Thursday was our last full day in Skopelos, and the major challenge we have had is finding lettuce, or any green salad leaves really.
Our neighbours had both gone. George and Carol had left in Miles Away on Wednesday morning for Skiathos where other co – owners were due to take over the boat and we had dinner ashore with Mike and Lynda that evening before they left on Thursday morning towards Skyros and Linaria; we asked them to say ‘Hi’ to Sakis for us.
So, having bid farewell to Mike and Lynda we got the bus into Skopelos Town to search for a supply of green leaves for our next few days anchoring around the Gulf of Volos and Northern Evia. We also needed a Post Office and a Vodafone shop; we’d bought a data sim card in Thassos but couldn’t get it to work!
Skopelos is a relatively large town and the main port for the island with a variety of ferries coming and going; it looked nowhere near as quiet and relaxing as Nea Klima! We only had a few hours before needing to get the bus back so we had a stroll around the narrow streets and alleyways doing a bit of window shopping. We found both the Post Office and Vodafone shop, almost next door to each other, had lunch and found a selection of supermarkets and fruit and veg shops. It was a very successful expedition, letter posted, we now have two data cards which work, we got salad leaves and lettuce and coconut!
Back in Nea Klima we visited the local ‘supermarket’ which delivers to the harbour to stock up on water and beer, and some more veg, and then sat down to plan out our next few days. We decided to give Skiathos a miss completely. My original intention was to anchor in one of the bays on the south coast for an evening before moving further west towards the Gulf of Volos; I think it is actually the Gulf of Pagasitikos but Volos is the big port at the north end. However, a Command Decision was made that we should head directly for Ormos Pigadi, part of a big bay just west of the entrance to the Volos Gulf.
From there we’ll explore some of the southern end of the Gulf, around the Trikeri Peninsular before heading for Orei, a small port on the north coast of Evia; we’ll need more lettuce by then!
Glossa is a small mountainside village over looking Loutraki, the other port to which we were considering going to wait out the strong winds. Our new neighbours had told us it was worth the bus ride there to look around, have lunch and catch the following bus back. But I get ahead of myself.
Our first full day in Nea Klima was spent doing not a lot, Valeria was still trying to shift her migrane and the heat wasn’t helping; mid thirties all day with no wind whatsoever. Happily just the other side of the harbour wall and about 30 metres from us is the beach and a very invitingly cool sea. We did some shopping between dips, and I caught up on some blogging, but we did not a lot else until the sun went down when we took a walk around the village, not a challenge!
So on Sunday we decided to visit Glossa. The bus runs from Skopelos to Loutraki and back, before repeating the journey; there is one bus and it does the journey 5 times a day. The timetable is handwritten and makes no mention of Sundays, so I asked at the Harbour Master / Car Hire office if the bus ran on Sundays. The lady simply said ‘Yes, it’s the summer’. Being English and used to a variety of different week day, week-end and bank holiday time tables the concept of either a summer or winter one was refreshing. I get the impression that if I ‘d asked when the summer timetable ends the answer would have been ‘when the winter one starts’.
Glossa is about 20 minutes away. It is a quaint old mountainside village with steep, stepped streets and a quiet, relaxed atmosphere. There is little specific to see or do, it is just nice to wander.
There are quite a few arty crafty shops in the village and we found one, run by the artist Vassilis, who had used an old pair of window frames to frame a painting depicting what could easily be a ‘Tarphat’. He took a photo of mine and may be using it as a model ………..
Our wanderings took us up to the town centre, a typically minute main ‘square’ having the church on one side and a restaurant on the other two. But we had already booked our spot for lunch in the Agnanti Restaurant lower down in the village over looking the coast; we only had a series of starters but it was excellent!
We then caught the bus back for a refreshing dip in the sea, it was that or stay on the air conditioned bus all the way to Skopelos and then back to Nea Klima on the return journey!
And now the weather …. Apparently the islands are experiencing their highest temperatures in quire a while, but as we check the forecasts that is likely to change. Valeria has a web site forecasting Force 9 winds, 41 to 47 knots, on Monday night on the north of the island. My GRIB files suggest a more reasonable 35 knots, only a Gale Force 8. Here in Nea Klima it’ll be more like 25 knots, a Force 6, classified as a Strong Breeze darling. Valeria is convinced my use of the term ‘breeze’ is incorrect ….. but anything from 5 to 25 knots is a breeze of some sort, according to Admiral Beaufort.
From our quiet little bay in Milia on Alonnisos we set of at about 10.30 for the next of the Sporades, Nisos Skopelos. I marked out a series of bays and two ports, Neo Klima and Loutraki as possible overnight stops before finding somewhere to shelter from the forecast ‘challenging sailing conditions’ due on Sunday night. Our basic plan was to spend a night on Skopelos before crossing to Skyros to wait out the weather. Happilly our plan didn’t work out.
Valeria still has her migrane and wanted a night without rolling at anchor so we skipped passed the anchorages and headed towards the first of the two ports, Neo Klima, arriving at 1.30. This seems to be the optimum time to arrive somewhere to get a berth or a spot to anchor as everyone else is out for the day and on arrival we found a virtually empty town quay; only 5 other boats in space for 20!
