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ADDITIONS TO THE BLOG as of April 2017: Shamal and her Crew being Mum and Dad are in the Cayman Islands * Should you want to contact us, you can do so by clicking on the Contact Us tab below. * PLEASE subscribe to the Blog, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox.



13 July 2012

Greece - The Ionia Sea


Hello From A Hot And Sunny Mediterranean


Our last letter finished off with us sailing out from Crete with an ‘interesting’ sea running and rather blustery conditions.  I have to admit our crew from Dubai ,Judith and Graeme, were a little nervous as we motored on out of Khania Harbour with a bit of a swell still coming in, but nothing like the day before when there were 2-3mt seas breaking across the entrance making for some wild surf.   We followed another yacht out, and in turn another yacht followed us.  Once out we put the sails up we pointed for our first Island in the Southern Ionian Group, Kithera, some 65nm away.  Judith and Graeme were great and settled in to the roll of the 2-3mt seas with winds gusting 25-28kts.  The swell was very sharp and short and just after midday Alec noticed we had blown the starboard trampoline – bugger!!  That is the second time that has happened.  The first being on our way into McKay in Australia.  Once we arrived at our anchorage that evening, Judith helped me lace it up again.  It is not a major as only the edging vinyl tore and not the trampoline.  It will hold out till we find somewhere to get it fixed again.  But on the up side of this trip was that Graeme caught a beautiful fat long fin albacore tuna. His third so far, and our fifth tuna for the season.  So there are still good fish in the Med.



By 7.30pm we had dropped anchor in the harbour at Dhiakofti, the main port for the Island of Kithera.  The waters were beautifully clean and clear. On our way in we passed the wreck of the cargo ship ‘Nordland’ which looks like the skipper had tried to drive her up on to the top of an islet.  See photo.  We took our tuna ashore to a local taverna and swapped it for our sun downers.  Next morning we motored on out in no wind but a current in our favour for once and crossed the northern end of Kithera and headed on up the western side of the Peloponnese. Our anchorage for that night was Porto Kayio on the eastern side of the Mani Peninsula. The bay was once used by pirates among others, but today is a sleepy little fishing hamlet.  It was very pretty and made for a great bay to take the kayak out in.  It was in here we found another boat called – Shamal – a British couple with a Moody 42.5.  So of course we had to make ourselves known and swap stories. We all ended up having dinner ashore at a small taverna.


Next stop was Methoni.  Here we anchored in the sheltered bay for a couple of nights and went ashore to explore the wonderful Venetian fort with its Turkish tower on the extremity of the peninsula.  The vast fortifications are surrounded by sea on three sides with a moat separating it from the mainland. It is one of the best intact moats we have seen, but no water in it.  This fort was the first and longest held possession by the Venetians in the Peloponnese.  It was also a stopover for pilgrims on route to the holy land.  It was here that the tale of Don Quixote related his experiences as a Turkish prisoner.  So after leaving Methoni we turned the corner and headed up the West coast for only 6nm and into the harbour of Navarino and to the town of Pilos – Pylos.


Navarino (Navarinon) is the Bay where in 1827 the British, French and Russian Fleets fired at point blank range at the Turkish, Egyptian and Tunisian fleet sinking 53 ships and killing 6000 men. Pilos was built by the French after the battle and has a lovely big square on the water front with big shade trees and elegant buildings arranged around it.  It was here we said farewell to Judith and Graeme.  They had been great crew members and we had lots of fun times.  They were also interested in visiting the old forts and towns which made for interesting and funny discussions as one surmised how the people lived in days gone by.


Alec and I then took SHAMAL on up the coast to Kiparissia where we sailed into the harbour to find our next guests Simon and Kay waving to us from the quay.  They had just finished trekking in the Zagaria Region walking the Vikos Gorge for eight days.  They had to travel south to meet up with us as we were moving quite slowly, and being delayed in Malta for three weeks had put us behind time.  No matter they were going to see new places as we moved north.


