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