Our Ever-Changing Backyard

19 June 2024 | Ҫandarli, Turkey
10 June 2024 | Ҫeşme Marina and Goldensands Beach, Turkey
03 June 2024 | Aegean Sea
18 May 2024 | Saronic Gulf, Greece
14 May 2024 | Porto Montenegro to Athens
14 April 2024 | Zakinthos to Sounion, Greece
13 November 2023 | Orikum, Albania
30 October 2023 | Durrës, Albania
29 October 2023 | Porto Montenegro to Athens, Greece
22 August 2023 | Montenegro
18 April 2023 | Monopoli, Italy - Zadar, Croatia
09 April 2023 | Korčula, Croatia

Chilling in Ҫandarli

19 June 2024 | Ҫandarli, Turkey
Vandy Shrader
July 26 - August 2, 2023

We spent a couple days anchored off beautiful Goldensands Beach, which is very well sheltered from the north wind. While there we did glamorous jobs like laundry, vacuuming, and cleaning, but also some fun things like reading about the various places we might visit in Turkey, writing the next blog post, swimming, relaxing and enjoying the scenery....

We had a hankering to go north, if we could, because all our reading said that it's supposed to be more like "real" Turkey, than some of the touristy places to the south of us.

The forecast was for light winds, the meltemi predicted to take another short break, which would afford us an opportunity to go north. We decided to take it. I found an anchorage that we could make in one day - a place near Izmir, called Ҫandarli, about 60 miles north of Goldensands Beach. (By the way, if you didn't pick it up from the title of our previous post, the letter Ҫ sounds like "ch".) We left early the next morning.



Our trip to Ҫandarli took us past miles and miles of fish farms (something that we would see plenty of, during our time in Turkey).


Fish farms


More fish farms

As we traveled, we made sure to stick close to the Turkish coastline. The border with Greece was close by, and we didn't want to get pulled over by either the Turkish or Greek coast guards, both of whom had boats patrolling the narrow waterway between the countries.

The seven-hour trip was pleasantly uneventful, and when we arrived at the small bay in front of Ҫandarli we discovered that there was only one other cruising boat anchored there - a pleasant surprise, for an anchorage in July, the height of the high season, We dropped Obama in the murky water, where he stuck in the mud, and Eric backed Awildian down more gently than we would on a sandy bottom, giving Obama time to sink down slowly into the mud, and be embraced by its anchor-swaddling gooiness.


Greater Ҫandarli and the bay

Once settled, we looked around. Ҫandarli was tucked into the NW corner of the bay, with a stubby peninsula sticking out to the south. Perched on this peninsula was an old castle, providing a scenic counterpoint to the town's modern buildings. Out in the center of the bay was a small island, where seabirds congregated.


Robert and Robyn Kiwi checking out Ҫandarli

We decided to treat ourselves to a Turkish dinner at one of the many small restaurants in town, so we put our dinghy in the water and buzzed over to the waterfront, looking for a place to tie up our dinghy and disembark. NoForeignLand - our usual go-to app for locating all kinds of useful places in towns - had been mum on where to land the dinghy, so we were winging it. (I've since added a dinghy-landing icon to the Ҫandarli map.) Back and forth we cruised, along the city's waterfront wall, with no obvious place to tie up. Eventually, we decided to tie up to one of the posts supporting the wire fence along the wall, bringing our dinghy right in close in the shallow, rock-strewn water, and clambering up through one of the gaps in the fence.


A minaret or, as we call it, the Voice of God

After locking our dinghy to the pole, we walked to a small open-air restaurant on the waterfront called Kasabin Kahve. Ҫandarli has a well-worn, yet exotic (for us) feel to it.


The shopping district

We walked into the restaurant, wandered through some of the tables, and sat down at one. No one spoke English, not even the staff. The menu was written on a whiteboard, everything in Turkish.


The menu

I had just pulled out my phone to Google "manti," one of the offerings, when our waiter arrived to take our order. Seeing that manti is "tiny dumplings stuffed with lamb and topped with garlicky yogurt sauce," I ordered that. Eric followed suit, and we both ordered "limonata" (lemonade), an easy translation.

As we waited for our food and drinks to arrive, I looked around and soaked in the ambiance. Just outside the restaurant's patio area along the waterfront, two young boys were fishing in the shallows with handlines; occasionally they caught a small fish, about four inches long. A couple of cats waited nearby, as patiently as they could, hoping that the boys would share their catch. Sometimes they did. Several other cats wandered lazily through the restaurant. At every other table besides ours, people were smoking cigarettes. Many were enjoying the strong Turkish tea (çay, pronounced "chai" like the Indian tea), drunk from the small, distinctively-shaped glasses made for this purpose. A feeling of relaxed ease permeated the place; no one - not even the wait staff - was in a hurry. Neither were we.

Our waiter reappeared with a question: "Sarimsak?" he asked.

I whipped out my phone, tapped Google Translate, and had him repeat the word. "Garlic," Google Translate suggested. Ah, he was asking if we wanted garlic on our manti.

How the heck do you say "yes" in Turkish...We didn't know at the moment, so we nodded and gave him two thumbs up. He soon returned with our manti, which was swimming in a sauce made of garlic, yogurt and melted butter. Yum!


Eric about to enjoy his dinner

I could only eat half of mine, so we consulted Google Translate again to find out how to ask for a takeaway box. Eating out was really cheap - the total cost of our dinner was less than $13 USD; another dinner we had a few days later was $11 USD.

