Catamaran cruising

Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie
21 September 2019 | Monemvasia
11 September 2019 | Astros
11 September 2019 | Tiros
11 September 2019 | Plaka
11 September 2019 | Porto Heli
06 September 2019 | Ermioni
06 September 2019 | Vathy
21 July 2019 | Aigina
21 July 2019
11 July 2019 | Poros
11 July 2019 | Finikas
04 July 2019 | Ay Ioannou Bay, Naoussa
28 June 2019 | Ay Ioannou Bay, Naousa
28 June 2019 | Aliki
22 June 2019 | Anti Paros

Ierakas/Gerakas/Zarax - Same Place, Different Spellings

21 September 2019 | Ierakas
Around the first headland to the north of Monemvasia there is a small inlet that looks as if it just goes into the cliffs. When you enter and turn the 'dog-leg' to starboard the village of Ierakas appears in a channel that then opens out into a shallow lagoon. We decided to look in as we were passing and found a delightful setting with a space 'side to' on the old ferry quay. The weather still gave us time to stop so we tied up in what was a very peaceful backwater.

The road ends at the harbour and occasional cars would drive down, stop a while to walk or swim off the 'concrete beach' prepared there, a few holiday makers staying locally came to swim but otherwise only a few other boats came in and it was a great location to relax. We walked along the village and part of the lagoon that afternoon, went snorkeling around the rocks and then enjoyed a 'fish supper' at Taverna Remetzo and were offered a rather unusual homemade wine based liquor with cinnamon which doesn't have a name!

Looking towards the lagoon from the hill above the village

The waiter was keen that we climbed the hill behind the village to the ancient Acropolis and gave us a pamphlet about it, so the next morning's excursion was set. Another climb but again worth the effort, it only takes 20 minutes and the scale of the stonework is surprising and great views from the top. Constructed of the rocks that literally cover the landscape here the fortifications are extensive and clearly designed defensively to spot incoming threats from the sea.

Ruins in the Acropolis at Ierakas

The site was constructed during the Hellenic era around the third century BC and was at times fought over and controlled by the Spartans and other Greek kingdoms and later by the Romans and Byzantines. It's all a far cry from the sleepy village it is today but a very interesting place to visit whilst you relax in the current more peaceful surroundings!

Main photo: the quay at Ierakas


21 September 2019 | Monemvasia
Monemvasia sits towards the bottom of the gulf and the weather at this end is more extreme as it catches the side of the meltimi as it blows down through the Cyclades. We had put off a trip south before due to wind conditions but now saw a four day period that would make the journey possible. The anchor came up in Vivari around 06.20 as the first light gave us enough vision to see and avoid the 'pots' and we motored out into a completly calm morning.

The absence of wind for the whole day gave us eight hours of motoring to cover the 51 miles to Monemvasia. The old town is built on a massive granite outcrop now joined to the mainland by a causeway. As we rounded the rock around 14.00 we were looking hopefully at the harbour as there are only around 6 good mooring slots there. There was a space......but another boat was approaching it. We missed the slot by about 60 seconds and were left with the choice of mooring back to quays where we know from friends that the ground is foul (covered in old mooring stuff and likely to catch your anchor) or anchoring in the bay which is exposed. We chose the latter and suffered a bumpy few hours as the afternoon southerly gave us 12 knots of waves to enjoy, the Captain was not in a good mood.

The granite mount of Monemvasia from the anchorage, the town is on the seaward side, so is hidden here

Eventually the evening calm arrived and the bay was choppy but safe for the night, and we were able to walk up to the old town and enjoy a pleasant tapas style meal. Even so, Chris was not keen on the anchorage so the plan changed and we made an early start to walk up to the old town around 08.30hrs.

The 'main street' as you enter the old town

We had the place to ourselves and enjoyed exploring for a couple of hours in peace. The narrow medieval streets still have their cobble-stones and the houses are tiny with arched ceilings of the local stone. It is clear that the commercial potential of the place has been recognised and significant restoration is underway. It appears that much of this is small holiday lets and small hotels so it may manage to escape the worst of the mass tourism blight. We hope so as it's a very interesting town and the buildings are being treated with some sympathy so far. We had seen around the lower town by 11.00 hrs and decided against the climb to the high town as the heat was rising. We were walking out of the town as the first coaches arrived. As is our normal policy and advice for nice places - go there but go early!

