Easter time in the Cyclades

Boiled and dyed red for the life and blood of Christ…. Happy Easter

Well…. this is a “double thumbs up” blog. Firstly we managed to get out to the Cyclades – having spent the second half of last year’s sailing season failing to do so due to adverse wind conditions. Secondly, having always wanted to spend Easter in Greece we finally did it – and in a place where Greeks from the mainland travel to celebrate. So now I want to tell you how it all came together.

We left Kalamata Marina on 13th April intending to just sail down the west side of the Mani peninsular to Porto Káyio. However, we made better progress than anticipated and, at 2.30pm, with the wind in our favour at a steady 12-15kn from the West, we decided not to stop at the bottom but to carry on east and cross to the nearest Cycladic Island – Mílos.

All was going really well. We were averaging 6.7kn, “Coriander” had also decided to change course and follow us and we had approximately 100 of the 145 miles to go when, at 5.55pm, an awful grinding noise came from below – the autopilot arm had stopped working. Mike spent just over 2 hours trying to see if he could find out what was wrong with it but to no avail. We still aren’t sure whether it would have continued to work but it certainly didn’t sound as if it was doing the mechanism any good. Even though we quickly decided we would have to buy a new one, we wanted to preserve as much of this one as possible hoping that buying whatever part had ceased working would then give us a spare.

This meant we manually helmed for the next 16 hours!!! OK, OK, I know – some sailors do it all the time but when you get used to one of the luxuries of modern boating then not having it makes it all feel rather worse – especially as we had to negotiate our way through a busy shipping channel – trying to keep an even course – in the middle of the night with basically no sleep for either of us. I suppose we could have turned round but by this time it was almost as far back as forward and it would have been into wind. We could have diverted to somewhere like Porto Heli – but it was just as far and we reasoned that a new pilot arm could be shipped just as easily by regular ferry as by courier overland. So – Mílos it was.

We passed the imposing cliff entrance at around 11.00am the following morning……

Impressive granite entrance

…. entered the “Caldera bay” 30 minutes later….

Secure caldera bay

….and joined “Coriander” in the Agios Dimitrios anchorage on the southern shoreline….

The first anchorage of the season – lovely Agios Dimitrios. Great for south and west winds.

A couple of G+T’s preceded an afternoon snooze, a meal and an early night followed by a walk ashore the following morning to stretch our legs. Thus, by mid-afternoon on 15th April, with the wind due to increase and shift to the north overnight, and stay like that for the next few days, we were ready to move to the anchorage off the island’s main town – Adámas ….

Late afternoon light at Adhamas

… where we had internet access and could try to find a Raymarine dealer. This proved remarkably easy and we were soon in touch with “Elektroniki”, Athens who told us a replacement could be with us either by 20th or 22nd [4-6 days].

However, before we could settle down to alternately entertaining ourselves and doing the usual few bits of maintenance, we had to move the boat again because early the following morning Mike looked over the side and saw that we had fouled our chain on a very large old anchor which was lying on the seabed.

Now who left this great lump for us to snag

With a lucky “lasso” type rope trick and some help from Steve we managed to extricate ourselves in about an hour, after which R&R in the shape of frappes followed by a bus ride to the Chora was called for.

The twin settlements of Pláka and Tripití perch atop the edge of an escarpment 5km above Adámas.

Plaka church atop the right peak

We got off the bus at the “catacombs” stop and walked down the hill to visit the C1 Christian burial site which, according to “The Lonely Planet” was open until 7pm. They closed at 2pm, just 10 minutes before we got there! We therefore walked back up the hill, detouring to see a rather unspectacular theatre – in comparison to others we have seen – but we did find this sign…..

Aphrodite…. Venus. The Louvre got the statue – Milos got this plaque!

Yes – the “Aphrodite of Milos” was found here in April 1820 by a local farmer digging in his field. Apparently there was a dispute between France and Ottoman Turkey over entitlement and we all know who won. However, some stories suggest that it was during the dispute that she lost her arms which does rather conjure up an interesting mental picture of the ownership struggle!