Next stop was Katakolon.  Help, we had heard this was a cruise ship stop so people could be bussed in to see Ancient Olympia, but, when we were told that the following morning it would be a good idea if we got an early start ahead of the crowd of nine thousand people who were coming in on three cruise liners, we wondered if we had made the right decision to stop here and see the place ourselves.  Well we have come, so decided to rent a car and make an early start.  Ancient Olympia opened at 8.00am and was a 30k drive away.  We decided we would be among the fist in. We were off the boat and on our way just after 7.15am.  Our early start paid off and we managed to visit before the nine thousand all arrived thank goodness!!  Ancient Olympia was a complex of temples, priests dwellings and public buildings, as well as the venue of the Olympic Games.  First games were held in 776BC and the last held here in 394 AD.   By 426 AD the Roman Emperor Theodosius 2nd decreed that the place be destroyed as part of a purge of pagan  festivals.  The modern day Olympic Games were reintroduced in 1896 and the Olympic flame is lit at this ancient site and carried by runners to the city where the games are held.  The ruins lay under 6mts of alluvial mud until their rediscovery in 1875. It is now a World Heritage site.  The ivory and gold 12mt high statue of Zeus, one of the Seven wonders of the Ancient World was housed here.  It was removed and taken to Constantinople but later destroyed in a fire in 475BC.  It had a very interesting museum with lots of ‘goodies’ they had found during the excavations.  Alec sums up the place as another pile of ancient rocks, and thought the place would make a very ‘historic’ goat farm!!  


In the afternoon we were back on board SHAMAL, had a late lunch then later a swim dodging some huge jelly fish.  Later, in the early evening we watched the cruise ships depart with the last one tooting goodbye to the tug with it tooting back, then the cruise ship tooting again , the tug responding, then the cruise ship, then Alec with his little horn!!  Our Australian neighbours on ‘Billabong’ came over and ended up staying for a pot luck dinner which was fun.  Lovely couple.


A short run the following day of 23nm took us up to the Island of Zakinthos.  It is now getting quite warm.  We are having temperatures in the late 30’s.  We Med moored in the harbour at the town quay and were able to walk around the end of the break water just meters from our boat to swim in the clean open sea.  It was just beautiful.  We returned to SHAMAL for a fresh water shower on the back deck and to wash down the boat, when Alec started talking to the Pom “Mr Underpants” on the boat next door ( that is what we called him as he was running about his boat in a brief pair of stripped undies)  telling him it was our FRIST WASH in over two weeks!!!!  Well we fell about the deck laughing, he just looked on.


Next stop was Poros on the next Island up, Cephalonia – Kefallinia.  Another very pretty village which is still quite low-key and not high on the tourist list which gives it more appeal. Again crystal clean waters which makes for wonderful swimming. 


Our next anchorage was still on the Island of Cephalonia on the eastern side of the Island just north of the town of Sami in a bay we nicked-named ‘Goat Bay’.  We could hear bells tinkering in the low scrub long before we saw them.  An interesting arrival here as there was another boat Med moored in the bay who made it quite clear they did not want anyone else in ‘their bay’.  Thank goodness they don’t hold the rights to be able to do that. So in we backed  in to Med moor but not too close to them.  Alec decided we could sit closer to the beach and be out of their way. Well, then the abuse came at us.  Kay responded thinking they were being nice and saying thank you, Alec being deaf and not wearing his wonderful new hearing aids, did not hear that he was called a Mother F….r!!!!  I had swam ashore with the 5 KG kedge anchor but on the way in dropped it and Simon had to dive in to retrieve it.  Simon and I were then fasting our mooring line to the one and only large rock on the beach when the abuse was directed at us, and we were told in no uncertain terms that Piracy started with the likes of us – not sure what grounds that was based on.  Once we had settled in and were all sitting on the floor of the back deck to dry off,  the gentleman then took his tender ashore to untie his lines to leave, and stated that the final straw was we were now looking into the cockpit of his boat and started to rant off again.  Once Mr Grumpy left we had the bay to ourselves apart from four small hire boats which arrived late afternoon for a swim then left again. We never discovered where Mr Grumpy came from.  He was flying the Greek courtesy flag but not his country flag, but he was European.