After dinner, we walked through town, exploring, and enjoying the slightly cooler temperature of the evening. We passed by lots of little shops selling eggs or jams or hardware/household items. We stopped into an open air veggie market, whose wilted offerings had clearly endured a very long, very hot day, in spite of the shade cloth overhead. Farther along, we came to a tree-shaded park, with small booths arranged around its edges, all of them closed up. It looked like it would be an interesting place to visit, when the booths were open. Whenever that was.

Back on the waterfront, people were strolling along, or sitting on the benches; whole families - from grandparents to little kids - enjoying the evening together. We walked through the gap in the fence, climbed down to the water, liberated our dinghy, and scooted back to Awildian.


Ҫandarli's waterfront with Awildian anchored in the distance

We spent the next week anchored at Ҫandarli, making forays into town or hanging out on Awildian, while another meltemi swept down the Aegean.


It's kind of a dusty place...

One day, we visited the old castle. Built in the 1300s and restored several times since then - most recently in 2013 - there was no admission fee, so we could just wander around, exploring and enjoying the views from its windows and doorways.













I'd read somewhere that Ҫandarli has a town market every Friday, so when Friday came around, we loaded Rolly (our rolling cart) into the dinghy and headed to shore, tying up at our usual fence post. We figured that this would be the day that all those little booths in the town park would be open. We figured wrong: all of them were closed up, just as they had been before.

Undeterred, we walked back to the produce stand in town. Maybe that was where the market was held. Nope. The same two or three vendors who'd been there the other evening were there again, along with their tired-looking wares. Nothing about it said, "hey it's a Friday market!" to us.

Maybe we were early? It was 9:30; surely a produce market would be up and running by now. We decided to take advantage of being in town to have breakfast.

We sat down at a streetside cafe where elderly men sat at small tables with glasses of çay or raki (Turkish moonshine), having spirited conversations. The menu listed a wide range of food. A waiter brought us a basket of bread and asked us something in Turkish. Remember: no one in Ҫandarli speaks English. Or if there are people who do, we haven't encountered them yet.

I cued up Google Translate and tried to get him to speak into my phone, but I couldn't get the point across. After repeating the same word to me several times (but never into my phone), he exasperatedly called over a woman and pointed to my phone.

She asked the same one-word question. When we shrugged, she spoke into Google Translate on her phone. The word was çorba, which means "soup." She spoke into her phone again and showed it to me: "Sadece çorbamiz var" which means, "We only have soup."

Apparently nothing else on the menu was currently available. We didn't really want hot soup for breakfast, especially not on a hot day, so we thanked her politely and went to find another restaurant.

We ended up at a small cafe in the shade of the trees in the small town park. Their menu was also varied, but unlike the other place, these guys had more than just soup. Eric and I ordered a cheese-filled "tortilla" and a sandviç (yes, it's what you think it is). Both were good. Along with them, Eric enjoyed a Turkish coffee, and I had a glass of çay.


Brekkie in the park

While we were in town, we needed to buy a new phone, as mine had accidentally gone swimming in Greece a couple of weeks earlier (don't ask). Eric had done some research and decided that we wanted to buy a Samsung A23, which was available in Turkey. Ҫandarli has two cell phone stores in town - TurkCell and an independent seller - so we figured we could knock that off pretty easily. And since there was apparently no Friday market, we had plenty of time.

It actually took three days and three trips into town.

Day One. The independent seller had the phone at a good price but their credit card reader wasn't working, so we went a few doors down to TurkCell. TurkCell could take our credit card, so we bought the phone from them. We were going to get an e-SIM for my phone, so we didn't buy a physical one.

Back on Awildian, Eric set up my new phone. Though the Samsung A23 usually accepts e-SIMs, this feature was apparently disabled on my new phone since we'd bought it in Turkey. Oh well. We'd need to go back into town to procure a physical SIM. There is a physical SIM that will allow my phone to use e-SIMs, so we'd try to get one of those.

Day Two. The next day, we dinghied back to town and visited the TurkCell store. Yes, they had the e-SIM-abled physical SIM...but it wasn't available in Turkey. So we'd have to buy a regular SIM instead. But even that was a moot point, as the Internet was down in the store, so we couldn't do anything anyway.

We stopped back at TurkCell later, on our way back to Awildian after exploring the castle. No dice. Maybe tomorrow...

Day Three. We went back to TurkCell again the following day. Their Internet was working, and the clerk sold us a SIM. But...before he'd activate it, he asked us 45 minutes of questions, took all the details from Eric's passport, asked us our home address, and our Turkish address (we told him we're on a boat and he wrote something down, we don't know what). Using all that info, he registered the SIM with the Turkish government and told us that, as tourists, we could only use it for 90 days. I picked out a case with nice colors but some weird markings (those are not stickers), and we went back to Awildian, phone sorted.


My weird phone case

One afternoon, while we were doing some jobs around the boat, we heard voices nearby. Voices?Nearby? Since we were anchored out, that meant that someone must be visiting. When I looked outside, I saw a couple of teenage girls swimming near Awildian. I was surprised because we were anchored pretty far out. Using charades, I asked if they wanted to come aboard; they did. I lowered the swim ladder and they climbed aboard, happy not to be treading water anymore. Once aboard, they told me (using Google Translate) that they had been trying to swim to the small island, but then they realized that it was still quite a long way off, and they were exhausted. They sat on one of Awildian's transoms for awhile, chatting and laughing, and drinking the water I gave them.