The main church of the Chora is perched right at the top of the hill, from which there are spectacular views…

“This one, that one and the one over there”

The title given to the photograph above was going to be the title of this blog but, due to the fact that the autohelm arm was delayed by 36 hours from the latest time originally given – a courier rather than supplier problem – it meant that “Owl and Pussycat” didn’t actually make it to “that one, or “the one over there”, namely Kimolos and Poliagos. “Coriander” did…. How much incentive do you need, Mr Toms, to catch up with your blogging? Mind you I haven’t really got room to talk as it is two months since I last put fingers to keyboard.

Whilst in Adámas we also visited the Mílos Mining Museum, the volcanic island having a fascinating history of mineral extraction dating from the Neolithic period. At that time obsidian was exported to the Minoan civilisation based in Crete. Today Mílos is the largest bentonite and perlite centre in the EU. I am sure our friend Cathy will know all about these two minerals but, for the non-chemists out there – or those who haven’t visited Mílos’s museum, Bentonite clay is used medicinally in mud baths and also in excavation and foundation engineering due to its ability to swell and gel when dispersed in water. Perlite is a volcanic glass with a high water content which is used in various ways including horticulture, filtration systems and the explosives industry. So, now you now as much as I do.

We caught up with “Coriander” again on 24th April when we rendezvoused in the almost landlocked bay of Vathi on the SW corner of Sífnos.

Not the best view of Ormos Vathi… but the only one I’ve got!

We made the most of our two night stay by visiting the island’s capital – Apollonia.

Labyrinthine….

and church studded….

….it provided a great day out. For those of you who like walking, Sífnos would be a great island for you to visit as it has more than a dozen signposted trails and fairly good bus connections to enable you to get around. We would have liked to stay longer but Easter was fast approaching and we had one more destination before reaching our chosen Easter venue.

So, a great four and a half hour sail east in 9-15kn winds during the morning of 26th April brought us to the “Dhespotico” anchorage to the south of Anti-Páros. Mike and I had been twice before to this well sheltered brilliant spot but never actually gone ashore onto Dhespotico Island. Time to “bag” another one by putting feet on land.

Desolate Dhespotico ……. Anti-Paros in the background

Not exactly a lot to see or do but it was a fun half hour before sundowners at the taverna on the shores of Anti-Páros.

A peaceful evening

Easter Saturday morning saw us motoring up through Stenón AndiPárou [the Anti-Paros channel] where we saw least depths of 3.3m going through the narrow gap to the west of Remmatonisi.

We dropped anchor in 5.5m water just to the west of Náoussa marina – very convenient for the celebrations to follow. I have long known that Pátmos is the most renowned Greek Island to visit at Easter but it was “too far, too fast” for what we wanted to achieve sailing-wise in April/May of this year so I was delighted when I read that Naoussa is the Easter destination of choice for many Greeks. We were not disappointed.

Following parties in the narrow streets around the harbour during Saturday afternoon and evening…..

The old port

Original fishing village

…….. celebrants gathered inside and outside the church of Agios Nikolaos……

Privileged to be sharing this ceremony

…. for the late evening mass – the “Resurrection Service”. This finished when, at exactly midnight, the Priest proclaimed that Christ has risen and everyone lit their candles and greeted each other with “Christos Anesti” [Christ has risen] to which the reply was “Alithos Anesti” [He has truly risen].

A Beautiful moment

Next year, if we are lucky enough to still be in Greece, we will know to buy candles.

Easter Day itself was almost a repeat of the previous day with parties outside every café, bar and restaurant. We had booked a table at “Mosxhonas” – a traditional fisherman’s restaurant where they served “Magiritsa” – a lamb tripe soup – which, unsurprisingly, we didn’t have – and whole lamb on the spit….

Not to everyone’s taste…. but definitely to ours

…. which we did.

