23 October 2016 | Santorini Greece
19 October 2016 | Mykanos and Ios
26 August 2016 | Dirou Peloponnese
22 August 2016 | Kalamata
22 August 2016 | Katakolon
22 August 2016 | Zackinthos
13 August 2016 | Meganisi
13 August 2016 | Little Vathi, Ithica
23 October 2016 | Santorini Greece
Having set off early we had a reasonable run onwards Santorini, part sail part motor. As we reached the shores of the caldera we were able to sail on the jib right into the caldera itself. A visit to Santorini on land about 14 years ago had sparked a dream for Pete to someday sail the waters and see the sights from the sea. So dream come true. However we found the wind flukey and wanted to concentrate on taking photos so furled the sail and gently motored around the foot of the cliffs. These alone are something to behold, made from volcanic ash and rock they are a deep brown black in colour, striations of red run through them and there is clear evidence of the major volcanic eruption in 1646 BC when the whole of the islands habitations, plants and wildlife were wiped out. There is a huge striation about the height of a 3 story house. The most recent eruption was in 2012 although little damage was reported.
We did the tourist bit by skirting the major towns of Oia and Fira and snapping away on our cameras. There were some areas of the caldera where you could tie up to huge mooring bouys but these looked rather dilapidated and the risk of catching others lines a very big possibility, that and the vast amount of trip boats zooming around we decided to carry on to Vilychadas marina at the South eastern side of the island.
A very slow motor into the harbour was needed, there are rocks and shallow water and the approach is on a very specific course. The guide book says to keep to the port wall on entering as there are shallows to the starboard side. I inched in with a day hire catamaran on my stern, he was shouting something at me and I was a little flustered. In the mean time the harbour master shouted to Pete telling us to moor alongside the wall, I steered over all the time looking at the depth sounder reading only 1 metre under the keel. It was a textbook mooring, shame no one was there to see it. We quickly tied our lines and hooked up to electricity, after all a cold drink with ice was called for and so the ice asker was put to work where it worked hard for the 3 days we were there.
As we sat taking in the sun and cold drinks we received an email stating the car I had booked was no longer available!! Typical. So we wandered ashore, found a sign by a taverna and got them to call the rental company where we booked a car but for only a day rather than the two we originally booked. 2 reasons for this, firstly as usual cost and secondly there would be a weather window to go to Crete Sunday but then strong winds for several days. The choice was stay in Santorini marina, probably costly or take the risk and move, we decided we would check again but 'do the sights' in one day. Our first evening on Santorini we sat by the beach looking out over the twinkling water. Charter yachts all motored or sailed around waiting for the sun to set, another great photo opportunity. As the sun set so we saw our first ever 'green flash', very feint, very quick but still we saw it.
The following morning we collected the car at 9am and I drove with Pete navigating using his phone maps. Firstly we drove to Oia. This is well known for its tiny cobbled streets and amazing caldera views of the sunset. We wandered the streets and took many pictures, some traditional and some even a little arty. The weather is still hot in the sun and by lunchtime we were already tired and thirsty so stopped at a small bakery on the outskirts of the main town. We shared a large baguette sandwich and each had a bottle of drink for the cost of €4.90 . In the main town an expresso was €3.50 so we were glad to have waited.
From here we went into the mountains, the road was fairly good but in a little Nissan Micra the hills were challenging. I was often in first gear afraid that I would need to stop and then not get going again. One road wound up and up and up. When we reached the top the views were stunning. It was very windy and Pete got out to take pictures only to find a sign saying no photos as it was a military base. He did sneak a couple of shots away from the base but it was a little frustrating.
On out way to Oia we had noticed a Lidil. To those on boats you will appreciate the excitement of this, to those at home believe me it is a highlight when you find one as basic foodstuffs are both cheaper and things like baked beans are often available. So we made our way back and stocked up, then returned to Argonauta to store our goodies both refrigerated and tinned.
After a quick drink we again left and headed towards Fira, the capital. We were able to find a free parking space and I put a pin in the electronic map in my phone to make sure we could find it again.
We walked up the steep hill to the main square and then on through the tiny cobbled streets, filled with shops aimed at the cruise liner clientele, way out of my price. The views in Fira are stunning. Whitewashed housed, deep blue domed churches and hotels where every balcony had either a small pool or a jacuzzi looking out onto the magnificent caldera.
We looked down on the harbour a long way below, this is accessed by a cable car,
587 steps or donkey/mule. We decided we did not need to go to the port as having seen it from the sea the day before we knew that it was an access point from the water only.
