Monday, 27 June 2011

Windy days

We set off for Nisiros early on Monday morning with a gentle Northwesterly breeze, flying the cruising chute to keep up a decent speed. We arrived in Pali
in time for a late lunch in our favourite taverna, Afroditi, where they wanted to know where Kai was (everywhere we go we are asked, 'where is Kai?'). We swam off the harbour wall and went back to Afroditi for dinner. With strong northerly winds forecast, we decided that it was time to start heading north for John to get his flight back, so we headed for Kos marina next morning (we also needed to do some washing and get some boat bits - to replace an exhaust pipe that had sprung a leak and other bits and pieces). We started with no wind, then a bit of a breeze for a short while, then nothing at all, then as we approached Kos we suddenly had 20-25 knots, and even more as we turned the corner to thread our way through the windsurfers. We tied up in the marina, got the washing on, and could not get any of the boat bits we needed.
Next morning was blowing hard, so we set off to beat to Vathi with one reef in. We sailed on one tack to the Turkish shore, then tacked back towards Pserimos. As we came towards Pserimos the wind was gusting up to 30 knots so we tried to put in the second reef, but the reef line jammed so we decided to motor the rest of the way to Vathi, where we got into the last comfortable spot on the quay. In the afternoon Lin and John walked up to one of the ruined early christian churches.
We were just going to bed at about 10 pm, with the wind howling, when a German charter boat came in, having just picked up their boat and left Kos at 6pm. They blithely dropped their anchor across ours, despite our protestations, insisting that there was no problem, 'it is just like camping', then scraped their rudder on the rocky bottom, despite shouted warnings that it was shallow, before getting tied up at the second attempt. Next morning we we ready to leave at 7.30, and eventually managed to rouse our neighbours, with much shouting and use of the foghorn, so that they could release their anchor chain and avoid our pulling up their anchor. We got away OK, with two reefs already in the main, but once we got out we decided (Lin's still sore back decided) that we would be more comfortable motoring up to Lakki, on Leros, in the lee of Kalymnos, which we did, though the wind and the seas did not turn out to be as bad as we had feared.
We tied up in Lakki marina on Thursday afternoon and hired a car for the day on Friday, to show John the island and get him to his flight. We got the exhaust hose at the boatyard in Partheni, John checked in for his flight to Athens, and we crossed the road for lunch in the taverna opposite the airport, before John flew off:

Having seen John off, Lin and Simon went round to the war cemetery at Alinda, which we had never managed to find (because we had been looking in the wrong place), then in the evening to Dmitri's taverna in Vromolithos, which again we had failed to get to before because he had been closed on our previous attempts, where we had a wonderful meal with a stunning view.
The forecast was for gale force winds over the weekend, so we, like most others, decided to stay in Lakki and do washing and jobs on the boat until the gales blew out.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Days with John

On Wednesday evening there was a central total eclipse of the moon in Agathonisi.

On Thursday morning we left Agathonisi early and had a quiet motorsail to Arkhangeli, a little island north of Leros with very sheltered anchorages. Our favourite little bay was taken, so we went in the larger bay.
We left next morning soon after dawn,
intending to sail to Amorgos, but it was a close reach in a force 3-4 so we decided that it would be more comfortable to sail on a beam reach to Astipalea, keeping the cruising chute up all the way.

As we approached Astipalea
a couple of dolphins frolicked under the bow.

We have met dolphins a few times this summer, but none of them have wanted to play.
In Astipalea we moored on the new quay

and met up with Yanni and Bettina, alongside whom we had been moored in Pothia. They had just got back to Astipalea having got their tripper boat certified by the Port Police in Kalymnos.
On Saturday we walked up past the windmills

to the castle, through the arched entrance.
This was a Venetian castle, built on the site of the ancient acropolis, three sides of which were made up of conjoined fortified houses. According to our guide book 3,000 people once lived inside the castle (against a present day population of the whole island of only 1100), though we suspect that this includes those who lived in the chora, outside the castle walls.

The views in all directions were magnificent.

When we got back we rented a four-wheel drive jeep for the day to drive all over the island, mostly on unmade roads.
We had an excellent lunch at Asti Fagi, on the beach at Skhoinontas, the owner/chef of which had been trained in Bristol.

After lunch we drove up to Vathi in the north, where Lin and Simon had anchored fifteen years ago, stopped off for a swim on a deserted beach
 tried to drive round the back road (track) to Agios Ioannis monastery, but after half an hour the road was closed off by a fence, so we had to drive all the way round the other way, past the main town
till we eventually got to the tiny monastery,
in its spectacular setting in a ravine, with views across to Santorini

with wild rhododendrons (or the like) growing down the slope

We got back in time for showers before we filled up with water, and had bacon and eggs for dinner.
On Sunday morning we set off for a tour of the highlights of Astipalea by sea.
Yanni had recommended that we visit the two islands of Kutzomiti and Kunupia, where he had laid moorings just of the beach which we were welcome to use. Kutzomiti is separated from the neighbouring island by a narrow rocky channel.

Kunupia is one island, with a sand bar joining its two halves in the middle.
On the way back we found ourselves converging with a fisherman laying his nets

We finally anchored in Skhoinontas (third time lucky - the sand is very fine so the anchor just ploughed a furrow the first two times),

so that we could go back to Asti fagia for dinner,

before setting off for Nissiros early on Monday morning.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Crew change

We spent Friday night in Pothia, with Becky, Andrew, Charlie and Kai taking the early ferry on Saturday morning to get their Easyjet flight from Kos, after Charlie had had a good breakfast
Kai was heavily loaded
Lin's brother John arrived on the same ferry, having flown overnight via Athens
and we waved goodbye to Charlie and Kai

We stayed in Pothia for Saturday, to do the washing and for John to recover from a night without sleep, and set off early on Sunday morning on a windy beat to Levitha, where we picked up a mooring in the bay.

