Category Archives: Visitors

Posts related to our guests on board

Visiting with Zeynep

Visiting Bodrum was always on our schedule and it was an added bonus that Zeynep could be there at the same time; she has absolutely made our visit here.

Apart from showing us Bodrum, Halicarnassus and Gümüslük we spent some great evenings doing totally non touristy things.

Gumbet at sunset

There are a series of ruined windmills on the headland that divides Bodrum from Gumbet. So at sunset we took a bottle of wine and three straws up there and watched the sun go down over Gumbet.

On Friday evening we were invited to her parent’s apartment for dinner; the view from their balcony is wonderful.   Her parents  speak as much English as wé speak Turkish but it was a lovely evening.   After dinner we walked down to the local shopping centre and watched a concert over a couple of drinks.

Demir, Hande, Sarp and Firat

On Monday we took Zeynep and her brother’s family for a day out on the boat to a local beauty spot known locally as ‘The Aquarium’ an hour from Bodrum.    We spent the afternoon swimming, having a BBQ and messing about in the tender.

They had a really good time, so much so that her nephews, aged 5 and 9, want to sell their grandparents apartment and buy a boat.  We got back to Bodrum and went to the fuel jetty to  take on some nice cheap Turkish diesel, about €1 a litre, and say our farewells to Zeynep.

It has been great to see her again and without all the time she spent showing us around we would have left Bodrum rather unimpressed.  We loved meeting her family and it was just a shame Steve had to work and couldn’t join us.

 

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Reunited!

It has been over a year since I last saw Valeria, Chris and Windependent so I was excited when we landed at Kos airport around midnight. Kos Marina yacht club was quite busy still. I have been greeted with prosecco and after catching up went to bed around 3am. Stephen was not able to come with me this time due to his meetings but I was not alone in my cabin! My accompany was very handsome and a gentleman.

Gentleman in my cabin

I could not take photos of Windependent at night while carrying two bags but I did first thing in the morning. Still beautiful..

Windependent at Kos Marina

We checked out at Kos and checked in at Bodrum Marina which took a while, and stepped on land around 5pm the next day. I showed the centre of the town to Valeria & Chris, we sorted out a SIM card for them and I went to see my parents in the evening.

I wanted Valeria and Chris to have the best experience possible so I prepared an itenary for the next few days. We visited the soaks, places serving nice food, farmers market, historical places (unfortunately the castle was closed due to renovation but we have been to the ruins of Halicarnasus mausoleum, amphitheater,mindos gate and tombs around), windmills between Bodrum and Gumbet for the best views on the peninsula, Gumbet ( I could not convince Valeria and Chris to party!), my parents’ house for dinner and ancient city of Myndos (Gumusluk as it is called today). I love Bodrum but it used to be so much nicer before it became so touristic. Best time of Bodrum is when people go back and the temperatures are lower (May or September, October). Now flights from London are so expensive in July and August thus I fly to/from Kos or Rhodes if I visit my parents in summer- also because I love Greek islands and meeting locals there.

Approaching to Bodrum
Approaching to Bodrum Marina
At amphitheater. Valeria avoiding sun 😉 Castle and Black Island at the background- beautiful!
Views that I love very much! From my parents’ house.
Valeria & Chris listening live Turkish music – part of cultural introduction 😉
Windmills between Bodrum and Gumbet
Sunset from the windmills, overlooking Gumbet bay.
Ancient city of Myndos ( Gümüşlük)
Rabbit Island in Gumusluk. Under the water are the stones of the walls of the ancient city Myndos. The island is now fenced to prevent people walking on it due to ongoing excavation work. I heard rabbits are transferred to mainland ;).
On the way back from Gumusluk after 4days of sightseeing- no they were not dripping 🙂

On their last day before leaving Bodrum, Valeria and Chris invited us to Windependent. They were brilliant hosts and we had a wonderful day. My nephews Sarp and Demir truly loved Windependent . Demir said ” aunty it is great here! We can swim and jump, we eat burgers and ice cream, can we come here everyday?”. On the way back home Sarp asked whether we can sell the house and buy a boat ;). They were both on cloud nine. Valeria and Chris have been amazing hosts while having kids on the boat, we are all grateful.

Demir, Hande, Sarp & Firat
Aquarium bay
Barbecued halloumi- yummy!
Demir & Sarp enjoyed themselves lots and lots! 😉
Swimming time
On duty!
At the end of a great day 🙂

We left Windependent while Valeria & Chris were getting fuel in Bodrum for the rest of their trip. I prepared some maps for them showing the nicer bays on their route. It would be great if I could join them but just by coincidence my brother and his family are on holiday at the same time and I decided to join Valeria and Chris later on again with Stephen- I left a cigar that I bought from Cuba for Chris and I will go back to smoke the cigars together.  I am still very happy and of course jealous ;). Can’t wait to get my day skipper certificate and eventually anchor next to Windependent with our own boat ;).

Best I could do without a laptop and a printer 😉
With Chris’s encouragement now I am considering to write a Turkish coast pilot book :))

 

Lu’s review

Valeria standing by to drop the anchor …

Pardon my English.. I dont write in Greek very well.
I had an amazing time in Greece on board of Windependent.
Was my second visit and I will be back soon for sure..!
Valéria is an amazing host! Impressive…she’s a Queen!
Great prosseco.. (Bottomless) Great food… And the world most efficient alarm clock in the hangover morning ( Chris “footstomps” and boat engine)

Scariest Sommelier in the world …

The Butler, my “Darling Saganaki” needed some training…or maybe just food.. (see pic above)
Once we fed him his work improved massively.
Thank you Saganaki.
*They have the best and worlds most expensive Drinks ice bucket…. Impressive!
Thank you so much
You guys are 1000 stars!
♥️♥️⭐⭐⭐

Lu’s back !!

Lu got to Kos on Friday afternoon, got a cab from the airport and was on board by 3 pm, and after a restorative Prosecco or two, she and Valeria went into Kos for the evening for a GNO.

Cheguei
Cheguei!

On Saturday morning they went ashore for some last minute supplies and Lu bought me a present, some proper Saganaki Cheese! She has even found where she can get it in the UK!

We had paid in the marina up until midday on Saturday so we slipped at 11.35 and set off for Kardemena, half way along the south coast of Kos. The Pilot Book didn’t make it sound too inviting, or even accessible, but we had other sources of information!

A while ago a couple, Mark and Alexandra in Malu Kai were researching Roccella Ionica for this winter and came across the web site and sent me an email ‘Soon to be winter buddies in Roccella’. As it turned out they were in based Kardemena and so we decided to go and introduce ourselves as we were passing. Mark is away at the moment so, once tied up, we went and said hello to Alexandra. They have been based in Kardemena for a while and even have their own reserved berth. With a restaurant recommendation from Alexandra set off for a wander through town.

Rod Heikell in his Pilot Book describes Kardemena as, ‘a sprawl of a resort catering for package holiday makers who want little to do with things Greek and frequent any establishment that resembles the ‘local ’ at home” and this is an accurate description. We wandered along what appeared to be the main street between alternating pubs and bars with large TV screens showing the World Cup and some rather chav souvenir shops. Mercifully the restaurant was a bit away from there and the food was excellent. Back on board Lu and Valeria had a GNI and I left them to it.

Arriving in Kardemena we had planned a BBQ, but the berth we managed to find was alongside a rather scruffy ferry jetty away from the town quay and was not a pleasant setting for a BBQ on one’s yacht dharling. It also seemed to be the sleeping quarters for a large group of travellers aboard a small people carrier with very over worked suspension! We put off the BBQ and decided to move on in the morning to anchor in the bay off the town of Kefalos in Ormos Kamares.

The draw back was that the GNI had gone on until 4 in the morning and so Valeria was a little tired when we left at 9.30 and Lu was rudely awoken when I started the engines ….. that combined with me having deserted my post as wine waiter on the previous evening and our Trip Advisor rating was plummeting!!

Under sail, bound for Paradise …

We had motored from Kos to Kardemena but on Sunday morning we had a good offshore breeze and as soon as we were out of the port we had the sails up and headed for Paradise Beach; Lu had found it on the web and wanted to visit. We sailed almost the entire way, which is unheard of, only dropping the sails as we reached Paradise ……   The trouble with places with names like ‘Paradise Beach’, or ‘Tranquil Bay’ in Lefkas, is that they seldom are and it was the case here. We would have had trouble anchoring close enough to the beach and even if we had managed it we’d have spent the afternoon being buzzed by jet skis and trip boats; we bore away and carried on round the headland to Kefalos and anchored off the small harbour.

