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


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.