Kurukulla at Englishman's Bay, Tobago

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Porto Rafti to Mykonos

Porto Rafti to Mykonos
With Ale, Ray and Dimitri safely embarked and a major re-victualling exercise completed at Carrefour we moved and spent the night in the anchorage to the south of the promontory in Porto Rafti bay; the move was in order to avoid a rather uncomfortable swell that had built up from the NE during the day. The following morning we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and then got under-way to Ornos Kavia in Kea. The original plan had been to stay further north and head for Ormos Kastri on the SE corner of Evia, as a precaution against the onset of the Meltemi, this was abandoned due to the brisk ENE wind that we were faced with. The choice was a 20 odd mile beat to windward in 20kts or a beam reach to Kea. No contest, Kea here we come.
Departing Ormos Kavia, Kea
Three hours and 22 miles later we were safely anchored in Ornos Kavia, enjoying a late lunch and the sunshine. Ornos Kavia is a popular beach with some very tasteful developments interspersed with numerous windmills. They are even in the process of demolishing some of the redundant concrete structures left over from the failed building boom. The anchorage was indeed so good that we decided to stay an extra 24 hours and avoid a bout of strong northerly wind forecast to be passing through next day!
After our extended sojourn in Kea we sailed off the anchor in the early morning of Thursday, round the southern tip of Kea, and headed for Ornos Kolona in Kithnos;
Ornos Kolona, Kithnos
chosen because of the hot springs on the beach in the northern bay. The initially the intention was to make this a lunch stop but so taken were the team with the bay that we decided to stay overnight and set off early next day for Siros. The net result was an evening spent toasting the sunset, with G&T, on the top of the hill behind the bay. This venue has great views and is amongst a collection of enormous cairns (goodness knows who built them); all of this was followed by a late evening soak in the hot spring.
By 0830 next morning we were motoring out of the bay in a flat calm, hoping to find wind as we rounded the northern tip of Kithnos; it was not to be! The wind wistfully came and went throughout the morning but was never strong enough to shut down the engine for more than 15 minutes at a time.
Sunset at Ornos Delfino, Siros
By 1430 we were anchored in Ornos Delfino, on Siros, and swimming ashore for a drink and ice-cream from the beach taverna. Later that afternoon the team walked the 1.5 km to Kini, the next, more populated, bay to the south where they were able to procure some provisions. In anticipation of a spectacular sunset we all collected at 1930 on Kurukulla's foredeck, G&T in hand; we were not disappointed: it was the most spectacular sunset I have seen for many years. The sky was an amazing flame red! Well worth waiting for.
By close of play next day, Saturday, we had to be in Mykonos for Dimitri's departure on the following morning. As a consequence it was yet another early start but not wasted. We motored to the northern tip of Siros and then set full sail for a brisk reach under No2 Genoa and full main (later reefed) to the north of Rhinia and then round onto the south coast of Mykonos heading for my favourite anchorage at Elia Beach.
The "Shirley Valentine" beach at Elia
This was the best sail of the season so far touching 9.5kts at stages and averaging over 8. By 1500 we were anchored off the beach and having lunch prior to swimming ashore. It was with regret that at 1730 we had to leave the anchorage and head for Mykonos Marina to allow Dimitri to catch his ferry next day.
After a wet and windy motor to windward up the west side of Mykonos we finally berthed in the marina at just after sunset. The good news is that some investment has been made in the marina and power/water terminals have now been installed. There are still no holding off ropes though although I am told by Nikos (the Marina “Manager”) that further work is planned this coming winter! After a hot shower at the cafe opposite the marina (€5 per head) it was off into Mykonos town for a splendid dinner at “Funky Kitchen” and to renew acquaintances with the Piano Bar, Porta Porta and several other bars.
Ormos Langeri in the bay at Naousa, Paros
Sunday morning was not a great experience, all were suffering from a moderate hangover, but after a large and leisurely breakfast at Matthews Taverna we said goodbye to Dimitri who headed for his ferry and the rest of us prepared to head back to Elia in the mid afternoon. Here anchored off Elia Beach Kurukulla was destined to stay for six days due to strong northerly winds. The Meltemi had definitely set in! As a consequence we arranged for the water sports boat from Agrari Beach to collect Ray and Ale and transfer them ashore in time for them to catch a taxi to the airport on Wednesday morning. It was orders of magnitude easier than flogging back round to Mykonos Marina in the conditions prevailing. I was now single handed again for the first time in several weeks.
What a forecast!
Having sheltered from the Meltemi in Elia bay for four days the forecast at last changed and offered a chance to head south before the forecast southerly winds set in. Naousa in Paros was the ideal destination given that it provided good shelter from southerly winds and the forecast was somewhat extreme, see the adjacent screen shot, northerly winds gusting to 106mph! This had to be an error but how much of an error was the question! All other indicators were for winds from the southern sector of light to moderate strength. The passage to Paros was tedious, I had delayed too long and the southerlies had already set in by the time I left Elia, mid morning Sunday. It was to be a motor in light, contrary, winds all the way. The only advantage was the new batteries got their first full charge for several weeks!
Sunset at Ormos Langeri, Paros
Once in the bay at Naousa I headed for the eastern side of the bay where there is a sheltered anchorage for the forecast southerly winds. It is a beautiful sandy beach with the added advantage of being one of the clothes optional beaches in Paros! After 36 hours anchored here I moved across to the town and took the last vacant place in the marina; it was well inside and therefore sheltered but a challenge to get in to at any time, let alone single handed. Fortunately all went well; the marina “manager”, having realised I was alone onboard came to take my lines and offer up the “holding off” line which was available. The marina is now a private marina and charges €30 a day for Kurukulla (12m), last year it was free and the year before it was being run by the municipality so something is changing, as with Mykonos.
