Category Archives: Voyages

Blogs devoted to the voyages we make in travelling between the places sv Windependent visits.

Turkey !

Our reasons for a return visit to Kos were two-fold.  The first was to meet Zeynep who was to travel with us to Bodrum, and the second was to officially leave Greece before entering Turkey.

With our plans to visit Turkey fairly well established before we left Roccella we have been chatting with Zeynep about perhaps meeting up in Bodrum; her parents have a house there.   As time went on the likely window of opportunity narrowed to mid July and finally settled on Wednesday 17 July, in Kos.  It was cheaper for Zeynep to fly to Kos, get an Air B&B and a ferry to Bodrum than to fly direct.   It was even better that we could be in Kos when she arrived so she didn’t need the room overnight or the ferry!  She arrived at just after midnight and after a welcoming glass of Prosecco it was off to bed.

That was the easy part.  The real faff was leaving Greece.

We’d been to see the Port Police when we arrived.  They directed us to Customs who would endorse our Crew List which would enable the Port Police to permit the boat to leave Greek waters.   The Customs Office was closed so we went back first thing on Wednesday morning.  The Customs office was in fact only interested in whether I had paid VAT on the boat; the Greeks are such sticklers when it comes to paying tax!!!   Having convinced the Taxman that I had paid VAT we were then directed to Immigration to endorse the Crew List, which did make more sense, but there is no ‘Yacht Crew’ lane at the ferry terminal.

Between Zeynep and Valeria we managed to get around the herds of tourists headed to Bodrum and got the necessary stamps on the Crew List.  It was made plain we had to then leave Greece almost immediately, tricky as we still had to visit the Port Police, who happily endorsed the Crew List and sent us on our way.

Approaching Bodrum

The trip across to Bodrum was 2 hours, motoring in light winds.  Once into Bodrum and tied up to the Immigration jetty we then had to wait for 2 hours while our Yacht Agent conducted all our immigration proceedures.  Straightforward, but bloody expensive at €180, but there is no option, you can’t leave the boat until the paper work is all done.  Luckily we’ll be leaving Turkey from Bozburun, where it is supposed to be a lot cheaper!

Bodrum castle dominates the harbour
Bodrum castle dominates the harbour

But we have got here.  About a week late according to our original plans but that isn’t at all bad and it meant that we could meet up with Zeynep who has already got an itinerary worked out for us for our stay!

The Rodos Cup ……

We have just discovered that each year there is an inter island race called the Rodos Cup.  It starts in Kos, goes to Kalimnos, Nisyros, Simi and then Rhodos.  I know this because on Saturday, 14th,  the Port Police turned up with a  notice saying that between 17 and 19 July the port of Pali was closed due to the Rodos Cup race!!!

Happily were planned to go on Tuesday anyway !!!!

We’ve seen a lot of the Port Police in Pali. They check the port 2 or 3 times a week and are the busiest Port Police officers we have ever come across!    And a thoroughly nice bunch of guys they are as well, polite, efficient and enforcing the rules, which is good to see, if your papers are in order.  No DEPKA, go to Kos, now, and get one,  Flitting between Turkey and Greece without bothering with immigration?  Go back to Turkey, now.     They were even checking local fishing boats for life jackets!   I thought fishing boats were exempt from absolutely all rules and regulations!

Happily on Tuesday, 17th June, the weather was forecast to be relatively clement and we would be able to go across to Kos to meet Zeynep who was due to arrive on Tuesday evening, but more on that later.

Last night in Pali

And so on Monday evening we had our last night in Pali after almost 3 weeks here.  We arrived on 26th June, looking for shelter for a few days and just stayed; well I did, Valeria went home for 5 days.   But we have had the most fantastic time.  Nisyros is a lovely place, laid back, quiet and such a friendly island.   Our chosen car hire company, Manos K, would happily lend us a scooter to go to Mandraki to get cash, there is no ATM outside Mandraki.  They even rented us a car for 3 hours for a shopping run to Mandraki; fruit and veg selection is better there.   And our local taverna, Aphrodite, where we ate on many evenings presented us with a small bottle of Metaxa!     The only thing we could NOT understand is why so many people around the island use ‘worry beads’ ……

On Tuesday morning we were up at 6 am and were away by 7 in the morning calm.   Pali really is sheltered.  As soon as we were away from the harbour the wind was up to 28 knot, aparent wind speed.  But it was on the beam and we were soon galloping along at 6 knots under one reef in the Main Sail and we sailed virtually the whole way to the eastern end of Kos, before the wind figured we’d had it too good for too long.  As we approached Kos Town the wind stubbornly blew directly out of the marina no matter what our heading and we ended up describing a nice big circle around our destination, unable to tack and never really getting much closer!

