Kurukulla at Anegada, BVI

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Back to Marmaris

Kurukulla stern to in Skala, Astypalaia
My plan to enter Skala harbour was scuppered by the high winds of the Tuesday evening, making the prospect of single handed berthing with 30 knots of wind from ahead too risky; hence I simply motored the three miles across the bay from Ormos Maltezana to Ormos Livhadi and anchored in the secure anchorage there for the night. With the alarm set for 0530, when the wind was likely to be at its lightest, I turned in. I woke 15 mins before the alarm to find the winds had indeed moderated and therefore I set off for the port just as the sun was rising. By 0615 I was securely med. moored in Scala harbour with 50m of anchor cable out ahead and well tied back to the jetty. Not too difficult a manoeuvre on your own provided the securing points on the jetty are reasonably easy to reach from the boat and of course a strong wind is not creating problems. At this ungodly time of day there was not a soul on the jetty to render me any assistance!
George and Nigel, the friends joining, duly arrived on the mid-day flight and were onboard by 1330. By 1600 we were re-victualled from the local “supermarket” (in UK it would qualify for the title “village store”) and only lacking bread; the bakery did not reopen until 1700 and so we made all the preparations to leave and did so after a last minute dash, by George, to the bakery as it reopened.
With strong northerly winds forecast for the next few days we were destined to spend some time on the south coast of Astipalaia and so headed off to spend another night in Ormos Maltezana. Next day we moved, all of one mile, into Ormos Vrissi where we sunned and swam the day away and then the next morning moved into Ormos Agrilithi for another visit. The holding proved equally unreliable but on the third attempt the anchor held well. (I really must get a more efficient type of anchor!)
Morning coffee in Kamares
By 1400, just as we finished lunch, the winds seemed to abate and, although not forecast for another 24 hours, we decided to make a dash for it and headed off to Kos.
The crossing was swift, a beam reach for most of the way, with some larger seas but nothing excessive. By 1830 we were rounding the southern tip of Kos and after a beat in brisk gusty conditions we finally anchored in Ormos Kamares at 1910. Supper onboard and a relatively early night were the order of the day.
Next morning we took the dinghy ashore for a morning coffee in one of the tavernas; our plan was also to get some fresh meat and victuals from the local shops. With the nearest butcher over a mile away we despatched George inland with the local “supermarket” owner, who had kindly offered a lift there in his car, whilst Nigel and I took the dry goods back to the boat. 50 minutes later George arrived on the beach clutching a large bag of meat, we retrieved him in the dinghy, hoisted it onboard and then sailed off the anchor at 1400 heading for the island of Tilos some 30 miles away.
Anchored off the beach, Ormos Eristou, Tilos
The sail was mostly a good reach but with some frustrating periods of light wind as we passed through the gap between Nisos Nisiros and Nisos Pakhia, around the half way point. Eventually we entered the bay at Ormos Eristou at 1945, just as the sun dropped behind the hills, motored the last 400m for lack of wind and set about preparing supper which was to be followed by a film; with a heavy dew already accumulating both supper and the film were below decks.
The following day dawned misty and damp, not something we had seen for many weeks;
The narrow passageways of the Chora, Tilos
however, it soon cleared and we decided to make the mile and a half trek (300m rise) to the chora to get some fresh vegetables and to see the “town”. En route we stopped at a small “supermarket”/taverna, 100m on the left as you leave the beach-front, for refreshments and ordered our vegetables from them rather than cart them down from the chora. A decision we were later to regret!

The chora was quiet, almost deserted. We visited the church, worth it for the view, and then, following an ice cream, started the descent back to the boat.
View of the bay from the church above the Chora
On arriving at the “taverna” we decided to enjoy lunch there rather than prepare something onboard.
The lunch!
In the event it was a rather disappointing pasta al forno, “dish of the day”, which combined with starters we did not order and three cold drinks came to €50, a ridiculous price for such a venue, first and last visit, never again! Beware!
An hour later, at 1530, we sailed off the anchor heading for Symi. Initially the wind promised a reasonable sail but before we had even left the bay it dropped away to nothing and there it stayed until we motored into Panormittis Bay, Symi at 2030. There had hardly been a breath of wind all afternoon; even so I still cannot understand the attraction of motorboats!
