Sunday, 31 August 2008

Pilos and ABR

Hi from Clare, Sunday 31/8

Photo 1 - First view of Pilos fort
Photo 2 - A church within the fort
Photo 3 - The fort walls
Photo 4 - View of marina from the fort

When leaving Monemvasia on Tuesday we had a window of opportunity in the weather to travel around the bottom of the Peloponnisos peninsular and up the west coast to Pilos before the prevailing n/w wind came back. (Our plan is to travel back s/e slowly with the wind behind us). The trip took three days, sometimes the sailing was a good 6-8 knots on a beam reach, sometimes we had to motor due to lack of wind and when coming around the bottom of the peninsular, which is notoriously windy, we had two reefs in the mainsail and30 knots of wind.

We anchored the first night at Elafonisos which reportedly has the clearest water in the Mediterranean. Andrew didn't need to swim out and check the anchor set. From the bow of the boat, we could see the anchor and chain quite clearly nestled on the sandy bottom in seven metres of dazzling aqua water.

The second night we stopped at the small town of Porto Kayio (the main street is the beach). The town lies in a small bay surrounded by steep hills denuded of all vegetation. I remember stopping here in 2005 on our way to Turkey. Usually, I don't easily recall the anchorages from past years but this one stood our in my memory. When last here the locals were shooting pheasants on the hillsides and I kept my head down imagining bullets whistling everywhere. I half expected to be shot or at least have some bullet holes in our lovely new boat. This time however, with no pheasant shooting, we spent a peaceful night at Porto Kayio.

We arrived at Pilos late Thursday, anchored out for a swim and then moved into the marina Friday morning so we could explore the town. Pilos was largely built by the French in the 19th century. It has elegant buildings around a large shaded square with the usual outdoor cafes and restaurants. It also has a fort dating back to the 17th century, built by the Venetians and added to by the Turks. The fort is an impressive sight when approaching the town by sea. However it seems that every town has a fort and each town claims that 'their fort' is of particular importance in history. All true I guess but after a few years of tramping around many sites, we have nicknamed them as ABRs, (Another Bloody Ruin).

Since we have been here the wind has gathered to full strength and eased off. Looks like our plan is working and over the years we have learnt something about the wind Woo Hoo! We will leave Pilos tomorrow morning and make our way back stopping off to check out another town and ABR.

All is well on board and we have settled back into cruising life enjoying every day and the many people we meet.

love CANDY

Monday, 25 August 2008

A lovely walled town

Hi from Clare, Monday 25/8

Photo 1 - Upper defense walls
Photo 2 - Hagia Sophia
Photo 3 - Overhead view of walled town
Photo 4 - Restored buildings on original town street
Photo 5 - Candy in town square

We left Milos at 4.30 am on Friday to travel the 65 miles to Monemvasia on the east coast of the Peloponnisos peninsular. We had a great sail at 60 degrees with two reefs and small genoa right up to full rig. We averaged 6 knots and arrived at 3.30pm anchoring in a lovely quite bay for swimming and relaxation. Out American friends headed north from Milos experiencing heavy sailing into strong winds and lumpy seas, so glad we headed west.

Before daylight we spotted a brand new plastimo inflatable dinghy riding the waves ahead of us. It was heading for Africa and we half expected a person to sit up as we approached. Fortunately the only thing in the dinghy was a set of oars and so we did a sea rescue and towed it to Monemvasia. It has no identification marks and it so new that its ropes are still a brilliant white. We could sell it, but so far it has been deflated and squirreled away under the forward bunk. My guess is it will be there for some time!

We took the bus to the old town of Monemvasia which is situated on an tall island (a huge lump of rock) off the coast connected by a causeway. The bus driver (Fotis) lived in Sydney, moved to Darwin, was wiped out by cyclone Tracey (no insurance) and returned Monemvasia. We arrived at the bus stop ten minutes early but Fotis wasn't too concerned about the timetable and took us immediately to the walled town yelling and gesticulating at every driver that got in his way.

The old town of Monemvasia started in 6th century (Byzantine)and has the familiar embattled history ruled by Turks, Venitians, Turks, Venetians. It is an archaeological site with an upper town with Citadel and Hagia Sofia (byzantine church) still standing inside the upper defensive walls. There are many ruined buildings but the cisterns are still intact. The cliffs are so sheer that defensive walls are built on only part of the top perimeter.

The lower walled town down near the sea is being rebuilt in character as accommodation, restaurants and craft shops along the original stone streets. The 12th century churches still stand and some are in use today. The restoration of the town is beautifully done and with its red clay tiled roves looks very much like Dubrovnic.

