05 February, 2009

Current Cruise - 13 Back to Turkey

Richard and Marita packed up and we waved goodbye as they boarded the local bus for the trip to Thessaloniki. The bus arrived late and they were on the edge of their seats to get to the airport in time for their flight back to the UK. Fortunately the trip was uneventful and they transferred by taxi to the Departure gate with more than a few minutes to spare.

We packed up Malua and made her ready to put to sea. We had to rush south to get to Turkey before our visa ran out. It would be tight and depended on getting a ferry from Turkey to Greece and then back again to Turkey with our new visa. We left Nea Marmaris with out the anchor getting snagged and motored in a direct line to the West Sparades Islands. The distance was more than 50 nautical miles. As usual the wind was from the south in the Halkidiki but after a few hours started to go round to the North East as predicted by the forcast. We soon had the main and genoa up and were sailing along on a flat sea at almost 6 knots. Our destination was Panagia which is a small island with a very narrow entrance to a well protected bay. We had to arrive before dark because of the entrance. The wind dropped off as the sun started to go down and we were able to motor through the 100 meter wide entrance with only 8 meters of water. I would not like to go through that if a sea was running into the bay. We started early just as it was getting light so I could see the entrance however the sea had come up and there was a swell running so the trip between the island was not very pleasant. Once we were away from the land the wind settled down and started to increase to over 20 knots, at time reaching almost 30. We had it on our beam and were reaching down wind at times up to 8 knots. It was great at last to have the wind behind us, the sun shining and little swell. The miles just rolled under the keel. We had set our destination as the Island of Chios which was 120 miles away - quite a long sail in one day. I knew that the moon was full and would be up when we had to reach our intended night anchorage. As is always the case with the Meltemi in norther Greece it started to drop as the sun set. We were still more than 50 miles from the northern passage between Chios and Inousssa. At about midnight the wind dropped away altogether and the sea started to flatten as we motored along the norther coast of Chios heading for the passage on the NW tip of the island. We were about 10 miles from the passage when the moon set turning the night into total darkness. Fortunately the cape at the entrance to the passage had a good light and the radar was working very well indeed. As I entered the passage which is only 650 meters wide I was confronted by a mass of lights on the port side of the channel. It did not appear to be moving and was about one mile off. I could not distinguish any navigation lights but the radar indicated that it was fast approaching but not on a collision course. It turned out to be a large ferry with all its lights on! It passed port to port and I settled down to navigate using the radar and the chartplotter. I had selected a bay on the south coast of Inoussa. It was unlit but from the chart looked bug enough and shallow enough to give us a good nights sleep. I motored into the crescent of the bay using the chart plotter and when the depth sounder indicated 6 meters under the keel we dropped the anchor. Our searchlight picked up the one headland but the rest were out of its range. We turned in to sleep. The following morning revealed we had anchored in the middle of a beautiful bay with more than adequate swing room and a great muddy bottom.

We sailed along the eastern coast of Chios and then across the channel to Cesme where we entered the marina. It was almost empty because a new owner had just taken it over and was busy moving the floating docks. We went into the town an booked our ferry trip for the next day to Chios. Luckily this time we did not have to spend the night away. The ferry left at 9:30 and within a hour we were again in Greece after officially leaving Turkey after 88 days. On arrival we got a Greek stamp and set about looking around the island. Unfortunately we should have been here yesterday because the summer tour had just ended. We decided to take a municipal bus into the southern part of the island to see the house decorations at Pirgi. We had just one hour to walk around the town before we had to get back on the bus for the harbour and then a quick walk to the ferry for the return journey. We arrived and cleared customs along with about 50 other people and we entered Turkey again with a 90 day visa - more than enough time to sail to Marmaris and pack the boat away.

The next day we purchased some fresh food and set sail towards the Greek island along the Turkish coast. Unfortunately the wind started to blow from the south so we changed direction and dropped anchor in a small bay on the south east coast of Chios called Kamari. The water was crystal clear. I set a stern anchor to keep up into the swell and not to swing too much within the small bay.As usual we took the RIB ashore and had a walk to the next bay to take some photos.

We pulled up the anchor as the sun rose and set off to sail south through the Greek islands. As predicted by the forecast the wind was light and from the wrong direction - south.

