Linaria (on Skiros) via Livadhi (Kea), Batsi (Andros) and Petries (Evia)
38:50.533N 24:32.243E Thu 25th May 2017
We left Poros on Saturday May 20th and motored over flat seas to Kea in the Cyclades group. We managed a gentle sail for 2 hours in the afternoon and anchored in the Bay at Livadhi. We didn’t go ashore as we have visited this island in the past and wanted to move on again the following morning. Our evening’s entertainment was watching the influx of charter boats to the town quay, some of which were clearly new to the stern-to Med moor technique!
On Sunday we headed for new territory at last, arriving in the little town of Batsi on Andros mid-afternoon after another frustrating on/off sail in fickle winds. As we were there quite early, we bagged the best position alongside on the substantial town quay, helped in by the jolly harbourmaster. For €25 for 3 nights we had a great berth with water and electricity, so were very content with that. The pretty town is the main resort for the island and has a surfeit of attractive waterfront bars and tavernas to tempt you and a beach if you fancy a dip. At 19.5°C first mate didn’t think the water was warm enough yet, but skipper dived in off the boat after a hot run. The water did look magnificently clear and inviting.
Batsi harbour with a pair of adorable marble dolphins but “villa pox” evident in the background:
And a very typical Greek harbour view:
On our first night the forecast strong winds arrived and peaked at 39kts. Goldcrest was pushed against the harbour wall and the fenders were hard pressed. Luckily the wall here is well buffered as well, but the slop noise was pretty loud. The winds continued all the next day and the handwashing I did that morning had to be extra well tied on! In the afternoon we set off to walk part of one of the 18 waymarked trails on this island. Andros is the most northerly and the second largest of the Cyclades and very different from most of the others in the group as it is wonderfully green and has many natural springs that never run dry. We had a terrific 2½ hour walk along lovely stony paths up into the countryside with its flowering shrubs, distinctive type of drystone walls, nervous goats and magnificent views. We returned along the coast road and passed several unfinished villa developments. There is evidence all over the coasts of the islands of arrested villa creep, or “villa pox” – lots of abandoned concrete structures as witness to Greece’s present economic crisis. No bad thing for the environment though.
Another Greek monastery near Batsi, with distinctive stone walls making use of schist slabs in foreground:
…and a close-up of those walls:
More goats, not often enough on the menu so pretty numerous in the wild:
The next day we picked up a hire car and headed over the island to its main town which is a real gem and full of neoclassical mansions from the era when this island had a very prosperous seafaring economy. We wandered down the pristine, marble paved main street and out onto the promontory which looks over an old arched bridge to the remains of a Venetian fort on the rocky outcrop beyond. We also visited the archaeological museum and were very impressed by its excellent displays of ancient finds from several sites around the island. There were many pots dating from as early as 900BC for example and a marble statue of Hermes from the second century BC, which is apparently a copy of a bronze from two centuries before that! After lunch in a perfectly sited taverna overlooking a wild beach at the edge of the town, we drove up into the countryside again and found one of the springs which gushes out of the hillside via a marble lion’s head. We also followed a steep track down to an ancient stone bridge across a babbling brook that felt more like Devon than the Cyclades. We then zigzagged back across the middle of the island past many tiny white washed chapels, large monasteries, abandoned, intensively terraced slopes and more of the extraordinary stone walls snaking over the hillsides.
The Hermes of Andros :
The rare Greek rock based lighthouse at the end of Andros town:
Looking down on Andros town:
Lush babbling brooks and stone bridges – hardly our idea of an Aegean island:
Lion head spring:
Despite loving our time and our berth on Andros, we were keen to move on northwards to the Sporades. We decided to break up the 80+ miles distance to Skiros by spending a night at anchor on Evia en-route. Evia (or Euboia) is the long thin island that lies off the central part of the Greek mainland. Most yachts choose the more sheltered route up the channel that separates the two, but we opted for the outside passage. We motored out of Batsi to the very atmospheric sounds of Orthodox chanting from the impressive church behind the town and then proceeded to motor the whole 47 miles to Petries on Evia. The scenery of the island along the way was spectacular and we had fun dodging several big ships going to and from the Bosphorus. We anchored off the modest beach at Petries, and watched local children playing around the usual waterside tavernas. Here there were recently constructed houses right on the sand with the water’s edge “enhanced” by a row of trees planted in large pots. It took us 2 attempts to get our anchor to hold on the very hard sand bottom, but after that we had an extremely quiet and peaceful night.
On Thursday we left again as soon as we were up and breakfasted en-route, knowing that once again the forecast was for very little wind. Towards the end of the 32 mile passage we were able to sail in light winds for 1½ hrs and were thrilled with Goldcrest’s performance in the gentlest of breezes. We arrived in the little ferry port of Linaria on Skiros at lunchtime and were met by the energetic harbourmaster Sakis who runs an amazingly well organised set-up here. We are on the town quay, but this time with laid lines instead of having to come in stern to on our anchor. We also have water and electricity and there is a smart shower block, communal lounge and, thrill of thrills, a large washing machine. We are paying about €25 a day for all these facilities, but it is still a bargain. The ferry here is owned by the community and pulls in each evening to the sounds of Strauss being blasted from a speaker on shore – great fun! This afternoon we walked around the coast to a wetlands conservation area to get some exercise and spot a few waterbirds. We saw some herons, egrets and sandpipers and possibly a falcon overhead. Apparently Skiros is home to 80% of the world population of Eleonora’s falcons and we hope to spot some more when we explore some more of the island tomorrow. Like Andros, it has some marked trails and a main town worth visiting on the other side of the island. We are here for several days to sit out the next lot of strong northerlies (and rain), so must get out and about.
No scenic photos of Linaria yet, so just a shot of the underwater scene, they have blue lights on the quay here: