From the Argolic to the Saronic, Sept 2010

N 37° 31' E 23° 25'

Time for a swim

September 29, 2010

As we passed through the channel bwteen the western end of Poros and the mainland I altered course into a little bay on the starboard side and anchored to let the crew slip in for a swim.

I stopped here last year and had to leave as the ferry wash made our anchor drag, but this year there were no other boats in the finger that I went into so I was able to get further in and not even the Nefeli could bother us.

Even so I stayed aboard whilst the others went swimming, just in case!

 

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N 37° 34' E 23° 23'

Broad Reach to Methana

September 29, 2010

When we pulled out of the bay there was a nice SW breeze coming through the channel and we were able to sail for the first time in two days so we took advantage of it.

We were not the only ones as there were two yachts beating up towards us.

One was a fairly conventional cruiser but the other was a mini super-yacht. The Paula Rosa (Sail Number CAY 8001) is actually only 80ft long, but looked a lot larger on the water. ( A bit of searching revealed that she apparently sold for about 3 to 3.5million euros in 2009!)

At Methana the flotilla moored up on the town quay, rather than the yacht harbour.

Methana gets a bit of a derogatory write up in the pilot book but actually in my mind was far better than the book implied.

It is a typical Greek small town with a fairly fancy waterfront, but inland it is a local town rather than a tourist attraction.

It gave me the impression of being more a town that expected Greek holidaymakers rather than foreigners, although its health spas might be an attraction for those that want to use their services.

There are a lot of tavernas along the waterfront but without the inflated prices that we had encountered elsewhere. A beer that would cost 5 euros in Spetses was only half that price in the taverna here!

During  a little reconnaissance early in the evening I had found a taverna which was up a side street from the waterfront which looked like it would supply typical Greek dishes. When we actually went there later it turned out that they also had some tables down on the waterfront and were quite happy to carry meals down to them.

I went for a Veal Casserole that was lovely, the meat had been slow cooked to the point where you didn’t need a knife to cut it.

I wont attempt to translate the name into English, take a look at the photo of their advertising board if you are going to Methana and want a good meal!

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N 37° 34' E 23° 23'

Early Morning in methana

September 30, 2010

It proved to be a very windy night in Methana harbour as the wind did a 180 on us and suddenly started shrieking down from the hills and through the town. I suspect that Methana is subject to Katiabatic winds!

By morning it was calm again and I was up just after sunrise again and out to explore Methana, as I had never been to the peninsular before.

It was another lovely sunny morning and for once I wasn’t the only one up.

As the quay is effectively at the northern end of the town I started off along the coast road heading north towards the tree covered headland that I had seen the previous evening.

The Saronic area seems to have a specific form of pine tree with very light green needles and these were certainly apparent along the roadside.

Around the headland I came to a place where the road appeared to have been blasted through a rock outcrop but on closer examination it appears sections of the hills of the Methana peninsular are not solid rock but a mixture of boulders and soil.

In several places erosion damage was obvious and in others cracks in the hillside made it clear that in heavy rain rock and mud slides must be a real risk.

A mile or so down the coast road it ended at some form of holiday complex (I must have missed the turning that took the main road up and over that headland!) where a gentleman was preparing for the coming winter by repainting the lamp-posts using a roller on a long pole.

Heading back to the town I passed on of the spas and found that they had apparently cut a square sea bathing pool, slightly larger than a bath, into the rock. (It was occupied at the time, presumably by one of their clients, so no photo available…).

Back in the town the fishing boats were coming in and each was greeted by a group of people wanting to see what they had caught and buy some fish if the price was right.

As usual the local cats were at the head of the queue, always hoping that as the fishermen clear their nets then some scrap will come flying thier way.

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N 37° 34' E 23° 23'

Morning in Methana

September 30, 2010

Some bad news this morning. One of the flotilla boats decided to go it alone last night and went in Perdika on the SW tip of Aeigina. They then reported in over the radio yesterday evening that they couldn’t get onto the quay but were lying to two anchors in the harbour.

It appears that last night’s winds were not just restricted to Methana and that Perdika harbour got so bumpy that they decided to leave the boat and check into a hotel for the night.

