VII - The Peloponnese, Greece.
To view our next log entries please use the following link:
VIII - The Peloponnese II.
To view our previous log entries please use the following link:
VI - The Cyclades, Anàfi, Thira & Folégandros.
Log Entry Saturday 25th July - off to Kalamata to meet up with Alan.
Our friend Alan arrives tomorrow, we leave for Kalamata bright and early to allow us the time to freshen Sailaway up a little. The deck and ropes are covered with salt, the ropes especially are now stiffening due to the salt absorbed by the rope itself. We wash Sailaway periodically with salt water which does help but a good wash down with fresh water is what she really needs after over 600 miles since leaving Turkey earlier this year. The winds in this region are light and fickle, more fuel is needed, very little left on board, a re-stock of food and supplies is also needed. We also have an engine and gearbox oil change to carry out.
This early in the day we know there will be no wind, so our journey north will be under motor, but an early arrival gives us the rest of the day to get stuck into our jobs!
As we head north the mountains holding Kalamata are covered in mist as we have seen each morning, in the distance a number of small fishing vessels are at work. As we approach the area they have just left there is activity in the water ahead - a feeding frenzy. We are able to catch a picture of the tuna feeding amongst a gull, there are numerous tuna taking advantage of the waste from the fishing boat.
To our stern (behind) we notice activity on the surface, the tuna are moving - out comes our fishing line. Within 20 minutes guess what we had caught - nothing as usual, I felt at one time I could have reached over and picked them up out of the water?
Back to killing time, the mountains begin to appear out of the mist as do the three empty tankers sitting at anchor, we made our way through them, calling the marina on the VHF. We are met by a friendly chap who sees us into our berth, a couple of nights here will do us fine!
The marina was clearly once a magnificent development, now it looks tired, still, it serves our needs, the pricing reasonable - on with our jobs!
Log Entry Thursday 23rd July - Our first morning in Koroni.
Log Entry Wednesday 22nd July - We leave this dear place for Koroni, to the west.
Yesterday was interesting, we had to reset our anchor twice. The first time, as we sat in the Taverna, Ann had returned from the chapels and we shared a cool drink. We saw a French flagged vessel arrive and drop his anchor remarkably close to Sailaway. He did not stay, but lifted his anchor and moved on? We could not see the bow and their anchor raised but a few gusts followed and Sailaway moved back about two boat length - we need to check out and see if our anchor had been disturbed? Returning to Sailaway it was clear she had moved, so we reset our anchor and sat back.
Another boat lost his holding, in the strengthening gust, he was on the pontoon and moved to the outside of us. The gent in the German flagged vessel came over and asked if, as he was already in the water, could he check our anchor security? We thanked him and off he swam to look for it, he returned to tell us it was securely in but 3m after, the chain lay by a large steel box, perhaps we should inspect it as it may determine how we raise it when we leave? We thanked him for his efforts and got into the water to look, sure enough the large box (3m x 2m x 2m) was there on the seabed behind our anchor, except Sailaway had swung in the breeze, the chain had passed under the section of the box which was slightly raised. Our anchor was now redundant, the box had a firm grip of our anchor chain - we studied our position, we needed to remedy it now, not when we wanted to leave as at the moment there was plenty of space to manoeuvre.
We ended up taking Sailaway around the box to unravel the chain, not without real effort, our chain jumped off our windlass twice as the wind strengthened - but we were able to recover our chain and anchor and relocate Sailaway clear of the obstruction - how it ever got down there who knows? We warned arriving vessels of it's position.
This morning we awoke to a strong breeze from the northeast, pushing us onto the beach, we were leaving early this morning and had prepared last night. We got up and left before our proximity became an issue, the wind had never been from this direction before, our turning had left us with less than half a meter under our keel? Three or four of the other vessels began to recover their anchors, some just relocating away from the beach, one or two leaving as we did. The stiffening wind soon but Porto Káyio well behind us.
We headed south and rounded Ák Tainaron to sail across Messiniakos Kólopos, west across to Koroni, we made good way.
The winds stayed strong, as we saw the headland on which Koroni sat appear out of the mist, the wind turned due west and lighten, for the last few hours we put up our full main and small jib and motored at a steady 5 knots.
The light was beginning to fade, but we found our bearing, made our way into the small port and set our anchor 42 miles later!
Log Entry Tuesday 21st July - A look around the point at the churches.
There are two chapels high on the southern ridge at the entrance to the bay in which Porto Káyio sits, one is mentioned within the navigational documentation. Ann heads up for a look around, I have "stuff" to do and wait in the terverna.
Of the two chapels the first is the larger and is well maintained, frequently visited by the tourists and some one locally, to maintain the presentation, Ann lights a candle for her Mum.
Interesting, the collection of religious documentation and religious images.
The smaller, mentioned in the Pilotage is clearly looked after but locked up, quite a view - the scenery not the French lady dressing/undressing!
Log Entry Sunday 19th July - We quite like this place, it has a certain appeal.
As we sit here early in the morning when you look around us, the place has a real appeal, it's hidden position was said to be a real plus in past times, camouflage from pirates etc.
