From the anchorage south of Astypalaia town we moved into the port, now fully refurbished and being run efficiently it would seem. The dues are now collected by a representative who visits the boats on arrival and water and power is controlled and available at every berth. We chose to berth at the outer end of the mole where there is a single alongside berth. At the time we were the only yacht in the harbour! Inevitably, shortly after securing Kurukulla for the night we were asked by the Port Police to move and Med moor further along as a boat was coming in that required access to the fire hydrant, which was sighted alongside our berth. My immediate reaction was that I have heard some reasons for having to shift berth but this stretched the imagination; however, we moved as requested. Less than an hour later an Irish yacht, a member of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, pulled into the berth.
|Kurukulla at Panormos, Astypalaia|
It was immediately apparent that the Port Police were not joking! They had had a major fire in the fore-peak, caused by the bow thruster electrics, which had also resulted in the bow thruster battery exploding. Nasty business! The boat was a beautiful Beneteau 50 footer and, I suspect, verging on a write off.
That night Yorgos, our next crew member was due to arrive, at 0340 in the morning. I set the alarm for 0320 and retired early, intending to meet the ferry and show him where the boat was. Mistake! I wandered down to the jetty, only to discover I was the only person there, and realised that with the southerly swell, albeit moderate, the ferry was unlikely to berth in its usual place. The problem was I was unaware of any alternative on the island! With no one to ask and after waiting an hour I went back to the boat and checked my cell phone;
|On the wind.|
Yorgos was marooned on the north coast of the island, at a jetty with little or no civilisation nearby, and was waiting for the one and only taxi in night-time service on the island to come back for the umpteenth time to shuttle people to the main port. What organisation!
Next day we re-victualled the boat and prepared to head for Ormos Panormos on the NW corner of Astypalaia, an amazing and deserted anchorage in the most remote part of the island. It did not disappoint; there was not a dwelling to be seen anywhere and only one very small chapel.
After a night and a morning relaxing in Panormos we sailed across the northern bay to the inland sea on the NE arm of the island. Here we anchored at the far end in 5m of water and in the company of four other boats. A more popular place to be! Again this was to be for only one night as we only had two days left before Lorella, our next crew member, was due to join and this was to happen at Amorgos.
|Nisos Gramvousa, Amorgos|
Our sail across to the SW tip of Amorgos was a great passage, somewhat misty but with a west wind that meant we were on a close fetch and doing over 6 kts all the way. With the wind set to stay in the west we opted for the anchorage on the SE side of the deserted island of Gramvousa, well sheltered in a west wind and stunningly beautiful. Our night was calm and the morning clear and bright. We spent the fabulous morning exploring the island before setting off to sail into Katapola in the early afternoon. Katapola is the main port of the island, and it was here that we intended to hire a car in order to collect Lorella, again at 0200, from the secondary port of Ayios Annas;
|Amazing what you find in the smallest of chapels|
a port which is OK for the ferry but not protected enough for us in a forecast NW wind. After a tour of the Chora (old capital) and a trip north to research the ground for the pick up later that night, reconnaissance which included supper in a local taverna, we headed back to Kurukulla to await the 0100 departure to collect Lorella. In the event the ferry was 45 mins late but otherwise all went well.
Next morning it was victualling again (amazing how much a crew can eat!) and then we departed for Ormos Kalotiri, a good anchorage in a NW blow and one where we had sheltered last year from a SE wind (with less success!).
|Ormos Kalotiri, Amorgos|
This was Lorella's first experience of sailing and perhaps not the best introduction with F5 winds and lumpy seas but at least it lasted less than an hour!
Next day, the wind had abated slightly and we set off for either Skhinoussa or Koufonisia, our destination depending on the wind. In the event it was Skhinoussa that won being a somewhat bumpy but exhilarating close reach away instead of the beat to Koufonisia, Koufonisia would have to wait for the day after!
|Anchorage east of Nisis Agrilos, Skhinousa|
We spent a quiet night in the most southerly bay of the main island of Skhinoussa, in the shadow of someone's estate, which seemed full of workmen constructing a number of follies as well as further accommodation. Obviously there is still money in Greece, somewhere!
Next morning was flat calm and, having exhausted our patience waiting for wind, we motored across the 6 or so miles to Koufonisia where we anchored in the sandy bay on the NE end of the island. A delightful spot and a quiet place to spend the night.
