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129


Looking towards Ormos Navarinou from the lagoon


Palaiokastro above Ormos Navarinou


early morning bus to the site which hosted the ancient games for over a thousand years from 776BC. It was well worth the visit and the atmosphere of the place still prevails despite the big coach park, tacky souvenir stalls and jumble of ruins overgrown by olive and maquis. In ancient times warring states observed a sacred


truce during the competition and at the first games the winning prizes were purely symbolic, consisting of palm leaves and olive branches. Olympia retains a place in modern culture, as every


four years the flame is lit in the Arcadian glade and carried to whichever city hosts the games that year. We motored across the Ancient


Gulf of Arcadia to Kiparissia, built on the lower slopes of Mount Psikro in the Egaleo mountain range which crests the bay. The harbour was full of loggerhead turtles placidly swimming about the boats underwater, occasionally breaking the surface to take a breath. Having dried out and shrank in the


intense Greek heat and because of aged ill fitting hatches above the bed and saloon, the boat leaked like a sieve during a crashing overnight thunderstorm. Luckily such violent downpours are few and far between in the summer and (fingers crossed) we haven’t been in one since. A tiring eight hour passage ended in a trying extra


hour attempting to secure a good holding in the anchorage at Ormos Navarinou. Boats anchor at the northern end of the big,


beautiful bay, opposite a long sandy beach. The holding is good once the anchor has dug into the sand and mud bottom but for some reason this can take a bit of doing (we later saw others struggling as we did). In the morning we walked to the summit of the headland above the anchorage to the impressive Palaiokastro fort and were rewarded with fantastic views of the bay to one side and the lagoon and spectaular horseshoe beach, called Voidhokoilia, on the other.


For Carl’s birthday we motored across the bay to the laidback town of Pilos, where a shady aging lush attempted to extract our cash by pretending to be a port official. A fellow sailor had forewarned Carl of this slippery character who couldn’t produce any official ID and he felt justified in refusing to pay him (there is no fee to stay in the harbour). Our neighbours in the yacht ahead weren’t so well informed and were conned out of €50. We spent our precious pennies on a slap up birthday meal.


We were making our way around the first


‘finger,’ called Messinia, the fertile breadbasket of the Peloponnese. Our next port was Methoni. Arriving by boat the first thing you see is the striking Venetian castle and Turkish tower on the spit which protects the bay. The anchorage was a rolly one so we soon headed


off round the Cape Akritas (avoiding the island Nisis Skhiza which is frequently used for live firing practice by the air force) to the pretty town of Koroni, where whitewashed houses rise above the small port to the


The entrance to Ormos Navarinou


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