June 01, 2012
The flotilla company that I go sailing with (sailingholidays.com) have moved one of their fleets round to the village of Orei on the Greek island of Evia, and will be using this as its base for a series of 14 day cruises around the local area and out around the islands of the Northern Sporades.
Gary and I will be going out on the first of these cruises, and as this is an area of Greece that I have never visited it is going to be a case of careful studying of the charts and the pilot book before we venture out into the unknown.
As I have had several requests for information from others going on the later trips this blog will give a bit more detail than I normally put in my trip blogs.
The first day was taken up with a flight from London to Athens and a FIVE hour transfer by coach and ferry up to Orei ( it should have been four hours but due to a problem at the airport we missed one ferry and had to wait an hour for the next one!)
June 01, 2012
It was dark almost as soon as we arrived in Orei.
Our boat for the next two weeks will be “Himalia” a Benetteau 331.
Stow the luggage and then go to the village for a meal.
The moon is bright tonight, and nearly full, something you need to consider in Orei and the surrounding area as the spring tidal range here is 2 feet 9 inches or about 80 centimetres.
Ok, that is nothing compared with the Channel Islands or the Bristol Channel, but we are in the Mediterranean where most people thing that tides can be ignored.
Do that in this area and you may get a nasty surprise!
June 02, 2012
I wake up early and go for a wander around Orei before getting stuck into the preparations for the voyage.
The harbour-side is a pedestrian precinct full of tavernas , and the bakery is right by the end of the quay,
About 150 metres along the harbour-side road you will find Orei’s famous Minoan Bull, which was discovered in an ancient shipwreck.
It now sits in a large glass case in a small park.
I go through the park to the next parallel street and turn left and then right and I find the supermarket. (Note the position as I will need to come back later for supplies!)
Back to the harbour and the sun is now up and I can take a photo of the flotilla all nicely lined up.
3 323’s Roupsia, Vouvousa and Trygona
3 331’s Aristi, Ida (which Gary and I had two years ago) and Himalia
3 361’s Isis, Katsiki and Nerita
1 Bavaria 44, Harmonia
and of course the Maxi 95 Lead Boat, Kirki
Right now to check the inventory..
Dinghy in the cockpit locker, check, but is it all there and does it inflate, pull it out and blow it up on the quay. Yes it inflates and has a seat but one of the seat support straps is ripped so the seat is unusable, great if you do have to row it!
Use a spare bit of line that I brought with me to make up a replacement seat support and that seems to work. Ok well that isnt going back in the locker until the end of the trip!
A) It is too difficult to get in and out
B) When it is in the locker it is on top of the life raft and if we need that we might need it in a hurry!
My two pet conflict items with Sailing Holidays are dinghies that are incomplete or dont stay inflated and Navigation Lights that don’t work (Himalia’s do I checked them last night!)
I am sorry but safety items come quiet high in my expectations, and although they can say “you won’t need them” well:
A) They have charged me £75 for an optional outboard, and I need to have a working dinghy to use that,
B) I have twice had to take one of their boats to sea at night after the weather has gone foul when the entire flotilla was anchored up for a “party night”.
Over to one of the taverna’s for the first briefing of this flotilla.
Marcus, the lead skipper, is busy with his lap-top checking for weather forecasts on the internet.
OK so our destination for tonight is Agia Kiriaki, a litttle fishing village on the Trikeri Peninsular.
Pilotage is fairly easy, you can see it from the end of the quay, just remember to leave the island with the lighthouse on it to port, the channel on the other side is fraught with rocks.
Wind is going to be BF 4 /5 from the NE, so it will be a close reach or a beat.
Right now to make the final preparations for sea…
Up to the supermarket and get some provisions in, we know what we can get here but don’t know what the shops will be like for the next few days.
Even the hostie can’t tell us as we will be mainly going to locations where they haven’t been to yet.
The supermarket owner wants our trade, and offers to take the shopping down to the quay for us in his van. Well there are 11 boats provisioning so it will be worth his while, and it is easier to let him do it than carry 12 bottles of water for each boat back ourselves.
Provisions stowed, hand-held GPS updated with the destination, stand-by hand-held plugged into the boat power socket…
Warm up the engine Gary and we will be ready to pull out.
June 02, 2012
We set off with a stiff NNE breeze blowing so it will be a case of securing the furling lines so that the sails come out reefed when we set them.
First things first though, time to get the dinghy lashed on the transom before we leave the harbour.
Ok try to estimate how much furling line to leave in order to fly with two reefs, and always do it to the safe side, i.e. better to secure the furlers too tight than to slack, if they fly with three reefs in we can let one out.
The wind is up enough for us to have put our lifejackets on and ensure that we have safety tethers available in the cockpit if we decide we need them.