Whilst climbing some of the remaining 587 steps to the very tip of Fira we were overtaken by the donkey/mule train, with the drover calling us to move to the side. We were squashed against the wall whilst they passed, hooves very close to our feet and definitely affected by the mule smell.
We reached the summit about an hour before sunset, a handy concrete seat opposite to the cliff wall meant we could sit and enjoy the view whilst waiting. We shared a drink and some nibbles purchased from the supermarket and got talking to an English couple on holiday.
As the sun dropped so the clouds came and by sunset there was no sign of the sun at all. I did however get some amazing pictures of the sun as it glowed towards the horison.
As it grew dark we wandered the streets again and back into the main square where we went to a small family run taverna and shared a 'plate' that had chicken, pork and chips.
We returned to Argonauta tired but happy that we had packed into our day so much.
Sunday saw the wind calmer, we rechecked the forecast and agreed we would do the run to Crete. We decided it was a better option leaving about 5 pm and sailing through the night as if we were there too early we could reduce sail and slow down, if we aimed for a day crossing and got there too late it would be more of a problem.
Pete went to settle our marina fee. We were told when we arrived it was €28, this we assumed was per night. However there is a flat fee of €20 and then €3 a night so our total bill was €26!!!! If we had known we may have stayed longer but the decision was made so we set off out of the channel about 1630 and then once past all obstructions set course for Crete.
There was actually very little wind, again all or nothing. We sailed until 0100 then had to motor sail until sunrise when the wind again returned. When I came up for my watch at 0300 I could just make out lights of land. By 0900 we had reached the turn point for Spinalonga and by 10am we had dropped the anchor in a secluded bay to the east side.
Sailing in company
19 October 2016 | Mykanos and Ios
We had planned to meet up with Gaille and Ian, friends from Princess Orsini and had been keeping a look out as we reached the island of Syros. However we did not see them and so once tied to the dock in Ermopolous we discussed further places we could meet up. Shortly before sunset on our second night a familiar yacht came into view in the harbour, Princess Orsini!!! I went to meet them dockside and helped them tie up, it was so nice meeting up with such good friends. They had guests on board and we decided we would all go out for a catch up meal, also celebrating belatedly Pete’s birthday.
The following day we moved on to Nisos Rina and anchored in the bay of Ormos Miso. A good anchorage where as agreed we met up with all on board Princess Orsini. A lovely BBQ on board Gaille and Ian’s boat led to a relaxed evening with new friends Marion and Al.
We moved on to Mikonos, a bit of a lumpy sail with sometimes scary seas as the wind was picking up, however we did sail at up to 7 knots on jib alone! Again we anchored, this time in Ornos bay. The weather was due to bring another bout of wind and we were comfortable and protected in the bay, safe on our well dug in anchor. The next few days saw us basically stuck in the bay. We took a bus into Mikanos and wandered the narrow whitewashed stone streets, taking many pictures. Looking out to sea there were flecks of white everywhere and we were grateful of our protected bay.
Ornos itself is on the not quite so funky young hip side of Mikanos, the bars and tavernas were still well attended but were a little more luxurious. The sun beds on the beach were more like large deep mattressed beds, they were really inviting with big comfy pillows that just begged to be laid in. However when I asked how much to have one for a day I as told €22 but that included 2 x 250 ml bottles of water, a snip!!!!As I am sure you will have guessed we went to the other end of the beach with our towels and sat on the sand.
Other days we wandered to the windy side of the small spit and watched the kite surfers scooting along and flying high into the air, amazing and such skill to land without belly flopping into the water. We made friends with a local bar owner who kindly took Pete in his car to pick up petrol for the outboard as the petrol station was quite some walk away.
Evenings were often spent with Gaille, Ian, Marion, Al and the new guests Peter, Lennie and Andre, enjoying a BBQ on the beach or a glass of wine and a shared meal. So lovely to have company and time to talk of our adventures with others.
Our final night in Mikanos was a noisy one. There was a wedding party at one of the beach tavernas and the Greek music and dancing went on well into the night stopping about 5 am! Whilst at first the music was different in a good way, serenading us with our dinner, by the early hours the continual wailing of the singer was more than annoying and even earplugs didn't work.
As planned the day before, bleary eyed we set sail in the company of a now depleted crew of Princess Orsini, just Gaille and Ian as all the others had left for home. We took a gentle motor sail to Naousa on Paros and anchored in the bay. It was the most quiet calm night we have had in a while and we slept soundly.
