Kurukulla at Anegada, BVI

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Southward bound.

Storm damage from Mykonos!
Mike Owens arrived as planned and I collected him from the airport in the hired 4WD. A short stop at the best supermarket we could find ensured that we were ready to depart next day and after putting all of our acquisitions, plus Mike's kit onboard, we set off for a final road tour of the island! Next day we were sailing gales or no gales!
After being pinned down in Mykonos by the force 6-8 winds, gusting up to storm force 10, for almost two weeks it was a pleasure to escape the sand blasting of the marina and head round to the southern beaches to shelter there. Time to clean the boat up, a two day task in itself! Kurukulla looked as though she had been in the Sahara Desert but no permanent damage except to the flags, all three looked much the worse for wear after their experience!
The nearest Kurukulla came to serious damage whilst in the marina was when an arriving charter yacht did a “hand-brake turn” into the basin where we were berthed and then, on trying to go astern, realised he had absolutely no astern power whatsoever; a diver recovered his propeller from the bottom of the basin two days later, the retaining nut was never found! Fortunately he had a reactive crew who fended off well and prevented him “T boning” me on Kurukulla's starboard side; we came out unscathed.
Having escaped the marina Mike got his first soaking of the trip on the way southwards! After an hour we anchored off, and tied back to the rocks with long lines, in the now familiar spot on Elia Beach. We had become a regular feature there and almost become part of the scenery; even featuring in the water colours of a visiting French artist Roland Gilles. The day before our departure a charter yacht came in to anchor for the night, anchoring about 50m from us. The crew swam ashore and I introduced myself to one of them who completely left me dumbfounded when he introduced himself and called me by name, he had been reading the blog!
Approaching Sifnos in a flat calm
On Monday 25th of June we left Mykonos for the last time this season and headed downwind, in a force 8, for Dhespotico; it is a very small island off the west coast of Paros with a well sheltered and secluded bay on the south side. An hour away from Mykonos and the wind started to subside, an hour later and there was no wind! This is Mediterranean sailing at its worst, no wind and a horrid, lumpy sea. Two hours later we motored into the bay, anchored and immediately dived in for a swim to wash off the salt spray.
The lunchtime anchorage
In amongst the fishermen
Next morning dawned with bright sunshine but very little wind, our choice was an early start and a drift to one of the local islands or another day of motoring. We decided to head for Faros on Sifnos, a small town on the eastern end of the island with three anchorages nearby and a small town quay. We sailed off the anchor but an hour later we were becalmed and motoring along at six knots. Two miles short of Sifnos we were joined by a school of three dolphins who played under the bow for a few minutes before heading off in the other direction, It is always such a pleasure to see them and on this occasion one took position under the bow and just stayed there, a metre ahead of the boat, matching our speed, almost station keeping. After anchoring and a late lunch in the small bay just inside Ak Stavros (one of the headlands defining the bay) we moved into the town quay, berthing Kurukulla, stern to, in amongst the fishing boats. Not too popular with one of the local fishermen but as I pointed out the jetty had been paid for by the EU, i.e. me, and I had equal right to use it! There was plenty of space so Kurukulla was causing no obstruction to anyone; the fisherman who complained just did not like the idea of a yacht using what they had come to think of as their facility! In truth it was built with EU money to bring in tourists and therefore revenue to the local community, not for sole use of the fishermen. A short walk round the “town”, supper onboard and a late night drink in a local taverna finished the day.
Mike (AKA Old Sea Dog) on the helm
After securing some provisions from the only local shop we moved back to the bay of the previous afternoon for a leisurely lunch and then sailed off the anchor heading for Milos. This proved to be another brisk downwind sail, averaging nearly 7 knots under double reefed main and rolled genoa, and saw us forging through the channel between Kimolos and Poliagos before anchoring off a large sandy beach on the south side of Kimolos. A wide, open, anchorage but comfortable none the less if you could forget the 20 knot wind blowing; at least it was warm wind!