(A short note on life jackets: Sailing Holidays are required by the Greek authorities to provide bulky foam life jackets (rather than gas operated ones) and also provide safety harneses and tethers. Ok but you can’t wear both at the same time and the life jackets are not that comfortable to wear.
I always take my own gas operated jackets with built in safety harnesses but use the company’s tethers. If you want to do this check with the airline before you pack them as every airline seems to have different rules about it. British Airways (as used for this trip) want to be informed in advance and you have to get Sailing Holidays to tell them as they made the booking.
OK I know that you are expecting “t-shirt sailing” as described in the brochure but would you go out in high winds in the UK without wearing a life jacket? Personally I don’t sail in the UK without a life-jacket on, but in the Med I only tend to wear one when I think that the conditions make it advisable and move about the boat with a bit more caution when I don’t have it on).
Out of the harbour, fenders and lines stowed and now let’s get sailing!
Fly the genoa for the first time, keeping a bit of tension on the furling line to stop any problems on the drum, and then winch it in.
Fly the main and pull the outhaul fairly tight, but remember that this is a loose footed main, so it doesn’t need to be bar taught.
We are off on another voyage of discovery!
It is a bit of a beat to get clear of Orei bay and then we can lay the lighthouse on Nisos Argironisos on a long starboard tack.
Ahead of us we can see the village of Trikeri perched on its hill and beneath it the little port of Agia Kiriaki.
Kirki has gone into the harbour and tied up and is now ready for the fleet to arrive.
The first boats are obviously arriving as the VHF is spluttering with boats anouncing they are outside the harbour and asking Kirki how they need to prepare for mooring.
Tonight it seems that the quay is suitable for a stern-to mooring (i.e. the water is deep enough close in not to risk damaging the rudders, and the quay is low enough to make it suitable to deploy the boarding planks off the stern of the boats.)
(Last year Sailing Holidays started putting “passerelles” (or hinged planks) on the sterns of some of the boats but our fleet doesn’t have them. And in fact Vouvousa, which had one last year when she was in the Saronic, has had it removed. Was there a problem with them or was it just that they hadn’t had time to fit them to the rest of this fleet?)
OK we know it is probably going to be a “stern-to” but when we arrive we call up Kirki anyway both to confirm this and also to log our position in the queue.
For a stern-to we will have to release the dinghy from its position on the transom and tow it alongside but we will wait until we see where they are putting us before we do that as we will want it out of the way of any boat that we are coming alongside. Once we are moored up we will move it to the other-side to get it out of the way of the next arrival.
June 02, 2012
Agia Kiriaki is basically a small fishing village, and probably evolved as the harbour for the larger village of Trikeri which perches on the hill behind it.
It is very much a one road village, and that road is very narrow!
At either end of the village there are fairly large car-parks for visitors to leave their vehicles and walk in, but the locals do still bring their vehicles into the village.
Painted walls, red roofs and flowers make it a quite nice little place.
It has several tavernas and cafes, mostly on the quay, and a couple of small mini-markets.
At the western end of the village there is a shipyard, or really a boat-building and repair yard which besides working on the local fishing boats does seem to provide hard-standing for some yachts.
Just off the shipyard, and quite near to the road is a sunken wreck that looks like a small coaster or a fishing boat.
The crews from Kirki and Harmonia went snorkelling in and around it.
June 03, 2012
I am an early riser and by 06:30 I was wandering west on the road out of Agia Kiriaki.
The road went inland by the shipyard and then looped back up to the headland. It then followed the coast for a bit before turning inland and zig-zaging up the hill to Trikeri.
At first the sun was still behind the hill but as the time progressed sunshine started to light-up the olive groves.
The dawn chorus was in full swing and clouds of little butterflies or moths were swarming around the olive trees.
After about 3/4 of an hour I reached Trikeri, where a roadsign indicated that I had come 5 Km from Agia Kiriaki.
On the way up I had met and later been passed by several taxi’s and when I got to Trikeri I found out what they were being used for. The fishermen were using them to transport their boxes of fish up to the village where they then sold the fish on the steps near the church.
I saw a lovely little scene there, as a old lady, wearing her black widow’s clothes, bought some fish and then turned to go up into the villiage to the bakery. The fisherman went after her, took the bag of fish off of her and hung them on a neighbouring telegraph pole. You didn’t need to hear what was said, it was obviously “Just leave them here and you can pick them up on the way back”.
I followed her into the village square and then up to the bakery where I bought some bread and a cold drink.
I then started back down the hill to Agia Kiriaki, carrying my bag with three loaves in it.
A few minutes after I got back to the harbour a small white van came and stopped by the quay and sounded its horn.
OK so now we know that the baker comes down to the port in the morning, but I had had a chance to stretch my legs and listen to the dawn chorus.
