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Author: Debera and Mark Clark

Póros Town – 26th to 28th June 2017

Póros Town – 26th to 28th June 2017

027 - 2017 - Poros - 00Following an early morning swim we all departed Neorion bay, Spirit 3 and Shiraz heading north to Aegina and Roger and Sisca on Waterval joining us on the town quay in Póros for a couple of days. Roger and Sisca are from the Netherlands and Roger is a retired eye surgeon who can’t quite manage to put his scalpel down, so occasionally helps out in his old surgery when they return home at the end of the summer.

We stern moored on the north quay, which unfortunately is prone to more ferry wash than our previous mooring on the western side of the town. The ferries are very frequent at this time of year commuting the ½ mile from the mainland … and Poros is a very popular destination. We were tempted to move but it is only two days and we have power and water and the main supermarket is 30 metres away. One of my main objectives in Póros was to get all the boring tasks done, washing all the bedding and towels in anticipation off our return home and to stock up on heavy supplies ready for our return in September.

You really notice the difference in temperature when you are on the quayside, which is now around 38 degrees daily and forecast to go up into the 40’s this coming weekend. The concrete roads and buildings of Poros amplify these temperatures even further making it very difficult to do anything constructive. We have decided, all stops from now on MUST be on anchor or have a swimming spot nearby.027 - 2017 - Poros - 01We joined Sisca and Roger for dinner on Monday night at the Poseidon restaurant, they have eaten here many times and the wife of the owner is Dutch, so the rest of the family who are Greek, can also converse fluently in Dutch with Roger and Sisca. Fish is particularly recommended (well it is called Poseidon), Mark and I eyed up a massive red snapper which was aching to end up, simply grilled on our plate …. but as it would have fed four (maybe more) and cost 130 euros we decided to be sensible and opted for a couple of delicious sea bass fillets and a starter of Calamari.027 - 2017 - Poros - 02The evening concluded with a performance of some energetic and authentic Greek dancing (remember it is still 30 deg), you would have had to pay us a lot of money to perform in that heat, high kicks and back flips plus the traditional Zorba the Greek dance. None the less, Sisca and I were encouraged (dragged) onto the dance floor (the men hid) and Mark said we both did a passable attempt at following the lead dancer, kicking out our legs and bending at the knees at roughly the right times.027 - 2017 - Poros - 03The next day was so hot we basically did nothing until late in the afternoon when we did manage to “drip” our way round the corner of the quay in search of a breeze, but there was none, so had to settle for an ice cold beer and a game of cards instead. We arrived back at Hapatoni in the early evening to be greeted by a hot and stuffy boat, all our covers (Sprayhood and bimini) are dark blue so the heat is absorbed and radiated down into the boat and with no air movement, the inside was too hot to sleep comfortably (NOTE: Next time we have covers made, make them beige). Mark slept outside to try to capture a bit of the evening coolness and he wasn’t on his own, as a lot of the neighbouring boats had bodies littered around their decks all trying to get a bit of shuteye in this heat.

Waterval and Hapatoni both left the next morning at 9:00, going in different directions, us north to Vathi and a swim, Waterval south to Ermioni.

Neorion Bay in Póros – 24th to 26th June 2017

Neorion Bay in Póros – 24th to 26th June 2017

026 - 2017 - Niorion - 00The forecast for the three hour passage from Wreck Cove to Poros was less than 2 knots of wind, so for the first time this season, Mark didn’t bother to unpack and ready the mainsail … I think he’s depressed. Since we had the thunderstorms a few weeks ago, the temperature has steadily risen, but unfortunately the wind has disappeared…. so no white flappy thing, just lots of chug chug. The only breeze on our passage, was created by our forward momentum, however that little breeze was so inviting that Hudson and I took advantage and went forward to sunbathe leaving Mark at the helm.

