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Anybody here seen Captain Correlli or his mandolin?

July 11, 2011

"Rampage" in the noonday heat with as much shade up as possible!

Having dropped Jinny off in Zakinthos last Thursday, (23th June,) J and I decided to head back north to Cephalonia and then amble our way back towards the island of Lefkas before looking at the islands between there and the mainland.  This is, I suspect, a little trying for those of you who are geographically challenged, so below are a couple of maps showing our travels since arriving in this part of the Ionian.

Southern Ionian Sea and our travels. Click on map to see a bigger image.

Northern part of the southern Ionian and our travels. Click on map for larger image.

One of the reasons for heading to Cephalonia was that the forecast was for increasing northerly winds which you will know by now we don’t do if we can avoid them.  Poros is a nice, protected little port which would be a good place to sit out the forecasted blow.  We left bright and early (well, earlyish) on Friday morning and had a brilliant days sailing.  The wind started off in the north and moved round to westerly as the day went on, which meant that we sailed virtually all the way from Zakinthos to Poros; only the last mile or so was done on the motor.  Really very satisfying and a rare day in this part of the world, where the wind always seems to be either dead on the nose of where we want to go or is blowing a gale.

We moored in Poros and had a good night’s sleep before the wind started to pick up on Saturday morning.  By mid afternoon, the forecast gale had arrived and the harbour was beginning to get quite full of boats running from the wind.  As luck would have it, we were the boat on the windward end of the quay and mid afternoon, our anchor broke out and we had to move off the quay to reset it.  After 4 attempts, it was clear that the thing would not reset in the very churned up bottom of the harbour, so we moored alongside the quay until the wind abated a little as the sun started to go down.  We then made another attempt and got the thing to bite well and hold.  We then put out the kedge anchor as well and that sorted the problem, along with several extra ropes to the quayside.

The next day was very windy again but by Monday things had quietened down and we decided to move north to a bay called Andi Sami, about 6 miles up the coast.  The bay is quite large and has a lovely sandy beach and as the winds were not forecast to return, we thought it would be a nice break from harbours.  In the event, we got there, dropped anchor, had lunch and a swim and then the winds started playing silly tricks; our anchor popped out as the wind shifted through 180 degrees and blew at about 20 mph.  We decided that enough was enough and headed to Agios Efmia, about 4 miles away, which we’d visited the previous week with Jinny.  The wind continued to build but, in typical fashion, was blowing from where we wanted to get to, so we had to motor all the way.

J & I at the Blue Hole at Melissani

The quay at Agios Efmia is quite high, we berthed bow to as it’s much easier to get on and off that way.  This involves using the kedge anchor and it’s not always obvious from the shore that you’ve dropped an anchor at all.  So as we headed into the quay, the little Greek harbour master was leaping up and down telling us to stop and drop our anchor, when we’d already done it some distance out; in fact, I got the distance dead on as there was no spare rope left by the time we got to the quay.  The harbour master is an officious little chap but very helpful, insisting that we put extra lines out and making sure we were properly secure before moving on to supervise the next arrival.

View looking down onto the Assos penisula which we visited on our scooter tour of Cephalonia

We stayed in Agios Efmia for 3 nights, as we hired a scooter on Wednesday and did a tour round the island, visiting all the main centres including a the blue hole at Melisanni.  The map below shows where we went and there are some photos as well.

Scooter trip round Cephalonia

Thursday dawned bright and still a bit breezy but we’d had enough of Agios Efmia and had decided to head for Sivota on the island of Lefkas.  We’d been there before on our sailing course but J couldn’t remember the place at all.  On the way there, the batteries suddenly announced that they were flat and the autopilot quit on us because of it.  So, having sailed all the way there by hand steering, we decided to use the pontoon by the Yacht Bar, as they provide electricity.  We moored there by late afternoon and soon had the flattened batteries on charge from the mains.  The charger was working overtime with its cooling fans blowing most of the evening. 

Sivota harbour

The next morning, I checked over the alternator and found that the drive belt was a bit loose, so with that tightened, the batteries are charging much better than before.  We moved off the pontoon on to the town quay (free!) and then wound up anchored off in the centre of the harbour when, once again, the anchor broke free, this time whilst we were out for a walk, so Rampage was bumping the quay wall when we got back, luckily not causing any damage.