On returning to the boat in the morning they found that it had been broken into thier money and credit cards had been taken. Unfortunatly they also had two of their passports in the bag that had been stolen. The lead crew need to go off rapidly to meet up with them in Perdika and help with the offical reports etc.

On Kerkyra we are short of a few supplies and need some frozen water for the fridge. Ok I can hear the questions coming from those un-initiated to warm weather cruising! “Frozen water? Isn’t that just ice?” etc…

On Kerkyra, and most small cruising yachts, the refrigerator would flatten the battery if running continuously and hence we only switch it on when the engine is running. In fact our engine start procedure is “Engine Battery ON”, “Engine ON”, “Fridge ON”, and our engine stop procedure is "Engine OFF’, “Engine Battery OFF”, “Fridge OFF”.

Now on a yacht where the crew will sail if at all possible the time between these two procedures is kept to a minimum and the fridge needs help!

Many of the local shop-keepers have cottoned on to this and will put two litre bottles of bottled water into their freezers and you can buy this instead of the liquid variety. Two bottles in the bottom of the fridge will cool it down nicely and when it eventually melts you can open the bottle and drink it. Simples!

Ok so we get the frozen water and Steve slips off back to the boat with it to set it to work.

Gillie and I decide to explore the southern end of the town a bit and head off around the peninsular by the yacht harbour. This is quite a picturesque spot with an ornately decorated church on it. (see my Ionian to Aegean blog for more photos)

The big fancy white building with a read roof on the southern side of the yacht harbour is “The Royal Spa” (if you fancy a treatment with the sulphur mud that Methana is renowned for!)

Gillie then decides that she needs to buy and send some postcards! Ok so we have just come from one tourist trap (Poros) we are about to go to another (Aegina) and she is off looking for postcards in what is basically a typical Greek rural town….

Wandering along the quay on my own I come across a little old lady that I had noticed fairly regularly since we came in yesterday. When we tied up she was fishing if the quay with a handline whirling it around over her head to cast it.

When we left to go to the taverna she was still at it with occaisonal forays to a culvert with a pole to knock off more sea urchins for bait. This morning by the time I got back from my early stroll she was back at it again.

Is she doing this for fun? I don’t think so. In fact I am sure I saw her dressing in one of the clumps of trees along the shore this morning, she may have been for an early swim, but I think this is an old lady that is having a hard time, possibly Methana’s equivalent of a “bag lady”. (I hope she isn’t, and if she isn’t I hope she wouln’t be offended by my mistake)

Now what can I do to help without causing offence. She isn’t begging for help, and probably wouldn’t ever think to do so, but I think she needs it. Ok time to play the stupid tourist and I ask if I can pay her to model for a photo. A lovely smile from an old dear, and Martin is off back to the boat with a photo of a smile and ten euros lighter. (More about that ten euros in two days time!)

Back to the boat and we are ready to leave but where is Gillie? “I had a really hard time finding anyone that sold postcards…” (What did I say to myself earlier about buying postcards in a rural town..)

Eventually we get going, last boat to leave again, and just to prove Rod Heikell’s pilot book wrong again the anchor comes up without any sign of the “black mud in the harbour” that he reckons that with the smell is one of the things that people remember of Methana.

Well I didn’t notice any smell, we didn’t find any mud, and I will remember Methana for an old lady’s smile, and will certainly come back if in the Saronic again.

 

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N 37° 45' E 23° 34'

Methena to Aegina, the hard way

September 30, 2010

There is a good beeze as we leave the harbour and the sails are out straight away. “Engine off…” Good job we got that frozen water.

Our destination for today is the town of Aeigina, capital of the island of the same name and by the direct route only about eight miles away.

Many of the fleet are thinking of anchoring for a swim in a bay on Moni Island which is just opposite the village of Perdika on the southern end of Aeigina, and then continuing up the west coast of Aeigina.

Kerkyra is flying under full sail and overtaking some of those “diesel heads” who are actually motoring towards Moni. I often think that the crews who have their own boats at home are often the one who can’t see the point of getting sails out. Those of us who don’t have our own boats come in these holidays to SAIL!

