It is several decades now since my amazing sister Judi taught me to cut Barry’s hair before we left England to live in the South of France in 1983. I’ve only learned one style and thankfully, Baz – even though he had several longer hair stages during his time as a DJ in Tenerife, Canary Islands – still likes the same haircut. Lucky. Not so lucky for our son Luke, whose hair I used to tackle until the day at around 12 years old, he turned to me and said, “Mum, I don’t ever want you to cut my hair again. You’ve got to take me to the hairdressers. This is embarrassing.” Fair enough. There’s only room in our family for one Barry Jones hairstyle. Fortunately, I’m living with the one who likes it.
So, when Baz turned to me one June morning and said he looked like one of the stars from the 1970s TV series, The Hair Bear Bunch and he was due a haircut, I got my scissors out. We’d already decided that we wouldn’t cut his hair on A B Sea again, as we’re still finding stray hairs in strange places on deck to this day. Looking out at our surroundings, which was an anchorage in Patmos, Greece, I spied a tiny cove and pointed at it. “There. That’s where I’ll cut your hair.” We packed all the essentials into the dinghy and off we zoomed.
After a relaxing sunbathe in our beach chairs with a cold can of beer each, we got ourselves ready to give Baz his haircut. He didn’t particularly want hair shards in his bathers, so he went au naturel, hence no camera footage of the actual deed. Afterwards we both enjoyed skinny dipping in the aqua clear sea.
Swimming naked adds a whole new dimension of sensation, the cool water glides over areas that are usually protected and it is a very enjoyable experience. If you ever get the chance, try it. But do check that you’re not breaking any local laws, and probably more importantly, keep an eye out for jelly fish, sea urchins and any other fish that might cause you harm. The latter is why you’ll often see Baz and myself wearing our diving boots when we’re swimming or walking on the shore. Baz has spotted too many pointy things that can give you a nasty sting in his years of scuba diving, to generally forego barefoot bathing. I’m not quite as cautious, but as I often snorkel to a beach from the boat, I’m generally wearing my boots under my fins anyway.
The Universe has better plans for us
But I’m a tad ahead of myself. In my last blog, I left you at Pythagorion in Samos. And our sailing plans didn’t actually include being at Patmos. So how did we get here?
When we left Samos, we had every intention of anchoring at Fourni overnight in a bay that our friend Jim Furness had recommended, and then heading further northwest trying to climb north before the meltemi season got fully underway. But we all know about sailing and plans. The weather often dictates whether you go or don’t go, and sometimes where you end up. On this sunny day in early June, Baz and I set off fairly early for Fourni and after filling up our water tanks overnight at the town harbour next to our sailing friend Eduard, we got diesel for A B Sea, petrol for the dinghy, and headed west along the southern side of Samos.
The wind was brisk (as expected) with 19 knots of wind and getting a sailing speed with the headsail of between 5 and 8 knots. Not bad. The wind increased as we approached Fourni around 3pm, up to 25 knots, gusting to 30 knots. Every bay that we’d chosen as potential anchorages was either untenable (sand over rock with no holding), already full, or impossible because the wind speed meant I couldn’t swim ashore with a line for stern to mooring. If I’d tried to, the wind would have grabbed the back end of A B Sea and pushed her well off course before I’d even got half way to the concrete post to tie a line around.
We did sail across the cut between Fourni and the next island in the hope of finding a spot to anchor there, but the bay we’d seen on our chart plotter was full of rocks. It was fast approaching 6pm by that time and apart from a five or six hour sail back to Samos to arrive in the dark, our only option was to head south to the nearest island. Patmos lay only 15 nautical miles away and with a strong wind coming from the north, our large headsail would do a good job of getting us there in about two hours. Of course that didn’t happen did it? No. The wind gods waited will we were 20 minutes into our passage and turned off the blower. The wind dropped to almost zero and our headsail flopped about like an oversized deflated balloon man flag. Sighing, we turned on the engine, furled in the sail and motored as quickly as we could to Patmos, wanting to check out potential anchorages before dark.
Thank God for prolonged dusk time in the Mediterranean summer. In Australia, once you realise the sun is setting, by the time you’ve walked to the light switch, it’s already dropped below the horizon and you’re lucky if you don’t walk into the wall. Here in the Aegean, we had heaps of time to sail around the northeast tip of Patmos and look at our first choices of bays.
We chose one just east of Kambos and we anchored in 6m, in sand, with 30m of chain out. There were two other yachts in the bay, but it was quiet and had good shelter from the gentle breeze. It was 8pm as we watched the sun dipping behind one of the smaller islands to the east.
Waking up to this beautiful cove the next day with its crystal clear azure blue water, tiny sandy coves surrounded by craggy rusty coloured rocks made me realise that in the overall scheme of things, Baz and I might have a rough sailing plan, but the Universe definitely seemed to have a better one. After checking out our options in the Greek Waters Pilot book, our chart plotter and also Google Earth, we could see that we were now in range of many beautiful islands. What’s more, these islands were all pretty close to each other, and if we planned carefully, we could see many of them as we headed north and west up the Cyclades.
On the hunt for useable data
We still had to find a data plan that would work, as the one from the UK that we’d thought would be the answer had restrictions as we were using it in Europe. So, after a few failed attempts to anchor near the main town in Patmos (at Meloyi bay), we headed on over to another island, just southeast of Patmos: Lipsi. We had a short and enjoyable sail there with calm seas, 18 knots of wind on our port beam and achieved 5.6 knots of speed with the headsail.
We arrived at 1.30pm and after a few attempts we eventually anchored in Lipsi bay just west of the town harbour, in front of a church. How did we get on there when the wind picked up? Did we find a useable data plan? I’ll let you know next week!