Kurukulla at Anegada, BVI

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Mykonos to Marmaris. End of the road for 2014.

Super Paradise from Jackie O's

After a prolonged stay in Mykonos, to replace the engine, and with two days of trials completed I finally set off on the 8th of October, single handed, heading south east on the last leg towards the winter lay up venue of Marmaris. Having spent the night anchored in Elia bay I awoke to 20 kts of northerly wind, just as forecast, and was well placed to sail off the anchor and head off, under No2 genoa alone, for the Island of Dhenoussa. The 28 mile passage was completed in 4.5 hours despite not putting up the mainsail! I chose the anchorage at Ormos Dhendro due to its better shelter from northerlies, especially important as northerly, 50+ knot, gusts were forecast for the night ahead.
Ormos Dhendro, Dhenoussa (showing the wreck outline)
In fact the near gale force winds and 50+ knot gusts lasted for the next three days and as a consequence I spent four nights here in this very pretty and almost deserted anchorage. With just one seasonal taverna for company one can have too much of a good thing; however, to venture out into the high winds and seas visible from my sheltered haven would have been foolish, if it was not absolutely necessary, and I had plenty of time in hand to get back to Marmaris. On the final day the wind abated enough to leave Kurukulla on her anchor, unattended, and I at last swam ashore to sample the delights of the taverna (best Moussaka I have had in Greece) and to spend some time on dry land, sunning myself on the almost deserted beach.
Self at the taverna on Ormos Dhendro, Dhenoussa
Marked on the chart in the Heikell pilot is an undefined wreck on the NW side of the bay; in fact what remains of it it lies parallel to the beach in the centre of the bay in 3m of water. It is an old WWII German coaster which was on a resupply run to the island when it was sunk by two British bombers. The majority of the cargo and the above water parts of the ship were later salvaged/scrapped leaving the remains to sink into the sand, which they now are. Having swum over the whole wreck she now has a least depth of 1.5m over her highest parts, can be clearly seen and lies roughly on the 3m line across the bay.
Ormos Levitha at sunset
On the morning of the 13th I set sail again in a gentle NNW wind which carried me swiftly down towards my next stopover, the island of Levithia. I arrived at 1415 to find I was not the only yacht in the area. There are moorings laid in the east bay of Ormos Levithia (€7 per night) and one other yacht was already there, a second entered shortly after me. Peaceful all the same. What made it even more peaceful was that not a single mobile phone signal was detectable in the anchorage!
Next morning I set off relatively early, well early for me, 0800, to complete the transit from Cyclades to Dodecanese. My plan was to be in Kalimnos by mid afternoon. The crossing was quiet, 2 ships and three yachts sighted in total, and benefited from a gentle NNW breeze; 4 – 5 knots all the way on a beam reach. By 1400 I was berthed stern to on the town quay in Kalimnos town.
Derelict vessels (and vehicles) in the abandoned marina project.
The marina project, paid for by the EU, has been abandoned and is occupied by a variety of abandoned or derelict craft. No sign of the pontoons or facilities promised in the Heikell Pilot. On the other hand the local municipality has built a new yacht berthing area on the NW side of the harbour, sufficient for 30 odd yachts, so I suppose this is progress. The town quay, on the other hand, is now mostly occupied by local boats and so I suppose I was lucky to find a spot.
The next day I spent the morning on re-victualling and sorting the boat out. One thing I bought was a Vodafone data card to give me a final 2Gb of data connectivity prior to leaving Greece, it lasted less than 24hrs!
Kurukulla, stern to on the town quay, Kalimnos
There is no way that I can have used 2Gb in that time. It repeats the experience I had with Vodafone data in Crete, there is something in their system that doesn't add up; your allowance evaporates when you are not connected! I have ditched the SIM card overboard! Cosmote next time!
At 1400 I set off for a night in the anchorage on the S side of Pserimos, in virtually no wind it was an hour plus long motor. Boring but necessary. By 1530 I was anchored in the southern bay and enjoying a swim in the mirror clear waters of the bay. The night was equally calm and I awoke to completely still conditions. Sailing being a non starter I decided to spend another night here and settled down for a quiet day; however, by 1600 the wind started to get up from the west and so I moved the short distance to Ormos Vathi on the east coast of the island which was completely sheltered. It was too late to go any further.
The anchorage was shared with five other yachts and so I wasn't the only one to think this anchorage was ideal for tonight. More yachts than I have seen for a week!
The harbour at Palon, Niseros; showing the new entrance
By next morning I had eight neighbours, some had arrived after me. I was the first to leave and set off on oily calm seas to head to Palon on the island of Niseros some 35 miles away. The wind showed some interest in increasing as I rounded the eastern end of Kos but only briefly; just long enough to persuade me to put the mainsail up! This was almost a complete waste of time as by the time it was up the wind had disappeared again; however, the last hour and a half of the sail turned into a close fetch in a decent breeze so all was not lost!
On arrival at Palon it was obvious that the harbour entrance was not where either the chart or the pilot said it was. The EU had fronted up with €2,880,000 eight years ago to redevelop the harbour, including relocating the entrance to provide better shelter, and it seems to have worked.
The new yacht berths in the Palon harbour
On arrival I was greeted by a helpful attendant who for €5 connected me to power and offered me water if I wanted it. A community that are actually using the EU money for what it was intended! Even if it does equate to €288,000 per permanent head of population in the village. It is an enchanting place so I mustn't complain, much! Palon is also home to the old Hydropathic Institute which is a very impressive building, sadly now derelict and disused, there must be a use for it somewhere? The village is delightful and the people exceptionally welcoming. Berthed next to me was an Irish yacht and after a brief conversation we decided to dine ashore together,
