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!