Yacht Pipit


Dragging anchor from Meganisi to Falmouth Docks - 31st May 2014

All by ourselves, and no dragging anchor - Kapali.

Then Ann woke up - what a strange dream! But then a few nights previously I'd been driving a Range Rover through the Wye Valley, and later that week, I was looking at the newly laid railway line in Hatters lane, so who knows what all that means, and we hadn't even been eating cheese!

Following our last update we had numerous replies, some complimenting the Exclusive Meganisi website we've developed (thank you) but many more in reply to our candid comments about living aboard. We were a little surprised that all those who replied concurred with our sentiments. In hindsight, we shouldn't have been so, as those who do live aboard for all or part of the year know that it's not always an easy lifestyle, and it's certainly not sitting in the cockpit drinking a G&T and nibbling olives all day in the sunshine! It was interesting to learn that we are not alone in beginning to think about what we might do in the next few years (the c-word * has been mentioned...), so thank you to those of you who did share your thoughts, it made us feel better that we weren't just losing our cruising mojo!

Anyway, finally after a week or so back on Pipit in Vathy, packing everything back into lockers, tidying the boat and servicing the engine, we made the epic voyage to Kapali (the next bay east of Vathy), one of our favourite anchorages where we stayed for 3 nights in utter peace and solitude, save the occasional squawking of pheasants (do pheasants squawk?) and one or two yachts for a couple of hours at lunchtime. Only on the third night we were joined by another yacht, one of our neighbours from Vathy.

You can see why this is one of our favourite anchorages - Kapali.

Last Wednesday we made our way to the Neilson pontoon in Nidri, as we had haircut appointments the following morning. You can use this pontoon for €10 per night, including power & water, whilst the charter boats are out during the week and it is much quieter than being on the town quay itself. From what we saw it understandably tends to be used mainly by liveaboards rather than charterers. The hotel across the road charges €4 to use their washing machines which is also handy. We actually liked being there, the vista is pleasant and we had nice neighbours either side, so we stayed a second night but by Friday we were keen to be back at anchor.

Unfortunately, just as we were preparing to leave, another yacht came into the gap next to us made by our Dutch neighbours departing shortly before and it was clear to us, our neighbours on the other side and one of the Nisos Yacht Charter staff, that he had crossed our anchor chain. This happens not infrequently and we weren't that upset by that in itself as it's inevitable from time to time (although it wasn't at all windy which is normally the time this happens), but rather by the fact that when I, our neighbour and the Nisos chap suggested such, the skipper insisted he didn't think so and anyway, he was only staying an hour or so! Predictably, when we tried to leave, his anchor was indeed over ours, and despite us getting them to let out more chain and him coming out in his dinghy to try to clear it, he ended up having to come back out with the yacht. He eventually freed our anchor, however by this time, as we'd had to drop more of our chain to give him the slack to free us, we had drifted downwind and when bringing our anchor up, caught another boat's anchor three doors down. That we freed with the help of them loosening their chain and the kind Nisos lad coming out in his RIB to help too.

What better antidote then, than a gentle sail up to Goat Bay on the mainland, another of our favourite anchorages. This is a wide bay with two parts, the western one having a sandier bottom, but both with good holding. Most people call this One Tree Bay, which confused us when we first identified the one they were talking about because there are at least three prominent trees ashore! Anyway, it's a lovely spot with plenty of space to anchor in ideal depths for us of 4-6 metres. During the peak of the season, it gets busier, particularly during the day with people stopping to swim in the beautifully clear water. Smaller boats can anchor quite close to the beach in 1-2 metres, but we've always found room to anchor, even during the busiest times, albeit a little further out and/or in the eastern part of the bay. The reason we call it Goat Bay is that there is a herd of goats that graze the sloping hill. We find the goats amusing to watch as they come down to drink at the beach periodically. Even more amusing to our puerile senses of humour is that they either have allergies and are coughing or sneezing frequently, or suffer from flatulence - we haven't quite worked out which yet, but hearing the occasional (trouser) cough sound amid the silence always gives us a giggle.

Goat Bay - the goats actually graze the sloping field out of view to the left - the lorry is just delivering the beach bar which is only there during the summer. The music is never too loud and we enjoyed chilling out to it last year, but sometimes the generator which powers it is louder!

Our friends John & Maggie on Lazy Pelican were there too enjoying the tranquillity. We hadn't launched our dinghy and for a number of reasons we were in a bit of a funk, so didn't get a chance to catch up properly. Hopefully, we'll get together for a drink or a meal ashore when they're back later in the year and have a good catch up then.

After three lovely nights in Goat Bay, we headed down to Sivota, anchoring for lunch off the southern end of the island of Thilia, a tiny island between Meganisi and Lefkada. There was no wind and Ann managed to drop the anchor perfectly in a patch of sand amidst the weed. We had lunch, Ann swam to the beach and then we waited for the afternoon breeze to come up before sailing down to Sivota. Northerlies were forecast, but we had a gentle southerly, so had a pleasant sail tacking down the channel and across to Sivota on the southern end of Lefkada.

Previously, when chartering and three times last year when visiting Sivota on Pipit we've either anchored in the middle of the harbour or gone stern-to the quay outside the Olive Press on the southern side of the harbour, but the holding can be bad there, particularly in the afternoon breeze. Last year, we had to make an unexpected departure and re-anchor when the boat alongside us had their anchor break free, with the consequent weight of their boat on us and the strong cross wind breaking out our anchor. Thus we have now decided that if we visit Sivota, we'd prefer to anchor or try one of the two pontoons if we need power and/or water. So, we went to the pontoon of Taverna Stavros, which is free, but it is polite/expected that you eat in his taverna, which is fair enough as they installed and maintain the pontoon and provide the power and water. We enjoyed the gentle buzz of Sivota and stayed two nights, and although there are lazy lines, so no chance of crossed anchors, we did still need to be aboard when neighbours arrived, as at least one got it drastically wrong and would have driven their stern into us if we'd not been there to fend off - and this was a private yacht, not a charter or flotilla boat. In contrast an Odysseus charter flotilla came in and the yachts were all well handled, perhaps because the flotilla leader gave calm, clear instructions over the radio and was on the pontoon to take lines and make sure the berthing went smoothly. Whilst all this was going on we were entertained by numerous swallows darting about, one coming to rest on one of our mooring lines where it sat for many minutes just chattering away!

Taverna Stavros.

Looking into Sivota Bay from the Taverna Stavros pontoon.

From Sivota, we had a slow drift, then gentle sail to Kalamos, intending to anchor in Port Leone, a village abandoned after the 1953 earthquake when the village water supply was cut off. The village was never re-inhabited, but the church has always been maintained by the locals from Kalamos village and has apparently also recently been extensively restored. Most visitors anchor with lines ashore here, but with the knowledge that everyone we knew who did this last year had rats aboard, we planned to do our usual and just swing to our anchor. By the time we arrived, the wind was gusting as it does there and a flotilla was in with lines ashore. We spent quite a while motoring around to check depths to choose the best place to anchor and eventually found a spot, although other than the places to take a line ashore, the depths are 15 metres or more. We've got 70 metres of chain, so figured if we could get the anchor to bite (uncertain of the holding), we'd have no problem. We did so, and began to dig the anchor in with increasing revs of the engine in reverse, building up to 2000rpm as is our usual method. The anchor did dig in, but unfortunately with 2000rpm we managed to dig it out!

After a bit of a rethink and with thunderstorms forecast for lunchtime the next day, when we were booked back into our berth at Odyseas Marina in Vathy, we decided to take advantage of the afternoon breeze, which should have been on the beam as we headed up the channel between Kalamos & Meganisi, and anchor in Port Atheni. Another unfortunate occurrence was a squall which quickly increased the wind strength from a pleasant 10-12 knots to a 'time to reef!' 20 knots. This passed after about 20 minutes and then dropped away to less than 5 knots, so we motored the remaining couple of miles into Port Atheni, where we anchored in calm conditions. There were only about half a dozen boats there, but with the light winds, we couldn't be sure where their anchors were, so passed by a couple with crews aboard to ask before choosing our spot, a fair way out in 17 metres, but at least we dug the anchor in successfully and felt confident that we had sufficient room that we wouldn't swing into anyone else if the breeze came up earlier than expected with the thunderstorms the next day.

So on Thursday we arrived back in Vathy, timing our arrival nicely as no sooner had we tied up, connected to power and settled, the thunderstorm and heavy rain arrived. It's been nice to meet up again with our neighbours and fellow CA members Jane & Alan, and Donal & Anne further along the quay, all of whom we met here last year, plus fellow Marina di Ragusa over-winterers Rik and Aleid on Que Sera.

Apropos of nothing, here are a couple of photos from just before we left the villa, of sheep grazing in the ground just outside the side fence, and a couple of cheeky ones nibbling at the plants at the back fence:

* caravan

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