Chora Patmos and the Monastery of St John

Most Greek Islands have a Chora, or Hora, the town built on the highest, most inaccessible places on the island as a defense against pirate attacks.  Here on Patmos the Chora grew up around the fortress of a Monastery dedicated to St John the Evangelist, or Theologian,

St John, one of the original Disciples, was banished to the island by the Roman Emperor Dominican in AD95 and found a cave in which to live.  Whilst there he envisaged the Apocalyps,  wrote it down, and it became a part of the Book of Revelations.   In 1088 St Christodoutos was given the island and founded the monastery in St John’s name.

Entrance courtyard to the Monastery

In the centuries that followed the Venetians, Turks, Russians, Italians have all occupied the island and it didn’t become a part of Greece until 1948.

The enduring feature of the island was the Monastery.  Even under the Ottoman Empire it was allowed to contine to operate and due to its association with St John this is the second most holy site in the Greek Orthodox religion, the first being the Akti Peninsular in Khalkidhiki.   The monastery still houses a theological college apparently.

From below it looks like a fortress with a bell tower.  The bells signalled not only religious observance but raised the alarm in case of attacks and as if the high walls weren’t a big enough deterent there were ‘murder holes’ above the gates allowing the monks to drop things on attackers.  Probably as it is still in use the public areas of the monastery are limited to a museum and a magnificent carved altar piece in what is described as the Catholic section of the monastery.

Church porch
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The porch to this chapel is highly decorated with frescos on the ceilings and walls.  The museum houses a huge number of old manuscripts and the usual array of religious paintings and items of religious finery.

The monastery is surrounded by the narrow alleyways and white washed buildings of the Chora which has grown around it in a very haphazard fashion resulting in a delightfully bewildering array of steep alleyways and narrow streets.

Main Square, Chora Patmos …… “table for 50 please!”

 

The Chora is delightful.  Quiet and almost traffic free, apart from scooters.  It was a great place to wander around .  We also found a bakery and so it would have been rude not to try a local ‘cheese pie’.  Each island has its own version but, in our opinion, the Patmos Cheese Pie is the best, and we have tred a few!!  We wandered around munching until we found a taverna with a view over Skala and sat down to kill some time waiting for the bus back down the hill.

Three flour mills. Built in 1588, operated until 1950. Restored in 2012 and one still produces flour
Three flour mills. Built in 1588, operated until 1950. Restored in 2012 and one still produces flour.
Looking south towards Ormos Grikou
Looking south towards Ormos Grikou
Skala and the northern part of the island of Patmos
Skala and the northern part of the island of Patmos

We enjoyed our brief visit to Patmos and under other circumstances may have sailed around the island to see some of the scenery, but we are still on our way to Kos.  Perhaps another time.

 

 

Skala Patmos

We arrived off Skala Patmos, the main town and port for Patmos at about 3 pm on Thursday 14 June, at the head of a flock of other yachts all bound for the Town Quay.  At Valeria’s urging we increased speed a bit and found ourselves a spot before the rush hour proper set in.

The town of Skala was pleasant enough.  It is a destination for some very large yachts and a huge number of Turkish boats, all very shiny and expensive, and so the prices tended to be a bit high.   The water front restaurants were pricey and the side streets had lots of boutique type shops and wine bars   Having said that Valeria found us a great little fish taverna a short walk back from the sea front.

The town itself is pleasant enough and it was enjoyable wandering around the streets browsing, but our main reason for staying here was to visit the Chora and the Monastery of St John the Theologian, one of the original Disciples. But that is a post of its own.

 

Naoussa to Nisos Denousa

We left Naoussa on Wednesday 13 June heading for the island of Patmos one of the northern island in the Dodecanese chain which runs down the coast of Turkey to Rhodes. It is a trip of 70 or 80 miles or 16 hours and so rather than do an overnight passage we decided to break it into two and stop over night on the island of Denousa 10 or so miles east of Naxos.

We arrived at Denousa at 6.30 pm and anchored in a small bay called Ormos Dhendro.    Valeria informed me that it was a nudist beach – I had to take her word for it as there was no way I was going to grab the binoculars and give a second opinion.