The cost of the harbour upgrade but this time money well spent.
John and Sean were members of the Irish Cruising Club and we had a good evening together swapping sailing stories, concluding with a Metaxa nightcap on their boat. Thank you John and Sean.
Next day, when I roused myself for my customary morning cup of tea, they had already gone, headed north for their winter layup venue. After a brief walk ashore, to buy bread from the local bakery and some fruit from the general store, I too set off but eastwards towards Simi. Initially under engine for want of wind but within the hour the wind roused itself and we were then barrelling downwind at 5 to 6 knots. Two hours later I had two reefs in the main and part of the genoa furled. The promised strong winds had arrived.
The now derelict Hydropathic Institute
Thus it was that we arrived in Panormitis, the most beautiful and best protected anchorage in Simi. It was here that I had chosen to sit out the forecast 30+ knot winds of Saturday night and Sunday. I chose my anchorage with care to make sure no one could drag onto me and that I was not a risk to anyone else. There were only four other boats in the bay. The next boat to arrive then anchored close and directly upwind of me, just my luck. There was a whole empty bay to anchor in, but no, they had to anchor on top of me! My stare of disbelief was insufficient to encourage them to move and so I had to content myself with photographing their stern, just to make sure I had their details.
Panormitis, Symi
It has happened to me before that another boat has dragged on to me in the night, causing damage, and then sailed before exchanging insurance details. Sure enough, at 0245, I awoke to the sound of a particularly severe gust, followed in the lull by an alarm sounding. I decided to check that all was well. On sticking my head out the hatch I realised I had been extremely lucky, the Greek registered, Russian crewed, charter boat was virtually alongside me, their anchor drag alarm bleeping away, a boats width away! A quick grab of a torch and I illuminated their boat trying to get some reaction. Fortunately one of their crew members was asleep in the cockpit; she looked up, and notwithstanding I could see the whites of her eyes, rolled over to go back to sleep! My subsequent, rather more colourful, explanation that they would have to move, seemed to get more reaction; she roused the skipper and within seconds he had their engine running and was on the move. Only just in time, during his departing manoeuvre he missed my bow by less than a metre! I watched them until I was happy that they were re-anchored 75m away; not trusting them not to try and re-anchor in the same place. The old adage “in the Mediterranean there is little more dangerous than a charter boat” proved true again!
The next day dawned windy and with a North Force 8 forecast I determined to stay put. At 0600 the loudspeakers on the monastery started broadcasting the first of the Sunday services, as I type at 0940 it is still continuing, the chants sound anything but musical! Later in the day there was a full Greek wedding in the chapel, quite a sight to see. The only local restaurant of any size was then the venue for the reception, they must do quite well out of it! The subsequent night was also gusty and at least two boats collided due to dragging anchors, (I overheard the apologies being offered the next morning!).
My favourite restaurant in Symi, "To Spitiko"
I chose to depart at 1030 and go south about the island, motoring initially until I could put Kurukulla on port tack to clear the SE corner of the island. We passed the point steering 045 and over the next hour the wind backed such that we were still on port tack but steering 315 as we entered the bay, heading for Symi;one quick tack and we were in. By 1400 I was seated just behind Kurukulla and enjoying lunch in “To Spitiko”, my favourite restaurant. Later in the afternoon I went to Immigration Police and Port Police offices to formally exit Greece, thus I was ready for an early departure the next day. In discussion with the Port Police I discovered that the construction work, taking place just outside the present harbour limits, was a new cruise liner jetty, all funded by the EU. I suspect the magic nature of Symi is about to be lost forever!
Tuesday dawned with brilliant sunshine but no wind! It was a gentle departure, only slightly delayed by the charter boat which had berthed next to me laying his anchor chain across mine. When you are single handed such things just become that bit more complicated to resolve; however, within a few minutes I had a line on his chain and managed to disentangle myself from him. They just spectated, bemused. No apology and no thanks either!
Approaching Marmaris in oily calm seas.
Once underway it was a brief stop at the fuelling jetty (diesel is cheaper in Greece) followed by a six hour motor to Marmaris. Beyond the odd cat's paw on the surface there was no wind! Pleasant nonetheless. That night I anchored just outside Marmaris Yacht Marine and spent the evening planning in what order to take on the laying up tasks of the next seven days. Plenty to do but the weather was not looking to co-operate. The benign forecasts of three days back had been replaced by strong southerly winds and rain; oh joy! Sure enough next morning dawned threateningly grey and windy. I headed for the quarantine jetty at the ferry terminal, for myself and Kurukulla to enter Turkey officially, (you and the boat now have to physically go there rather than as before when the agent did it all for you whilst you sipped gin at the marina bar!) after which I headed on to Yacht Marine to put her into her last afloat berth for this year.
Awaiting liftout....And it rained!
Despite a cross wind we slotted in neatly between a Russian live aboard couple and another boat which was obviously laid up already (but not in a berth I would have accepted for spending the whole winter in, rather too exposed. Right on the end of a pontoon!).
The lift out passed without a hitch, notwithstanding the torrential rain that soaked everyone and everything! Kurukulla is now parked ashore, on a stand, in the midst of a vast boat park snug in her winter cover. The end of another season.
Kurukulla, snug under her winter cover!
Only the joys of a late night Monarch Airlines flight, back to Gatwick, to look forward to...
More next April, or soon after.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Corinth canal to …... Clunk!

