Our next destination is the island chain known as the Northern Sporades, or I should say the rest of the island chain; Skyros, although rather detached from these islands is in fact part of the group. The name Sporades does mean ‘scattered’. So on Sunday morning, we left Liminaria with its fine new red and white ‘No Mooring’ tape waving us goodbye as we headed for Khalkidhiki.
This is the part of Greece that looks like three fingers probing south east into the Northern Aegean. The easternmost finger is called Akti with Mount Athos is at the southern tip, this 2500 m high and usually visible from Thassos.
This finger is also the home to some 16 monasteries and the area is firmly entrenched in the Middle Ages. No roads, no electricity, they still use the Julian Calendar and women are banned, completely; until recently that ban even included female livestock, children and smooth faced people! EU equal opportunities doesn’t apply if you don’t take their grants and these religious houses are self sufficient! Men, with or without beards, can now visit with a permit and apparently groups of feminists make a point by ‘invading’ from boats, but we just gave it a miss and admired Mount Athos as we sailed passed. The Pilot Book says that boats with women on board should stay 1 mile off the coast …….. well, we nearly made it!
Although we managed to sail for an hour or so after leaving Liminaria we then ended up motoring again, even dropping the main as it was banging in the light airs and the swell. As we got to the south east tip of the Akti Peninsular the wind picked up again from behind us so I rolled out the Code Zero again and experimented with it for a while before the wind died away again once we left Akti and we motored the last 2 hours across Singitikos Kolpos, towards Ormos Sykia on the tip of the middle finger of Khalkidhiki, Sintonia.
Another boring historical titbit in with all the boring sailing stuff …….. The Persian conqueror Xeres (the bald bloke with a piercing fetish from the film 300) was so daunted by the thunderstorms and winds from Mount Athos (no weather forecasts then) that he dug a canal across the root of Akti to get his fleet through to the Singitikos Gulf. Sounds a bit excessive but Athos has always had a serious reputation!
Ormos Sykia is a large bay with a series of anchorages around it. The head of the bay, the western end, is a long sandy beach with the village of Skala Sykia in the south western corner; we anchored off the beach close to the village. The beach is of golden sand and pretty uncluttered although much of the area is dedicated to camping with numerous camp sites and caravan parks in the area behind the beach. It was a very pleasant place to stay for the night, even if a bit ‘rolly’ as the wind moved us beam on to the swell occasionally.
Unfortunately Valeria had been developing a migrane all day and so we decided to stay at anchor on Monday as well to see if she could clear it. I went swimming, did a spot of boat maintenance and some general administration then in the evening I took the tender ashore, parked it on the beach and went off in search of a supermarket for more fresh fruit and veg, ready for our planned departure on the morrow.