Kaprissia and the Peninsulars

Sun 10 Jun 2018 05:40

It was an easy sail to Kiparissia which turned out to be quite a large harbour although most of it too shallow for Pamarzi. It was rather rolly at the entrance but once inside all was calm. There were about ten yachts all moored side on taking up nearly all of the quayside and just two possible berths at the outermost end where we could moor stern to. We dropped the hook thirty meters out and reversed towards the quay expecting, as is usual when there is no Harbour Master or marinero, at least one of the yachtsmen on one of the other boats to take our lines. But none of the German sailors moved until we had yelled four or five times although they could clearly see that we were coming in. We later discovered that they were trying to save the berth for a friend. Clearly demonstrating that it is not just towels on sun loungers by the pool that they seek to reserve! Anyway, Wolfgang did finally move his Germanic butt and Lynn threw him a line which he dropped twice before finally getting it around a bollard!

Once a prosperous place and an important harbour Kiparissia is now rather run down. The houses in the old town are empty and crumbling but the Byzantine castle on the lower slopes of mount Psikiro stands as a testament to the town’s importance in earlier times.  

We took the tender ashore as it was along walk around the harbour from our berth at the furthest end of the quay and found a nice enough little tavern just back from the harbour where we dined on local caught sea bream and the inevitable Greek salad. Little did we know that the end of the quay was a favourite meeting place for nocturnal locals and our night was disturbed by their comings and goings and incessant chatter.

We slipped away around 09.30 next morning and sailed to Pilos, a pretty town built by the French after the battle of Navarino (1827) but the little marina was very tight and our only option was to raft up to a forty five foot catamaran. I wasn’t over keen and the matter was decided when the miserable looking woman aboard refused to take our lines. We extricated ourselves from Pilos marina with judicious use of the bow thrusters and sailed on to Methoni a spectacular anchorage near the end of the first Peloponnesian peninsular, bounded on one side by a huge and well preserved Venetian fort at the seaward end of which a four arched stone bridge leads to a wonderfully restored Turkish tower. Unfortunately it was too windy and rolly to comfortably take the tender ashore so we did not have the opportunity to explore.

Northward next day to the head of the huge bay between the first and second peninsulas to Kalamata where we had booked a berth for a couple of nights in order that we might catch up on laundry and other domestic chores. Only about thirty six miles but we had some great downwind sailing and arrived at Kalamata around 15.00. We were allocated a berth next to an English flagged yacht (a Moody 45DS) called ‘Toy Buoy’ – hmmm! As it turned out despite the corny boat name Mike and Susie were a very friendly pair and the banter started almost immediately. The laid lines in this marina were disgustingly filthy splattering mud over our sides and fore deck as we hauled them tight. Lynn quickly manned the deck wash hose to get the damned stuff off before it dried on.

I was up early as usual next morning and walked into town seeking bread and milk, honey was not required. The area behind the marina was pretty run down even the newer buildings seemed to be ill kept and poorly maintained. Tree roots were pushing up pavements and breaking up the concrete and in places had grown so large and bushy that they blocked the entire sidewalk. In front of a little shabby terraced house neighboured by an overgrown plot where a handful of scrawny hens pecked at the grass between rusting chair frames and other anonymous detritus, a tree had been cut down and the three foot high stump painted white. The inventive elderly occupants of the house had nailed a circular piece of timber to the stump and painted it in a similar shade and there they sat on white plastic chairs taking their coffee in the early morning sunshine as satisfied as if they were breakfasting on the terrace of their country house. I came across a bakers and the bleary eyed owner who both made and sold his produce and no doubt had been baking since the early hours cheerfully provided me with two freshly baked, still warm loaves.

In the middle of the town past the rather quirky park where in are displayed a range of old train engines and ancient carriages on a length of rusty track I came across a starkly smart supermarket in a marble clad hall and here I found the milk I sought. Returning to Pamarzi with my purchases I found her already festooned with laundry, Lynn having completed the first of what turned out to be six machine loads.

We dined that evening at a Greek owned Italian restaurant that had been recommended to us. The mussels in a rich tomato sauce were delicious as were the peppered fillet steaks that followed. Mike and Susie were eating in the same establishment and they came back with us for a nightcap aboard Pamarzi.

Southward next day as we made for a bay called Porto Kayio and after a gentle day’s sailing we dropped the hook in this very pleasant bay and admired the view of the unusual castellated houses dotted around the mountainous but wooded slopes which at one time were heavily terraced where ever the soil was deep enough. The Venetians called this bay Porto Quaglio which means quail as apparently large numbers of quail were caught here. It has been used by the Venetians, Turks and various Maniote pirates, the most famous of which was Katsonis who achieve a sort of Robin Hood status. A statue of him graces the south east corner of the bay where a handful of the ‘little castles’ are grouped. By 1980 only a couple of fishing families remained looked over by a small monastery atop the mountain but these inhabitants all left before that decade was out and only recently wealthier people have started to acquire the unusual houses and renovate them.

We had another great sail on Thursday 7th June, making nine knots and more across to the third and final Peloponnesian peninsular before heading up towards the Saronic. At the tip of the peninsular there is an island, well almost an island as it is connected to the mainland by a narrow spit of soft, white sand some half a mile or so long with crystal clear, azure blue water on either side, very reminiscent of Formentera in the Balearics. We anchored on the east side of the spit but sadly it was too rolly to be tenable for an overnight stop so we motored around point Frangos to the eastern side of the peninsular and dropped the hook in seven meters in Ormos Levki where all was calm and we enjoyed a delightfully quiet evening with the bay to ourselves.

Forecasts tell me that there are some big winds coming for the west and south Peloponnese so tomorrow we will head north along the east coast away from the blow.