Andros to the Sporades (13th-27th May 2018)


On our last day on Andros we hired a car from a lovely Greek lady who had Scottish friends. She very proudly showed off her pronunciation of “Gourock” in a strong Glaswegian accent! It’s amazing who you meet. This same lady told us to be sure to see the waterfalls at Pithara, which surprised us, as the whole island is so dry.
We drove round Andros and it was certainly more barren than Evia.


Terraces on Andros

There were terraces and ruined Bothies everywhere though, so in the old days they must have been irrigated and cultivated. Now there are just some scrawny fat tailed sheep and goats. Lots of new houses are springing up, presumably based on tourism. It’s not far to Athens. The houses here are box like and flat roofed, typical of the Cyclades islands.

We found the path leading to the “waterfalls” so headed along under lovely oak and alder trees. There were lizards basking everywhere and birds singing in the trees and shrubs. Andy got a surprise when 2 snakes slithered over his sandals. It did give us both a fright and we made sure to stamp our feet and make more noise after that. We looked them up later and think they were large whip snakes which live on lizards and are common in Greece ( and luckily non venomous).


Old wash house on the way to the waterfalls

The “waterfalls” were more of a trickle with pools but enough water for frogs and tadpoles and lovely and shady. In an island where there is little water no wonder these are a tourist attraction.

We stopped for lunch in Andros town which is positioned in an inlet on the north east coast and is a spectacular place. A large reef runs out from the beach with a Venetian fort and lighthouse on it.


Looking down to Andros town



The town is the main town of the island and there are many big buildings dating back to Venetian merchant days. We were the only people in the taverna at 1230 but they were happy to serve us with any of 4 dishes that they had. As usual they brought a menu but then told you what they actually have, which is a small fraction of what’s on the menu at this time of year. It’s always delicious though and freshly cooked. The menu expands as the tourist season progresses. We had a table by the window, looking over the beach with the surf pounding in and an amazing view.


View from our lunch stop

Our last evening in Batsi was spent with Ginny and Karl from “Leoni”, a beautiful wooden boat they had sailed from Devon. A lovely couple and another coincidence, as Karl had lived for some time near Linlithgow and his children had gone to school there.
We set off early at 7am the next morning as we had over 40 miles to go north. We hoped for a good southerly wind but there wasn’t really enough to sail, so we ended up motoring all the way and dropped anchor off the beach in Petries ( lat38 deg, 25′ N, long 024 deg, 12′ E), on the east coast of Evia, at 4pm after 48 miles. We had a swim and a BBQ but the wind got up and we had to do anchor watch till midnight when it calmed down thankfully.
The next day we left Petries and headed over to the island of Skyros. We had a fantastic sail across and even had a great dolphin encounter with a pod of about 10 individuals, who played in the bow wave and were jumping out. They stayed with us for about 5 minutes as we were doing about 5.5 knots. We only saw one other sail and a small freighter in the whole trip of 33miles. We berthed in Linaria (lat 38 deg, 50′ N, 24deg,32’E) on Skyros. We had read that Linaria is a great harbour and it didn’t disappoint. Sakis the harbour master came out to meet us and there were lazy lines to the quay so we did not need to use the anchor. Electricity and water were included in the price and everything was lovely and clean. Toilets, showers and washing machines, hurray.


Showers and loos in Linaria. Fine as long as you are not colour blind.


Looking down to Linaria

We even had a “library” on the quayside with books in about 7 languages, swaps from passing sailors.

Linaria town is very small but the ferry comes in daily and everything revolves round the ferry times. It’s just like the Hebrides really or any other island community.


Close quarters with the ferry

We ended up staying 3 nights in Linaria as the weather forecast was not great and it was good to get washing done and explore a bit of the island.


We took the local bus into Skyros town at 1345 the next day, as the early bus went at 0745 to take kids to school. So our bus had the returning pupils who were being dropped off at their homes. An interesting round trip of the back roads and scenery. Skyros town sits perched on the side of a rocky outcrop with tiny winding streets mostly too narrow for cars.




It’s obviously a touristy place in the season but in mid May it was completely dead! Most hotels and shops were shut, so we walked around to see the views for a couple of hours, managed to find 1 bar open for a cool drink and returned to Linaria by taxi as the only return bus was 1915 in time to meet the incoming late ferry. The evening ferry is welcomed to the tune of “Also Search Zarathustra ” from the film “2001, a Space Odyssey” blaring out of the harbour loudspeakers, very dramatic!
The following day we walked the 2 miles to the wetland reserve (the only one in the Sporades). Surprisingly, it really was a wetland, with brackish water, reed beds, rushes and lots of shrubs, birds, butterflies, herons and Egrets. The main claim to fame is that there is a good population of Eleanoras falcons on Skyros and we managed to see a couple. They are a bit like kestrels but much darker and hunt young songbirds! While walking back along the road we saw 4 eleanoras hunting across the cliffs. There were also some Skyrian horses, a rare breed that are small like ponies.

We left Skyros on 18th May and sailed/motored to the small island of Skantzoura (lat 39 deg, 04′ N, 024 deg, 07E) which lies half way between Skyros and the northern Sporades. We anchored in a tiny bay along with a German boat and a small fishing boat. It was thankfully a quiet evening wind wise and we had a swim, ate and went to bed.

The next morning was Saturday, so we listened to “Out of Doors” on Radio Scotland which for us was 0830- 1000, very civilised. Then we set off to sail NW to Peristera island. We managed to sail for a couple of hours but then the wind dropped, we had an adverse current and the waves were really lumpy, stopping Vaila in the water, so nothing for it but to chug on the motor. It was very uncomfortable and we were glad to get into a sheltered anchorage at the S end of Peristera after 5 hours and 20 miles.It was really sheltered and completely deserted apart from a fishing caique. There were a couple of summer houses on the shore but no one was home. Bliss.
Our next island was Panagia where we anchored in a sheltered bay on the north end after a great sail across (lat 39 deg,20′ N, long 024 deg, 04′ E). The entrance is only 83m wide with cliffs and rocks either side, so quite dramatic. The water was more green and lagoon like but it was a sheltered place, so good to sit out forecast strong wings (again)! A couple of other yachts were also in and some local fishing boats. The gulls were round begging, probably because the fishermen or yachties feed them. It’s the first time we have seen this in Greece. Lots of goats were roaming the shore and Scops owls calling at night. A peaceful place, although we did wake at 3am to rain and rising wind, so had to get up to shut hatches and check our position. It was pitch black, so almost impossible to see anything but we did have the anchor alert on the GPS, which meant we could try to sleep.
The only downside to this anchorage was that there was no mobile reception. Andy rowed ashore and climbed up the hill the next day, to try to get an up to date weather forecast while I stayed on Vaila, as we were anchored and it was still pretty windy. The forecast was for winds to ease which luckily they did, so we had a more peaceful night.


Our anchorage in Panagia

We left Panagia on 22nd May. The surf was breaking at the entrance to the lagoon where it was shallow, so it was a relief to get out into open water. The islands north of Panagia are all part of the national marine park so off limits. They are very high, with sheer cliffs and that morning they were capped with cloud.