On passage through the canal
On Saturday September the 6th we set off from Corinth harbour to make the canal transit. A quick radio call on channel 11 put us on the list to transit and we were invited to take station outside the western entrance to the canal. 20 minutes later a single sailing vessel completed the westbound transit and we were invited to follow one motor yacht into the canal for the subsequent eastbound transit. Hardly a busy day. The canal is impressive when viewed from sea level but in some areas the ravages of time and passage of canal max. vessels is evidently taking its toll. Our transit was achieved with no dramas and after 30 minutes we were safely alongside the canal offices paying our dues, €175.
From here we headed for Korfos, on the Peloponnese east coast, arriving just in time for a swim before sunset. The anchorage here is well protected and served by several tavernas etc. around the bay.
Next morning we were greeted by rain clouds and a succession of heavy showers. By mid day the worst had passed and we sailed off the anchor to head for the island of Aigina. En route we stopped for lunch at the island of Kyra and anchored on the southern tip. Not a very secure anchorage but good enough for a lunchtime stop.
Anchorage in SW bay of Angistri
As the afternoon progressed the rain clouds again gathered and we decided to head for the rather more protected anchorage on the SW tip of Angistri. This bay is closed by an island across the entrance and, given the thunderstorms that ensued that night, we made a good decision. Anchored with 60m out and snugly tied back to the rocks we were able to watch the spectacular display of thunder and lightning without worrying about our security.
From here we had to make it to the Piraeus area next day to drop off Steve for his flight home. Our course took us to the south of Aigina and then across the shipping lanes heading for the coast to the east of Piraeus. We settled on Alimos Marina as a place to spend the night; this would allow us to re-victual and for me to do an engine oil change which was now due. By early afternoon next day we were ready to move on and made a late afternoon dash for the small enclosed bay just west of Varkiza. Although reportedly good holding it took us four attempts to get the anchor to hold; the available space to anchor is quite constrained by depth and a marked swimming area. Once secure we spent a comfortable night and made an unhurried start next day towards Cape Sounion.
After an easy sail we anchored off the western beach at Sounion, with two other yachts, anchoring under sail between the two of them. Next morning we moved over to nearer the beach under the Temple on the Cape and anchored on the edge of the swimming area to facilitate getting ashore to visit the temple. Another Greek archaeological site being reconstructed with EU money! I know that the more complete the ruins the more tourists they pull in but it is getting to the stage where they might just as well build replicas! I am not a fan of reconstruction. Following the visit to the “ruins” we set off north to the bay of Tourkolimani for a pleasant overnight stop and then next day pushed north again to Porto Rafti where two further friends were to join, Chris and Anthony.
Tourkolimani with the full moon rising behind the church
We managed to find a berth, inside the quay, alongside another local boat making getting ashore easy and they arrived safely in the early evening.
Next day we managed to re-victual and a further addition to the crew, Nikos joined us for a day sail. From Porto Rafti we set off for an anchorage on the east side of the island of Makronisi where we found a beautiful bay to anchor in, even if it was subject to a slight swell, causing us to roll whenever Kurukulla swung beam on. Lunch here and a pleasant afternoon in the sun and then we headed back to Tourkolimani to drop off Nikos (he had pre-positioned his car) and for Simon to depart as well.
On Sunday 14th of September we sailed off the anchor and headed east, out into the Cyclades, and the stronger winds to be expected there. Our first stop was to be Nisos Kea and the anchorage at Ornos Kavia some 16 miles away. After a brisk reach to clear the north end of Makronisi we eased off onto a broad reach and headed to our destination, anchoring under sail in time for a late-ish lunch. A very satisfying sail! With 24hours to spare before Jason, the next crew member, arrived we decided to circumnavigate the island. Next morning we set off southwards in a light breeze to round the southern tip of the island and thence work our way north. En route we anchored for lunch in the remote and unpopulated bay at Ormos Polais, under the walls of ancient Karathia.
Ancient Karthaia (being rebuilt)
If we thought the reconstruction at Sounion was inappropriate then this example took first prize. It has no transport connections to bring in tourists and some parts looked like the beginnings of a rather poor taste housing development! What was more upsetting was that the EU had contributed €900,000 to rebuilding it!
From here we headed north rounding the top of the island as sunset approached. As the sun set we dropped the anchor in Ormos Voukari, in the shadow of a small church, within the bay of Limin Ay Nikolaou. Next morning we motored across the bay to Korissia and berthed stern to re-victual,
Stern to at Korissia
water ship, and await the arrival of the 1000 ferry with Jason onboard. With all this successfully achieved we headed again for Ornos Kavia to enjoy a peaceful lunch before heading out for a rather more challenging sail across to Ormos Kolona in Kithnos. Ormos Kolona has the advantages of being well protected from all but the west and having two hot springs that run, or more accurately trickle, into the bay. Very relaxing to bathe in.

