August 2013, LETTER FROM CRETE, 35:29.50N 24:03.70E
August 2013, Letter from Crete, 35:29.50N 24:03.70E
27.7 After an extended stay in Bozburun we left at daylight to sail west and north up the Turkish coast. A nice reach in 30 knts changed to squalls of the same straight off the coast, so we decided to spend the rest of the day resting, anchored off Palamut harbour before leaving early to beat the wind at Kindross. Unfortunately we again had 30+ around the cape, before we made it across the gulf where we enjoyed the company of hundreds of locals on Sunday afternoon, anchored about 4 miles away from Bodrum, in a little bay called ‘the Aquarium’ a handy free anchorage for a swim. That evening we ventured into Bodrum to anchor under the Crusader castle, and had Turkish doner dinner with our new kiwi crew member, Peter, who joined us aboard the next day.
We decided to return to the near deserted “Aquarium”, where other Kiwi friends on ‘Diamond Girl’ joined us for the evening. We set off at a respectable hour next day, but motored to avoid head winds around the Gűműslűk peninsula, before having a leisurely downwind sail in flat water to Asim limani a distance of 34n miles. Once inside this ancient harbour of Iassus, we anchored for the night. Despite the heat we could not resist an evening walk up to the ruins of a fort, amphitheatre and village.
Next day we did a “tiki” tour around the bays before anchoring for lunch at one of the nicest - Incegol Burnu, one of the new coastal housing developments with white houses decorated with bougainvillea. Three pretty bikini-clad Turkish women swam out to see us, and we had Turkish tea together before Roland and Peter went ashore to be befriended by a very nice Turkish Professor of linguistics at Ankora University. Needless to say we ended up staying the night. Our next stop was Didim marina, where we hired a car for two hours to visit the ruins of the temple of Apollo at ancient Didyma, had a Turkish meal, and cleared out of Turkey with the help of agent Attila. Friends had advised us it blows at Didim and it sure did. At the end of a long Peninsula it seems to collect the day and night wind with great force.
We left early, thinking the 34.5nmile sail to the Greek Island of Patmos would be a beat, luckily the wind was more northerly than expected and we sailed most of it with eased sheets and then a reach as we passed Ariki Island. After relaxing at a sandy cove overnight we ventured into the harbour of Skala where we cleared into Greece. This took 7 visits between Police and Customs, and a payment of E60 for a 90 day Transit Log. Patmos is famous for its huge fortress monastery to St John, which crowns the highest mountain. We had visited this island and monastery before, but Patmos is a great place to provision, with several supermarkets, bakers, butchers, and fresh produce stalls. We had Spanakopita (Spinach and feta pie) and iced coffee for lunch on the waterfront with a row of brightly coloured fishing boats nearby.
We checked out Passageweather on line, and 6th August looked good for a 47nmile trip to Amorgos island. This trip was a nice sail followed by no wind and motoring in a rolly sea and slatting sails. We anchored to the northwest of the town of Katapola in 11 meters of clear blue water by a perfect white and blue chapel on the rocks. We dinghied into town for supplies and took many photos of Greek cats and fishing boats the next morning before we set off for the island of Ios. It was a hard gusty 33.5n mile as the “Meltemi” wind was 10 to15 knts before suddenly dying to nothing and coming back to 30 plus. Unfortunately we tore our headsail up the leach when we hardened up for an uncharted rock. We were glad to anchor for the night in the bay south of Ios town where we shared the same water as all the fun boats towing skiers and bouncey floats. The next morning the three of us sewed ripstop into the sail which we hope will stay together until we have a sailmaker make a proper repair. We had also shredded our flags, so they needed some repair as well. A visit to town proper in the dinghy confirmed where we were anchored was certainly the better of the two choices. The crowds boarding the huge fast ferry to Athens had to be seen to be believed. A short 5 mile motor to the south end of the island found us a nice sandy bay for the night, but it did bring what we have experienced a lot of, left over swell from the winds that seems to go around every headland and into the bays.
We could see the lights of Santorini, or Thira as it is called on the chart and next morning, 10th Aug we motorsailed the 10 miles across to directly below the northern town of Oia. The sights were amazing as we came into the circle of the volcano. The water is very deep (often 100+ meters) and there is only one marina on the island, so we motored to the southeast corner, where we wiggled our way in shallow 2 meter depths to moor at this unusual circular marina. We walked up to the top of the hill for dinner and a view over the boats and a beautiful sunset. We hired a car to drive around the island The next morning, we set off in our little jeep to explore the sights and the townships on the cliffs. Consie took hundreds of photos like the ones in every Greek travel brochure, of white white houses and churches with blue cupolas. Peter shouted us to lunch in a tavern at beautiful Oia, overlooking 3 blue roofs with the blue sea far below us. The island is much bigger than we expected, and the white houses stretch for miles, with tiny verandahs and steps everywhere. What is the word for people who live by a volcano? Oh yes, we have Rangitoto volcano in the middle of Auckland harbour. I guess the word is Optimists.
12 August, a long day’s sail, 80n miles from Santorini to Crete, but the Greek weather gods smiled on us, and we had perfect conditions, a lovely reach in 20 knots and our headsail held up. But no fish, sadly, we have not caught any fish yet in Croatia, Turkey or Greece. There is a military NATO missile target area between Santorini and Crete, and we emailed first to check there was no shooting on the day of our crossing, and got a prompt reply to say there was no bombing that day!!
Peter tried out our Bic dinghy in Milati bay, Crete, and a friendly fisherman brought us a crate of his homegrown grapes, which we shared with a French family on a boat called ‘Odysseus’. Peter left us in Soudha bay, western Crete, and we are waiting for our friends from Hong Kong, Sara and Mark, who will join us after flying into Heraklion, Crete and getting a bus to Restless. Together we plan to cruise the north coast of Crete, take some trips inland and then cross to Karpathos and on to Rhodes at the beginning of September. We plan to cross back into Turkey before meeting Pip and Gilbert, who fly into Dalaman and will probably meet us in nearby Gocek.
We continue to enjoy cloudless days, with enough wind (sometimes too much) to keep the 30+ temperatures at an acceptable level. The Greek food is as good as ever and we are certainly enjoying this part of the world.