A little while later - using Google Translate - I offered to take them back to shore in our dinghy, and they nodded. When we got close to shore, one of them said, "thank you!" and they jumped into the water.

On our last night in Ҫandarli, a huge orange moon rose out of the sea, casting a shimmering streak on the water of the bay. It was stunningly beautiful. I took my best shot at taking a photo, which didn't really do it justice. Eric and I stood on Awildian's deck for quite awhile, enjoying the warm evening and the beautiful scene. Tomorrow morning we'd head even farther north, to the area around Ayvalik.

Ҫecking into Ҫeşme

10 June 2024 | Ҫeşme Marina and Goldensands Beach, Turkey
Vandy Shrader
July 23, 2023

After a leisurely breakfast, we pulled up Awildian's anchor and headed across the narrow passage between Chios Island (part of Greece) and the Turkish mainland. For the entire time that Eric and I were in Turkey, we found it interesting that almost all of the islands that lay just offshore of the Turkish coast belong to Greece, even those that were only a few miles away - like Chios. We wondered why Turkey hadn't gained possession of any islands when the divvying up of land happened between Greece and Turkey.


A sketch of the area from the Awildian Journal

Anyway, during our trip across the passage, we prepped Awildian's fenders and docklines for a starboard side-tie at the Customs dock. As we approached Ҫeşme Marina, I called the marina office on the radio (VHF 72 for those who might care), letting them know we were looking to clear in with Customs and Immigration. The woman told me that she would send someone out to direct us where to go.

A minute later, a marinero came out in a small boat and followed us. "I will take you to your berth," he said in halting English.

"Wait," I said. "We're clearing in. We want to go to the Customs dock."

"I will take you to your berth," he repeated. Clearly we were not going to have a discussion about it.

"OK...is it a Med-moor berth?"

"Yes," he said, zooming off to guide the way.

Bugger! I hate it when all my careful planning is for nought. As Eric slowly followed the marinero, I scrambled around switching half of the dock lines and fenders to the opposite side, getting Awildian ready to back into the berth and tie fore and aft.

After we got Awildian tied up at the berth, Eric took our binder of ship's papers and left for the marina office, where he checked in with them and found that we got a free berth for four hours while clearing in. Surely we wouldn't need that much time...would we? The wind was calm at the moment, but was forecast to fill in quite a bit in the afternoon. I was hoping that we'd be out of the marina when that happened. It was only 9:30 am; I expected we'd be done way before noon. Turns out I was wrong.

After checking in at the marina office, Eric went a few doors down to the office of the yacht agency we were using, Pianura Marine. In Turkey, yachts are required to use an agent to check into and out of the country. Our agent, Onur, with whom we'd exchanged emails and some documents over the previous days, was out of town, but his colleague, a friendly woman named Busé, was busy helping several sets of people. She added Eric to the bunch.

When Eric returned to Awildian about a half hour later, I expected him to tell me that he was done and we could be on our way. But no, we were just getting started. I needed to come to the agent's office and then the three of us would walk to Passport Control, in the ferry terminal, about a five minute walk down the road. After the immigration officers were convinced that we were who our passports said we were, they stamped our passports and sent us on our way. Busé told us that she would see us back at her office in about an hour, which would be 1pm.

Eric and I found lunch at a small pizzeria along the main street near the marina. I was beginning to get a bit antsy about the wind: we still needed to go to the fuel dock after clearing in, and I wasn't looking forward to maneuvering in the confines of the marina in 25 or so knots. But it didn't do any good to stew about it. There was nothing we could do to speed up the process.

During lunch, we bought a Turkish e-SIM for my phone. E-SIMs are amazing! Now we don't have to find a cell phone store, where the employees may or may not speak English, to buy a physical SIM card.

Just before 1pm, we parted ways. Eric went back to Busé's office, to see if she was ready to continue with our clearing in process. I went back to Awildian to use the marina water to clean his decks.

At 2pm Eric still wasn't back, so I busied myself writing in Awildian's journal and adding some details of our recent travels to the log on our spreadsheet.


Robert and Robyn Kiwi having a look at Ҫeşme Castle while we wait for Eric to return

At 3pm there was still no sign of Eric. According to the forecast, the wind should have been blowing 25 knots from the north by now, but we seemed to be catching a break: the wind was still very light. I began hoping that the four free hours offered by the marina was a loose amount of time. Marina prices in Turkey are exorbitant; I didn't want to be charged for the day!

Eric showed up at 3:15, all finished with the clearing in. We called the marina on the VHF and told them that we'd like to go to the fuel dock. Two marineros came to untie Awildian, and two more tossed us lines when we arrived at the fuel dock. That was a nice treat! We put about 250 liters in each of Awildian's diesel tanks, for $1.22 a liter. That's pretty good for diesel in the Med.

We cast off at 4pm (the marina hadn't charged us for our berth, or for the water I'd used), and headed out of Ҫeşme Marina, past the 16th-Century castle that looms at the entrance to the marina, juxtaposed with lots of modern construction, which seems to be the norm in Europe.

Two views of the Castle:





Though the wind was still very light in the marina, there was about 12 knots in the channel between Ҫeşme and Chios - still nothing like the 25 knots that had been forecast - but as it was coming from behind us, it just pushed us along to the anchorage we had chosen.

We made our way around the small peninsula to the south of Ҫeşme, and dropped our anchor in 20 feet of clear water off of beautiful Goldensands Beach. With a name like that, how could we not check it out? And it did live up to its name.


