Cruising in Greece

Sailing TB from the Villaine River in 2009 and now cruising Greece in 2011.

Vessel Name: Tobin Bronze
Vessel Make/Model: 35ft cold moulded plywood sloop
Hailing Port: Bristol
Crew: Peter and Judy Ward
About:
Launched in 1985. After one year sailing in the Bristol Channel, TB has been sailed for 17,700 plus miles by Peter, Judy, Charlotte, Ben and Sofie - firstly based in Dartmouth and then in South Brittany. [...]
03 July 2017 | Agmar Marine Boatyard. Partheni, Island of Leros
30 October 2015
01 October 2014 | Kilada to Orei
25 November 2013
19 July 2013
26 June 2013 | Koilada
01 December 2012
01 November 2012 | Koilada
29 September 2011
10 September 2011
15 June 2011 | British Columbia, Canada
20 August 2010 | Ria de Vigo
28 October 2009 | Cangas
17 September 2009
05 August 2009
Recent Blog Posts
03 July 2017 | Agmar Marine Boatyard. Partheni, Island of Leros

Orei to Leros, Summer 2016

Judy and I returned to Greece on 17 April 2016. Sofie and one year old Edith met up with us at Heathrow and we flew off together. We picked up a hire car at Athens airport and drove to Orei on Evia Island, crossing on the Arkitsas to Edipsos ferry.

01 October 2014 | Kilada to Orei

Summer 2014

19 July 2013

An Island Too Far.

For the first trip of the summer, I planned a nice little cruise down the west side of the Argolic Gulf, past Cape Maleas to north west Crete and along the coast to Iraklion. We were to meet up with Kevin and Lesley there and then continue the loop back to Koilada via Thira (Santorini) and Milos in the [...]

Orei to Leros, Summer 2016

03 July 2017 | Agmar Marine Boatyard. Partheni, Island of Leros
Judy and I returned to Greece on 17 April 2016. Sofie and one year old Edith met up with us at Heathrow and we flew off together. We picked up a hire car at Athens airport and drove to Orei on Evia Island, crossing on the Arkitsas to Edipsos ferry.

The weather was great - around 20 deg every day. Little blond Edith charmed everyone she met and had a great time. I took Sofie and Edith back to Athens airport on the 26th and Ben, Cynthia and Tristan arrived a few days later. Unfortunately, one of their bags didn't but after many phone calls Ben managed to get it delivered to Orei.

My project was to install a replacement engine in Tobin Bronze. The engine was being transported out from the UK by road but unfortunately arrived in Athens on the Thursday before Greek Easter. Everything in Greece shuts down during their Easter and it was the following Thursday before it could be forwarded to Orei. At least, this gave me more time to properly prepare and paint the engine bay.

After sorting out a few engine problems - with help from Dimitrios from the yard - TB was slid into the water on Tuesday 10 May.

Yolande and Bruce joined us for a week, which we spent pottering around in the Gulf of Volos. We ended back at Orei from where Y&B caught the bus back to Athens on the 16th May. We immediately sailed (and motored) across to Skiathos. Brother Denis arrived there at 20:30hrs. Even though he was pretty shattered form his flight from Australia, we took him to our favourite "Mother Maria" tavern to introduce him to some good Greek cooking. A couple of days later it was Judy's turn to depart as we said "Goodbye" to her at Skiathos airport.

After having some difficulty in recovering the fouled anchor, Denis and I sailed back to Orei to pick up the life raft which had been sent to Piraeus for servicing. Because of some bureaucratic bullshit, the life raft had not been serviced but as it was only three years old it would still be functional.

Over the next couple of weeks, we sailed south east across the Aegean visiting many beautiful places - Loutraki on Skopolos, Linaria in Skyros, Psara, Mestra on Chios, Evdhilos on Ikaria, Fourni, the port of Skala and the bay of Ormos Stavros on Patmos, Alinda on the east side of Leros and the main port Lakki, Emborios on NW Kalimnos and then the main harbour on the south of the island. Finally we ended up at the Agmar Marine boatyard at Partheni right next door to the small Leros airstrip.

On 07 June, TB was lifted out of the water and Denis took off for Athens and Istanbul on his way back to Brisbane.

The following day, I departed Leros and flew back to Heathrow. TB had logged 450 Nautical miles from relaunch on 10 May and some 19,579 Nm since launch day.

