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Beautiful Sardinia 26th June 2022

We had a great passage from Marsalla in Sicily managing to sail almost as soon as we left the marina. We had a close reach up to the Egadi islands with 20+ knots of wind in the acceleration zone between the islands. After that the wind moderated and stayed between 8-15 knots the whole way. Unfortunately we had to start our engine late evening as our batteries had crashed to 63% which was not expected. So we motor sailed through the night with 2 hour watches and arrived in Villasimius after 30 hours. Not bad for 160 nautical miles.

Looking over Villasimius marina
Some of the amazing granite boulders in this area

Villasimius turned out to be the best marina yet. Lots of facilities, shelter and a delightful, sandy beach 2 minutes away. The area is green and most of the development us very low rise like in the north of the island.

The beach at Villasemius
Beach looking towards the castle

The whole area around Villasimius (Cape Carbobara) is a marine reserve and there are many fish even in the shallows of the beach. It was great snorkeling in the crystal clear water amongst the shoals of striped sea bream and other fish species. The possedonia sea grass is also protected  with a ban on anchoring in many bays. 

We spent 4 nights in Villasimius in the end, avoiding some strong winds. It was great being able to explore the area on the sandy tracks and have lots of swims and snorkeling. Tasty ice cream and evening meals were also available at the marina. We also met up again with the German couple Matija and Sarah and their beautiful dog from “The Dude” who we had been parked next to in Rochella Ionica (Italy). It was lovely to catch up with them over a few beers in the shade.

The evening routine of fizz, nibbles and a general knowledge crossword also continued. The only downside of the 4 nights was that the showers cost €2 each time and they were cold on the last 2 days!

We eventually tore ourselves away from Villasimius and sailed the 20 miles up to Cagliari in a lively following wind and quite big waves.

So here we are berthed in Marina Di St Elmo at the quiet end of the 3 big marinas in this huge commercial harbour. We have had dolphins swimming around the boat (feeding on the giant grey mullet). Egrets, sea gulls, cormorants and terns are about, as well as ducks and crows. There is just so much more wild life here than in Greece. Flamingoes fly over in the evening from the extensive salt flats just inland. They are now a nature reserve but were worked fairly recently.

Vaila berthed in St Elmo marina

Our friends Trina and Joe left yesterday and we are now getting the boat ready to leave on Thursday. All being well we should be back in September as we still have 29 days of our 90 day “allowance” left.

Cagliari old town
Flamingoes in the Salinas
Our morning visitor

Looking forward to seeing family and friends again, particularly our wee Emma, and getting out of the stifling heat!

Skipping along Southern Sicily (5th – 17th June 2022)

Our friends Trina and Joe arrived late on the 4th June after being caught up in travel chaos in Edinburgh. So their first day was spent settling in to life on Vaila,  a quick paddle and a BBQ of swordfish and Tuna bought at the local stall.

Fish stall in Riposto
My wine!

We departed promptly for Syracusa at 0845 on 6th June, having breakfast on the hoof. Unfortunately we only got about 1.5 hours of sailing as the light wind was behind us and as the seas increased it got impossible to just sail, so the engine went on again.

We arrived in Syracusa about 1700 and got our berth in Marina Yachting which is right opposite the old town within easy walking distance. It was a tiny marina but had great showers and a lovely covered sitting area. Trina and I managed a wee swim at the small beach under the town walls.

The next day we awoke to find that a huge Cruise liner had docked very close to our berth. A quick Google showed that the MSC Splendida took about 4500 passengers with approximately 1500 crew!

Our enormous neighbour!

We set off to explored Syracusa after breakfast, hoping to avoid the crowds. Andy and I had been before and we wanted to show our friends the cathedral and the Archemedes museum. We found a delightful cafe with a sea view for a coffee and canoli. The cathedral and museum did not disappoint. The museum had changed slightly and now also included Leonardo Da Vinci machines. The large working models were brilliant. We also found a lovely chocolate shop and had another swim.