But the reason we were there was that this bay was sheltered from the northerly winds which were due to die out overnight. However, just in case the wind hadn’t checked what it was supposed to be doing I set loads of alarms on the Navigation Computer and slept in the saloon where I could hear them, then got up every so often to double check.

The bay was deserted except for one other yacht and the only lights were our anchor lights. It was a cloudless night and the Milky Way was easily visible, worth loosing sleep for!    Thursday saw us up at 6 am for the 8 hour passage to the town of Skala on Patmos.

Naoussa, Paros

Leaving Mykonos in the late morning we set off south for the port of Naoussa  in a big bay on the north end of the island of Paros.

Naoussa and the harbour

Ormos Naousis offers lots of different anchorages depending on the wind and for our arrival we had light south westerlies forecast so we found a spot directly outside Naoussa harbour and ‘dropped the hook’.  We launched Windy and sought out the Harbour Master, who would help us tie up, if we arrived after mid day.  The harbour was full but on the following morning a couple of catamarans were due to leave so we formed the queue and at lunch time on Friday, 8 June we shifted onto the Town Quay.  Being at anchor is fine, but there are times when it is nice to sit on a Town Quay and watch the world go by.  In this case it also meant unlimited water for our €15 per day and the boat was absolutely filthy.   We also did a fair amount of laundry and I rinsed all our ropes; they get heavily encrusted with salt after a while!

Many places we go in Greece there is some form of dispute between the  Marina developers and the Town Council resulting in a partially completed marina or one where there are berths but no facilities and no one to collect fees.   On Friday morning, before we went into the port I rang the Harbour Master on the off chance there was someone in the office who could tell us if there was space.  It turns out that he was the previous HM and has been ousted; he is taking court action over the running of the port. (Seriously?   In Greece?   How long has this guy got?)    He bent my ear about the moorings not having been tested, there being no port insurance, and urged me to get a receipt!    Duely warned we went in.

Nauossa fromthe Venetian fort

The set up did seem a little amateurish but they had keys to the office, right next door to the Port Police office and they have sign up saying you can pay by credit card or bank transfer to the Municipality.  But the card reader seemed to have broken when the last customer used it so there was no receipt until tomorrow ……. ‘Oh really?’ I thought.   But yes really!  The following day the HM’s assistant came and asked me to pay by card and get my cash back!     Apparently the entire system is very new, it is all electronic and there are teething problems.   Not sure I hold out much hope for that Court Case!

So Naoussa.   The port is very busy.  It is split into three sections, one for the local fishing boats, one for yachts and one for Gin Palaces.  And there is a ferry quay too.    It is a really pleasant town, all narrow streets with white washed buildings and blue windows and doors The whole place is a ‘tourist trap’ but it is very nicely done and wandering the narrow streets of an evening browsing the boutiques is very pleasant.   we took a wander up to the church and even found a group of teenagers practicing their traditional Greek dancing!

There is a tiny ruined Venetian Fort dating from the 14th century at the old harbour entrance and every premises on the harbour front is a restaurant, wine bar or  taverna!   The narrow back streets are alternating eateries and boutiques.   During the day the town is pretty quiet but at night it is quite busy and to judge by the number of tables set out, in peak season it must be heaving!

Our plan was to spend the weekend here enjoying the ambience whilst waiting out the Meltemi again.   But the Meltemi took the weekend off and started again on Monday so we ended up staying a few extra days.    The Town Quay is not too well sheltered from the northerly winds so we spent a few rather uncomfortable days with the swell surging us around on our moorings.   The boat was moving so much at times that getting on and off the gangway was an exercise in athletic coordination; the end of gangway is 35 cm wide executing a random spherical  motion with a  50 cm radius as the boat surged.

Naoussa back street

And of course being on a town quay we had fun with Charter Boats.  Add to the usual confusion a selection of missing mooring lines and rings and brisk winds and it was entertaining!

Scouring the weather forecasts it seemed that Wednesday was our day to push on eastwards.  The winds were predicted to reach 15 knots, which means 20, from the north west, and were forecast to back further to the west and drop slowly.   It looked like we may actually get “fair winds and a following sea”!