Leaving Panagia

It was a good NE wind to start with and we managed to sail for a couple of hours SW towards Alonissos, however the wind dropped and the seas were very confused, so we ended up motoring down the channel between Alonissos and Peristera. Lots of boats were coming north, heading towards the horrible seas but mostly unaware of them, as it was very calm in the channel.
We had a look at a couple of harbours on Alonissos but they were all very small and a lot of swell was coming in making the boats bounce around a lot, so we pushed on to Skopolos town (lat 39 deg, 07′ N, long 023deg, 44′ E). It was very impressive coming towards Skopolos as there are big cliffs and rugged islands. Skopolos is where some of Mama Mia was filmed and it’s a beautiful and wooded island.


On the quayside in Skopolos town

We stayed 3 nights in Skopolos town on the new quay. It was pretty busy but water and electricity were available by getting an electronic key from the kiosk on the pier. Our batteries did not need topping up so we only used the water. Andy fitted a new solar panel (with 2x the capacity of the old ones) and 2 new batteries before we launched and this has made all the difference. Skopolos town is quite large with houses spilling down the hillside and many tavernas. It’s a bustling place and has good shopping too. It was no great hardship to stay there and we met some lovely people too.
We are now in a small harbour on the SW side of Skopolos called Neo Klima. The wind is very strong, a real meltemi from the NE. It’s a real wee holiday place with lots of apartments, which are currently mostly empty but fill up during the season. There are nice beaches and a backdrop of wooded hills. Although it’s a holiday town, there is a real community here. There is a primary school, and fishing boats go out every day and nets are piled on the pier. There is also an traditional fishing boat being done up just beside the harbour.


Alongside in Neo Klima, Skopolos



We had a 12km cycle over a hilly road today south from Neo Klima. A welcome coffee stop at a lovely beach before returning back to Vaila for lunch. Nice views across to another small anchorage at Panoramas too.


Coffee stop at Panormos

We arrived here in Neo Klima on Thursday 24th May and we will stay here till tomorrow (Monday 28th) when the wind is due to ease a bit. We need to go back to Skopolos town to get diesel, provisions and a new gas bottle and we are then heading for the three fingers of Halkidiki as we need to be in Thesoloniki before the 19th June, when we fly home.


Sunset over Skiathos from Neo Klima, Skopolos


Afloat again in the Aegean 1-12 May 2018

We are currently hunkered down in the harbour of Batsi on Andros( 37 deg 51′, 24deg 47′ E, lat and long specially for you Pete) waiting out this 2 day storm with gusts of over 30 knots! We are safely tied on to the quayside, so feel much happier than being stern to on the quay where we were swinging in the strong head wind despite the anchor being well dug in. Mind you, it was a bit like sleeping inside a washing machine last night with the noise and waves pummelling on to the quay and Vaila.


Along side in Batsi

Andy has been in Greece since 17th April, fitting new solar panels, inspecting keel bolts, cleaning and polishing the hull, antifouling and lots of other maintenance jobs. I conveniently arrived on 1st May just when everything was ready! We had a few days ashore so took a day trip to the island of Evia just across from the boatyard.

Evia is yet another mountainous island although a bit industrial on the west side nearest the mainland. We crossed over on the old bridge, located on the site of the Roman bridge, which links to the island in the town of Khalkis instead of the new suspension bridge.

We headed up into the mountains on small, tortuous roads winding up and down and through the terrain. Goats were grazing on the lush green stuff.


There were wild flowers and beehives everywhere. The beehives were all colour coded for identification, just like our sheep back home.

We stopped in a wee mountain village for coffee before driving over the crest of the ridge.


The clouds were coming in from the north east, covering the peaks which are over 6000 feet high and drifting down the high valleys. These high roads get lots of snow in the winter. Snow poles at the sides of the roads and even some ski signposts.


We dropped down to the dramatic east coast with beautiful cliffs and beaches and stopped for lunch in the town of Kimi.



Kimi is a tourist town but still very quiet at this time of year. We were the only foreigners in the taverna, in fact we were the only people in the taverna until a group of young Greek women turned up.

We drove back to the west coast and waited in the town of Eritrea for the ferry. The double ender ferries shuttle across regularly, so we didn’t wait for long. We were the only car going across, with just a handful of foot passengers.

Andy took the car back to Athens airport the next day and I did some final prep for launch while watching the red Arrows display team practicing overhead. Apparently they were in Greece for an airshow. It was lovely and warm and I thought about a swim until I saw lots of brown jellyfish on the beach!!
We had been put on the trailer at the boatyard a couple of days earlier as they had to move us to get another boat in. So it was good to finally get launched on the 5th May with no issues. Vaila is happier on the water than sitting on a trailer.


Vaila on the trailer ready for launch


Launch by land-rover with extension bars for the trailer

We headed straight across to Eritrea and anchored in the bay, so we could go ashore and stock up with perishable food. Vaila’s fridge is water cooled so does not work on dry land. Unfortunately it was too windy to get ashore and it was not the quiet night we had hoped for either! It was very windy all night and we set the anchor alarm to alert us of any drift. We were up and down all night checking, as the wind had us all turning in all directions. Our anchor was solid but a couple of boats were motoring around in the dark trying to re-anchor.


Eritrea, Evia

The wind had dropped by the morning and we got ashore for the shopping, feeling a bit jaded after a broken night. A lazy day was had and as there were still jellyfish in the water, no swimming again for me. Luckily it was a nice quiet night weather-wise but unfortunately we were up again at 1am as a French boat had anchored too close and was nearly touching us when we had all swung round. He had too little chain out, so once he let more out, we were fine. Oh the joys of anchoring.
We got away after breakfast the next day, heading for Voufolo further down the Evia west coast. We managed to sail some of the way and then motored to get to the anchorage. It’s a lovely spot, tucked up an inlet and very quiet. Just handful of houses and a couple of tavernas, but a newish looking holiday development springing up. Evia is not far from Athens so a popular spot for Athenian holiday makers.
An elderly French couple came across to ask us to help them get their jib on. We had seen them in the boatyard previously. Andy went over to help which involved him winching the French chap up in a bosons chair so he could secure the top of the jib as the automatic hook arrangement was broken. It turned out the man was 74 and used to just shin up the mast in his younger days!
We dinghied ashore and the French couple invited us for a thank you drink. It turned out that they had circumnavigated the globe in that same boat with two babies on board, over 5-6 years in the 1970s. Remarkable stories some people have to tell. We ended up having dinner at the taverna with them too. The taverna was run by Stella, who was Latvian and had come for a holiday 22 years ago and ended up staying! A lovely peaceful night and a return to Vaila in the balmy darkness.
We headed further south the next day to the Petali islands. We had been there last year and knew it was a lovely, sheltered anchorage. We arrived in the late afternoon with a smart wind. It was good holding and the wind died down in the evening giving us a quiet night.

I managed my first swim the next morning in flat calm and crystal clear water. It was bracing at 18 degrees C but lovely. We tried to leave fairly early as we had quite a long way to go. The wind was on the nose so we ended up motoring, especially as we had to cross the busy shipping lane between Evia and Andros. Quite a few tankers and container ships on route to and from Athens.
The harbour at Batsi is nice and sheltered. It’s big but not too busy and Yannis, the young harbour master, helped us with the lines. Our first stern to mooring of the season and it all went OK even in the rising wind.