Hot spring at Ornos Kolona, Kithnos
Next morning, after a final swim, we set off to Siros and selected the most northerly anchorage of the island, at Ormos Grammata, in order to avoid a long beat to windward the morning after when we needed to get round the northern tip of the island. The anchorage was not great, very strong gusts coming down off the hills and at the western end was poor holding and deep. We chose the western end to anchor as the gusts seemed less strong in that part of the bay however next morning we moved over to the eastern part to benefit from the better holding and shallower water.

This was definitely the better end of the anchorage! Not only that but we were serenaded from the shore by someone playing a saxophone. There was some sort of settlement there but we never found out who or what.
From here it was round the northern tip and a beam reach to Tinos, a brilliant sail and at an average of 7.6kts. By mid afternoon we were med. moored in Tinos harbour (we managed to get the last available space) and were planning our meal ashore that night. Our choice of restaurant was the subject of some entertainment.
Dinner out in Tinos
As ever in Greece restaurants line the sides of the streets and walkways and we were accosted by the usual “hookers” used to persuade you to eat in their restaurant. When stopping to look at a proffered menu we had unknowingly walked onto the “territory” of the adjacent restaurant. The owner took severe exception to the “poaching” of clients on his patch and robustly made his views known. That decided it, his rudeness and aggressive attitude ensured that even if we weren't planning to eat at the previous restaurant we sure as hell were going to now! His face was a picture as we took our seats. To rub salt in the wound we also breakfasted there the next day!
By mid day all our necessary victualling etc. was done and we set off for Mykonos. In light of the northerly winds forecast we headed for the anchorage at Ornos Elia where there is plenty of space and the holding is good.
En route, Rinia
Next day we sailed across to Rinia to anchor overnight in a bay sheltered from the now forecast southerly wind and then after a day spent at anchor in Rinia we circumnavigated Delos to get a look at the ruins (we would have anchored and visited but they are closed on Mondays) and then back to Mykonos marina to enable Christoph and Jason to catch their flight back to UK the next day. That same day the next crew member, Matt, joined but the forecast was so poor (N gusting 50kts – who said the Meltemi stops in early September) that we did a tour of the island in the hire car rather than go to sea. Once the worst had blown through we returned to the anchorage at Elia for what was planned to be the next 48 hours returning to Mykonos Marina on the day before Chris and Anthony were also due to depart.
Ancient Delos
As we prepared to depart in very light winds I went to start the engine, it fired twice and came to an instantaneous stop emitting a very expensive sounding “CLUNK”. A quick inspection showed that the engine was absolutely solid, either it had dropped a valve or water had gotten into a cylinder causing a hydraulic lock. Whichever it was, it was not good news. With no wind to sail her into harbour we settled down for another, unplanned, night at anchor and waited for the forecast south wind to set in. By early morning it had done so and so we sailed off the anchor, enjoyed a spanking good sail round to Mykonos and then set about preparing to sail her into the marina. Not a task for the faint hearted! After two close passes across the marina entrance, for us to try to spot a suitable berth to sail into, we double reefed the main, rolled up half of the genoa and headed in.
The berth we sailed into...
No turning back from this point! As luck would have it there was a single space available alongside the wall in the southern section of the marina. Slightly to the alarm of those already moored in there, we sailed in, gybed round, fully rolled the genoa, turned towards the empty berth and dropped the main. Kurukulla just carried her way sufficiently to gently nudge into the berth and some quick work by the crew jumping ashore brought her gently alongside in the berth.
Matt was due to leave from Mykonos two days later and, sadly for him, Doug, the final crew member of the year was programmed to join here but he was never to get out of the harbour. By working the phones and asking around I identified an engineering company in Mykonos town who were capable of removing the engine for inspection. From what I witnessed I would not recommend Mykonos Marine for their engineering standards but they were quick and willing. By late afternoon the engine was out and by early evening the extent of the damage was evident. The choice was a lengthy repair with the engine rebuilt locally or a new engine (the second in 4 years) available from Athens. For the difference in costs and to give me confidence in the repair I opted for the new engine; another Sole Mini 33 (a marinised Mitsubishi engine). In three days the new engine was installed, the old engine is now being crated up for shipping to UK for repair and I am off out on sea trials tomorrow. My only worry is that we still do not know the precise way in which water entered the old engine. Suspicion falls on the exhaust elbow where raw cooling water and exhaust gases mix, but this has yet to be proven.
More when I get back!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Corfu to Corinth.

