Mourtos to Plataria

The se was calm in the morning in Mourtos. Mourtos means place of the dead, and was called this after a famous battle in 680BC, the Battle of Sivota. We left the harbour and toddled round to another mooring just outside between Sivota Island and Nikolaos Island. We had a perfect spot all to ourselves—everyone went swimming, naked or not and we had a great few hours here.

Michael off Nikolaos IslandBarry has a dip

We chose a good bay because others close by were bothered by day-baots from Mourtos.

We finally had to head to our final destination: Plataria. The last day’s sailing was good and we had a race with one of our fellow flotilla members which was fun. We had to be in Plataria by 4 and we got in on time. It’s a pretty large marina where Sailing Holidays’ have one of their bases. Once there it was a case of having a swim!, packing our bags and cleaning the boat: it all went very smoothly.

Down below with Adam and Barry

In the evening we had our last group meal and unfortunately Christopher fell of the plank leaving the boat on the way to dinner. We thought hat he’d twisted his ankle badly but in the end (when he got back tot he UK) it turned out that he’d fractured his fourth and fifth metatarsals. It took us a while to walk around the lonf sweeping bay to get to Olga’s where the final group meal was being held.

Michael, Plataria Plataria mooring

The meal was very nice and the owner was great fun. He looked after Christopher well and gave him a big lump of ice for his ankle. After dinner there was some speeches and a prize giving. Every crew one a prize: Thebe for ‘Scariest reception at a Picnic’ which came with an anchor-chain necklace that we donated to Drew. Patt Cross posted a photo of getting our award— http://www.flickr.com/photos/patcross/871059935/

Graham: 'Scariest' reception at a picnic

Group meal, Plataria

After dinner we wondered off into town for an icecream.

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Mourtos

Drew sent us an SMS advising us to start of early AM because of the weather. we were off by 8.30! We had a round of applause from the crew opposite as Adam, Christopher and I had to jump off the bows of the boat to get us of the sand. We scooted up the coast to Mourtos/Sivota to rejoin the flotilla. There are lots of bays around Mourtos for acnchoring and we stopped for lunch in 4th Bay, which was gorgeous.

Christopher snorkelling, 4th Bay. Mourtos

Christopher, 4th Bay, Mourtos

4th Bay, Mourtos

4th Bay, Mourtos

There were lots of dingy sailors around and other watersports, so it was a lively spot. Christopher and Matthew did some snorkelling and I made lunch. The swimming here was great in the shallow, warm water.

We spent a good couple of hours here before toddling through the channel between Nikolaos Island the the mainland, which is narrow and only 2m deep, then into Mourtos. Whilst 4th bay was very sheltered, Mourtos was not and we had quite a swell into the harbour that made the mooring very uncomfortable. We all left the boat and played poker in a cafe. The sea hadn’t settled when we went out for dinner to a local pizza place. We were waiting for our dinner wen there was a strong earthquake that shook the place, and the staff all rushed out the restaurant. One of our fellow flotilla members wrote about it in her newspaper column. We go back to dinner fairly quickly. There was another earthquake during the night but we didn’t feel it on the boat. Luckily the epicentre was out at sea: if it had been on land it would have been a lot more serious. It was also quite close to Mourtos.

Wehn we went to bed the sea was still choppy (but calm by the morning). The next day our plank had been scrapped and worn down by all the movement, and surrounded by wood pulp.

Moored at Mourtos

Plank-chaff

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Ammouthia and Parga: going it alone

The flotilla split up today for a day on our own: we thought that we’d head to Ammouthia (back to the River Acheron) and explore the history around there. The crossing was pretty rough again (wind Force 5), and we had to have a couple of reefs in. Michael, Matthew and I had interesting periods at the heml. It was a day for standing at the bows with the wind in your face!

In the fresh air

When we got to Ammouthia back on the mainland the bay was really rough and choppy. We had to go over some large standing waves to get in and then it was full of swell too. So we decided against this and then made a dash for Parga. We moored back on the same beach and the spot we were in was wonderfully sheltered, although there were some larger boats anchored out in the bay which had a pretty rough night. Did some swimming and then Christopher made us an evening meal on board the boat. A lovely, relaxing evening, sitting on the deck.

