IV - The Dodecanese, Island of Simi
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III - We Head West, Bozburun and Datça.
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V - The Dodecanese, the island of Tilos.
Log Entry Friday 26th June - We eventually have enough stability for a night photograph of the Monastery Tower.
The last few nights of constant high winds throughout the night seem to have fallen. Our plan is to leave here tomorrow for Livádhiou on the island of Tilos, 25 nautical miles to the west of us.
Log Entry Thursday 25th June - Sitting out the winds.
Yet another night of roaring winds throughout the night, I get little sleep, not for the worry of Sailaway slipping her anchor, but more of those around us - how set is theirs? Most have been here for a couple of days now. The wind disappeared around 5/6am, so I gained an hour or so before we rise around 0730 as usual.
There is not a lot gets past us, a military visit to the quay, officer and driver, an old boy works daily on his fishing boat - I believe he just tell his wife he is out fishing, he certainly seems to snooze in the afternoon? This morning as I look over to the old boy, I notice a fender floating by, there is a charter vessel came in during the night, came in, and tied back to the rocks. He had hung fenders from his line, I guess to make it more visible, the two remaining matched the single floater. My good deed was to collect it and return it to it's rightful owner, I am sure they would do the same for us!
This bay is a great natural harbour, probably very wealthy in it's time. A great deal of cash has been spent on the surrounding area to the Monastery, but rightly so, as it is a great cash generator. There has also, at one time, been sizable boat slips here, judging from the size of the sunken slip capstan winches sitting now below the surface.
The Monastery and immediate area is palatial, in appearance and up keep.
We walk around and sit by the lighthouse, recently converted to a windmill, it is still shown as a working lighthouse in all of our documentation and electronic charts. Our charts are some 5 years old, still I work on the principle that rocks do not move, nor are the charts for the Mediterranean that accurate at source due to they creation in the 19th Century before GPS etc. Our charts showed a long reef off the entrance, it is clearly not there, we came over the top of it, in theory using our depth gauge and water colour and was instantly followed by a following charter boat, correcting it's coarse behind us.
As the large ferries come in they enter the bay and sound the horn, the tower bells ring (prerecorded) to welcome their guests, it only takes a mater of minutes to dock and have people off. They get 45 minutes to look around etc, the ferry sounds it's horn 5 minutes before, anyone on board is left as there appears no count on/off.
To seaward all seems to be settling, a lot of mist due to the high humidity, the thunder storms not visiting us as forecast, yet? It seems strange when one considers how this area is maintained to see that there has been no attempt to disguise the surviving, WWII relicts?
Log Entry Tuesday 23rd June - Ann takes a road trip north, back to Simi.
We were both leaving Sailaway for a few hours today, we left the water maker running to replenish our tanks and both went ashore. Ann was going to take one of the buses up to the port of Simi, I was going to hang around the cafe, use the internet and watch the world go by.
We bid our farewells to each other, should Ann decide not to return, I issued an advance warning to the port of Simi of Ann's pending arrival! I knew she had arrived safely as she sent me a picture of a giros and a beer, I even knew where she was sitting, that was not funny!
The harbour had clearly not changed much, Ann went in search of our dear friends, but they had unfortunately either, left, or lost their anchor and sunk - lets not get me on about that again. She did see a pleasure vessel tied alongside one of the Coast Guard, the only time we have seen this before is when vessels have been impounded, for either drugs or immigrants?
I got to meet the Priest outside the cafe, as he left he waved goodbye and left the village in his equivalent of the "Pope Mobile". I was a little confused as one of his stop lights were off, I would have thought that God would take good care of his own?
Ann was able to gain a completely different perspective of Simi, from the heights, it looked far larger than portrayed at sea level?
The island of Simi is around 6-8 miles long but Ann's road trip lasted almost an hour each way, you can understand why from the winding roads, but what views.
Log Entry Sunday 21st June - An enjoyable day in such a quaint place.
