The island of Milos is about 20 miles south west of Sifnos. It's the remains of an ancient volcano that erupted under the sea and formed the classic horseshoe shape as the waters found an entry point some millions of years ago.
It took us 2.5 hours of motor-sailing in a light NW wind to enter the bay and anchor off the main town of Adamantas. The harbour is small and for locals, so many boats moor on the outside quay. We chose not to as strong winds were coming again and the potential for damage as boat masts roll in the wash of ferries is significant here. (we saw some real 'metronome' stuff as the big ships surged onto the quay)
Our plan was to hire a car to tour the island, but after hours of chasing rental companies (and there are a few) there was not a car to be had on the island for the next five days. Should have booked ahead! Luckily our US friends Lulu and Fiesty had given us the name of a local tour guide they had used and an email found he was free the next day. Alexandros has spent thirty years on the island and was very well informed. It's an interesting place with lots of sights and history starting from it being the source of obsidian glass, used for cutting instruments in early human times and traded right across the Med. Mining is still a core part of the Milos economy as they extract bentonite, used as an additive in things like detergents, wine purification and in paper manufacturing and perlite which is used in many different markets for building materials, filtration aids for the production of juices, pharmaceutical and petroleum products and horticulture.
Some of the places worth a visit are:
Plaka - the old town built on the hill (to avoid pirate attacks)
Klima - a small place right on the shore of the channel into the main harbour. Originally hollowed out as boat sheds they were then converted into homes
The open cast mines can be viewed if you have an approved guide like Alexandros. The current main area has been mined for 45 years and they estimate there's another 45 to go. Given the improvements in extraction technology there must still be a lot of stuff left
Sarakiniko - an area of white mineral so pure that nothing can grow there. It's quite spectacular but extremely hot as the white reflects the heat
We don't normally pay for a private guide but with no alternative transport and Alexandros's knowledge we felt the expense was worth it. We certainly got a good picture of the island.
We sat out the next four days of 25-30 knot winds in much the same manner as before with a couple of 'highlights'.
- A Greek sail boat was anchored behind us and a French yacht. When he wanted to go, he put his mainsail up whilst still at anchor. This is a normal, if difficult, technique because the sail can cause problems if it powers up in the wind, especially strong winds. It did....as he had tightened his mainsheet. This is exactly what you're not supposed to do as this line causes the sail to create power. His boat started sailing towards the French yacht, the skipper panicked and put the engine on full ahead and started madly tacking between us and the French boat. He still had his anchor down so was dragging that whilst his crew vainly tried to raise the anchor (impossible as it was dragging through the sand). As he sped in front of the French yacht his anchor caught theirs and he started to pull them up the bay then he tacked again and started across the front of Splice. We were all shouting at him to cut the engines and take down the sail and eventually he stopped and did so. Somehow the anchors had separated and he was able to raise his and slope off. Now we had the French yacht sitting on our bow with potential anchor tangles under the water...but we were lucky and when they raised the anchor we hadn't been snagged.
- We had intended to introduce ourselves to other boats, but this provided an opportunity so we dinghied over to French 'Yemaya' and to a US boat 'Accomplice' who had sent a dinghy to help (untangle any anchors) and invited them for drinks. We had said come at 18.30 hrs and expected them to go around 20.30 so we could eat our meal... the conversation was good fun and no one showed any signs of leaving until 22.30, by which time it was too late to cook so dinner was marmite sandwiches!! With Jean-Luc and Guylaine who had sailed around much of the world and Steve and Ellie who are taking a three year sabbatical to sail the Med there were varied and interesting perspectives on all the normal sailing topics, as well as politics and cultural issues!
Eventually the winds died down but we had decided the constant need to hide from strong winds in the Cyclades was too irritating and decided to set a course back to the mainland which generally avoids the heavy stuff for longer periods.
Main photo: Anchored off Adamantas