Log #23f Zakinthos (Ionian) to Olympia (on the Peloponesse)

December 25, 2001 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 23 Greece, The Logs

Toronto, Canada
Dec. 25, 2001

Hi Folks,
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year again. I’m writing this as we await the arrival of guests for Christmas dinner. Last year at this time we were stuck at a dirty boat yard between bridges in Sete, France, before we could get into the Mediterranean. It is far more enjoyable this year back in Canada and around friends and family. I feel awkward referring to Toronto or Canada as “home”, as for us home is Veleda wherever we are with her, and returning to her after an absence is returning ”home”.

While I am reminiscing about Christmas and what we were doing last year at this time, I will check through our log to give you a brief summary of what we have done this past year.

We went from Sete to Barcelona for 6 weeks before crossing over to the Balearics for three months. After that we went direct to Tunisia for a month before sailing up to Malta (via the Italian island of Lampedusa). From Malta where we enjoyed Valetta and Gozo, we went to Sicily visiting the rumbling Mount Etna, and the ancient city of Syracuse, across the Strait of Messina along the tip of the boot of Italy and into the Adriatic Sea to Dubrovnik in Croatia. We spent the summer going up the Dalmatian coast up to Trieste and Venice, and back down to Dubrovnik before leaving the Adriatic and entering the Greek waters of the Ionian Sea in late September. We visited many Ionian islands before going over to and around the Peloponnesse into the Aegean Sea and across to the island of Rhodes. From there we made our final voyage to Kemer in Turkey where Veleda is at present while we are over here in Canada. We have been in the Med for a year now having traveled 3,749 nautical miles since Dec. 26, 2000 as outlined above.

Our guests are here, so I’ll close now and get this ready to send off later.

All the best,
Aubrey

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Log #23f Zakinthos (Ionian) to Olympia (on the Peloponesse)

Mandraki Hbr., Rhodes
Nov. 17, 2001
Covers the period Oct. 17 to 20, 2001

Now that we had our new stove, we no longer had to wait around Levkas, and could continue our voyage through Greece to our winter marina in Kemer, Turkey, hoping to be there by Nov. 15, a trip of over 600 miles. (We actually made it on Nov. 19.) We had to make some time up, and so our first destination was Zakinthos, one of the most southerly of the Ionian Islands, almost 60 miles south, a long day’s run. We left Tranquil Bay shortly after sunrise, but didn’t arrive in Port Zakinthos (37 46.8N, 020 54.0E) until almost 2000, well after sunset, for another first time night anchorage in a new port. With the exception of Nidri and Levkadas, every port has been a first time entrance, and night entrances really complicate things. However, we plan our night entrances for ports with good lights, and no off-lying shoals. The flashing green light on the end of the outer breakwater entrance was visible for 5 miles, and as we rounded it, the red flashing light on the inner breakwater became evident, for us to follow around the S-shaped course into the large inner harbour. We anchored in the southwest corner past the ferry docks, using an illuminated church belfry as a final lead mark. We cheated a bit by also watching the course taken by a ferry entering ahead of us. If a large ferry could negotiate it, so could we.

To increase our tension level on such night entrances, our depth sounder sometimes works erratically, jumping up to the actual depth, then cycling slowly down to zero before jumping back to the real depth again. Thus when it is cycling down, we are not 100% sure that the depth is not decreasing, and it distracts my attention as I have to watch it for up to a minute at a time to identify the true depth. Once we were at anchor, I verified our depth at 18 feet with a hand lead and line. We were anchored OK. After settling down I noticed several other boats at anchor or on buoys, all without lights of any kind. They were just dark shadows against the shore lights. However, we had plenty of swinging room, and we were well clear of them and the ferry docks. Night anchoring in a strange port is — interesting.

We went ashore in the morning with Sprite to get some fuel and groceries. There is a camber behind the ferry docks that was for a proposed marina that never was completed. Much of the breakwater to it has been damaged, and I would not be sure about entering it even in daylight. There were a few local boats tied up inside it, but the whole scene was one of dereliction. The town itself was ringed around the bay, with a fuel station and fresh produce street market, as well as other shops, tavernas, and a few boutiques along the shoreside street. It is not a touristy town, but a good stopping off place.

Our next port of Katakolon (37 38.9N, 021 19.1E) only 25 miles away is on the Peloponesse, part of the Greek mainland. We were pleasantly surprised to find a new uncompleted (free) marina in the northwest corner, complete with pontoons and a wide, newly paved, but empty, parking area. This development was not indicated in our 1998 pilot. We went alongside the main concrete dock, helped by crew from the Swedish boat Kajsa. There were only three cruising boats on the dock, several fishing boats on the town docks, and a large cruise liner at the cargo/cruise ship pier. The town was very empty of people as the cruise ship was about to depart, and the boutiques, tavernas and shops were forlornly deserted. The sandy beaches north of the docks looked nice, but were deserted as well.

Next day we, together with Joan and Rune from Kajsa, caught the 0730 bus into Olympia, the original home of the Greek Olympics, at which the Olympic flame is lit by a mirror concentrating sunlight, for each of the Olympic games. Shortly, another lighting ceremony will take place for the Winter Olympic flame to go to Salt Lake City.

The site of ancient Olympia is strewn with ruins dating back over 2700 years to the first Olympics in 776 BC. The actual sports field was a bit of a let-down, as it was extremely simple, just a stone entry tunnel onto a dirt playing field with stone starting lines at the near end, grassy mounds lining the length of the one way track, and a few stone seats in the middle of the right hand side where officials and dignitaries sat. Adjoining this were ruins of temples, columns, baths, and various buildings that housed different events and hosted dignitaries and priests. The games were originally competitions from the various city states under religious dedication, possibly not unlike the way sumo wrestling in Japan has a Shinto heritage. The most impressive ruins for me were the remains of the temple of Zeus. Its large elevated rectangular foundation was flanked by massive rows of toppled columns, fractured into their constituent sections like rows of gigantic capsized checkers. I am always amazed at the construction technology that could build such edifices in those ancient times.

The museum across the road was a worthwhile opportunity to see replicas of the original site and artifacts from Olympia and other parts of ancient Greece. We considered a trip to ancient Sparta, about 40 kilometers inland, but the bellicose Spartans left no monuments of any consequence, only their legacy of dedicated hardship, sacrifice, and military training.

Back in Zakinthos we went up the cliff behind the town to a pleasant, interesting mom and pop bed and breakfast accommodation that also advertised showers. The view over the harbor was enjoyable from their white washed concrete bowered balcony draped with succulent grape clusters. Their rooms were clean neat, with twin beds, TV and washroom facilities, and very economical, the equivalent of about $15.00 Canadian per night, breakfast included. We bought some homemade rose wine, some grapes and lemons, but didn’t have the energy to go back down that long incline to Veleda to get out toiletries and climb back up for economical showers.

We left at 0500 next morning for a 50 mile trip down the Peloponesse to the Bay of Navarinon, the site of the Battle of Navarino in which a British/French/Russian fleet defeated a Turkish/Egyptian fleet in 1827 to help free Greece from Turkish domination in their War of Independence. More about this in my next log.