Goldensands Beach [Photo from Trip Advisor]

Only a few other boats bobbed nearby, but the beach and water were packed with sunbathers, swimmers, jetskiers, inner tubers, and parasailers, all enjoying the sunny Sunday afternoon.

As jet skis zipped by and the sun set, Eric and I stretched out on the seats on our back porch, feeling relieved: over the past two days, we'd crossed the Aegean without encountering the meltemi, we'd cleared out of Greece, and into Turkey. Now we had a couple of months to explore Turkey at our own pace, going where we wanted to, and staying for as long as we wanted to. Just the way we like it.

Crossing the Aegean

03 June 2024 | Aegean Sea
Vandy Shrader
July 21-22, 2023

We didn't have to wait long for the meltemi to take a break. Three days after Annie and Liam boarded their flight in Athens, we pulled up our anchor in Sounion and headed east across the Aegean Sea.

Where to go in Turkey?
Eric and I had talked about where we wanted to go in Turkey. Every place sounded interesting. Most of the cruisers we knew spent the majority of their time in the southern part of Turkey, but we were open to trying something different, especially with a relatively long trip back across Greece and then north to Montenegro in a couple of months. We decided to cross the Aegean Sea at the approximate latitude of Athens, about halfway up the coastline of Turkey.

Countries generally have only a handful of places where you can legally clear into or out of them (these are known as "ports of entry"), so we'd have to aim for one of these in Greece (to clear out) and another in Turkey (to clear in). We'd clear out of Greece at Chios (on Chios Island) and clear into Turkey at nearby Ҫeşme Marina, on the Turkish mainland.


Our route

Chios was about 120 miles away, and since some strong headwinds were forecast for the afternoon, we wanted to leave early to avoid those and find a place to stop along the way. Agios Pyrgos, a small cove near the northern tip of Andros Island, would suit us fine.

Crossing the Aegean
We left Sounion at 6:30 am, just before sunup, planning to make it to Agios Pyrgos before the strong NE headwinds arrived at around midday. The first few hours were beautiful and calm, the early morning sun gleaming on the water, our only company the many ferries that crisscrossed this piece of water on their way between Athens and the islands of the Aegean.



Though we made it to Agios Pyrgos by 12:30, the headwinds had arrived at 11 am, the choppy waves treating us to a jouncy ride for awhile. Agios Pyrgos is a beautiful cove, with a white sand beach, and clear water that allowed us to find a good sand patch to drop our anchor in.


Agios Pyrgos sandy beach

Best of all (and one reason why we chose it), the anchorage provides excellent protection from the NE, so while the wind and waves were snotty outside the cove, Awildian was floating calmly inside.


Agios Pyrgos closeup with Greek fishing boat

We spent the afternoon relaxing, and went to bed early, since we planned to get an early start the next morning - at 3 am!

The next morning, I happened to wake up at 2:15 am, so I just stayed up. I'd volunteered to do the 3-6 am shift - I don't mind getting up early, and I like being up at dawn. We'd set things up for a night passage before we went to bed last night: setting night mode or red lights on all our technology, charging my new headlamp (and reading the instructions), putting our red flashlight in an easy-to-find place, getting our PFDs out...

We were underway by 2:55 am. I was a bit tense about navigating so near shore in the dark (the first hour of our 13-hour trip would be around the northern tip of Andros Island, through the sometimes-busy passage between the island and the mainland), where I was concerned there might be fishing floats or other unmarked hazards lurking in the dark. We had the radar going, and I could clearly see the lights on even the smallest boats, so that was reassuring.

My journey in darkness didn't last long as the sky began to lighten by 5 am. The weather was calm, the ship traffic was light and mostly confined to the middle of the passage, and Awildian didn't encounter any unmarked hazards.


Sunrise

While underway, I pondered how many hours I've traveled by boat in darkness. The answer is, a lot!
I decided that it's probably been about 10-15% of my boat travel time, almost all of it done in open water, away from land; not close to shore, like this. This is only the second time we've moved Awildian at night - the other time being our trip across the Adriatic Sea from Monopoli, Italy, to Cavtat, Croatia, in June of 2022.

MAGICAL!! That's what I wrote in our journal, to describe being greeted by a pod of exuberant dolphins, who came to play in Awildian's bow wave at sunrise. We never get tired of seeing dolphins! What a lovely way to begin our day!

And what a very long day it was! With the usual "feast or famine" wind conditions in the Med, we were served "famine" today, and ended up motoring the whole 85 miles, arriving at the port of Chios at 3pm. We weren't sure exactly where we were supposed to tie up for Customs clearance. One place that seemed likely already had two big ferries tied up there, with only a small patch of dock available between them.

We drove around a little and then pulled alongside a big juicy clear length of dock off to the side of the ferries. Just as I was finishing tying Awildian to the shore, a man in a uniform came to tell me that we couldn't tie up there, because it's the spot for the Coast Guard boat (which happened to be out at the time). He couldn't tell me where we should tie up, just that we couldn't tie up there.


Chios Port

In the photo, "1" marks the first place we tied up, and "2" is where we eventually tied up. You can see from all the ferry tracks what a busy place this is!

OK. So we untied and went back over to where the ferries were docked. Eric maneuvered Awildian into the small space along the dock between the two ferries (fortunately, Awildian is very maneuverable), and while I hung out on the boat, Eric took our boat documents and went to figure out where and how to check us out of Greece. I took photos of the ferries in front of us and behind us. They were actually closer than it seems from the photos.


