2020 By the Numbers
09 November 2020 | Severn Beach, Bristol - 8,735 NM
Lorraine Chapman | Sunny Spells and warm(ish)
Ninth year of cruising completed, this season was a lot shorter than normal because of Covid-19. This year's numbers are:
Nautical miles travelled: 292 (Total of 8,735 since leaving home)
Number of ports of call: 24
Total time at sea: 2 days 5 hours
Longest single passage: 46 NM (8 hours 30 minutes)
Average passage length: 12.2 NM
By clicking on the link below you can load an interactive map to see our route and explore the places we stopped at.
Click here for the interactive map
The Earth Moved!
08 November 2020 | Samos Marina, Pythagorio - 8,735 NM
Lorraine Chapman | Windy, Chilly and Usually Sunny
And then to Samos marina and the end of another sailing year. The marina is modern and well maintained but was clearly built to be more than just a marina. There are lots of shops but all empty as well as apartments and a pool. It gives it a feeling of desolation even though it’s all clean and tidy particularly as it’s a 20 minute walk into town along a dusty coastal track. The feeling of desolation got stronger as we realised there are no staff around! We’d been told this before but when we asked the question we were told there were always 3 people on site but in the 2 weeks we were there the girl who runs it only came in once, the marinaro came in a few times to meet arriving boats but the cleaner did at least come in daily. Security was non existent! That said, it does feel like a safe place to leave the boat, and friends who are staying in Samos over the winter will be keeping an eye on her. On our first full day there we walked into Pythagorio and had a long Sunday lunch - very nice but we booked a hire car for the rest of our stay.
We then had a lovely time exploring the rest of Samos even though it was largely closed as it was clearly winter with temperatures of about 25 degrees! First stop was around the bay to the small town of Ireon where we’d tried to anchor a few days earlier to visit the ruins. The temple of Hydra was a more impressive pile of stones than we expected and very interesting. We spent a day in Vathi, the islands capital but didn’t enjoy it very much as it was very crowded - not good in a global pandemic! We also drove around the east coast to some beautiful small bays including Posedonion and Psilli Ammos both very peaceful as the few tavernas etc were mostly closed.
We had several trips to Karlovassi which is a lovely drive. Paul was convinced we were sinking as we found salty water in the bilges! After lots of investigation we discovered the holding tank was leaking and clearly had been for some time! Amazingly, it wasn’t smelly but still disgusting particularly as Paul had been putting his finger in it and tasting it to establish whether it was fresh or salty! The harbour master in Pythagorio, Anthony, suggested someone who could help in Karlovassi and so after a phone call we went to drop it off and were told it could be repaired. A few years ago we’d tried to visit water falls close by but didn’t find them. We tried again but this time realised we had to swim to them! It was a lovely walk through woods with autumn leaves and a stream though. A couple of days later we returned for the tank but it wasn’t finished. He said he’d do it immediately and so we went for lunch. On returning he’d discovered it was completely rotten and we’d need a new one - which is what we asked him to do in the first place!
We drove back through the mountains which was stunning and stopped at Platanos, a pretty, traditional mountain village with more stunning views. We kept going and found more increasingly unkempt mountain roads where we needed to get out and move fallen rocks. Continuing we went through another village where everyone was out in the street - was there going to be a fiesta? Just outside we found ourselves doing a slalom between more fallen rocks and then another village with everyone on the streets - clearly something was happening! And then the phone started making noises we didn’t recognise - we’d received an emergency message. There had been a major earthquake and we should stay in open spaces. That explained it but while driving we had completely missed a magnitude 7 earthquake! On returning to the marina we felt several big aftershocks where all the boats shook in the water and the rigging rattled - we were actually glad we hadn’t missed it all! Very strangely the water in the marina was rising and falling alarmingly a few feet every 10 minutes or so. This continued for a few days as did the aftershocks, gradually reducing. We later discovered the north coast, where we’d been earlier, was badly damaged with a mini tsunami flooding Vathi and Karlovassi. On driving around we could see that most of the damage was to derelict, abandoned, old buildings which were almost collapsing on their own but not exclusively and we passed a number of badly damaged buildings and closed roads.
