Pembroke Haven Yacht Club

Hobbs Point, Pembroke Dock

Navarinou Bay to Elafonisos 12.8.2020-18.8.2020 

Our next stop was only five miles down the coast.  Methoni is tucked behind a small headland with a large Venetian fort and Turkish tower dominating the village.  The Venetian fort guarded the shipping route around the Peloponnisos and there is a ‘sister’ fort in nearby Koroni.   We anchored off the village in the early afternoon alongside Dulcinea, before taking a walk around, then returned ashore the following morning to visit the fort.

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The Fort of Methoni dates from medieval times and is protected by the sea on three sides.  A deep moat separates it from the land and an entrance bridge stretches across the moat.  Inside the walls there are ruins of houses, a Turkish bath, a church and parts of Doric pillars including a monolithic granite pillar which is supposed to have originally supported the ‘winged lion of Saint Mark’, the symbol of Venice, or the bust of Morosini. The Lion of Saint Mark is the protector saint of the Venetian Republic and there are 15 representations that have survived in Methoni.


IMG-20201005-WA0007IMG-20201005-WA0008IMG-20201006-WA0006On the south part of the walls there is a spectacular sea gate which has recently been restored.  A paved pathway leads over a small bridge to the islet of Bourtzi and the small octangonal sea fort where the guards would survey the harbour.  This is apparently is where many soldiers and inhabitants of Methoni were slaughtered when the Turks occupied the fort in 1500.


20200817_08310820200817_083126Madness onboard! Sometimes life onboard gets to us!!!


Our next stop was Kalamata 40 miles south – yes, the olives!  We were welcomed to the Town Quay by a ‘local’, 30 yr old Yanis, who took our stern lines and helped us moor up safely.  Judith offered him a beer and he promptly replied that he would come back later.  Come back later, he certainly did!  We could not get rid of him, he even joined us for dinner! and social distancing was not in his vocabulary.   During the afternoon we mentioned to him that we needed our ‘bottom’ (& prop) cleaning and he offered to go and collect his diving equipment and do the job for us.  He asked to borrow one of our bicycles and disappeared for nearly an hour before we were able to breath a sigh of relief when he returned carrying all of his equipment.  To be fair, he carried out the job well and charged a fair price for something that we would have struggled to do ourselves.

IMG-20201005-WA0006The ‘crew’ of Dulcinea & our new friend Yannis joined us for dinner!

Kalamata is the second largest city of the Peloponnese peninsula after Patras.  It exports local products including raisins, olives and olive oil and during our stay we visited the local market where we purchased a kilo of the most beautiful olives - we have been unable to find any which taste so good since! 

Not far from the (free) Town Quay is the Municipal Railway Park.  The only open-air museum of its kind in Greece, it was founded in 1986 but due to a devastating earthquake in Kalamata in 1986, it was not completed until 1990.  It occupies a total area of 54,000 sq m  and we enjoyed riding our bikes through the park and looking at the various exhibits housed there.

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We spent two nights in Kalamata before moving on 25 miles south to a very ‘rolly’ anchorage in Limeni for a night. The following morning we left early and anchored in a bay 7 miles further south where we visited the Diros Caves.  The exploration of the biggest cave, Vlychada started in 1949 and has yielded fascinating finds including a hippopotamus from around 32,000 years ago as well as evidence of panthers, lions, spotted hyenas and seals.  Exploration continues in another cave in the complex but this is not open to the public.  A couple aged 5,800 years old, locked in an embrace have been found at the entrance to this cave, their grave was part of one of the biggest Neolithic burial sites ever found in Europe.  We were first taken in a ‘punt’ like boat and then walked through the remainder of the cave with its beautiful stalactites and stalagmites   Having visited caves on the Northern coast of Spain that were carefully preserved and protected from damage from public and light, we were a little disappointed with our tour of Diros when comparing the two, but would say, ‘ it is worth a visit if you are close by’.

