Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Northern Greece and The Sporades

Hi all Sue here

Since the last blog we have checked out of Turkey and are now cruising around the Sporades.

We checked out in Ayvalik along with Nostromo, all pretty straightforward although you have to visit the Harbourmaster, Passport Police, Customs and back to the Harbourmaster to complete all the formalities. Only downside is the 15 min walk between the offices. All the officials were polite and fairly efficient although the Harbourmaster seemed to have trouble with our destination of Mytillini on Lesvos, a bit strange since it is only about 12nm away. From Ayvalik we headed to a lovely anchorage on the S of Ciplak Island, deserted apart from a few fishermen’s cottages despite the dire warnings from the Passport Police that we must leave Turkish waters immediately after checking out.

Arriving in Mytillini we were directed to the Customs Quay to complete our check-in to Greece, again all pretty straightforward with polite and helpful officials, plenty of form filling and old ledgers to be completed with seemingly endless repetition of the same information. The downside in Greece was having to go to the Tax Office to pay for our Dekpa (Cruising Permit), this took John and myself about 3hrs stood in a queue waiting for a receipt to be printed so we could go to another window to pay our €30 fee.

In June Caroline and Richard came to stay for 3 weeks. We picked them up in Lesvos Town which at that time was inundated with refuges who had come ashore there. I know it has been on all the news programs but seeing it first hand made you really think just how desperate these people must have been to leave everything they had behind and they consider themselves the lucky ones. They arrived in dinghies on various beaches around Lesvos and then made their way on foot to the Ferry Terminal. Some walked around 25 miles to get there and they had babies and children with them. They then camped out and waited to be allocated a place on the Ferry to Athens. We spoke to some of them and they told us they were very sorry for having to do this but they had no choice. The other choice was death. They seemed to be aiming to get to France or Germany.

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Ciplak Island – Our Last Anchorage in Turkey

Sunset over Pamfylla, Lesvos

We hired a car for 2 days to explore the island and did some lovely walks. It is a very beautiful island and well worth spending a few days here. The only down side was that Lesvos Town Quay was VERY noisy!!

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Waterfalls at Mantamados, Lesvos

Down the Valley from the Falls

We also managed to catch up with some fellow cruisers here and fit in a couple of parties.


Cruisers Gathering in Mytillini

Caroline and Sue’s New Car

So it was time to move on and find ourselves a quiet anchorage to get a decent nights sleep. Kavourolimni Cove was just the place. Chris and Richard went ashore exploring as usual but Caroline and me just chilled on the boat. I think we might have even had a cheeky little drink or two!!

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Old Roman Aqueduct on Lesvos

Abandoned Greek Tank near Kavourolimni Cove

The next stop was Apothokai and then up to Sigri before heading across to Mouhdros on Limnos. This was about 45nm and we had about 15knts almost on the nose so we had to motorsail most of the way in some lumpy seas but it did smooth out and we had a good sail for the last couple of hours up the Gulf to Mouhdros.

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Anchorage at Apothokai, Lesvos

Sawmill on Limnos

Myrina on Limnos has been one of my favourite places. The walk up to the castle is well worth it for the spectacular views. I wish we had room for more photos as these don’t really do it justice.

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View from Myrina Castle

Myrina Harbour from the Castle

We met some lovely people who happened to be paddle boarding past Nimrod. They were staying at their family home on the beach in Myrina and invited us ashore to try out the paddle boards. I have always wanted to try one out but Chris laughed every time I suggested it!! So they all went armed with cameras as they thought it was going to be quite entertaining and I proved them wrong!! Didn’t fall off once!! Mind you there was a bit of an incentive not to fall in as there was a lot of jellyfish in the sea that day!!

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Chris and Rich on Top of the Castle

Sue Tries a Paddleboard

Our next stop was Dhiaphoros. Some unsettled weather was forecast so we had to find a safe place to sit it out. So what else can one do in these conditions but have a little drinky and do a jigsaw!! It only lasted a day and the sun was back out again. But we had been having some rather mixed up weather for June, not to Caroline's liking at all, far too much wet stuff!! The men did manage to have a good play with the Spinnaker though. We also met up with Lynne & Mac again here and went out for a meal for Lynne's birthday.

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Spinnaker Sailing Towards Dhiaphoros

It’s Not all Blue Skies and Sunshine

We had a lovely day in the anchorage at Kriftos in the middle of Dhiaporos Island when we had the place to ourselves for the whole day, a lovely place for some snorkeling and kayaking before heading to Panayia to meet Lynne and Mac for the evening.

