Category Archives: Our travels

Our adventures on the high seas and ashore

Alice and Ian’s re-introduction to sailing!!

With our new crew here to do all the work in the form of rope pulling and winching we were soon sailing along.  It took us three hours to cover the 12 miles between Tinos and Syros. We sailed into Ermoupolis Harbour, Syros passing by the recently re-opened and working Nerion boatyard,  at about 1700h and were pleased to see that Thannassis, the most stylish harbourmaster in the Med, was there to welcome us back!

We had a quick stride around this beautiful town and went out for dinner with the gang from Fly the Coop.  Later, we were treated to a free Jazz Concert

The theatre modeled on La Scala, in Syros.

in the pretty theatre which is modeled on La Scala.

 

 

 

 

We were up early the next morning because we had people to see.  The previous afternoon, Ian had scooted across the bay to the boat yard to collect a fender that we had lent to a dutch sailor whilst we were in Tinos.    By chance, Ian saw that our friend, Robert Brons, on Saquilla was once again back in Syros, too.   Robert was not around at the time but later we contacted him by phone and agreed to meet up.

We also wanted to go and see Georgios and Stamatis who fixed the boat last year.

It was so nice to see Robert and catch up on all his news, if only briefly.

We bid fond farewells to Bryn and Jill and their gang the following morning and set off on a long sail south to Serifos.  We anchored in the bay at Livadhi in winds of about 3kts.  It was calm enough to have a wonderful BBQ.

Next morning, the wind had picked back up to the usual 20 odd knots and, as we attempted to leave the bay, the main halyard managed to get itself wrapped around the deck light that is attached to the mast.  We freed it finally by using what I had thought were long-forgotten ribbon flicking techniques from my rhythmic gymnastics days.

So, we were off.  We had a very lumpy sail directly downwind to Milos.  It was very tiring trying to keep the sails filled and to cope with the wallowing.  Alice and Ian kept us amused with comical quips and references;

The Genoa….’Do you know her?’

The Vang… Release Van Gogh.

Same ting, same ting…

Winch ‘andull…

We arrived and parked up on the town quay with a number of other boats waiting for a weather window to cross to the Peleponnese.

An ancient theatre on the hillside near Plaka, Milos.
The view across from one peninsula to the other on Milos.
The moulded ‘tuff’ rock formed from layers of volcanic ash and mined for its kaolin content.
The Ians study an ancient marble column

On Thursday, we explored the island by car.  It has some of the best beaches we have seen in the Aegean.  Once out of the wind it was lovely and warm.  We visited the spectacular lunar landscape of Sarakiniko  where layers of volcanic ash have been moulded and sculpted by wind and waves.  There have also been galleries, carved in the rock, from when the ash was mined for its kaolin content.

The pretty village of Klima as close to the water as it could be.

 

Back on board we had energy for rustling up a Thai red curry and competing for the coveted title of Articulate Champions!

 

The wind seems to want us to stay put here in Milos but Alice and Ian had to make their way back to Mykonos.  They caught the ferry to Santorini from where they can get back to Mykonos in time ready for their flight on Saturday.

The Crucial Crew!

It’s been great fun once again!

Challenge ALICE!!

We discovered that Alice and Ian Daggett would be arriving in Mykonos on the same flight as Bryn and Jill’s friends and family, so, thinking that it would be good if they could share a taxi and travel by ferry from Mykonos to Tinos to meet us all, we decided to connect them together.

However, the idea soon evolved into a ‘Challenge Anneka’ kind of event!

We sent Alice and Ian pictures of John and Cheryl.

We then told Alice that she would have to find them at the airport in Manchester or on the flight, by whatever means necessary. She would then have to introduce herself to them and gain their trust.

Since they would not know ANYTHING about the challenge they might, understandably, be a little suspicious.

We gave her snippets of information about John and Cheryl to help her convince them.

John and Cheryl could then explain to Alice and Ian how they could find us, since they knew where Bryn and Jill were.

