29 September 2019
Nerida Matthews | 36 degrees
20 – 21 September
A day of travel today – a flight from Dalaman airport (near Gocek) to Istanbul where we caught up with Naomi again who had spent a few days in Istanbul. Then a flight to Marrakech followed by a 3 hour taxi trip to the coastal town of Essaouira. We were met when the taxi arrived by an elderly gentleman with a cart who went off into the medina with our luggage at a great rate. Not a word of English and just a kind of “follow me” gesture. As we arrived at our destination our host Abdul appeared to show us around and provided us with a welcoming bowl of olives and fresh Moroccan bread. This was the start of the excellent hospitality we were to receive everywhere.
Our accommodation was a renovated house in the old part of the town – typical of the houses here being on 4 or 5 levels all facing to an open area in the centre. Lots of character and not for those who can’t cope with steps! It was well located, just a short walk to a main street with all of the typical bustle and small retailers of all sorts one finds here. Abdul was to arrive every morning with breakfast – fresh juice, lovely bread, tea and coffee. His wife would then turn up and clean up all of the dishes.
As expected, Morocco is a very busy place. Lots of people on the streets, motor bikes of all shapes and sizes, donkeys pulling carts and of course cars with horns in continual use.
22 – 25 September
We are now in Marrakech for 4 nights. Spending time just exploring the streets and markets of the old town as well as a few museums and gardens. Visiting the hidden gardens of Marrakech is a way to keep cool as well as avoid the craziness of the streets of the medina. We visited the ancient walled Le Jardin (the Secret) garden which is setup in two parts, a traditional medina as well as an exotic garden. This restored garden is hidden away in the heart of the medina and was originally built as a sign of the wealth and availability of water to Marrakech from the nearby Atlas Mountains. We also visited the Jardin Majorelle gardens which was established in 1924 by the landscape painter Jacques Majorelle and was restored by Yves Saint Laurent. With 300 plant species from 5 continents, this was quite a different garden. The use of plants as sculptures and the layout was quite dramatic.
We ventured out one night out in the main town square in the middle of the medina managing to avoid the snake charmers, monkeys on chains, musicians and a host of others to have a meal at one of the many pop-up restaurants that only trade in the evenings. There was lots of noise, energy and sights to entertain the tourists.
It’s all kind of fun being here but does get a little tiring after a while with continual banter in the markets (“come in to my shop, everything is cheap”) as well as dodging the various forms of traffic - donkeys, hand pulled carts, motor bikes and bicycles. The food has been great, the other night we had a tasty meal from a street stall of olives, mixed kebab skewers, bread tomato and onion salad and chilli dipping sauce, costing for the three of us about A$10.00.
26 – 29 September
On Thursday we had a 6-hour train trip to Fez, the trip was quite comfortable if a little hot. We easily found our accommodation, a lovely old 3 storey building with mosaic tiling everywhere, very high decorated ceilings and a small rear fully enclosed garden. There is a live-in family who act as housekeepers who also provide an excellent breakfast for us every morning. It is a perfect escape from the rest of the old city.
Fez has quite different feel to Marrakesh, the back streets in the old part of the town (the Medina) don’t have the motorbikes, cars and other types of vehicles zooming around so it is much more relaxing to walk around. The medina is a huge maze of little streets where one could easily become lost. It does not pay to stand still looking at a map however as it would not be long before someone offers to help you find your way – for a price of course! Some of these people can be quite demanding and seem to have no concept of the value of their help, asking what amounts to the equivalent of four taxi fares even for limited help.
The architecture of Fez is quite different, most of the buildings have a high blank wall on the street with large courtyards or gardens behind. One needs to get behind the outer walls to appreciate the fantastic architecture of this ancient city. Everywhere is decorative mosaic tiling, highly decorated ceilings, huge doors and tiled pillars.
It has been very warm here with temperatures reaching the mid to high 30’s so we have ben retiring to our riad for the afternoons. There is a lot to be said for a yacht surrounded by a swimming pool……
Final week in Turkey
19 September 2019
Nerida Matthews | Eather 32 degrees
It was a short motor from Symi to Bozburun as there was not a breath of wind, where we checked back into Turkey. We spent one night in Bozburun harbour and then anchored out in the bay surrounding Bozburun for another night. After being in town harbours for a couple of nights it was good to be able to swim in crystal clear water.
We tied up to one of the three jetties in this remote but picturesque bay, after deciding that we would patronise the jetty with the good food versus the one closest to the byzantine fort. We enjoyed a sensational meal of 7 meze, seabass, calamari and garlic shrimps.
The highlight was a large sea turtle which swam around our boat, periodically coming to the surface for air. We quietly got into the water with our snorkels and swam with the turtle, it did not seem to mind us being in the water as it glided underneath us.
Sail to Kocuk Kuyruk
Today was a very mixed bag of weather for the 6-hour trip to Fethiye bay near Gocek. The day started with calm sunny conditions then the wind slowly built up over the morning. We were soon flying along (for a cruising yacht!) with about 15 to 20 knots of wind at 8 to 8.5 knots with reefed sails. As we neared our destination the wind dropped again so we motored the last part into one of our favourite little bays. That afternoon a large thunderstorm built up with heavy rain for a short time - our first rain in about 10 weeks. By evening it was calm and clear again. Today we had a bit of everything weather wise but was always still warm.
Kapi creek is a small bay that is very picturesque with a restaurant that has extensive jetties. Fortunately, we arrived fairly early as there was a least 2 flotilla groups in as well as other yachts arriving. There were at least 40 yachts in the bay and more anchored nearby. Quite a gold mine for the restaurant. See video attached.
One of the waiters who claimed to be part of the owing family at the restaurant took a liking to Naomi. He welcomed us to paradise and suggested that he and Naomi could have some 'kissy kissy'. His overly amorous behaviour somewhat spoilt our evening. He may have thought he had found a new partner in his life or maybe just a expected big tip at the end of the night but sulked away after he was not successful with either option. Naomi won't be returning there if we were ever in the area again!
The meal was quite good though - a meze selection, red mullet and calamari.
16 - 19 September
After 15 weeks we have finally returned to our home port of Gocek. We have a couple of days to do cleaning of SCII, a bit of maintenance and then she was lifted out of the water until next year. We have loved every day on board, especially sharing the last 2 weeks with Naomi, and are looking forward to returning next year.
For those that may be interested, we have covered a total of 880 nautical miles. We used a total of 518 litres of diesel at an average of 3.4 litres per hour. (Could have used less fuel but we tend to sail when conditions suit and fire up the motor if not.) There were no major problems with our yacht, the good work our friends Bram and Ahmet who assist with maintenance certainly pays off.
Thank you to those who left messages on our blog, we love to get the feedback. But our travels are not over, we are off to Morocco with Naomi! Stand by for our next update from there as land based tourists.
Also thanks to Elizabeth for picking up we had written the incorrect month August instead of September. Must have been wishful thinking that we still had a month to go!
Nisyros to Symi
10 September 2019
Nerida Matthews | 31 degrees and light winds
Hello it’s Naomi here again. Nerida and Glenn haven’t thrown me overboard…yet! We made it to Nisyros which is a really interesting island. We moored in the smaller town of Pali, which has a gentle rhythm and a lovely ambiance. Here N and G took me to the taverna run by George who is from Port Melbourne who returns to the homeland every summer to keep the family business going. George always provides a very warm welcome to his Australian, especially Melbourne visitors. George also ran a chicken shop in Horsham for a time in the 90’s but as I was living in Melbourne by then I was unfamiliar with it. Also working in the restaurant was George’s gorgeous sister from Adelaide and her husband. They were so friendly and keen to chat with us when they weren’t too busy. Here we ate the most delicious slow cooked lamb that George had been working on all day.
During the day we hired a car and drove up the hills to the crater of the volcano that dominates the centre of the island. It’s a dormant (but not extinct) hydro-thermal volcano that leaks yellow sulphur and gas that you are warned to walk down into at your own risk. We were very happy from the viewing platform however busloads of others were keen to explore closer to the roped off areas. There are two small towns perched on the highest edges of the crater who have the most amazing views of the ocean and inside the crater. Quite a unique vantage point really. The towns are traditionally Greek with narrow winding paths between stone houses, some painted white with blue trim and others kept in the more natural stone colour. The town of Nikia was more preserved and kept better and Emporio contained many derelict houses in ruin. Of course, there is always a church on the highest point, to be closer to God I presume. Or maybe to keep the locals fit.