There is nothing here other than three tavernas, and a few rooms to rent, for it's size it appears to gain many visitors, the local carpark is always full with campers, the vans change daily. There is no shop of any kind, shopping can be delivered from "Antonio" we learn, a minimum order of €5, he has a supermarket somewhere? The waterfront village is visited daily by small trucks selling fruit, vegetables and salad, that suits us perfectly, but, of coarse, if you lived here you would have transport. There are numerous empty properties around the hillsides, you feel you could almost move in - who's to know? Each morning it appears a small boy, perhaps 10 years of age is taken to school by rib, collected the same some evenings, some not, picked up by car I guess?
The Monastery on the hillside appears to be in two sections, magnificent, from the look of the windows, doors and roofs - as usual the religious bodies are always short of cash? The west section incorporates a graveyard too. There are a couple of small villages, also visible, not sure about inhabitants, some building do look derelict - you wonder how people get there, the terrain is so rough?
Log Entry Sunday 19th July - Dinner ashore.
We head ashore to dispose of our garbage which has accumulated some what and sample the local food - we then realise looking at the garbage that we have not been off Sailaway for 5 days! I ask amongst a group of Camper vans packed in the public carpark where we can dispose of our rubbish, most are Italian, or French. We are shown an area and told it is about ten minutes walk, we opt for the easy option. We walk along the water front and are immediately asked by the first Taverna proprietor if they can help with our garbage - our venue and garbage now sorted!
The food was excellent, the shrimps enormous and lovely, the drink a little too good perhaps? We have another problem, we are down to our last €100, I tried to pay our bill with plastic but no way! The Greeks now do not trust the banks at all, nor do they want traceability of there cash for the fear of taxation, still situations can always be worked around.
Log Entry Sunday 19th July - Time to leave Nisos Elanfónisos and make for Porto Káyio.
We have been here a few days now, time to move on, being the weekend there are more tents on the beech. It is fascinating to think that people can just camp on the beeches, or rather anywhere, I could not imagine that happening in the UK for more reasons than the weather? Personal freedom is far greater I believe outside the UK, we saw numerous examples of the same as we drove across Europe to Turkey, what seems like a life time ago.
Still, back to the real world, and up with the anchor, this bay has tremendous daily winds that have power our wind generator, it along with our solar panels charge our batteries. Since our arrival we have not needed to run the engine at all to supplement the battery charging.
Within minutes the sails are up and the engine off, we have to reef both our main and genoa, an every trip occurrence since we began travelling through the islands. That will all change as we move through the Peloponnese, the winds will become lighter and more "fickle" until we reach the Adriatic Sea. As we look behind, far in the distance, we can still make out the smoke from the burning hillsides, the third day of the fire now. We run almost parallel to the shipping lanes, lots to see but of no concern. To reach Porto Káyio, we have to cross Lakonikós Kólpos, a great bay, initially we have the aide of strong northerly winds and make good speed, but for how long?
We find a passenger, a bee sits with us, behind my head for most of the trip, the winds lighten, but we are in no hurry. Approaching sailing vessels are seen in the distance to drop canvas and motor on, I am sure it will be our turn soon.
The wind strengthens and falls for some time, then we notice directional changes, the wind strength similar at first, but it begins to fall off eventually, as well as change in direction. The wind moves from north, to south very rapidly then, as it rounds the point ahead of us (Ak Tainaron) the light wind turns on the nose. With only an hour or so left of the 25 mile journey, we start our engine and motor sail to Káyio.
The entrance to the bay in which Káyio sits is difficult to find by eye, of coarse within reason, the GPS would take you straight in but one must remember the errors in the old celestial navigation that forms todays charts - things are often, in our experience half mile out or so? The entrance amongst the rugged coastline is confirmed visually, as is the small church and monastery high above in the woodland - straight forward enough.
We make our way in, the bay opened up to a beech and town, we are the second boat to arrive, the first had left the anchorage with us, but quit sailing and motored long before us. As night came the anchorage became very crowded for it's size, seems a popular spot?
Log Entry Saturday 18th July - The fire still burns!
It's the weekend, the beach is busier than ever today, we have a couple of things to keep us busy, in the distance the fire still burns from yesterday.
The aircraft continue to dampen the fire down with sea water, provides further entertainment for both myself and the bathers!
Log Entry Friday 17th July - A day in the winds.
The winds began about 0530am, we sit in 8m of lovely clear water, the sandy bottom clearly visible, you can see the colouring of patches of weed around us. The beach begins to fill with tourists, the sun loungers, three sets serviced by tavernas, the roofs just visible above the dunes.
There is a sense of darkness around us this morning, as I look up what was initial thought to be rain clouds, it turns out to be smoke, thick smoke from an extremely large fire ashore, more likely to be on the mainland behind the island, the smoke bellows out into the Kithera Channel.
We see the arrival of two fire planes, they circle the bay, the first of the two planes take in sea water, or appear too, a good mile or so behind Sailaway out in the bay. The second aborts and climbs high and fast behind the first plane. Perhaps too much wind in the bay as we see them both in the distance delivering to the fire but they look as if they are filling with sea water further to the west of us?
