John and Eva on the M/Y 'Destiny'.
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DESTINY DIARY 2017 - Part 2:
Greece - Ionian, Peloponnese and Aegean.

Eva's Photo Gallery - 2106.
GREECE - Ionian Islands
We arrived on the small island of Erikoussa mid afternoon where we met our friend Yoshi who was alone on his boat Cavok because his wife Etsuko had returned to Japan to fetch their grandson. Yoshi invited us to dinner on-shore with his friends who had a boutique hotel restaurant 'Acantha' on the island. We had time to swim, the water was very cold and relax but not too long because we hadn’t noticed the change of time zone; we’d lost one hour and so were late for dinner - quelle horreur.

It was a very interesting evening, Sandro and Franca, the restaurant owners, are Italian who had arrived here after several years of cruising and had fallen in love with this small island and decided to stay on and open the hotel/restaurant. We can understand, as it is in an absolutely beautiful location. We met their family and friends over drinks and the dinner prepared by the chef 'Anna Lisa', was exceptional. We forgot that we were in Greece because everybody at the table was speaking Italian, among them a former ambassador and a former minister. The subject of conversation was Brexit, John was in his element.

Erikoussa Yoshi friends
The beautiful bay at Erikoussa - cold water though. The Acantha evening with Yoshi and friends.
The next day, after a short and not very comfortable night due to a strong swell, Yoshi left for Gouvia Marina on the island of Corfu. We left shortly afterwards in the fog and went along the coast in search of a calmer anchorage eventually dropping anchor in the bay of Imerolia where the water was clear and warmer.
Afterwards, we went on to Vroulias where we ran into François and Corinne on ‘Paradigme’ who we had last met in Porto d'Orlando in Sicily. Vroulias is a beautiful bay near Casiope, a very touristy town where Corinne and I walked to. We found a bakery with fresh bread and cakes: delicious! We had to return suddenly because François had called and said that his anchor was dragging and he needed help on board.
The wind was forecast to increase the next day so we had to find a more sheltered anchorage. Paradigme followed us into Kalami where we had a nice dinner together that evening in a restaurant on the edge of the water. The following morning our anchor dragged. It took us a long time to find a place where the anchor would hold, in the end resorting to a policy of “well I’ll just put out 60 meters of chain and nothing will move that lot” which worked well. It is not often that it happens to us, but we weren’t the only ones dragging around the bay that day. The wind blew all night but we stayed secure.

Kalami Francois and Corine
Kalami anchorage. Dinner with the friendly 'froggies'.
The following day, July 28, we left for Corfu where we had booked a place in one of our favourite marinas, Mandraki Yacht Club, located under the citadel of Corfu. We came here in 2014 with our friends André and Heidi and had fond memories of the place. We stayed for 3 days to enjoy the town of Corfu again.
Paradigme was at anchor on the other side of the citadel and told us that there was another boat, like Destiny anchored next to them. So the next day we met Bob and Margaret, the lucky owners of a Diesel Duck 476 "Highland Duck" who started their cruise from the factory in China. They came around to ‘Destiny’ by dinghy and we spent the rest of the day with them discussing boats, cruises etc ...
That evening, I went to see a concert performed by the music school that is part of the citadel. They were practising an orchestral version of Pink Floyd; great! The next day François and Corinne joined us for dinner at the restaurant in the Yacht Club and afterwards John and I walked up to the top to hear the outdoor concert where the orchestra played Pink Floyd's ‘Brick in the wall’.

Mandraki Concert Mandraki
Mandraki Y.C. from the citadelle. Pink Floyd in the Citadelle.
We left Mandraki Y.C. to go across to Gouvia Marina where we had planned to meet with Cavok and Highland Duck. Both crews came for a ‘happy hour’ on Destiny and it was great to see Yoshi and Etsuko again with their lovely grandson, and their friend 'John' whom we had met years before in Turkey. It was very much an international evening with Japanese, Australian, Scottish, French and English, so naturally, we drank well and laughed a lot!

Highland Duck Cavok and HD.jpg
H.D. A big, blue and newer version of 'Destiny'. International party night.
One night in this marina was enough for us, the staff were not friendly and neither were the prices, so after shopping at the supermarket, we left and anchored outside in the bay where we found Paradigme who joined us later for an aperitif.

The weather stayed good for the next few days and everyone slowly went their own ways. Highland Duck was waiting for parts from abroad so stayed at the marina. Cavok went north to see friends for a birthday party and Paradigme were off waiting for family to join them.
We continued south in calm but very hot and humid weather towards the Peloponnese. We were looking for bays, sheltered from the wind, with nice water for swimming and preferably not too busy which isn't easy in the Ionian in August.
Our first find was the bay of Platarias where we left the marina to the charter boats and found a good anchorage outside for a couple of nights. Then we went to the island of Paxoi but Lakka was infested with charter boats. We tried but couldn’t find space in Gaios so after avoiding Antipaxoi Island for the same reason we went directly on to Parga on the Greek mainland coast.
There were just too many boats around. After an unsuccessful attempt at the end of Loannou Bay, we finally stopped at Kirialis which had clear water, not too many people and didn't have music on the beach - whew!
The next day was a Sunday, so we expected a small boat invasion but before they arrived we moved two miles further into the bay of Fanaria. The coast here is very rocky and has a few caves. We launched the dinghy to explore them and then we dinghied up the river to find bread in the village. According to legend this is the river that leads directly to Hades – but we didn’t go that far after all we only wanted some bread for lunch.

Platarias Fanari Cave Fanari Rocks
Told you it was busy. It was interesting to explore,.. ....the caves and cliffs by dinghy.
On Monday August 7th, we arrived in Prevesa Marina where we had booked for a week. We had decided this year to visit some of inland Greece and our Australian friends, George and Fran on 'Zarafet' were in Thessaloniki, on the eastern coast of Greece so it was a good reason to rent a car to go and see them by driving though the center of Greece through the mountains. Renting the car was not as easy as we thought and we ended up with an old banger with the acceleration of an exhausted tortoise but at least it had air conditioning - just.
We left Prevesa and headed into the mountains, stopping at Ioannina for lunch. This ancient fortified Byzantine city is next to a large inland lake. There are three old mosques and a big synagogue in the Kastro, sadly, the ancient Jewish community was almost eradicated during the war.

Ioannina1 Ioannina2
Nice to see fresh water for a change. Some of the old architecture in the town.
After lunch we drove on to the city of Thessaloniki where we had booked a hotel for two nights. The Grand Hotel Palace in Thessaloniki is not as grand as its name! After check-in we went in search of 'Zarafet'. They had found a small harbour away from the city and it took us over an hours drive to find them in a place called Nea Michaniona. They were sailing with a friend from Australia, David and were cruising in company with Steve and Jan on their catamaran ‘L’Auréline’ which is an identical Prout cat to theirs. We had a great evening catching up and it was 1:30 am when we finally got back to our hotel.

The next day we met up again in town and took the hop-on, hop-off bus tour around Thessaloniki. Because of its strategic position between the Balkans and the Mediterranean, Thessaloniki used to be an important city in all of the civilizations that conquered it, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and this is where Atatürk was born. It was also a stronghold of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires but it declined when it became Greek. The cosmopolitan city with its Jewish, Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian or Albanian communities suffered a forced Hellenization and almost all of the minorities left the city after the exchange of populations with the Turk's in 1923.

We visited the Byzantine Citadel on the hills overlooking the city and the harbour and walked through the Old Town with its multitude of small markets, bazaars and taverns but it would take several days to see all the monuments and museums. Expect us to come back one day. The 'Zarafet' crew left us at the end of the afternoon after sad farewells but we hope to see them again next year. We returned to the hotel to enjoy the pool and to relax.

