Three weeks down and three to go before I get the splint off my right hand/wrist/forearm. But this blog isn’t about my fracture, it’s a bit of a recap of our journey from Greece to Turkey prompted in part by trying to remember where we’ve been and some highlights since my accident in Kefalonia. It was only when trying to recall the details earlier today that I realised it’s all a bit of a blur actually.
This is partly because we were delayed for a week by the Medicane named Zorbas and also because we had to set a fairly fast pace so Elaine could get to Turkey for an important prior arrangement which none of us wanted her to miss. This is an account of our trip from Kefalonia, leaving on Sunday 30th September, to Symi on Thursday 11th October.
Once Zorbas died down, we headed north to Ithaca where we met up with Phil and Linda who Mike was skippering from there in their Beneteau yacht Mira II, to Kas in Turkey. As Barry and I had decided to spend winter in Turkey after Mike and Elaine had explained the many benefits (warmer, drier, calmer seas, considerably more sheltered anchoring spots, and cheaper than other European countries) we chose to travel as a buddy boat with Mira II. Mike moved onto Linda and Phil’s boat in Ithaca and Elaine stayed with us so we could take turns sleeping during the single overnight passage to the Corinth canal.
Going under the bridge approaching the Corinth Canal at night was an amazing and nerve-wracking experience and all 3 of us held our breath until we were safely on the other side with mast and antenna intact! The Corinth Canal was as interesting a passage as it was narrow … and it was very narrow … where you felt as if you could almost touch the sides!
Poros (one of the Argo-Saronic islands) was our destination after Corinth and we said goodbye to Elaine who left A B Sea to join Mike on Mira II. As I’ve written in my two previous blogs learning to sail as a short-handed crew of two with my current handicap has been a challenge but also a blessing, And as I sit writing this in Fethiye, Turkey, I am glad to have experienced the journey. Poros is a picturesque island with brown roofed white houses. Baz got to moor stern to on his own with only me to drop the anchor and attempt throwing stern lines. Fortunately as we always moored next to Mira II we had lines assistance from our friends.
We left Poros via a narrow and busy channel with many yachts moored and anchored on either side. We motor-sailed to the Cycladese islands and our first stop was at Serifos where we moored side-to onto Mira II. What I remember of Serifos are the clusters of square white buildings clinging to the hillside, lit up in the sun.
The next morning we left for Ios and during this eight hour passage across the Aegean, we experienced 25-30 knot winds on the beam so we had a challenging but exhilarating sail. We rounded the corner into the harbour, just managing to furl away the headsail and found Mira II and several other yachts trying to moor stern to in 15 knots of wind. Needless to say we were nervous at attempting that with a crew of only 3 useful hands between the two of us. Baz decided to anchor, but the port police didn’t like that and we had to move to the harbour. However as I was sporting a broken wrist, they deemed it an emergency and we were allowed to moor side to at the dock. I nearly cried with relief. It was very harrowing for our friends as their anchor kept dragging but they eventually became secure and we all caught up over drinks and shared stories of our journey. Baz and I explored Ios in the sunshine the following day and discovered a superb beach with aqua water and clean soft sand, dotted with grass topped umbrellas and beds for sunbathing.
After a drink there we hopped on the bus to ‘the village’ of Ios and climbed up through the labyrinth of winding narrow streets with ancient white houses, red bougainvillea, and blue doors, to the top of the hill where there were 3 churches. From the very top, we had spectacular views across the island to the harbour where A B Sea was moored, and also to the prehistoric ruins of Skarkos. It was well worth the climb!
After 2 nights at Ios we made a 10 hour passage across to the Dodecanese island of Astipalaia. Rather than stay in a large town, Mike directed us to the tiny enclosed Vathy bay where we docked side to the Ouzeri Taverna Galini. We had freshly caught octopus and red mullet, with dips, salads and other traditional Greek fare. The six of us had a very enjoyable evening hosted by the fisherman, his wife and family. Afterwards we were invited on board Sven’s catamaran who was rafted side on to us, for a traditional Estonian liqueur. Sven was a part of the Olympic sailing team in his earlier days and he and his two crew were interesting and friendly hosts. That was one of the highlights of the journey for me.
Leaving for Nisyros the next day saw us heading out of the harbour nose into 25 knot head winds for an hour. It was extremely bumpy and once when the nose was buried, A B Sea lost the cover to her port navigation light. Oh well, it was a minor loss. We travelled for a good part of the way after that with 20 knots of wind on a beam/broad reach but we were happy to be able to sail!
While we didn’t have time to explore Nisyros we did walk along the beach road to the unfinished hot spring spa resort. I picked up pumice stone from the beach as gifts for the girls … for smooth feet! We also walked by a film crew painting an old building for a set and as we walked by, we enviously spied their film equipment in the back of a large van! This island, as you may have guessed, is volcanic with hot springs and a large caldera that can be explored. This is one island we will definitely return to.
The following we had a four and a half hour journey across calm seas to Symi where we would check out of Greece. The first night we anchored in Panormitis Bay, an incredible peaceful bay dedicated to the monastery that attracts Greek pilgrim sailors who visit its icon of Archangel Michael, Symi’s patron saint and guardian of seafarers.
The next morning we headed north to Symi town where we had to exit Greece before heading to Turkey. That took a little while longer than expected due to a simple paper work issue for our travelling companions, but we eventually left and made a short passage over to Bozburun in Turkey.
During this passage I discovered that my phone’s screen had got a severe flashing glitch and I wasn’t able to use it for much at all. We tracked it back to possibly being damaged when it fell off the table during a sudden gust of wind and deep heel.
Baz lent me his old work phone, but I’ll let you know what happened to that next time!