We had a nice time in Naoussa, but we’re looking forward to moving on again to the island of Dhenoussa and then Patmos, our first stop in the Dodecanese Islands on our way to Kos.

 

Mykonos

Mykonos, for me, is a bye word for the party excesses of Greek Island holidays and, although we found a couple of beach front hotels which would qualify, the actual old town of Mykonos was a complete surprise. A pleasant one; crowded, crammed with shops overtly aimed at tourists but retaining it’s original charm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We left Delos in search of an anchorage from which we could go ashore to visit Mykonos.    We tried two on the south west corner of the island but the first, in Ormos Ornos, was in front of a noisy hotel, full of private mooring buoys or too deep to swing to our  anchor. The next bay along was fronted by another loud hotel and would have required using my new long mooring lines to tie back to the rocks, a lot of work for an unappealing location. Plan C was Mykonos Marina. No answer on the VHF and it was packed when we got there so we headed south, passed the Old Port (only allows super yachts dharling) and found an anchorage a half mile further south. (Plan E was Return to Rinia)    We spent the night there and set off ashore in the morning.

We’d initially planned to take the tender into the Old Port but passing what is apparently called ‘Little Venice’ we saw a beach with a tender hauled up on to it; we went for that instead and dragged ‘Windy’ up onto the beach and left her tied to a rock right below the line of old windmills which are a bit of an icon in Mykonos.

Where we parked Windy
Mykonos Windmills

The old town itself is really quite pretty, all narrow streets, white washed buildings with, generally, blue doors and windows.   

Having come almost directly from the Theatre Quarter of Delos it wasn’t hard to imagine that this was how Delos may have looked back in the day!

Delos or Mykonos, AD4000
Mykonos, or Delos 1st century BC

When we found our way to the old port I was glad we’d not come this far in the tender. Very picturesque but no where in the small fishing harbour I’d have felt happy to leave ‘Windy’.

The Old Harbour
The Old Harbour

We had a rather expensive (tourist prices) lunch and then came back to the boat.

Returning I discovered that as the wind had shifted around and picked up a touch we had in fact dragged our anchor. We had made sure it was well dug in, as we do each time we drop it, and used a generous amount of chain but when there is a significant wind shift this will twist the anchor out of the sea bed and until it digs back in it drags.    We gave it another good hard pull to make sure it was well and truly dug in again, and I went to physically look at it.    Then we rigged the awning and spent the afternoon reading and blogging.

Shades of Troy ?

I have to say that Mykonos was a really pleasant surprise. We thoroughly enjoyed wandering around the narow back streets browsing in the shops.

Tomorrow we’re heading south to Naoussa, a town on a large bay on the north coast of Paros, to spend a few days there as the Meltemi returns.   From Paros we are within an overnight passage of Kos so even if the Meltemi sets in for a fortnight we will still be there for the 22nd to meet Lu.

 

Rinia and Delos

Our actual destination was Delos and its ancient ruins.  This visit required an overnight stop on Rinia.   Delos is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a 500 metre exclusion zone around it prohibiting access except during the day when yachts are permitted to anchor off the site to visit it.

Rinia, immediately west of Delos, once played the supporting role to its more prestigious neighbour.  Delos has water but no other natural resources, unless you count the ‘fact’ that Apollo, and his twin sister Artemis, were born there.  Their mother, Leto, promised the inhabitants good fortune there after and to an extent made true on her promise. The worship of Apollo brought Delos fame and fortune and the Oracle at Delos came to rival the Oracle at Delphi.

The bay on Rinia we chose was not without excitement. The Pilot Book mentions an under water rock in the middle of the entrance which is not on the chart.    Luckily as we were approaching our chosen anchor position Valeria was forward and saw the rock just as I did, resulting in frantic hand waving and a big swerve. We could see it was a big sandy coloured rock but what wasn’t clear was just how little water there was over it.   That evening we saw one departing yacht give it a really heavy clout with its keel; it did what can best be described as a cartoon ‘stop’, a loud clunk with the bows almost burying themselves in the water!   Then a small power boat actually ran aground on it!!!     Needless to say we left very cautiously in the morning.