Behind us


In front of us

The officials checked our passports not just to make sure that we'd cleared into Greece properly, but also to calculate the number of days that we'd been there, to make sure that we weren't overstaying, before stamping them. There was some confusion among some of the officials, concerning what to do with our Greek transit log (the record we're required to keep, of the places we'd checked into and out of, during our stay in Greece). Phone calls were made, documents were shuttled between various offices, and in the end the appropriate authorities kept our transit log and we were free to go. With the stipulation that we call the port control on VHF12 when we were ready to leave the dock.


The Customs building/ferry terminal

We untied Awildian and then I called the port control. As I was waiting for them to respond, a huge ship loomed into my vision: a big ferry was entering the port, almost filling the narrow entrance. So we held our position along the dock until the ferry had entered the port, done a slow pirouette and backed up against the shore to disgorge its vehicles and passengers.


A very large ferry in a not-very-large port

When port control called to tell us we could go, we left Khios port, heading around the corner of the island to a nice, big, open anchorange called Paralia Megas Limnionas , which basically means "Big Limnionas Beach," where we dropped our anchor, finally able to relax after a very long day.

Just across the water, about 4 miles away, we could see Turkey. Tomorrow we'd head over there, to Ҫeşme Marina, where we'd meet up with our Turkish agent, and clear into the country. For now, though, our thoughts were only on dinner and sleep.

Saronic Summer

18 May 2024 | Saronic Gulf, Greece
Vandy Shrader
May thru July 2023

Here's a fun animated travelogue of our Saronic Summer, with pictures from our adventures. Remember to turn the sound on (icon in lower right corner).

Saronic Summer Animation

Want more details? Keep reading...

Summer 2023 was an extravaganza of friends and family who came to see us. Between the end of May and mid-July, we enjoyed visits from our daughter, Kelly, and her boyfriend, Daniel; our German friends, Heike, Felix, and Milena; our American friends, Debbie and Morris; and our Australian friends, Annie and Liam. We had a great time exploring islands, towns, and archaeological sites of Greece together.

We'd decided to spend most of our time in the Saronic Gulf, the large body of water bordered by the Attica Peninsula (where Athens is located) to the east, and the Peloponnese Peninsula to the west.


The Saronic Gulf

The Gulf has many beautiful and interesting places to visit, and it's also sheltered from the brunt of the meltemi wind, the strong summer breeze that blows from north to south down the Aegean Sea and can last for days or weeks at a time. Being in the Saronic Gulf ensured that our visitors were comfortable during their visits, and that they could also reliably reach their travel connections without worrying about disruptions due to the meltemi.

We were also able to pop over to two of the closest Cyclades Islands, when the meltemi took a break. We visited Kythnos twice - once with Kelly and Daniel, and once with Heike, Felix, and Milena - and Kea once, with Morris and Debbie. These islands have a very different vibe and architecture from the mainland (including those iconic blue and white houses),



and some spectacular beaches,

Kolona Beach

so they were especially fun to visit. We got the name and phone number of a taxi driver on Kythnos, who took us all over the island. We toured a cave where an entire town used to shelter from marauders,


Katafyki Cave near Dryopida

strolled charming streets,



and had lunch in the shade of some beautiful bouganvillas.



Kythnos and Kea are also criss-crossed by hundreds of stone walls (ancient and modern) built without mortar, a fascinating construction technique known as drystone.

Greek drystone

Some of the places we visited in the Saronic Gulf include:

Poros, a quaint island town with lots of good restaurants and shops, cute cobblestone paths, and hikes with stunning vistas. We brought everyone here except for Kelly and Daniel, who had only a very short visit with us. Dozens of ferries visit Poros every day, and their wakes routinely rock the boats on the town quay and in the anchorages as they pass by. Even Awildian, with his wide, stable stance, had some occasional bronco rides from the ferry wakes, one of which caused an unattended and (fortunately) empty wine glass to fall off the counter and smash on the floor.

As is our habit, we avoided the crowded town quay and instead anchored just across the channel from Poros, near the town of Galatas. From here, a short dinghy ride took us to the Poros town quay, or into Galatas, where we did our grocery shopping, got haircuts, and took care of other non-touristy activities.



Aegina, known for its excellent pistachios, ancient ruins, and lovely beaches. We visited Marathonas Bay and Agia South, depending on which was more comfortable in the current wind and wave conditions.


Marathonas sunset

Epidavros, where ruins of a submerged ancient Roman villa, lay just beneath the clear water in a pretty bay, and are easily explored by kayak or snorkeling.


Snorkeling the ruins

The larger, more famous Epidavros ruins are farther inland, but we didn't get there.

The water was so clear you could even see our anchor - which wasn't having to do much at the moment - dug into the bottom.



As we were leaving Epidavros with our friends, Annie and Liam, we got a call on the VHF: our Belgian friends, Cindy and Geert, on the boat, Zensation (whom we'd all spent time with in New Zealand and Fiji), were approaching Epidavros. So we turned around, re-anchored, and spent another day and night in Epidavros, with Zensation anchored nearby.


A fun surprise

Some Belgian teenagers, who happened to be camping with friends on shore, and saw Zensation's Belgian flag, swam over and joined us on Awildian for the afternoon. Fun times!

Korfos is a tiny town off the beaten track, where Eric and I spent a couple of weeks between visitors. We got to know some of the locals there, including Anna, the town's young pharmacist, who helped us sort out medical care - including a taxi ride to the small hospital in Corinth, 45 minutes away - when Eric's back unexpectedly packed up. (Not a fun thing, when you're on anchor and have to dinghy in for medical care.)

