Our first stop on the third finger of the Peloponnese was Plytra. Morrissey singing ‘Every day is like Sunday in a seaside town where everything is closed down’ kept popping into my head. Except it didn’t feel gloomy in bright sunshine and temperatures of 30°C.
Despite not much being open, the town did have a picturesque setting. It has a soft sandy beach curving around the head of the bay. We enjoyed a walk out to the peninsula that protects the anchorage. On the way we saw the ruins of an ancient town, most of which now lies under water. Plus a couple of ducks splashing around in the harbour. During the day the wind blew from the west, a slight swell curling in but nothing much to trouble us. Towards sunset it switched to the north with some gusty blows, but the holding was superb in sand.
With light winds forecast for the next few days we decided to head on down to Elafonisos island.
Unfortunately the weather hadn’t read the forecast and we had a north westerly setting up a swell. No one was anchored in the eastern bay of Ormos Frangos. It looked more sheltered than the larger Ormos Sarakiniko, so we nosed our way in to a depth that felt right. By the end of the day another 4 boats had joined us. The bay is beautiful with its double curving beach surrounded by clear, electric blue water. But that darned swell found it’s way in. Subsequently, by the end of the day I was feeling slightly green as we nodded up and down. The swell eased off overnight but the next morning we decided to move on.
Where to move on to was a bit of a dilemma. I wanted to go on around the finger to Monemvasia. It had looked like a good plan until a meltemi appeared on the forecast. Added to uncertainty about the harbour and the mooring available there in a strong blow, I had to reluctantly accept we weren’t going to get there this year. Instead we motored off south to the island of Kythira.
With light winds due again it looked ok for us to anchor in the ferry port of Diakofti. From there we could hire a car the next day. We motored around looking for a patch of sand, tried to anchor in several but nothing was holding. We moved into shallower water and finally got the hook to set. Colin swam out to check it and it looked good. However, once again the weather hadn’t checked the forecast and fairly soon a F6 was blowing straight into the anchorage.
For the first time this season we were dragging. Emerald had chosen a pretty inconvenient time to let go as we were busy raising the dinghy. But on the bright side when we do drag, it’s usually pretty slowly. So we had time for me to get the engine going whilst Colin finished off stabling Crazy Horse (our dinghy). By now, large white horses were romping into the bay. This made spotting another patch of sand to anchor in nigh on impossible.
We motored out of the bay scouring the charts for a more sheltered location on the island. The south might be sheltered today but tomorrow strong southerlies were due. A sandy beach off Palaipoli beach might be ok but we’d have to motor straight into the waves for a couple of miles. Not fun. So once again we decided to run away from the weather and set a course for Crete.
Running Away to Crete
The wind hadn’t given us a chance to eat lunch before it had chased us away. However, the thought of food was the last thing on my mind. The wind and waves were behind us but still Emerald slewed about as waves caught her under the stern and rolled her around. The dinghy was swinging and creaking ominously on the davits, the weight of the outboard helping to exaggerate the movement. We wouldn’t normally do a long passage with the outboard still on the dinghy but we hadn’t had a chance to safely remove it. All we could do was use some spare lines to lash it to strong points on the arch. This helped reduce most of the swing.
Crashing and rattling was coming from below, again not having had chance to tidy before our unplanned departure. We stuffed towels and clothes into gaps to muffle the chaos. The trusty Bluetack was employed to hold sliding locker doors in place.
We were sailing with only a scrap of genny out, trying to slow ourselves down to avoid a night time entry at Rythmion. It was now 4pm with 80 miles to go. Sticking to 5kts we’d arrive after daylight came and have a much more comfortable journey than blatting through the waves.
Sailing Through the Night
The wind came and went, sometimes easing off to a F4 then back up to a F7. The waves were a constant roiling mass chasing us along. Occasionally rollers a couple of meters high would catch us at a wrong angle. This knocked the autopilot off leaving us scrambling to grab control of the helm before we rounded up into the wind. Darkness seemed to come very early that night and watches were reduced to hourly naps in the cockpit.
But gradually the wind and waves did ease. By dawn we were left bobbing on a sloppy sea with not enough blow to keep the sail filled. We motored the last 10 miles and arrived mid morning to a wonderfully calm Rythmion harbour. It had been a long, uncomfortable night but once safely tied up the unpleasant memories soon faded and my appetite returned with a vengeance. It was also our longest sail of the season.
3rd October: Gythion to Plytra: 16nm travelled
Anchored in 6m in position 36 41.105’N 22 49.794’E
5th October: Plytra to Elafonisos Island: 17nm travelled
Anchored in sand in 6m in position 36 27.909’N 22 58.805’E
6th October: Elafonisos to Diakofti, Kythira
Anchored in hard sand in 4.5m in position 36 15.969’N 23 04.707’E