We have decided to head for Aigina the hard way by sailing around two sides of the triangle that is Nisos Aeigina.

We are blasting along, hovering around 7 knots on the GPS but there may be a problem… The mainsail didn’t totally deploy when we set it this morning. It has jammed with a few turns still on the in-mast furler and now won’t furl either..  Ok so we effictively have one reef in both but sooner or later that sail will have to go away! We lay her on the starboard tack to get the boom and mast gap in line and Martin goes forward and tries to manipulate the main a bit by hand. A sudden “boom” and she is now fully out. So will she furl again now?

No problem so we are back to one reef in both and heading NE at speed.

There is what the chart calls an exposed rock, Vrsis Petrokaravo, between Methana and Aeigina. Exposed rock? I’ve seen smaller islands! Unfortunately it is bang on our course so we edge up a bit to miss it (Closest point of approach was 0.3 miles according to Mr Garmin)

Past the rock and on past the southern tip of Aigina and into some swirly wind and wind-shadows that take the speed off.

We are happily going along on a port tack reach but keep meeting boats which are of course on starboard tack and which all seem to want to cross our track as they are heading for the southern tip of Aeigina. Instructions to the crew of “alter to starboard” and “aim for her stern” require a bit of explanation to some of the more inexperienced.

In particular I remember a big red boat flying the red ensign and with a skipperwho could be Santa Claus on vacation, judging by the long white beard!

Eventually the mid-afternoon lull comes in and we are getting very fickle winds. Ak Tourlos, the NE corner of Aeigina seems to only be getting larger very slowly..

Wind shifts of ninety degrees seem to be the current situation and is it worth tacking when we are headed or not, will we lose all speed doing so. We struggle on trying to put off that awful admission of defeat, starting the engine.

To quote Gary, my normal crew member when I am not on pot luck, “High speed screws approaching from port, skipper”. (Gary is very much into submarine warfare games!) We have a very large Sunseeker or something of that type coming up the eastern coast of Aeigina at about 30 knots, on course for Athens, and we are in her way! 

“Hold your course, we are stand on vessel…” The crew are watching this cloud of spray with a white blob in its centre getting bigger and bigger… Then it is obvious that the helmsman has hit the +5 button on the auto helm as she alters course just enough to clear us, before its -5 and back in course. 

The guy who would have been most surprised by that manoeuvre would be the crewman who was steering her tender that she was towing!

 

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N 37° 46' E 23° 24'

Along the north coast of Aeigina

September 30, 2010

We are around the corner at last and it becomes apparent the what I thought was a lighthouse off the end of the point is actually a rock stack and the light is a little white structure on the headland.

There is now a large blue yacht closing with us under engine, and we recognise her as the one we saw on the way the Methana, (this is how I managed to find her name for the earlier post as my super zoom lets me read her name!)

Anyway it is getting late and we are eight miles or so from our destination so it is time to bite the bullet, fire up the engine and plod along the north coast of Aeigina.

Another vessel closing fast from the port side, but this one looks like a Coastguard cutter. I hadn’t thought of it before but when you are with the flotilla the lead crew keep all the papers for the yachts with them as they sort out any mooring fees etc. If you want to go off alone you first have to collect your papers from them. Ok so what if the Hellenic Coastguard decide to board you during the day and want to see the yacht’s papers?

Hum, I suppose it would be a case of getting on the mobile phone to the lead crew and getting them to talk it through with them.

I’ve never been stopped or boarded in Greece but I have had it happen twice in Britain!

 

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N 37° 44' E 23° 25'

Into Aegina

September 30, 2010

As we approach the NW tip of Aegina we get wind again but it is really too late to enjoy it and after a brief session under sail it is time to put them away and get ready for entering harbour.

Fenders over, VHF traffic to the other yachts as they arrived seems to suggest it will be stern to so stern lines rigged on each quarter and we are ready to report into Kalamas for directions.

Hold on there is one of our boats heading into the harbour with their mainsail still out. Have they had a furlling jam? They are on the radio, reporting that they are entering the harbour, only to be told “Well perhaps you might like to go out again and put you main away…” Oops!