Everyone was incredibly friendly and more than happy to have a party of Brits celebrate alongside them. Mike ended up with a new best mate after he had bought us wine and we had reciprocated with a few beers….

….. and Gill and I joined in with some impromptu dancing. Another splendid day.

“Opa”….

Despite us finding a small family restaurant, Naoussa can no longer be described as a quiet fishing village. Whilst there remain vestiges of the C15 settlement….

C15 Venetian Kastro

Ancient harbour with our anchorage in the background

…. and the occasional un-renovated building, the narrow streets of the Old Town now house up market bars and chic designer shops – though we did find a rather more eclectic one.

An interesting collection… and Yes, it was an art shop

Overall, it was a pleasant place to spend Easter and our bus trip the following day to the main port town of Parikia finished off nicely our stay on Páros. Similar tourist trappings to Naoussa led us to seek out less popular spots, in particular the “Frankish Kastro” with, as you can see, its outer walls built with stones from ancient buildings which once stood on or near the same site.

Incredible!

Apparently remnants of archaic temples to Athena and an Ionic C5BC temple have been identified.

As usual, churches abound and though I was particularly taken by the external architecture of Panagia Agios Konstantinos….

Lovely portico

…. It was nothing compared to the splendour of Panagia Ekatonapyliani. I suppose with a name like that, translated as the Church of a Hundred Doors, it has to be something special – even if it doesn’t actually have anything like that number of doors or gates!

The oldest remaining Byzantine church in Greece, it dates from AD326 and is actually three churches in one – the most ornate and largest being Agios Nikolaos….

….and the earliest, the ancient Baptistery.

The courtyards contained elaborate marble structures….

…including what is possibly the middle door of what was once a stone iconostatis …

…. which would have displayed a minimum of two icons but, given its size and richness of carving….

Carving from the base of the pillar

…. probably many more.

From Páros we had intended to sail south to the Small Cyclades. The wind had other ideas and we therefore spent a rolling night at Viklagia, a deserted anchorage on the NE tip of the island, before sailing north to the lovely island of Rinia……

Again, our anchorage in the background

A little bit of Monet in Greece!

….from where, if you remember, we visited Delos – the subject of my previous blog.

With southerly winds still prevailing two days later we decided that since Mykonos was just six miles east we might as well go there. Mike and I had no particular desire to go as we had been once before on a visit which my sister will never forget – and neither, as you can probably tell, will I!  On that occasion we arrived in very lumpy seas with an engine which wouldn’t work due to contaminated fuel and had to tack every two minutes to keep off the rocks until we could be towed into port before the charter company local mechanic came to sort it out. We were then directed to a corner space in the harbour next to a distinctly unfriendly live-aboard who had tied additional mooring lines across the quay which he refused to move and which meant we couldn’t berth properly and therefore dragged in the middle of the night and ended up re-docking in a part of the harbour where we weren’t supposed to be.

Yes… this was taken in 2002!!!!

It was so windy the following day that full beer glasses were flying off tables and we could see that staff were handing out life jackets on the ferries. Wisely, Chris decided not to stay on the little charter boat we were renting and met us later in Poros. We learned several lessons about fuel, engines, how to be a nice neighbour and sailing in rough seas. We also decided that, in our view, Mykonos was overpriced, over visited and not at all Greek. That was back in 2002. Things haven’t changed, with cruise ships now arriving every day.

Great view from the back road – just one of the three cruise ships that day

That said… the island was just across the channel and Steve and Gill had not been so off we went.

A great attraction for Gill was a chance to visit the Shirley Valentine beach. Hmmm – Mykonos seems to have lived up to our memories because a walk over the headland brought us to Agios Ioannis and this….

Didnt look like this in the film!!!

Mykonos Town, Little Venice and the old fishing quarter were even more hectic than we remembered though, just above the main town, there are still some quiet alleyways to discover…..

