Log #23i Elafonisos, Monemvasia and into the Aegean Sea

January 8, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 23 Greece, The Logs

Panama City, Florida USA
Jan. 8, 2001

Hi Folks,

We are down here in Florida visiting Judy’s sister and her family, but we brought the cool weather from Toronto with us. We flew to Atlanta, Georgia where we rented a car to drive down the rest of the way to Panama City. There was still snow in Atlanta! Brrrr!

We passed through Panama city in December of 1998 with Veleda going across the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from Mobile Bay to Appalachicola before crossing over to the Florida panhandle at Tarpon Springs. We drove down to Appalachicola today to see the place from land and to visit the dock we moored at and the barrier island of St George that we had to exit to get into the open waters of the northern part of the Gulf of Mexico. The area is noted for seafood, especially oysters, and we had a delicious seafood lunch on the waterfront. After I have sent all my logs from Greece, I may resend the logs I wrote when transiting this area. I have been asked to speak at the Panama City Yacht club tomorrow and show some of the slides I brought down with me. It will be the first time we have had a chance to see our slides projected.

Some of my pictures will be on the www.searoom.com website along with my logs, and I note that Tony Cook the webmaster has also linked some of my articles to other websites. Thanks Tony.

Now that we have been over here for almost a month, Greece and Turkey seem far away. Reading the logs I have pre written keep the memories alive for us.

Enjoy this log which gets us into the Aegean Sea.

All the best,

Log #23i Elafonisos, Monemvasia and into the Aegean Sea

Kemer, Turkey
Dec. 2, 2001
Covers the period Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, 2001

After waiting for four days in Port Kayio for the weather to improve, and after dinghying out to the entrance of the bay to see how bad the conditions were, we decided to go for it. We weighed anchor at 0815 and headed out into one and a half metre waves, with a reefed genoa and double reefed main. However, half an hour later, clear of land influences, the winds dropped and we shook out the reefs to continue motor sailing the 28 miles across Lakonikos Kolpos eastwards to Nisos Elafonisos, an island just to the NW of Cape Maleas. We secured to another incomplete concrete dock/marina across a small bay from Elafonisos Town (36˚ 30.5’N, 022˚ 9.0′ E), and Kajsa rafted outside of us. We had a pleasant stroll through this tourist/fishing community, topped up with water, purchased supplies, including fresh bread from a nearby bakery, and Rune treated us to a nice meal in one of the local restaurants that was still open.

Next day, Oct. 29, we left early and were actually able to sail for a couple of hours in a light force 3 to 4 wind, before having to flash up the engine to motor sail through the 2 metre confused seas and now force 6 contrary winds around Cape Maleas (36˚ 25.0′ N, 023˚ 09.9 E), always on the nose even though we were altering from a SE to a northerly direction in rounding it. To complicate matters, there was a one or two knot south setting current coming down and around from the west side, and considerable shipping rounding the Cape in both directions. We had to alter course several times to stay clear. This cape in Greek antiquity was considered the end of the world, and was a major hurdle for Odysseus when returning from the Trojan War. Unable to round it, he was blown across the Mediterranean all the way over to North Africa.

This cape is even larger and more barren than the Capo Grosso we passed a few days ago, its caves serving as the entrance to Hades. At least Cape Maleas has a hermitage embedded in the midst of the rocky cliffside to allow prayers for safe passage of ships rounding the point. As we passed it we wondered how it was built, as it was in the middle of the rock face, with no visible road access, and no safe mooring near its base for ships to offload material. However, even though our transit was complicated by contrary winds, confused seas, and heavy shipping, we made it past safely.

We were now in the fabled Aegean Sea, heading 20 miles up to Monemvasia, the Gibraltar of the Aegean. We went alongside aft of Kajsa, on the inside of the outer breakwater of another uncompleted marina (Monemvasia Marina) at Yefira, south of the Monemvasia peninsula. It is referred to as the Gibraltar of the Aegean as there is a narrow isthmus (the sole approach = moni emvasia) joining an oblong mountain with the ancient village of Monemvasia at the base of the southwest escarpment, and a large series of fortified ruins along the summit dating back to the 6th century AD, of Byzantine and later Venetian origin.

It is a rampart fortified town with ancient arched houses built into the rock walls. Many are still in ruins, but others have been remodeled into interesting upscale modern condominiums and hotel apartments. There were several nice restaurants with exquisite views over the parapets looking down the south coast towards Cape Maleas. An interesting archeological museum provided some interesting artifacts and information about the origin and early years of the town. We climbed the steep zigzag path, through a tunnel to the upper fortified plateau, from which we had a spectacular view of the shoreline north and south of the peninsula, and a bird’s eye view of the town 300 metres below. Judy stayed at the church on top while Rune and I went all the way across the plateau to explore the ruins of the castle and other outposts.

We were able to send some E-mail, get laundry done, refill a Camping Gas bottle, and stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables. In returning along the taverna lined waterfront we were enchanted for fifteen minutes watching our first sighting of a small octopus undulating across the shallow bottom, about 5 metres from where we were standing. It was intriguing. Its maximum stretch was about 75 cm (or two feet) across. The sensuous slithering of its tentacles as it glided across the bottom from rock to rock, smothering each location as it settled onto in its filmy embrace, was hypnotic. It did not move in any predictable pattern or direction. The thin film of gossamer membrane between its tentacles would change color from lacy white to a dark greenish brown every few seconds as it extended itself over another stone or clump of seaweed and settled for a few seconds in a slimy blob before slowly extending another tentacle or two in another direction. Chameleon like, this cephalopod could change its colour to blend into the bottom. It was mesmerizing, fascinating, intriguing to watch, but it created an eerie, primitive sense of revulsion in me.

The marina was home for a rescue boat, several fishing boats, and a few small runabouts. There are some pontoons left, apparently others having been blown out last year in a storm; but for a cruising sailboat they would be marginal in their security and safe depths. That’s why we went on the inner side of the breakwater. As our next leg was a long one of 70 miles to the island of Milos, we left late afternoon for the overnight passage. We agreed with Kajsa to contact each other on VHF every two hours en route to assist Rune in staying awake, as he was still single handing his boat.

We were going in an easterly direction (085˚) the whole distance into light force 2-3 ENE winds. We had to watch carefully as there was considerable north south shipping coming down or going up to Athens, Istanbul, and the Dardanelles and the Black Sea, and all of it going round Cape Maleas south of our course line. We were in the open stretches of the southern part of the Aegean Sea, heading for Milos in the Cyclades chain of islands.

Around midnight the wind increased to force 5, and not wanting to take any chances that it would go higher, we reefed the genoa and put a double reef in the main as we continued to motor sail into 1.5 metre seas. The wind eased down to a light force 2 shortly after sunrise, so we shook out the reefs and continued motor sailing into a NE wind. Incidentally, the weather forecasts we had indicated light winds, but from the SW. They were only 180˚ off.

Shortly after 0800 we rounded the dramatic craggy rock pinnacles at Ak Kalamaria into the 4 mile long Milos Bay (Ormos Milou), carved out by three volcanic eruptions, the calderas of which make up this extensive bay. By 0830 we were alongside the outer wall of the L-shaped town pier in Adhamus (36˚ 43.4′ N, 024˚ 26.8′ E) on Milos. Milos is the island on which the Venus de Milo was found and removed from Greece to the Louvre in Paris. However, as I will describe in my next log, we will remember Milos for a severe damaging storm that sank Sprite.