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Corfu to Crete

October 15, 2013

The last blog was from J telling the tale of being a surrogate parent; this blog tells of getting back together again and sailing away from Nidri towards our winter home in Crete.

Overview of the Ionian and Crete.  Note: red dotted line is 3 mile limit, NOT our course!

Overview of the Ionian and Crete. Note: red dotted line is 3 mile limit, NOT our course!

J’s return went as planned and I picked her up in Igonoumitsa after Claudio and Corinne met her at the airport and had lunch with her before putting her on the ferry. We had a couple of days catching our breath in Nidri before setting off on our journey south. We went first all of about 3 miles to Little Vathi on Meganisi; we would have liked to stayed a couple of days there but Alex was apologetic but firm: they had a big wedding to cater for and us scruffy yachties were not welcome (not expressed like that, but we got the message).

Our next port of call was Frikes on Ithaca. We’d not been there this year and had a couple of days alongside. We had a boat raft up with us which turned out to be a young Danish couple with a charter boat heading to Athens along with their 7 year old daughter and 4 month old baby – oh, and Grandpa as crew!

We’d hoped to get refuelled in Frikes, as there is a tanker that comes round but this late in the season I think that he’s given up. We were down to less than a ¼ of a tank, so when we left there a couple of days later, we headed straight to Big Vathi, where there is a fuel berth and topped up there. We took 120 litres which into a 150 litre tank shows how far I’d allowed things to slip. I should have put some fuel in by jerry can whilst I was at anchor in Nidri but didn’t do so. Mea culpa.

Once we’d fuelled up, we set off again and made our way round to Poros on the southern end of Kephalonia, where we sat and waited out a couple of days’ southerly winds. We met Ken and Jean off “Jade” and had a couple of evenings drinking a little too much and playing cards games and dominos together. As we departed, Jean presented us with an oregano plant with the instruction that we should keep it for one month before passing it on to someone else.

Anyway, once the winds died away, we set off south again to Katakolon, the cruise liner port for Olympia. Leon, the berthing master there gave us a great welcome (he claimed to remember us from 2 years ago – hmm,) and treated us to Drambuie when we went to pay our berthing fees. We were stuck there by winds for another 4 days. We had a long walk round the headland one day and serviced the engine but spent a fair bit of time just reading books for want of anything else to do!

Approaching Pylos

Approaching Pylos

Our next hop was to Pylos. We had a rolly passage with an uncomfortable following swell left over from the high winds of the previous couple of days.
It was clear before we arrived here that we’d be stuck for a few days, as the winds in the sea between southern mainland Greece and Crete were from the east and in excess of 30 knots. The winds blew like this for several days so we resigned ourselves to another stop and decided to rent a car for a day and do a little exploring. We also needed to buy a top up card for our internet access and were unable to find anywhere in Pylos to do this so last Saturday we set off by road to Kalamata where we found a Vodafone shop without too much trouble. The rest of the day was spent looking for geocaches, which took us down the westernmost peninsula to Koroni where we had a belated lunch on the waterfront. The anchorage where we stayed two summers ago was deserted in early October, despite the sunshine and apparently calm seas. Further south, if the weather charts were to be believed, there were some quite exciting winds! We then continued clockwise round the peninsula to Methoni. We’d hoped to visit the castle there which we did not explore last time we were in the region, but we arrived too late in the afternoon and the gates were shut. Instead we stopped for a coffee in a taverna on the square before heading back to Pylos.

Tall ship in Pylos harbour

Tall ship in Pylos harbour

While in Pylos we met another British couple waiting for a weather window before going south and east. Having helped them to tie up alongside, we invited David and Angie aboard “Rampage” for a few drinks. They too were planning to rent a car and in the event took over the car we had had, thus saving us from returning it to the hotel on the other side of town and them from walking round the next morning to pick it up. The rental chap was happy with this arrangement too so it was a win, win situation! They went off further afield than us for a couple of days but on Tuesday they invited us to join them to visit Methoni.