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Sykia Bay on the Middle Finger

A Bad Day for Someone in Koufos

The men went on another of their hikes in Sykia while Caroline and me played at being tourists and had sunbeds by the sea, oh and we had to order a little carafe of wine as it would have been very rude not to!! When they returned they took off in the dinghy as someone was having trouble anchoring by us and guess what they didn’t return so we had to swim back to the boat. After a Carafe of wine, or maybe it was 2, it seemed a long way!! Next day it was Koufos where the entertainment of the day was watching a car, which had obviously rolled off the Quay, being recovered from the sea. Health and safety didn’t enter into this recovery at all!! Wonder no one was hurt.

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I Think We’ve Got a Big One This Time

It Certainly Was!! Nearly 20kg of Tuna and 1m Long

The sail from Koufos to Kira Panayia was going to be very wet, windy, lumpy and involved an early start so Caroline and me decided to let the men do the first watch!! I did get up and make them a cup of tea and even threw in a packet of biscuits!! Then retreated to my bunk. It was a really horrible day and I was in the best place but then I heard the fishing lines going off and knew it was more than one. So in those conditions I though I had better get up and offer my assistance!! By the time I arrived the one fish had snapped the line and got away but it was obvious that what ever was on the other line was very big. It took Chris around half an hour to reel it in, Richard and me were just slowing the boat down and passing things to Chris as needed. Team effort!! The scariest moment though was when Chris brought the monster on board it snapped the line and took off back down the steps with Chris following it!! Richard and me thought we were going to be practising man overboard as there was NO WAY that Chris was going to let that fish escape!! Fortunately the bathing ladder halted its escape and Chris secured it once again. I think Richard was wondering how we could find the number for the Samaritans if it had escaped!! After all the excitement had died down I made the men another cup of tea accompanied by chocolate croissants, well they needed to keep their sugar levels up!!, and returned to bed. Once again we met up with Lynne & Mac in the anchorage so we had a Tuna BBQ to celebrate.

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Heading for Skopelos Island

Monastery above Skopelos

From Planitis we drifted down to Patitiri on Alonnisos for a night on the quay, a meal out at Ostria and a walk up to the lovely old village above the harbour.

Next stop Skopelos. Another hike was planned for the men to a Monastery while the girls went exploring the Town and had a lovely Gin Fizz, Yummy!! We could only stay one day here as we had to get Garoline and Richard back to Skiathos for their flight home but we will return as it is a lovely Town.

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Skopelos Harbour

Fancy a Holiday – only €400,000 a week

Unfortunately we didn’t make it up to the Mama Mia church we only managed to sail past it owing to the weather conditions. Perhaps on our way back we might.

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Mama Mia Church, Skopelos

View from Agnanti Restaurant, Loutraki

Our sail to Loutraki was interesting to say the least!! We set off early as there were strong winds forecast but guess what they came a lot earlier than planned!! We had huge waves over the front of the boat and then we had to turn sideways on to them to get around the corner to Loutraki, not nice at all!! On the way there we came up with plan B and it was decided that Caroline & Richard would take the Ferry the next day across to Skiathos!! And guess what we met up with Lynne & Mac again when we got there, I think we must have said goodbye to them at least 5 times!! We had a taxi that night up to the village of Glossa and had a meal at the restaurant called Agnanti. It has the most amazing views. Next morning we said a sad farewell to Caroline and Richard but Caroline is coming back at the end of August for 10 days so it wasn’t too bad.

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Peristera Beach, near Alonnisos

Our Escort Back Towards Koufos

We now had 8 weeks before we have to be around Athens area to pick Caroline up so decided to head back up to the 3 fingers. Alonnisos is a beautiful island and we spent a few days around here. If you go on the Town Quay there is a great restaurant called Ostria, a MUST visit. Then it was back to Koufos with an escort of Dolphins.

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Sunset in Kriftos, Dhiaporos

John from Nostromo and his new Project

Here we met up with John & Vanessa again off Nostromo. We spent a few days exploring the area with them again and of course we had to have a Tuna BBQ. It’s going down slowly!! John & Chris also went Mussel foraging on the pontoons at Pergadikia so I now have a freezer full of Mussels and Tuna.

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Monastery on Akti Peninsula

Another Huge Monastery

You can book a boat trip to sail down past the Monasteries on the Akti Peninsula but Nimrod & Nostromo decided to do their own trip. You are meant to keep a mile offshore if their are females on the boat but as we went early in the morning we managed to get a bit closer and see most of them before we were spotted by the Port Police and told to head further away.