We are clearly aware of the Holy Monastery of Taxiarchis Michael, and surprised at the amount of visitors, although Simi is proclaimed to have been the treasury of the Orthodox faith and Greek-Orthodox culture over the centuries. The current Monastery was erected after the discovery of the holy icon Taxiarchis Michael and his association with countless miracles. It's development over centuries saw it destroyed by visiting pirates, through to its current state in the twentieth century. During World War II it was converted to a covert radio station for which, for their sins as such, resulted in the execution of the Abbot at that time, Dean Chrysanthos Maroulakis and his colleges in February 1944.
Today it claims to employs 30 individuals on an annual basis, supports the poor, families and children with scholarships etc.
Today there is clearly a marked social, cycling event which has been going on for some time with celebrity speaks - all in Greek for coarse. There are many rooms available for rent built either side of the monastery, a lot of them in use for this event.
We make our way down towards the monastery, seeking refreshments and internet at the cafe - I must smile more, but hard to change the habit of a lifetime! With the event over, there appears to be an easier option to return back to where ever, the cycles are loaded onto cars, vans and trucks - I do assume they rode here initially? There is a small shop next to the cafe, but they only have basics, when we enquire about bread we are pointed towards the bakery.
The bakery is out of bread, we are told to return at 0800 hours the next morning, but we do purchase some of their savoury pastry, Ann returns the next morning.
We visit the monastery, the entrance fee of €3/person only requested as we enquire about the museums, which are re-opened for us. They are obviously opened as the ferries arrive.
The original church, well, as original as it can be is highly decorated, the Katholikan portraying Taxiarchis Michael (top, centre) said to be "gold leaf".
In the exterior there is an area where candles can be lit, Ann lights one for her mum.
With the museums opened for us we make our way through the two sections, portraying local folk law, people and religious artefacts.
It is difficult to identify most items, all appear marked with identification numbers, but there is nothing to refer the numbering too?
We found it very interesting, however a little concerning when you can related items to your childhood? Ann recognises an old iron her mum used when she was around ten years old - I again question, how old is she really? That statement worked for us both obviously, the collection of items span recent and past decades, I am certain as you read, you too will find memories in this Museum?
This room/display was a display of many of the types of vessels said to have visited this harbour over the centuries, we looked hard but could not find Sailaway.
There was also, if labelled correctly, great wealth displayed too, much gold, and ivory products labelled, especially in the religious section.
The above robe, one of several was labelled as belonging to the Bishop of Kastellorizo, the Greek island off Kas, Turkey, we had frequented many times.
Log Entry Saturday 20th June - We wake up in Òmos Marathouda, no communications, weather etc so we move on to Panormittis.
It was a lovely morning, the single Taverna, described in our paperwork, had clearly expanded into accommodation, a couple of cafe's, several houses serviced by road and trip boats. Last night the whole complex was in darkness by 1800 hours, the only thing on the beach this morning at 1000 hours as we prepared to leave, were a couple of goats. Still, a nice little set up if you wanted peace and quiet. The main issue for us was there were no mobile communications therefore no internet, weather etc. The Navtex's poor, broken signal declared a developing low pressure system to the south of Crete which could have a significant influence on us. We needed to move on to obtain good weather feedback. So, we enjoyed our single night there and headed for Panormittis, we were unsure as to what we would find there but a larger town must give us more chance of obtaining a mobile signal.
As we packed, we had already picked our "place to live" in the hillside, with goats, chickens etc, we lifted our anchor and made our way out of the small narrow bay, back into open water and continued south around the island of Simi.
This section of the coast is extremely rugged and attractive in the same sense, to the north around the headland the Turkish coast and Datça is still in view.
Further to the south we have the main shipping lanes as they pass the island of Rhodos, we need to pass between Simi and Nisos Seski to continue our way around to Panormittis, at the moment we are in the lee, protected from the wind, but ahead the whites and the sea state is about to change, fortunetly we have only a short trip against wind and sea to reach our target.