We had been having a bit of a debate about where to go next and decided to return to Tranquil Bay in Nidri, as there are good shops there where we could restock with some basics and there are a couple of chandlers where we could get hold of some bits we need.  It’s only about 7 miles from Sivota to Nidri, so we got there about lunch time.  Our friends, Alan and Bern, have made it their base for the summer and J took them by surprise by swimming across to join them on board; I took the dinghy across a bit later to pick her up.

We reckon on staying here for a few days before moving on to explore some of the other islands.  The weather at the moment is hot but fairly windy so we are swinging about a fair bit on the anchor.  Most days, the wind dies away with as the sun goes down but I suspect that we may not get the usual peaceful night tonight.  Ah well, can’t have it all can you?…

… This entry has been a little neglected, as it got quite busy whilst we were in Nidri.  Bern and Alan took us into Lefkas town on the bus and we had a good wander round the place before visiting the local Volvo stockist to enquire about some bits for the engine.  They could get them for us but I was staggered by the cost – nearly €90 for a bit of hose – so we left without buying anything.  In the end, I found some high pressure hose in one of the chandlers in Nidri for a fraction of the cost of the proper job.

We had intended to set off the next day to go round to Meganissi and join some friends there for the evening.  In the event, Alan and Bern turned up at Rampage as we surfaced from a good night’s sleep to say that they’d got a problem with their propeller and were planning on returning to Gouvia to get the thing fixed.  After listening to the problem, I realised that all that was required was to replace the anode with a new one.  The local chandlery was able to sell us one at a very reasonable price and I spent a happy hour or so in scuba gear with Alan (who had borrowed J’s set) removing the propeller and the remnants of the old anode, getting the girls to clean the prop up before fitting a new anode and replacing the prop.  We also cleaned off a lot of growth from the bottom of the hull of Sanuk before taking the gear to a nearby pontoon to wash it down with fresh water.   There I happened upon a rotund gentleman hailing from the Thames estuary who had a brand new baby compressor and was looking for someone to show him how to use it.  Several hours later we’d filled four cylinders (two of which were mine,) and I trust he now understands how to use it.

Supper at "The Island" restaurant in Nidri with Bern and Alan

It was too late by then to move on that day and besides Bern and Alan had kindly offered to take us out for dinner so we eventually left Nidri last Wednesday, (6th July.)  We spent that night in a beautiful bay just south of Port Atheni on Meganissi.  There were a few boats there when we arrived but by 7pm we had the bay to our selves.  It was utterly peaceful – no buildings, not even a road down to the beach.  Next morning after her swim, J decided to clean up the mess made all over the roof by a passing gull.  Unfortunately, in her enthusiasm, she started lobbing buckets of sea water about without checking that the hatches were closed.  Even my exited yells from below didn’t seem to deter her initially but eventually I managed to convey the scale of the problem!  It took us an hour and a half to dry out the chart table and lockers under the passage berth while the seat cushions sat in the sun to dry. 

Port Kalamos

We then pressed on to Port Kalamos on the island of Kalamos.  Kalamos is a very pretty little harbour but by evening it is full to the brim with flotilla boats, rafted up four or five deep, whose antics while mooring provide endless amusement for the rest of us.  We stayed a couple of nights and then yesterday we headed east attracted by the description in the pilot book, to the town of Astakos on the Greek mainland.  All we can say is if you’re ever in the area – don’t bother!  It was noisy, smelly and very run down so this morning we hightailed out of there and by lunchtime today we were safely tucked up in Porto Kastos on the island of Kastos. 

Kastos with the fishing boat harbour in the fore-ground and the yachts behind

This is only village and port on the island which boast a population of approximately 50.  It is undeveloped and a soothing contrast to last night when the music went on ‘til about 4am.  We’ve been for several swims since arriving here as it is the best way to keep cool and now that the sun has dropped we plan to investigate a little restaurant up on the hill which according to the pilot book has breathtaking views and very reasonable food.  Let’s hope that this time, it is more accurate than it was about Astakos! 

At "Chef John's" restaurant high above Kastos harbour with breath-taking views and lovely food - highly recommended!

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4 comments

  1. Sounds absolutely lovely.You both look so relaxed in your pics, it’s great to see. Love the Blonde Moment with the roof washing, J! Lucky the Kipper was alert/sober.
    xxx


  2. Lovely commentary thank-you. We sailed round some of the same places as you quite a few years ago. No marinas etc then. However you are bringing back lovely memories.

    Cheers! Mike


  3. Ahoy there – happy birthday, First Mate!


  4. Sounds like I just missed all the fun! Keep showing my photos to anyone who comes round looking forward to next visit! Did my emails come through?



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