Our first Meltemi
31 May 2018 | Kalandhon, Naxos - 7,006 NM
We really enjoyed Naxos. From our anchorage we could see the old town, castle and temple to Apollo. On shore the old town was very interesting and beautiful. It turned out to be 2 old towns - one inside the Venetian castle walls and the other one Greek and sprawling over the hill below. It was really atmospheric and we spent ages lost in the maze of alleyways. Just around the bay was a lovely beach completely sheltered from the wind - heaven for a few hours. Desperately in need of a hair cut we ventured further afield to the ordinary side of town where we had hair cuts and found a proper supermarket. We thought we should explore the bay around the headland in case it offered more shelter than our anchorage which meant a bus ride. Very conveniently, all buses went from the end of the ferry quay which was right next to us. While waiting we ventured out to the unfinished Apollo's temple on an island joined to town by a breakwater. Very photogenic but very, very windy and wet as we crossed! The bus took us around to Agios Anna which has a beautiful, long sandy beach lined with apartments and tavernas. It was a bit more sheltered but wouldn't have been a comfortable anchorage but we had a very pleasant couple of hours on the beach.
We stayed in the anchorage for 4 nights but we'd had enough! The noise of the wind in the rigging, the joggling around, the occasional swell from the ferries gets to you after a while. Plus the soaking going ashore in the dinghy. We'd get there drag the dinghy on to the beach and then join the smart tourists in town looking like drowned rats! We'd visited the marina a few times but it was always full as most boats were hiding from the wind. Paul rang before we set off on the day's adventures and we were told, yes, they had a place for us and so up came the anchor and off we went. As we entered in 30knt winds we were told to go back out and wait as he was busy undoing rafted boats. We circled in the wind and waves avoiding 2 ferries for 20 minutes or so and when we eventually got inside he didn't really have space for us and wanted us to raft in a very dodgy place against a boat much smaller than us using our anchor to keep us there. We left but a few minutes later the harbour master was chasing us in his rib very concerned - very bizarre!
Anyway, having got that far we decided to move on. We were planning on exploring more of the island but thought we could probably do it from somewhere else. Unfortunately we weren't really prepared for sea and as we left in 30knt winds and 2m waves. Paul was trying to run around the boat catching everything flying around, stowing it away and closing hatches while I was battling the waves and getting soaked! We hoped that once we got out into the channel between Naxos and
Paros and turned south and downwind things would be easier and it was. We still had the big winds but the waves were now only 1.5m but going downwind we were no longer getting soaked and Freya was happy. We had a lively sail to Kalandhon. The bay was beautiful but any hopes of exploring the island from there disappeared as there was next to nothing there - a ramshackle house on one side that turned out to be a taverna, a modern taverna on the other and a small fishing harbour in the corner. We loved it straight away. Dropping the anchor between 2 other yachts we were happy but a bit later it became very uncomfortable and we decided we'd have to move. Our choices were a small island 5 miles away or the fishing harbour which we assumed was full of fishing boats but we had seen 2 yachts go in - must be full now. We pulled up the anchor and put our nose inside and it wasn't full. The harbour master, Vassilis helped us moor alongside and it was lovely - not very sheltered from the wind but the sea was flat. Vassilis was very helpful and friendly. He didn't speak much English but chatted away with Paul, stayed for a beer and sold us some of his scrummy home made cheese before leaving to milk his goats. It was heaven and we went for a lovely evening walk around the bay finding terrapins in the marsh and listening to the music of hundreds of goats bells!
The following day we went for a lovely walk around the coast dismantling goat defences and putting them back as we went. It was beautiful with the turquoise clear sea, the little white church on the point and a little beach just for us. On our way back we popped into the more modern taverna for a drink. It was so lovely sitting there sheltered from the wind with views over the bay that we stayed for dinner.
We were clearly going to be stuck there for a few days as there didn't seem to be any end to the Meltemi and we were running low on essentials. We looked into getting a taxi to a town but as the road was so bad through the mountains it would cost 70€ each way. Vassilis said he would do it for 60€ both ways, which Paul negotiated down to €50. Then our French neighbours joined us and shared the now slightly higher cost. Vassilis took us to Fitoli which didn't look very inspiring on first impressions but was a lovely little Greek town nestling under mount Zeus, the highest point on the island - a bit chilly in fact. We spent a pleasant hour wandering around the steep narrow streets before walking a few kilometres to Halki which used to be the ancient capital of the island. The walk was beautiful through olive groves with several very old churches hidden on the way. Halki wasn't so nice, definitely on the tourist trail and very expensive with crowded tavernas serving uninspiring food. We found a backstreet bar for lunch before continuing to walk the mountain paths and returning to the supermarket where Vassilis picked us up. A very nice day, a very scenic drive and we did get to see more of the island.
On the way to Kalandhon from Naxos town we passed a milestone. We have done just over 7,000 nautical miles since we left Portishead in June 2013. That's just under one third the way around the world (21,639 NM).
The Meltemi is still blowing and so it looks as if we'll be here for a few more days..........