From Zakinthos to Elephant’s noses.
Zakinthos was not our best experience. Being used to quiet sheltered anchorages we were rather thrown into the thick of city life whilst picking Sophie up.
There is an open bay where is is possible to anchor just outside the harbour but it is very exposed and open to the elements. Because there was a wind forecast, and I had two days of work lined up, we arrived in Zakinthos harbour and booked in for 4 nights.
We hardly slept a wink the first night. We thought we had been clever finding a spot on the quay away from the crowds only to find that it turned into a race track as soon as the light starting fading for lonely souls with motorbikes.
Goodness knows what went on but they were still howling up and down at 2am in the morning. The second day we moved the boat into another part of the marina where we could top up with water. Whilst there I began a days work in my office while Paul sorted out equipment on deck. At one point the wash from one of the trip boats was so big it came up over the boat and filled Sophies bedroom with water. Luckily she had vacated the day before and even luckier, I had my end window closed in the office and only got a sprinkling of sea water in through the top hatch sky roof.
We were not sorry to leave. We had stocked up with food, water and fuel and we were all set to set sail again. Having spent the last three months in the Ionian we were heading south to sail around the Peloponnese and then head east over towards the Dodecanese where we will be spending the winter.
I was a little apprehensive. We had had so little wind in the Ionian, I had heard that the seas were a lot wilder where we were heading. I hoped I wouldn’t be afraid. When we planned our route we found that the anchorages were small bays, tiny villages and off the tourist route so that was really exciting. Our first stop was Pilos and oh, what a surprise.
Behind a huge (2 mile long) rock, the town is sheltered with effectively a lake in front of it. The anchorages was marked at the far end of the bay and after a long day sailing (we had come 55 miles) we found sandy beaches with just a few families on. Miles of sandy beaches which had an enclosed lake behind so effectively made a great wildlife sanctuary.
If you ever find yourself in a motorhome traveling around Greece, be sure you are it down here, it is just amazing. The town itself had a relaxed feel yet was buzzing with life, the miles of beaches were practically empty. There were no hire boats buzzing around you, the water was calm because of the huge rock making an inland waterway. The fish were jumping out of the water were a decent size to catch. What more could you possibly ask for?
It was the perfect place for Lilly to have her first walk after her little mishap. She really enjoyed the soft sand, I think the first soft sand we had seen. There was no litter on the beaches or in the sea, it was calm to swim in and Lilly really enjoyed it. I had internet connection for working and the town even had a mini chandlery so that must make it one of our top spots to date.
If you ever get the chance … and want to be away from the crowds, look up Pilos.
We stayed for a few days before heading off around the first finger to spend the night at Koroni.
Our journey around the first finger of the Peloponnese was with quite big waves although not a lot of wind. Goodness knows how big the waves would have been if there had been wind.
We anchored overlooking a lovely little town which seemed almost deserted. As the waves were still quite big we decided to stay on board and make an early start in the morning for the next step. The waves got bigger and more disturbed as the evening went on, we had the most uncomfortable night to date. I think I slept for 2 or 3 hours at most. What we couldn’t really work out was that it still wasn’t windy. Luckily the anchor held and we tossed and rocked through until morning. It was a bit being like in a washing machine, the boat does little circles as it points into the waves and swills you round. We had experienced this with our overnight sails trying to sleep but not at all whilst at anchor.
We hoisted the sail as soon as we got up and began the next stage of the journey. The forecast said there would be wind until 10am and then nothing. At 10.15am we acknowledged that it had been right and we lowered the spinnaker and started the engines. We kept the main sail up and with the wind and wave behind us now we had a more comfortable drive around the bottom of the second finger of the Peloponnese.
It was an easy sail with no sign of the washing machine waves. The wind was behind us and we enjoyed our day immensely. At the tip of the Peloponnese the Ionian becomes the Aegean sea. So our third sea on our voyage so far.
We arrived in Port Kayio at 4pm. This little inlet was very different. The little village was arranged around the inlet. With high cliffs behind it was sheltered from 3 sides. By 5pm there were 9 sail boats anchored beside us. It was obviously a much better anchorage and we knew we would be able to catch up on sleep. We were surprised to find a helipad on one bank, a couple of tavernas but not a lot else. The old monastery on the hill hung over the cliff edge. There were no apparent roads to it and it made me wonder how hard living on the edge of a cliff must be.
Our next leg would take us down to the tip of the third finger of the Peloponnese. From our research we could see more big sandy beaches open to the south on the island of Elafonisos. Paul gives each of the islands or harbours nick names because it is often difficult to remember the pronunciation of them all. This one became known as ‘Elephant’s Noses’. We were looking forward to a good swim, lots of sunshine, sand walking and exploring. As we traveled east we checked the coming forecast for the Aegean.
We realised our timing was not the best and that the wind was coming in. The Aegean is renowned for it’s Meltemi winds, blowing hard from the north. When in full swing you need to find a sheltered anchorage because the swell gets big! Whilst we were sailing we researched where we could find good shelter from the approaching Meltemi.
The wind was going to hit on Sunday evening and last a good week. It was forecast at non stop 35 mile an hour winds for 5 to 7 days. Yuk. I had arranged a week off work so that we could enjoy the sailing and have some time to explore the area. But it seemed that mother nature had other plans for me. We had two days to get to a sheltered harbour and then we would be stuck there for a good week. Elafonisos was not going to be the best place for this wind. It was open and exposed and had a reputation of having the biggest waves in Greece. Not my idea of fun.
Being on a catamaran is fine in the wind but not so good in large waves because the waves slam the centre of the bridge deck from underneath making large banging noises. We had already experienced the washing machine effects in disturbed waves when they come from different directions as they merge and funnel through. We needed a better plan.
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