Departing Kimolos
Passing Sikinos to Stbd
The debate next day was go into Milos town, 7 miles away, or head to Ios and start making our way east. The wind untimately decided for us by backing to the NW making an entry to Milos easy but the exit would have been decidedly uncomfortable. Thus it was that we set off on a spanking good reach, under the same sails as the day before, heading for Ios. 36 miles in 5 hours, anchorage to anchorage, in a lumpy sea but fast sailing. Due to the conditions lunch had to await our arrival in the anchorage at Milopotamou, in Ios, but we were there and anchored by 1500. Milopotamou offers reasonable shelter but we did have to reset the anchor once to stop it dragging. After anchoring the first time I went for a swim to check on the anchor and got run down by a passing windsurfer for my trouble, fortunately the only damage was a painfully bruised leg, mine! The anchor in the meantime was lying on its side, dragging along happily, and making no attempt to dig in! The second time we laid it it performed rather better and held perfectly throughout the night, despite very gusty conditions.
Today we moved into Ios harbour and managed to get the only available free berth in the whole harbour. Fortunately we backed in alongside a very friendly couple from California who agreed that as we were the larger boat we should take their holding off line, the only one available, and they would hang off us.
Milopotamou anchorage, the most popular beach on Ios
Some people might not have been so accommodating! Ios is a small harbour with limited facilities and subject to heavy swells when the large ferries are manoeuvring into their berth in such restricted space so a good holding off arrangement is essential.
Tomorrow we head for Ornos Nero, my favourite anchorage in Ios.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Gusting force 10 for 8 days!

Kormou Ammos
Kurukulla stern to in Tinos
The weather predictions were right, the winds abated and went round to the south for two days. On day one we sailed gently across to Rania again, anchoring for the night in the same bay as before, Kormou Ammos. Another evening in paradise. Next day we set off in a light southerly wind for Tinos, some 7 miles north, and ghosted our way up to the harbour entrance. For anyone entering Tinos beware, the description and chartlet in the latest Heikell pilot are completely inaccurate. There is now a half finished, and seemingly abandoned, project creating a breakwater which closes off most of what was once a very wide entrance to the port. The starboard hand light on the original southern mole has been extinguished and replaced by a rust coloured drum shaped buoy displaying a green (Fl, 3secs) light by night; positioned just outside the southern end of the “new” structure. The unfinished state of the breakwater means that for a considerable part of its length it is barely visible, being within centimetres of the sea level. A significant hazard if attempting a night entry!
The abandoned breakwater project from S end, Buoy in distance
Ornos Plaka, Andros
Berthing here was easy and assistance was on-hand to take our lines as we made our Med moor. Shortly after we decided to indulge in an ice cream which was accompanied by an offer of help from a local, at the same ice cream parlour, to show us where to find gas, supermarkets etc. I was invited onto the back of a motorbike and off we set. The locals really are incredibly friendly and nothing is too much trouble. The only shame was that their livelihood is derived from tourism and the place was rattlingly empty! More evidence of Greece's problems. Within minutes we were back with a full gas bottle and with me knowing where to find supermarkets etc. Water and electricity were available from the town quay; we declined both but noted that water was free, somewhat different to the 1€ per 10 litres we had paid the day before in Mykonos! That evening we dined onboard and then set off on a walking tour of the waterfront.
Next morning, having visited the local bakery for fresh bread, we set off in a flat calm for Ornos Plaka in Andros. A remote but very picturesque bay on the SW coast of Andros. The pilot described it as being adjacent to the ancient, and only recently excavated, town of Zagora but we saw little evidence of it. Notwithstanding it was a delightful place to spend the night, if a little open to the SW and any swell.
Stenon Dhisvaton, separating Andros (L) from Tinos (R)
Downwind at 8 kts
Kurukulla tucked away on far wall of Mykonos Marina.
Panormos entrance in a force 9!
Next day, Friday, was supposed to be the day the strong northerly winds arrived. To our surprise we awoke to a flat calm! This being the case we ghosted off the anchor early and set sail, very slowly, south. For the first two hours we fitfully sailed and motored until we passed between the islands of Andros and Tinos and onto the east coast of Tinos. From here everything changed. Within a few minutes we went from full sail and 2-3 knots of boat speed to double reefed main and heavily rolled genoa and 7.5 knots boat-speed; now on the wind, in 30 knots of breeze. This wind lasted for two hours and then just as suddenly dropped leaving a very large and confused sea; it was like sitting inside a washing machine! Another two hours, motoring at best speed, and we cleared the south end of Tinos where the wind again gathered its previous strength; this time though we were down wind and making 8-9 knots under double reefed main and full genoa. We arrived back in Mykonos marina, our chosen place of shelter for the forthcoming gales, at 1900. On entry we chose the most sheltered berth available, despite the protestations of the local boatman, and went alongside on the inner wall of the second basin (Identified as the best stop in earlier visits). Despite the high winds, by now 40 kts, all went well until there was a loud shout from Melvin who had taken the head rope ashore whilst I dealt with the stern rope; he had omitted to secure it to the boat properly and was standing on the jetty, with the whole rope in hand, struggling unsuccessfully to hold Kurukulla alongside. I tied my rope off hastily and made a leap for the boat to try to retrieve the situation. It was not to be. Eventually, after a lot of heaving and effort we finally got her back under control, with the assistance of several of the others in the vicinity, but with the opposite side to the jetty, something we would pay a price for later. That night the winds strengthened even more and by morning we had a force 7 – 8 gusting up to storm force 10! It has been that way for the last three days and is forecast to remain so until next Monday at the earliest, 10 days continuous. The consequence of Kurukulla being port side to is that the wind is from the stern. It is picking up the dust and sand from the marina hard standing, effectively sand blasting and covering the boat; sadly, this way round, the main hatch faces into wind and so the interior is is given a dose also whenever we exit! There are many worse places to be stormbound but the marina leaves an awful lot to be desired, totally unfinished and no working facilities.
Mykonos new port and marina, from above
The last three days have been spent tending the boat and touring the island in a hire car. Not quite how we intended to see the island but better than going “stir crazy” imprisoned onboard. In view of the forecast Melvin has changed his return flight to fly back from Mykonos and Mike Owens will fly into here to join on Thursday, in lieu of Syros.
More when we get away but it won't be soon!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Pause at Mykonos.

Super Paradise as evening descends

Having suffered the disco over Sunday night I decided to move on to a quieter anchorage for the following two days and moved eastwards to Elia, the quietest of the major beaches along the south coast. It is also reportedly the windiest but with the winds light and variable this was not a problem. A friend, Stephen Catchpole, was due to join on the Wednesday, early afternoon, and so I sailed Kurukulla round to Mykonos Marina on the Wednesday morning. On arrival it was evident that the marina is no more complete than it was last year; if anything it has sunk further into decline. No power, water or holding off ropes (unless you are lucky enough to choose one of the few berths where they have survived). It was all funded by the EU but unlikely ever to be completed let alone provide a return on investment.
The only item that seems to have become marginally more efficient was fee collection, of which more later.
Mykonos by night
Mykonos town
On his arrival Stephen and I decided we would victual the boat and took a taxi to one of the largest supermarkets on the island where we bought most of the victuals needed for the week. We then went back to the boat and placed it all onboard before heading into Mykonos town for the evening. Today Mykonos has no other reason to exist beyond tourism, and it shows. The streets are overflowing with tourist tat or over priced designer goods. Add to that an endless supply of bars and restaurants and you have heaven or hell on earth, depending on your point of view. After a walk around the town we settled on a simple but good taverna selling “giros” (kebab) and local Mythos beer. This should have been all that was needed for a first night in town; however, we found ourselves drawn into several of the other bars and clubs before caching a taxi back to the boat. The late hour of our return onboard might have accounted for the hangover we both had the day after!
Next day we set off back to Elia and anchored there overnight before heading onwards to investigate the north coast the day after; something which is not possible once the Meltemi, north winds, set in at the end of June.
