Sailing the southern Cyclades

Dick and Irene Craig
Sun 24 Aug 2008 12:42

Our first night in Kalotaritissa was prolonged by the live entertainment on the quayside which went on well past my bedtime. Presumably non-participants in the EMYR felt the same about our rally entertainment.

It wasn’t unpleasant, or even annoying but was certainly not what one would have expected on a Greek island. I have heard Greek music and this was not. It was more like an Irish folk band with each tune sounding remarkably like the previous. The fiddling was good, the singing was fine. It was just a complete anomaly.

As if the setting was not in itself little short of paradise, the partial eclipse of the full moon, added more romance to the scene.  

Next morning, the participants of the Aegean  rally, which we had seen advertised while in Nisiros, motored out of the bay in a flat sea and almost no wind. The boats were all gone by 9.30. The Aegean rally could well be an annual event, as I remember having also seen the posters last year, though the rally had been long over before we arrived.

The full moon must have had adverse effects on some of the people attempting to moor their yachts the following evening. The quayside was full but this didn’t seem to deter the skippers from dropping their anchor and taking lines back to the quayside.

A large white motor cruiser arrived and finding no available berth, moored the boat in the space reserved for commercial shipping, squeezing in between a tripper boat and the ferry. It must have been a very rude awakening for the occupants of the motor cruiser, when the ferry pulled up its anchor and departed during the early hours of the morning.

A day boat rafted up against the motor cruise, making it impossible for the tripper boat to move out, without first the day boat moving.

A large sailing mono-hull squeezed into a space, also reserved for commercial shipping, next to a rusty old freighter.

The highlight of the entertainment this evening was when a very beautiful, enormous, Italian sport-boat arrived, engines roaring. With a dark blue hull and silver top-sides and stream-lined design, it was a very phallic statement. Undeterrred by the lack of space, it dropped its anchor and reversed back towards the quay, determined to squeeze into a space which was too small for a boat half its width. The engines were turned off and the boat stayed for the night. It must have been a charter boat because the stern on the starboard side rested against another boat, tied up along-side the quay, plying Greek fruits-de- mer, consisting of sponges, shells etc.

Then, when it is dark and you think the show is over, another large sport-boat arrives, also looking for a berth and finding no chance of staying on the quay. It crossed the bay, found an empty berth which belonged to a local fisherman and tied up along-side. Not to be thwarted, when the fishing boat returned, it rafted up to the sleek, expensive sport boat and the 3 fisherman climbed across the other boat to get ashore.

Next morning we raised our anchor and motored from our anchorage, hoisting the mainsail while we were still in the bay. We had expected insufficient wind to enable us to sail to our next destination but were making over 9 knots, on a close reach, with wind strength of only 14 knots.

We arrived at Mirsini, on the island of Skhinousa before lunch and tied the boat to a small, secondary quayside, having first dropped the anchor. We swam in the warm, clear, blue water, with a sandy seabed.

There were a few boats on the main quay and 2 mono-hulls at anchor in the bay. A diver, with a dinghy at hand, was searching for a lost anchor. Once found and retrieved, the boat which had lost the anchor was able to leave the quayside and depart the bay.

By 7pm the main quayside and the secondary quayside were full with yachts at anchor in the bay. On our starboard side are two ribs with big outboard engines, both ribs are 29 feet long. One of the ribs will stay overnight but the other plans to leave.

A mono-hull charter sailboat snags 2 anchors and his stern keeps bumping into the bow of a German mono-hull sailboat while the second boat, a motor cruiser just waits for the problem to be fixed. A diver from the charter boat gets into the water to sort out the mess. Eventually the anchors are free. The charter boat disappears, the skipper of German boat dives into the water to reset his anchor and the motor cruiser reverses back towards the secondary quay, trying to climb into the back of the 29 foot rib moored closest to us.

Last year while we were here, we berthed on the main quay next to a mono-hull, the skipper of which had become very excited when the ferry arrived. Apparently, on a previous visit here, the anchor on the ferry had become entangled in the anchor chain of this small boat and at 6am, as the ferry raised its anchor, the mono-hull started to move away from the quay, despite having lines ashore.

Anchoring or berthing in a harbour in Greece isn’t for the faint hearted.

We have seen a great number of ribs this year. Many have hard tops and cabins, upwards in size from around 27 feet in length. Others are open to the elements and all sizes, with powerful outboard engines. The largest of this type we have seen to-date being 29feet in length. There are many which are like floating tents with a canvass canopy containing flaps which can be opened and used as doors or windows.  

As we have had light winds this week, the temperature has crept up again towards the mid 30s which encourages us to get our exercise swimming, although we did walk up hill each morning, from the harbour to the village, just to remind us that we still had legs.    

As the forecast is for the wind to be blowing force 7, we stayed longer than usual. Having arrived Monday, we didn’t leave until Friday. This gave Dick the opportunity to insert a stainless steel thimble into an eye splice. In fact, he did two of them. We were very pleased with the results, particularly as Dick had only previously made one splice, under the supervision of his cousin, over a year ago.

We watch as boats leave this peaceful harbour each day, only to return after an hour or two, thwarted by the wind and steep sea.

We sailed out of the bay on a close reach, the wind was blowing force 4 SSE, the opposite direction from all of the forecasts we had checked prior to leaving. Once out of the immediate influence of the island, the wind swung round to the direction we had been expecting. As we proceeded further away from the island we were sailing on a beam reach in a slight sea. Very soon the wind strengthened to force 5 then 6 then 7 and we hit 12.5knots before we put in the first reef. As we approached the headland on the island of Ios, we put in a second reef and were pleased to have done so.

We had expected the passage to have taken about 4 and a half hours, but with the able assistance of the wind we were anchored in 2 metres, in Manganari bay, in just less than 3 hours. The water was very clear and pale blue with a sandy bottom. Just as I like it.

A peddle boat passed, as did a small, shallow, plastic canoe containing a young man and a golden Labrador. The dog was not amused and was soon taken ashore and transferred to the pedalo where he was much happier.

I am advised that Greece has a policy of nil tolerance towards nudity on the beaches. However, the bay of Manganari in Ios, is supposed to have naturist beaches but we saw nothing to substantiate the claim.

The smooth and blue didn’t last too long. Within 3 hours the wind was blowing so hard, our anchor shifted by 2 metres and the water was very up and down. Then, just as if someone had switched off the electricity, the wind dropped and we were back to smooth and blue again. That is when we discovered that the anchor had dragged, while we were having a swim.  

Not expecting the wind to come up at night, it doesn’t usually, but not wanting to take a chance either, we decided to move the boat further across the bay, rather than stay close to the rocks. If the wind did come up over night and the anchor dragged, it wouldn’t be a problem now we were no longer near to the rocks. As it happened, the wind behaved itself until 6am and then it just blew a gale all day. According to the forecast, the wind should have dropped about 6pm but it couldn’t tell the time and didn’t go down until after I had gone to bed.

Next morning we looked out at a flat sea but we had already experienced the results of the local topology and moved on to Ios town, where we picked up a lazy line and tied up to the town quay.

This is the first place in Greece that we have visited where lazy lines have been laid, they are so much more sensible than having to use an anchor. It does away with all the problems of picking up the anchor or anchor chain which belongs to another boat. It is a much tidier way of doing things.


Below: Dick splicing and labrador on peddle boat