Milos

Milos.  We had planned to start our cruise around the islands with a visit to Milos but as it turns out we ended it here.   Milos is a large island, with an airport, close to the mainland and that adds up to ‘tourist destination’.

Adamas port

The port of Adamas is the island capital and is obviously set up for tourists, busy but not in an ‘in your face’ way.  It is not exactly picturesque but is pleasant enough and would perhaps fall into the ‘vibrant’ category in the evenings.

But with only one day free here, we needed the other day to do cleaning, laundry  and shopping, we decided to hop on the bus to the village of Trypiti which boasts an amphitheatre, catacombs and the ruins of the ancient city of Melos where the Venus de Melo was unearthed.

View across site of ancient Melos
Side street in Tryipti

And what a surprise!   We got off the bus in Trypiti and had a stroll along the main street which revealed a typical Greek island town.  From there we followed the signs for the Catacombs and the Amphitheatre.  It was hot and all down-hill,  which meant hot and all up hill on the way back!

Overlooking Klima

This was the site of the ancient city of Melos which thrived between the 9th century BC to the 7th century AD.   The site overlooks the small village of Klima, the site of the original port and only small sections of the city wall still remain.   It was in 1820, whilst ploughing a field beneath these ruins, that a farmer found the statue that we know now as the Venus de Milo.   After some disagreement over ownership the Ottoman Turks gave the statue to the French in 1821.

Amphitheatre of ancient Melos

The amphitheatre was a complete surprise.  Suddenly we were looking down and there it was!  It is Roman and dates from the 1st to 4th centuries AD.  Only a few rows of seats have been excavated and  renovated and a section of ‘mural’ has been restored to give an impression of the original backdrop.  The first rule of building an amphitheatre appears to have been ‘find a hill with an awesome view’ – if the production was awful at least you’d have something to look at!

Restored section of mural
The arches each had niches for small oil lamps and so would have been lit, although not as well as this
The arches each had niches for small oil lamps and so would have been lit, although not as well as this !

From there it was further down hill to the Catacombs.  These were an early Christian cemetery dug about 200 metres into the hillside in a number of ‘galleries’.   Each tomb was in the form of an arch above the actual tomb, some larger than others accommodating whole families, rich ones obviously.  When they ran out of space in the walls they dug down into the floor to accommodate more.  There were some 2000 tombs but many had a number of occupants.

The walk back up to the bus took us past a very welcome taverna, the Methismeni Política.    We had a gallon of water each and a light lunch, which was really delicious, included something, not entirely unlike pastel and included complimentary ice creams.

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On Monday, 20 August, we spent the day doing ‘housework’  in preparation for our next overnight passage to Porto Kayio, the bay north-east of Cape Matapan.   We loved our last visit and had planned to be there for Valeria’s birthday, but may use the coming settled weather to push on around the Peloponnese towards Cephalonia.

Nisyros to Milos

We spent another 5 days in Pali waiting for a break in the wind to allow us to continue westwards and eventually we had to settle for a ‘least worst’ option.

But staying a few extra days allowed us to enjoy one of the parties associated with the festival of the Virgin Mary.    Although the main event takes place in Mandraki we were advised to head for the monastery close to Nikia for the evening.   Following the religious service there is a meal of bean soup followed by Greek dancing.   The meal was simple, but free, apparently sponsors wait years for a chance to provide the meal!   The dancing was very informal, everyone just having a good time.  What struck me was the number of youngsters taking part in these traditional dances.  And it was busy, maybe a couple of hundred people and every hire car on the island parked for a kilometre along the road leading down to the monastery.   The only transport we could get was a small quad bike.  Very under powered and not suitable for the mountain roads.  Suffice to say, never again!

Our constant examination of the forecasts gave our 24 hour window of opportunity as Friday and Saturday and we decided to make the trip to Milos, some 140 miles in one over night, 27 hour passage.  The forecast was for head winds the whole way, but less than they had been, or would be.

Sunrise over the Datcha Peninsula

So we were up early on Friday and set off  at 6 am, just after it was light enough to see the harbour entrance and its sand bank.    It was not a particularly pleasant passage.   The wind was building the sea into a short chop over an existing residual swell which resulting in a short,  confused sea.  As the day wore on the wind was gusting to 18 knots requiring both engines to stay on course and keep up any speed, 4 knots was the best we could do!

