We haven't had strong enough internet to post our blogs so..... here is our condensed story. We left our little hideaway in Symi and sailed to the island of Niseros. As the island appeared on the horizon we noticed many sails in the vicinity. Yep, it's a yacht race. People charter boats and join in regattas around the islands. As we are approaching the harbor we watch as the fleet headed in before us to completely fill the little harbor, they are rafted on each other, 32 of them... We decide that we aren't up for the crowds, noise and head around the corner where we find anchorage in an open bay. Soon our friends Catherine and Peter from the Southern Cross arrive and we anchor in company. It's a little rolly but we are all alone, just the two boats. We enjoy the solitude. ..... for about an hour. A big charter cat arrives... He tries to anchor directly on our anchor... We dance around and scream to show our disapproval and he moves off. As the evening progresses more and more boats arrive in our little corner. All are charter boats. Our quiet evening is gone but we are entertained as we watch "anchor dancing" by now, it's almost dark. The big charter cat has drug his anchor through the anchorage three times keeping everybody on their toes. We hit the hay hoping that nobody drags down on us or pulls up our anchor.
The next morning we reluctantly decide to move on to another less stressful island. After 7 hours of alternating motoring and sailing we arrive at the island of Astypalea
. Not one other yacht in sight. A few fishing boats ...peaceful. We are offered a mooring buoy for 5 Euro/night. We gladly accept after trying to set our anchor 3 times. The Southern Cross arrives about an hour later. They hop on the remaining buoy. Nice quiet place. We woke up the next morning and headed into the small village. Really, there is nothing here, not even a restaurant so we start walking toward the big town on the hill across the bay. It's a beautiful day and it feels good to get some exercise. After an hour or so we are picked up by a ....taxi on the way back after delivering their fare to our bay. It was the ONLY car to pass us. We are dropped in the center of the hilltop village of Hora in the port of Skala. Judy finds the post office and we pick up a few bakery goods. The Venetian Kastro (walled in castle/fort) looming on the hill above us is calling but first we must have lunch. A sidewalk café does the trick. We are really enjoying the food here in Greece, especially the Greek salads and Souvaliki...We sometimes order a half carafe of local wine with our meal and sit and watch the action around us. Fun.
Up the windy cobble alley ways to the top we find the entrance to the castle. The views over the town below are stunning. We peek out of the small openings in the walls where archers could defend the fortress from attackers. Our imaginations run wild. What a great place for a game of hide and seek... Hmm....
We are under sail to the famous Greek island of Santorini
. This island probably is what most people think of when they think of the Greek islands. We arrive at the fishing harbor looking for a place to tie up. The water is too deep to anchor around the island so there is no choice but to seek refuge in the crowded little fishing harbor. We are told to come along side the outer quay until a space becomes available .... "An hour" he says. Four hours later the wind has come up and we are being pounded on the rough concrete quay. The swell is high and is surging us up and down onto the solid dock like a rag doll. Freebird is taking a beating. Sand on the quay is blowing and getting between the fenders and the new topside paint. We are pinned by the wind on the dock..... Finally a fisherman loans us a large round fender (ball) and we just barely manage to power away from the mayhem. Once into the inner harbor we raft up on a large catamaran. They are Russians from a yacht rally and speak very little English. But we get their message..... come aboard for a drink! We do. Peter and Catherine from the Southern Cross join in and the party is in full swing. The owner/skipper is a giant of a man and gives Dave a bear hug that he is still recovering from...Pretty special....
The next morning we are ready to enjoy the island. Wrong!... The Russian catamaran is pulling out mid day and we must be around to relocate Freebird. Well, mid day becomes late afternoon and by the time we are settled in, evening has fallen, another Santorini day lost. The town is a 30 minute car ride away so we have to rent a car. Tomorrow then..... Wrong again! A fishing boat is coming in and we are in their spot. The manager assures us he will find a place for us..... We wait...and wait... finally a slip opens up and we move. The wind is screaming but we manage to squeeze in. The dust is blowing. As the sun sets we find our decks covered with sand drifts. It blows all night. In the morning the drifts have turned into dunes. Freebird is left to fend for herself while we rent a car with our friends and take off on a tour of the island...We're on our third day and we have only seen the teeny fishing harbor.
