Catamaran cruising

Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie
29 September 2020 | Astros
29 September 2020 | Cape Maleas
18 September 2020 | Gythion
12 September 2020 | Porto Kayio
12 September 2020 | Gythion
12 September 2020 | PLitra
05 September 2020 | Ormos Frangos
05 September 2020 | Gerakas
05 September 2020 | Kiprissi
05 September 2020 | Tyros
26 August 2020 | Astros
26 August 2020 | Kilada
23 October 2019 | Kilada
12 October 2019 | Kiladha
06 October 2019 | Astros
29 September 2019 | Kiladha
29 September 2019 | Porto Heli/Spetsai
21 September 2019 | Monemvasia

Tyros and Astros

29 September 2020 | Astros
We wanted to get north in this new gulf as there was another strong wind system building and it would be weaker in the northern part of the waters. We motored in minimal wind for 4.5 hours to cover the distance and stopped overnight in Tyros. We visited the normal 'pizza taverna' though this time we only ordered one pizza between us - we still had a couple of slices to take back to the boat.

The next day it was a shorter trip of about 12 miles up to Astros where we knew the shelter would be good if we could get our favourite spot. Luckily it was free and we tied up intending to stay 4 nights as the winds blew through.

Most of the moorings in Astros are stern-to on anchor with your bow facing NW. As the strongest gusts were to be from the west this puts strain on your anchor and lines as the wind tries to push you round. We were amazed that no-one took the other berth behind us, tied up side-to to a high quay thus protecting us from the main wind gusts and blowing us off the concrete so no 'fender rub'.

With our six lines (nearside bow and stern, two spring lines to stop us going forward or backwards and two lines to the outside bow and stern) we knew we were fine and could relax.

Not so on the other quay, first one boat's anchor started to drag, they tried to leave and caught another boats chain. The first boat escaped in the end but now the second was almost on a thirds chain and lots of shouting and panic was occurring as the winds sent 20-25 knots through the harbour. The second boat escaped without major damage but seemed to be considering returning stern-to to that quay. It was obvious that would be a recipe for more chaos so Chris signaled the crew of young Germans to come over to our quay. It still took 30 minutes of heaving and multiple lines to get them secured but no further problems were caused. They were kind enough to buy us a nice bottle of red wine to say thank you.

We spent the days doing bits of maintenance and trying again to get the water-maker fixed under email guidance from the owner of the business. That failed again and it's clear that some expensive bits will be required!

Monday was Chris's 64th birthday so we decided to repeat the quest of last year when this was also celebrated in Astros, we set off on our bikes to find the the Nature Reserve. Last year we failed but this year with help from Googlemaps we found the place via the beach road, lots of rough stony tracks and a last mile along a busy stretch of road. Unfortunately it wasn't really worth the effort as there were virtually no wetland birds to see and the stony tracks were worse than the earlier examples. We followed the tracks until we came back to the sea and decided to return along the beach. This was probably not a good call as it was a long way to push the bikes through soft sand and pebbles! We struggled on and eventually got back to a track we could cycle on. At least it was a couple of hours of good exercise!!

The long bike push!

The rest of the day was more relaxing. We both regularly play 'spider solitaire' on our Ipads and unusually we both had games going that we could not defeat. This led to a challenge to swap and beat the game the other had failed at....the level of competitive focus increased somewhat. As I write the next day neither of us has actually beaten the game though Carolyn is so determined the Captain will be giving her a 'screen time ban' soon!!

Dinner that night was at our favourite 'Batis' taverna, comprising huge fried prawns followed by Lamb Kleftico. All very delicious, as was his homemade wine.

Birthday drinks before dinner ashore

Today the winds are back and blasting though the harbour at 20 knots, we will wait until tomorrow to cross the 15 miles to Porto Heli where we hope to get someone to look at the recalcitrant water-maker!

Main Photo: Carolyn repairing the bimini, its only four years old but the sun has destroyed the stitching. Another replacement cost coming up this winter.

Back around Cape Maleas

29 September 2020 | Cape Maleas
When the winds eased we said goodbye to the little community of four boats that had sat out the strong winds. Italian 'Roberto' on (unusually named by a previous owner) 'Grand Finnish' was heading the other way to Kalamata, the French Amel ketch 'Turia' was heading out to the island of Milos and Swiss boat 'Freya' with Rene and Rita aboard were planning to follow our route around the Cape.

