Endless summer on SCII

17 May 2022
10 May 2022
09 April 2022
29 September 2019
19 September 2019
10 September 2019
06 September 2019
30 August 2019
24 August 2019
17 August 2019
12 August 2019
09 August 2019
06 August 2019
18 July 2019

Astipalaia 13-16 May

17 May 2022
Nerida Matthews | Sunny, 30 degrees, light winds, water temperature 22 degrees
We spent three wonderful days at Astipalaia, in very calm conditions. This island has a reputation of being very windy, so the weather was perfect for our visit. We had two days anchored in the bays of Agrilithi and Maltezana, with crystal clear water and the very musical sounds of goat bells.

Our last day was spent in the harbour of the main town on the island, Skala. Skala is very pretty with white houses covering the hillside. As is typical with many Greek villages the locals live at the top of the hill. Skala has several windmills across the ridge and at the highest point a castle. In ancient times the castle contained within it the houses of the local community, as protection from pirates and invasions from empires such as the Turks. We decided to walk up the hill and see how far we could get. With a few stops for rest breaks on the way we made it all the way up to the top - which was a sense of accomplishment. The locals all get around on scooters but even so with the number of stairs in this town the locals would be very fit.

As the weather at Astipalia is predicted to get very windy on Thursday and Friday, with gusts predicted up to 40 knots we have decided to leave Astipalia for Kalimnos, a sail of 45 nautical miles. We aim to be in the protection of Lakki marina on Leros island by Wednesday, where the wind gusts are predicted to be a maximum of 27 knots.

A day in our adventures

We decided to give you an outline of how we spend our days. This is an overview of Monday 16 May.

5.30 am - the alarm goes off. This is not a typical wake up time but we have a long sail today and want to get the best wind conditions. We breakfast on fruit and yoghurt, toast and coffee before getting the boat ready to depart the harbour. This involves ensuring everything is stowed away and all hatches are closed. The mint and basil plants are stowed in the kitchen sink, so they will not tip over.

6.45 am - the engine is started, we pull in the mooring lines and pull up the anchor - we are on our way. We motored along the south side of the island as there was no breeze at all.

7.15 am - a little bit of breeze has come up as we rounded the south side of the island, so pulled up the main sail and set the genoa. The breeze is fairly light at 5-8 knots, so we motor sail to maintain a reasonable speed of around 7 knots. The conditions are fine and sunny although the breeze made it feel quite cool (as can be seen by the jackets in the video). We keep a constant watch on the chart plotter for other vessels but there were very few boats or ships around in this large stretch of open water. It is very surprising how many long fishing nets we came across marked by buoys. Thankfully they were all quite deep and we were able to sail over them.

10.00 am - morning tea of home-made banana cake (cooked in the boat's oven a few days ago) with iced tea.

10.30 am - the breeze has finally picked up a little and we turn the engine off. We are now sailing in perfect conditions of 10-12 knots of wind, smooth seas and maintaining 7-8 knots of boat speed.

12.00 pm - finally arrived at the bottom on the island of Kalimnos. We had to change course around a large fishing boat (owned by George Georgios according to the Automatic Identification System) which stopped right in front of us to pick-up a fishing net. It was about now that the wind dropped to almost nothing - as predicted. We dropped the sails and motored the last couple of miles between Kalimnos and another island. This is a stunning large fjord-like channel between the islands, lined with several resorts and small holiday accommodation places. With the spectacular scenery, one can understand why they are located here.

12.30 pm - we reach the end of the bay and pulled in the fishing lure that we had towed most of the way without a single bite. We dropped anchor in 12 meters of water, in a lovely protected small bay. The bay is surrounded by huge rocky and steep hills (photographs do not do justice to the magnificent scenery).

1.00 pm - time for lunch and a cold beer and taking in the superb surroundings.

2.00 pm editing video for the blog.

4.00 pm - it is sunny, 30 degrees with no wind - time for a swim. The water temperature was 22 degrees (measured with the trusty meat thermometer). We swam the 150 meters to shore and back.

5.00 pm - we have warm showers, as the use of the motor earlier in the day has given us hot water.

5.30 pm - chilled out with pre-dinner drinks enjoying the serenity.

6.30 pm - we fire up the charcoal BBQ mounted on the side of the boat. Glenn has become a master of cooking on charcoal. Dinner is lamb cutlets (marinated in pomegranate molasses and cumin), a Greek salad and eggplant salad.

8.30 pm - consumed the last of the delicious Turkish delight we purchased in Gocek.

All in all, a very good day.