Having arrived in Corfu airport on Sunday 10th of August at 0500, one hour later than planned due to a preceding aircraft shedding its hydraulic fluid on the runway at Gatwick, it was a taxi to Gouvia followed by a short nap to catch up on lost sleep; next on the agenda was a trip to the local supermarket to get some fresh victuals afer which I set off single handed for Preveza.
The first night was spent anchored off Paxos, outside the harbour at Gaios (but not far enough outside to prevent a sleepless night brought about by the bars and disco music!). Next morning it was an early start and a motor in windless conditions to Preveza arriving at 1500. A shout from the shore confirmed that Michael, the friend whose boat I had come to help launch, had noted my arrival and once anchored I dropped the dinghy in the water, fitted the outboard and headed in to get on with the task. 48 hours later Michael's boat, Contessa Maria, was in the water and we were heading off on a test sail, leaving Kurukulla anchored off the boatyard for the night. Next day we arrived back, put Contessa Maria in Cleopatra Marina, to await a delivery crew who were to take her to Port St Louis in France, and set off in Kurukulla, to Levkas, to collect Michael's life-raft which had been sent there for servicing.
Sunset at Ornos Oxias
After a brief stop in Levkas Marina, to collect the life-raft, we then spent that night anchored in a bay just beyond the southern end of the Levkas Canal near Ak Kephali. Here we anchored off a small beach where we were befriended by a stray dog, so friendly she kept swimming out and round the boat wanting to be invited onboard! She was still there next day when we headed off at 1200, back northwards, to catch the 1400 bridge opening (the swing bridge across the canal opens once an hour on the hour). By 1530 we were again anchored in Preveza 100m off the Aktio Marina, Michael very kindly treated me to dinner ashore and a late night whisky onboard brought the day to a close.
The next day, Saturday, was spent getting victuals for both yachts in Preveza town and doing the finishing touches on Contessa Maria before the arrival of the three man delivery crew. They duly arrived in the late afternoon as did my next sailing guest, a Greek friend Andonis, who lives in London. He was in Greece visiting family and was to spend the next three days onboard Kurukulla.
Next morning we said our goodbyes to Michael, who headed off to Preveza airport to catch his flight home, watched Contessa Maria head out on her way to France and then we set off into the inland sea for a night at anchor in the calm water to the east of Nisos Vouvalos, a good anchorage but a slightly nerve racking anchorage as it is all charted at 2m for a very large area and the pilot offers no more detail. By 1500 we were anchored in the lee of Vouvalos itself and set to enjoy a restful evening. Next morning we were forced to motor back to Preveza due to lack of wind but as we exited the buoyed channel, at the entrance to Preveza, the wind wicked up and we had a fine sail back to Levkas and yet another canal transit! This time we anchored off Levkas town and headed ashore to get some fresh victuals, spending a pair of hours ashore, and then headed off again to the same beach at the bottom of the canal. Despite me having come prepared with a tin of dog food, sadly, our friend was nowhere to be seen. C'est la vie.
Next morning I dropped Andonis off at Nikiana for his return trip and I set off to Frikes, in Ithaca, to pick up Steve the next friend joining. Frikes is definitely one of my favourite ports in this area. Steve duly arrived via Cephalonia airport and a ferry in the late afternoon so we decided to dine ashore and head off mid day the next day.
Evening anchored off Kryoneri
It was now time to start heading into the Gulf of Patras and thence the Gulf of Corinth. The first leg took us to Nisos Kalamos where we intended to anchor in Port Leone, a well protected anchorage, but on arrival it was clear to see that many other boats had had the same idea; as a consequence we gybed round, headed back out of the anchorage and made for Nisos Kastos instead. This was much more to our liking, the North East coast has several small bays, most of which were almost empty if not empty. We chose our bay, anchored under sail and spent a very pleasant night there in a bay on our own. Much better than Port Leone!
From here we headed off next afternoon to Nisos Petalas where we anchored in the lagoon to the east of the island. We had four other boats for company in an area of 2 square miles, hardly crowded, and so we stayed two nights here enjoying the scenery and the warm water of the lagoon. Late on the second day we set off again for a short hop to Nisos Oxia, but finding the anchorage there to be far too deep for sensible anchoring (not as described in the pilot!) we headed back the short distance to Ornos Oxias and anchored off the beach for the night.
Our next stop was Mesolongion, a rather lack-lustre town where the town quay and yacht marina are 2 miles up a canal through the salt pans. After a brief look at the marina we opted for the town quay as a spot to stay for the night. A very pleasant Dutch couple took our lines and then warned us that this town has a reputation for theft from boats, what a greeting! We had no problem but they did recount a story of a charter group where every yacht had all its valuables stolen; how true this story is who knows? Next morning it was a trip to Lidl to restock with all the basics (and wine) after which we sailed, in the middle afternoon, for Kryoneri. This is an open anchorage, not far along the coast, eminently suitable in the calm weather we were experiencing. We ghosted in on the last of the evening breeze, dropped anchor and set about having a late evening swim followed by supper in the setting sun.
Rion Bridge
Next day we were to pass under the Rion Bridge, the most westerly and futuristic of the bridges to be built connecting the Peloponnese to the mainland and, in it's time, the longest cable stayed bridge in the world. From here it was onwards to Navpaktos, where we anchored for the afternoon in a small bay for swimming before moving to the anchorage near the entrance to the old medieval harbour. Our plan was to enter next day for a look at the town and harbour but sadly our plans changed and we did not make it.
Ormos Anemokambi
Next day there was a cracking west wind and we decided to make the most of it and head east. This decision meant that we covered 27 miles in less than 4 hours and under genoa alone! We finished this run in Ornos Anemokambi, a small but well sheltered inlet just south of Galaxidhi. By 1700 we were anchored in 4m of water and in perfect shelter.
Treasury of Athena, Delphi
Late next day we moved round to Galaxidhi planning to go to visit Delphi the following morning. The best laid plans and all that! We had arranged for the laundry to be collected next morning before our departure, by mid day no laundryman! A phone call confirmed he was not coming because, having agreed a 24 hour service, “I can only get the laundry back to you on Sunday”; i.e. 2 days hence. Nice of him to let us know!

The result was we delayed the trip to Delphi by a day, spent 3 hours amongst the ruins, returned to the boat and then sailed back to Anemokambi late the following afternoon. We could have stayed another night in Galaxidhi but the noise of the disco bars and the traffic on the road along the quay results in little opportunity for good sleep!
Amphitheatre Delphi
Our next stop was Ormos Veresses, a very small and apparently almost deserted hamlet not far from Andikiron.
The anchorage was quiet and our only company was a small group of fishermen in the late evening and a single fisherman next day. We saw no other inhabitants. Amusingly our first attempt at anchoring was in a smaller bay slightly to the north. It was not until we had tidied up and prepared for the night that I looked up and noticed that across the bay 30m ahead of us were strung 415volt power transmission lines.
The stadium, Delphi
It was not clear whether they were above or below our mast height but they were certainly inside our swinging circle; in the fading light we had not seen them. We very quickly moved to the next bay!
Next morning dawned bright and clear but windless. By mid day a slight easterly breeze had set in and so we sailed off the anchor heading for Ormos Ay Saranda, a large bay suitable for our next night anchorage. Sailing was not to be; after the first two hours of sailing in very light, contrary, winds we were forced to resort to the engine and motored for the next three hours across glassy seas. Not even a zephyr of wind! On arrival there was one other yacht in the bay, but the locals had laid a row of buoys marking a swimming area, resulting in it being almost impossible to anchor in a reasonable depth. We managed by anchoring very near to the harbour mole but there is now very little anchorable space here despite the size of the bay. Worth a visit all the same and a good place to sit out the 18 hours of thunderstorms that passed through. Spectacular thunder and lightning but fortunately little wind.
Kurukulla anchored in small bay at Ornos Vathi
In the afternoon of the next day, once the rain had stopped, we sailed the short distance round to Ornos Vathi, the next big bay to the east. Here we sat our some strong westerlies that came through in the next 48 hours. Our one attempt to move to another location, Ornos Ioannou, some two miles away, came to nought. It was too small, too deep and too crowded! We returned to an alternative anchorage in Ornos Vathi and tied back for the night.
Next morning we sailed off the anchor heading for the Alikionhides Islands, a small group of islands in the middle of Kolpos Alkionidhon, the northern gulf at the eastern end of the Gulf of Corinth. This anchorage was fantastic, tranquil, sheltered and inhabited by only a few workers at the fish farm which also nestled between the three main islands. On the main island was also a small, reportedly deserted, monastery but sadly we did not get to visit it. Later in the afternoon a US registered trimaran entered the bay and anchored in our vicinity followed by a shout “If I come across with a bottle of cheap wine am I invited for a drink?”. An hour later the skipper, who was alone, single handed, arrived onboard and an evenings exchange of sailing stories ensued!
Arriving Corinth
The next morning we again sailed off the anchor and headed for Corinth harbour where we were to pick up two more crew members, Christoph and Simon, before heading for the transit of the Corinth Canal next day.
Details of the canal transit and cruising the Saronic Gulf in the next edition.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Zakynthos to Corfu. Quiet, gentle, sailing.