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Forty on Mongonissi

Well, today’s my 40th birthday. The day started very well with balloons, champagne and strudel on the boat! Michael managed to chill the champagne well which was wonderful. The strudel had a 40th candle in it! I had an excellent present “Donne: The Reformed Soul” (John Stubbs) from Michael. I’d been talking enthusiastically about Donne earlier in the holiday and so to get his biography as a present was spot on!

40th Birthday,  Lakka, PaxosStrudel and champagne

The breakfast briefing was fun—a round of ‘Happy Birthday’, and cards from Lesley & Ian and Jane & John. Adam and Barry bought me a STR8 gift set of aftershave and deodorant from a local greek shop. STR8 is branded The Masculine State (very appropriate for me then!) Had a nice shower to start my birthday in the town and then we set of anticlockwise around Paxos to go to Mongonissi at the south of the island. The sea to the west was pretty rough and windy and we had Force 5 gusting 6 and a lot of chop. We weren’t in much of a mood to sightsee and went as quickly as possible down to Mongonissi, feeling very glad and a little green when we arrived.

Moored in Mongonisi, PaxosMongonissi on Paxos

Mongonissi harbour has a lovely situation, nestled between the island and Paxos island. Mongonissi is connected by a small causeway. When we sailed into Mongonissi the harbour sea was wonderfully flat and it was gorgeous. The sea was a clear and blue, and incredibly cold compared with the 24–27°C that we’d been swimming in. We dived off the bow into the sea, which was exhilarating. We arrived around 12 and headed into Gaios for lunch, booking an air-conditioned taxi to get there. We could have sailed around (it’s not very far). but after the bashing of he morning it was nice to go by car. We needed money and more food, which we got in abundance, and lunch too!

In the evening we had drinks and nibbles on the boat: Christopher made large jugs of Pimms with fruit and we invited a few other boats and the lead crew to join us. Very civilised. Dinner was in the taverna at the marina and was very good. Aana and Michael had arranged a lovely birthday cake and we had some greek dancing too. Some of the men were dancing in trails of flaming metaxa. More presents from Christopher and Matthew, which was lovely.

Needing help to cut the cakeBirthday meal

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Lakka, on Paxos

Sailed 17 miles today to get to Lakka on Paxos, avoiding the dangerous Madonna Shoal. Before we headed west, we popped south to visit the River Acheron (aka the River Styx). We spent a while trying to find the right bay: there are impressive cliffs south of Acheron which we felt must have been the entrance to the place to give it it’s mythical important. In fact the mouth of the Acheron comes into a fairly normal bay, in the middle of the cliffy zone.

River Styx (Acheron)

River Acheron (Styx)



We tried to take our yacht up the river: we had a 1.6m draught in a 2m channel. But not knowing the boat we got a bit worried about the lack of depth and possible underwater hazards, so backed out. If we had gone up we might have found it difficult to turn around! I think it was a wise thing to do. We had lunch on the go today.

Lakka is very attractive and we were lucky to get a place to moor on the key. Aquila arrived immediately after us and had to moor our in the harbour and use the tender to get on and off ship: that would have been a pain for us as we had no outboard. We moored bows to ona low harbour wall so we had a pretty perilous descent down the plank.

Lakka, Paxos from the boat

Perilous plank, Lakka, Paxos

Michael and I went for a swim at the mouth of the harbour which was surprising chilly. The sun was super hot and we didn’t manage long out. We returned back tot hat spot later in the evening to eat at a very stylish restaurant called La Boca. There was a gay feel about the place and we were impressed with the food and the decor. I tried a local sea urchin spaghetti, which was okay, but the flavour of sea urchin was rather strong. Adam and I were pretty shattered and headed back to the boat earlier than the rest!