Chalki to Astipalaia 10 - 13 May

14 May 2022
Nerida Matthews | Fine and sunny, 22 degrees, very light breeze of 6 knots
We had been to the island of Chalki (pronounced “Halki”) in 2017 and it was great to get back there. It is a very pretty village set on a well-protected harbour. The houses are all well maintained and painted in many varied shades of colours. The jetty we expected to moor at no longer exists and there are now only a few spaces available to yachts on the harbour wall. The harbour was made even busier by a fleet of large RIB’s that were transporting a group of doctors from Athens that do a lap around the islands, supporting island communities with limited medical services. The medical personnel all wore t-shirts, with ‘we serve the community’ (interestingly in English rather than in Greek) across their back. The arrival of the 30 to 40 medical staff made Chalki quite busy.

One of the owners of a restaurant on the key helped us tie-up, we had a beautiful meal there of fresh fish cooked over charcoal, with an Greek salad and chips. At the end of the meal we were presented with glasses of clear liquid, which the owner proclaimed as ‘covid medicine’ but tasted somewhat like grappa.
During the day a fishing boat parked next to us, and proceeded to unload numerous tubs of small shrimps, known locally as Symi shrimp. (see gallery)

Just 20 nautical miles from Chalki is the island of Tilos. We had a good sail most of the way in 16 knot winds, just the last couple of miles required us to motor as the wind dropped down. We tied-up on the opposite side of the mole to the ferry jetty, which was a great place for people watching. Tilos is a sleepy town but when the ferry comes in people seem to emerge from the white houses and apartments that line the hillside. It turns out that Tilos had a big event on the weekend, with media and many dignitaries, as Tilos promotes itself as a ‘zero waste’ island. This is good to see, as many Greek islands, including big islands like Rhodes, have not embraced recycling at all.

We ate at a restaurant that overlooks the harbour and the bay, the views were stunning. We had chickpea fritters, bean and tomato salad with pesto and a local speciality called fouki (slow cooked pork in a tomato sauce served over fried potatoes). It sounds a bit odd serving the pork on fried potatoes but it works well in soaking up the juices. At the end of the meal we were brought a complementary dessert of a Greek version of mille feuille, which used filo pastry instead of puff pastry, with crème pâtissier, it was fantastic. The meal including wine only cost 26€.

We had an overnight stop in Palon harbour on Nisiros. This town was very quite and looking just a little run down. Our favourite restaurant run by George from Port Melbourne was not open which was somewhat disappointing – we always used to have a great meal here. Just had to try our luck at one of the other harbourside restaurants. We were their only guests for the night and we suspect all day.

We have always wanted to travel out to the more Western Greek islands and used a forecast of light winds for a week to travel out to the island of Astipalaia, about 38 Miles travel. We hoped for some breeze but it was unusually calm for this area so we motored all the way. We will spend the first night anchored in a lovely protected bay that we have all to ourselves. It is so quiet, with only the sound of lapping water and goat bells. On the edge of the otherwise deserted bay is a tiny, but well-kept church (see gallery). We will explore more of the island over the next few days.

For those of you who have not looked at the map on this blog, we have put markers at all of the locations we have been so far this year. The markers are; Yellow marks are linked to our blog posts, the White ones are places we have been and the Blue one is our current location.

Rhodes and Alimia

10 May 2022
Nerida Matthews | Fine sunny 23.5 degrees, light winds, water temperature 20 degrees
We had a bit of everything for our sail to Rhodes. We left Gocek at 6.30 am with no wind at all, as we left the bay and headed into open sea, we were greeted by 30 knot winds and a large swell. Thankfully after about half an hour the wind calmed down to 20 knots which made for a pleasant and fast sail. About eight nautical miles from Rhodes, we had the motor on again, as the wind dropped and changed direction to directly on the bow.

We had booked into the old town harbour, which is very historic. We contacted our agent just before arrival, who told us to tie up near the three ancient windmills that line the harbour. He was there to tie our lines off and to process our paperwork for entry to Greece. We just had to wait 10 minutes for the port police to check our passports at the boat, then we were free to leave. The use of an agent makes the whole process of checking SCII and us into the country very easy.

The harbour was the site of one of the ancient wonders of the world, the Colossus of Rhodes. This statue stood at the entrance until it was destroyed in an earth quake in 226BC. It was reported as the tallest statue in the ancient world. Entering the old town harbour here seems very special.

Our position in the harbour was great for people watching, as tourists come to see the windmills and where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood. It becomes quite entertaining all the different ways people pose to have their photo with the windmill - leaning on it, hugging it, pointing at it, even hanging off the spokes of the sails.

This time our visit to Rhodes has been for practical reasons rather than as a tourist destination, we have explored the sites of Rhodes on previous visits. Rhodes provides a convenient entry point to Greece, with good provisioning and access to facilities such as laundries for getting towels and sheets washed.