We gave up at 11.30 and motored the last half hour getting in at 1220.   After a tidy up we went into Kos to find the Port Police to check out of Greece.   But that is another saga!

More outboard issues.

Leaving Patmos on Saturday we continued on our way towards Kos spending a night at anchor in Lipsi, on the island of Leipsos and another at anchor off the small harbour of Pandeli on the east side of the island of Leros.

Arriving in Leipsos the wind was slightly stronger than I felt comfortable to leave the boat while we went ashore, so we stayrd on board, setting off for Leros the following morning.

As we approached the anchorage off Pandeli we came across our first rain in weeks.   And not a gentle shower either.   The rain was heavy enough to show up on the radar and arrived at Pandeli just as we did.   We got well and truly soaked anchoring, and just as we finished the sun came out!

Rain approaching our anchorage ….
The red splodges are radar echos overlaid on the chart display

We dropped the tender in the water intending to go ashore and have a wander around the town but got about 50 metres from the boat when the outboard packed up again.   To say I was less than impressed was an understatement.   We managed to limp back to the boat and after numerous attempts to start the engine I gave up.

We plan to spend day or so on the Town Quay in Pothia on Kalymnos but this is now going to revolve around finding a mechanic.

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.

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.

Korfos to Kythnos

Church in Skala, Nisos Angistri, on the way to Aigina

We left Korfos mid morning on the 22nd and headed east for the island of Aigina, planning to anchor on the south coast, but the weather had other ideas so we ended up in a bay on the west coast just north of the town of Perdika for the night.

Comfortable ?

Grahame, Jayne and Islabela came to us for an early BBQ.  They brought Isabel across in her cat box because apparently she was crying when they left ……. worse than having kids!   But once on board Isabel went exploring, then had a well earned rest, while we ate and chatted before having an early night ready to set off for Kythnos at 6.30 the following morning; a 50 mile, 10 hour passage with the likelihood of some 10 to 15 knot winds from the north and north east.

Scarlett

Wednesday started calm and hazy and, although we set off together, we soon lost sight of Scarlett as Graeme and I had differing sailing plans.   With the expected winds I planned to head north to get up wind for an easier sail when the wind picked up.   It almost worked.   When the wind did start it was a steady 15 to 20 knots but for most of the trip the wind was exactly on the edge of our ‘no go zone’, effectively in front of us, rather than the forecast favourable  beam winds.    It did move round just enough for us to be able to motor sail into it and keep up our 5 knot average; trying to simply sail in these winds gives us about 2 or 3 knots, depending on the sea state, but not in the right direction!    So we slogged it out  and in the last hour or so, just to make a point I suppose, it started to rain!   Nothing torrential, just enough to cover the decks in fine red sand, which began to ‘bake on’ when the sun came out and the wind dropped as we got into the lee of Kythnos and we met up with Scarlett again.

Our intention had been to spend the night in Ormos Fikiadha, the famous and picturesque Sand Bar Bay.   This is effectively a channel between Kythnos and a small island but the channel is blocked by a narrow sand bar beach making two bays.   The trouble with picturesque bays are that they are popular and on arriving we found the bay a jumble of anchored yachts, two of which managed to foul each other’s anchors and were laying rather haphazardly alongside each other.     Most amusing from where we were, but this prompted us to shift to Plan B and go along to Ormos Apokriosis, not half a mile east. This is a large, quiet a bay which boasts 3 tavernas, a church and a scattering of 6 houses, and lots of goats!

Ormos Apokriosis

In the morning we set off again at a more reasonable 10 am for the half hour run round to the port of Merikha intending to settle ourselves on the Town Quay to wait out the expected Meltemi due to blow in force until early next week. Just as we arrived a number of boats were leaving, exactly as we’d hoped, and both we and Scarlett tied back to the quay next door to each other …. and then went for a debrief in the nearest Taverna, the Ostia Restaurant.

… the nearest taverna ….

 

Heading for Korfos

From Mesolongion we now decided to head for Korfos, about 15 miles from Isthmia the eastern end of the canal. Our friends Graeme and Jayne in Scarlett had just arrived there to wait for an opportunity to head north so we decided to drop by to see them.