1916 Summer part 2.

I returned to Leros via Athens on the overnight flight from Heathrow on Sept 6th. The small Athens to Leros plane landed at 07:20 hrs and by 07:30hrs I was on board TB. It is a 200m walk from the airport to the boatyard.

I spent 5 days on board in the boatyard doing the inevitable maintenance - the main job being installing a new fridge unit. The old one died after nearly 30 years!

On the 12th Sept , TB was back in the water by 09:00hrs. After a couple of quiet days at anchor (spent painting, of course), I picked up Roger at the airport at 07:20hrs and we motored down to Lakki. Over the next week, between spells of strong winds, we sailed to the island of Kalimnos and the wonderful island of Levitha and back to Lakki and finally Partheni. The Dodekanes is a beautiful island group. It tends to be pretty windy - quite often too stromg for comfortable sailing. But the people are so welcoming and friendly, being weather bound in port is no hardship!

Roger flew out from the airport at Partheni Wed 21 Sept. I spent a couple of days at anchor before being lifted out on 23 Sept.

I departed fo home on the 25 Sept 2016.

Summer 2015

30 October 2015
Click here for link for relevant PhotoAlbum Northern Aegean 2015.

10 April 2015 was the date Judy and I returned to Greece. We picked up a CarsNmotion hire car at Athens airport and drove in light traffic up the motorway to Arkitsas on the west side of the Evia Channel. We arrived in the dark at the hotel we had booked into to find that no outside lights were on. After banging on the door, the owner's brother eventually put in an appearance and checked us in.

We were their first guests of the year and it showed. The heating wasn't on and hot water took an age to flow through from the boiler at the other end of the building. Being early April, there was only a couple of bars and one tavern open in the village. Next morning the owner gave us a nice breakfast but he was very pessimistic about the Greek economy and was resigned to having a poor season.

Next morning we took the ferry across to Edipsos and from there it was only 20 minutes drive to Orei. We stayed in a small bed-sit type apartment at the Hotel Elvion which is run by Morphea, the matron of the family who own the boatyard. They could not have been more friendly and helpful. We were invited to share their lamb-on-the-spit, music and dancing at Greek Easter.

We had quite a lot of maintenance to attend to. The hot Aegean sunshine had taken its toll on TB's wooden construction. The main task was to repair the sheathing on the starboard side, which had broken down in the sunshine. The cold moulded hull under the sheathing was fine, which was a bit of a relief. We also painted over the old dark green paint with a lighter Atlantic grey. This proved noticeably cooler in the sun.

Woody arrived from NZ on the 23rd.

On 27 April, TB was launched back into the water and we moved over and moored stern-to in the harbour where we continued doing maintenance.

Judy left on the 07:00hrs bus to Athens on 29 April to catch the 14:25hrs BA flight to Heathrow.

Over the next few days, Woody and I visited Volos, Vathoudi Bay, Milina and Archillion before returning to Orei on 03 May. The highlights were definitely the beautiful anchorage at Vathoudi Bay and an evening meal at the Tsogas Taverna in Archillion where we paid 40Euros for 4 Amstel beers, 1 litre wine and two meals.

Tim Hill arrived in the evening of the 3rd to join the crew.

We motored east out of the Stenon Oreon next morning, passing between Skiathos and the mainland and heading north up the coast. The log read, "Weather clear and sunny. No wind & no wind forecast for next 48 hours." This pretty well summarises the early part of the summer.

We visited Agios Ioannis, Stomion, Platamos, Nea Moudhania (all different and interesting places) before arriving at Aretsou Marine in Thessaloniki on 08 May. It rained overnight and was then unsettled for a few days.

Woody flew back to Athens on 11 May, Tim departed in the morning on 13 May before Roger and John arrived in the afternoon. The marina at Aretsou was one of only 2 places where I was charged mooring fees in 2015. But at 95Euros for 5 nights, including water, electricity and good showers, I am not complaining.

The first night out from Thessaloniki we went into Nea Kallokratia, a big fishing harbour. We tried creeping alongside the north quay, which seemed quieter. But there wasn't enough water there; so we tied up alongside the outer wall behind the fishing boats. The harbour was noisy and very dirty. The meal we had in the touristy town centre was rather ordinary. All in all, rather uninspiring!