Syracusa cathedral

We set off at 0300 on 8th June to sail to Ragusa, as we had a long way to go and the forecast was for strong winds to arrive the next day. We were treated to a Dolphin display at dawn and we had to negotiate big swells and confused seas going round the point. We arrived in Ragusa about 1700 in rising wind and were helped into the berth by the  ormeggiatores from the marina with their rib.

The wind arrived as predicted the next day (9th June) with gusts of 30+ knots. A day for clothes washing , boat  rinsing and defrosting the fridge! Ragusa is a great marina with lots of facilities where many live aboard over winter. The town by the marina is touristy but lovely.

The following day was even windier with gusts up to 40 knots so we stayed on board and had a lazy day. The expert wind surfers were out enjoying the challenge but the rest of the beach was deserted.

Ragusa marina
Stormy seas

By Saturday 11th June the wind had dropped a lot and we took a bus up to the main town of Ragusa. Andy and I watch the Montalbano series on the BBC i player and a lot of the outdoor scenes are filmed in Ragusa old town, which sits astride a huge ravine about 20 miles inland. The old streets and Baroque buildings are beautiful. You need stamina to visit this town though, as there are hundreds of steps and steep streets to negotiate.

Views of Ragusa in photos above

Since leaving Ragusa marina we have visited Licata, Agrigento and Sciaca working our way westwards along the South Coast of Sicily. We are now in Marsalla preparing for the 2 day and 1 night passage to Sardinia (160 miles) tomorrow. Only 2 more weeks and we will be home again!

In Marsalla

Riposto and Etna (31st May to 4th June 2022).

We sailed, well motored, overnight to Riposto in very light winds. The lights of the Italian shore on our right. We had a brief visit from the Guardia Costeria with their bright searchlight blinding us, as they checked us out. Then they went off at a rate of knots without hailing us or anything. Looking for migrant smugglers we supposed.

As dawn crept up on my watch it became clear that the red smudge high up above the land was Etna with a lava flow.

We had several encounters with dolphins on the way across during the day but shipping was thankfully light.

As the day progressed Etna and its plume of smoke got bigger and bigger until we were safely berthed at the marina in the afternoon, with a ring side view of the new eruption as it got dark.

Approaching Sicily and Etna
In Riposto Marina
The lava flow at night

It didn’t take long to recover from our 2 hour watch routine so I walked up to town to get swordfish and Tuna steaks from the stalls on the road above the marina.

At the marina we met Lynn and Andrew from Coco de Mer with their friend Jan. We had met Lynn and Andrew before when we were all in Corfu and we were invited for a lovely drink on their Moody 376. Then we had our bbqed fish back on Vaila.

Paul had hatched a plan to go on the Circumetnea railway the next day and Lynn , Andrew and Jan were going to join us. The railway was built by a Cornish man, so Paul, being Cornish, thought it was very appropriate to check it out.

The train trip was a great experience. A very small train going north and then round the back of Etna, rising to 900 m at the highest point and ending in Catania. Amazing scenery and a lovely way to see this part of the world.

The small Circumetnea railway
Fertile land round the volcano
New houses oh so close to the old lava flow

We finished the trip in the city of Catania where we wandered around a bit, saw the old Odeon and had a lovely lunch, a delicious Gelato and then got the normal fast train back. The whole round trip on the train cost about €15 each. The trains were clean and the main route trains fast with good information both at the stations and on the train.

The old Odeon in Catania
Elephant statues and murals are all round Catania but no one seems quite sure why it seems to be a symbol of the city!

The following day we had another trip out, this time to the touristy town of Taormina north of Riposto. We again took the train which whisked us there in 15 minutes. The station had beautiful iron work and murals.

Inside Taormina station

We then took a taxi up the hairpin bends to get to the town on the hilltop.

The main attraction is the ancient theatre which is mostly Roman but based on a Greek one. It is perched high on the hill with a backdrop of Etna which is spectacular.

Coffee at Taormina
Just a small pot at the ancient amphitheatre
Etna as a backdrop
Our lunch stop

Paul went off to Catania airport on the 3rd June. Unfortunately he was delayed by 4 hours due to the Etna eruption.

