Thursday, 28 August 2014

Home again

On Saturday 23 August we left Pethi just before 7 and motor-sailed to Cnidos, on the far Southwestern tip of Turkey, arriving about 10.30. Cnidos was one of the great cities of the ancient world but was destroyed by an earthquake and evacuated. The site is only partly excavated but the view from the bay and the atmosphere walking around the ruins is wonderful. As we were undocumented immigrants we decided to anchor off, rather than going on the jetty.
Sergio arrived an hour or so later and went alongside the jetty, so Kai asked that we should do so too. We surprised Kai next morning, who had already proved himself an excellent oarsman rowing across to see Sergei,
when we decided it would be more convenient and worth the 20 euro charge to go alongside. On Saturday afternoon we took Kai around the remains of the ancient city. As usual, he was very reluctant to come but when we got there he declared that it was awesome, really appreciating the historical significance of the site
and finding it perfect for parcours as he leaped across the stones with no custodians to stop him.

We had both lunch and dinner in the excellent little restaurant.
We stayed, chilling, in Cnidos on Sunday and in the evening we were invited to dinner with Sergio and his family, with an excellent collection of hors d'oeuvres and a delicious Spaghetti Matriciana.
We left early on Monday morning to motor up to Kos, into a force 5 wind on the nose. We had expected Sergei to follow us, but Kai received a Snapchat message from Gaia to say that they had gone to Nissiros, rather than battle the wind and waves. We stayed in Kos marina and at Kai's request had an excellent dinner in the marina restaurant, which we had never been to before because we had assumed it would be bad and expensive.
On Tuesday morning we set off early on a wet and windy (force 5-6) beat to Paleonisos, arriving at midday. When we went below we found that the anchor locker and forepeak hatch had leaked with the water constantly washing over the bow and the sheets and mattress were soaked. To our surprise and joy Sergio arrived from Nissiros a couple of hours later as we were having lunch at the beach cafe. After lunch the girls came over and played Cluedo with Kai. When they went back to their boat we had dinner and Kai then kept us up playing Cluedo late into the night. I rashly said that we would play until Kai failed to win a game. In fact, through the evening and the next day Kai just kept on winning. Just once he failed, when he made a false accusation.
We had a quiet day on Wednesday, reading and playing Cluedo, and in the evening we went to the taverna for a farewell dinner with Sergio and his women. We were going our separate ways the next day, as we were going to Lakki and they were going to Xerokampos, so we said our farewells and went off to bed.
On Thursday 28th we set off for Lakki, with the wind as usual on the nose. This time we motored as Lin was anxious to get the first load of washing into the laundry. We arrived about 10.30 and tied up on the town quay - our favourite spot was taken by another smuggler's yacht that had been impounded by the coastguard. Apparently 100-200 refugees had arrived yesterday.
P.S. our video of the Theodorakis concert has now been uploaded to youtube.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Heading south

We stayed in Lakki for a Theodorakis concert, part of the three moons festival, on the evening of Wednesday 13th August. Kai was very resistant to going, he thought he would be bored stupid and wanted to stay to play with his friends, but we took a taxi to Crithoni Paradise, where he swam in the pool, then walked round to Agia Marina,

where we had dinner. The concert started at 9 and Kai was soon entranced. His final judgement was that it was awesome, and it was.
 The setting was magnificent, in the primary school yard with the castle behind.

The music was great, the musicians brilliant and the audience, mostly locals, enthusiastic.

By 12.45 Lin was close to collapse with exhaustion, but Kai wanted to stay to the end. He finally agreed to leave and we walked up to Platanos, where we had to wait fifteen minutes for a taxi home, by which time the concert had finished. (Kai adamantly refused to hitch).

On Thursday 14th we left early for the 40 mile sail to Nissiros with quite a good following wind. Kai slept for the first three hours but woke up in time to do the anchor when we went on to the quay - to the last remaining comfortable place, though it was only midday. An Italian man from a neighbouring beautiful schooner took our lines and commended Kai's anchoring - 'perfect'. His wife came over soon after to invite Kai to play with their girls, Galia, fifteen, Viola, twelve, and Lea, seven. Sergio explained that he wanted a man aboard to give him some company. We have been with Sergio and family ever since!
That evening Sergio invited Kai to go with them to Mandraki for the festival of Panagia. They were going to go by motorbike. Kai had no hesitation. He got a helmet

and off he went.

The next day, Friday 15 August, Sergio invited Kai to go with them, again by motorbike,
 to the volcano. As soon as Kai went down to the crater he felt faint from the bad egg fumes, and had to go back up.

He said it was much worse than the last time we had been there, three years ago.

They came back as night fell.

On Saturday 16th August we and Sergio sailed from Nissiros to Livadhi, Tilos, where we managed to get in to the tiny harbour.  Gaia asked Kai to help her with her English homework, As You Like It, explaining English words that she did not know. He managed to do so with the help of Google Translate. On Saturday night Kai had Gaia and Viola for a sleepover, explaining to us that a sleepover did not involve sleeping. Next morning we gave them all bacon and eggs for breakfast, which they loved. Then it was down to homework again.

In the evening as we were walking home we saw a man putting out food for the local cats.

On Sunday Sergio invited us all to join them and their friends for dinner at Eristos, on the other side of the island, where their friends were staying. Ka went with them in the afternoon, to swim in the hotel pool, and Lin and Simon followed on the bus in the evening. Eristos is a beautiful bay, very quiet, with just one quiet and cheap, but comfortable hotel. We had an excellent dinner with us and 21 hospitable Italians before being driven back to Livadhi by the waiter (we had missed the bus and there are no taxis on the island).
Monday 18th had been forecast to be very windy and it was, though not as bad as had been forecast. Yachts crammed into the harbour for shelter, but we were well sheltered and very secure.

On Tuesday 19 August we left Tilos for Khalki, which we had never visited before. We moored to a pontoon, but did not much like Khalki. It is very picturesque, with all its restored villas,

but has the feel, and prices, of a resort for the rich. So next morning we left to anchor in the bay of the uninhabited island of Alimia, between Khalki and Rhodes. We anchored in the bay and, soon after, Sergio arrived and picked up a mooring. When we went swimming we discovered that we had anchored just clear of a substantial wreck - if we had caught the anchor on it we would have had trouble retrieving it. In fact, as we swung with the wind, the anchor chain did coil around the wreck, which stopped us swinging onto Sergei's boat, which was close alongside us.

Kai spent most of the day with Sergei and the girls.
Although there were a few other yachts in the bay it was wonderfully peaceful 

and the night sky was astonishing.
Alimia has the remains of a barracks for German soldiers, left from the war, 
with wall paintings left by the soldiers on  the walls otherwise smothered in modern graffiti.

On Thursday 21st August we motorsailed in a dying wind up to Symi, where we anchored in Pethi, a bay with a small village just over the hill to the East of the main town of Symi.
Lin and Simon had lunch ashore, leaving Kai in charge of the boat. As we finished lunch, Sergio arrived and anchored just behind us, to Kai's and the girls' delight.
In the evening the wind got up and we found ourselves very close to Sergio. We were not sure whether the anchor had dragged, or it had just pulled back to the full length of the chain. We thought it was the latter, but we did not want to take any risks, so we reanchored, putting out our full 60 metres of chain.
On Friday we all took the bus into Symi town to go shopping. We had never been here in the summer season before - the town was heaving with crowds of day trippers from Rhodes, Datca, Marmaris and other places far and wide. We were glad to get back for lunch and a swim.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Back to Lakki

We left Agathonisi in the morning of Friday 8 August and motored across to Lipsi as there was no wind. In Lipsi we tied up to the quay, which filled up during the day, and got our first load of washing in to the excellent laundry. By the evening the wind had got a lot stronger and the quay was full on our leeward side, while around midnight boats on the windward side were having a lot of trouble with their anchors dragging. One motor yacht went out and, after two attempts at re-anchoring, took up its anchor to come back alongside. A larger, very posh Italian motor yacht also dragged while its owners were in town, leaving the crew with a real struggle to get off the quay. at one point the driver reversed hard, instead of going forwards, and smashed into the quay, badly damaging their bathing platform. Eventually they got off and went to anchor on the other, more sheltered, side of the bay. Kai, of course, insisted on staying up to help and, as he put it, to learn, and we didn't get to bed until well after midnight.
On the Saturday Lin took another big load of washing in and we chilled until evening, when there was the annual Wine Festival, with wine, kebabs and music and dancing, with the proceeds going to the primary school. But first we had long speeches. The mayor talked about the importance of wine to Lipsi and their commitment to sustainable development and combining work and education, noting that when he talked like that in the 70s and 80s he was branded a leftist, but now everyone recognised that there was no alternative for Greece. It also sounded very good, but who knows what is the reality in Lipsi.
The mayor's speech

The dancing began with local kids dancing in their traditional costumes,

and after a few dances everyone was invited to join in, with the mayor leading the dance.

On Sunday 10th August we had a good brisk sail with a Force 4 northerly down to Leros, where we planned to stay until the Theodorakis concert on Wednesday night. We had thought of stopping at Arkhangeli, but decided that it was a bit windy to anchor there so went on to Lakki, where we tied up on the town quay. Over Sunday night another group of Syrian refugees were brought in by the port police.

Kai complained how bored he was during the day, but had a great time in the park with his Greek friends every evening.
On Tuesday afternoon Kai went to the top of the mast
to take panoramic photos of Lakki for his school photography project.

He stayed up there for almost two hours, making a blog

and phoning his friends.

Thursday, 7 August 2014


We left Arki on Monday 4 August and had a good brisk sail to Agathonisi in a NNW Force 4-5 wind. There were only a handful of boats in so we were able to get our favourite spot on the corner of the fisherman's quay. It is too shallow to get right back to the quay so we have to use the dinghy to get ashore. We were immediately greeted by Kai's Italian friends, who we meet every year, and Kai went off to play with them. In the afternoon they all came back to the boat for their favourite pastimes, fishing from the bows and jumping off into the sea. Katerina caught a fish big enough to eat, but the others were all tiddlers.
On Tuesday morning there was a group of refugees, probably Syrian, who had been landed on the quay overnight, where they sat waiting for the Nisos Kalymnos ferry to Samos,
 onto which they were herded unceremoniously.