Thessaloniki1 Thessaloniki2
A view across Thessaloniki from the citadel. George, David and John all excited.
Thessaloniki3 Thessaloniki4
Venetian influences. Turkish influence - the souk of course.
We drove back to Prevesa and stopped for lunch in Kalambaka, then visited the Orthodox monasteries perched on top of impressive natural pillars carved by erosion and called "Meteora". A fellow called Athanasius who was driven out of the 'Monastic Republic of Mount Athos' and founded the Great Meteor with his followers. Later they were followed by other communities who built on other Meteora, numbering up to 24 at its peak in the fifteenth century. Today only six monasteries are still active, most being reoccupied following a period of abandonment. I can recommend a visit - it’s as impressive as Cappadocia in Turkey.

Meteora1 Meteora2
An impressive place to build. Views across the Kalambaka countryside .
There were a lot more boats in the marina when we got back. An Italian boat had damaged 'Destiny' whilst mooring behind us, which left a nasty scar on the back quarter. We came to an arrangement with the owner to avoid insurance paperwork and John will sort it out when he has time.
Because there was a strong wind forecast we stayed in the marina for a couple more days which allowed us to do some maintenance work, cleaning, laundry, haircuts etc. and we also became legal by paying for our Greek cruising permit.

Mountain Prevesa
The long and winding roads of the interior. Prevesa town quay.
We left Preveza on the 15th of August and just went to an anchorage in the Amvrakia Golf behind Prevesa to be able to swim and cool off. We continued our way south via the Lefkada Channel and anchored in Varko Bay on the other side. Over the next few days we slowly sailed southward from one quiet anchorage to another: Palairos, Atheni, Nidri, Kastros. We found the mainland side of the Ionian much quieter than the offshore islands. On the 19th we reached Vathy on Ithaca Island - I like this place and we stayed two days.

Kastros1 Kastros2
Seagulls on holiday. Looking for an anchorage.
It was time to get on, another strong north wind was forecast. After a longish passage we reached the island of Zakinthos, it wasn’t possible to anchor so we had to go into the port which was completely full by the evening. This was our last stop on the Ionian Islands.

Vathi Night Zakinthos
GREECE - The Peloponnese
In 2014 we had planned to tour the Peloponnese from East to West sailed down the east coast as far as Kiparissi, but abandoned the trip because of the weather. Now we started the circumnavigation again, this time from the west.
When we left on August 22nd Zakinthos the weather was grey with a north wind and big swell, fortunately from behind and it soon improved. Our first stop was the port of Katacolon. A cruise ship was leaving the port just as we arrived and there were three more inside including the new Cunard Queen Victoria. This port is a stopover to visit the ancient site of Olympia. We easily found a place on the dock next to three other boats for only €10 per day plus €5 if you wanted water and electricity – that’s fair. Katacolon exists only for the tourists but it’s nicely organized with bars along the promenade. The shopping street is mainly lined with craft shops selling jewellery, pottery and leather, all very beautiful for the pleasure of the eyes.
We spent the rest of the day watching the cruise ships leaving the harbour but we really couldn’t leave without a visit to Olympia ourselves, so the next morning we took a bus, first to Pigros, the main local town where we had time to visit and grab a 'giro' for lunch before catching the bus out to Olympia.
Olympia is a large open space displaying the remains of old temples dedicated to various gods or goddesses with one open area - the 'Olympic stadium', where the games were held. It was very hot and not really interesting walking among a stones and columns grave yard. The air-conditioned museum was much more attractive and we spent more time there.

Olympia1 Olympia3
Olympia - The original Olympic stadium. A stones and columns grave yard.
Still, it was an enjoyable day, which unfortunately was spoiled when we got back to Destiny; a group of noisy Italian camper cars had parked directly behind the boat. John doesn’t like camping cars at the best of times so was annoyed by these intruders taking our space. Although it was already getting dark we/he decided to move out and anchor outside the harbour. I don’t like leaving in the dark, but all went well and we had a quiet night away from the town and intrusive campers. I hoped to have of a swim in the morning before leaving but when I got up I discovered that the boat was surrounded by big jellyfish, that's what I hate most after cockroaches - yuck!

