May 2011


Cruising Eastern Greek Islands.



  I don't want to speak too soon, but May has started better than April ended. We checked out of Turkey at Datca, having spent a few days at anchor there. It was really lovely to be back on the hook, but the on the second night we were caught out by a brisk southerly wind blowing into the bay. The anchor held beautifully, but the boat bobbed and twisted like a rodeo horse. Luckily Libby thought it was great fun and slept very peacefully. The same couldn't be said for Penny and I, and the next day was a struggle having had no sleep whatsoever.


With passport formalities etc completed, we headed around the cape expecting to spend that night in a deserted bay which looked as though it offered perfect shelter from the brisk south-easterly which was forecast. After a promising start, anchored with a shore line in an idylic little cove, the wind started to howl around the bay threatening to dash us onto a nearby reef. Although it was already quite late, I had to make the difficult decision to pull out of there and head for Kos. I was quite quite reluctant as I knew nothing about Kos town and always equated the island with buckets of WIND. However, we opted for the marina, and there was a RIB on hand to guide us into a perfect berth. So with lazy line securely fixed at the bow, power and water and a restaurant meal to boot, we had a really proper rest that night. By the way, Kos marina has the best shower block I've ever seen outside of the UK south coast.



What a lovely island this is. According to our trusted weather website - Poseidon - there was a big hole in the wind at the southern end of this island, so that's where we headed to ride out the next few windy days. I expect it's a bustling Greek tourist town in the height of summer, but for us it looked quite sleepy - apart from the traffic. It's an ancient town and the roads were clearly designed to accommodate donkeys in single file. It was no less than terrifying trying to navigate the family through the town, so after the initial horrific experiennce we elected to stay on the sea front. There was a supermarket there, and an open, tiny-but-crowded taverna.


We adopted the taverna as our second home for those days. They had a "waitress" (loosely speaking) called "Themis". l_t

If you've seen the TV series "Cold Feet" then imagine the Spanish nanny and then multiply her by four. Themis greeted us all like old friends on our first early-evening visit. Then she took an extraordinary liking to Libby and entertained her continually in amongst her lovely flirty but attentive manner with the other patrons. We popped in for lunch the next day (the prices were incredibly low) and Themis now greeted Libby like a favourite niece. At first Libby looked up at me with minor concern in her expression, "why does she keep kissing me daddy?"

"Because she likes you darling". And so it went on. Exchanging little gifts etc until we finally sailed away some days later with tears all round.


Something beginning with "F"

Penny and I have both fallen into this trap. Firstly Penny was playing "I Spy" with Libby when we were still in Turkey. "Efes" came the prompt response!




Then I was lured into a similar trap when we played the same game whilst at anchor off an almost deserted island called Levitha. "Something beginning with "F" I said, my eyes fixed on a nearby fishing boat. In a sweet and innocent voice with a trace of a mischevous smile she promptly said "Fuck".

"That's not a thing" I said, almost not lying, but then fell head and shoulders into the full-blown lie in a desperate attempt to remain nonchalant: "it's not even a proper word". Nothing more was said, but next time there's only a "Fishing Boat" or "Fireplace" to spot, we need a different game! What fabulous parents we're turning into!





After Levitha we had a lengthy passage to Skinoussa, at least four hours of which were under sail. The new folding prop worked a treat and although the passage was a trifle boisterous at times, it was excellent to be thundering along under sail.




Skinoussa offered perfect shelter from the howling nor-wester but although it's a beautiful place, there is only a small village on the hilltop and a (virtually closed) taverna at the dockside. Being very early season, almost nothing was open. We enjoyed being safe from the wind, but the fact that we were able to fly the kite says a little about the conditions. One might say the degree of success in kite flying is inversely proportional to the safety of an anchorage.






Not much else to do here!


According to the hitherto reliable forecast, Wednesday should have brought a reasonable lull to the seemingly endless stormy winds. Consequently we poked out of the bay and headed north up the passage between Paros to the west, and Naxos to the east. It was a fairly miserable trip with a force 5 on the nose and a steep short chop. We took a bit of sea over the boat, but that at least served to prove the work we have had done to the deck over winter. We had the odd dribble come inside, but it was heaps better than last year.