Delos from Mt Cynthus

But now to Delos.   On Tuesday morning we anchored a short distance from what used to be the main harbour wall of Ancient Delos but which is now simply charted as ‘reefs’.     As we took the tender ashore other ‘reefs’ became apparent and I assume these were the remains of the other walls which divided the harbour into five seperate basins. Once ashore and in the site we had hoped to find a tour guide, but were out of luck, there weren’t any.  There wasn’t even a shop selling guide books, so all we had was a map and, basically, a very extensive pile of rocks.

Agora of the Competaliasts
Agora of the Competaliasts

The first part of the site reached from the docks is the Sanctuary. What is left is a basic ‘floor plan’ of the Sanctuary with blocks of dressed stone piled on the ground next to the buildings they probably came from.    The docks stretched further south to where we were anchored, and inland from them was the Theatre Quarter.

Street in the the Theatre Quarter of Delos
Street with covered drainage.

This part of town below the Amphitheatre actually has walls still standing and you can walk along the narrow streets and into some of the villas.

There are a lots of mosaics still in place and render and plaster is still evident on some of the walls.   Apparently the outsides of the buildings were painted white, while the insides were more richly decorated, depending on your wealth!

Some buildings actually reach roof height and have been re roofed for protection. Unfortunately the remaining plaster on the walls inside has been allowed to rot and collapse onto the mosaic floors which are virtually indistinguishable now.

House of Masks
House of Masks

Overlooking the Theatre District is the Amphitheatre, still impressive but much degraded and above that, on the slopes of Mount Cynthus, are a series of temples dedicated to foreign gods. On top of Cynthus is a temple to Zeus, Apollo’s father.

Valeria centre stage in the Amphitheatre at Delos
“For one morning only!”     Valeria centre stage in the Amphitheatre at Delos
Sanctuary of the Syrian Gods
Sanctuary of the Syrian Gods
Mount Cynthus.  We gave that a miss ……

As with other sites we’ve been to there is little in the way of explanation. There are no guide books on site and what plaques there are simply describe the building. The museum houses a host of sculptures, statues and mosaics, but again little information; there wasn’t even a gift shop on the way out!

(I found a Guide Book in Mykonos and this is a summary of the history of Delos) There were people living on the island in 2500BC and a thousand years later the Mycenaeans adopted the island as the birth place of Apollo. It retained it’s religious significance through the political upheavals of the era apparently maintaining a general neutrality, although the primary influence on the sacred island was Athenian.

In the mid 6th century BC the first of a number of ‘cleansings’ took place; it was decided that no one should polute the sacred site by being born or dying on the island.  Eventually all the graves were emptied and moved to Rinia, apparently on the bay in which we anchored.     Pregnant women and the dying were transported to Rinia to give birth or die. There is a suggestion that allowing no births there also prevented hereditary claims to the island.

By the 6th century BC Delos had its own coinage and became so important to the Athenian League that they established their Treasury there, moving it to the Acropolis in 456BC for security. As Athenian power waned the Macedonians held sway and in 345BC Delos declared it’s independence. The islands prosperity increased and wealthy merchants and ship owner from all over the world flocked there.

In the3rd and 2nd centuries BC Delos became a thriving centre of trade, including the slave trade, laying in the middle of the major north /south and east / west trade routes. In the 2nd century BC the Romans took over the island having defeated the Macedonians and promptly gave it back to Athens.   Athens declared it a free port and it’s fortunes continued to rise; until 88BC. Delos appears to have abandoned it’s  neutrality and sided with Rome in their war with Mithridates, the King of Pontus, who sacked the island and virtually destroyed the city. The Romans began to rebuild Delos but in 69 BC it was attacked again by any ally of Mithridates who destroyed most of what was left. The Romans, rather belatedly, built a wall around what could be saved but the city’s declined continued. Other ports and trade routes developed in the wider world around Delos and it’s religious significance dwindled. In 3AD came the final insult when Athens tried to sell the island, but no one was interested.