Kurukulla at Panormos
Panormos, a large north facing bay and a windsurfers paradise in mid summer, was an ideal anchorage in the gentle southerly winds that we experienced. An afternoon anchored there was followed by a sail along the remaining north coast and a second night in Mykonos Marina. Not surprisingly this was also accompanied by another, more restrained, visit to the town.
Alongside in Mykonos
As we sailed next morning I was somewhat surprised to be accosted by a “harbour official” who invited me to report to the Coastguard offices in Mykonos town and pay my harbour dues (the local office in the New Port was closed for a four day holiday). As we had already left the berth I declined to return but I did agree to pay, at the local office, on my return on Wednesday.
Sunset at Kormou Ammos
Kormou Ammos
From here we set off to circumnavigate Rinia and Delos. The first night was spent anchored in a delightful bay on the north coast of Rinia called Kormou Ammos, decidedly the best anchorage of the trip so far; golden sand and crystal clear water. From there we set off next day to complete the circumnavigation and to return to the south coast of Mykonos for the next night. The winds were westerly and as a result the spinnaker got its first airing of the season, We had a spectacular run all the way from Delos to Agrari entering the bay under spinnaker and anchoring under sail.
Under spinnaker
Next day Stephen's departure was looming hence we spent a relaxing day anchored off the beach and then set off set off at 1700 for the sail back to Mykonos town. We were alongside by 1900 and caught the 2010 bus into town (interestingly the bus timetable is chalked up on a chalkboard at the bus stop!). There we passed a very pleasant evening wining and dining in Mykonos before walking back to the boat at 0300.
Mykonos Old Port
Rather late next morning I visited the port authorities. Unlike other Harbour Offices, Mykonos Coastguard calculate what is due not by number of nights in port but by number of days (i.e. one night = two days). For Kurukulla this equates to €12 per day or €24 per night! There is a double multiplier in here as this is already double the cost of a visit elsewhere before applying the day night stupidity! Almost every other town quay / coastguard administered port is €5 per night for Kurukulla. Argument was destined to get me nowhere; according to the Mykonos Coastguard every other port in Greece has got it wrong! Eventually I paid up; at least last year I got a free berth here for a week!
After this saga we breakfasted at Mathew's Taverna. This establishment is right at the marina entrance and is to be recommended; friendly, helpful and good food. From here Stephen set off to the airport whilst I returned to Kurukulla via the local mini-market. I now had two days to await the arrival of my next guest, Melvin Parkinson. For these two days, with a northerly wind forecast, I returned to the beaches of the south coast; by now I was getting to know them well!
Self at Mykonos Old Port
My return to Mykonos Marina, two days later, was decidedly windy and lumpy motoring against a 25 knot northerly wind but by now the batteries needed a good charge, or at least that was my excuse for motoring! The same berth as I had used two days previously was still free and, just as I lined Kurukulla up for the alongside, a very helpful Swiss couple appeared from the boat astern and took my lines. After lunch I headed for the airport in a taxi to meet Melvyn and on the return journey we bought victuals for the next week. Double value from the taxi!
Anchored at Elia
That evening we went into Mykonos town for supper and to give Melvin a taste of the place as this was his first visit; another 0300ish night out! It seemed that Melvin had brought with him the first bout of the Meltemi (strong northerly winds) as the forecast was for N4 – 6 for the next three days. Back to shelter on the south coast! We anchored off Elia, this time with a long line ashore, and settled down to await the wind abating. Three hours later we were visited by a Coastguard patrol who informed us we were too close to the beach and needed to be a minimum of 200m out. They seemed less interested in our compliance than in making sure they were seen telling us, hence we waited until they were out of sight and did nothing. They never returned and we had a comfortable night!
Today the wind is, if anything, stronger; gusting up to 35kts. Hence we will stay put for the time being and await it abating; something that is forecast for tomorrow when we an expect a short period of southerly winds before the Meltemi returns again. More when we depart.