Valeria standing by to drop the anchor …

Once at anchor we got the BBQ out and Lu fried us some Saganaki as an appetiser. Valeria and Lu then spent the afternoon relaxing / recovering while I put the tender in the water.     The outboard wouldn’t start again but this time a new, dry, clean spark plug cured the problem and so, come the evening, we went ashore in the tender.

Kefalos is a very small fishing boat harbour with a commercial quay outside, at the south west end of Kamares Bay. The old town of Kefalos is a short walk in land from the harbour, although we didn’t go to look, and the new ‘town’ is a rather uninteresting strip of restaurants and small hotels along the shore line. We had a wander around before settling down for a snack including saganaki and wine, obviously, as the sun went down. We selected the restaurant / bar of the Sydney Hotel, whose rickety jetty we’d tied the tender to. Back on board, still hoping to bump up our ratings I remained on duty to hthe end although as Lu was travelling on the following day it was a far more reserved evening.

Arroz e feijão. Sim eu estava lá,  ‘Arroz, Feijão e Camarão’.
“More Prosecco M’Ladies?”

The following morning we spent lazing around, although I did whizz out to try and help an exhausted wind surfer. He was ancient, older than me!!! I was all ready to do a text book RYA recovery but he said my boat was too small and he wanted me to go get the school rescue boat. I didn’t try to explain I had a Rescue Boat ticket and was quite capable of hauling his tired old ….. etc, etc, so, harumphing to myself, I went off in search of the rescue boat. The positive thing was I got the tender up onto the plane and gave the outboard a good blast.

But then it was time to take Lu ashore and wait for her taxi to the airport, the Sydney Hotel had been very helpful and booked one the previous evening. We said our farewells, although Valeria will be seeing her in a week or so. It was lovely to see her again and I have my fingers crossed for that 5 star rating!!!

Our first visitors of the year

Rockin’ those shades

On 4th April Zilda, Elliott and Sophie came to stay with us again; their second visit.   I got the train to the airport, picked up the hire car and brought them back to Roccella.   Zilda was somewhat concerned that 8 days on the boat trying to keep Sophie and Elliott entertained and supervised might be too much of a challenge and so was researching Air B&B as a ‘Plan B’, but she needn’t have worried; Angelic Sophie and Saint Elliott were far too busy having fun exploring the castle, playing on the beach, hunting bears in the woods, enjoying ‘Movie Night’ in the Club House and playing in Windy to need much supervising.  They were even suitably tired at bed time!

Elliott has mastered looking cool in a boat …..
… and Sophie has the Royal Wave down pat !

As ever it was fantastic to see them and we look forward to their visit next year !

Sami and a visit from Keith and Tracy

Last time we were in Cephalonia was May, at the start of our trip around the Aegean, and had been made so welcome by Keith that we had to drop in again on our way passed to say hello.

Sami port

Sami is a quaint place on the east coast of the island at the south end of the Kolpos Samis, the big bay opposite the south end of Ithica. Keith had taken us here for coffee on our last visit and we arranged for him to come up on Friday for the afternoon.

Keith and Tracey arrived at lunch time on Friday and we settled down to an afternoon and evening of BBQing, sunbathing and socialising.   Great to see Keith again and to meet Tracey; all in all a very pleasant visit and we hope to to meet up again in the UK and next year when we stop off in Cephalonia on our way back to explore more of the Aegean.

The Birthday Weekend with Lu and Marco

We arrived as planned in Ágios Nikolaos marina on Friday afternoon, the 25th, and settled down to wait for Marco and Lu; they arrived some time after midnight and we had a glass or two of Champagne and Prosecco awaiting them. I was fantastic to welcome them on board.

Our idea had originally been to leave the marina for the weekend and return to Ormos Porou, anchor and spend Saturday and Sunday there, going to the Kanali Restaurant for Valeria’s birthday dinner and maybe going out for a sail on Sunday. However, the Meltami had other ideas. Getting into the marina had been easy as they put us on a berth against the harbour wall which the wind simply blew us onto. Getting out again would have been a challenge even if the wind was blowing half as strongly as it did from then on. For the entire weekend it was consistently blowing 20 knots, even peaking at 30 on Sunday. Being out at anchor, or trying to sail would have been far from relaxing and so we remained pinned to the wall, quite literally, for the entire weekend.

