Kurukulla at Anegada, BVI

Thursday, 23 May 2013

To the northern limit for this year.

On passage Simi to Leros
On departure from Simi we headed west intending to leave Kos to starboard but as we approached the end of the Turkish mainland the wind veered and we changed the plan from, heading out to Asti Palia, to, rounding the eastern end of Kos and then heading north through the Dodecanese. The result was a fast sail northwards to Leros where we anchored at 1630 in the bay on the south end of the island, at Xerokambos; an excellent 65 mile sail, most of which had been with good winds and on a close reach, the fastest point of sailing.
During the thunderstorm
The anchorage at Ornos Roussa, Dhenousssa
Next day was a 1000 start in rather variable conditions. The weather was overcast and the clouds unstable. Prime thunderstorm conditions and we were not to be disappointed! Our original intention was to sail north to Fournoi or Patmos ready for an early departure next day over to Mykonos where our next crew members were due to join. By the time we had sailed off the anchor and cleared the bay it was already raining and the first lightning strikes were visible. Half an our later we had to set course westwards to clear the worst of it but even so we were treated to a spectacular show of thunder and lightning with very many strikes visible onto the hills of Leros. The boats closer to the shore had a much worse time than we did; we managed to skirt the worst or it but not without heading more than a few miles west. The result was another change of plan and we continued west to the very small island of Dhenoussa, about ten miles east of Naxos. We anchored in Ormos Roussa just as the sun was setting. On our approach to the island we had been followed by a French catamaran who, on entering the bay, motored past us at full speed to ensure he got first choice of anchorage position. We continued to sail in, rounded up and anchored in our chosen anchorage; we then went for a brief swim, served ourselves a gin and tonic and settled down for a pleasant evening on deck. The French were still trying to get their anchor to hold! Eventually, after several attempts in their chosen spot they motored over in our direction and anchored about 50m away. We grinned quietly!
On the waterfront, Naoussa
Next morning dawned bright and warm with a good northerly breeze. With time in hand to get to Mykonos we decided to head for Naoussa in Paros first and to fill up with water and food there. Easier and cheaper than Mykonos. By mid afternoon we were anchored in the north-western bay, Ormos Ay Ioannou, in Naoussa bay. We had the anchorage to ourselves and so settled down for the night.
Next morning we motored gently across the bay, in no wind, and moored up in the marina at Naoussa town. The marina used to be well maintained but is obviously in decline. Few of the holding off lines remain and they have ceased to charge for it's use. Obviously not covering its costs and another example of EU money potentially going to waste! The town itself seems to be doing well enough, smartly painted and awaiting the start of the tourist season. It also possesses two very good supermarkets (by Greek standards) on the outskirts. Watered, re victualled and refreshed by a beer in the taverna on the quay we set sail for Mykonos. A 20 mile beat to windward. The wind held for the first hour or so but then died away. Rather than drift for hours with the sails flogging we decided to motor in and thus we arrived in the anchorage at Agrari at around 1600; still no wind.
In Mykonos marina
The small beach at the western end of Agrari has a stage structure, now in ruins, built for Yehudi Menuhin to entertain the Greek King and his guests when the Royal yacht was anchored offshore in the spot we now occupied. It is also the beach that featured in the film “Shirley Valentine”. We spent just one night there before moving into Mykonos Marina (which now hardly deserves the name). It is becoming more run down every year and there is no sign of the facilities ever being completed. Even more of the holding off lines in the non charter yacht berths are now defunct. We managed to take the same alongside slot that I occupied last year but fortunately it was only for a day or two this year. That night Christoph and I headed into Mykonos town to give him the conducted tour. It does not take long but the architecture is very attractive and given that I was pinned down here by strong winds for almost three weeks last year I was greeted like a long lost friend in several of the bars; no wonder my bank account took such a hit last year! A bottle of local beer is €6 in almost every establishment!