Yes…. this is Mykonos town

…… which we found after re-visiting the marina/harbour and finding it a much changed – not necessarily for the better – as visitor berths for sailing yachts are now really exposed as the inner harbour has become the haven for trip boats and large motor yachts and the cruise dock.

Unusual…. on the way to the harbour

Nice story…..but, is it true…. or just to attract you to the restaurant?

A couple of bits of good news about the place are that there is an excellent butcher on the airport road out of the harbour and I managed to get a slightly better shot of the famous windmills than I did 17 years ago.

Just like the thousands of other people’s photos of this spot… but had to be done since we were there

Windmills seem to be becoming a regular feature….

The windmills of Trypiti, Milos

….. perhaps I should put together a calendar!

For the duration of our stay we anchored south of Mykonos town in Korfos Bay – which was actually quite nice…..

….. and which, for us at least, proved to be a safe anchorage in the southerly storm which blew through on 5th May. We held firm through 18 hours of high winds [25kn+] which, during the most critical four hours, reached 35+ with several gusts of 46-48kn.

We certainly weren’t sorry to leave especially as our 8 hour sail down from Mykonos and then through the Páros/Naxos channel proved to be a good one. That is except for the last hour when, having reached the southern tip of Naxos, we had to put the engine on to battle across to that’s nights anchorage at Livadi Beach on Skhinóusa, where a pleasant evening was spent and some well-earned ouzo shared.

Skhinóusa was the first of two of the small Cyclades islands we visited, the second being Iraklia. We chose the Iraklia anchorage just 2.6 miles away from the Skhinóusa one which was, again, called Livadi [Pasture land] and the 40 minute crossing gave us plenty of time to settle in before walking to the island port of Agios Georgios where Mike and I had berthed previously……

Idyllic Agios Georgios

…. a fantastic spot, not that the Livadi anchorage was exactly shabby!

Secluded Livadi

In Ancient Greek times this cluster of small islands were densely populated but in the Middle Ages the inhabitants dwindled to just wild goats and even wilder pirates! It wasn’t until after 1821 that recolonization began and, even now, only three of the seven “main” islands are inhabited. We chose not to visit the third which is, apparently, becoming a fashionable island for “in the know” visitors and is referred to by locals as “the Mykonos of the small Cyclades”. Wonder why we weren’t attracted by that one?

Our final Cycladian Island this year was Amorgos – an island with another story to tell from a previous visit in 2010 when Mike and sis’s then partner, Bill, decided they could find their way back to the port from the Chora down the opposite side of the valley to the one we had all walked up. A couple of hours after Chris and I had settled into the taverna, having returned to the port by bus, two weary, bedraggled and scratched men appeared, having had to fight their way through undergrowth and down terraces and Mike almost blind because he had both lost his sunglasses and had P20 sun screen mixed with sweat dripping from his forehead.

So, what do you think Mike and I did this year – yup, the same walk – well the up walk anyway which was, I am sure, steeper than the previous time! I was certainly happy to finally see the Chora emerge….

Phew…. cold drinks ahead

…. and even happier to rediscover its delightful timeless beauty.

OK….so maybe the chairs are new!

And a new coat of whitewash

Now, did I mention a bus back? Well, not in May! Buses up and down don’t run until June so, with hindsight we retraced our steps down the same path….

OK…55 minutes down but nearly twice that time up. Need more practice.

…..getting fabulous views as we descended.

Katapola here we come

Another day and a much shorter walk along the northern shore…..

Great shelter…. except from the west

…..took us to yet another church….

….and also past one of two mermaids which “guard” the bay – the other, not surprisingly, being on the south shore.

The mermaid and the cormorant…. a new legend in the making!

We had anchored at Katopola, a popular yacht destination even this early in the year. Most visiting boats have to squeeze onto the harbour wall because the anchoring space is limited to a very small area at the head of the bay with an imaginary line drawn between the small fishing harbour mole and the small ferry dock in the main harbour area. This is because large ferries also come in to dock in the middle of the night and need swinging room. Interestingly we have since seen similar sized ferries manoeuvre in much smaller spaces [because they have to] but the Port Police are strict with their patrolling of the ferry requirements and we weren’t going to argue – especially as we managed to be [just] inside the imaginary line – phew!

