On Tuesday the 18th of June Baz and I raised the anchor when everyone else in the bay also seemed to want to leave! At one point, two large Turkish gulets which had anchored the day before came very close to A B Sea as they pulled up their anchors. But there were no prangs, and as soon as they’d left, we headed out to sea as well.
It was sunny and warm and at the beginning of our journey we had with 8.5 knots of true wind. We did bring the headsail in and out during the sail and eventually gave up the effort and motored along at a comfortable 7 knots of speed. After leaving the delightful bay of Katsadia on the south of Lipsi, we arrived at our destination in just under two hours. At 12.15pm we anchored in 7m of water in the NW corner of Alindas Bay on the east coast of the Greek Dodecanese island of Leros. The holding there was good and we were fairly sheltered from any gusting wind.
We’d been on the search for internet data which is very important to us as we have YouTube videos, Instagram pics, blogs and many conversations with our followers that all require internet connectivity. We’d had partial success at our previous anchorage in Lipsi island, but we really needed to find a proper internet store where we could buy a Cosmote data sim that we could install our previously purchased 30 Euros of data onto. We’d discovered in conversation with a retired English man on Lipsi that we would be more likely to make this happen in Leros, so we arrived at this island filled with anticipation.
We went ashore and climbed the hill of the local town and after asking a couple of locals, then Baz following his inner antenna and we found a computer store. Hopeful, Baz went in while I waited for him, sitting in the shade on some steps. Twenty minutes later Baz emerged looking like a kid on Christmas morning. He’d finally solved our data issue and had managed to get us 30GB of data for 25 Euros which works out at around AU$40 from a provider called Wind. This would last us for 3 months but we could top up our data at many of the islands as Wind is one of the main providers in Greece. A celebration was in order!
It was hot and a tad humid and we walked back into town where we stopped at the local bakery and I had a coffee while Baz had his usual beer. “Cheers!” we clinked our cup and bottle together feeling very satisfied and not a little relieved at our win!
Stepping back in time
As we were already halfway up the hill, we decided to walk the rest of the way up to Pendeli Castle which is perched at the top of 200m high cliffs on a hill dominating the town. This is a medieval castle that sits on more ancient ruins. It has a colourful and complex history, as does Leros. We found this out when we, eventually arrived at the castle after a very hot and sweaty climb up winding steps. We were greeted by a little old lady who asked us for 2 Euros (AU$3.20) each if we wanted to see inside the chapel and museum, while the rest of the castle was free to explore. We happily paid as this goes to the upkeep of the museum and chapel, and first looked inside the chapel.
I immediately got tears in my eyes at the beauty of the paintings, murals, icons and gilt work that adorned every wall and ceiling of this smallish chapel. As we both walked around, I became aware of the absolute feeling of stillness and harmony that resided in that place. Not just quiet. But a definite experience of peace. More upwelling of tears.
We left there and headed for the museum as we weren’t sure what time it was open until, and didn’t want to miss out. We were greeted by a middle aged, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and entertaining curator called George. He held us spellbound with his explanation of the history of the castle and the island of Leros. We didn’t need to look at the treasures in that little building. The real treasure was in George’s tale. I learned more about that part of Greece’s history and culture than I expected when I entered the castle. Walking around the ramparts sometime later, we had uninterrupted views of Alindas bay and Lakki bay to the west, which played an important role in the second world war as it makes for an exceptionally valuable deep water port.
Not stepping off a cliff
I got brave (or foolish) and stepped onto the very high rampart wall, testing my nerve on the edge at this crazy height. As I stepped back onto safer ground, I found I had a strong urge to step back onto the wall again. As if someone was daring me to go just a bit further. Just a bit closer to the edge. Have you ever had that feeling? Anyway, not wanting to accept this inner dare, which felt as if it would lead to a “Go on, jump!” moment, I retreated to the interior paths around the castle until Baz had finished shooting B Roll footage.
Choppy dinghy mooring
When we returned to our dinghy it was bashing up against the harbour wall and we realised the wind was picking up. We managed to get on and untie her and made it back to A B Sea where the sea state was less choppy – there was less fetch as we were closer to shore. We checked with the weather forecasts and realised the Meltemi wind was going to get a bit stronger over the next couple of days so we decided to move on sooner rather than later.