We dropped our lines from Gythion with a bit of difficulty as the big black fenders obstructed our normal 'twist on the bow' manoeuvre but with help from Roberto we got off. The trip down to Frangos Bay on Elafonisos to wait for the favored weather window in the morning was mostly under engine with some help from the genoa.

We were expecting westerly winds so tucked in well and all was fine until just before dark fell, two large motor yachts entered the bay and one decided to anchor back to the shore right next to us! He seemed to think it was fine but if the wind changed in the night he wouldn't swing and we would....right into him. There is an etiquette for anchoring and he just completely ignored it, no wonder sailors think that motor boats are arrogant ****'s.

With the concern about this and the wind staying north rather than going west we didn't have a great night but were up at 05.45 in the dark to raise anchor and carefully squeeze ourselves out of the busy anchorage. We managed to 20 miles to Cape Maleas whilst the sun rose above the horizon and rounded the Cape in slight seas at 07.55. The trip north to Gerakas took almost 4 hours and we tied to the quay just before noon. We were relieved to be back on the right side of Maleas, you just dont know how long you will need to wait to get around it. We'd have liked to come back 10 days earlier!

Sunrise near Cape Maleas

Gerakas is a lovely little place, we just relaxed for the day. Rene and Rita joined us on the quay later and we had an enjoyable evening with aperitifs on Freya and dinner together in our preferred taverna

Main photo: Admiral on watch around Cape Maleas

Hiding from the winds

18 September 2020 | Gythion
Since the last time we posted a blog we have been sailing around the Laconia Gulf keeping out of the weather!

From Porto Kayio we headed north for shelter from southerly winds and anchored in the bay at Gythion overnight. Then the wind changed to strong northerlies, Gythion has no shelter from this, so we made a windy passage across the gulf to Plytra and sat out that night whilst 20 knots went passed.

It became clear that a very strong weather system was building between Italy and the western side of Greece and this was likely to hit the Greek shores on Friday. We already wanted to get back around Cape Maleas and this had the added advantage that it would take us further away from the storm. So we headed south to the anchorage on the island of Elafonisis in F5/6 winds from our port side. We had the first reef in the main and a double reefed genoa, maybe we should have put a further reef in the main but we didn't feel overpressed. Splice behaved well but the ride was bumpy. Most of the wind was in the higher 25+ knots but sustained 30-33 knot blasts had us doing 9.2 knots, we think a Splice record speed! We spent a cchoppy Tuesday night in the anchorage hoping the weather forecasts that potentially showed a window to round the Cape late on Thursday would be right.

By Wednesday morning it was becoming clear that the window was closing fast and any passage would be very risky.

With regret we then turned about and sailed back up the gulf to Gythion as this is the only place in the gulf which offers protection from the south, west and reasonable east cover as well. We had an easier sail than expected having taken a chance on an early departure when the wind seemed to have dropped before the forecasts indicated it would. We arrived in Gythion around 13.00 hrs and tied up to the harbour wall in calm conditions.

Five more boats have joined us since as the weather closed in. The storm hit the islands of Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Ithica in the Ionian in the early hours of this morning (Friday). We have already seen video clips of sunken boats in places like Eufimia that we know well and the centre of the system is still around that area.

So far we have had gusts in the high 20's from south and east but we are well secured and reasonably sheltered here and Splice is doing OK at present.

One of the neighbouring boats, a French 54ft Amel ketch (2 masted) found its anchor was slipping so had to leave the quay and reset the anchor. Chris and another sailor (Italian) helped with the lines on the shore, a mix of English, French and the odd swearword in three languages serving for communication (no Brexit nonsense here!!). Of course the wind carried on and made things difficult. They tried to set two anchors at once and under the strain one of the chains or secured points gave way and they lost the anchor and chain overboard. Carolyn saw the chain end disappear over the bow and alerted all those working at the stern.

As I write a local diver has just recovered the (expensive) anchor and chain and is now looking for a second lost anchor at the other end of the harbour. Heavy rain showers are adding to the fun but, compared to further west on the Greek coast we are doing fine!

