Here we are sitting in the beautiful wee harbour of Leonidhion (lat 37 Deg 08′ N, long 22 Deg 53′ E) on the Peloponnese peninsula, after another few hours of classic Greek sailing weather. We had the harbour to ourselves a few days ago, so we berthed alongside on the dog leg of the wall. Last night lots of charter and flotilla yachts arrived and moored stern too on the main quay. They had a slow start this morning due to no wind and some engine trouble on one of the yachts but most of them left about 1130 in a flat calm. It was still flat calm at 1200 but by 1203 it was blowing 30 knots in the harbour and boats were dragging their anchors, hitting the quayside, trying to get out and nearly colliding and it was general mayhem and chaos. If the flotilla had still been in, there would have been serious damage to boats. Now it’s 1500 and back to a more normal afternoon wind. Such is sailing in Greece.
We’ve still had a mixed bag of weather in the past few weeks, sailing down the Evia channel and stopping at Voufolo and the Petali islands before heading out to Batsi on Andros, another of our favourite places. We stayed in Batsi a couple of nights and Andy started doing battle with trying to pay the new Greek cruising tax. It’s a whole new system that’s on line but there is no on line facility to pay the tax. Andy tried to pay using an international transfer from our bank and thought he’d been successful but unfortunately the payment was returned about a week later!
We had a brief stop on Kea island anchored in the bay but it was where steam ships took on coal in the old days and the industrial feel was still evident. There were also a lot of power boats from Athens and loud music on shore, so we were glad to just stop for 1 night.
Our next stop was Olympic marina, SE of Athens, which allowed us to get shopping in, washing done and general cleaning before our friend Sandra arrived on the 14th May for a week’s cruising.
Sandra arrived early morning as planned but the weather forecast was not great, so we decided to have an extra night in the marina and get a taxi into Lavrion to explore the town a bit. Lavrion is a big town on the Aegean side and has a commercial harbour as well as accommodating several charter fleets . We wandered round the streets and had a lovely fish lunch at a taverna virtually inside the fish market. Can’t get fresher fish than that. It rained during the night so we were glad we were tucked in the marina.
We left the next morning at 0800 and rounded Cape Sounion in a calm sea. The temple of Poseidon on the clifftop looked spectacular especially with several microlights flying over it in the early morning light. Unfortunately the weather forecast was not good enough to allow us to anchor in the bay overnight.
We headed for Poros island (lat 37Deg 29’N, long 23Deg 27′ E) in the Saronic Gulf and were met by the usual chaos and lack of space. We did manage to squeeze in at the east end where the charter company have boats and close to where friends of our were berthed already. George and Christine stopped in on Vaila for a drink and we explored Poros town a bit before eating on board and enjoying a spectacular sunset.
The next day we sailed up to Epidavros and anchored in old Epidavros off the beach. It was a beautiful spot and I had my first swim of the season (water 18 deg C). The weather obliged and we ate in the cockpit and played cards outside while the moon rose and cicadas sang. One of those magical nights.
The weather didn’t last unfortunately and next day dawned wet but luckily not windy. We had a slow start and we motored the whole 4 miles up to new Epidavros harbour. This harbour has some lazy lines and as we were so early, we got a place no bother. A kind man from the Latvian boat next door helped us with our stern lines and picking up the lazy line. The waiting taxi driver on the quay gave us his card and we arranged to go to the ancient Greek amphitheatre that afternoon.
The Amphitheatre was amazing and is still used today, seating 14000 people. The acoustics are so superb that a coin dropped in the centre at the bottom can be heard on the top seats, as was demonstrated while we were there. Nearby was also a great place of healing in ancient Greek times with a hospital complex that even included an isolation wing and places for relatives to stay. There were still many wild flowers blooming on the site as there has been a lot of rain here this spring.
We left Epidavros the next day and motored back to Poros, stopping for a swim in a small bay at the N side of Poros just round from Ak Petra (very appropriate). Poros was even busier than before and the anchorage in Navy Bay was tight and exposed, but we managed to get alongside on the concrete quay by the north pier. Safer than being stern too as the N quay has a bad reputation. A lot of boats were damaged here in the storm last year.
Sandra and I took a day trip to Hydra (lat 37 Deg 21′ N long 23 Deg 28′ E) on the flying Cat from Poros the next day. Hydra is a beautiful, car free island just south of the Saronic gulf. Leonard Cohen and Melina Mercourie to name but two famous people had houses on the island. The flying cat journey took 40 minutes and we arrived in the heart of Hydra town on an overcast afternoon. The harbour is tiny and ferries and super yachts jostle for room amongst the fishing boats, so it’s much better to come by ferry. The town is delightful with colourful houses, steep streets and steps, peaceful tavernas as well as tourist shops, boutique hotels and donkeys carrying luggage and anything else that needs transported. It’s blissful without the noise and fumes of car and motorbike engines.
We found a lovely taverna for lunch where Sandra sampled the zucchini fritters and I had stuffed tomatoes. The sun came out and we had a great walk along the northern coast to another couple of fishing villages. A gin and tonic in the shade just ended the trip perfectly!
While we were off enjoying ourselves, Andy had been doing battle with the Cruising tax problem. The Cruising Association we belong to had been a fantastic resource but we heard locally that the best place to pay the tax was the post office, so Andy went there bright and early the next morning. Sandra left on the flying Dolphin to Piraeus , to catch her flight later in the day and we got laundry and shopping done, ready for off again.
We spent the next few days going to Ermioni, Porto Heli, sailing round round Spetsai and revisiting Astros, before arriving here in Leonidhion.
This is such a lovely place and even better when the harbour is not full of charters and flotillas, although the local shops and tavernas probably don’t think so! We’ve stayed here for several nights waiting to see what the weather will do further south, as our friend Paul is arriving to Kalamata on 4th June. The wind is forecast strong W for the next week and Cape Malea just south of here is not advisable in strong W winds, so we have decided to pick Paul up in Navplion instead. Navplion is north of here and Andy is going to hire a car to pick Paul up and then we will sail back to Kalamata with him .
And hurray the Cruising tax has been paid and officially acknowledged !! Just as well, as the Port Police wanted to see the tax along with all the other paper work when we arrived in Leonidhion.