Next morning we upped anchor and sailed around the top of Cephalonia and down the west coast to Myrtos, reputed as one of the most beautiful beaches in Greece.  Well it definitely is pretty.  The water is very turquoise but quite milky due to the makeup of the limestone cliffs. The beach is white pebbles. We anchored off and had lunch and a swim before moving on to Assos.  Now this must be the most picturesque village we have seen in Greece.  It is built on the neck of a peninsula with another large Venetian fort out on the peninsula.  We walked to the fort early the following morning before it got too hot.  Interestingly we had been reading how much these northern Ionian Islands had suffered from an earthquake which struck in 1953.  Assos was one such village that had been badly damaged, but had been sensitively restored with the help of a donation from the city of Paris.  It has been beautiful kept with freshly painted buildings and lots of hanging flowering plants now in full bloom in every street.  I have never seen oleanders grow so prolifically before.


Next stop was off the Island of Levkas in a bay on the small Island of Meganisi.  Here we looked out at the twin Islands of Skorpios and Skorpidhi, owned by the Onassis family.  The following morning we motored on up through the Levkas Canal and waited for the bridge to open before passing through and making our way towards Preveza on northern mainland Greece.  Here we tied to the town quay.  We spent a couple of nights in Preveza, and then it was on to Andipaxoi Island where we anchored in another pretty bay.  We were next to the headland where seagulls were nesting. We swam ashore and explored the beautiful waters around the boat.  In the morning we stopped at the larger Island of Paxoi and went ashore for a morning coffee and a bit of an explore. These two Islands sit around 25mn south of Corfu.


Wednesday 11th July


Well here we are anchored off the Island of Corfu.  Our last stop in Greek waters.  We have now been here for six nights.  We anchored off the old town for the first night, going ashore to visit yet another Byzantine fortress which later the Venetians made large extensions to.  It has a moat to cut it off from the mainland and this one still has water in it and is used by the local fishermen.  We wandered through the narrow lanes of the old city which are fill of tourist shops, but the place is still very quaint.  We sat and drank coffee in the shade of lovely old trees beside Greece’s only cricket ground, a legacy of the British.  We them moved a little north and are anchored in a lovely bay out from the marina at Gouvia.  We spent one night in the marina while we had our trampoline mended and Alec tried to get the water maker looked at.  We rented a car for a day and drove over to the west coast of the island visiting the mountain village of Lakones with a panoramic view over Palaiokastritsa and the Monastery of Theotokou which we later visited with lovely gardens and hundreds of cats.  We then thought we were heading to the northern end of the Island but got slightly disorientated and found ourselves in the centre of the Island viewing ancient olive groves and farmland with no animals.  Eventually we found the right road and visited the northern coast arriving for a very late lunch, before heading back.


This Friday sees a slight change of plan in our cruising calendar.  I will fly out to Dubai for two weeks to help our daughter Brigitte pack up her household goods so they can go into storage for a time.  She hopes to fly to the States to join her husband Dan who has just done a flying course by the beginning of August.  The exciting news is that she is expecting twins, but must now finish work and take things much more slowly.  She needs to move out and be with Dan, and rest up completely before their births in October.  While I am away for a couple of weeks Alec will stay with SHAMAL.  So as you can see we are having a VERY interesting and exciting year.


Many thanks to all who have sent us emails.  We enjoying hearing all your news.


Will sign out for this letter


Love to you all


The Admiral and The Commander






1 comment:

  1. Again, another well-written post, with beautiful pictures. Oh how I envy you!
    Perhaps you should carry a weapon?
    If not, a catapult and some fish-heads for ammunition. Should tell that old bugger in Goat Bay that his comments were not appreciated.

    ReplyDelete