11 October 2019 | Molyvos, Lesbos - 8,379 NM
Lorraine Chapman | Warm and Sunny
It was time to start heading south and back to Lesvos for the winter. We left Porto Lagos having really enjoyed our few days, there even though it felt as we left as soon as we’d arrived. 37 miles away was our next stop, Samothraki. A small island made of a large chunk of marble a long way from anywhere else. On our last passage we’d unfurled the Genoa to find a big greasy splodge in the middle surrounding a tear in the sail! Further investigation found the foil (around which the sail furls) had come apart causing the damage. The forecast gave calm winds and relatively flat seas for our journey which worked well as we would only be able to use the main - and the engine. It started well but we soon had a 2 metre swell and over 20 kt winds! It was a really rolly and uncomfortable trip which seemed endless. Although we did have a pod of dolphins come to play in the middle with several babies - always makes you smile! With about 2 hours to go we noticed a loud clonking noise coming from the binnacle where the steering cables are housed which we think was caused by Flossy (autopilot) trying to hold course in the rough sea resulting in some erratic movements on the wheel. We manually steered for the remaining journey and all was fine but we would need to investigate before moving on. We moored side-to, all alone, on the quay in the capital Kamariotissa which, from the boat, looks lovely nestled under the mountain. When Paul did his arrival checks he concluded that we are using lots more diesel than usual - possibly Freya’s dirty bottom and prop or maybe something else to investigate! We think Freya is very unhappy about something........
We toured Samothraki in a battered hire car for 2 days. It’s a very different Greek island. There is only 1 road almost circumnavigating it as the island is mostly a mountain 1,611m high which falls away into the sea. It’s also a very green island - which means a fair amount of rain and lots of streams and waterfalls coming off of the mountain - and across the 1 road. As we drove around there were large sections of the road missing, washed away, with off-road diversions in place. In other places there were small landslides to be avoided, rubble all over the road from gentler hills and fords. We understood why our car was battered and the hire company weren’t interested in it’s bumps! On the first day we went north and started at The Sanctuary of the Great Gods, the ruins of a mystery cult whose initiation rites promised divine protection and the opportunity to become a better person than ever you were before! Just hand over some money and the priests would sort it. The site was fascinating with all the various rooms for different parts of the initiation although a good imagination was necessary. We then headed to the end of the road at the far east of the island where our little map told us there was a beach - lunch we thought. We found a huge rocky beach in a spectacular location but nothing else apart from a few hippies camping - no lunch. Our other discovery was that the island is very sparsely populated as we’d only passed 1 village, Loutra, aka Therma, because of its hot springs. We headed back to find lunch. It was a very pretty village and had the feel of a backpacker destination in South East Asia and it also had a hippy commune adding to a very relaxed atmosphere. Unfortunately it was closed and it took us some time to find a restaurant that was open for lunch but it certainly looked closed with leaves all over the terrace and tatty tables scattered around but we had a very nice lunch on our own. There were signposts around the village for waterfalls and so we went for a very pretty walk but failed miserably! Back in the car we headed back to signs we’d seen earlier but still failed. Back to the village we drove around the very narrow roads again and out of the village until we eventually found, we think, the Ghria Vathra Canyon which was stunningly beautiful like something out of the Lord of the Rings, with huge gnarled and hollow plane trees covered in moss and a stream tumbling over rocks and boulders. We walked up the gorge clambering over rocks to find rock pools - with naked hippies - and waterfalls. Then back again to the village for a dip in the hot springs - more naked hippies - where we arrived just as others were leaving and enjoyed a lovely warm soak while looking over the mountains and sea.
On the 2nd day we started in Chora, the capital of the island with a Byzantine/Genoan castle perched on the top. This was obviously closed, as it was Monday, but we thought we could probably see most of it from outside and could certainly enjoy the views. The village was beautiful spread over the hillside with narrow streets and terracotta roofs. There was very little open apart from a few cafes but we enjoyed exploring before coffee in the cafe that boasted the best views in Chora. Next came the south of the island and again the promise of a beach at the end of the road but this time there were signs for a taverna. The beach was huge, white and sandy - lovely - but the taverna was closed! On the way back we explored a couple of hillside villages in the hope of lunch and eventually found a locals cafe. The lady came out and sat at our table to explain what she had while Paul translated - she gave me a hug when I understood loukanika, Greek sausages! Lunch was fine but the experience was lovely. Our final stop was the huge sand spit sticking out on the west of the island. By then it was very windy but we had a quick walk and found an old radio station which presumably kept the island in touch pre modern communication. The spit was just odd stuck on the end of a mountain sticking out of the sea. We filled up our diesel cans on our way back so that we were ready for the next stage of our journey and returned our car, had a drink by the port and a walk around town before returning to the boat and battened down the hatches as the wind built for the next storm.
The storm grew over night with Paul needing to go out and rescue the Bimini just after midnight luckily before the rain joined in - I slept and didn’t even notice! Later the rain came too and waves started breaking over the wall covering the boat in posidonia grass. By this time it was all very loud and even I was awake! But in the morning it was all still and totally silent with no damage done. Our job for the day was to look at the clonk in the steering. We thought the cables were a little lose and so tightened them and greased everything but all looked fine. After turning the wheel this way and that then doing it much harder we realised the clonk was coming when the wheel reached its limit with a jolt when Flossy was struggling. Hopefully all sorted we went for a walk and a coffee, returned to the boat for lunch and then prepared for our next passage. After much debate we had decided an overnight sail back to Lesbos made most sense.