Main photo: Work to recover the anchor and chain underway

Porto Kayio

12 September 2020 | Porto Kayio
Another 15 miles south, nearly at the tip of the peninsula is Porto Kayio. This is a nearly enclosed bay with the entrance in the NE corner and a small village at the head. It's a deep bay so anchoring space is limited but there were only three other boats when we arrived and we got the hook in at the second attempt through the hardened sand with the help of the skipper of an Austrian boat who was already in the water checking his own anchor. He signalled for us as he watched our anchor's behaviour on the sea floor. The water here is very clear and you can see down the 10m to the hard sand, weed and rock.

The village at Potro Kayio, Splice is moored out of picture to the right
We had a calm day and were joined by another Cruising Association boat 'Dragon ll of Cowes', one of the few other CA boats we have seen this year. Martin and Sarah came on board for beer or two that evening and we had a good chat for a couple of hours. They were heading off around the Peleponnese in the other direction so it was a brief meeting but good to talk to fellow sailors.

We took the short stroll to the chapel on the headland the next morning and stopped at a cafe overlooking the harbour for a coffee on the way back. It's a pretty village that is popular with land based tourists judging by the cars that arrive down the one road out each day but still had its character intact.

The bell gets tested at the chapel above Porto Kayio

The forecast looks good here for another night but the week ahead has very strong winds down the eastern side of the gulf meaning its not sensible to carry on to the island of Kithera to the south as we had planned. A retreat north to Gythion is the probable outcome but we will enjoy a meal ashore tonight and make a final call tomorrow.

Main Photo: The bay at Porto Kayio

Gythion (Gythio) and Skoutari Bay

12 September 2020 | Gythion
The wind was light so we didn't bother with setting the mainsail for the two hours/15 miles to Gythion. The wind decided to turn up 30 minutes before we arrived but the skipper felt lazy and the sail stayed on the boom.

Gythion has only room in the normal port for about 12 yachts and we had read that there had been 6 impounded yachts there (we think for smuggling) for a few years. There are 8 derelicts now, wind and lack of attention ruining the boats and leaving less space for visitors. It was full on the quay so we decided to go side to the old ferry quay as we know the ferry no longer calls there. This would be ok but there are still the huge black solid fenders for the ferry, these would not do Splice any good so careful fendering was required to keep us off them. A local bloke has a reputation for 'helping' you moor and then asking for a tip, he was indeed there but was quite helpful in the complicated mooring and so we did donate a few euros....we saw him later in a bar!!

We walked round to the Town Hall to pay but at 16.00 hrs they were closed and we were told to come back tomorrow. As we returned to the boat, a really scruffy car passed us with two men in dark t-shirts in it. The car pulled up alongside Splice and we both imeadiately thought that some local roughs were eyeing her. They pulled away as we approached then stopped as they saw us returning tho the boat, it was the Port Police...... (times must be tough on police budgets) who were courteous and polite. They checked the normal papers (ownership, crew-list, insurance and TEPAI (boat tax) paid). When a large motor boat moored in front of us later they came back and the conversation was much more intense, maybe because he was chartering the boat out to guests.

The harbour at Gythion

Chris appeared at the Town Hall at 09.00 hrs the next morning, it took 5 minutes to pay and then 15 minutes for his receipt to be printed! A very old PC system! We had booked a hire car from the agent on the quay and a somewhat tatty black Hyundai was ours for the day at 40 Euros - but it did have air conditioning! It's a 50 minute drive to Mystras, a Byzantine town and fortifications built on a steep hill in the 12-13th century. It's still quite intact for its age and you can see the layout and many of the main buildings.

The Admiral inspects the fortifications at Mystras

It took us two and a half hours to explore much of the place but the climb was steep and the sun was getting high so we retreated to the local village and had a 'special omelette' and lots of water to recover. It was well worth the visit and in cooler times we would have stayed longer, we probably saw 80% of the place anyway.