A day swimming, sunbathing, snorkelling and eating followed and another night at anchor saw us refreshed. Once again there was strong wind forecast so we motored the short distance across the bay and into the port of Naousa. We stern too moored alongside Princess Orsini and settled down for a lazy afternoon. As the sun dropped in the sky so the boats began to come in, the port is managed by the local council and the harbour master (well should be mistress as was female) would blow her whistle and shout at the captains ushering them into spaces along the quay. The quay is in places shallow and there were several times she shouted for the ‘capataain’ to stop, move or go out. It certainly made great entertainment.
We spent 3 days here and decided we would pool resources and hire a car. We spent a great day touring the island both inland and ports. We visited a beautiful church said to have one hundred doors in Parokia and wandered through tiny pathways to sit at a taverna Levaki whose homemade meze was delicious. We used the opportunity to stock up with food from the supermarket and picked up 25 litres of fuel in a Jerry can whilst we had the car.
The next day we again set off in company with Princess Orsini, the decision was to go to Andiparos to escape more wind that was expected. We set off first and were soon joined by Gaille and Ian, we were due to go through the straits between Paros and Andiparos but I had a bit of a wobble with the thought of a mere 2 metres of water that was charted in the gap, we draw 1.6 metres and I was scared we may touch so we decided to go the long way, round the top of Andiparos and through the gap between Andiparos and Despotiko. Again there was reduced water depth but no where near as low as the other channel. The wind was mostly directly ahead of us and it was only after the final turn around the island we were able to get out the jib and sail for a few miles. We arrived in the bay of Port Georgio expecting to see Princess Orsini already at anchor but they were no where to be seen, we dropped anchor and dug in as usual and then prepared to swim and check the anchor, as we did so, the sails of Princess Orsini came into view. They dropped anchor near by and we later shared a meal with them. As we sat on board Argonauta the wind picked up, they had rowed across and as they went to leave we decided they would struggle rowing back so we got out our working outboard and put it on their dinghy. I stood on the deck watching them make thier way back in a very dark night, a quick call on the VHF confirming their safety and we went down to bed.
At about 0100 the anchor alarm started sounding and waking suddenly from sleep we both lurched out of bed, the wind was howling and great gusts were making the boat rock. Slightly disorientated we thought the anchor was dragging, we pulled on clothes and went on deck, switching on the engine, instruments and some lighting on deck. We looked back towards where Princess Orsini was anchored to see their deck lights on and a flurry of activity on deck.
After a few short anxiety stricken moments we established we were not dragging our anchor and had just turned 180 degrees from our original position. We spent a while making sure we were safe then called Princess Orsini who told us they had dragged but were now safe. A somewhat disturbed night followed and when we joined Gaille and Ian for a stroll ashore the next day all were quite tired and a little quiet. Evening saw us share a meal again and an early night followed.
Next morning we set off in company towards Folygandros, we had hoped we could photograph each other sailing but as usual there was no wind so we motored all the way. We tied up stern too on the harbour wall and Princess Orsini dropped anchor in the bay to allow a quick departure the following day. We met to say our goodbyes over dinner, not the best, the restaurant was closing for winter and had chicken fillet or pork souvlaki, we all chose the pork but the portion was on the stingy side for the annount we paid. However we had a lovely evening and said goodbye to Gaille and Ian who were moving off to Crete the next morning, as a family issue means Gaille has to travel abroad as soon as possible.
We spent a further day exploring the area, catching a bus to Chora the main town on the Island. Chora is a quaint, beautifully kept whitewashed village, small stone paved streets and amazing views of the island and surrounding waters. Another excellent photo opportunity which we took full advantage of. We spent the afternoon swimming from the beach and lazing in the sun. The evening saw us eating on board to another beautiful sunset.
Having had our fill of a lovely but small Island we set off for Ios. The wind was not kind to us and the majority of the trip saw us motoring into the wind, we did however have a short sail, close hauled which was lovely, just the sound of the wind and water, bliss.
We reached IOS just as the high speed ferry arrived, typical. We increased our throttle to allow us good steerage through the troubled waters kicked up by the jets from the sea cat. Our depth sounder suddenly showed 1 metre and after an initial panic we realised it was due to the turbulent water and not really shallows after all.
We made our way into the harbour and picked up the lazy lines whilst tying our lines stern too. The harbour is pretty choppy and even more so when the high speed ferries come in, bouncing the boat up and down by a couple of metres, not ideal and definitely not great when you have a passerelle attached to the back, clanging onto the quay and then springing into the air. Not fully safe to manoeuvre on and off the boat either but we managed it.
A trip on the bus to another town named Chora got us walking up to the churches at the top of the town. I didn't count the steps but there were definitely many of them. The views were spectacular, so much so Pete waked back up just before sunset to take more pictures whilst I stayed in the harbour trying to get to grips with the manual use of my camera at night.
