26 June 2018 | Ikaria - 7,236 NM
Warm but unsettled
After a pleasant but uneventful evening in Karlovassi, we set off for Chios early the next morning. The sea was a bit rough but we had a good sail most of the way, the highlight being a huge pod of dolphins that came to play. They stayed with us for ages spinning and jumping and seemed to be having a great time - as were we. We sailed straight towards Gia and George's villa so that they could see us coming and then turned to do the last couple of miles to the little fishing harbour of Agia Ermioni. Mooring was definitely interesting as it was clearly designed for small fishing boats. It was too shallow further in and had rocks along a long wall which would of been perfect. With the help of Captain Yannis, George's friend, we eventually settled on a spot just inside the wall stern-to but the anchor wouldn't hold and so we pulled her round side to leaving the anchor out but when we pulled it in a bit it suddenly bit very hard. We thought we had probably picked up a mooring chain which was going to make leaving interesting! Anyway, we were in, phew and George took us up to their fabulous villa in Agia Fotini.
George and Gia have a routine where each morning they go for a walk in the hills followed by the beach and a swim and coffee in the local bar, Splash. We were very happy to join in and felt like one of the locals by the time we left. A few days we went exploring further afield and missed the morning swim. The first outing took us to the south west of the island starting with coffee and pastries in a local bakery where we got stuck in a huge thunder storm causing the roads to turn into rivers - spectacular. The storms hampered us further as the windscreen wiper in the hire car kept falling off! Next we visited the fortified towns of Pyrgi and Mesta. Pyrgi had beautiful buildings decorated with geometric patterns in black and white created by scratching off the surface of the render and an old Byzantine church. Mesta was full of narrow streets inside city walls with narrow gates meaning it was traffic free and so very peaceful. At the Mastica museum we learnt that the fortified towns were necessary because of the Mastica which is a gum made from the sap of trees that only grow on Chios and is so valuable that wars have been fought over it. The afternoon was completed with a swim in a beautiful sandy bay, a visit to Mavra Volia beach with its black volcanic pebbles and a late fish lunch in a lovely seaside taverna.
Another trip started with a stunning drive into the mountains which dominate the island to Nea Moni monastery which has a very chequered history having been burnt to the ground twice. The church was being restored but we could still see the remains of frescos hundreds of years old and a relic which miraculously survived the fires. In one room was a glass case full of skulls and other human bones from the hundreds of people slaughtered by the Turks in 1822 - gruesome! We then went to Avgonimia, a very pretty village in the mountains with narrow streets and stunning views - and of course a taverna offering a very nice brunch and big bags of locally picked oregano for 3 euros. Another lovely beach joining an island to Chios finished the day out.
Our final outing was to Langada further north which is a pretty fishing village in a beautiful bay where we had yet another delicious fish dinner.
In between all of this we enjoyed relaxing around the pool and taking in the stunning views of the Aegean from the terrace as well as some delicious meals at home and in tavernas selected by our hosts and all great. All in all we were totally spoilt and had a fantastic time.
After a week we could see the weather changing and so we thought we should move on while we had a northerly wind to blow us back south (and before we outstayed our welcome) and so after saying goodbye one afternoon we were dropped back at Freya. What to do about the potentially stuck anchor had been an ongoing topic of conversation and so we thought we should investigate before leaving in the morning. I went snorkelling and thought I could see it in the rocks but it was very murky and so Paul tried to pull it from the dinghy but all he managed to pull was his back! George and Gia came for drinks in the evening followed by dinner in yet another lovely taverna but Paul's back got worse. In the morning we thought it wiser to stay put and so just when they thought they'd got rid of us George came to collect us and we spent another lovely day relaxing in their home. Early in the morning we were dropped back on Freya and put in place the plan we'd hatched to raise the anchor but it was all unnecessary as it came straight up! We had a lovely, but uncomfortable, for Paul's back, downwind sail (with engine to charge the batteries) to Ikaria where we moored in a new (unfinished) marina which despite having had a fortune spent on it, is still to be adopted yet and so is free!