On Saturday afternoon we went for a wander around Agious Nikolaos. Although a holiday destination it didn’t seem as extreme as I had thought it might be, all 18-30 holiday makers and all day discos. We spent the afternoon chatting and enjoying the ‘breeze by the beach!

That evening we got a cab back to Kanali and enjoyed another great meal, then went for a walk into Elounda, about a mile away.

On Sunday we took another walk around town finding our way to the ‘lake’ which is rumoured to be bottomless. It is apparently  just  a very deep sink hole just inland from the harbour and connected to it by a short canal.   It is quite quaint, is surrounded by a low quayside with lots of small boats tied up to it and wall to wall restaurants behind that. Even though it is almost totally enclosed the surrounding cliffs and buildings did nothing to protect from the wind, that gets everywhere!

The lake by day
The lake by night

On Monday we hired a car. It was half the price of a cab to the airport and meant that we could do a little sight seeing before dropping Lu and Marco off for their flight home. Valeria had found a small beach in Elounda and although it was pleasant, the wind made it a little less than idyllic. We had lunch then set off for Irakleon to visit the ruins of Minos at Knossos on our way to the airport.

Reconstructed entrance gate

Knossos is the home to the Minator of Greek Mythology. Supposedly the Greeks had to provide 7 boys and 7 girls as a sacrifice to the creature who was eventually slain by Theseus in the Labyrinth.

King’s Audience Chamber

A more factual interpretation is based around the frescos found there which illustrated a sport which involved jumping over raging bulls. The youngsters were participating athletes and anything less than a perfect 10 was probably not good for their health. Add that to the labrinthine layout of the ruins at Knossos and the myth takes shape!

Throne Room

The ruins were heavily reconstructed during their excavation in the early 1900s and a lot of the areas are not open to the public. Our guide described to us a host of Minoan inventions usually credited to others, they had flushing toilets, and drainage for both rainwater run off and sewage. They also piped fresh water in via an aquaduct and used interlocking clay pipes to distribute it; all dating from between 2000 and 1100 BC.   Interestingly, Minoan hyroglyphics and their Linear A script have yet to be deciphered.

But  then, sadly, it was time to make or way to the airport via a restaurant in Irakleon for a light dinner. And all too quickly we were dropping Marco and Lu at the airport.

Although the weather scuppered most of our plans for a ‘yachty’ weekend it was delightful to see them and were really happy they decided to come all this way to visit us; and thanks to Vania for baby sitting.  Hopefully next time we’ll be able to do something slightly more adventurous.

Anavissou to Thassos by Steve Parks

There was no sign of liveliness in the water from the storms the night before, and it was crystal clear. The winds had dropped away completely so we motored out of the harbour that we’d sheltered in.

We were all a little groggy from the interrupted sleep of overnight watches — and welcomed the soft early sun, and the fresh breeze on our faces.

A pair of boats crossed our path in the distance, but fairly soon we were well away from the island, and the only vessel in sight.

The favourite moments of the trip for me were like these. Wide open sea, big blue sky, and the sound of the twin bows breaking the waters as we skimmed the surface.

I was on watch and spotted something in the water at twenty degrees port (as we’d been taught by Chris to say, rather than something like “at eleven o’clock”). I took the binoculars and found slick black backs breaking the surface.

“Dolphins!”, I gave the alarm, and the others rushed up to the bow.

A short while later we could see them with our own eyes, jumping and diving. Playing, or fishing? But then they seemed to spot us too, and the pod dived and swam together under the surface towards us.

One by one each dolphin burst from the surface in front of the boat, and we could watch through the clear water as they dived and rolled beneath us. They seemed to be playing with the boat, racing us.

It was both hypnotic and exhilarating to watch, and something we were lucky enough to see a few times in our week on board the Windependent.

And what a special week it was. We’re keen to learn to sail so Chris very kindly spent a lot of time coaching us through what we need to know to be good sailors, and to pass the RYA Day Skipper exam. We learned about the boat, navigation, the rules of the water for avoiding other craft, knots, man overboard, using the dinghy and much more.

