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Just what has gone wrong with the weather this year?

June 20, 2014

OK. Its 18 June. And finally, finally, the weather seems to be settling down into the nice predictable pattern of an Ionian summer. That is little or no wind through the night and up to about midday, then a gentle breeze through the rest of the day until about 8pm when it all goes quiet again. That’s why we worked so hard to get here. Cruisers’ heaven. Except that it isn’t quite like that. The Ionian wind in the summer is meant to come from the north west, not the south east. There’s weather systems at work here that simply aren’t meant to be here. Depressions and highs tracking through along the north African coast – not the stable picture that we were meant to be getting. I’ve no idea why this is happening; perhaps its because the Met Office has promised UK a hot, dry summer so the grotty stuff has to go somewhere else?

 

The side effect of all this ‘weather’ has been felt by ourselves in the quite nasty stuff we’ve had thrown at us before we escaped from the Aegean. Dedicated readers of our tales (and those with a retention span of more than a few milliseconds) will recall that we were in Monemvasia and had experienced some very nasty winds. Well, after we published the blog, the wind was from a direction and of a force that it pinned us to the quay wall in the old ferry port, to such an extent that Stephen (off Tantrum) and I used his dinghy to lay out our kedge anchors (and Alixora’s) so as to hold ourselves off the quay wall. Quite exciting as the wind was whipping up quite a bit of wave activity, so we both got thoroughly soaked.

Stephen and Duncan struggle in the dinghy to lay out kedge anchors during the first blow.

Stephen and Duncan struggle in the dinghy to lay out kedge anchors during the first blow.

The next morning, with further westerly winds forecast, we decided to move round the Rock, (you may remember that Monemvasia is not unlike a mini Gibraltar,) to the ‘marina’ to the south of the town, as it was more protected than the ferry port. This entailed a fairly exciting process, using the kedge anchor to pull ourselves off the quay wall before using the motor to hold our position whilst finishing the recovery of the anchor. We found space on the outer end of the quay wall and made ourselves fast, whilst Tantrum went alongside the inner quay.

Tantrum pulling out of the marina with the rock of Monemvasia in the background.

Tantrum pulling out of the marina with the rock of Monemvasia in the background.

That evening we caught the bus to the old castle on the island. It is a lovely little place, full of a maze of little streets and alleyways, with a collection of shops and bars. We had supper there after Stephen and I found that the upper castle on the hill top was closed for repairs.

 

We’d been weather watching (you tend to do this when things aren’t going as they’re meant to,) downloading forecasts from the web two or three times a day. As it was obvious that there was a lot more wind to come, I re-rigged the Aquair as a wind turbine to take advantage of the free energy, as the ‘marina’ doesn’t have electricity. It span up quite happily but failed to produce any wiggly amps, so it was hauled down and I found a loose wire in the back of the machine; a short period of intense swearing and the use of the soldering iron sorted that out and we were once again reaping the side effect of the wind.

Supper time in Monemvasia.

Supper time in Monemvasia.

In the meantime, Stephen came round to say that he’d booked the fuel tanker for 10am. It finally appeared about an hour and a half late after a nagging phone call. Then Stephen discovered for himself that, for the most part, fuel from tankers is a cash business….. We managed to pay his bill from both our wallets then he took off for town to visit the ATM whilst I took delivery of fuel for Rampage. He arrived back at our boat just in time to pay for my fuel…… Once that was sorted, Tantrum departed north, as the winds were OK for that direction, whereas we stayed put as the winds round Cape Maleas to the south were from entirely the wrong direction and strong to boot.

 

That evening, J and I donned walking shoes and set off to follow the path round the base of the Rock. It wasn’t a particularly long walk but we enjoyed the views over the sea and it was good to have a leg stretch. There is a 2 stage cache on the rock; we found the clues but couldn’t make the puzzle work out. From previous logs from the cache, it was clear that we were not alone! Disappointed, we stumped off back to the boat for supper but stopped on our way to have a drink with Brian and Rose when we spotted them in a bar by the bridge back to the mainland. They set off the following morning to go round the cape but we opted to stay put as there was a storm predicted over the next couple of days, so we felt it would be better to wait a few more days.

J on the path round the rock.  It got quite interesting later as the path disappeared amongst the rocks.

J on the path round the rock. It got quite interesting later as the path disappeared amongst the rocks.

