From the Argolic to the Saronic, Sept 2010

N 37° 34' E 22° 47'

Navplion

September 20, 2010

After a four hour flight from London and a two hour coach journey I arrived in Navplion in the dark.

For this trip I am going on another of Sailing Holidays “Share a Yacht” flotilla trips, still usually refered to by us older folks as “Pot Luck”, i.e. I don’t know who I am sailing with until I get to the boat…

We were all on the coach together, and I have picked out two possible “singles” but it is only when we get off that my suspicions are confirmed and I meet up with Steve, Phil and Gillie.

Our home for the next two weeks is a Beneteau 361 called Kerkyra.

It is fairly late so it is a case of introducing ourselves, a quick allocation of cabins, and a cup of tea before venturing back ashore in search of a late evening meal.

Navplion is dominated by its Venetian citadel which is floodlit and there is also a smaller fort sitting in the harbour entrance which is also lit-up.

Many of the restuarants and bars along the waterfront are still open but we venture a few streets inland to avoid the “waterfront prices”.

A little “taverna in the street” provides us with a fairly basic meal and then its back to the boat for to sit chatting in the cockpit whilst taking in the atmosphere of Napvlion.

Oops that earlier cup of tea used up the little milk tubs from the “welcome pack” but luckily there is a convience store which is still open right opposite the boat where we can obtain such essential supplies.

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N 37° 34' E 22° 47'

Preparing to get underway

September 21, 2010

I am up early and slip off the boat to explore Naplvion.

The citadel dominates the town and I make my way towards it and then start the climb up the winding stairway stopping every so often to take in the view (and catch my breath!)

I meet a few joggers who seem to use this as their morning run, but I take it at my own pace.

There are a couple of small birds flitting around checking in the crevices between the stones. Getting a photo of them is tricky but eventually one sits on the top of a wall long enough for me to capture a decent shot.

It looks like a nuthatch to me, but I wouldn’t have expected them in a stoney habitat.

Back to the boat to collect the rest of the crew and then over to the local bar where the flotilla skipper is to give us his first briefing.

Our destination today is Astrous, about 10 miles to the SSE.

We head for the local supermarket and start selecting provisions. There seem to be a lot of spaces on the shelves as the local transport situation has been made difficult by a strike of the drivers of fuel tankers which has in turn made it difficult for delivery trucks.

There seems to be a shortage of beer but we manage to find enough for a day or so…

Gillie manages to locate a bottle of Gin but then has to go off again in search of a shop with any tonic water. Sucess! So we are stored ready for sea. 

 

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N 37° 24' E 22° 46'

Astrous

September 21, 2010

We slip out of Navplion past the harbour fort and set sail for Astrous with a gentle NW breeze.

Our flotilla lead boat, Kalamas, comes steaming past us, as we continue under sail.

We make our landfall on the western coast of the Argolic Gulf and the castle above Astrous shows that we have arrived in the correct place.

The harbour is fairly full, with two large yachts moored side-on taking up a lot of space and we will have to go right on the end of the quay, it could be a bumpy night!

The flotilla crews are meeting for a punch party tonight in the amphitheatre near the shore end of the quay and then going into the village for a meal.

After the meal we notice that a small motor cruiser has left the harbour and there is now a more sheltered space on the quay, so on with the navigation lights and we move Kerkyra round.

 

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N 37° 24' E 22° 46'

Red Sky in the morning, Astrous

September 22, 2010

I am up early again and find the eastern sky is just beginning to show light.

The sun slowly rises over the Argolic Gulf and I can explore the village making my way up to the castle.

On the way back to the boat I take another look at the amphitheatre and discover an old anti-aircraft gun that which still has its training and altitude gear and wheels in place and working. I reckon the local kids must have fun with that!

At the end of the quay is a statue of a mermaid in what is obviously supposed to be a fountain, but the amount of litter in the dry bowl shows that it can’t have been operational for a while.

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N 37° 32' E 22° 55'

Vivardi Bay

September 22, 2010

Today’s destination is the almost completely landlocked anchorage of Vivardi Bay, which is 10 miles NE of Astrous.

There is no quay at Vivardi so will be anchoring off tonight.

Gillie and Steve are off exploring when our neighbouring boat wants to leave and their skipper is worried about whether we dropped our anchor over theirs in our late night re-mooring manoeuvre last night.

No problem! Phil and I pull Kerkyra out and come back side-to at the end of the quay where the large German yacht has already pulled out from.

When our explorers eventually return we all go back into the village on search of some food for tonight as we will probably need to eat aboard.

It is nearly lunch time when we eventually manage to get away but there is a fairly strong breeze blowing so it looks like being a good day for sailing.

As we leave the shelter of the headland it is obviously a little strong to have full sail up and we will need to reef but before we do I allow Kerkyra to feel the full power of the wind and heel right over…

I then put her into a heave to and ask the crew “Now will you go and find the safety harnesses and life-jackets that no-one could be bothered with yesterday?” (On a Pot Luck boat there is no official skipper so I couldn’t pull rank before we sailed!)

With everbody now fitted with a harness and a jacket, in case we need them, we take in a reef and can continue our voyage.

I get some questions about how I had stopped the boat so it is time to explain how to heave to and let crew practice it a few times and we decide to have lunch while we are stopped.

Back on course and we are sailing well until we close the eastern shore of the gulf when the wind starts to go very variable and then comes in with about a southerly Bf3.

