Tag Archives: Greece

Adri and Mauro’s weekend on board

Our first visitors in Argostoli were Mauro and Adri.  This is Mauro’s third visit (search for ‘Mauro’) but Adri’s first and their first weekend away from the kids!

They arrived on Thursday, 6 September, suddenly appearing at the end of the gangway at about 11 pm; the town quay isn’t that big so we weren’t hard to find!   After the Prosecco welcome it was off to bed in preparation for a sail the following day and a night at anchor.

On Friday morning Mauro insisted on washing the boat down before we went to get fuel. We had last filled up completely in Bozburun and then taken just 100 litres in Milos to get us here and managed it with about 40 litres left. Running the generator every day I then managed to drain one tank completely. Doh! Manoeuvering on one engine would be a challenging exercise and one I should practice, but it was easier to have a fuel guy deliver us 20 litres in a drum, which was ample to get us to the fuel berth.

So, filled up with diesel we set off at 1 pm on Friday and headed around the coast towards a small village called Sparthia on the south coast.   Once out of Argostoli we had the sails up and managed to sail for a couple of hours in light winds, arriving off Sparthia at about 5.   Sparthia has a tiny harbour and a number of increasingly inaccessible beaches.  We anchored and immediately got the swimming ladder down, the BBQ out and put Mauro to work again.

Coastline near Sparthia
Coastline near Sparthia
Mauro anchoring under the Captain's watchful eye!!
Mauro anchoring under the Captain’s watchful eye!!

On Saturday we had planned to head across to the bay where we  met Ivan and Lu last year, have lunch there then head back to Argostoli. But we set off late and wanted to get back to Argostoli before the rather stronger afternoon winds picked up so scrubbed that idea.   However; we did manage to get the sails up again and made most of the passage back under sail.   Returning to Argostoli by 4pm we anchored in the harbour rather than go onto the quay and took the tender ashore for a wander around the town in the evening before getting a bite to eat.

On Sunday morning I dropped Valeria and Adri ashore to do some shopping while Mauro and I went off to explore the marina which is on the east side of the harbour. Mauro drove, which turned out to be a good decision.    The marina was built a few years ago and then abandoned after a dispute between the builders and the town council.   It is ‘useable’ but has no facilities, is free and as such it is gathering dying boats and appears to be where the Coast Guard store vessels they have seized. It is a dump.

The Brasinglish are coming!

Once we had picked up Valeria and Adri we set off planning to sail up to the north end of the Kolpos Argostoliu to Ormos Livadhi. There we would anchor, swim, and sail back under the Cruising Chute, and as a plan it worked perfectly. We had northerly winds getting up to 15 knots allowing us to tack almost the whole way there, anchoring at 3pm.   We had a swim for about an hour then set off south again. The wind was behind us now, still at about 15 knots, so Mauro and I got the Cruising Chute up and sailed the entire way down to Argostoli putting in a couple of gybes along the way. When I say ‘we sailed’, I mean ‘Mauro sailed’ and I just offered help hints. It was a really good afternoon.

I even had a brand new collision avoidance experience. There have been some wildfires here over the weekend and a helicopter was using the approaches to Argostoli to load water, flying at mast height north into the wind as we were heading south. There is no Collision Regulation covering that but staying well clear seemed like a good idea; mercifully Sundays tend to be charter – boat free here otherwise the Pilot would have had fun!

So, after a really good afternoon, which went exactly to plan and gave Mauro plenty of sailing practice and Adri plenty of opportunities to admire our Brasinglish ensign I went and trapped a finger in the hinge of a deck hatch while getting the BBQ out, crushed my finger and almost ripped the nail out.  Ouch.

Hurtie finger

Happily, Mauro knew how to put the tender in the water and had experience driving it so we could go ashore to the hospital.

And that was an experience. We found our way in via what I now know is the sub basement. It was something like the film set for a Zombie movie, all stained concrete, stained floors and bits hanging off the wall, just needed the zombies. Having found our way to the ER, which was one floor above the Zombie set, I was seen, had the nail removed, was bandaged up and sent on my way.   We got back to the boat at about 9 to find that Valeria and Adri had got the BBQ underway so we had a late dinner.

Argostoli

In the morning we moved from the anchorage back onto the Town Quay; happily going astern I use my left hand on the engine controls and my right for the frantic waving, so that worked out well.  But once tied up, because I had a ‘hurtie finger’, Mauro stowed the tender away, tidied the ropes and bagged up the sails, and Adri washed the boat.

The rest of the day was spent packing, chilling and doing a little shopping before having a late lunch in a taverna. I went off to the hospital for a bandage change and a prescription and got back just before 7pm when Valeria, Adri and Mauro had to leave for the airport.

Mauro dreaming of returning to work for a rest!!!

It was fantastic to see Adri and Mauro and we all had a really good time, with the one minor exception, and are so grateful for their help with that!

