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

Crossing the Aegean

03 June 2024 | Aegean Sea
Vandy Shrader
July 21-22, 2023

We didn't have to wait long for the meltemi to take a break. Three days after Annie and Liam boarded their flight in Athens, we pulled up our anchor in Sounion and headed east across the Aegean Sea.

Where to go in Turkey?
Eric and I had talked about where we wanted to go in Turkey. Every place sounded interesting. Most of the cruisers we knew spent the majority of their time in the southern part of Turkey, but we were open to trying something different, especially with a relatively long trip back across Greece and then north to Montenegro in a couple of months. We decided to cross the Aegean Sea at the approximate latitude of Athens, about halfway up the coastline of Turkey.

Countries generally have only a handful of places where you can legally clear into or out of them (these are known as "ports of entry"), so we'd have to aim for one of these in Greece (to clear out) and another in Turkey (to clear in). We'd clear out of Greece at Chios (on Chios Island) and clear into Turkey at nearby Ҫeşme Marina, on the Turkish mainland.


Our route

Chios was about 120 miles away, and since some strong headwinds were forecast for the afternoon, we wanted to leave early to avoid those and find a place to stop along the way. Agios Pyrgos, a small cove near the northern tip of Andros Island, would suit us fine.

Crossing the Aegean
We left Sounion at 6:30 am, just before sunup, planning to make it to Agios Pyrgos before the strong NE headwinds arrived at around midday. The first few hours were beautiful and calm, the early morning sun gleaming on the water, our only company the many ferries that crisscrossed this piece of water on their way between Athens and the islands of the Aegean.



Though we made it to Agios Pyrgos by 12:30, the headwinds had arrived at 11 am, the choppy waves treating us to a jouncy ride for awhile. Agios Pyrgos is a beautiful cove, with a white sand beach, and clear water that allowed us to find a good sand patch to drop our anchor in.


Agios Pyrgos sandy beach

Best of all (and one reason why we chose it), the anchorage provides excellent protection from the NE, so while the wind and waves were snotty outside the cove, Awildian was floating calmly inside.


Agios Pyrgos closeup with Greek fishing boat

We spent the afternoon relaxing, and went to bed early, since we planned to get an early start the next morning - at 3 am!

The next morning, I happened to wake up at 2:15 am, so I just stayed up. I'd volunteered to do the 3-6 am shift - I don't mind getting up early, and I like being up at dawn. We'd set things up for a night passage before we went to bed last night: setting night mode or red lights on all our technology, charging my new headlamp (and reading the instructions), putting our red flashlight in an easy-to-find place, getting our PFDs out...

We were underway by 2:55 am. I was a bit tense about navigating so near shore in the dark (the first hour of our 13-hour trip would be around the northern tip of Andros Island, through the sometimes-busy passage between the island and the mainland), where I was concerned there might be fishing floats or other unmarked hazards lurking in the dark. We had the radar going, and I could clearly see the lights on even the smallest boats, so that was reassuring.

My journey in darkness didn't last long as the sky began to lighten by 5 am. The weather was calm, the ship traffic was light and mostly confined to the middle of the passage, and Awildian didn't encounter any unmarked hazards.


Sunrise

While underway, I pondered how many hours I've traveled by boat in darkness. The answer is, a lot!
I decided that it's probably been about 10-15% of my boat travel time, almost all of it done in open water, away from land; not close to shore, like this. This is only the second time we've moved Awildian at night - the other time being our trip across the Adriatic Sea from Monopoli, Italy, to Cavtat, Croatia, in June of 2022.

MAGICAL!! That's what I wrote in our journal, to describe being greeted by a pod of exuberant dolphins, who came to play in Awildian's bow wave at sunrise. We never get tired of seeing dolphins! What a lovely way to begin our day!

And what a very long day it was! With the usual "feast or famine" wind conditions in the Med, we were served "famine" today, and ended up motoring the whole 85 miles, arriving at the port of Chios at 3pm. We weren't sure exactly where we were supposed to tie up for Customs clearance. One place that seemed likely already had two big ferries tied up there, with only a small patch of dock available between them.

We drove around a little and then pulled alongside a big juicy clear length of dock off to the side of the ferries. Just as I was finishing tying Awildian to the shore, a man in a uniform came to tell me that we couldn't tie up there, because it's the spot for the Coast Guard boat (which happened to be out at the time). He couldn't tell me where we should tie up, just that we couldn't tie up there.


Chios Port

In the photo, "1" marks the first place we tied up, and "2" is where we eventually tied up. You can see from all the ferry tracks what a busy place this is!

OK. So we untied and went back over to where the ferries were docked. Eric maneuvered Awildian into the small space along the dock between the two ferries (fortunately, Awildian is very maneuverable), and while I hung out on the boat, Eric took our boat documents and went to figure out where and how to check us out of Greece. I took photos of the ferries in front of us and behind us. They were actually closer than it seems from the photos.


Behind us


In front of us

The officials checked our passports not just to make sure that we'd cleared into Greece properly, but also to calculate the number of days that we'd been there, to make sure that we weren't overstaying, before stamping them. There was some confusion among some of the officials, concerning what to do with our Greek transit log (the record we're required to keep, of the places we'd checked into and out of, during our stay in Greece). Phone calls were made, documents were shuttled between various offices, and in the end the appropriate authorities kept our transit log and we were free to go. With the stipulation that we call the port control on VHF12 when we were ready to leave the dock.


The Customs building/ferry terminal

We untied Awildian and then I called the port control. As I was waiting for them to respond, a huge ship loomed into my vision: a big ferry was entering the port, almost filling the narrow entrance. So we held our position along the dock until the ferry had entered the port, done a slow pirouette and backed up against the shore to disgorge its vehicles and passengers.


A very large ferry in a not-very-large port

When port control called to tell us we could go, we left Khios port, heading around the corner of the island to a nice, big, open anchorange called Paralia Megas Limnionas , which basically means "Big Limnionas Beach," where we dropped our anchor, finally able to relax after a very long day.

Just across the water, about 4 miles away, we could see Turkey. Tomorrow we'd head over there, to Ҫeşme Marina, where we'd meet up with our Turkish agent, and clear into the country. For now, though, our thoughts were only on dinner and sleep.
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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