Next day we hired a car to collect the new joiners from the airport and, given that the weather was not great for sailing, we headed from the airport for lunch in Ano Mera, the second town on Mykonos. It was a chance to introduce Stephen, Chris and Jason to normal life on Mykonos before exposing them to the tourist hot house that is Mykonos town itself. We lunched in a very simple Greek taverna, found last year and run by a very entertaining Greek girl and her parents. Their welcome alone made the trip worthwhile, notwithstanding good food and wine at a sensible price.
On completion we returned to the boat, decanted the travellers onboard for a snooze (they had been up since 0400), then Christoph and I headed for the best supermarket on the island to top up the victuals. That done we returned the car, enjoyed an early evening sundowner onboard and finally headed for Mykonos town for a second night out on the tiles and to show the others the lights!
Anchorage on Rhinia west coast
Most awoke with a slightly thick head the next day and so, after a slow start combined with a light breakfast, we sailed out of Mykonos and headed for the northern anchorage on Rhinia. On arrival, an hour and a half later, we sailed onto the anchor in our chosen spot but, although the water was flat, the wind was still slightly troublesome; as a consequence, after a leisurely lunch we sailed off the anchor and headed to the better protected anchorage on the west side of the island. There we cooked supper, pasta with meatballs, watched the sun set and retired for a relatively early night; compared with the previous two that is!
Tied back to what remains of the small quay in Paradise
Elia beach
Anchored in Ornos Ay Ioannou, Naoussa, Paros
Fishermans harbour, Naoussa
Naoussa at dusk
Sunday dawned windless and stayed that way. Great sunshine but no wind! As a consequence we motored the ten miles back to Elia and this time anchored with a long line tied back to the rocks. Sun and sea were the order of the next two days. No sailing to be done with no wind. Our only excursion was to motor to Paradise Beach, where we tied back to the old quay for a pair of hours whilst a team went ashore to replenish our wine and beer stocks that had run dangerously low, and then it was another motor round to Super Paradise for lunch. Sadly only one of the three restaurants on Super Paradise was open (slow start this season) and that was the self service café associated with the beach disco bar at the eastern end. The food was mediocre and the noise uncomfortable, hence we decided to go back to the boat and head back to Elia which was all the more tranquil. Readers should not be misled by the names Paradise and Super Paradise.. they are misnomers! Whilst preparing to leave we were hailed by two German holidaymakers on whom Christoph decided to practice his mother tongue. Suffice to say they became part of the crew for the next two days but very kindly also took Christoph to the airport from Elia beach for his departure to UK next day. The day was windy but by 1600 it had abated enough to set sail for Paros again and by 1900 Kurukulla was anchored in Naoussa for a second time but this time in the eastern side of the bay, where the protection from the forecast south east winds would be better. The winds never materialised that night and next morning we spent an hour ghosting across the harbour and returning to the idyllic anchorage where Christoph and I had anchored following our arrival in the Cyclades. A day of swimming and sunning (with what sun there was, it was slightly overcast) and then we headed to the marina in the evening for a night alongside; we entered with the intention of supper ashore and a pre departure run to the supermarkets next morning. In the event the forecast strong southerly winds arrived during the night and so it was we decided to stay in the harbour for two nights enjoying the free berthing, electricity and water!
More when we leave.....

