to Ithaca, Greece
September 1-20, 2003
Travelogue # 3 Summer 2003
We are in Monemvasía
which is a Gibraltar like rock that is separated from the mainland
by about 400 feet of water. The name is derived from "moni
emvasis", one entry, which is all there is to the fortress
on top of the island. The island is about midway between the
ports of the Middle East, Israel etc., and Italy. It was a natural
stop over for the trade ships of old. The sea traffic passes
just about 3 miles south of here today. The current traffic is
bound for Istanbul, Athens and the mid east. There have been
many battles here due to the defensive location and transit route
for commerce. The French laid siege to the island stronghold
and actually starved the residents to surrender. It took three
years during which time the residents had to eat whatever and
catch rainwater for drinking.
Today there is a good trail
to the top, 15 minute walk, and a lot of souvenir shops in
the village. We enjoyed the walk and the history of the island
as told by Angelo, who is the owner of Angelo's Taverna. The
town quay is small but adequate for perhaps 10 boats.
We rounded the first of the three
fingers that make up the lower end of the Peloponnese peninsula.
The island of Kíthira is but 5 miles south of this point.
This cape, Malea, is narrow and there are hundreds of boats a
day that pass here, it is very busy. We found a bay on the small
island of Elafónisos. This island is reputed to have the
most beautiful beaches in Greece, Caribbean like. They must have
rolled them up before we got here. We found lava to the water
except for about 100 feet where there were 4 umbrellas and several
people. There were tractor tires and garbage in abundance. The
rest of the visible beach was covered with large boulders and
pebbles at the water line. We only stayed one night.
It is a short trip to the small
village of Kayio
which is on the southeast tip of the middle finger of the Peloponnese.
There is a small bay,
protected from the south wind, where we find refuge for the night.
We are leaving Turkey at a fast rate and the thought of this
is haunting as I really do enjoy Turkey and the many facets of
its beauty. Kayio Bay has but three boats when we arrive but
soon to follow are 8 more straggling in at different times. We
are situated well and put TTT, tender to Traumerei, in the water
for a trip to shore and supper. There are three tabernas on the
beach and it seems that everyone selects the middle one. The
octopus and fish are great. After eating we moved to the front
of the taberna and enjoy the last of the light of the day. Then
a boat arrives, after dark, and is very slow to select a place
to put his anchor. But he finally does and it appears to be a
good position, however he does not connect to the earth and therefore
slides across the bay. When your anchor is dragging, and you
know it, you should stop your boat and assume a position above
the anchor and retrieve the anchor. This dude had an anchor that
was dragging and it appeared that he was trolling for other anchors
as he slid across the bay. He caught ours and pulled it up, while
we were ashore eating. We hustled to the boat and with our boat
were able to pull him off of the rocks, in that our anchor was
entangled with his. We finally got free and settled again for
the night. He left the bay and hid in another corner of the larger
bay. The remainder of the night was without incident and enjoyable.
This day we sail to Kalámai
which is the town at the top of Messina Gulf. This bay is defined
by the middle and westernmost fingers of the lower Peloponnese
Peninsula. The town has been occupied by the Turks, French, Italians,
Greeks and whoever else was in the neighborhood. This town of
Kalámai was essentially destroyed in 1986 by a very large
earthquake. It is said that about 70% of the inhabitants moved,
permanently, from the town after the quake. The town is filled
with many lookalike 5 story apartment buildings. They are all
post earthquake and still in good shape. There is a castle in
the town, but I have seen enough castles so I did not go to see
We have as next boat neighbors
an Austrian couple from Wein (Vienna). He is pretty young to
be retired but come to find out he is retired from Microsoft.
He worked there about 7 years and has been gone for 3 years,
so he was a party to the stock option plan. They have a Wauquiez
43, French boat, that is very roomy.
Next, we leave the middle ground
between the Aegean and the Ionian Seas. We enter the Ionian Sea
and have arrived in Methóni.
This area has also been under many administrations. The change
in administration was always due to a battle and accompanied
by much bloodshed and grief. In fact the Turks, in 1500, battled
the residents for a long time and when the battle was over they
beheaded all of the males over 10 years old and built two towers
out of the skulls. The battles are over and now the kids play
on the beautiful sandy beaches and crawl about in the castle.
There is a 1500 Turkish
tower at the point of land south of the village. Just south
of here is an island, Sapiéntza, where there is a tree
that is called the "strawberry tree", arbutus tree.
Supposedly it has strawberry-like fruit and produces both fruit
and blossoms at the same time.
