Over wintering and lock-down in Kalamata 2019/2020

Early morning on D dock Kalamata marina

For reasons obvious to all, our 2019/20 “over wintering” in Kalamata marina was extended until the end of May 2020.

We arrived here on 21st of October and, as we didn’t know then that Covid 19 was just around the corner, we wanted to get moving straight away on our jobs list to ensure everything was finished by the end of March. Our first task was to organise haul out as there were several things we wanted to do which meant “Owl and Pussycat” needed to be on the hard standing. Initially we thought that we would be out for 4 weeks and booked an Airbnb for that period. Steve and Gill had very kindly offered us a berth on “Coriander” for the duration but we felt that four weeks was probably too long for four people in a confined space. In the end we were out for six weeks…. So the decision was probably the right one especially as the small house had a washing machine and a large TV – what luxury!!

The travel lift operator, Peter, is extremely meticulous and takes great care with haul out, pressure washing and chocking and “Splash”.

Peter checking all is well before operating the hoist

Looking east to the Taygetus mountain range from our spot on the hard…

….and looking west over the marina

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were pleased to find that the “Coppercoat”, put on three years ago, had done its job.

Not looking too bad after three years constantly in the water

A few small patches needed touching up but overall we were pretty foul free and it all looks good for a few more years.

Our Max prop was immediately sent to France for a full overhaul, we organised “Ioannis” and his Messinian Yacht Centre staff to undertake some cosmetic repair to our transom and polish the hull, and Mike also found “Theodorus Christopoulos”, an excellent local refrigeration engineer who fitted our new keel cooled fridge with a small freezer.

The compressor fitted perfectly under the floor

We now have two fridges, this new one and the old, air cooled one which now acts as a cool store for things like salads, vegetables, spreadable butter and my preserved lemons and olives, which I made over the winter.

We can have ice with our G +T …Hooray

Whilst out of the water Mike replaced the packing in the rudder sealing gland and fitted a new inner part of one of our seacocks, changing the position of it as he did so because previously we had needed to remove the valve opening/closing arm as it didn’t fit in the available space while attached. We didn’t like the practice of having to fit it to use it… not good should we need to operate it in an emergency situation.

We also made new fender covers, fitted a stainless steel bow protector and finally got round to putting on our bow logos.

Shiny hull and bow protector and our logo at last

It was difficult enough to do balanced on a scaffolding tower…. Heaven knows what would have happened if we had tried to do it whilst balancing on a wave rocked dinghy!

So, we were back in the water in good time for Christmas……

Let there be light

One of around two dozen special Christmas kiosks

Boats are symbolic at Christmas in Greece and ornamental boats are given for good luck

…..when we were delighted to welcome on board our super friend, Malc.

At “Kardamo… one of our favourite restaurants

He stayed with us between 19th and 27th December and  a good time was had by all.

Santa has been!

Christmas Day pre dinner drinks

Ready for the feast, wearing hats made from the used wrapping paper

No wonder we had a good time!

We were sorry that he wasn’t able to stay for New Year, but we managed to celebrate it in fine style anyway.

More silly hats!

As we did last year, we also watched the 3 Kings Day celebrations on 6th January…..

Here come the priests

….. found a superb small bar at which to join the locals for a “Burnt Thursday” souvlaki BBQ which, this year, was on 20th February…..

Enjoying the February sunshine

The proprietor grilling the souvlaki

Bouzouki music

…….and took part in the traditional “Clean Monday” kite flying and beach picnic on 2nd March.

Lets go fly a kite

What a great Christmas present for Mike from Steve and Gill

We, and the rest of Kalamata, had been preparing for and looking forward to “Karnival”….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…..which should have culminated in a small parade on Saturday 29th February and a full parade on the Sunday. Acting quickly to the increasing threat of Coronovirus, the Greek government cancelled all Karnival parades and followed this by closing all bars and restaurants on 14th March and a full lockdown from 23rd March.

We had been intending to go to a small town on the Mani peninsular – Areopoli – to celebrate Greek Independence. Although Greece as a whole celebrates Independence Day on 25th March, the Greek War of Independence actually started in Areopoli on 17 March 1821 when an army of 2,000 Maniots advanced on Kalamata where there was an Ottoman garrison. The Maniot army captured the city on March 23rd. A later “invention” regarding the start of the War was that it occurred on March 25th when revolution was declared by Archbishop Germanos in the Monastery of Agia Lavra. Regardless of which of these versions is true the residents of Areopoli honour the anniversary of the uprising on 17th.

Unfortunately neither Independence Day nor Easter were celebrated properly this year as all citizens were subject to lock down at home. From 23rd March to 4th May we were allowed out for a maximum of an hour at a time to visit the supermarket, bakery or pharmacy or for exercise. We believe you could go out twice in one day, but in practice we probably went out 2 or 3 times per week in total. Similarly, all the local people took lock-down equally seriously.

Empty roads…

…empty pavements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had to carry passports and a form which stated the time you left your residence, where you were going and the purpose of the visit.

All of this time on the boat gave us plenty of scope for completing other jobs. The list is fairly long, includes all of the annual maintenance and polishing jobs but I won’t bore you with everything we did though have included a couple of photos of us doing it!

The spaces and positions we have to get into to work in them

Typical cabin chaos created when we are working

Yes….I work too

Right at the start of the New Year when we were still expecting to leave the Med this year and cross the Atlantic at the end of it, we commissioned a complete re rig, including incorporating the SSB aerial into it. This involved taking the mast off and, just like Peter the travel lift operator, Mixalis and his rigging crew were fantastic.

Mixalis and his son Constantinos who is quickly learning the ropes!

All carefully tied away

Vangellis being hoisted up to put the blanket round the mast

Mast protected and all hooked up

Steady as she goes with Vassilis and Constantinos guiding the way

Although at this time it seems very unlikely that we will even leave Greece this year, never mind the Med, the rigging is now done and good for insurance purposes for at least ten years.

For me, two of the other most significant improvements Mike undertook – not already mentioned above – have been to the cockpit table…..

Before…..

Sanded and now the teak oil is being applied

…. and after

….and the fitting of stainless steel guard rails to replace the top wire from stern to centre gate.

Feels much more sturdy

My sis might also be delighted to know that the lemonade spill marks on the saloon rug have now been totally removed by some lovely, friendly cleaners who turned up “en masse”, spent about 2 hours with various applications and charged us the princely sum of €30.

“Ecoland” carpet cleaners

As you will have seen from many of the photographs, we have had excellent weather throughout the winter. We saw snow, which only lasted for about three days, on the tops of the Taygetus mountain range with “Profitis Ilias” its highest peak at 2,404 metres [7,887 ft].

A light covering of snow on the mountain tops

We generally had less strong winds and only one significant rainstorm which turned the normally near empty river channel into quite a torrent.

Usual state

…and in flood [or as much flood as we got this winter]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What follows rain, but flowers….

March colour

Can you spot the bee feasting on the bottlebrush tree [Callistemon]

…. and lots of lovely vegetables, particularly beets, potatoes, artichokes, heritage tomatoes, peas and broad beans.

Perhaps because of the restrictions on travel, the local supermarkets – although national companies – seem to have been stocking more local produce which has been of excellent quality. It is also worth noting that unlike, it would seem, many other countries there was no shortage of anything except sanitising hand-wash which was right at the start of the lock down period. Toilet rolls, flour, yeast, pasta, etc etc which seem to have been stockpiled in other places were plentiful.

So although it has been frustrating not to be able to sail as hoped, we feel that we could certainly have been in far worse places during the past two months. As I write this it is 26th May and we are hopefully free to go sailing again on Monday 1st June. As I hinted above, it is increasingly likely that we will return to Kalamata again next year when we will be able to reacquaint ourselves with all our favourite restaurants which will hopefully be open, maybe commission more work from the fantastic trades people we have found in Kalamata and revisit all our lovely local shops.

AB – our mid range supermarket…. there is also Sklavenitis [Carrefour] and Lidl

Gill’s favourite – Poundland meets Ikea’s compulsory circulation system!

Mike’s favourite screw shop run by dad…everything Mike has asked for has been available and in inox

…. and the tool shop run by his son

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brilliant T-bone steaks and cooked ham from this butcher in the market

George and Niovi run the chandlers …and if it isn’t in stock it quickly arrives from Athens

And last but not least…..”Pes Aleuri”, which literally translated is “Say Flour” though may mean something slightly different if you speak better Greek than me!

Anastasia and Constantinos the baker. Such wonderful bread

In the meanwhile, we are now able to leave on 1st June so I hope that my next few posts will come from whichever islands and mainland towns we are able to visit.

Looking along the old breakwater… “Koroni”, hopefully our first destination this year, in the distance

Permanent link to this article: https://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2020/05/27/over-wintering-and-lock-down-in-kalamata-2019-2020/

A symbolic weekend in Berlin

How lucky were we! We had decided that we would visit James in Berlin at some time during this over-wintering season in Kalamata. He had a holiday booked in Vietnam at the end of 2019 so sometime between January and March 2020 seemed ideal. He sent us a message to say that he had booked a special gallery visit on Saturday 15th February and could get extra tickets if we wanted to go that weekend. I was a bit surprised, given that it was Valentine’s weekend and that he now has the lovely Polina playing a big part in his life. However, taking after his dad, James didn’t work out until after we had booked our flights and accommodation that maybe it wasn’t the best weekend! But, had we not gone then, we would probably have booked for mid-March…. and wouldn’t have been able to go at all given the current situation.

So, not only did we see Berlin and James, but we also met Polina and Coco and had a super weekend.

There is so much to see and do in Berlin that we were a bit unsure where to start. When we met James and Polina on the Thursday evening they gave us some hints and tips and we were able to plan a walking tour for the Friday based on the places we most wanted to visit.

Public transport in Berlin is absolutely fantastic. A €2.90 ticket lasts for 2 hours and can be used as often as you need during that time period on all four types of transport within zones A/B, i.e. bus, tram, metro or train within the wider city centre boundaries. Although we only used it once on that day to get into the city, we did make good use of the system throughout the weekend.

So, our starting point was the “Reichstag” building.

The Reichstag

Taking ten years to construct, the building opened in 1894 and was the parliamentary seat of the Weimar Republic between 1919 and 1933 when it was damaged by fire, the circumstances of which remain unclear. Unrepaired following the fire, it was further damaged by air raids. Post-war, being situated in West Berlin, it wasn’t used by either of the governments of the Democratic or of the Federal Republics. The official reunification ceremony was held at the Reichstag on October 3rd 1990 and the following day the parliament of united Germany assembled there as a symbolic act. After a “healthy” debate in 1991, the decision was taken to move the German government back to Berlin from Bonn, though it wasn’t until after reconstruction of the building finished in 1999 that it once more became the parliamentary seat.

A very short walk from there is the C18 neo-classical monument – the Brandenburg Gate.

It is supposedly Victoria in the chariot

Berlin’s only surviving historical city gate it is also one of the city’s most iconic sights. Given its geographical location in the city, which was in an exclusion zone within an arc of the Wall, it has symbolised both the Cold War Division and the Re-Unification.

Originally built as a military memorial, it has now come to epitomise peace and unity, freedom and tolerance. Hence, it – and the “Pariser Platz” in which it stands – have become the site of both large and small demonstrations against injustice. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that we witnessed these demonstrators on the day we visited.

We are human – not a virus

Equally iconic, but rather less immediately noticeable, is “Checkpoint Charlie”.

Nearly missed seeing it!

The current “barrier” is actually a small simulation of the original which was removed on 22nd June 1990 in the presence of the foreign ministers of the four Allied states, the DDR and West Germany.

People were queueing to take photographs at the barrier. I actually thought that this made a much better shot!

Salute the Colonel!

Just before reaching Checkpoint Charlie we passed the “Trabi Museum”.

Trabi museum and “The World” hot air balloon

I have to admit that I had never heard of the “Trabant” – which is perhaps hardly surprising as I would be pushed to name the make of any car I haven’t owned and might well still get those I owned wrong!

Anyway, the “Trabi” was manufactured between 1957 and 1990 by the East German company “VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau”. The most famous model was the 601 and 2,818,547 of these were built from 1964 onwards. They have been variously dubbed as “that weird soviet car”, “the worst car ever built”, “an awful car made by communists” and “the car that belches like an Iraqi oil field”.

Apparently the average lifespan of a Trabi was 28 years though it seems that this may have been because, having taken ten years from ordering one to getting one, owners tried their best to care for them – which wasn’t easy as spare parts were even harder to source than the car! In its favour [?!] there weren’t actually that many parts…. E.g. No speedometer or fuel indicator – the former wasn’t much of a problem as the car hardly ever managed to reach speeds more than 50mph, the latter was compensated for by drivers learning approximately how many hours it took to empty the tank.

These interesting facts, and many others, we learnt about when we visited the interactive DDR museum which housed an amazing array of exhibits covering “everyday life” in the former East Germany.

There were three themed areas and although “Public Life” and “State and Ideology” were absorbing – particularly information about how children were “socialised”- I think the most memorable for me was “Life in a Tower Block”.

So reminiscent….. just look at that wallpapaer!

What was particularly fascinating, and shouldn’t have been surprising, was the huge number of objects around the “flat” that I recognised from my childhood. Many goods were, like the car, in short supply and hard to obtain and, possibly as a result, what was common place in the UK in the 1960’s wasn’t available to the average East German citizen until the 70’s.

As well as the Trabi, there was also this bike…

The 1964 KR51 – The Swallow [Schwalbe]

The original owners of the company, the Simson family, were Jewish. Having been dispossessed of their factory in 1936 they fled the country following which their products were built with various names under the Nazi and early Communist governments until the brand name “Simson” was restored in 1955.

Whilst the Wall and the East/West Germany split dominates the Berlin tourist trail I also wanted to visit “The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” particularly after seeing these plaques which mark the spots on various Berlin streets where German Jews were taken.

Unfortunately, one of many – there were three at this spot – a family.

Also known as the “Holocaust Memorial”, it consists of 2,711 concrete slabs of different heights.

The Memorial

To be honest I did not fully understand the representation. I suppose that the blocks look rather like coffins but, from everything I have read or seen, coffins were certainly not a feature of being shot in a pit or gassed in a chamber. One critic has suggested that if you walk around in the centre of the memorial where the blocks are taller, you see less sky, the walls feel like they are closing in and the way out seems less possible and that this denotes how Jewish people were hounded and trapped. I can understand what that critic is saying but remain disappointed by the Memorial.

However, I was not at all disappointed by the Information Centre which is housed beneath it. It was full of things you had to read and look at but wish you didn’t.

There are several themed rooms. One room sets out the historical time line from the early persecution by the Nazi regime of people with mental illness, of homosexuals and of Gypsies and Roma to the concentration on the Jewish race.

The “Room of Families” tells the fateful stories of how families from different countries were rounded up, transported and separated. I had not realised that almost 59,000 Greek Jews from a population of around 71,000 Jews in Thessaloniki were transported and murdered during the holocaust. Similarly I had not realised that the Ukraine had such a large Jewish population with around 1.5million killed.

I had also mainly associated concentration camps with Auschwitz, Belsen and Dachau but in the “Room of Sites” learnt about the atrocities of Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka and other lesser known sites [lesser known to me that is].

The short biographies, the photographs and the memoires take the victims out of their anonymity with the “Room of Letters”, for me, the most poignant. I sat on one of the benches reading extracts from letters written by wives, husbands, mothers and children, I looked around the top of the wall where the numbers of people from each country murdered were inscribed and I cried.

Most importantly, for me, the Memorial is not only a place of Remembrance, but also one of warning.

So true

Bosnia, Rwanda, Myanmar were three places which immediately sprang to my mind when I read this. Will we ever learn?

Well, after that I am sure you need cheering up. We certainly did.

A wander through the classical “Gendarmenmarkt Square”….

The Concert Hall and the French Church

….was followed by a Gluhwein in “Alexanderplatz”……

The TV tower and Marienkirche [St Mary’s church]

The toweres lined up!

… then a few more drinks and a meal as we worked our way back to our accommodation.

We knew that Saturday evening was the art gallery visit which James had booked so we decided to have a light hearted day. We like seeing local neighbourhoods outside of city centres which are geared more for people who live there than for tourists and we plotted a route which took in a couple of real ale outlets with decent sounding food.

What we hadn’t researched was their opening hours! “Neighbourhood” bars/pubs, it would seem, open only in the evening. Still, we had a good look around and made full use of the above mentioned transport before making our way to the city centre where we finally found Mike some beer……

Plenty of choice once we found one open

… and then headed to the “Sammlung Boros Art Gallery”.

Yes…. this is it – “The Bunker”

One of several old war bunkers, this WWII air raid shelter has been used variously to house prisoners of war [by the Red Army], as a warehouse to store textiles and then, during the Cold War, tropical fruit. After being abandoned for a while, it resurfaced as a Techno club before being bought by Christian Boros, in 2003, when he transformed it into a gallery to show his contemporary art collection.

It was certainly an interesting building, five stories high with 120 rooms – though we went into less than half of them.

One of the outside walls is full of bullet holes….

…… and one of the entrance doors is strangely blocked by a rock.

One of many installations

 

 

We weren’t allowed to take photographs of the exhibition so, to give you a taste of what we saw, I credit this to the galleries Facebook page.

 

 

 

However, I was able to take a photograph of the corridor as we entered the building.

Two memories of the tour will remain with us, the first being the excellent, if rather wacky, guide and the second the ink pad print we were encouraged to make replicating the “Arma Branca” woodcut on journal paper and wood prints created by Paulo Nazareth, a Brazilian artist of African heritage.

My print of The Kitchen knife

Our final full day, Sunday, dawned rather damp. This was disappointing as James and Polina had told us about a “karaoke in the park” event which apparently happens most Sundays and which is, we were told, fun to watch. Plans about when and where to meet them therefore changed and gave Mike and I another opportunity to go into the city centre to see some of the places we hadn’t managed to get to on the Friday.

Considered another obvious city landmark, the double decked Oberbaum Bridge spans the River Spree.

The magnificent Oberbaum Bridge

It too has become a symbol of unity as the river was part of the Wall and split the Eastern borough of Friedrichshain and Western Kreuzberg.

The first bridge was built in 1732, made of wood with a drawbridge in the middle. Modified and extended over the next hundred years or so it was finally replaced by a stone bridge in 1896. Designed in a Gothic style it has turrets, coats of arms, pointed arches and cross vaults.

Underneath the arches

In 1945 the middle section of the bridge was blown up by the Wehrmacht to try to prevent entry of the Red Army and parts of it were destroyed or allowed to rot whilst the bridge was effectively the border and, for the most part therefore, closed. It re-opened to traffic and pedestrians in 1994, with the upper U-Bahn rail section being completed a year later.

Its other claim to fame is its use in the mini-series “Smiley’s People – as the hand over point of Karla to Smiley. Mike remembered this scene. I didn’t, though we both remembered seeing the “Glienicke Bridge” in spy films which was a real exchange point for spies during the Cold War. Unfortunately, being out of the city near Potsdam, we didn’t see it – a good reason to return methinks!

From the Oberbaum Bridge we could see the 30m high metal sculpture which stands in the river.

Molecule Man

You can just about see that it consist of three humans leaning towards each other. Their bodies have hundreds of holes punched in them which are, according to the American designer/artist, representative of “the molecules of all human beings coming together to create our existence”.

The Oberbaum Bridge is at the southern end of the East Side Gallery.

The start of the gallery at the southern end

At 1.3km long it is the longest open air gallery in the world and the longest continuous section of the Wall remaining. Other parts of the wall, with their graffiti have been and still are being sold off as memorabilia!

Bits of graffiti Wall!!

Immediately after the wall came down, 118 artists from 21 countries began painting it and it officially opened in September 1990 before being awarded protected memorial status just over a year later.

Not sure what this gate in the wall was – maybe some more symbolism?

To conclude our tour of Berlin galleries we later met James and Polina who took us to the Berlin Photography Museum. The ground floor was dedicated to Helmut Newton, a prolific and somewhat provocative fashion photographer. Whilst interesting, Mike and I actually preferred the third floor showing the work of local industrial photographers in the 50’s that recorded industrial processes, people and localities.

As well as seeing the sights of Berlin we looked forward to the tastes. Over the course of four evenings we ate in Vietnamese, American diner style, German and Russian restaurants – all different and all good. I think the Russian was our favourite, which we could not have managed so successfully without Polina showing and telling us about the best choices.

A great weekend – thanks James and Polina

All too soon, the weekend was over. We had a great time, especially the time spent with James and Polina. So, until our next visit……

Permanent link to this article: https://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2020/03/19/a-symbolic-weekend-in-berlin/

Home run….Evia to Kalamata

Almost “home” – Sunrise over the lighthouse at Tainaron point… just after leaving Porto Kayio

I ended the last blog post as we reached the bottom of Evia from where there are two obvious options for heading south once again towards the tip of the Peloponnese peninsula and then west to our marina berth in Kalamata. Regular readers of the blog might remember that last year, having spent time in the Argolic and Saronic Gulfs, we took the mainland route down the east coast. This year, therefore, our preferred route was to take in a couple more of the Cycladian islands before sailing down to Milos, thus completing our circle before heading back to the mainland.

Red = route already taken from Kalamata to south Evia. Blue = mainland option
Green = preferred option [which we took]

The forecast for Monday 30th Sept was fairly light southerlies with some slightly stronger winds showing later in the week so it didn’t seem to matter which way we went. We decided we would head for Andros and “Coriander” planned to do the same. However, because the winds were light they decided to stay in the Evia area for one more night and visit another island in the small archipelago.

Mike and I motor-sailed the 27 mile route on 30th, arriving in Batsi harbour at 3.30pm and went alongside the inside of the new extension to the mole – as recommended by some other cruisers.

Rubber fenders alongside.. great in some ways but leave really black marks on boat or our fenders

We had been debating which of the two Andros harbours, Gavrion or Batsí, would be best. A couple of other boats heading for Andros from the south seemed to be favouring Gavrion but, having studied the Cruising Guide, we decided that, on balance, Batsí sounded the better option. Given the conditions which followed over the next few days we believe we made the right decision.

Batsí is a pleasant little town with a decent supermarket about 15 minutes’ walk from the harbour and the usual small local shops, bars and restaurants around the waterfront.

Not a bad place to spend a few days!

We settled in, along with about five other yachts and waited for “Coriander” to arrive the following day. However, on 1st October, having sailed about half way to Andros they downloaded the latest weather forecast and called us to say that the weather was deteriorating and that much stronger winds were now forecast and therefore they were turning for Kea and then the mainland. The forecast was now giving strong to gale force winds varying from SE to NE lasting for 7-10 days from the 3rd October.

Decision time for us. We had time to head west before the winds hit, or stay put. On studying the forecast ourselves, we did the latter as we felt that we were certainly well protected from the NE and that the main harbour wall gave good protection from the SE and reasonable protection even if it went SW [which one of the models was suggesting]. In the event, we were right, though we had to move from berthing alongside the mole to berthing stern to the back wall because waves came over the western end of the back wall behind our berth and also swirled into the harbour round the end of the mole making the alongside berth uncomfortable.

A bit wavy outside!

Waves and water over the mole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through the breached west end of the harbour wall – a result of previous storms

After moving on the afternoon of 3rd we suffered nothing more that spray over the stern arch and the sound of creaking warps!

Comfortably berthed again

In the end we stayed a total of 6 nights in Batsí. On two of the days we stayed on, or close enough to, “Owl and Pussycat” should the wind create any problems but on a couple of the other days we were happy to get out and about and see some of the island.

We took a bus ride to the capital – you guessed it “Hora” – which sits on a rocky promontory between two bays on the east coast.

The main street…….

As you can see… just the occasional tourist

…… runs along the top of the outcrop with side streets running quite steeply down to the coastline.

Old fountain and a view down to Niborio Bay

From the bottom of one of these streets leading down to the northern Niborio Bay we were surprised and enchanted by what we saw.

Church of St Thalassini and the Tourlitis lighthouse

We had hoped to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art but unfortunately it was closed even though we went during “winter opening hours”. We still enjoyed seeing the town which owes its architecture to both Venetian settlement and to the ship owners who inhabited it later. As the second largest island in the Cyclades and being in relative close proximity to Athens it has a long seafaring tradition which is commemorated by a bronze statue donated by the Soviet Union.

“Afanis Naftis” – the Unknown Sailor

This stands in “Plateia Riva”, overlooking the Venetian Fortress perched atop the tiny island at the tip of the headland and once more securely joined to the main island by the now semi ruined arched bridge which, apparently, locals still scramble over. Rather them than me!

Love the old boat hoist

Talking of scrambling, our other day out was along part of walking route 16….

Half way up!

……one of 20 main routes, supplemented by side routes, which criss-cross the island. A 100km route, split into 10 separate day hikes, crosses from north to south and a further 70km pathways have also been restored. Andros is certainly a hiker’s paradise, and somewhere for any dedicated walkers among you to consider, though you would need to hire a car to get to a number of them.

Having followed route 16 for some of its length, during which time we marvelled at the way these walls had been constructed….

Fascinating…

….and at the one time houses that are now goat shelters….

The countryside was littered with houses like this…. often difficult to spot

… Mike decided to try to get to the tower you can see in the photograph below…

Mike’s goal on the left

So, off piste we went following what looked like a footpath but wasn’t! It petered out in brushy undergrowth before we got to the tower. Undaunted Mike decided we would continue to follow our noses down towards the road we could see below us. This was where the scrambling came in as we zigged and zagged down gravelly slopes making up the best way down as we went along. A well-earned beer was consumed when we finally reached the main road which restored us sufficiently to decide to continue on to Gavrion.

Our walk…. though we did far more zig-zags!

The water in Gavrion harbour looks quite benign in this photograph….

Gavrion from the head of the bay

….. but as you can see, although there is a breakwater, it isn’t actually as well protected from the south as Batsí. We saw a yacht alongside the harbour wall which looked like it had recently been damaged quite badly and wondered whether it had suffered in the waves of the previous two days. We were certainly glad that we had chosen not to berth in Gavrion – though it would be a nice place in calm weather.

During the walk we came across the first specimen contributing to this blog’s “flora and fauna” section….

A “scilla” of some sort? A member of the lily family?

We aren’t sure what it is, or to what family it belongs. Maybe my sis can help as she is very keen on flowers. We have been able to identify the others….

Prickly juniper – aka Sharp Cedar on Elaphonisos

Drakes of the Mallard and, much less often seen wild, Muscovy Ducks [Batsi harbour, Andros]

Anyway, nature study over, I will return to writing about our travels.

Although the longer range forecast was again showing strong NE winds, the prediction for 6th October was a favourable 10-12N-NW which made for a pleasant passage south and west to Loutra, Kythnos. On arrival we found that we weren’t the only ones who thought Loutra would be a good place to ride out the next few days and, as relative latecomers [4.30pm] we had the choice of berthing stern to outside the basin, anchoring in the adjacent bay – Ag Irini – or going somewhere completely different. Given the time, the last option wasn’t favourite and, although not strong, the wind was blowing almost straight into the anchorage so we proceeded to berth stern to.

The harbourmaster waved us to the eastern end of the mole – a berth we were happy to take as it looked more sheltered than the only other option at the other end.

Yellow line shows where we needed to drop anchor and chain

However, whilst the depth at the wall is 3m, it shelves quite quickly towards the shore. We wanted to put out as much chain as possible but at 50m from the wall the depth was considerably less than 2m. With a 2.1m draft it was quite scary for me on the bow looking down into shallow water hoping that the keel wouldn’t hit bottom. It was also very rocky and trying to communicate to Mike that we needed to move further left to find sand meant I was basically pointing him to the short breakwater sticking out on the other side which, understandably, to him didn’t look good. Anyway, we managed to berth successfully and settled in for the night.

All was calm until about 6am when the wind started to rise. Very soon all the boats moored outside the basin began to roll in the swell. It then began to rain…..

…. and it got heavier!

One boat left from inside but whilst I was running along the dock to see if the space they had left was wide enough for us another crew loosened their lines and moved in. We didn’t let that happen again… the next space was ours!

Now berthed half way along the seawall inside the basin we felt secure and ready to deal with the stronger winds to come.

We are in the middle of the back harbor wall next to the Diesel Duck

The harbour remained completely chocked every night throughout our stay with catamarans rafted three deep on the inside wall and every space created when a boat left being almost fought over. The boats leaving were, in the main, charter boats with crew either wanting to actually go somewhere during their weeks holiday or needing to get the boat back to base for handover.

As on Andros, we took the opportunity of an extended stay to venture out with, on one day, a fairly short but pleasant walk to Ag Irini to look at the anchorage.

Ag Irini from the cliff road

The white buildings at the end form a small hamlet which includes a very nice taverna where we sat with a drink watching as more boats arrived. Some were longlining to the north shore, others just dropped anchor. The head of the bay is very shallow which limits the available space and we reckoned there was probably enough room for about 20 boats – though half of them would be quite exposed, not being able to tuck in beyond the entrance.

Another day saw us walking to Kithnos Xora, nestled between the hills and agricultural fields 3km to the south.

Where is everyone?

The long main street leads to the older part of the town where traditional lanes, lined with cafes and colourful houses twist between small squares.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On returning to Loutra we passed the now closed Hydrotherapy centre. Whilst it looks as though the spa itself no longer operates, the hot water spring still bubbles….

