Boat Drama in Poros and the Journey there..
Boat Drama in Poros
We have now been on this trip for seven weeks and as I write this we are sitting in a beautiful anchorage on the island of Kythnos in the Cyclades islands. Since leaving Sicily in early may we have certainly come a very long way in many respects. We are learning all the time from things that go well and things that don’t. One of our few but most recent dramas happened on one of the most beautiful days in Poros. Jim and I had been out snorkeling and we discovered an octopus in his rock nest just beside Polaris so we tried to feed it shrimp which all the fish stole. We toyed with trying to catch it but Jim felt bad and didn't want to disturb him anymore. I then did some peaceful yoga. After lunch we headed to town to pick up some stuff in the chandlery. As we approached the boat on our return we saw our friend Virginia on the back steps of Polaris. On their way to town they had seen towels flailing and a glass of cola strewn across our cockpit, and so they boarded to secure loose objects for us. But although the weather felt a bit breezy and had certainly changed compared to the morning we thought nothing of it. Jim went downstairs to wire in a few fans. Nights here are close to 30 degrees at the moment so fans are becoming really important. I set about spraying down the cockpit first with salt water then some fresh. I looked up a few times to observe the weather. It seemed a bit windy. I also began to see white horses all across the bay. We were moored stern to with two long lines from starboard to a rock and portside to a tree. We also had 40 metres of anchor out front. I continued cleaning. I felt a gust and I immediately looked up to see rocks a few feet front the back of the boat and getting closer. At exactly the same moment Jim ran up from our cabin turned the engines on, and idled forward on both engines.
The portside line was as taut as could be and under severe pressure due to the wind angle. The starboard line was the exact opposite; sagging into the water, touching the sea bottom and was at risk of wrapping around the prop. We were getting closer and closer to Right Meow on our starboard side and rocks at our stern. Jim shouted to lift the anchor a little bit to pull us away from the rocks and after shortening the anchor scope, I tied on every fender we own in case we hit Right Meow. During events like this every second matters, we speak to each other purposefully and forcefully. What we say is so important as we think out loud and figure out the next steps together. I phoned Right Meow to let them know the current situation and they flew back in their dingy faster than I thought possible. We had dragged anchor at least 30 feet. Together we agreed that they would detach their lines from the land and pull up their anchor to remove risk of us hitting them because they were downwind of us. Next, with their help, we then pulled in our lines and I pulled up our anchor freeing us to move away from the rocks. As I was stowing things near the trampolines Jim shouted to me saying ‘Watch out, turn around’. I turned to face my own 10 foot paddle board flying through the air towards me. I ducked and caught it as it whizzed over my head. Finally, out of danger, we and Right Meow motored across to the west (opposite] side of the bay to where we spent the night. The whole episode had lasted 90 minutes but we were exhausted and it felt much longer than that. Lessons learned; 1. the weather can change gradually, pay attention to it! 2.Paddle boards not in use should always be tied down or deflated. That's obvious, I know. 3. Superstitious theory: don’t mess with the octopus’ home or he might mess with yours.…
Getting to Poros -Messolonghi to Galaxidi and Delphi
Getting to Poros was a bit of milestone because it is in the Saronic gulf and the Aegean i.e the east side of the Corinth canal. We have been kind of aiming towards the Poros area for ages. That’s not to say the journey there has been anything less than incredible. Messolonghi is an odd little harbour which you could easily leave without realising there is a lovely town slightly inland full of extremely friendly genuine people. The harbour itself isn’t much to look at and the approach is via a very narrow channel. This stop was our first experience side-tying to the harbour wall. After ensuring we were securely moored, we wandered into town and found many little winding streets full of tavernas, cafes and shops. During our few days there we encountered the hospitality of the locals on more than one occasion with the jovial butcher giving us free spices and salt for our BBQ and the hardware store guy driving to another town to pick up a piece of metal we needed to buy costing only 10 euro to secure our Spinnaker to the boat. Apart from these pleasant experiences though the nights were loud and we were restless as boy racers screeched around nearby in their cars and cats scampered around on the boat. Jim promises they were cats anyway.
Under the Rion Bridge to Galaxidi
On Wednesday 5th of June at 7:30am we left Messolonghi and headed for Galaxidi. It was about a nine hour sail east through the Gulf of Patras and under the Rion Bridge. The sail was mixed with the usual lack of wind and then too much wind and the bridge was beautiful and more than high enough! We arrived about 4pm exhausted. We stayed a little way out of town at a very quiet anchorage. Galaxidi is a charming little town with old fashioned bars and shops. We took the dingy there early and arranged to hire a car which we would drive to Delphi. The drive itself was stunning with views down the valley back towards our anchorage, and other towns on the way there. The land rises high around the road and is full of olive trees. There are many hairpin bends and when you finally reach the town of Delphi you are rewarded handsomely with the views all around. We spent hours then walking around both the museum and the archaeological sites. Both of which are so worth the effort. The museum is so well put together and tells the stories of the artefacts so clearly and the sites themselves- incredible. Wow, and in such a setting.
Getting to Poros- Reaching the Saronic Gulf finally!
We enjoyed Galaxidi so much we stayed for five days. On Monday 10th June we pulled up the anchor and set off intending to pass through the Corinth Canal and into the Saronic Gulf. The forecast was ambiguous and contradictory. We managed to sail and motor sail most of the way there on a Broad Reach. Right Meow sent us a message from up ahead to say there was a huge pod of dolphins jumping around their boat. Sure enough, about ten minutes later I could make out many little splashes up in the distance. As we got closer they started swimming in front of us, behind us, alongside us and between the bows. I had never seen so many dolphins before and as with any dolphin sighting, we both felt positively uplifted. We followed protocol and radioed Corinth Port an hour out and then a mile out. We hung around outside the canal as directed until we were told our position in the queue. About 1pm we began the journey headed east through the canal. It is certainly one of those experiences we will always remember. Each section of the canal, sculpted out of rock, seems more beautiful and dramatic than the last as the walls on each side rise higher. At the other side, the Saronic gulf and Aegean sea lay shimmering before us. The landscape had changed quite noticeably since the Ionian and here the ground looked scorched, the hills less high and the water five degrees warmer. Our excitement was palpable.
To Korfos then Poros
We spent that night tucked in on the north side of the eastern Corinth entrance. Early the next morning (Tuesday, June 11th) we headed south towards Korfos but stopped at an incredible lunch spot. There were two or three tiny uninhabited islands except for a goat or two and many seagulls. The water was brilliant clear blue. Although deep, you could easily see to the bottom and we swam about, relieved to cool off from the boiling hot afternoon sun. Later, after eating we pulled up our anchor and headed for Korfos. Again, we found a lovely place there in the main bay near to Right Meow and Bon Bini. We had dinner that evening in a local restaurant followed by a walk. On Wednesday morning we left for Poros where we easily found a stunning anchorage very close to Russian bay. Since arriving at Poros our days have been pretty idyllic. A mixture of swimming, fish- still no fish caught and paddle boarding. Of course there have been some boat jobs like cleaning the bottom and trying to fix our Gennaker which is still a work in progress. And of course there was the rocks incident mentioned earlier which helps us appreciate our vulnerability now that we live on the water. We are really starting to truly understand the fact that Polaris is much more than a boat to us, it is our only home and we need to keep it safe so it can keep us safe. Next we will continue our journey through the Cyclades islands and I am especially excited to visit Ios, the island I lived and worked on in the summer of 2005, and which Jim visited in the summer of.. a bit earlier than that. Watch out Ios, Kate and Jim are coming back!