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2014 Log: Italy & Islands
BIG Six-O in Cap-O (San Vito)
06/21/2014, San Vito lo Capo, Sicily

We received a delightful invitation before we left the States to go to a birthday party when we got back to Sicily. It was to be for our friend Vincenzo Sparavigna (yes, that's an Italian name). He and Julia winter in Ft Lauderdale and were heading to their summer place on the northwest tip of Sicily as we left for Sangaris. So for the weekend of the auspicious event we rented a car, planning to explore a bit along the way.
First stop was on the coastal route at Licata where we checked out the Marina and the friendly staff referred us to a hilltop B&B - the top left two pictures are of the beautiful grounds. Continuing on the next morning we explored the amazing historic site of Agrigento, with its Valley of the Temples - one of Italy's finest temple complexes from the Greek era in the 8th century BC. At bottom right is a plaza in the town of Agrigento near the Temple site.

After checking out of Sciacca on the coast it was through the mountains to Castelvetrano for an excellent "authentic Sicilian" lunch, then past the amazing towns of Valderice and, up on the cliffs, Erice, until we arrived at the birthday venue near Capo. After checking into our B&B and freshening up, we were pool side with everyone for a perfect sunset. That set the stage for an extraordinary evening, lasting into the wee hours, of food, drink, music and dancing with Vincenzo, Julia and, for his 60th birthday, 60 (only!) of his friends from Sicily, Salerno, Roma, plus we and fellow Americans from Ft Lauderdale who had flown in just for the occasion - Doug and Kathy Brown with their daughter Sarah, son-in-law Jamie and grandson Noah. In the montage then, clockwise from us at poolside, are Vincenzo and his delightful daughter Claudia, then the effervescent Julia presenting Vincenzo with a memory book of sailing and other adventures. Next is Craig with Julia and Sarah. Finally, is Vincenzo proudly displaying a mermaid painting Julia had commissioned for the big event. A grand time long to be remembered, indeed.

The next day (yes, we slept in a bit - oh, OK, a lot!) gave us time to explore the spectacular area of San Vito lo Capo that you can see on the map projects dramatically into the Tyrrehenian Sea.

We wound down the day with yet another fabulous meal at the beach house that the Browns were staying at (that's Jamie and Noah on the hammock, top left) with another spectacular sunset view over the bay in front. Vincenzo's friend, Francesco, was the Chef Extrordinaire and we were again delighted with another sensational meal.

Continuing Vincenzo's birthday bacchanal, yet another friend, Gianni, chartered a 50 foot Hanse sailboat for the next day - Vincenzo definitely looks like he's enjoying it! We anchored in the bay off Macari, which had been the view from the party and where Sangaris will be anchored shortly. Amazingly, Gianni was not just skipper extraordinaire, but yet another great Italian Chef serving a Trapani special pasta: Busiata Siciliana,melanzane e pecorino - buon bellissimo!

Thank you Julia and Vincenzo for being such gracious hosts!

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June in Marina di Ragusa

Arriving back at MdR we were treated very well, indeed, by the Deep Blue crew, Sandra and Chris, as our refrigerator had packed it in and Deep Blue kept us in fresh food and lovely dinners together. Amongst those was Chef Chris' traditional Sicilian dish with roasted local sausage, tomatoes and lentils. We repeated it when they left, but put a "Geek" twist to it ("e" of course is that wonderful mathematical constant which you can get in T-shirts or Sausage or Napierian logarithms). Btw, that's the 3-legged Sicilian flag, in case you were wondering.

And, speaking of Euler things (you should pardon the Geek pun) here are some pics of the oily jobs during the month.

Yep, that's our "oily" engine sitting in the cockpit!

And here we are removing the jib furler to regrease it.

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Back to Italy, the Venice MOSE and Padova
06/04/2014, Padova and Venice

After a Saturday night "red-eye" special of FLL-EWR-ZRH-MXP, then two hours with SwissAir to arrange forwarding our luggage which they left behind in Zurich (the first lost bags in all these years, though), we arrived Sunday afternoon by train from Milan to Padova. Our friend and fellow Amel Santorin sailor Attilio Siviero was waiting at the station and whisked us to a local hotel where we instantly crashed for a desperately needed nap. But we rose to the occasion later on for a most welcome home-cooked dinner that Maria, Attilio's wife had prepared. Of course, with mangiare being of pivotal importance to Italian culture, we must tell you the ingredients: olives, large capers and sun dried tomatoes with a glass of Prosecco to start, fresh peas, mint, basil and pasta for our primi and grilled fennel, melanzane, and peppers for the secondi. The next course was a selection of lovely local cheeses and toasted bread, all followed by the tiniest, sweetest strawberries we have ever tasted.

