Amante in the Med

30 May 2017
15 May 2017
01 May 2017
01 June 2016
26 May 2016
10 May 2016
06 April 2016
06 April 2016
25 July 2015 | It happened in Gaios, Paxos
28 June 2015
10 June 2015
30 April 2015
30 November 2014

Santa Maria di Leuca, Italy

19 June 2017
Santa Maria Di Leuca is the city on the southernmost point of the heel of Italy. It is Italy’s Ushuaia, Land’s End. This is the actual point. Rather a jagged little edge.

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Santa Maria di Leuca is an beautiful town to visit and the marina is deep enough for 2.8 meters in selected berths. It was not previously a port of entry that we knew of, but we were able to check in. By visiting the Ufficio maritime, next to the travel lift, shown here,
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the officer was able to call the border police who brought a portable laptop and passport scanner and checked us in. They also gave us a constituto, which is not the current protocol, but we now have one. They were very friendly, but we had to wait a while until the guy showed up with the laptop.

Looking to the shore from the anchorage, just in front of the town promenade, we all scratched our heads at the architecture. Such an array of styles- Ottoman, Baroque, whimsical fairy princess, modern beach bungalow, all interspersed with the famous Villas of SMdL (I would call it the Newport Mansions section of Puglia).
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These are homes built in the 1800s that are part restored, part in the original state of decay, all impressive if all a bit odd.

The town seemed abandoned. Many many holiday condos are built next to the mansions and are apparently awaiting August, when Italy is on vacation. This are is where Italy goes on holiday, where the Ionian Sea brings clear, warm waters unlike the murky mess of the Adriatic side. The coast here is rocky and full of caves, so the Italian solution to a rocky beach is either lay down wooden "beach" decks, or just lie on the rocks!

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The coast line of near SMdL is jagged, featuring many navigable caverns, grotte, and caves that you can reach in land by walking. In fact, in the Salento region are many Grotte that show evidence of human occupation from 20,000 years ago! Cave art, made of Ochre and guano have been dated to this time period, and there is at least one Christian church still operating inside a cave. The cavemen of this region had very well decorated homes.
The waters are clear, warm and very swimmable.

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How about dinghy- spelunking?

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The sections of coastline that are not interesting caves and rocks are pebble or sand beaches. The section near Urgento is called “the Maldives of Italy” because the shallow, turquoise waters bring the Maldives to mind. We could only anchor so far away, we had to miss it. Motoring along about 2 miles out we had to stop and pick our way out of sudden 4 meter water, to a more comfortable 10 meters.

Zachynthos, Ionian Greece

15 June 2017
We had visited Zante Island before but never the town of Zante.

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The town was destroyed by an earthquake but the rebuilt city retains some charm and architecture that make it very pretty indeed.

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Of course, the real show stopper is the beach. Marathonisi island is a small beach on a remote island in the national park. Everyone flocks here to hopefully swim with the turtles. We saw none here, but we did enjoy people watching at the beach- couples, families, pizza boats, etc.

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Of course, Zachynthos is most known for the most photographed beach in Greece, Shipwreck cove. A few repeat favorites, and perhaps when we get it edited, some drone shots.
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Collision at Sea- Not Amante

09 June 2017
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Docked along the waterfront in Argostoli, Cephalonia, where tourists gather to watch turtles surface or to buy fresh fish from the local fisherman, sits a lovely sailing yacht, the romantic home at sea for "living the dream". Upon closer inspection, this sailing yacht is missing fundamental pieces of equipment, namely the mast, boom and sails.

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The sailing yacht Columbo, a Bavaria 50 was hit underway at night by an unlit boat 80 miles from Cephalonia on a direct line from Malta on approximately June 2, 2017. The unlit boat appeared to have many people below decks. No one was above decks on the unlit boat. The boat remained unlit and hurried away as the couple struggled frantically to cut away their rig. The collision dismasted the sailboat and the attached mast threatened to hole the boat. The collision itself split the boat vertically from the starboard midships toe rail to a porthole beneath it.
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After watching their mast, boom, all their sails and rigging sink to the bottom of the sea, and patching the hole to not take on seawater, the couple made their way under power to Argostoli harbor in Cephalonia.

They asked me to help share their story to make others aware of the dangers of this patch of sea, as it still seems to be in use for stealth human transport. The couple are willing to share any information that may help others avoid such a tragedy. Many lives in two boats could have been lost.

Return to Ithaca

30 May 2017
Ithaka, May 27-29, 2017

Back to Ithaka and the lovely harbor of Vathy.
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We have never been here before when there was room on the town wall, so we stayed a few days.
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The weather was perfect, not humid, warm with cooling nights. We ran and walked quite a bit and watched some tennis at the bar immediately behind the boat. Perachori sits up a steep hill from Vathy, called Ithaka’s balcony, where we Walked for a lunch of Greek salad with a view of Vathi, then continued on for about a 7 mile walk all overlooking Vathy harbor. We had pleasant weather, the flowers still fragrant, the air still cool, the water unbelievable blue. Perfect.