The monastery at Panormittis
Panormitis is an almost fully enclosed bay with a large monastery facing the entrance. Inside were two dozen yachts at anchor but even so we were able to find a place to anchor without difficulty. The night was calm and the temperature warm. Supper on deck followed by another film,”The Illusionist”; not a film I had heard of before but entertaining.
With wind still absent we motored out of Panormitis at 1000 the next day and headed to Nisos Seskli, a small island south of Symi,
Panormittis entrance at sunset
where there is an anchorage on the SE corner called Ormos Skomisa. It proved to be a delightful anchorage, not quite deserted but this was July, but with very variable holding. Snorkelling around the boat it was obvious that there were few patches of decent sand on which to anchor and the added “anchor snagging” risk presented by two large anchors abandoned on the bottom, remains of a wrecked ship perhaps? Fortunately we found sand and missed the anchors, just!
Later that afternoon we motored out of the anchorage and headed towards Symi town where we needed to be the following day. For that night we turned into Ormos Nanou and anchored parallel to the cliffs on the northern side. Unless you want to be near the beach it is too deep to anchor any distance out, that is unless you drop on the shelf near the cliffs and tie back at an angle; which is what we did.
Anchored on the north side of Ormos Nanou
With no moon the darkness in the bay at midnight was impenetrable but the attraction of a midnight swim irresistible! The phosphorescence was astounding, swimming in a pool of bright blue light!
Next morning we had a lazy start; well I did, George and Nigel seem to require less sleep than me and are usually up at 0700! By 1000 we had had breakfast and a swim and set off for Symi town with the intention of anchoring for lunch and a swim along the way. Our first attempt at a place to stop was in the anchorage inside the island of Ay Marina, just north of Pethi, but this was over-run with tourists and other anchored boats and so we continued to Ormos Symi, inside the bay in which Symi sits, and found ourselves a small cove in which to spend the afternoon before beating the rush into Symi at 1600 in order to get a berth.
Our quiet anchorage in Ormos Symi
Whilst we were anchored in the cove I also went for a trek up the hillside to get some good photographs of the boat at anchor; always good to get some exercise ashore when possible!
By 1630 we were stern to in the port of Symi and whilst I got on with some administration George and Nigel set out to find us a suitable venue for dinner than night. In the event they offered a choice of one of two, one of which I had been to before and could recommend and hence we went back there. It is the furthest from the port on the northern arm of the bay, looking back into the port; beautiful waterfront views.
Symi port from above
Next morning it was the normal routine of exiting Greece, Port Police, Immigration Police (conveniently situated as far from the port police as you can get in Symi harbour) followed by Duty Free shop and Customs, followed by Port Police again and then you are free to go! By 1245 we were under-way, cheating slightly by using “Solent rig” i.e. genoa only, as we reached downwind to Bozburun in Turkey. By 1445 we were entering the passage at Kizil Adasi and decided to anchor for the night in the small bay at the entrance to the passage where there are the remains of someone’s folly, a house/taverna mostly complete but now going to ruin! Such a shame as it is a well designed building. The anchorage was well sheltered from the westerly winds and ideal for the night. We tied back to the shore and, after two attempts to get the anchor to hold properly (never again a Bruce anchor!), settled down to a relaxed evening.
The folly at Kizil Adasi anchorage
Next morning it was time to do battle with the Turkish authorities. We motored into Bozburun harbour and tied back to the jetty in almost the same berth as last year. Many of the locals recognised us or at least convinced us they did! Try as I might I could not persuade the authorities that I did not need to employ an agent. “The rules have changed.... etc etc....”. At under 10 net tons I should be allowed to do the formalities myself but the transit log, a government issued document, is only available from an agent and they will not provide it if you do not employ them.... Catch 22! Suffice to say €130 and an hour later we were legally in Turkey! The other catch was the “Blue Card”; an electronic record of where and when you pump out your sewage holding tank, without it you cannot get a transit log. There are no facilities for pumping out in Bozburun and so you have to visit the Port Police, pay your 10YTL (£3.50), and have a “virtual” pump out put on your card. One would hope the money taken would go towards building the necessary facility but I doubt it somehow! I can't help feeling that they would be better employed trying to eradicate the enormous amounts of plastic floating in the seas rather than worrying about a bit of “fish food”. Plastic is much the greater threat to the environment. The other joy of Bozburun was a Turkish haircut, by far the best barbers I have ever found; I had the full works, haircut beard trim etc and the other two settled for a wet shave. All well worth it.
