Kurukulla at Anegada, BVI

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Milos to Kalamata

In the event we spent several days in and around Milos. After embarking Yorgos, re-victualling and replenishing our gas supplies (they now hold gas stocks in the Port Authority office on the jetty) we were ready to set off again and departed for Poliagos and the anchorage at Manolonisi. On arrival we sailed in, dropped anchor in the bay, on sand, in 4m of water, and immediately swam over the anchor to check it's security.
Bay south of Manolonisi, Poliagos
Although the bay is sheltered from seas from the north it is still somewhat open to the northerly winds. Twenty four hours here, including a hike up to visit the abandoned buildings at the edge of some of the old mine workings, and we were ready for a change of scenery; not only that but the winds were getting stronger and we therefore decided to move into the next bay to the south which offered better shelter. Here we passed another 24 hours before moving on to the south coast of Milos for three nights at anchor in three different bays. There are plenty to choose from in this area! The final bay was Kleftiko, a famous landmark of Milos, where we spent a fantastic night anchored in amongst the spectacular cliffs and caves which we explored from the dinghy both in the late evening and after dawn.
Ormos Kleftico, SW Milos
We stayed here until the arrival of the first “grockle boat” of the day and then sailed off the anchor and set off for a lunchtime anchorage on the west coast of Milos. We found a delightful bay which was protected from the building SW winds and spent the best part of the afternoon swimming, walking and sunning before sailing off again to seek shelter in the crater from the strong SW winds that were forecast for that night and the following day. By 1900 we had sailed onto the anchor in Ormos Rivari and were settling down to a pasta supper.
The next day was spent monitoring our position, as the winds howled through our rigging, and watching the antics of others who were not as fortunate and whose anchors were dragging in the gusty conditions.
West coast of Milos
As the day progressed we were joined by more and more boats who had deserted the jetty at Adhamas and sought refuge in the same anchorage.
At 0700 the next morning there was a lull and so we leapt into action, motored across the bay and managed to occupy one of only two free berths on the inner side of the yacht pontoon. The morning was relatively quiet, stand-fast one berthing incident, two boats along from us, where a Greek skipper managed to severely redesign the push-pit, solar panel supporting frame and dinghy davits of the Dutch boat he was trying to berth next to; once disentangled he didn't return for a second attempt but did have the good grace to return personally, later, once berthed elsewhere, in order to exchange details etc. Later in the afternoon the wind got up for a second time, again rendering the outer side of the pontoon untenable.
View from Milos Plaaka
We were snug inside, did some re-victualling in the afternoon, and went for supper in the Chora and an evening visit to the Kasro to see the sunset. Our plan being, weather permitting, to depart at 0530 next morning for the eastern shores of the Peloponnese.
Wednesday, 15 June, dawned bright and clear, 30 minutes after Malcolm had shaken the crew with a welcome cup of tea we were under-way, motoring briefly to clear the harbour and then sailing in a moderate WSW wind to exit the crater and head for Andimilos which we hoped to pass to starboard. Forty minutes later we opted to eave it to port, the wind having shifted, and we eventually opted to motor through the wind shadow of this relatively small island. As we came out of the other side, 15 minutes later, it was becoming increasingly obvious the engine was going to play a larger part in our day's programme than we had planned. The wind dropped to less than 6 kts and, with the residual sea from the strong winds of the previous two days, we were never going to make landfall before sunset if we relied on wind alone. We motored on …...
Anchored in Ieraka