Another bouncy night with the lines snatching saw us looking to move on although by morning the swell had calmed somewhat but we had already decided to move. We had spent 2 nights in Ios town quay, had electricity for free (left over from someone else) and no mooring charge, not bad!!
As we left the harbour we bounced into the oncoming swell, crept out around the entrance checking for ferries and were relieved when none appeared so we hastily moved across the entrance and on track towards Manganari bay. Typical, although forecast to be some wind and from our stern the rolling of the sea along with the light wind made it impossible to sail. Sometimes I think we should just have a motor boat as the white flappy things seem to get little use.
There is nothing at Manganari bay other than a beach which was deserted, so anchoring in a safe spot we swam, sunbathed and took it very easy, checking the pilot book we planned our next stop, Santorini. The evening was a little rolly and we watched the sun setting by the reflection of light on the rocks and then in the soft glow of the houses on Santorini just 12 miles away. Early dinner and bed as we plan to leave by 0700 to make Santorini in time to find a berth prior to another blow due on Saturday.
Hydra to Ermoupolis
12 October 2016
The town of Hydra was very busy as we approached a large cruise ship anchored off with its attendant lifeboats ferrying passengers back & forward. The main Quay was filled with Large motor super-yachts and their seemed little chance of getting a berth so we continued past and anchored in the bay of Mandraki Most boats were Tied with a line to shore. As we planned to leave early the next day I didn’t fancy swimming to untie the lines at 03:00am so we backed in Dropping the main anchor then continued backing till we were in 3 Mtrs depth and dropped a stern anchor pulling ourselves out again so we were moored between the two. Now when we were ready to leave we just let out the main anchor till we were over the stern anchor, recover it, then pulled in the main anchor, No swimming! The theory was fine till a German flagged boat came in at 22:00Hrs and dropped his anchor on top of ours. I yelled across to tell him he was on our anchor and were were leaving in the early hours 'No Problem' was the reply. I don’t think he really believed us but at 2am when we started hauling chain he finally realised we were telling the truth. He didn’t complain but I am sure he wasn’t happy at having to get out of bed in the early hours.
The Night was Pitch black, No stars, Moon or any other light once clear of the bay it was difficult to tell where the cliffs started and the sea finished. Relying on the GPS & Chart-plotter we set a course for Kithnos. Once clear of land Jackie want back to sleep & Pete Kept watch. Half way across there was a whole mass of red flashing lights Checking the Charts showed no Buoys, or other obstructions in the sea. Looking at the timing it seemed that half of them flashed in Sync and the other half were out of Sync. We worked out that they were probably wind generators but nothing was marked on the map and the depths seemed to preclude them in the water. Even so we approached carefully. As it got light we realised yes they were wind turbines, but on a small island the whole of the Island was covered in them. Probably installed after our charts had been published. Either way panic over. On rounding the north of Kithnos we headed for Ormos Livadhi Strong winds were forecast for the following few days so we wanted somewhere sheltered. Approaching the harbour we were hailed by the harbour-master who directed us alongside inside the Harbour arm. As we sat there relaxing, boats just came & came. Eventually we had three boats rafted alongside outside of us and the outer arm was also full of boats at final count we reckon about 50 boats came in there that day the poor Harbour master was rushed off his feet Jackie Kept him topped up with juice much to his delight & amusement. One great feature at Livadhi was the Hot water spring on the Beach. We were able to sit and relax in hot water watching the yachts go by into the harbour. Pete said this was his first hot bath for seven months! Livadhi was a great little place again the main tourist trade had lowed down but the tavernas had a late season boost from all the boats coming in to shelter from the winds. After 3 days the winds declined and we left for Siros with just Jib out we scooted down wind at 7.5knts down around the bottom of the island and up to Ermoupolis here we entered the large harbour and tied up against the town quay right in front of a taverna.
Navapilion to Spetsai
12 October 2016
Leaving Stuart & Christine to retrace our route. We headed for Spetsai. There was no suitable space to anchor so we motored into the harbour to try and find a berth. A small jetty already had several yachts tied up so we backed in Jacques Performing a perfect backing manoeuvre whilst Pete dropped the anchor. The man on the dock however refused to take our lines telling us to go back out and re-anchor, claiming we had dropped short. As we pulled back out the wind unfortunately caught us and the solar Panel on the Starboard side got caught on the neighbouring boats stanchion and unfortunately bent it. Coming back in again we dropped the anchor in almost the same place and seemed fine. The man on the quay then insisted changing lines around forcing us much too close to the neighbouring boats and when we objected. he had a go at Jackie telling her he was the authority here ans we had to do what he said. Saying 'look here my dear' to her is not a good move (I've learnt that in thirty years). Leading to a very frosty relationship. We never worked out if he was officially responsible or just a fisherman or bystander. He never asked for payment and to be honest He kept his distance from Argonauta after that. We did get a few hard stares though!