Our friends Trina and Joe arrived on the 4th June but were also delayed, but this time by the general flight chaos. Its great to see them and they are helping us to take Vaila to Sardinia over the next few weeks.

Rochella Ionica 29th May 2022

We are still in Rochella Marina as our planned get away last night was postponed due to poor weather.

The view yesterday evening

So we are leaving here tonight at midnight to sail over to Ripsto on the east coast of Sicily. There were strong winds and thunderstorms forecast last night near Messina and the toe of Italy and we even had some rain this morning.

Rochella Ionica or “Porto delle Grazie” as Odysseus was here after escaping from Scylla and Charybdys (Messina). Sign in the marina
Traditional small fishing boat with old stone anchor and a modern one!

We’ve had a lovely few days here and even managed to find the pizza by the metre restaurant where Andy and Paul shared a 1/2 m Napoli pizza and I even got a Gluten free sea food pizza.

This is the first place we’ve been where there has been evidence of the migrant crisis. There is a set of shelters behind the marina where the migrants were housed. They looked to be mostly young men of African origin. 2 days ago there was much activity and police and guardia in evidence. Buses arrived to take the migrants away. We assume this is a staging post for people coming from Tunisia which is only about 100 miles from Sicily.

Migrant accommodation at Rochella Ionica
The “working ” part of the harbour

On one of the quays there are 5 or 6 impounded boats at least 2 of which had probably been used by people smugglers as there were abandoned life jackets, clothing and various bags of view. These were large yachts (1 was 50 foot long) so perhaps slightly safer than open boats but who knows how many people it carried.

We had a swim at the beach 2 days ago which was great until Andy got a slight jelly fish sting, so we both got out of the water pronto! The water is about 19 Deg C here so still feels cool but you can stay in for ages.

We had a short walk east of the marina earlier. There are still some wild flowers out and there were orchards of citrus trees and we even saw a mulberry tree. The land is still quite wild between the villages. There were quite a few butterflies and we saw some lizards and even a small snake.

Mulberry tree
The last of the wild flowers before the real heat sets in
Andy and Paul

Kalamata to Italy (16th May to 26th May)

We had one final more relaxed day in Kalamata after all our frantic preparation days. We cycled along the sea front, had an ice cream and a cool drink at one of the beach bars.

View of the marina at night.

We left Kalamata on 16th May at 0645 bound for Methoni on the point of the Western finger. Its a nearly 40 mile day but we managed to sail a bit and dropped anchor at 1500. Unfortunately, although it’s a beautiful place it’s dogged by swell so it was not a quiet night.

Methoni

I had a swim in the morning but at 15 degC it was still too cold for the skipper to venture in. We got a good sail round the corner to Navarino Bay with its spectacular cliffs. I managed another swim and we had a BBQ. This place has got much busier in the last few years and we counted 11 camper on the beach!

After a quiet night and good sleep we motor sailed to Kiparrisia further up the coast. It was not without some excitement though, as our newly fitted exhaust alarm suddenly flashed at 125 Deg C (definitely too hot!!), so everything stopped while we assessed any potential damage. Nothing was found though and in the end we decided it was a faulty sensor. This became obvious when we set off again and various random messages and numbers flashed up despite the engine running fine! It was enough to provide a considerable stress to the day though.

We arrived in Kiparissia later in the afternoon. The forecast was for very strong winds of 40 knots from the east the next day and we were very glad to come alongside on the big pier facing into the east. More and more boats apppeared, all seeking shelter.

Kiparissia harbour before the storm

The predicted wind hit during the night, shaking the boat and providing white horses even in the harbour. All the boats were safe though and the fenders did their job.

Predict wind image. Kiparissia is the white dot. We weren’t as bad as some other places

The wind persisted most the day but the sun came out in the afternoon allowing us to walk up into the town.

We headed to Katakolon the next day (20th May). We decided to anchor outside the harbour as it was a good anchorage and it would avoid the hordes from the docked Cruise ship “Aida Blu”.

Our next stop was a short hop to Zante town where we were picking our friend Paul. Zante town Quay is noisy and a bit smelly but we needed to meet our friend and stock up provisions for the long sail to Italy.