We awoke to the forecast, gentle, easterly breeze and after a morning of swimming and sunning ourselves we set off for Naxos looking for shelter for the following night, it was forecast for much stronger SE winds. The first two hours of the passage were a gentle sail but in steadily increasing wind.
|Dawn departure, Nisis Agrilos, Skhinousa|
By the time we entered the Naxos - Paros channel the wind was astern and blowing 20+ kts over the deck, 27 kts true, time to seek out our night refuge. We chose the shallow, sandy, bay to the north of Ak Kouroupa, an anchorage with good holding but not one that is well charted. After a careful entry we anchored in 3m and following a swim around the boat to check the anchor and the surrounding bottom for obstructions, we were set for the night. The next morning dawned with 25kts blowing still from the SE but as the day went on it abated to 15kts or so. With this respite we decided to make the passage to Naoussa, on the northern end of Paros, and enjoyed a very pleasant sail downwind to the entrance followed by a short beat to windward in order to enter the bay and
|Anchorage N of Ak Kouroupa, Naxos|
come to anchor in Ormos Ay Ioannou, in the NW corner of the bay.
Our reason for visiting Naoussa was to make use of the two very good supermarkets on the outskirts of town, plus the wide variety of other shops available. The following morning, a Sunday, we moved into the marina expecting to be greeted by the manager, exactly as Kurukulla had been the previous year. Not a bit of it. The management has been withdrawn, the power and water isolated and the majority of holding off lines vandalised. The only improvement was that it is now a free facility! Not quite what the EU had in mind when they invested some €2.3M in its construction. That night we had supper in the Mediterranean taverna, (same as last year), which was excellent and followed that with a nightcap onboard.
Monday dawned bright and less breezy as we set off on a major victualling trip assisted by Yorgos borrowing his sister's car (He is a resident of Paros). After supermarket, bakery, ironmongers (for gas) and several other stops we were fully provisioned.
The afternoon was spent touring the island in Yorgos's car and at 1800 we finally departed the marina for Langeri Beach, on the east side of the bay, where we anchored for a late evening swim and an easy departure the next day. From here we said goodbye to Yorgos, who had to return home to assist on the family farm.
From Langeri the remaining three of us set sail next day for Mykonos. Our plan was to go into Mykonos Marina and drop off Lorella well in time for her flight home the following morning. The best laid plans. On arrival in the marina, in a brisk southerly wind, we were waived off and informed there were no free berths at all! It was evident that the refurbishment by the new management, which had been started last year, had paid dividends! There were power points, water was available and the marina was full. Last year no power, intermittent water and half empty! What a change. The alternative was to go to the anchorage south of Mykonos Town in Ormos Korfos. A good anchorage in southerlies and already occupied by seven or eight other yachts. Here we spent a quiet night at anchor and then dropped Lorella off in the Old Port at 0800 for her to get a taxi from there to the airport. Normally yachts are not now allowed to enter the Old Port and I was quite expecting to get shouted at by the Port Police or some of the tourist boat boatmen, as it was I think the early hour caught the majority of them asleep; we got away with it. And then there were two!
Christoph and I decided that in the southerly winds it was pointless going back to the same anchorage, (the wind was due to go westerly anyway), and so we decided to head for Rhinia. In the northern bay we settled to the anchor an hour later and enjoyed a day of total quiet and solitude. The following morning, after a late start, we sailed round to Elia Beach on Mykonos in preparation for the northerly winds forecast later in the day. We enjoyed a brisk sail past Delos and along the south coast of Mykonos and by 1130 we were anchored off the beach where the film “Shirley Valentine” was shot many years back. Here we stayed for the next 24 hours, tied back to the rocks, close in to the beach.
|Kurukulla anchored off "Shirley Valentine" beach|
The night was calm and peaceful such that we were even able to keep the line ashore to hold us bow on to any slight swell coming in from the south. Next morning it was an early morning swim to let the line go and a sail back along the coast and a return to the marina to pick up Malcolm, the next crew member. At this hour the early leavers had gone and there was plenty of space for us to go stern to on one of the jetties. Our plan was to stay for about an hour and then head south to make best use of the north-westerly breeze. With Malcolm plus water and victuals embarked (never miss an opportunity for either) we set off for Paros and beyond.
More when we are further down the track ….......