Whilst we walked to the main “town” to provision and to enjoy an excellent gyros meal one night, being anchored close to the fishing harbour encouraged us to partake of sundowners on the north side in the fishing hamlet of Xirokeratidi – lovely.

Bringing in the catch

We also feel that for sailors visiting Amorgos, at least one night in the Nisis Nikouria anchorage is a must.

This is definitely living the dream….

It is where we enjoyed our first BBQ of the year and an anchorage which provided us with a very fitting end to an action and fun packed month in the Cyclades – a start to this year’s sailing season made even better by sharing it with good friends.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2019/08/13/easter-time-in-the-cyclades/

Delos: Another Time, Another Place, Another Sight!

Delos, a small rocky island just 5km x 1.3km might not seem the obvious place for what was, for the Ancient Greeks, a most sacred site due to it being the mythical birthplace of Apollo and his twin sister Artemis.

The Sanctuary of Apollo attracted hundreds of new inhabitants and visiting pilgrims to the island during C7/6BC and the hundreds grew to thousands as it later, C3/2BC, developed as trading port and slightly later still, C1BC, became the greatest commercial centre of the old world.

We decided to visit as part of our sail around the Cyclades – about which you will hear more in my next blog post – but for a couple of reasons I decided Delos was worthy of a post of its own.

Firstly it is, without doubt, a stunning place. The extensive ruins sprawl among the unspoiled natural landscape of the island….

Wildflowers galore

… which lies between the hustle and bustle of commercial Mykonos and the peace and quiet of the small island of Rinia where we anchored in a secluded and sheltered bay.

Fantastic view of part of ancient Delos with our anchorage in the furthest, just visible, bay on Rinia

Visitors and yachts wanting to anchor in the immediate proximity are only allowed during the site opening hours and Delos is uninhabited except for a few custodians, occasional visiting archaeologists, several cats…..

…… and lots of lizards!

Secondly, having arrived by dinghy at what was once part of the old commercial port I was stunned to see this standing in the sea just off the ancient harbour quarter.

Those of you who have visited Crosby Beach, Merseyside you will no doubt recognise it as a “Gormley” though rather than being one of the figures in that permanent exhibition “Another Place”, this statue is actually entitled “6 Times Left”.

We soon found out what it was doing there. NEON, a Greek non-profit organisation seeking to bring contemporary culture to everyone had collaborated with the “Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades” and commissioned “SIGHT” – an unprecedented exhibition in Greece by Sir Anthony Gormley.

The exhibition runs from May to October of this year and, as we visited on 2nd May, we were there on the opening day, as was the man himself!!

Sir Anthony Gormley

Unfortunately we had walked some distance away before my brain registered who I had just passed…..
…….as he was sauntering down the hill at the time rather than having his photograph taken and it didn’t seem quite right to rush back down to ask for his autograph on our pamphlet – though I wish now that I had!

The idea of the installation on Delos is to repopulate the island with human and other forms and to animate the geological and archaeological features of the site. The official pamphlet description of his work is that he “reinterprets the function of sculpture, transforming the traditional status and totems of the ancient world that once adorned public squares, temples and private dwellings into sites of empathy and imaginative projection”. As well as studying the site he also played close attention to the horizon and the topography and the placing of some of his installations reflect that.

So brilliant… “Shore”

“Another Time XI” on Plakes Peak

The above is one of five of the original identical one hundred “Another Time” statues which form part of the Delos exhibition. In total the exhibition hosts 29 “Gormleys”, 5 of which he designed and created specifically for “Sight”.

“Signal II” is one of those and we found it three quarters of the way up Mount Kythnos……

Site specific Gormley “Signal II” alongside the Gormless!!!

