We left Kythira on Saturday morning, having handed the rental car back and topped up with water. We had about a 30nm journey to the ancient town of Monemvasia. The name means ‘single entrance’ and you can see why. The spectacular town and fortress are on a towering rock that is only accessible by a causeway. As usual, there was no wind in the morning which was good as it meant that we were able to round Cape Maleas in pretty flat seas. We were able to sail/motor sail in the afternoon, arriving in front of the town around 5pm. We popped our heads into the marina to see if there was any space to go alongside the harbour wall but it was full. You can go stern to onto the pontoons there but they are exposed if you go on the north quay and rubbish holding if you go onto the south quay. The conditions were benign but we wanted the option of maybe staying longer and sitting out the strong Meltemi that was coming through on Tuesday. So, we anchored outside in about 5 metres.
Liz went off on the paddle board and started to collect various bits of rubbish that had been blown into the bay to put in the rubbish bin rather than them getting wrapped around a boat prop. Then we went over to the town in the dinghy for an explore. The town at the bottom of the causeway is called Yerifa, which means ‘bridge’. It’s quite sweet and has some very good food shops including a wonderful butcher’s. Back on board for G&Ts and dinner. We got up early as we knew one of the yachts was leaving so we wanted their space alongside. By 0730 we were tied up feeling very pleased with ourselves. However, by lunchtime, all but one of the boats alongside had left so we didn’t need to get up quite so early! Still, it meant we could spend the day exploring the old town with its narrow alleyways, squares and amazing views. They don’t allow cars there, and you would never get them through the gates, so we took a shuttle bus up to the West Gate.
The fortified town was first built in 6th Century by the Byzantines, taken by the Franks and then retaken by the Byzantines. The city looked to Venice for security and during their tenure, many of the fortifications were enhanced. It was held by the Turks a couple of times before the Greek War of Independence claimed it for Greece. The place is full of atmosphere and all the buildings had been renovated very sympathetically. We wandered around and then had lunch overlooking the bay. Back to Nimmie for an afternoon nap (it was very hot when sheltered from the wind) before back up to the old town for cocktails on a roof terrace.
Next day, Monday 24th September, we set off early as one of the strongest Meltemi (NE winds) was coming through the Med with projected winds of over 55 knots (60mph) and we wanted to find a safe spot to see it out. We had decided to go 60nm North to the top of Argolikos Bay in the Peloponnese near Navplion into a small bay called Karathona. The winds there were forecast to only be around 30 rather than 55 and the holding was supposed to be excellent. As usual, no wind to start with but then we were able to sail downwind with the afternoon breeze. On the way, Liz caught another fish which has been identified as a Bonito, part of the tuna family so that’s supper sorted!
We arrived to find the bay empty of boats so we had our pick of spots so, of course, Liz opted for opposite the beach bar and as close in as we dared. Settled in, we went ashore as that might be the only time we can both leave the boat. We bought a beer at the beach bar (to get the WiFi code) and then wandered along the bay. It had an end of season feel to it with some of the bars taking down decking although there were still plenty of people on the beach. Today, Liz went into town (about a 40 minute walk away from the beach) and Jo stayed on board in case it all blew up early. Now settled in for the night with 5 boats around us watching the wind built. Not sure how much sleep we will get for the next three days but at least we should be safe here.