Engine Hours 319; Total nights at sea – 6 Nights anchored – 92; Nights on a town quay or in a marina – 72
Nights in the boat yard – 9
Number of guests – 21 – Bill, David, Ang, Lizzie, Alice, Ian, Sam, Rory, Bryn, Jill, Louis, (plus the rest of the family for dinner and drinks,) Jane, Alice, Ian, Erin, Josh, Keira, David, Michael, Alice, Ian
We were delighted to be contacted by fellow MdR cruisers who suggested that we sail together back around the Peleponese. The weather window to get round the southern tips was not huge so we had to make a bit of a dash for it. No time to stop in Monemvasia which was disappointing. However, we had a good sail round to FInikas, a return to the port of our nightmare four weeks ago! This time we had an uneventful night and a fabulous sail south to Milos where we met up with Nigel and Lawrence on Cormoran
and were pleased to see Wayne and Barbie on Hope again and have a quick catch up with them before they head for Kos.
Next day, we set of early for a long sail to Ormos Sapienza an amazing anchorage just south of Methoni. In fact, there was NO wind so the engine had a good work out of 14 hours continuous motoring. Next morning, we settled in the bay in Methoni and prepared for the next 48 hours of very strong north westerly winds which were due to pipe up in the afternoon. We enjoyed a walk around the impressive Venetian Fort on the headland. It was certainly a different experience (and a comforting one) to watch the waves crashing onto the shoal waters around the headland from the perspective of land rather than from a boat!
Ian found a huge stone ball and couldn’t resist doing his Altas impression again!
After a bit of provisioning in the lovely resort town of Methoni we set off up to Pilos. We enjoyed a walk around the villas and squares of the town which has a French feel about it. The cemetery and the old castle walls are very impressive. There are some stacks to the west of the mouth of the bay which we once impressive caves – sailing through the gaps between them was an amazing way to leave the shelter of the beautiful bay.
Next stop, Kiparissia where I bought some fabulous vegetable baskets from this lovely lady.
Then to Zakinthos where we picked up are Michael and David who are going to assist with the crossing to Sicily and or Malta. Whilst parked up here Ian was delighted to be able to tick off ‘replace the radio aerial and cable’ from his long list of ‘to do’ jobs!
David and Michael arrived bang on time to nip into town for a quick farewell pitta gyros gastronomic delight – the last for a while – and then we were good to go. We set off at 1030 on Friday morning expecting to arrive in Malta by Monday evening. After rounding the south coast of Zante the wind was strong on the bow and beam the whole night. We surfed through the swell and arrived in Porto Pallo, Sicily after 50 hours at an average speed of 7 knots. Not much sleep was achieved because the swell made it very uncomfortable but it was a fabulous crossing, in record time, without incident and the last few hours were even calm enough for much needed bacon butties!
We do have a slight issue with the autopilot though which has worked so hard during the crossing. Ian will look at that tomorrow.
Still debating a boat name change….any suggestions gratefully received! But can I just mention that, ‘Boaty McBoatface’ has already been registered!!!
We sailed early from Rhinia and arrived in Siros to be hauled out. Since we have a winged keel
which measures 140cm across we need a trailer wide enough to motor onto with a bit of wriggle room.
Stavros from Atlas boat yard has just the right piece of kit and we were hauled out smoothly and professionally.
We trundled across the Lidl carpark and into his boat yard. It is safe to say that Stavros would be world champion caravan manoeuvrer should he be inclined to enter such a competition.
Stamatis and Georgios Gyparis, Volvo Penta engineers in Ermoupolis (father and sons team) quickly appeared and parts were ordered to arrive on Thursday
That gave us five unadulterated days for partial winterising of Linea, removing scruffy lettering and for cleaning her dirty bottom!
We booked into an Air B n B house high on the slopes of the Chora and experienced vertigo from being so far above sea level.
We spent a few very busy days scraping, polishing, sanding, cleaning and dusting. I even fabric-conditioned our lines to make them soft and pliable again – and they smell lovely.