During dinner Attilio filled us in on the plans we had been emailing each other about, which were to tour the MOSE project. That's the a massive gate system under construction across the ocean entrances to the Venetian Lagoon - it is literally going to save Venice from being lost to rising sea levels and frequent storm surges. Attilio is a retired civil engineer and a fellow engineer, Hermes Reddy, known to his friends as "Ever Reddy", is the MOSE project manager who most graciously arranged a private tour for our party which included us, Attilio's brother and three other friends.
Venice 1
In this first series of pictures, above, you see us having just arrived in Venice where a MOSE fast launch was waiting to whisk us past the Grand Canal to the MOSE project headquarters.

The headquarters are in the old Venetian Arsenale ship yards at the head of the island of Venice, which are entered between the two towers in the upper left, above. The administration offices are inside the ancient, but restored ship construction buildings, and are thoroughly modern as you see in the lower right picture.

We started with a presentation by Sr. Reddy who used us as a practice audience for the talk he was to give later in the week to the UN in New York, as the MOSE project is of keen international interest. "Ever" explained that there were two major concurrent phases to the work. The first was extensive shore side rehabilitation throughout the hundred mile long laguna to raise seawalls, redirect all sources of erosion and effluent runoff from the land to stop any pollution and create extensive marshes that have a cleansing action on the water as well as providing excellent natural wildlife habitats. The second is constructing the gate system that will actually close off the entire lagoon from the sea during times of inordinately high tides - "acqua alte". These tides only occur about five times a year, mostly when the southerly winter Sirroco winds blasting up the Adriatic from Africa combine with regional storm systems, and, without the MOSE will over time eventually destroy Venice.

After the lecture we toured the administrative grounds, including the control center you see in the two bottom left pictures (where Kath is standing outside the door). We thought the statue atop the building bore a good resemblance to Engineer Attilio and deserved a pic.

Finally, we reboarded the launch and motored out to the main lagoon entrance, where the massive concrete underwater caissons were being constructed. These structures (top left), some 270 tons worth each, are moved on a short multi-rail section to the water's edge, then lowered onto floats, towed to the exact position across the lagoon entry channel and lowered to the sea bed. Next, the yellow steel gates in the lower right picture are towed out and sunk onto the caisson such that their hinge pins engage a mating retainer on the caisson. Some 78 of these yellow gates will be side-by-side across the ocean openings. They are normally flooded with water and rest on the sea bed, some 40 feet under water, so ship traffic passes by unobstructed. But, when "acqua alte" threatens, air is pumped into the gates, displacing the water, and they float up, rotating on their hinges to form a massive gate to hold out the sea.
It was, indeed, a fascinating day, as Katherine snapped a pic of the "boys" as we took our leave back in Venice proper.

Venice 4
Back in Venice we weren't quite done with our engineering tour as Attilio gave us a tour of a project he had done to preserve an ancient structure and turn it into a library for the University. The top middle shot has Attilio explaining to Craig some of the finer points of the skeleton they made inside of the original wooden structure to support floors and book shelves. At right you can see the steel reinforcing on the wood beams and the bottom left shows the student study tables. Across from the library we strolled past the gondola factory in the bottom middle picture, where you see stacks of lumber waiting to be turned into these beautiful symbols of Venice.

Venice 5
Finally, we had a great walk through town that brought back grand memories of our time there aboard Sangaris. It was hard to believe that was five years ago in 2009 - my how tempus fugits!


Tuesday morning was our first day to tour Maria & Attilio's "hometown" of Padova, where they had met during their university years. We're not sure how many students attended then, but the city now boasts 65,000 students each year! But more on Padova's famous Uni later ...