Symi – Panormitis bay
After our lovely day in Nisyros we headed off to the island of Symi and Panormitis Bay. The attraction here is the Saint Michael’s monastery which has the most stunning bell tower. The bell tower has been lovingly restored over the last two years and this was the first time that N and G had seen the tower without scaffolding and wrapped in green shade cloth. They were pretty impressed, as was I. The bell chimes the time every hour and also with a single ring for the half hour. When a tour boat or ferry approaches with visitors it plays a special tune to welcome them. Needless to say, there were many boats and ferries and we were a little bit over it by the time we left.
Symi – Marathouda bay (aka Goat Beach)
Just a short trip around the south of Symi island and we were at our anchorage for the next night. The infamous Goat beach. Here the goats have free reign of the beach and you need to keep your bags closed or you just might turn around to see a goat going through your belongings looking for food. They even have a fence around the taverna to stop the goats taking the food off your plate. Many of the patrons feed the goats over the fence and we were horrified to see someone give a goat a lit cigarette! The goat seemed less horrified than we were and didn’t seem bothered at all as it munched away. It was a beautiful bay for a swim or two with crystal clear warm water and we had lovely quiet gentle night.
Symi – Symi town
Arriving into Symi town harbour was amazing and a bit frenetic. Boats were leaving, ferries were arriving and we just had a sit it out until there was a small break for us to have a chance to moor. Meanwhile we just took in the amazing view of Symi town. Tucked into the hills surrounding the harbour are layers of gorgeous quaint houses all painted in a particular palette of soft colours. I’m just going to say look at the photos as I will never be able to do it justice by describing. Symi town sure is busy. Ferries arrive and release hundreds of passengers into the town. Some people head for the closest beach they can find, others wander through the lanes and take in the sights of the beautiful town, some shop and others find a taverna to settle in for lunch and few beverages. This is the best harbour for people watching by far. We have included a short video to give you a taste of Symi.
Tomorrow we are off to Turkey!
Leros to Nisyros
06 September 2019
Nerida Matthews | 31 degrees and almost no wind
Leros and Archangelos
Hello everyone. It's Naomi here and I will be your 'guest' blogger for the next week or so. Sorry for the delay in getting this latest piece on the blog but we've just been having too much fun. Nerida and Glenn picked me up on the island of Leros and I will be spending the next 2 weeks with them. It was so exciting to see them and finally get to step aboard their pride and joy, Southern Comfort II. She is a beautiful boat and very well cared for. N and G have her all decked out perfectly and you all would not be surprised to find out that everything is very well organised on board! After an evening in Leros to settle in we headed to Archangelos so I could experience the perfection that is its crystal clear, aqua blue bay and my first swim off the back of SCII. It was magnificent and worth the 24 hours or so of flying from the other side of the world to get here. Then we headed up to the taverna for a delicious lunch of fresh fish (see Photo above) and of course Greek salad and maybe a glass or two of the local white wine.
After our night at Archangelos we headed across to the island of Kalymnos and into the town harbour. This was a lively place with many cafes and restaurants and lots of scooters zooming past. Families and couples promenaded past into the evening enjoying the sea breeze. Great people watching. We enjoyed a fabulous meal at a very busy restaurant that included our culinary highlight so far, a filo parcel that oozed melted feta and was covered in toasted sesame seeds and a generous drizzle of local honey....yum! Back on the boat we were serenaded by live Greek music playing by a local band at restaurant just near us. Very relaxing and a perfect accompaniment to our Ouzo nightcap.
Up early (well for me anyway!) and we were off to Kos. On the way we stopped for lunch at and a swim at a perfect little cove on the island Pserimos. We swam to the little deserted beach and back for a bit of exercise before lunch, then another swim before we made the rest of the journey to Kos and the marina at Kos town.