Over the next few days we had a couple of gorgeous meals out in the town and the supermarket was close by and delivered. Our friend arrived in the afternoon of the 21st May and we also got a lovely surprise as our friends Sigi and Brigitte from “Marco Polo” appeared to say hello. We have known them since our Olbia days in Sardinia in 2014! It was great to see them. They now sail in the ionian and had seen our AIS transmission so knew where were!

Zante town quay
Zante at night

It took until 23rd May to get all our documents officially stamped for leaving Greece. The beauraucracy has snowballed in greece for us that are no longer in the EU. It’s one of the various reasons for leaving this beautiful country.

We had a 220 miles to sail from Zante Town to Rochella Ionica. It took us only 46 hours in the end though we had calculated on 55 hours. Some sailing, some motor sailing and some motoring. The weather was benign with light but favourable winds and some lumpy seas. It was great to have Paul’s help on the watches (we did 3 hours each in the night). It was cold and damp at night so we needed our oilies and hats. The stars were spectacular, moon rise and sun rise amazing and Andy even had a dolphin display. A great experience.

Sunrise half way across to Italy

So now we are here in beautiful Rochella Ionica, feeling tired but pleased with ourselves. A lot of sleeping tonight and washing to be done before we set off for Sicily in a couple of days.

Back Afloat at Last 11th May 2022

Well who could have predicted that when we left Vaila in Kalamata in October 2019, we would not be back until now. The Covid Pandemic put paid to all plans but luckily we are now able to get back to some sort of normality. Andy did manage to come out for 5 weeks in September 2021 and put copper coat antifouling on (a massive job taking a week) as well as other jobs. So we have a bit of a head start this time.

We arrived here on 3rd May and spent a very busy week sorting out Vaila. We decided to stay in an airbnb apartment overlooking the marina which made life much more civilised.

View from our apartment

Vaila got launched on the 11th May and we are now putting sails on, filing up with food, water and diesel and hoping to set off on sunday 15th May, assuming all items come back on time from servicing (outboard, life jackets and life raft). This may be optimistic as this is Greece!

Vaila being launched
Another launch Greek style

We have decided to leave Greece this year. We’ve had some amazing sailing here and seen wonderful places and met lovely people but, as we are no longer in the EU, the beauraucracy has become very challenging. The journey out to Kalamata is long and involves 2 flights and we are now restricted to 90 days in 180 in the EU, so feel it’s better to move somewhere more accessible from home.

So the first leg of this weatward journey will be sailing to Sardinia in the next 6 weeks. We have got an annual contract in a marina in Cagliari. Friends are coming out in the next few weeks to help with the passage making, as its 1000 miles sailing via the Ionian, Italy, and Sicily.

Vaila on the berth in Kalamata

As we have limited data and little WiFi I will keep the posts shorter from now on.

The End of Another Season(14 September to October 2019)

Well it’s the end of another sailing season. We know this because our flights home are tomorrow and because it’s blowing 30+ knots with rain and thunder! The start of Autumn here in Kalamata. The waves are breaking over the breakwater but Vaila is safely out on the hard and we are just doing the last packing and cleaning jobs.
Our friends Trina and Joe arrived to sail with us on 14th September and we had a great week with them. The first day was quite windy so we explored the old town and castle in Kalamata.

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The quirky railway Park in Kalamata

We left early the next morning for the 40+ mile trip to Methoni. We managed a good sail for the second half of the trip and dropped anchor amongst a few other boats in a strong breeze.

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Methoni anchorage

The next day was fine and we spent the morning catching up on news and swimming from the boat. The wind was rising all the time though so we set off for Navarino bay at lunchtime.

Andy and Joe rigged the staysail and we all had a good shot at helming in the 15+ knots of wind on the nose. It took a few tacks to get through the spectacular opening into Navarino bay, but once inside it was calm and we anchored in our favourite spot in the NW corner. There was only 1 other boat anchored there, ALIZE ,so we had a lovely quiet evening under the milky way with a few shooting stars thrown in.

