The harbour can be hard to spot from a distance, especially if travelling along the coast, as it is well recessed in to the coastline. Look out for the many yachts, ferries and other vessels heading in to and out of the port.
Hydrofoils and fast catamarans berth on the quay just inside the harbour entrance on the left as you enter. When leaving, they reverse out of the harbour and turn around outside. So as you approach the harbour watch out for these vessels both ahead of you but also approaching from behind. This tends to be the time when everyone is preoccupied rigging warps and fenders and may are the yachtsmen who have suddenly looked up to see a hydrofoil bearing down on them!
Worry less about the water taxis that dart about – they are well able to dodge around you. Fishing boats are less able to do so, so avoid mowing down the locals! The landing craft type vessel that delivers all the islands supplies has very restricted manoeuvrability so leave it plenty of room. In fact, it’s quite impressive watching it wriggle in and out of its berth, though I did once see it bend the guard rails of a yacht that strayed just a little too close to the reserved space.
Sadly, the greatest hazard you face is other yachts, some of whom career around far too fast and barge in where others are already trying to moor.
Once inside the harbour you have two choices, stern to on the south quay that faces you as you enter, or stern to on the north quay.
On the south quay avoid the south east corner which is reserved for water taxis, or just past the middle where the cargo vessel berths. Both areas are often marked off with cones or posts, and if you ignore them, you will have the rare spectacle of a port policeman actually appearing on the quay! Keep yourself pulled well off the quay when moored as the wash from other traffic can otherwise be a problem.
If you chose the north quay, watch out for two chains that run across the harbour from north to south, roughly where the cargo vessel berths. They can be seen made off to the north wall if there aren’t boats moored in the way (there usually are)! If mooring in this area, try and make a straight approach perpendicular to the quay and leave in the same manner, avoiding dragging your hook in an east or west direction across the harbour floor.
You will sometimes see vessels moored outside the breakwater. Aside from the exposed nature of the spot, a quick glance at your depth gauge would tell you that unless you’ve chartered a very large yacht, you won’t have enough anchor chain for the job. The folk moored alongside Mirabella (pictured) obviously aren’t very secure, judging by the angle of their anchor chain, and until Mirabella arrived they were floating wildly from side to side.
Water is available on the north quay, administered by a local character, called Vangelis, who has lived on his small boat ion the harbour for donkeys years. He used to make a living untangling yachtmen’s anchors but says he’s now too old to dive. His water unfortunately isn’t great as it comes in by tanker. Not only is it pricey compared to elsewhere but I’ve had several rather tainted fills there so if you can hold off until your next stop, it’s probably a good idea.
Finally when it comes to the next morning keep you wits about you. Most of the yachts that told you they were leaving at 5am when you tried to raft off them will still be there hours later – they just didn’t want you wandering to and fro across their decks. However, I did once have to rescue a crew who having gone ashore for breakfast, were forced to watch as the yacht inside them cast off their stern lines so he could leave. This left their boat swinging at anchor in the middle of the harbour!