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As we had visited the Caves early in the morning, we decided to try and catch up with Dulcinea who had moved ahead of us yesterday and rounded Cape Matapan.  Our original plan was to round the Cape and head slightly North for Porto Kayio for the night  before crossing the Gulf of Lakonika the following day.  The wind was perfect for us to cross the Gulf that afternoon so we set our sails and sailed the 48 miles directly to Elafonisos an island on the north side of the channel between Nisos Kithera and the Peloponnisos.  We arrived at 18.30 and dropped anchor just in front of Dulchinea, who was already there, in the most amazing clear emerald coloured water.  We could have been in the Caribbean! 

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There is a sand bar between the mainland and the Island which gives two horseshoe bays.  Just before our departure from Port Napoleon, s. France, we had briefly met a New Zealand couple, Jeremy and Chrissy who were travelling on their boat Fernweh.  We had been watching them on AIS and messaged a couple of times but had not managed to catch up with them over the previous year.  Today they were anchored in the opposite ‘horseshoe’ bay.  For fear that they may leave early the following day and that we would miss them again, we swam out to Fernweh almost immediately after dropping anchor.  We were promptly invited on board for G & T’s and sat in our wet swimsuits exchanging stories from the last 14 months.  The sailing community is a very close one and friendships are made quickly and intensely with people from many walks of life that one may not always come across back at home.   We have met and still keep in touch with many wonderful likeminded people.  


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We spent the next day swimming, paddle boarding and walked to the top of the small island to take in the view and after a second night in this beautiful bay we moved on.

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Posted by ALISTAIR LINDSAY 06 October 2020 13:35:40

Our Greek Adventure (7.8.2020-12.8.2020) 

Argostoli, our starting point in Greece, sits on a large sheltered bay on the south west of Kefalonia, Ionian Islands.  We spent our first 2 nights anchored in the bay alongside four other boats from Ragussa, all at the start of their 2020 Greek cruise.  We enjoyed exploring the town and also met the resident turtle who frequents the quay every morning as the fishing boats return.  The town was a great place to provision the boat ready for our next trip.  Lovely fish & fruit markets lined the streets.


At 11.30 am on 7th August we left Kefalonia originally expecting to sail west to Ithica.  As we exited the bay the wind was perfect for a sail to Zakinthos so we altered our plans and headed South arriving in the bay of Ay Nikolaos on the northern tip at 16.05.

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We were welcomed on the Quay by a friendly character who informed us that he also owned the nearby taverna and we would have free use of the Quay, toilets, showers & washing machine as long as we ate in the restaurant….. Great deal as Judith had plenty of washing to catch up on and laundry can cost from between 3 & 9 euros a load!!    We spent the afternoon relaxing and swimming in this beautiful little bay, ate in the restaurant in the evening and then left the following morning to head further south.  We decided not to visit Zakinthos town as there were many tourists around and we were still a little nervous about the level of Covid in the area, so we found a sheltered bay and anchored for lunch and an afternoon swim.

IMG-20201002-WA0016 At around 16.45 the wind picked up and was perfect for a sail across to the mainland.  We headed off towards Katakolon where we planned to anchor just outside the harbour.  There was a beautiful navy hulled yacht anchored nearby and as we motored past, the guy onboard shouted that the holding wasn’t so good due to the weed.  As we had our new Rocnor anchor onboard, we ignored his advice as we were itching to try it out in this type of grounding and we are happy to report that the anchor performed ‘as advertised’ perfectly!

IMG-20201002-WA001020200810_083204Katakolon is used by cruise ships as a base to visit the famous historical site of Olympia nearby.  Normally they see up to 300 cruise ships in a season but due to Covid the only cruise ships were the ones being stored on the dockside and the town was almost completely deserted!  How would the businesses survive!?    We would have loved to have visited Olympia but Judith had broken her toe before leaving Sicily and would have been unable to walk around the site.  We would have to return another time.   We spent the second night on the Quay in the harbour, (noisy because it was Sunday and the locals all seemed to party on Sunday), topped up with ‘free’ water and departed the following morning 51 miles southwards to Bay of Navarinou.


The Bay of Navarinou is an enclosed bay where the town of Pilos sits on it’s shores.  Pilos was largely built by the French and when walking through the square you do actually feel as if you are in a French town.  We anchored in the far end of the Bay below  Ak Korifasion and it’s Palaiokastro (Castle) and took the tender ashore before walking to the summit to take in the views.  The views were certainly worth the struggle for Judith with her toe!  If you have time check out this link 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Navarino

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On returning from our walk we noticed the beautiful blue hulled boat, Dulcinea, anchored nearby and decided to head over to explain why we had ignored their advice.  This was the start of a great friendship when, for the next few weeks, we travelled to virtually the same ports together.

