36:41.087N 23:02.426E Tue 9th May 2017
We’re retracing our steps eastward around the Peloponnese, so with no new places to report, L has asked me to write a sailing entry – sorry!
We had a great stay in Pylos. The entry procedure was about as smooth as it gets in Greece; we needed to get a cruising permit so were forced to admit our presence to the authorities. The port police were friendly and the only pain was a long queue in the bank to pay the fee. Can anyone explain why the port police can accept €15 in cash but you have to go to a bank to pay the other €50? Anyhow we spent 3 days in the tiny run-down “marina” for free, really enjoying being back in Greece. There is a great restaurant overlooking the harbour, relatively cheap and with good food, plus spanakopitas (spinach pies) and beer for lunch – bliss.
We were waiting for some west winds to blow us round the 3 capes of the Peloponnese and this finally appeared in the forecast for Sunday the 7th. We waited for the wind to start, but gave up and had to motor off around the 1st cape to Koroni, which is still a perfectly nice little anchorage and town, well described in previous entries. With the same “perfect wind” forecast for the next day (Mon 8th) we headed off to Porto Kayio. Determined to do some sailing despite light and fluky winds it was engine on and off again all day and ending up with a miserable 50% engine time. The best winds were reserved for rounding Cape Matapan and coming in to anchor in the small bay. This is a really evocative spot, overlooked by the tower houses of the Mani. Again we wrote about these last time, but it seemed to us that we saw far more this year and could really feel the aggression between the families that drove them to live so defensively.
Maniot tower houses:
Next leg was to round cap Malea, infamous for strong and unpredictable weather. Our trusty (huh) forecast said 25kts of wind from behind us so we headed off with sails goosewinged and mentally prepared for a hard day. In fact it started light and we had to motorsail for nearly ¼ of the time. Then the wind kicked in and we had a fantastic day with Goldcrest showing off how well she can go. We had gusts of just over 30kts and our maximum boat speed was over 9kts. The most interesting time was in the gap between the cape and the island of Kithera, a gap which all the shipping from Athens and Turkey has to negotiate. We managed to weave our way between a gaggle of ships until we had to commit to rounding the cape itself, at which moment a ship turned the corner and steadily bore down on us. When the collision seemed unavoidable I called him on the radio and he very laconically agreed to change course – so generous of him!
After the cape we had a really fast reach in strong winds, with the sails reefed away to ¼ their normal size. I’d like to think we looked really impressive screaming along into Monemvasia, but I doubt anyone else cared! To our surprise the harbour was pretty full – I thought I could see a space for us but clearly my judgment of distances leaves something to be desired as a third of the boat stuck off the end of the quay. The boat in front wouldn’t move up for us so we spent the night at anchor in winds gusting over 30kts. As soon as the 1st boats moved off in the morning we nosed our way in, to be met by a concerned party of yachties who were horrified about the behaviour of the boat that wouldn’t move and left us to brave 40kts gusts in an anchorage with a poor reputation. Didn’t bother us none!
This is another place we’ve been to twice before and written about, so I won’t repeat our wonder and awe. Just a few repetitious photos maybe?
Looking down from the battlements of the upper town:
Now we are waiting a few days for winds to take us further up into the Aegean, next stop maybe Hydra (again). We’ve got only a few more legs before we are in new territory and can slow down a bit, take things in and write about them!