We moved onto Sanni Marina on the west side of the Kassandra Peninsular. It has a reputation as being an expensive tourist trap but I needed to use the facilities to catch up on laundry. Which I did with 3 loads of washing in the very good amenities block. Indeed, it is a very smart resort but not at all Greek as it could be anywhere in the Med.

Next morning we doubled back to the north to go through the Portas Canal into the Gulf of Kassandra. It was a bit nail biting as the road bridge over the canal has a reported clearance of 16.0 metres and TB has 14.5 metres from the water line to the top of the mast on TB. And that doesn't include the VHF aerial, masthead light and anemometer! Anyone who has been under a bridge in a sailboat will know how deceptive the clearance looks.

Still suffering from a lack of wind, we crossed the Gulf of Kassandra to Nea Marmaras on the east side of the Sinthonia Peninsula. This is a typically Greek harbour, settled by Greeks displaced from Turkey in 1922, and has a lovely relaxed atmosphere. But it also is typical of the Greek malaise. The battered wave-breaker pontoons are not being maintained and are coming adrift. The inner pontoons which did have water and electricity installed at one time are suffering from neglect. It is such a waste!

Saturday 16 May was another day totally lacking in wind. We motored around the Sinthonia Peninsula and north up the Gulf of Singitiki to an anchorage just outside the shallow caique harbour on the SE of the island of Ammoulani. This was a very unspoilt bay with no light or noise - a peaceful night.

Next morning we got under way just before 08:00 with a favourable wind - F3 from the north. And it lasted exactly 30 minutes before we were back to motoring. Even though the visibility was not brilliant, rounding the Akti Peninsular under Mt Athos was absolutely spectacular. The views of the Monasteries are breath taking.

It was a long day down the west coast of the peninsular then up the east coast to the anchorage at Ormos Plati SW of Ak Arapis. This was a remote quiet place with only the birds for company.

The final leg of our trip was across the bay to Nea Peramos where we tied up to the abandoned pontoon in NE of the bay .John and Roger left at 05:30hrs on Wed 20 May for Thessaloniki airport just before a thunder storm which bought heavy rain.

TB was lifted out at Manitsas Marina in Nea Peramos on 22 May and I flew back from Kavala.

We had cruised 435 nautical miles from Orei.

We finished off the summer but taking TB back to Orei. Pauline came over to the UK from New Zealand for a holiday. We flew with her to Istanbul on 01 Sept for 3 nights. On the 4th we took a six hour bus trip to Kavala and re-launched on the 5th. Fresh south westerly winds resulted in a delay in getting down the Akti Peninsular and around through the Kassamdra Gulf to Nea Moudhania. Pauline left us there for Thessaloniki airport to go home.

Kevin and Lesley joined us next day and we sailed (I should say "Mostly motored") south back to the Gulf of Volos. Kevin, Lesley and Judy left in Volos to return to the UK. I took TB back to Orei where we lifted out on 01 October.

I flew back from Athens on 02 October 2015.

Summer 2014

01 October 2014 | Kilada to Orei

Click here for link for relevant PhotoAlbum Spring Re-Fit 2014.
AND
Click here for link for relevant PhotoAlbum Early Summer 2014.
AND
Click here for link for relevant PhotoAlbum Summer 2014 Part 2.

I was very slack last year and didn't get around to updating this blog. Actually it is more of a diary than a live blog as I never seem to find time while onboard to keep it up to date. I can blame the joy of a wooden boat for that - non-stop maintenance!

So here is an abbreviated summary.
15 April to 27 April. In Kilada, we prepared TB for re-launch. Anti-fouling, painting the heads, varnishing the cockpit, fitting a new electric fuel pump and a new water pump in the galley, etc! Great fun.

The highlights were the Greek Easter celebrations including fireworks in Ermioni plus a couple of days in Tolo seeing Stavros, Yannis and various other friends.

Judy and I returned to Kilada on 05 June via Ermione on the Flying Cat to from Pireaus. After washing off all the red Sahara dust covering Tobin Bronze, we were lifted back into the water on 06 June. We had a few early problems with air in the fuel line and immediately breaking some slides on the mainsail but they were sorted out without too much drama.

