Nisos Crete - Chania
11 September 2023
From Bali, our next major port would be Chania, stopping off for one night at both Rethymno and Milati.
We weren't particularly looking forward to going into the marina (within the port) at Rethymno as we had read on the “ Sailing in the Med" Facebook page that it was a bit of a dump, the facilities were disgusting and there were no marineros to assist you when you came in. Didn't bode well. On arrival and after going round in circles for a while trying to decide where to go, we were told by 2 separate people where we should tie up. One of them said she would call the office and try and get us some assistance. Instead of a maniero, the security guy rocked up, and whilst we appreciated his keenness to help, he hadn't got a clue what to do with the two ropes that were thrown at him. It all got very frantic as the wind was pushing us onto the boat tied up next to us.
After a lot of swearing and cursing (me), and a lot of slow explanations in Greek to our helper (Andreas), we eventually got tied up, but crickey, the mooring line was incredibly short and we could only get it onto our mid cleat as opposed to the cleat on the bow. Not ideal by any means but thankfully the forecast showed very light winds so for the sake of one night, we stuck with it.
Our original plan was to stay a couple of days here, hire a car and do some exploring. But the fact that Stiletto was so poorly tied up forced a team talk and we decided that we would head off the next day and we would in fact explore the middle of the island from Chania.
Next day we left Rethymno for the 17 miles to an anchorage at Milati, on the Akrotiri Peninsula, the site of Chania airport and NATO'S southern Mediterranean headquarters and base. We knew that we would be very safe there !!!
We started on white sails but about half way through the wind changed, came round onto the nose resulting in a choppy sea, so down came the sails and we motored the rest of the way. As we were motoring into Milati, we saw a turtle - very close to the boat- and two big brown jellyfish. Lunch for the turtle!!!
This was a fab anchorage. Very sheltered and one we would definitely return to but this would be just an overnight stay before heading for Chania.
We were in Chania in September 2019, so we didn't repeat all the local stuff on this visit that we did then. Instead we hired a car for 3 days and did some inland exploring.
On our arrival, Spiros the harbour master was on the quay waiting to take our lines. So much easier!!! Here we reversed onto the quay whilst dropping the anchor at the same time, then we threw him our stern lines, hardened up the anchor and job done!
The quay was very busy, more so than our last visit, but this was August – the height of the season. The constant stream of tourists walking past our boat gave us no privacy and it's amazing how many people stop and stare into the saloon!!! Cars and delivery vehicles are only allowed access to the quay and surrounding streets from 7am - 9am each morning . After that the only traffic are the beautiful horse drawn carriages that offer rides around the harbour. The harbour itself is 14th century Venetian, and the lighthouse at the entrance 16th century with Venetian, Egyptian and Ottoman influences. The mosque now houses port control and an art gallery. The beautiful old warehouses are home to the Yacht Club and the Nautical Museum and the 16th century Firka Fortress features a Maritime Museum. The streets around the harbour are narrow, with the usual touristsy shops, loads of bars, cafes and tavernas. It has a lovely, busy vibe.
For €15 you can take a ride around the harbour in a glass bottom submarine – quite what there is to see other than loads of anchors and metres of chain belonging to the visiting boats I really don't know!!
This is the biggest Greek island , 160 x 37 miles, with lots of spectacular gorges and very high mountains.
The city of Chania itself is the second largest city of Crete and has everything you could possibly need, but it has quite clearly reached saturation point. There are no parking spaces. Every street is crammed full of cars. Car parks have made way for development without a thought about where those cars would go. We drove around for 45 minutes trying to find a space and finished up in an underground supermarket car park where we could safely leave our hire car – at a cost of €20 for the night !!!! And people absolutely everywhere and it is no fun at all working your way through such big crowds.
So we did a lot of driving and spent our last afternoon of car hire on a beautiful beach east of Rethymno, yes, on sunbeds and under an umbrella (!) reading and dozing. Oh my........Its hard work being a tourist!!!
Inspirational thought for this post: to sit on the beach is truly one of life's simplest pleasures