Sunset off Amorgos

We passed north of Astipalia at lunch time and at sunset we were passing the south western tip of  island of Amorgos.   As the sun went down the wind and sea dropped away a bit and our speed increased slightly.    We passed north of Ios at 2 am and as the sun rose we were approaching the island of Polyaigos , just east of Milos.

Sunrise off Milos

Despite the less than favourable weather we arrived at the port of Adamas, as planned, at 1130 and moored to the yacht pontoon.   A tiring passage and not the most comfortable but we are back on schedule with a day or so in hand, although had to skip Astipali, Santorini and Ios.

Adamas

We’ll be in Milos now until probably Monday or Tuesday before the wind dies down again a bit although this next leg should see the winds from the north as we head south of west.  That is a good point of sail for us, but we’ll see !!

Heading west

Sitting in Marathouda on Wednesday 8 August we examined the weather forecasts because we are back to dodging the Meltemi which was always going to be our biggest challenge in heading west across the Aegean.

Although not the Meltemi, currently the winds across Simi tend to be light overnight and into the morning before picking up to between 15 to 25 knots from the northwest in the afternoon and early evening but the Meltemi was due to begin blowing in earnest at the weekend and remain with us for most of next week. We needed somewhere to sit it out.

We had hoped to visit Monastery Bay on Symi’s west coast before heading off for the island of Tilos and then Astipalia planning to leave early in the mornings and arriving as the wind picked up.    The Pilot Book describes the port of Livhadia on Tilos as quite small and stated that the laid moorings off the town quay were ‘reported to be in disrepair’.     In settled weather we’d have gone and looked and if necessary anchored in the bay, but the PB further advised that the anchorage was not tenable in a strong Meltemi although did not attempt to quantify the description ‘strong’, so there was no Plan B.
However: Nysiros was only a few miles further to sail and we knew it was well sheltered.  If we couldn’t get in we could go across to Kamares on Kos and anchor there.

So we set off horribly early on Thursday morning, by which I mean 4.30 am horribly early, aiming to be in Pali by 11.30, thereby beating the afternoon blow and arriving between the rush hours.

The entrance to Ormos Marathouda

It can be quite daunting leaving a pitch black anchorage under just star light with the radar and echo sounder the only real clue as to how far away that shadow is!  That shadow being the rocky coast line or off laying island!

Sun rise over Symi

The moon rose at about 5 but was a sliver of a crescent and was of little help other than to hint at where we’d been. But by 5.30 the sky was lightening and by 6.30 the sun was rising over the island but by then we were clear of Symi and its outlaying islands and were set on our course towards Nisyros.   The passage went as planned and we arrived in Pali at 11.30 and even found ‘our’ spot on the harbour wall was vacant.

And so we settled back down to wait for a break in the Meltemi to allow us to continue our voyage west, but it isn’t looking likely that the winds will die down sufficiently for the rest of the week or much of next week either.   But we’re not alone., even those heading north or east are sitting it out too!

Pedi Bay and Marathouda

Our first morning back in Greece, just planning a wander along to pick up a Cheese Pie and the Port Police tell us, very politely, we had to move by 11 as we were on a ferry berth.

Simi is a pretty place and we were in two minds as to whether to move to another gap when someone left, or to simply leave all together.   The berths in Simi are exposed to the wash from the numerous ferries, and the previous evening had been so unexpectedly good that we didn’t want to spoil the memory with a mediocre second one. With just enough time for a the Cheese Pie, we left and headed for Pedi, a large bay a few miles south of Simi.

We’d heard nice things about Pedi, which is pretty and thought we’d stay overnight before moving on.   But, it is notorious for poor holding, with yachts invariably dragging their anchors; even the author of our Pilot Book dragged his anchor there so what hope did we have?!   So, we anchored and made sure it was well dug in then settled down for a BBQ and a nice cool swim, planning to go ashore for a walk in the evening, grab a wine and a welcome-back saganaki.