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Entering Navarino bay

We took the dinghy ashore the next morning and walked up to the ruined Venetian fort. Unfortunately Joe tweaked his back so stayed on the beach. It was spectacular balancing along the half broken battlements and the views were stunning.

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Looking down towards our anchorage in Navarino bay

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Ruined Venetian fort, n

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Navarino sunset. Lucky alignment.

Trina and I swam back to Vaila and Joe also managed. Then we headed back to Methoni. It was a quick sail so we were anchored by 6pm in time for a swim and dinner ashore. A windy night followed but it was not too uncomfortable.

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Going ashore at Methoni

The next morning we got ashore to explore the better preserved Venetian fort at Methoni . Joe borrowed the crutch (which I have had on board since Cadiz!) and managed OK. Trina and Joe were suitably impressed by the Fort and Turkish tower.

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Methoni Venetian fort

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Turkish tower (Photo courtesy Trina)

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Coffee stop with a view at Methoni

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This is the view

The evening got windy and we moved Vaila closer in to get out of the swell and fortunately we had a quiet night. However , we were rudely awoken at 6am by an approaching thunderstorm. Our thunderstorm app showed a large thunderstorm cell approaching, so off before dawn , watching lighting striking the water only a few miles away! We put the phones and tablet into the oven a couple of times (as it acts as a Faraday cage), but we were lucky and storm veered off , so the rest of the sail back to Kalamata was uneventful.

Trina and Joe left the next day (21st September). We had a sociable time after they left too with various folk from other boats . The weather became more unsettled and we only managed a few day sails.

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Kardamili anchorage

It’s been a good year with more sailing than motoring , covering 700 miles over 3 months. We like Kalamata and Vaila will be safe and well looked after on the hard until we return next year.

 

 

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Stormy sunset at Kalamata

The Best Laid Plans…….(4-14th September 2019)

We arrived back in Kalamata marina on 3rd September, after a long and convoluted journey via Gatwick and a very brief overnight stay. All was well on Vaila but she was covered in the expected brown dust. It was extremely hot especially since the boat had been moved to quay A which is right under the breakwater and gets no breeze from the south. We found a few things and made some lists and didn’t do much else. Dinner at the snack bar in the marina and a welcome sleep followed.

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After an 11 hour sleep we felt refreshed and ready for cleaning and sorting. The bikes came out for a shopping trip to the AB supermarket and we met up with Horst and Ute from Apologia II whom we’d met briefly earlier in the year.
By the 6th we felt ready to leave the marina so headed for Kardamilli on the east side of the Kolpos. We’d heard it was a nice anchorage and we thought we’d stop overnight and then head round the cape to Porto Kayio. We motored down and noticed that the oil pressure was only reading 1 bar but the skipper wasn’t too concerned and we were not far from the anchorage so continued. We anchored off the beach in mixed sand and rocks and managed to find some good sand on the second attempt. A lot of swimming in amongst lots of fish and enjoying the breeze of not being in the marina. There was a swell but thankfully it died down before evening.

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Approaching Kardamili

 

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Kardamili anchorage

Andy looked in the engine compartment first thing next morning and there was a significant oil leak, so no Porto Kaiyo this time but 10 miles back to Kalamata . Andy worked on the engine for the next 2 days in the heat and managed to fix it with new oil of better viscosity.

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A happy skipper after fixing oil leak

After that we had a surreal afternoon drinking and singing along to the Dubliners with the Austrians Horst and Ute! It turned out that Horst even had Talisker malt on board.
Andy escaped a bad hangover luckily and we managed a cycle up to the Castle which gave a nice view over the town. We even passed a shop selling fire Hydrants!

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Looking down on Kalamata

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What every town needs…a fire hydrant shop!

We got away for 1 more night to Koroni where we had another rocky night.

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Koroni town with the Venetian fort ” the second eye of the Republic”.

Then a good day’s sail back to the marina where we are now waiting on our friends Joe and Trina to arrive.

