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august 2007

01/08/07  After obtaining the spare parts needed to repair Gina's burst water pipe, all three boats set sail along the east coast of Levkas with the intention of anchoring at Pera Pigadhi on Odysseus's island home of Ithaca.  However, after passing the late Aristotle Onassis's private parkland island of Skorpios to port, the wind got up whilst crossing  to Ithaca and we had a somewhat exhilarating sail in a Force 6.  On arrival at the anchorage, we decided that it was too windy to risk dropping anchors and continued further south to the bottom end of the island - which brought an increase in wind speed and sea conditions and we again had to abort attempts to anchor in the small bay at Ayios Andreas, opting to run with the wind, which was now up to 36 knots, and continue south to the island of Cephalonia (Nisos Kefallinia), which meant a night time entry into the anchorage at Kato Katelios on the southeast tip.  Around midnight, some two hours after anchoring there, both Gina's and Roger's boats touched rocks as they swung to anchor, and both had to move to other spots.

02/08/07   At around 3.30pm, Slip Anchor sailed into the bay and anchored nearby.  That makes two French boats, one Italian and we four British.  Karen's brother Simon and his friend Bev had joined Slip Anchor for a holiday and we all went ashore to a local taverna for a meal in the evening.

03/08/07   We all weighed anchor around 4pm and motored round the headland into a better bay, anchoring off the beach at Lourdhata an hour later so that the kids could paddle canoes ashore and generally have fun, whilst we had a few drinks onboard Rob and Karen's boat before they left to go further around the island.

05/08/07   Battery problems prevented me from sailing this morning and a forecast of high winds stopped the other two boats from leaving also.  Winds increased throughout the day and peaked around 5pm with a Force 8 from the northwest and despite lots of anchor chain noises, all three of us rode out the gale without incident apart from Roger's dinghy breaking free and drifting towards the rocks - he and I soon retrieved it in my dinghy.

06/08/07   Said my temporary farewells to Roger, Astrid and Gina (see you in Turkey!) and weighed anchor at 0730 sailing across to Zakynthos and berthing bows to on the town quay at 1230.   Later in the day, Slip Anchor turned up and moored a few boats along from me.

07/08/07  All goodbyes again today....Simon and Bev flew home to England and after a meal ashore with Rob, Karen, Amy and Ben, I said my goodbyes to them as they sailed off back to Levkas overnight.

08/08/07   Let go my bow lines and retrieved the kedge anchor at 0930 and sailed out of Zakynthos, exchanging the Northern Ionian for the Southern, crossing  to mainland Greece and the port of Katacolon, arriving there just after lunchtime.  I didn't like the looks of the marina - very haphazard, laid moorings but with boats alongside behind the moorings - and despite the smallness of the village, it had a cruise liner jetty, on which was an enormous cruise liner!! I had visions of everything being very expensive in the few tavernas, so hoisted sail and headed further south toward Pilos, sailing the whole way at 6 knots on just the genoa sail.

09/08/07   Happy Birthday M'leia!  The marina at Pilos is small and totally unlit, and after arriving there around 0030 and straining my eyes to find a berth in the pitch dark, I gave up and motored across to the northern end of Ormos Navarinou where I dropped anchor in 10 metres of water.   Later in daylight, the bay looked totally different and I tried to imagine the great naval battle that took place here in 1827 which effectively gave Greece it's freedom when Admiral Codrington, vastly outnumbered, took on and defeated the Turko-Egyptian fleet whilst at anchor.

