at the foot of the northerly mountain. At 1730 we dropped anchor and stowed the sails, it was to be their last appearance for several days.
Anchored off the beach at Tilos
For the next three days we were pinned down in the bay by strong winds from the N – NW. We managed to get ashore and walk up to the town only to find it was virtually deserted. In three hours ashore we had totalled less than 20 people sighted! The local “supermarket” was the most eclectic shop ever seen. Pasta piled high amongst the shoes, trainers and clothing, the worlds largest stock of dry biscuits and no bread! The owners were also a strange couple, he with silver curly hair, a beer in hand and no word of English, she not speaking a word unless pressed but with a fairly good command of English. This summed up the island, quiet, peaceful but probably the least welcoming that we have visited. Only an artist, trying to exhibit and sell her paintings from her summer home, volunteered to engage in conversation.
Day four dawned bright and clear, and at 1000 we hoisted the sails, sailed smartly off the anchor and set course for the island of Symi. By 1030 we had started the engine and by 1100 the wind had dropped to nothing leaving only the residual sea from the day before and even that did not last long, where was the forecast NW10-15 knots of wind? The Mediterranean strikes again! At least it was a chance to recharge the batteries. The engine had not been used since our arrival in Astipalaia. The solar panels on Kurukulla are good but do not quite meet domestic demand, especially if the computer is in frequent use; next year it could be that I will fit a wind generator as well to bridge the power gap.
Symi harbour
After six and a half windless hours motoring we arrived in the main port of Symi where we were to exit Greece for the last time. Our delay in Tilos had cost us the chance of a stay in Rhodes and besides we had been recommended to re-enter Turkey via Bozburun, where the local bureaucracy is said to be less of a pain.
Symi is a gateway to Greece for many yachts as witnessed by the numerous British registered yachts in the harbour. As an island it is pretty but suffers from the inflated prices of a tourist venue. From here we head back into Turkey and then onwards to journey's end at Marmaris. Next post from there!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The zig-zag south

As predicted the winds abated on Sunday and we were able to escape the bay at Naoussa, turn southwest and head down the coast of Anti Paros until we reached the narrow passage between Anti Paros and the tiny island of Dhespotico. Once safely through we anchored in the westerly of the two bays on the south coast of Anti Paros. A wonderful deserted sandy beach, backed by salt flats and populated by goats. Once anchored in 4 metres we rapidly deployed ashore in the dinghy and started setting up a BBQ pit and collecting wood. An hour later we enjoyed a late afternoon lunch of pork kebabs and beef patties, with an accompanying salad; all washed down with very passable Greek wine. A return onboard at sunset was followed by a viewing of “The Cruel Sea”, followed by an early night for all.
Next day dawned bright and with a moderate northerly breeze. After a morning swim we set off eastwards across the straits between Paros and Naxos (requiring a reef for a short period) to Nisos Skhinousa where a “deserted, rugged bay” as described in the pilot turned out to be the site of some very wealthy persons exceptionally smart villa with several guest villas within the grounds. Their motor yacht was moored in the bay next to us! The anchorage was none the less pleasant and well protected from the north winds. We did not disturb their haven for too long arriving in the early evening and leaving after a brief snorkel round the bay next morning.
Berthed in Katapola, Amorgos
Next destination was the anchorage between Andikaros and Dhrima, a stop for lunch. The channel between the two is passable with care; we encountered a least depth of 3.5m but it is certainly not as charted in the pilot. The NE point of Dhrima is not steep to but has a shallow patch extending 75m offshore and the deep water channel between the islands is much closer to Dhrima than charted with a very shallow sand bar extending out from the SW shore of Andikaros. Notwithstanding these errors in the pilot we anchored safely, without mishap, and passed a very pleasant two hours in the anchorage, lunching and swimming, in the company of one other boat.
On completion we sailed off the anchor and set course for Katapola on the Island of Amorgos. Katapola is the “capital” of Amorgos and is a wonderful town, unspoilt and welcoming. We berthed stern to on the town quay at the eastern end, paid our dues for water and electricity (€15) and filled in yet another crew list for the Port Police (dues of €10), the usual Greek bureaucracy. That evening we dined in the restaurant literally opposite the stern of the boat. Angelis, the proprietor, was a very welcoming host and the food was the best we have tasted since entering Greece, even the house wine was drinkable.
Ormos Negro, Ios
Group photo in the Old Chora, Ormos Livadhi, Iraklia
Wednesday morning dawned bright and clear again and after a short stroll ashore for some top up victuals we set sail for Ios. Almost no sooner were we clear of the land but the wind died away to nothing! First time for several weeks that we have been forced to motor and as a result, rather than motor for several hours, we diverted to Pigadhi in Nisos Iraklia. Pigadhi is listed in the pilot as a remote and rugged fjord. After one attempt to moor to the rocks we decided the winds, which had now decided to return, were too unpredictable and the anchorage too narrow to be safe for the night, hence we pressed on to Ios. On arrival, in the early evening, we opted to anchor in Ormos Kolitzani; just south of the main port of Ios. Next morning we set off reasonably early with the intention of finding Ormos Negro, a bay on the west coast where I had spent a night at anchor, in 2001, when sailing with the family. Negro is a beautiful inlet, protected from the north winds, three beaches and almost untouched by tourism. I say almost because since the last visit two small beach facilities, too small to be called tavernas, have been built. Nonetheless it was idyllic and remains unspoilt and almost unknown to the yachting fraternity. We had a beach BBQ, remained at anchor overnight, and then looked at our options for where to go next.
