Kurukulla at Anegada, BVI

Monday, 23 November 2015

Mykonos to Marmaris

Mykonos to Astypalaia
From Mykonos we headed southward through the Paros / Naxos channel assisted by a northerly wind which subsided the further south we progressed. As a result of the diminishing wind we decided to anchor for the night in the small bay at the western end of Ornos Kouroupa. This bay is on the SW coast of Naxos, in the shadow of someone's failed dream; an enormous, half built, hotel development collapsing due to advanced concrete cancer. The bay is small but beautiful with a golden sandy beach and only one occupied villa. There are some small boat moorings in the west of the bay but still plenty of room nearby to anchor on perfect sand; good holding.
Anchored in Ormos Kouroupa, Naxos
The following morning we awoke to a forecast of strong southerly winds, due within 24 hours. As a consequence we decided to make a run for Amorgos and anchor in the bay between the main island and Nisos Nikouria; a smaller island close off the north west coast where protection from the southerlies would be found. A lunchtime stop in Ornos Livadhi on Nisos Iraklia, allowed us time to climb the hill between the beach and the deserted chora (capital of the island), abandoned after WWII when the population decided not to return. By 1500 it was time to depart and by this stage in the day the clouds were gathering and rain threatening. We managed to reach the narrow channel between Nisos Dhrima and Nisos Andikaros, and to make the passage between the islands, before the rain hit us. From here on, for the next two hours, it was dodging the rain clouds; not always effectively and we were forced into donning full foul weather gear for the first time this autumn!
View from the old Chora, Ornos Livadhi, Iraklia
By 1930, just after the sun had set, we were entering our chosen anchorage at Ornos Kalotiri where we initially we anchored on the north western side, off the coast of Nisos Nikouria; however, by 2200 the wind was of such force that the anchor started dragging and we decided to move to the south eastern side of the anchorage, on main island shore, and anchor off the beach at Ay Pavios; an interesting manoeuvre, in total darkness and onto a beach where I had not anchored before. To make matters more complicated we also found ourselves doing a ballet with another yacht trying to anchor in the same place.
Sunset at Ornos Kalotiri, Amorgos
At the fourth attempt, anchoring very close to the beach and in less than 5m depth, we managed to find a patch of good sand and get the anchor to hold. Just as well, we were to stay here for 36 hours, with the wind whistling overhead, before the gods would allow us to depart. Eventually, on the second morning, the wind had abated sufficiently for us to brave the elements and head into the bay at Katapola, the island capital, and berth stern to on the town jetty. Here we were greeted with a free bottle (well 25cl bottle) of local liqueur from the “local produce” tourist shop and the offer of water and power for the duration of our stay. All very efficient and welcoming.
Katapola, Amorgos
Our plan was to have lunch on the waterfront and then catch the bus to the famous and spectacular monastery on the south coast. Initially we took ourselves off on a walk into the hills behind Katapola ending up descending directly into the town and just in time for lunch. After a cheap and cheerful “gyros” (Kebab) we set off to the bus stop. After a 20 minute wait for a bus that didn't come we telephoned the bus company only to find out that the buses stopped at the end of September, there was no service! Not to be beaten we hired a car for €20 and headed off on a tour of the island. In our research we had also discovered that the monastery was only open in the afternoons from 1700 to 1900, hence we decided to go on a very enjoyable tour,
Windmills above the Chora, Amorgos
including the chora and the south of the island, before returning to the monastery for a visit; spectacular does not describe it. The monastery clings to the cliffs, hundreds of metres up, under a perilous overhang and is home to just three monks. For the visit we had to don long trousers and long sleeved shirts but it was worth it. Small though it is, it is unique and quite amazing.
Monastery of Hozoviotissa, Amorgos
At the end of our tour we were invited to take a seat around a rectangular table which was in a small side room and a few minutes later one of the monks appeared with six glasses, three full of water and the other three containing a generous measure of the liqueur that they produce in the monastery; so very welcoming. I am not sure whether we were give special treatment due to Yorgos being a native Greek or whether all visitors are treated so generously. Whichever it was much enjoyed.
From here we retired to the Chora for a delicious meal in a very local taverna and, after returning the hire car, adjourned back to Kurukulla for the night. The next morning, after getting fresh bread and a few other victuals, we set off for Santorini. The promised northerly wind was blowing a steady 15 knots and we made excellent progress passing through between Amorgos and it off-lying islands at its SW tip and then … ; yes you have guessed, after the first two hours the wind started to lighten and we found ourselves going dead downwind in light airs!
Ormos Tris Klises, Ios
Rather than drift downwind at 2 – 3 knots we decided to turn onto a beam reach and head for the southern end of Ios, towards which we could make considerably better speed; thus it was we settled on Ormos Tris Klises on the SE corner of Ios as our overnight anchorage. On arrival we found three fishing boats anchored in the bay but within two hours they had departed for their nights work and we had the bay to ourselves. A delightful anchorage with good holding on sand.