Batsi harbour before the wind got up

So, here we are still in Batsi but moved on to the quayside alongside. It’s still blowing a hoolie on day 2. We managed a walk up into the hills above the town yesterday. Lovely views everywhere and old ruins of church and monastery high on the hill. All the vegetation was already dried up. It’s very different geology here, no limestone but slate and schists. Dry stone walls all over the place giving steep terraces. Nobody lives up there just now but new apartments and villas are going higher up the hillside.
We are hiring a car tomorrow to see a bit more of Andros. The weather forecast is for more gales in the Cyclades in the next week but it looks calmer further north so it looks like Andros will be our only Cyclades island this time.



The Aegean (June 2017)

We have had a great month sailing from Kalamata round into the Aegean. Vaila got hauled out yesterday at Petros Marinos boat yard at 0630 and we are now safely parked on land doing the last few jobs before flying home tomorrow. It’s  43 degrees C today so we are not too sad about going home! I am sure we will feel the cold though, as the weather at home is no more than 14 degrees C at the moment! In heat like this here at the moment, you really can’t do much on land. Luckily the yard has an air conditioned room to sit in and the beach is just across the road. It’s hot even by locals’ standards.


Vaila on the hard at Petros Marinos boat yard


We left Kalamata on 30th May and rounded the impressive 800 foot cliffs of Capo Grosso (the middle of the three fingers of the Peloponnese peninsula, The Mani). We spent the night in the shelter of Porto Kaiyo, just round the corner from the cape. It is a tiny village with a a few houses built in the Maniot style (tower houses). It’s a sheltered anchorage and “Sundance” followed us in, having left Kalamata at about the same time. Blasts of wind were coming down from the mountains that surrounded the anchorage but we were safely tucked in. We had a short walk ashore with Ursula and Sjur from Sundance the next morning. Andy had to move lots of spider webs that were strung over the path and contained some pretty big spiders! We were delighted to find the little chapel on the point open. It was dedicated to St. Nicolas (the Saint of Fishermen) and full of icons and beautiful paintings.




Porto Kaiyo

We decided not to go right up into the gulf of Lakonikos, as there are few anchorages there and the port of Yithion is a bit industrial, so we headed straight over to Nisos Elefanisos. We managed to sail some of the time before lunch but typically the wind got going after lunch and we had quite a rough couple of hours before we anchored on the east side of the island.
The easternmost cape of the Peloponnese , Cape Malea, gets a fearsome reputation in the pilot books. It’s another impressive piece of vertical rock, with a monastery half way up. The weather forecast was accurate and we slid past the cape and in to the Aegean under engine in calm waters.


Cape Malea


Our first stop in the Aegean was the town of Monemvasia. We had been told it was a must see place and it didn’t disappoint. The old Byzantine town is built on a steep peninsula which is linked to the mainland by a narrow neck of land. The new town is on the mainland. We found a spot in the harbour. The town is small but has plenty of tavernas so no problem finding somewhere nice to eat.


The next morning we sauntered up to the old town. It was already getting hot at 9am! The road up to the old town was full of parked cars as you cannot get cars into the old Byzantine town. You enter through a huge gate in the massive walls and you are immediately in the cobbled lanes and steps of the town. This old town was a ruin until people started to rebuild in the late 1980s.


There are now tavernas and gift shops on the main alley, as well as many boutique hotels scattered within the walls of the island, but all on a small scale and without traffic. Everything is transported on barrows, so it is a massive operation keeping the Tavernas, shops and hotels supplied.



We found Monemvasia totally enchanting. We had a coffee in the shade overlooking the bay and watched a modern day schooner drop anchor just below the town. Andy climbed to the summit for a better view and to see the fortifications and the old church of Agia Sofia at the top. He has been to the big church of the same name in Istanbul and allegedly this one was a smaller version. The lower town is an eclectic mix of ruins (like Mystras), boutique hotels, huge walls, tiny stepped alleyways and everywhere breathtaking views. We loved it all.




We had a swim at the town beach to cool off and a Greek dad, with his two small daughters splashing around, practiced his English and the girls gave us some apricots. It’s so typical of the Greeks, they want to know about you and they want to be hospitable.
We were tied up beside another Scottish couple in Monemvasia, Louise and Gordon, also in the Cruising Association. They had sailed from Scotland on exactly the same day as us in 2013! Quite a coincidence. It was lovely chatting and comparing experiences, so we didn’t get away particularly early the next morning. Marc, Ursula and Sjur had left earlier on Sundance, as they were heading up towards the Corinth Canal and back towards the Ionian. We motored up the short distance to Ieraka, our next anchorage.

Ieraka is like a mini fjord, with an entrance that is narrow and quite hidden amongst the rocks. There was one other boat in, tied up to the little ferry pier, but we decided to anchor just opposite. Further up the bay got very shallow and lagoon like. It was a beautiful spot and surprisingly sheltered from the strong breeze that whipped through from the mountains in the afternoon. A friend of ours had been stuck for three days in this anchorage earlier thus year, unable to leave or go ashore due to the wind!
It was great swimming there with cicadas chirping in the bushes. A peregrine was hunting over the cliffs and got chased by a seagull and it all felt a bit like the west coast of Scotland, except for the warmth and the cicadas of course!! Everywhere round the Peloponnese has been lovely and quiet and we have really enjoyed being away from the bustle of the Ionian.


Vaila in Ieraka

We went ashore the next morning and Andy headed up to the old Acropolis on top of the hill. I walked round the lagoon to see all the wee fishing boats and nice houses, watching two herons fishing. Although Ieraka feels like a backwater, there is a road right round and lots of people appeared at lunchtime to eat at the Tavernas (it was a Sunday, a big day for family lunches out in Greece).
We only had 15 miles to go to Kiparissi, so we did not set off till lunchtime. Andy saw some dolphins just as we were approaching the harbour, but I was too busy untying fenders to see them, and I managed to drop a fender in the water in the excitement of the dolphins, so we had to go back to get it…..all good practice! Actually, it’s the first time that’s happened this whole trip (she says smuggly).


Vaila in Kiparissi

Thunderclouds were building as we approached the little pier on the north side of the bay, so we were glad to get a spot alongside, just behind a small fishing boat. One of the fishermen took our lines, which was kind. We got a bit of rain and some thunder but nothing dramatic. The fishing boat went out for an hour, then came back and the three guys on board proceeded to cook tea, with lots of Greek shouting and gesticulating. Our guess is that it was a father and two sons team and they needed to go out again to get fish for their dinner. We put chicken skewers on the BBQ and hoped for a quiet night. Unfortunately, 2 motor boats arrived at sunset and tried to come stern too on to the pier. One managed fine, but the bigger one took 5 attempts with much shouting. Then they all went off to the hotel in the town. We were getting closer to Athens so we thought the quiet anchorages were probably behind us.
We did have a quiet night though, as the Greeks from the motor boats stayed ashore. We motored the 10 miles or so up to Leonidhion to charge our batteries up a bit. We were lucky to get another very clear sighting of a Monk Seal. They are still so rare but are slowly making a come back. This is the second one we have seen on this trip. A few miles before the harbour we put up our cruising chute and jogged along nicely. We don’t often get the chance to use it as it’s either too windy or not windy enough or from the wrong direction.




