Kurukulla at Englishman's Bay, Tobago

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The zig-zag south

As predicted the winds abated on Sunday and we were able to escape the bay at Naoussa, turn southwest and head down the coast of Anti Paros until we reached the narrow passage between Anti Paros and the tiny island of Dhespotico. Once safely through we anchored in the westerly of the two bays on the south coast of Anti Paros. A wonderful deserted sandy beach, backed by salt flats and populated by goats. Once anchored in 4 metres we rapidly deployed ashore in the dinghy and started setting up a BBQ pit and collecting wood. An hour later we enjoyed a late afternoon lunch of pork kebabs and beef patties, with an accompanying salad; all washed down with very passable Greek wine. A return onboard at sunset was followed by a viewing of “The Cruel Sea”, followed by an early night for all.
Next day dawned bright and with a moderate northerly breeze. After a morning swim we set off eastwards across the straits between Paros and Naxos (requiring a reef for a short period) to Nisos Skhinousa where a “deserted, rugged bay” as described in the pilot turned out to be the site of some very wealthy persons exceptionally smart villa with several guest villas within the grounds. Their motor yacht was moored in the bay next to us! The anchorage was none the less pleasant and well protected from the north winds. We did not disturb their haven for too long arriving in the early evening and leaving after a brief snorkel round the bay next morning.
Berthed in Katapola, Amorgos
Next destination was the anchorage between Andikaros and Dhrima, a stop for lunch. The channel between the two is passable with care; we encountered a least depth of 3.5m but it is certainly not as charted in the pilot. The NE point of Dhrima is not steep to but has a shallow patch extending 75m offshore and the deep water channel between the islands is much closer to Dhrima than charted with a very shallow sand bar extending out from the SW shore of Andikaros. Notwithstanding these errors in the pilot we anchored safely, without mishap, and passed a very pleasant two hours in the anchorage, lunching and swimming, in the company of one other boat.
On completion we sailed off the anchor and set course for Katapola on the Island of Amorgos. Katapola is the “capital” of Amorgos and is a wonderful town, unspoilt and welcoming. We berthed stern to on the town quay at the eastern end, paid our dues for water and electricity (€15) and filled in yet another crew list for the Port Police (dues of €10), the usual Greek bureaucracy. That evening we dined in the restaurant literally opposite the stern of the boat. Angelis, the proprietor, was a very welcoming host and the food was the best we have tasted since entering Greece, even the house wine was drinkable.
Ormos Negro, Ios
Group photo in the Old Chora, Ormos Livadhi, Iraklia
Wednesday morning dawned bright and clear again and after a short stroll ashore for some top up victuals we set sail for Ios. Almost no sooner were we clear of the land but the wind died away to nothing! First time for several weeks that we have been forced to motor and as a result, rather than motor for several hours, we diverted to Pigadhi in Nisos Iraklia. Pigadhi is listed in the pilot as a remote and rugged fjord. After one attempt to moor to the rocks we decided the winds, which had now decided to return, were too unpredictable and the anchorage too narrow to be safe for the night, hence we pressed on to Ios. On arrival, in the early evening, we opted to anchor in Ormos Kolitzani; just south of the main port of Ios. Next morning we set off reasonably early with the intention of finding Ormos Negro, a bay on the west coast where I had spent a night at anchor, in 2001, when sailing with the family. Negro is a beautiful inlet, protected from the north winds, three beaches and almost untouched by tourism. I say almost because since the last visit two small beach facilities, too small to be called tavernas, have been built. Nonetheless it was idyllic and remains unspoilt and almost unknown to the yachting fraternity. We had a beach BBQ, remained at anchor overnight, and then looked at our options for where to go next.
Our plan to go to Santorini and stay there for three days was wrecked by the weather forecast which showed a deep low passing through our area giving three days of “strong gusting to severe gale” southerly winds followed by a similar period of northerly gales. From my research in the pilot I concluded Santorini is not the place to be in a southerly blow, hence we returned to Nisos Iraklia and took shelter there, in Ornos Livadhi; here we remained for three days. Our choice was good, the shelter from the gales was near perfect and from here we could watch the seas crashing on the SW shore of Skhinousa to the NE of us. In this time we managed two forays ashore one to the main port of Iraklia, in the next bay to us and the other to the deserted, original, Chora (town) of the island which was abandoned after the German occupation of WWII and never reoccupied.
On passage Iraklia - Amorgos
Kalotaritissa, Amorgos
In the short lull between southerly and northerly gales we made a fast dash, in heavy seas and torrential rain, to the southern tip of Nisos Amorgos where we anchored in Kalotaritissa; this is a small bay at the southerly tip, well protected from the north. It proved to be quite tight with numerous fishing boats also moored there and hence we spent only one night sheltering here before making another dash, in foul weather, back to Ormos Katapola. This visit we anchored in a cove on the north shore of the bay and spent a very pleasant two days sheltering there. The second day was Mike's 67th birthday and so we decided to make an attempt to moor on the town quay that night in order to allow us to get ashore easily for the festivities; it was not to be, we were the first to attempt to return to the town quay after the gales and our attempt was unsuccessful; even with all 50m of cable out the anchor was still dragging, making the berth untenable. We returned to our anchorage and resigned ourselves to a dinghy ride along the north coast of the bay to get ashore that night.
Anchored in bay on N side of Katapola
Mike's birthday
The evening was a great success. Peter and I had gone ashore the previous day and walked into town to pre book a restaurant. Our intention had been to return to Angelis but in the event we were tempted through the doors of a Mediterranean Bistro, “Karamel”, run by a French lady, Armelle. A beer and wine tasting later it was booked; four people, three courses, coffee, €100, wine included. It was excellent, the ambiance was just right and we all ended up dancing the night away until midnight, having drawn in other diners. As we were planning to sail at 0400 this was a bit of a mistake!
In the event we managed to sail off the anchor at 0500 ghosting out of the bay in the moonlight. An hour later and the wind had subsided to nothing and we then motored for six hours in the direction of Nisos Astipalaia, from where Peter and Mike were booked to fly back to UK next day. We arrived off the coast of Astipalaia at 1300 and anchored for lunch and a swim in the first tenable anchorage, next to Ak Tiliaros, on the SW tip of the island. A beautiful bay with crystal clear water and good holding if in sand (if you avoid the rocks on the bottom which are prevalent in some areas). Here we stayed for four hours before ghosting round to Skala, the main town, for the night. We arrived just after dark and hence took the easy option of berthing on the old ferry pier overnight before moving inside the new, better protected, harbour the next morning.
Birthday supper
At 1100 we waved goodbye to Mike and Peter as they set off for their flight to Athens and then on to UK. They made it but not without delays caused by Greek air traffic controllers. How striking and angering the tourists on whom you depend is going to help the Greek economy escapes me!
The port, Skala, Astipalaia
Watering and fuelling ship, a night alongside, a slow start morning and then writing this Blog, brings it up to date. We sail in a pair of hours to find an anchorage for tonight. More from Rhodes in a week's time.

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