Eventually, two hours out of Ieraka, our chosen destination, we found wind, in fact enough wind to require a reef in the main and several rolls in the genoa; typical! For the next two hours we enjoyed an exhilarating sail and eventually entered the inlet at Ieraka sailing onto the anchor behind two French boats and.... yes you've guessed it.... our favourite Belgian, Octopus, who had secured alongside the ferry jetty, with his dinghy outboard to prevent any other boat coming alongside .. ever helpful and accommodating! A little later in the evening we decided to move further into the anchorage, motored gently in, and anchored in 3m of water opposite the tavernas. Here we stayed for a very quiet night anchored in the centre of one of the most tranquil villages in the Peloponnese. The next morning we put Christoph and Yorgos ashore to do a photographic run whilst I got on with a repair of the bow navigation lamp which had shown itself deficient during our early departure the day before. Having proven that it was beyond repair, Malcolm and I then joined the other two for a “coffee ashore” which became a fish lunch at a superb taverna called Zikos. (aka ZHKOS in Greek). The calamari were the freshest I have tasted and the sardines excellent. We ordered two half litres of house white wine with our meal and were then given one and a half litres as a gift on departure; now that is generosity!
At 1500 we weighed anchor, ghosted very gently out of the anchorage and then tacked slowly southwards, on the wind, to Monemvasia which was our next port of call, some 9 miles sailing away.
Monemvasia, lower town fron the entrance to the upper town.
Monemvasia is fantastic, a Byzantine settlement restored by the Venetians and now extensively but sympathetically restored by Greece. We berthed on the town quay on the north side of the causeway connecting Monemvasia to the Peleponnese mainland. That evening we did a walking tour of the lower town followed by a tranquil beer in one of the street-side tavernas on the main square. This was followed with a spaghetti bolognese onboard and a relatively quiet night if you discount the couple having an argument at the end of our berth and the individual who insisted on collecting bucketfuls of water from the tap nearby at 0200 in the morning!
Agios Sophia, upper Monemvasia
Next day we started early to avoid the scorching sun of midday and climbed to the top of Monemvasia to see the upper town, which is not extensively restored, and the Castro (central castle) which is virtually untouched, other than by time. Three hours of exploring and we were back down in lower town, at 1100, enjoying a coffee croissant at a local cafe before returning to Kurukulla. By 1200 we were under-way, motoring south in a flat calm towards Cape Maleas and the island of Elafonisos.
Departing Monemvasia
By 1600 we were sailing in light breezes towards the cape and, after rounding and a frustrating period of variable winds, we set off on a brisk reach for the last few miles to our anchorage. By 1830 we were anchored in the eastern corner of Ormos Sarakiniko, with four other yachts, and enjoying a well deserved G&T!
Next day we opted to motor to the other side of the Elena headland and anchor in Ormos Frangos, the next bay east, which we had to ourselves; well for most of the day anyway; that is if you discount the hoards of Greek holidaymakers on the beach.
Between now and 2009, when I first came here, Elafonisos has been “discovered”!
That said, the crowd was also enhanced as a result of the Greek bank holiday weekend associated with ascension.
At 1100 next day we set off for the other side of the Gulf of Lakonika. Our original intention had been to go to Gytheo but given the light winds and the extra distance involved to go into and out of the gulf we opted for a direct crossing and a night at anchor in Ormos Vathi, a deserted inlet just south of Porto Kayio on the central peninsula of the Peloponnese. Other than a couple of locals on the beach we had the place to ourselves and tied back to the rocks for a very quiet night in delightful, deserted surroundings.
Anchored in Ormos Vathi