Also we were having our new chart plotter installed on SCII. A chart plotter is the device used for navigation, giving us maps, water depths, speed, and our location etc. Our old one was not working properly and we had been relying on navigation maps on our iPad. Glenn is very excited with his new toy. It gives much more information and the panel is much clearer to read than the previous version. (see image in Gallery)

The harbour is only a 10-minute walk to the walled old town. Each evening we walked into the back streets, away from the main tourist areas, for dinner. We ate at a favourite seafood restaurant that we had dinned at on previous visits to Rhodes - restaurant Nireas. The meal was fantastic, the prawns saganaki were sensational, with potatoes, rocket and pomegranate salad and local house red wine. The owner came to chat with us and on hearing that we were repeat customers, we were offered homemade limoncello.

On our last morning in Rhodes we were woken by church bells, a change from the call to prayer in Turkey. We set sail (or we should say motored as there was no wind) to the island of Alimia. The island is virtually uninhabited, with just one house and out buildings at the end of the bay. There are many deserted buildings that date to the second world war, Italian and German soldiers were stationed here. There is also a tiny church right on the water front. It does not look like it is being used but the altar is adorned with paintings. We have included some photos in the gallery.

We had the whole bay to ourselves, with crystal clear turquoise water. It was so tranquil and picturesque that we decided to stay a couple of days, relaxing, swimming and dealing with a few boat wiring issues...

This morning there was a local fishing boat pulling up nets in the bay, we were wise to anchor away from their buoys in the bay. We were also treated to very large fish jumping out of the water around the boat. They were in the vicinity of 50-60cm in length. We did attempt to use a lure to catch dinner but with no luck. And we thought there were no fish here..... So, it will be steak on the BBQ instead.

Thank you everyone for your comments, it is good to know that you are enjoying the blog.

Last days in Turkey (for a while)

05 May 2022
Nerida Matthews | Sunny, 25 degrees, wind gusting over 25 knots
Just a short update before we leave Turkey.

We have had a couple of days in the area just out of Gocek. It is really busy in all of the anchorages as this is an extended public holiday period here to mark the end of Ramadan.

We spent a night at one of our favourite places tucked into the corner of a small bay - Kucuk Kuyruk. (see drone video). Just us and two catamarans including Let's Dance from Sydney. We had planned a second night there but the wind came up and was blowing into the bay. Late in the afternoon our anchor which had been holding fine started dragging. This rapidly made our stay there untenable so we had to make a quick exit. We had 3 ropes running back to the rocks ashore and were able to retrieve one of them. The other two we had to cast off to make our quick exit. Fortunately our Australian neighbours offered to retrieve our ropes and hold them until the next day. We ended up motoring back to Gocek bay to anchor for the night as at that time of day it was too hard to find another safe place. The next morning, we went back and picked up our lines - a big thank you to Michael and Marita on Let's Dance.

The next morning after collecting our lines, we headed to Wall Bay. The bay is named because of the remains of a high wall on the southern side. This is a stunning location with turquoise water surrounded by high rocky hills. We tied up to the jetty of the restaurant, which is a very popular place. The deal is that the jetty berth is free but you must dine in the restaurant. There is no road into this bay so all food in the restaurant must come by boat. We estimated that there were over 100 people attending the restaurant for dinner, not to mention a constant stream of boats arriving for take-aways. We had a great meal of hummus, calamari, pide and a rocket and cheese salad, washed down with a bottle of wine. Wine can be quite expensive at some of these restaurants, a bottle purchased in the supermarket at Gocek for less than $20A can sell for $40-60A. I suppose we are contributing to the infrastructure of the jetties and water supply etc.

In this area it is always easy to stock up on supplies as there are several supermarket boats trading in the area with all the essentials, such as bread, fruit and vegetables, gas bottles and ice-creams (well perhaps not so essential!). Each day they do the rounds of the area, tying up to the local restaurant jetties. (see the video)

In the few days we have been here we have seen quite a change in who is out and about since our last visit in 2019. There are less foreign boats around (yet?) but a lot of locally owned as well as charter boats. There are lots of catamarans, some quite large and a lot of very large motor yachts. Many of these have paid crew aboard and the trend is to have the biggest flashiest tender, some are almost as big as SCII. Apparently, you need at least 700 HP of outboard engines to pick up your evening take away meal from the local restaurant!

Today we do the check-out formalities for Turkey and early tomorrow morning we for leave for the 5 to 6 hour sail to Rhodes, Greece.