We arrived at mid-day and after a quick swim we did the social circle visiting Alice and Christine on Spirit 3 and then Tina and Tim on Shiraz, all agreeing to meet later at 18:30 on the beach for boules and a BBQ.026 - 2017 - Niorion - 01Neorion bay is a large bay a mile or so north-west of Póros, close to Russian Bay which got its name after the war of independence (1821 and 1832) against the Ottoman Empire, when the Russian fleet was based there.  Neorion bay, on the other hand is overlooked by the magnificent Villa Galini where Henry Miller wrote “The Colossus of Maroussi” and Seferis composed his poetry – I am sure you are familiar with their works. Both of these bays are very popular with day trippers from Póros as they are the closest sandy beaches, lined with tall shady pine trees, there are a couple of tavernas, a petite shop and a few small hotels. It is a very pleasant setting and because of that, it attracts a little bit too much activity, water skiers try to see if they can jump into the back of your boat and the occasional ferry wash sends your mast into swash buckling mode, none the less, being able to cool off each time you feel like you are being baked from the inside is worth its weight in gold.026 - 2017 - Niorion - 04At 18:30 our convoy of dinghy’s head for an empty spot on the beach, making for the welcoming shade under the pine trees. Hudson likes to perch at the front of the dinghy, paws resting over the forward tube like a figurehead on the prow of a ship staring fixedly to shore and amusing the other yachts as we pass them by. We arrive at the perfect spot, there are benches to sit on and a wall forms the table for the BBQ’s.

So with the BBQ’s heating up, its time for Boules. We split into boat teams, poor Mark got stuck with me and unfortunately my boules all seem to have a manufacturing defect as they seem to want to head in the opposite direction to the jack … hmmm!! Fortunately for Mark, the game stalled as we all compared our adventures of the last few weeks and then the food was ready before we could resume the game. So with our boules abandoned, we chatted the evening away with only the starlight to illuminate the beach (OK there were also a few street lamps, the lights from the hotels and the headlights of the cars as they passed close by, etc, etc). It was a really pleasant evening, the 3 dinghies returning back to our anchored boats in the dark … you can tell we are all seasoned yachties, as we all remembered, as we left in the daylight, to turn our anchor lights on and bring a torch.026 - 2017 - Niorion - 02

026 - 2017 - Niorion - 03Sunday was full of activity, starting with a swim, then a walk around the bay for Hudson, followed by wind surfing lessons for Mark. Alice has been wind surfing since she was 14 and has a couple of boards on her boat, so Mark decided to give it a go, having never done it before. Hudson and I joined Christine on Spirit III to watch, whilst Alice patiently instructed Mark, unfortunately he had managed to clog up his ears with seawater and so partially deaf, the instructions went mostly unheeded. It looked hard work as Mark got up, repeatedly fell off and got back up again, however with perseverance he finally managed to stay upright and surfed off across the bay… well half the bay. Returning to the boat exhausted Mark went for a well deserved afternoon nap … surprise, surprise.

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026 - 2017 - Niorion - 12

026 - 2017 - Niorion - 11

The trio became a quorum when Alice had a call from Roger and Sisca from Waterval, who spotting her on the AIS and realising we were nearby, set off to join us, arriving around 14:00. I went to see the new arrivals and check in with the others on our evening plans, but rather than row the dingy, I had a quick lesson from Mark in using the outboard, for some a simple task but it was my first time, so off I went visiting. I was ok crossing between the yachts, but mooring on the transom was a nightmare, it took me five attempts to get onto Waterval, it is definitely easier to moor a 45ft Yacht than a 3ft dinghy.  With greetings done and plans confirmed for the evening I set off back to our yacht nearly running over Alice’s windsurfer .. oops…. I think I’ll keep to rowing from now on its safer for everyone else.

We met on the beach for pre-dinner drinks, and then moved onto a local taverna in the bay for supper, the food was excellent, my calamari and Mark’s roast pork were delicious. It was great to have all four yachts together for the first time in four years since we all crossed from the UK to Portugal on the ARC Rally. There was a lot of catching up and the mandatory reliving of our (not so pleasant) Biscay passage, but all good things come to an end and the evening concluded with au revoirs as we go our different ways until September, when we may meet up again in the Ionian.FB_IMG_1498564077629

Wreck Cove Again 23rd to 24th June 2017

Wreck Cove Again 23rd to 24th June 2017

025 - 2017 - Wreck Cove - 00We set off early for Wreck Cove on a windless day with temperatures heading rapidly towards the top end of the 30’s … phew!! We arrived at mid-day hoping that the prime spot at the head of the bay would be free and were initially a little disappointed to find a German registered boat in our cove, but as we came further in, it was apparent that they had anchored a fair way off the prime position. On the first attempt to anchor, Mark tried to drop the hook in Turkey, letting out 100 metres of chain and quite a bit of rope attached to it … probably a little too much with winds not set to go over 10 knots, don’t you think? On the second attempt, with a careful eye on the just submerged rocks on our port side (maybe that’s why its called wreck cove), we dropped anchor and long-lined ashore right at the top of the bay , once more back in those pristine, aquamarine, translucent waters – I cant think off any more superlatives or I would have added them.021 - 2017 - Wreck Cove - 02Two seconds later, Mark was off the back, all boat prep forgotten as he took a much needed coooooling swim. Being the practical (not sure that’s the right word) one I was left to open up the windows and collect the beach towels before I could get in and join him. The Germans obviously did not appreciate us invading their cove so promptly up anchored and left.

