Catamaran cruising

Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie
11 October 2020 | Kiladha
11 October 2020 | Porto Heli
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


11 October 2020 | Kiladha
The bay at Kilada was also quiet when we arrived and we set to with the next round of works to prepare for the lift.

It took a day to service the two engines and change the oil. The next day we than got the two foresails off in the morning, dropping them is not a big issue if the wind is light and nothing sticks but folding big triangular sails on a 0.5m wide side deck is a different story. We got the job done in the end, we've developed a technique of draping the sail from port to starboard over the coachroof (or boom in the case of the main) and gradually pulling it across into folds on the starboard side deck. Having had new bags for the sails made last winter we were pleased we got them tightly rolled enough to go in the bags! Getting the mainsail off took all the next morning (it's our biggest and heaviest sail) but our technique must be working, that went in the bag as well.

We are still waiting for the watermaker parts to be delivered to the yard nearby. Without them we can't try and fix the machine so, as we've only four days until we lift it looks as if that job will have to wait until next season. There are plenty of smaller tasks to do but we are happy we will be ready for the lift on Thursday 15th October with a flight home the following Monday.

We have Monday morning to do some food shopping and then we will have to hunker down as very strong winds (probably 30 knots and some forecasts say more) come across us during Monday evening through Tuesday. As we know this will be from the south and west we have moved within the bay to make the fetch as short as possible and gain a bit of shelter from the follow on NW winds which will kick up a swell as they come through the entrance to the bay. We may be able to do a few jobs inside but its good to have all the sails off and inside as thunder and rain will be joining in the fun (putting sails away wet for the winter is sure to generate mold and rot).

Main photo: the mainsail come off in KIlada Bay

Porto Heli and Tyros

11 October 2020 | Porto Heli
It took 2.15 hrs to motor across the gulf to Porto Heli. The anchorage in the bay wasn't very busy and the 'new' marina that's been there for a few years without opening properly had a few boats in but was at something like 20% capacity, a step forward but hardly viable like that. The quayside was reasonably full for this time of year but there was a definite end of season feel to the place. We anchored in a space opposite the entrance and between a number of buoys which are proliferating in many bays round here.

A few other boats came in that day including a charter cat with 4/5 German guys aboard. They went to the quay, they came out to the anchorage at speed, they went to the marina and back out to the anchorage etc, all at speed. This carried on for 30 minutes or so as they slalomed around the bay, by now we were watching closely to see what they would do. There was an orange buoy about 50m ahead and to port of us. They proceeded to pick this up from the stern of their boat and for some reason started to pull it using the engines. Within 40 seconds or so they had dragged it towards us and if they continued, were at risk of tangling our anchor. Chris got on the bow and shouted at them to stop and they did drop the line quickly and motor away. They eventually anchored miles away from everyone else at the end of the bay (phew!) but we now had a metal object in our swinging circle so had to raise the anchor and move ourselves further away. Idiots!

The next day we bumped into Linda and Neil on 'Taneesha' on the quay and invited them and the crew of a nearby CA boat 'Bonnie Blue' Adrian and Christine for drinks that evening. We spent a couple of enjoyable hours and return invitations to both boats occurred over the next evenings. We have been more cautious this year in socialising but have found everyone feels OK about meeting up in the cockpit of boats, it's open air, mostly a metre or so across between couples (clearly not a problem on Splice where there can be 2/3m).

Gerhard and Cherie on 'Pepino' also put in an appearance on our last night in the bay, so they came aboard and politics, sailing routes, families and (as they have a Dessalator as well) watermakers kept us talking for a few hours.

We spent a day removing the leaky window from the starboard front of the boat, scraping off the old stuff and redoing the mastic. All the clamping screws that we had removed then had to be replaced and tightened twice with a gap of 24 hours between. Of course the bottom set of screws are not accessible with a normal screwdriver so using an 90 degree angled screwdriver (which makes it impossible to acheive any pressure) adds time and swearwords to the task.

Scraping the window frame clear of old mastic

Cleaning up the surround to accept the window back

We completed the job and our 'hose test' says we have resealed the frame but it's an opening window and we found a further leak where the foam seal there has degraded. The window will still have to be taped up this winter!!

We stayed for five nights but the guy who had said he would look at the watermaker didn't answer his phone or emails to come aboard, so we decided to go with the recommendations from Martin at Dessalator and order some new parts. These weren't cheap and when we decided to renew our 14 year old membranes as we had to dismantle the machine anyway, the credit card looked somewhat pale as it churned out the cost!

Without a watermaker we needed to fill up, so headed off to Tyros across the gulf as we know the water there is good and we like the place (and its pizzas). We like the end space side-to on the quay here but there were two French boats blocking that so we went stern to the harbour further inside. Having had the base block for our passerelle fixed over last winter this was actually the first time we have used it this season as our plank has always served elsewhere. It worked well, but the lines to the passerelle now need renewing as they are somewhat worn - another item on the list.

When we visited Tyros the last time another sailor told us about a walk to the top of the local hill where you can see the Greek flag flying from the harbour. We set off to try this about 09.30 one morning and enjoyed the walk that became a scramble up through olive groves and very old looking terracing to reach the top after about an hours effort. The flag was well wrapped around its flagstaff so Chris performed a service to the Greek nation by climbing up and unwrapping it (it wasn't high!). We took our photos with the flag now flying properly and then descended much more quickly in time for coffee back on board. (The steps start to the left of the first bar as you leave the harbour and you need to watch for a small track up the bank to your right just after you pass the three windmills)

Tyros harbour from the top of the hill. Splice is the boat to the left of the outer harbour wall

We spent three nights doing small jobs, getting the lists ready for close down work, things needing action over the winter, UK purchases etc. We managed a pizza at our preferred taverna and chatted to a few other sailors on the quay. The harbour was chock-full the first night and virtually empty the other nights, we wondered what we'd said!

Litchen and old wood. Taken on our walk

With stronger winds forecast for Thursday we decided to move back across the gulf a day earlier than intended and dropped the lines shortly after midday for the trip to Kilada where Splice would lift for the winter.

Main photo: The Admiral inspects the flag atop the hill

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
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 - Isle de Cies
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Who: Carolyn & Chris Gebbie