Photo's - North Ionian

10/08/07  Weighed anchor at 0530 and motored the 5 miles across the bay and out to sea, setting a course south for the two capes of the southern Peloponnisos, regarded as mini Cape Horns and giving the island of Nisos Skhiza as wide a berth as possible, as it is used by the Greek airforce as a bombing target.  Later, around 4pm, I passed Cape Grosso and the caves which the ancients believed to be the gateway to Hades, then rounded Akra Tainaron to head across the gulf of Lakonikos Kolpos to the southern most cape of Akra Maleas.  This would be the most southern point of Europe if it were not for the cape at Tarifa (Gibraltar).   Leaving the Ionian Sea at Akra Maleas around 2200 and in  total darkness,  was like joining the shipping equivalent of the M25!  All the ships which either choose, or are not allowed through the Corinth Canal, take this route from Athens.......and a sudden squall of 35 knot winds broached the boat and sent her into the direct path of a container ship!  I could only hang on as the port toe rail went under water and the boat accelerated to over 12 knots as we passed in front of the other ship.   It got worse an hour later when another squall caused an unexpected gybe which tangled the mainsheet and I was then unable to sheet in the main, nor was I able to drop the sail.  After an hour of fighting the wind and sea, I managed to turn the boat's head into wind, crawl up on deck to the mast and let go the main halyard before inching back to the cockpit and  grabbing handfuls of leech to drag the sail down.  The topping lift had become entangled with a bracket at the top of the mast too, so I was unable to use that either.  I then unfurled a little of the  genoa and sailed north east at 8 knots towards Nisos Milos in the Southern Cyclades, in gusts of 35 knots plus.  The whole episode of this Cape had been far more frightening than the storm in Biscay last November.    Welcome to the Aegean Sea!

11/08/07  Arrived in Nisos Milos at 1330, entering the huge bay which is the crater of an ancient volcano and motoring the 4 miles or so to berth at Adhamas.  This island is reputed to be the home of the Venus de Milo, more properly the Aphrodite of Milos, probably one of the best known pieces of ancient Greek sculpture.  I had a couple of hours sleep, then went in search of the diesel man who came in his mini-tanker to fuel the boat.  Late afternoon brought a whole fleet of yachts looking for a berth - they were unlucky, the small jetty was full, there was no room at the inn!

12/08/07  Sailed at 1000 and made the 54 mile passage to the town of Paroikia on Nisos Paros, arriving there just after 1900 and going bows to on the outer wall, alongside Colin and Trish on Moody Time - last seen in Gouvia.  As normal, we had a few beers and a meal ashore!  In September 2000, the rocks just outside the bay claimed the ferry Samina Express in what was Greece's worst maritime disaster for 35 years and some eighty passengers and crew lost their lives.

13/08/07   Forecasts of strong meltemi winds for the next few days, so I decided to remain here in port for a while before moving on towards Kos and Turkey.  With the help of Colin and Trish, I moved Rhumb Do into a vacant spot on the inside of the harbour wall, giving me more protection from the impending winds.  

14/08/07   A second vacant spot on the inside wall......so we moved Moody Time into the harbour also - but not without incident!  It was like something from a 'Carry On' film ........by accident I dropped the end of Colin's shore power lead into the harbour which tripped out the electricity on the jetty.  We dried out the socket and reconnected, but it was smoking and sizzling so we switched off again.  Colin then tried to undo the socket but it's screws were rusted and whilst trying to force the socket apart......as if in slow motion .......the screwdriver blade slipped and went through his hand.   While he retired onboard, I decided to just fit a new socket which I had on Rhumb Do, so I cut off the old one and stripped the insulation back - but unknown to me.....someone had switched on the power again!  Well, if my hair wasn't already short and standing up, it would be now!!   No real harm done though, it could have been serious but was instead very funny and we all laughed about it while waiting in the hospital for Colin to get a tetanus injection.

15/08/07   Nisos Paros is the source of the best white marble in the world, and the Venus de Milo, the Hermes of Praxiteles and most of the masterpieces of ancient Greece were carved from the marble of this island.  Paroikia is the port and capital  and is typically Cycladic with it's cubes of whitewashed houses splashed with the natural colours of wisteria, geranium and bougainvillea.   The old quarter is an intriguing place full of narrow winding alleys and archways, stone houses and shops with wooden balconies and I spent the afternoon wandering around this charming town.  It possesses the finest church in the Aegean - a large 4th century Byzantine church with a tiled roof - Our Lady Ekatontapyliani (or Katapoliani) whose feast day is today, the 15th August and pilgrims from all over converge on the town.  A small Greek warship is alongside the ferry terminal and has supplied a band which was marching along the seafront, the men in full whites - though it has to be said, they are nowhere near as smart as the Royal Navy!  During the evening there was Greek dancing, the couples in traditional dress, on a specially erected stage on the waterfront and the fishing fleet came close inshore burning off all the old flares before a surprisingly good firework display ended the official celebrations.

17/08/07   Pandemonium in this little harbour today!  It's the end of the chartering week and one of the largest charter companies, Kiriacoulis, allows bareboat charters to collect their holiday yachts from one of five islands and drop them off at any of the others.   On this occasion, according to the agent, it seems they all elected to drop them at Paros and we saw an influx of 32 charter boats this evening.....all rafting up bow to stern, five deep across the harbour.  Fortunately, and perhaps because of my stern being so narrow and cluttered with gear, no-one rafted to me, but Moody Time is hemmed in against the wall.  

19/08/07  Slipped at 1030 in company with Moody Time and made our way through the shallow channel between Nisos Paros and Nisos Andiparos before setting course for the southern tip of Nisos Naxos where we arrived at 1730, entering the bay of Ormos Kalandou.  We were expecting to anchor here for the night but were surprised by the presence of a small harbour, still under construction, which we took advantage of by rafting up alongside each other on the inner wall.  This is a totally deserted part of the island and nightfall brought just the moon, the stars and the light from a solitary house on the hillside.

20/08/07   Motored out of the harbour at 0700 to make a short passage to Nisos Amorgos, anchoring in Ormos Kalotaritissa on the southern tip of the island at 1130.  For the film buffs the island is known as the setting for Luc Besson's film Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue) but in the past, the islanders had a reputation as wreckers and pirates! After lunch, we went around the headland in the dinghy to see the wreck of the tramp steamer Olympia which was featured in the film.

Cyclades  Photo's

21/08/07  Weighed anchor at 0715 and motored out into a calm, wind free sea, leaving the Cyclades and setting course for Nisos Astipalaia in the Dodecanese.  During the short 30 mile passage, the wind didn't get above 8 knots and we arrived in Vathi, a landlocked inlet on the northeast tip of the island where we anchored in about 4 mtrs at 1420.  Although we were expecting the anchorage to be crowded, it  was in fact deserted and it wasn't until an hour later that a third boat Sea Fox anchored close by.   Ashore, there were only a few farmhouses and small holdings, the inevitable little white church and a taverna come cafe.   In the taverna we met Phil and Wendy from Sea Fox and had a pleasant evening with a meal and a few beers, discussing the forecast of strong meltemi winds for tomorrow and all agreeing to leave early in a bid to get into the leeward shelter of Kos before the winds start in the afternoon.

22/08/07  All ready to leave just after 5am and waiting for the first hint of daylight.  Weighed anchor at 0545, all three boats setting course for the southern tip of Kos, making reasonable progress in a northerly force 3/4 and arriving off Kos at noon - before the meltemi.  However, on the 'sheltered' side of the island, the meltemi comes down the mountainside and blasts across the open water to Turkey and we then spent the next four hours being hit by gusts of up to 35 knots, Rhumb Do making 7 knots with two reefs in the mainsail and more than half  the genoa furled away.  We arrived outside Kos Marina just after 5pm but had to circle for some time until a berth was found - and that's only available until Friday 24th, which presents me with a slight problem as I'm meeting a friend from home here on the 29th.

23/08/07  Today was the touristy bit......a ride up to the ruins of the Temple of Asklepios before an enjoyable evening meal in a Mexican restaurant.   Wayne and Angie onboard Hitrapia are here in Kos marina and I went to find them, but they were not onboard which is a pity - having followed their website (on my links page), I should have liked to meet them.  Maybe I'll catch them somewhere else?

Dodecanese Photo's     

24/08/07  Because of overbooking in the marina coupled with the charter boat change over period, we are unable to remain in Kos over the weekend so we sailed at 1000 heading for Gumbet in Turkey, with the intention of returning on the 29th.  Dropped anchor just after 1300 off the beach at Gumbet and suffered in the heat - today has been so hot, it's almost unbearable.   The wind is coming across the anchorage at around 20 knots but there is no cooling effect, it's like standing in front of an open blast furnace door.   The decks are too hot to stand or walk on and it's a problem of how to keep cool.   Below deck is probably the coolest place with the wind blowing through the forward hatch.  Evening brought no respite and even at midnight, the wind was still as hot as it had been all day and it was warm work  rowing the dinghy back from Moody Time.  There was one amusing incident today....a small rubber dinghy like my own came chugging past, steered by a local at the outboard engine.  Nothing unusual about that except in this dinghy was strapped a 1000cc motorbike with the rider sitting astride it!!  They 'drove' the dinghy onto the beach, deflated it and rode the bike away!