One of the churches at Mystras

After lunch we tried to find the site of ancient Sparta which is only about 15 miles away (the inhabitants of Mystras were moved to the newer town of Sparta when it was built). We almost gave up after 40 miuntes fruitless driving around, even with a satnav the little roads/tracks didn't seem to exist. Eventually we found the one sign that pointed up a track at the side of the current sports stadium and ancient Sparta was (re)discovered. The site is worth visiting but is mostly ground level ruins given it dates from c 400 years bc. Having read about the militaristic culture of the Spartans, Chris found the visit interesting, Carolyn less so. She did however perk up at our next stop, there's a Lidls on the road from Sparta to Gythion, so stocks and the Admirals spirits were replenished!

The ruins of the theatre at ancient Sparta

The next morning the forecast showed a morning northerly wind, not good for our position in the harbour as it would send waves pushing us against the quay. As it was for 15 knots we decided that it would be OK, unfortunately it arrived as 25 knots gusting 29 which is significant in terms of the swell it creates, and lasted much longer. We spent an uncomfortable day adding extra lines and monitoring Splices fenders as we bounced against the quay. The wind continued through the night so we were keen to get away early before it build again during the day. We dropped our lines before breakfast and headed south in calmer waters, eating muesli and homemade yoghurt at the helm station.

Our fenders protecting Splice from the north wind. We sacrificed two old t-shirts to keep the black rubber off our white fenders

Our target was Skoutari Bay, only six miles to the south. It has shelter from all sides except south east so we hoped to find calmer waters and hide from the northerly wind. When we arrived it was perfectly calm and with a taverna ashore we looked forward to a pleasant day.

That afternoon a brief south wind sent swell into the bay, that was fine as the later east and west winds would counter that for a calmer night.........except they didn't. The wind changed to east and then west but the swell from the south kept coming, all afternoon and all evening. We did go ashore but it was a bit of a faff. Firstly we couldn't find anywhere to tie Fid (our dinghy) to without her bashing against the quay and then once we did, we then couldn't find a path to the taverna that didn't go through a field of bulls! Fortunately they were tethered so we went for it. When we eventually got to the taverna we could see Splice bouncing about in the bay so didn't really enjoy our meal. On our way back to Fid we decided to walk back along the beach which did mean we got a bit wet, but meant that we avoided having to sneak round the bulls in the dark!

Skoutari Bay and the taverna we visited

Wind from the east or west turns the boat to face it leaving her side on to the swell from the south which is irritating and uncomfortable. It was past midnight when the motion dropped enough for it to be possible to sleep. The skipper was rather grumpy having placed two bets in a row that turned out to be poor options. And no, we can't explain why the swell didn't die down, that's sailing life, you have to suffer the unpredictability of the seas to get the nice experiences.

Main photo: The palace complex at Mystras, the fortifications are on the summit to the left and the hill is covered by the town ruins


12 September 2020 | PLitra
We had planned to head north up the coast of the island of Elafonisos to the local town to top up on stores, but the winds from the cape were stronger here so we opted to head round the western coast and up to Plitra, a small village in a bay that has shelter from the north but is open to the afternoon southerlies.

We had a good sail with 15 knots on the port quarter which Splice enjoys, Carolyn enjoyed helming at 6-7 knots as we closed towards the bay.

There were two French yachts there as well but plenty of space to sit out the rest of the afternoon wind. We stayed on board the first evening as we usually do in exposed places.

The bay is reasonably attractive with a beach club set up on the shore to the west of the village and the harbour walls crowded with local fishing boats. We ventured ashore the following morning and walked around the the sunken ruins of the old town that had been destroyed by an earthquake in 375 AD. There's not actually much to see, there are some significant sized cleanly cut stone blocks and a couple of outlines of the buildings, the walk was hot though.

The village was dusty and rather closed down but we got some stores from the one and only shop. We had planned to eat ashore but the tavernas looked uninviting so, rather than sit out another afternoon southerly we decided to move on after filling up with water.

Filling up with water

We pulled up the anchor and motored across to the quay, there was just enough room to squeeze Splice on the end with her stern sticking out, luckily we only needed to stay 30 minutes to top up the water tanks and the wind was still calm.
Vessel Name: Splice
Vessel Make/Model: Broadblue 435 Catamaran
Crew: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie
We have been married for over 25 years and have two grown up sons. Carolyn has dual English/French nationality and speaks French well. [...]
Extra: Contact us at splice435(the at sign)gmail.com
Splice's Photos - Main
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Created 15 May 2015
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Created 15 May 2015
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Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie