A pleasant sail to Methoni just 35NM away. Well before sunset I was anchoring among the fishing vessels below the walls of an ancient Venetian fort. Heikell states in his guide that this is one of his favourite stops in the Peloponnese.I can see why.
Inflating my Kayak tender I paddled to the nearby beach and explored the town. In high season I am told it is a hive of activity but by November it was winding down and I had the charming tavernas almost to myself.
On a heading of 130° and slightly less that 50NM away was Kiparissia, a port which according to Heikell lost all boats moored there in the 90s due to poor shelter from northerly gales.
I spent nearly an hour trying to get an anchor to hold in the weed, but at least the breakwater had been extended and afforded the much-needed additional protection. I did not go ashore but spent some time with the radio and laptop gathering synoptic weather-fax forecasts (see below).
I awoke to find a new arrival moored next to me. A chartered Bavaria with a Polish crew. They insisted I have a traditional Polish breakfast with them and welcomed me aboard their yacht. One black coffee and several shots of Metaxa later (what is Polish about that?), I managed to escape their hospitality and spent the day playing tourist in Zakinthos.
The all-male Polish crew next door was a cheerful collection of professionals. Eight in total, two proudly boasted that they worked for the biggest brown coal power station in Europe, another was a construction tycoon and the youngest at 22 touted the success of his families business in disposable plastics. I don’t remember the rest. They regularly went cruising together and had been sailing around the Peloponnese clockwise from Athens.
Upon returning to Eileen, I was invited yet again for a traditional Polish lunch. Unable to refuse the hospitality I nursed a dizzy head that night. By morning they were gone.
The storm that had been following me from the north arrived so I opted for a rest day.
As the winds rose I realised that my attempt at Greek style mooring wasn’t as exemplary as I’d initially thought so I gave it another try with considerably more scope. Much better!
I restocked Eileen with fuel (carrying jerry cans to the nearest service station) and water (borrowed from an unattended Italian super yachts berth).
Wetsuit on, hull scraper in hand, I leaped into the water for my morning chore, barnacle banishment! All went according to plan until I lost a fin and it sank. Not normally a problem, but in a 7mm wetsuit, no weight-belt and one fin, it’s not easy to stay submerged. I eventually managed by pulling myself down the anchor chain, lifting the anchor and carrying it to the recalcitrant fin.
Then it was off to Zakinthos via the straight between Levkas and Nisis Meganisi, East of Nisis Arkoudhion and Ithaki, the home of legendary Odysseus. Ominous clouds hung over mountainous Kefallinia at dusk. To the north the VHF announced continuing gales in the Adriatic and northern Ionian. I urged Eileen of Avoca onwards for the remaining 20 miles watching lightning brighten the northern skyline.
By 10pm I found safety in the large and lively port of Zakinthos. The city was throbbing with nightlife, but all I was concerned about was finding an appropriate berth. After attracting the unfortunate attention of some youths with a high powered green laser (This could be quite effective in making sure ships notice you!), I dropped my Danforth from the stern and let out just enough scope to allow me to step onto the quay and tie off. Not so shabby for my first attempt at mooring Greek style!
Dodging Ifalos Panayia I headed for Prevenza. The sea had become a little rough and the waves were just the right size to set Eileen of Avoca rocking so I wanted to get into the lee afforded by the mainland. At dawn the weather had settled and I pushed on to Lefkada. Refueling at the marina I returned to the main city quay for 4 hours of sleep.
While the town square is quaint, Lefkada is not on my list of must see Greek destinations. There isn’t much in the architecture department, and my frustration with obtaining Internet access (the local children occupy Internet Cafes playing network games all day) may have coloured my opinion, but what really tipped the balance for me was the smelly garbage disposal site just south of the town. Apparently it’s their way of doing land reclamation.
With olfactory relief I approached Nisos Meganisi, 15 miles further south, found a quiet anchorage, and settled in for the night.
With the wind blowing steadily from the direction of my intended destination, I stubbornly motored out of Gouvia Marina and made my leisurely way South at 4kts. Four knots was all Eileen would give me until I could find a quiet anchorage and scrape away at the cornucopia of sea life clinging to her propeller.
It was such a perfect evening that I could not contemplate stopping for the night. Mesmerized by the photoluminescent plankton (which in Greece is very different from what I had seen in Italy) the hours passed quickly. Near Paxoi, I switched off the motor and set up my short-wave receiver for NAVTEX updates. I can’t use the receiver when the engine is running because the alternator produces too much interference. I was so thrilled that this new acquisition of mine worked that I’ve appended the results of one of my first NAVTEX receptions:
KERKYRA RADIO NAVWARN 0259/
MAN OVER BOARD
AT SEA AREA-N IONIO SEA
KERKYRA ISLAND – GLYFADA BAY
SHIPS IN VICINITY REQUESTED
TO KEEP A SHARP LOOKOUT
REPORTING TO JRCC/PIRAEUS
KERKYRA RADIO NAVWARN 0256/
NORTH IONIO SEA – LEFKADA ISLAND
DOUKATO POINT LIGHT
38-34N 020-33E UNLIT
UNDERWATER EXERCISE BY
HELLENIC NAVY TEAM IN PROGRESS
UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
IN SEA AREA PATRAIKOS GULF CENTERED
ON 38-13,38N 021-42,12E
AND RADIOUS 0,25 MILE
KERKYRA RADIO/WEATHER FORECAST
VALID FM 041600 UTC UP TO 050400 UTC
SYNOPSIS OF SURFACE WEATHER CHART
THE COMBINATION OF HIGH PRESSURES
1026 OF BLACK SEA WITH LOW 1007 OF W
MEDITERRANEAN SEA IS AFFECTING:
CENTRAL ADRIATIC AND NORTH ADRIATIC
WITH SE GALE 8 LOC STRG GALE 9
NORTH IONIO W OF 19.30 S ADRIATIC AND
BOOT WITH S SE NEAR GALE 7 LOC GALE 8
OUTLOOK FOR 12 HOURS
FM 051600 UTC UP TO 060400 UTC
NO SIG CHANGE IS EXP
What was a little disconcerting were the gales blowing in the Northwest and some poor fellow had fallen overboard. I wonder if he was ever found?
Too many little jobs left undone, so I spent another day on boat miscellanea. No doubt I could have squandered a month mucking about on Eileen without going anywhere, but after stating my plans to a Dutch couple moored nearby and finding a lovely little goodbye note and gift the following day, I felt obliged to make a start and head South. I redoubled my efforts to finish up and get Eileen of Avoca ship shape.
By the time I woke up, the flotilla crews had departed and a gaggle of antipodean workers descended upon the marina to replace them. They busily washed and folded sails while I put the finishing touches to my vane gear, scrubbed the decks and purchased last minute provisions.
IMRAY Chart G1 Mainland Greece and the Peloponnísos ISBN 08522 805 8
IMRAY Chart G3 Aegean Sea (South) ISBN 9781846230769
Admiralty Chart 4302 Mediterranean Sea Eastern Part
BlueNav XL3 Electronic Chart Number: XLG34 for Magellan GPS Product Number: 980843-20E
November 1st, Day 1
GPS Tack to Egypt
Flight with Olympic Airlines to Athens, 4hrs later I was on my connecting flight to Corfu and by 11pm my voyage begins on Eileen of Avoca.
I was surprised to find the marina full of life as partygoers reveled well into the night. Apparently it was the last day of a flotilla outing for sailingholidays.com and everyone was “at it” with abandon. “At it” principally being the tavernas supply of alcohol. I happily went to bed as the sounds of nightlife turned decidedly ugly.