By 1430 we had completed our business in Bozburun and so set sail for one of the anchorages en route Marmaris. We set off with a reef in the main and numerous rolls in the No 1 genoa.
Bozburun waterfront
Our intention had been to anchor in one of the bays around Serce or Bozuk Buku but after rounding Karaburun the SW tip of this part of Turkey we were making good progress and decided to carry on. Little did we know, twenty minute after passing Serce we were hit by a series of vicious squalls coming from the NW, down the steep hills of the peninsular; strong gusts are not uncommon round here but these were 40+ knots, almost no warning of their arrival, and almost continuous. I leapt for the helm of Kurukulla, turned her downwind in the worst of the gusts and sought a lee somewhere to get some reefs back in; we had shaken them all out some hours before due to lack of wind! Fortunately, despite a few periods where we were way overpowered and verging on out of control, we came through it unscathed and eventually managed to get reefs in both main and genoa to reduce the sail area by half or more. Thirty minutes later we anchored in the cove at Gerbekse (the anchor holding at the second attempt) and tied back to the rocks. Even that was not to be the end of the story; at 0400 I felt the wind getting up and went on deck to check all was well, which it was, and stayed on deck until 0600 when the wind died down; at 0700 I noticed the wind had changed direction 180 deg. And surprise surprise the anchor was dragging, despite the fact that we had swum over it and checked it was well dug in the night before, (a replacement for the Bruce anchor can't come soon enough!). A hasty departure ensued and we motored up to the entrance to Marmaris Limani and anchored at 0745 at the north end of the bay Turunk Buku where we spent the next day relaxing, swimming but frequently surrounded by tourist gullets (tourist boats). Just as the sun was setting, after all the gullets had departed and we had the bay to ourselves, we were settling down for dinner when a large plastic motor cruiser, with a birthday party group onboard and imitating a mobile discotheque, came and anchored 30m away, Oh joy! Suffice to say we weighed anchor and motored southwards along the bay until we could no longer hear it, about three quarters of a mile away; there we re-anchored and spent the night!
Saturday 13 July was George and Nigel's day of departure hence we weighed anchor mid morning and headed for the marina at Yacht Marine, Yalanci Bogazi, inside Marmaris bay. I had already contacted the marina to try to book a berth but without success, “full, no spaces available before the end of August” was the cry so I decided to try the direct approach. It worked; we were offered a berth on arrival and I was then able to go into the office and negotiate for the rest of the stay I required to allow me to leave the boat there and head back to UK for a couple of weeks at the end of July, to see the folks. The crew departed at 1800 for Dalaman airport and I settled down to a quiet evening....... Tomorrow is a maintenance day........
More when I get under-way again in August.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Closing the circle

As planned I berthed Kurukulla stern to on the yacht pier at Adhamas, the port of Milos, at 1000 next morning. Sea Cloud had already departed. The conditions were a blustery north wind, to back up to the jetty against, but there was plenty of space and two French guys in an adjacent yacht very kindly took my lines and offered up the holding off rope (AKA Lazy line). Several boats along the jetty was also White Sands, the yacht who had invited me to dine onboard when in Faro, Sifnos.
Kurukulla stern to in Milos
The town is not large but has three moderate sized supermarkets and a plethora of bars and restaurants, all of which seemed to be doing a fair trade. I decided to go off in pursuit of a replacement gas bottle which the pilot advised was available here. A very friendly German couple, who operate a small travel agency on the waterfront, came to my aid and after several telephone calls advised that nowhere in Adhamas was gas available but at the next village, a few km away, is was obtainable. As one of them was going in that direction they even gave me a lift to Vato and stayed to interpret at the agricultural agents that also sold gas. There was only one problem, my gas bottle was “Camping Gas” and their contract was with Greek Gas! The bottles are identical and in the past have been accepted in exchange, irrespective of provenance; however, as a result of a recent court case (which they lost), Greek Gas now only accept their own bottles in exchange! No mine could not be refilled as they did not have the connections needed to do so. In other words, a wasted journey. I headed back to Adhamas, carrying the still empty bottle and consoled myself with a cold beer in a cafĂ© whilst waiting for the bus!
