Syracuse from Argostoli
37:03.505N 15:16.945E Sun 3rd Sept 2016
We eventually stayed for 10 days on the quayside in Argostoli, enjoying the sociability of being in the thick of things and able to chat to other yachties and make some new friends in the process. We did manage to do some exercise despite the continuing heat and David had several decent runs around the headland and the lagoon at the end of the gulf. We also ran/walked (and at times in Lindsay’s case, staggered) the 3 miles or so uphill to the site of some ancient “Cyclopean” walls which snaked across the hillside impressively. We watched the turtles which have made a home in the harbour and discovered that there are at least 10 of them at the moment. The matriarch of the group has been christened Barbara and has plenty of blue paint on her shell from rubbing up against the anti-foul on the underside of the fishing boats.
Krani’s Cyclopean walls and a tired runner:
Fishing boats in Argostoli:
Turtles in Argostoli (Barbara & friend):
Goldcrest almost ready for departure:
We left for the 270 mile, 44 hour passage to Syracuse on Thursday September 1st as the forecast promised the best winds for some time and we were rewarded with some great upwind sailing after the first hour of motoring out of the gulf. We sailed through to late evening with wonderful warm winds and fantastic stars and then had to motor sail for a while until the winds strengthened again in the early hours of Friday and we made great progress on a beam reach into the afternoon. We hardly saw another boat and no wildlife at all en route. In true Med fashion (un-forecast) the winds suddenly died completely around 3pm and we had to motor over increasingly mirror like seas for the next 8½ hours, which was pretty frustrating. When the winds returned just before midnight, they built very quickly and skipper was kept very busy reefing (shortening the sails) more and more until we only had a tiny main and small genoa up. In force 6 winds we were still roaring along at 7-8kts and worrying that we would arrive in Syracuse in the dark. At times the going was quite rough and first mate had to wedge herself securely in the cockpit as we rocked around. She even thought of getting her lifejacket out of the cupboard at one point!! She also now has pain in the lower back that sounds like there may have been a sudden impact with a seat at some stage during the night. However, “Goldcrest” performed magnificently and we think she is hard to beat in any conditions thrown at her, from the lightest of winds through to the really rough stuff. I doubt we could feel more secure in any other boat.
We did slow down enough towards the end of the second night to approach our destination after dawn. The sun rose over the old town of Ortigia as we motored into the bay and called the authorities for permission to anchor. We were bemused to be given exact co-ordinates for where we were supposed to go, but skipper decided to ignore these as it would have put us on the far side of the bay and a long, long dinghy ride into the town. We still anchored some distance from shore but this is no bad thing as the late music from the bars reminded us again last night. We arrived to find a major canoe polo competition in full swing and have heard lots of cheering from it since early Saturday. After spending the day of our arrival on board recovering from the passage and having a couple of quick, refreshing swims off the boat, we intend to go ashore today, have an espresso or two and explore some more. We’ve haven’t explored the modern bits of Syracusa yet, so we intend to do so this week.
Sunrise over Ortigia:
Moonrise over Siracusa Grand Harbour: