Is it a first?

Dick and Irene Craig
Sat 6 Sep 2008 14:28

We anchored in the small bay at the small hamlet of Kayio, located off the huge bay Lakonikos Kolpos, at the bottom of the Peloponese 18 hours and 40 minutes after leaving Milos.

We have done a number of overnight passages now so were not concerned about this one, even though it was the first overnight that we have done with just the 2 of us on board.

While on passage, soon after it had become dark, Dick saw 2 dolphins in the water. They came to look but did not stay, like the pod that had approached us when we were making our way to Milos the previous day. Unfortunately, in the eastern Mediterranean, the fishermen consider the dolphins to be competition. It therefore comes as no surprise that these delightful creatures are so nervous of us.

Now, as in ancient times, the channel between Ak Maleas and the island of Kithera is an important channel for ships and we certainly encountered our fair share of them. The distraction of sailing on a watery M25 was more than enough to keep us alert.

Ak Maleas is a mountainous headland about 780 metres high and has a formidable reputation. Heikell likens it to Cape Horn. I am pleased that I was not aware of this fact before I did the trip or I would certainly have been very anxious. However, Dick had done his homework, chosen a window when the wind would be light and we had a smooth passage.

It was at this cape that Odysseus was blown south to the land of the Lotus eaters and I quote these beautiful, poetical words  from the Odyssey “I might have made it safely home, that time, but as I came round Malea the current took me out to sea, and from the north a fresh gale drove me on, past Kythera”.

It was necessary as we made to round the cape, to call on the VHF, a cruise ship which was cutting in front of us less 2 miles away. It had slowed and changed course, making it unclear what were the intentions of the captain were.

About 5 miles or so out from the cape, we saw electrical storms over the mainland which fortunately didn’t appear to get any closer to us.

We stayed for 2 nights in the bay of Akonikos Kolpos on the Peloponese, just off the tiny hamlet of Porto Kayio. We anchored in the clear blue water in sand and went ashore for lunch intending to have a lazy afternoon. However, we had noticed earlier, while swimming in the warm water, that a large, steel bucket, similar in shape and size to a household water tank, was on the sea bed and could have been a hazard if the anchor chain moved too much should the wind come up. We moved the boat further northwards. Late afternoon we heard thunder and it began to spot with rain. The spotting continued for no more than 30 minutes but the wind began to blow from the north east into the bay, raising more white horses than we wished to see. We lifted the anchor again and went to check out a small area, protected from the east. Another boat arrived before us and having out 50 metres of chain, there was not room for another boat to drop anchor there. We returned to the spot we had just left but this was now occupied so we found a small bay in the northern most corner and this is where we dropped our anchor. The wind had by now subsided and the white horses had disappeared.

At a similar time the following day, the spots of rain returned for a brief time and the wind blew stronger but soon all was calm.

We moved on from Porto Kayio to Lemini, looking in at several other anchorages en-route, deciding that they were too exposed to the west for comfortable anchoring. Unfortunately, Lemini turned out to be an uncomfortable anchorage for although we were swinging safely through the night, the movement made it difficult to sleep.

The style of the property along this coast is very different from that of the islands we have recently left behind. Gone are the white rendered houses with the blue windows, doors and balconies. The style now is natural stone, blending perfectly with the environment.

Attempting to raise the anchor at Lemini, the fuse on the windlass kept switching off. All was finally revealed as the anchor was lifted above the water. A huge anchor, resembling a grappling iron,  had deposited itself over our anchor during the night, as the boats swung around with the constant change of wind direction. Dick to the rescue using one of the tools bought for the purpose and we were on our way to Kalamata.

We passed a turtle just 3 metres off the port side as we made passage to the marina at Kalamata. We haven’t seen a turtle since last year.

 This is the first proper marina we have encountered since we left Marmaris in Turkey. There are lazy lines, potable water, electricity, marinaros, a marina office and there are mooring fees. Not the few euros that are sometimes charged when we tie up to a town quay but real money, plus 50% extra for catamarans.

I was delighted to find that there was a well stocked library at the marina which enabled me to swap several books. This was a wonderful find as it is not easy to obtain reading material printed in English, while cruising.

We went to a restaurant just outside the marina complex for our evening meal and were delighted with the food. It was better than anything we had eaten ashore for a long time and for a meal for 2, with starter and main course, bread, water and wine, it was considerably less than we have been paying.

While we were in the marina and the wind seemed to be non-existent, Dick put in place some scaffold planks from the top of the cockpit to the horizontal, stainless steel bar which is part of the supports for the wind generators. This enabled him to lubricate the wind generators and stop the squeak which has been driving him up the wall. While the planks were in place, he went as far as cleaning the stainless steel, removing the rust which had built up since the boat was cleaned, while it was in Israel and we were in Jordan. This isn’t exactly a first because he has done this once before. It usually falls to my lot to clean the boat.

Why they call this silver coloured metal, stainless steel, I can’t imagine. It is definitely not stainless. I for one would be happy to pay the extra to ensure that sufficient chrome was present in the alloy, to prevent the attack of rust which seems to be always threatening.

Ducks swam in the water within the confines of the marina, the first salt water ducks we had seen since we were in Turkey.

We took a leisurely walk through the park to reach the town centre. A number of play areas for children had been constructed and several pseudo railway stations, with normal size railway lines for the now disused trains, carriages and other items which had once been part of the railway system and were now on display within the park.

We sat in the cockpit and admired the Taiyetos, 2307 metres high, running south to the Mani peninsula and Ak Tainaron. Tainaron apparently, otherwise known as Matapan, was the ancient Tenaron, the entrance to the underworld.

We left mid morning and motored just over 8 miles to a small town called Petalidhion, anchoring in sand and weed. It was market day and the pretty umbrellas covered the stalls on the waterfront. The water was clear but green, taking the colour from the weed. We were the only cruising boat in the anchorage, another left soon after we arrived. We had planned to spend at least 2 nights here but the clock chimed on the hour all night long and at 7am it also played some sort of melody. This is Saturday morning when normal people have a lie in!

We would have probably moved despite the chiming clock as we were plagued by mosquitos. Perhaps I should say that we would have been plagued by mosquitoes if we hadn’t eliminated them before going to sleep. This year, the mosquitos have generally been conspicuous by their absence.  

A beach stretches around the bay from Kalamata to Petalidhion and beyond, though there were very few people on the beach or in the water despite the temperature being in the mid 30’s. Interestingly enough, we did encounter 2 people swimming, half a mile from the beach, on our way from Petalidhion to Koroni. They made up 50% of the people we saw on the beach and in the water today and 33% of those we saw there yesterday.

There were 2 small sea planes parked on the beach at Petalidhion and we were lucky enough to see one of them take off from the water, just before we raised our anchor and moved on to Koroni.

The coast between Petalidhion and Koroni is green, unlike most of the barren scenery encountered en-route through the Aegean and the south eastern coast of the Peloponese.

The architecture has changed again and from Kalamata, it resembles that which you will find in most other mediterrean seaside towns. The tallest building I saw was only 4 stories high, most of the buildings seem to be 1 or 2 stories high.

Our arrival in Koroni coincided with lunch-time so, having dropped the anchor we lowered the bathing ladder in preparation to swim in the clear water to check that all was well with the anchor, prior to launching the rib, to take us ashore for lunch.

Horror! Nestling in the compartment which houses the bathing ladder was a cockroach! Feeling very guilty that it is also one of God’s creatures, I knocked it into the water and watched as it swam away. Then, to my amazement, a second cockroach appeared on the other side of the bathing ladder compartment. This one was also knocked into the water but instead of swimming off, it swam back to the boat and climbed back using the bathing ladder. Back into the water it went and it again returned, this time floating on its back in the water in the bottom of the compartment. I cupped by hands and threw it back into the water and last saw it swimming away from the boat. Where they came from I cannot imagine. They had not been there when we swam at Petalidhion yesterday. I hope that they had just arrived and not got further into the boat.

Built on the hillside, with a Venetian fort as a backdrop, the town of Koroni, sloping down to the water’s edge, is very pretty. The fort is quite overgrown and is now home to a monastery.


Below:- Dick cleaning the stainless steel supports, sea plane, disused train