Monemvasia town shot from a rock chapel we climbed to in the cliffs

Splice was underway north within the hour and avoided any more 'afternoon southerlies' in the anchorage. It's not unsafe there in moderate winds, but it's not fun.

Main Photo: The medieval town from the sea

Vivari (Khaidhari) and a shore visit to Napvlion

21 September 2019 | Vivari
We had a blustery but enjoyable sail in a N4/5 across from Astros with the main and genoa producing around 7 knots of boat speed. The wind quietened as we got into the shelter of the cape that screens this part of the gulf from the northerlies and eventually dropped the sails and motored into the large bay at Vivari. This is another place we visited on our flotilla holiday in 2013 but there was little that we found familiar. Though not a very developed port we found it a very good anchorage, sheltered from most directions. Over the course of the five nights we spent here the wind was blowing in the gulf at 35 knots but we only saw 26 knots on our instruments. Another boat recorded 30 knots but we were generally very comfortable at anchor in 10-12 metres on the northern side of the bay. The water is fairly clear and Splice got a couple of hours of bottom scraping over the period we were here.

The maximum number of boats in the bay was 15 with at times only 2 or 3 left as they came and went so there was plenty of space. We soon met up with Brian and Sue on British flagged 'Darramy' and Ian and Anthea on 'Australie' (no points for guessing their flag). One evening early drinks ashore at 17.30 with Australie and their guests turned into a long dinner with the crew of Darramy and a slow start to the next day. Brian was kind enough to share around 30,000 e-book titles from his hard drive so reading material should be plentiful for a while.

Having listened to the advice of those that had visited Navplion, we decided to leave Splice at anchor in Vivari and get a local taxi to Navplion which is about 10 miles further north. The harbour there is large but not particularly sheltered and there is dredging work in progress at present adding to the noise and risks. It was a good choice, the taxi was 15 Euros each way and looking at the fetch in the harbour there we were happy Splice wasn't on that quay. The town itself is very pleasant, shady streets of attractive old three storey houses sit in a grid pattern below the imposing Venetian Fortress.

The fortress seen from the town

After a quick coffee we went directly to climb the roughly 1000 steps to the fortress (they are shaded in the morning and in the sun later!) It's an impressive structure, there are eight individual 'bastions' all independent but were able to support each other defensively. It was built by the Greeks in around 1721 but was overrun by Turkish forces even before it was completed. It took the best part of 100 years for the Greeks to recover it but by then military concepts were changing and the fortress was soon obsolete. It is well worth the climb, as often is the case the details strike you, sentry box fortifications in Turkish style added to the Greek walls and the 'arrow slits' in the thick walls designed to allow shots from three angles internally whilst using only one exit slot. Elsewhere the slots looked more suited to firearm use with a number of small holes through which to send your message to the enemy!

Firing slots in the fortress, the slot to left and right join with those either side to exit externally as one opening

We treated ourselves to lunch in a taverna in the shaded streets below the fortress. When we found the location we had researched we were only the second couple at a table but within a few minutes a number of groups arrived and the place was packed.

Our lunch stop in Napvlion

We were glad we got our order in first! 'giant beans' are a favorite starter in this area, large 'butter beans' cooked in a tomato and herb sauce with bread. We followed this with a chicken breast salad presented in a 'Parmesan basket' (literally melted cheese shaped over a bowl) with currants, pine nuts, tomatoes, lettuce and other dried fruits with cognac and lemon dressing. It was delicious, though luckily we only ordered one as it was very filling, 'Captain Cheese' was very happy. They also offer you three different house white wines to try before selecting your tipple. With melon chunks as dessert and a free 'Tipsoro' liquor with coffee it was one of our best meals this year. We can recommend Aiolas Taverna, 30 V. Olgas, Napvlion.

Main photo: Sunset in the Vivari anchorage


11 September 2019 | Astros
Chris Gebbie
With a force 1 NW wind the journey further north to Astros was just under engine, the 12 miles covered off in a couple of easy hours. On arrival we were happy that again our pre-selected spot was free, allowing a 'side to' berth again. Twice in a week is a real bonus as the skipper doesn't have to worry about the anchor slipping or someone pulling it out for us!

Despite again being the port part of a main town inland, Astros is larger and a popular holiday resort for Greeks in the area. It's not too commercial and the recently extended harbour is well set up. The main mooring for yachts is on the east wall 'stern to' but we had seen from photos that there was a space on the west side quay that could accomodate two cats. We had the first place and a 45 foot charter cat came in behind us with a professional skipper and American clients. We even had a power supply here which are in short supply on the other quay.