Katacolon Jellyfish
The marina in Katacolon. My favourite swimming companions :(
We continued south and stopped in Kiparissa squeezing in to find a place on the quay side - no facilities but free. We stayed there here for two days and then moved on to Ormos Navarinou which has an almost enclosed bay rather like an inland lake 5km long and 3km wide. Interestingly this bay was the site of the Battle of Navarin between the British, Russian and French navies against the Turk's in the Greek war of independence, 1827.
We didn’t go into the port of Pylos but went up to the end of the bay and anchored on a long sandy beach among several other boats. Unfortunately we had moored near a water ski training boat charter, so had water-ski boats running around all day - a pity because the bay is fantastic with refreshingly clear flat water.
The north wind, again, forced us to move on and round the point to Methoni which is really on the south coast. Several friends had recommended to us to stop here and we were not disappointed. We anchored in the small protected harbour behind lots of small fishing boats in beautiful clear water. The town has existed since ancient times. The Venetians were the first to fortify it and it became an important and prosperous commercial centre and staging post for travellers from Venice to the Holy Land. Today there remain only the fortifications of the very impressive castle. A great defensive wall encloses about 3km of the town and port with towers, bastions, an artillery platform and a big moat separating the seaward part of the fortifications from the land. Of course, it later fell into the hands of the Turk's who built the watchtower at the entrance of the port and which, these days, is magnificently illuminated at night.

Methoni1 Methoni2
Arriving in Methoni. A quiet place to spend a few days.
It was a reluctantly crew who left this small port to slowly motor along the coast, admiring the scenery and beautiful seaside homes, including a Disney-like castle built by a rich man who didn't know what to do with his money.

Disney Castle Dream house
What would you do with your millions? This perhaps?
We arrived in the late afternoon at Kalamata at the top of the bay where we went into the marina. The weather wasn’t great and in the middle of the night we had our first rain for months creating the usual panic of closing all the hatches and getting my laundry back in. We ended up staying 6 days, not because the weather was bad but because we liked Kalamata town – it was the first town that we had seen since leaving Preveza and was a real town not just a tourist town.
In Kalamata the old railway station has been converted into a public gardens with the old steam locomotives on display which you can climb onto and imagine being a train driver. The city center is modern with plenty of little shops where you can obtain the odd bits that aren’t available in the villages along the coast and a very large market-place to buy fruit and veg.

Kalamata1 Kalamata2
What to do with an old railway station. Getting up steam.
We hired a car and went inland to visit Messini, the ancient city of Hilotes, who were enslaved by the Spartan's, but there only remained, as John would say, a pile of old stones that we could admire from the terrace of a café. (My sort of cultural visit – Ed).
We stopped for lunch in Sparta, not easy, Greeks don't eat lunch and finding a restaurant at lunch time can be difficult. Almost nothing remains of the ancient city of Sparta but there are quite a lot of tourists here to visit the old city of Mistra in the hills above the town. Founded by the Franks in the 13th century, it was the last great centre of Byzantine study but all that remains today are the ruins of a fortress and a palace, along with the inevitable churches and monasteries - hard to imagine that it was a big Byzantine school with 40,000 inhabitants once.
The view from the top of the valley across Sparta is breathtaking and we returned to Kalamata via a beautiful winding road through the mountainous. – It made a change from the sea and waves!

Messini Mistra Monastere
All that's left of the old city. Oh look! Another monastery.
We sailed on to Porto Kagio, a pretty bay where the grey stone houses are like towers. The water here was clear with a lot of fish and not a lot of boats. The weather forecast suggested that we should soon head for the cape at Maleas (the last cape before heading north again) so we skipped the entire gulf of Lakonikos and anchored in Levki Bay on the east coast of Elafonisos island where we were completely alone. The next day we rounded the Meleas Cape which has a very bad reputation but fortunately we had a quiet passage however the jagged rocks on the coast give an idea of the hell that it could be in bad weather. Heading north now we arrived in Monemvasia bay in the afternoon.