I should first start by explaining why there has been such a long break between this post and the last. It was always planned that I would return to UK at the end of this leg to visit elderly relatives (in their 90s') and attend the wedding of the daughter of lifelong friends. Sadly whilst I was in UK my mother passed away and so a short stay had to be extended to cope with all the organisation that surrounds such an event. A planned 10 day stay became a 24 day one. The blog that was going to be written in spare time in the UK simply never got written, until now!

Enough sadness. 

Zakynthos Harbour from above the town

Tim was originally due to join me in Ayios Nikolaos, on the north east corner of Zakynthos. Despite visiting the bus station and trying all means I knew to get a taxi at a sensible price a journey from airport to Ayios Nikolaos was destined to be upwards of €60. It was evidently €50 cheaper for me to motor back to Zakynthos town and pick him up. It was flat calm anyway!

Wreck Beach, Zakynthos
With Tim safely onboard we set off on a clockwise circumnavigation of Zakynthos, stopping overnight at Ornos Keri, in the Bay of Laganas (famous as a turtle breeding beach amongst other things!), a night in Wreck Bay on the NW corner (most photographed beach in Greece!). This proved to be an uncomfortable night due to the wind getting up from the north for a brief period, just long enough to create a sea, but worth it to have the beach to ourselves in the early morning; a rare treat. We ended with a final night in Zakynthos in Ayios Nikolaos tied back to the rocks in front of the tavernas. The taverna owners are expert at getting you tied back somehow, swimming out to take your lines.

Kurukulla anchored Sarakiniko, Ithaca
On the 2nd of July we set off northwards to Cephalonia, anchoring off the long sandy beach at Ornos Katelios, near the southern tip of the island, for the night before heading on up the east coast to the island of Ithaca and the anchorage at Ormos Sarakiniko. The final stages of the sail were challenging, with two reefs in the main and the Genoa well reefed, hence we were glad to reach the shelter of the anchorage. Space was tight. Locals had laid a random selection of buoys fouling the available anchorage area and declared a swimming area closer in. Yachts wishing to anchor there were obviously not a consideration!
One House Bay, Atokos
We were first in the anchorage and chose the only really tenable position in this small bay. We watched later, with interest, as two other boats tried several times to find a second suitable spot but without complete success. Both spent a nervous night swinging close to the rocks. The bay was delightful and fairly well sheltered but only if you were first in!
Next morning we set off for a gentle sail to Atokos island and anchored in “One House Bay”. This almost deserted island (it has one house and a chapel on it) is delightful but popular! By day the bay is full of boats visiting for the day but by the evening we were able to get a good anchorage spot, on sand, and anchor near the beach.
Chapel at one House Bay, Atokos
That night only three of us stayed and we had by far the best spot again.
From Atokos we sailed back to the north of Ithika, to Frikes, finding a delightful bay just to the north of he main harbour in which to anchor and tie back for the rest of the day and the following night.
Windsurf Beach, Frikes, Ithaca
On the beach were the remains of someone’s dream, an old motorboat, previously used as a windsurf school base, still bearing graffiti from the last instructors who worked there some 20 years back. Next morning we moved into Frikes harbour itself to see the town and get some fresh victuals.
Frikes, Ithaca

After an enjoyable afternoon in Frikes we set sail across the straights toOrnos Doluicha where we spent the night before heading on to
Ornos Doulicha, Kefalonia
Fiskardho, a much much more commercial town then Frikes but also easier to get to from the airport in Cephalonia for our two new joiners, Stephen and Andrew. On our arrival the only available berth was one tied back to the jetty but 10m from it. With some assistance from our neighbours either side we opened the gap, slotted in, and Tim swam the lines ashore. Some six hours later, just before midnight our two new guests arrived.