I spent time that evening and the next morning re-examining the clues for the cache and came to the conclusion that I knew where it might be…. So next morning we walked round to the causeway and managed to find it,which gave me no end of satisfaction. When we got back to the boat, we found the port police were visiting all the boats in the ‘marina’ to warn us about the high winds forecast for that night and the next few days. We were already aware of the forthcoming blow but had failed to appreciate how the layout of the coast would tend to bend waves into the ‘marina’ and fishing harbour. We doubled up on our mooring lines and prepared for an uncomfortable night, which didn’t in fact materialise. However, the wind continued to build the next day, so we moved Rampage further along the quay into a space vacated by a charter boat which had had to head north to meet his end of charter date. Despite (or perhaps because of) a lot of helping hands, I managed to ding the bow as we came in.

 

To add to the fun and games, the mobile internet service decided to pack in, so in order to get weather forecasts we had to traipse round to the town and find a bar with wifi. J in particular was back and forth as she was having some sort of prolonged conference with folks back home and I was unwilling to leave the boat.

 

By now it was 5 June and the wind had finally packed up in Monemvasia but was still blowing from the wrong direction further south. We decided that 6 June looked good to get round the cape and away, so we packed up everything in anticipation of an early start. The evening before we left, there was an impromptu quayside BBQ organised by an English couple for the 5 or so boats that were waiting to escape. We had a very pleasant time but turned in fairly early as we wanted to be away by 6am as we had to cover 60 miles or so to Porto Kayio.

Quayside BBQ in Monemvasia.

Quayside BBQ in Monemvasia.

As previously mentioned in our previous post, we hate early mornings; however we managed to get up and away by 0540, according to the log book. We motored as far as the cape before catching some wind round corner and sailing for a few hours before the wind packed up and we had to motor again.

 

As we approached Porto Kayio, we were puzzled to pick up a series of radio messages in French; finally the penny dropped, just as the messages switched to English. A small yacht off our port side had suffered engine failure and was requesting a tow into the anchorage. We were happy to oblige and passed them a line, proceeding at a stately pace into the anchorage where we were able to manoeuvre us both into a position for them to drop their anchor. I later visited them and found that their engine had demonstrated the classic symptoms of a blocked fuel feed. Unfortunately, they had a Yanmar engine fitted and I had no spare filters which would fit their engine. Luckily, another boat was able to help them out and they managed to get their engine running again later that evening.

J at the helm as we tow the French yacht into Porto Kayio.

J at the helm as we tow the French yacht into Porto Kayio.

I’ve just realised that I have failed to tell you what we’d decided to do after being stuck for so long in Monemvasia! We figured that with the unstable weather patterns we been having, the chances of getting stuck somewhere in the Peloponnese, miles from anywhere and any source of resupply was just too great. So we would make a series of long hops to get round to the western coast where we knew that there were safe ports and sources of supply. Hence the long day to Porto Kayio and then our departure at 0610 am the following day for Pilos!

 

We got the last place in the marina at Pilos and set off, on a very hot afternoon, to find the chandlers to replace a large orange fender which we’d lost in the storm in Monemvasia. In the event, we found the shop had moved, so we had a long hot traipse round town before we found the new premises. One of the reasons for going to this particular shop is the owner, who is always very welcoming, providing cold drinks to hot and bothered customers, not to mention the gift of a bottle of his own olive oil…..

 

Our next hop was only thirty miles to Kiparisia so we had a more relaxed start to the following day and we got a couple of hours sailing in before arriving at half past four. Kiparisia harbour is very large, with quays over 500 metres long enclosing the harbour. There is water and electricity available and space for hundreds of boats. All that we found there were a few local boats, a large derelict Tunisian fishing boat and perhaps a dozen visiting yachts. Oh, and a Tunisian refugee who takes lines, give advice and accepts small change!

A truly thundery Greek fisherman and his Tunisian sidekick under matching skies in Kiparissia.

A truly thundery Greek fisherman and his Tunisian sidekick under matching skies in Kiparissia.

We’d been tied up less than an hour when we realised that another boat was coming in to tie up behind us. However, in the meantime, a Greek fisherman had set up an elaborate system of rods and other paraphernalia just our stern and was indescribably furious at being expected to move. The Dutch yacht coming in was taking no prisoners and simply ignored him and carried on with the business of tying up, all but tying said fisherman up with their mooring lines. He was incandescent and got on his phone to somebody, in due course joined by a couple of ineffectual cohorts. However the Dutch remained unmoved, merely repeating that this was a facility for boats not for fishermen. He remained in place at the stern of our boat all evening and was still there some six or seven hours later as we went to bed, glowering and muttering to himself, the while. D took the precaution of photographing him just in case he decided to take revenge on all the yachtsmen by untying our lines in the night or some such thing. However all was well and he was gone in the morning when we woke.

D poses in the castle before finding the cache.

D poses in the castle before finding the cache.

We did an early morning walk up to the castle above the town the next day (9 June) to bag a cache. The night before we’d heard a good deal of Gregorian chanting from the town as the churches celebrated Pentecost and as we passed the churches we could hear the continuing chanting going on as the early morning services were held.

