Family and Friends in the Saronic and Argolic Gulfs…..part 2

At the end of the last blog I left you stranded in Póros – which isn’t a bad place to find yourself in that state! Its popularity with yachties and holidaymakers means that during the summer months it is a busy, vibrant town.

The narrow Póros Strait separates it from the mainland…

Looking towards the mainland from the upper town

… and boats passing through have to negotiate other boats at anchor or on mooring balls and keep a look-out for the frequent water taxis ….

Just leaving for Galatas

… which regularly ferry people across to Galatas on the other side – a nice trip for a bit of shopping or a drink on the waterfront with fabulous views of pretty Póros.

A view of Poros from a Galatas waterfront bar

In my last blog I mentioned anchor wars and Póros is another of those places where crossed chains are a regular occurrence. We liked, if possible, to use the pontoon rather than the boardwalk….

Before the storm- the pontoon and boardwalk

….but I am not sure how much of it remains after the destructive October storm. There will be more about that in my next post – this is still about family and friends visiting and, fortunately, none of them were with us when the “Medicane” struck. Friends who went through Póros late in the season said boats were still berthing on the pontoon but they weren’t sure how structurally sound it was and the “bridge” to the shore had gone.

There are several good anchorages near to Póros. Between visitors Mike and I spent a couple of nice, quiet days in Ormos Vidhi and, with Andrea and Fiona, we managed to find space to anchor in popular “Russian Bay”.

At Maria’s – a great place to chill

A short sail “round the corner” into Kolpos Idhras [Gulf of Hydra] brought us to Nisís Soupia which is often named “Frog Island” because it is said to look a bit like a crouching frog when approaching from the east. We thought it looked more like a lizard, but – regardless of which reptile – it was a pleasant, but slightly rolling, place to anchor for the night.

The swimming was good and, thanks to Steve, Fiona showed excellent balance on his SUP.

First time she has done this – took to it like a duck to water!

The islands of Idhra and Spétsai and both very beautiful but finding a berth in either of their main town harbours is difficult. We didn’t actually try because we saw the number of boats approaching every time we passed. We did, however, when the wind was in the right direction find lovely anchorages on both.

Ormos Molos, Idhra

Ormos Zoyioryia, Spetsai

A Loulouthia flower

We also visited Spétsai by bus and ferry from Porto Kheli.

Berthing is available on the side of a ferry dock [top right] – but it always looked choppy and full

Like Idhra, Spétsai grew wealthy as a result of ship building.

Signs of past boat building activity

Their ship’s captains are famous for bursting the British blockade during the Napoleonic Wars and also for being part of the Greek fleet during the War of Independence.

Most famous of all was Laskarina Bouboulina, who’s house/museum we visited.

That does say “Bouboulina”

The daughter of an Idhra captain, she was born in a Constantinople prison when he was imprisoned, with his wife, for rebelling against the Ottomans. She moved to Spétsai when she was four or five years old after her mother’s second marriage to a local man.

She was a formidable ship commander and a fearless fighter, fully supported the independence movement and spent her own money buying weapons and ammunition for her ships, most notably the “Agamemnon”….

Bouboulina’s flag ship – “Agamemnon”

…… on which she sailed, on 13 March 1821, along with her fleet of seven other ships to join the successful Greek naval blockade of Nafplio.

As I said above we visited Spétsai from Porto Kheli, where we spent a total of 21 nights at anchor during 3 separate visits.

The first time we were there alone, the second time we had Andrea and Fiona on board. On that occasion we were also in the company of “Coriander” as we were again for our third, and longest, stay there during the aforementioned storm.

Originally just a small fishing village….

Mail boxes at the old village quay

… was developed in the 1960’s when work was started to build a NATO base there. The plans were shelved, but the long newly laid quay remained and the large and well sheltered bay makes an excellent anchorage.

Porto Kheli church by night

Its outdoor votive altar

A Porto Kheli sunset

Whilst here Fiona, again thanks to Steve – who has such a collection of “toys” – tried her hand at wind surfing.

A little instruction from Steve….

Not quite as successful as the SUP but she did manage to stand up and go for a short time.

….Wow – off she goes

Unfortunately an injury to her foot from an underwater rock prevented any other attempts at improving during the rest of the holiday.

Between “Frog Island” and Porto Kheli we spent two nights in delightful Ermioni.

