Patmos and Leros

Rob and Jacky Black
Fri 18 Sep 2009 19:11
37 19.6N 26 32.6E
We finally left Samos on Thursday morning having had the new windlass fitted on Wednesday. We had an interesting sail across to Patmos - little wind to start with and from the NE so we were motor sailing. Gradually the wind increased and we unfurled the genoa and were soon romping along at 7 knots so 'skipper' went off for his afternoon kip and I was on watch! No sooner had he gone below but the wind began to back and soon I had wind on the nose and had to furle in the genoa completely and put the engine back on! However the wind then veered again and for the last few miles it was NW so we had a bit of a sail into the bay near Skala where we were planning to anchor for the night. The island looked very green and there were several bays and small islets as we headed for our chosen spot. I wanted to visit the ancient fortified monastery above Skala so we didn't go into the lovely deep bay Ormos Meloyi - we will keep that one for another day. On arrival in Skala we found the water ship to be taking up the anchorage area so ended up dropping the hook and reversing onto the town quay. All went well and the new windlass performed a treat thank goodness. The quay is noisy as there is a main road running behind it but it was handily placed for me to catch a bus up to the monastery on Friday morning. We had a wander into town and took the official documents to the Port Police office - we had been asked to do so by one of their staff so thought we had better comply! This was a first for Greece as previously we have gone to the offices to get our transit log stamped occasionally but no-one has ever been to ask us to do this. interestingly we had to take all our documents despite being told when we arrived in Greece that the transit log was all that was needed one we had it! Ah well that's Greece for you! After the formalities were complete we had a walk round the town which has rather interesting architecture - Italian influence (according to the Pilot book) and a bit different to what we have seen recently. It was still full of tourist shops and there was a preponderance of liquor shops (the Turkish trip boats come here!) when we arrived there was a huge Cruise liner anchored in the bay too.
I did not know anything about this island until our neighbors on the Danish boat in Samos told us not to miss a trip there. The religious importance of the monastery to the Christian world is significant and it ranks as one of the 7 most important ancient sites along with Jerusalem, Lourdes, Fatima etc. The monastery towers above the town and can be seen from miles away. It has been a working institution since it was founded in 1088 and there 15 monks of the Greek Orthodox church living and working there today. The museum had some amazing ancient Christian artifacts one of which was an original papyrus page from the testament of Matthew, and a scroll dating from 1088 granting the permission to form the monastery. The place is particularly significant because the apostle John lived here and wrote the book of Revelations which is why the site became sanctified.