After filling up with good fresh water and fuel in Porto Cheli, we crossed to the island of Serifos, a distance of 72 nM. Started off motoring in no wind and ended beating around the south end of Serifos in 25 to 30 knots of apparent wind. Initially we had a lot of difficulty in getting the main anchor, a Bruce, to dig in and hold. We ended up using the smaller kedge anchor, a Fortress, on 6 metres of chain and nylon warp to anchor securely. The next morning I installed a 6.8kg Fortress, which I had just taken out to Greece, on as the main bower anchor. This anchor is much better to Greece conditions.

Sofie and Tom were waiting for us in Serifos. Tom had just proposed to Sofie on Paros; so we had something to celebrate.

Kythnos.
Kythnos..
Click here for link to larger image in PhotoAlbum Summer 2014 Part 2.

After visiting Kinthos and Kea, we anchored in Porto Rafti on 13 June. Tom and Sofie departed by taxi at 06:30hrs to the adjacent Athens Airport.

Over the next few weeks, we made our way north through the channel between Evia and the mainland. At 00:15 hrs on Sun 22 June, we passed through the Chalkas retractable bridge and tied up to the quay just north of the bridge. It was very noisy there though as the bars were in full swing till 04:00hrs.

We reached Orei in the north of Evia on 23 June. I checked out Dimstef Boatyard with the view to leaving TB there later in the summer. We moved on to Skiathos from where Judy flew back to Gatwick with Monarch Airways on 27 Jun. Next day, TB took me back into the Gulf of Volos to Achilleion. Good facilities on the quay, a disused charter base, but a noisy party went on in an adjacent tavern went on until 04:00hrs. Greek party goers have stamina!

A couple of days later, I sailed back to Orei and Dimitrios from the Dimstef yard dragged TB out of the water. I spent the next few days cleaning the boat and doing the washing before returning to Athens and flying back to London.

Dimstaf Yard.
Dimstef Yard..
Click here for link to larger image in PhotoAlbum Summer 2014 Part 2.

After marrying off our eldest daughter, Charlotte, on 22 Aug, Judy and I returned to Orei on 28 Aug. Judy and I had a very pleasant time pootling around the Sporades. Leone from NZ was with us for a week or so. She left from Skiathos on 06 Sep and Judy also left on the 08 Sep. I lazed around for a couple of days - removing and re-sealing some deck fittings and sealing leaks around the hatch.

John and Roger arrived on Wed 10 Sep for a week's sailing. We visited nea Klima on Skopolos, Skyros, Steni Vana, the anchorage at the north end of Nisos Panagia, Skopolos Town and Skiathos. Towards the end of the week, thunderstorms were lurking all around. On the day John and Roger were due to leave there was a particularly heavy thunderstorm that caused their plane to be delayed by 4 hours. It also nearly sunk my dinghy that had 6 inches of water in it.

I returned to Orei and TB was lifted out at Dimstef yard on Thu 25 Sept. On 01 Oct I caught the bus from Orei to Athens and flew back to London. TB had covered 670 nautical miles during the summer. This compares with the 668 nautical miles we sailed in 2013.

Late Summer 2013

25 November 2013
PW
Click here for link for relevant PhotoAlbum Northern Cyclades Oct 2013.

I flew back into Athens on Thursday 26 Sept and met up with Woody in the baggage reclaim at the airport. He had just arrived from Istanbul. How's that for organisation!

We caught the ferry from Piraeus to Ermioni next morning and then on to Kilada by taxi. Angelo from the yard gave us a lift on his fishing boat to TB in the anchorage. The boat was covered in dust but apart from that was in good condition.

At 15:45hrs, we weighed anchor and motored around to Porto Heli. The fuel pump played up as we approached Porto Heli and the engine would only rev to half speed. The first thing I did after mooring up was to install the new fuel pump I had brought with me. The old unit was dumped in a skip.

The next morning, we topped up for fuel and sailed around the peninsular to Ermioni for the night. I had arranged to meet Roger in Lavrio, north of Cap Sounion, on Monday evening. We stopped overnight in Kouraissa on Kea and arrived in Lavrio on Monday afternoon.

Kea.
Kouraissa..

Click here for link to larger image in PhotoAlbum Northern Cyclades Oct 2013.

The next morning, Thursday 03 October there was a light rain shower but by 10:40hrs when we left, the sky had cleared and it was a fine day.

As all the charter boats were out, there was plenty of room. We used the lazy lines provided and was charged the princely sum of 5 Euros which also included electricity.

