I found the ancient city of Hania very interesting. It was pleasant to walk around the narrow streets and alleys of the old town looking at the tourist shops which seem always to be stocked with items that I, for one, would never buy. I would always end up sitting in a quayside bar sipping a cold beer and watching the activity in the harbour.
'Salara' was moored bow-to the quay with her stern held off by a lazy line provided by the port authority. She was immediately in front of two bars which at night were full of young people and their music and laughter went on until well after midnight much to the annoyance of some of the other yachties.
After a week of almost a holiday feeling I decided to move on to the port of Rethimno further along the coast, so early one morning after clearing out with the Coastguard and paying the harbour dues I headed 'Salara' for the open sea once more.
There was very little breeze until 'Salara' had rounded the peninsular of Akrotiri but then she was able to sail the remainder of the distance to Rethimno where I moored her again bow-to at a pontoon in the 'yacht harbour'. No body seems to be in charge but even so I walked around to the Coastguard office to clear in.
Rethimno is another very old city similar to Hania with a castle and old Venetian harbour. I again went into holiday mode and stayed there for a week before clearing out and heading for Heraklia.
The large commercial harbour is not really geared to visiting yachts and although there is a yacht harbour there it is packed with local boats. Yachts in transit have to tie up at the quay in front of the Coastguard offices. This quay is not ideal for yachts and there is a constant surge from harbour traffic, it is also not the place to be if the breeze goes into the east. However I stayed there for two nights while I visited the Minoan Palace at Knossos. After that I was glad to go.
I headed 'Salara' further east to the large lagoon of Spinalonga an easy daysail away. The sea was flat calm and I motored all the way. The only breeze was encountered just as 'Salara' entered Spinalonga. She passed the fort and the old leper colony on the small island at the entrance then crossed the shallows over the sand bar and into the lagoon. I anchored her in a small bay on the east side where she stayed for three nights while I swam, relaxed and made inroads into the food stocks.
As the weather was forecast to become somewhat windy I left Spinalonga for the marina at Aghios Nikolaos a short distance away and that is were I have been for the past week while the wind blasts across the marina.
I also need to renew 'Salara's Ship Registration Certificate so I need a postal address for the UK Maritime Agency to post it to. Until I have the document to hand 'Salara' cannot move on. I am bored already!
I did decide where to head 'Salara' this summer over a beer. Several beers in fact. We shall go to Crete. Easy, turn right out of Vlikho Bay and keep going, that's settled then.
Without wasting any more time I did a final supermarket run and set off on the first leg of the journey with a day sail from Vlikho and Nidri to Vathi on the island of Ithaca. For the first part of the passage there was no wind and I steered 'Salara' under power until, getting bored, I allowed her to drift on the flat calm sea while I relaxed in the sun and ate lunch. Eventually the afternoon breeze arrived and so 'Salara' was able to sail the rest of the way in fine style until losing the wind just on the approach to Vathi harbour. Normally I anchor just off the town when in Vathi but this time I decided to go alongside the quay near the ferry berth.
'Salara' had not been there long before the coastguard arrived and requested me to report to their office with the ships papers. This is in fact normal practice in Greece and this year they must be playing it by the book, so I duly complied and was charged just over eight euros for the two nights that I intended to stay.
I always enjoy being in Vathi, it is a pleasant little town with a good selection of shops and restaurants. The walk around the inlet past the small dock in the northeast corner to a small swimming beach is very pleasing.
I left Vathi bound for the ferry port of Killini on the Peloponnese. I had to motor until 'Salara' picked up the breeze as she cleared the southern tip of the island and that then pushed her onward to her destination. I anchored her under the protection of the breakwater but I did not bother to go ashore. The coast here is quite green and fertile, it sports fields, hedgerows and trees and could almost be mistaken for England.
The following morning I left Killini, cleared the headland of Ak Glarentza and the island of Kavkalidha and set course for Port Zante on Nisos Zakinthos. I entered the harbour at just after lunchtime and moored 'Salara' bows to in the north corner of the main port, a location which is very handy for access to the town centre. Once again I was greeted by an agent of the Port Authority and told that it would cost me 15 euros per night. The price had not increased since I passed this way a couple of years ago so I was well content.
During my two day stay I paid the outrageous price of 14 euros to exchange a camping gas type butane cylinder, almost twice the price I normally pay. On my second afternoon I walked up the steep hill behind the town, drank an expensive beer on the top and admired the superb view across the harbour and the south of the island.
'Salara' left the next morning and motored towards her next stop at Katakolon again on the coast of the Peloponnes. She caught the breeze after sometime and sailed in grand style for the rest of the way, rounding up and dropping anchor on sand in 4 metres depth just off the port and cruise ship dock. Cruise ships arrive so their passengers can visit the original site of the Olympic Games and, unknown to me, that day the 'flame' was lit for the 2012 games in London. There is a marina here but as I wanted to get an early start the next morning it was far more convenient to anchor.