Anna had recently opened a small pharmacy - the only one in town - in one corner of the building that houses her family's bakery. She speaks excellent English, and told us that some pharmacists, such as herself, have training and knowledge beyond just drugs, and act as first responders in small villages like Korfos, which don't have a doctor of their own.

Because it was so difficult for Eric to get around, Anna came out to Awildian three times to administer the daily injections that had been prescribed for him. I taxied her in our dinghy from the town quay to our boat, where she enjoyed the new experiences of seeing her town from the water and being on a catamaran.


Us with Anna

If you find yourself in Korfos, requiring medical care or prescriptions filled, Anna will most likely be able to help you. Korfos Pharmacy +30 274 109 5300

We anchored at Sounion, on the very southern tip of the Attica Peninsula, five times. It provides shelter from the north wind, has good holding in sand, and of course is overlooked by the gorgeous and interesting Temple of Poseidon high on a bluff. It's also a good jumping-off point for visits to the Cyclades, or to visit Athens, both of which we did with Kelly and Daniel.

Besides looking impressive and being very old, the Temple of Poseidon also sports a lot of cool graffiti, some of which is many centuries old. One notable bit of graffito (which I marked in the photo below), was inscribed by none other than Lord Byron, who was apparently a scofflaw, as well as a poet, back in 1810 or 1811.


Lord Byron the bad-ass

Athens. After surviving a terrifying taxi ride to Athens, during which the driver routinely went twice the speed limit and weaved in and out of traffic, we climbed up to have a look at the Acropolis. This was early enough in the year that the massive crowds that descended on the site later in the summer hadn't yet arrived, so we could walk around freely. The vibe there was eerily powerful, as a very active thunderstorm loomed over us, spewing bolts of lightning, that I could almost imagine were thrown by Zeus himself, followed by growling thunder.



We were particularly impressed that the large amphitheater, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, which was built in AD 161, is still in use as a music and theater venue. In fact, when we were there, workers were in the process of collecting seat cushions that had been used for an event the previous night.


Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Vari, just south of Athens, was a good place for us to hang out with Annie and Liam during some particularly strong north winds during the final days of their visit. The bay was spacious and sheltered from the north; the holding, in sand, was excellent; and Annie and Liam could easily catch a taxi to the airport from shore.

The bay was popular with wind surfers and kite-boarders of every skill level; we enjoyed watching them zip by (or plod by, if they were new to the sport) with their bright colors, and checked in on them when they occasionally bumped into Awildian. Also, sadly, while we were there, the strong winds fanned some devastating fires just to the south of us.



In mid-July, when our friends, Annie and Liam, left to continue their travels, and our Greek visa was in its third (and final) month, Eric and I headed back to Sounion again, where we waited for the meltemi to take a breather so that we could cross the Aegean Sea, check out of Greece, and head to Turkey, where we'd spend the next two or three months.





Awildian's Animated Travels - May 2023 - Montenegro to Athens

14 May 2024 | Porto Montenegro to Athens
Vandy Shrader
Hello!

Here is an animated recap of Awildian's travels from Porto Montenegro to Athens, in May 2023.

Montenegro to Athens

Remember to turn on the sound (icon in the lower right corner of the screen).

Enjoy!

Racing to Athens - Zakinthos to Sounion

14 April 2024 | Zakinthos to Sounion, Greece
Vandy Shrader
May 11-27, 2023



Key to the Map:
1. Laganas 2. Methoni 3. Elafonisos
4. Kremmidhi 5.Porto Cheli 6. Kapari
7. Poros 8. Aegina anchorage 9. Portes
10. Voula 11. Sounion

Pedal to the Metal
The second two weeks of May were pretty much like the first. We continued our trek toward Athens, scooting around the southern end of the Peloponnese Peninsula. A much shorter route, through the Corinth Canal in the northern part of the peninsula, wasn't an option for us, as it was closed for repairs due to a big landslide, and wasn't scheduled to reopen until June 1.

As we headed south, and then east, we watched the weather carefully. The wind can really pick up around here, roaring around the Peloponnese from the east or from the west, and we didn't want to experience any of that. For the time being, the wind was mellow, and in fact we had to motor most of the way. We didn't dally, but kept our pace up, so that if the weather did change and kept us in one place for awhile, we'd still be near Athens by the time that Kelly and Daniel would arrive on May 27.

Methoni
Our first stop, after a 68-mile trip from Zakinthos, was the anchorage at Methoni, on the tip of the first "finger" of the peninsula. The aptly-named, and really interesting-looking, Methoni Castle welcomed us to the anchorage, but since we were arriving late in the day, and had plans to leave early the next morning, we didn't check it out.





As with most of our anchorages on this part of our travels, we hoped to come back another time when we'd have a chance to really explore.

Elafonisos Island
The next day, seventy miles and about ten hours after we left Methoni, we dropped anchor in a beautiful bay on the south coast of Elafonisos Island.



This anchorage was beautiful, with a crescent of white sand on shore, and clear, turquoise water.



With the Corinth Canal closed until June 1, any shipping traffic had to come around the bottom of the Peloponnese, as we were doing. There was plenty of traffic. All those ships gave us something to look at along the way, and some obstacles to avoid.