That night Melvin, a friend who has sailed in Kurukulla every year for the past four years, arrived at mid-night, off the ferry. After a couple of glasses of wine in a local bar we both decided we had had enough and headed back to the boat. Next day it was shopping at the supermarket, lunch ashore and then sail at 1600 to head to the south side of the island. As we departed we said goodbye to White Sands and her crew who were planning to head west the next day. We sailed off the jetty, drawing some complimentary comments from our neighbours, and headed for the exit from Ormos Milos. Between leaving the jetty and getting to the entrance the wind went from northerly force 4 to variable force 0, just our luck. For the next hour we part sailed, part motored, towards the south coast in some horrid residual seas! Once on the south coast it was a flat water sail and much improved.
Departing Ormos Provatas, south side of Milos
We finally arrived at Ormos Provatas at 2000, anchored in a delightful bay, in 3m of water, went for a quick swim to check the anchor, and then set about producing lemon chicken for supper.
The next day there was a gentle northerly breeze which carried us off the Folegandros in good style, departing at 1000 and arriving in the anchorage at Vathi at 1530, not a fast passage but a pleasant one.
Ornos Vathi, Folegandros
We spent the next three hours swimming and reading after which we decided to research the small hamlet ashore. A brief walk, a bit of photography and a plate full of calamari plus a beer each and we were ready to return aboard, (in fact it was two plates full of calamari but the portions were so enormous that we gave one away to a table full of locals!). This was followed by a film on deck and a relatively early night.
Next morning we had a gentle sail off the anchor and an even more gentle sail to Ios passing along the south coast of Sikinos in the process. If being honest we did resort to the engine for a total of one hour or less, finally ghosting into Ormos Negros, my favourite bay in Ios, at 1800.
Entering Ormos Negros, Ios
A swim followed by green chicken curry and a film on deck completed the evening. All was not to remain so tranquil though! At 0400, out of nowhere, arrived a swell from the south-west accompanied by a gentle breeze (as forecast) from the north. The combination turned Kurukulla across the sea and had her rolling onto her beam ends! Quite enough to wake all onboard in minutes. After a few moments surveying the situation I decided that this mysterious sea, that seemed to have appeared from nowhere, was not going away; there must have been some serious wind somewhere to the south-west of us but no evidence of it where we were; hence we would have to move. We motored out of Ormos Negros, and southwards to the southern tip of Ios which we rounded and sought shelter from the seas in the NW corner of Ormos Manganari, anchoring on sand, in 3m of water, just as the sun rose. Even here the swell was creeping round the corner, not enough to keep us awake though!
Five hours later we sailed again in a light southerly breeze and set off to sail up the eastern (sheltered from the swell) side of Ios. We were heading for the bay at the north end of Epano Koufonisia, just SE of Naxos. The trip was a bit like the proverbial “Curate's egg”. Initially enough wind to sail followed by rolling arround in the swell becalmed and then a good flat water sail up the east side of Ios before losing the wind again as we approached Koufonisia and eventually motoring into the anchorage.
Sunset at Epano Koufonisia
The bay was delightful and although there were several other yachts anchored there when we arrived only two opted to stay the night.
Departing northern bay of Epano Koufonisia
It was an anchorage where we would have stayed longer had it not been for a flight booking for Melvin out of Astipalaia, only days away.
Next morning we decided to wait for the wind to set in before heading to Amorgos; the sail across was again good in parts but we eventually conceded defeat, when the seas got up again but the wind did not; ultimately we motor-sailed the last four miles to Katapola, the main port of Amorgos. On arrival we anchored off a beach, in a bay, on the north side of the harbour before moving to anchor off Katapola itself an hour before sunset.
The anchorage at Katapola
Our luck was in! Shortly after we had anchored inshore of the other boats in the anchorage the Port Police arrived and invited all of those outboard of us to move because of a ship coming in; we were OK! The ensuing melee lasted about three quarters of an hour whilst all those dislodged joggled for a position nearer the shore; we watched with interest, occasionally warning off those that tried to anchor too close to us or across our anchor cable. One Italian boat in particular had eight or nine attempts to re anchor, on each occasion either too close to others or he dragged his anchor too near the shore by motoring astern too hard trying to get his anchor to take; in the end he anchored close to us, despite our protests, and settled for the night.
