Pigadi to Vathoudi

We ended up staying in the little fishing harbour of Pigadi for two nights – catching up on some work and maintenance.  The harbour has a trailer boat launch slip, and there were a couple of speed boats being launched – gave us something to look at and laugh!  The usual principle applied – and although we started on our own there, the second day several other yachts came into the harbour and anchored on the second night.  It was one of those bays that we thought was a “one yacht space” – but then 5 yachts later you realise that there is more space than you thought!  There is a tiny quayside which is big enough for one yacht on each side – but the spaces there were reserved for local boats.

Pigadi is a traditional Greek fishing village with very little tourism – there are a few tavernas on the harbour front and some local life going on each evening.  The bay is protected from the wind and sea so is a good place to stay overnight.

Heikel’s Cruising Guide told us we could get fuel here in Pigadi – but there’s no sign of any possibility for that!  We need to refuel pretty soon, although we’re not quite out yet.  We pulled up the anchor on Friday lunchtime – 30th June around 12h00 – the plan was to continue to the end of the bay at Achilleon where there is a town quay and marina, and hopefully fuel.  We didn’t really want to go on the town quay though and wait for a fuel tanker to come along – there was nothing visible when we arrived so we decided to carry on further.  We’ve always got our spare canister if we need it!

The next few days is going to be interesting – a heavy meltemi is forecast from Monday with 40 knot gusts out of the NW, and expected to last until the end of the week.  We need to find a protected bay where we’re happy to stay for a bit – and we can’t afford to run out of fuel as we’ll need it for the generator!  I scanned the chart and the cruising guides and w decided to head just into the Bay of Volos (the Gulf of Pagasitikos) – at the south east end there are some small islands and bays of the Trikeri peninsula and according to the guide, there is a Sunsail charter base at Milina.  Further investigation showed that Sunsail were no longer there but the base had been taken over by a private charter company – it’s still a charter base though, so fuel must be available!

We cruised around Trikeri under engine – again there was absolutely not a waft of wind and the sea was glassy as far as we could see!  On Palaio Trikeri island there are a few anchorages on the south, but these were occupied by quite a few boats, especially motor boats.  This is truly motor boat heaven here!  We were aiming for the Bay of Vathoudi which was recommended as a good sheltered area, with several anchoring possibilities as well as the yacht basin at Milina where we could get fuel.

We took the south west entrance into Vathoudi – which is NOT to be recommended without a forward looking sonar or local knowledge, and then only in calm weather!  The depths are down to 1m in some places – and the deepest channel is 4m – which you need the sonar or local knowledge to find.  It was very beautiful though – and there are a couple of possible anchorages on the west side – an east facing bay at the top (where we did eventually decide to stay), and then two north facing inlets at the bottom at Koukoulaika.

In Vathoudi Bay itself there are a lot of permanent moorings and some shallow depths – there are also some amazing looking villas and houses!  This is a really lovely area – there are a few beaches and some people but it is far from being overtaken by tourism.  Vathoudi Bay is protected from the north west by the island of Atalas and is a recommended anchorage.  We carried on along the island to the end where the yacht basin is located and dropped anchor outside just before 16h00.  The yacht basin itself is marked as incredibly shallow and although there was one 36ft yacht inside, it looked as if the only place deep enough for us was the outside breakwater which was occupied by fishing boats!

At this stage we were desperate for fuel – so we launched the dinghy and took a trip into the yacht basis armed with the hand-held depth meter, to try and work out which route we could take, if any, to the quayside.  Ed decided it was do-able …. JUST … so we tied up the dinghy and went ashore to call for a fuel truck.  There are two tavernas at the yacht basin  – so he sold me the idea on the basis we could get a cold drink with ice and probably an ice cream while we waited 🙂  It turned out that the tavernas only opened at 18h00 each evening – so no luck there!  We did sit on their terrace to wait – and when the cleaning service turned up to get the bar ready, they kindly gave us a glass of water but were not planning to serve us anything else.