We met Robert Brons in the yard. Robert owns Morning Cloud 4 (a sailing yacht previously owned by Sir Edward Heath who was a world class sailor, as well as being leader of the Tory Party during the 1970s.) Morning Cloud 4 has been stored on the hard in Siros for twenty years. Robert showed me round this amazing vessel: Built for speed and efficiency and able to sleep ten people in various cleverly designed bunks. It has lots of ingenious original features and various improvements, it would be wonderful to see it restored to its former racing glory.
Robert was currently living on his yacht Saquila which he had sailed from Italy. We spent a couple of evenings swapping stories with him and really enjoyed his company. We were so impressed that he still had the enthusiasm and vigour for sailing at his age – 78 years young. He cycled around town, sorted out his yacht and shinnied up and down the high ladder to Morning Cloud with the nimbleness of someone a lot younger. He is often on the look-out for crew to help him sail his new yacht, so if any of our sailor friends might be interested please get in touch for more information.
One of the best things about being somewhere for a few days is that you really get to explore and find out more about the place. During our stay Siros was hosting the All Greek volleyball championships and an international animated film exhibition and competition held in the beautiful Apollon Theatre that is modeled on La Scala.
We discovered a free shuttle bus that ran all day between the town centre and the sports centre, going right past the boat yards and Lidl – perfect! And we explored the two hills of Siros; one topped by an enormous Greek Orthodox church and one topped with a huge Catholic church. We wandered around the Choras and marvelled at the breath-taking scenes around every corner; the colours, the quaint doorways and the twisted bougainvillea blossoms like an umbrella of fluttering, bright butterflies.
We really enjoyed finding new routes to walk to and fro the boat yard and every day we were rewarded by some new and interesting sight. I particularly loved the completely intact old (but functioning) pharmacy on the main street, which still has all the original mahogany cabinets, shelving, canisters, jars and enamel labels from when it first opened in 1837. (The first pharmacy in Greece.)
We also enjoyed the Industrial Museum which houses an interesting collection of items that reflect Siros’ manufacturing, glass-making, lace-making, printing and shipping past.
After strong winds had passed it was time to be put back into the water. We said thanks and farewell to Stavros, and the Gyparis family who have done such a great job on our sail drive, stainless steel and helm repairs.
Stamatis joined us for the ride across the bay to check that all was well with the engine and the gears. It was all good. We were making 7.5k across the bay because of our gleaming hull, so that made Ian very happy. We parked on the town quay again and were, once again, warmly greeted by the lovely Thanasis.
The day after Josh and Erin left us the wind was finally at more acceptable levels so we sailed off back to Rhinia, our favourite of the islands round here. We had a good sail round to the west side and anchored in a beautiful cove – Ormos Miso.
We had a lovely couple of days here exploring the island and dodging flying shot gun bullets, as the farmers were constantly out hunting birds.
We managed another impressive beach clean-up here: Collecting something like 200lts of plastic debris. The most unusual finds were, curtain hooks, tile spacers, an intact huge electric light bulb.
Most prolific finds; plastic straws, glow bands, balloons, plastic bottle lids, fisherman’s twine and netting.
Good job done; we sailed across to Syros in yet more fruity winds and parked on the quay with the help of Thannasis, the lovely, stylish, colour-coordinated and helpful harbourmaster.
Further exploration inland revealed a beautiful town, marbled paved square and streets, Venetian style Neo-Classical buildings, bulging wrought iron balconies, tall shuttered windows and a charming elegance we have not seen elsewhere. The bay is huge. At its heart is the newly bankrupt shipyard and dry docks. Once providing employment for 2500 people it has just stopped operating some 5 months ago.
In the south part of the bay is a newish mariner which is not properly managed or maintained since it seems no one can agree who should have the contract. So, it is left un-cared for and defunct before it has even been completed. Boat owners use it regardless…for free but it is a shambles.
Ian carried out his daily engine check and discovered that seawater was getting into the saildrive: Another potentially costly repair.
We organised for an engineer, Stamatis and his son Georgios, to check it and he confirmed what we suspected. We would have to be hauled out for the repairs to the saildrive. We agreed to come back in on Friday morning after having dropped Keira in Mykonos.