After Elafonisos, we dipped around the southernmost finger of the Peloponnese Peninsula and turned north. This was a shorter trip, only about 33 miles, taking us along the rugged coast, past the sixth-century town of Monemvasia, perched on the end of a short, rocky peninsula (another place we hoped to explore another time). We considered anchoring at one of the two anchorages near the town, but decided to continue a bit farther north to anchor in Ormos Kremmidhi.

Ormos Kremmedhi
Ormos Kremmidhi's white-rock cliffs provided good protection from the forecast north wind, and its sandy bottom, shining through the clear water, held Obama snugly.



Since we'd arrived in the early afternoon, we had time to take the dinghy around the headland to a cute little restaurant at the Annema Hotel, where we enjoyed a tasty and inexpensive Greek dinner. Since we were the only two customers, our waiter sat down to chat with us for awhile.



Porto Cheli
When we arrived at Porto Cheli the following day, we did a little happy dance. Why? We'd achieved our goal of being within ferry distance from Athens. From now until Kelly and Daniel arrived in Athens in about two weeks, no matter where we happened to be between here and there, they could easily get to us. Taking our foot off our virtual accelerator, we allowed ourselves to enjoy a couple of days in Porto Cheli. In addition to having a cute town, and a marina, Porto Cheli's anchorage is a well-known hurricane hole, where boats can shelter from strong winds and waves within its large, nearly-enclosed bay, with its bottom of thick, anchor-holding mud.


Photo from MarinaTips.com

Meandering to Athens
Our goal having been reached, we continued moving toward Athens, though at a much more leisurely pace. Our next stop was Ormos Kapari, a mere 15 miles away, near the town of Ermione. We arrived here during the afternoon thermal period (AKA sea breeze), and dropped anchor near the lovely beach. We did a bit of boat maintenance and spent one night there.



Poros
The next day we traveled to Poros, a quaint Greek town that we'd heard a lot about from our cruising friends. Poros didn't disappoint: from the moment that we rounded the eastern end of the island, motoring along the narrow channel, passing dozens of sailboats moored along the town quay, with the town providing a picturesque backdrop, we were charmed. We returned to Poros five or six times during the summer.


Photo from SailingIssues.com

Rather than jockeying for a spot along the crowded town quay, we continued past the town and dropped anchor in pretty little Neoriou Bay. Quiet, uncrowded, and ringed with a white sand beach, Neoriou was a relaxing place to hang out for a couple of days, watching the parade of sailboats heading away from Poros every morning, and toward Poros every afternoon. It was convenient, too: from here, it was just a five-minute dinghy ride to the town quay.



Friends of ours had told us that "the best chandlery in the world" was located in Poros. We were looking for a particular boat part, a line clutch, to replace one that had broken, so we visited this chandlery to find out if they had it. Our opinion: it may in fact be the best chandlery in the world.

The walls of the small, narrow shop were filled with all kinds of boat parts, from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. Eric and I had a look around, and then, completely overwhelmed by the collection of items on display, none of them the one we wanted, showed a picture of the part we were looking for, to the shop keeper. He didn't speak much English, but he held up a finger and said, "Wait." Getting a ladder, he climbed up to the top, reached his hand up to a high shelf, where he felt around and retrieved something. When he came down the ladder, he was holding the exact model of line clutch that we'd needed.

Unlike what we were used to in the rest of the world, in Greece, diesel isn't usually sold at fuel docks. Instead, tanker trunks deliver it to boats at the town quay. Awildian needed his diesel tanks filled, so we got the number of the local tank truck and gave him a call. The price per liter was about the same as the price as at the gas station pumps, which surprised us, considering that it was being delivered.

Since Awildian wasn't staying on the town quay, we'd need to bring him there to get filled. Though packed like sardines by late afternoon, most boats left by 9 or 10 in the morning, on their way to their next destination, leaving empty spots on the quay. On the morning that we were going to buy diesel, we scanned the quay through our binoculars. A big gap had opened up - big enough to tie Awildian alongside, rather than stern-to. Perfect!

We pulled up our anchor, motored over to the quay, tied Awildian to the wall, called the diesel guy, and told him where we were. He came along in a few minutes and filled Awildian's tanks. A half hour later we were on our way, with less money but more diesel.

Aegina
Months earlier, while we were still in Montenegro planning our trip to Greece, we'd decided to have Kelly and Daniel take a ferry from Athens, and meet us on the island of Aegina. When we left Poros, we headed to Aegina. Though we still had more than a week until they arrived, we wanted to get there, check out the anchorage, and do some exploring. We also had to have our "transit log" stamped by the port police there, as we'd listed Aegina as our destination, when we'd left Preveza. We chose the anchorage closest to the port where the ferries docked, and where the bulk of the main town lay. The anchorage was open to the entire western sector, on a broad shelf of sand and weeds in shallow water. The comments on Navily mentioned, and Google Earth showed, a submerged stone wall that bisected the anchorage, with a depth of less than one meter. We made sure to avoid that area when we were anchoring.

We put our dinghy in the water and zipped over to the port, checking out the submerged rock wall along the way, and tying up among some small fishing boats in the marina.


Photo from iStock.com

Walking into town, we found the port police office and had our transit log stamped. For our next destination, we listed the island of Kythnos, since we hoped to get there with Kelly and Daniel. We checked out the small grocery stores, and discovered another chandlery, which is also now in the running for the best chandlery in the world.

Why?