On arriving at the airport, Alice and Ian happened to go into the same restaurant as John and Cheryl and immediately sighted their targets!  Alice approached them as they tucked into their full English.  After initially astonishing them both with her seemingly psychic knowledge, they soon established the common link.  They then discovered that they were seated in consecutive rows on the plane!

 

 

They arrived on the ferry in Tinos at about 1600h, having had a very bouncy ride across in the strong winds.

We were delighted to see our most frequent visitors again.  For once, the boat wasn’t broken, and sailing could well be the order of the day!

The carpeted road along which devoted believers CRAWL on their hands and knees all the way to the church at the top of the hill in which the famous Virgin Mary icon is said to bestow healing powers.
The crowds waiting to see the icon.

After a quick explore around the town of Tinos in the morning, where we saw devotees on all fours proceeding along the ‘Crawl-Way’ which is a carpeted track along the road.  It takes them (albeit slowly) up to the icon of the Virgin Mary in the church.  (Knee pads are available/essential!)

The icon is said to have healing qualities, for believers, obvs.

Along the street, there are many stalls selling masses of long candles and all kinds of other religious artifacts.  Things like, plastic bottles to collect holy water; crucifixes; rosary beads; pictures; embossed metal plaques, etc.

We couldn’t quite believe how many people were there are on  Sunday morning.

BUT, if you have crawled up the street to get there, luckily you get to crawl up between everyone’s legs to the front of the queue!!!

We departed with Ian and Alice at about 1300h as the winds had died down to a mere 28kts and SAILED all the way to Syros.  The Capital of the Cyclades.

Wah Hey!

Tucked in in Tinos. A very windy place!

A fanlight above a door way that is carved from marble.

Thankfully we arrived in Tinos in only 18kts of wind and parked up on the quay.   Fly the Coop were just behind us.

One of the many dovecoates that pepper the landscape of Tinos.
A dovecote.

We hired a car the next day with Bryn and Jill and drove around some of the charming villages.  There are dove cotes all over the island which are beautifully built and used to house the pigeon population of Tinos.  The birds were bred for their meat, manure and feathers.  The dovecotes are miniature houses decorated with patterns of wheels, trees, triangles, chevrons and sun symbols and then they are white-washed to produce an interesting effect of light and shade.

 

 

We enjoyed walking around the villages of Tinos, although most of them were deserted at this time of year.  We were amazed by the massive boulders scattered around the village of Volax where you can see traditional baskets being woven.

There were miles of terraces, sadly now falling into disrepair which gave a hint of a richer agricultural heritage.

 

We drove the length and breadth of the island and found a very small traditional taverna to eat in on the way home.

Despite being such a windy place (A fellow yachtie in the port recorded 56kts during the night on Friday 5th October 2018!)  we were really taken with the place.

The Medicane – sound like a drug, but isn’t.

The Medicane as it was formed on Thursday 13th September off the coast of Libya. Pink, mauve, orange, yellow and green are not good!

Looking at the weather forecast, it became clear that a ‘Medicane’ was swirling towards us.  This is a warm air cyclone and measures up as a Category 1 Hurricane.   The size of this twirling depression is massive.  Currently, gathering sand and speed north of the Libyan coast it was due to enter the Aegean and fly between the Peloponnese and Crete.  Initial forecasts predicated that it would follow the north coast of Crete and then head off to the east making landfall around Kos and Turkey.  Kos was probably not the best place to be in a boat.

We decided to leave.  We sailed very fast to Astipaliea, an island between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.  (We had a couple of dolphins playing on the bow for about thirty minutes as we rounded the southern tip of Kos which was a great bonus.)

Look carefully, there is a dolphin there!

We anchored in an enclosed bay (Vathi Bay) on the NE side of Astipaliea.  The next day,  we re-checked the forecast and the Medicane was now predicted to track more to the north and west of us. We decided to stay put as the bay we are in offers great all round protection.   We expect that we will be whipped by the tail of the depression as it spins past.