We had dinner in the farmhouse taverna - excellent fish for John and Simon - and next morning Simon and John walked up the hill to get a view of the island.

We had planned to go on to Amorgos, but the forecast was for stronger winds on the nose, so instead we headed home to Lakki, speeding along in lumpy seas
where we went into the marina and pigged out in the taverna by the post office. Simon checked the batteries and confirmed that one cell in one battery was stone dead. The ever helpful Vassili in the marina phoned a battery man who promised to deliver a replacement at 9 the next morning. He eventually arrived at 12, so we had lunch before we left Lakki for Agathonisi. The wind was getting up, so we put a reef in and rolled up a bit of genoa, Simon dropping a winch handle overboard - it popped out of the winch, hovered in the gunwhales and teetered over the edge. We had another speedy sail - close reach in a solid force 5, and got to Agathonisi about 6 pm. We had planned to go in a little bay on the South East side of the isaldn, but there was not much room as there were already two boats there and we failed twice to get the anchor through the weed, so we drove round to the main port, Agios Georgios, where we tied up in our favourite spot, with a line back to the rocks.

On the beach at Agathonisi is a combined sailing school and dentist

Apparently a dentist on Leros (?) is a keen sailor and sometimes comes over at weekends to do a bit of dentistry and to teach the local kids to sail.
We had a quiet day in Agathonisi on Wednesday, walking round to Spilia beach and watching the ferry come in.

Tomorrow no wind is forecast, but we plan to go to Arkhangeli, off the north of Leros, for a quiet anchorage, but we shall see.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Family holiday

Becky and Andrew arrived last Thursday night with Kai and Charlie. We stayed in Kos on Friday to chill out and for Kai to go to McDonalds. Charlie had his first swim, which he loved, in a hotel pool near the marina.
and Kai decided to look a wally by walking around the marina in his flippers, mask and snorkel

Andrew and Kai had fun riding around the marina on Simon's IKEA folding bike (IKEA gave each of their employees a Raleigh folding bike for Christmas and few years ago, so ebay was immediately flooded with cheap folding bikes, which do not take kindly to a marine environment).

On Saturday we set off to Vathi, a little village on the East coast of Kalymnos. The wind was a force 4-5 on the nose, so with Charlie on board we decided to motor up to windward, just putting up the genoa for the last fast reach into Vathi.
We hook Charlie into the cockpit in his baby's lifejacket, which he does not like because it is hot and constricting, but it keeps him safe (Becky did not bring his car seat because she claimed not to be able to carry it, what with all the changes of clothes, cosmetics etc that she brought).
While Charlie sweated, Becky and Kai sunbathed.

Charlie was much happier when we got to Vathi and he could be unstrapped

We had lunch aboard when we got to Vathi, Charlie stuffing himself
In the afternoon Simon walked up the valley to the ancient Chrsitan basilica of Palaiopanayia, of which the outline remained,
with some remnants of wall paintings

and mosaics
In the evening we had dinner at the taverna at the back of the boat, Charlie loving the Greek food (his favourites are tzatsiki and kolikothokeftedes)
On Sunday morning the wind had swung to the north (again on the nose) and increased to force 5, so with Charlie on board we decided to motor up to Pandeli on Leros, where we anchored off the beach.
In Pandeli, Andrew and Kai tried to walk up the castle, but went the wrong way and ended up by the windmills. After lunch, Andrew, Becky and Kai tried again to walk up to the windmill, this time with clear instructions, but were mislead by a taxi driver, again ending up by the windmills, while Charlie had a lovely time on the beach with Lin and Simon
When Becky and Andrew and Kai got back, Simon took Becky and Andrew and Charlie in the dinghy to the beach.

The water was too cold for Charlie - he just yelled - but Kai loved it!

Early next morning Kai walked up to the castle with Simon. We got there at 8.15 to find it locked
At 8.35 the custodian arrived and opened the door. We went in to the castle and took in the fabulous views.

When Simon and Kai got back we set off for Agathonisi, most of the time with a favourable wind at last, so we motorsailed with one reef - Charlie's first sailing experience.
At Agathonisi the quay was full of fishing boats and the costguard boat, so we anchored off the beach with a line ashore.
This time Charlie really enjoyed his swimming

While Kai played piggy in the middle with his Greek friends.
and Kai and Andrew enjoyed jumping off the bows
We stayed two days on Agathonisi, with two very good meals at Ianni's taverna, Becky having goat for the first time.
On Wednesday we motored across to Arki (no wind at all) and tied up on the quay. Floating in the harbour was a hideous dead eel, and in the evening Kai fished out a dead ray and saw a dead shark on the bottom. In the afternoon we went round to the beach,

and in the evening Charlie had a bath
before dressing up for dinner

at which Becky and Andrew had their first taste of shark.
On Thursday morning we set off early for Lakki, on Leros. Kai did a brilliant job getting the anchor up and cleaning it. When we got to Lakki at midday, Becky and Andrew and Kai going straight off to the War Museum, while Lin and Simon took Charlie to the pharmacy to get something for his chesty cough. The pharmacist told us to go straight to the hospital, where Charlie was checked over by the pediatrician, who reassured us that all was well (no paperwork, no cards shown and the whole visit took no more than half an hour). We had a huge dinner and set off in the morning for Pothia, on Kalymnos, from where Andrew, Becky, Kai and Charlie will take the ferry to Kos and the airport on Saturday morning. As usual the wind started on the nose, died and then rapidly rose to a Force 4 behind us for the last twenty minutes. We got a quiet spot on the quay in the corner of Pothia harbour.