Roger arrived at 20:30hrs by bus from Athens airport and was greeted by a spectacular thunderstorm and heavy rain in the early hours of Tuesday. By 10:00hrs, the clouds had cleared away and we had another beautiful day. We enjoyed a fine sail to the harbour of Gavrio on Andros. We stopped and anchored at Kourissia on Kea for lunch. The wind dropped late afternoon and we motored the last two hours to Gavrio.

We moored stern to between the ferry slips. In retrospect, we would have been better off mooring stern to at the north end of the quay with the anchor laid out in a northerly direction. At 02:00 next morning a north wind sprung up hitting us on the beam; so we decided to move out into the bay to anchor. We anchored in 6.0m of water but within a couple of hours the wind was gusting down off the hills in excess of 25kts. The anchor dragged so we reset it again and this time it held with no problem. The next morning, on weighing anchor, we found it was well and truly dug in.

We left fairly at 08:45hrs and sailed in coolish conditions towards Siros. Initially we had one reef in the main but the wind gradually died on us and we ended up motoring.

The harbour at Finakas was crowded with charter boats; so we edged alongside the small fishing quay on the north side of the harbour. The water was pretty shallow and we gently bumped the bottom from time to time. Later on a couple of charter boats behind us departed with delivery crews to Athens and we moved further out into their slots.

Alongside small fishing quay.
Alongside small fishing quay..

Click here for link to larger image in PhotoAlbum Northern Cyclades Oct 2013.

The next morning, Thursday 03 October there was a light rain shower but by 10:40hrs when we left, the sky had cleared and it was a fine day.

The sail across to Loutra on Kythnos was fairly lively with the wind reaching 25kts on a beam reach - a distance of 24 miles in 3.25 hours. We tucked in inside the mole at Loutra, behind a cruising catamaran and watched the entertainment as the fleet of 40 to 60ft charter boats moored up in the harbour. The range of seamanship displayed was quite large. The Meltemi blew 15 to 25ts all night but we were well sheltered inside the harbour.

The wind had eased to 10 -15kts next day and we headed off to Sifnos at 14:00hrs. But withinin 30 minutes, the engine conked out and I found the filters blocked with the dreaded diesel bug. Fortunately we were going in the right direction, downwind. We ran 5 miles south down the coast before beating up into a sheltered bay, Ay Ioannis, where we anchored in 3m of water off a deserted beach. It didn't take long to replace the fuel filters and get the engine going again. We decided to stay there the night and in the evening we were treated to the magical sight of the farmer riding his donkey up a track to the small chapel on the hill overlooking the point before disappearing over the sky-line. Ten minutes later his dog appeared, tracking him and followed him over the hill.

There were fun and games during the night at the usual bewitching hour of 02:00. The main anchor, a 15kg Bruce attached to 8mm chain, dragged as the wind picked up. We re-set it but it still would not hold. I took the stern anchor, a 4.5kg Fortress FX-16, with 6m of 9.5mm chain and deployed it on a 19mm multi-plait anchor warp. It dug in immediately. It is obvious that the Fortress style of anchor is much better at digging in with the hard sands found in the Aegean.

On Sat, we had a long sail from Kythnos back to Ermioni. But a quick one - over 70 miles in 10hrs in a good Force 5 to 6 and doing over 8 kts for extended periods. The wind dropped as we approached the bottom end of Hydra and we ended up motoring into the bay at Ermioni.

The stronger winds over the last 3 days had taken their toll and I had to replace 7 broken mainsail slides before leaving the next morning.

Over the next few days we pottered up the Argolic Gulf visiting Kosta, Porto Heli, Vivari and Tolo before dispatching Roger off from Nauplion on the bus to Athens on Wed 09 Oct. Woody and I then sailed back to the anchorage in Tolo to help Stavros celebrate his birthday.

Happy birthday Stavros.
Woody, Stavros and Simon..

Click here for link to larger image in PhotoAlbum Northern Cyclades Oct 2013.

10 October 2013 was a memorable day as Tristan Ben Ward was born in Paris. I suitably wet the head of our first Grandchild.

Tobin Bronze was lifted out first thing in the morning on the 10 October. After a quick scrub down, we installed the covers and laid up for the winter.

During the summer, we had sailed 668 nautical miles and the log reading was 17,722 nM.

On the 12th, Woody flew out to Auckland and I returned to Wiltshire.