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However, our isolation was short lived as a motor boat with a Greek family (Parents and two girls) arrived mid-afternoon for a late lunch and swim, they splashed around for an hour or so and then water skied of the back of their dinghy, Mark was a little envious I believe. A group of teenagers from Athens in their dad’s very expensive sleek black rib, with twin 400hp inboards joined later, and the afternoon passed delightfully and not too noisily considering the number of 20 something’s in the bay. Predictably, the motor boats left late afternoon and Wreck Cove was once more left to Hapatoni and the crickets. As dusk descended the faintest of breezes just penetrated into the cove, more of a whisper really, but still very much appreciated.

We had planned to stay two nights at Wreck Cove, then move onto Póros and for once the weather was in our favour, perfect for another couple of nights at anchor.  However, following a phone call from Tina on Shiraz to let us know they were joining Alice and Christine on Spirit 3 on anchor in Órmos Neorion Bay, 15 miles from us, we decided it would be nice to catch up before we head home for the summer and probably our last chance to do so. So (with much sobbing and a tearful goodbye) we left Wreck Cove on Saturday morning for the last time this summer, heading to Póros to join our friends for a BBQ and boules on the beach.

Astrous 19th to 23rd June 2017

Astrous 19th to 23rd June 2017

024 - 2017 - Astrous - 00Astrous is described in the cruising sailors bible covering the West Aegean, by the authors (Rod & Lucinda Heukell) as “one of their favourite places in the gulf…it is just a very pleasant place to be” and I have to agree, very relaxing, there is no real need to do anything but chill. It has a couple of good tavernas and bars, the harbour is clean enough to swim in and you can also pop over the breakwater to a tiny shingle beach 50 metres away for a cooling dip in the mid-day heat … or even better, to dive in to stop the rapid fluid loss after what is now becoming our very sweaty 7:30 am runs.  024 - 2017 - Astrous - 02There is a long promenade lined with eating and drinking places, all kept spotlessly clean and in front of those a long attractive shingle beach, part of which has been planted with a forest (more of a wood than a forest) of sunbrellas … but they don’t seem to detract from the peaceful nature of the place.024 - 2017 - Astrous - 10 (1)So day one, Monday 19th with the temperature now solidly stuck in the 30’s, we did as the book said and did nothing but snooze, read and finished the day with a beer.  Day 2 was not much different, although we did manage to sneak in a few chores, cleaning the boat and Mark got out his “big” hammer to straighten the davits which had become extremely curvy after some ferry wash pushed us into the quay … these tasks were rapidly completed and we returned to … snooze, read and have a beer – are you beginning to see a theme?024 - 2017 - Astrous - 03Day three (Wednesday 21st) we were much more active. We woke at 7:00 am for a run before it got too hot, If you start an hour later, the temperature is in the mid-twenties and then this exercise thing is really no fun. Run complete, Mark didn’t hesitate, diving in at our bijou little beach on the other side of the breakwater, to cool off whilst I completed the housework and the clothes washing, then it was my turn to cool down – I get the feeling I’m doing this the wrong way around.  Then, keen to explore the castle above the village before the heat of the midday sun (mad dogs and Englishmen, etc, etc), off we go exploring once more.024 - 2017 - Astrous - 04

024 - 2017 - Astrous - 08The steps meander up the side of the hill to the ruins (it was not too far as this is a small village), on route we pass a church or two … obviously … isn’t there always a couple. The castle is believed to have been built by the Venetians at the time Astrous was established in the 13th Century BC, but today it has no architectural or historical merit, it does however have a lovely view of the fertile valley with its plentiful citrus fruit trees stretching into the east. On the southern side the waters of the Peloponnese gulf stretch into the far distance.  After our climb, we did manage to pass a few hours doing that relaxing thing, but then Mark decided to start sanding the teak deck. So with Mark happily pottering, I went off to have some pampering, I had found a charming little beauty parlour and booked myself in for a pedicure.024 - 2017 - Astrous - 07Day four, you guessed it … another day in paradise…  snooze, relax, swim, read and have a beer. We left the next day Friday 23rd, my Dad’s birthday – Happy Birthday Dad xxx and returned to one of our favourite spots, the anchorage at Wreck Cove, in time for the temperature to reach new heights in the top 30’s … definitely going to need a swim … or three.024 - 2017 - Astrous - 09

