Kurukulla at Anegada, BVI

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Astypalaia to Mykonos

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.
Naoussa Marina
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!
Departing Rhinia
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 ….......

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Good-bye Marmaris, Marseilles here we come.

After a late afternoon flight back to Turkey, from London Gatwick, it was a taxi transfer to Yacht Marine and a late night “spot the boat” challenge. Unlike last year Kurukulla was in exactly the same place I had left her 6 months before. A swift scale of the ladder and I was back onboard and 15 minutes later, asleep!

En route to launch
The next morning I awoke to bright sunshine and the noise of some TMS staff knocking on the hull, they were wanting to come aboard and complete some of the work they had been undertaking in my absence; the primary items of which were re-insulating the fridge cabinet and undertaking an extensive refurbishment of the hull above waterline. In addition the Mainsail had gone off to North sails for a full winter service and replacement of the luff rope.

The best surprise of the year was the clean condition of the interior of the boat. Having had the galley virtually dismantled, to get the fridge cabinet out, I was anticipating a similar situation of dirt and chaos as occurred in previous years, with other work. The interior was verging on pristine! Www.tms-marineservice.com .
Why I will miss Yacht Marine, Marmaris
A very pleasant surprise and indicative of a change in the working practices at TMS. In addition, all of the work that could be completed before she went in the water had been completed. Such a change to the two previous years when, at this stage, extensive work had yet to be started! The new management at TMS have certainly made changes and I can now recommend them again with a clear conscience, 12 months back I was considering taking my business elsewhere! The new owner, Emre, and his office team of Alex and Mustafa have certainly improved the performance of the company dramatically.

The new look stern with logo, Goddess Kurukulla
The other great success of the winter was the new name graphic for the stern, produced by David Mills of Evolve Creative ( david@evolve-cd.co.uk ), an excellent piece of artwork that has transformed her appearance and replaces the rather tired earlier version.

After four days onshore it was time to put her back in the water, recommission the systems, rectify a few electrical defects (including the engine start circuit!) and get under way for this years programme. Christoph joined the day after launch and helped with the final preparations and by 2 May we were set to go. €80 to the local agent to organise our departure from Turkey (it still grieves me that the system effectively prevents you from doing this simple task yourself – a money creation scheme!) a trip to the ferry port to clear immigration and customs on the way out and that was it.
Our escort on departure from Marmaris
The last visit to Marmaris for the foreseeable future. Next stop Rhodes.

This was the third attempt to get to Rhodes; on two previous occasions I had abandoned the attempt due to excess of, or absence of, wind. Third time lucky! We entered Rhodes old port and berthed in the yacht moorings on the inner face of the outer mole at the inner end of the old harbour. Here we were greeted by an efficient representative of “Rhodes Marina” (the new marina intended to provide much greater capacity now lies in virtual ruins and has remained incomplete and unopened for years, only the old harbour functions. A massive waste of money!).
Rhodes Old Town
Rhodes is a welcoming port in the off-season but overcrowded in mid summer. That said it is well worth a visit for the joys of walking through the old town, notwithstanding that it is full of tourist shops, selling tat, and tourists who seem more interested in the tat than the 1000 years of history that surrounds them.

Rhodes Harbour, outer mole
After 48 hours in Rhodes we set sail for Lindos, the original capital of Rhodes before the city of Rhodes was built. Lindos old village is pleasant enough and the bay offers a good anchorage (even if we did snag a rock with the anchor cable which took 30 minutes to unravel as we departed). Lindos is subject to the ebb and flow of tourists with the day trip boats that come and go most of the day. The saddest part is the “restoration” of the Byzantine castle and the “acropolis” within, which is steadily being turned into a modern replica, worthy of a Disney theme park.

Two days here and we were off again but this time it was to a rather more remote part of Rhodes, we thought!
Lindos anchorage
Our plan was to anchor at the very southernmost tip of the island where there are two bays on either side of a north/south sand spit configured such that a suitable anchorage is highly likely to be found in most wind conditions. Quiet my foot! As we approached we were greeted by the biggest fleet of kite surfers and wind surfers I have ever seen in one place, short of a major competition. Over 30 of each on the water at one time! We wended our way through the crowd and anchored in 4m of water on the east side of the spit for an ultimately very quiet and pleasant night.

Lindos Castle, Acropolis (reconstructed)
We awoke next morning to flat, oily calm. No windsurfing this morning... Our aim was to make passage up the west coast of Rhodes to the island of Alimia, a beautiful anchorage with an abandoned settlement behind. I had been here before two years back but was keen to return again whilst en route north. After an hour of motoring the wind filled in and we were able to sail the rest of the way, finally coming to anchor in the small bay adjacent ot one of the two settlement churches. Shortly after we arrived two charter boats, who were in the same bay, departed and we had the place to ourselves.

The anchorage at Alimia
Following a night at anchor in a flat calm we set off on a brief ramble ashore to look at the ruins of the settlement and the two churches. The last time I was here we were shocked to find an oil lamp still burning in one of the churches, this time we discovered it had been replaced by an LED version! After this diversion we were off again heading for Tilos, a quiet but enchanting island some 18 miles NW. Here we were again greeted by a very helpful and welcoming harbour official who informed us berthing and power were free, the only charge was for water, if we required it (we didn't). We berthed alongside, for a change, on the inside of the outer wall.
Waterfront at Lindos
The pilot warned of shallows adjacent to the inner side of the harbour, such that going bows to
was advised. Since this was written the harbour has been improved and there is now ample water for going stern to on the inner wall as well, as the attached photographs show. A bit of victualling and an enjoyable meal in the Gorgona taverna (to be recommended) and it was an early night in preparation for an 0600 start for Astypalaia.

Next day dawned bright and with a NW wind blowing at 10 - 15 knots. Just as forecast. We motored out and decided to use the engine until we reached the northern tip of the island rather than sail in a light-ish headwind and choppy seas. Once clear of the northern tip of Tilos we set full sail and set Kurukulla up on starboard tack for the fetch to Astypalaia. That was the theory! The wind spent an hour trying to decide whether to blow at 10 kts, 30 kts or not at all.
Lindos harbour
After an hour of trying our patience it finally settled for 25 kts from the NW, we put in a reef in the main and 5 rolls in the genoa and from here on we averaged 6 kts plus all the way to Astypalaia. We only needed a few tacks, towards the end of the trip, to enter the bay on the southern side of the island and finally bring us to rest in Ormos Livadhi, to the south of the port of Scala Astypalaia, and in the shadow of the castle. Here we sailed onto the anchor ready for a quiet night in the company of one other, French owned, yacht. That was until an idiot in a German flagged yacht motored in and spent 20 mins trying to anchor upwind of both of us. What is wrong with these people? They either have blind faith their anchors will never drag or just don't care! 25M upwind in 25kts is not enough clearance especially when the boat behind you has 35m of cable out and you are swinging over his anchor! He got the message!
View of Astypalaia Castle and Chora from the anchorage

Wednesday dawned bright but very slightly overcast but we were not concerned. It was a day for relaxing and doing a bit more maintenance whilst we awaited the arrival of the next crew member, Yiorgos, on the Thursday night ferry; after which we head north for a bit.

More when we leave Astypalaia …....