As the afternoon wore on the wind began to build and got to about 20 knots when we started to drag. It is quite alarming really, suddenly finding all the other boats around you drifting slowly by ……. . We heaved up our anchor and had two other attempts to get it to hold, both unsuccessful, before I decided to head out for another anchorage before everyone else got the same idea.

There are 4 other bays on the east coast of Simi where you can anchor. The first is described as being deep, the Pilot Book advising ‘anchor where depths are convenient’, code for ‘good luck with that’, the second is ‘a good lunch stop’ or ‘you wouldn’t want to be here for too long in a blow’. I set off for the third bay called Ormos Marathouda;  ‘anchor in 4-8 metres at the head of the bay’.

Many of these islands are subject to Katabatic Winds on their lee sides. The wind climbs one side of the island and then falls off the other, rolling down into the bays at higher than expected speeds. As we passed each of the bays the wind was gusting to over 20 knots, dropping away again before the next inlet, and Marathouda was no different, it was however, almost empty.    Either a really good sign or a really bad one.

Marathouda

The only other yacht there was tied to a 20 litre plastic can on a piece of string. These are ‘laid moorings’ which are generally concrete blocks with a chain and rope attached. There was a second one not too far away from it but I am always loathe to pick up such moorings as you do not know what is actually on the other end; with my luck it would a lobster pot, the 20 litre drums have multiple uses!!

We anchored in the dead centre of the bay and let out plenty of chain.   It felt well and truly set in a depth of 7 metres and as the water was crystal clear I snorkelled out to check the anchor was well dug in before settling down for the evening.

There is a small hamlet at the head of the bay with a very local taverna on the beach; we took the tender ashore in the evening for a light snack and whiled away the time watching the local goats, watching us, watching them. The picket fence made sense now; cats in a taverna are bad enough, but a herd of goats !!!??    We also tried to connect to their WiFi, but it was hopeless. This is my ‘blogging challenge’, getting strong enough WiFi signal or enough data to publish photos and blogs! We almost completely failed to connect!

It was so nice, and the winds forecast to be so strong on the west side of the island we stayed at anchor for the whole of Wednesday waiting for our opportunity to push on towards Tilos.

Marathouda sunrise

Marathouda was one of those last minute, spur of the moment destinations which turned out to be lovely. It was fairly quiet, relatively sheltered with good holding and beautiful clear waters. Clear other than first thing in the morning when a slick of unmentionables tends to wash in on the morning sea breeze. If the wind is in the other direction it goes to Turkey, but on Wednesday it was Greece’s turn! We found this out chatting with a local fisherman, ex Merchant Navy engineer who had worked in the Brooklyn Shipyards in the 1970s and whose family owned 11 of the houses around the bay. We only counted a dozen buildings, not including the taverna and the church so figured he must also be the Mayor! The slick dissipated, as the Mayor had predicted and the waters returned to being crystal clear so we spent our time swimming and snorkelling and then planning our next legs west, dodging the Meltemi.   We have a cunning plan to dodge the adverse winds which will be put into operation tomorrow morning at 4 am!

Symi

Our Port of Entry back into Greece was to be Symi.   We’d had mixed reports about the place and as soon as we arrived we were turned away by the Port Police and told to come back at 4 pm.   A good start!

Our first sight of Symi

Our passage across had been straight forward and as expected the wind was from right ahead of us although only 5 to 10 knots.   It built as we approached Symi and was gusting to 20 knots as we tried to find somewhere close by Symi port to anchor for an hour or so.   We couldn’t.   The nearest bay, Empourio, is just north of Symi and is too deep for us to anchor in apart from one small, shallow spot off the village, easily identified by the yacht anchored on it.   There was nothing for it but to drift for an hour then join the rush hour back in Symi harbour.

Symi harbour

We found a spot and once secure, and paid, I went in search of officialdom. The first office to visit was the Port Police for Immigration, they are on the north side of the harbour entrance.  Then on to Customs, right in the middle of the end of the harbour before going round to the other Port Police for the DEPKA, they are on the south side of the harbour entrance directly opposite the Immigration Port Police.   Immigration were impressed I had the correct Crew List, the Customs man wasn’t interested in VAT, he only wanted the Insurance, Registration and our impressive Crew List and the other Port Police wanted the same documents and our DEPKA, and to collect a €15 tourist tax.   It is a mystery why you need 3 offices at, quite literally, the three extremities of the harbour, but rules are rules, and at least I didn’t need to pay someone to do it for me!   Another bonus of touring the harbour was locating a Bakery close to the Customs House.