Navplion 17th to 19th June 2017

Navplion 17th to 19th June 2017

023 - 2017 - Navplion - 00We left Porto Kheli at a trot, we really did not want to hang around and sailed (well motored actually as only a breath of wind was about) the 21 miles north to Navplion, the largest town and commercial harbour in the gulf, arriving at 14:00pm. The town is not visible as you approach from the south, you do however get a glimpse of the massive Venetian fort high above at Palamidhi, but only really get to see the true scale of the fort as you round the headland passing between Nisi Bourtzi (an island fort part of the defensive complex) and the outer mole of the commercial harbour.023 - 2017 - Navplion - 08Navplion has ancient roots and is said to have been a Mycenean naval base, but the harbour area where we anchored (together with the odd cruise liner and super yacht or two) is unfortunately now a truly unlovely, metal fenced, large concrete car park which does not encourage you to stay too long. However, on the other side of the “unlovely” harbour area is a delightful old town built in the early 19th century, buildings lean at odd angles, flowering bougainvillaea and clematis grow across the narrow streets connecting the Venetian and Turkish style houses and vines climb three stories to spread their shade over the roof top gardens, keeping the sun at bay. Narrow backstreets are filled with alfresco dinning and inviting boutique shops …. ok, there are also some of the usual “tat” (as Mark calls them) shops as well.imagesNavplion is an ideal location for exploring this region, so rich in Greek history, with the ancient city of Mycenae, the Epidhavros theatre and the Fortress of Palamidhi all close by. So on Sunday 18th May we woke to an overcast day with dark brooding clouds and heavy rain, forecast to torment us all day …  as Hudson is not permitted in many of these historical sites and would have to stay in the rented car, the lack of heat made it an ideal day to check out these places.023 - 2017 - Navplion - 03First port of call was the Epidhavros theatre, built in 330-20 BC and enlarged in the mid-2nd century AD. It has 55 rows of seats built on a natural slope against a backdrop of lush landscape and is said to represent the finest and best-preserved example of a classical Greek theatre. Even by today’s standards, it stands out as a unique achievement through its integration into the landscape and above all the perfection of its proportions and incomparable acoustics. Fortunately we arrived in a break in the rain and we had the opportunity to explore without an umbrella.023 - 2017 - Navplion - 04Next on our archaeological tour was Mycenae. Before our visit, Mark organised “lunch”… . we couldn’t find a restaurant that appealed, so he stopped at a supermarket and we bought some hard bread, spam and cheese … he really does know how to wow a girl. We arrived at Mycenae in a torrential downpour (you remember it doesn’t rain in Greece in the summer … ha!!), with our umbrella in hand and the entrance fee of 24 euros paid and our wallets the lighter for it, we went off to explore.023 - 2017 - Navplion - 05First the history lesson. Mycenae was founded between two tall conical hills, Profitis Ilias and Sara, on a low plateau dominating the Argive plain, controlling both the land and sea routes. Most of what is visible today was erected in the Late Bronze Age, between 1350 and 1200 BC, when the site was at its peak – Perseus, the son of Zeus is traditionally considered as its mythical founder. Mycenae was ‘Rich in Gold’, the kingdom of the mythical king Agamemnon (as in the film Troy), and is the most important and richest palatial centre of the Late Bronze Age in Greece. Its name was given to one of the greatest civilizations of Greek prehistory, the Mycenaean civilization.