On to Cephalonia

The last couple of days in Katacolon started to drag and so  we took the first opportunity of not un-favourable winds to push on to Cephalonia.

The cruise ships arrive very early each morning

Thursday was the day.  Light winds all morning with relatively light north-westerly winds off Cephalonia as we were to arrive in the afternoon. The earlier we set off the better and so we slipped from the town quay in Katacolon after lunch on Wednesday and went to anchor outside the harbour planning an early night and a pre dawn departure on Thursday.  It also meant we wouldn’t have to avoid cruise liners arriving as we set off!   The passage north was almost 60 miles, or just under 12 hours, and was calm almost the whole way there; we were moored on the Argostoli town quay by 4pm.

Anniversary 2018

We have a week in hand now and plan to stay on the town quay throughout. We have spent time in Argostoli before, and our friend Keith did such a good job of showing us around Cephalonia we felt there wasn’t a lot of need to explore further.  So we will just soak up life in Argostoli, celebrate our wedding anniversary and prepare for all our visitors.

Mauro and Adri are to join us,on the 7th then Valeria goes home with them on the 10th.  Marisa comes out for a week on the 11th and then Valeria returns as Marisa leaves and brings Charlie and Ana with her!

Our new neighbours

Looking forward to busy month and as we’ll not be going far, perhaps some sailing!!

Olympia

On Monday morning, 27 August, we were up quite early intending to beat the rush of cruise ship tourists to Olympia.  There were three ships in the terminal in the morning and the suitably olympic sized car park behind the boat was full of coaches and taxis.

The train to Olympia is a small narrow gauge affair but I assume most of the visitors from the ships were booked on coach tours but even when we got to Olympia it wasn’t that crowded.

The site of Olympia is on the floor of a river valley below the hill named after the god Khronos.  The area has been occupied since the Neolithic times, 3000BC, developing into a centre of worship and during the 2nd millennium BC the Myceneans founded the cult of Zeus there.

Ruins of the gymnasium where athletes trained before the games
Entrance to the Stadium. .
The Stadium. Seating was not provided, requiring spectators to sit on the banks. Capacity of 30,000 to 40,000
View across the Leonidaion, a hostel for distinguished visitors

The origins of the games are lost in myths; the Gods held wrestling matches and running races in Olympia and so ‘games’  were likely a part of religious rites.  They were possibly held as far back as the 11th century BC as fairly local affairs but were reorganised in the 8th century, the first Panhellenic Olympic Games being held in 776BC. The concept of the Sacred Truce, during which the warring city states stopped fighting, was instituted to allow peaceful competition.

Workshop of Pheidias
Workshop of Pheidia

Another myth of Mycenean origin  has the king Oinomaos involved in a chariot race with a suitor for his daughter’s hand. Oinomaos had dreamt he’d be killed by his son-in-law and so, equipped with a pair of unbeatable winged horses from Zeus, challenged all potential candidates.  The draw back was that the winner killed the looser!  Pelos, arrived on scene and had been given winged horses by Poseidon; Pelos won, killed Oinomaos and had the Peloponnese named after him!

Southern facade of the temple of Zeus

The athletes competed in the games for prestige alone, winning a wreath of wild olive leaves. However; anyone caught cheating had to pay a large fine which was used to dedicate a bronze statue to Zeus.  These were known as Zanes and were displayed on the approach to the Stadium. These statues bore the name of the cheating athlete  and the manner of his cheating as a warning to others!

Reconstructed Pelopion

The Games developed down the centuries much as they do now with new events being added at intervals, until 393AD when the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I banned them. His successor, Theodosius II then ordered the monuments burnt in 426AD and two earthquakes in 522 and 551AD finished the job. Although a farming settlement remained even that was abandoned by the 7th century and the site slowly disappeared under the flood plain of the Alpheios River.

Altar of Hera, where the Olympic Torch is lit, with the Temple of Her in the background

When you bear in mind this is the birth place of the Olympics and the place where the Olympic Torch is lit before each Games they could have made a bit of an effort with presentation; it is rather overgrown in places and, as elsewhere, there is a dearth of information about the ruins.   We had a guide-book but it was difficult to relate the text to the ruins especially as I now find we went around the site ‘backwards’!  Some direction arrows could have helped !!   There were some signs around the place but it is an extensive, complex site and a lot more wouldn’t have hurt; Audio Guides would have been fantastic; the wold even be a job opportunity for official guides!    Despite that it is an impressive site and the sheer scale of some of the ruins give a hint of the enormity of the original.

The Hermes of Praxiteles
The Nike of Paionios
Statues from western end of the Temple of Zeus depicting drunken Centaurs at the wedding feast of Peirithoos and Deidameia. The Centaurs tried kidnapping all the female guests.
Statues from the eastern end of the Temple of Zeus showing preparations from the chariot race between Pelops and Oinomaos.