As we reach the far end of the channel we are approached from behind, by two ferries, at first the much larger, seems to change coarse to go out outside of us, then, it turns again to go between us and the shoreline. We now have two ferries on our inside, the smaller slows down to allow the larger through first. I asked Ann to get all valuables down below, which included the camera. Once the larger ferry passed we turned into it's bow wave to reduce the effect, it's bow wave was at least 3 to 4 meters high, Sailaway shot of the top of it coming to an absolute haul as we hit it's trough - we were wet! If I had been younger I would have paid good money for a ride like that!
Once in side we made our way to the north of the bay, picked our spot and dropped our anchor in 3/5 meters. It appeared a very quiet place bursting into energy with the arrival of the ferries from Rhodos and Simi, do not mention that place to me!
The area had a limited mobile signal, the local cafe excellent wifi, we were to spend a couple of days here, my knees need rest.
Log Entry Friday 19th June - Enough of Simi, rather, some of the yachties in it!
This morning I am ashamed to say, I behaved completely out of character, it began quite early. We had at the first berth, lost the holding of our anchor, we had clipped the wall damaging the anchor roller assembly, I wanted to straighten it best I could before it was needed again. To do so I lifted the primary anchor off the assembly, tying it to the pulpit (the shinney bit at the front) I needed a new spindle as it had bent the M12 x 175mm bolt, I went off to the chandlers. I was able to obtain one, and a spare of coarse! When I returned our dear friend next door called over telling me that the anchor's position was dangerous and could damage the outboard engine hanging from his dinghy. I calmly pointed out that it was impossible for the bow to swing that much, even if could I also pointed out that the heights were not compatible, it would pass clearly under neath. He disagreed and insisted it was moved, my reply was short and direct, it advised him to either move his berth, or get the the Harbour Master as I was not moving it! The two boats on our port side left which meant we were now directly exposed to the building breeze, our dear friend on our starboard called over again to say that he was not happy with the fenders rubbing on his hull? I loudly and directly explained "that was the theory" and explained that they are called fenders as they "fend off" and that, the additional motion was due to the exit of the two vessel which had been clearly pinning us together - now my blood was boiling! I continued to tell them they should not have a boat, they cannot be enjoying it as it clearly creates too much worry. no reply to my rant, but at least I felt better.
There was then a change in his conversation, he asked if we set a line on the port side to the wall to help reduce the motion? I said yes as it was a sensible suggest (which I told him) but clearly I would have to remove it when other vessels were assigned to that area. It was as we were setting the line a third large ferry docked on our side, it's wash from it's propellers sent quite a wave down the harbour and especially the wall, it was less than 100m from us. Many stood looking and pointing at their masts as the vessels rolled back and forth on the waves still being created. With the twisting effect created and the building gusts, Sailaway twisted, it looked to me as if the anchor had given way, I shouted to Ann as I held the bow, I suggested we went out to check and to reset the anchor. It became very clear that it had given, engine on and we warned our dear friends of our intensions. With the gusts pushing us against the starboard vessel we reversed out, the two occupants began screaming "our anchor, our anchor!". I pointed out that it was below our keel as I knew how deep we were, then, the lady on the next boat up began screaming the same, pointing to our dear friends anchor chain. I made a silent gesture with my hand, asking for silence as all was truly OK? We were very, very lucky, her husband was there at their bow, obviously. The other expert called "No he is clear, look!" I acknowledged his great wisdom, if he had not be there god only knows what could have happened?
I then, just shook my head and we motored out of the harbour, all vessels were now rolling considerably with the congested water. I called to Ann, " Enough, is enough, we are not going back in there, we went out into the bay, tidying up, we reviewed our options - south was where we were going. The whites of the waves could be seen beyond the bay as the result of the building wind, so we prepared for the ride.
I must admit, I was a little ashamed of my behaviour, I am usually far more tolerant. It was a shame as we like Simi and the local people, but our one and only visit would be tarnished, as you have read by those "few" around us at the time.
Once out in the bay we tidied up and secured all down below, we had a cupper and discussed our options, we were to head south down the coastline to find somewhere that suited. Not much pleasure vessel activity, perhaps the wind and sea a little too strong now? The never ending run of ferries, in/out of Simi continued, the boarder of the Turkish/Greek waters patrolled by the Greek military continuously. We checked out a couple of possibilities on the way, and passed them by for whatever reason, until we came to Ómos Marathouda, a small bay said to have a single Taverna in our nine year old pilot book - looked good to us, nice and quiet.
We went inside the narrow bay, toward the beach area, dropped anchor and settled down for the evening. The Greek military were still patrolling the borders, we sat over dinner and wondered if our dear friends were missing us back in Simi?
Log Entry Thursday 18th June - We finally get the chance to look around Simi.
Today I was to rebuild the interior, sort out what was stored within and then we would have a look around town, with our tasks complete it was early afternoon, it was good to get our home looking somewhat inhabitable once again. We also had to sort out a Greek data card for our mobile, providing us with internet where ever there is a telephone signal for weather, email etc. The town of Simi, relatively small in size, bursts with enery as each visiting ferry brings in people, sometimes an overlap of ferries brings about congestion as the tours wander the narrow streets. Similarly, as they all leave the streets, cafe's and Taverna's empty and the efforts increase to coax you inside their establishment. The west side of the harbour is absolutely for the local boats, which in itself bring character, the building are clearly a mix of old and new.
Around the northwest area is a region which looks to have at one time fallen into disarray, perhaps an earthquake? It is now bringing itself back to life and new/rebuilt properties spring the area back into life, small steep lanes service the area. As a Greek town, churches are in abundance as you would expect, as are the colours bright and cheerful.
We took some time to walk around the residential area, clearly a difference to that of the commercial front, interesting to see how the people live. In one of the corners of the harbour we found a young chap cleaning driftwood and washing sponges, for which the town is said to be famous.
The small town even supports a Naval and Folk Law Museums, small in size but interesting just the same.
It was an interesting couple of hours, and, it got us off Sailaway and away from the frustrations on the quay which for some reason was becoming really annoying, people completely "devoured" with anchors, our time on the quay is proving also that "these self proclaimed experts" are far from, the resulting heckling being a form of bullying, which we hate. We stopped on the way back for coffee and to wind ourselves up with what may/is happening alongside Sailaway.
We were not disappointed, they they were at their anchors, the whole process being in almost three stages, we sat with a couple of beers and watched!
Stage I - the arrival, or departure of a vessel, they stand at the bow and point to their "believed anchor position", should some one appear to be dropping, or even raising, where they believed their anchor was, as if they knew, voices were raised to shouts, the female partners appeared the worse! We were expecting physical violence once or twice but unfortunately it did not materialise other than the return of shouts?
Stage II - As an anchor went up or down near to where they thought theirs was they would try and "sense" a conflict with their hands or feet on their own anchor chain.
Stage III - efforts of others, be it arriving or departing are then discussed or analysed with gestures, shouts etc.
Clearly not every one was is same, I feel we were just very lucky be be in such close proximity of so many expects so we were able to learn quite a lot that is, "how not to behave!"
My interest was swayed to a number of house martins on a nearby local gullet, it was hard to say how many were nesting it it's bowspit area, but a few for sure.
Log Entry Wednesday 17th June - We step into the Simi way of life!
After a good night's sleep, we had a couple of jobs to look at, the main being a leaking fresh water tank, we were making fresh water and filling our bilge - an interesting problem?
Before we started on the issue we decided to go out and reset our anchor, we had an issue coming from the equipment jamming on our stern anchor assembly, so we were confident that it was not as secure as it needed to be, especially with the wash from the continuous train of ferries. We lifted our anchor and went out into the harbour, we made some changes/improvements but all could not be resolved with what we could get hold of. Coming back in we were allocated a different berth, away from the Brit with the gun so that was not too bad, as, I was in fear of his life should Ann have to set upon him. We came back in along side a French sailboat, out of the frying pan into the fire - he did not like the position of our fenders, we moved them, he still was not happy? We then realised that he would never be happy so the next time he complained to us I told him "No, if you are worried we have insure - like a copy?" Him and his wife spent all day telling every one where their anchor was, even the passing bus driver (just joking).
Lets forget about the "nutters" next door, I was able to identify which tank was leaking fairly quickly, the problem was now getting to it, the interior was built around it, every thing glued or with 28 year old galvanised screws in it? The tank happened to be position below our spare part store, to empty the cupboard area meant filling the living area with it's contents. Always a good time for a sort out of what's in there, not completely emptied since we left the UK eight years ago. The secret was disassembling in a way that it could be rebuild and disassembled as easy as possible if need be in the future. The problem was identified, part of the problem could be resolved with items stored in our vee berth - time to empty that now. During the removal of items from the vee berth we found a locker where fittings etc were stored except, the plastic bin in which they had been stored was full of water and had been for some time, probably from the winter floods? Another job, drain, clean, reclaim, dispose, as if we had not enough to do?
The fresh water tank was now seen to be in need of welding, anything else would just be a patch - after two days on my knees, and considering the effort to get to the problem I thought I would seek the assistance from the local, or rather only boatyard. If I could have the tank permanently fixed here it would save a great deal of effort, rebuilding, disassembling once again at a later date.
We decided to pay them a visit, as we climbed ashore we were hit by another emergency, the nutters next door! He had been sitting at his bow while holding his anchor chain, while, she came quickly from down below "Did they move our anchor?" she cried to us, he came running forward. "How do we know, we have better things to do?" Regardless of what we had said they came to their own conclusion and decided on their own action. They decided to go out and reset their anchor, they asked for our assistance with coming back in, we agreed of coarse. They were out in no time, it was going to be interesting to see these real professionals do it properly, we were a little taken back when he chipped Sailaway's paintwork with their stern as they powered out at speed for some reason? I waited on the quay for their return, in no time at all, after a lot of raised voices, they were on the way back in. He returned the boat back to the quay with nothing organised, ropes in a mess, he threw a line back, it was tangled in his parasol lines, I threw it back, explaining why. He was able to re-route it and gave it back, I held the boat with a turn around the bollard and suggested I held it until the other line was sorted too. He insisted on it back immediately so he could tie it and shouted at his wife to sort the other line out. It too, as thrown was tangled up in the parasol lines, but I was able to reach it myself, re-route and return. All good, they thanked us for our help and we walked off to the boatyard. Expects, probably the first time they had tied back, still we are all different, that is how the world goes round.
The boatyard, well another experience, a friend of ours, Hazel, once gave me a book called "Building a boat on Simi" - honestly. It was about an Englishman, his dream boat and having build on the island of Simi, it described the difficulties of getting things done, cultural differences etc. I believe that this was the same boatyard, I arrived as a guy was opening up, around 1130 hours. I said I needed welding done, could he assist? After a number of "shrugs and visual expression" it was certainly looking doubtful? I then asked if he was the boss, no, he would not be here until tomorrow, with sign of hope I asked if we could call him, "not possible" I was told. With the complete lack of confidence on getting anything done here, we moved to "Plan B" - patch what we can, rebuild, sort through the contents of that area, and, complete during the winter, that's what we did.
We returned to the daily events on the quay, things happen, anchors become tangled in situations like this but most of the boat owners seem "entirely absorbed" by it. It is a good job there is little to see here as most would see nothing at all for the fear of leaving their boat, and I refused point blank to get involved in the "bitching" by these so called experts. Still at a terverna across the other side of the quay, Greek dancing took our interest, we sat up top and watched.
The rebuild of the interior was a sizeable job, we decided to leave it until tomorrow. We had stopped at one of the quayside Taverna's on the way back from the boatyard, that was to be our venue for dinner this evening.
After a shower in the mess below, we effective had no where to even sit, our belongings even stretched into the cockpit, so an early start in the Taverna apposite was decided on. Ann looking at the wine list noticed "Retsina" and chose to try one, once again. The last time Ann drank Retsina was with our friend Peter in Meis, on the Greek island of Kastellorizo (2012) - another story! We took the above, left picture to send to Peter to bring back memories, apparently it made the hair stand up on the back of his neck, poor Peter.
We had a good evening, good food and perhaps a little too much to drink, still, only here once, life I mean not Simi! For clarification, Simi is a lovely place, the local people we have met are great and very helpful. The harbour guys are great, very knowledgeable about whereabouts and availability of just about anything you may need. My comments and writing refer to the visiting nutters we seem to be attracting, we are clearly busy and they insist on making large issues of what seem like trivia to us.
Log Entry Tuesday 16th June - We cross over to Simi, Greece.
It was a quiet start to the morning, Ann still a little disheartened as her life here in Datça, Turkey was not to be - again! I am sure I heard her mumble as she passed my coffee "stuck with you I suppose?" All that was needed to do was to pop into town and sign out of Turkey, we used Sedar USLU, Seher Tours, just behind the harbour, off a small roundabout. The cost was to be 80Tl, log, passports etc. When I returned for the paperwork I was asked where the boat was, we are at anchor I replied, we spoke about it? "Customs were unable to visit, if you are anchor you must pay 50Tl fine!" said Sedar. "OK, that is life, how do we arrange the visit now?" I asked. A strange conversation then developed, until I realised I was the strange one! The bottom line was, if the Customs could not visit you were fined 50Tl, then they do not have to visit? Strange, it must have seemed to Sedar that I was insisting on creating the visit when it was not needed?
That is just the way it is, it is not about the procedure other than the fine you pay for not following it? Our paperwork, passports were already complete, I handed over the 50Tl fine along with the 8oTl fee and all was sorted - no Customs involvement at all, you never stop learning in Turkey!
We returned to Sailaway, and left, Ann pondered over what her life could have been at the "Roll Coffee House", perhaps next time, I say trying to comfort her?
Winds were good and in our favour, our engine was off within ten minutes of starting, managing the local influences on the wind kept us occupied. As we got into clear water, the wind stiffened, then fell off - out came our cruising chute. We noticed we were in a narrow channel of calm, ahead the whites were evident, we postponed the chute and rightly so as we approached Simi, the wind became very strong, at times giving us eight knots plus through the water.
We rounded the northwest point of N. Nimos to the north of Simi, and saw our first Greek bay with a deserted "something?"
It was now clearly time to change our allegiance, perhaps some may say too late, we now fly the Greek courtesy flag as per expectations.
As we enter Simi Harbour what lays before us is very interesting, two large ferries in front of us, we give them right of way in case they did not see us, we then followed in and were third to be assigned a berth, we await our turn. I could only describe what laid before us as "disorder" the harbour guys would assign a berth, then other berth holders would try and get in on the procedure, not, here, too large, my anchors there, on and on and on! It was clear to me we had harbour walls lined with experts, the guys in control were just a nuisance to them.
I said to Ann, ignore all except the guys in charge, we did and we made our way into a tight berth, two boats, the British flagged to our port had 4 elderly occupants, to the starboard, Italian flagged, no one on board. The port guy had to leave urgently he said, I saw no issue as there were people every where - my mistake? Still, I said we would be ok, so I asked one of the four Brits to take the line from Ann, being able to read her mind I knew she would jump which I did not want. The four Brits just stared at me, so I then shouted "Are you all deaf?" One of the women called out "he is coming" and told one of the guys to help. I had a strange conversation with the gent as we secured our lines, I made a joke about thinking none of them spoke English - he told me he had a gun on board and was not afraid to use it? I pointed at Ann and told him she was indestructible so be careful! I believe it to be humour, but where from, God knows?
Still we were tied up for the night, safe and secure, we thought?