At 07.00 hours next morning 'Salara' motored out of the anchorage heading south towards her next destination of Pilos in the Bay of Navarino. As anticipated the breeze helped her during the afternoon and had I not been such a lazy sailor I could have made far more use of it. As I sailed 'Salara' into the Bay of Navarino I gave thought to how the British admiral Codrington sailed his fleet up this same stretch of water to destroy the combined Turkish/Egyptian fleets. No political interference from London in those days!
I entered the marina at Pilos and was lucky enough to get into the last space alongside the harbour wall. It was subject to some slight surge but with plenty of fenders deployed it was not a problem. I obeyed the large notice on the harbour wall and visited the Port Authority office to clear in. The coastguard officers were welcoming and courteous and there was no charge.
That evening I ate in a small restaurant in the pleasant little town before heading carefully in the darkness along the harbour wall back to 'Salara'.
Next day I left Pilos and made the short hop along the coast to anchor in The bay off the town of Methoni and it's castle. This is my favourite anchorage down this side of the Peloponnese and I intended to stay for a few days. In fact I stayed for almost a week having met up with some friends who I last saw in Marmaris, Turkey, Deiter and his daughter Fleur aboard their yacht 'Anny'. They told me they are going to the Canary Islands as they are booked on this years ARC.
'Salara' left Methoni early one morning and sailed in brisk winds with one reef in the mainsail and number two genoa south to Ak Taenan and
the anchorage at Porto Kayio. While at anchor we experienced very strong gusts some topping 30 knots. As there were gales forecast I decided to head to Yithion in the northwest corner of Lakonikos Kolpos to wait for the weather to improve in more congenial surroundings. I moved 'Salara' to Yithion during the calm of the early morning and moored her alongside the harbour mole along with a couple of other visiting yachts. There is a fair chop here during the normal afternoon breeze but 'Salara' was well fendered to deal with it.
After a few days in Yithion the weather seemed to be settling down so I cleared out with the port authority and paid 'Salara's mooring fees, 49 euros for five nights, I then sailed her on a return trip to Porto Kayio were again she was greeted by 30 knot winds in the approach but once inside all was quiet. No other yachts were in the anchorage so I was able to pick 'pole position'. In the morning 'Salara' left early bound for Nisos Kithera and the small port of Dhiakofti. The wind fluctuated during the morning and we were attacked by a thunderstorm. Later the wind filled in nicely from the west as I crossed the shipping north of Kithera, 'Salara' then sailed sedately down the east coast of the island towards Dhiakofti. I did not like the fact that clouds were hovering over the mountain tops though.
I had just anchored in Dhiakofti when the wind started blowing quite hard from the west northwest so I immediately lifted the anchor and motored around to the other side of Makronisos were the shelter was better. At least if 'Salara' dragged anchor there it would be into deep water not onto the shore. As the sky darkened and the wind increased heavy gusts of over 40 knots blasted the anchorage and I was on anchor watch most of the night with only the stark shape of the bows of the wrecked cargo ship 'Nordlander' for company.
I lifted the anchor at first light when thankfully the wind had eased and headed 'Salara' towards Crete and the historic port of Hania. To make up for it's unruly behaviour the previous night the wind gave 'Salara' a cracking good sail over the next 65 miles and she entered the port only to find that there was no vacant berth for her.
However I put her into the only place possible which was the tugboat berth all big tyres, chains and hawsers. I was told that 'Salara' could stay there until the tugboat arrived at midnight and then go alongside the tugboat. Yet another late night for me. I cleared in with the port authority and then went out for a well deserved meal amongst the tourists in a quayside restaurant.
The tugboat arrived on time and one of the crew came aboard to help me so everything went like clockwork and soon I was sound asleep.
When I awoke the first thing I saw was a yacht leaving so I cast off from my tugboat and eased 'Salara' into the vacant berth. Relax Pete, you have arrived in Crete.
After spending the winter months in the UK I have once again arrived in Greece. I flew Easyjet to Athens and next day caught the early morning bus for the five hour trip to Preveza where 'Salara' was patiently awaiting my return. Such is the efficiency of Cleopatra Boatyard that a ladder had been propped against 'Salara' ready for me to climb on board. 'Salara' had spent the winter months ashore secured in a steel cradle. Before I left for UK last year I had taped plastic sheets over the windows to guard against leaks caused by the high volume of rain this area receives during the winter, consequently she was dry and sweet below deck. I really must save my pennies and install a complete set of new windows in the near future. After my arrival the weather was sunny and dry but the afternoon breeze from the snow capped mountains to the north still had a bite to it.