Here are some pictures of our Back to Turkey

Current Cruise - 12 Friends Visit in Halkidiki

We had arrived a bit early in the Halkidiki so we had to spend the time in this lovely cruising ground. For once we could go day sailing without a destination in mind, so if the wind blew from the north we sailed south. Then if the wind came up from the east we sailed west. It was a great experience. Fortunatly there are innumerable place to stay. The wind drops away in the evening so we motor to a new bay each night and drop anchor.

Richard and Marita arrived in Nea Marmaris after the inevitable rush to catch a 5 am charter flight out of Gatwick. They arrived on a very hot day without wind. They took a greek taxi to the bus station then boarded the local bus to Nea Marmaris. It arrived early so we were not at the bus stop as promised and there was some confusion when they had to get off. After a frantic phone call they jumped off in the centre of the town and we met them on the waterfront. A cold Mythos beer soon set then on the track to the cruising lifestyle. We had lunch and set about getting Malua ship shape in the Bristol style for four people. That evening we had dinner at a waterfront restuarant after setting about knocking a hole into the 20 liters of Limnos wine we had purchased for the occasion. Every Thursday in Nea Marmaris there is a good local market with fruit, veg, meat and fish on sale by the local vendors. In addition there are the sellers of everything one does not need but can afford "for a very good price" We stocked up on the essentials while Marita splashed out on the little extras in life that make it fun.

We then let go the aft lines and started to pull up the anchor amonst the many other anchors and mooring blocks of the local harbour. The wind was of couse right in our face blowing us back onto the dock and the other vessels. The anchor winch kept cutting out at the trip switch which should have been an indication that something was wrong, and wrong it was. The chain was under a Greek boat's anchor so we had to pull that to the surface put a line round it and unhook it before we could make any progress away from the bows of the other yachts. We came to the 15 meter mark and our anchor was still in 10 meters of water and not going to come up. It was firmly hooked under a chain attached to a large concrete mooring block. I quickly put on my mask and with a line from the boat dived down the 10 meter to attach a trip line to the anchor. with this attached I let the anchor chain loose and the tripping line pulled the head of the anchor from under the mooring block chain and we where free. Quite a bit of exitement to start a cruising holiday. It was then off to Porto Koufo for a quite evening on board.

The next day again dawned cloudless and unfortunatly windless so we motored round the point and north up the rugged coast to the great bay of Sikios. The anchor would not take after 6 tries so we deceided to go stern to the little wharf along side the fishing boats. Francesco was on his mooring so we could not use that. The snorkelling in the bay proved that the Greeks had fished out the seabed years ago but the fish in the restaurant made up for it. Francesco joined us for a great night of seafood, laughts and Italian stories. A quiet night, beautiful sunrise but again no wind so we motored north to a beautiful set of island around Nisis Dhiaporos. That evening we paddled through the northern passage in the kyaks and a paddle ski which we found floating alone way out to sea. A braai on the stern of Malua with the local sausage reminded everybody of the good time we all had in South Africa, Richard and I going back more than 50 years!

We has planned to take a cruise on a "pirate ship" to the south of the Akti peninsular to see the Monasteries of Athos. Malua was left at anchor in the Panayia bay. We arrived early and secured a great seat on the top deck before the bus loads of greek and other tourest decended on the vessel. It was quite different motoring across the sea in a large vessel not worrying about the wind and the waves especially around the notoriously rough Aki Pinnes at the base of the high Mount Athos. The description of the monasteries was factual but could not possible answer the question "why do people become monks and hermits never to return to the real world off the peninsula?" We cruised past eight of the sites keeping more than 500meters off the land because womem may not go any nearer to the land in case they excited the monks! We stoped at Ouranopolis for lunch along with the 400 other people on the cruise ships and then returned to cross the head of the bay and be back for the buses to be filled and leave us in the quite of the bay to have a evening meal at a waterside restaurant. On returning to Malua there was a minor panic when I discovered that I had droped my keys in the sand at the restaurant table. We were fortunate to be able to unloaked the companionway with the spare key hidden for just such an event. (we found the keys the next day in the sand)

The following day we went to the fish market on the wharf and purchase mussels and fresh sardines which we fried in olive oil along with paella rice Marita put together. The following evening we had the mussels in an Italian inspiered pasta dish which Denny created. We eat and drink well on Malua.

We sailed south with a light wind behind us and again entered the Sikios bay. This time we picked up Francesco's mooring. Dinner on board with lots of conversation before heading off the next day south round the cape Arki Psevdhokavas and back into the lovley protected bay of Porto Koufo. This time we anchored off the beach in the south next to the lagoon. No wind during the night or the next morning.