Our plan to go to Santorini and stay there for three days was wrecked by the weather forecast which showed a deep low passing through our area giving three days of “strong gusting to severe gale” southerly winds followed by a similar period of northerly gales. From my research in the pilot I concluded Santorini is not the place to be in a southerly blow, hence we returned to Nisos Iraklia and took shelter there, in Ornos Livadhi; here we remained for three days. Our choice was good, the shelter from the gales was near perfect and from here we could watch the seas crashing on the SW shore of Skhinousa to the NE of us. In this time we managed two forays ashore one to the main port of Iraklia, in the next bay to us and the other to the deserted, original, Chora (town) of the island which was abandoned after the German occupation of WWII and never reoccupied.
On passage Iraklia - Amorgos
Kalotaritissa, Amorgos
In the short lull between southerly and northerly gales we made a fast dash, in heavy seas and torrential rain, to the southern tip of Nisos Amorgos where we anchored in Kalotaritissa; this is a small bay at the southerly tip, well protected from the north. It proved to be quite tight with numerous fishing boats also moored there and hence we spent only one night sheltering here before making another dash, in foul weather, back to Ormos Katapola. This visit we anchored in a cove on the north shore of the bay and spent a very pleasant two days sheltering there. The second day was Mike's 67th birthday and so we decided to make an attempt to moor on the town quay that night in order to allow us to get ashore easily for the festivities; it was not to be, we were the first to attempt to return to the town quay after the gales and our attempt was unsuccessful; even with all 50m of cable out the anchor was still dragging, making the berth untenable. We returned to our anchorage and resigned ourselves to a dinghy ride along the north coast of the bay to get ashore that night.
Anchored in bay on N side of Katapola
Mike's birthday
The evening was a great success. Peter and I had gone ashore the previous day and walked into town to pre book a restaurant. Our intention had been to return to Angelis but in the event we were tempted through the doors of a Mediterranean Bistro, “Karamel”, run by a French lady, Armelle. A beer and wine tasting later it was booked; four people, three courses, coffee, €100, wine included. It was excellent, the ambiance was just right and we all ended up dancing the night away until midnight, having drawn in other diners. As we were planning to sail at 0400 this was a bit of a mistake!
In the event we managed to sail off the anchor at 0500 ghosting out of the bay in the moonlight. An hour later and the wind had subsided to nothing and we then motored for six hours in the direction of Nisos Astipalaia, from where Peter and Mike were booked to fly back to UK next day. We arrived off the coast of Astipalaia at 1300 and anchored for lunch and a swim in the first tenable anchorage, next to Ak Tiliaros, on the SW tip of the island. A beautiful bay with crystal clear water and good holding if in sand (if you avoid the rocks on the bottom which are prevalent in some areas). Here we stayed for four hours before ghosting round to Skala, the main town, for the night. We arrived just after dark and hence took the easy option of berthing on the old ferry pier overnight before moving inside the new, better protected, harbour the next morning.
Birthday supper
At 1100 we waved goodbye to Mike and Peter as they set off for their flight to Athens and then on to UK. They made it but not without delays caused by Greek air traffic controllers. How striking and angering the tourists on whom you depend is going to help the Greek economy escapes me!
The port, Skala, Astipalaia
Watering and fuelling ship, a night alongside, a slow start morning and then writing this Blog, brings it up to date. We sail in a pair of hours to find an anchorage for tonight. More from Rhodes in a week's time.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Pinned down in Paros

Super Paradise beach
My first (and last) night out on the town in Mykonos was not the best preparation for a journey back to UK. It consisted of an 0400 return to the boat and a subsequent party onboard that went on until after daybreak. Fortunately the flight was not due to take off until 1410; hence, I was able to grab a couple of hours sleep before packing and heading off to the airport leaving Steve to look after the boat.
The journey back to UK went almost without hitch, but for two hours of delay in both directions; outward due to the crosswinds on the runway putting the Easyjet A319 out of limits for take-off and the return because the striking Greek air traffic controllers would not give clearance for take-off. Notwithstanding this all was well with Kurukulla when I eventually did get back and Daniel's graduation ceremony was definitely worth returning for; a great day.
Mykonos Marina on departure
With Mike Owens and Peter Van der Veken having joined in my absence we were now up to four onboard. A pair of hours after my return we moved berth to get water from the only berths connected in the part finished marina and then motored off on a windy, lumpy transit back to Super Paradise anchorage. Motoring to put some power back in the batteries; Mykonos marina does not stretch to electrical supplies!
Departing Elia
Steve, Peter, Self and Mike dining ashore in Naousa, Paros
We were to stay here for 24 hours because of the Meltemi making it too rough to be pleasant even for a passage downwind. After we motored to Paradise and then Elia just for a change of scenery and to charge the batteries again. At the start of the second day in Elia we decided to make a dash for Paros and sailed the 20 miles downwind, in 2 hours 30 mins, to Naousa; anchoring in the bay at Ormos Ay Ioannou where the shelter was good and the holding excellent. Next day we motored into Naousa Marina to replenish victuals and water, plus plug in to give the batteries a full charge. The entry and berthing were a bit hairy but all achieved without mishap. The only downside was that the berth was subject to a continual surge and the noise from the berthing warps was horrendous, enough to keep all awake all night (well almost). That evening we dined ashore and then, next morning, re-victualled, gas replenished and batteries fully charged we returned to the peace of the anchorage.
Near the anchorage is a small boatyard which the delay has given me the chance to explore; I discovered that they are offering winter storage for 50% of the price I am currently paying, guess where I might be wintering 2012 – 2013?
The anchorage at Ormos Ay Ioannou, Kurukulla in distance.
Ak Korakas, Paros and the reason we are pinned down.
So... here we are, two days later, still waiting for the wind to subside; something it is forecast to do tomorrow, Sunday. The Meltemi is supposed to be a thing of history by the end of September but it seems that this year it was almost a month late arriving and is staying a month longer than usual! Just our luck to get pinned down; but there are worse places!