Easy public bus transportation took Maria, Kath & Craig into the historic center dominated by the imposing Palazzo della Ragino, commonly called Il Salone. It was built in 1208 to house the court of justice on the upper floor and shops on the lower where a bustling daily food market was in full swing upon our arrival. Next stop was the Piazza dei Signori, attractively enclosed by buildings including the Palazzo del Capitanio with its impressive Torre dell Orologio, a 24-hour and astronomical clock dating from 1344 (top left pic). It may be hard for you to see the dates in the blue corners, but we were happy to record our important anniversary day -27 and month - Maggio. Attilio joined us at a leafy shaded courtyard café and a round of "spritzes": Campari, Prosecco and sparkling water, a traditional drink in this area of northern Italy. Salute'

Our next wanderings took us by the Piazza Duomo and through typical, narrow mostly pedestrianized streets of the old ghetto to Palazza Bo, the main seat of the university which was founded in 1222 - the second oldest public university in Europe (Bologna was #1). In the photo collage above, in the top middle right you'll see an ornate gothic building, the original "Bo" and next to it the neo-classical Café Pedrocchi, a famous meeting place for scholars. Across the street is another historic section of the university with a mid-16th century courtyard and a small bar where students over many years have begun graduation celebrations, including our hosts Attilio and Maria seen in the top right photo. Many academic galleries and theaters surround the courtyard and some special sights are part of our next day's tour.

We walked by St. Anthony's, the city's largest cathedral, and then to the beautifully (and we understand constantly) restored Prato del Valle, a massive former Roman arena that is now a public park adorned with statues of historic scholars and leaders. Today it's also "adorned" with 100s of students lounging on the grassy fields and taking in the bright sunshine. Our last stop was the Scrovegni chapel which is regarded as one of the greatest monuments of figurative art of all time. It holds, entirely preserved, the most complete cycle of frescoes painted by Giotto in 1303-1305. Tours are limited to small groups and tickets often organized by advances reservation. How lucky we were to get 4 of the remaining 5 admissions for late that afternoon ... and the frescoes were truly wonderful. Giotto was a master at creating and communicating emotional expressions of his characters using vibrant hues like the vivid blues that adorn the star studded vaulted ceiling. No photos allowed in this carefully maintained space, but you can see the garden and chapel exterior in the bottom center photo.

After a rest for us all (a daily routine that definitely helped us manage our jet lag), we dressed up for a special anniversary dinner out at la Finestra - a remarkable restaurant near the Duomo center. An excellent meal and celebration for all!

Wednesday, while Maria was off to meet her brother near her family's home in Friuli, Kath, Craig and Attilio bicycled into town via canal and river paths and through blocks of university property. A fun sidelight along the way were embellishments of existing graffiti like that in the top left picture. No one seems to know who the mystery artist "Kenny Random" is - his work just pops up now and then around town - but then it is University territory. A more sober artistic feature of the area is a memorial pictured at the bottom left called "Memory and Light" that was dedicated to 9/11 victims. The modern glass tower representing the NYC's World Trade Center provides a poignant juxtaposition with Padova's adjacent old city.

We went on to visit the Padova Botanical Gardens per the middle five shots and then returned to the Palazzo Bo for a tour of the University's inner sanctum (no pictures allowed). Highlights were the lecture hall with Galileo's actual lectern and chair on display (he taught in Padova from 1592 - 1610), the Aula Magna with generations of scholars represented by a rich collection of decorative coats of arms and the famous Anatomy Theater (built 1594). The original many-balconied theater still stands where early physicians performed and up to 250 students could witness extensive autopsies to learn about the human anatomy. Amazing to see the old wooden structure in situ, especially since the 'procedures' were all conducted under candle light alone!

The evening was cool and rainy but cozy for the four of us in a local osteria where we all enjoyed typical Padovan cooking and each other's company on our last night before departing for Sicily the next morning.

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06/05/2014 | Mike Karwowski
With the unmistakable feel of Opening Day, the sun is shining, birds are tweeting and the Sangaris is about to splash back into the Mediterranean. Reading about Maria's culinary prowess evokes a visceral longing for the great cuisine of Italia. Interesting account of Venezia's water woes; I didn't realize that it had such high priority in the here and now. We have a friend who attended the University in Padova back in 2007 and has only wonderful memories of that experience. Great start to 2014!
Last October Catch Up - Siracusa and Back to Sangaris in 2014
06/03/2014, Marina di Ragusa, Italy

Mangiere in SiracusaOK, OK, so we're a bit bad about closing this blog at the end of our sailing seasons. But, Siracusa was so great last October that we can't resist one last retrospective, and what better subject than "Mangiare", with the vendors in the street market tempting us with delicious fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses from the Borderi family shop and even live music at the fish stand. What a scene!

