From Tyros we motor sailed south around the Porto Heli peninsula and up to Dhokos Island which is at the western end of the chanel and opens onto the main sea area of the Cyclades. We stopped for the night in the major bay of this mostly uninhabited island (allegedly one family lives there and we did see goats and a dog around) and had a comfortable stop. It's a wide bay and was well frequented by both motor and sail craft but there's plenty of room. We thought we had one of the nicer views, near an old chapel and well screened from the normal easterly winds.
Dhokos Bay, Carolyn thinks she can see a gorilla and I don't think she means the skipper!
The anchor came up at first light around 06.30 and we set off acoss the open waters towards the island of Kithnos. The passage took around 8 hours and whist we got some sailing the wind decided to head us for most of the trip and engines were required. Some sailors are happy to tack across on a 50 mile trip but Splice doesn't sail that close to the wind and it would have seen us arriving in the night! We had to dodge a number of cargo ships and saw two sets of dolphins who declined to play with us.
In the middle of the trip, about 25 miles from land, a 'praying mantis' style insect decided he fancied a go as Skipper and crash landed on the helm seat. We moved him to the stern to avoid him being crushed, but he had disappeared by the time we approached land... one very confused insect we suspect, unfortunately he probably drowned by leaving us too early!
As we approached our planned anchorage at Sandbar Bay on Kithnos is was clear that there were a lot of boats there, in fact it was jam packed with them vying for small spaces to drop the hook. We hate that game, so diverted to our backup anchorage, new to us but again obviously popular. We were lucky that someone left a good spot just as we approached and we tucked into the corner of Ormos Apokriosis. Safe from the overnight winds but very noisy with music and beach bars and populated by nearly all charter yachts. We tend to avoid this sort of anchorage as a' high risk of damage' area. We just got away with it this time as a 50ft charter, who had lifted his anchor and then drifted through the fleet looking at his phone, decided to put his engines full ahead, forgetting his wheel was turned. He avoided t-boning Splice by about 5metres and sped off. At least it calmed down in the evening and we had a comfortable night.
Sandbar Bay was a little crowed!
We left early the next day again as we needed to get around the headland to the north of the island before the days winds really set in. Motoring into the 12 knot northern headwinds got us around about 09.00 and we approched our planned spot in Chapel Bay (Ay Stephanos)around 10.00 hoping that there would be space. This is a complicated anchorage as it has lots of weed on the bottom, the winds swirl around and the rocks are quite close. Add in the habit of locals to anchor back to the trees on the beach with their anchors down the middle of the bay and it's tricky.... but a lovely spot. We mooched about and had a couple of drops in likely places but the weed beat us each time. The Skipper was just getting concerned when a large Italian Yacht moved from a prime spot and we squeezed in before an approaching charter boat arrived. We dropped in 12m and settled back in 15m with 50m of chain and bridle so a little shorter than we prefer but that's all the space we had.
The wind here also has a habit of switching from north to south in the late afternoon despite a fixed northerly forecast. I t did it again this time but our spot allowed for this swing, a luxury not available to those nearer the beach, a small French yacht eventually left the bay when he couldnt find a spot to re-anchor. We spent some time helping a German crewed charter boat who made multiple attempts to anchor, but were doing everything too quickly and their hook was sliding across the weed. Coaching from the dinghy got them hooked but they somehow came free again at 02.00hrs and cost us some sleep watching the antics in front of us. In-experienced sailors anchoring in front of you in the night does not leave you relaxed, thankfully it worked out ok.
We had a very good meal at the taverna in the NE of the bay (it doesn't seem to have a name) home made taramasalata and smoked mackerel with bread as starters and then large shrimps in saganaki sauce (tomato and cheese with herbs) or grilled with a warm potato dish - all delicious. We even asked for some bread for breakfast which they kindly gave us together with our left overs.
The somewhat bumpy passage out to Kithnos has exposed another potential issue for us as black gunk has appeared in our engine filters. This can be a bug that grows in fuel and gets stirred up from the bottom of the tanks in rough seas which can block the filters and stop the engines. It doesn't seem too bad at present, so daily engine checks are carried out including draining the secondary filters in the hope that this is old debris and not a new infection, as we did dose the tanks with biocide over winter.
In the morning we left Kithnos around 07.30 and had a gentle 4-5 knot sail for 5 hours accross to Finikas on the island of Siros. The wind only topped 10 knots as we approached the harbour and coincidentally had a radio exchange with another one of the US yachts involved in the 'Chaos in lost anchor bay' incident. 'Lulu' were just leaving as we arrived but we had a chat on VHF as we passed before anchoring in the bay off Finikas Harbour.
Main Ohoto: Dhokos anchorage at sunset