As well as learning it, we got to try it out too. He would let us take time at the helm and on watch. We had some days where we had to motor because the winds didn’t favour us, but others where we’d have the mainsail and code zero up, and making over 5 knots. That was exhilarating. It was so lovely to switch the engines off and only hear the sound of the sea.

But even better, Chris and Valeria are fantastic hosts, so there was great food and good conversation on board too. How Valeria manages to cook full meals in the tiny galley as the boat rides their waves is a minor miracle, and that the food is so tasty just makes it more so.

Our journey took us to a few different islands (you’ll find Chris’s own blog documents the places and journey better than I can, so I’ll just share our experiences), but one of our favourites was the port of Linaria on Skyros. It was tended by a dedicated and kind harbourmaster called Sakis, who took great care of the water, the quayside, and the visitors.

We stayed a few days here, relaxing in the little port’s cafes and restaurants, and then hiring a car to explore the island.

The sailors on the neighbouring boats were also lovely and joined us on board Windependent for a barbecue one night, during which a lot of Greek wine was consumed. It was a great evening.

But the biggest adventure came near the end of our time on board. To boost our experience we decided to do a night sail. The forecast was good, there was an ideal route to take, and the plan was set.

We adopted watch shifts, so that we could take clear time to rest and sleep between being on shift — and then be very focused when we were on watch.

At some time after midnight, I was off shift in my bed below deck, dozing. I notice that it was getting really quite bumpy. The boat must be riding some higher seas than we’d seen so far, pitching and yawing. I could hear the waves smacking the bow.

But I knew that Chris and Zeynep were on shift, and the best thing a crew member can do when they’re not on watch is to stay out of the way, resting so they are fresh and ready to take over later. I dozed back to sleep.

I was woken a while later by Zeynep who asked me to come upstairs because there was a storm.

When I got on deck the view was scary and beautiful. There were separate local thunderstorms in different places on the horizon, their lightning intermittently illuminated the dark rolling sea beneath us. The winds had reached 30 knots, whipping up the water, and adding to the noise from the thunder.

We’d roll over the high swells, and back down.

I took a seasickness tablet, and put on a harness so I could clip onto the boat — to ensure I didn’t have to be one more thing for the skipper to worry about.

Chris consulted the chart and the horizon, and developed a plan. But the storms were moving around, and the effect between them made the wind and sea unpredictable. In the end he decided we should head for a harbour rather than continue on — but the harbour was still a few hours away.

Zeynep went to bed at this point so she could sleep and be fresh for taking an anchor-watch shift once we got to shelter. Chris was keen for us to keep watch as we’d have laid anchor in the dark. She slept well, despite the storm — probably because she was being rocked so much.

It’s wise to be wary of the sea and the weather, but a boat like this is built for much harsher conditions – and Chris is a very experienced sailor. So I just kept calm and enjoyed the view. There was a rare and raw beauty to it all. The power of the sea, the isolation of being so far from shore.

We’re keen to sail more in future, and will be sure to encounter storms — so I was actually really glad to have our first storm experience now while Chris was the skipper.

We eventually made harbour in the early hours of the morning and managed to get a few hours kip.

But then the sun was up, the water was smooth, and it was time to get out there again — and see the dolphins.

Thanks to Chris and Valeria for an amazing week, great hospitality, and delicious food. We can’t wait for a chance to get out on the water again.

Steve.

Chris in the tender, motoring back to Windependent at dawn after dropping us off at the start of our journey home

Anavissou to Thassos by Zeynep Yalcin

It took me a while to get used to being on land after we left Windependent… I still remember the last time I saw her from the ferry… She was beautiful.

Time to time when I close my eyes I feel like I am rocking on a boat. I smell the sea when I take a deep breath in. I cannot help myself but smile when I think of the dolphins racing with Windependent. I keep having flashbacks of beautiful sunsets, waves, colourful skies, moonlights, delicious meals and great conversations.

