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Wasps, a parting of ways and old friends

August 25, 2011

Well, I suppose it had to happen in the end. There was no way round it really. It wasn’t a hasty thing but considered and thought through, the pros and cons weighed in the balance and a decision was taken. We had to part company and go our separate ways. It was a sad ending but it had to happen. Logic forced itself upon us in the end, although it was never easy. Yes, that’s right. Curly Sue and Rampage have parted company; Andy and Susan stayed on in Pylos, before heading back north to meet visitors in Lefkas, whilst we carried on south round the Peloponnese on our way to Athens to meet up with Terri* and Iain in about 2 weeks time. (*one of the infamous Stunning Ruins.)

That said, as is often the case with plans made by the crew of Rampage, it didn’t quite work out as planned. After we’d posted the last bit of the blog, we were all ready to set off south. We’d been watching the weather, as there’d been high winds sweeping down from the Adriatic which we didn’t fancy getting involved in. Anyhow, the winds had moderated and all was set for us to be off the next day; shopping done, water tanks refilled (by means of containers, from a tap about 200 metres away) and beer replenished. We had arranged to have a last game of Scrabble with Andy and Susan before walking up the hill overlooking the marina to watch the sunset.

Sunset over Navarino Bay, taken by a wasp bitten photographer. The lengths we go to for our readers.....

All was going well, until I took a swig from my can of beer. Disaster. There was a wasp clinging to the inside of the can, which promptly stung me on the inside of my lip. This, I can assure you, is excruciatingly painful. The normal palliative would be ice – don’t be silly, no ice on our boats. Instead, I made do with a foul tasting gel stick (normally reserved for mosquito bites) and a cool can (unopened) of beer. This left me feeling sorry for myself and in a bit of pain but ok to tramp up the hill to watch the sunset. So off we set.

A chart showing our travels related in this blog. Double click to view the chart at full size.

From the marina it looked like a short, if steep, walk up the road to the viewpoint. In fact, I reckon that we must have walked the best part of a mile uphill as the road wound its way up. Hot and sweaty and with a lip now the size of a supertankers bow, I ambled along at the back and suffered in silence. Even deeper silence than usual, as I’d taken my hearing aid out as the cicadas were sending it crazy. We duly arrived at the viewpoint, marveled at the colours in the sunset, took loads of photos and then walked back down the hill to the boats.

I peeled off straight to bed, feeling a little rough. I took an antihistamine tablet to try and reduce the swollen lip and went straight to sleep. The next morning, we rose fairly bright and early and started to walk into town to do a bit of last minute shopping, me still with an interesting lip. By the time we were half way there, it was obvious that all was not well with me, so I turned round and put myself back to bed for the rest of the day. I don’t know if it was some sort of short lived bug, a reaction to the wasp sting or the antihistamine but I wasn’t going anywhere that day! J had a very boring day as I spent most of it asleep but we eventually got our act together the following morning (Wednesday 17th August) to make our way round to the anchorage at Koroni, on the other side of the peninsula from Pylos, leaving Curly Sue to wait for a break in the northerly winds.

A farewell to Andy and Sue

We sailed past Methoni, yet another fortified coastal town, this time on the tip of the peninsula before rounding the first cape of the Peloponnese and making our way up the coast to Koroni. Surprisingly, this little town (hardly more than a village) also boasts (wait for it) a Venetian era fortress looking down on the anchorage. For some complicated reason, whilst the winds (and not much of them) disappeared round about 8 pm, a swell started off from the east and continued all night. Nothing to worry about, just uncomfortable, making it difficult to sleep.

A view of Methoni as we rounded the point.

We only had about 4 hours to sail to get to our next destination, so we went ashore in the morning and walked round the castle. Once again, not a single thought about health and safety but freedom to roam all over the place. There is a monastery in the centre of the castle and the old bastions facing out to sea are still more or less intact. One of them is an amazing double decked construction, with a massive pillar in the centre of the lower level supporting the upper one. Absolutely gobsmacking.

Koroni Castle from the boat

J on the top 'deck' of the bastion

Once we’d been round the castle and had a drink in a leafy square of the town, we set off for Kalamata. This is the place where the olives come from and is the biggest town we’ve been to in Greece so far. It has a commercial port and the marina is next door to it; it is a real marina – expensive but with all the whistles and bells, including a Port Police office on site so you can get your papers stamped.

The massive supporting pillar in the lower 'deck' of the bastion at Koroni castle

Our original plan had been to stay 2 nights whilst we restocked the stores and did the odd job on the boat, oh and did half a ton of washing in the launderette (which, incidentally, earns J’s recommendation as the best one in Greece – 8kg self service machines for €4.50 a time). In the event the weather intervened.