Canal side fishung huts becoming holiday homes
Canal side fishung huts becoming holiday homes

We left Mesolongion at 6.30 on Friday morning, the 18th had an uneventful 55 mile passage to Trizonia, a small island west of Galaxidi. The weather was overcast and the expected easterly winds did us no favours as we headed towards the Rion Bridge, but, once passed the bridge the wind died away a touch and we anchored at Trizonia at about 3 pm. Unfortunately, once anchored it started to rain on and off for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

Trizonia anchorage

Trizonia has a small harbour which is free to tie up in. But, being free, it has acquired a significant number of boats which have been left there to die, some already sunk at their moorings, and others waiting to do so. The village itself looked quaint but we decided to stick with our plan and not spend a day exploring. In fact, checking the weather on Friday night we decided that we would try to push on to clear the canal on Saturday evening rather than waiting until Sunday. But on Saturday morning, checking the weather forecast again, we found this.

Predictwind screenshot

Now you figure out what is actually going to happen; the left hand pane is supposedly based on the data in the right hand one! But as the worst case scenario suggested that we’d be followed through the canal by 30 knots of wind, and the canal does tend to funnel and increase wind speeds, we decided to wait it out in picturesque Ayios Ioannou.

We left Trizonia at 6.30, again, and arrived off Ay. Ioannou at about 2.30 and found the bay to be very picturesque but also too small for us to anchor in; so much for the Pilot Book. Plan B was to follow the Pilot Book’s further advise and head deeper into the nearby bay called Ormos Vathi Noussa and to ‘anchor off the beach where convenient …..’ This is a large enclosed bay with^ a quarry above the north shore and a quay for small ships to load the stone from. It is otherwise completely deserted, desolate even. We anchored in the far south west corner of the bay and it was either very sheltered or strong winds didn’t materialise!

Ormos Vathi Naoussa

At first light on Sunday morning we set off for the Corinth Canal and there was even a slight breeze which gave me the excuse to get our new Code Zero out for the first time for an hour. The only thing is that they have missed the ‘M’ from our sail number!


We arrived at the canal at 1030 and were called straight in without having to wait and it was a far easier transit than last time. Even with tying up to pay the toll in Isthmia we were under way again by 1120 headed for Korfos.

Now we are to the east of the Peloponese we can look forward to hundreds of quiet sun kissed Greek Islands on our way towards Kos and our next visitors.

Vhliko and Port Atheni

On Saturday we slipped from the town quay heading for Ormos Vhliko and Port Atheni.  Vhliko is 9 miles south of Lefkas and from there north coast of the island of Meganisi, where there are a host of small bays to anchor in, is only 4 or 5 miles away.    Then we planned to head south to Vathi on the island of Ithica, a mere 20 miles away.   This is the sort of cruising we hope to do when we get into the Agean again, short hops between islands only making long passages when absolutely necessary.

Leaving Lefkas Town at 11.30 we headed south through the canal which separates the island from the main land.   In fact it is only this canal across salt flats which makes Lefkas an island.   It was first dug in the 7th century BC by the Corinthians and has been in use in various forms ever since.   On leaving the canal we had a slow motor along the coast towards Ormos Vhliko.   Slow because we needed to make water as 5 days in Lefkas, where there isn’t any, had depleted our supplies.

Taverna Elena

Ormos Vhliko is a land locked bay well protected from almost all winds, not that wind was going to be an issue, there wasn’t any ……   We selected our anchor position off the village of Geni on the east side of the bay very carefully, on the basis of its proximity to a couple of tavernas.   These tavernas have their own jetties and just before the sun went down we took the tender to the nearest one and tied it up next to our table and spent a very pleasant couple of hours over a light dinner and some wine, returning to the boat to continue using their internet!

Taverna Elena with jetty, or vice versa …

On Sunday we set off at 11.30 again for the trip across to the north coast of Meganisi.  The island’s north coast is heavily indented with coves in which you can anchor but need to tie back to the shore because the water is quite deep and there is no room to swing; this is not something we’ve done before.

Captain on Deck!