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We spent two nights in this Bay just enjoying the clear blue water & paddle boarding before moving Money Penny across to the town quay at Pilos to take a walk around the town and then moving on.  We must add that the Greeks are such friendly people and one experience of this in Pilos was in the local chandlery.  We called in for an extremely small purchase of only a few euros and left having been given fresh orange juice on our arrival and a free bottle of the owners home produced olive oil on departure!  Throughout our time in Greece we were to come across some wonderful local characters.

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Posted by ALISTAIR LINDSAY 02 October 2020 12:39:34

2020 Will we return to Money Penny this year? 

March 2020 saw the lockdown of the UK due to Covid 19.  We had planned to return to Sicily in February for a few weeks to do some maintenance and then again in April with Toni, Jason & Ralph, following their wedding. None of this happened. Northern Italy had an outbreak of Covid in February and there was a threat of them ‘locking down’, so we decided not to take our February Flight for fear of not being able to return to the UK for the wedding.  Unfortunately the wedding was cancelled and by the end of March we, and the rest of the UK, were in Lockdown.  The rest is history!    Would we ever return to Money Penny?

We moved our many Easy Jet flights on numerous occasions but finally we were onboard for our return flight on the 25th July 2020.  The airport had various safety systems in place and we sat in our own row with masks firmly in place.  On our arrival at Catania Airport we queued to collect our hire car (for over an hour!) and then made the 2 hour journey, with supermarket stop, back to the marina.

We found Money Penny safe and sound but extremely dirty and spent most of the first week cleaning and preparing for our departure for Greece.  Amanda & Jonnie had driven their car from Cardiff and kindly carried our new antifoul for us…..and the obligatory baked beans and marmite"!   We would lift the boat out at a later date as her antifoul was sufficient for a few more months.

Our original plan had been to leave Ragusa in June and spend the following months cruising around Greece before Wintering  in a Greek marina or yard.  Our plans had changed due to the uncertainty of Covid, with us having taken an annual contract at Ragusa allowing us to have a base if a second ‘lockdown’ occurred giving us somewhere to return to.   We made use of the hire car, stocking up on provisions and refuelling following our cleaning of the fuel tanks at the end of last season.  On 1st August we left the Marina for a short ‘shakedown’ sail before cooking and sharing G & T’s with Amanda & Jonnie following their afternoon arrival.

At 11.06am on Monday 3rd August, having paid our Greek Cruising Tax online, (104.80 Euros per month) we departed Ragusa for a 300 mile trip across to Kefalonia in the Ionian Sea.  For the first 50 miles we experienced a fantastic downwind sail.  Our Genoa was poled out and we were making an average of 6.3 knots with a maximum of 11.5 when surfing the waves!  “going great guns”!!  Our bubble soon burst when at 19.45 the spinnaker pole snapped completely in half!  Alistair went up on the foredeck and managed to release all the lines and fittings and we struggled for the next few hours with the genoa ‘flapping’ continually before finally turning on the engine at 3am.  We had averaged 4.8 since midnight and our max was now only 7.5 kts!  We motored sailed for most of the remaining journey. 

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At 4.30am on the morning of the 5th August we hit a thunder storm.  Lightening flashed all around us and the crashes of thunder were sometimes directly above our heads……scary!!!   By 6am we had travelled 227.5 miles and both of us were in need of firm ground and sleep!  At 18.30 on the 5th we anchored off Argostoli and were welcomed by fellow sailors from Ragusa.   Phew!!  Just over 55 hours!

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The bay at Argostoli was calm and peaceful and after a great night’s sleep, the following morning we took the dinghy ashore to ‘check in’.   We had to visit the Port Police, pay a 15 euro entry fee, fill in a Covid declaration form and show proof that we had paid our cruising tax.  All very straight forward.  Our Greek adventure had begun!

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Posted by ALISTAIR LINDSAY 02 October 2020 10:47:42