The island then slipped into obscurity. It was settled sporadically in the following centuries until the Turkish occupation in the mid 16th century when the island became a base for pirates during the Ottoman period.     It also became an important source of building material, the marble was used for making lime and the Bronze clamps used to secure the marble blocks were also recycled!   It is quite amazing there is anything left at all really.

Delos is a magnificent site, although we couldn’t truly appreciate it without a guide or a guide book.   It was well worth the visit but I had to wait until visiting Mykonos before I could find a guide book!

Finikas, Syros

Finikas is a small port in a bay on the south west coast of Syros and offers shelter from the Meltemi.  We planned to spend the weekend there before moving on to Rinia,  Delos and Mykonos.

Finikas quay

Although there is a town quay, with memories of Merikha still fresh in our memories, we prefered to anchor and watch the fun.   It also transpired that to berth there would cost €23 per night, including water and power.     Not a fortune but it is a light meal with wine at a taverna, and now the generator and water maker are fully operational we are self sufficient in water and electricity as long as we have diesel.

There is not really much in Finikas but it is a very pleasant spot to spend a weekend.   It is small with a lot of hotels and holiday villas, has a nice beach, a few tavernas and a supermarket (with lettuce). There is a small chandlers where I managed to find two bits I needed and a bakery for a cheese pie!

View from our window today …..

We went ashore in the tender, had a walk around, took some photos then sat in a taverna, with it’s own quay, and used their WiFi over a glass of wine.  First thing Monday morning we visited the supermarket then headed for Rinia, the island close by Delos.

Farewell Scarlett, hello Syros

We have spent almost 2 weeks with Graeme and Jayne but Friday morning, 1 June, it was time to say our farewells. The Meltemi was abating slightly and we both wanted to be on our way, Scarlett headed north to Olympic Marina to collect a package and ourselves east towards Syros on our way to Kos.

After our farewell meal the previous night we said our good-byes again and then set off. It was rather a sad departure as we’re not entirely sure when we’ll see them again as our plans diverge significantly now, but you never know, it is a small world.

Two reefs in the Main and 60% of the Jib ….

Syros is the next island east of Kythnos and we expected it to take us 5 hours to get there.   We left Merikha dead on 9 am knowing we’d have to motor into the wind along the north west coast of the island. Once clear of Kythnos we were expecting northerly 20 knots winds which would enable us to sail across to Syros. The wind picked up as expected, died away then came back with a vengeance, hitting 30 knots with a few stronger gusts.  This required both reefs in the Main Sail and taking in some of the Jib too.   Suprisingly our weather forecasts didn’t predict Force 7 winds, if it had we’d have stayed put.  So we had a bit of a rough ride for a few hours although the boat was handling well, even reefed down we were making 5 knots.

… but at least it was behind us and not right ahead for a change!!

As the afternoon progressed the wind began to drop to a constant 23 knots, Force 6, from the north and then dropped to 16 or 17 knots, a gentle Force 4 or 5, from the north west as we approached Syros.  As the wind dropped so did the sea and the ride became easier.   I rolled out the Jib fully and we should have taken out the reefs in the Main Sail as the wind dropped, but I decided not to suggest this to Valeria as she wasn’t enjoying herself that much. So we bimbled along in gradually smoother and more comfortable seas, still making 4 knots, until we arrived in the lee of the headland sheltering Ormos Finikou, our destination for the weekend.

Finikas harbour

Dropping the Main was easy as it was mostly down any way and we found ourselves a spot to anchor off the town quay on the edge of a field of mooring buoys.   We had no intention of going onto the quay after our week in Merikha.  As soon as we anchored Valeria produced a delicious chicken curry she’d managed to prepare once the conditions calmed enough to allow her to stand in the galley unaided!

We will now wait here until Monday as the Meltemi does an encore before it takes a well earned rest for most of next week but it is scheduled to return at the weekend.

A week sheltering in Merikha

Arriving in Kythnos was ‘officially’ the start of our summer cruise and, after cutting through the Corinth Canal, we were back on schedule.  Moving from our over night anchorage into Merikha we  found ourselves somewhere sheltered from the Meltemi.   The forecasts suggested we’ d be there for 4 or 5 days ……. 1 week later we were still there, waiting.

