Our Ever-Changing Backyard

19 June 2024 | Ҫandarli, Turkey
10 June 2024 | Ҫeşme Marina and Goldensands Beach, Turkey
03 June 2024 | Aegean Sea
18 May 2024 | Saronic Gulf, Greece
14 May 2024 | Porto Montenegro to Athens
14 April 2024 | Zakinthos to Sounion, Greece
13 November 2023 | Orikum, Albania
30 October 2023 | Durrës, Albania
29 October 2023 | Porto Montenegro to Athens, Greece
22 August 2023 | Montenegro

Saronic Summer

18 May 2024 | Saronic Gulf, Greece
Vandy Shrader
May thru July 2023

Here's a fun animated travelogue of our Saronic Summer, with pictures from our adventures. Remember to turn the sound on (icon in lower right corner).

Saronic Summer Animation

Want more details? Keep reading...

Summer 2023 was an extravaganza of friends and family who came to see us. Between the end of May and mid-July, we enjoyed visits from our daughter, Kelly, and her boyfriend, Daniel; our German friends, Heike, Felix, and Milena; our American friends, Debbie and Morris; and our Australian friends, Annie and Liam. We had a great time exploring islands, towns, and archaeological sites of Greece together.

We'd decided to spend most of our time in the Saronic Gulf, the large body of water bordered by the Attica Peninsula (where Athens is located) to the east, and the Peloponnese Peninsula to the west.


The Saronic Gulf

The Gulf has many beautiful and interesting places to visit, and it's also sheltered from the brunt of the meltemi wind, the strong summer breeze that blows from north to south down the Aegean Sea and can last for days or weeks at a time. Being in the Saronic Gulf ensured that our visitors were comfortable during their visits, and that they could also reliably reach their travel connections without worrying about disruptions due to the meltemi.

We were also able to pop over to two of the closest Cyclades Islands, when the meltemi took a break. We visited Kythnos twice - once with Kelly and Daniel, and once with Heike, Felix, and Milena - and Kea once, with Morris and Debbie. These islands have a very different vibe and architecture from the mainland (including those iconic blue and white houses),



and some spectacular beaches,

Kolona Beach

so they were especially fun to visit. We got the name and phone number of a taxi driver on Kythnos, who took us all over the island. We toured a cave where an entire town used to shelter from marauders,


Katafyki Cave near Dryopida

strolled charming streets,



and had lunch in the shade of some beautiful bouganvillas.



Kythnos and Kea are also criss-crossed by hundreds of stone walls (ancient and modern) built without mortar, a fascinating construction technique known as drystone.

Greek drystone

Some of the places we visited in the Saronic Gulf include:

Poros, a quaint island town with lots of good restaurants and shops, cute cobblestone paths, and hikes with stunning vistas. We brought everyone here except for Kelly and Daniel, who had only a very short visit with us. Dozens of ferries visit Poros every day, and their wakes routinely rock the boats on the town quay and in the anchorages as they pass by. Even Awildian, with his wide, stable stance, had some occasional bronco rides from the ferry wakes, one of which caused an unattended and (fortunately) empty wine glass to fall off the counter and smash on the floor.

As is our habit, we avoided the crowded town quay and instead anchored just across the channel from Poros, near the town of Galatas. From here, a short dinghy ride took us to the Poros town quay, or into Galatas, where we did our grocery shopping, got haircuts, and took care of other non-touristy activities.



Aegina, known for its excellent pistachios, ancient ruins, and lovely beaches. We visited Marathonas Bay and Agia South, depending on which was more comfortable in the current wind and wave conditions.


Marathonas sunset

Epidavros, where ruins of a submerged ancient Roman villa, lay just beneath the clear water in a pretty bay, and are easily explored by kayak or snorkeling.


Snorkeling the ruins

The larger, more famous Epidavros ruins are farther inland, but we didn't get there.

The water was so clear you could even see our anchor - which wasn't having to do much at the moment - dug into the bottom.