Flotilla on the quayside

Leonidhion was a lovely small harbour with a dog-leg entrance. It sits amongst massive cliffs and mountains where rock climbers play. We came alongside on the quay, as no one was there to help and there was plenty of room. Margarita greeted us as we walked up. She and her family run the closest Taverna to the quayside and her son Michael has the shop next door. We got a few things in the shop and were given free aubergines and oranges as well. When we got back to the boat, someone had left a foil carry-out tray with aubergine bake on deck. What an amazing place!
There was a lovely shingle beach and good public showers and toilets too so we decided to stay two nights. The port police got busy in the late afternoon as a flotilla was coming in. This is the first flotilla we’ve come across this season and it was the usual fun and games watching people trying to come in. Then 2 enormous catamarans and a big motor boat turned up as well so they had to take up at the end. It’s obviously a popular spot.
The New Zealand couple (Tracey and Dave) who were tied up in the harbour behind us seemed familiar and it turned out that we had met them last year in the Ionian. We remembered them, as they had tied up alongside us in Kalamos relating their tale of the lost anchor from their charter boat last year. What an amazing coincidence to meet them again, as they only come to Greece for 2 weeks sailing charter. We had a lovely dinner with them, catching up on the what we had been doing since we last met.
Our next destination was Navplion, at the north end of the Argolic gulf. We spent a night in Astrous on the way and arrived in Navplion mid afternoon of the 8th June, motoring past the spectacular forts on the headland, hill and island. Navplion has been a big strategic base for centuries. The town quay was busy but there was plenty of space.



We hired a car to drive up to Mycenae, the centre of the Mycenaean civilisation between 1600 and 1200 BC. The site is quite small but situated on a hill and in a position to dominate the surrounding countryside and trade routes. There are pine and cypress trees everywhere and it feels like a magical place. The entrance is through the spectacular “Lion Gate” made of huge dressed stones called Cyclopian. Legend has it that the mythical Cyclops built the gate! Myth and legend is constantly intertwined in Greece.


The Lion Gate, Mycenae







View from Mycenae

The museum was full of artefacts from the site, beautiful pottery, glass beads and spindle weights, gold jewellery and a gold death mask.

The town of Navplion is quite big and also has a fantastic archaeological Museum full of finds from nearby Mycenae and even older, right back to stone age, 28000 years ago. There was a complete Mycenaean suit of armour made of bronze, too heavy to walk in but used by charioteers.

The next two nights were very windy in anchorages on the east side of the Argolic gulf, so we headed back over to Leonidhion to get some shelter, do some washing and fill up with water. We cycled up to the main village of Leonedhion, which we had not done on our previous visit. it was great being on the bikes and getting some cool air.



There was lots of market gardening on a grand scale in the flat bits between sea and mountains. Fields and polytunnels full of tomatoes, aubergines, beans and citrus trees as well as olive groves. They have an aubergine festival in August we were told. The main village is a delight, with little shops providing everything a small town needs and especially galvanised tin ware!! We received gifts of apricots and plums from Margarita this time.

We had a lovely night in Porto Heli, but the weather was poor for the next 5-6 days and we had some wild days and nights in Dhokos and Ermioni, with thunderstorms and torrential rain for several days.



So it was great to be able to move on to Poros in the Saronic Gulf on the 19th June. We were just in time to meet up with our friends George and Chris for an evening, before they flew home. Poros is a bit mental with so many boats, lots of ferries and a very restricted and shallow channel. We opted to anchor off and keep out of the way! It’s so close to Athens here so we had expected it to be busy.

We called in at Methana, a volcanic island with sulphur springs just north of Poros. The sulphur springs make it a bit smelly, but it was no worse than Vulcano in the Aeolian islands. The wee marina was lovely though and the sign at the entrance saying “no catamarans”  made us smile, as they are the bane of small harbours.


Entrance to Methoni harbour

The town has a slightly dilapidated charm and we really liked it.  It was good to get water and check out our batteries. We have been struggling with power most of this trip, especially on days when there was no sun. The 2 oldest batteries seem to be pretty dead so will need replaced. Such is life!
Then it was further round in the Saronic to Nisos Agistri where we anchored in deep water and tied on to the shore with stern lines and all was fine until the wind changed in late afternoon.

Then we had to bale out quickly to a less deep anchorage. There was swell coming in, so a bit of a disturbed night, but safer. The Petali islands were special, with some really big fish round the boat and a lovely evening with Chris Robb and his two friends Bob and Philip aboard. Chris is also a Cruising Association member and Swan over to invite us for drinks. Our stocks were really low so we could only take some peanuts over!

We have been pleasantly surprised by the Evia channel. There are lots of lovely anchorages on the Evia side and although there is some industry, it doesn’t spoil the lovely scenery. There are wind turbines on many ridges and we have had some really good sailing.



So now we are in the boatyard near Khalkoutsi on the Evia channel. Thankfully it’s much quieter in these waters and we have enjoyed good sailing in great winds and seen lots of dolphins too. We have covered 800 miles sine beginning of May and loved the quieter waters with more wildlife. There are rafts of young gulls and shearwaters here and plenty of dolphins. We also saw a sunfish and some a couple of small flying.


The haul out went smoothly yesterday and the boat yard is lovely, with lots of feminine touches in shady areas with plants and decoration, immaculately clean toilets and shower, and the air conditioned room. Vaila will be fine here till September. We are looking forward to slightly cooler weather, but hope it warms up in Scotland a bit! We are very excited to see the family again and catch up with friends too.



Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Venetians (21 – 28 May 2017)

My friend Sandra arrived on the 21st of May in Kalamata, just after Sally left. We had several loads of washing to do and luckily the rain stayed off and we managed to get all the washing dry. The following day was spent shopping, as the shops are not open here on Sundays, getting a replacement gas cylinder and more washing. We had coffee in town and dinner in one of the Tavernas by the marina. We could enjoy sitting outside without feeling cold, which was a first for this trip!
We left on the Tuesday morning to sail to Methoni, approximately 40 miles. A lot of motoring as the wind was light in the morning, but it freshened in the afternoon and we got Sandra on the helm.


Sandra at the helm

We dropped anchor off the Venetian fort amongst about 8 other boats (one of them was Sundance, with Marc and a Norwegian couple on board). We know Marc from Messalonghi and Preveza marinas.


Morning light overlooking the Venetian castle, Methoni

It was a lovely evening, watching the sun go down. As it was getting dark, I saw a shape appear behind the boat, but there was no fin visible so I wasn’t sure what it was. A couple of minutes later, it reappeared about 200m away and stuck it’s head out for about 10 seconds. It was clearly a Monk Seal and we were really lucky to see it, as they are extremely rare.
We went ashore early the next morning, as strong winds were forecast for the afternoon. We wanted to show Sandra the Venetian fort as we had been so impressed by it the week before. Luckily Sandra also enjoyed wandering around and our wildlife luck held as we saw a Kestrel and a tortoise (as well as a feral cat with a large rat!) and lots of flowers, though some had gone to seed.
As predicted, the wind got up all afternoon as we sailed, under genoa only, to Finakounda. Sundance was in ahead of us and we anchored in a big swell and strong wind. It’s good holding there so no worries, but it meant we could not go ashore! The windsurfers were enjoying the F4-5 winds, whizzing past the boats as we were coming in.
As we were confined to the boat, it was a good time to initiate Sandra to the card game Canasta. She had never played it before but she was a quick learner and quickly amassed the points. The wind had dropped by about 8pm so we had a peaceful night.
We headed back to Kalamata on the Thursday with a poor forecast for the next few days. Storm clouds loomed ominously and thunder rumbled but luckily the storm passed us by.