We moored and, very shortly after, decided that we’d stay here to wait out the coming gales, now due to run through into Tuesday, or even Wednesday. The harbour wall offers excellent shelter from northerly winds and Neo Klima is another of these villages you can see virtually in its entirety from the harbour. There are shops and tavernas close by, with electricity and water on the quay.
There is no harbour master and the credit keys for the electric and water are available from a car hire shop about 500 m up into the village!!! However, we have found that it is cheaper for us to run the generator than use the electricity, primarily because our electrical ‘wants’ include occasional air conditioning, the battery charger and the TV for the last few episodes of Game of Thrones, all of which are rather hungry!
So, we settled in for the duration and on Saturday other boats started arriving to take their places for the gales, including some other British yachts, one parked each side of us. One of them had just been over to Skiathos to drop friends at the airport and spent a night there before running back here; it sounds like the Greek version of San Antonio in Ibiffa init!!!
So, as the berths slowly fill up we are feeling pretty confident that Plan B is looking bether by the hour!
On Tuesday, with her migrane only slightly better we set off almost due south from Sykia towards the island of Kyra Panagia aiming for a large, landlocked bay on the north of the island called Ormos Planitis. The island is uninhabited, apart from goats and cattle and the description in the Pilot Book made it sound idyllic.
It was about a 6 hour trip from Sykia to Planitis, motoring the whole way. The day started out so flat calm with mirror smooth seas that with the haze, it was almost impossible to make out the horizon giving the impression of floathing along inside a big fuzzy grey ball.
The entrance to Ormos Planitis is only 82 metres wide and not easy to make out as you approach, but with sat nav, a chart plotter and radar the approach was very straight forwards.
The problem with secluded, quite bays on uninhabited islands is that they don’t remain so for long, filling with yachts fairly quickly, and we were about the 10th! We found ourselves a spot and once we’d anchored, with no engine noise or clattering anchor chain it was really pretty, tranquil and quiet, until some charter, boats turned up.
Also, as we examined the shore line, we noticed that it was littered with discarded plastic, fishing nets and even a couple of, what looked like, old fridges. There was also strange ‘things’ floating in the water, and although they were probably vegetation, with the state of the shore line and the presence of so many yachts the water didn’t look quite so appealing anymore! The state of the foreshore was rather disappointing as the eastern five islands in the chain are part of a nature reserve, the National Marine Park of Alonnisos, Northern Sporades, and is the home to endangered Monk Seals and Ibex. But ignoring the litter, the surroundings were lovely. Once the sun went down and the insects stopped ‘chirping’, and noisy charter yachts turned in, it was almost completely silent and when the moon sunk below the hills, with no light pollution, the stars were fantastic.
The following morning we decided that we’d move on and leave the goats foraging amongst the plastic and fridges and head towards the capital of Alonnisos, Patitiri, just 18 miles away.
As soon as we left Planitis we got the sails up and did manage a fair part of the trip under sail but as we entered Ormos Vasiliko, the channel between Alonnisos and Peristeri Islands, the wind began to drop away and move around to behind us and even witn the Cruising Chute we were more ‘drifting with style’ than sailing.
It was now that we had my first ever ‘near-miss’ with another boat. With the Chute up and making only a couple of knots we found ourselves being overtaken by another Lagoon 39 catamaran, motoring up on our port quarter. The Collision Regs say power driven vessels keep out of the way of vessels under sail; however, this boat just stood on until I was forced to turn away to starboard, gybe and try to dump the chute. It was a bit ‘frantic’ for a moment and as we came round into the wind the other boat just carried on regardless, watching us as they passed! Very bad form. Valeria and I both told them so quite loudly ……. but not in quite those words. I joke about it only being a ‘close quarters situation’ when you can shake hands with the other crew, but this, at my be 30 metres was quite close enough! So after a bit of a tussle I got the Chute down and we decided to motor the last couple of miles to Patitiri.
Patitiri is in a small bay of three parts, comprising the harbours of Patitiri and Votsi and a small cove called Rousuomi in between. Both ports looked rather small and crowded and Rousuomi was crammed full with 6 yachts so we switched to Plan B. This involved retracing our steps for a mile or so toanother large bay, Ormos Milia.
This too has three coves of which the central one was empty. We crept in, found 4 metres of water smack in the centre of the cove and 100 m off the beach and anchored.
That was about 5.30 pm and we spent the rest of the evening swimming and barbecuing sausages and some of the ‘coracão de frango’, chicken hearts, we’d bought in Dave and Jane’s local butchers in Limenaria. We then settled down to a rather rolly night with the small wind holding us across the swell rolling into the bay. But it was quiet, dark and tranquil, even more pleasant then last night.
Although the swell made the night a little uncomfortable, the following day was perfect. Hot, sunny, calm with a light breeze and crystal clear waters; we decided to stay another day but the place virtually to ourselves, other than a brief visit from a day trip boat and another yacht. We swam, I took the Go Pro for a snorkel and we even took a trip ashore to the beach bar in a fruitless search for some WiFi, before returning for another BBQ.
The second night was the same as the first, rather rolly, and although the days were delightful, we decided that on Friday we’d move on towards Nisos Skopelos. We also had an added complication of some strong northerly winds on Monday and Tuesday and so we’d need to find shelter from them.