One of the Turkish bath buildings in Methoni castle

One of the Turkish bath buildings in Methoni castle

Methoni castle turned out to be every bit as interesting as it had looked from the sea. Indeed to be more accurate it was more of a fortified town, built by the Venetians like many others on this coast, to protect trading routes. Interestingly there were a couple of buildings which appeared to be Turkish baths and another which we were unable to identify at all but may have been some sort of sanctuary. It was a square, two storey building with a beautifully constructed roof but only one small window facing inland. It seemed too dark and small to be an important residence yet too carefully constructed for a prison, too vulnerable to attack from the sea to be a good munitions store but not a lookout post either. Curious! The citadel of the main castle is out on a little island off the southern shore, and this had variously been used as a lookout, lighthouse, prison, store and place of refuge in time of siege. We had a great morning there and introduced Angie and David to geocaching while we were at it!

The lighthouse/store/prison/last redoubt at Methoni set on a tiny island offshore

The lighthouse/store/prison/last redoubt at Methoni set on a tiny island offshore

After a coffee on the square, we all headed back to Koroni where once again we stopped for a latish lunch before heading back, this time across country over the hills. That evening we all got together a final time on board their boat, “Hurrah” in order to be introduced to a game called “Mexican Train,” which involves a set of twelve spot dominoes and a wonderful device which makes steam train noises. My father would have loved it!

Duncan with Angie and David from "Hurrah"

Duncan with Angie and David from “Hurrah”

We agreed that the next day looked favourable for escape so by 08:30 we were waving farewell as we set off south on the final leg of our trip to Crete. Angie and David are heading for Marmaris but may come via Crete so we may possibly meet up again in the next few days.

We managed to sail for a couple of hours but it rapidly became obvious that in order to get around the point south of Methoni we would need to switch on the engine. From that point on the wind all but disappeared and we motored for the rest of the 2 day trip. We had poured over the charts and weather forecasts at length in order to arrange our arrival in Agios Nikolaos in daylight. We hadn’t however, bargained for a strong, favourable current which swept us along the north coast of Crete at more than 7 knots. On Thursday evening we debated finding an anchorage for the night so that we could arrive next morning in daylight. However, we’d left it too late and would not arrive at the nearest anchorage until well after dark. Not prepared to venture into an unknown anchorage in the dark, we pressed on through the night but throttled right back to 1000 rpm so that we were able to come into the marina at just after 08:00.

Manoeuvring into our berth on C pontoon was quite tight, although others are trickier, we are told and with no wind to trouble us, Duncan brought her in without a problem. Our friends Nicky and Paul aboard “Carmel” are next-door-but-one and we were immediately invited to join them for coffee before collapsing into bed for the rest of the morning to catch up on our sleep.

Sunday barbecue at Agios Nikolaos marina

Sunday barbecue at Agios Nikolaos marina

First impressions of our new winter home are very good. The town seems to be pleasant with good facilities, the marina likewise with lots of folk around just now. Numbers will drop as many cruisers go home for the winter months but today we attended the weekly Sunday barbecue and there must have been 30 people there. It is a very much more civilised affair than the Sunday barbecues in Messolonghi with tables and chairs, a pleasant building to retreat to, should it rain and no unsightly piles of rubble and mess around. We have been told there are walking groups, possible Greek lessons, music groups, Bridge playing and various other delights so there should be plenty to keep us amused through the winter months. (There are also quite a few caches on Crete…!)

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4 comments

  1. You have all winter to bag “Natalie” in Ag Nik! I couldn’t in 3 weeks.
    Hoges


  2. Amazingly we were in Crete at the time you arrived although on land. We probably even watched you arrive as our apartment for the week overlooked the marina. Say hello to Nicky and Paul for us who were good enough to put up with two ex liveaboards mooching around who aren’t entirely sure they’ve made the right decision to sell! Enjoy your winter home.


  3. Enjoying your blog. It gives me something to look forward to as I have just started to restore a boat. Hopefully get it on the water next year. It is one hell of a learning process, even just deciding what to do with the wood. Leave it or treat it!. Keep Blogging
    Tom


  4. Oh yes! Can you put a search box on your blog so when I need some info on a particular subject I can search for how you approached it.
    Tom



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