Next morning we sailed off the anchor, out of the bay and again headed south to Santorini; this time it was to be a downwind sail but with enough wind to keep us making good progress all the way. In fact by 1400 we were on a buoy, inside the lagoon at Santorini, having been fortunate enough to find a vacant private mooring off the shoreline of the smaller island of Thirasia.
Finikia on Santorini
We were later informed that these two moorings are owned by the “Trips round the bay” sailing catamarans and are only used between mid day and 1800. Outside these times they are happy for them to be used by other vessels. We decided to stay on the mooring overnight and then to adjourn to the marina at Vlikadha, on the south coast, in order to leave Kurukulla in a place of safety whilst we visited Skala Thira, the main town of Santorini. The marina is an interesting place, it is now re-designated a “fishing haven” and used as an overnight berth by all the “trip round the bay” catamarans and a selection of fishing boats; however, because there is such poor utilisation of space and no pontoons, there is very little room available to visiting yachts.
The channel between Palaia Kammeni (L) & Nea Kammeni (R)
Although built as a marina for visiting craft it has been claimed as home territory by the large, unwieldy, catamarans and they are not particularly helpful when it comes to making space available. Access is also not helped by the fact that the harbour is very shallow, ranging from 3m max to less than 2m in places.
Vlikadha Marina (Fishing Refuge)
Much care is needed not to go aground.That said we managed to get into a tight but sheltered berth at the inner end of the outer harbour. Not too bad and with berthing, water and power available for a minimal charge we could not complain! We made our dash for town early the next morning, catching the 0700 bus which was due to arrive at Skala at 0730 according to the timetable. In fact, after taking us on a magical mystery tour of the southern part of the island, we finally arrived in Thira at 0815; Yorgos explained that the timetable was irrelevant as the bus was used to pick up all the school children from the outlying areas and due to this detour it was much later arriving on school days; the timetable gave no hint of this!
Sunset at Anafi
After coffee and a walk along the cliff tops we adjourned to a local supermarket to get all our victuals for the coming days and then took a taxi back to the boat, much easier... Buy 1130 we were under-way, under full sail and heading for the small island of Anafi where we planned to anchor for the night. Anafi has a very small population but some stunning beaches along the south coast. After a short reconnaissance we settled on an anchorage just off the longest beach on the south coast; it was totally open to the south but with north winds blowing, and forecast to continue, anchoring here was not a problem.
Yorgos doing acrobatics....
We were securely anchored an hour before sunset, passed a very pleasant night here and were away by 1030 the next day enjoying an exhilarating reach to Astipalaia. Once clear of the lee of Anafi were forced to take in a reef but even so we were averaging over 7 kts for the first two hours and eventually covered the 33 miles in 5 hours.
I have been to Astipalaia a few times before and so it was a real pleasure to return to this picturesque and unspoilt island. Our time here was to be limited and so we opted for the anchorage to the west of the main town of Scala for the first night, moving into the port early the next morning to visit the town and the castle.
Scala, Asti Palaia
The castle has been extensively restored but still carries considerable charm. After a short shopping trip and an excellent lunch ashore, in a taverna right on the northern end of the harbour beach, we set off for a brief passage across to the anchorage at Ag Ioannis which we anticipated might be deserted; this was not to be; we arrived to find two other yachts anchored in the inlet but there was still enough room for us. The only problem with this anchorage is that the bottom is mostly hard sand and it is not easy to get the anchor to penetrate, It took us three attempts but eventually we were satisfied that we were secure for the night. After a brief wander ashore around the deserted buildings (once a farm) we settled for the night and prepared for a relatively early start in the morning.
AstyPalaia to Mykonos
Our next destination was the volcanic island of Nisiros.
We set off on the 35 mile passage to Nisiros at 0600 in reasonably brisk northerly winds and were earlier than anticipated reaching the islands. As a consequence we decided to anchor in the bay on the eastern side of Pergoussa, a small island 3 miles short of Nisiros, and enjoy a leisurely lunch. The leisurely lunch led into a relaxing and windless afternoon and that turned into a night at anchor in the bay!
Inside the crater of the vulcano, Nisiros
Next morning there was just enough wind to sail off the anchor but within half an hour that had subsided to nothing. “Hoist the iron foresail!”. We motored for the next 45 minutes towards Pali, the best yacht harbour in Nisiros. Just as we approached the wind started to get up but too late, we had resigned ourselves to motoring in and berthed on the southern side of the harbour in front of the tavernas. Our main aim was to go and see the crater of the still (just) active volcano but unbeknown to us the bus service does not run this late in the year! Only one thing for it …. a hire car. Ten minutes later and €30 poorer we set off on a tour of the island. In fact hiring the car was the best decision that we made as it allowed us to tour all the easily passable roads on the island (for the rest you need 4WD).