Eventually the fuel truck arrived, and we agreed with him where we would bring Liberation – we jumped in the dinghy and went back to pick her up.  This was probably the most hairy mooring experience we’ve ever done in terms of depths!  The alarms were going off all the way in, and thank god for the sonar!  We managed to moor on the dock with only about 10cm under the keel – we refuelled and somehow got back out again without grounding.

By this time, the afternoon breeze had come up and the previously glassy sea had a bit of a chop – but we cruised around the west side of Alatas back to the bay we had decided to stay in, dropping anchor just before 19h00.  There were a couple of other yachts in the bay and it wouldn’t be our idea beauty spot, but well protected from the incoming winds and seas we hope!

Here’s us dug in for a few days 🙂

On Sunday, the weather was still calm and we decided to take the opportunity of a few hours out with the dinghy to explore the area (and get rid of some rubbish on land at the same time!).  the water was still flat and it was heaven with the dinghy at speed!  We explored past Milina and found a small beach where we could tie up the dinghy, take some footage with the drone, swim and relax on the deserted beach.

The film we produced from the drone footage that day is on our YouTube channel – the water was so crystal clear and sparkly here – if your screen is high enough resolution, the detail picked up by the drone is amazing!  Why not subscribe to your channel while you are there 🙂

We had a great whizz around in the dinghy – however, when we started our journey back to the boat the engine decided to cut out again.  It is now getting more than a bit worrying as you can never predict when it is going to happen, and the last thing we need is to be stranded in the middle of the sea!  Short trips to drop rubbish or pick up supplies are one thing, but if we are going to go for day trips we need to know we can get back when we want to.  Ed thought the issue was possibly that the engine cooling system had been clogged with marine growth and tried to clean the engine out a bit – it still cut-out several times with over-heating and after trying to investigate the problem he decided we would head into the Port of Volos where there was a Yamaha dealer, before heading out to the Sporades after the storm passed.

Just after 03h00 on Sunday night/Monday morning, the wind turned exactly as expected on the forecast – it’s unusual that the meltemi started in the middle of the night as often it blows during the day, and calms down overnight.  This is what it said on the forecast though and is what happened.  We weren’t sure how the Rocna was going to hold up with a high speed 180 degree swing from south wind to north wind, and as we didn’t have a massive amount of space, I decided to stay up on anchor watch and keep an eye on the screen.  The anchor did slip about 10m when it turned and the alarm went off, waking Ed – it reset itself but we decided to let out some more chain anyway for security, so we were now in about 10m of water with 65m of chain out – this would be our normal scope anyway in a storm, but we had originally left it at 4 times due to lack of space in the bay with another close by catamaran.

The German in the catamaran came loose – and was constantly re-anchoring.  Although we were set just fine, we both stayed up the remainder of the night to keep a look out for him as he was alone and we didn’t trust what he was doing!!  We sat out the storm on Tuesday and the wind went through several different direction shifts although we were not experiencing more than about 20 knots in the protection of the bay.  On Tuesday evening, the wind shifted again hard to the east – and the anchor slipped again and reset but it brought us a bit close to some other yachts in the bay who were moored on buoys so we set up some alarm cushions.  I didn’t want to enlarge the anchor circle, as space to the south side was very limited and if we turned again in that direction with a northerly wind, we were going to be too close to the shore – so I left the alarm circle where it was so the alarm would wake us if we moved again.

The clip from the alarm screen above shows the extent of the boat movement over the two days – with the smaller original alarm circle and the larger circle we made when the anchor slipped the first time and we let out more chain.  This may look like spaghetti junction to a non-sailor, but anyone who knows what they are looking at will see that this was an interesting few days.

Tuesday night passed without incident – other than the same German in the catamaran re-anchoring again several times and by Wednesday morning the storm had passed and we could make our way to Volos in search of a Yamaha dealer.

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