OK so back to the torrential rain, which as we approached the famous Lions Gate, increased in intensity (if that was possible), rivers of water were now running down the ancient cobbled paths … there is only so much a girl can take, even if we are in the middle of a 3,000 year old complex. So with regret, we abandoned the tour and settled on a visit to the museum, which had probably not seen so many visitors since the last downpour. None the less, a hugely impressive site.023 - 2017 - Navplion - 06But, slightly disappointed by our inability to explore Mycenae itself, we decided to add one more stop to the days tour while we had the hire car and that was to the Fortress of Palamidhi above Navplion. It saved us from the walk up the 856 steps from the town the next morning …. Phew! Interestingly, despite its impressive size, thick walls and impregnable looking position, the fort fell after only 8 days siege by the Turks, one year after its completion in 1714. Just shows, size isn’t everything.023 - 2017 - Navplion - 09Although the rain had stopped and we had a good opportunity to explore the fort, we were probably a little archaeologied out, so we gave Hudson a fairly brisk walk around the ruins, gazing out over the battlements many hundreds of feet up the cliff and a little tired after our historical day, we returned to Hapatoni which was now sandwiched between two super yachts. One a 154 ft charter boat out of Athens, called Lady Dee, which can be hired for a mere 150,000 Euro per week (I’ll have two) and a smaller 100 ft private boat called “Ciao” that had stopped here because the owners dog needed a vet. Ciao also very kindly kept his generator on all night creating a nice hummmmmm for us to try to sleep through.023 - 2017 - Navplion - 07We woke at 8:00 having had a very cultured visit to Navplion, but not too enamoured by the port, up anchored and left for Astrous, heading back south down the gulf and I guess starting our homeward leg towards Athens.

Flying Visit to Porto Kheli – 16th to 17th June 2017

Flying Visit to Porto Kheli – 16th to 17th June 2017

022 - 2017 - Porto Kheli - 00We sailed the 13 miles to Baltiza Creek on Spétsai, arriving mid-morning but to our disappointment the mooring was not really “an oasis” as the book described. The only real option was to long-line onto the pavement with an unattractive road behind it. We were not impressed so moved on, checking out a few more anchorages before heading for the town quay of Porto Kheli.022 - 2017 - Porto Kheli - 01Porto Kheli is a large circular landlocked bay with a narrow channel to access it. It is described as a tailor-made spot for watersports and as such a number of large hotels have been built along the beach frontage around the bay. The quay is non-descript with the main ferry road behind you and then a few tavernas and bars beyond the road. We took Hudson for a walk to explore the area, but neither of us were impressed and with the constant slop slop on the stern of the boat we decided to move on promptly tomorrow morning. This is not our kind of town, the only positive thing was they have a great AB Supermarket for re-stocking the boat, and the road out of town is flat, so we managed a run before heading out to Navplion at the head of the Gulf.

NOTE:  Our pictures of Porto Khili are mostly boats, there wasn’t really any other features worth photographing!!

Idyllic Wreck Cove 15th to 16th June 2017

Idyllic Wreck Cove 15th to 16th June 2017

021 - 2017 - Wreck Cove - 00The last day on Póros began with an early run along the promenade before the sun got too high, dodging a few early morning commuters catching their quaint little 10 man ferries to the mainland, the occasional lethargic dog sprawled in the shade of the moored yachts and gangs of stray cats loitering outside the fishing boats waiting for leftovers.

We left Póros at 8:25am after a couple of very enjoyable days, our destination was Wreck Cove in the NE of the Island of Dhokós a short 14 mile sail south.021 - 2017 - Wreck Cove - 03As we turned into the cove, we were delighted by the scene unfolding before us. Wreck Cove is a tiny inlet sheltered by a narrow rocky finger of land a few 100 metres long to the north. It is completely protected, you could see the water getting calmer as we moved further in, till it became a completely translucent, turquoise mill pond, right at the end. There was however another yacht occupying the prime position, so we had to anchor a few metres further out, but still well sheltered and in a very nice spot. As we were tying our lines ashore, we were a little surprised to see the female crew member appear on the side of the yacht, completely naked, shortly followed by the male flaunting his dangly bits – I think they were trying to see if they could deter us from mooring, but no chance, this was too beautiful a spot. I think that put an end to their all over tanning, and they decided to leave 30 minutes later, so we very quickly up anchored and took their spot … now the only boat in the cove and in the best position… perfect.021 - 2017 - Wreck Cove - 09The cove was believed to be a Hellenic harbour (possibly from around the 5th or 6th century BC, at least that is what the book says) and on the rocky finger above the cove are some excavation, the remnants of several houses foundations from the Mycenean era … here endeth the history lesson for today.021 - 2017 - Wreck Cove - 10We spent the day, swimming and relaxing and yes I finally went swimming for the first time this summer, the water was “refreshing” and with the air temperature in the mid-thirties, was just what the doctor ordered. During the afternoon, a very large yacht arrived to share our cove (how dare they !!!), but luckily only stopped a few hours for a swim and late lunch before departing … their loss. Being on our own, we decided to be a bit “cheeky” as Mark is happily demonstrating.021 - 2017 - Wreck Cove - 06It was such a tranquil evening, just the crickets clicking noisily in the bushes and Mark and I enjoying supper on deck watching the sun as it edged towards the horizon. The cove was faintly illuminated in the early evening by star light, no light pollution penetrated our pretty cove, the moon rose in the early hours but Mark and I were sound asleep, no noise or light penetrating our slumbers … you might have noticed that we are feeling quite poetic in such a fab location.021 - 2017 - Wreck Cove - 05We planned to stay here a couple of days, however the weather forecast was for possible rain and thunder so we decided to err on the side of caution and up anchor… what a shame, Wreck Cover has been one of our favourite anchorages in all our time in the Med. We will definitely stop here again on the way back.  021 - 2017 - Wreck Cove - 07