Monemvasia doesn't seem to be on the normal cruising route. Most of the boats in the marina are Greek owned and when in town the shops and restaurants are frequented by the Greek community. Our Greek neighbour has been cruising for twenty years and hasn't left Greece yet. He is convinced that he hasn't enough time in life to see all the wonderful bays and anchorages in Greece, so for him venturing any further is out of the question!

We will probably leave tomorrow for Elafonisos which is 35 miles south, then west. Our Greek neighbour ensures us that Elafonisos is a very beautiful place - guess he should know!

love CANDY

Friday, 22 August 2008

Kathryn's holiday on Milos

Hi from Clare, Thursday 21/8 (Happy birthday Paul) Photo 1 - Kathryn's arrival Photo 2 - Wind surfer off the bow of our boat. Photo 3 - Andrew's birthday dinner. Photo 4 - Kathryn

Well we have been on the Greek island of Milos, 50 miles n/w of Santorini, for two weeks. Milos is a favourite holiday destination for the Greek community and so many ferries arrive day and night. However when Kathryn flew into Athens the ferries were so heavily booked she couldn't get to Milos until the following day. After this experience we decided to organise her return to Athens in plenty of time. Before booking the ferry Kathryn considered flying back to Athens but discovered the flights were booked out until September. Quite unbelievable really, as Milos is only one little Greek island.

This is the longest we have ever stayed on a Greek island and we have had a great time. We have enjoyed traditional Greek food and local wine, walked and bussed around the island, visited the Plaka up on the hilltop, the catacombs and ancient city, strolled around the tourist shops and watched the passing parade over ice coffee. At night the town is alive with families enjoying meals or drinks in outdoor restaurants while the children play in the central playground. The promenade is packed with families out for a stroll in the warm night air eating ice cream and fairy floss. Each morning many old folk come down to the beach for a swim. Young children attend learn to swim or sailing classes and wind surfing is a popular pastime when the meltemi is blowing. It really is a great atmosphere, no pounding discos on this island!

We invited our American neighbours over to meet Kathryn and had a great night over a few too many drinks! We also circumnavigated the island again with Kathryn. It's an impressive sight with the colorful volcanic coastline, sparkling blue Aegean sea and not a cloud in the sky. We stopped off for many swims and Kathryn was first in the water nearly every time. She quickly got the hang of boat life, enjoying the peace and relaxation. However, all too soon her week came to an end, but there is always a next time.

Earlier in the season I was crowing about the terrific quality and low price fruit and vegetables in Turkey. So to be fair I should tell you some of the astronomical prices here.

I paid $5.00 for 2 peaches, grapes are $7.20 a kilo, poor quality apples and oranges are $5.00 a kilo. Most vegetables are frozen and the fresh vegetables are very poor quality and wilted before purchase. I guess most fresh produce would be flown in, as the island is volcanic, rich in minerals and mining is it's main activity. Oh, how I long for the fresh fruit markets of Turkey, but I can't have everything!

So now we are back to normal routine. Yesterday we restocked the boat with food and fuel. We had drinks with our American neighbours again last night. Today I have done the washing and Andrew is on deck servicing the winches. We will probably leave tomorrow and head west to the Peloponnisos, our American friends are leaving tomorrow and heading north. So goodbye to Milos and good friendship and on to the next adventure.

love CANDY

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Thursday, 14 August 2008

More Milos

Hi from Clare, Wednesday 13/8

Photo 1 - A great snorkeling spot
Photo 2 - A peaceful sunset
Photo 3 - A very colourful cliff face.

Our anchorage in the harbour at Milos has become all too comfortable. Shops at the doorstep, fresh bread every morning, plenty of ice for our drinks and terrific company from our American neighbours anchored next to us. We have spent many happy hours with them swapping stories.

Yesterday we decided it was time to do something different so for the past two days Andrew and I have circumnavigated the island of Milos. The sailing was good with a maximum speed of 8.5 knots on a beam reach. We stopped at many beaches and snorkeling spots, swimming through caves and enjoying the clear water and sunshine. The temperature is around 25 degrees which is very pleasant.

We are now back in the harbour in preparation for Kathryn arriving tomorrow evening for a week. We are looking forward to her company, we will have a great time together starting with celebrating Andrew's 56th birthday on Friday.

love CANDY

Sunday, 10 August 2008


Hi from Clare, Saturday 9/8

Photo 1 - Love that storm jib
Photo 2 - Andrew on top of the world
Photo 3 - Ancient city theatre
Photo 4 - Clare in "Bus stop blue" blouse

We arrived in Milos Thursday afternoon after covering 56 miles in 9 hours, that's an average of 6 knots which is pretty fast for Eye Candy. In the last three days of exhilarating sailing we have weathered 3 gales (wind over 33 knots) at sea and one at anchor. Once again our storm jib did a wonderful job of keeping the boat steady and made if possible to prepare lunch under rather lumpy conditions.