The village of Pílos is
just 6 miles north of Methóni. Pílos Bay is the
waterfront. It has a very narrow entrance, perhaps ½ nm
and is but 3 nm long and 2 nm wide. There is but one entrance.
Pílos is the site of a very famous sea battle, in fact
it is the battle that finally won Greece its independence from
Turkey in 1827. There is a great museum and castle,
which is reputed to be the best in Greece if not Europe. It is
not too terribly old, started by the Turks in 1572. The entire
Turkish population lived within its walls. Well, as with other
locations in this area, there were a series of disputes as to
who is to be the ruler. It changed hands many times, but in 1827
the changing stopped. The Turkish and Egyptian navies were sitting
at anchor in Pílos Bay, all 53 of the Turkish fighting
ships with their 6000 sailors. The British, French and Russian
navies, 26 ships, had been looking for the Turks and finally
located them. The three navies, a total of 1200 men, entered
the bay playing loud music and acting reckless and out of control
with drink. This was a ploy that fooled the Turks. The Battle
of Navarino was a one-sided affair with all of the Turkish ships
being sunk and none of the allied ships lost. The remains of
the wooden hulks are items of curiosity for divers and treasure
hunters. The remains are still on the bottom in 40 meters of
water and being examined by archaeologists. Also in the immediate
area is Nestors Palace. One would have to start reading very
early in life to read all of the pertinent material with regards
to myths and travels in Greece.
The weather, as checked 2 days
ago, was supposed to be a force 3 from the south for our sailing
tomorrow. A German just tied aft of us and said his report is
for it to be a 5/6 from the south. Still doable but inching up
a bit in forecasting. This morning we asked the port police and
they said 4/5, all is ok. It was 4/5 from the south for a long
time and we had a good trip, then it inched up to 6 and before
the day was out it was a solid 7. We are in Katákolon,
just 20 miles from Zákinthos. This is a major tour boat
stop for land travel to Olympia. The wind was blowing so hard,
35kts plus, that med-tying to the town quay was out of the question.
Anchoring is not an option because the bay is small. We got a
bow line ashore to a man on the commercial pier and tried to
pull our stern in the the quay with a line from a rear cleat.
It was not to be done easily, so the man helping us got on a
Clark fork lift
and took our line to pull our stern in. This is handy but not
always available. The wind is blowing about 30 kts and blowing
us off the dock. The wind load is broadside and very high, every
line is straining and creaking. It will not be comfortable to
spend the night like this.
Problem solved, the port police
come by and inform us that we must move before 6 am tomorrow,
for a cruise ship will park where we are. We assure him that
we will be out of the way by the morning. When the wind slacks,
we decide to move into a somewhat restricted area and side tie.
It is the closest you can get to the 15-foot high sea wall. We
released from the one place, as the sun went down, and started
to our new place when I dropped a fender. This is the first fender
we have ever dropped, and during a full gale. While we are attempting
to retrieve the fender, the first rain squall of the season dumps
on us. It is a real frog strangler of a 5 minute downpour. We
are soaked but continue to our new place. This is much more comfortable
in that we are bow to the wind and the wind load on the mooring
lines are minimized. This is acceptable and we will rest well
I wrote the last line in complete
oblivion as to what was to come. We are side-tied and thought
it would be OK, and it is better than where we were. About 11
pm we were served a heavy rain with a bit of lightening as a
side dish. The winds began to change from the south to the east
and then to the northeast, from whence one enters this side of
the protected, on all other points, bay. At about 1:30 am we
were awakened with a second to none light show. The lightening
is occurring above the very low clouds, with only an occasional
bolt terminating on the shore or water nearby. Remember, we are
trying to sleep or at least rest in what is in essence a room
at the bottom of a lightening rod, our mast. It is an eerie feeling
in that with the lightening occurring above the low clouds and
mist, it is as though we are inside a frosted light bulb. The
light is so diffused and continuous that there is a 15 minute
continuous period that one could read by the light. This combined
with the wind blowing us onto the dock . Our neighbors made the
same comment and our German friends in the eastern Aegean spoke
with us on the phone and asked if we had seen the "Ionian
Storm". They read about it on a web site.
We are out of here and going
to Zákinthos, where there is supposedly a more protected
place to moor. There is a large harbor here and a lot of ferry
traffic to the mainland. This island was leveled in the large
earthquake of 1953, which also devastated Kefallonía and
Ithaca. The island is very green and the site of the very well
known tourist photo of a large ship washed upon a beautiful sand
beach. This is truly a remote spot in Greece, but visited by
many holiday travelers. There are not so many charterers so there
is no problem in securing a place on the quay. We are next to
a Swiss couple who have a Bavaria 40 Ocean, very similar to our
boat. The salesman saw them coming and they have every possible
accessory to the boat: heater, generator, watermaker and all
of the other stuff that makes a boat fun. We find this to be
another of the towns that would be quite independent of tourists,
they have a local economy based upon agriculture. The weather
sort of keeps us close to the boat; rain you know.