Póros – 11th to 15th June 2017

Póros – 11th to 15th June 2017

020 - 2017 - Poros - 00Our sail to Poros started bright and early at 6.30am, with a light breeze on the beam which increased to 15 knots as the morning progressed enabling us to sail.

020 - 2017 - Poros - 01Late morning it dropped to around 10 knots, so Mark decided to deploy the cruising chute for the first time this season, testing out his new rigging configuration with the snuffer coming back to the cockpit and a new tack line running down the guard rail – he told me all this thinking I was enthusiastically interested … bless him. I always get a bit nervous with the cruising chute as I am not used to it and there is a lot of canvass, however Mark was in his element, especially as all his new rigging worked well, I have to admit it does look very impressive when deployed. Unfortunately the little bit of wind we had dropped off early in the afternoon and we had to motor the final few miles.
As we approached Póros the clouds over the surrounding mountains looked dark and threatening. We were lucky to find a very sheltered spot on the quay, close to town but not exposed to the forecast north easterlies due in on Monday. Different to the Cyclades, there is a lot more greenery on the hills and houses have sloped red clay tiled roofs to cope with the rain which they seem to get more of. Just to prove the point, as we finished mooring the heavens opened, thunder, lightening and very heavy rain which lasted all night, transformed Poros into a very damp English (ish) looking scene. The rain floods down the hill through the narrow streets behind the restaurants and bars, they don’t appear to have drains so the water stays on the surface till it sloshes into the quay …  so with wet feet and an umbrella, we found a dry spot in a local bar and watched the storm unfold.020 - 2017 - Poros - 04Póros is a popular holiday destination for Athenians and tourist alike. Apart from the town itself, the Island does not have any other habitation as the remainder is too rocky and rugged. Póros means a ‘strait’ or ‘crossing’, which describes Póros perfectly, the Island is separated by just 200m from the mainland, off which the navigable channel is only 100m in width, a very inviting sandbank occupies the other 100m, ensnaring many unsuspecting and inexperienced charter yacht “captains” every year – and there are an awful lot of these. Water taxis commute to the mainland bringing over the boat loads of tourists anxious to sample the delights of this intriguing place – many more water taxis lie at anchor waiting the massed hordes that will arrive in July and August – it is nice to see Poros at this relatively quiet time of year. None the less, the water traffic levels are high, with yachts, ferries and super yachts all passing through this narrow straits within 10 metres of our anchored bow, but the skippers are considerate, the wash is surprisingly minimal and all the activity adds to its charm (in my opinion), lots to see. The quay is packed with bars, restaurants and shops encircling the town and has space for hundreds of boats to moor stern to or side on and by early evening most of these spots are full. This is not really a problem if you do arrive late as there is also loads of room to anchor in the bay.020 - 2017 - Poros - 02On Monday, the sun returned with a vengeance, 30 deg plus now seems to be the norm, the streets dried quickly. We took advantage and went exploring, climbing up the hill into the old town through its narrow winding alleys leading up to the clock tower perched high over the town. Although the town is well maintained, the clock tower is not in great condition considering it’s such a landmark and the time is even wrong … next to it are several huge rocks held back from plummeting into the houses below by massive steel cables … I wonder why they didn’t just remove the rocks … Greeks!