We needed to file our boat papers with the port police before leaving to avoid paying cruising tax while we were away. We tried one morning but were told to come back on Monday. Monday was after the earthquake and so when we returned we were greeted by a very rude port policeman who told us we weren’t allowed in the building because of earthquake damage and would have to use an agent. This despite the fact he was still working in said building, we’d just had coffee next door in an attached building and the agent was also next door! The agent was closed! We eventually managed to phone him and arranged to meet him in his apparently not earthquake damaged building the next day. We’d assumed this was now going to cost a fortune but he was actually very helpful although he didn’t really understand why we were using him and only charged 20€!
The pandemic was clearly getting worse all over Europe and the UK had announced another lockdown! Did we really want to go home?! But one morning while sitting in bed planning our day over a cup of tea Paul read in a Greek newspaper that the PM was going to announce a Greek lockdown at noon that day. We didn’t know what travel restrictions there would be or when it would start but we could see flights filling fast and thought that if we wanted to be sure of going home it had to be before our scheduled flights 4 days away. We changed them for the next day and suddenly became very busy! First we had to drive back to Karlovassi to collect the new tank. We drove half way there before discovering the road was closed due to earthquake damage. We had to return almost to the marina and try again over the slower mountain road where we collected a nice new, very shiny stainless steel tank for just 100€ - bargain! The rest of the day was filled with putting Freya to bed. We thankfully had already taken the sails off but there was still plenty more to tick off on our spreadsheet! The next morning, after completing the final lay-up jobs we were on our way to the airport!
26 October 2020 | Samos Marina, Pythagorio - 8,735 NM
Lorraine Chapman | Changeable
Although we were very close to the end of our sailing adventures this year we weren't ready to stop yet. The winds still wouldn't allow us to visit Agonothinisia and so we decided on a circumnavigation of Samos. We motored around the east of the island in zero wind where Greece and Turkey are only 1 mile apart. Fantastic scenery and a big turtle popped up to say hello on the way. We anchored in a bay (Asprochori) on the north coast which looked very sheltered as there was no wind and the forecast only had southerlies. As we entered it started blowing about 20 knots! We dropped the anchor as it was a beautiful place to stop - but it kept howling from the steep hills surrounding us. In the end we got fed up with the constant wind and headed for our next stop - Vathi, the capital of Samos. The wind disappeared as we left the bay. Vathi is a huge harbour and is renowned for not being sheltered but it was so calm when we went in and tied up it felt perfect. We were right in town and the people watching was great as we had dinner on the boat. During the night the southerly wind picked up a bit, not much, but created a chop across the harbour from the hills. It became really noisy on the wall and rocky! All we wanted to do was leave by morning - exploring would have to wait for another time! A visit to the supermarket and we were off again. Our circumnavigation was looking as if it would be very quick!
Next stop Karlovassi. We stopped here on our way north 2 years ago and weren't very impressed as it appeared to be just a ferry port and a line of tavernas. We thought it deserved another look and it is reported to be sheltered in all conditions! It was very calm - phew, third time lucky! We were helped on arrival by a taverna owner. As usual, he caused more hassle than help but he tried, bless him! We ate in his taverna that night which was lovely. The next day we discovered there was much more to Karlovassi than we thought. We climbed to the old town above the harbour which was lovely and had great views over the new towns and coast below. The old town was still very lived in and not touristyfied at all making it very interesting - not even a coffee shop open on a Sunday. We walked back to the harbour for coffee and then along the coast to the cities we'd seen from above. First was Mezio Karlovassi which had a huge church but seemed mostly residential and so we kept going to Neo Karlovassi which turned out to be a very nice town and is home to part of the University of the Aegean. The centre was really lively even on a Sunday and full of bars and cafes where we had lunch. Shops looked interesting too but not on a Sunday. It turned out to be a very long walk and we were exhausted when we got back up to the boat.