We stopped in at a lovely secluded bay just south of Porto Carras Marina for lunch and a swim before motoring back into Nea Marmaris harbour. We were able to squeeze into a spot on the floating jetty. That evening Richard took us out to a fantastic fish restaurant on a platform over the sea. While we eat squid, octopus and fish the fish below in the water were well fed from out left overs and the local bread. A great night to celebrate the end of a wonderful cruising time with our friends. Thanks R & M

The following day be uped anchor without any problems and set sail the 400nm south across the Agean back to Turkey. Fortunatly the wind was behind us and we raced off at 7 knots, quite a change from the previous four weeks. Here are some pictures of our friends visit

The next stage of the expidition was the sail south to get our visas and then south again to Turkey and finally to Marmaris to haul out for the winter.Back to Turkey

Current Cruise - 11 Sinthonia Peninsula

We sailed round the Akti Penisula with all the Monasteries right into a strong wind from the north. We where just able to beat into the wind and make our couse for Nisis Ammouliani however he had to negotiate the straits which had very shollow water. We slowed to a snails pace and watched the depth souder go down 20, 15, 10 ,5 ,2 then 1 and stay there for some time. Well, we came through with out touching bottem then tried to anchor off Nisis Ammouliani but after three attempts we could not get any holding in the thick weed. We sailed round to the Village just as two other boats were attempting to go astern too the wharf. We watched then and deceided to find another location.....charter vessels are a danger to wharf and yacht.

We sailed to a long beach and found a sand spot in the faiding light. It was a great spot opposite a small housing development. The next day we were off to Tripiti to see how Xerxes had dug a canal through the norrowest part of the penisula. Unfortunatly it is now all filled in but it did save him the sail south round the Akti penisula. From there we sailed to the Islands of Dhiaporos. On the inside next to the mainland the water is very shallow and you have to anchor out and take the RIB to shore but we found a deep inlet in the main island of Dhiaporos. Not much swing room but the holding is good. We watched as a thunder storm developed to the north of us. We let out some more chain and waited. Well the wind came first - a good sign. Then the rain. At the height of the storm the other boat in the anchorage was swing close to the shore and deceided to move, we quickly followed and dropped the anchor further up the inlet. The anchor went down first attempt and held. We then sat in the cockpit and watched the lightrning, thunder and rain. Everything got a good wash. Within an hour the sky had cleared and we had dinner.

We stayed a few days in the islands moving from anchorage to anchorage. It is so relaxing knowing that your next anchorage is only 6nm away. One day I set off on the bicycle to find a wifi internet hot spot. There was nothing in the local town and nothing at Ayios Nikolaos about 5kn away but I did stop off at a butcher to get some meat and some very tasty sausage which was very much like borewors. We had a braai on the stern of Malua that evening just as we had in the Southern Hemisphere.

We deceided to explore the Sinthonia Penisula on the eastern side. There are not many safe anchorages due to the prevailing wind comming from the SE. The wind during July and August is very mild so we were able to find places to stay. the most pleasant was Sarti where we again met Francesco and Paula - italians who live in New Zealand and have a boat in the Med and in North Island - What a live..endless summers sailing. The penisula is the holiday ground of the Greeks. They seem to stay in "rooms to let" or bring their own caravans which are located on any flat spot as close to the water as possible. Many have inflatables tied up on the beach in front. Only in the Med would you be able to do this.

The wind comes up to about 15 knots at 11;00 and the drops away in the afternoon. Some days it will blow from the NW but most days from the SE. The sailing is consequently wonderful. We had the big spinnaker up most of one morning as we sailed south to reach Poto Koufo. It helps to reach your destination in the early afternoon before the holiday charter boats come in. You can then settle back and watch their anticks as they either anchor on top of each other or go astern to the wharf.

We reached Nea Marmaris - that is the place there the Greeks from Marmaris in Turkey where transported in 1920 when the resettlement took place. No Turkish influence now just a small holiday town with an average public harbour. The locals with boats have established their place on the pontoon and guard their spots and those of their friend with every excuse. It doesnt wash with an Italian or an Ozzie. Fancesco and I both found a place on the pontoon. The following day I took a bus in to Thessaloniki to get some bearings for the windlass which had taken a beating with the new anchor and the difficulty in finding good holding. The SKF distributer had all the bearings and seals so the next day I was able to replace all the parts. I must say the designof the Muir windlass leaves much to be desired. I have had to put a wood support to the motor because it is only held by four 6 mm bolts to stop it from turning. Put a 12 ton boat at the end of that and the bolts break out of the cast aluminium housing. I believe the engineers have never sailed a boat in their lives - the mix of metals and the size of the bolts and housings is just inadequate. Well the windlass is now better than new and we can pull the new 30kg anchor up without fear.