Lakka dinner

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Two Rock Bay Picnic

Started the day with a late flotilla briefing on the beach in front of the boat. I was able to sit on the bow, in the early morning blazing sun. Adam leapt, gazelle like, on and off the bow onto the beach to the admiration of all.

Beach briefing on Parga

Flotilla Beach Briefing, Parga

Our next destination was only a few of miles south of Parga at Two Rock Bay and there wasn’t much prospect of wind. So we sailed to a bay east of Parga for a lunch stop, un a tiny little bay with a monastery sandwiched between a huge rock and a cliff—very spectacular. The monastery didn’t stop us having a naked dip in the gorgeous water and Christopher cooked a beautiful lunch.

Lunchtime dip Lunchtime stop

We went down to two rock bay, which has a pretty rocky (many more than two) mouth. We rafted alongside the other boats in the flotilla, making an imposing sight in the otherwise empty bay. The bay was great was snorkelling and I spent a good 30 mins exploring the bay on both sides, and swimming over shallow rocks dotted with black spiny sea urchins!

Two Rock Bay, Adam

Rafted up in Two Rock Bay

In the evening we had a beach part, organised by the lead crew with a fancy dress God and Godesses theme. Lots of bedding from all the boats was converted into togas and laurel wreaths abounded. We tried to persuade Aana to come as Aphrodite and rise out of the water. We had a flash of inspiration and I went as S’Hades and the five boys went as a mutant Cerberus with 5 heads! I got to wear the sheet (and my massive mirror shades) and Michael made a great leash for the five of them from a long rope. Christopher donated some white socks for the front paws and the five boys took their shirts off. As the other boats rowed towards the shore we greeting them with (not very) ferocious snarling and I welcomed the Lost Souls to the Kingdom S’Hades and asked if they had paid their ferryman and if they hadn’t I’d unleash my hellhounds on them. Most people were rather too stunned to reply (and I think the mythology was lost on some of them too). There are some good photo’s of the picnic at Patt’s Flickr pages.

S'Hades and his Hell Hounds

S’Hades and his five hellhounds. Many thanks to Moonshine for the photo

The picnic was great fun. My hellhounds soon tired of being on all fours and went off to drink punch instead. Barry got a nasty puncture on his head bashing into a branch on the beach and had an alcohol free night: he was well looked after. Later in the evening there was a cocktail competition: we came second with a mixture based on metaxa and ouzo that tasted better than it sounds. The main criteria was flammability but taste and presentation were also important. The blue surf dude swizzle stick (stolen from the cocktail bar last night along with some other glittery stuff) was very impressive but was stolen later in the evening (who by I wonder?). We named our cocktail Jay’s Fluid in honour of our lead crew engineer Jay to celebrate his experience with unblocking holding tanks. Unfortunately the New Zealand lead crew hadn’t heard of this, so they only got the second meaning! Jay’s Fluid burnt very well indeed. The winning cocktail was a real flame thrower. Drew could hardly hold it in his mouth for the flame throwing test — it was based on absinthe, cunningly disguised with a touch of peach shnapps. This was from Jane and John in Aquila, who were clear winners!

We had a fun ride back tot he boat in the dark: thanks to Adam and Michael for doing the rowing.

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Catching up the flotilla at Parga

We left Vonitsa fairly early for a longish day to get to Parga on the Greek mainland. Parga it is a large town, split over two bays with a bit rock with a fort in the middle of the bays. When we arrived there were a few water sport boats, including one pulling an inflatable banana with people on it: this is a party town. Drew helped us moor an the beach, which was fun: we grounded the yacht in the soft sand and used the kedge anchor to fix the stern and pulled the bow anchor high onto the shore.

PargaParga

We took the water taxi into town for dinner, along with quite a few people from the flotilla. We ended up at a fabulous camp cocktail bar Il Posto: with pink chandeliers and fluffy pink cushions. The cocktails were pretty loud and camp too! The waitress was good fun and enjoyed having us there.

