Sailing into a new anchorage always presents a few unknowns and as we sailed into the big bay at Katapola on the Greek island of Amorgos, the first thing we could see was that there were already several yachts anchored in the area we'd chosen as our preferred anchorage.
In an ideal world we'd like to drop anchor in 4 metres (13 feet) of water and let out 25 metres (82 feet) of chain which would give us a very secure scope of 6 to 1. Always being aware that the wind can and will change direction and that there's depth enough for A B Sea to pivot a full 360 degrees around her anchor and still keep her keel and rudder in 4 metres of water.
But it's never an ideal world and what generally happens is we find a spot to get in, drop anchor with enough scope to be confident she won't pull her own anchor out and then as other yachts leave we can either relocate a short distance of simply let out more anchor chain.
Our first relocation was thrust upon us by the port police who came out to where we were anchored and very politely asked us to move closer to the shore as there was a big ferry coming in at 4.00pm. On our chart it looked like the only available spots closer to shore may get a bit too shallow if the wind changed and swung us around. So we decided to tuck into the back of the pack, which was closer to the shore, but unknown to us at the time, it was closer to the point where another smaller ferry comes in and drops its anchor before reversing to the quayside.
At precisely 4.00pm the big ferry did come in and as it loomed closer and closer we could appreciate why the port police asked us to move. The Captain had obviously done this manoeuvre several hundred times before and we watched with awe as he thundered into the bay, dropped his port anchor and did a sort of handbrake turn to swing his stern facing towards the quay. He then powered backwards while dropping his starboard anchor which he used to slow his momentum to almost nothing as the vehicle loading ramp gently touched down on the quayside. And for his huge size he produced little to no wake. Well done that man! Or woman.
At 6.30pm we encountered the smaller ferry coming in. The Captain did a similar manoeuvre as the big ferry but also in the middle of his docking procedure managed to find time to stick his head out of the bridge window and gesture largely that we were in his anchor drop zone and that we should move.
Luckily by that time of the day a few of the other yachts had left and so there was plenty of space for us to find a sweet spot and redeploy our anchor. This time in 4.5 metres of water where we could let out 30 metres of chain. Pulling the anchor up also gave us the opportunity to see what the bottom holding was like and both times the anchor came up it was coated in a thick sandy mud which Aannsha had to clean off with a pole. We were confident that once our Mantus anchor was set in that stuff A B Sea was not shifting even when the predicted big winds came in a few days later.
Back to work
We knew we were going to be anchored at Amorgos for some time because we were hiding from a big wind which was predicted to blow from the north at a constant 30 knots with gusts up to 40 knots. So I got busy editing videos and writing my blogs and Aannsha got stuck into making a second snubber line which is used to take the weight of the boat off the windlass and transfer the weight onto the bow cleat.
She's getting very good at splicing and whipping now and the finished snubber looked great. It's also good to have a second snubber on board because we like redundancy and if we're ever in a really bad blow we can use two snubbers to spread the load to both bow cleats.
Choosing a day that had the least wind blowing, so that we could feel happy that A B Sea was safe to be left unattended, we went ashore and hired a quad bike (ATV) for the day. A 300cc model was 45 Euros (AU$72.50). We're very glad that we got the bigger sized engine as some of the roads that cross the mountainous centre of the island are quite steep.
Our first stop was the Chora (old town) and it was beautiful. Wandering the narrow, winding whitewashed streets was like stepping into the Greece that everyone envisions. We found a nice café to have an early lunch and make plans on which parts of the island we wanted to see. Before we left the Chora we did find the smallest church in Greece. It's very cute as you'll see in this week's YouTube video.
After the Chora we headed north to suss out from land an anchorage that we'd been recommended and a possible scuba diving location. When we got there we were blown away by the colours of the water. Sadly the beauty is not really captured by our camera as we don't have a polarised filter for it. It's on the list of things to buy.
The anchorage looked great and we made a plan to go there before we left Amorgos. The dive site looked a little exposed to strong current and with Aannsha being a novice diver we decided that it was better not to risk it.
Further north and a quick stop off at Egialis Bay for a cooling drink and to see a very small windmill and then we were off to check out another possible dive site where the famous wreck from the movie The Big Blue is located at the southern end of the island.
To make the wreck dive possible we'd need to bring A B Sea down from Katapola Bay and anchor her, but the two anchorages we looked at did not seem like a good idea and the narrow bay the wreck was in was very exposed to the prevailing wind with quite a big swell coming in. Dive site number 2 was also a no go.
The holy monastery of Panagia Chozoviotissa is a famous attraction on Amorgos and it is very impressive as it sits in its brilliant white splendour clinging to the cliff face 180 metres (590 feet) above the Aegean Sea. However a small sign at the bottom of the steep steps that take you to it declared that visitors are kindly requested to be decently dressed and that no shorts were allowed. That ruled out both of us.
As the sun began it's slow descent towards the horizon we had one more place to check out. An ancient Minoan settlement on the top of Moundoulia Hill, just above Katapola village.
We parked the quad bike at the gate and took the 15 minute climb up the gravel road which led along the gently sloping hillside. Archaeological findings suggest that there was a thriving civilization here that dates back from the 10th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D and it was originally the summer residence of the Cretan King Minos.
Dominating this ancient site is a building dedicated to gymnasium type activities, dating back to the 4th century B.C. and the stonework is amazing. There is also a Hellenistic temple, which is delimited by less significant altars of worship. There is also the lower half of a statue erected in the middle of this area.
Back to the boat
Heading back to town there was just enough time for a trip to the supermarket to stock up on some fresh supplies before we dropped the quad bike back to the rental place.
The next day we moved A B Sea to a very well protected anchorage at Nickouria Bay where we spent some chill time doing not much except snorkelling and planning our next island hops and I'll tell you all about where we are going in next week's blog or if you can't wait that long there's a sneak peek in tomorrow's YouTube video.
To watch the video that accompanies this blog click here.