Judy and I returned to Kilada on 24 October and stayed ashore in a small apartment for a couple of weeks. The weather was absolutely gorgeous with a couple of spectacular overnight thunderstorms to clear the atmosphere. It was very pleasant working in the boatyard duringthe day and relaxing in the evenings. The hardest part of the day was deciding what taverna to go to that evening.

The main maintenance jobs were
1) Remove the fuel tank and thoroughly clean it out
2) Replaced the external pear-shaped sacrificial anode
3) Replace the engine throttle cable
4) Fitted the new Raymarine auto-pilot
5) Re-build the engine using the reconditioned pistons and blocks we took to Greece in April.

We stayed the last couple of nights in Tolo relaxing and catching up with old aquaintances.

An Island Too Far.

19 July 2013
PW
For the first trip of the summer, I planned a nice little cruise down the west side of the Argolic Gulf, past Cape Maleas to north west Crete and along the coast to Iraklion. We were to meet up with Kevin and Lesley there and then continue the loop back to Koilada via Thira (Santorini) and Milos in the Cyclades to the mainland. It sounded good in theory but events conspired to make it quite of a slog. I must confess that it was also a bit (maybe even a big bit!) over-ambitious in the planning!

Tobin Bronze was lifted back into the water by the very efficient staff in the boat yard at 10:30hrs on Wednesday 26 June. The temperature was 32ºC with a slight southerly breeze - perfect weather.

Next morning we up-anchored at 08:45hrs using our new anchor winch (What a blessing!) and motored for eight hours south across the Argolic Gulf to Monemvasia. We managed to squeeze in alongside in the south east corner of the marina even though the lady on the French catamaran ahead was having kittens that we were going to hit her inflatable on its stern davits. More helpfully, her husband was assisting us by taking our lines ashore. Yachts no longer go stern to inside the marina as the life-boat now lies along the southern wall. It is a good thing too as last year, in 10 minutes we saw two boats foul their anchors on the sunken pontoons which are in the middle of the harbour.

We strolled around the harbour and had dinner at the Aktaion Taverna and were greeted warmly by Maria, the lovely Greek lady owner who had befriended us the year before. It was pleasing to see the turtles still swimming around in the harbour.

As we were already a little behind our schedule, we took off at 5:15hrs on Friday morning steering a direct course of 142º for Chania in Crete. It was a long hot day with no wind and not helped by a slight swell on the beam. We were both hot and tired when we arrived in Chania at 18:30hrs. Chania is a beautiful harbour to sail into and is bustling with tourist traffic. We picked up the mooring line and went bow-to on the town quay.
Chania Visitor Berths.
Visitors berths in Chania.
Click here for link to larger image in PhotoAlbum To Crete 2013.

The down-side (from our point of view) is that the whole harbour waterfront is crammed with tavernas and bars. And the place was absolutely packed with people. No signs of a credit crisis here.
Chania harbourside.
Along the harbour in Chania.
Click here for link to larger image in PhotoAlbum To Crete 2013.

Fortunately the discos - and there were more than one - stopped at 02:00hrs. Perversely the silence then woke me up.

A couple of local yotties warned us about strong northerly winds which were forecast for the following afternoon. Chania has a repution of being exposed to such winds. This, on top of the noise, was an additional incentive to move on. I found this image on the internet which illustrates this.
Chania in northerly winds..
Chania in northerly winds..
Click here for link to larger image in PhotoAlbum To Crete 2013.

The next day we motored east along the coast to Rethymnon and arranged for Kevin and Lesley to catch a bus and meet us there on Sunday. From what they told us about Iraklion, it was a good decision. Rethymon is a busy city with the old town being particularly attractive. The marina provides good shelter even if it has no facilities apart from water and electricity.
Rethymnon old town.
Typical of the narrow streets of the old town..
Click here for link to larger image in PhotoAlbum To Crete 2013.

There are some very good (and expensive) restaurants in the town alongside some better value traditional tavernas. Away from the hustle and bustle around the main harbour, we found a cheap traditional taverna in a great position overlooking the sea. Just perfect for dinner as the sun sets behind the Venetian fortress. This tarvena is the one in the middle with the brown roof.
To the seaward of the city..
Looking across the main harbour from the north west..
Click here for link to larger image in PhotoAlbum To Crete 2013.