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Many beautiful beaches ring Ithaca and a few crumbled “ruins” of ancient buildings (mostly piles of rocks) but absolutely nothing that would suggest real evidence of Odysseus or his kingdom here. In fact, Ithaca has NOTHING to suggest any former civilization was here. This fabled route Odysseus took on his way home from the Trojan war is mostly likely Homer's attempt to make learning interesting by creating a story to link history and geography. Sort of.

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The town if Frise has a nice, new dock that is free with no water or electricity and at least 3 meters all the way in, but there is a rock ledge that must be approached carefully. Perhaps use the dinghy as a Pasarelle, because with that ledge and the swell that comes in the harbor, you would not want to be in too close. Friske has 3-4 cafes or tavernas and a handful of houses, but little else. A small ferry docks there from somewhere. Kioni bay is also a nice stopping point with a beach, tavernas and a small marina or docking area.

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The Tremeti Islands

15 May 2017
Tremeti Islands. May 15, 2017

We left Fano in nasty waters into 20 knot winds, I suppose so we could be at the Tremeti islands for the nice weather on the following day. It worked! After about 22 hours of slogging to weather bashing into 4-6 foot seas, everything calmed down and by the time we anchored, the sun was shining, the waters calm and clear blue enough to jump in.
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The Tremeti islands are trio of small islands with sheer limestone and tuf cliffs and sparse dark green scrub vegetation. Atop San Nicola there is a town and a fort with a large church from which the views over the islands are payment for the climb.
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We walked to the harbormaster's office, which is up the substantial hill to town, then ran for a while before walking up to the fort. There are walking trails all over San Nichola island, including a perimeter trail with overlooks the beautiful waters.





Back to Fano, Italy

01 May 2017
We arrived and splashed Amante in record time, due largely to a new fantastic crew, who had all the work done when we arrived.

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We took advantage of all this free time to tour Fano and the surrounding area. Fano is our home town in Italy, steeped in history and filled with varied architecture. It was the end of the Roman road the Via Flamminia and is too noteworthy to spend time retyping what you should all go and read on Wikipedia or a better site. So here- fano.php

Fano is built atop the Roman city, and if you can find a guide, it is pretty impressive to tour Fano Underground. Sadly, we are often there before and after the main tourist season so there are no tours from the tourism office.Fanounderground-01726

We found a guide the way I find everything in Fano- asking Gabriella, the hostess of Palazzo Rotati, our fano address when not on Amante. She connected us with a guide who showed us Fano underground and also the San Pietro en Valle church, one of the most beautiful baroque churches in the Marche region.

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We also visited the Frassasi Grotte, an amazing cave found only in the seventies and thus very well preserved. 

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Simi, Greece

01 June 2016
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A nice couple we met walking to the Church of St. John the Theologian on Patmos told us that if we go into Symi harbor, beware the depth. They were told to go onto the customs dock and he ran aground!
So we wrote that down and promptly forgot it. Good thing we didn't have to go on the customs dock! But while Symi harbor is one of the most beautiful harbors this side of Bonifaccio, surrounded by steep hillsides of pastel colored Italian style homes, it is very narrow. After mooring we could walk steps to the shops and cafés.

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Boats' anchors are all atop one another. As we anchored, the boat opposite was shouting and pointing to their anchor while the dockmaster, just kept waving us in yelling, "It's a small harbor. It happens!" Sure enough while we were out jogging the next morning, the boat across left, and pulled up our anchor- all the way up. Like hooked anchors and two big free swinging boats. Yachting adventures mostly happen at the docks!

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Short trip to Turkey

26 May 2016
We went to Didim to check out of the EU, and to get some repairs. There isn’t much to see in Didim itself, but the marina was very nice with a nice hotel, spa and pool.
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Our repairs would have to be done in Bodrum, which is good, or we may have missed it!

Bodrum, Turkey

Bodrum Castle, formerly known as the Castle of St. Peter overlooks the harbor, filled with yachts of all sizes and the enormous fleet of Turkish Gulet boats.
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Bodrum, like just about all of the coastal parts of Turkey that we saw, flies about 3 million Turkish flags.
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Lots. We docked the boat to the sound of the Muezzin calling the town to prayer. The call to prayer is a haunting, exotic and quite beautiful sound, except at 5:30 in the morning. The night clubs stop blaring music at about 2, leaving you about 3 hours to sleep before it is time to get up and pray. Lucky I brought my earplugs.
The waterfront in Bodrum was more much crowded with tourists than in Greece.
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A Celebrity Cruise ship joined us on the day we toured the castle and the Nautical Archeological Museum. The food was excellent, and sufficient to feed a village. This is the mixed grill for 2:

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The people were super friendly, the work done at the marina on our dinghy was fast, well-done, and priced fairly, and the energy of the waterfront made our 4 days in Bodrum feel much too short.
My musings while walking around as a tourist; about tourism in general, from a Cruise ship in particular are here: (link).