 

Vathi Bay on the NE side of Astipaliea. Totally surrounded and sheltered. We hope it will prove to be a good hurricane hole.

So, we prepared for the storm to arrive.   We laid all our anchor chain (85m) and put on a double rope snubber to help absorb shock on the chain. We removed any items that might catch the wind, (bimini, sprayhood, etc.)  and lashed down the sail bag.  The dinghy was placed in the water with its engine removed.  We had plenty of food and water and another four yachts for company.

The only taverna in the tiny hamlet ashore was closed as the owner had to go to a Baptism in Athens.  Since there were no ferries running due to the weather forecast, it seems likely that it will remain closed all weekend.   There was only one other resident as far as we could see.  He seemed unperturbed.

A goat on a boat.

The rest of the place was occupied by goats and even their bells went quiet…did they sense the approaching storm?

 

 

The very rustic little church at the top of the hill overlooking Vathi Bay.

In the mean time we enjoyed a walk up to the church on the hill and a chat with a German tourist.

You can just see our mast poking up behind this billy goat’s horn!

The Calm, Before, During and after the Storm

A gloomy, windy and lumpy sail up to Amorgos. Just before the rain came.

Luckily the Medicane passed us by, and we breathed a sigh of relief.

We set off the day after from the complete calm of our hurricane hole on Astipaliea and headed North to meet up with Fly the Coop who had been tucked into a small harbour in south Naxos.

Initially, we made great speed as the wind was reasonably strong, but the sky was blue and the sun was shining so we felt content even though the sea was increasingly lumpy.  Suddenly, the head sail went all baggy and we realised that the halyard had snapped – again!

We pulled down the head sail and packed it up on deck.  Ian hanked on the storm jib to the fore stay and we cracked on north.  With such a reduced amount of sail we were a bit slower so we decided to peel off at Amorgos and anchor for the night there.  We were circling around some potential anchorages when we saw a flash of a flipper in the water.  At first we thought it was a turtle but then we noticed a head and whiskers, and the distinctive tail fin of a seal.  It is extremely rare to see them so we felt very fortunate.  We tucked in amongst the fishing boats in a little bay which was fantastically sheltered from the incoming swell.

We had just put the boat to bed when the rain came.  We rustled up some comforting pasta and enjoyed a solitary night.

A much more cheery view met us in the morning.
Being very giddy on board Fly the Coop.

The next morning was a little gloomy to start with and then the sun came out and it turned into a glorious day.  After fettling the genoa by hauling it up on the starboard spinnaker halyard, we motored across to Iraklia and met up with Bryn and Jill – We are now a mini flotilla.  It is so nice to have sailing buddies with whom to discuss weather, routes and plans, and drink wine!

Setting off to explore Iraklia on foot.

In the morning, we walked up to the pretty village of Panagia on Iraklia, a distance of about 4km and we didn’t see a single vehicle.  The views were amazing to the east.  We arrived hoping to find a cafe or taverna and enjoy a slap up brunch. Nothing was open.  Luckily, the village shop and bakery was open so we bought bread, salami, tomatoes, cheese and pre-wrapped croissants and sat  down to a hearty picnic instead.  (At a staggering cost of E28 !)  We were just grateful to have something to eat.  As we came out of the shop a pick up truck was driving by so we hitched a ride back to the port.  It was fun to be bouncing along in the back of the pick up. 

Next stop, was a late lunch anchorage off some impressive rocks just to the north.  We would never have been brave enough to anchor there on our own.

After an overnight stop in Epano Koufonissia, we motored north to Rinia and anchored there before a final quick sail north to Tinos where we sat out strong winds (50kts)  and awaited our guests.

Fisherman tending to his boat.

 

 

 

A ‘picnic’ breakfast – very expensive at Euros 28 from a little supermarket. No restaurants in Panagia Chora.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Negotiated a lift back in a pick up truck though, which was great, as it would have been another 4km hike back to the boat.

 

 

The incredible rocks off Nisos Glaros near Epano Koufonisia. A lunch stop in wonderful solitude.