Supper at "Caramel"
We went ashore to eat in an eatery I had discovered on a previous visit, Caramel, and returned to find that they had moved yet again in the dark; obviously, at some stage, they had swung close enough to us to worry even them! Next morning we discovered they had re-anchored 200m away. We went ashore to purchase victuals, replace the empty gas bottle and then returned onboard to head round to the anchorage at Ormos Kalotiri, which was to be our departure point for Astipalaia next day. Before sailing off the anchor we put two reefs in the mainsail and as we got under-way left ten rolls in the genoa. We were not to be disappointed, as we exited the shelter of Ormos Katapola we were in big seas and 25 knots of wind gusting 35. It was an exciting sail, albeit only an hour and a half in duration; by 1600 we were ghosting along in the lee of Nisos Nikouria, inside the protected anchorage at Ormos Kalotiri and struggling to make headway. We finally anchored at 1630 joining three other boats sheltering in the bay.
Departing Amorgos, Ormos Kalotiri
We had decided on an early start next morning to ensure a timely arrival in Astipalaia. We motored out of the calm anchorage at 0730, heading out via the narrow northern exit, and into large seas but little wind. The only way to make progress was to motor sail at least as far as the NE tip of Amorgos. The environment onboard was rather like being in the drum of a washing machine! An hour and a half later we rounded the northern tip and headed east, the motion was somewhat easier but still there was little wind and hence we kept the engine on. All the flogging of the sails had also contrived to cause one of the batten cars to detach from the mainsail, hence despite the sea we had top drop the mainsail to reconnect it, not a difficult task provided you are not rolling onto your beam ends whilst you try to do it. Fortunately we were able to tuck ourselves into the lee of the SE side of Amorgos for the few minutes that it took but after that any complaints of lack of wind were silenced; once on the southern side of Amorgos we were dead downwind with 15 gusting 35 knots of wind and making 9 knots! As we left the island behind the seas built up so that we were surfing at times and enjoying a roller-coaster ride downwind. This lasted for the four hours it took us to arrive at Astipalaia but as we approached the island the wind again started to drop such that as we rounded the SW tip we were again forced to resort to the engine. We decided to lunch in a bay just round the SW tip of the island, and motored in in an almost flat calm. The bottom in this anchorage is mostly rock with a thin covering of sand, not good holding but only intended as a lunch stop. Needless to say before we had even got halfway through lunch the wind had got up and the anchor was dragging. Just our luck!
Approaching the anchorage in Ormos Livadhi
We bailed out and headed for Ormos Livhadi, just SW of the main port of Skala We motored round in the flat water but strong gusting winds along the south coast of Astipalaia, anchoring in Livhadi at 1700 on good sand and excellent holding.
Kurukulla stern to on the repaired jetty
This was a secure anchorage for the night despite the wind!
A liquid lunch in Skala
Saturday dawned bright and clear with the wind still blowing but somewhat less fitfully. We motored the mile and a half round to Skala port and berthed stern to on the newly refurbished jetty, a very different condition to that which it was in last year!
View across Ormos Agrilithi, Kurukulla in the distance
Melvin caught a taxi to the airport at 1230 to catch his flight to Athens and then UK and I settled down to a lazy evening in port, preceded by an afternoon beer on the waterfront. One night in harbour is enough for me and so the next day I set off for the anchorage at Ormos Agrilithi; this is described in the pilot as offering good holding and I assumed I had been unlucky on my last visit not to have got the anchor to hold first time. (it is a Bruce type anchor, notoriously bad in weed). This time it took me four attempts to get it to set and even then I dragged the next morning when the wind (average 20 kts) started gusting over 30kts. Fortunately I was reading on deck and realised immediately what was happening; without waiting for the anchor drag alarm to sound we got under-way, left the bay and headed for the, less protected but more open, eastern beach of Ormos Maltezana where even if the anchor did drag there was plenty of room to recover. Tonight I move back towards Skala and will enter the port early tomorrow in anticipation of the next friends arriving at mid-day. Then we just need to await a weather window to commence our passage east towards Marmaris.
More when I leave Astipalaia.......