The plus side to this enforced stay was that we could spent the week with Graeme and Jayne as neighbours, going out for meals, entertaining on board and generally assisting each other with the ‘challenges’ presented by the dreaded Charterers.  It was really great that our paths crossed for so long.

Merikha across the fishing harbour
Merikha across the fishing harbour

Merikha is a relatively new town built around the port  catering for the ferries and coasters which keep the island supplied.  It also provides a small harbour for fishing boats, a town quay and an anchorage for visiting yachts.  Ideal we thought.  Shelter from the weather, a pleasant town and the opportunity to explore a bit of the island.  Oh how wrong were we!  Well, sheltered yes, pleasant town, yes but the place is infested with charter boats whose anchoring and boat handling skills are second to everyone’s, absolutely everyone’s.

It was such an issue that we were not willing to leave the boat during the day in case boats arriving or leaving hit us or took out our anchor!  When not directly involved it was rather amusing!

Merikha is quite busy but pretty quiet despite all the comings and goings.  Mercifully there are plenty of tavernas in which to recover from a stressful day; our favourites were the Ostia Restaurant, and Taverna Yalos Byzantino.

View from the Ostia
View from the Ostia

The Ostria was our ‘local’, not 40m from the boat.  Their WiFi wouldn’t quite reach across the road so we had to go there to get a signal, and a glass or two of wine, and a snack, or a coffee; it would have been rude not to!

Yalos Byzantino taverna
Yalos Byzantino taverna

The Taverna Yalos Byzantio was our favourite place for meals.   The owner, Costas, was a very engaging character who promised we would pay nothing if we didn’t like the food.   Well, obviously we told him the food was terrible ….. but the empty, licked-clean plates told a different story!   Twice we ended up with a bottle of wine on the house!   Excellent place!    One of his waiters by the name of Sam, a good old London boy, was thrilled that he could pick Valeria’s brains about Brazil.   He’s a bit of a world traveller in the winter and has been to Rio and São Paulo but wants to visit Manaus and ended up with a few pointers!  We had a couple of excellent nights there and had our farewell dinner with Graeme and Jayne there too.

Merikha side street

I found a great bakery and went there every morning for my breakfast cheese pie.  He had a whole variety of these, including one with a beef burger inside, and I managed to try one of each in our 7 days there, so, yes I did eat all the pies!   The mini markets had all the supplies we needed, although the lettuces were very poor; Valeria can’t wait to get to Kos!!!     The butchers were very simple, a shop with a large cold storage, a counter and a meat mincer; and you can buy what they have in the fridge, right down to the last half chicken in the village!

The beach next door

There are worse place to be stuck for a week waiting out the Meltemi.   Although the harbour offers protection from the wind, the swell it pushes into the harbour makes the quayside a sometimes uncomfortable place to be.  But the real aggravation was the frequent arrivals and departures of the charter boats which effectively kept us on board, on watch, and meant this was not our most relaxing port of call!

Merikha is really nice, in calm weather it would be lovely, but then that is why it is so popular with Athens based charter boats.

 

Mooring Mayhem in Merikha

Possibly a slight exaggeration, but not by much.  This is a bit of a rant, so I apologise in advance.

Mooring on a town quay involves dropping your anchor off the quay and going astern perpendicular to it, making your lines fast to the quay then pulling in your anchor until you are securely in position.   The difficulties come when you are aiming for a gap between two boats with a cross wind or when other anchors are laid out at interesting angles when people haven’t laid their anchor chain at 90 degrees to the quay side, effectively taking up two or more spaces!  Not an easy manoeuvre, misjudging it and hitting another boat is always a risk as well.

This boat managed to twist a chain around their anchor!

Other things to consider are how much chain to use and in Merikha the Pilot Book suggests a lot. We had 65 metres out and it held, others came in using 20, others started anchoring too far out and ran out of chain and still others had to be reminded by the Harbour Master to use their anchor at all!!        When a boat started to manoeuvre over our anchor all we could do is stand at the bows and point along the line of our chain and hope they figure out what we were doing and not drop their anchor on ours.   Crossed cables are a fact of life but with some basic planning and understanding you can reduce these problems when mooring.