Our island tour starts at the marine supply store to buy some really big fenders. We returned to deploy them between the dock and Freebird's topsides. Then we were off to the big city. We wandered the streets and alleyways of the two main towns . Truly we can see why people flock here. The views are stunning, the alleyways are quaint, and the food is tasty. If only we had just come here on a cruise ship like everybody else. We could have saved thousands of dollars in damage and days of stress...I'll let the pictures tell the story...
With our tail between our legs we sail our sand bucket North toward Mykonos island. We anchor overnight on Ios island and with a light wind forecasted continue toward our destination. The "light" winds turned into 30 knots ~ on the nose. As we approached the harbor it was still blowing 30 knots. We poked our bow in to see if we should try for a slip.... Nope! We saw sheer terror in the eyes of the crews of the docked boats as we approached. A quick 180 and back to the open water... The next island over provided us with a peaceful isolated protected bay for the night. We don't like to go back so.... Forget Mykonos!
We sail on toward Naxos. It's still blowing hard but we find refuge in the protected harbor of the Hora. The Gates of Apollo are towering over us and only one other anchored boat. We do the usual post office, restaurant, walking tour over the next few days. The third day we rented a car for a little island tour. We spent the day winding through little vineyards, olive oil groves and small villages. The day was a respite after all of our anchoring, windy, sanding, pounding, scary days . Again, I'll let the pics tell the story...
Finally, the wind came around to the South and lightened and we were off to Peros island. We headed into the easy little village marina. The manager was waiting to take our lines in totally calm conditions. What a relief. We enjoyed riding our bikes around the town and one day rented a motor scooter for an island tour.
After a few days of civilization we decided it was time to head out to the anchorage. The bay was perfectly protected. On shore was a state park with trails to a lighthouse. We spent about a week here enjoying the peaceful tranquility.
Next stop, Syros island. We arrived at Finikas marina early in the morning to get a spot on the dock. We backed down to the quay just like we knew what we were doing. After we were all settled in and got the bikes up and running we went looking for lunch. A friendly little place and the free moorage was not too bad. Then the dock manager proceeded down the dock and announced that water and electricity were free until June 5th. We got out the shore power cable and tapped in. Full batteries, hot water, wifi..... life is good. We puttered around the boat for a few days, took a few walks and a bike ride or two. A highlight was catching the bus into the big city of Ermoupolis. This is the capital of the Cyclades island group and a cultural hub. The marble paved alley ways are lined with art galleries, cafes, and antique shops. Towering over the city is the large Greek Orthodox church on one hill and on the other was the very old medieval settlement of Ano Syros. It is topped off by Agios Georgios, the 13th century Catholic cathedral. This was a thriving community in the 17th and 18th centuries. We enjoyed lunch in a little local café and caught the last bus back to the marina. We liked it so much that we rented a car a few days later for some more exploration.
Onward to Kithnos for an overnight stop in a nice little bay. As we headed in, we noticed boats coming from all directions headed into this tranquil little bay too. By the time night fell we had 9 boats keeping us company. We played a little bocci ball on the beach at sunset, enjoying the warming weather.
After seven hours of mostly motoring and we arrived at the island of Poros
. This is one of the most picturesque places we have sailed into. All the stacked little house boxes with red tile roofs climb the hill where the clock tower ....towers. This was one of our favorite stops. We spent a night on the dock then found that they wanted 40 euro a night PLUS $$ for electricity and water. Dave kept his eyes peeled the next morning watching the anchorage for the perfect spot next to the White Cat Restaurant/Taverna. We spent 12 days enjoying the views of the city and the food at the White Cat. A day was spent on a four wheeler zipping around the island. Dave even spent a day on a bicycle and slugged his way around the same route. Since this proved to be such a secure anchorage we decided to board the hydrofoil for Athens for 3 days (more to come on this brave move).
We rented a car for a day tour of the Peloponnese Peninsula. We saw the massive Venetian Palamidi Fortress in the ancient capitol of Nafplio
, the fabulous 4th century Epidaurus theater that is still in use today. Nice warm weather, fellow cruisers, clean air, sunsets, and yummy food.... Hmm we had to pry