25/08/07  The anchor held well throughout the windy night but started to drag at 0700.   I reset it some distance astern of Moody Time but because of an F8 forecast we decided to weigh anchor and take shelter in Bodrum marina.  We moved around the headland but because no berths were available in the marina we anchored in the lee of St Peter's Castle to wait.  After five hours, and during which time I again had to reset the anchor, we were told that no berths would be available today.  With the wind now at F7 (and not wanting to remain within  fifty yards of the all night disco), we again weighed anchor and sailed westward to Bitez, dropping anchor at the head of the bay about 300 yards off the beach.  This meltemi has been blowing now since leaving Vathi and we either ride it out at anchor or get a battering each time we stick the bows out to sea!!

26/08/07  Because of the heat, I slept in the cockpit and the wind finally eased during the early hours giving me a relatively peaceful night - that was until the town's minaret chanting started up at 0530!  Now I know it's Sunday and that Friday is their religious day.....but why do they start so early?  We had a trip ashore and had some breakfast, a stroll around the town and a couple of pints whilst we watched the Istanbul Grand Prix.  On return to the boats, the wind had increased to over 25 knots again and a boat behind was dragging his anchor with an inexperienced lone crew member  onboard.  Colin and I donned our international rescue uniforms and shot over in the dinghy to pass a line ashore and get the boats skipper back onboard so that he could motor away from danger and reset his anchor.

27/08/07  The meltemi continues to blow, increasing in force as normal in the afternoon.  At 7pm, Colin's anchor dragged and he was forced to move about a half mile across the bay to reset it in shallower water.  I'm hoping that I will not have to move until early on the 29th when I will sail back to Kos marina, but each noise from the bow roller has me on edge!

28/08/07  My outboard engine is giving me a few problems as it will not run at slow speed, cutting out each and every time the throttle is closed.  Checking the fuel, cleaning the jets and resetting the fuel mixture and the spark plug has made no difference.  It was last used in Cephalonia and was fine then....I'm beginning to think I need a new one!  Said goodbye for now to Colin and Trish, as they weighed anchor and sailed for Marmaris at 1pm.  The meltemi blows on but it seems to be decreasing as forecasted, which should give me a good short sail to Kos tomorrow.

29/08/07  Not a good nights sleep, a disco across the bay went on until 3am (they normally close at midnight here), then a football match started under floodlights at 3.30am!!  Weighed anchor at 0800 leaving the bay in a WSW force 4 and made a quick passage under genoa to Kos, berthing bows to in the marina at 0915.  My alternator is mounted on rubber bushes - and they are coming apart!  I have done a temporary repair until I can get the part number and have them sent out from UK, hope it lasts until then.  Spent the remainder of the day clearing out some of the accumulated junk - most carried from Gillingham and never used or needed - and making space for Angie to stay onboard for the next week.

30/08/07  Angie arrived by taxi from the airport at 0500 - good to see her again!  The marina allowed me another day's stay and after Angie had a short sleep, we wandered around Kos town, both old and new parts, and had a look at the plane tree under which Hippocrates, born in Kos and the father of medicine, is reputed to have taught.   (Of course, the other well known product of Kos is a type of lettuce!)   We also swam off the nearest beach, (if you could call it that), and generally relaxed throughout the day, Angie gradually switching from work to holiday mode.

31/08/07   Slipped the mooring at 1000 after stocking up from the supermarket and made our way eastward into Gokova Korfezi, heading for Kormen, a small port I had visited during a previous holiday in 2002.  We dropped the kedge anchor and moored bows to the wall at the restaurant in the port at 1440.  Not much has changed here except for the introduction of a small ferry service to Bodrum.  You don't get any nearer to a restaurant than this.....it's a case of step ashore and sit down! The owner made us very welcome and we had an excellent sea bass, hooked the boat up to his electricity and water and placed our order for fresh bread in the morning.

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