We have finally arrived (24-28 April)

29 April 2022 | Gocek
Nerida Matthews | Fine and sunny, 22 degrees C, almost no wind
Thirty-four hours after leaving home in Lilydale we were standing on the deck of SCII. The trip all went well with very little queuing at airports and no real checking of documents apart from the standard passport checks for flights. The only time we were required to show our vaccination status was at Melbourne airport before departure. Our flight from Istanbul to Dalaman on the Turkish coast was over mountains still capped with their winter snow - very picturesque. It was great to finally arrive and to be greeted by Ahmet who drove us to the marina.

The first afternoon was catching up with Bram and Ahmet about all of the maintenance done on SCII and familiarising ourselves after nearly 3 years of absence. There were lots of thoughtful touches, such as all the sheets and towels on board has been recently washed and the water tanks had been flushed and refilling with fresh water - all things we thought we would have to do. It felt like being home straight away.

Glenn's birthday (the day of arrival) was a quiet celebration of dips, bread and pide with mince meat and cheese. We ordered a bottle of red wine that the restaurant owner proceeded to go to the store across the street to purchase. They clearly do not have much demand for wine in this restaurant, the choice was 'white or red' but it was delicious. Breakfast the next morning was a more grand affair, we treated ourselves to a Turkish breakfast. It consisted of tomatoes and cucumber with four different types of cheese, borek, Turkish sausage, boiled egg, fried potato (i.e. chips) olives, nuts, a ranges of jams, honey, tahini and fresh bread. (seethe photo in the gallery)

Gocek is a pretty town and walking distance from the marina. The waterfront is lined with restaurants and tourist boats, mostly the wooden Turkish gulets. The town is currently quiet but clearly winding up for the summer tourist season. There are a good range of shops for provisioning SCII. This includes several supermarkets, although they are small compared to Australian standards, a couple of butchers, a Turkish delight shop (see the video below) and a very well stocked deli. Provisioning is a relatively easy task, especially with the assistance of Google translate. Labels on packets can be scanned and translated from Turkish to English or for items that cannot be found communication with the helpful but non-English speaking shop assistants is possible.

As a result of our absence, our transit log (an essential Turkish document that registers the boat and crew) had expired. We used a local agent to assist us to get our documentation in order, which all went smoothly. We knew we would be fined but it turned out to only be €15 which was very surprising.

Today we left the marina and have anchored in a pretty spot not far from Gocek. On leaving the marina we passed the mega yacht Eclipse (see gallery). This was the worlds biggest privately-owned mega yacht until 2013 and is a massive 162.5 m in length. It is owned by the Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who owns the Chelsea football club and has had recent media attention. Eclipse has two helicopter pads, 24 guest cabins, two swimming pools, several hot tubs, and a disco hall. It is also equipped with three launch boats and a mini-submarine that is capable of submerging to 50 metres (160 ft). Approximately 70 crew members are needed to operate the yacht and serve the guests. It is also reported (according to Wikipedia) to have its own self-defence and missile detection systems. We suspect that Turkey is one of the few countries that would allow Russian mega yachts.

We have delayed our plan to go straight across to Rhodes. Our chart-plotter - along with a few other expensive items, has failed. We will pick up a new one in Rhodes in about two weeks' time so this has changed our plans a little.

The weather is fine with light winds, just a little cool at night. The seawater has some warming up to do for swimming! As Nerida can attested to after swimming ashore with mooring lines. There appears to be no COVID restrictions here and life is back to normal here.

2022 Travel begins

09 April 2022
Nerida Matthews
It is two and a half years since we have been on SCII but our 2022 adventures are about to begin. We have booked flights and at the end of April will travel to Gocek, Turkey to be reunited with our yacht. We are so looking forward to getting back to a life on the water and will attempt to do regular updates.

Over the past twelve months Glenn has been sailing weekly (when we were not in lock-down) at Sandringham Yacht Club on a J24 class yacht. It has been good to be out doing some sailing and have really enjoyed the friendship with the Panarea team. Here is a short video taken recently on Panarea.

Vessel Name: Southern Comfort II
Vessel Make/Model: Bavaria 47, 2009
Hailing Port: Melbourne, Australia
Crew: Glenn and Nerida Matthews
About: Having almost completed the charter yacht catalogue over the last 25 years, we are fulfilling our long term dream of living the endless summer. In April 2017 we purchased our yacht and plan to spend several months every year in the Med.
Southern Comfort II's Photos - Main
39 Photos
Created 10 May 2022
7 Photos
Created 29 April 2022
3 Photos
Created 29 September 2019
30 Photos
Created 6 August 2019
58 Photos
Created 9 June 2019
22 Photos
Created 3 September 2018
60 Photos
Created 10 July 2018
Coast of Turkey
48 Photos
Created 1 June 2018
Our pride and joy!
16 Photos
Created 1 January 2018