Drougas bakery on the right. Great bread, great coffee

We anchored in the bay to the north of the town and walked around the headland to have a look at the southern side.

Interesting artwork on the waterfront path on the north side of town both modern…..

…. and more traditional

On the headland

Had we had the time and opportunity it would have been a great place to revisit and, wind direction allowing, I would have liked to anchor here or berth along this picturesque quay.

The south side quay

Up the east side of the Argolic Gulf we found three really nice places to drop the hook.

In a large, shallow bay surrounded by mountains and with a privately owned islet at its entrance, lies Koiládhia.

Looking to the town quay from the anchorage. We also berthed there.

Koiladhia anchorage

A safe anchorage in most winds, like Idhra and Spétsai, it was once a shipbuilding village.

Speaks for itself

Faded photos of bygone years and boats

However, it is most renowned for the Franchthi caves, an important prehistoric site.

The top cave – viewed from the anchorage

Inside the lower cave

It was first occupied around 40,000BC – the Upper Paleolithic era. At that time the cave was approximately 5km from the shore. By the end of the Ice Age [10,000-9,000BC] rising sea levels brought it to within 3km of the sea. During the Mesolithic period [9,000-7,000BC] it was only 2km from the coast and during the Neolithic period, even closer. Archaeological research suggests it was abandoned around 3,000BC as, by that time, the sea level had resulted in loss of land for crop and animals and also a loss of community as other cave dwellings were covered by water.

It was later inhabited once again – by a C18 goat-herder – and his goats.

A reconstructed goat shed!

14 miles north another, smaller, enclosed bay shelters Khädhari.

Peaceful Khaidari – also known as Livadi

We enjoyed a pleasant walk along the lagoon….

Looking back to the village

……. to Drepano and back before an excellent meal at “To Limani”.

Outdoor seating on the beach

Our third gulf anchorage was at the seaside resort of Toló.

Looking towards Tolo from the church

Very popular with Greek holiday makers we had fun pretending we were staring in Mamma Mia!

Not quite Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan!

No, it wasn’t filmed here, but the small church perched up steps on the little island was reminiscent of the wedding scene.

…. and not enough steps!

I seem to remember my sister telling me the scene was filmed on Alonnisos but the internet tells me that the “real” venue for the ceremony was Agios Ioannis chapel which sits on the summit of a 100-metre rock close to the town of Glossa, in the north of Skópolos, and has all the 202 steps shown in the film. Maybe I will find out next summer as we hope to sail to both of these islands – and others.

Speaking of steps, our final port with family members was Nafplio. Here, Palamidi Fortress dominates the skyline….

The well preserved Palamidi overlooks the town

….and there are 999 steps to be climbed to reach it. There is a road and both the sightseeing open top bus and tourist train ply the route. But who needs to take the bus? 999 steps – merely an early morning leg stretcher!

Yes….. we did it

As expected the views from the top were excellent…..

Looking inland….

….over the new town…

… and down to the old town and harbour

….. and the site itself both extensive and interesting.

Main fortress in the citadel

One of the guardians waiting on the steps…

…and another over the main entrance

Indeed, it is touted as the most impressive Venetian fortification in Greece.

Back at sea level, narrow streets wend through the old town…

Quiet during the midday heat

…whilst excellent supermarkets and shops in the new town make it a great place for stocking up.

Whilst in Nafplio we also visited the Peloponnese Folklore Museum….

… which contained, amongst other exhibits, some interesting clothing displays.

Women’s garments – with an Ottoman influence

Loved the photograph behind as well.

It was from here – Nafplio I mean, not the museum! – that Andrea and Fiona left on a bus to Athens, and it is here that I will leave you again. As I hope you have been able to tell from this and the previous post, it was a great summer spent with family and friends….

With Chris and John….

…. James, Steve and Gill

…and Andrea and Fiona

With luck [no I won’t go into a rant about the possible ramifications for liveaboards of Brexit] we will be able to do something similar next year. Greece is just such a wonderful place to be.

A fantastic country…

…waiting for family and friends to return

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    • Chris on January 15, 2019 at 6:21 pm
    • Reply

    Thought you’d be planning a sail back across the Atlantic for a bit of peace and quiet and a lot less visitors!

    1. Trouble is – we miss you too much as you are the visitors who don’t travel that far. xxxxx

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