Tag Archives: Anavissou

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.


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.

Ormos Anavissou to Ormos Kastri

On Friday morning, the 9th, we heaved up the anchor at 8.30 and set off for Ormos Kastri, an anchorage on the south eastern coast of Nisos Evia with Zeyep and Steve taking turns at steering.

Sunion Temple

Leaving Anavissou we headed east along the coast and passed Sounion,  where we’ll meet Solange in August, the ruins of the temple on the headland clearly visible.   By this time we were sailing, although not in the right direction; we needed to go north in the Makronisu Channel, but the wind was coming south. Still we tacked across the mouth of the channel and then motored up wind headed for Olympic Marina, where we will leave Windependent for a week or so in August as we attend THE wedding.   As I am not entirely sure where we’ll get our next fuel I decided to call in there to have a quick look and fill our tanks.

Once fueled up we continued to motor towards the north end of Nisos Makronisos and I jokingly told Steve that as we turned to head north east towards Ormos Kastri,  the wind would shift to the north east as well – and it did, building slowly over the next 4 hours to 15 knots, gusting to 20 as we approached the channel between Evia and Andros.

In these sort of head winds we have to use both engines to keep on course and keep any sort of speed.  It is also not particularly comfortable but we finally got to within striking distance of our destination and made our approach as the sun went down. Making out the mouth of the bay was difficult, until I identified the big jagged rocks on the north side of the mouth of the bay – an encouraging sight!  As soon as we’d got into the shelter of the bay the waves disappeared and the wind began to drop.

Ormos Kastri is a small bay with a few houses around it and nothing else, and once anchored, with the wind dying away to nothing it was a really peaceful place.  Once settled we had dinner and Steve made some Martinis, he’d brought Gin and Vermouth as well as Pimms! And then the moon came up and treated us to an awesome show of moonlight on the water, now almost mirror smooth. Suddenly, the nasty lumpy, bouncy, wind afternoon was forgotten.  Photos by Zeinep.

Ormos Kastri by moonlight

Corinth to Ormos Anavissou

We left Corinth at 9 and set off towards Ormos Anavissou where we planned to anchor close to the small town of Palaia Fokaia and wait for Zeynep and Stephen.

This took us through the anchorage off Piraeus and then across the Traffic Separation Scheme on the approach to this huge port to reach the north coast of the Saronic Gulf.  There we turned south towards Ormos Anavissou and Palaia Fokaia, arriving at about 5.30, anchoring off the harbour entrance with a couple of other yachts.

Ormos Anavissou

We spent the night at anchor and the following day, Thursday, cleaning and tidying the boat, doing laundry and then going ashore for some shopping and lunch.  It was also an opportunity to reconnoitre the beach and harbour to find the best place to pick up our guests; as this would be done at night I didn’t want anything too complex!   Just before it got dark I set off for the beach to wait.

At about 9.30 Zeynep and Stephen arrived, having successfully followed Valeria’s illustrated directions. As soon as he arrived Steve apologised because he didn’t know the secret password for the ‘covert extraction’ from the beach, but this confused me no end because he then said “We’ve brought Pimms”, which was in fact, the password!

Although the beach was easier for me, it would have meant them wading out to the boat knee deep, and just off the plane, neither were equipped for that.  So, I did the first run to the boat with their bags, containing the Pimms, and then a second run into the harbour to pick them up from the quayside – you note my priorities!

By 10 pm they were on board and settling in and being ‘briefed’ on lifejackets and our passage plan.