Saturday, June 18, 2016

June

Hi all Sue here

Well we eventually left Symi on the 21st June after our unexpected delay. The Radar arrived and is now installed and fully functional again. Although we hadn’t planned it we thoroughly enjoyed our time on Symi and did some really nice hikes around the island. We also met up with Terry & Julie who we had met over the winter and enjoyed some BBQs and Mexican Train games.

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Erimopoulis Bay, Symi

Shady Churchyard above Symi Town

 

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The windmills above Symi Town

Pedhi Bay

Nisiros was our next stop, another return visit to one of our favourite islands. We sailed there along with Terry & Julie. It was quite a lively sail again and we had a few problems getting anchored and tied back due to the big gusts. It’s always nice when you do get safely in, you can then breath a sigh of relief and sit back and watch the other boats coming in!! Dave and Shirley off Jaxon arrived the following day so of course we had to have a BBQ and Bubbles to catch up. We hired bikes again to tour the island and see how it had changed in 3 years. Some parts of the Volcano have been fenced off now and I imagine if we were to return in another 3 years the fenced off area will have expanded. Such an amazing place to visit. When we returned to the boat we had new neighbors or should I say old, It was our friends Rod & Sandra off SY Barola who we first met in Lagos in 2011. This is how cruising life works.

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Around Nisiros

Volcano at Nisiros

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Natural Sauna in the Rocks

Volcano Crater, Nisiros

 

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Impressive Brickwork, Paleokastro, Nisiros

Back Streets of Mandraki, Nisiros

Wednesday the 25th May we sailed across to Kefalos (Kamares), Kos with Dave & Shirley off Jackson. It was a bit lumpy, just for a change!!, but at least it was only 10 miles. We went out to eat that night as it was Dave’s Birthday. The restaurant we chose was called Aphrodite and it is one of the best places we have eaten at. Michael and his wife made us feel very welcome and the food was excellent, they also have a floating pontoon in place now where you can tie your dinghy up. There was an elderly gentleman their called John who has been coming to Kamares on Kos for years and always eats at Aphrodite. We really enjoyed chatting to him and telling each other about our lives. This is one of the reasons cruising life is so special, you get to meet such lovely and interesting people. It was so good we went back the next evening and that is unheard for us!!.

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Daves Birthday meal at Aphrodite

Jackson leaving Nisiros

Friday 27th May found us on our way to Astapalia, an early start as once again the wind was due to pick up in the afternoon. But hey ho it was already windy at 06.30am and we had a lively and lumpy 6 hour sail. Don’t know what is going on with May this year but at least we are sailing instead of motoring, albeit a tad too breezy at times!!

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Astipalia

First catch of the year, a 3 kilo Tuna

Monday 30th May was an early start to go to Amorgos, here we had arranged to meet up with friends, Mark & Cathy. It was a long day and for the first time this year we had to motor sail all the way.  Chris managed to hook a 3 kilo Tuna, first catch of the summer but a much bigger one escaped. Never mind 3 kilos was plenty for a BBQ. We anchored in a beautiful tranquil bay and went for sundowners on Mark & Cathys boat. Then at around 6pm the wind started picking up and the tranquil bay was tranquil no more!!With rocks behind us and the wind showing no sign of dying down it was decided to re anchor across the other side while we still had some light to do it in. Eventually the BBQ continued on Nimrod around 9.30pm and we gave the Tuna a lovely send off!! This is the bit of sailing I don’t like, the forecast that isn’t forecast!!

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Monastery built into the rocks on Amorgos

Brief trip ashore on Naousa, Paros

Wednesday 1st June we crossed to Skhinousa where we anchored for one night before heading to Naousa on Paros. We have visited both these islands before and they are just hops on our passage towards Athens this time round but we will revisit them later in the year. Next stop Rinia. We were meant to just stay overnight in Rinia but it was so beautiful we stayed for 2 nights. You do get the odd trip boat coming in during the day but they don’t stay long thank goodness!! There are some ruins ashore but little else apart from a couple of smallholdings. A very peacful place in sharp contrast to Mykonos across the bay!!

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Beautiful Anchorage after the Trippers Leave, Rinea

Ford 4000, circa mid 70’s – It Probably Still Runs

 

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Rinia with Mykonos across the bay

Company on way to Karystos

Sunday 5th June and we are on our way to Andros. We only spent one night at anchor here but it is meant to be a really nice island, unfortunately we weren’t on the nice side and it all looked very bland. It was very busy with large Ferries coming in, at least 5 came and went on the evening we were there.

Monday 6th June we sailed to Karystos to hide for a few days as there were some strong winds forecast. Had a lot of company on the way and all a lot larger than us!! We have visited here a few times. Once again we met some really nice people and had drinks with them a couple of evenings. We left Karistos town on Friday and did a quick sail across to Porto Rafina to do a big Lidl shop. As all cruisers will tell you when there is a chance of going to Lidl you do it!!

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Karystos

Picaso’s House

We are now going to anchor around a group of islands called Nisidhes Petaloi until we have to cross to Porto Rafti around June 15th for me to fly back to the UK for a week. It is a lovely place to spend some time. Saturday night we were anchored outside Picasos house and just a bit further down is Nisis Tragos that is a strictly private island with a very large villa on which even has it’s own little harbour!!

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Nisis Tragos

Nisis Tragos

After a few quiet days around these islands it is time for us to head to Porto Rafti for my flight back to UK. It will be a full on week as usual but I love catching up with family and friends. Then my sister and her husband will fly back with me for 3 weeks. So the next blog will be full of our adventures.

Chris’s Turn Now!!

Well after Sue has told you all about the Islands there isn’t all that much left for me. After our lively, windy start to the summer between Crete and Symi it seems that normal service has been resumed with the wind either being in the wrong direction or non-existent. So since we left Symi it has been mainly motoring or motor sailing apart from a quick downwind trip from Kos to Nisiros with 20 – 25 knts of wind. Fortunately the wind had only just started so the sea was fairly flat and we had a good trip, although trying to tie stern to in Nisiros harbour with 25knts blowing us sideways was a bit hairy. The sea state got much worse as the day progressed and we were glad to be safely in port, apparently the other harbour at Mandraki was too dangerous for even the ferries to use it. We had the usual entertainment later in the day with some yachts making a complete mess of berthing and tangling with other anchor chains and bows – they missed us thankfully. Although a couple of days later in pretty benign conditions our next door neighbour decided to pull our anchor up as she was leaving by getting their rudder snagged on our chain – we were away on our scooters so Dave from Jaxon and a German skipper reset our anchor with no harm done.

So far it seems very quiet around the Islands with only Amorgos, of all the Islands we have visited, being fairly full with yachts. Not very promising for the Greek Tourism Industry although Turkey is almost devoid of tourists and yachts so much worse over there.

After our radar problems in Symi Nimrod has been very well behaved so I braved the water to give the hulls a good clean and scrub for the first time since we left Crete, we are now much quicker through the water with our clean hulls and shiny props. The only problem we have at the moment is the fact that every time we get any rain it seems to come loaded with dust from N Africa so we end up with a very dirty boat and another cleaning job to do ready for our visitors in a weeks time.

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!!