June 03, 2012
Today’s destination is Amaliapolis which is further into the Gulf of Volos.
The weather forecast is bit of a let down after yesterday’s great sail over, as it looks like it will be very light all day.
Himalia was one of the last boats in the fleet to leave harbour again and headed up the coast towards Nisos Palio Trikeri to take a look at that port.
It appears that Palio Trikeri relies on water shipped from the mainland as there was a large barge that looked like a water tanker moored off the harbour (and providing most of its shelter from the south-west).
We didn’t moor-up but did a close “fly-by”.
The quay looks very short but must have some good depth as there was a large motor cruiser moored stern-to and several speedboats also moored outside of the taverna..
East of the village we saw some families swimming from a beach that had an overhanging tree that was providing a shaded area.
Towards the east end of the island we found a small bay with about six or seven yachts anchored in it, they may have been permanent moorings or just visitors, after all it was a Sunday afternoon.
We then rounded the end of the island and laid off a course towards the island north of Amailiapolis.
The wind improved and at last we were able to actually sail!
On arrival at Amaliapolis we found Kirki moored up to a small jetty about 1/2 km south west of the village harbour, and calling for the boats to come in bows-to.
The jetty had enough depth at the seaward end but was too shallow further in.
The main harbour was full up with a trip boat and a lot of fishing boats.
June 03, 2012
The lead crew had come into Amalipolis the week before, towards the end of their delivery trip bringing the fleet round from Corfu and had obviously given the taverna owner a sailing holiday’s flag as he was holding it out for us to see.
There were several old cannons on the quayside, I wonder what old fortification they originally came from?
One odd feature of the taverna was that they have a pen of tortoises. These are obviously happy there as they are apparently breeding successfully. They were supposed to have had another little arrival this year but I didn’t manage to see it. For some reason the tortoises have been painted to show their sex, pink for the females and blue for the males (do tortoises know our normal relationship between colours and the sexes)
Amaliapolis is quite a large place with a supermarket near to the quay and a bakery slightly further in shore.
June 04, 2012
Amaliapolis has a little village museum which they opened up specially so that we could have a look around. It is basically a local house furnished with old locally produced textiles etc.
The village is built along the side of a hill and can be quite steep in places.
While wandering around we came across a van selling garden plants that was having trouble with the various power and telephone wires that were strung across the streets.
June 04, 2012
We left Amaliapolis with a good breeze once we had got clear of the island and then it went into a pattern of wind shifts and almost died out.
As we got closer to the mouth of the Gukf of Volos we could see boats ahead of us that obviously had wind, and lots of it, but which tack were they on?
Oops they have wind coming from exactly the opposite direction to us and there is a really dark line on the water ahead.
We quickly put a reef in on both sails and then, wham, our northerly Bf1 turned into a SW 4…
OK so now the rest of the trip up to Pigadhi became a good beat, but at least we were sailing instead of plodding along on the motor.
When you come into the inlet that leads up to Pigadhi and Ahilo the number of bays and headlands can make it a bit tricky to work out which bay is which and more particularly which one is Pigadhi.
Pigadhi doesn’t really have a harbour as such it has a quay and a concrete pier that juts out perpendicular to it.
This also means that it doesn’t really have a lot of shelter, except from the surrounding hils, and any southerly swell comes rolling straight in.
By the time we arrived Kirki was already in and offering everyone a choice of mooring techniques, “Bows-to on a fairly low quay, Side to on the pier”, or we have one spot side to in the NE corner"…
Well except for Harmonia that is they put her in stern to on the end of the pier, extending it by 44ft.
Gary’s hip means that he isn’t great at getting on and off boats at the best of times and bows-to on a low quay must be his worst scenario so looking at the conditions I selected to take up the offer of the NE corner.
The spot that Marcus had found was right next to slipway that protruded under the surface so the easiest way to get Himalia in was to come in astern from quite a way out, slaloming between the various mooring buoys that were scattered in that part of the bay.
Doing this also ensured that our bows were pointing out, towards any swell that did come in.
Nearly everybody else seemed to have gone for side-to on the pier, even to the extent that some of them were rafted two out.
A couple of boats coming in after us elected for a bows-to and later regreted it a bit. The quay was very low but the depth made stern-to impossible. This meant that when they were moored up their boarding planks were very steep (one crew requested a lift ashore in the lead boat rib, rather than attempt the plank!)
In addition to this, the swell was coming right in and the boats were doing a bit of a bucking bronco act.
Yep I was pleased that I had gone into the corner!
Pigadhi has several tavernas, but the local shop was closed due to a breavement (June 2012).
Marcus has called for an evening briefing, so I suspect that he wants to do a longer passage tomorrow.