The smoke bellowed to the east of us all day, the hillside to the north started to become visible to us around 1800 hours, the planes continued most of the afternoon. We watched a movie and about 2200 hours sat up top for a while, the red glow from two fires could still be seen high above us to the north - quite a fire!
Log Entry Thursday 16th July - We arrive in Órmos Sarakiniko, Nisos Elanfónisos, Peloponnese.
We had another, almost sleepless night last night, normally due to wind and gusts, this time "extras" two charter vessels arrived in the early hours, around 3am. The noise of the shouting between them, wanting to anchor next to each other in this tiny harbour, they dismissed all attempt from others to ask them to refrain from shouting or whatever the hell they were on about in Greek! For our silence they ended up, side by side, bang in front of us - we were just lucky I guess. In view of anchor fears, criticism, or whatever they had a guy spend the night up on deck in a sleeping bag during the normal gusty night!
We woke up, the forecast had said the blow was dropping off, I guessed confirm by the return of traffic, other than ferries. As far as our trip ahead, we had about 100 miles to cover, the wind should assist F3, F4 during the day, peaking F5 around early evening then dropping off! We would complete our journey under engine, we took on additional fuel on the quay before we left Karavostási, so we had all covered..
As it turned out the only resemblance between forecast and reality was actually the "Day & Date of issue!"
We left the harbour, we enjoyed Karavostási, just been there too long? As we left the harbour, almost every one else did, it was a mass exodus. Clear from the noise of the craft, we put a reef in the main, as had become the custom and put out the genoa, also reefed and took a general course around Folégandros and to the south. We would then turn almost due west and run parallel to the islands, Piliagos, Milos and Andimilos, then across open water to the Peloponnese - what a plan! We made a coarse about 5 miles to the south of the islands to remove any local influences?
We had no sooner rounded the island as turned south and we noticed the catamaran that had left in front of us, canvas everywhere - I looked to the northwest to see wind coming lots of it! It hit us with a bang, I had backed the main right off, but we were still knocked down, turned and flipped up into the wind. The gust disappeared as fast as it had come, we were left stationary with all canvas that we had flapping, we rolled in the genoa and tidied up - Ann said "I thought we were going swimming?"
That was taste of what we had for the next 6-7 hours, we put up our small jib, two reefs in the main and remade our westerly coarse to run 10 miles south, parallel to the islands looking for air stability.
It was difficult to get a balance, one minute to much canvas, the next too little - it was a change we experienced less than hourly, the gusts could not be understood, 10 miles to the south of the islands, who could blame them! To make things more frustrating we took in a sea area forecast telling us our winds would be light and variable? We battled on, Ann took charge of the camera, I had truly lost all interest, she took a photograph of the ropes, she would tidy, I would say "leave them" and sure enough they would be out again. Over the period we had every sail combination, I even had the cruising chute out at one stage but packed it away just in case we were hit hard again? It turned out to be a wise decision.
With darkness falling we decided to forget about the wind, I did not want this required effort to go on during the night, we had also cleared the islands, stability in the wind speed was now more consistent and unfortunately, falling. We kept the main up and it helped us motor during the night.
In time we motored to a few miles off Ák Maléas, the headland off the Peloponnese, the last 5-8 miles had seen a lot of commercial traffic.
With the dawn breaking on a horrible, damp dark day, the headland was clearly in view, I stood back and let seven commercial vessels pass in front of us travelling to the north, and two came around us from behind us and made their way through the Nisos Kithera Channel, Ann woke. As we motored on, the wind could be seen coming from the north, this point has stories/warnings linked to it but, in the direction we were travelling, and with only the main up it should blow us around the headland. The gusts soon turned constant and increased significantly, no matter what I did with main and engine, it was again, just too much for poor Sailaway. I had soldiered on as ahead, perhaps 500m we could see much calmer water. Too far, bang we went over and up into the wind again, we wrestled the main down as it flapped in the wind - commercial shipping passing as we did so.
We were now just under motor and stayed that way, making for Nisos Elafónisos, enough was enough!
Ann took this picture of me around 0630, just after we had dropped our main, I was looking for someone to buy Sailaway and buy a camper! I did say to Ann "Why are we doing this again?" Tiredness, both mental and physical, along with sleep depravation, (primarily from Karavostási anchorage) and frustration had never taken me like this before, still, life is about learning? A good nights sleep will fix "Grumpy!"
With Nisos Kithera and it's busy channel behind us, we ended up at Órmos Sarakiniko, on the south of Nisos Elanfónisos, plenty of shelter, and space to allow the northeasterly winds to blow as hard as they wished - we slept like logs!
The next morning we had a neighbour, a fishing boat, cleaning their catch, and vessel. One guy during the time it took to drink our morning coffee had shook out his rug and emptied the contents of his dustpan and brush set over board. By mid-afternoon we had lost count of how many air beds had passed us, all unmanned fortunetly! We have more strong winds (F6/F7) coming so we will sit them out here, a few things to fix, Sailaway and I are friends again, and, lots of rest needed.