Hi all! This is Ellen. I got on board for a couple of weeks and I will keep the blog during my stay with Roel on the Ellena.
In Kalamata on the quai of the commercial port, where Roel was moored for 2 weeks. He stocked up on food and boat stuff, made friends with other sailors and waited to pick me up from the airport on 13 August. To get into town we used the folding bikes.
Kalamata is the biggest city on the Peloponnesos.
Twice a day this lady marched the quay in Kalamata, all the way up to the end of the jetty that runs for a mile into the Gulf of Messianikos. And back.
Roel and his new hobby (and maybe some day life saver): deep sea fishing! Marcel helped him pick a sturdy fishing rod, capable of hooking up tuna. Early morning seems to be a good time for throwing out a line. But not this morning. Not yet.
On many sailing yachts in Greece you will find a basil plant. Also on the Ellena. We have not been able to discover why, whether it is tradition or superstition to fend off bad spirits or to keep away insects. But it sure smells great and the green looks good among all the blue and white. They had survived Roels absence in June when he was in the Netherlands for his mother. But eventually lice and a wind gust killed the plants…
Limeni. Totally restored tourist spot where ice cream is screamingly expensive.
The lighthouse on Cape Tainaron, the most southerly tip of the Peloponnesos.
The terraces in Porto Kagio run into the surf of the sea. The beautiful small and sheltered bay is surrounded by rocky mountains with some picturesque settlements (holiday homes now) on the slopes.
Together on the trail to the chapel on top of the cliffs at Porto Kagio. Every other day a lady from the village goes up to fill up the oil lamps in the church.
From Porto Kagio we crossed the Lakonikos Kolpos, Laconian Gulf, to the crystal clear and Caribbean blue waters of Elafonisos, one of the few sandy beaches around. Here the sea is separated by a narrow stretch of land that connects the mainland with the island of Elafonisos. So there are two long and very popular beaches, one on each side of the ‘bridge’.
Roel’s Catch(y) of the day! Not exactly the 20 pounder he was hoping for, but a tuna. Well almost a tuna, a skipjack tuna. His first self caught fish and a very tasty one! Caught in a turbulent time frame when the dinghy, the inflatable boat, came loose from its lifting construction at the back of the catamaran. It scooped up water during a bumpy ride on a wild sea in heavy winds. Roel lowered the dinghy into the water and then found out that the fishing line he had set earlier was trapped in the dinghy’s outboard engine. And had broken. He hauled in about 70 meters of line and the bait, a fake fish, and shouted an excited YES!! when a real fish appeared at the end of it. He prepared it for lunch when we were anchored at Monemvasia, the Gibraltarish rock behind him on the picture. It was the best and freshest piece of fish I have ever tasted!
Take some olive oil, fry shortly and just add a bit of orange and lemon juice and salt and pepper!
Climbing the Monemvasia rock up to the Byzantine chuch on top. Monemvasia is a beautiful, largely restored milennium old town high up on orange cliffs, surrounded by a wall. Nice atmosphere even if it is a very touristic site.
We spent two days in the relatively sheltered bay at the bottom of the town to wait out the predicted strong northerly winds, the meltemi. My stomach and mood is not made for that sort of sailing conditions so we waited and watched the “waterdevils”, 2 to 3 meters high columns of water caused by the hefty spiraling wind, surrounding us.
Roel looking out to the north on the Gulf of Monemvasia, from the church of the Holy Sophia in Monemvasia.
Holy Sophia, Monemvasia.
While the wind gently weeps and the sun batters down on the boat, on a hot and lazy day, Roel engages in another hobby, the electric piano.
When we sailed from Monemvasia to the north, the halyard (rope) of the main sail came loose which means you cannot raise the sail anymore. And since the Ellena is a sailing catamaran, not a motor yacht like many of the other catamarans we see around here, it needed to be repaired. We anchored in a calm bay so that Roel could try to fix it. Roel always fixes everything, himself. For this challenge, because that is what it was, or an ordeal in my opinion, he pulled on mountaineers’ climbing gear, secured himself and climbed up the mast that slowly rocked on the waves. It is a long climb, 17 meters – and a long drop if something goes wrong. I watched nervously and in awe for his courage and strength. And for his muscles that stood out in his back and arms every time he hauled himself further up. He is 60 years old!! The sun was relentless but Roel never moans and does what is necessary. But this time he could not finish the job; something got stuck and he could not lower the weights attached to the rope that had to go down inside the mast. Too bad. Later that night Roel remembered all of a sudden that he had put a spare halyard in the mast some time ago. And since we did fix a problem that we had experienced with the head sail that afternoon, we would be able to sail with both sails up anyway.
The scenery of the place where Roel climbed the mast.
Nice setting for such a job! We were so busy fixing the boat that we had no time to go ashore and have a drink in the tiny shack and check out the tai chi people that camped out there.
Kiparissi. Very nice and authentic little town underneath high steep mountains.
On the way from Kiparissi to the island Spetsai on the other side of the Kolpos Argolikos, Roel caught this beautiful marlin. A muscular, angry looking elegant fish that we were happy to release again. According to Marcel we better not eat this one. Why? Overfishing? Poisonous dioxines? So we did the right thing to set it free.
Spetsai Island. When we arrived there were 9 of these extravagantly expensive (in our opinion bad taste) motor yachts /semi-cruise ships in the small bay. When we left the next day, because we could not handle the mobster air they all radiated, there were at least 16 of them in this small corner of the Mediterranean. All lined up as if it was a sales exhibition for the rich an infamous. We took off to Ermioni on mainland Peloponnesos and had a wonderful wind to sail. I too enjoyed it a lot, leaving these show offs far behind.
Roel prefers this kind of craftsmanship: a modest wooden boat builder in a small workshop in Ermioni.
We rented a car to visit the ancient amphitheater of Epidauros (famous for its acoustics and indeed, I heard the coin Roel dropped at the bottom perfectly well in the highest seats). And we went to see the old city of Nafplion with a fort on top of the mountain and a citadel in the sea.
Nafplion is a city with a nice old part, with narrow streets, steps and stairs, tavernas and souvenir shops. Where still ‘very old red coral’ is sold. Red coral is almost extinct due to overharvesting. Only the trade in old red coral from before the sales ban is allowed. Whether the claim of this shop owner is true is unclear. Annoying questions of smart ass tourists might be avoided in this way. Or ‘very old’ is used as a USP, unique selling point, almost antique! It is beautiful though…
To make up for the bag of garbage we accidentally lost when we had the problem with the loose dinghy (which is the place where we put the trash bag when moving) ,we cleaned up the beach in a bay on the island of Skilli. It hosted us for two days so we did something in return. This was the score: 3 supermarket bags and a big one full of plastics, gathered on just 50 square meters of beach. In particular drinking straws, bottle caps and fragmented polystyrene bits from fishing boats. The Mediterranean is suffocating in plastic, poor her.
We slept on the net after watching the full moon rise above the sea. It was a pitch dark night with zillions of stars and no other light than a lighthouse far off. Wonderful.
Poros Island, the shabby side of it, where fishermen mend their nets and moor their wooden boats.
Aegina town on Aegina Island, the pistacchio island.
Me enjoying a fine ride in the shade of the bimini.
This is what speed in a catamaran looks like. Just tipped 9 knots (!) from Aegina back to Poros where I am to leave to Piraeus and home on the 6th of September. We almost flew back with a strong wind from behind. Despite the hefty wind and waves it was a smooth ride and I did not feel sick or scared, I just loved it! It’s always like that: by the time I’m getting used to life on a boat, the holiday is over. But it was a fine one. Thanks love!