Capes, here we come!
09 July 2017
Chris and Francis
Wednesday 28 June
On our way back to the Aegean the long way around, south of the Peloponnesus. While Kiparissia is a very sheltered port, we decide to move on to hopefully find somewhere a little more peaceful for our next stop. Pylos is the next port on our journey South, but it doesn't have a very good reputation (stinky, overfull, no amenities), just another half-finished harbour. There are a number of small ports here that have started life with European Union money and left unfinished and abandoned when the Euros ran out. Pylos is one of them, we suspect.
On the way to Pylos we were surprised to see a Disneyland-like castle along the coastline, apparently built by a Greek boy who made good and returned from America to build the castle along with other follies, for no apparent reason?
On the map there is an anchorage indicated on the small island of Proti (sounds Italian, doesn't it). The pilot recommend it as a lunch stop, but not as an overnight anchorage. One of the reasons is that there is not much of a flat bottom, but it keeps sloping up until the rocky shores of the island.
After a very uneventful motoring trip (2 kts of wind) and not too keen to go to Pylos, we decided to have a look at Proti for at least a lunch break and a swim. One way with dealing with the sloping bottom issue is to bring a line to land and drag an anchor uphill on the sloping bottom. That sometimes works, so we try it here too. It sort of worked as long as there is no wind. So we decided to stay overnight and keep an ear out for wind.
The bay here at Proti is a lovely bay overlooked by a church to the Virgin Mary on the hilltop (photo in center). The snorkeling is great with lots of little coves in very clear waters. Francis finds one of the biggest tube worms he has ever encountered, so his day is good too. It is so quiet here and with little wind to worry about, so we just ran a couple of lines ashore and settled in for the night.
Thursday 29 June: As Chris wanted to go ashore today to explore the church and its surrounds we will stay and enjoy this lovely spot for one more night. There is a bit more wind coming into the bay and the anchor is not holding very well, so we decide to re-anchor. We tried a new trick where we put the anchor line not at a right angle to the shore, but at a much smaller angle. This has the advantage that you can put the anchor in shallower water (but closer to the shore. As the shoreline curved a bit, we used the curvature to still get the land lines on as straight an angle as we could. It all worked well: the anchor dug in deep and the landlines compensated for the different wind and wave forces on the boat. Experiment successfully concluded!
We spent another day snorkeling in and out of small and larger underwater caves and had a very nice time.
The winds come and go quite regularly at this part of the coast and during this season. They start around midday, pipe up to between 15-25 kts and die off again around six or seven at night. So by eight that night we enjoyed a very serene sunset, augmented by a couple of drinks and dinner. We enjoy the peace and quiet very much.
Reluctantly we moved on this morning, Friday 30 June, to make our way to Pylos where we need to fill Clio with diesel, do some groceries shopping (and had an ice cream) and to collect a dive tank that Francis has ordered to ease his paranoia about stuck anchors in remote places and ropes around the propeller fused into a Gordian knot. Pylos is situated in Ormos (bay of) Navarino, and turning into the bay you pass many huge grottos and a couple of natural arches (bottom right), carved out of the limestone rocks that form the entrance to the bay.
The port of Pylos is all that people say it is, an unpleasant place. But we still needed diesel and picking up the scuba tank. We were unable to find a spot and after an altercation with a Greek man who kept yelling at us not to take the only available spot as it was HIS and a slightly irritated response from the (heat-wave affected) skipper, a Swiss skipper offered to raft us, which we gladly accepted. We had a nice discussion about Europe, Greece and the World. As it turns out, Switzerland already supports (apart from a strong financial sector, chocolate and cuckoo-clock industry) FOUR national languages: German (sort of), French, Italian and Romanish. To make that a bit more interesting, the skipper married a Spanish girl, so he has to deal with five. His English was very good too!
The Bay of Navarino takes quite an important place in the history of Greece's independence from three centuries of Ottoman (Turkish) rule. In 1827 (as a result of the Treaty of London, a combined fleet consisting of British, French and Russia ships sailed (yes, still sailboats then) into the Bay, where the main Turkish Mediterranean fleet plus their N-African allies were anchored. The allied forces won that battle convincingly and pretty much destroyed the Ottoman fleet. That was the beginning of the end for the Ottoman rule in Greece. A French expeditionary force pushed the Ottoman and Egyptian forces out of most of Greece and Russian forces pushed the Ottoman army out of SE Europe. This all came at a very good time as the Greek War of Independence (1821-32) wasn't going well for the Greek at all. Anyway, Greece's independence was established by Treaty of Constantinople of May 1832.
We had planned to stay in Pylos for the night, but after replenishing our supplies we decided to leave the before mentioned hole. This marina has never been completed and the bottom is fouled with old boats and mooring lines. The water is green pea soup with the same consistency it seems, but a even less attractive odor. As the heatwave had now kicked in, we wanted to get back out asap to an anchorage which is always cooler than being tied to land. So we took off at 7 PM and motored for one hour to the bay of Methoni and dropped anchor just outside the break wall. The swell had picked up a bit during the day and we had a bit of a rock and roll night. But it was a huge improvement over Pylos.
