We arrived at Simi in Greece yesterday and the small town is absolutely beautiful nestled around a small bay and stone harbour. The pastel coloured houses and small churches cling to the steep sides of the surrounding hills and many of the dwellings are only accessible by foot.
I managed to get on with a few maintenance jobs such as winch maintenance, rigging check and engine service. Re-fuelling was a simple operation since the local garage has a fuel tanker that drives along the quayside and blocks the traffic whilst the driver passes a bowser across and we re-fill. No messing around with moving the boat – great service!
The harbour is also very cheap. We tried the tricky Med-Mooring again yesterday and had two local guys take our lines ashore for us and tie us off. One of them asked for 5 Euros for berthing and we expected that this cheap sum was for one night only. It now appears as though the 5 Euros is the fixed price for a stay here as long as we want to. We are loving Greece already!
The people that we had drinks with during our stay in Datca (Turkey) turned up. Morris sails single handed but has his ex-wife over for a holiday at the moment. She likes the luxuries of life but 40 foot boats do not offer what she expected. Their toilet blocked the day after her arrival and had not been fixed since and so a bucket was the order of the day. Morris spent much time trying to fix the blockage and eventually took all the piping out and purged it by poking a boathook down it. At the same time, there was a long local procession going on that was celebrating Greek independence from Turkey and they marched grim-faced past the stinky operation.
Our time spent in Simi was a great rest from our recent long-hauls and we really enjoyed our time there.
9th May 2009
We had a relaxed departure from Simi at about 08:00 after getting the dinghy on board but after I let go the stern lines, we found that a mooring line on a small dinghy next door had wrapped itself around the Aries rudder and we were stuck. Morris from the boat next door came to the rescue and got aboard the dinghy and freed us.
Our aim is to cross the Aegean sea and get as far as possible towards the Southern tip of Peloponnisos where we will eventually head to Malta. Unfortunately, the forecast of NW-N winds did not materialise and we were headed with a wind direction of 280-290 degrees which was much too bothersome and had us over on our ear blowing F4-5 with choppy sea so we have decided to call it a day having only made it to Knidos in Turkey (36 degrees 41' North, 27 degrees 22.5' East). We shall see what the wind is going to do early tomorrow morning and try again.
10th May 2009
The night at anchor was gusty with the wind blowing through a gap produced by the isthmus between the mainland and the headland. Our anchor alarm went off twice as the wind moved us one way and then the other. On the second occasion, I found that a charter boat was much closer than it previously was and appeared to be getting closer still as it hunted wildly around its chain. The people were in the cockpit but not doing anything constructive and so I thought it best to get our hook up before our chains got tangled and we both ended up on the breakwater. It was a vain attempt because they were too close but our motoring forwards and calling to them seemed to gird them into action and they upped their hook and re-placed it where it stayed put.
We left early bound Westwards. The first hour was a good sail followed by about 2 hours of motoring. The wind picked up again giving us a close haul and we soon had one, then two reefs in the main. With a general plan to be heading to the Southern tip of Peloponnisos, we wanted to go over the top of Nisos Astipalaia but were making hard work of it so we decided to stop there and leave again very early morning. Plans then changed as the wind eased a bit and we motored hard to get over the top of the island and then bore away for some good sailing Westwards again.
If we had time to read the Pilot book, it mentions gusty conditions around the South of Amorgis Island - up to F7/8. We already had 2 reefs in the main when the wind started to pick up and head us again so we rolled more and more of the jib away and pounded away towards the setting sun with spray covering Naz from stem to stern - yuk! Our destination was now Nisos Milos and we managed a heading that took us over the top of Nisos Ios. As quickly as the wind begins, so it stops. Suddenly the winds died and I had not even got around to unfurling all the headsail by the time I had to furl it fully and turn the engine on.
11th May 2009
This morning before sunrise, the breeze came back at a respectible 60 degrees off the nose and we made good progress to our new anchorage. It would have been quite nice to keep going with the current conditions but we tried that yesterday and it all turned to Poo. So, we are happy to stop at Nisos Milos for a rest - Malta is out of the question until the weather settles in that direction so we can afford a short stop.
The anchorage is quite pleasant but the cliffs of the surrounding islands are white/yellow/red and look like a quarry. Oh, there is also a quarry here as well. 36 degrees, 46.5 North, 24 degrees 33.5 East.
Tempers are a bit fraught on Nadezhda at the moment, it seems that what ever we do we get a smack. Yesterday we had force 7 headwinds all day & most of the night. We stopped for a rest at 9:30 this morning and are off again. 12 hours rest then back out to sea. Excuse my French but it I'm bloody fed up with it.