Gathering storm approaching Kalamata 

So we decided to hire a car for the next 2 days to explore some ancient sites inland.
Our first trip was to the ancient city of Messini (named after the district). It lies just about 30 km from Kalamata, on the rolling plain to the north west. We stopped for a coffee at a little Taverna in the town which overlooked the site and gave a great view.


Looking down on ancient Messini



Our first stop was further along the road where there was a massive circular gate which was once in the city walls of Messini on the main highway to ancient Arcadia.


Old city walls, Messini 

The main site itself was very extensive, with a small Greek theatre, a large stade which had been altered by the Romans to include a curved end, various temples and mausoleums and water features (now dry).


There were also some lovely mosaics, fairly heavily restored.


A lot of Roman additions had been made to the original Greek buildings, but overall you got a great flavour of a bustling city. The ancient city of Messini was established in 371 BC after the Messinians defeated the Spartans who had ruled them for nearly 350 years. Many Messinians fled west at this time, many settling in Sicily and giving their name to the straights of Messina between Sicily and Italy. Refugee migrations are not new either!
The next day we drove east over the imposing Taigetos mountains which rear up to over 8000 feet. The road was amazing, with deep gorges and several mountain passes, the highest of which was 8ooo feet. The road was in good condition, with plenty of crash barriers, so not as dodgy as some of the roads we’ve been on in other parts of Greece or in Sardinia!

We arrived at the site of Mystras and stopped for a coffee at a “Bistrot ” with a view of the castle, which we named ‘the Eagles Nest ‘ (we even saw an eagle cruising the thermals).

Mystras was a Byzantine settlement, dating back to 1262 AD. The hill it cascades down was filled with mansions and houses, palaces and many churches, all built in the Byzantine style with colourful clay tile designs and pan tiled roofs. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and is being restored extensively. The city was protected by the castle at the top of the hill and two sets of walls running right round the residential areas. Apparently even in those days there were planning disputes as people did not want to live so close each other. The governor, however, laid the law down and basically told them they would just have to put up with it, as space was so limited on the hillside. Things don’t change that much sometimes, do they? Of course, only the rich people could afford to live inside the walls, everyone else had to slum it outside!




Mystras, looking up at the castle

We walked up and down hundreds of steps and sampled the many churches with some beautiful frescoes inside.



The biggest buildings were in the “Palace of the Despots” but these were still under reconstruction so we weren’t able to go in.


It was an amazing place though and we were pretty tired by the time we had covered the upper and the the lower levels. There were also great views to Sparta, which is a substantial town these days.



Two headed eagle, the symbol of the Byzantine Empire



Now we are getting ready to leave Kalamata. Sandra left yesterday in a horrendous thunderstorm and we have done the round of washing and shopping today. Thank goodness for the tumble drier in the marina. The weather is much better today and at last the forecast is improving and the high winds are dropping. So, all being well, we will be off tomorrow to round the next two capes of the Peloponnese. it will be good to be sailing into new territory again.


Looking down on Kalamata 

Kalamata, where the Olives come from (11-21 May 2017)

Sally arrived on schedule on the 10th of May and we set sail for Katakolon on the west side of the Peloponnese peninsular on the 11th of May. We had an uneventful crossing and tied up to the big quayside stern to. We had been here last year, but this year there was an “official”harbourmaster who took our lines and charged us €11 per night without electricity or water. Another British yacht (Constantia) with Lesley and Mike aboard was also there and we got chatting. It turned out they had set off on their trip on exactly the same day as us in 2013.

One Thomson cruise ship was in the big harbour but it left in the eary evening. We wandered round the town, which is a bit of a strange place as it caters for the cruise ships and a lot of shops are only open when the cruise ships are in. There is a good supermarket though and we stocked up with some more supplies.

We found a delightful little Taverna in the back street where we had dinner and met a German couple who we had seen in Preveza last year. We did not recognise them at first, but they looked familiar. The next morning we remembered the connection and we had a coffee with them before they headed off. They had quite a big boat and decided to head off despite a strong wind warning. We decided to stay a second night. It was very windy as predicted and we had a blustery walk along the beach watching the breakers roll in, followed by a lovely ice cream.

The wind was still pretty strong the next morning, but we rigged our small staysail and away we went into 15-20 knots of wind quite happily, arriving in Kiparissi in the early evening.


Vaila sailing under cutter rig


Along side at Kiparissi

It had a big harbour which was mostly full of local boats and fishing boats, but there was space to come alongside with three other foreign yachts, one of which was Constantia. We had a brief wander towards the town and had some delicious ice cream. The ice cream shop provided biscuits, chocolate sauce and toppings free with the ice cream, all for princely sum of €2 each! Then it was back on board to eat and play Canasta.

The next morning was lovely and we spent a while watching the turtles cavorting around in the harbour! The skipper decided to clean out the strainer for the engine intake as there was a bit of weed in it, before we set off. This involved switching off the engine cooling water. Unfortunately, he forgot to put the water on again, so when we left, we only got 1 mile away before the engine overheated and we had to sail back into harbour! Oh dear, we had fried the impeller, but we always carry a spare, so the skipper had to spend an afternoon in the hot cockpit locker fixing the engine, while Sally and I went to beach and had 2 swims! Life’s just not fair sometimes !! An added bonus was also a delicious meal in the town.


One burnt out impeller

When we got back to Vaila that evening we found that a very large trawler had wedged itself at our stern. Lots of noisy Greek negotiation was going with fish merchants. We hoped they were not going to stay all night and luckily the Trawler got out without incident about 11pm, leaving us all to have a quiet night.
We got away without incident the next morning and headed for Navarino bay. There was not much wind until we turned the corner but then we managed a good sail. This part of the coast is very benign with no big mountains and lots of flat land for market gardening. Polytunnels and plastic sheeting were much in evidence from the sea, but not as extensive as in the south of Spain.

Entering Navarino bay was very spectacular, as there is fantastic coastal scenery with caves, rock arches and stacks. Navarino bay was the site of a naval Battle in 1827 during the Greek independence war. The British, French and Russians had orders not to engage but the Egyptians started firing and the battle was fought at anchor, with great loss of life and ships. Despite being heavily outnumbered and outgunned, the British allies won, so the British admiral, Coddington, was not court martialed. Sad to think how little changes!


Coastal scenery, Navarino bay




Sally coming into Navarino bay

We spent a lovely quiet night at anchor in the northern part of the bay with Constantia again beside us.

We walked up to the ruined Venetian fort perched on the headland before dinner. It was a small path through lots of wild vegetation, verbascum forests with 2m high flower spikes and wonderful views over the bay. The Venetians certainly knew where to build their forts. Amazing to think their influence stretched all the way down here. We also all managed a rather bracing swim.


