Kokkala to Spetses
Friday 5th October - End of day - Elaía
Have become quite fond of Kokkala, but there's an opportunity to get away from what is a slightly awkward corner. Safest launch - that bypasses a windless shorebreak - is to throw sail in off dock and follow with board.
Push upwind in zigzags. Further inside the gulf sea conditions become more comfortable, and wind bend carries me to NE corner, where the sea is flat. By nightfall, a couple of miles from land, the breeze has died away. Pleased to have the paddle. When a stiff offshore wind comes in, pleased to have the sail still rigged. Sleep on beach.
Saturday 6th October - End of day - Elafonisos
Wind offshore: coming over, round, or being blocked by the mountains - 0 to 25 knots. Stay as close in as practical, but often that's far enough out to feel plenty exposed. Wonder if it "should be" "this" windy... Towards end of day's run: lower ground, shallow water, easier sailing, and very beautiful. On approach to island of Elafonisos need to apply the brakes to avoid collision with turtle. The animal takes evasive action too, and dives for the sea bed, where it hugs the sand. Ahead is a wonderful camp spot on the tip of the island. Tell myself that turtle had been a clear sign to stop. Beautiful little port here, and dinner is a knockout octopus/pasta dish. Belatedly check forecast: yes, it should have been windy today.
Sunday 7th October - End of day - Velanidia
There are 11nm to the headland where the Ionian meets the Aegean. I need to paddle a few miles and it's a slow upwind slog for the rest. At the cape there's less wind, and a huge tack out into the shipping lane is required to find an angle to pass. Continual pumping, and after a couple more hours I scrape past the lighthouse, into the Aegean, and eventually out of the current and reflected chop. 3nm ahead - now downwind - is a port. I head there whilst there remains a knot or two of breeze that makes progress possible.
The town itself is old style Greek: half-way up a mountain, streets as wide as a wheelbarrow, picture postcard pretty but tiny houses and you can hear every conversation in town: all one of them. I tiptoe back down the 45 degree hill. At the port is a bar that does food, and the owners suggest I sleep inside the church, which is opened for me, so that I feel I can't decline the offer, despite the candles that rob the atmosphere inside of oxygen. This could be the end...
Monday 8th October - End of day - Monemvasia
It isn't. So I take the opportunity to paddle away. The sea is flat. It's beautiful hugging the coastline, which also is where the air is stillest. Paddling with a flat sea and in no wind is a joy. Later a gentle onshore breeze allows a few miles sailed. Approaching Monemvasia the rumblings of a storm are close and the wind again dies. I paddle under a low bridge in the causeway that connects the outcrop to the mainland, and park on the "the peninsula is now behind me" side, which will save a detour tomorrow.
Mousaka for dinner. Am feeling a bit friendless lately - just a tiny bit low - so am happy to be asked where I am from by the restaurant owner - Maria. That results in an introduction to Katerina, John and Matsolas - and the usual Q&A - but also an opportunity to feel that I have friends, and to laugh a little, and become restored, which I am SO grateful for. Us humans can be unaware of the service we do by including others. In the wilds - or at sea - I never feel lonely. But in places with people I do sometimes feel alone.
Katerina has some nice phrases. To describe a calm sea: "a sea like yoghurt". Perfect!
Tuesday 9th October - End of day - Paralia
I take a walk to the old town on the peninsula. The evidence of all those centuries of kind of stable humanity brings into focus the recency and novelty of the post industrial revolution climate bending situation we are now in: we've cut down a bit on warring, but combining massive population and massive resource use is entirely new. Something's gotta give, and it seems to be the planet...
Breakfast with Matsolas speeds the decline: eggs, bacon, the works; and just when I think I'm done a bowl of yoghurt, fruit and honey. A brilliant start to the sailing day.
It's windy! Wild off the headlands! Nowhere to stop either. Also there's a steady flow of trash down the coast. I grab a bit of video:
Where does all our muck go? A lot must end up on North African shores. Despite the trash, the scenery is amazing. And the sailing fantastically invigorating.
Wednesday 10th October - End of day - Spetses
Good wind again. Headwind again. I intend just a short hop up the coast, but make a spur of the moment decision to cross to the island of Spetses. Find a fish: a big grouper, alive but weak, and with a swim bladder issue. Dinner? Half a dozen attempts later the animal is caught and landed. Reach the island, but here notice the fish has parasites on its gills. Consult with Restaurant Mourayo owner Manolis whose advice is that sadly it would be unwise to risk eating a diseased animal, so this beautiful creature ends up binned. I wonder about consciousness. Are fish conscious? Did this fish feel pain? Entirely plausible, is my guess.
Thursday 11th October - take a breather
Next week near Athens starts the Techno 293 European championships. For a few reasons I'd like to coincide with that, so I need to slow down for a few days, making this an admin and update day. Thanks to Manolis for the delicious plate of pasta that helped me find the words.