This is now turning into a familiar story - the wind turned north over night which was forecast but allegedly this should have been fine in the harbour. It wasn't and again we were rocking around and had the noise of the chop on the wall as well. Paul spoke to a local fisherman who offered us one of his lazy lines which was very nice of him but we thought it would still be very uncomfortable and so we set off again - back to the south of the island. It was a passage of several parts. We left in rough seas and little wind making it an uncomfortable few miles to the west of the island. Dolphins came to play for a while and the scenery was amazing - mountainous and green - which helped. When we turned the corner we had a lovely downwind sail for a few miles south and then turning the corner to go west again the wind disappeared and we motored in a flat sea. We passed a pretty bay (Limonias) that looked very calm and so we dropped the anchor for a late breakfast and stayed the night....
A couple of years ago we visited Marathakambos, a small, pretty, sleepy fishing village where they were working on improvements to the harbour for visiting yachts. There was room for us in a sheltered spot and so we moored side to and we went into the village for a very nice lunch in a harbour side taverna. Marathakambos town is actually 250 metres up in the hills from the harbour and so we took a taxi. It was much bigger than we thought from below and we spent some time wandering it's narrow, windy streets. It wasn't at all set up for visitors but was charming and pretty in a lived in way. The views were a little disappointing as we were a bit too far above the coast and a bit hazy but quite impressive nonetheless. We were planning on walking down but needed to find a route off of the 'main' road. Leaving the village was easy as we just headed down but then it wasn't clear which path would actually go somewhere or just to a remote cottage! We had to pick one and so off we went. It was quite clearly not quite going in the right direction very soon as we walked along the mountain rather than down but it was such a lovely walk through olive groves and with stunning views that we decided it didn't really matter where we came out! We gradually descended but were still going the wrong way and so decided a little detour through an olive grove to take us nearer the coast would help. We were a bit worried as we got closer to a house and could hear voices but didn't see anyone and didn't even have to climb over a wall to get out! We were now in a beach resort which was mostly closed but we found a bakery open for lunch and then had to walk about 2 miles along the coast back to Marathakambos. A bit longer than planned but a lovely walk.
We decided to stay another day and so walked along the coast in the other direction. There was a rough road going along the pebble beach for a while but eventually disappeared. We headed inland and were excited to find some ruins. It was the remains of a line of arches in a field - we have no idea what it was or how old but interesting to surmise. We then found ourselves on the beach and walked as far as we could until we reached cliffs. It was then a steep, winding climb up a rough road for great views and to the main road back to town. Another lovely walk and a swim on the way back.
We thought we had a couple of options to stop on the way back to Pythagorio as we tried to delay our arrival in the marina. The first was a bay on a small island of Samiopoula, but we found it way too deep to anchor for anything other than a lunch stop and the swell made it uncomfortable, so we kept going. Next was off of Iraion which has the ruins of a temple but it was too shallow for us to get behind the breakwater and out of the swell and so we ended up anchored outside Pythagorio. It was lovely but not quite how we wanted our last day of sailing to be.
20 October 2020 | Marathakampos - 20th October 2020 - 8,715NM
Lorraine Chapman | Changeable
We decided on another day in Lipsoi and planned to walk the length of the island. This may sound a long way and indeed did to us when planning it! We took a taxi to Porto Mosxato on the north coast. It was a very pretty bay with lots of colourful fishing boats. The first stage was a steep uphill walk and down the other side to the stunning bay of Platis Gialos with its turquoise clear sea. Perfect stop for a swim - but not lunch as we'd thought, as we were immediately approached by a flock of quacking ducks demanding lunch with menaces and followed by 2 goats with the same objective and weren't above helping themselves with their heads in our bag. Once dry we thought it sensible to find another picnic spot which we did a short way along the coast. We followed the coast road then headed inland to cross the island up another steep climb with stunning all round views and then down the other side to follow the coast road back into town. It was a lovely walk but it was still only 2.30 pm, what we really hadn't considered was quite how small the island was and we'd only walked about 4 miles!