The next major step on the trip to Athens involves rounding Cape Maleas, which has an evil reputation as the winds do funny things round the cape. At the moment, the ‘meltemi’ wind is blowing in the Aegean; this wind blows through much of the months of July and August. It is a strong (force 6 – 8 ) northerly wind which affects much of the Aegean basin. Whilst it is blowing, the rounding of Cape Maleas from the west is impossible, so you have to wait for a gap in the wind before attempting it.

We had not really built this into our plans. Blithely transposing our Ionian experience, we had assumed that winds built in the day and disappeared at night, and therefore whilst we might have to make an overnight passage to get round the cape, it shouldn’t present a significant problem. We have found however, to our chagrin, that this is not the case. The Meltimi is a full time effect which goes on day and night…..

Ormos Limeniou from the boat

So what? Well, we postponed out departure from Kalamata for a day, as it was well clear that we couldn’t keep to our original timetable, nor could we tuck up in a west-facing bay in the bit of the Peloponnese we were in, (Messiniakos Kolpos) as there was a strong westerly forecast for that day. However, the winds were OK for the following couple of days (not for getting round Cape Maleas in the east but for sheltering elsewhere while we rounded the middle “finger” of the Peloponnese), so we set off at 7am (yes, that early morning thing again!). We sailed for about an hour and a half before the wind died away (as forecast) and motored on to the bay of Limeniou, about 20 miles from Kalamata. We tucked up in a little cove on the southern shore of the bay with a delightful (no sarcasm – it really is quite nice!) holiday development round the shore line.

Then we looked again at the wind forecast. No go. We wouldn’t even get round the next cape, Ak Tainaro, let alone carry on to Maleas the next day, so we stayed put. While we were there, I replaced the screws holding the anode on to the saildrive whilst J supervised and passed tools to me and then I went on to untangle a neighbouring French yacht’s anchor chain from some local ground chains, after which we were presented with a splendid home-produced jar of ratatouille by way of thanks.

Our French friend sails off after D freed his anchor for him.

The weather kept with the forecast and we set off the next morning (Tuesday 23rd) to get round into the eastern bay of the Peloponnese (Lakonikos Kolpos). Our destination was a place called Porto Kayio, a wonderful natural harbour about 5 miles north of the cape. We picked up a great westerly wind as we came round the cape and sailed all the way up to Porto Kayio.

The bleak, rather forbidding coast we're crusing past at the moment.

As we dropped the sails and round up into the bay, we found that there were 2 other boats already at anchor; a Brit in a steel yacht and, to our surprise, the Hallberg Rassy ketch “Leviatha”, belonging to our friends Claudio and Corinne, who we had last seen leaving Gouvia back in March. They have spent most of the summer in Athens after a series of disasters. Firstly, they had engine problems that meant they had to wait for spares, then Corinne injured her neck, leading to weeks of treatment to avoid surgery. Finally, the doctors gave her the all clear and they found another fault on the engine, leading to yet more delay. They finally managed to escape from Athens a couple of weeks ago and rounded the dreaded Cape Maleas a few days ago. They had arrived in Porto Kayio only a couple of hours before we did – a true meeting in the wilderness! We had a great evening with them and caught up on all our news – they had a good time in Athens, despite it not being exactly what they had originally hoped to be doing. They gave us a heap of places to visit and things to do if we decided to visit the city for any length of time.

Porto Kayio. 'Levithia' is to the right.

Our intention yesterday was to go up to a place called Yithion to wait out the winds and then on to a bay on the southern coast of the island of Elefanisos before finally rounding Cape Maleas. We decided to change this in view of the latest weather forecasts; we now expect gale force north easterlies for the next 3 or 4 days, so we are tucked up on the opposite coast to Yithion in a little bay near a village called Plitra on the eastern finger of the Peloponnese. We will stay here until Saturday or even Sunday and when the winds die down, we’ll make our way to Elefanisos before heading on round the cape early next week. Think of us for the next few days – the anchors are set, the fridge stocked and so hopefully cabin fever will the main problem, as we’re unlikely to be able to get ashore and there’s a limit to the amount of time we can spend reading books, playing games and being nice to one another…….

D laying the kedge anchor from the dinghy in preparation for the arrival of the meltemi.

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2 comments

  1. Hope the anchor holds and you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to fix it! Thinking of you lots XXX


  2. The wasp sting sounds really nasty. Love all the new pics, very sad we wont get out again this summer. Glad the winds didn’t pick up too much. Lots of love to you both xx



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