…. the “mountain” where fragments of the earliest settlement on the island have been found.

During the islands most prosperous era [mid C2BC] the Theatre Quarter was built with a paved road leading from the harbour to what was once a 6,500 seat theatre.

“Knot” on stage

It was there that the aristocratic class built their homes, often trying to outdo each other in respect of ostentatious architecture or statuary. One tale of “Keeping up with the Jonopouloses” was told outside what was called “Cleopatra’s House” where a woman of that name lived with her rich husband. Their house was not the largest in the street and did not initially boast pillars or statues like their neighbours. Having an inflated opinion of her status she commissioned pillars which were actually too big for the hallway and stood statues of herself and her husband on inscribed plinths. His identified him as the man who bought the tripods which decorated the entrance to the Temple of Apollo, their purchase being another example of showing off!

In this quarter were also various houses now having names linked to the mosaics found in them such as the “House of the Dolphins”…….

….and the “House of Dionysus”, though unfortunately a shadow obscures what is left of Dionysus’s face and all I got was the Tiger!

It was in this house that another site specific commission stood…..

“Reflect” – visually stunning

….and several more sculptures were placed in the remains of other buildings in this quarter.

“Connect” – a rare double Gormley

Made me laugh….”Prop”

Another resident who commissioned and dedicated a monument was a man called Carystios”. He dedicated it to Dionysus and the plinth had a base relief of the god and his companions on one side. On the top was a large phallus….

Monument to Dionysus!

….it must have been quite a sight to behold!

Scattered around the site are several other monuments and statues dedicated to people or gods….

Headless and nameless

 

The goddess “Rome”

….and to animals.

Lion lintel

The Bull Monument in one of the Stoa

The most famous of these are the “Naxion Lions”, the remains of some of the originals now in the small on-site museum.

What remains of the original Naxian Lions

The Lions were dedicated to the Sanctuary of Apollo at its inception within the context of a huge building programme to demonstrate the supremacy of Naxos to all Hellenic pilgrims. They were placed on a natural terrace bordering the road leading from the north port to the sanctuary. Seated on their hind legs with their mouths half open in an eternal roar they must have been quite a formidable sight – especially as most pilgrims had never seen a lion. The number of original Lions is unknown but scholars variously estimate numbers between 9 and 19. To preserve the effect, plaster copies of lions found during excavation have been placed on high bases so that they are at the level archaeologists believe they would have been when on the terrace.

Once a magnificent sight … still amazing, even though they are replicas

At the opposite side of the site to the Theatre Quarter is the “Stadium Quarter” ….

Remains of buildings in the stadium quarter

…. which as well as housing the Stadium also contained the Gymnasium with its many arched entrances.

“Bearing III” in one of the Gymnasium doorways

Between these two quarters were various Stoa and Agora [shopping arcades and market places] where, after introducing tax exemption in the port in 167BC, goods from up to 7,500 arriving ships per year were sold.

“Cast III” in the Competaliast Agora

One of my favourites… site specific “Water” looking into the Minoan fountain near the Italian Agora.

It is in this area that the aforementioned museum plus coffee bar and gift shop now stand.

As I said, the museum is quite small but it contained my two other favourites, inside…..

Loved this placement ….”Shift II”

…. and out….

Mike and his new mate “Rule”- a site specific commission

It was a fantastic day out. Delos itself is fabulous but the addition of the Gormleys was a real, and most unexpected, bonus.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2019/05/21/delos-another-time-another-place-another-sight/

Over wintering at Kalamata Marina 2018/19

For the 2018/19 over wintering season we chose Kalamata due to its position relative to last year’s sailing plans, because it has a good bus link to Athens – and thus to the main Greek airport, that the marina is very reasonably priced and that Kalamata sounded like a nice place to spend the winter months. On all counts we were not disappointed. In addition, as the “jobs undertaken” at the end of this blog post shows, access to parts and, more importantly, skilled workers was great.