Unfortunately a lack of planning combined with limited boat handling skills is a trait common to charterers which causes chaos when it comes time for them to leave.    Even if they managed not to lay their chain over someone else’s, instead of controlling their boat and moving to their anchor they simply drag the boat to their anchor, or motor off dragging it behind them, and so dredge up their neighbour’s anchor.    Apparently unaware of what is happening they then try to ‘tow’ their neighbour from the quay by their anchor cable.

Trip hook, essential anchoring kit.

Then of course, once you have snagged another anchor, how do you free yours?   You simply pass a line around the fouling, lower your anchor clear and then slip your line to release the fouled anchor or chain, there is even a simple asymmetric trip-hook to make it even easier.   If someone else has laid their chain over yours it is slightly more tiresome but the principal is te same.  But, having cleared your anchor, where do you drop the anchor you’ve picked up?  Where you found it? Oh no, no, no of course not!   You drift 3 or 4 boats across from where you started and drop the anchor and chain across all their anchors! One boat now has to re-anchor and if it is a charter boat, the cycle starts again. Mercifully with a combination of pointing along our cable, and a little shouting, just a little ….. we only had to re-anchor once.

These guys were a bit greedy, collecting not only an anchor ......
These guys were a bit greedy, collecting not only an anchor ……
…. but another boat’s chain as well !!

One large charter catamaran, a Lagoon, managed to put out so much chain he reached the rope tail, a 10m or so length of rope for emergencies. Their trouble was the splice holding the rope to the chain was so badly frayed that it was about to break, potentially leaving them with no anchor at all.   Luckily for them they were alongside Scarlett and I was there helping our friends to fend them off, and I can splice, but they had literally three chairn links between them and ‘disaster’.   I earned a beer though!   When they left the following day they encountered problems recovering their anchor and I had visions of my splice choking their windlass, but it was nothing so complex!   They had simply managed to break the electrical lead to their windlass control.   What I couldn’t figure out was why they didn’t use the controller at the helm station; it was a Lagoon and their anchor gear was the same as ours!

And then there was the evening a very large charter yacht arrived, all uniforms, stewardess laying tables and rich Texan passengers.   The quay was almost full except for a single small yacht sized gap alongside Scarlett.

Not sure there’s room …….
But we’ll get in there somehow.

This thing was 34 metres long, 7 metres wide and weighted a whole lot more than Scarlett.    Rather than go onto the ferry berth and move in the morning the lazy &*$#@£*’s simply forced their way into said gap.   They could only get their slightly narrower stern and fenders in, leaning on Scarlett while they did it, and then stayed uncomfortably close to, and angled diagonally across, Scarlett’s  bows overnight and through the next morning with just a fender gap, or narrower in wind gusts, between their hulls. Quite normal in similar sized yachts but this thing was 3 times their length and maybe 20 times their weight!     Graeme, Jayne and ourselves did watches all night just in case the Meltemi over came the ‘Captain’s’ RYA qualifed skills and 125 metres of anchor chain; but on the bright side, the passengers had a nice dinner on the stern and a pleasant nights sleep and a good run ashore in the morning.   We tried to involve the Port Police, who did come along and were very nice, but had no power to do anything.  (PADFA)    Mercifully nothing went wrong but the crew hardly presented a very professional image in front of their paying customers!

After one particularly entertaining morning the Harbour Master passed me on his way to the Ostria (possibly for a well earned Ouzo) and simply raised his eyes to heaven and shook his head.  I later suggested he had missed a business opportunity.   I suggested he should buy or  borrow a small boat and charge €20 a time to free foul anchors; he could rake in €100 per day easily.   Perhaps in return for the suggestion he gave us a bottle of his home brew local wine; it was very strong and definately an aquired taste!

We had had plans to hire a car between the four of us to see the island but all these comings and goings around us put paid to that.  Instead we were almost continuously watch keeping during the day as leaving the boats unattended for any length of time would have been inadvisable in case our anchor got dredged up or we got rammed while we were out.

All in all a rather stressful week, salvaged only by sharing the experience with good friends and a few glasses of wine!

Sailing south ….