Marina di ragusa
A day sail down the east coast of Sicily took us to Porto Palo and then, on October 3rd, a very fast downwind romp (with gusts too high for our ballooner) took us to Marina di Ragusa, which, you can see, is well protected from all winds. Our plan was to take care of end-of-season chores amidst a group of friends with plenty of play time between. And that is exactly what happened with (surprise, surprise) Craig jumping into the play part for afternoon radio control model racing with Aussie pal Justin from s/v Ain't MissBehavin'.

MdR Social times
About 100 boats with sailors from many international ports were our dock and play--mates ... these photos give you an idea of the good times we had at "camp Marina di Ragusa".
Next to Craig at top left is Dave Hulston from Southern Aurora, Jennifer from Starlet and Katherine. Next is Sandra off Deep Blue with Chrissy of Finalmente. Mr. Chrissy, aka Ni, is in the lower row next to Bonnie from Aisling. Sandra again is strumming her guitar with local friend Joe providing chorus and finally are both Rick and Bonnie of Aisling.

Chris B-day trip
With chores well subordinated, we joined Deep Blue to celebrate Chris' birthday and, a few days later, set off for an inland day trip. Our first stop was Caltagirone, with over a hundred workshops and factories producing ceramics from plates to vases and household decorations as well as architectural elements like tiles, facades and balconies. You can see the colorful tile risers as we take a rest on the steps of the impressive Scala di Santa Maria connecting old and new Caltigirone.

Fortified with cappuccinos and pastries we moved on to the hilltop town of Piazza Armerina in the province of Enna. The town has an interesting medieval center and fine buildings, but we would see them later as we were first focused on touring Villa Roma del Casale, a luxurious villa and farmhouse located just a few kilometers outside the town nestled in the valley of Casale. Built in the lll-lV centuries and occupied until the 12th century, the villa lay largely undiscovered under the rubble of a landslide until concerted conservation efforts brought the area attention in the 1950's. Precious mosaics "carpet" the floors of this large complex and gave us extraordinary insight into Roman life, costumes and customs over 700 years ago.
Bikini girls tile
Our visit began in the thermae (bathing area), progressed through the frigiarium and into the Sala del Circo. We passed through most rooms by way of elevated ramps so the mosaics were protected. Soon we were at the Sala delle Dieci Regazza where the celebrated "bikini girls" were 'working out". Nearby were other grand Salas illustrating hunting scenes, dignitaries and mythical heroes, and a vast gallery with an astonishing array of exotic fish, birds, African beasts and other wild animals ~ all accomplished with great accuracy and artistic beauty.

By October 27th Sangaris was packed up for the winter and we were off to Munich to spend a night with Jens & Tino.Jens & Tino
Great time, but too short a visit! The next day's flights were not too arduous flying from Munich to FLL via Wash DC ... then it was back to work for Kath two days later! And Craig dusted off the RC sail boats for another season of winter racing. Tough duty!

So now we're back to real time - it's June 3, 2014 and fresh blog will be here shortly.

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06/03/2014 | Jennie
Glad to see your back to blogging...Sam and I look forward to the new season of adventures!
Love ya
Around the Peloponnese and on to Sicilia

Traveling west from the Greek Islands in the Aegean to Italian Sicily, you either transit the Corinthian Canal or sail south around the "fingers" of the Peloponnese. We chose the latter and made the best of two weeks anchoring in the clear waters off Elafonisos, going up the gulf to Gytheio's town quay and then to the western fingertip stopping in both Koroni and Methoni, our staging point to prep the boat and wait for a "weather window" to make the passage to Siracusa, Sicily. We were fortunate to have great sailing (with little motoring) on almost every leg. The sunset shot below is Gytheo (or Yithion - take your pick), the lighthouse marks the middle finger's Capo Tainaro and the old Turkish tower and fort protect the scenic Methoni anchorage.

A thorough scuba and snorkel bottom clean, window repair, winch maintenance and engine service kept us busy in Methoni between some shoreside excursions. Then it was an "oh-dark-thirty" departure for the passage to Siracusa.