Cocktails, Parga

Dinner was in a recommended restaurant where many of the flotilla had eaten the night before, called Castello. The food was very good and the restaurant was smart with good service—a real contrast to the beach-front taverna that we ate at last night in Vonitsa. The wine was good too! The lead crew were there, along with quite a few crews from out flotilla. We had a little wander around time, a bit too drunk to have another cocktail at the lovely pink place: so took the water taxi back to our boat: perfect!

We christened our mooring as ‘blow job bay’ after watching a couple frolicking on the beach and the woman giving the older guy a blow job under the water, in full view of us and the passers by on the beach. Maybe it was the sun and hot weather?

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Vonitsa, Gulf of Amvrakia

We set of in a flotilla convoy this morning at 8.30 to reach the Lefkas Canal, that separated Lefkas Island from the mainland. It’s a narrow channel, 5m deep, that saves quite a bit of sailing around the canal. It was very easy motoring and the jostling for places to wait for the swing bridge to open at the north end of the canal was fun. We separated form the flotilla at this point. They had a long day sailing up to Parga, then a two-day stay in Parga to recover from the many miles of sailing. We decided to go it alone into the Gulf of Amvrakia to see if we could see some of it’s famous sealife.

The sail into the Gulf was impressive: past a large town and a large ventian fort. Following the Rod Heikel Guide, we moored in the middle of the gulf, in about 8m of water—but two miles form shore. There wasn’t a breath of wind and we ould hear fish jumping from time to time around us. Just as we were finishing lunch, the wind came all of a sudden and we managed to have a nice sail south to Vonitsa for the night.

Mooring there was fun: We had a strong cross wind and were ‘helped’ by some self-elected harbour masters who tried to show us what to do to get into our mooring. Their help wasn’t that helpful! Michael made a great job of the mooring, we were all impressed (as were the onlookers).

Mooring, Vonitsa Vonitsa

Vonitsa

Matthew and Michael saw a large sea turtle eating black sea urchins from the harbour wall: very exciting. Sadly this was the only wildlife that we saw in the Gulf, which was disappointing.

Before dinner we wandered up to an atmospheric and well preserved ventian fortress above the mooring, and with great views of the city.

Venetian Fortress, Vonitsa, Gulf of AmvrakiaVonitsa, Gulf of Amvrakia

We had dinner on the beach-front and some of the roughest wine we had of the trip!

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Port Vathi, Meganisi

Nice day sailing today. Adam did some helming close hauled, then lounged around in his micro-knitted trunks (one size fits all snuggly)

Adam, under sailMicro-trunks (knitted)

Close Hauled Micro-knitted trunks

We stopped for lunch at Episkopi on Kalamos, before coming into little Vathi. I did my first reversing into the mooring, which was OK, but not a glorious moment!.

Port Vathi, Meganisi

Port Vathi, Meganisi

We had some beers at George’s Taverna, right next to the mooring had a swim at the beach there, Again, we decided against dinner so that we could explore the town, rather than stick to the recommended taverna. There were more of out flotilla this time who did the same. We eventually landed in a great restaurant run by a great character (who gave us some free wine). Adam and Christopher ordered a very impressive red snapper for the six of us to share, which worked out at €150, and was worth it. They boys go to choose the fish in the kitchen and loved it the moment they saw it. It took an hour to cook! We had a great meal and enjoyed the walk back too.

Fish for 6! Bones

Fish for 6—a large Red Snapper

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Kalamos

A long day today to reach Kalamos, with lots of motoring because we only had about an hour of wind for sailing. Adam made the most of the relaxing conditions under our parasol. We stopped for lunch in between Ithaca and Nisos Pera Pigadhi, which was lovely.

Parasol

It was a blazing hot day and we were relieved to make it to Kalamos about 6pm. We were recommended to go to a particular taverna but wanted to make our own way: so wandered up into the hill above the town and eventually down to the other side, where the windmill is. We found a beach-front cafe there which was gorgeous, ad had a simple meal with the locals, out of reach of the flotilla.

Kalamos mooring

Kalamos mooring

Kalamos Cafe

Evening meal in Kalamos

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