Monday, May 9, 2016

The Start of Another Year

We have finally broken free from the Marina. What another amazing winter we have had, every year we say this but it’s true. Met so many new friends and caught up with old ones and once again far too many parties!! On a Thursday their was a hike organised by Tony Cross, we saw places we would never have found on our own. Some of the hikes were quite challenging, especially for my little legs!!, but always good fun and then we would all retire to the bar afterwards for some much needed refreshment.

 

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Christmas Party Time

How Old Are They??

 

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Christmas In Agios Nikolaos

New Year’s Eve Party

Friday was Happy Hour which started at 6pm and had no finish time!! Usually ending up on someone's boat for just another little drink!!  Saturdays there was Rugby to watch some weeks, the ladies used to drink bubbly on a nominated boat and meet the men afterwards. Then quite often end up in Cindy's Bar until the wee small hours!! Sunday was BBQ day 2pm till late!! Chris always did the music on this day so usually ended up dancing and singing.

Monday was recovery time, Tuesday the ladies played Mexican Train in the afternoon and sometimes we all went out for a meal at night then Wednesday was another recovery day!! All in all a very busy winter.

 

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Southern Crete

Church at Kalamafka

The Thursday Hikes were all very enjoyable and got us out and about into the wilder regions of Eastern Crete. We very rarely had to drive more than about 30 mins from the Marina to get to our starting point so it gives you some idea about the variety of scenery and landscape to be found in a fairly small area.

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Heading Towards the Aqueduct

Narrow Crossing

The walks started off fairly gently and got progressively harder through the winter with the last couple being very strenuous – 12-14kms long, 600 mts or more of vertical height to ascend and descend and some pretty serious rock scrambling in places. All the time we were rewarded with spectacular scenery, almost always in sunny weather and a great bunch of friends to share it with.

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Up in the Mountains

Lunch Stop

The worst conditions on our walks were when we hiked up onto the high ground between Lasithi and Katharo Plateaus – we started at about 600m above sea level and got to about 1000m,  it was cold and wet for the first part of the walk but the steep climb upward warmed us up. Fortunately the afternoon was a bit warmer and brighter so not too bad overall.

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A Soggy Walking Group

Looking Over the Lasithi Plateau

Of course we had to celebrate St Patrick’s Day – yet another reason for a party!! We organised a Pot Luck Dinner that produced some really great food, especially the desserts and we had lots of Irish Music to go with the drinking and dancing.

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Ready for St Patrick’s Day Party

Oh Dear!!!

I actually went back to the UK for the month of February and during this time I also went to the Maldives with my sister. We went in memory of our dear Mum. We had a fantastic time and I actually managed to conquer my fear of snorkelling. The best bit was snorkelling with Manta Rays, I was not too keen on the sharks though!! Great experience and all down to my new Tribord Snorkelling mask.

 

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Manta Ray in the Maldives

Mask and Camera at the Ready

The Watercourse walk was one of the favourites for most people, part of the walk followed an old watercourse system up through some really rugged terrain, with the small canal built through valleys and around steep mountain sides for at least 4 or 5 kms, not sure how old it is but it is still in really good condition and still carries water for the farmers. A really impressive piece of construction given the tools they had when it was built – nowhere did we see the water pooling up, it always flowed downwards regardless of the terrain it was built through.

 

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The Old Watercourse Walk

Oldest Olive Tree on Crete

In April we had our friends Lis & Flemming to stay, it was lovely to see them again and catch up with what they are doing now back in Denmark, They settled right back into Marina life and it was sad to say goodbye to them.

 

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View from Gournia Gorge

Easter Frivolities

 

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Breeding BBQ’s in Elounda

Pole Dancing Practice

We left Agios Nikolaos along with another couple called Charlie & Susannah on a Catamaran called Purr. They also have their son Guiseppe with them at the moment. In the Marina we had been nicknamed the demon Sues but I’m sure people were mistaken about us!!

Our first stop was Elounda where we anchored for a week. There was another party boat from Agios Nikolaos there, Aurelia, with Cathy & Dave onboard so it all went downhill a bit again. BBQ on the beach on the Sunday entailed 3 other couples from the Marina coming around in a car to join us and staying on our boats overnight!! Eventually we managed to escape along with Purr and headed to Fri on Kassos.