Time to move on. In the morning we stocked up in the supermarket, went out for a very nice breakfast and then left for the 8 mile journey to Marathi. It was a fantastic sail although mostly in the wrong direction but given it wasn't far we didn't mind a few tacks. Freya managed about 7.5 knots with toe rails in the water - great fun. The island of Marathi is really tiny with just a taverna, a few holiday homes and a lot of goats. We picked up a buoy belonging to the restaurant which they laid on the understanding if you use them you eat there. It was still a bit windy when we went ashore making the paddle interesting. We told the restaurant we would eat after going for a walk - they looked at us as if we were going mad - where? They asked! But we climbed the hill to the little church at the top and found it surrounded by an old stone deserted village which included a old cistern which was now a goat shelter with an impressive vaulted ceiling. There were spectacular views in all directions but there wasn't far to go and we were back in the restaurant in half an hour. The rest of the evening was spent lying on the boat star gazing and spotting shooting stars. Perfect!
An even shorter 1 mile journey in the morning to the slightly bigger island of Arki. We were intending to go on the quay but as we approached it looked quite crowded and so headed to the next bay and picked up another restaurant buoy. Guess where we were eating that night! The water was so clear the first job was definitely a swim. We walked over to the tiny but pretty village and out the other side where we disappointingly found the island rubbish dump. The recycling was in a fenced off area but the rest of the rubbish was simply dumped over the cliff including its plastic sacks! Very nice dinner in the taverna by Freya and a very still and peaceful night.
We were hoping to visit Agothonisi next but the forecast was suggesting strong winds and so we headed to Pythagoria on Samos where we thought we'd get most shelter. We had a great sail there and it was very peaceful when we arrived and thanks to the covid regulations the bars had to shut earlier than usual and so it stayed that way. Anthony, the harbour master said there was going to be gale force 9 in the area and so to put extra lines on and pull ourselves off the quay! During the night the slop in the harbour picked up making lots of splashing noises under our beds and so not a lot of sleep was had! In the morning the wind picked up as did the slop in the harbour and so we followed Anthony's advice adding extra lines and pulling ourselves another metre off the quay. We now couldn't get off the boat even if we wanted to! The wind and rain didn't reach forecast levels but the GF 9 probably happened somewhere close by as the waves were huge breaking over the harbour wall and the swell inside bounced us around all day. It wasn't too unpleasant onboard though as we passed the day reading, watching films and playing games with occasional rounds of the deck to make sure all was ok. The tourists walking around the harbour looked at all the boaties as if we'd gone mad! Why would we do this? By the evening it had calmed down a bit although we were still rocking and rolling but we were able to have dinner outside. That night was still a bit rolly but by morning it was calmer and we were able to pull ourselves close enough to the quay to go ashore. Terra firma felt very good! We spent the morning exploring the shops and enjoying the pretty and historic town and later we walked around to the marina where Freya would be spending the winter which all looked very good.
When we left on our walk in the morning we thought we were visiting the castle we'd visited before, which we did, and again, it was interesting. But on walking around the other side we could see more ruins behind the beach below us. This turned out to be ancient Thermi. We couldn't go in but could see lots of piles of stones through the fence and more outside the fences as we approached the beach. On walking back to town we also passed the ancient agora. There was very little left but we realised the ancient city must have been huge when you add together the theatre (which we haven't seen yet) near the marina on the other side of town, the ruins around the museum in town and the additions today. A very interesting walk. We finished the day with a dinner in a harbour side taverna which was very nice.
Taking it Easy
09 October 2020 | Limnos - 8,620 NM
Lorraine Chapman | Warm and Drizzling
We enjoyed our anchorage in Meloyi so much we stayed another night. A very lazy day on board going ashore for a walk around the bay and surrounding hills in the afternoon and another fantastic full moon later. The following morning, after a long early morning swim, we moved around the corner to Skala Patmos and moored stern-to on the quay - 2nd attempt as the anchor didn't dig in first time. We love Patmos. It's very touristy but definitely one of the most beautiful Greek islands and so well looked after and clean - they even have recycling in the correct bins!