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One of our great entertainments of last year was to watch the charter boats as they fumbled their attempts to moor, a panel of “experts” would gather on the shore critiquing their attempts – everyone is a know-all once their anchor is in and their shore lines are attached, and that does include Mark and I. On the first couple of days, there were minor calamities as the charter boats lived up to expectations, anchors were crossed, voices were raised and there was always one of those above mentioned “experts” on hand to give out advice.

Day three became really interesting, a couple (an Argentinean male and his Spanish wife) who had never sailed a yacht before made numerous attempts to get their 40 ft Hanse berthed next to us. As the Argentinean ping ponged back and forth trying to get ropes to waiting hands on the quay, his favourite phrase repeated many times was “this sailing is complicated”… really!!. Finally he got his yacht to the quay, unfortunately his anchor had also made the trip back to the quay with him instead of being planted 30 metres out. He looked a little distressed so Mark offered his services and went onboard to help him moor again, unfortunately his chain got tangled in the windlass close to shore and Mark was by then committed to help him out of this predicament as well … Mark was beginning to wish he hadn’t got involved. But all got sorted and with a thank you bottle of wine and some Spanish cheese (very nice, I am starting to think I should hire Mark out to supplement my wine cellar) everyone settled down to a peaceful night. Day four, a similar thing happened to a Russian couple chartering a 40 ft yacht for the first time, the task off handling the anchor was given to their 9 year old son. They repeatedly failed to get to shore in a straight line and when they finally did so after many many many attempts, it culminated in another chain jammed in another windlass and Mark climbing on board to the rescue one more time – I think he has had enough.020 - 2017 - Poros - 10We have enjoyed our time in Poros, there is something you can’t quite put your finger on that makes it a very appealing place, and we will definitely call in again on our way back to Athens. However, we are now ready for an anchorage, the weather is settled and the temperature is in the 30’s. Wreck cove is to be our destination tomorrow; I wonder how it got its name?020 - 2017 - Poros - 12

Loutra on Kithnos – 7th to 11th June 2017

Loutra on Kithnos – 7th to 11th June 2017

018 - 2017 - Kithnos Loutra - 00Kithnos is a typical Aegean Island, a barren rocky, mostly treeless island in the Northern Cyclades, lying about 45 miles south of Athens. The population mostly live in the Chora and in Mérikha, the main ferry port for the Island. It has some tourism in the summer months, mainly from Yachts but compared to its sister islands it is little touched by tourism – hooray.018 - 2017 - Kithnos Loutra - 01Loutra is a delightful bay, with a small harbour reserved mostly for visiting yachts and a few local fishing boats. It has an inviting beach along the south side, lined with bars and restaurants which in typical Greek fashion, spill out onto the pavements and even onto the beach, tables laid and sunbrellas planted to expand the footprint of their premises – I wonder how legal that is? It has a mini market and bakers but surprisingly none of the car rental shops that are a feature of most other coastal villages – no exploring for us this time!! If you want anything else, ask the marinara, he can arrange most things.

The Island was famous for it hot Springs, King Otto, Greece’s first king built the “institute” in Loutra, which unfortunately is now a pretty run-down, three story large concrete box which forms a backdrop to the village and is a bit of an eyesore …. but still doesn’t detract too much from the picturesque village. You can still take a bath at the institute, although not recommended, you are better off visiting the hot spring on the south end of the beach. Beware it is piping hot as it flows onto the beach and gushes into the “pond”, a small circle of rocks at the edge of the sea which helps to retain some of the heat. 018 - 2017 - Kithnos Loutra - 02We arrived at mid-day and found a cosy, very secure space in the inner quay. As the afternoon progressed, this filled up mainly with charter boats, the marinara cramming every square inch. The outside of the quay was the next target and then the outside of the mole got the marinara’s attention, for a few unsuspecting catamarans. Both these areas looked a bit exposed and that proved to be the case, as the fleets of large ferries passing far outside the bay, sent their wash galloping into Loutra and side on to these unsuspecting yachts. As they swayed dramatically from side to side, masts were inches from entanglement and potential disaster.018 - 2017 - Kithnos Loutra - 03Thursday we woke up to RAIN, it was very overcast, temperatures were still in the early twenties, but never the less it was raining in Greece and everyone says “it never rains in Greece in the summer” …. rubbish. Luckily by mid-day the sun had come back out to play, letting us take Hudson for a long walk around the bay.  We spent three extremely relaxing days in Loutra … apart from the morning runs, why do I do it? We pottered around the boat, walked Hudson, followed by a drink and a game of cards in our favourite taverna each evening – the owner loved Hudson and wanted to feed him titbits and take him home, so guess who was Hudson’s new best friend? On our last afternoon we went to the hot spring at the end of the beach, with Hudson parked in the shade, Mark and I lay in the hot spring water, letting the healing elements do their “stuff”, although I’m not sure exactly what they are supposed to do. None the less, it was my first dip in the “sea”, even if it was hotter by 20 deg because of the spring – its not really cheating, is it?