We had a lovely few days in Ermoupolis, and had the added bonus of meeting up with a Clipper chum of Ian’s called Mike Stephenson who was out on a charter yacht with his wife Amanda and friends. We had a pleasant evening with them and waved them off in the morning.
We headed back to our favourite place on Rhinia, shocked to see a HUGE rock across the entrance to the cove that we had not spotted on our first stay. We took a bearing on the GPS so that we could add it to our chart.
We enjoyed sunbathing, swimming, back gammoning, eating and watching a couple of films. (A fish called Wanda – helping to complete Keira’s film education) and then, all too soon, it was time to head back to Mykonos to say goodbye to Keira as she heads back to the UK after her year abroad.
We finally waved goodbye to harbourmaster father and son team Nikos and Makos in Naxos. They wryly commented that we should have asked for the monthly mooring fee. We returned to Paros. We anchored in the south west part of the bay of Naoussa and enjoyed a fine afternoon swimming and snorkeling. Erin spotted a beautiful starfish for us all to admire.
After a super calm night, we headed north in great winds to Finikas. Arriving with a flurry of charter yachts, we were hoodwinked into thinking that the quay would be a good place to be overnight, despite forecasts of strong southerly winds in the night. Foolish error!
We were awoken from fitful sleep by the grating noise of the spreaders and stays clashing with those of the neighbouring boat. We managed to pull forward so that the rocking would be safer and went back to bed. Ten minutes later, Erin shouted out, ‘Boat!’ in a tone of great alarm. She had popped her head out of the forward hatch and to her amazement saw a charter yacht pinned across our bow at 0400h in the morning, in the dark!
We all dashed on deck to fend off this yacht. Another departing yacht had tripped its anchor and so they were forced to leave in some haste. On motoring out, they wrapped a rope round the propeller so they had no power. Left to the devices of the strengthening wind, they were blown along the bows of the boats on the quay, stopping at us because they fouled their keel on our anchor chain.
After hours of fending, our anchor finally gave up and their keel was free. They continued to bounce along every single bow along the quay finally stopping about 2 metres from some rocks. Ian helped them to get their anchor down and then they waited for the coastguard to arrive to tow them to safety.
In the meantime, we were all busy on Linea. First, we pulled the anchor as tight as it would go. Then, we kept the engine on in case we need to motor forwards at all. We tried to limit the damage as much as possible whilst this boat was pressing us back against the quay. Tthe swell was lifting us higher than the quay and it is a miracle that the rudder didn’t get damaged. Josh was doing sterling fending off with the popped fender.
Ian eventually came back to the boat and we decided that since it was almost dawn and we were not happy with our anchor we would leave. The boat on our starboard side had to leave first since their anchor chain was lying right over ours. We motored to the anchorage on the other side of the bay.
After a few hours nap we were beginning to see the humorous side of the story. We still couldn’t quite believe all that had happened during the night. We were mightily relieved not to have incurred more damage. The boat next to us had not been nearly so lucky; having its stern constantly smashed into the quay.
We moved on to the practically deserted island west of Mykonos and had a wonderful night in a perfect cove with Delos in the distance. A beautiful place to calm the nerves.
On Wednesday we set off to Mykonos, as Josh and Erin had bought fantastically cheap flights back to Manchester from there. (£38 each) We anchored in the bay south of town and sat out the evening’s strong winds.
There was time for some last minute hair braiding and back gammon championships.
Next day, we caught a bus to explore the lanes, whitewashed churches and bijoux shops in town. We walked round to meet up with Stephen and Gilly for a swift beer and to catch up on their island-hopping adventures.
It was a pleasant wander round Little Venice, past the windmills and up and down the steps on the hill. The town was thronged with doddering cruise ship passengers.
During the very wet journey back to the boat to collect bags, we saw yet another inflatable toy somersaulting across the bay. We managed to catch it and the girls were very happy with their swan (Susan). All too soon, it was time to bid a fond farewell to Erin and Josh. They headed to the airport and we went back for another windy night in Ormos Ornos.
During the last few days, we have switched the engine on and off a total of eight times and all seems to be well. We are gradually gaining more confidence that the fuel is clean and the pipes are clear. Phew!