We have moved to Cephalonia where
we have been previously on the eastern side, and now are on the
west side. This is also an island that has an economy based upon
agriculture. We are in Argostóli. You enter the bay going
north for about 5 miles, then make a 180 degree turn to the right
and double around the Argostóli peninsula. The bay in
front of Argostóli is perhaps 3 miles deep and a half
mile wide. The weather can be terrible outside but not get real
bad in here. There is a Greek Orthodox Church in Tucson, and
the father of that church is from Lixoúri, a small village
near here. We had hoped to find him here during his annual summer
visit, but alas find that he is still in Tucson.
We are expecting to see several
couples from Tucson while in this town, the Renneckars and children,
and the Patricks. Sunchaser, a motor yacht, is here to meet them.
We know several of the crew of Sunchaser, as we have crossed
their paths before in Turkey and the Caribbean.
Kathy read about a nature
walk in a valley near here, Katelios. We took a bus, 20 miles,
to the village and then a taxi, 6 miles, to the upper part of
the mountain where the walk begins. It has rained today so the
trail is a bit slippery but quiet, cool and through a great green
valley. The hike is about 6 miles and drops about 2000 feet to
the beach. There is a small river running and the trail crosses
the river, on wooden
bridges, frequently. The path leads through an old agricultural
valley. Here they grew grain and grapes. The river was diverted
into irrigation canals with a controlled and shallow drop. Periodically
there would be a water wheel where the locals would crush the
grain. The water would be diverted to fall down a steep cliff
through hand hewn rock
pipes. The water would drop 20 feet through an incline of
stones that had been shaped to be used as a pipe. The stones
are perhaps 3 feet square and 12 to 18 inches thick. They would
chisel out the center to make an 18 in hole in the rock. They
would then place these rocks one upon the next to form a pipe
through which the water would fall. The force of a 20 foot fall
was sufficient to turn a wheel that in turn ground the grain.
It is not a fast flowing river so the natural fall would not
do the job.
September 18 and the Renneckars
and party have arrived in Argostóli. Their family, Bob
and Judy Patrick, and friends Scott and Cindy from Phoenix accompany
them. It is a pleasure to see someone from the home area, and
in addition Louise has brought us our mail. We are tied next
to them at the town quay. Sunchaser is 127 feet long and a thing
of beauty. This evening it is just a relax time for them after
a long trip and a welcome visit from us. Kathy and I went sailing
in the Bay of Argostóli today and it somewhat reminds
us of San Diego Bay. It was flat with enough wind and space to
sail for awhile without tacking. This is truly a pleasant place
to be and sail.
The Renneckar group wants to
tour the island of Cephalonia and spend some time in the water.
The first stop of the day is a beach at the bottom of a 200 foot
cliff, accessible by switchback road. The beach is the best we
have seen with respect to the sandy nature, size and scenery.
The beach is surrounded by an arc of more than 180 degrees by
high-sloped tree-covered hillside. There are many beach umbrellas
with two loungers beneath each. We locate at the end of a plastic
rod paved sidewalk. This is not only a great spot, but Steve's
chair can get to the site. The Patricks are to the left about
40 feet, just 10 feet from "the body" of the beach.
Bob's mustache was curling all by itself. He pretended to be
taking photos of the horizon, above her body, and when she turned
away, down comes the camera and click he got her on film. There
were many such scantily clad ladies, even right in front of us.
The whole group enjoyed the beach and afterwards continued to
the lake at Mellisani which Kathy and I had visited before. On
the way back to Argostóli we stopped in Sámi so
as to see the Captain Corelli Café, and then to a cave.
We had a great evening on Sunchaser and bid the gang good night
in that they are leaving at 6 am for Vathí, Itháki.
At 6 am they are leaving the
dock and we are 30 minutes behind them. We arrived in Vathí
about 2½ hours after they did and had a great lunch on
Sunchaser. They departed at 4 pm for Sicily and we stayed behind.
Their schedule is tighter than ours. The 2 days were great but
no sailing was done in that the maximum wind was about 4.5 kts
on the nose. We have completed a portion of the journey that
takes us to the Ionian and join with the Renneckars.
This ends summer Log 3 for 2003.