We took a taxi up to the Chora and spent most of the day just wandering, starting with coffee and possibly the best view in Greece. We didn't go in the monastery this time but walked through the narrow streets enjoying views around every corner and the wonderful colours of bougainvillea. I think most of the houses are now holiday homes and so it isn't 'real' but, again, it's so pretty, well kept and clean. Finally, we wound our way down the rough cobbled paths to town. That evening we enjoyed a lovely meal in a 'proper' restaurant ie not a taverna, delicious but not cheap.
The island is tiny but we felt we weren't doing it justice staying in Skala Patmos and so we hired a car for the day. Within an hour we were at the end of the island! There was spectacular scenery everywhere and we found beautiful coves for a swim (not Paul, obviously!), had lunch in a small taverna, found a huge rock on the beach where we climbed, literally, to a hermits cave and visited the supermarket to stock up.
We had one final day on Patmos to relax before moving on - it didn't quite turn out like that! We'd read that Patmos had an acropolis and although there wasn't very much remaining given our like of piles of old stones it had to be worth a visit. We weren't very sure where it was other than it had to be up a hill. After walking up a hill in town we were pleasantly surprised to find a sign pointing up. We soon ran out of town but the path, although rough, was ok. It got a bit more obscure as we climbed but we felt we were going in the right direction until we noticed old walls above us and no obvious way up. We weren't going to be deterred and so clambered/climbed until we were on top and a little concerned how we would get down again! There really wasn't much left apart from a few walls that must've been part of the base but it was interesting and the views amazing. Needless to say there was a small church up there, beautifully maintained, but the path to it seemed to go off for miles in the wrong direction. There had to be another way down - without ropes! After walking around the top we could see a path way below us and had to result to clambering down, partly on our bottoms. On safely reaching the bottom none the worse for wear apart from scratched legs we headed for the beach for a cooling swim before a much deserved ice-cream and then a glass of wine.
Lipsoi next. We headed for the beautiful bay of Katsadia (aka Kouloura). The sea was an amazing blue and so still and peaceful. There were quite a few boats anchored but there's plenty of room and so all was fine except that it was so quiet and peaceful that we could hear every noise from the other boats as it travelled over water - very annoying! In the morning we headed around the corner to Lipsoi town and the quay where we moored stern to. We've been before, a bit later in October and it's been really empty but not now! The boats poured in until the quay was full. We weren't expecting this!
After that first night, most of the boats left so it's now more like we remembered it, which is just as well. We are having a few peaceful days here, taking some gentle strolls and long coffees as Lorraine's back has decided to play up a little. Tonight the plan is to head into the village to one of our favourite restaurants in the Aegean, called "Manoli's Tastes", but if the drizzle continues we might delay that until tomorrow.
What’s in a Plan
30 September 2020 | Patmos - 8,602 NM
Lorraine Chapman | Windy, sunny, comfortable
Evdhilos is a fishing village on the north coast of Ikaria. It has a huge harbour wall for such a small place, almost hiding it from the sea, to stop the meltemi but it was very calm while we were there. We stayed 2 nights and really enjoyed exploring the steep village streets and views as well as the tavernas around the quay. We had a bit of an adventure in the dinghy. Firstly, the beach we thought we'd paddle to was much further than it looked and secondly the wind blew up just after we left blowing us back making it very hard work! But we got there had a swim and at least the wind would be the right way to help going back....... while relaxing on the beach it suddenly became cloudy and then windy. We thought it was time to head back and, of course, the wind changed direction making the return journey even harder - I even have a blister to prove it!
There were some strong southerly winds forecast and so we needed to find somewhere with more shelter. We went to Agios Kirikos, Ikaria's capital on the south coast which has an unadopted marina which is, although south facing very sheltered. We usually moan about motoring but on this occasion the journey around the island was spectacular. The sea was glassy still and the coastline like something from The Lost World - so steep and rugged with deep gorges down to the sea. Lovely. We've been to the marina before and so knew what to expect. Except it wasn't, there was a huge, 40m, super yacht in the corner using lots of the spaces so that it was almost full. It also blocked any air behind the sea wall making it stiflingly hot and uncomfortable. A French boat followed us in and as we'd taken the last place struggled to find a spot and then complained very loudly about the way other boats were moored. Plus a guy came around asking for money for the sailing school, as the marina was free perhaps we could pay him! We had no idea whether he was genuine. All in all it didn't have the same feel but a wander around town and a visit to a taverna until the sun went down and the marina was cooler made us feel better.
