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Alarms and Excitements!

August 12, 2013

Most of the time, cruising the summer months is pretty close to idyllic, particularly here in the Ionian. The past 2 days, however, have been less than brilliant so I’m hoping by telling you what’s been happening we will bring our short spell of unpleasantness to a halt before my sister, Lizzie, arrives on Wednesday evening.

After a few days of idle existence following Poll’s departure, we thought we’d better return to the anchorage near Gouvia marina to tackle the ubiquitous heap of laundry and visit a friend of ours, Glynis, who works through the summer months at the pool bar at one of the Kontokali hotels. After a couple of days there we set off for Plataria on the mainland opposite Corfu island. We had not been there for a couple of years but knew we could fill water tanks and plug into shore power to give the batteries a boost. On arrival last Wednesday evening, the harbour looked pretty crowded so we anchored off outside and moved into the harbour the next day. As we prepared to reverse back onto the quayside we recognised our new friends from the previous week, Carole and Ian from ‘Maximilian’ who came running to take our shore lines. It was terrific to see them again and shortly after our arrival, other friends of theirs came in and naturally we all got together that evening for a few drinks!

The sea wall to which we were tied has been quietly sinking for some time but the problem seems to have become even worse since we were last there. The tide only lifts the water level by a few inches but it’s enough to flood the quayside:

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Please note the wonderfully Greek solution to the problem – simply mounting the electricity and water posts on concrete plinths!

Although we now had access to both the above facilities, we discovered that Internet connection there was very poor, so both mornings, armed with D’s iPad, we stumped off to find a cafe with wifi and check our emails etc over coffee and croissants. Having breakfast out isn’t actually terribly extravagant but somehow always feels very decadent!

We had a pleasant couple of days in Plataria, getting together with Anne and David from ‘Dragonfly’ for a few drinks on board ‘Rampage’, Ian and Carole having pushed off back to Corfu that morning to meet their other son who was flying in the next day.

And so it was that on Saturday, having washed the decks and filled the water tanks, we set off just a few miles down the coast to Mourtos. Now unlike most people who cruise in this area we had never actually stayed in Mourtos before. The one previous occasion when we tried to anchor we found it was impossibly crowded and had found our way round to the little bay just to the south of this collection of islands where we met ‘Maximilian’ for the first time while Susie was with us. Having just spent two nights on a town quay, and having heard that the anchorage was now cleared of flotilla boats and thus less crowded, we decided to give it another go.

We dropped the hook and then hastily erected the wind scoop and shade tents and for an hour or so all was well although even then we’d decided we’d not be returning as the anchorage is a thoroughfare for lots of small speed boats and day boats so we were constantly rolling from their wash which gets very tedious very quickly.

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Above is the anchorage shortly before the wind picked up. (I photographed these two girls in their rubber rings swigging from cans of drink as it reminded me of Polly when she was with us, reading her book while lolling in a rubber ring!). Just after this we decided to drop the shade tent to reduce windage and before we knew where we were, there were anchors popping all round us and chaos reigned with boats roaring through the anchorage at full speed to get to the harbour before the full brunt of the storm hit. Although our anchor was fine we decided this was not a good place to stay as the wind was funnelling down through the anchorage between the islands, so we made hasty preparations and left, heading for the other anchorage. As we made our way round the outside of the group of islands by Mourtos it was chilling to hear a frantic Mayday call from one of the other boats there which had wound up on the rocks.

When we arrived at the Sivota bay the wind was blowing straight across it so we found somewhere just to the north of there which was reasonably sheltered and sat out the rest of the storm with a handful of other boats. When the wind dropped however, we decided that we were too close to a large ketch if it should swing towards us in the night. Thus, we did eventually wind up in our preferred bay, with long lines ashore. By then it was about 9:30pm and we were both fairly shattered so rather than the barbecue we’d originally planned, we fell back on the Byrne Emergency Meal of bockwurst and baked beans before collapsing into bed.

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Above is the anchorage at Sivota, just south of the Mourtos islands.

Yesterday started well. We both had a lovely swim and then walked over the hill into the town at Mourtos where we had a delicious lunch at a waterfront restaurant. Back at the bay, we were delighted to discover that once again ‘Maximilian’ had come in to anchor. We immediately invited them for drinks aboard ‘Rampage’ that evening. It never happened.

It was now mid-afternoon and the wind was picking up again. Back on board ‘Rampage’ we spotted that the anchor was not holding very well. We have found the Rocna to be excellent but even that does really dig in well where there is a lot of sea grass and weed. Initially we tried putting out the kedge anchor but that did not dig in either so we decided to drop the shorelines with a fender to act as a buoy and a small folding grapnel anchor to hold it in position while we hauled and reset the main anchor. Unfortunately we then dropped it too far out, so had to repeat the exercise and this time, reversing back to the shore lines we managed to get one wrapped round the rudder. Duncan was able to sort this quite quickly but once things start to go wrong they often continue. The next thing we knew was the little anchor had made a bid for freedom and become detached from the buoy. In 6+ metres of water, there was no way D was going to free dive for that at this point so we wrote it off, and may yet try to recover it at some later date.

While all this was going on, ‘Maximilian’ too was having problems and was being blown onto a couple of very smart super-yachts anchored in the bay, only being held off by the crew and dinghies of both motor yachts. By this time we’d decided we’d be better on the far side of the bay but when D set off in the dinghy to recover our shore lines the propellor fell off the outboard to disappear forever in the sea grass below. This was the final straw and realising that we would need to return to Corfu to buy a replacement prop. We decided to head off. ‘Maximilian’ had decided to go down to Parga but Ian kindly came back in their dinghy to help us recover our lines.

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Mourtos harbour where all was peace and quiet as we had lunch on the waterfront yesterday.

After all the fun and games we had a great sail but after two and a half hours tacking into the wind we decided to go back to Plataria rather than try to get back to Corfu. This we did, anchoring off once more and this morning we returned to the anchorage under the citadel. The skipper has just retuned having rowed ashore a couple of hours ago to walk across town to buy a new propellor. The outboard shop was closed and now i find that the pork souvlaki that we were going tohave for supper has gone off! Just hope that tomorrow our luck changes and we manage to rid ourselves of this jinx before Lizzie arrives. Below is Corfu anchorage.

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4 comments

  1. Oh my giddy aunt. It had better calm down before I arrive – the calm and tranquil photos do not reflect the text at all. I would be a nervous wreck.


    • Ah, so you’d lie on the bottom and tremble then??


  2. Gosh, what a wild time, hope it all settles down for Lizzie and you have some good days at sea XXX


  3. Argh! Too wild!
    I will have to find a landlubber campsite when I come to visit!
    Hope Lizzie has arrived safely and that all the untoward excitement is now over xxx



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