Paros - Naousa

The pilot describes the harbour as being uncomfortable in the (northerly) Meltemi. However "Meltemi" is clearly a feature of the place, there being a "Meltemi" Restaurant, Cocktail and countless shops and bars named after the famous wind. It wouldn't surprise me if one of the numerous churches here shared the same name. That said it it a really gorgeous little town. It has the classic whitewash buildings with blue painted windows, doors and the odd roof, narrow winding streets with boutiques and super-cool bars and a mild sense of bohemia prevailing throughout the place. The people are extremely friendly, the food is cheap and there is a marvelous playground! This is the all important feature we so often seek when preparing to stay somewhere a few days. And stay we have. The pilot was absolutely correct and we have bucked and twisted in our berth, but we've had power and water, and been safe - even though we've had to use the tender to get on and off the "Bird". Any today, glory of glories, the powerful wind has abated. The passerelle is rigged. Jobs have been done around the boat, and all is at peace.


I commend this lovely place to anyone who'd like to see a beautiful Cycladean island without the noise and expense of say Mykonos or Santorini. Here are some pics:










You'll notice I haven't included a picture of our berth or the little yacht marina. It just doesn't match up to the older bits....


Poros – Saronic Gulf

I’ve always been slightly envious to see two or three boats gathered together at an anchorage with tenders mooching from one to the other; lunch here, cocktails there, much merriment all round. Apart from one glorious charter holiday with some dear friends, we’ve generally boated alone.
So, it was with quite some pleasure that we met up with another couple of boats a week or so ago, and have cruised together since. “Wave Dancer” spent the winter in Marmaris, and we got to know Rob and Amanda whilst in refit. They in turn knew a family cruising on the yacht “Cassiopeia” and so it was that we all converged on Mykonos at the same time. Since then our little flotilla has cruised to Siros, (BBQ party) Kithnos (beach party, dinner party) and now Poros (cocktail party).

kf [Our little flotilla at anchor in Kithnos. Steve gives his Optomist a try before handing over to Livvy]

[Girls at play] kg

ko [Cassiopeia's alternative tender. Livvy takes dad and younger sister for a jaunt.]

[Libby takes it easy for a while] kl

On top of that we’ve enjoyed some cracking sailing. These then are rare times indeed, the times to be remembered when things go wrong, when the boat breaks, when the neighbours are noisy, (or noisier than us at any rate!) when the local youth treat the dock like a drag strip for their pathetic mopeds, when the “water man” won’t let you fill up because he’s in a strop and your tanks are dry and you only stopped in this God-forsaken town to get water and power……..

One of the best things for us in this little flotilla is the fact that “Cassiopeia” has two little girls aboard, Livvy and Poppy. Consequently Libby has been beside herself with joy; it’s been some weeks since she last had a playmate her own age. And of course it’s no small beer that Livvy and Poppy’s parents are jolly good company, as are Rob and Amanda on “Wave Dancer”. Everyone is great with the kids, and in addition Rob’s grown-up daughter and boyfriend have joined the crew, so we’re looking forward to the possibility of having babysitters. Once they need a break from partying at any rate!

Speaking of stroppy water men, I have known none stroppier than “Peter” the guy in Poros. He’s running a scam calculated to fill his own pockets by converting customers’ residue credit into cash for himself. I’m certain he’s not the only one to have had this idea, but unfortunately Peter’s attitude and aggressive manner are mind boggling. Having paid through the nose and still without water, our friends took up Peter’s challenge to join him at the offices of the local Port Police. Unexpectedly for Peter his bluff was called, and he was outgunned in every way. Gentle reader, if you land upon this text and are bound for Poros this summer, be warned about this fellow’s nefarious dealings and don’t let him get away with theft. Poros is a delightful, busy town with, on the whole very pleasant people to serve you in the bars and restaurants. The chandlers (Spiro) is one of the best in Greece and what he doesn’t have, he’ll get within a day or two from Athens. Unfortunately for Poros, water men, a bit like taxi drivers, are often the first people you get to deal with in a new place and they can cast a dim light on first impressions. (The diesel man however, namely Haris is absolutely charming.)

pp [Amanda, Rob, Kim, Ant, Steve, Charlie and Penny aboard the "Bird" in Poros]