However the summer beckoned and after a couple of coats of antifouling paint was applied to the hull 'Salara' was ready for launch off, all other jobs having been completed before I left her last November. I paid my boatyard account beforehand as in common with other yards there is a 'no cash, no splash' policy. She was lowered into the water again on the 23 March. There were no leaks and the engine started immediately so I motored her a short distance to Preveza Town Quay to bend on the sails and get everything shipshape.
We stayed there for two nights before moving ten miles further into the Gulf of Amvrikakis to moor up in the small and quiet harbour in the town of Vonitsa.
Then after a few days the weather changed. Southerly winds, thunder storms and heavy rain. For the first week I did not mind too much as it enabled me to concentrate on doing a bit of varnishing in the cabins along with one or two other jobs that kept me below decks. However, after all the jobs were finished the weather continued to be very unpredictable so 'Salara' stayed in Vonitsa and I became bored.
'Harbour rot' Nelson called it.
Eventually after a month of really grotty weather 'Salara' was able to leave Vonitsa. I anchored at Preveza overnight and left the next morning in time to catch the 10.30 hrs bridge opening to gain access to the Levkas Canal. I was heading south to Nidri and Vlikho Bay as I needed to collect my light genoa which I had left with Sioux Sails for repair last year. It was a pleasant trip and 'Salara' was able to sail in a northerly breeze all the way to the anchorage at the head of Vlikho Bay.
The next day I picked up the newly repaired genoa, so now with all jobs done and the weather settling nicely into its summer routine all that is required is to decide where to go. So I shall decide over a beer.
With only four weeks or so until 'Salara' was due to be hauled ashore at Cleopatra Boatyard I was determined to make full use of the remaining sailing time. So with this in mind I left Vathi and organised myself a little cruise which took 'Salara' back across to Limin Petala on the mainland of Greece, then north through the Dragoneros Islands and the many fish farms which are sited there to the anchorage of Ormos Marathia near Astakos. There is a derelict campsite on shore here complete with a freshwater well which unfortunately vandals have filled with rubbish.
'Salara' then continued in very leisurely fashion using the light southerly breeze to push her further north and with the mizzen staysail set three knots was the best she could make. Time was on our side so I just relaxed in the cockpit and enjoyed the trip. The blistering heat of high summer was gone and it was a pleasure to soak up the sunshine. I stopped at the deserted village of Port Leone on Nisos Kalamos which I have found to be a pleasant and interesting anchorage. Even late in the season it was quite crowded. I anchored 'Salara' stern to small shingle beach with the kedge anchor ashore buried in the rocks.
The next stop was at Ormos Abelike on Nisos Meganisi where I stopped for the weekend anchored in idyllic surroundings before ending my little tour with a cracking good sail to Tranquil Bay, Nidri. In Nidri I took the opportunity to visit the local chandlery to buy engine oil, paint, grease and various other items in readiness for 'Salara's' forthcoming winter lay-up. I also needed to stock up with food as with the cooler weather my appetite has returned with a vengeance.
While in Nidri I took the No1 genoa to Sioux Sails so that the UV strip can be replaced during the winter. I could use the No2 genoa in the meantime.
With just over a week to go before it was time to haul out 'Salara' I left the anchorage of Tranquil Bay and headed back through the Levkas Canal to Preveza to be within easy reach of the boatyard at Preveza. However south east winds put in an appearance and it was then prudent to leave Preveza and head for Vonitsa eight miles further into Kolpos Amvrakakis where 'Salara' spent a pleasant and peaceful few days bows to in the small harbour. While there I took the opportunity to do an engine oil and filter change as well as a few other small maintenance jobs around the boat.
'Salara' was hauled out as arranged at 0800hrs on 4 November and by 0930hrs she had been pressure washed and secured in a steel cradle close to water and electricity. The hoist crew are very efficient in this yard.
'Salara' has now been put to bed for the winter and I leave tomorrow on the bus to Athens and then an Easyjet flight to UK.
'Salara' stayed at anchor at Preveza for a few days while I caught up on yet more small jobs from the maintenance list. As fast as I attend to one job on the list another replaces it but as all sailors know that is the nature of things nautical. While I was in Preveza I made the decision to leave 'Salara' in Greece for the winter and arranged for her to be hauled ashore at Cleopatra Boatyard, Preveza in early November. So until then I shall gently cruise among the Ionion Islands.
With the remainder of my sailing season organised I left the anchorage at Preveza and headed north to Nisos Paxoi and the lovely but very crowded anchorage of Lakka where I spent a couple of days relaxing and swimming in the clear waters of the bay.
The maintenance list having been ignored.
All through the month of August I have cruised 'Salara' in the Corfu locality and have visited many interesting and scenic anchorages. Some of my favourites being around the Sivota Islands off the Greek mainland opposite Corfu and Petriti on the east coast of Corfu. I have been visiting Corfu town for provisions on a regular basis and anchoring in Ormos Garitsas under the fortress which is handy for the town centre. The weather has been very hot with light winds apart from a couple of days as a frontal system passed through bringing strong northerlies. During that period 'Salara' was anchored in good shelter in the northern part of Ormos Igoumenitsa a large bay on the nearby coast of Greece.