Olympia is a fantastic place and well worth the visit but it could be an amazing experience with attention to presentation.

Katacolon

Katacolon was a small fishing village until a local boy made good shipping magnate decided that it would make an ideal cruise ship terminal for tourists visiting Olympia.

The village is about 700 metres long, at one end is the beach and the cruise ship terminal and at the other is the station for the narrow gauge railway to Olympia.

Katacolon harbour front

The village comprises the harbour front and two streets behind that. The harbour front is dedicated to restaurants, end to end. The next street back is home to souvenir and jewellery shops for the cruise ship passengers and the third street, well, the third street is behind the second. There are more ATMs per square metre than some islands we know.

We arrived on Friday afternoon in a ghost town, literally no one on the streets, tumble weed deserted. The town quay is in front of the largest and emptiest car park imaginable and on the other side of that is the railway station and the local church. They have a very loud set of bells and a loudspeaker system that broadcast the entire Friday evening sung service to the village. Happily that was the only one although the bells did get a bashing on Sunday morning as well.

Saturday was Valeria’s birthday so we spent a quiet day doing little and wandering along to a nice restaurant for a late lunch. We decided to leave the visit to Olympia until Sunday, not appreciating that the train wouldn’t run.

We did little on Sunday, waiting to visit Olympia on Monday, although I did take a walk over to the Museum of Ancient Greek Technology, which was fascinating. Everything from sundials and water clocks to self-loading cross bows and holy water vending machines. They even had a steam-driven device linked to the fire for the temple offerings. When the fire was hot enough the temple doors opened in approval! When the fire died down the door closed and the only way to get the gods to show their approval again was to make another offering! And of course numerous types of crane and lifting machines.

Katacolon really has little to offer visitors unless you are on a cruise ship, it is easier to buy jewelery or a leather coat than to buy groceries.   Once the cruise ships leave there is little here at all.   It is a useful stop over on the west coast of the Peloponnese and one of the few places with shelter.   We planned to be ‘not sailing’ on Valeria’s birthday and to visit Olympia, but with those two targets achieved sitting waiting for the wind to change got to be a little boring.

 

Adama to Katacolon

We left Adama at 2 pm on Tuesday, 21 August headed for Porto Kayio, Methoni and Katacolon.  This was a total of just over 200 nautical miles and, due to the settled weather we decided to do it in three days.

The first leg, Adama to Porto Kayio was the best part of 100 miles miles, or 20 hours and we did this as an overnight passage to arrive in the morning as other boats would be leaving.  The weather was also predicted to be calm which was good.  According to the Pilot Book the two easternmost fingers of the Peloponnese, Capes Malea and Matapan, should be treated with respect as far as the weather is concerned and can be subject to violent winds.  We had a little taste on our way up here from Crete last year, but this time made the passage without much wind at all, the biggest challenge was all shipping using the Steno Elafonisou, the channel between Cape Malea and Nisos Kithera.

Approaching Porto Kayio
Porto Kayio

We made good time and  were anchored by 9.30 am on Wednesday.   We spent the day resting and swimming before going ashore for an early dinner. unfortunately it was not as good as we remembered and so leaving on Thursday was not such a chore.

Thursday saw us up at 6 and away by 6.30 heading for Methoni.  Methoni has the ruins of a Venetian fortress occupying the entire headland which looked pretty impressive as we’d sailed passed last year so I wanted to visit.  After a straightforward passage we anchored at 4.30, put the tender in the water immediately and went ashore. I had a look around the castle while Valeria supped wine on the beach.

Artists impression of the fortress from the north

The castle is Venetian and was built in the 13th century to control the east west trade routes around the Peloponnese.  Although it looks spectacular there is little actually there apart from the round tower and the adjacent castle gate overlooking the old galley harbour.    It passed to the Ottoman Turks who built the hexagonal tower, the Bourtzi, at the southern tip of the headland after they took the fort in 1500.    This apparently had little defensive value but did help enclose the galley harbour.

Main entrance
Southern gate
Bourtzi tower from southern gate

Interior of the fortress looking north-east
Granite column from an early Christian shipwreck, erected in the main Piazza d’armi by the Venetians in the 14th century

View from the Kastro taverna

After an hour or so hiking around the site, it is very large, I went back to Valeria and we went for a meal to Taverna To Kastro right outside the castle entrance.  And what a fantastic meal, mini cheese pies, stuffed zucchini flowers and a delicious mousaka.  Our intention had been to spend a day here looking around but we decided to push on so that we wouldn’t have to travel on Valeria’s birthday.u

Anchorage off Methoni

So, at 6.30 on Friday morning we set off again for Katacolon.  This is the small port and cruise ship terminal close to the ancient site of Olympia, the home of the Olympic games.

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.