Hubble bubble

…. and the steaming, scalding water follows a channel through the streets….

Hot and steamy

…..and down to a rockpool on the beach where it mingles with sea water reducing it to a temperature suitable for sitting in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the following day the winds subsided to 12-18kn by mid-afternoon, which was too late to leave, but 10th October dawned with another window of opportunity for travelling south again. On the first day we sailed 25miles down to Koutala Bay on the south side of Sérifos where once again we met up with “Coriander”, who had been sheltering in one of their favourite haunts – Porto Cheli which, you may remember, is the excellent mainland anchorage where both boats sat out last years “Medicane”.

On both sides of Koutala Bay are reminders that the island once had a thriving iron ore industry.

A stark but interesting bay – note also the arched tunnel

The second day brought very light winds which meant that we motored the 27miles to Milos and dropped anchor once more at Adhamas. The circle was complete.

We went ashore to do some shopping and had just got into the dinghy to return to “Owl and Pussycat” when a powered hang glider with a buggy type base flew quite low overhead, showing off a bit. He circled round the harbour and then we heard a loud bang which was the sound of his propeller shattering. He managed to avoid hitting any boats but landed in the water upside down. We went across to help as we weren’t sure whether he would be conscious or hurt but he emerged safe, but obviously shaken and was helped by a friend to swim ashore. We were concerned that if the machine sank in the harbour it would be a hazard so tied a rope around part of the structure and towed it to the harbour wall. All’s well that ends well.

After 3 nights on Milos during which time, once again, a strong NE wind had been blowing, the right conditions arose for us to make the 76 mile crossing back to mainland Peloponnese. We left at 4.50am as we wanted to reach our destination in daylight and there are no hazards when leaving the Adhamas anchorage in the dark. On exiting the shelter of the 10mile deep bay we wondered whether we had made the right decision as the waves were quite big and sloppy and the conditions more gusty than expected. We decided to see if things settled down and, fortunately, they did, giving us a good passage across to and around Cape Maléas and then to Ormos Frangos on the island of Eláphonisos where we arrived at 17.35.

Last year the wind direction in this south facing bay was conducive to just one overnight before we felt we ought to leave. This year we were hoping to be able to stay for two nights so that we could enjoy the beautiful clear waters and the peaceful surroundings – and the wind obliged.

Mike and I went ashore and climbed the sand dunes and hill adjacent to the anchorage for a fantastic view of this wonderful place…..

Just gorgeous…. Ormos Sarakinko on the left and our anchorage, Ormos Frangos, on the right

Knowing that we would soon be back in Kalamata it also seemed like an excellent opportunity for the final BBQ of the season…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

…. and we had a fabulous time having a late afternoon swim followed by good food and wine, in great company, before watching the sun set over Ormos Sarakiniko.

A great way to finish the BBQ

We then spent 6 days basically retracing our previous year’s journey back to Kalamata – though this year we only stopped at Gíthion, Porto Káyio and Koroni.

“Coriander” [left] and “Owl and Pussycat”… much calmer than last year in Porto Kayio

It was nice to revisit these places especially as, due to much calmer conditions, we were able to go ashore at Porto Káyio.

Atmospheric Porto Kayio taken from the church on the eastern headland

“Coriander” at Koroni

So, we arrived back in Kalamata on 21st October….

Back “home” for the winter

….having spent a fabulous season in the Aegean islands. Looking back at what we had done I thought that it might be good to include a few statistics.

Nautical miles travelled: 1,917 [almost the same as crossing the Atlantic from Cape Verde to Barbados]

Islands visited: 43

Total number of nights: 191

Anchorages: 56 [including 2 where we long lined]

Nights at anchor: 124 [including 4 long lining]

Mooring balls: 4

Nights on mooring balls: 5

Harbours [i.e. berthed alongside or stern to]: 19

Nights in harbours: 62

Marina: 1 [Skyros]

Nights in marina: 5

The marina was €150 [€30 per night], 1 mooring ball cost €7 and the harbour fees were €281 in total averaging out at €4.53 per night berthed.

Cruising tax for the seven months was €709.44

A total cost of €1147.44 divided by 191 nights means that an average night in the Aegean cost us approx. €6….

…… and we had an ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS TIME

Permanent link to this article: https://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2020/01/12/home-run-evia-to-kalamata/