Well, actually it was 3am on the 22nd and the winds were so light we had to motor for about 8 hours. Then, about 11 we picked up a southwest breeze that let us start sailing on a close reach, only to lose it by 2pm and we motored sailed until 8pm when the expected northwesterly filled in - unexpectedly stronger than forecast. That gave us a really bumpy night with Force 4, 5 and some howling Force 6 winds making the all night ride akin to a washing machine on steroids. And to pump the adrenalin a bit more there was non-stop lightning just behind us (fortunately it stayed there).

By Monday morning, though, it started to moderate and we had a perfect sail throughout the day and 2nd night until the wind finally shut down about 1am on Tuesday but picked up a 4am to give us a good sail into Siracusa.

Before hitting town, we hit the sack, notwithstanding fellow cruisers Bonnie and Rick on Aisling having stayed over an extra day to greet us. We did catch up with them later and had a delightful toast to the passage and a welcome dinner on board Aisling.

Above are a couple of shots in Sircusa's Ortigia - Old Town. That's a flag of Sicily that Craig's holding in front of the Diana Fountain in Archimede Plaza, which is just down the street from the main cathedral pictured to the right.

You may recall we spent many weeks in Siracusa in 2008 and 2009 and actually rented an apartment for a month while we worked on the boat - so, of course, we had to check it out and found it for sale. The adjacent buildings were in about the same state of disrepair with braces between each other to hold themselves up. These do all date back to the 16 to 1800's and, while there is some slow progress in restoration, a turnaround in Italy's economic woes would certainly help. Be that as it may, we still enjoyed the charm of this unique place.

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Mainland, Peloponnese

This late afternoon sun-lit view of the walled medieval village of Monemvasia greeted us after a fantastic all-day 69 mile sail from Milos. Sangaris was reaching and fast all the way! We explored north and south anchorage options yet, expecting a "sea roll" with decreasing winds, decided to tie, side-to in the simple (no service/no charge) "marina". (If you "Click to see the Full Map" to the right and zoom the Google Earth map, you can see exactly where we were - on the wall just below the blue position dot.)

      Monemvasia occupies a steep, rocky islet now connected to the Laconian coast by a causeway (the old Venetian bridge replaced). The settlement high atop 'the rock" was founded in the 6th century A.D. after barbarian incursions forced locals to retreat to the rocky island. A second settlement was later founded on a lower level and gradually it developed into a town of significant strategic importance. By the 13th century it was the commercial center for the Byztantine Morea. complimenting Mystras, the spiritual center.
     The area was captured by the Venetians in 1464, occupied by the Turks in 1540, came back to the Venetians in 1690 and, in 1715, recaptured by the Turks. All this power churn despite its single entry (moni - single, emvasia-entry) and an easily defendable natural rock fortress! Monemvasia was the first among the fortified towns of the Peloponese to be liberated by the Greeks in 1821.
     A signposted path led us to the vast and fascinating jumble of Byzantine and post-Byzantine ruins in the upper town and to the mostly intact, cliffside Church of Aghia Sophia, from 1150. The lower right photo (above) shows this octagonal, domed cross-in-square church, constructed 1150.

Being early September, we had a perfect hiking day with very little company. Thankfully, our guide book's reference to 'mass tourism' at Greece's equivalent to France's Mont St. Michel must be a summer-only event. Many waterfront restaurants were eager to fill vacant tables and we happily chose Scorpios Fish Taverna. The workers happened to just be sitting down to their own late lunch which looked so good we didn't give the menu a glance but simply ordered the same delicious homemade meals they had, highlighted by a generous portion of fresh horta cooked with local olive oil, lime juice and garlic - yummmm!

The next day, naturally, we sought out that fresh horta and found it overflowing at the local market, where the delightful shopkeeper was proud to display it for the camera. That's the local olive oil up on the shelf, too.

And, no surprise to anyone, Katherine's homemade version was even better than the restaurant's!

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09/13/2013 | Mike Karwowski
We have been out of town for most of the summer so I haven't been able to regularly track you guys. Your blog just keeps getting better! Not that you haven't heard this before, but you have the makings of a book that would appeal to many real (and vicarious) travelers. If you don't publish it, maybe I will.

Paros brings back fond memories of our week there in 1973. Five of us rented a house ($30 for the week, total), ferried across the bay (1 Drachma each), did our snorkeling and returned for dinner at our fave taverna where we had selected our fish that morning from the daily catch.

Your island travels are hitting places that are off the charts which is wonderful.