I had been following the weather forecasts very closely for the previous week and it was becoming obvious that the winds in the Cyclades would be unfavourable for our proposed track. Our course would have to be northerly and then north westerly. The prevailing winds would be mainly north to north west and between F4 and F6. So we decided to take a more sheltered route more or less back the way we had followed down to Crete.

As we were delayed in Rethymon for a couple of days, we didn't get away until 14:00hrs on Tuesday 02 July. It was odd having to motor on a flat sea while 75 miles away to the north east it was blowing Force 5 - described by Admiral Beaufort as "17 - 21 kots. Moderate waves. Many white horses." What did effect us though was the residual swell which rolled in from the north and made life uncomfortable.

We didn't arrive in Kapsali Bay on the south side of the island of Kithira until 05:00hrs next morning. Kevin and Judy practised night watch-keeping and identifying the aspect of other shipping from their lights. Poor Lesley was laid low by sea sickness and didn't see much of the crossing.

We originally anchored in the bay at Kapsali and later went bow-to on the quay after everyone had a few hours sleep and a swim. Well, Kevin and I had a swim but the girls abstained! There was a blustery cross wind in the harbour but the new Fortress anchor was holding strongly. A big (at least 30 mtre) motor boat next to TB tried to reset her anchors but ended up with them fouled with each other. Good entertainment for an hour or so. Eventually they sorted it out and then gave up and departed. Later on we saw them anchored stern-to very snugly in a tiny bay under the cliffs. It looked a lovely anchorage sheltered from the mainly northerly wind.

Judy took Kevin and Lesley up to the town, Chora, on the hill overlooking the bay while I kept an anchor watch The wind didn't last too long and I joined the others for lunch in the picturesque taverna an the west end of the beach.

Late in the afternoon we motor sailed a few miles around the corner to Avelmona, another anchorage where Judy and I stopped last year. It is a lovely spot but the standard of the food in the tavernas was quite disappointing.

We left at 09:45hrs next morning for the passage back to Cape Maleas on the mainland. Once again, it was the usual story - no wind. Eight hours later we anchored stern-to in the tiny port of Ieraka a few miles north of Monemvasia. Tranquil and peaceful are two words that readily come to mind to describe this place.
Ieraka.
Along the quay in Ieraka..
Click here for link to larger image in PhotoAlbum To Crete 2013.


On the following day we did manage a couple of hours sailing while on passage to Ermioni. It was so nice to have a spell of pleasant sailing. Of course the wind was directly on the bow so we ended up having to motor sail to get anywhere near our lay line. We arrived at 17:00hrs and berthed stern-to inside the quay. There were half a dozen or so serious live-aboards of various nationalities in the harbour. Makes an interesting scene.

Kevin and Lesley left us next morning on the 12:30hrs hydrofoil to Pireaus while Judy and I took TB around the corner past Spetses and Porto Heli to Koilada. Four miles from the entrance to Koilada the engine conked out. There was a slight northerly wind and as our waypoint was dead to windward, we spent a slow couple of hours beating to windward before bearing away into the anchorage. It is always rewarding when you go into an anchorage under sail and drop the anchor.

On Sunday morning I replaced the fuel pump. There is a design weakness in the fuel pumps on Volvo MD11 engines, where the suction valve in the fuel pump works loose. Volvo make an expensive sealed unit replacement which in the past I have resisted buying. But it is now priority number 1 on my "to buy" list.

Our "little" cruise to Crete was 377 nautical miles with a total of about 4 hours actual sailing. Too ambitious and not enough time to stop and enjoy smelling the roses!

In the afternoon, we moved TB onto a mooring belonging to the boat-yard and tidied everything away. We took a taxi to Ermione and booked into the Philoxenia Hotel near the ferry quay. That evening we had dinner in the taverna/restaurant at the head of the quay. When I told the owner that I had first come to his taverna across the road 39 years ago, he came back and presented us with a jar of olives from his farm 6 kilometres away.

On Monday 08 July we caught the hydrofoil to Pireaus and returned to Wiltshire. To prevent embarrassment I should not mention how I left the car keys on the boat, had to hire a car at Heathrow to get home and return to the airport the next day to collect our car.

But it was just one of those trips!

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Tobin Bronze going out in the 1967 Melbourne Cup.
Tobin Bronze going out in the 1967 Melbourne Cup.
Added 28 June 2009