The winds were a little late arriving and weren't too much of a problem but the huge sea that came with them was impressive. We'd read that there were hot springs on a beach 2 km west of Kirikos and so after a visit to the supermarket and coffee we went to find them. The 2 km was more like 2 miles but it was a lovely walk along the coast road and we eventually found a small blue and white sign pointing down to a rocky beach. We found an area in the rocks that had orange deposits and was a little damp but no heat - very disappointing! We walked back and found a beautiful beach with comfy rocks where we sat for ages watching the waves crash on the rocks. We had to move a few times as the sea nearly caught us until we thought we should get back and check on Freya. She was fine, just a little rocky in the marina but as the evening progressed the waves were started splashing over the 5m wall we were hiding behind. The noise of them crashing on the rocks behind the wall was a bit scary. By morning the wind had died down but the sea still looked somewhat uncomfortable!
Kirikos has a proper launderette! Amazing the things that excite live-aboard yachties. We washed all the blankets and cushion overs, very satisfying, if a bit sad! We've walked east along the coast to Thermi before and it's a stunning walk and so we did it again. Thermi is a bit strange with it's various hot spring bath houses and huge derelict spa hotel but also quaint and has a sandy beach where you can swim in and out of hot water. A glass of wine in our favourite bar (with a view, of course!) and a souvlaki dinner completed our stay.
In the morning we had a gentle sail the 9 miles to Nisos Thimainia. A tiny island with a real Greek fishing village. It was so peaceful - apart from the shouting! No one seems to need a mobile here as they just shout from one end of the village to the other! Very strange. We went ashore in the afternoon and walked through the village. Not the prettiest and not designed for tourists but nevertheless interesting. Walking up to the road we climbed hundreds of steep exhausting steps and then walked to a church on the end of the island for spectacular views of this and the neighbouring island of Fournoi plus Ikaria and Patmos in the distance even though it was a grey day. We felt we'd earned our ice-cream in the small bar on our way back. A lovely peaceful evening onboard, apart from the shouting, and a peaceful night.
Next stop Fournoi just 2 or 3 miles away depending which anchorage we chose. Fournoi town itself didn't look good with very little space on the quay, poor holding and very deep. The wind was forecast to change direction overnight eliminating the next closest anchorage. We headed for the next option 3 miles away - a lovely motor through the islands. But when we arrived we realised it was too deep to anchor anywhere that would provide the necessary shelter. The next bay looked possible and so we tucked into the corner. We wanted to visit Fournoi town but this was now quite a distance away and, we could see, would be a very steep walk! The dinghy would be the only way and so off we went with our recently repaired 2.5 hp outboard, very slowly, on the 2 mile journey which took 25 minutes (each way) but no problems. The town was smaller than we expected but very pleasant although it didn't take long to explore. We were hoping to fill our petrol can for the long journey back but the petrol station was a mile out of town up the steep hills! We thought maybe a taxi which was just as well as we discovered we would have found the petrol station closed at 1.00 pm if we'd walked! We had a lovely lunch and headed back getting soaked on the way as the seas had picked up and thankfully without running out of petrol!
The swell was working its way into the bay and it looked as if we would have had a rocky night and so we decided to move on to Patmos 20 miles due south. We left the bay with Paul quickly putting a route on the plotter - although we could see the island. Patmos is a group of small islands and rocks and so we needed a plan. Once in the right direction we had a lovely sail arriving just before sunset. It was very windy though and the first few anchorages we looked at looked very uncomfortable until we found Meloyi bay which was flat and sheltered. We had a lovely evening with the almost full moon shining over the sea and Pink Floyd playing in the background. It had been a very strange day with our plans changing all the time!
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