Sunday, 12 May 2013

2013, We're off again.

Kurukulla ready to launch
The 2013 season started in some chaos, In the last two weeks before departure I managed, with the aid of an excellent solicitor in the form of my friend Nick Stuart-Taylor (Biscoes, Petersfield office), to buy the top floor apartment in the same block in which I live; with completion occurring, at earliest, on the day Kurukulla was originally due to go in the water. Fortunately I was able to delay launch by 12 days, at modest cost; giving time to complete the purchase, move apartments, introduce tenants into the old apartment, finalise all the necessary administration (changing addresses etc.) and fly out to Marmaris, all with three days to spare to do the anti-fouling and underwater maintenance before the launch. Not much of a challenge there then! To compound this I managed to put my back out two days before the move; fortunately this time it recovered relatively quickly, but to make life easier I sub contracted this years underwater painting and topside polish, (I concluded having my back in good shape for the start of the season was worth more than 600YTL approx £220 the hull work cost).
Another advantage has been having company this year for the preparations. A friend, Christoph, had volunteered to sail the first leg out to the Greek Islands. When the programme changed he very kindly agreed to stick to his original dates and assist with the commissioning work enabling me to catch up the time lost in the programme and thus enable us to arrive on time at his departure point from where his flights are already booked (we hope!).
330 ton crane seems a bit excessive
The launch of Kurukulla was straightforward and the work to be done soon completed. The most complex item was the manufacture of new fairleads on the bow, to replace the ones broken in the storm in Bozyazi last year, and this was completed by Wednesday. Thus it was Wednesday night we set off into Marmaris to have a last meal ashore and to visit the local Transas supermarket to top up on all the necessities for the voyage north into the Greek Islands. I had decided to depart Turkey from Marmaris to avoid having to make additional stops en route, this should have been easy but bureaucracy had taken its toll. Instead of being able to pay the agent at the marina to do all the necessary administration it was now necessary to appear in person at the international ferry port at an appointed time for a head count of those onboard. As we arrived for this process we were waived off the berth nearest their office and sent to the far end of the liner berth, half a mile away, from which we had to walk to and fro to the office. All designed to be helpful! In addition one now has to have a “Blue Card” on which all of your black water (i.e. sewage) pump outs have to be recorded; as I had not had one previously (I had deliberately avoided getting one to avoid the hassle) I was now require to buy one before I was allowed to leave! Not only that but I had to buy a “virtual” pump out (from the agent) to prove that the boat was empty before departing. Nothing was ever pumped out of anywhere but honour was satisfied for the officials!
Anchorage at Marathouda, Simi
Alongside in Simi, waiting.......
Simi town drops into the distance

All that done we set off for Simi, our first port of call in Greece and the scene of the next battle with bureaucracy. We had a great first sail into the Rhodes Straits, light to moderate winds and varying from broad reach to close fetch. This resulted in us reaching Simi in the early evening and thus we decided to anchor overnight in the inlet at Marathouda on the south eastern side of the island. Next morning dawned bright and clear but with very light winds and so we sailed off the anchor and made a slow passage north up the east coast to the port of Simi where the necessary paperwork could be completed. We arrived in Simi port at 1410, 10 minutes after the immigration police had closed the office for the afternoon! Since the cutbacks in manning to reduce the Greek deficit (there are now only two officials to man the office), they only open from 0800 – 1400 and 1800 – 2100. The Port Police (aka Coast Guard) on the other hand are open all day but sadly, they explained, they could do nothing until the Immigration Police had stamped the crew list form with which they, the Port Police, had provided me. We settled down for a frustrating four hour wait. Our in and out visit was not to be! To add to my black mood one of the ferry line handlers tried to persuade me to reposition the boat from the temporary alongside position (on what used to be the quarantine berth) that we had taken to a Mediterranean moor in the harbour for which he would of course we then would have had to pay. He got short shrift! His friend, whose fishing from the quay had been momentarily interrupted as we came alongside, and who had persuaded him to intervene, was equally disappointed. At the end of it all we finally got away at 1930, four hours later that planned, and headed for the nearest anchorage in the adjacent bay, Ormos Emborios, where we arrived just after dusk. Not the best of anchorages, especially when visibility is constrained by poor light, but we managed to anchor in 10 m just off the hamlet and spent a safe night there. Next morning, at 0800, we got under-way again just as the wind was setting in. This wind built to 20+ knots from the west and so we limited our days sailing to a quick motor round to the anchorage near the monastery at Ay Emilianos, on the west side of Simi but protected from the west. The monastery seems to have only one inhabitant, and elderly caretaker or monk who scrutinised us closely on arrival but then paid us no more attention.
The monastery and anchorage at Emilianos
The anchorage was not as good as described in Heikell's pilot but give we were sharing it with only two other fishing boats it served our purpose for the following 18 hours.
We leave tomorrow at 0600. More when we are further north!