Yorgos decided he needed some cigarettes and persuaded me to accompany him on the 2 km walk across to Porto Kayio, an hour later we arrived courtesy, in part, to a lift from some of the folks who had been on the beach. Nowhere in Porto Kayio sells cigarettes and so we had to make do with a beer; which I insisted Yorgos paid for! The walk back was even more interesting; the lady of the taverna, who amazingly recognised me from my visits of two and five years back, told us that the direct path, which also led to the local church, had been out of use ever since the road was built some 5 years ago. Not to be defeated we set off in earnest to rediscover it; we never did! After wading through waist high undergrowth for 10 minutes we turned back and resigned ourselves to following the road. Not even goats could have gotten through that path!
Porto Kaiyo
At the top of the climb up from the port we discovered a small, unmade road leading in our desired direction which, if it proved passable, would save us 2 – 3 km; it did. It took us to the local cemetery and from there we followed a small goat path which connected it to the church (where the celebrations of the ascension were going on) and from here it was relatively easy walking via a track which led back to the bay and the boat.
Next morning Malcolm was keen to do the trek to Porto Kayio and so we dropped him off on the beach and watched him set off before having a final swim and motoring round to Porto Kayio to pick him up. On arrival we went stern to on the plastic pontoon, installed by the local restaurant, and after a coffee and beer on their terrace we set off, again under engine, in no wind for Porto Asomato where we planned to go ashore to view the “Death Oracle” and several Greek mosaics which are open to the elements.
Porto Asomato, Oracle of Death
On arrival a catamaran was occupying the small inner bay but conditions were light enough that we could drop the anchor, tie back to the rocks, and swim the 10m ashore to go and see the sights.
Porto Asomato mosaic
By 1630 we were ready to depart and sailed, very slowly, around Cape Matapan, scene of the decisive battle between the British Mediterranean Fleet and the Italian Fleet in 1941, and then northwards up the western side of the peninsula to Yerolimena where we sailed in to anchor at 1830 and, after a brief trip ashore in the dinghy to get Yorgos cigarettes, we settled down to a glass of white wine and a sausage casserole for supper.
At anchor in Yerolimena
Next morning was still and very hot, hence we took the dinghy ashore to see a bit of the town and collect bread, from a local taverna who had promised to acquire us two loaves the night before, before sailing off the anchor and ghosting out of the bay heading for the anchorage at Diros. An hour and a half later and we were motoring again with the wind having dropped to zero. By 1630 we had arrived in Diros and anchored in the corner of the bay nearest to the entrance to the spectacular caves, just outside the area with moorings, on sand and in 5m of water. Although the bay was subject to a slight swell we had managed to tuck ourselves in and avoid most of it and a tranquil night was had by all. Next morning we rowed ashore to go in and view the caves.
The caves at Diros
Rather than risk getting our clothes wet when landing on the beach we opted for a plastic bag and natures waterproofs, dressing quickly on arrival on the beach; the beach was deserted.
The caves at Diros
Our departure was not quite so discrete as two female American tourists had decided to take a swim near our dinghy; they seemed slightly surprised when three men stripped naked on the beach, climbed into a dinghy and rowed off to sea! I am not sure whether Reginald Perrin was ever shown on US television?
Outside the caves at Diros
After this we departed northwards again, needing to keep up with our programme, in order to get Malcolm to Kalamata in time for his departing flight 48 hours hence.
Our final overnight stop of this leg was in the beautiful bay of Kardamila where we settled for the night in the SE corner, out of the slight swell that was running, and spent a pleasant evening and quiet night. Next morning it was weigh anchor by 1000 and into Kalamata by 1130 in preparation for his 1300 departure. Once Malcolm had gone we settled for a quiet afternoon in temperatures of near 40 centigrade awaiting the cool of the evening before heading to the supermarkets for a major victualling exercise. Two hours and €250 later we were back onboard, after which we headed for my favourite taverna in Kalamata, the taverna Krini, which is 100m from the marina in the next road back from the waterfront. Great food at a fantastic price.
Sunset at Ormos Kardamila