Kalamata is the capital of the province of Messinia and the second largest city in the Peloponnese. It is, of course, famous for its olives and, as we were there during olive picking season, we took full advantage and cured and bottled our own.

Lots to choose from in the market

Mike putting a slit in each one

Bottled with oil, garlic, lemon and herbs – yummy

At one time it was the “end of the line” with regards to a railway link with Athens.

A park has now been created around the old terminus which is very popular with local families and forms part of a pleasant walk between the marina and the town.

The station cafe in the background

One of several engines in the park

There is both an attractive old town……

A traditional “gyros” bar

Weekend music in one of the cafes in the old town

….and a large modern town. Much of the old town was destroyed by the Turks during the War of Independence. It was rebuilt in the 1830’s, only to be almost levelled again by an earthquake in 1986. Remarkably much of the C13 “kastro” survived the quake and inside its walls is a small monument to “Kallimachos Antonakos” who was the head of the Archaeological Department in Kalamata at the time of the disaster.

A fitting monument

Under his tutelage, hundreds of finds and monuments were catalogued and restored to retain the important cultural heritage of the city and surrounding area.

Just below the castle is the Cathedral Church of Ypapantis…..

A stately procession!

….with its many statues of the Messini “episkopos” [bishops].

During November we travelled back to the UK for a couple of weeks seeing family and friends.

Fancy dress for Sue’s 60th

A Ukelele lesson for Dave courtesy of Steve

A beautiful Autumn day – our first autumn in the UK since 2007

….and a lovely walk with Chris, John and Preston

The early Christmas Fayre in Bury St. Edmunds with Caroline and John

Our visit to Bury [Lancashire] coincided with an exhibition in the art gallery/museum which I was delighted to go and see.

The Brilliant Victoria Wood

Victoria was in the fifth form when I was a first year pupil at secondary school. I remember her writing and performing in a “One Act Play” at the end of that school year. It was a pre-cursor of great writing to come though, reading one of her school reports in the exhibition, it is clear that teachers do not always know talent when they see it!

As my three previous blogs describe, we also spent part of the winter touring and, in March our good friends Dave and Margaret came to visit for more socialising and sightseeing. In just under a week we packed in a visit to Kalamata castle…

A balmy 18 degrees mid March

…. a trip to the Caves of Diros….

The cavern after the boat ride through the caves

The small and lovely town of Areopoli near Diros

Toast anyone….

…..a walk along part of the Menalon trail…..

Starting the Vytina to Nymphasia section

The old bridge in the gorge

….. a circuit, by car, of the bottom part of the western finger of the peninsular, visiting a couple of places we hope to visit by boat at a future date…..

Pylos town….

…and harbour

The Venetian well in Sygrou Square, Methoni

Methoni castle and moat…

…. a substantial fortress

Methoni harbour area

….and admiring the Greek countryside as it comes alive in spring.

Wildflower beauty on the Mani peninsular

Under the bridge on the Menalon trail

Big bumble at Messini

Had we known during their visit that one of the best ancient sites is practically on Kalamata’s doorstep we might also have persuaded them to do that as well. Instead we visited Ancient Messini the following week with Steve and Gill.

A great position in the valley

A fantastic site easily as extensive as Epidavros and Olympia but, much less visited. There are two theatres, an agora, baths and the most impressive and intact stadium.

Amazing….

The Fountain of Arsinoe which supplied the city with water

This base supported the statue of Messinian philosopher Ti[tus] Flavius Isocrates – revered by his home town as the new Plato

Part of a partially intact mosaic villa vestibule floor

Grave memorial to an important Messinian family

Doric temple – the mausoleum of the Saithidae – another prominent family

The gymnasium

The smaller theatre

The bath house pillars which supported the hypocausts

In the small museum – a hermaic stele with the head of Heracles, found in the gymnasium

It was founded in 371BC and formed part of a chain of strongholds designed to keep watch over Sparta. We are really glad not to have missed seeing it or stopping for a fantastic late lunch at a local taverna nearby.

