Porto Helio has a beautiful church, but the town itself doesn’t set our hearts on fire. It’s hot, busy and more touristic than we’d expected. In the large bay we’re anchored among lots of abandoned yachts with the view of a likewise abandoned marina under construction in front of us. Water taxis and rental boats constantly race past Coco leaving her behind violent shaking on their big waves. In the morning I walk our Jack Russel, Captain Jack, amidst big piles of uncollected household waste and gypsy families sleeping on the street. All in all a somewhat desolate place, so the next morning we lift our anchor and continue our journey on the Argolic Gulf to Kilada.
Once arrived, we drop our stern anchor and moor Coco with her bow facing the quay. Normally we don’t really fancy quays, because things tend to go wrong with the mooring of other boats, crossing anchor lines etc. This quay however is small and seems manageable, so we decide to take our chances. Being moored on the quay with water available to wash our clothes seems like an attractive idea. The Dutch couple on the charter boat next to us help us by taking our bowlines. As soon as we’re all settled in, I walk Captain Jack. Upon my return, I am shocked to see that Coco is lying completely skewed. Ron is already busy with our stern anchor. The charter boat is just leaving. By picking up their anchor they also pulled ours. Luckily Ron witnesses it al. “We have dropped it again!”, The man shouts optimistically when they release our chain from their anchor. True, only our anchor is now in a completely different position and there is a lot of slack on the anchor line. Ron pulls it tight again and we discuss what to do. We decide to leave the anchor where it is and move Coco to the right by repositioning our bow lines, so we will be moored straight behind our anchor again. If I disconnect the second line and want to move Coco, it almost goes wrong. I nearly can’t hold on to the line any more because of the wind and Coco pulls sideways. “Can somebody please help me?” I call for help around me. The big, black metal worker on the fishing boat next to us is coming to my aid together with the Frenchman from our other neighbouring boat. The Frenchman takes the lead. He sends the metal worker away with a curt ‘thank you’. Instead of helping me to moor Coco again, he wants to get rid of our boat. When I explain to him that Jack and I also belong on it, he forces me to get on the boat quickly via the bow anchors and to leave Jackie on the quay. Now there’s only one thing left we can do: pull up our anchor and drop it again. For a brief moment we hit the gas backwards to get rid of the quay and the fishing boat next to us and immediately the anchor line gets trapped in the propeller. Fortunately, it almost immediately comes loose again. Ron needs all his strength to get the anchor aboard. There is no anchor winch on the stern, so it is all manual labour. With the extra weight of a large lump of clay on the anchor that’s not an easy job. We motor around to get to the right place again for our stern anchor, but I am in a hurry, because Jack is still alone on the quay. And he seems to wander of. I call out to him: “Jackie, wait!” and I snarl at Ron that he has to hurry. Finally we drop our anchor again and approach the quay, where the French neighbour is waiting for us. We want to moor right next to his boat to leave some space for other yachts, but he makes it clear to us that this is not possible. “Problem for my boat,” he says angry and he refuses to move. So we do as he pleases. He leaves us no choice. And there we are again. Captain Jack is back home again. We’re all happy. Only how much anchor line is out now? It seems a little low to me. How many meters are actually on the roll? After some calculations, we conclude that 25 to 30 meters of anchor line are out, including 5 meters of chain, at a water depth of 4 meters. Tight, but as long as there’s no storm coming, it should be ok, we encourage ourselves.
Secretly I am a bit worried about what happens when the wind hits Coco’s butt tonight and the anchor will be put to the test, but we are straight and the anchor line is pretty tight, so what can happen to us? With that reassuring thought, we leave Coco behind and go out for dinner at Taverne 1969. The food is delicious and soon the place is all full. Our French neighbors are also present. Almost at the same time we come back to our boats late in the evening. I see that Coco is not lying straight behind her anchor any more. The wind has turned and now pushes her from behind. I tighten the line of the stern anchor, but a moment later I see that we are moored sideways again. When I look at the bow, we are already touching the quay with our waterstay. Yet another time we must pull up our anchor. There is nothing else to it. This time, to the relief of the neighbour, we are not going to moor again at the quay, but will anchor in the bay. He helps us to release a blocked line and then firmly positions himself on the front of his boat. He points forward. That is where his anchor lies. And his anchor chain. He shouts at us. “If I have a problem, you have a problem.” And something about it being dark. Yes, we see that too. If it were up to us, we would also go to sleep. In the meantime we are trying to get our stern anchor back on board. The wind is blowing quite hard from the side, so that is not easy. The neighbor is still screaming at us. Ron finally gets the stern anchor back aboard. The cockpit is full of anchor line and chain. There is a thick piece of fishing wire wrapped around the anchor. Maybe that’s why it couldn’t fold out properly or maybe it has been pulled loose by the fishing wire in the propeller of one of the many passing fast-moving speed boats – from and to the private island in the bay? Or have we become overconfident ourselves after having successfully anchred with our stern anchor only three times before? It’s all just guesses. The fact is that this is not exactly a sheltered quay and the stern anchor has been severely tested.
Then we look for an anchorage. It is a pitch-dark night without a moon. We manoeuvre in between unlit yachts, which sometimes suddenly appear before us. Spooky. Next to me I hear things splashing in the water. I scare, search and see that they are flying fish. They probably were attracted by my flashlight shining over the water.
With due strain and a lot of stress later our bow anchor finally hits the water of the bay. We are neatly in between a few other yachts. In the middle of the bay according to the Ipad. The three of us recover from the shock in the cockpit.
It is after midnight and if it’s up to us, we will not pull up our anchor for a while.