We can then sail in through the entrance to Vivardi Bay, and see a fantastic rock formation on the shore that we nicknamed “Elephant Rock” (see photos).

Suddenly it gets even more strange, as we hear the sound of music reverberating around the bay. It sounds just like the bit in the sound-track of that old movie the “The Vikings” when the long-ships are returning to base…

On the shore we see two people blowing into long brass horns that must have been about  3 metres long..

Up to the head of the bay and pick an anchorage spot and we now to decide whether we row ashore for a meal or just cook something on-board.

Staying aboard wins so we eat in the cockpit and then sit chatting over a bottle of wine or two until eventually Phil gives in and retires and then eventually Gillie quietly drops off to sleep where she is.  Time to wake the crew and go below! 

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N 37° 14' E 22° 52'

Tyrou

September 23, 2010

Can’t just slip ashore for a walk this morning, I would have to take the dinghy, so I have a lie in, and then take a few photos of the bay.

After a leisurely breakfast we haul in the anchor and head off to go through between the islands before setting our course for Tyrou.

It is a slightly longer trip today, about 16 miles SSE, once we clear the islands.

That is easier said than done as the wind seems to be very variable in the channels between them and it takes us about three tacks to clear the fish farm on the end of one island and get out into the Gulf.

Then we decide to stop for lunch and as always the wind dies whilst we are doing so.

On with the engine as we have still got a couple of hours motoring to get to the destination, perhaps the wind will pick up later.

It does pick up a bit and we can turn of the engine and sail on peacefully.

The landmark for Tyrou is three ruined windmills on a headland (shades of Kioni on Ithica?) and eventually we make them out ahead.

As usual we are the last boat in and have to squeeze in between a couple of fishing boats, almost right in the corner of the harbour. Squeeze is the word we will be moving one of them as we come in and the other one is actually side to in the corner of the harbour…

I get an attack of caution on the approach and keep coming in too slow and losing steerage as the prop walk takes her off to the right, but eventually I manage to keep the speed up and in we go.

We are having an evening briefing today, I think Pete wants us out fairly early in the morning, so it could be a long run tomorrow…

 

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N 37° 08' E 22° 53'

Plaka/Leonido

September 24, 2010

Well it turned out that today’s trip is in fact going to be a very short one, just down the coast to the harbour of Plaka, which actually serves the village of Leonido.

We were having some trouble with the instruments yesterday so I stay with the boat and get the engineer over to check the electrics out whilst Phil and Gillie go off in search of the bakery.

It finally gets tracked down to the fact that the battery voltage is low, not enough running of the engine probably.

We pull out and cruise down to the next village of Sampatiki (where there is a new harbour) for lunch, but decide to anchor in the bay outside for a swim and lunch instead of actually using the quay.

One of the other flotilla boats came in and anchored close by and then gave us a demonstration of bare-bottom boating, i.e. naturist swimming….

We then continued on down to Plaka which for once proved a little more difficult to locate from seaward. After a few discussions about its location from among the crew we finally located it by matching a blue building on the shore with one that appeared in the photos in the company’s brochure.

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N 37° 17' E 23° 05'

Nisos Petrokarovo

September 25, 2010

The lead crew are taking a day off today and heading into Porto Kheli to get some supplies for a “Party Night” that they are planning for a few days time.

The flotilla crews have been  given a choice of possible destinations for tonight and the plan is to all meet up tomorrow night in Ermioni.

Some of the possible destinations would take us a long way from Ermioni so Kerkyra plans on going to the island of Spetses, with a possible diversionary port of Porto Kheli should it prove difficult to find a mooring space in Spetses.

The first leg of the trip takes us to the island of Nisos Petrokarovo which looks a bit like a pile of rocks with a light on the top.

Going outside of this will allow us to avoid the reefs at the NW end of Spetses.

Unfortunately it is a day for motoring or motor sailing on this leg.

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N 37° 16' E 23° 09'

Beating down to Spetses

September 25, 2010

We round the lighthouse on Nisos Petrokarovo and we get some wind at last funnelling up the channel between Spetses and the mainland.

Steve is on the helm and Gillie is lying down with her normal two cushions

As we pass the entrance to Porto Kheli the wind starts to build and we are tacking into a strengthening breeze.

The cushions go below, and Gillie takes over on the helm…

One reef in both the genoa and the main and we are still heeling enough for Phil to get out his lifejacket, but Gillie is having fun.

A second reef in the genoa? No we are off Baltiza creek and it is easier to furl the sails and motor into the creek to look for a mooring space.

 

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N 37° 15' E 23° 09'

Baltiza Creek, Spetses

September 25, 2010

Moorings on Spetses for visiting yachts are not that plentiful.

The pilotage guide shows a few possible locations in Baltiza Creek, but many will require anchoring with a long line ashore.

We motor up the creek looking at yachts anchored with lines ashore, but then spot a possible mooring point on a little stone quay on the port side, but we continue up towards the far end of the creek.

Here the little fishing caiques are moored about three deep so it doesn’t look  favourable for a 361, so we turn around and head back to go stern to on the little quay.

A local fisherman helps us in by taking our stern lines and we are safely moored up. A quick call on the VHF and I manage to contact the lead boat over in Porto Kheli to report our save arrival.

Taking a run ashore to look around I find plenty of signs of the boatbuilding for which Spetses is famous.

I also find that we are tied up near to a park with several modern art metal sculptures.

Up on the hill is a little chapel which is decorated with ribbons, it looks like there is  going to be a wedding this evening.

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