A beautiful place to stop for lunch is Buyuk Limini on the Datça peninsula to see the ruins of ancient greek city of Kinidos.
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This is a ruin just starting to be excavated as a touristic destination, but it was once a very large city. Just walking around we found many pieces of pottery laying about. The lower ampitheatre that held 5000 people was intact, though somewhat weathered.
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The upper one once held 20,000, but has been leveled by marble recycling. We walked until we were tired and saw a very small portion of this one large city, thought to be a part of the Dorian Hexapolis.

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We anchored overnight in flat calm water, and went to town the next morning to check out of Turkey. What a charming port town. With a peninsula separating two good anchorages, we had to flip a coin to choose the one on the harbor side. The other had more beach attractions, bars, hotels and cafes, but both sides were busy enough. The elementary school playground is about 100 meters from the sea and the sound of kids playing always adds a joyous note to any good beach bar. The waterfront was lined with park benches and picnic tables for the residents or tourists to sit along the water and while away the hours. I have seen this consideration before, but never with clean ashtrays at every table! We had a few Turkish Lira to spend, so we walked the streets a bit and bought some local honey, olive oil and a I heart Datça t-shirt.

Buddy Boating in Mykonos

18 May 2016
Just after leaving Athens, [caption id="attachment_1878" align="alignnone" width="640"]DCIM100MEDIADJI_0111.JPG DCIM100MEDIADJI_0111.JPG[/caption]weather from the south led us to Mykonos, to a bay that rents wind surfing equipment- a bay that in normal, prevailing northerlies conditions is untenable as an anchorage. Our sailing mentors Mary and Larry on Berkeley East were also there, so INSTANT HYLAS RENDESVOUS!! Although they were headed south and we are headed east, thr weather, who always wins, suggested Mykonos for a few days.
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What fun! We got to visit with friends, swap stories and restaurant recommendations, go out for dinner and get photographed by Larry's new drone.
All without altering course or picking up guests from an airport!! Buddy boating rocks!!
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Season Opener

10 May 2016
Lavrio, Greece Winter 2015 through May 10, 2016

Amante spent the winter high and dry in Lavrio, south of Athens on the Greek mainland in Attica. Work done, we left the dock at 6 p.m., the latest departure ever, and motored around the corner to Sounion, to spend one night under the Temple to Neptune, which beautifully lit at sunset.
The plan was to get to Turkey quickly to reset our VAT clock, the work our way up the Dodecanese chain, then head back across the Cyclades in time to miss Meltemi season, which starts late June. Meltemi is the name of the prevailing horrid wind in Greece from the Northeast funneling through the Cyclades islands, and from the Northwest in the Dodocanese. We had a taste of the Meltemi last year and it was bitter.
We stopped in Kea with light to spare, so we walked around the enormous harbor, lined with shops not quite ready for summer shoppers, and cafés full of empty tables. It is nice to get an early start of the season, if the weather allows. We ate at Roland’s café, and enjoyed typical Greek food: Greek salad (yes, even they call it a Greek Salad), horta, a local green like spinach, zucchini balls, which are shaped more like a mini burger than a ball, and grilled fish. Yum!
Protection was good in the harbor, even though the wind was oddly from the south and forecast to get stronger. With wind coming from the south, Scirocco, we decided to head to Mykonos, where our friends on Berkeley East were already hunkered down and enjoying sushi on the beach at one of Mykonos many fashionable restaurants.
What’s better than waiting out a Scirocco in Mykonos with friends and hardly any tourists? A drone! Larry’s new drone allowed some great shots and the fun of watching Mary play catch with a four rotor aircraft flying right at her. A brave one, that Mary!
We also celebrated Captain Mauro’s birthday. We agreed to go out for a drink at one of Mykonos’ many trendy night clubs. Thankfully Mauro had mercy and picked a tamer one in Little Venice that played exceptional music. I shazammed several songs for my summer playlist.

The good thing about Scirocco is that you get to visit bays that are normally untenable in the prevailing northerly Meltemi. We anchored in Mykonos for 4 nights in a bay with wind surfer rentals. It was perfectly calm. The bad part is with the wind, the Scirocco brings half the Sahara with it, or at least the fine dust particles, that cover every millimeter of the boat’s interior, and causes the red mud rain that is the scourge of every captain. It rained mud on us for about a week, just about every day after Mauro cleaned the boat. He wept often.
Vessel Name: Amante
Hailing Port: Bimini, Marshall Islands
Amante's Photos - Bermuda
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Added 21 July 2012