We then had a very boring day’s motoring in a straight line to Katakolon, where Leon (the harbour master) busily told us just how to moor our boat. This makes J very cross and induces in me a tendency to ignore whatever it is that’s being said. We had supper in a taverna ashore that evening as the whole of Greece was shut for the Pentecost holiday and we’d run out of fresh food.

 

The next day saw us leaving Katakolon for the last leg into the Ionian as we headed for Poros on Kephalonia (the Greeks have a shortage of place names and there are several places called Poros, hence the need to be specific!) It was great to arrive back into our summer cruising ground after the fun and games of the past couple of weeks.

 

Oh rats. I forget to mention the other reason behind the move to the Ionian, and indeed our urgency in getting there. Our good friend Andy had been in touch via Facebook to let us know that he was visiting Prevza to sort out his boat, Curly Sue and put her on the market. He was returning to UK on 16 June, so we had to get up to Nidri to meet him before then…….

 

Now you understand why it is that our next stop was Nidri! We arrived there about half past two and contacted Andy to let him know where we were; he and his son-in-law Chris, drove down to meet us and we had a great evening discussing things before they headed back to their boat. It was wonderful to see Andy again although it is sad to see him selling Curly Sue.

 

The following day was largely spent fitting the spare bits we’d bought from the chandlers in Nidri. New clutch handles, a replacement for the connector to the masthead VHF antenna and replacing all the fender ropes after the hammering they took in the storm. Incidentally, all the lovely fender covers J has made in Sant Carles were pretty much shredded so they’ve been removed and new ones will be made as soon as new material is to hand.

Geocachers meet in Agios Eufemia.

Geocachers meet in Agios Eufemia.

On Friday 13 June we headed out of Nidri, where the water is a bit murky and therefore not suitable for swimming and went to an anchorage on the northern end of Meganisi, where we gaily frolicked in the water and generally took things easy. The next day we motored down to Agios Eufima on Kephalonia aiming to attend a geocachers’ meet and greet. This we did and had a very enjoyable time chatting to about 8 or so other obsessives who had come on holiday to the island and were aiming to spend at least some of their time looking for caches. While we were all gathered together on the end of the quay, I spotted a large ketch at anchor that I thought I recognised. J confirmed that it was indeed our neighbours from our winter in Barcelona – Josie and Doug aboard Windsong. Accordingly, next morning before departure, we went over in the dinghy to say hello and have a quick catch-up. Skylark III, from our pontoon in Agios Nikolaos this last winter, was also lying at anchor, so having left Josie and Doug with promises to meet for a drink or a meal later in the summer, we swung passed Skylark to say hello and check on the welfare of the old outboard that Chris and Desi inherited from us. Then, having filled up with fuel and water, we headed back to Meganisi to meet up with Tantrum again.

Doug and Josie's boat Windsong.

Doug and Josie’s boat Windsong.

We rafted up with lines ashore with Tantrum and settled down for a couple of days in the company of Stephen and Linda. We had a great time, going for a day sail on their catamaran, something J and I had not had the opportunity to do before, eating and drinking possibly a little more than was good for us and generally having fun.

Tantrum flying her cruising chute with the logo for all to see.

Tantrum flying her cruising chute with the logo for all to see.

After 2 nights in the anchorage, we sailed across to Lefkada, winding up in Vlikho bay for the night, eating ashore in Dimitris Taverna to say farewell, as Tantrum is being lifted out of the water on 19 June before Linda and Stephen fly back to UK.

Not to be outdone, Rampage with her cruising chute up.

Not to be outdone, Rampage with her cruising chute up.

Today has been taken up with taking the laundry down to Nidri and generally doing not very much apart from my writing this blog. We will probably move down to Port Leone on Kalamos tomorrow once we’ve picked up the laundry and generally bimble round the islands for the next few weeks.

J has a happy moment on Tantrum!

J has a happy moment on Tantrum!

P.S. It’s raining with thunder and lightening again today; what is going on with the weather this year??

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2 comments

  1. Looks like we are having an El Nino event this hurricane season which is wonderful for us – ie usually means no hurricanes to speak of but plays Hell with weather elsewhere. Draught in California, floods in the mid west. Could this be the source of your unpredictable weather? Made me laugh that you watch weather several ties a day when required. Des checks every known weather provider almost non stop if there is even a whisper of trouble. Once burned I guess.!! Cheers and fair winds


  2. Lovely here in Devon for the last three weeks,dry sunny and warm,alas Wishbone is now on the market and this morning we have ordered our new project,a Fiat Ducato van to convert to a campervan.



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