Next morning we set off north towards Levkas, enjoying a very pleasant sail in moderate winds. With no overnight stop destination in mind we simply cruised the east coast until something took our fancy. In the end it was a small beach just south of Ormos Dessimou that took our fancy and we tied back to the rocks and settled in for the night.
Next day we headed to Meganisi for a quiet day at anchor and then the day after we headed north through the Levkas Canal spending the night in Levkas Marina (very expensive) and enjoying a meal ashore in Levkas town.
Supper at Ey Zyn (Good Life) Levkas
From here it was to Preveza where I had promised to check out a friends boat ashore in the Aktio Marina, and to remove and despatch the life-raft for servicing so that it would be ready for a planned launch date in a few weeks time.
Approaching Levkas swing bridge
After a night at anchor off Preveza town we re-anchored off Aktio Marina and the crew went for a tour of Preveza whilst I got on with the tasks ashore. By mid afternoon we were reunited and sailed east up the inland sea to Vonitsa where we spent a very pleasant night at anchor. The only downside of the inland sea here is the green water, a product of a mixture of salt and fresh water plus excessive quantities of fish food from the fish farms and nitrates from the farms around and about.
Next day we sailed out of Preveza channel and northwards towards Corfu. A night in Gaios, Paxos
Gaios, Paxos
was followed by Nisos Sivota / Ay Nikolaos just off Mourtos where we stopped for a day of swimming and later in the day anchored between the two islands for an evening BBQ on the sand spit that prevents passage between the islands.
Anchoring off Mourtos Island
The following day it was lunch in Mourtos followed by a night at anchor Ornos Valtou, a wonderfully protected anchorage in 3m of water and protected from all sides.
Gouvia Bay, Corfu
From here it was onwards to Corfu, a meal ashore in a taverna and then into Gouvia Marina to say goodbye to the friends onboard and to await the arrival of Nigel and Sarah, plus Giles and Fi. All long-standing friends of mine who wee to use Kurukulla whilst I was back in UK visiting relations and attending a wedding in France. In the event, as stated above, my stay was to be prolonged by 10 days due to the death of my mother, a blessed release but traumatic all the same.
Following the funeral etc. I finally headed back to Corfu some 10 days later than planned and set about catching up on the programme.
More of the next leg in the next edition.......

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Kalamata to Zakynthos via Methoni, Koroni, Pilos and others!

