Limnos, windswept and closed
12 May 2019 | Skala Polikintiou - 7,936 NM
Lorraine Chapman | Summer is finally here
We left Mytilini early in the morning heading for a sheltered anchorage in Kolpas Kolloni on the south coast 35 miles away. As we expected, for the first part of our journey, heading south, the wind was on the nose making sailing in the right direction impossible and the sea was lumpy. Progress was slow but once we rounded the corner we should be sailing - or so we thought! The wind dropped and stayed on the nose and the see became more lumpy. Despite his usual seasickness pills Paul began to feel a bit queasy and so we thought we'd go into Kolpas Yeras rather than endure an additional uncomfortable 4/5 hours. The anchorage outside Skala Loutra was perfectly still and so pretty and peaceful, definitely the right decision. Shortly after, we were joined in the anchorage by Margaret and Glen on Cynosure and we had a very pleasant evening catching up.
We decided to do a longer hop to Sigri on the southern corner of Lesvos in the morning so that we would be able to get to Limnos before our weather window disappeared giving way to more high winds and rain. Again, we didn't have the wind to sail but at least it was more comfortable. On route we were both startled by a huge bang, sounding like an explosion and making Freya shake. We were both suddenly alert and checking for damage as we were sure it was onboard and something major had happened, but after a few minutes we realised all was fine - but what was it? I guess we'll never know! After trying out a few possible anchorages in Sigri we settled for a spot just off the beach which seemed the most sheltered and we had a very comfortable night.
The 50 miles to Limnos took all day. We had assistance from the Genoa but had the engine on for the whole trip - not unpleasant but a bit boring until the dolphins came to play as we approached our destination. Limnos didn't look like any other Greek island as we approached, with flat hills rather than mountains and no trees. There was no sign of life anywhere as we entered the gulf which almost cuts the island in two. Even as we approached the harbour of Moudros we couldn't see a town - just a church perched on a hill. It all felt very desolate! The harbour was very shallow making the entry a bit scary but all was fine and we tied up alongside a pier where we found ourselves the only visitors! There were a few tavernas hidden by trees along the harbour and so we enjoyed dinner in one after our long day. In the morning, before the forecast storms arrived we went into 'town'. It was deserted - like a ghost town! We found the big church and searched around, finally finding a few shops - but it was so quiet. During our 6 day stay it grew on us - there was nothing particular of note, just a Greek village but pleasant and friendly with everything we needed (once we got to know it). Later in the afternoon the wind and rain arrived and we hid for a day and a half. During the next afternoon we had 55knt gusts of wind for several hours. Even with extra lines on, we weren't sure we wouldn't be flying across the harbour any minute!
Once it was safe to leave Freya we hired a car and set off to explore the island which turned out to be quite pretty with spring flowers and fantastic views everywhere but few trees which we discovered was probably because of the constant winds! We started in Maryna, the island's capital which was lovely to wander around - once we'd found somewhere to park. It has a spectacular Genoan castle high on promontory offering fantastic views of the town and coast. After exploring we had a lovely lunch by the sea in the sunshine. Our next stop was a church in a cave in the hills. We followed the signs and parked the car to walk with no idea how far it was and as usual took no water! We climbed for about half an hour enjoying amazing views of the island and coast before finding it nestled in a cave. The island also has lots of windmills we discovered- a clue to the winds. Next we headed north and followed dusty roads to the coast where we founds giant sand dunes and beautiful sandy beaches - again, very unusual for a Greek island. As we were driving along this stretch we saw lots of red snakes squashed on the road andantes very cute (and alive) tortoise.
Our second day with the car turned out to be very windy again making walking quite unpleasant. Limnos was the base for the Gallipoli landings of WW1 and there are lots of reminders of the campaign around the island including several cemeteries for the fallen soldiers. Very moving, what a waste! Our goal was to visit several archeological sites but we arrived at the first dating back to 1800 BC to be met by a workman and told it was closed as it was Tuesday, despite the sign on the gate clearly saying open daily! I'm sure it was very interesting! The next was an amphitheater by the sea - also closed despite a sign saying open daily except Monday but it was Tuesday! Luckily we could see it well through the fence and it was impressive. The final one was not surprisingly also closed but at least the sign did say it closed on Tuesdays! Feeling a bit dejected we found a cafe which was open for coffee and would also do lunch after 2.00. After coffee we headed to the northern tip which was so windy we didn't want to get out of the car although it was stunning and so we did the very British thing of enjoying the views without getting out! We did find one interesting piece of social history. Looking for windmills in a village we passed several areas marked as open air museums which appeared be pillar bases. After further investigation we found out each pillar base covered a pit which was for wine. Firstly to hold grapes, then to tread them and then the wine. We'd never seen anything like it before. After going back to the cafe for a very enjoyable souvlaki, we drove to the only sizeable supermarket we'd found on the island before home and returning the car.
A couple of miles from the harbour is an island joined to the mainland by a causeway. Our map told us it was an archeological site. We walked along the coast in the sunshine (yes, the wind had temporarily dropped) to the island which was amazingly green and so pretty with all its spring flowers. Unfortunately the flowers completely covered the island making it impenetrable and so we never discovered the history they covered but we walked around the beach, had a picnic and thoroughly enjoyed the outing!