That evening the sole topic of conversation with our European neighbours was the UK referendum, all were heartened by the news that the polls showed a slight lead for “Remain”; the next morning it was difficult to look them in the eye when telling them that “Brexit” was the victor. I personally could offer them no logical explanation for such a result other than to quote Winston Churchill ….. “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter”.....
More when we leave Kalamata …..

Friday, 10 June 2016

Mykonos to Milos

Mykonos to Milos
Our departure from Mykonos looked promising, following wind at 12 – 15 kts, A very enjoyable sail down the Delos Channel in brilliant sunshine and a broad reach down to Andiparos, what could be better.....The wind lasted one hour before it died to next to nothing. We ghosted south for another two hours and then decided to head left and go into the anchorage off Paros town which we reached an hour before sunset; just in time to enjoy the closing stages of a local keel boat race. This was followed by supper and a visit from Yorgos who, having heard we were in Paros again, decided to pay us a brief visit and raid our drinks cabinet!

Sunset over passage between Andiparos and Dhespotico
The following day dawned bright and clear with a pleasant NW wind. We sailed off the anchor and headed SW towards Andiparos and Dhespotico. By 1200 we were through the channel between Dhespotico and Nisos Strongilo and headed eastwards to the anchorage which is between Dhespotico and Andiparos. Having anchored under sail, on what the Heikell pilot described as a sandy bottom, we discovered it was a rock shelf with a thin covering of sand, very poor holding. We therefore moved further to the north into the more populated part of the anchorage and there found good holding and settled ourselves for the night ahead.

Balsamo Bar, Ios Chora
From here we set off mid morning for the short passage to the bay on the south side of Dhespotico which we found deserted and as beautiful as ever. It is backed by a large flat area similar to a salt flat and is the ideal place to BBQ, with the exception that we had no suitable meat to cook over an open fire... slight oversight! By mid afternoon we had two other yachts in the anchorage and a fair breeze to take us south to Ios and so we decided to set forth. We sailed south in light and variable winds but resisted the temptation to start the engine. By 1930 we were in the port of Ios, backed up to the jetty and debating the climb up the hill to the chora where we planned to have supper. Although as we walked past the bus stop where a local bus was waiting we opted for the energetic choice by climbing the footpath up to the chora, some of the party were not so keen on this option by the time we reached the half way mark, but by then it was too late! Supper was a gyros in a street-side taverna followed by a couple of G&Ts in my favourite bar, “Balsamo”, a quirky little place high in the chora.

Stern to in Ios harbour
Next morning we did some essentials, such as victualling, and watched a catamaran trying to leave at the same time as a high speed ferry arrived; the Port Police guy must have been breathless with all the whistle blowing in his efforts to get the catamaran to move out of the way! We departed 30 minutes later, sailing off the jetty and ghosting slowly towards the entrance of the bay. Fortunately we were well clear when the next two ferries arrived. Our plan was to head to Ormos Negros, my favourite bay in Ios. It was a very slow passage but by 1400 we had covered the three miles southwards and had almost drifted to a halt in the bay before dropping the anchor. It was deserted but for one new structure, built since I was last here, a particularly disgusting restaurant or bar structure, half finished and with outer walls that looked like a gymnasium climbing wall! Why?
Departing Ormos Neros
We stayed here overnight and most of the next morning, waiting for the wind to fill in. Our decision to leave was prompted by the arrival of two grockle boats (grockle = tourist in Cornish) depositing their cargo on the beach, including sound system!

From here we headed across to Sikinos, intending to go alongside or anchor off in Skala Sikinos. We discovered on arrival that this small harbour is well silted and offers very little room. The small inner jetty that Heikell recommends going on stern to is no longer an option with depths of only 1.5m in the approach (we touched the bottom trying!). This left only the option of joining the three boats who were already alongside the outer end of the outer mole. Having backed in gently, we started to come alongside a Belgian registered boat named Octopus to be greeted by the owner and his wife refusing to take our lines! His attitude was completely unhelpful! The harbour was dead calm and, with shore lines fore and aft, having us alongside would have not represented any risk to him or those inboard of him. (Having previously been the 10th boat out at Cowes Marina during Cowes Week only four seemed pretty reasonable to me …. he didn't see it that way!) In the course of our “debate” I instructed Christoph and Malcolm to step aboard his boat and secure us which generated even more vitriol from him with accusations of poor maritime etiquette etc, he didn't seem to connect that refusing to take someone's lines and trying to jam your dinghy in the way of a boat coming alongside were hardly acts of friendship. In the end he threatened to release our lines as soon as we left the boat! Given his unpleasantness we decided that having him as a neighbour was not a price we were prepared to pay for a night in Sikinos; we departed wishing him and his wife well with a few choice words in French.
Panorama of Karavostasi, Folegandros
The wind was South Westerly, and about 15kts, as we departed rendering any thoughts of anchoring on the south coast of Sikinos impossible; our alternative was a beat west to the bay at Karavostasi on the eastern end of the island of Folegandros. By the time we arrived at 1930 the wind had died to nothing and we motored the last 30 mins into the anchorage and settled down for the night anchored in 4m, 50m from the beach. Next morning, who should arrive but “Octopus”; they anchored as far from us as they could but not before falling foul of the Port Police for obstructing the ferry turning area!
Ormos Vathi, Folegandros
After a brief victualling trip and a coffee ashore we set off under sail for the bay of Ormos Vathi on the south coast of Folegandros. This has to qualify for the slowest passage this year, 3.5m in four hours! We were determined not to be beaten by the lack of wind! By 1630 we were anchored in the bay in a flat calm and debating the merits of supper ashore in one of the tavernas. 1930 found us seated at the nearest taverna to the beach enjoying a simple but good meal and better still they agreed to provide us with two loaves of fresh bread next morning.
The following morning dawned grey and with a southerly wind, it did not look promising for a settled day. By 1500 we had collected our bread and decided to head back to Karavostasi where decent shelter from a southerly could be found. We sailed off the anchor and an hour and a half later we were settled in the south-easterly bay at Karavostasi. Here we spent a quiet night listening to the wind whistling overhead but in absolutely calm water.
Anchored in Fasolou Beach, Ormos Faros, Sifnos