GREECE - The Aegean.
The medieval town of Monemvasia is situated on a tear-drop shaped presque-isle about 1.8 km long and 300M high, poking out to the east from the mainland. It's only connected by a small dike to the mainland and is divided into two parts, an Upper Town which is currently abandoned at the top of the mount and the Lower Town. Vehicles aren't allowed into the town and the roads wouldn’t be suitable even if they were.
The next morning we dinghied half way and then walked along to the ancient Kastro (fortified city). Many of the old houses have been restored and some have been converted into hotels but the town has managed to keep its character and tranquillity; very different from what we have seen so far, so I'm glad we could visit it.

Monemvasia2 Monemvasia3
The old town from the sea. That's a big rock.
It was too hot to stay and the anchorage wasn't great for swimming, so we continued on to Gerakas which lies at the bottom of a fjord-like bay. The locals told us to moor alongside the ferry pontoon, no ferries being expected, except ... the wind got up and there was also a strong current, we fought for half an hour before finally mooring Destiny alongside. The boat kept being pushed away from the quay by the current flowing underneath it so John had a hard time lining the boat up, close enough for me to jump on the quay and secure the moorings lines. Finally after the fourth attempt I managed to get ashore. It was still a battle but with the adrenaline helping we were finally able to tie-up with four lines, this is probably the worst mooring we have had to do - it took me some time to recover!

The village stretches around the edges of the fjord. I went for a stroll along the road to the end of the village and found a path that indicated an archaeological site named Zarax. Although poorly equipped to go up a mountain, I decided to explore. I followed the marked stony trail and found the site at the top of the hill. There were only a pile of old stones left from what was an ancient Hellenic city from Roman and Byzantine times, but the view was fantastic - on one side I looked down on the fjord and on the other out to sea with the island of Milos on the horizon. What a shame that I hadn't brought my camera! I went back to Destiny with the intention of coming back with camera and captain.
That evening I suggested we eat out at the Taverna Remetzo that I had spotted on my walk. The waiter was very friendly and we had a dinner of his recommendations which was all freshly prepared and very tasty - puffed pastry with spinach, grilled sardines for John and whitebait for me. It was a very happy and contented crew that went back to sleep on Destiny. Everything was fine until 2am when we were awakened by a noise that sounded like rain but was the wind that had started to blow very hard throwing us against the dock. The moorings creaked and strained and I stayed up until 4:30 until the wind dropped. Needless to say, we didn’t stay another day, too bad for Zarax.

Gerakas Zarax
Gerakas fjord from the top of the hill. The top of the hill above the fjord.
Our next stop was at Kiparissi just a few miles further north, where we had stopped and turned around in 2014.
Kiparissi is a very big bay with huge forested mountains as a backdrop making it a spectacular setting. There are three places to moor; On the south side there is a small pontoon fronting a chapel a little way from the village, there's also a quay in front of the village, where the summer ferry comes in but the last time here we had a bad experience with a sudden wind that had made it uncomfortable to stay. On the north side there is another dock used by the ferry when the weather prevents it from getting into the village. We took the fourth option - to anchor in the middle of the bay.
By the end of the day we were the only boat on anchor and the night was calm despite a bit of rolling. We awoke to a beautiful day and a calm sea, ideal for a gentle morning swim before moving on towards Leonidhion.
The sea was like a mirror and as we arrived other boats were leaving the harbour so we easily found space and moored alongside the quay in this little village. There is a good beach on the other side of the village, so after lunch we had a last swim before the change of weather that was forecast for the evening.
Later charter boats started arriving and John helped Nikos the port attendant responsible for the mooring of the boats. Nikos didn’t know much about boats and as the wind had risen it became more and more tricky for the charter boats to moor stern to the quay with their anchors out in the middle - it was good entertainment! By the end of the afternoon there was no more free space in the harbour.
We met Erik and Gerta from Oslo. They have rebuilt their wooden yacht and had sailed all the way from Norway. We spent the evening with them with an aperitif on Destiny and then we all went for dinner in town. It was 1a.m when we returned to Destiny. The next day Nikos had warned us that two large charter flotillas were due later, so we had to move along to the entrance of the harbour to make room. We were allowed to stay free of charge because John had helped Nikos on the previous day – a worthwhile investment then - Ed.