 

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A Good Catch in Kassos

Des Res on Kassos

Fri is a small harbour on Kassos and I have got to say they are the happiest people there, must be something in the water!! It didn’t take long to walk around the town and as we were out of season a lot of places were still shut and holiday homes all boarded up. The local fisherman had a good selection of fish but it was quite expensive.

 

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Narrow Entry to Tristomo

Eco Lodge, Tristomo Bay

Next stop was Tristoma on Karpathos. Here you lose all wifi and phone signal so we were totally out of touch for 3 days. Chris and Charlie took us on a hike over the island and the views were stunning just a shame they got us lost a couple of times and we ended up going off the beaten track!! Not that there was much of a track to start with it was all covered in those horrible prickly bushes and of course we were told we should have worn the right clothing!! We were told there was going to be a footpath, I rest my case!!!

 

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Tristomo Anchorage with Purrr

Sunset in the Entrance

Then it was on to Khalki, we visited here last year and had to return as it is one of our favourite places. A real Gem. Once again not many places open but the flowers and cactus plants were beautiful, such amazing colours and the houses and buildings in the town were all being painted and done up ready for summer. If you are passing it is well worth a visit.

 

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Chalki Harbourfront

Chalki Resident

So far we have managed to do a lot more sailing than we normally do in the Med, we have probably managed to sail around 80% of our mileage so far so only needing to motor for brief periods. That does mean that we have also had some lively conditions to deal with though, from Trisoma to Chalki we had a forecast of around 20knts but it ended up being closer to 30knts most of the time and even getting towards 40knts at times particularly as we approached Chalki where we had some big gusts coming down the slopes of the Island. The sea state was also a bit worse than forecast so it was a pretty bumpy and uncomfortable 5 hrs, fortunately the anchorage at Chalki is well sheltered with a safe sandy bottom to anchor in.

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German Cartoons in Alimia

And Another

Panormittis on Symi was next. The Monastery here was getting ready for the big Easter celebrations and the Monks were in good voice, chanting until around 10pm every night. After 2 nights of this it was time to head around the island to Pedhi Bay, this proved to be a very interesting sail with some very big gusts of wind. On one such gust our Radar must have been caught by the sail and decided to part company with the boat. It came down with quite a crash and on it’s way down it tore the sail then bounced on the deck where it then lost its lid which flew overboard and landed by me!! So I was able to grab it before it too disappeared overboard, not that it is much use without its lid. We are now waiting for a new one to be delivered here before we move on.

The Easter celebrations here were very lively, with fire crackers going off all the time. The two big churches on Symi are in competition with each other as to who can make the most noise!! So you have two religious processions meeting in the centre of the town with firecrackers going off all around them. The noise is horrendous but they carry on as if nothing is happening. Completely mad!! Then on the Sunday evening they hoist a figure of Judas up high on a chair and after a lot of Greek dancing the kids throw firecrackers at him until he catches fire. Susannah had read somewhere recently that apparently Judas was misunderstood and was innocent!! We did think about trying to save him but if you had seen the look on those kids faces when they were throwing those firecrackers at him we thought maybe it wasn’t such a good idea!! Then came the grand finale the fireworks display and I have to say it has got to be the best I have ever seen.

 

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Symi Harbour

Around Pedi Bay, Symi

Purr have now left us so we have been having a few days detox!! Time to get fit again and get those hiking boots back out. Symi is a great island if you like walking. We have been on two hikes so far and off on another one today, Sunday, to see the Catacombs. It is doing us both good and it is a great way to see the island.Well that is what Chris keeps trying to tell me!!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Through the Aegean to Crete

Hi all Sue here

Well what can I say, we have been very remiss with our Blog duties!! It has been a very busy summer and end to our cruising year. We are now in the Marina in Agios Nikolaos where we will stay until April. It is a lovely place to spend winter and once again we are with some really nice people, old friends and new friends. But lets go back to August!!

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Anchored in the Volos Gulf

Guiding us Down the Evia Channel

The Volos Gulf was beautiful and not somewhere I would have ever thought to visit. It was so quiet considering we were there in August. The main town of Volos is a bit industrialised and not the prettiest of places but there are many beautiful peaceful anchorages around the Gulf and we spent about 10 days exploring the various places.