Looking along the harbour from the Customs House

That evening Valeria found us a great restaurant, Taverna To Spitiko, just a few metres from the boat.  Wow.  We had a seafood meze and it was fabulous. We were munching our way through it trying, unsuccessfully, to recall better this year; it was a great welcome back to Greece!

Following that we went for a wander around the streets and found ourselves at an open air concert, three singers and an organist doing classical type music. Hardly Greece has Talent but it was fantastic to simply pull up a chair in the church yard and relax; Valeria was Live Face-bragging for most of the recital. Really cool.

And then it was back to the boat for another night of Air Conditioned comfort!

Symi is a pretty town, built along the steep sides of the hills which surround the port.  None of the stark blue and white buildings we’ve been used to, here the colour scheme is far more subdued going for pastel tones in cream and white!    Symi is the nearest Greek port to Turkey and so is very busy with boats doing what we were doing.  The ferries ploughing back and forth set up quite a surge in the narrow confines of the harbour which makes it rather uncomfortable, alarmingly so sometimes.    Our idea is to stay another day to look around the town in day light before moving on to explore some of the bays around the coast.   Then we will embark on our journey westwards through the Southern Cyclades to the Peloponnese and on to Cephalonia for September.

Bozburun

We had an uneventful 3 hour trip from Selimiye round to Bozburun on Saturday morning.   We planned to stay in Bozburun on Sunday to have look around before clearing Turkish Immigration on Monday morning on our way back to Greece.

Bozburun Bay has numerous anchorages around it but anecdotal evidence suggested we’d need to be in the port so that Customs could come and check the boat if they wanted to.

Bozburun is only a small place and when we arrived there was one gap in the corner on the quay just a bit bigger than we were. Happily the wind was very light and we manoeuvred ourselves alongside very nicely and paid to stay for two nights. We also paid our 70TL pump out charge.

Bozburun was once a ship building and sponge fishing centre. The sponge fishing is long gone but the ship building is still going and the local yard builds gulets; the prime industry now seems to be tourism. It is a small, busy place and had little to really recommend it to us other than a Customs and Immigration post!

We had a couple of meals in the harbour front restaurants, bought a few bits and bobs and enjoyed the electricity which meant we could run the A/C all night; it was rather warm, although probably not by current UK standards!

Leaving Turkey was a bit of a saga. As with our arrival in Bodrum you need an Agent to conduct all the paperwork to ‘check out’ of the country, although the system does seem to be set up solely to create the role of Yacht Agent for locals to earn money conducting the paper shuffling, scanning, photocopying and rubber stamping. However on this occasion the cost was a mere €40.

Bozburun harbour, looking at the Customs Berth

The Agent then took us along to the Harbour Master’s Office.  Here we had to wait while He finished His breakfast on the balcony of His office looking out over the sweating mortals below awaiting an audience. However; it transpired that we weren’t actually to be admitted to His presence. He only had to rubber stamp the rubber stamps on the aforementioned photocopied documents. This was a bit of a relief to be honest as we were in our scruffy sailing garb and hardly attired appropriately to be admitted to His presence! Immigration was simple, two more rubber stamps and then the Agent then told us we’d have to move onto the Customs jetty.

When you consider that Bozburun harbour is 100 by 131 metres (as measured from the chart plotter) I was firstly surprised that there was room for a Customs jetty, and secondly that we would need to move the boat 100 m along the wall to it! But rules are rules and so we let go, manoeuvred along the line of 12 moored boats, dropped our anchor and reversed onto the Customs jetty and tied up. As soon as we got there the Agent handed me the Ship’s papers back and said we could leave! She had sat on the quayside and watched us move! If she’d walked to us she’d have been back in her air conditioned office practising with her rubber stamps about a half hour sooner!