Once moored we headed off to explore the Old Town and many archaeological sites including the Plane tree under which Hippocrates is said to have taught his pupils (see Gallery). Travel is just as much about the people as the places and this night we met one of the people that makes travel everything you want it to be. We went back to a restaurant off the main busy strip that N and G had dined at last year with N's cousin Caroline and her husband Darren (Caroline had done some research to find somewhere for dinner). Here we were greeted like long-lost friends by the host and owner. We thought we might have been special until we noticed he greeted everyone like this. The restaurant quickly filled up and the atmosphere was warm and friendly. The food was fantastic and we enjoyed some local red wine while being constantly checked on by our host to ensure that everything was as it should be. When we asked for our bill, we were hoping that we might be offered the complementary glasses of Ouzo that appeared to be going to other tables around us but instead another half-litre of red wine appeared on our table instead. Well of course we couldn't offend our host so we stayed on to partake in the generous offering. Just as we finally finished this half litre of wine, we obviously didn't stand up to leave quick enough and another half-litre of red wine appeared on our table. Oh my goodness, we couldn't be rude and leave now so we had to drink this before we could bid farewell with double kisses and hand shakes to our generous host. I think it was a slightly zig-zagging walk back to the marina where we safely negotiated the plank and made it back onto the boat. We all slept very well that night. In the morning we will head to volcano island of Nisyros.
30 August 2019
Nerida Matthews | 29 degrees, wind currently 7 knots
We are currently anchored in a beautiful bay off the island of Archangelos, at the northern end of Leros. The water in the bay is crystal clear and aqua blue. Yesterday we had a rather strange phenomena, clouds! We have not seen a could in the sky for weeks. Today the clouds have disappeared and we have beautiful blue skies, a light breeze and 29 degrees. There were 27 boats anchored here yesterday from a vast range of countries. Boats included Greek, Turkish, British, Irish, French, Dutch, German, Belgium, Swedish, Romanian, Austrian, Swiss, Italian and us Australia. Today we met a couple from Brisbane who were on a charter boat.
Yesterday we went ashore to the taverna for lunch. The only way you can access the taverna is via boat and their dinghy dock was packed. The taverna specialises in local produce and we had a beautiful meal of tzatziki, Greek salad and pork slowly cooked in white wine, all washed down with local white wine. It was delicious and very cheap!
We are going to relax here for two more days before heading to the town of Lakki on Leros, where we will collect our friend Naomi. We only have a bit over two weeks left on SCII before returning to base. It is hard to believe that this year’s sailing is nearly over but we still have a few weeks of fun before heading to Morocco.
Lipsi to Patmos
24 August 2019
Nerida Matthews | 31 degrees, water temperature is 24.5 degrees, wind 5-10 knots
We spent a couple of days in a bay at the south end of Lipsi island, a lovely place with plenty of options for somewhere to anchor. There are a few houses around the area, a good swimming beach and an adjacent restaurant. We went into the restaurant for lunch and had an excellent meal in idyllic surroundings. We had local Lipsi cream cheese with apple, mint drizzled with local honey, an orange and cucumber salad with olives, capers, samphire and feta, followed by freshly caught tuna with garlic and rosemary, all washed down with a local rose – probably the best meal so far.
The bay was very busy at times with many yachts coming and going. Some skippers seem to have very different ideas about how far away yachts need to be from each other while at anchor – especially in windy conditions. Some will stand on the bow of their yacht as soon as someone comes within 100 meters of them and try to chase new arrivals away. Others seem to think being 5 meters from another boat is fine and appear to have no idea how much a yacht will drift around when on the end of 30 or 40 meters of anchor chain. Yes, we did have to “advise” a couple of new arrivals on charter boats of their proximity being way to close to us.
On Thursday we sailed across to the island of Patmos. We started out at a good rate with reefed sails in about 20 knots of wind. About half way across the wind dropped to around 10 knots and looked like it would stay that way. The captain decided to pull a bit more sail out, always looking to go a bit faster….. After about 15 minutes the wind was back at 20 to 25 knots so we were then well over-powered. As it is not so easy to roll up our in-mast furling mainsail in those conditions we stuck it out for a while until nearer the lee of Patmos island. A wet and wild ride! The second crew member was fairly quick to say “I told you so” when going for more sail area.
We were lucky to get a berth in the harbour on Patmos, this is a very busy and popular spot. Although the yacht harbour area is a bit sparse it is well protected and a comfortable place to be. The town is a thriving place that has many ferries and the occasional cruise ship coming in. One of the main attractions is the monastery of St John that sits high on the hill over the town and a small cave where it is reported he wrote the Book of Revelations. We visited the monastery last year, so decided to spend our time exploring the back streets and cooling off at the beach.
Today we have motored around to a nearby bay on Patmos island, another good spot. Just a few other boats here, a good swimming beach, a taverna ashore and as always beautiful clear water. The monastery of St John is off in the distance (see Gallery).