Koroni Castle
With Jaco safely onboard we finally set off westwards. Our first stop was a short hop away across the bay to Petalidhion; a small town, apparently with not much to offer, (we didn't go ashore) but a good anchorage in NW winds and ideal in the time available.
Next morning we set off south to Koroni, a much more interesting place, where we anchored for lunch in the bay to the west of the town and then, in the evening, we motored back into the bay under the walls of the castle, to the south of the main harbour.
View of the harbour from the Monastery at Coroni.
A delightful anchorage but in the bay that we chose a little bit of care is needed. There are some rocks on the 4m line which are just below the surface, and easy to miss. Fortunately we saw them and anchored clear. The next morning we set off to explore the town plus visit the castle and monastery (the latter being inside the former). It is a delightful place and well worth a visit. A town not quite forgotten by time but very tranquil.
That afternoon we sailed off the anchor, headed slowly round Ak. Livadhia and headed for the anchorage at Maratho; in the event we did not go that far.
The major (but now derelict) chapel of the castle
As we approached Ak. Akritas, the southern tip of the western arm of the Peloponnese, the wind died and we noticed an enticing bay just to the east of the Cape. Thirty minutes later we were anchored there, with the bay to ourselves; swimming and sun were the order of the day and two hours later we settled down to a G&T, on deck, to watch the setting sun. Another piece of paradise.
Kurukulla anchored in bay to east of Ak Akritas
Next day we sailed off the anchor, ghosted around Ak Akritas, and headed for Maratho, this was to surpass even the anchorage of the previous night! A fantastic enclosed bay with two beaches to choose from and relatively well protected. We fortunately chose to anchor off the northern beach; not only because the holding and beach were better but we later discovered a team on the eastern beach who were preparing for a “Music Festival” to be held in two weeks time. The east beach could be reached by an unsurfaced road, the north beach had no such connection. The location was so fantastic that we decided to stay two nights and BBQ'd on the beach the second night; it was then that we met Johannes, a man of the road, who was constructing a path to connect the two beaches.
The bay at Maratho
He was not being paid for his work, had not been asked to do it but had just taken the initiative and was busily constructing a half mile path, across difficult terrain, of his own. He also spoke good English! Asked when he would move on … “When the path is finished”..... He will leave his mark on the place in his own particular way. Good for him.....
From Maratho it was a very gentle sail to Finakounda where we anchored off the beach, debated going ashore and set sail again. Not an unpleasant place but seemed rather commercialised after the tranquillity of the past two days. We chose instead to go to Port Longos on Nisos Sapientza. The bay here has two possible anchorages and I had been here before. The northern anchorage looks attractive but proved to be very poor holding and rock strewn so after two attempts to find good holding we eventually opted for the southern part where I had anchored before. Sadly the fish farm has expanded and this is now all but impossible to anchor in.
Anchorage at N end of Nisos Skhiza
The space is very limited and again the holding not great, the result being that you cannot find enough room to swing to the anchor. After another fruitless hour, trying to find a suitable spot, we gave up and headed for the less protected but much easier anchorage at Ornos Sapientza, a mile and a half up the coast.
This was much better, good holding, a beach to ourselves and idyllic surroundings. It is totally open to the SE but this was not a problem with the current forecast and sea conditions.
Next morning, after a leisurely swim, we set off for Methoni with an afternoon lunch stop in the anchorage NE of Ak. Kolivri.
Methoni harbour
Methoni is another of my favourite towns and this too was to be a two day stop so that we could get to know the town better and visit the castle etc.
Methoni Harbour
The great discovery was the taverna called “Old Story”, situated 200m back from the waterfront. Excellent food and delightful owners who had mover here to escape the turmoil of Athens some years before. The photographs of Methoni will speak for themselves.
From Methoni it was onwards to Navarino Bay, scene of the last great battle between wooden sailing ships; it was here that Admiral
Self at Methoni Castle
Codrington led a combined British, French and Russian Fleet into the bay where the combined Turkish and Egyptian fleet were anchored. One Turkish ship decided to open fire and, despite the lack of any declaration of war between the parties, the British led squadron took up the challenge. They were heavily outnumbered in ships and guns; however, they succeeded in devastating the combined Turkish/Egyptian Fleet and weakened their ability to resupply their occupying forces to such an extent that Greece was able to use the opportunity to advance their fight for independence, this they achieved some years later. The monument in Pilos town square commemorates the battle and the three Admirals commanding the combined British/French/Russian fleet.
Methoni Tower from the Castle
With a NW wind forecast we initially chose to anchor in the northern end of the bay, 4 miles from Pilos town, for the first night only and from here we walked northwards along the edge of the lagoon to the small bay at Voidhokoilia where we hoped to anchor the next night. Sadly this was not to be, the weather turned foul for 48 hours and in the event we spent two days in Pilos “Marina”. This is yet another EU funded “white elephant”, unfinished, unloved and untidy.
Panorama at north end of Navarino Bay, showing bay (R) and lagoon (L)
A waste of EU money and totally neglected.
How else do you tie up?
Even the Coastguard smash holes in the pontoons to create points to tie up their vessel. If they, a Government Agency, commit such acts of vandalism what hope is there!
Monument to battle of Navarino and Admiral Codrington
We were also in need of water, there are two working taps in the whole marina, one for the coastguard (locked) and the other for a small (2 boat) charter operation that operates from there. A polite request for us to take water was refused. Amazing! Later a “traveller” came round asking for
Pilos marina
“Payment for the Marina” which on further questioning became “€10 for security”. My request for some proof of his authority to collect money went unanswered; he went away empty handed....
From Pilos we had a cracking good sail to Kaparissia, on the wind but with 15 to 20 kts over the deck for most of the way. Only in the last two miles did the wind die away.
Kaparissia harbour is another EU “White elephant”. The outer breakwater has recently been extended to give good shelter from all directions and so it is now a good place to shelter....but, .. the harbour is resoundingly empty and although we managed to spot a water supply on the NE arm of the harbour, and quickly took advantage of it, we were soon informed by a local that the “Port Police” are not keen on yachts being alongside.
Kiparissia Harbour
That explained the reason for the mile or so of empty quay and the five yachts (the only vessels of any size in the harbour) anchored in the middle! It is tempting to ask “who paid for all this?” That night we went ashore for a meal. After a long search and walking a half mile to the centre of the town we found the only open taverna that we could find. Good though some of the food was, it was a long way to walk to be left with no choice! Kaparissia is a good place to run for shelter if the weather turns bad but not a great “Run Ashore”.
From here it was a 30 mile fetch up the coast to Katakolon; another newly built or extended harbour. We decided to anchor in the bay overnight and enjoy the beautiful clear water and sand. Next morning we decided to go into the harbour and see what the town was like. (It is also a calling point for cruise liners so that they can ship their clients to Olympus from here.). On arrival in the “marina” (yet another EU White Elephant) we were greeted by the watchman who informed us that it would be €15 to berth there. When told we only wanted to stay for 2 hours and that the first 2 hours should be free he reduced this to €10! We didn't stay!
Katakolon "Marina"
We anchored 30m off the quay and rowed ashore. I headed straight for his office and demanded a copy of the price list. “No, only if you are staying here.” was his defensive reply When questioned again about the amount he had tried to take from us this became “€10 for the night and yes the first two hours were free!”. The man was a lying thief and I told him so. I also threatened to report him to the Port Police, (I didn't do so because that would have involved us in a process which could have gone on for ever and he probably knew that!) As we were departing we spotted the pontoons for the marina rotting on the wasteland to the north of the harbour wall. They have never been installed and now have concrete cancer! Another marina investment spoilt by the total lack of interest in looking after, managing and maintaining that which the EU has funded for them. After two hours we left for Zakynthos.
The sail across to Zakynthos was a gentle beat to windward and we finally arrived in Porto Roma, on the SE tip of Zakynthos, at 1800. We dropped anchor in the centre of the bay where the protection from the wind was best and the noise from the beach tavernas and hotels was least. Here we stayed for nearly 24 hours.
The cascade of rubbish, fly tipped!
The only sadness was the “cascade” of rubbish fly tipped from the top of the cliff and collecting on the beach below or worse still being washed into the sea. No wonder the seas round Greece are full of plastic! Next afternoon we had another visitor, a tourist boat, who anchored 20m from us in an otherwise empty bay, what is it with these people? Half an hour later the wind changed and they had to beat a hasty retreat before their boarding gangway hit us as they swung towards us.
and then the wind changed........
They missed by 1m but not before some of their swimmers had been forced to abandon their water toys and make a scramble for the boat! Sheer stupidity on the part of the skipper.
As the day drew to a close we moved into the harbour at Zakynthos town and berthed stern to alongside the other yachts. The plan was that Jaco would leave from here and I would spend the next few days around the island awaiting the next crew member, Tim, to arrive. Needless to say a quick walk along the waterfront confirmed that Zakynthos marina had only gone backwards since my last visit three years back, still dirty, still derelict with no pontoons or facilities; empty except for a few local small craft and tourist boats (some abandoned).
That night Greece qualified for the next stage of the World Cup, the town exploded into celebrations at 0200 in the morning with car horns sounding, motorbike tyres screeching and festivities all round. If only the Greeks would address their other challenges with the same enthusiasm!!!!
More when I leave Zakynthos.........