Exploring the Argolic Gulf
17 July 2017
Francis and Chris
Monday 10 July and still in Monemvasia and are now back in the Aegean Sea. Monemvasia is the first port when you turn into the Argolic gulf after having rounded three capes on our way from the Ionian. We are expecting more wind today we have decided to stay one more night here. Chris headed off in the morning back to the ancient city to climb up to the ancient ruins and the beautiful Hayia Sofia (or Panagia Hodegetria) Byzantine church on the top of the hill. It was a long slow climb in the heat, but well worth the effort. The trek down was even slower as the stone pathway has been worn smooth over the many decades and was as slippery as ice in parts. Meanwhile Francis had continued on his quest to open a Greek bank account at the local national bank, but no luck again, this branch is too small to deal with our request, so we wait till we get to somewhere larger, maybe? Another hot and sweaty night in the 30’s degrees.
The castle-town of Monemvasia (mone=single, emvasia=entrance) is built on an easily defended small island-rock with only one bridge connecting it to the mainland and dates from around 580. The rock was separated from the mainland by an earthquake in 375AD and it is Europe’s only castle with continuous inhabitation into the present.
It consists of three parts: a Byzantine castle-town with a citadel on the flat top of the rock, and two fortified enclosures making up the town lower down. The upper town was the administrative center and the place where the ‘nobles’ lived, the lower town was the commercial center with (work)shops, and houses for trades people and seamen. Monemvasia has now 26 churches, but it is said that there were around 40 ‘in them olden days’. The superb restoration of (parts of) Monemvasia’s lower town was part-funded by the EU with a budget of almost half a billion Euros. It is said that many of the ruined houses were bought up by Germans restoring them into beautiful summer houses. Looking at the perfect restorations of most of the houses in the lower town, we think that is a credible story.
Tuesday 11 July and time to get out of this hot harbour as we moved onto the small port of Ieraka (or Geraka), just a bit north of Monemvasia. The natural harbor there is well sheltered so we gladly swung on anchor. On with the wind scoop and Clio's tarpaulin sun hat and things cooled considerably, of course with lots of swimming as well.
Wednesday 12 July
We haven’t been able to get any good freshwater to fill up our tanks since we’ve started our trip in Kiparissia on the Ionian coast, so we’re still looking for fresh water that is not too brakish (TDS< 600). Our trusted Greek Pilot promises fresh water from a coin operated machine in Leonidio, the next little port north of Ieraka.
Along the way we stopped at Kiparissi on the Argolik Gulf (yep, confusing isn’t it) for a swim and lunch and then set off again to Leonidio.
Eureka! Success at last, good (TDS 220) fresh water for Clio's almost empty tanks were filled to the brim again. It was interesting though, the machine claimed to provide 100 litre per €1, but €3 later and our 250 litre tank was still not full. But we don't complain, as good water is precious and for a few euro we are happy to replenish our supply.
After a swim to cool off Chris was happily showering and washing her hair on the swim deck when along came the Port Police wagging his finger: ‘no washing outside’. So Chris retreats to the indoor shower to complete her ablutions. No, she was not naked on the deck so that was not the reason, but pick your fights with the port police only when really needed.
We spent the night in this lovely little port and dined out at Michael and Margaret's restaurant, now run by their two sons. After our obligatory visit to the port police to pay our port fees and get the stamp in our transit log we made our way back to M &Ms for a drink. Once they knew that we were from Australia, the eldest son came out with a bag of tomatoes and cucumbers from their own garden because they have two uncles who live in Australia. Love the generosity of these people.
Thursday 13 July and on our way again, now heading for the little port of Astros. Once we were secured on the quay, the port tax collectors were on our plank to collect their fees. We arranged for electricity as well, this was the first port since Zakynthos that offered electricity on the quay. Well, they allowed us to pay for electricity, but it shut down after an hour or so, with nobody in sight to correct the problem. Our English neighbours were not on board so the very officious Greek fellow asked Chris to please advise the neighbours that they will return tomorrow at 9:00 and they must not leave before paying, yes sir!
We then went for a wander to check out the very pretty town of Astros. As we were heading back Chris noticed flames in the vicinity of Clio's deck and had a bit of a panic attack. We eventually worked out that it was not Clio on fire but something burning on the quay behind her. When we got back we happily realised that it was the neighbour Nigel firing up his cob (charcoal-based little oven) on the bench on the quay to cook their sausages for dinner.
Friday 14 July
After a visit to the supermarket we head out again to get to the town on the other side of the bay to find a sheltered anchorage so we can cool off as it seems to be getting hotter by the day. Along the way much excitement when we spotted a very large pod of dolphins heading in the opposite direction to us, but much to our delight three of them decided to break away and come into our bow stream for a little play.
Drepanos Bay a bit south of Nafplion is a perfect spot to hang for a few days, anchored off the beach. It is a very popular touristy beach with lots of music and water sports, but it is nice and cool and the water is great for swimming. So here we stay for three nights and lovely lazy days.
We are expecting some wind and weather today, Sunday 16 July, as a very large depression covers almost the whole of Greece so we moved a little further closer to the beach and behind a breakwater for a bit more protection. We settled in for the night but by 2.00 the weather had arrived and that was the end of our sleep. For the next few hours the wind howled and Clio was tossed around by some largish waves. Of course that was when the Anchor Watch program on the iPad chose to play up. It took some fiddling to get it up and running again. To know how much you depend on something, take it away! But our trusted Rockna anchor again served us well and held on tight. The next morning there was a rich email exchange with the makers of the program who just updated to a new version.
Monday 17 July: Time to move and get ourselves onto the quay in Nafplion as this unsettled weather is expected to be around for a couple of days. We headed out just as storm clouds started closing in again and tried to race them into the harbour, we lost the race by about five minutes, but still managed to get Clio secure, despite the wind and rain. Experience is a good thing in these situations.
We spent a couple of hours of drying up and waiting for the rain to stop before heading out to explore this very nice town and sample their ice cream. It met with our full approval. The port of Nafplio is known for its uncomfortable short waves set up inside the large harbor basin by NW-winds. Now just hoping for a relatively calm night so to catch up on sleep for last night’s loss.