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2019 Diary

Friday April 5th - We have a plan!

Chris is out in Leros getting Kabardar ready for the year.  2 of the 3 new sails have been made and delivered to Leros. They haven’t yet been fitted because of gales from the NE last weekend and now the prospect of a lot of wind from the SE which may bring red Sahara dust - they’ll get dirty soon enough without that!  The 3rd (a new staysail) has been ordered.

We now have a plan for the next 2 or 3 or 4 or more years which will see us heading back west and ultimately north.  The objective this year is to get up to the South of France and then in Spring 2020 put Kabardar on a lorry and head across to the Biscay coast of France.  That’s as far as we need to be planning - we’ll see what happens.

Sunday May 5th - Ready to go

Having got the new main and genoa fitted, we went off for a bit of a potter round some of the islands north of here - specifically Aganothisi, Arki and Patmos. We had some good sailing, the boat went well and the new sails seem to be working just fine.

We were in Patmos over the Greek Orthodox Easter weekend which this year was 1 week later than Easter in the UK.  It was interesting to see, or rather hear, one of the ways in which the Patmians celebrate Easter Sunday - by firing off explosives!  It all started in earnest around midnight on Easter Saturday with various bangs ranging from what sounded like shot guns to some seriously loud explosions and a cruise ship anchored in the bay joined in by sounding it’s hooter!  The bangs continued sporadically throughout Easter Sunday.  During Sunday evening there was traditional Greek music and dancing in the town square, for once not aimed at tourists like us - which meant we didn’t have a clue what the announcements were all about!

Now back in Leros Marina the 3rd sail (a new staysail) has arrived and been fitted.  It looks OK, it fits OK and the new roller system works OK, there is just a bit of tweaking of the way the sheets come back into the cockpit to be done.

So, we are now all ready to go west, but unfortunately it doesn’t look as though that will be until at least Wednesday.  Today there is just too much wind over the Aegean with forecasts of F7/8/9, and it’s raining.  Unless things change, it’s looking as though there will be just too much west in the wind for our planned course over the next couple of days.  So we wait and watch the forecasts.  Twas ever thus!


Tuesday May 14th - Almost across the Aegean

After watching the forecasts for several days, we decided that the best time for getting across to Milos was over Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  The thinking went like this - on Saturday, with winds forecast from the E and SE we would be able to sail, maybe slowly, to Amorgos; on Saturday, with no wind forecast at all we would motor a short distance further on;  on Monday with winds forecast from the E and SE we would be able to sail, again maybe slowly, to Milos. The reality - Saturday no wind from anywhere so we motored the 55 miles to Amorgos, anchored in the main bay and passed a peaceful night;  Sunday no wind from anywhere so we motored 40 miles to a large enclosed piece of water between Antiparos and Despotika and another peaceful night at anchor; Monday a flutter from the E so we motored the 40 miles on to Milos, we did put the genoa up at one point and an optimistic estimate would say that this added 0.1 kt to our speed!  We are now anchored in the large bay here on a grey, slightly rainy day.

We now wait for suitable conditions to get round Cape Malea to finally leave the Aegean.

Just as we are on our way out of Greece we have a new bit of Greek bureaucracy to deal with. The much promised/threatened implementation of the Greek cruising tax (or to give it it’s official name - the Recreational and Daily Tour Cruise Ships Fee) has just happened.  It was implemented on 10th May with the requirement that all pleasure boats in Greek waters register for, and pay the tax due by 18th May - such optimism!   The procedure seems to be, register online to pay the tax, get a 20 digit code and then, armed with this code proceed to a bank or Post Office and pay.  We are still trying to get through the registration process!


Tuesday May 21st - Round to the Ionian

We were up at 4am last Saturday to leave Milos for the 80nm trip round Cape Malea to Elafonisi.  The forecasts promised light winds with southerlies as we approached the Cape, but crucially, nothing wild in the area of the Cape which in certain conditions can have very confused seas and winds.  It was an uneventful trip with a mixture of sailing, motor sailing and motoring and we anchored for the night in a bay on the eastern side of Elafonisi away from most of the wash from passing ships.

On again the next day for the 65nm to Koroni.  The weather forecast suggested that a strong SE airflow skirting the peninsulas of the Peloponnesos would give a good sail once we had passed the next peninsula, Cape Teneron.  We got the rougher sea before we got the wind, and as we approached the next Cape we picked up the SE winds.  Once round the Cape and turning NW towards Koroni the wind got much stronger and before long we consistently had 35-40 knots and a rough sea.  With the genoa well reefed we turned a bit more N until we got out of the worst of it and the wind was down to a mere 30 knots!  We then rolled on to Koroni with the wind speed gradually falling, and the sea state very slightly improving as we went.  Approaching Koroni we could sea the masts of a yacht at anchor rolling rather wildly and wondered what the shelter would be like.  As it turned out we tucked ourselves as far into the corner as we could and, given the conditions, found the shelter pretty good. Round the end of the Peleponnesos is a busy shipping lane with most of the traffic passing a mile or more south of our course.  Only one of them caused us any concern when it was approaching from behind and on the same track as ourselves.  When the AIS transmission was giving us a CPA of 0nm in less than 10 minutes, we called them on the radio.  Yes, he said, I am aware of you - no worries. And then immediately changed course to pass us, although still fairly closely.

A day of motoring yesterday brought us a further 25 nm west to Pylos on the SW side of the Peloponnesos.  We first of all anchored in the same place we had last year, just outside the very small harbour, but later in the day the Port Police hooted their car horn and shouted to us from the shore that we couldn’t stay where we were as we were ‘in the middle of the Port’.  Port would seem to be a rather grand term for a small area of 4m deep water with a few tiny boats in, however, we did what they asked and moved into the unfinished and totally unmanaged and ramshackle ‘marina’.  It’s full of makeshift moorings and one or two sunken boats and it’s a case of tie up where one can, raft up or borrow a mooring which is what we have done having been told that it is likely to be unused for a couple of weeks.  The good thing about being here is that it’s free and there is an unlocked water tap not too far away.

Whilst in Milos we did our bit to help the Greek economy and managed to pay the Cruising tax.  For us it is just 33 euros monthly, but we’re lucky as we just sneak into the under 12 meter length category, another 0.5 meter and we would be paying just over 100 euros a month as above 12 metres the charge is per metre.

We had a brilliant example of Greek business and tax reduction here today.  In the chandlery we spent 95 euros; offering a card for payment he said cash would be better, so we paid cash.  He then gave us a till receipt for 50 euros!

We are now getting stocked up and ready to head over to Sicily, about 300nm due west.  At the moment the weather conditions look pretty good for leaving here on Thursday morning.