Unfortunately Pete and I have different wish lists. I want to stop at night whilst we can before we have to head off on long passages and Pete wants to carry on doing overnight sails. I really don't like being out at night if I don't have to due to it being bloody cold, dark and loads of shipping. Yesterday was the icing on the cake for me. Anyway I can understand why he wants to keep going. We're both dreading the passage home as it's going to be really hard work, especially if we just keep going. I'm all for doing it the easy way, running over to Tunisia, Algiers & Morocco and Pete is more of the opinion to just make a dead run to Gibraltar. We have to get across the Bay of Biscay before Mid August as gales kick in then. Anyway enough moaning!
Not sure what happens next as the weather is set to go against us for a few days so we can't stop unless we carry on up the Greek Coastline & then run up to Sicily.
So, just to keep the pressure up, we had a few hours sleep and then upped anchor at 8pm for another westwards hop to the bottom of Peloponnissos. There was absolutely no wind and the seas were glassy all night so we motored along until morning brought us between Maleas Pt and Nisos Kithera.
12th May 2009
We are heading for an anchorage on the Peleponnisos Islands and then we'll move again tomorrow slightly further up the coast ready for the jump across to Malta. By going slightly further up it cuts half a day of the passage time to Malta which is only about 3-4 days.
Calm Night and Moonlight
Moonlight Reflected in Calm Morning Sea
It is a busy stretch of water here. This morning I slowed down to let a super tanker go past me as we were both going around the same headland and cutting in close to the shore. Anyway as I watched him go past and around the headland a yacht appeared going in the opposite direction. They hadn't seen each other as the land was in the way. Huge puff of smoke as the supertanker & the yacht were on a collision course. The tanker must have put his engines hard in reverse to miss the yacht. Both Captains must have had brown pants as they nearly hit, they were so close.
From Maleas Point, we had a light breeze close-hauled on the Port Tack that increased enough for us to turn the engine off and pinch up to our desired course. We arrived at Porto Kayio (36 degrees 26'N, 22 degrees 29'E) and we will stop for a day and then move on tomorrow to Methoni (45 miles West) which is about as close as we can get to Malta without actually going there. There we will wait for the weather to settle before we move on.
13th May 2009
This morning was very peaceful and we relaxed reading in bed. We had a restful day yesterday and visited a tiny chapel on the headland nearby. The Greeks seem to have a habit of building churches in the most inaccessible places on headlands or steep sided mountains well away from habitation. I cannot understand why since the building of them must have been exceptionally difficult and visiting them a real chore. Still, I suppose that the road to God must be made difficult or it's not worth it!?
The afternoon was very gusty and a single hander came in late in the afternoon and plonked his hook right in front of us. Since the holding in the anchorage was not the best due to sea grass, we decided to move along a bit and probably put ourselves in a windier spot for the night. Fliss had little sleep as a result.
14th May 2009
This morning, the winds had died and we motored hard against the leftover little waves that have a wavelength too short to ride over and so we ploughed a course to Methoni. We rounded Ak Tainaron which, withstanding Tarifa near Gibraltar, is the Southernmost cape in mainland Europe and, looking up the cape, you can see the snow capped mountains of the Taiyetos which rise to 7500 ft.
The wind came fairly light and we close-hauled our way to our destination with glorious sunshine.
Having motored quite a bit recently, we had quick look around and a walk to the Diesel station. It ended up a long way but a kind hotel owner was going that way and gave us a lift at least one way. We don't exactly need diesel but we are just keeping things topped up.
15th May 2009
This morning, we took a walk into the old ruins of the castle at Methoni. They are quite grand and at one time had a small town within the walls until the French eventually razed the houses and settled the people outside the walls due to sanitary problems. The castle obviously did no good whatsoever since it was built by the Venetians, then occupied by the Turks (Ottomans) 1500-1686 before being retaken by the Venetians again 1686-1715. The Ottomans eventually retook the castle in 1715 before giving up to the French in 1828. So much for fortifications.
We returned to Naz as the wind started increasing from the SE. This had been forecast and we took the breeze up to Pilos (36 degrees 55'N, 21 degrees 41'E) where there is good protection from the SE Gales that are forecast (Methoni is open to the SE). The marina was full when we arrived and so we tied up to the ferry quay where we were being blown off the hard concrete and visited the town. Later, we moved off to anchor where we felt a little safer given the expected increase in wind speed.
16th May 2009
We have been into Pilos town again today. It is quite quaint and packed with locals sitting outside the numerous cafes drinking beer or fancy coffee at xx Euros a throw. I don't know where they find the money considering that they are not working whilst they are lounging around. At 2pm the whole place shuts down until 6pm so the cafes should be even more busy right now. We threw our mouldy veg away hoping for some fresh replacement but will now have to wait until gone bedtime before the shops re-open.
17th May 2009