We spent time yesterday checking out the town, shopping and doing boat chores. Today we went sight seeing to the highest point of the island. We had a fantastic 360 degree view of Milos and nearby islands. We also visited the ancient city and Christian catacombs. I wore my new blue blouse and white shorts which was probably a mistake as I blended in perfectly with the Greek blue and white everything i.e. churches, shops, houses and even the bus stop. Andrew has now christened my blouse "bus stop blue"- so that's the last straw, the cheeky fellow!, tomorrow I'm wearing pink and staying away from the bougainvillea.

We will be in Milos for a few weeks as Kathryn, our friend who looked after us so well when in Egypt, is coming to stay for a week starting 14/8. There is plenty to see and do here and also excellent access to other Greek islands.

Will write again soon, the bar is open and it's time for a sun downer.
love CANDY

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Love that storm jib

Hi from Clare,

We arrived at the Greek Island of Ios around 5.30pm after 10 hours of sailing between 2-8 knots plus bursts of motoring for lack of wind. We sailed with a full jib and main sail, partly furled jib with 1 or 2 reefs in the main and on two occasions we used our new storm jib. We sailed to the anchorage with the storm jib up and then put out two anchors to keep Eye Candy safe in the 35 knot winds.

When we returned to the Med this season with our new bright orange storm jib, I truly hoped we would never have to use it. Today we tried it out in very gusty conditions and it was perfect. It settled the boat down immediately and we made better speed (7.7 knots) without heeling over as much. Not afraid of it anymore - love that storm jib, Broadie.

Tomorrow we hope to go the Milos weather permitting. It will probably be easier at sea than in this anchorage. I think we will sleep in the aft cabin tonight as the bow is bobbing around a treat - life is certainly an adventure at the moment. We are well and happy and having a wonderful time.

love CANDY

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Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Time to leave

Hi from Clare Tuesday 5/8

The wind has dropped, the sun is out, the birds are cheeping, so it's time to leave. We will head out first thing in the morning to the island of Ios on our way to the Peloponnisos south of mainland Greece. The Peloponnisos area is very beautiful, we have passed through it a few times en route to other destinations, this time we will stop and enjoy.

Andrew, in an attempt to find the elusive salt water leak, ended up pulling out the gas locker and re sealed it. We don't know if this will fix the problem but he has previously re sealed every other fitting at the back of the boat - so fingers crossed.

We have spent the last two days catching up on emails and odd jobs. There is always plenty to do on board, the definition of cruising is "doing maintenance on your boat in exotic places" that would be funny if it wasn't so true.

We are both well and happy
love CANDY

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Monday, 4 August 2008

You just can't win

Hi from Clare, Sunday 3/8

After leaving Castellorizo (and the Kekova area) we made our way back to Bodrum moving further away from the equator. We were glad to get away from the 35 degrees very hot and sweaty conditions. I remember when typing my last email I was constantly mopping my face so the perspiration wouldn't drop on the keyboard. Well we certainly fixed that situation, we are now anchored at the Greek island of Astipalaia sheltering from 25 knot winds -"you just can't win"

Over the past week or so we have been talking to many of the EMYR rally participants, it seems we are all suffering from the same complaint "what to do next?". With the rally first up in the season we have peaked too early and we are now laying around at anchor trying to convince ourselves we need a rest. I think the truth is, we realise there is nothing for the remainder of this season that will compare to the rally experience. With this in mind it's a bit hard to get motivated and move on.

So we decided to go west and "move on" straight into the Meltemi north west wind, this was guaranteed to get us motivated.

Yesterday we sailed 50 miles from Bodrum to Astipalaia and got a pasting. For seven hours we headed 50 degrees apparent wind angle (into the wind) to the north end of the island. The sea had a two metre swell with wind up to 35 knots and gathering, so we decided (after seven hours)to head for the south end of the island. Andrew, harnessed on, did some fancy ballet on the foredeck getting the mainsail down while I offered some unwanted advice from the cockpit, confident in the knowledge that no one would hear over the howling wind. We then ran with the wind and rolled for the next three hours down the coast. The first cup of coffee I made Andrew slid across the cockpit floor slapped up against the seat emptying the contents (oops, I forgot the rubber mat!).

We are now anchored in seven metres of water with 60 metres of 10ml chain and and 20 metres of nylon snubber. We are
comfortable enough but the wind is howling so much that various things are vibrating, both on deck and below. We spent the entire morning cleaning up a salt water leak which appears only after heavy seas but we can't find where it's getting in.
The upside of this is we get to clean out all our hidy holes, it's like Christmas. One thing I do know now is, I don't need to stash away anymore food!

So now we wait until the wind drops and then decide where to go next!

Today (24 degrees) we got to put some clothes on, good news - they still fit.

love CANDY

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