For months, we'd been looking for some 2-inch (50 mm) sanitation hose, to replace the hoses of that size in Awildian. (Yeah, I know, the cruising life is all glamour, all the time.) These were the only sanitation hoses we hadn't yet replaced, because we hadn't been able to find any. Eric had looked online, in Montenegrin chandleries, in Greek chandleries...no luck. The Best Chandlery in the World in Poros hadn't had any. So we weren't hopeful when he asked the man in the small, cluttered Aegina chandlery whether he had some 50 mm sanitation hose. To our surprise, instead of telling us no, he asked us how much we needed.

"Six meters," Eric told him. The man nodded and disappeared into the back room. A few minutes later he returned with a coil of hose. Was it...yes it was! He happened to have a piece of 50 mm sanitation hose that was just shy of 6 meters long! Halleluia!

Figuring that he was on a roll, Eric then asked the man if he had a grease gun (something else we hadn't been able to find anywhere). He walked to a shelf, reached into a box, and pulled out a grease gun.

It was really too bad that we didn't have a lottery ticket to buy.

Aegina, it turns out, is famous for its pistachios. We discovered this when, on our way back to our dinghy, we bumped into a small wooden booth that sold pistachios. The extremely enthusiastic woman who was in the booth offered us some pistachios to try. They were really good, and we said so.

Without missing a beat, she then held out a tiny spoon to each of us, loaded with a dollop of tan paste:

"Try some pistachio butter," (we did),

then another loaded spoon: "try some pistachio cream" (we did),
then a small plastic cup: "try some pistachio liquor" (we did),

then a napkin with a small bit of something nutty "try some pistachio roll" (we did).

We stopped sampling after that, content to leave with a kilogram of roasted pistachios and a couple of pistachio rolls. I don't know what was different about those pistachios, but they were the best we'd ever had.

During the night, waves began to roll into our anchorage from the northwest. At first small and polite, they became larger and more noticeable as time went on, so that by morning, they were truly annoying. At first we thought they were ferry wakes, but we soon realized that they continued even after the ferries were tucked into port. The wind was calm, and Awildian was turned beam-on to these suckers. Being a catamaran, he wasn't rolling with the nausea-inducing, metronomic gusto of the monohull who was anchored nearby, but it was still unpleasant enough that we decided to move on after breakfast.

Portes Cove
Since the waves were coming from the northwest, we scooted around the southern end of Aegina, and about halfway up the eastern side, until we came to a pretty little indentation in the shoreline called Portes Cove. We enjoyed one sunny afternoon, and a clear, starry night here, the only boat in the place.


Photo from EcoTourismGreece.com

Since we still had a few days before Kelly and Daniel came, and we preferred not to hang out in the Aegina anchorage, we decided to move closer to Athens, and find a good place to meet them.

Voula Beach
The Voula Beach anchorage looked promising. On the west coast of the Attic Peninsula, in the outskirts of the Athenian suburbs, it provided good protection from the forecast wind, and might be a good place to stage for Kelly and Daniel's arrival. The busy shipping lanes running north and south between Aegina and the peninsula provided us some focus, as we navigated west to east across them, carefully avoiding the steel behemoths. Arriving at Voula, we found a big sand patch among the fields of weeds, and buried Obama in it. Again, we were the only boat.


Photo by Greeka.com

It was time to do some reconnaissance. On shore were several sandy beaches, bristling with beach umbrellas, and packed with people. This was just down the road from Athens, after all. It looked like this particular beach area had seen better days, as several of the buildings sported graffiti, and some were boarded up. Some of the beachgoers were walking along the beach and disappearing up a path toward the main road. There didn't seem to be any good places to park and lock a dinghy along there, so we took our dinghy and scouted further south along the shore. Here, we found some large culverts with criss-crossed rebar blocking their seaward openings, and a set of stairs going up to a parking lot. It was sketchy, but it would do for now.

We locked our dinghy to one of the rebar gates, walked down the beach, and up the stairs to the road. Kelly and Daniel could take a taxi to here from the airport, if we decided to meet them here. Across the street, we could see a small grocery store. We crossed the road, bought some items, and returned to our dinghy...which was now getting doused with waves from the afternoon sea breeze. Ugh. We unlocked the dinghy, turned it around, climbed in, and pushed it out away from the rocky shore.

Even though Voula Beach was convenient to the Athens Airport, it really wasn't going to work as a place to pick up Kelly and Daniel. Maneuvering their luggage down the stairs, across the beach, to the skanky drainage pipes, was far less than ideal. Also, since we were hoping to get Kelly and Daniel to the island of Kythnos during the three days they'd be with us, we wanted to find a starting place that was closer to the Cyclades.

Sounion
And we found one. At the very southern tip of the Attica Peninsula, presided over by the Temple of Poseidon from high on a bluff, was a big, lovely anchorage called Sounion.



We anchored Awildian on the western side of the bay, away from the bluff, and the glut of charter boats that for some reason preferred to anchor on that side. We dinghied to shore, and enjoyed lunch at one of the two small seafood restaurants there. This would be a great spot to pick up Kelly and Daniel!

Two days later, Kelly and Daniel's taxi pulled up to the restaurant. After hugs all around, we helped them bring their luggage down to our dinghy, which zipped us back to Awildian, beginning three fabulous days together.





Vessel Name: Awildian, previously SCOOTS (2012-2021)
Vessel Make/Model: Leopard 48
Hailing Port: San Francisco, CA
Crew: Eric and Vandy Shrader
About: We've been living aboard full time since September 2014. We sailed our Able Apogee 50, SCOOTS, from 2012-2021, and are now aboard our Leopard 48, Awildian, since March 2022.
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