Come September the charter fleets are mostly crewed by by older people and it was interesting seeing young girls in their twenties telling oldies what to do! We had a BBQ on Destiny and invited Eric and Gerta along. A nice evening with lots of talking, laughing and drinking. They left after midnight and it was one o'clock in the morning again when we went to bed after cleaning up.
The next day John decided we would go directly to the port at Navplion at the head of the gulf of Argolikos. The boat needed a good clean and I needed some shopping. At 9:15 we left and by 13:30, we were moored on the quay in the port, along with half a dozen other boats. We went to the port police to pay our dues and then into town for some shopping. Three years ago we had spent a few days here with our friends on 'Maranka' so the town was familiar. It’s a nice semi-touristy town with pretty little shops but we had forgotten that there was no water or electricity on the quay so we couldn’t clean the boat as planned. The other thing about Navplion, is that the harbour smells, really stinks so there was no reason to stay and the next day we sailed to Koiladhia.

BBQ New cook Navplion3
Where's the beef? Inside of an Orthodox church in Navplion.
We were trying to find ‘Destiny’ a winter berth because John was not convinced that Chalkida would be suitable and Koiladhia has two boat yards that store boats. Late afternoon we anchored in the bay outside the port among a lot of other boats but with plenty of space. The sea was beautiful and John went for a swim whilst I got mad with the computer and the internet connection – Not a happy Bunny – Ed.
The next morning after a swim and breakfast we went ashore to visit the boatyards. Both were very polite but told us they were full for this winter, however, if need be, we could do the antifouling in the spring providing we booked ahead! So let’s hope Chalkida will be OK, if not we might end up back in Turkey which must be empty since everyone is in Greece now!

Having no reason to stay here any longer we left the next morning and at noon dropped anchor in the bay of Zoyioria on the north west of the island of Spetsai. A pretty spot with clear water but the day was ruined by the comings and goings of big and small taxi boats at high speed. Fortunately by the evening everybody had gone and I took the opportunity to have a swim before preparing dinner. It was a quiet and beautiful starry night. This small cove is really a gem and it’s a pity that during the day it’s invaded by the taxi boats bringing tourists every 5 mins to the beach.
Because of the taxi's we moved to a quieter spot on the other side of the island and had a nice day swimming, reading, sunbathing and relaxing. Next stop, Ermioni, after a little hesitation (we were still looking to give the boat a wash down) we decided to anchor and not go into the port. Using the dinghy we went shopping and then back for lunch, nap and a swim. The weather was hot and humid - too hot really so late afternoon we had to go ashore for a well deserved ice cream – hard life!.

I wanted to return to Hydra to take the pictures I had lost from 3 years ago. We took the ferry from Ermioni at 10am. As we arrived in Hydra, the harbour was chaos with all of the charter boats trying to enter and leave at the same time - what a mess but that's why we didn't come with 'Destiny'. The port here is really small and the visitor boats, mostly charter, moor three deep, bow to bow – It has to be seen to be believed. Once ashore, first priority as always, find a café, then, a nice walk through the town.

