Thankfully we arrived in Tinos in only 18kts of wind and parked up on the quay. Fly the Coop were just behind us.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
The rest of the place was occupied by goats and even their bells went quiet…did they sense the approaching storm?
In the mean time we enjoyed a walk up to the church on the hill and a chat with a German tourist.
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.
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!
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.
Penny, Alison and Keira all headed off on the weekend of the 9th September. We went back to the boat on the hard in dusty Rhodes.
It’s a strange feeling living on a boat balanced three metres up in the air. Although you do get a bird’s eye view of all the comings and goings in the ferry terminal and can see all the cruise ships docking opposite.
Some boatyards don’t allow you to live aboard whilst your boat is on the hard but here it is no problem. There are basic facilities in the yard (with hot water!); as long as you don’t mind shinning up and down a ladder to go to the loo in the night.
We are about twenty minutes’ walk from the old part of Rhodes and shops are near at hand. Mr and Mrs Chalkitis, the owners and Mr Ilias, the boatyard manager, are delightful and we have enjoyed meeting them. We even have our own private beach so have been for a few dips in the sea as long as the boat yard hasn’t been antifouling any boats in the previous few days, as all the waste water drains off into the sea!
Whilst we waited for the spare parts we set about polishing the hull and top sides. Not an easy job in the heat. A thin layer of dust has settled on the boat and all this had to washed off before we could begin to shine her up. We were proud of our efforts and then the yard pressure-washed a boats of its antifoul immediately up wind of us so everything was covered in a thin coating of blue! Grrr!
On Monday 17th September the brand new sail drive arrived fresh from the Volvo factory and it was carefully hoisted in to the boat and fitted by Mr Thomaz Kalligas. (The Best mechanic in the Mediterranean – he reassuringly informed us.)
Ably assisted by Kamel, the new gear box was soon in place, however, the bracket needed to fit the sail drive to the engine was not there. Also the flange that was supposed to be completely compatible with our engine turned out not to be so. After a few adjustments, we had to use the old one instead.
The necessary bracket had to be ordered from Volvo and would be with us in a couple of days. (Why nobody thought to tell us that this was an essential piece of kit for fitting the sail drive, we have still to get to the bottom of.)
The part was flown in on Wednesday and fitted. We were finally ready to go back in the water but the weather had other ideas, as strong winds were forecast to be blowing right into the slips for the next couple of days.
We have finally heard back from our insurance company. Unfortunately, they are unable to uphold our claim for accidental damage saying that the sail drive was broken by corrosion. Therefore, NONE of our expenses have been covered by the insurance policy (except for the initial tow to safety) which is a bitter blow, and will definitely have an impact on our cruising future.
From Symi , Greece to Turkey is only 10 miles. We had to go to Datca first to check in and complete all the formalities.
We spent a glorious two weeks sailing with Erin and Josh along the Datca peninsula east towards Marmaris. The anchorages are wonderful, the waters crystal clear and the coastal areas wooded and attractive. Turkish people have been kind and welcoming.
We feel that we must return to Turkey to properly see it in all its splendour.