In Lefkas I had purchased two 50 metre lengths of floating mooring line and had already bought two heavy lifting strops so I decided to use the windless conditions to practice with my new toys.   We headed to a bay in Porto Atheni which I knew would suit as a test site; we’d anchored here for lunch last year with our friends Graeme and Jayne in Scarlett, so it was familiar ground.    Anyway, long story short, we anchored and while Valeria BBQ’d lunch I ran my two new lines ashore in the dingy and we successfully tied back to a couple of large rocks on the shore. You wouldn’t want do this in strong winds but now I’ve had a practice I reckon we should be able to do it for real when the time comes.

Long lines ashore

So our second night of generator supported freedom was spent in silent relaxation in a delightfully tranquil bay with just three other boats for company, and none of them charter boats !!!!!!

Off to Lakka

We got away as planned, leaving Roccella at just after 9 on Monday 30 April, bound for Lakka, on Paxos. This was a 180 nautical miles over night passage and the winds were forecast to be generally light and mostly southerly or westerly.  Depending on our speed the passage would take between 30 hours (6 knots) and 36 hours (5 knots).

We managed to keep up a speed of well over 5.5 knots, hitting 7.5 at some points overnight with the wind behind us, and the passage took us just under 30 hours. Unfortunately to do this we needed to run both engines which will be quite expensive when we next need to take on diesel; however, the alternative was a slower passage, with 2 nights at sea or a night approach to the anchorage in Lakka. For our first voyage of the season we went for the swift, single over night passage and an afternoon arrival.

Big fish ...
Big fish ….

Highlights of the trip were lots of dolphins and our first tuna of the season. We now have an ‘I Spy Book of Dolphins’ as I figured it might be fun identifying the ones we see. No such luck, these ones, although distinctive, bore no resemblance to the pictures! More practice needed. The tuna was not only the first of the season, but our biggest ever. It weighed 2.75 kilos and gave us 1.5 kilos of tuna steaks in the freezer and a Fish Supper at sea on Monday night!

Lakka
Lakka

Arriving in, or more accurately ‘returning’ to, Lakka (we visited last year) we found it to be a bit crowded with perhaps 15 boats anchored and a charter fleet of 10 more on the town quay. There was still plenty of space for us and it is delightfully quiet and picturesque with lovely clear water. I took my customary swim to check the anchor and was pleasantly surprised to find only minimal hull fouling (not many things growing on the hull), although the propellers have attracted more growth than I’d like and I can see myself trying to clean them up while we’re here. At least the water is not too cold!

Pimms o’clock

All in all a nice relaxing start to our season! We’ll spend a few days here sampling the delights of Lakka before heading off towards Lefkas

We’re off!!

Over the last weeks of April there has been a palpable feeling of ‘leaving‘; the ‘Winter Community’ has been diminishing as boats have been leaving in dribs and drabs to start their summer cruising. Some off to the west for Scicily and Sardinia, Chris and Sue in ‘Nimrod’ heading  north to the Adriatic and Croatia and others, ourselves amongst them, heading east for Greece.

Our ‘plan’ was to leave with a favourable wind for our over night passage to Othoni, on Thursday 26 April, but …. we were still waiting for a delivery which we ordered two weeks ago.   On Friday, with only one brief period of settled weather approaching we cancelled  the order and started making plans to leave on Monday, 30 April.

Being a few days late setting off and the likelyhood of less than favourable weather conditions next weekend, we have decided to give Corfu a miss and head straight for the island of Paxos and the lovely bay of Lakka at the north of the island.  This is slightly further from Roccella than Othonoi at 180 miles so in order to arrive in daylight we’ll aim for a 6 knot voyage speed rather than 5; that should see us there by mid to late afternoon on Tuesday.   We’ll stay there for a couple of days until our next ‘fair winds’ before continuing south for Lefkas and Cephalonia.

We’re also now trying to predict where we’ll be when friends have asked to visit and it looks like we’ll be in and around Kos by the end of June to meet Lu and Sara.   We’ll visit Turkey in July and be back to Kos for August to meet Jean, Vania and Alex.

But before that we are looking forward to spending May in the Ionian before heading south around the Peloponnese for Milos, the first of the Cyclades.   Hopefully we can meet up with our friends Keith and Tracy in Cephalonia and Grahame and Jane in ‘Scarlett‘ in Kythnos.

We have been a really pleasant time in Roccella, entirely due to the people we have met and become friends with.   But now it is time to go.   And so, having just had our farewell BBQ aboard ‘Purr’ (awesome name for a Cat) hosted by our friends Charlie and Sue, and said our farewells to those still waiting for their own departures we are well and truly set to leave.