Sivota to Cefalonia
Skipper Tom and crew Sarah, Joyce and David prepare to set sail following safety briefings and provisioning, from Sivota harbour, (southern Lefkas Island) for a shake out sail towards southern Cefalonia.
Forcast: sunny with NW4-5 – perfect weather for a first days sailing.
Shake Out Sail
After spending the morning in harbour running through the boats systems, safety gear and some basic power handling everyone was eager to get out sailing. We tacked, we gybed and we hove-too to refresh memories and then we enjoyed a 10 mile reach due South making over 8kts at times. No snags on the boat, just aching limbs and tired grins.
The wind died as we entered the lee of Ithaca and looked up at the supposed location of Odysseus’ palace – thinking of the weeks ahead we realised we were recreating the start of that legendary journey – the storm that blew Odysseus’ off course happened as he tried to round Cape Maleas, the last finger of the Southern Peloponnese which we will encounter within the next few days. The Southern fingers of Greece’s Peloponnese have a reputation for rapidly changing weather and are the last resting place of many a ship. An ancient Greek proverb sums up: “Stay ten miles off Cape Malea, and from Cape Grosso ten and then ten more”. Part of our challenge over the next couple of days will be finding a suitable weather window to round the three capes.
We motored into Vathi on Ithaca around 6.30, moored and had an early night after a great meal ashore. Tomorrow we check the weather again but are expecting the Northerly to continue and push us South overnight to Pilos, our stop before rounding the Peloponnese.
Around 100nm will take us past Zakynthos, the entrance to the Gulf of Patras and down the coast of Greece, we expect to arrive in Pilos Sunday morning.
Vathi to Pilos
One of the new extras on the Mile Builder trip this year is wi-fi on the yacht – so I can sit here at the chart table at 6am 5 miles off the Western Peloponnese coast and update the blog! Only problem being – there isn’t a lot to say! We’ve had a very quiet journey from Ithaca (though we still have 15 miles to go) with little to no wind so have been motoring for most of the night.
The forecast was for 15-20kts from the NW so we were looking forward to a fast downwind leg but in reality it peaked at around 12kts for not much more than an hour then dropped off again, this morning we have an anemometer spinning in lazy circles.
The night passed slowly as the crew got used to the 3 hour shift pattern – plenty of coffee and star-gazing – with very little shipping to worry about. We should reach Pilos and be moored up around 10am and after a few more hours sleep we will check the weather again and see when we can get around the Southern capes.
Pic 1: Theory session on route, Pic 2: Dawn over the Western Peloponnese
The entrance into Navarino Bay was spectacular and the glorious morning brought smiles to tired faces. A study of local weather sites and GRIB files leads us to believe we can stick to our original plan and leave Pilos bound for Monemvasia, rounding all three of the Peloponnese capes tomorrow. With a distance of 115nm ahead and in order to safely round Cape Maleas during daylight hours (the Elafonisou straits are a major shipping channel) we will aim to slip our lines tomorrow lunchtime. In the meantime the crew are catching up on lost sleep and exploring Pilos which is an attractive town developed mainly by the French in the 19th Century with a massive castle over-looking it built by the Venetians and the Turks.
This morning the crew are planning our journey around the southern capes with Sarah as designated Skipper for the passage. After checking the weather again we have re-evaluated our original plan to round Maleas in the early morning tomorrow due to a strong wind forecast on the Greek weather site HNMS (up to force 7) and now plan to leave later today rounding the cape tomorrow afternoon when the wind is due to drop.
We are waiting for a fuel truck to arrive at lunchtime and then intend to leave Pilos and anchor off Koroni (which promises another spectacular Venetian castle!) for dinner before continuing overnight around the second cape – Grosso.
Photo 1: The Turkish castle outside the massive battlements protecting the old settlement of Methoni. Photo 2: The crew hard at work planning the next leg of our journey
Photo: Tranqilizer at anchor beneath the walls of Koroni.
Photo: Cape Maleas
Photo: Poros from the Channel
Photo 1: The pretty volcanic peninsula of Methanon
Photo 2: The calm before the Ukrainian invasion of Vathi!
We welcomed two new crew last night, Philip and Jean, and with David and Joyce (who are staying aboard for the return leg) they have gone into Athens to see the Parthenon as we are waiting for a last crew member, Andrew, due later today. Depending on his arrival time we may leave tonight and find a bay to anchor in or stay an additional night in Athens and leave early tomorrow. Our plan is to head across the Saronic to Palia Epidavros which sets us up for the canal on Monday morning. Once through we sail on to Ithea, our first stop in the Gulf of Corinth.
Photo: The hustle and bustle of Kalamaki marina
We are currently motoring with little wind in the Gulf of Corinth heading for our first stop on the west side of Greece. We had planned to put in to the well lit marina at Ithea tonight since we were expecting a delay in Corinth and thought we might be making a night entry. However with our speedy journey so far we have decided on Galaxidi as a prettier option and expect to be into the harbour early evening before sundown.
Photo 1: Tranquilizer in the dawn light at Epidavros
Photo 2: The amazing rock walls of the Corinth Canal
Many coffees and several buses finally brought us up into the mountains behind Galaxidi to the ruins of Delphi. Believed by the ancient Greeks to be the centre of the world it held special religious significance and harboured shines to Apollo and Athena amongst others.
The site is an incredible place to visit and well worth the morning spend on busy public transport. We decided to get taxis back to the boat.
Arriving back in Galaxidi we slipped our lines around 3pm bound for Trizonia, a small island some 15nm east. As we exited the bay we found more wind than predicted and enjoyed an afternoon tacking upwind in 20kts plus! After much discussion on upwind sailing strategies we finally arrived in the marina in Trizonia around 8pm to find it absolutely packed! A sneaky stern-to park on the outside of the mole got us settled and after some balancing of the passerelle we found a lovely taverna for a simple but very well cooked dinner.
Photo 1: Tranquilizer alongside in pretty Galaxidi
Photo 2: Delphi
Photo 3: The crew enjoying an upwind leg