Saturday 1 July
We are expecting winds up over 30 knots starting on Sunday and through Monday so we creeped in closer to the beach this morning to tuck in behind the sea wall to minimize the rolling. Once we had Clio's anchor well dug in, we set off in Cloe to visit ashore. On the way we checked with our English neighbours to see if they had less rolling last night and they confirmed that it was much better in close where they were. Francis's almost inaccessible memory banks sent a message to his foreground processing unit that information was already in the data banks regarding the couple on board and mumbled something to that extent, but was met by three pairs of denial-filled eyes. Anyhow, they invited us for coffee which we agreed to on our return from town.
Once ashore we set off in search of the nearest supermarket, always a challenge in new places. After lots of friendly directions, up the hill to the right and about 300 metres on the right, we were on our way. When we reached the turn off Chris noticed the sign to the archeological site of the Methoni Venetian Castle, so of course, we had to have a quick look. As it turned out, it was well worth the visit (two photos to the right) which was not as quick as we thought/hoped it would be and we both lost about four kilos each in fluid in the heat.
On or return to Clio, we joined Andy and Kate on their yacht for a tea and a very lovely long chat. As it turned out we had met them in July 2015 on Samos, it was great to catch up with them again.
Tuesday 4 July: After relaxing on board for a couple of days, more wind today so we are staying put. We went ashore to stock up on a few more supplies, had a very nice lunch at the Hotel Methoni followed by an ice-cream on the beach. Once we were back on Clio, Kate and Andy (the Freedom crew) came over to join us for beer and wine o'clock. Again we very much enjoyed their company and a great chat, then it was time to say farewell as they head north tomorrow and we'll go south, until we meet again.
Wednesday 5 July and time to get ourselves in gear. We got an early start today and make our way around Cape Akritas to Koroni, another port beneath a Venetian castle. The history as always is fascinating.
Thankfully we were able to replenish our chocolate and yoghurt supplies here.
Thursday 6 July and after yet another (the second this month) early start today. We have five hours of motoring (still no wind to speak of) around Cape Tenaron to get to our next stop in Porto Kagio. As we neared the cape the wind on our nose got stronger and gusted into the thirties. It was great to tuck into this lovely sheltered bay of Porto Kagio (top-left photo). As the Meltemi seemed to have kicked in with a vengeance in the Aegean and this is a very nice, friendly, little natural harbour, we have decided to stay here for two nights as we wait for an opportunity to round our final cape, Cape Maleas, on Sunday morning. We spent the rest of the day enjoying our surrounds and had the occasional cat-nap.
Friday 7 July and time to explore today so we took our inflatable Cloe around the bay to check out the caves dotted around the bay. We managed to tie her to some rocks and dive in to snorkel about in a small cave where Francis happily was able to get some great film footage of a not so happy eel.
When we got back to Clio we discovered that an Italian yacht had anchored way too close to us and then had gone ashore. An anxious and not too happy skipper paced the decks until they finally returned and they were asked politely to please move NOW! Thankfully there was no argument and they immediately moved and re-anchored in a much better spot for both of us.
To round off a great day we dined in one of the tavernas on the beach, yummy smoked pork risotto and complimentary fruit, love this place.
Saturday 8 July: Chris is being a real trooper, once again rising before 9.00 am so we can get to our next anchorage on Elafonisos before the wind picks up. So we set off again at 7.30 for a 3 1/2 motor into a headwind. Again as we got closer to the cape the wind and current got stronger.
When we reached Elafonisos we checked out the second anchorage in Frangos and were delighted to be able to anchor in beautiful clear blue water off one of the rare sandy beaches in Greece. It was a bit like a mini Bondi beach dotted with lots of Greek bathers, sun lounges, shades and a life saver.
Sunday 9 July
Today we hauled in the anchor at 6.30 and set off to round the final Cape Maleas and made our way to Monemvasia. Fortunately we had a very calm rounding and were securely tucked into the Monemvasia harbour before the winds picked up. We were hoping to fill up our water tanks here as we had not been able to access water since we left Kipperisia on the other side. Sadly we tested the water and found it to be very brackish (TDS 1440!) so we just have to conserve what we have left in our second tank for now.
Greece is now sweltering through its second heat wave in as many weeks so after we treated ourselves to a mango smoothie for Chris and coffee for Francis. We caught the bus out to the gates of the ancient (and very nicely restored) city where we set off to explore the lower part of the ancient town which has been restored and brought back to life with many tourist shops and boutique hotels without compromising the original structures and architecture. It is a magnificent place and we believe one of the best Greek restorations we have seen. See Wikipedia for history.
After wandering the cobblestone laneways for a couple of hours we indulged in a couple of cold wines in a nice air-conditioned bar and then strolled back to a taverna near the harbour for dinner. Sleeping was not an option before midnight as the heat of the day still lingers. The heat will be with us for a while!