I have really been rather lazy for the past few weeks and I have not had a great deal of motivation to leave the Corfu area with its clear water, lovely beaches and tremendous scenery. Eventually I did managed to tear myself away and sailed south down the coast back to Preveza in late September. A day later 'Salara' weathered a gale and violent thunderstorms while in the anchorage. At the same time fifteen miles away a tornado tore through the popular anchorage at Vliho on Lefkas causing devastation amongst the anchored yachts and killing one person.
'Salara' arrived there some days afterwards and I was astounded by the damage that it had caused.
At present 'Salara' is at anchor at Vathi on the island of Ithaca....The Kingdom of Odyseus.
The Meltemi winds kept 'Salara' in the anchorage in Ormos Naousa, Nisis Paros for four days, after which there was a short lull that enabled me to sail her to Nisis Serifos and the anchorage off the small town of Livhadion. I anchored 'Salara' in the bay allowing plenty of scope as the holding is not too good here, the bottom being weed over hard sand.
The Meltemi was forecast to blow again soon but I was happy that the anchor was well dug in and so went off happily to bed. In the early hours of the morning I awoke to find 'Salara' slowly dragging her anchor and judging by the navigation lights around her other yachts were in the same predicament with the wind blowing at 30 knots. I started the engine and recovered the anchor then managed the put 'Salara' on a substantial mooring which I had noticed previously and remembered for just such an eventuality. I could then have a cup of tea and return to bed, the excitement over.
The Meltemi held us up for another day but then when all gale warnings had ceased it was good to be able to put to sea again and sail on to the island of Nisis Kithnos a little further north which I hoped would give 'Salara' a more favourable slant for her last leg across the Aegean to Poros in the Saronic Gulf.
I spent a restful night with 'Salara' anchored with lines ashore in Loutra on the north east of the island. I left at dawn and motored her over a flat sea along the course line. The wind slowly built up until the early afternoon when 'Salara' was happily romping along with a useful breeze behind her. I was making for the south east entrance to Poros and for a moment considered sailing in and up the narrow channel but caution prevailed and I dropped the sails just short of the entrance. 'Salara' was soon at anchor on the Galatas side of the large enclosed bay.
In the morning I waited for the charter fleet to sail then motored over to the town quay as 'Salara' needed to be topped up with fuel and freshwater and I needed to be topped up with fresh food.
When I left Poros I sailed 'Salara' along the Peloponnes coast of the Saronic Gulf towards the Corinth Canal stopping at Palais Epidhavros and Korfos on the way.
'Salara' passed through the canal and into the Gulf of Corinth on the 8 July 2011. The cost of the transit was 130 euros.
I was lucky enough to be part of an early westbound convoy which gave me time to reach Andikiron on the north coast of the gulf where 'Salara' moored bows to the short harbour mole. Due to the high mountains surrounding the bay the wind screams in very strongly during the afternoons and I was more than glad of the protection of the harbour mole. 'Salara' left early one morning and pushed along by a useful breeze sailed out of the bay but once around the headland and into the Gulf of Corinth the breeze died completely and 'Salara' was left to motor all the way to the island of Trezonia. There is an unfinished marina here which lots of yachts use free of charge as far as I am aware. There seem to be a lot of hulks tied up here and one fairly large ketch has actually sunk alongside one of the jetties. 'Salara' anchored as usual because this is easier for me being a single hander plus the fact that it is virtually impossible for vermin to invade the yacht. Overlooking the bay is the derelict Lizzies Yacht Club which apparently was very well known for its good hospitality until the death of its owner some time ago.
After a couple of peaceful nights at anchor 'Salara' sailed on to Mesolongion at the western end of the Gulf of Patras. It is interesting to enter the long straight channel through the marshes to reach the harbour basin and the new marina. I did not want to stay long in Mesolongion as I was keen to continue further west and soon 'Salara' was heading for the anchorage of Limin Petala where she stayed for two days due to a strong northwesterly wind. When we finally left for Nidri, Lefkas, during the early morning, I was expecting to have the wind 'on the nose' within a couple of hours but as luck would have it 'Salara' was able to motor over a flat sea for the whole passage to Nidri where I found a slot to anchor her among the mass of yachts in Tranquil Bay.
I needed to have the plastic windows replaced in the cockpit screens so I took the opportunity to visit the Ghecko Covers at Vliho to get that attended to.
'Salara' spent about ten days in the area at anchor either in Vliho or Tranquil Bay
before heading north through the Levkas Canal. She then had a short but bumpy trip against the prevailing northwest wind to Preveza to drop anchor just off the fishing harbour.