Dhimitriaki Anchorage near Panayia

Only 8kg This Time

We managed to catch another Tuna on the sail from Dhiaporos to Koufos but a little smaller this time. So more Tuna in the freezer!! There were quite a few boats around the island of Dhiaporos who we haven’t seen since our winter in Ragusa. It was great to catch up with them and they are all headed to Crete for this winter so should be fun. Strange this sailing world.

We managed to get some decent sailing the last few days with 30nm from Dhiaporos to Koufos nearly all under sail but the sea was quite uncomfortable with around 25knts of wind most of the way. A couple of days later we sailed from Koufos to Planitis on Kyra Panayia with around 20knts of wind just aft of the beam and the sea a bit calmer so we sailed the 39nm in just about 5hrs with the engines only needed to get out of Koufos and into the anchorage. The forecast for the next few days is fairly calm but we only have short distances between stops here in the Sporades so it will be more motoring than sailing.

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Planitis on Kira Panayia

Heading to our Next Anchorage

The beautiful, peaceful. turquoise waters of Kira Panayia is where we are now before we make our way back across to Alonnisos.  It’s a hard life!! So that’s it for now, will probably do next blog in September.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Nimrod on the Move Again

Hi Again Everyone, we thought it was about time we got around to another blog update so here goes.

After another hectic winter in Finike Marina we set off for our summer sailing season on April 18th heading West and North up the Turkish Coast and then across to the Greek mainland and the Northern Aegean Islands.

Winter in Finike was good fun yet again but with quite a few less people then the previous winter, the Turkish Government have changed the rules and requirements for Residency Permits and this seems to have put quite a few people off wintering in Turkey. We were lucky because we got our Permit last winter and it is valid until June 2015 so we do not have to worry about the new rules. Turkey is a great place to spend the winter and it will be a great shame if these rules mean it becomes too much hassle, another factor we have noticed is that the marina prices seem to go up by about 15% every year at the moment, all in all Turkey seem to be pricing themselves out of the winter cruisers budgets.

The winter weather was not quite as pleasant as last year with more rain and wind, and even snow in Finike for the first time in over 25 years. However temperatures were only rarely below 10 deg C for more than an odd day or two and shorts and tee shirts were the order of the day most of the time, definitely much better than winter in the UK.

The local people and businesses in Finike were as friendly as ever with the weekly market meaning fruit and veg supplies were super fresh and cheap. The only things that are relatively expensive in Turkey seem to be beef and alcohol although probably still cheaper than the UK. We solved the alcohol problem by stocking up the boat in Symi before we headed to Turkey for the winter, miraculously we even had some left when we headed out in April.

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Another Winter Party

5 Star Luxury for Lis’ Birthday

Winter social life was pretty hectic with weekly Sunday BBQ, Friday Happy Hour and many other reasons for parties such as Birthdays, Burns Night, Chinese New Year, French Soiree and Indian Nights to name a few.

We escaped for a few days to an all inclusive 5 star Hotel near Antalya to celebrate Lis’s Birthday (Summertime) and enjoyed plenty of food and drink with the sun also shining the whole time we were there.

The rest of the winter was taken up with the usual list of boat jobs and repairs that seemed to take much more time than last year but there were quite a few extras on the list. The dinghy engine needed a thorough service and overhaul with new bearings and seals needed, engine water pumps got refurbished together with the extra alternator drive system. The watermaker was cleaned and checked and the sails were all given a good going over with stitching and repairs completed. We also changed our mainsail lazy bag / cover for a spare that we have had since we bought Nimrod – this was not nearly as simple as it sounds because it was much too big and so needed about 4 days of alterations and sewing to get it to the right size and fit.

Finally there was the usual two weeks of cleaning and polishing the whole boat to get her looking spic and span for leaving, a 42 foot catamaran is an awful lot of boat to polish and sometimes you think it would be nice to have a smaller boat, but she looked really great after all the hard work. Unfortunately any rain we seem to get always seems to be brown with loads of mud and sand so the poor boat ends up filthy again.

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Nimrod’s Personal Guide

Samos Scenery

 We visited the same places as before on our way North with stops in Kekova, Kastellorizon, Kalkan, Gocek, Symi, Gulluk and Samos as we made the best of any favourable Southerly winds to make some progress. We sailed with Summertime, Nostromo and Rio Luna so we had various excuses for partying and sundowners including a BBQ on the beach for Sue’s Birthday.

The weather decided that we should spend nearly two weeks in Samos so we hired a car for a few days to explore the Island and to visit Lidl for supplies. Samos is a lovely Island with plenty to see and it is also much greener than the smaller Greek Islands since it has plenty of fresh water. As usual for Greece there are monasteries and churches scattered everywhere from inaccessible hill tops to underground caves.

Samos was where we had to say goodbye to Lis and Flemming on Summertime since they are heading back to Denmark and back to work so they have lots of miles to cover this summer so they were heading West from Samos while we continued North with Nostromo. We have spent 3 winters and 2 summers with Summertime so it was really sad to wave them off one last time.

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Church in Pythagorio

Samos Monastery

The main anchorage at Pythagorio was a great place to sit out the weather apart from one day when we had 35-40knts from the SE which is the only direction the anchorage is open to, we had a tense few hours before it all calmed down and we got tied up alongside the harbour wall. Further East is Posedonio, another lovely anchorage for a couple of days before heading around to the N of the Island ready to sail North with some favourable winds.

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Unfinished Project

Bademli Anchorage

We had a great day’s sailing with only the gennaker up from Samos up to Yeniliman, covering 76nm in the day and only needing to use the engines for a couple of hours, after an overnight in Yeniliman we sailed to Bademli. This is a lovely spot, sheltered from all directions and with some hot springs to explore. Also on shore are a couple of big hotel developments that never got finished and have been abandoned for 10 to 15 years, not sure why but it is likely that planning permission was dubious or the right bribes were not paid or simply a change of local government, whatever the reasons some people must have lost an awful lot of money. It was interesting to wander around and imagine what they could have been like if they were finished, one place had some Turks who seemed to using some of the rooms as a weekend hideout and we had to join them for the obligatory cai (Turkish tea).

From Bademli we headed further N to Ayvalik, a lovely archipelago of Islands where there are many places to anchor and hide from any unpleasant weather. Most of the area is quite shallow and it was quite strange to be 250 metres from the shore in only 4 metres of water, previously most of the Turkish coast would mean anchoring in 10 to 20 metres of water only a few boat lengths from the shore.

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Troy Horse, Canakkale

Canakkle Naval Museum

We had planned to sail up the Dardanelles to Canakkle to visit the Gallipoli War Cemeteries but we decided that it made much more sense to hire a car with Nostromo and visit Gallipoli and Pergammon with the boats safely anchored in Ayvalik.

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Galipoli Landing Site

Memorial to the Fallen

Hi all Sue here

We travelled to Cannakle and then arranged for a trip across to Gallipoli with a tour company. It is the only way to do it as there are so many different sites to visit and all with a different story and part to play. It was a very long day out and we were glad we were doing it in May as it gets very hot later in the summer months. With this being the centenary year there have been many thousands of visitors already. I never realised how may thousands of soldiers lost there lives here, around 50,000, such a tragedy and so many mistakes were made. Maybe if Churchill hadn’t reneged on Turkeys order with us to provide them with 2 war ships things might have been very different. But I suppose that is how a lot of History goes. It was a very moving day and if you get the chance it is well worth going to.

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Lone Pine Cemetry

Turkish Memorial

Pergammon was an amazing site, very big and spread out. Must admit Vanessa and I did get a bit distracted and had to have a little gallop around the amphitheatre!! Well there is only so many rocks a girl can do before getting bored.

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Pergamon Ruins


 All very impressive.

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We have had many sightseeing days around Ayvalik and I think we have been in most of the anchorages now as well. It’s been fun sailing in company with John and Vanessa off Nostromo. John did manage to hit a sandbank one day and we ended up on the mud when we swung around at anchor another day but all good fun. trying to play Jenga at anchor is the most amusing with the boat moving all the time!!

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Ayvalik Lake

Another Hard Day

 Our visit to the Alibey Museum was very interesting. Especially the children’s section where the had 2 big displays of Barbie memorabilia, Vanessa and I were in our element reminiscing over various item we used to own. Shame it was all behind a glass case as we were dying to have a play!! Of course the men preferred the grown up section best, lots of engines etc, yawn yawn!!!

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Alibey Museum

Restored Greek Church

A lot of my winter in Finike was spent walking and looking after the various Marina Dogs. I must admit that I did get very attached to them all and shed a few tears when we had to leave. I have put together a collage of my pictures taken of the Marina dogs and various other places we have visited since leaving Finike.

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Finike’s Dogs


We will be checking out of Turkey on Monday and will then cross to Lesvos and check into Greece where we will be spending the rest of the Summer months.