Meeting fab followers and yachtie ‘twins’
That afternoon we were on deck when a nice fellow paddled up alongside and greeted us as if we all knew each other. We smiled, realising he must know us from YouTube and it turned out he did! He, Craig, and his partner Cathy, were anchored nearby on their beautiful 60ft (18 metre) Jeanneau yacht. They had their son Harry and nephew Beau on board – two lovely young men. They invited us for sundowners and we had a great chat with Cathy sharing some very tasty sloe gin with me. I do apologise for forgetting to bring the tonic water! Sadly, none of us took photos, so I can´t share!
The following day, we met up with another couple who I´ve been in contact with through ¨Aussie & Kiwi Sailors in the Med¨ Facebook group. I tell you, Cheryl and Richard, are like our doppelgangers in many ways: they’re English/Aussies and have the same model and year of yacht as us, and only learned to sail a year ago! They were stuck in Leros having some major work done to their yacht, and it was great to be able to catch up with them while we were there.
When we went to meet Cheryl and Richard, we had to dock in the same place on the harbour wall as it was the only suitable place, but we used two lines through the iron ring, instead of one to stop it dancing around as much and to keep the two little fenders on the side touching the dock. That worked pretty well.
Leros to Levitha
We woke up on the fourth day at Leros and upped anchor just before midday, headed out of Alindas bay and turned south, eventually heading south west towards Levitha. The seas got quite large as we travelled and increased to between two and three metres towards the end of our journey. It took us a bit longer than we thought getting there, but we had a good sail and eventually arrived in the very sheltered bay on the south of the island.
There was a small mooring field and all but two of the mooring balls were taken. Caught unawares, we quickly got prepared and I stood at the helm with the hook, waiting to grab the pick-up line. It was a little nerve wracking as we hadn´t done this since Karacaoren in Turkey when we´d been assisted by the restaurant owner. But Baz did a great job of stopping the boat when I needed to pick up the line, so I wouldn´t have 9 tonnes of yacht pulling me along! A nice man in his dinghy came over and helped take our line from the cleat, passed it through the sturdy metal ring on the top of the ball and I was then able to tie it off on the other forward cleat.
We ate on the boat and then went over to the house on the island along a dirt path through fields where goats and sheep roamed. Some rocks were marked by white daubs of paint so we knew where to go. The mooring field is maintained by two families (the only two on the island) and many people have an organic home-cooked meal at their outside courtyard. As Baz and I had eaten, we had a couple of drinks and paid 7 Euros (AU$11.30) for one night on the mooring ball. We had a very restful night, knowing we were held fast in a very sheltered spot.
Levitha to Amorgos
The following morning it was sunny and we left the mooring field before 8am. Putting A B Sea´s motor into overdrive, heading towards the Cyclades island of Amorgos, which was on a WSW heading. As we were heading west, the sun was behind us and it was a bit chilly in the wind so we wore our foulie jackets for the last three hours of our six hour passage.
The first part of the sail was great with winds up to 22 knots from the west and we sailed close hauled on a starboard tack. It was a little gusty as we went past the volcanic island of Kinaros as the wind rushed down off its steep cliffs. But we were far enough away that it didn´t affect us too much. Trying to sail up the NE side of Amorgos tested A B Sea´s ability to point into the wind and the waves increased, pushing against our starboard bow. In the end we had to motor. It was a better decision than ploughing into the cliffs of the island! We rounded the northern tip and motor sailed down the western side as the wind was all over the place.
We had a few anchorages in mind and the only viable one was Katapola bay halfway down the west side of Amorgos. We anchored in 12 metres (39 ft) of water in the long, wide bay. A B Sea was all put to bed by just after 2.30pm. The town narrowly hugs the bay and is spread out into three distinct parts. There is a ferry jetty and town harbour on the southern side of the bay and we were to realise just how close we were to the path of the ferries. So much so we were asked to move on by the port police! But I´ll tell you more about that next week. If you´d like to share our excitement in Leros after we got data, and the amazing Pandeli castle, plus the trip to Amorgos, do watch our YouTube video that comes out tomorrow.
Until next week, may your anchor chain never get twisted!