Looking down on the crater of the vulcano, Nisiros
The crater is impressive but so are some of the other sights on the island, deserted villages and great views. We ended the evening with a visit to Mandraki, the capital of the island, and then returned the hire car before retiring for the night.
The forecast for the next day was for thunderstorms with mostly northerly winds, gusts in the thunderstorms but nothing excessive. They were wrong!
Pali harbour, Nisiros at dusk
For the first half of the passage to Symi the winds were westerly and relatively light; we steered courses to avoid the worst of the dark clouds lingering over Turkey but eventually our luck in avoiding these ran out. For the next 45 minutes were hurtled blind into torrential rain, so strong that you could only just make out the bow from the wheel and 45 to 50 knot winds; fortunately for us these were on the beam as we headed east. We had taken the precaution of double reefing and rolling five rolls in the genoa before it hit but it was still fairly hairy! I sent the two crew down below and stayed at the wheel sheltering my eyes with my hand so that I could see the compass and glancing occasionally in the direction of the bow but unable to see anything. When in Symi harbour, two days later, we were shown video film of the devastation caused by the same storm as it passed over Symi; the main street leading down into the town was like a river with cars being washed into the harbour. Devastating! After weathering the storm we headed for the anchorage at Panormos for the night.
The monastery at Panormitis, Symi
Storms were still circulating and this seemed the best sheltered anchorage available. Despite a thunder and lightning show, going on for most of the night, the winds remained moderate and we passed a settled night at anchor. Next morning we moved alongside the jetty, in front of the monastery, and made a quick tour of the same before motoring out of the anchorage and setting sail for the town of Symi. We chose to go west-about and after anchoring for lunch we sailed eastwards through the narrow gap between Nisos Nimos and Nisos Symi. As luck would have it the beam reach we enjoyed as we entered the gap turned into a beat to windward to escape the far end. Seven tacks later we were through, good practice for the crew but slightly nerve racking for the skipper, the channel is little more than three boats lengths wide at its narrowest so a passage upwind through the gap is not simple.
Stern to at Symi
Three quarters of an hour later we were moored on the north side of Symi harbour, between a large power boat and a Turkish gullet. It was possibly the most sheltered spot in the harbour and this was lucky for us as there was quite a nasty send running up and down the harbour. Fortunately it moderated as the night progressed. Next morning it was time to do battle with the authorities again, this time to leave Greece. After visits to Port police, Immigration Police, Customs and finally Port police again we were free to leave. Now was time to say goodbye to Yorgos, our Greek crew member, who was returning home by ferry to Paros (via Pireaus – there is no direct ferry to Paros or it adjacent islands) and for Christoph and I to sail across to Bozburun and do battle with the Turkish authorities to enter Turkey.
Departing Symi heading for Bozburun
After a night anchored outside the harbour we entered Bozburun next morning, engaged an agent and let him get on with it. Turkish Cruising Permits are almost exclusively available through agents hence they have a virtual monopoly on the process of entry and charge between €75 and €100 for the privilege. By 1130 we were free to go and set off in a brisk SW breeze to beat out of the bay at Bozburun, out into the Rhodes Straits and head NE towards Marmaris with the intention of anchoring in one of the bays en route for the night, depending on progress. By 1530 we had decided to head into Gerbekse for the night as the wind was very light and we were only making 1 – 2 knots. Start the engine …. nothing … not even a whisper. It was either the starter motor or an electrical fault. Given that the starter motor is in the most inaccessible place possible and fault finding on the electrics in the failing light was going to be a nightmare I opted to keep sailing and head direct to Marmaris. Suffice to say we arrived 10 hours later having covered the final 12 miles at an average speed of 1.2kts. There was no wind and just to make life more interesting, at 0100, just as we were entering the narrowest part of the channel heading into the bay of Marmaris, a Thompson cruise ship decided to depart the bay. It all adds to the fun...
The lift out, 2015
A t 0330, after anchoring just to the east of Marmaris Yacht Marina, we turned in for what was left of the night. Next morning I turned to with a multi meter and discovered that the wire from ignition switch to starter relay was broken somewhere in the “new” wiring loom of the engine fitted last year! A quick temporary bypass of this wire and we had a running engine again. We ran it for just long enough to get us alongside in the ship lift berth and to warm up the engine enough for its end of season oil change.
That was the end of the 2015 season; all that remained now was to pack away all the sails and sailing gear, deep clean her, put on Kurukulla's winter cover and then head home to UK. This will be Kurukulla's last winter in Turkey. Next year the plan is to head west and winter in France.
More in 2016...............