V - The Dodecanese, Tilos and Astipálaia.
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IV - The Dodecanese, the island of Simi.
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IV - The Cyclades
Log Entry Sunday 5th July - Time to move on, our target Nisos Thira in the The Cyclades.
We had spent now two nights on the wall, due to the strong, gale force winds, there was no traffic so the only berth left, that to raft up on us, was never occupied. The winds were more favourable today, our biggest challenge would be to get Sailaway off the wall, the wind still firm, was blowing us on, and the propeller "walk" on Sailaway meant it would naturally push us into the wall initially, irrespective of the rudder direction. We only had 15 to 20 meters of clearance to get her out between the fishing boats and pleasure craft, that included two vessels leaving the raft. We had our anchor line repaired/platted by one of the local fisherman, so I dropped our dinghy and Ann and I put the anchor, chain and rope in. The plan was to take the anchor out into the harbour, set it and use the anchor to pull us off the wall with a bow line secured ashore we would be able to winch her clear of the other craft. I asked a gent to fend the bow off as the hull left the wall - he did a great job!
By 0930 all was sorted and we left the harbour, motoring towards Thira as we tidied up the anchor, fenders etc. The sails were up in no time and the engine off.
For the next 6 hours we battled the wind and seas, the wind stiffened and the sea grew, it must have been two meters plus as we slid down the waves, the winds at this stage must have been over 20 knots with prolonged gusting. The wind moved regularly from northwest to northerly, sails to adjust accordingly. Our cockpit became so wet we closed all of the cockpit hatch up completely, we actually had once again to slow Sailaway down to make the ride more sensible, again it was hard work. As we came into the lee of Nisos Anàfi after eight hours of wrestling the winds we decided on a change of plan. As we approached Anàfi the winds became far more confused as did the seas, we were about 3 miles south of the island, it's influence was not expected - lets check out Skàla Anàfi and overnight if it looks ok?
That is what we did, after nine ours from raising our anchor we had travelled enough in my opinion, especially if you have no pressing schedule, Nisos Thira can wait.
Log Entry Thursday 2nd July - We move into the Harbour, bad idea!
We went ashore to find some bread, fresh fruit and salad, the town typically Greek, clean and bright.
Unfortunately, with the exception of the waterfront every thing is built on the hillside, not good for my knees. The harbour is not a good arrangement at all, the prevailing winds actually gust straight into it blowing the pleasure craft inside effectively onto the wall - no shelter from the winds, or gusts at all. To help maintain stability a number of the vessels had strapped themselves together with lines as the gusts picked up, the whole wall of boats began to sway back and forth.
We sat in a small taverna, of which there are many and was serenaded by a very loud canary, we watch the naval gents and ladies come ashore for their leave. I felt much more at ease just sitting out at anchor, it was still breezy but we had no wall immediately behind us.
That had at least been our plan, when we returned to Sailaway, we were approached by one of the trip boats and told that the Coast Guard said we had to move. I went ashore to gain clarification, indeed I was told we had to move, the only reason being given was "We have room inside now!" Still, that was the way it was to be, I again looked at the next nearby anchorage, but it was now blowing heavily, we chose to go inside.
We put our anchor down and went in "stern too" we were on the outside of the row, so to keep us separate from the moving vessels I took a "spring from our stern ashore too. We sat solid as the charter boat next to us moved by the bow, they had a problem in that the windlass could not hold the loading, the chain would jump over, in time, letting them move towards the wall. In time, they would start the engine and pull themselves off again, putting more fenders between them and the wall. I suggested a snubber, securing the chain to the cleat, taking the load off the windlass - they seemed happy enough with what they had? This looked to go on for the night, one gent sleeping in the cockpit, keeping watch.