As we were leaving Epidavros with our friends, Annie and Liam, we got a call on the VHF: our Belgian friends, Cindy and Geert, on the boat, Zensation (whom we'd all spent time with in New Zealand and Fiji), were approaching Epidavros. So we turned around, re-anchored, and spent another day and night in Epidavros, with Zensation anchored nearby.


A fun surprise

Some Belgian teenagers, who happened to be camping with friends on shore, and saw Zensation's Belgian flag, swam over and joined us on Awildian for the afternoon. Fun times!

Korfos is a tiny town off the beaten track, where Eric and I spent a couple of weeks between visitors. We got to know some of the locals there, including Anna, the town's young pharmacist, who helped us sort out medical care - including a taxi ride to the small hospital in Corinth, 45 minutes away - when Eric's back unexpectedly packed up. (Not a fun thing, when you're on anchor and have to dinghy in for medical care.)

Anna had recently opened a small pharmacy - the only one in town - in one corner of the building that houses her family's bakery. She speaks excellent English, and told us that some pharmacists, such as herself, have training and knowledge beyond just drugs, and act as first responders in small villages like Korfos, which don't have a doctor of their own.

Because it was so difficult for Eric to get around, Anna came out to Awildian three times to administer the daily injections that had been prescribed for him. I taxied her in our dinghy from the town quay to our boat, where she enjoyed the new experiences of seeing her town from the water and being on a catamaran.


Us with Anna

If you find yourself in Korfos, requiring medical care or prescriptions filled, Anna will most likely be able to help you. Korfos Pharmacy +30 274 109 5300

We anchored at Sounion, on the very southern tip of the Attica Peninsula, five times. It provides shelter from the north wind, has good holding in sand, and of course is overlooked by the gorgeous and interesting Temple of Poseidon high on a bluff. It's also a good jumping-off point for visits to the Cyclades, or to visit Athens, both of which we did with Kelly and Daniel.

Besides looking impressive and being very old, the Temple of Poseidon also sports a lot of cool graffiti, some of which is many centuries old. One notable bit of graffito (which I marked in the photo below), was inscribed by none other than Lord Byron, who was apparently a scofflaw, as well as a poet, back in 1810 or 1811.


Lord Byron the bad-ass

Athens. After surviving a terrifying taxi ride to Athens, during which the driver routinely went twice the speed limit and weaved in and out of traffic, we climbed up to have a look at the Acropolis. This was early enough in the year that the massive crowds that descended on the site later in the summer hadn't yet arrived, so we could walk around freely. The vibe there was eerily powerful, as a very active thunderstorm loomed over us, spewing bolts of lightning, that I could almost imagine were thrown by Zeus himself, followed by growling thunder.



We were particularly impressed that the large amphitheater, the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, which was built in AD 161, is still in use as a music and theater venue. In fact, when we were there, workers were in the process of collecting seat cushions that had been used for an event the previous night.


Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Vari, just south of Athens, was a good place for us to hang out with Annie and Liam during some particularly strong north winds during the final days of their visit. The bay was spacious and sheltered from the north; the holding, in sand, was excellent; and Annie and Liam could easily catch a taxi to the airport from shore.

The bay was popular with wind surfers and kite-boarders of every skill level; we enjoyed watching them zip by (or plod by, if they were new to the sport) with their bright colors, and checked in on them when they occasionally bumped into Awildian. Also, sadly, while we were there, the strong winds fanned some devastating fires just to the south of us.



In mid-July, when our friends, Annie and Liam, left to continue their travels, and our Greek visa was in its third (and final) month, Eric and I headed back to Sounion again, where we waited for the meltemi to take a breather so that we could cross the Aegean Sea, check out of Greece, and head to Turkey, where we'd spend the next two or three months.





Comments
Vessel Name: Awildian, previously SCOOTS (2012-2021)
Vessel Make/Model: Leopard 48
Hailing Port: San Francisco, CA
Crew: Eric and Vandy Shrader
About: We've been living aboard full time since September 2014. We sailed our Able Apogee 50, SCOOTS, from 2012-2021, and are now aboard our Leopard 48, Awildian, since March 2022.
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