After lunch the Italian girls came aboard for some fishing

and swinging on the spinnaker halyard.


In the evening we went to George's taverna - he had complained to some friends of ours that we come every year and never eat at his place. Kai was also insistent that we should go there because Kai claimed that he had the best meat ever. We had rabbit, which was tasty but not as tender as Kai had remembered. We felt very bad abandoning Yanni and Voula, especially when we saw that they had only three customers that evening while George's was full. However, George was very welcoming and obviously delighted that we had come to him.
We went to bed while Kai went off to play with his Italian friends. About 1.30 Lin woke in a panic - where was Kai? She couldn't see him anywhere below and woke Simon to go and search for him. As Simon was getting dressed Kai popped his head round to door - what's up? he said. He had been sleeping on deck.
Kai woke at 5.30 on Wednesday morning to see two coastguard boats bringing in more refugees, who were led up to the port police office.
 During the day two more boatloads arrived, while another large group had to walk the length of the island from the beach where they had landed, because there were not enough boats to ferry them all. In total 140 refugees arrived on Wednesday, almost as many as the total population of the island, including quite a few children and at least two babies. The port police could not accommodate them all in their yard and there was no ferry that day, so half of them were shipped out on three coastguard boats.

We ate with Yanni on Wednesday evening, who was swamped with about 50 customers, against the three the night before, and having had to cook for the refugees, who were being fed by the port police. Poor Voula was alone in the kitchen, her mother not being there that evening, but she managed to serve her usual delicious food to everybody.
Thursday was a quiet day, swimming and reading and getting ready to leave for Lipsi on Friday, with no new refugees.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Peace at last!

We left Lipsi on Monday 28 July and motored down to Lakki, where we planned to put Becky, Andrew, Jade and Charlie on the catamaran to Kos to get their flight on Thursday, but the catamaran was fully booked, so we had to change our plans and take them to Kos. In Lakki Becky, Andrew, Jade, Kai and Charlie took a taxi over to Crithoni Paradise for Charlie to swim in the pool with his armbands while Lin and Simon did shopping and clearing up. We got our outboard back at last - it had been waiting for parts - and it stalled almost immediately. The repair people took it back and returned it within an hour - they had cleaned an amazing amount of muck out of the fuel pump, apparently a result of having got seawater in the fuel. They had been reluctant to open the fuel pump before because the diaphragm is so fragile, but did it very carefully and it was OK and the outboard ran perfectly - better than new. On Tuesday all except Kai went back to Crithoni, where Charlie became rather over confident in the pool, took off his armbands and sank. Fortunately Andrew got to him in time to bring him up with a lot of spluttering, but it did not put him off swimming. After lunch Simon took Andrew and Charlie in the dinghy round to Merikhia bay, where Charlie did not want to go in the sea because the waves were a bit big and the shore a bit stony.

On Wednesday 30th we set off for Paleonisos on the East coast of Kalymnos in company with Richard, who was sailing down single handed to pick up his son and grandchildren from Kos. We picked up a mooring buoy and helped Richard pick up his. Andrew and  Charlie went over to Richard's boat to have a look around, and Richard later took Charlie to the shore in his dinghy,
where we joined them to have the most fantastic hamburgers in the beach cafe. Charlie went into the sea with his rubber ring and decided to swim out to the boat on its mooring, about 100 metres away, with Lin and then Simon keeping him company. Having arrived at the boat he decided to swim over to the taverna quay, now against the wind, and then back to the beach. That was still not enough for him - he decided not to come back with us in the dinghy but to swim back with Andrew - a good 300 metres swimming.
We all had dinner in the taverna, on whose mooring buoys we had parked, and set off next morning to motor sail to Kos.

We soon passed Richard, who was sailing down
and went in to Kos marina. Lin and Simon stayed on the boat to do the usual clearing up while the others went to the nearby hotel pool for their last swim.
Becky, Andrew, Jade and Charlie got a taxi to the airport at 5.30 pm and had a smooth flight home, though Becky and Jade had to get up for work at the crack of dawn next day. While Lin went for a long shower, Simon and Kai washed down the boat and we went for a light dinner in the marina cafe.
On Friday August 1st we set off early to go back north. Kai was keen to meet up with Richard's grandchildren. We hadn't managed to make any plans in advance, but we guessed they would be going to Lakki, where we went on the town quay, but they were not there. Having stocked up, tidied up and done the washing we set off next morning in the hunt for Richard. We looked in at Lipsi, but he was not there, and then went on the quay in Arki. A while later we spotted Richard coming round the corner - mission accomplished. Kai had a great time with his grandchildren, doing what kids nowadays do when they are socialising, sitting together, each watching a video or playing a game on his or her tablet.
On Sunday Richard set off for Patmos, but we decided to stay in Arki for another day to rest.