 

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To Kalamata (4th – 16th June 2019)

Our friend Paul arrived on schedule on 4th June and Andy picked him up from Kalamata in a hire car and brought him to Vaila in Navplion. We had an early start the next morning and had to motor for a couple of hours before putting sails up. The wind steadily rose but with reefed genoa and main sail we beat comfortably and we were berthed in Leonidhion by 1530. We introduced Paul to Margaret’s Taverna and we got a huge bag of tomatoes and cucumbers “for our friend and the boat” as well as a lovely dinner.

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Underwater lights and fish in Leonidhion

The forecast was favourable for the next few days so we left early on the 6th to get to Monemvasia . A sailing holidays flotilla of 12 boats was in the wee marina so we managed to get a space alongside the old ferry pier where 4 or 5 other yachts were already tied up. We walked up to the old town briefly and luckily the large sailing cruise ship, anchored off, left so it was quiet. When we got back to Vaila we saw that several yachts had been chased away by a huge motor boat that was now stern to just beside us! Lucky we were away when it came in, otherwise we would no doubt have been made to move as well! It turned out to be a noisy night, with the Greeks in full party mood on the motorboat !! Thank goodness for earplugs.

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Monemvasia

Because the forecast looked a bit more settled we decided to spend the next day exploring Monemvasia with Paul. It’s such an amazing Byzantine town which has been partially restored. We were there 2 years ago but it would have been a shame for Paul to miss this world heritage site. Despite the heat, we walked all the way up to the restored church Agios Sofia and the castle ruins.

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Paul and Andy having coffee (I had some too!)

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One of back streets of Monemvasia. No cars or other vehicles.

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At the top of Monemvasia. The rest of the town looked like this until 1960s

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Inside Agia Sofia in Monemvasia

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A delicious lunch followed, taken in the shady taverna next to the main square. When we returned to Vaila the motorboat had gone so I managed a swim in the beautiful clear water, before an early night, as we were planning a 6am start to get the 50 miles round Cape Malea and into Porto Kaiyo .

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Just as well we had decided to leave early, as a small cruise ship was coming in to dock on the ferry pier and we would have had to move anyway. It would have been a rude awakening for the other yachts berthed there.

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Cape Malea

It turned out to be a fairly calm passage round Cape Malea with a lot of motoring, but there was a lot of large shipping passing by and a ferry needed avoiding action, so we had to be aware. We did eventually get the sails up for a wee bit and by time we got to Porto Kayio it was gusting 15 knots. There were 7 boats in already but we found a spot on sand and dug the anchor in. A night of sitting outside and checking transits in the big gusts and watching a 110 foot racing yacht “Barong D “,with Luxembourg flag, tucking itself into a wee inlet and taking lines ashore. Easy when you have 5 crew and dinghies!!

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Porto Kaiyo anchorage

The wind dropped by 1130 and we had a quiet night after that and another early start the next morning as it was another 50 miles to the next place. The forecast was not good for Methoni so we opted to go straight to Kalamata marina where we will keep Vaila while we go home. A long day motoring with a bit of exciting sailing in the last few miles. The skipper did a great job reversing into our berth in a strong wind (practice makes perfect). Luckily there are lazy lines so no need for an anchor. It was all familiar as we had been here 2 years ago. The hot showers were much appreciated too.

In the next few days we took day trips to Methoni and ancient Olympia in a hire car to show Paul some of the sites.

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Methoni. Venetian fort and Turkish tower

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Olympia

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Exquisite bronze horse, Olympia

Paul flew back on the 13th and we are now doing chores and getting Vaila ready. It’s now roasting hot so we tend to work in the mornings and then take it easy in the afternoons . There are beaches and nice ice cream shops within cycling distance so it’s great to cool off.
We fly home on the 18th leaving Vaila in the water and are really looking forward to seeing family and friends again. It’s been a very mixed 7 weeks since we launched, with more settled weather only appearing recently and changes of plans frequently required. That’s Greek sailing for you! The next instalment will be in September when we come back to Vaila.

Flying Cat to Hydra (6-28 May 2019)

 

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.

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Poros town

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Poros 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.

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Epidavros

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.

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Hydra harbour

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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!

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Hydra houses

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.

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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 .

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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.

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Leonidhion