Cruising Greece Peloponnese

We sailed from Italy on a two day voyage.  The route was direct from Siracussa to Pilos.  We happened to have a path between the two shipping channels. To the north going east and to the south going west.  While we saw a lot of shipping traffic it was always to the north or south some distance away.

Pilos was a great place to arrive.  The harbour is free and had a number of other cruising yachts who gave us the good oil on the formalities.  Needless to say the local Greek bureaucrat issues us with the incorrect cruising permit so when we arrived in Katacoulon I spend more than two hours getting the right forms completed.  To my amazement the very efficient lady informed me that if I returned to Pilos I would be refunded the fee of E55.  Well it was on our route south so I called in and low and behold the official in true Greek accounting style took the funds out of her purse and gave me the money.

We stayed a few days at Pilos to visit the castle and to restock with food, then sailed north to Katacoulon to visit Olympia the site of the original Olympic Games.  You take the train from the station next to the harbour at about 8:25 am.  The return journey brings you back before sunset.  I can now say Denny and I have races on the Olympic running track and entered the stadium through the participants gates.  The Temple of Zeus is famous however the large gold statues has gone missing.  The site was destroyed by an earth quake but still has some great ruins.  The Olympic flame is lit from the sun at this site every four years.

The Museum at Olympia is outstanding particularly the frescoes and statues at the top of the ends of a Coliseum.  Those in Sicily were missing but here most of them were preserved.  It is better than Athens.

From Pilos we sailed south past the point of Methoni with its castle right at the tip.  The Venetians were here and left the flying Lion symbol in the wall of the castle which extends right into the sea at the point.  When anchoring go as far north east as the depth allows because the swell tends to come round the point and it can be very rolly.  The restaurant on the right of the beach square has free wifi and makes great snacks.  We continued to sail eastwards to Koroni and anchored in the wide open harbour in front of the restaurants but the wind NW came up during the night so at dawn we sailed back around the point into the lee and dropped anchor off the western side of the beach.  Unfortunately the disco played all day but not at night.

From there it was across the bay to Kalamata.  The olive capital of the world. They have great olives at the market.  The anchor windlass decided to stop working due to one of the terminal coming loose.  I took it off, disassembled it and cleaned it up.  I took it to a workshop that fixed trucks and buses.  The boss could not speak any english so he phoned his cousin and I spoke to her and she translated for him.  We went back and forth a few times and I was instructed to come back the next day at 4:00.  IT was not ready but he had stripped the motor established what was wrong and set about fixing it from salvaged parts in his loft.  At about 6:00 it was working.  I expected a big bill because he had rebuilt the motor replaced the brushes, bushes and some connector.  What was the charge 22 Euro.  I almost fell over but thanked him and walked back to Malua a very happy man.

Off down the very mountainous coast to Kardamili where we met an Australian who had run for the state election in Victoria Australia.  After his time he returned to Greece to make and sell olives and other form produce.  His olives are the best in the world.  We purchased sufficient to last three years and wish we could again get the recipe for the juice he stores them in.  Out of this world. 

We were sailing in company with Journeyman and had agreed to meet at Lemeni  at the head of a large bay.  Journeyman had followed the cruising guide recommendation to go astern to some rocks with an anchor way out.  I looked at it, at the weed and the depth and decided to move to the head of the bay off the beach 36 40.602 N 22 21.567 E where the bottom is sand.  The anchor held first pull.  Journeyman soon joined us.  As we were settling down to a drink at sunset we saw a fire on the nearby mountain get larger and larger until it cover almost the side of the mountains here in the Mani peninsula.  Before we knew it there were three water bombing plans flying at mast height past us as they scooped up seawater from the bay and dropped it on the fire.  The run past us continue for about ten runs until the sun was well down and the light faded.  Fortunately they put this fire out but the fire across the Mani peninsula claimed a number of lives.

Off to Eleafonisas to stay the night before tackling the dangerous Cape of Maleas The cruising guide warned about the strong winds. Odysseus was blown off course here and was lost for ten years.  We set off at dawn in calm weather with no wind.  The mountains rise right out of the sea to a great height so I knew that we should stand off a fair distance.  Well the best laid plans.. We came closer than we wanted because of the calm wind and sea.  Just as we rounded the point of the cape the catabatic wind came down from on high and we were down to two reefs and the stay sail.  It soon dropped as we left the cape astern and we motored towards Monivasia a fair distance north of the cape.  When we were about two miles out I noticed a yacht astern of us motoring as fast as they could towards the small harbour.  Now protocol would say they they would let us enter the harbour first especially as we were clearly ahead 500 mt out from the entrance.  The French have their own rules.  They passed on the port side and did a wide sweep as they entered the harbour.  I had been forewarned by Journeyman as to the location of the only open berth.  As the Frenchman slowed and approached the dock I cut inside him and came alongside in one swift well executed move, to have our lines taken by Brian and Richard of Charlie Girl.  The world almost came to an end according to the Frenchman as he started to shout and gesticulate.  I threw up my arms and said I did not understand and well brains always overcame speed and stupidity.  It did not like that, neither did the three female crew.

Monemvasia was celebrating the defeat of some water born invasion with a reenactment of the naval battle.  The towed a boat into the harbour and a fight ensued then the boat was set alight while fireworks were set off.  Very dramatic and a great spectical.  The date was 23 July.  The following day we left the harbour because of the heat and anchored out 36 41.047 N 23 02.749 E before climbing to the top of the fort built on the island attached to the mainland by a narrow causeway.  What a view over the Aegean Sea and the Greek island, our next stop.  Read more..

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