2 to 8 September 2017
Frangos Bay, Nisi Elafonisis to Yefra, N36° 41.03’ E23° 02.38’, 35nm, 5 hours 30
to Kiparissi, N36° 59.03’ E22° 59.90’, 20nm, 4 hours
We left our lonely anchorage on Nisis Elafonisis at first light, bleary eyed after a bit of a bumpy night. We could see the dreaded Ak Maleas in the distance and conditions looked very settled but we were aware that this cape can be deceptive and take sailors by surprise. The channel between the mainland and Nisis Kithera to the south was surprisingly busy with tanker traffic. It was like being back in the English Channel again.
As with our experiences at other notorious capes at Trafalgar and Tarifa conditions remained thankfully calm. We were able to stay close in to the cape’s cliffs and wave to the monks at the incredibly isolated monastery on its tip. We could see the pulley system they use to get supplies up from the sea.
Approaching Monemvasia we got out first glimpse of the Gibraltar like rock with its Byzantine town clinging to the side. We moored stern to the town quay at Yefra, the small town opposite Monemvasia itself. Getting into the mooring was interesting, very shallow with big debris on the seabed that needed to be avoided. I was relieved to hear a very friendly Scottish hello from the quay and find someone to take our stern lines. It was Derek from SV Dera Blue moored next door.
He wasn’t the only one to welcome us to the harbour. In the aquarium like water there were many fish and two wonderful loggerhead turtles. It was a great place to snorkel, not least to check our anchor was dug well in and not fouled on the debris on the bottom.
We loved it in Yefra so much we stayed 5 nights. It was nice to have a secure berth after over a week at anchor. It was great to spend time with Derek and his wife Myra and share experiences, adventures and wine cellars! It always amazes us how we can spend such relatively short periods of time with people and yet feel like we’ve known them for years.
But the highlight of our stay was definitely our visit to Monemvasia. We walked across the causeway from Yefra and under the towering cliffs to the walled town.
Inside we found a maze of narrow streets in the Lower Town slowly being sympathetically restored and turned into hotels, cafes and tourist shops. We found Saint George celebrated again, the Greeks claiming him for their own.
My camera loved all the little archways and tunnels.
But obviously The Rules dictated that we climb to the Upper Town. It was a tougher than expected climb up very steep and shiny, slippery cobbles. Stefan needed a sit down by the time we reached the tunnel entrance. He then wrestled the camera off me to take photos of the view back down and over the bay hanging over the edge whilst I maintained a comfortable distance!
Still further up, through the ruins of the old town, we reached the beautifully restored church of Agia Sofia. Inside we pondered the unfortunate likeness of the saint in the fresco to the Ayatollah Khomeini and Stefan started asking questions about the differences between the world’s major religions. At this point I must apologise to our Jewish, Muslim and Christian friends for the explanation I gave him of the origins and basic tenets of your faiths! He also asked whether, if Jesus were to return a second time, he would use Facebook or Twitter rather than disciples to spread his word. It was a very serious theological debate.
On the way back down, the views from this vertical town were spectacular in all directions. I loved Monemvasia so much that I went back for a second solo visit. Stefan has already declared himself done with the Byzantines!
However the best views of Monemvasia were from seaward on our journey northwards. The jumble of houses, some still waiting to be restored, clearly visible. We could see just how steep the climb to the Upper Town is and how sheer the cliff the church is perched on.
We sailed north along more mountainous coastline and passed more isolated monasteries to Kiparissi Bay
where we anchored off the north quay (if you squint you can just see the masts) and where we were later joined for the night by SV Dera Blue.
In the morning we took the tender to the village of Paralia further around the bay from our anchorage. It didn’t take long to walk through its few streets of whitewashed houses, up passed the church and into the olive groves where we sat and had our breakfast picnic of toasted raisin bread.
There was a solitary yacht moored on the tiny quay in the village and as we left to go back to Pintail they were leaving too. We decided to nab their spot and spend another night in the bay. We said a very fond farewell but we hope to see you soon to Myra and Derek who were heading further north and made the short trip across.
Mooring side to the quay was a novelty after all the stern to mooring here and so much less stressful. We quickly settled Pintail and I got in the lovely water for a swim.
We had very little company on the quay. Apart from a couple of families jumping into the sea, it was us and a lot of wasps! So many wasps that we had to make this trap to catch them before they stung us. Our plastic bottle, beer and honey device was exceptionally effective. We lost count of how many were inside!
During the day we took a short hike around the pine clad slopes of the bay to Chapel Cove, also a beautiful and very isolated place to moor.
In the evening we enjoyed dinner at a very friendly taverna overlooking Pintail on the quay.
We could have stayed a lot longer but had to tear ourselves away from this wonderfully remote place and visit the place where this dream took flight…