Hydra port Hydra Donkeys
Mooring in Hydra port - Chaos. Hydra Taxi services.
I re-took my pictures of donkeys and mules and cats and Hydra in general and now have them safely stored. As soon as you walk away from the quay through the narrow streets it becomes calmer. It’s a beautiful place, even John enjoyed it.
With a little searching we found the Italian restaurant (Il Casta) where we had eaten during our last visit. We were lucky as they normally only open in the evening but because it was the end of the season they opened at noon for the first time to-day. John chose a kind of vongole spaghetti (with clams and lemon zest) and I had spaghetti with rabbit - homemade pasta of course! Everything was as good as we remembered. For dessert I had a lemon sorbet and John a kind of profiteroles with cream instead of ice cream. We had a good chat with the owner and mentioned that we were surprised to see several houses for sale, he explained that now that Greeks had to pay a property tax, they have to either sell or rent to tourists. We took the ferry back at 3 o'clock and returned to the boat. Again, we appreciated being on anchor so that we could swim to cool off and have a quiet evening.

Hydra2 Hydra3
Hydra.
Hydra1 Hydra Property
A trekking tour on Hydra For Sale, Listed as - 'Must have, with great potential'.
When we left Ermioni we just rounded the cape and headed to Poros around the corner and arrived before noon. We slowly sailed past the town quay but didn't find a nice mooring spot so in the end we anchored in the bay in front of the town as we had done in the past - The washing of the boat would just have to wait and we had enough water on board for us for the time being. We took the dinghy ashore to find a laundry for the sheets and towels and some fresh bread for lunch. The wind was forecast to increase so we moved away, to get swinging room from the other boats and found ourselves next to 'Emerald' of Colin and Nicola who we had met in Ragussa when we had wintered there 3 years ago. They came aboard for a drink that evening and gave us back our boat keys that we had left with them all those years ago - nice people. They had wintered in Crete last year but didn’t like the ambiance there so they plan to spend this winter in Roccella Ionica, so perhaps R.I. is more than just a stop-over.

Poros17 Emerald
The town of Poros from the anchorage. Emerald leaving for Italy.
As expected the wind had risen during the day and we felt suddenly the weather was changing, announcing the end of the summer. It felt cool in the morning and evenings but at least the sun still warmed up during the day, which allowed us to do some maintenance and cleaning. John, finally began repairing the damage on the corner of the boat caused by the Italian in Prevesa by hanging over the stern on a bosun’s chair.
We stayed on anchor for three days, with regular visits to the town for a coffee or ice cream or just to watch the boats go by. In the evenings, we watched the the local rowing club training in the anchorage whilst enjoying a beer on deck in the sunset. Emerald came to say goodbye, they had a weather window to go across to Italy and we too had to leave for the Evia Channel before the arrival of a Meltemi and rain.

Poros sunset
Sunset in Poros.
GREECE - The Evia Channel.
The sea was calm when we left Poros but half way across the Gulf of Saronikos we had the wind on the nose again making it a little bit uncomfortable. Once we passed the Sournion point and entered the Evia channel the wind eased and we continued north, calmly up to Rafti, a large bay with several small islands at the entrance and anchored just off the harbour.
On-shore we found a baker and walked around the pretty harbour. Later on, we discovered that the main town was on the other side of the bay and planned to visit the following morning but changed our minds after a horrible night of mosquitoes and a disco cacophony coming from the various bars in town. It was not a good night and I ended up sleeping in the forward cabin! "Sorry captain but I am not staying here one more day".

Sournion
Rounding the cape at Sournion with the ancient Greek temple on the top.
The weather forecast for the week was not great 22°C with wind and rain. It indicated the end of our cruising for this season. Our last stop before Chalkida was Panayia, a large bay with nice beaches and cafes and restaurants on the shore. In 2014 we had enjoyed our stop here and had met a restaurateur who had organized the quay for visitors and was looking to increase his business. When we arrived there wasn’t much space left but luckily with the help of a Polish and a German cruiser we were able to squeeze in. The Greeks just sat watching us.
We sorted out water and electricity from the quay and attacked the clean-up and the wash down that had now been put off for too long. The port police came to see us, the lady didn’t speak English but never mind and we paid €14 for three nights.
The foreign boats were in transit to their wintering ports. We all had the same problem - to find a safe, secure place at a good price. We, however, have a big disadvantage, Destiny weighs 35tons and very few small yards are able to hoist us ashore.
The small Greeks boats left and we found out why at three in the morning. We were awakened by a loud surf at the back of the boat, the water was like the inside of a washing machine and we were being pushed against the quayside. The wind had picked up to 25-30 knots and we really couldn't stay where we were! The Polish boat alongside was also up and together we decided to cast off and cross to the other side (Imerolia bay), which was more protected. We left first and with the help of the chart plotter and the radar we found our way safely to the other side, although there was already another boat at anchor without lights making it difficult to see. We anchored not too far away and not too close to the coast and guided the other boats in with the aid of our powerful lamp. The anchor held on the first attempt - Phew! At 4am we were 4 boats at anchor, the wind was only blowing 12-15 knots on this side and the sea was calm but there was lightning above the mountains. Eventually we went back to sleep and the next morning all the other boats left, we liked the calm here so stayed alone one more day.

Panaria Imerolia
The town of Panaria, where we started. And the town of Imerolia, where we ended up.
On Wednesday, September 27th at 9am on a beautiful sunny morning with no wind and a calm sea we raised the anchor for the last time this year and sailed up the Evia Channel to Chalkida (or Chalkis), arriving just after 2pm.

Chalkida is the main town on the island of Evia about 80km north of Athens. The marina is located in the Vourkari basin where there are 3 yacht clubs (motor boats, cruising sailboats and racing sailboats) and each has its pontoon plus a communal wharf. We had first visited Chalkida in 2012, when we had some mast problems and the yacht club had helped us sort out the repairs.
We had arranged by email with Spyros, the club president, to have a berth here for the winter, so after a few minutes of confusion, we finally saw our old friend Nikos who told us where to moor Destiny. He asked how long we were planning to stay and we replied that we were due to spend the winter here to which he replied that this berth was OK until November? It seemed that he hadn't been informed of the arrangements.
I was, like John, also beginning to have my doubts about the possibility of wintering here. We went shopping in town but on the way back, just by chance, we ran into Spyros and his wife Anthi at a restaurant on the quay; what a coincidence. We arranged to meet them at the club that evening and Spyros confirmed that we could stay here until the spring and that we could haul the boat out for antifouling across at the boatyard on other side - relief.
So there we were, the end of our cruising season for 2017!
We stayed for three weeks in Chalkida, stripping the boat for winter and doing some maintenance work. The weather was pleasant and except for one or two days of rain and we had our routine, a cappuccino break at 10:30 in town on the canal front and an aperitif at the end of each day. John shut down and wintered the water-maker, engine, generator and outboard and together we did the maintenance on rust spots and repainted the side decks. Then I painted all the decks and rails and did some touch-up inside the boat whilst John varnished the forward hatch. We repaired the dinghy winter cover and put that on and did a last major clean and laundry. - Wintered.

Chalkida YC Anthi Spyros
Chalkida Yacht Club moorings on a not very nice day. Spyros and Anthi going French.
Spyros and Nikos helped us with getting a quotation for the repair or replacement of our side doors, it's a long-standing problem and we can’t find a solution. Nikos has agreed to keep an eye Destiny while we are away and check the moorings during any bad weather. He’ll also run the engine and the generator from time to time.
I was also happy to see Anthi again and we invited them both on-board for a 'French' dinner, so I used up my last 'confit de canard'. In return we were invited, on our last Sunday to their country house for a very Greek country lunch.
We paid the port authorities for six months of mooring and donated to the yacht club funds and so with everything sorted and peace of mind, we left Destiny in Chalkida on October 19th. Nikos dropped us at Athens airport and we flew to home to Lyon.

A bientot
See you again next year - John & Eva.
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