Our plan had been to go back to Vathi next day but a westerly wind convinced us that a trip to Sifnos would be a more pleasant sail and hence we set off with reefed main and genoa, on the wind. Within an hour the wind had moderated slightly and we enjoyed a fetch under full sail for the rest of the passage arriving in the southern bay of Ormos Faro in time for a slightly delayed lunch. Nearby was another Blue Ensign yacht, a very pleasant couple from the East Coast of UK sailing their dream. By evening we decided to move berth into the slightly better sheltered bay, called Fasolou Beach, which is to the east of the village. At the second attempt the anchor bedded itself into sand and we were set for the night to come.
Pharos Taverna, Ormos Faros
Next morning Christoph and I swam ashore to get bread and a few other essentials but unfortunately bread stocks were finished for the day; the bakery is in the Chora several km away. We had enough onboard for lunch and with the weather being benign and sunny we decided to stay another day and eat ashore that night, allowing us to collect bread the next day. Supper ashore was in the Pharos Taverna, above the western end of the town beach, run by a Greek lady whose Romanian assistant spoke good English, always a help when there is no Greek speaker aboard. A simple supper of grilled fish served with local rose wine was thoroughly enjoyed by all; after which we adjourned back onboard for a Metaxa nightcap.
The Castro, Sifnos
Our plan the following day was to adjourn to the other side of Sifnos, to Vathi, an almost enclosed bay on the west coast but first, given the very light conditions, we opted to head north to the bay under the Castro and anchor there for a swim ashore and a look at the Byzantine village before heading south round the island.
The Castro, Sifnos
Kurukulla anchored in Ormos Castro
On departure, in light airs, we sailed most of the way to Vathi passing through the shallow channel between Sifnos and the adjacent island to the SE by the name of Kitriana. Heikell does not mention this channel and the chart that I had onboard showed it as less than 5m and rock strewn but in our time in Faros we had seen several large yachts negotiate it, thus we decided to give it a go.

In the event we recorded nothing less than 15m on the echo sounder, as we sailed slowly through with Christoph in the bow as the eyes of the ship. By 1900 we were anchored in Vathi, on the eastern side of the bay, in 5m of water, on beautiful clean sand. Ideal for the night.
Ormos Vathi, Sifnos
After a walk ashore next morning for coffee and a leg stretch we sailed off the anchor, beat out of the bay and set sail for Milos where we planned to pick up Yorgos again for his next spell onboard. The passage south was variable, from no wind to having a reef in the main and several rolls in the Genoa but we were fortunate that only the last few miles were on the wind. By 1900 we were anchored off the town of Adhamas, waiting to move alongside the next morning if or when a berth became free.
Next morning we moved in at 0930, backed into a suitable berth only to be met by a blank stare of disbelief and a total failure to offer to take our lines from the owner of the adjacent boat who was on the jetty. It was the Belgians again!
Arriving Milos
More when we leave......