We left a note on the Neighbouring Swedish yacht as they were out, The next morning, when we did get to talk to them his response was 'Well shit happens. Don t worry'. We did however give him 25 Euros for the damages and he seemed happy with that. The town here has banned cars though scooters are everywhere we wondered the lanes and alleyways though most of it seems the same usual tourist tat for sale at every place. We left the next morning for Hydra.
Khaidhari to Navplion
12 October 2016
Khaidhari is another amazing place you enter the bay between towering cliffs on both sides one topped with a Venetian castle. In front all you see are more cliffs and a small beach but once inside you turn into a large bay at the far end of which is the town. We anchored off the town beach with a few tavernas and settled in for a very calm night. That evening we had a BBQ ashore sharing food cooked on our Cobb and watched the sunset.
The next day we left and sailed (rather motored in flat calm) to Navplion. Here we Tied up to the town quay next to some young Russians on a charter yacht, who kindly took our lines. 15 mins later they left and hauled up an anchor as they left. We had just helped Marissella moor so dashed back to our boat fearing it was our anchor they had pulled up. Fortunately for us, it belonged the boat on the other side. The young Russians had no Idea what to do, shouted instructions both in English and French from the other yacht probably only served to confuse matters further. We watched as they tried hooking it with a boat hook only to loose that overboard, Scrape the anchor along their top side causing a big gouge in the gell-coat, Finally dropping a whole mooring line overboard whence it sank as they no longer had a boat hook to recover it. Eventually releasing themselves from the other anchor they motored off leaving the French boat to try and reset his anchor sufficiently to hold him off the quay. I suspect the Russians deposit was substantially reduced when they eventually return the boat.
Navplion was a lovely town, with Venetian Influences on the architecture wandering the streets and squares was a delight. The town is dominated by a huge castle perched on high cliffs, on the second day we travelled on a open top tourist bus to visit it and spent several hours wandering round taking photos. Whilst not as complete as the castle at Methoni the views from the top are stunning. It was also here we enjoyed Pete's birthday with a celebratory meal on Marissella (Thanks Stuart and Christine)
Monemvasia to Khaidhari
12 October 2016
Leaving Monemvasia we sailed 7 miles up the coast to Leraka. The entrance here was awe-inspiring sailing in through a dog leg passage between two massive rock outcrops both sides gave no indication of the town inside. Once though the town was beautiful, and the shelter fantastic. It reminded us of a Greek version of a Devon fishing village like Fowey. Initially we tied up next to a taverna on the town quay. Having come in perfectly (well done Jacques) We realised we only had about 10cm under the keel onto rock so whilst still floating any slight change in water level could have grounded us. So we re-located to the old ferry Quay with 5mts depth. The ferry no longer running now the town finally has road access, but the only way to the houses on the far side was still only by boat. Whilst beautiful and sheltered the weather forecast showed strong winds coming again in two days time and with little further to see after 24hrs we decided to press on moving up to Kiparissi. Here we tied to the side of the old fishing quay for a very bouncy night as the swell came in. even so we were much better than the boats on the end who pitched violently all night. Fed up of the movement we left at 07:00hrs the next morning for Tiros.
Tiros is a small holiday town apparently frequented Predominantly by Germans with clear water and smooth white stone beaches it was clear to see why. Tavernas catered for the German Preferences with Sauerkraut, Bavarian Sausages on the menu. We tied up at the new harbour but as it was Sunday no one was around. We were the only visiting boat till a Late arrival of a Dutch crewed charter boat. Though it was only early September the town, bars & restaurants all seemed closed as if the season was over. Eating on-board we left the next morning for Koiladhia.
The Sail to Koiladhia was in a light breeze so with all sails out we drifted at about 3knts across Argolikos Kolpos and anchored off the town dominated by the large and impressive church. The colour of the water here was amazing turquoise and though later in the day we did have a thunderstorm come over, the bay was perfectly sheltered. Here we met up with our friends Stuart & Christine on yacht Marissella. They dinghy-ed over to us and we went ashore together for dinner in one of the quayside restaurants. Again it looked as if the season here was over only one other table being served in the restaurant. It was great to catch up with them since Naxos in the Ionian, two months previously. They had come through the Corinth canal whilst we had sailed down and around the Peloponesse. We shared stories & details of places visited. They would be retracing some of our steps down to Kithera so told them of the places we had enjoyed. We agreed to sail together for the next few days and the following morning followed them out and on to Khaidhari.
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