Anchored at Rinia, Northern bay
With full tanks of fuel and water, fully victualled and the bar restocked, and the new crew of Simon and Yorgos onboard we sailed back to the anchorage for a final night and a relatively early departure back north, saling downwind initially to Rhinia North bay via the Delos Channel and then, two nights later, to Mykonos to collect Jason another crew member flying out from UK. After one night off Mykonos; during which we got up at 0400 to see the eclipse of the moon (only to discover it was 100% cloud cover) we set off on a fast sail, using the Meltemi, down to Ormos Dhendro in Dhenoussa for a night in the bay there; we were expecting to be the only boat there. To our surprise there were four boats anchored in the bay already. Fortunately they had left us a space near the beach and we sailed through the anchored boats, onto the anchor, just as the sun was setting. This was followed next day by a morning swimming and lunch ashore in the taverna before departure.
Lunch in the beach taverna, Ornos Dhendro, Dhenoussa
After lunch it was a sail off the anchor and a very fast and bumpy reach across to the south coast of Naxos where we put in for the night in Ornos Panormou, a beautiful and quiet cove on the SE corner of of the island. Panormou is an anchorage which is well protected from the Meltemi; however, the wind still howled overhead most of the night.
The following day we decided to see what our options were for making ground north after rounding Ak Giatani, the southerly tip of Naxos. As we approached on a relatively gentle beam reach it was obvious that a significant challenge awaited us if we wanted to go to windward! We opted for the less demanding option of reaching across to the south coast of Paros and even this was a challenging ride, especially for Yorgos who had not been out in such conditions before.
Entering Ornos Panormou, Naxos S coast
We initially put into Aliki which is a relatively wide, sandy bottom, bay on the south west of Paros, sited at the end of Paros airport runway! After three hours of gale force gusts we decided to retrace our steps by 2 miles and return to Ornos Faranga which is a smaller but better sheltered option. Here we landed Yorgos to return to his home on the island and spent the night hoping that the wind might abate by the morning, as forecast. Our hopes were raised by the anchor alarm going off three times during the night as light winds pushed us north towards the beach (we had set it to be sure that we did not swing too close to the beach; expecting the north wind to hold us off the beach all night. We were wrong!).
Notwithstanding the variable winds of the night, when we awoke, as a result of the alarm clock going off at 0600, the winds looked light if not favourable. It was not to be, by 0630 we were motoring across the Paros – Andiparos gap with 30kt winds from the north. By the time we rounded the island of Dhespotico, the first point at which we could turn north towards Paros (Parikia) town the winds were 35kts gusting 40kts and the seas up to 4m high.It was an extremely lumpy, uncomfortable, passage and I am ashamed to say I decided we should motor all the way; we probably stayed drier and warmer this way, but it did nothing for my sailing pride! The batteries were grateful for the charge is all I can say in my defence! We arrived at 1430, anchored for a swim in the outer bay of the inlet, and settled to a lunch of hot, home-made, soup; not quite the normal diet when sailing in the Mediterranean but very gratefully received.
At 1800, after researching the non availability of a berth in the “marina” at Paros (it was crowded and already in two layers out from the jetty), we decided the better option was a night at anchor in the bay. Next morning it was time for Jason and Simon to make their escape; Jason back to UK via a ferry to Mykonos and flight from there; Simon by ferry back to his home in Athens. I accompanied them ashore with the dinghy, for a crew breakfast, we said our goodbyes and I set off for the local Carrefour to re-victual; I was potentially back to single handing again for a while!
Anchored in Rhinia, South Bay
In the event I delayed two days in the anchorage at Paros, to allow the wind and seas to subside, before heading back north to Rhinia and then Mykonos again to collect Christoph, the last joining crew of the season. 24 hours into this pause I had an SMS request from Yorgos telling me he had cancelled a planned trip to Bologna (Italy) and asking if he might join again for the last of the passage until we departed Greece; single handing was not to be!
From Paros we headed northwards, on the wind, to South Bay in Rhinia for one night at anchor. On arrival we found both arms of the bay occupied and chose to head into the eastern arm which seemed to offer more shelter. We ghosted past the anchored charter yacht (with German crew) and dropped anchor in the narrow entrance to the bay 60m ahead of them. Plenty of room to swing but they were unimpressed that we had squeezed in between them and the shallows of the bay itself. We received a hard stare for our trouble but following an uneventful night they were sociable enough as we left next day. That afternoon we sailed off the anchor, out of South Bay, and tacked up through the narrow Delos Channel (I never could resist a challenge!) followed by a close fetch across to Ormos Tourlos where we anchored in the bay just north of the Mykonos New Port. Next morning, after a leisurely start we headed to the southern end of the New Port and berthed in the marina for the last time this year. An hour later we had hired a car and were heading to airport to collect Christoph, visit the best supermarket on the island, and have lunch in Ano Mera which is the second largest town on the island. That night we visited the favourite spots in town and then, nursing our hangovers, set off next morning for a passage taking us south and then east, heading slowly back to our winter quarters in Marmaris.
More as we return to Turkish waters............

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