So we left Turkey.   And to be honest we have been slightly under-whelmed by the visit. The high point was visiting Zeynep in Bodrum, the ruins at Knidos and one or two pleasant anchorages, the low points which will sour our memories were all the rip off Agency fees and officialdom.   I think perhaps we spent too little time here to make all that worthwhile, only 3 weeks, which isn’t really long enough to get the feel of a place.   We left finding ourselves looking forward to returning to Greece; as we crossed into Greek Territorial Waters I could almost smell the Cheese Pies!

Selimiye

Our next destination was to be Selimiye about 7 miles from Kuyulu Bükü.  Zeynep’s guide  suggested 1 or 2 days here and as the wind was forecast to be uncomfortably strong from the west until the weekend we figured we’d follow her advice.

Again the PB info was dated and we did a tour of the bay looking for a mooring spot.  The bay is very deep until close in shore and so anchoring free was going to be difficult as those spots were taken.    All of the quayside was full, most of the jetties too; I figured the empty jetties were empty for a reason.  We wanted to be close to the town and so we found ourselves a spot in the south east corner of the bay, anchored and took lines ashore.

Although crowded Zeynep’s advise was good.  We went ashore a couple of times for wander and a couple of meals and enjoyed both.  Selimiye seems to be a Turkish holiday resort and the vast majority of the boats in the bay appeared to be Turkish, the gulets obviously disgorged large numbers of people but over all it was a quiet, peaceful place..

Selimiye from the Poseidon Restarant
Selimiye from the Poseidon Restarant

We were tucked out of the way close to the Poseidon Beach and Yacht Bar, close enough for their Internet which was better 100 m off than it was sitting on their jetty.    We asked about mooring on that and were told the last ‘guest’ had run his AC continuously, overloaded the electricty supply and nearly burned the hotel down.  Possibly an exaggeration but no is no!  But the staff were nice and the food was good and anchoring cost us nothing but some fuel to run our AC a couple of times!

Seliemiye was once a small fishing village but has grown with the tourist trade and it was a pleasant place to spend a couple of days swiming and relaxing.   We’re not sure if the forecast winds blew or not as the bay appears very well sheltered and we aim to leave for Bozburun on Saturday morning as originally planned.

Hisarönü Körfezi

Hisarönü Körfezi is the Gulf which lies south of the Datça Peninsula.  It was suggested that we visit some of the bays and coves there as we made our way round to Bozburun.

Leaving Datça on Monday, 30 July, we were headed for an inlet called Bençik about 20 mlies east.   In antiquity the Knidians planned to dig a canal across the peninsula at this, it’s narrowest point, as a defence against the Persians.  They sought the advice of the Oracle at Delphi and were told that if Zeus wanted another island, he’d have made one.   No canal was dug, the Persians arrived, Knidos fell and the Oracle carried on oracling.

But when we got there it was rammed full of gulets!   Also in the Pilot Book it made mention of sharks breeding there and although the book was published 10 years ago, touchingly the Captain didn’t want her Crew Guy eaten by sharks whilst swimming our lines ashore ……. we passed on by and instead stopped in a bay a few miles further on called Kuyulu Bükü.  This was quite busy but we tucked ourselves into a corner and spent the night anchored.

Kuyulu Bükü
Kuyulu Bükü

On Tuesday we set off for Keçi Bükü, or what is known as Girl Sand Beach.    Zeynep highlighted it on her maps and according to the Pilot Book ‘Keçi Bükü is a gem‘.  Unfortuneately ‘was a gem’ would be more accurate.    The 10 year old Pilot Book and Zeynep’s childhood memories are, sadly, just that.      The feature of the bay is a 300 m sand bar dividing the bay in half.  The PB describes it as ‘a long sand bar, just under the water, which does not always show up well.’    We had no difficulty identifying it as soon as we entered the bay.  I thought it was the site of a ruined jetty, but the jagged wooden posts turned out to be herds of tourists wading waist deep along the sand bar.   The inner end of the bay is now full of jetties and yachts and after we’d finally managed to get our anchor to set (took 3 attempts) we decided to go back to Kuyulu Bükü!

Kuyulu Bükü. Idyllic by comparison to Girl Sand Beach !!!!