With a calming of the winds we decided to go back to our beautiful sand bank on the other side of the island and anchor there for our last night in the Cyclades. Being a Saturday, it was busier with a couple of 3 storey Super Yachts and a swarm of ribs from Athens, which unfortunately is only a short distance away. We dropped our anchor and settled down to watch the activity. One of the Super Yachts had a large tender ferrying pampered guests and beach equipment to the shore. To Marks disgust three staff were left to wait in the rib, in the heat of the day, a hundred yards off shore, while the overweight owner and his overweight family, sunbathed and swam … absolutely no way to treat people who work for you.019 - 2017 - Kithnos Kolona - 01Fortunately Mark did not lose the dingy this time and by the evening, most of the motor boats and ribs had returned to Athens, leaving the stunning bay to the few yachties that remained. We debated where to go next, finally settling on a return to the Peloponnese exploring some of the areas we missed last year, Póros was first on the list.019 - 2017 - Kithnos Kolona - 02

Sandy Bay Kolóna on Kithnos – 6th to 7th June 2017

Sandy Bay Kolóna on Kithnos – 6th to 7th June 2017

017 - 2017 - Kithnos Kolona - 00We headed the 39 miles (about 7.5 hours) north, to the Island of Kithnos in the Northern Cyclades. The wind was forecast to be around 8-10 knots northerly, but as usual it did its own thing, changing rapidly between 5 and 25 knots, always on the nose, so no chance to sail in the morning. However at lunch time the wind shifted to about 35 degrees with around 20 knots for most of the remainder of the trip, Mark was a very happy man, adjusting sheets to maximise speed, racing other yachts who had no idea they were in a race and cursing the wind shifts as we hit the occasional blind spot on the south of several islands  – I had to remind him a few times that too much tilt means you go slower … I don’t think he’ll ever learn.017 - 2017 - Kithnos Kolona - 01We anchored off the sandy beach at Ormos Kolóna (Sand Bar Bay) on the North West side of the Island of Kithnos. The beach is actually a sand bar joining the small island off Nisis Ay Loukas to the mainland, with anchorages either side of the bar. It is a silky soft sandy beach, the best beach we have seen so far in Greece, with one taverna and two houses perched on the hill above it.017 - 2017 - Kithnos Kolona - 02Ormos Kolóna is a very popular spot, but at this time of year there are very few day trippers and only a few yachts anchored just off the beach, which we had virtually to ourselves. It is such a beautiful spot, but you can imagine in July and August the bay packed with hundreds of boats long-lined ashore and day tripper boats disgorging masses of tourists each guarding their square metre of sand with sun brollies and beach towels – but not today.

Naturally, Mark had to test out the water as soon as we arrived, whilst Hudson runs round the boat supervising, he gets so excited I am sure one time he will lean over too far and fall in.017 - 2017 - Kithnos Kolona - 03The scene from the taverna is delightful, with hardly a ripple on the water, the yachts seem majestic as they relax on the glassy ocean, it is oh so peaceful, just the odd splash as someone dives from their boat … Until one of the bar staff asked if the dinghy that was floating off to sea was ours ???? Mark left his beer and dashed down the hill, across the beach and plunged into the water, swimming out the several hundred metres to where the dinghy had drifted … there was nothing I could do, so I guarded the beers and snapped photos from my vantage point high up the hill – someone had to do it. Dinghy recovered we returned to the boat for a relaxing curry, watching the sun set over an idyllic anchorage.017 - 2017 - Kithnos Kolona - 04

017 - 2017 - Kithnos Kolona - 05We left the next morning at about 10:00am knowing there was some more unsettled weather with strong gusts heading our way. We wanted to ensure a space on the town quay of Loutra, a secure harbour, which is a short distance away on the eastern side of the island.