Astros Harbour from the castle, Splice is moored to port of the entrance, just left of centre shot

We plan two nights here before crossing the gulf back to anchor in a bay whilst the strong winds go past. The forecast for the southern gulf is not looking very good, wind gusts up to 40 knots so we are glad we decided to head north.

We climbed the hill to the local castle which, despite being built in the 11th century looks odd with large windows. Then you read the plaque that explains that 3 brothers in the 1930's built their homes within the structure suposedly to defend it in the Greek War of Independance at that time. On closer inspection the original slits for defensive fire still exist in some parts and the view is worth the climb.

Astros Harbour with the castle above

Today is being spent patronising the laundry, some shopping in the local stores for fruit, bread etc and catching up on the blog. It's calm today with little wind, not the story for Friday and over the weekend.....we'll be in hiding!

Main photo: Carolyn keeps lookout at the castle


11 September 2019 | Tiros
Chris Gebbie
Tiros is only 10 miles north of Plaka so it was an easy motor sail up the coast for an hour or so. We had planned to go south but the weather for later in the week was showing very strong winds there so, maybe head south later, and we headed away from the coming Meltemi.

Tiros is a very pretty small harbour and we found a space stern to next to another cat, which promptly left. The harbour filled up during the afternoon, with Chris helping some of the arrivals and spending time 'suggesting' how the power cat next to us should moor, partly to be helpful and mostly to make sure he didnt hit us!

The harbour at Tiros is in the corner of a large bay that stretches away for around two miles to the north. The shore is lined with small hotels, apartments, bars and shops so we got our folding bikes out for only the second time this season and cycled around the bay stopping off to buy fruit and and ice-cream. We had a very good Pizza in a small shore-side taverna that night, some of it making its way back to Splice to accompany the skippers coffee the next day

Splice in Tiros Harbour before the afternoon rush, Skipper and secondary transport to left!

We had a quiet time the following day, doing some boat maintenance and relaxing. Another flotilla of 10 boats arrived in the afternoon, packing the place until there wasn't a berth left. Luckily no one else arrived. We got ready and left by 10.00 the next morning to get out of the harbour before the flotilla started their leaving process.....getting ten inexperienced boats out of a small harbour can take a while!

Plaka Leonidhion

11 September 2019 | Plaka
Plaka is across the gulf, almost opposite Porto Heli so with north west winds blowing at 10-15 knots we had a fast sail across averaging over 7 knots to cover the 15 miles. The main and genoa did the work until the wind dropped as we approached the coast and the bigger gennaker came out for the last couple of miles.

We had set off early as usual to try and ensure a good spot in the harbour and were rewarded when the corner we had identified as the best place was free when we arrived. This spot enabled us to tie up 'side to' which is more unusual in the Med but does give greater security in what we knew to be a less protected harbour.
Though there is a wall facing to the SE the swell from that direction finds its way into the harbour by bouncing off the coast and it was one of the lumpier harbours we have moored in. The other boats that arrived, including a flotilla group, having gone 'stern to' on their anchors were being tossed about rather more than us. Plaka is the port part of the town of Leonidhion located about two miles inland though we didn't visit that as the reports weren't exciting.

Plaka Harbour with the flotilla in residence

We got diesel here, paying E1.36 per litre which is cheaper than the E1.50 per litre being charged in larger marinas and Athens, strange, when often the small, out of the way towns and even islands are less expensive than the marinas with greater throughput. Smells of a rip -off really.

Plaka is an attractive waterfront but there's little else apart from the few tavernas and a couple of basic shops. We had visited back in 2003 and found the same taverna 'Margaret's' for our meal which was acceptable, the standout item being the tasty tomatoes. When we commented to Margaret, she gave us a big bag of them to take away!

During the day we had noticed the preparations on some hard-standing at the side of the harbour... a Greek Wedding was in progress. The guests started arriving as we were eating ashore that evening around 20.30 though the bride and groom didn't appear until around 22.00 to lots of horns and shouting. The music went on until 06.00hrs the next morning....loud Greek music with lots of shouting and hilarity....we didn't get much sleep despite earplugs!

Chris spent the next morning in the engine rooms changing the oil and filters in each engine, a hot sweaty job even when started before the day really hots up. Still, that effort will last until the end of the season now when the main service will take him half a day on each of our 'iron donkeys'

Main Photo: Plaka harbour from our dining table

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