With Sangaris safely moored on Milos, we headed to Santorini for an overnight stay, taking the "Fast Ferry". It lived up to its name as we clocked it at 36 kts (41 mph) and the trip was a quick two hours.
We had reservations at Hotel Reverie so Georgios, the owner, met us at the ferry dock and during the drive to the hotel we had our first views of Santorini's dramatic volcanic cliffs. We strolled town and at Geogios' suggestion took in the sunset at the island's winery, enjoying a "flight" of their wines in a breezy sunset.

Here are some of the sights around town. Since Santorini is actually the above-water rim of a huge volcano, with the caldera making the bay in the center, the sheer face of the caldera walls give every view a dizzying effect. The towns look simply precarious, clinging to the bluffs, but they've had it down pretty well for centuries, except after major eruptions (last was 1956) when they rebuilt even more cliffiside villas and hotels! Minoan-era wall paintings (like the one seen here) were covered with ash and well preserved when archeologists uncovered them in the ancient southern town of Akrotiri.

The domed churches nestle amongst resort apartments and private entrances seem to open into nothingness, but actually have a steep stairway on the other side.

We had planned our visit so we could connect with Amir and Leta - Sam's Aunt and Uncle - who had a one day cruise ship stop at Santorini. We met them at our hotel in the morning and then went to the town of Oia (Ee-a) on the north end of the island where not only was the lunch delicious, but the views were stunning.

And if these pics whet your appetite for spending time in the Cyclades, look closely for the telephone number above and you can pick up your own vacation home on this magical island.

Crusiers note: We are glad we traveled by ferry vs. Sangaris as anchoring options in the deep caldera were virtually non-existent. A few yachts seemed to grab huge steel moorings for a few hours, but likely not all crew could go ashore. We understand there is a marina on the south end island but we did not see it.

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Through the Cyclades

Leaving Paoika on Paros, Sangaris headed west-ish through the southern Cyclades. The first leg took us through the windy passage between Paros and Andiparos that's famous for its kite and wind surfing. If you look really closely you'll see Kath under that red kite and Craig looks pretty good on the windsurfer, too! We tucked up under some islets in the middle of the passage for the night and the day-trippers in the small boats you see were gone by evening leaving just us to enjoy the crystal clear waters.

The next stop was Despotica, adjacent to Andiparos and a not-to-be missed anchorage. From there we caught up with Rick and Barbara on "Far Out" at the little harbor in Vathi on Sifnos. As chance would have it, the restaurant we chose that evening for Barbara's birthday celebration was hosting a wedding and we were encouraged to join in the merriment from a nearby table.

From Sifnos it's about 20 miles SW to the great cruising ground and three islands of Kimilos, Poliagos and Milos. "Sir Rod" as we and most cruisers call Rod Heikel, the author of "The Greek Pilot" that we always have at hand, suggested that Stenon Kimolou-Poliagos (the channel between Kimolos and its uninhabited neighbor, Nisos Poliagos) could have severe gusts and "though there is not a big sea in the lee of the islands, the wind can be very strong indeed". Good luck made it a lake for us and Revmatonisia a lovely place to anchor for couple of nights near Psathi, Kimolos. This very cool rocky outcropping was just a few boat lengths away as were these colorful boathouses, now summer "cottages" and access to the chora (old town), which was an easy uphill climb although one local chose the old fashioned way (no that's not Craig on his ass! And, oh OK, that really wasn't him on the windsurfer, either.) Then, just a short hop away was what became a favorite anchorage of Pollonia, Milos, with the evening sun showing off Sangaris and the quintessential Cycladic church on the point.

The shots above and below give you the flavor of this very special island with its phantasmagorical volcanic rock formations.

The next day we made our way to the main town of Amorgos, Med moored to the dock and as we strolled to town we just happened to say hello to a fellow sailor, Simone, on an Australian flagged boat called "Planet Perfecto". Suddenly she did a double take, recognizing us from our blog, and said she'd been following it for some time and will also be up on sailblogs now that she's setting off cruising - talk about serendipity!

Perhaps our favorite anchorage on Milos was at a little north coast place with the fun name you see. It's tucked in behind those amazing rocks and is normally inaccessible because of the prevailing northerly winds, but we caught two days of rare southerlies. By the way, those sea level doors were originally boat houses for the fishermen, who would sleep in the little room above, rather than returning to their village each day. Nowadays, these "syrmata", from the Greek work "syro" - to pull - have become novel weekend retreats - and most folks do keep a small boat in the boathouse.