Stuffed with wild pig

Christmas and New Year were both fairly quiet affairs as Kalamata, like other Greek towns and cities, saves itself for Carnival.

However, Three Kings Day is celebrated by a swim in the harbour for those hardy souls racing for the blessed cross.

All ready to go…

….blessings from the priests…

… and in they go. NB – snow on the mountains – not the warmest water for a dip!

Lent and Easter are very important celebrations in Greece and we were delighted to be able to join in the “Burnt Thursday” festivities….

Families gather….

….for music in the square….

…and a spot of dancing. I loved joining in.

…..when BBQ’s are lit at nearly every restaurant and people eat all the meat they can before the start of Lent. A fabulous day – especially as it coincided with Mike’s birthday – well, one of them anyway!

A very happy day

Carnival followed with the main event being the parade on Sunday 10th March…..

Bands…

…dragons

 

 

 

 

 

 

… a bit of a drink en route!

 

… floats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Couples….

….groups

 

 

 

 

 

 

….colour

 

 

 

…and smoke

 

 

 

 

 

 

….and then the “Clean Monday” celebrations the following day when a traditional bread…..

Sesame coated Lenten bread

…. as well as olives, taramasalata and halva form part of the picnic that families take to the beach or into the hills where they indulge in kite flying. We opted for the nearby beach.

Nothing like a picnic by the sea

Kites for sale….

…and with a little help from Gill…

… Steve flies his kite

We now look forward to Greek Easter itself which, this year falls on Sunday 28th April.

Once again our winter wasn’t just about fun – even though we did have a lot of that – and, as I hinted at the beginning of this post, there was plenty of work done too.

 

Winter 2018/19 jobs

Our biggest job this winter was to design and have fabricated a new stern arch and a bimini frame. It was a job we tried to have done in Spain last year but we were let down by the fabricator. This year Ioannis [Inox Kiriakidis] came up trumps

In Ioannis workshop – the stern arch

…and bimini frame

Bimini in place

Here comes the stern arch

We then commissioned a full tent and some summer shades from Mixalis, a local sail maker/rigger who also cleaned, serviced and replaced the sacrificial strip on our genoa and jib and checked all our standing rigging.

Mixali putting some finishing touches to the front panel

We then fitted 2 solar panels and wind generator to the new arch and put LED cockpit lights on the bimini.

With a lot of help from Steve

As always seems to be the case no matter how big or small a job, all of this entailed pulling the interior of the boat to bits!

Floors and lockers up

Ceiling panels removed

Ensuring the feet are properly bolted

And so we went from this….

Before.. the old stern arch

… a view from the side before the tent

….. to this….

Front view…

…from the back

In addition we:-

Replaced the main halyard, replaced the spare halyard with the old main halyard and replaced the topping lift with the spare halyard

Replaced the engine room blower and fitted an automatic fire extinguisher in the engine room

Replaced our VHF and fitted a new cockpit VHF speaker

Replaced all the screws on the running backstay base plates

Resealed the cockpit pedestal having sourced some really good grommets actually designed for putting pipes through walls but which fitted the bill for this job

Resealed the main cabin windows

Made a wire lock for the outboard

Fitted rubber snubbers and new stern lines

Replaced the Italian 240v sockets with European standard sockets, fitted 12v sockets in the forward and aft cabins and replaced 4 saloon LEDs

Fitted a new autopilot

Fitted a jib furler cover

Fitted a galvanic isolator

Did the annual service of the windlass, engine and outboard

Replaced our life-ring

Re-varnished and refitted the outboard support on the pushpit

So, all in all another busy winter work wise though the job list never ends and we are already adding things for the 2019/20 winter season which we have again booked at Kalamata Marina.

But for now we are happy to be sailing again and hope to report more great adventures as we head off, firstly to the Cyclades.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2019/04/23/over-wintering-at-kalamata-marina-2018-19/