Navarino bay anchorage





DSCF6671We were running short of supplies so headed over the bay to the small town of Pylos the next morning. There is an unfinished marina there with no services, but it’s sheltered. It looked pretty full when we got in but we were encouraged to tie up to a large rusty hulk by a loud Greek, who took our lines and tied us on. We were only staying long enough to shop. The helpful Greek then told us how poor he was and wanted €10 for cigarettes. We gave him €3 which seemed to be OK!
We had a coffee ashore and shopped in the wee supermarket and a fantastic vegetable shop next door. The weather looked iffy so we didn’t linger in Pylos, though it was a nice working town and not touristy. The drizzle started as we set off and we got a great wind to drive us round the headland to Methoni. We dropped anchor in the lovely bay overlooking the Venetian fort and so called “Turkish tower”. More boats arrived including Constantia but in the end only the two boats stayed overnight. It poured with rain most of the night, reminding us of wet nights at anchor in Scotland.

It was still drizzling the next morning, but by the time we were ready to go ashore in the dinghy, it was dry. We had a coffee in the little square and then Lesley and Mike also arrived. We had a walk to the Venetian fort and wandered round the extensive ruins for several hours, marvelling at the construction and buildings. Some conservation work had been done as recently as 2015, but the new bits were obvious and there were good signs so it made interpretation easier.


Another Venetian castle, Methoni








The recent rain had brought out hundreds of wild flowers and inside the walls was like a garden. Verbascum, red and yellow poppies, caper bushes, cranesbill, Spanish oyster plants, chamomile and a few late allium flowers. A total riot of colour.





We left Methoni after lunch and motored round to Finakounda, as we needed to charge our batteries. Finakounda is a much more touristy place with lots of tavernas advertising karaoke and vodka bars. Luckily very little was open, so it was quiet. The houses in this part of Greece look very Italian, with pan tiled roofs. Presumably Venetian influence from centuries ago.


The old codgers at Finakounda


There were quite a few camper vans parked by the beach. Wherever we go there seem to be camper vans doing a similar journey by land. We had a BBQ tea on board using our Magma and played Canasta outside watching rainbows in the fading light.
The next morning we left in sunshine and rounded Ak Akritas, the first of the three “fingers” of the Peloponnese peninsula. One down, two to go. We headed up towards Koroni on the east side of the peninsula, but there was a horrible swell, so we decided not to stop. The next possible anchorage also looked rough so we pushed on into a 14 knot wind, managing to sail a bit towards Kalamata and the marina shelter. Inside the marina it was much calmer and we berthed next to Constantia again. This journey round the Peloponnese is a popular one for many people, so it’s not surprising that you keep meeting the same boats.
Kalamata marina is very well run (it’s part of the same group as Gouvia in Corfu and Lefkas in the Ionian) and was great having hot showers and getting washing done. We had one more night at anchor across the bay in Petalidhion. Rough to start with, with loud Bangra type music coming from vans on the shore, but it calmed down later and we had a lovely quiet night.
So here we are back in Kalamata marina. We have just said goodbye to Sally who is off home now before starting on her own adventure with her partner Andy on his boat Adagio in July . It’s been great having her company on Vaila again and I know they will love having their own adventures. Sally hold the current speed record of 7.5 knots on a broad reach. We are now waiting for my friend Sandra to arrive today for a week with us.


View from Kalamata marina


Bye bye Preveza (18 April – 10 May 2017)

Andy arrived back on Vaila on the 18th April and worked on Vaila at Cleopatra yard. He fitted new sea clocks, completely replaced all the hoses on the sea toilet, serviced the engine and carried out countless other pre season jobs. So when I arrived on 2 May, Vaila was in the water with new antifouling on and a lovely polished hull and even a full fridge. Not much for me to do! Our friends Tony and Alison from Reveller also arrived, so we had a few sociable evenings along with Marc from Sundancer. Tony and Alison are making their way west this year, heading home to Britain eventually.


Afloat again and the Skipper is happy

We set off from Preveza on 6th May, heading through the Levkas canal in beautiful sunshine, along with about 12 Sailing Holidays yachts being delivered to their summer homes. There were quiet a few Scottish voices in evidence. The canal has been well dredged within new red and green buoys,  making life less “interesting”.



Going through the Levkas canal

It felt strange leaving Preveza knowing we would not be there again for a few years probably.
We spent a quiet night in Abelike, Meganissi and I had my first swim of the season. The next morning was not so good, as we had rain and a thunderstorm. When the weather had passed over, we set off for Kioni in Ithaka. It was so quiet when got to Kioni, we even managed to get on to the town quay. A couple of very large charter boats caused havoc when trying to come backwards but they eventually got tied up with much help and luckily no damage done to anyone.


Vaila second from left, a small boat beside the giant 50 footers!

We had a wee walk and ate at one of the Tavernas, enjoying being in this beautiful spot.


View from the Taverna,  Kioni

Our next stop was Poros on Kefalonia. We got in and tied up in the very shallow harbour by 4pm. Well needed showers at one of the apartment blocks and dinner high up on the headland at Taverna Agrapidos. Home grown meat and veg, the best Feta cheese I have ever tasted all washed down with delicious home made wine. Unfortunately, the wind and swell did not die down overnight so it was quire a disturbed night.
So now we are in Agios Nikolaos at the northern end of Zakynthos. We were here last year and it’s a lovely quiet spot and remarkably sheltered. It was quite a windy passage over from Kefalonia and great sailing, we’ll reefed in F4/5 SW wind. We are waiting for Sally to arrive tonight and then we are heading over to the Peloponnese for new places and adventures. Aegean here we come.


Thunderstorms and anchor knitting

We arrived home in Scotland last Wednesday and have been enjoying the bright autumn weather. Vaila is safely on land in Cleopatra marina amongst thousands of other boats.

We had a couple of eventful weeks before our sailing finished for the season. The week after Trina and Joe left was one of rain and frequent thunderstorms, culminating in a large storm overhead at Sami for about 45 minutes. The rain was lashing down and the sky was purple and black at 5pm with spectacular lightning. We were tied on to the quayside with the anchor at the front as usual, but unfortunately, the 48 foot boat next to us had not tightened their anchor sufficiently, so started pushing us sideways as the wind hit them. Andy had to motor forwards and steer so we did not get pushed into the boat on our other side. Luckily our anchor was strong enough to hold both boats. A bit scary and very frustrating as the French people on board the large yacht didn’t care and just shrugged their shoulders (the gallic shrug) when Andy suggested they tighten their anchor!! Luckily no damage done, but a stressful hour.
Our friend Paul arrived the next day and luckily the weather improved over the next few days and we got some good sailing. Paul had not been to Greece before so we enjoyed showing him some favourite spots and he enjoyed sampling the Greek food.


The two old codgers enjoying a beer in little Vathi, Meganissi 


The local cats enjoying a fish dinner


Rainy day in Vathi, Ithaka


The Venetian cannons, Vathi,  Ithaka

We also managed to demonstrate the anchor knitting untangling technique in Kalamos harbour, as George had squeezed about 50-60 yachts into the small harbour which led to mild chaos when leaving the next day!