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Quiet Anchorage Even in August

Down the Evia Channel from Chalki

We made our way down the Evia channel to Porto Rafti where we then picked my sister Caroline up, who was staying with us for 10 days. This involved a midnight passage through the sliding bridge at Chalki since they only open the bridge at night when the tide is pretty slack. There were about a dozen yachts and motor boats passing through as well as a couple of huge super yachts and one fairly large cargo boat that came down the approach channel at about 10knts creating a horrible wash past the boats waiting on the quay, we had just moved off so we missed the worst of it.

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Sunset Over The Sand Bar, Kythnos

Fykiada Cove, Kythnos

Kythnos was an island I had always wanted to visit, we missed it on our way down 2 years ago and everyone said what a beautiful place it was. It was truly stunning and Caroline and me were quite happy to just chill there for a few days, heaven.

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Old Traction Engine, Karystos, Evia

Memorial to Fishermen, Karystos

I then returned to the UK with Caroline for 2 weeks as it was my sons 30th Birthday and I also took my grandaughter to London for the weekend for a belated Birthday treat. What an amazing 2 weeks I had with my lovely family.

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Local Wildlife outside Karystos

Quaint Little Cottage

Chris based himself in Karystos to wait for me and to shelter from some bad weather. Glad I was in the UK as he sat out some pretty grotty stuff!!

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Stormy Weather near Porto Rafi

Safe in Loutra Harbour, Kythnos

We then made a dash for Kythnos again where we stayed for a week safely tied up in Loutra. As you can see from the picture the sea behind us was not nice!! There was much fun and games with some of the poor charter boats who had to come in and leave in this horrible weather. Here we met Ramen & Chrissie and had a great time with them. The men spent all their time helping the charter boats and Chrissie and I sat and watched the entertainment with a glass of wine!!

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High Up on Kythnos

Artistic Cottage, Irakleia

We didn’t spend all our time socialising though, we did explore the island as well. After Kythnos we sailed through the Cyclades Islands, occasionally dodging some strong Meltemi winds but also visiting some lovely Islands including Sifnos, Irakleia, Schinousa, Amorgos and Astypalia. It was really nice travelling through the Islands in October since there was hardly any other boats around so plenty of room in the harbours and anchorages.

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12kg Albacore Tuna, Nisyros

Tuna Party With Fellow Cruisers

Finally managed to escape and make our way to Nisyros to meet up with some friends, Steph & Andy. On the way there we caught a very large Tuna so radioed ahead to say we would do a Tuna BBQ that evening. Had a surprise when we got there as Raman & Chrissie had ended up there as well, cruisers plans always change!! We definitely gave the Tuna a very good send off with 10 onboard singing and dancing until the early hours!!

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The Town Hall, Chalki

Sorting the Catch

Another island that was a total surpise was Chalki, well worth a visit. Reminded us of Symi but on a much smaller scale.

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Parade Day in Chalki

Old Castle and Church, Chorio, Chalki

 

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Norna Byron Leaving Chalki

Spinalonga Island, Crete

It was now the end of October and we were now cruising with 3 other boats who we had met up with in Nisyros. We were having such a good time and the weather was lovley but it was time to head towards Crete and our winter berth. We arrived in Spinalonga at the beginning of November and stayed anchored there until 18th November. The weather was so nice and we were still in the company of Steph & Andy and Cathi & Dave it seemed a shame to go into the Marina.

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Krista Gorge

Owl Rock, Krista Gorge

We soon acclimatised to Marina life though and joined in with all the social activities!!

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Scrambling Down Richtis Gorge

Richtis Waterfall

The weekly hikes are both challenging and amazing!! It’s a big thank you to Tony Cross for organising them and also filling us in on the history of the places we visit.

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“Bounty Advert” Beach, Vai, Crete East Coat of Crete

We also have the use of a hire car once a week so manage to get out and about sightseeing and of course do the Lidl shop!!

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Bat Cave, near Kavousi

Walking the Old Kavousi to Lastros Road

Anyway that’s all for now so Chris and I would just like to wish all our family and friends

                      A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HAPPY NEW YEAR