We seem to have arrived at the same time as a lot of the fleet today, so perhaps a lot of them stayed late at Moni. There is one berthing and another hovering in the harbour entrance so we stay outside keeping clear of the main channel into the harbour.

Oops, traffic approaching , so it is time for a quick radio call to the hoverer as I can see the Flying Dolphin coming and he can’t. I have been here before and know where that Dolphin will be going and he is hovering right by her berth!

(in Aegina the large ferries have a seperate quay outside the harbour but the Dolphins and the small ferry from Angistri berth inside the harbour).

Ok those two are in so it is our turn to report in. “Kerkyra it is getting a bit tight in here, I think you had better get ready to go bows to in between the bows of Olympia and Kastri.” Ok untie the stern lines, repdploy them on the bow, close the forward anchor hatch, ready on the kedge anchor and we are going in.

Time for a quick wander around the town before the sunset and then into the backstreets in search of a taverna for the night.

We finally end up in one behind the fish market, sharing a table in the street with a young lady from Berlin. Phil is ready to practice his German with her (he did a couple of years working in Heidleburg).

As the evening draws to a close there is talk of going to a dancing bar but Martin is going to call it a night and head back to the boat.

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N 37° 45' E 23° 32'

Temple of Aphaia

October 01, 2010

Up in the morning and the burning question is how many for breakfast? Is Phil aboard? Is Phil alone in the forepeak?  Oh well we can all dream, as yes is the answer to both questions.

Over to the quay for the briefing. Kalamas is heading over to the nearby island of Angistri. If anyone wants to visit the Temple of Aphaia you can get a local bus from over there, get your tickets at the booth before boarding….

Ok well Phil is definitely interested and if one of us is going them we won’t be leaving harbour until he is back, so we might as well all go…

The bus costs 1.70 euros each way, but you must buy both the tickets at the office as they apparently don’t sell tickets on the buses here. The bus is actually going to Ayia Marina which is just past the temple, so if we get off there, it then goes down into the village and then comes back about 30 minutes later.

Miss it on the return trip and it will be about two hours until the next one…

The private boat next to Olympia is pulling out so we pull Kerkyra out and bring her back in stern to, then Olympia and Kastri can move off whenever they want to.

It looks like there are a lot of the group going up to the temple as we recognise a lot of people when we climb aboard the semi-vintage bus and then off we go.

We cross most of the width of the island and are dropped off at the temple. There has been a place of worship here since about 1300BC but the current temple dates from about 500 BC.

It doesn’t look too bad for about 2500 years but it might look a lot better if many the sculptures etc that were found at the site hadn’t been “saved” in an excavation by Baron von Hallerstein in 1811 and shipped to a museum in Munich!

We are still wandering around the ruins when I see the bus coming up the hill from Ayia Marina there is no way it has been 30 minutes, though so it appears that bus had been running late on the trip up…

No one is waiting for the bus so it goes straight by, and we have another couple of hours to look around the ruins.

Opposite the gate is a snack bar and gift shop but it is closed. We ask the lady in the temple ticket office about it and she says it will open soon…

True enough a car soon pulls up and a couple of ladies start to open the shop.  I suspect that the lady in the ticket office may have tipped them off that here were twenty or so tourists who were going to be around for another two hours!

The snack bar’s seats and tables are all made from stone slabs and of course someone made the obvious joke about them being “recycled from the temple”…

Supplies seem to be limited to beer, coffee and pistachio ice cream but they are all welcome.  

Eventually a bus comes, but it is of course going towards Ayia Marina so we have another 30 minutes or so before it comes back, and we can all climb aboard.

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N 37° 44' E 23° 25'

Back to Aegina

October 01, 2010

This bus is a lot newer than the first one, more like a tourist coach, and a lot more comfortable.

It wends its way back down the valley to Aegina.

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N 37° 42' E 23° 20'

Across to Agistri

October 01, 2010

We have time to have another stroll around Aegina before we set off on the four mile passage across to Agistri.

We are drifting along under the genoa when a Bavaria 36 sails past us…

Ok mainsail out and we try to catch it!

We arrive at the harbour of Megalochori on Agistri and go in stern to.

As the sun goes down the last Flying Dolphin of the day comes in.

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