It was only 4 miles between the two so we were back by mid afternoon and anchored in our previous corner, too shallow for the gulets, and I went ashore for a walk.  There is a rough road down to the sea and I followed it for just over a kilometre looking for views over the bay.  Being heavily wooded there weren’t that many but it was pleasant to wander through the woods as the sun went down.

Our next destination is Seleimiye, a large and sheltred bay on the south side of Hisarönü Koyu, where plan to spend a couple of days before getting to Bozburun.

Knidos

The ruins at Knidos are those of the city which flourished between the fourth century BC until the 8th century AD.  Prior to the foundation of the city the Knidians were a wealthy and successful people dedicating temples in Delos; theirs was the first all-marble temple in Greece.

For a description of the site and its history I found this site to be one of the best reads.

View from the amphitheatre across the old comercial harbour
View from the amphitheatre across the old comercial harbour

We got a cab there and back which gave us an hour and a half to walk around the site.  This is not enough to see everything but on a baking hot day you can get an idea of the scale of the place.  Our original plan of an overnight stay in the harbour would have been fantastic, I could have spent all day there!

Trireme Harbour

The city was built around an isthmus leading to a rocky head land which sheltered two coves, converted into harbours, one military and one commercial, and was vast.  It is only partly excavated and so there are a large number of unidentified piles of rocks.    But fascinatingly under some of the piles you can make out the basics of what used to be there.   We have visted a lot of archeological sites but this is the rawest one,

The front of what used to be the Corinth Ian Temple
Fallen carving from the Corinthian Temple

One striking feature of the site is the sheer volume of red clay pottery sherds originating from roof tiles, pipes and pots; the paths around the site are carpeted with them.

Piles of salvaged tiles and pipes

It was a fantastic site and one I would have loved to spend all day wandering round; perhaps another time.   But now the rest of the pictures.

Temple of Dionysos, later converted to a church
The Stoa
The Stoa. Numerous small shops and storage spaces beside the temple
Sections of portico from the Stoa
The Amphitheatre
Main Street

Christian church adapting earlier building

The Round Temple
View across the Temple of Dionysos and the two harbours

 

 

 

Datça

Sunrise after the Blood Moon
Sunrise after the Blood Moon

We left Mercincik early on Saturday morning to get ourselves round the end of the Datça peninsula before the westerly winds picked up.   Our original plan had been to stop for a night in the ancient harbour of Knidos and visit the ruins then go to Palamut,then Datça, but we needed to get our black water tanks pumped out so had to head straight for Datça.

We had put the fishing line out, more in hope than expectation and as we passed the headland which is the site of Knidos we caught a nice big tuna!   We had a quick look at Knidos then headed off again, with the line out thinking we might get another tuna.   We didn’t.   In very short order we snagged a rather large sword fish, over a metre long and a good 9 or 10 kilos.  Most effective fishing day ever!!

We got into Datça at about 1 pm to find the quay virtually full.  We found a gap but when we’d tied back were told it was a trip boat berth, although we could stay for a few hours to shop.  Happily, as we returned to the boat a spot opened up on the town quay quite close to the ‘Pump Out’ station so we quickly moved along there.  The price here for pumping out is 70TL, 1/6th of the rip off rates in Bodrum.

Old Datça
Old Datça

Once settled we took a cab up to the old village of Datça.   Until recently this had been on the verge of abandonment, but is now being gentrified.   The old buildings house numerous craft shops and assorted restaurants and a number of new buildings are going up, built in keeping with the ‘rustic aesthetic’, which look likely to house apartments, shops and eateries.  It is a quaint place and good that it has a new lease of life.

Valeria then found us a Trip Advisor restaurant in new Datça which turned out to be a kebab shop serving variations on Kofte and Liver.  It was no frills but it was away from the tourist areas, the food  was simple and good and the Trip Advisor recommendation accurate.

North Bay, new Datça

Datça is another rather modern looking town which is pretty quiet during the day but is very lively at night.   Obviously a tourist destination, it is a port of call for gulet cruises and has a night life to match.

Tomorrow we are going to visit Knidos before continuing further into the Hisarönü Körfezi on Monday.

Sailing south ….

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