I did not sleep much as our "spring line" did obstruct the only remaining birth left so every time I thought I heard a boat I was up with the spotlight. After a couple of false alarms, I rose to the deck to find an actual boat looking for a berth, I had Ann instantly drop the spring line and walk it forward. The visiter was now broadside to the strong gusting winds, in fear of ending beam on the bows of the anchored vessels. I shouted bringing attention to our stern anchor line, shinning our spotlight on it. It was only moments later the skipper found himself caught with our line between his rudder and keel, he tried to power out and wrapped our anchor line around the propeller, his engine stalled. He called to cut the line as being his only option, I secured Sailaway to the nearby boat as others wrestled him off their bows on the gust, he launched his dinghy to apply power - the engine too small for the gusts. Now Sailaway was moving with the nearby boat, the best thing to do was to loosen Sailaway and let her drift beam onto the wall, taking the pressure off our neighbour. I shouted for assistance to keep the bow off the wall and I let her back, the wind did the work. They were able to separate two boats and allow the visitor to go "bows in" but my anchor, loose on Sailaway was holding him out - the only option he had was to cut it. He fasten a line to our anchor and used our stern anchor, still dug in, to hold himself off the wall through the night.
It was about 2am before we could settle down for the evening, I must confess, the guy did every thing he could to save our line, what had to be done was only done when he exhausted all other avenues. A conversation and coffee the next morning found him to be an interesting chap!
Log Entry Wednesday 1st July - Our first day in Skàla on the island of Astipálaia.
We were not able to retire until around 1030, so today was to be a lazy one, we climbed up into the cockpit around 1500 hours. The military vessel we passed last night on the way in sat solid behind us.
The scenery was nice to take in, once pulled around after our trip we had work to do!
A fall during the night had seen me take out our saloon table. I always remember Phil, the professional skipper we hired to bring it from where we purchased her in Cork in S. Ireland to Northumberland, our home at that time, saying, laughing, "I do not believe this table will survive the trip!" Well, he was about 20,000 sea mile out - my first job today, and another winter job ahead. It is going to be a busy winter this year?
We had a few other bits & pieces to repair too, enough to keep us busy.
Log Entry Tuesday 30th June - An early start for Astipálaia.
Todays trip was always going to be a difficult one, typically I guess, to motor overnight as far as possible with no wind would be usual, as the traditional winds were to be dead against us? Here, the meltami winds had not yet settled, instead of falling off early evening, usually blowing all night, or at least until early hours. The strengths of the winds seem to be under-estimated by the forecasters too. We had a chat with our friend Ian back in Kas, he too saw things as we did but it was reassuring to have it confirmed by an expert!
Our plan was to leave early after the wind had dropped, motor, then as the wind developed we would not be able to make way against the resulting waves so we would sail, beat against the wind. If Astipálaia was not a possible destination then we would make for where we could, then continue across the Aegean?
We were up at 0530, the little left packed away and secured. We were packed tight against the wall as originally placed, we manoeuvred out waking a guy sleeping in the cockpit on one of the charter vessels, off the wall, the guy lay back down and we turned and made our way out of the small harbour.
Motoring, we soon put Astipálaia in the distance, we were now to follow the coastline around to the northwest and then out into open water.
A slight breeze began to develop, nothing of use to us yet, in the distance we could still make out the Turkish, Datça Peninsular, this would probably be the last we see of it, we hope.
The wind developed as expected and soon the engine was off, we continued to beat as the wind increased we put the camera below and put on our oilies, trousers anyway, as the cockpit became wet from the breaking waves.
We settled down for the night, progress was slow but our speed through the water had to be managed, slowed down to stop us launching of the waves. Due to the building sea, our coarse steered verses actual over the ground varied on tack from, 10° to 25-30°, the large waves giving us a hard time. With a couple of hours from Astipálaia, we began motoring directly to our destination in the lee of the island. Our bilge alarm then began and we began to pump sea water out of our bilge, it was repeating every 5-10 minutes, that was a lot of sea water. The inlet could not be found, so we continued on and managed it. We arrived at Skàla, Astipálaia around 0530 the next morning, we dropped anchor immediately outside the harbour which has now replaced the anchorage on our charts. Without the engine running it was easy to find the leak, you could hear it rushing in - we had a clamp that had broken on our stern tube assembly. The clamp was replaced, the area cleaned and the sea water pumped out. We had stayed out of the harbour just in case there was an issue discharging bilge water overboard? We monitored it for a few days, all seems good, another winter job to strip it down when out of the water replace the components, if the clamp has aged to that extent, surly the rest must have?
The trip had been a hard one, the direct distance was 53 miles, we had tacked for 79 and taken around 23 hours to do so!
Log Entry Monday 29th June - We hire a car to look around the island.
The island of Tilos is said to be new to tourists due to it's far out position, but it, from the Pilotage information has exploded with facilities, hotels, taverna's. A lot of the visitors appear to be Greek, although we were approached by one British couple who had spent their last few holidays exploring Greek islands. Tilos has little to offer other than friendly service and the typical stoney beaches, the latter of no interest at all to us. The island is only six miles long so we pick up a car for 30 Euros, and seek advice on where to go, the guy in the rental place, as are all, is very friendly and helpful. I ask on his thoughts of the government and the EU, that put in a good 15 minutes. You have to be sympathetic, for years taxation was voluntary, the only incentive was the ability to pick up an early pension after a relative few years work compared to us, many would then draw their pension and continue to work "cash in hand". Now they move the pension age to 67, force taxation and, I am told, increases the level and form of taxation on almost a monthly basis. It is far from our (UK) well established system, we may be taxed but we know by how much. The bottom line is todays people feel that they are being forced to pay for the past, there is no real wish to work officially. Consequently we see a thickening "Black Economy" being developed, no one put money in the banks, uses credit cards, everything is in cash!
We are a little short of fuel for our next trip, Astipálaia, so, be sure we ask around and find a couple of young lads who will bring fuel by cans, from the only garage on the island. I was looking for around 150 litres, the price settled, I explain I have to visit the bank, the only one on the island of coarse! I had been to the cash point twice but was unable to withdraw, today they would be open if the machine was not sorted. I am told that the bank "ALPHA" has no money, so, we settle for 150 Euros worth, as that is all the cash we have at that time and they depart with a grin on their faces. Just then we received a message from the UK, the banks are not giving out cash, they have none?
Off to the bank I go, the machine still out of action, I discuss my withdrawal with the staff. They will have cash at 2pm, from the ferry, but you must be quick to withdraw as no matter how much they get, it is taken out almost immediately - black economy! We return at 2pm and as promised was able to withdraw, so no real issues, they had literally just run out of money as the Greek people clearly want their cash out of the bank!
Now in the car, and cash in our pocket as well as fuel for Sailaway, we first drive north on the island, towards the island's capital "Megalo Chorio", we visit supposably one of the most famous beaches on Tilos "Playiou", I thought at first we were going to have problems parking, but we were just lucky - joking obviously!
The island is very rugged, the roads in quite bad condition, follow the coast to the northwest of the island.
The centre of the island is nothing but mountainous, so the road is long and winding.
We eventually arrive at the end of the road and at the Byzantine Monastery of Aghois Panteleimonas (said to be 15th Century) a lovely Land rover 4X4 sits at the front - the Priests. How is it the church, no matter what the countries position, the church, whatever the religion, always appear wealthy?
I found this fresh water fountain of holy water, unlimited holy water, no need to even bless - what does this guy with the 4X4 do all day! Well, during our visit he did sit in one of the gardens, in the shade of coarse.
The monastery was, as the pictures portray, but built in the mountain side, a position worthy of a castle, very fortified naturally.
We stop on the way back for our picnic lunch, high up on the roadside, down in one of the bays two Turkish gullets sit in the calm waters.
We came across a small fishing village, a lovely empty harbour, a terverna and a couple of houses - that was it, it's name unfortunately I lost. Up behind on the hill were two shells of concrete structures, probably were to be hotels, started but never finished. We stop for refreshments, the people again, very friendly, but as limited in English as were are in Greek.
We called into Meglao Chorio, the island's capital, enticed by signs of "Castle & Ancient Fortifications". The town was locally colourful, but otherwise a mess, rubbish everywhere, one shop and a Medical Centre - probably why it was called the capital. I was amazed at the amount of abandoned vehicles, cars, buses and scooters, almost every house had something of "scrap value". We could find nothing positive to say about this town, Livádhiou was bright, well maintained, attractive. Megalo Chorio was just a disappointment.
We eventually found the castle and fortifications positioned high above the town, so overgrown, they could barely be made out - we went no further towards them.
On our way back to Sailaway, we stopped at Mikro Chorio, the original island's capital, completely deserted after the war, I could find no reason as to why. For all the town was now almost completely derelict it had more of a "tidiness" about it than that of the new capital.
The village had three well maintained and used building in amongst the ruins, a Pub and two churches - of coarse.
A walk around was interesting, the goats seemed to love the ruins to climb upon.
We had seen the signs advertising the Pub on the roadside, open too late for us to visit on an evening.
The smaller church, unlike to larger had visible access through a steel gate.
To summarise the drive would be to say, interesting but not to be done again.
Log Entry Sunday 28th June - Our first morning in Livádhiou.
We have a few bits and pieces to complete as the day starts, Ann watches the remarkably large ferry in, we are along the quay at which it docks, bringing everything from people to building materials. Most of the materials are deposited on the quay next to us and distributed from there, there appears to be continuously at least one flat bed truck with goods to be distributed. The goods are taken from the truck and then moved on, the truck is just a method of getting the consignment to the island.
Clearly our luck will change now, on deck I felt something hit my shoulder, yep, you are correct, a luck poop! Not sure wether we will now receive good winds from now on, win the lottery or the shirt shrinks in the wash?
The small town is limited in what it can supply, the cashpoint never seems to have cash, there is a tiny supermarket every 150 yards, all selling the same things. One thing we have got into the habit of looking for is the local bakery. The salad we find is best from the truck that comes it appears daily, all fruit seems to be home grown, poor quality, it looks to have been lying in the garden for some time and expensive. It is amazing to us what people will ask money for?
The difference between Turkey and Greece is the cost of everything, what costs 1Tl in Turkey, costs 1€ in Greece - there are 3 Tl/Euro? Island such as this price up again and blame the cost of transportation - fuel is 3€ per litre.
This town of Livádhiou is quaint with a remarkable number of taverners and accommodation, just a shortage of tourists to fill them.
As we walk along the beach we cross over a bridge with spans a storm drain, during the summer it duals as a road/street. Of coarse, on the hillside above the harbour the tradition simple church, complementing the palatial building on the water front.
It is clear we are now in the EU, Ann is detained by the authorities, the reason declared "Health & Safety" for the locals? I hope to have her freed by this evening or, I may have to eat out - wish me luck! Actually, she is just being nosey, watching the sailboats come into the harbour, offering assistance as required.
I made that same statement to one of our friends, she returned with "Ann might want to stay there behind the bars. I guess from her side it's you behind bars and maybe she is really enjoying the view." You cannot beat female logic, that is why they are never wrong!
Log Entry Saturday 27th June - We leave Simi for Livádhiou on the island of Tilos.
We leave around 0700, it is only a trip of 25 miles but the sea will be somewhat confused after recent weather and who trusts a forecast nowadays? The morning is dull and grey, not a lot to see or photograph, we only see one pleasure craft during the entire trip. The 24 miles takes us almost 7 hours, the sea state varies as does the wind, we make the best we can as we spend most of our time with no land mass available due to the mist ahead and the low cloud behind, definitely not one of our best trips.
It is around mid morning before the mist burns off some of the mist and we are able to gain a little warmth for the sun. Our trip is undertaken in long trousers and fleece, the odd shower does not help. We now have Tilos clearly ahead of us and the Datça Peninsular of Turkey behind, covered by low cloud.
We quickly establish our destination and make straight for Livádhiou Harbour, at a cost of €6.4/night it is not worth riding the pending blow this evening at anchor, as it will be blowing us straight onto the beach, not a good situation to be in, should anything go wrong.
We arrive with only two visiting boats in the harbour, there are only two local boats seem to use this harbour, the water is lovely and clean.
The town is very quiet, it is Saturday evening, as is the whole island we are told, but that suits us, these photographs were taken around 1800 hours.