We stayed a few days in Nea Marmaris restocking the boat then set sail for Porto Koufo but the wind was not helping so we changed destinations to a bay in the south of the Kassandra penisula. We flew the reacher all the way across the bay. That is the advantage of the Med there is always an anchorage down wind. Here are some pictures of Sinthonia Peninsula

Current Cruise - 10 Akti Peninsula

We left Limnos very early one morning and motored north towards the Halkidiki. There was no wind for the next 60nm. We arrived late in the evening after traveling north up the most eastern finger of the Halkidiki. This is where the monstries are. No female is to set foot on the penisular. Well we dropped anchor in a norther bay a long way from civilisation and spent the next few days swimming and collecting flotsum from the beaches. We then moved north to Nea Rodha whwre we anchored out. From there we moved east to a fishing harbour of Ierisssos. The first night there was a violent thunderstorm which washed the decks but also burst one of our fenders. Comes for going into a harbour. The local boat builder got some work when a fishing boat hit the harbour wall full speed ahead. They dragged the boat out of the water on a sled. Simple and effective. They have been doing it for centuries only now diesel in place of oxen. We sailed round the peninsular where all the monasteries are located. This is an indepedent state governed by the monks. Here are some pictures of Akti Peninsula

The next few pages is the account of the trip through Northern Greece.

Current Cruise 9 - Limnos

The exit from Turkey was fast, rough and with a lots of wind. We arrived after a down wind sail to Limnos and motored north into a large bay to throw the anchor for a well deserved rest. We then visited the land site for the Gillopolie invasion. This bay was where the ships gathered prior to the invasion of Turkey. It was also the place that the Generals stayed away from the fighting and where the injured soldiers and sailors were brought to be hospitalised. Many died and were buried on the Island. We visited the Commonwealth War Cematary at the end of Anzac Road. A rather desolate place. We were the only vessel in Ormos Moudhrou, a change from the day before the invasion when there were a hugh flotilla of battleships and troop carriers.

We sailed into Ormos Kondia for a night then on to the main harbour at Mirina which is the port of Entry for Greece. We had switched our colours and were now flying the British ensign. The greeks find non-EU boat a trouble. The clearance in while long was not difficult or expensive. My passport is still cleaan while Denny's has and entry right below her last entry - work that out. As usual we anchored in the bay just opposite the town wharf. Just before sunset a fisherman came out in his boat to warn us of an impending storm and to advise us to tie up to the dock. Taking local advice we droped 70m of chain and went stern to the wharf and secured ourselves to some large rings in the wall. An Ozie boat from Qld had done the same. Well at 11:00 the wind came in from the NW with gust over 30knots. The boats were bouncing around all over the place. We had a smaller boat on the starboard side but nothing on the port so I was able to rig a line from the bow to the dock to hold us against the wind. Having secured Malua I retired to sleep the sleep of the landlubber. By morning the wind had gone and no one was the wiser. We had to move off the dock to make way for the ferry but the next day We found a spot along side the Ozie boat.

The town is a typical Greek island village with a few extra shops for the local Greek tourists. Few foriegners visit this place. It is famous for its wine which we sampled along with the excelent pork. The following day we purchased big in the area of wine - a total of 60 litres in the form of a number of ten litre boxes. Stowable in the bilge for maturing. We stocked up with provisions and ste sail at dawn for the Halkidiki. Again no wind so we motored the 63nm. The next page will give you the detail. Here are a few photos of Limnos The next few pages documents the trip through Greece.

Leaving Turkey

What an exit out of the Dardanelles. The wind came up out of the North East and as we put our nose round the southern point of the Galipolli Peninsula we were hit by very strong wind and a very confused sea. The strong current did not help. Malua was tossed around in no uncertain terms. It took us a few minutes to put two reefs in the main and to furl the genoa. Of course things did not go to plan and we had to struggle to get it right. After a few minutes we had the wind aft of the beam and we were reaching at 9 knots touching 11 at times towards Greece. Limnos was our port of entry.