One month passed and I clearly remember the delicious Martinis, Greek wines, Turkish song playing in the showers of Lineria port on Skyros, beautiful Greek coastline reminding me Turkey, colourful and beautiful cruising sail which became remedy for my sea sickness within seconds, Valeria’s deliciously cooked meals that made it even more like at home ( I did not know Brazilian and Turkish cooking have so many similarities), pretty Greek restaurants, fried feta cheeses, fried calamari, Greek salads, barbecue night with Paul, June, Claude, Sakis, his wife and daughter, blue lights of Lineria port, disco music keeping me awake from 3am to 5am while anchor watching in Limnos, narrow & pebble stoned streets of Greek islands, the view from the castle on top of the Skyros island, Valeria’s arrival location instructions (was very informative!), learning how NOT to start the engine of a tender, laundry compartment of Windependent where I could easily adapt to as a home, diving to see the hulls and engines of Windependent and swimming to see other boat’s engines and hulls to compare – something I never thought would be interesting.

I started to take a few photos of Windependent the first day and then I could not drop my camera. Every time I looked around, I found something else beautiful. I wish I had my other camera and underwater case for it to take the photos of the hulls, keel, rudder and the engines.

Being an advanced diver who is in love with the sea, I always wanted to learn sailing but could not find a chance for years. It was very special to learn sailing from Chris and I cannot imagine a better way of learning it. I cannot thank enough for the time he dedicated to show us almost everything. I still remember the knots and I can do them behind eyes closed :).  I hope one day we will dock our own sailing boat next to Windependent and invite Chris and Valeria for a barbecue.

What if we need to navigate without electronics?
I can’t stop smiling…
My final shot of Windependent from the ferry.

Sounion with Solange

We left Rafti early on Saturday morning heading for Sounion to meet up with Solange, Luna and Mayara.

We set off south expecting northerly winds up to 25 knots by lunch time and had a fairly brisk passage through the Stenon Makronisou but by the time we were rounding the headland with the Temple of Poseidon on it to the east of the bay we were up to 30 knots again as we dropped the sails!  And once in the bay and anchored the winds stayed at that speed most of the afternoon and evening. But we had arrived, almost exactly as planned.

Between the stronger gusts I took the tender ashore and met Solange and the girls on a beach a few hundred metres from their hotel beach which was all buoyed off, then it was back to the boat for a welcome Prosecco!   We’ve not seen Solange since Brazil so she and Valeria had plenty to catch up on and after the boat tour we settled down to a BBQ and later Luna, Mayara and I played Uno until bed time.

Luna had to ‘read her book in an interesting place’ for school.
……….. and so did Mayara !                                       .

 

We had 4 days in Sounion and spent most of them with Solange, either on board or by her hotel pool so the girls could go to the Kid’s Club.  They spent a couple of nights on board and we did plenty of swimming and snorkeling around the boat. I also took the girls out in the tender and let them try driving it.  Mayara could barely see where she was going but Luna got the hang of it and even drove us all the way to the beach on Tuesday!

Then there was knot tying.  Luna said she wanted to learn to sail, and although we did go out for an afternoon there wasn’t enough wind to sail, so they started learning their knots and some fancy ropework; by the time we left Luna was tying bowlines one minute and making friendship bracelets in sail twine the next!

With only a short trip from Rafti, after 5 days at anchor, we were low on water and with 3 guests, lower still and so we went out for a couple of hours to make some more.  We motored west to Nisos Gaidouroniso, anchored for lunch before returning to Sounion.  Both girls had a go at steering the boat even if there was no sailing!

Reserved parking ……

My big concern in leaving Sounion was not being able to find room on our return.  Over the weekend there had been almost 50 yachts shoe horned into the bay each evening.  However; I needn’t have worried. We found a spot easily and by the time we left on Wednesday morning we were one of only two yachts there!

On the headland overlooking Sounion is the Temple of Poseidon and I couldn’t leave without visiting, so on Tues4day Solange, Luna and I went to have a look. It only takes about 20 minutes  to wander round the main ruins but it was worth it.

Sanctuary of Poseidon

On Wednesday we were set to leave but weren’t sure if Solange and the girls were joining us for the 90 minute trip back round the coast; but happily they did and we were all tied up at Olympic Marine by just after 12.  After booking in we had a visit to the Chandlery so Luna could get some sail twine for her macrame bracelets then we went into Lavrio for lunch.

And that was where we went out separate ways, although ‘So and Va‘ are off for a girly day out on Friday and, hopefully, we’ll see them before we really go our separate ways.  It was fantastic to see them and having Luna tie bowlines in our mooring ropes as we arrived at Olympic was almost like being Senior Crew Guy again!!