Cruiser's Notes:
In Polonia the moorings seem always available; if anchoring stay clear of the ferry and watch for extensive mooring chains and rodes. In the main port of Adhamas, the "Port Captain" Miltos is a jovial character who seems to have a floating price scale depending on how well he likes you. Oddly, we paid 23 euros for three nights - others were 20 a night. There can be a violent surge when ferries arrive too fast, which some do, so stay as far from the dock as possible and leave lots of space between boats.

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Sailing the 80 miles or so from Patmos to Paros with only a slight break in the constant Meltemi winds was a bit of a challenge. After our first long day sail with a way too gusty arrival at Dhenoussa (30-ish knots) we broke the remaining upwind stretches into a few legs in the early morning to try to move before the wind started "cooking". By August 13th we sailed into the bays across from Paroika, Paros and found an "oasis anchorage" - calm breezes despite high winds 'outside', clear swimming water, beautiful scenery and great access to town where hundreds of tourists disembarked from up to 5 ferries per day.

We timed our arrival to catch the August 15 "Panaghia" (Virgin Mary) festival at the impressive Ekatontapiliani church - the so called Aghia Sofia of the Aegean because the builder was an apprentice to the builder of the real Aghia Sofia in Constantinople. The bell tower pealed from early morning as thousands of islanders and guests gathered, including we two and Barbara and Rick from "Far Out". The procession, led by bearded and crowned priests culminated with the icon of the Virgin Mary and wound its way through the labyrinthine streets of classical Cyclades white and blue buildings of the old town. That evening the Far Out crew joined us on Sangaris as the night sky was lit with fireworks.

Here are a few scenes from a walk thru town - another "iconic" landmark (well, not quite, but a good watering hole, nonetheless), around the corner from one of dozens of small chapels. The flowered cross is mounted on Parian marble - the local material from which Venus di Milo was sculpted as well as most of the works on nearby Delos. Typical taverna wine pitchers on the hardware storefront round out some of the local color and fittingly, the "I" - Information booth, is housed in a centuries old windmill.

Festivites continued the next day, but these were of the art and jazz type. Rick and Barb introduced us to a few contemporary Dutch artists who run the "Holland Tunnel Gallery" with locations in Brooklyn, NY and Paroikia, Paros. We shared a wonderful night in a couple of galleries with painting, photography and sculptural displays, plus live jazz and traditional lyre performances. The large canvases are by Jan Mulder, one the artists we befriended. The fun went on late into the night back at the Pirates' Bar (last photo) with swinging Brazilian jazz.

Now, around Milos are several delightful little towns, including Lefkes, a short bus ride for us. It was serious siesta time when we arrived so we wandered the pristine alleyways and made our way to the impressive Cathedral of Agia Triada across from which courtyard cafes welcomed all to a quiet afternoon repast. And, for the first time in months we actually saw clouds in the sky that seemed to signal the inevitable end of summer that's just around the corner.

The next day's short bus trip was to Naoussa town with its many artistic venues. The Meltemi was still piping up as the waves attest, but the art was striking. Here's a painting from "Sea Bed" where the artist captures sea creatures in sunlit waters above undulating sandy bottoms. And, speaking of sea creatures, the fresh octopus drying in front of the waterfront tavern announce that dinner tonight will be fresh, indeed. Finally, a local artist, Dimitris, greeted us and showed us his shop with an eclectic collection Byzantine style carved rings, paintings of local scenes, and a simulated cave replete with spray foam stalactites and stalagmites. Strange and fun stuff.

A great highlight of Parioika is free walking tours each evening. The town was originally walled and the top center is one of the main gates. Below that in the center is one of three fountains the towns patron installed. Atop the old city is the Frankish Fort from the 1200's which used the rubble of previous Greek temples for it's construction - hence the pieces of marble columns in the fort walls. Above the fort is a somewhat more modern church, again made from old temple rubble. Katherine is sitting on the steps of it's entrance. Finally, the watchword of sailing in these parts is the north wind which is called the Meltemi - here it is carved in stone in Greek letters.

Cruiser's Notes: The town quay at Paroika has laid moorings on the inside or use your own anchor on the outside, which is fine in calm wind,, although some waves from ferries. Mooring is free, but 10E for water and electric - water man comes in the morning and evening.

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