Colours of Kalamos

We finished off in Preveza with a noisy Friday night on the town quay and then headed over to Cleopatra marina the next morning. Paul helped get the sails down and we continued with jobs once Paul had flown home on the Sunday.


Paul demonstrating a new sail folding technique

Lift out on the Monday went according to plan and Vaila was slotted in amongst 1000 other yachts on the hard standing. The cradles are strong and secured with chains to keep them secure during earthquakes, which happen frequently in the region.



We sailed/ motored about 1000 miles this year. It was lovely pottering around the islands and re visiting places we know. The Ionian has got really busy though, as some big charter companies have pulled out of Turkey and are now based in Greece. Perhaps it’s time to move on a bit again next year and explore some new parts of Greece ?

Autumn is coming to the Ionian

We had a fantastic week with our friends Trina and Joe. We collected them from the airport on the Sunday evening after a trip to spectacular Assos with its castle and to Mourtos beach (which featured in the film “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”).


Looking down on Assos from the castle


Assos castle


Not the tourist path to the castle


Entering by the back door



On Mourtos beach

Monday dawned fair with a good forecast, so we set off up the Ithaka sound to Fiskardo. We managed to sail for a bit and arrived at 3pm but the pontoon and quayside were already full, so tied up with long lines to the north shore, Trina and I swimming with one line each. It helps having two extra people on board for complicated maneouvers. We snorkeled off the point in wavy conditions, but still saw lots including some peacock wrasse. An expensive ice cream and not so expensive dinner in the town completed the day.
It was very windy the next morning and we thought we might struggle to get our lines retrieved, but a small Spanish boat had come in next to us late in the evening and they let us tie on to them while we got our lines back from shore (Andy went to get them in the dinghy). We headed over to Meganissi to inspect the spectacular caves there and were lucky as the wind dropped, allowing us to swim right into the cave. It was an eerie feeling swimming under millions of tons of rock hanging over your head.


Another yacht getting ready to take people into the cave


We anchored in Abelike, Meganissi overnight and had a walk across to Vathi, followed by more swimming and showers ashore.


Small chapel, Vathi, Meganissi

It was a beautiful starry night and we stayed on board for a BBQ tea. It’s a beautiful, sheltered and peaceful place with no loud music from shore.
On Wednesday morning we set off to sail to Kalamos island. The wind was NE/E so we had a good few hours sailing but had to turn the engine on to motor into the headwind along the south shore of Kastos. We arrived at Kalamos harbour about 1430 and George helped tie us up as usual. Just as well we got in early as it just continued to get busier and busier. There are still lots of flotillas around and Kalamos is always on their itinerary.
A walk to the windmill beach, drinks and the most amazing prawns at the beach Taverna, followed by showers and a meal at George’s Taverna sitting at a table on the beach. Another great day.


Trina and Joe at the windmill, Kalamos island


View from the beach bar, Kalamos

We were heading across to Kioni on Ithaka the next morning. Conveniently, the wind dropped as we approached Atakos island and we anchored, along with about 10 other yachts. The snorkeling under the tortured cliffs was as good as ever but it was all much busier than when we had been there in May. We did see a large shoal of young swordfish swimming quite close in to shore. It was a bit spooky swimming through the shoal, as they parted and then surrounded you. The small “swords” on the fish were about 8cm long so looked quite intimidating!
When we arrived in Kioni at 1515, the small quay was already full so we took long lines ashore again on the west side. There was plenty of space and Trina swam ashore with both lines. She then also helped another boat with their lines. We got a bottle of wine in return for the help. We were thinking of farming out the line swimming services, but when the next boat came in on our other side, Andy was already in the dinghy so took their lines. Another bottle wine came our way!!



One of the three old windmills at the entrance to Kioni, Ithaka


View to Atakos island from Point at Kioni

Kioni is a beautiful place. There are three old windmills on the point to the south of the town and we walked out to see them and to keep up the ” step count” for the “Fitbit” enthusiasts. Ithaka has lots of beautiful walks and many lovely holiday houses and apartments , so it’s a popular place. We had dinner at the same restaurant as last year, sitting on a terrace overlooking the harbour and watching the light fade and the town lights come on. One of the local cats took a real shine to Joe, but thankfully it didn’t steal food off the plates. The cats actually look well cared for on this island. Jasmine scented the night air as we walked back through the small streets to Vaila.
Trina and I went ashore the next morning. Not as simple as it sounds, as it involved getting into the dinghy and pulling ourselves along the mooring rope to reach the quayside . We got yogurt and fruit for breakfast and stopped to watch the antics of two cat families with some very boisterous, cheeky and demanding kittens.
Getting away from the anchorage was a bit more complicated than usual, as our anchor had caught the chain of a large catamaran close to us. Luckily our “anchor thief” or “finger of God” as it’s known here, came to the rescue and we unentangled ourselves pronto and got a round of applause from the cat’s crew!!
We motored to Arkhoudion island where we had been snorkeling before. The wind had dropped so we felt safe to anchor so close to shore. We were getting ready to snorkel when a large catamaran with Russians on board came charging into the bay towing two snorkelers at about 4knots and with music blaring. Luckily they got the message when Andy shouted at them, so they anchored instead and then got their spearguns out! There is no accounting for what some folk like to do. Unfortunately Russians seem to be some of the more obnoxious people we come across while sailing!!
The snorkeling was fantastic with shoals of swordfish, colourful reef fish, soft corals, starfish and urchins all in crystal clear water. The wind stayed down until after lunch, so we then set off for Vathi on Ithaka. As usual, the wind gusted about 10-15 knots just as we were coming in to Vathi, and the north quay was full, so we opted to anchor and wait for the wind to drop (hopefully). Luckily at 7pm the wind did decrease, briefly, so we backed on to the town quay. We walked right round the bay in the blustery wind, until we reached a favourite restaurant where we sat by the water’s edge and enjoyed some delicious food and the odd spot of wine!

We sailed over to Ay Efemia on the Saturday and had some good wind, but by the time we got to the harbour it was blowing 15 knots, so again we anchored hoping the wind would drop. We got onto the quayside about 7pm once it calmed down. Luckily, at this time of year, there are not so many flotillas and there was lots of space. We snatched a snorkel at paradise beach and had a last dinner with Trina and Joe, as they were leaving the next day. We had a fantastic week together and the weather luck of the Gavans held as usual!!

Now we are back in Sami, sitting out some stormy weather and waiting for Paul to arrive, before we head up to Preveza for lift out on the 17th October. It’s definitely end of season here. Everything is much quieter, the restaurants are closing the beach front sections and the showers are only open in the morning. The weather is still warm just now but it’s more stormy and we are expecting rain this week. Ashore the chainsaws are working and wood is being stockpiled for winter. We are still managing a swim most days and were lucky enough to get really close to a cormorant and some kingfishers yesterday while swimming.

Thunderstorms in the Ionian.

Since Fiona and Gordon left we have had a mixed bag of weather. Quite a lot of stormy nights with thunderstorms most days. After our “incident” last year we are naturally wary about these!
We met up again with Maggie and Richard from “Bob” in Fiskardo where we were tied on to the pontoon, which has magically appeared again in late summer! We had a lovely evening together after some great snorkeling off the rocks under the lighthouse. Lots of colourful fish, mostly peacock wrasse.



“BoB” and crew set off for an overnight trip to Paxos the next afternoon, once the thunderstorm had cleared, while we stayed in lovely Fiskardo another night. The weather still didn’t look great but we did not want to stay any longer, so headed off to Vliho in Lefkada. It got blacker and blacker behind us and dozens of boats were heading south towards Sivota and shelter but right into the wind! The rain caught us about 4 miles away from Vliho in the Meganissi channel and all the islands and mountains disappeared in the driving rain. Luckily we have the chart plotter and radar, although radar signals are very confused in heavy rain.


Poor viz off Lefkada

The worst of the storm was past when we got into Vliho, which is a good anchorage although thunderstorms can also be very threatening here. So it was an indoor evening watching catch up “game of thrones”!!
The wind calmed down in the night and we had a good sleep and a short trip of a few miles to Abelike in Meganissi where we anchored.


Abelike anchorage

It’s a beautiful spot and we swam and walked over to the small town of Vathi in the next Bay. This is “little Vathi”, to distinguish it from “big Vathi” in Ithaka. There are actually lots of Vathis around here, as it means deep inlet.
The weather forecast was very variable but we decided to head over to the mainland to anchor in Marathia bay. Once over on the mainland there are not many options but it’s a beautiful spot so we wanted to go back. Unfortunately the wind got stronger and we had a lot of strong downdrafts, so we had a restless night, along with the other two boats in the bay. It was good having the anchor alarm but we were up several times during the night.
We left after breakfast and headed for Petala, a big bay south of of Marathia, protected by an island. It was a very quiet spot with no houses or tavernas. Unfortunately, the wind did not get easier and we had yet another broken night.
So now we are back in Sami, which feels like our home port these days. We have hired a car for a couple of days and are exploring the inland mountains. We stopped at a memorial to a sailor who was the only survivor of a mine attack on the British submarine HMS Perseus just off Poros. He was smuggled back to Britain at great risk and was duly clapped in jail as the MOD did not believe his story. It was not until many years later that local divers found the submarine in very deep water. The unfortunate submariner was eventually pardoned in the 1990s!!


The submarine memorial


Overlooking Poros harbour



Argostoli town quay


Mountain scenery south Kefalonia


Chapel gates at the top of the mountain pass

We are now looking forward to Trina and Joe arriving tonight.

Back in Kefalonia (5th-14th September 2016)

It’s 7am and the cockerels have been crowing for about 1 hour with the growing light. The big yellow “Speedrunner III ” ferry slipped out of the harbour with little fuss, heading to Patras on the mainland. Now the blue ferry is loading with lorries clanging on the ramp. Church bells are ringing and the early traffic noises are starting in the town.


Speedrunner III, Sami

We are back in Sami in Kefalonia, having left Messalonghi on the 5th September. We had to motor all of the 40 miles across as there was no wind. Since then there have been quite a few thunderstorms which made us take shelter. The sea is lovely and warm for swimming but the harbours are pretty full with flotillas and charter yachts, as well as cruisers like us, so finding a berth is often challenging.
Our friends Fiona and Gordon arrived on the 7th September from Scotland and unfortunately their first full day was spent sheltering from a thunderstorm.


Thunderstorm and torrential rain in Sami

We also spotted a leak from the water trap on the exhaust of the engine, which filled the bottom of the locker with about 4 pints of water. On top of that, the anchor winch remote also broke!! Not a great start to their holiday, but Gordon, being a plumber, felt quite at home looking for leaks!!
The welded sections of the water trap, which is 31 years old were leaking and Andy managed to plug the leaks temporarily. The anchor winch remote wiring was completely corroded, which was very disappointing as the remote was just over 1 year old! Andy managed to rewire it so it worked and our next visitors will hopefully bring a new one out. Thank goodness for all the tools and spares we carry and Andy’s expertise to fix most things.
At last we could set off for some of the islands. We stopped for one night at Ay Efemia, to take on diesel, show Fiona and Gordon paradise beach and eat at a favourite restaurant. Then we headed up the Ithaka channel and across to Kalamos. It was Saturday so Kalamos harbour was relatively quiet as the flotillas turn around at weekends. George was on hand to take our ropes as usual.


Kalamos harbour on a quiet day

We walked to the windmill beach and had a swim in the fairly rough water and a drink at the small beach Taverna which had not been open in May. Showers and food at George’s Taverna completed the day.
We left Kalamos on the Sunday morning after a leisurely start. Fiona and Gordon went to the shop to get a few provisions. The shop is like the ones you used to find in the Scottish Highlands, with floor to ceiling shelves, stocking everything from a needle to an anchor. There had been a local wedding the day before and the young couple went off in a speedboat with horns blaring and lots of selfies being taken.
We motored out of Kalamos and anchored for lunch and swimming in One Tree Bay (with two trees), just opposite Vliho on Lefkada. It was busy and again there was a beach bar ashore. Luckily the “muzak” was bland and not too intrusive.


Fiona at One Tree Bay

We ended the day anchored in Vliho with Prosecco and a BBQ on the boat in the quiet. No sailing all day though as the wind had deserted us.
Our next port of call was Vathi on Ithaka. It was very overcast with no wind so we motored past the caves on Meganissi’s west coast and then anchored off Arkoudion island, where we had read that the snorkeling was very good. It did not disappoint, with 10-15 species of fish, octopus and black sponges all in beautiful clear water. The sun even came out while we were snorkeling and the afternoon wind meant we could sail to Vathi. As we left the anchorage we saw lots of small flying fish. As usual, the wind blew up to 15 knots on the nose just as we were coming in to Vathi. The small quay was full of Sailing Holidays yachts but luckily our friends Lynn and Keith had kept us a space next to them and Andy managed to squeeze our way in. A lively evening followed, with good food and company at Dimitris Taverna. Fact of the day was that mink are wild all over Ithaka, perhaps not so bad if they keep down rat numbers!!


The motley crew at Dimitris quay in Vathi, Ithaka

The next day we had to get back to Sami for Fiona and Gordon’s flight on the Wednesday. We nosed our way into Ay Andreous but we were beaten in by a large yacht which left no space in the tiny anchorage, so we had to move on. Gordon steered us safely through the shallows at Pigadi but the swell meant we couldn’t stop there for lunch either. Third time lucky and we managed to get into Ay Andreas on the south side of Ithaka. Gordon swam our stern line ashore and we all snorkeled. There were less fish than at the previous snorkeling site but I saw an octopus which I only spotted because it changed colour and there were a few colourful red starfish as well.
We arrived back in Sami just before 5pm. A walk, swim and lovely meal finished the evening.
Fiona and Gordon were leaving at lunchtime for Argostoli airport the next day, so we had a leisurely start and brunch ashore.


Brunch in Sami

Two bags of laundry went to be washed and we felt a bit lonely back to just the two of us.
Today, Andy has fibreglassed the leaking exhaust water trap and it’s now curing on the quayside.


Fibreglassing the water trap

The forecast looks reasonable for the next few days so we will leave tomorrow and hopefully explore a couple of new anchorages before coming back to Kefalonia to pick up Trina and Joe on the 25th September.