DODECANESE - GREECE

April 22/09   We had a successful checkout in Datca, quick and painless, but the anchorage sucked a big one and we spent a sleepless night rocking and rolling and bobbing all over.

The first group of island we visited were in the Dodecanese, the group of 12 islands that lie in a chain down the Asiatic Turkish Coast. The Dodecanese are the tops of mountains that stood on the plain of the Aegean long since flooded. Most of the islands are bare of vegetation but the villages are interesting and the people very friendly. What we really enjoyed the most about these islands is the opportunity to tie up free to the town quays making visiting the land based sights easier.



36.37.09N 27.50.40E  April 23/09

We bashed our way to Symi and this time entered the main town harbor astonished by the clusters of cubic muted blue, amber, cream and rose-hued houses and painted shutters spilling down the treeless hillsides.

We were comfortably tied against the wall, as were several other boats, when a substitute harbor master told us we had to stern tie. We spent the majority of the day in a fiasco, helping everyone making several attempts (including us) to not cross anchors and get secured to the wall.

We checked into Greece and the EU, purchased our cruising log and got our passport stamped. We are still uncertain as to how the regulations requiring that non-EU visitors leave the Med after 3 months. We shall see....

pictured is Ascension tied at the town quay in Symi

We hopped on a bus to visit the Monastery at the extreme south end of the island. It was a white knuckle bus trip along the steep high mountain ridge, at breakneck speed around narrow one-lane hairpin blind turns, the driver honking emphatically the entire way! We sped through pine- forested pockets

The walk around the monastery didn't take long. There was a beautiful anchorage there but not much else. We boarded the bus again, ready for our wild, hair raising ride and returned to the anchorage.

In this part of the Aegean Sea the winds blow NW. Exactly the direction we needed to go! Our first attempt to get to Kos island resulted in us turning back to Pethi Bay at Symi after enduring 4 hours of lumpy seas and strong winds on the nose and getting nowhere! Next day we headed out again, and despite tacking back and forth all day long in 20 to 30 knots, we were blown over to Turkey mainland! We anchored the night at Knidos and headed out again the next morn, this time on a better tack angle, albeit still 20 to 25 knots. We made good time sailing, reefed at 6.7 knots.

Kos 36.44.2N 26.58.3E April 26/09

We anchored near a major resort area at the southern end of Kos, Ormos Kamares. But everything in the south anchorage of Kos was still closed so it was pretty quiet. We took the tender to shore and landed on a pebble beach. We waked 4 km up a hill to the main village to buy bread. We wandered through narrow streets with typical cube-like homes, all similar in their simplicity. We noticed that all the women wore black.

Onward to Kalimnos, a very nasty wet sail with extremely rough, rough seas, water pounding over the deck into the cockpit. We beat to weather for 20 miles but ended up sailing 40 due to the tacking involved. And we thought we were ahead of the meltimis!! At least some dolphins came for a brief visit.

Kalimnos 36.56.84N 26.59.69E  April 27/09

We enjoyed the village of Kalimnos with its gigantic cross and the tiny church perched high above on the craggy rocks, We squished into what seemed to be the only space left at  the town quay but were soon asked to move when the ferry came in and almost touched our hull. There was a large open space at the end of the wall but we were told not to moor there because it was reserved "in case of war." We wondered if there would be a war that night as our plan was to leave first thing the following morn!

Domed roofs of  lively sprawling city

Sponge Diving Boat

We met a group of Swiss charterers who invited us onboard for Risina, the local wine made from pine resin. It was surprisingly good and really suits the landscape of the surroundings. Later we enjoyed wandering the streets people watching during the busy nightlife. The shops were all open late and we noticed that many of the shops sold sponges, as Kalimnos is known for its sponge divers.

Leros 37.09.1N 26.51 8E  April 28/09

We left Kalimnos with quieter seas and decreasing winds, destined for Leros. The wind died completely midday and we motored into the tiny fishing village of Pandeli surrounded by wooded hills. We were the only sailboat tied amidst the fishing fleet on the quay, surrounded by nets and fishing floats. The catch of the day composed of flying fish and garfish, little else. No one around spoke any English and pretty much paid us no mind except for the usual "yasa" greeting as we passed by.

Onshore, octopus were strung everywhere drying in the sun. The village was definite local, no tourists here. Many tavernas with Greek music echoing around the still bay.

Above the town the customary stone walled castle reined and
the hilltops was lined with the ancient windmills.

Patmos  37.19.7N 26.33.9E  April 30/09

After several days the winds switched to southerly, ideal for our track to Patmos. It started to rain and we were rejoiced that the salt would be washed off the boat from our arduous pounding over the past few days. But it turned into "red rain." So we simply exchanged the salt for brown dirt blown over from Africa. We wallowed our way through the rain and reached the harbor of Skala, Patmos, where we spotted Belvenie tied to the main quay.




We met up with Mark and Amanda from Belvenie and hiked up the hill to the 11th century Monastery of St. John above Chora, where St. John wrote the Book of Revelations. One of the richest and most influential monasteries in Greece, its towers make it look like a fairytale castle.

It was a beautiful bright blue day, perfect for some badly needed exercise. The old cobblestone Byzantine trail afforded great views of the anchorage as we meandered through a herd of goats munching on giant cactus.

It was a long hot climb to the top. Between some of the steps you had to walk 3 paces uphill to get to the next one, this was serious exercise.

At the summit the magnificent old church was adorned with frescoes and a prominent bell tower. The impregnable fortress-monastery had a balcony over the main gate which boiling oil could be poured on anyone attempting to enter.

We explored numerous terraces, covered walkways and the even the original kitchen with a petrified wood hollowed out tree trunk used for kneading bread dough.

The ancient town of Chora with its glaring white squat houses, surrounds the hilltop church and the warren of narrow stairways of streets and twisty alleyways ambling through a maze of over 40 monasteries and chapels

Unfortunately the weather forecast changed and strong westerlies were predicted so we had to wait until the wind switched to get to Mykonos.  We took advantage of the 4 days waiting to do some boat chores and clean the boat.

Getting propane tanks filled is always a chore but an almost impossible feat in Europe. No where will they fill American/Cdn bottles. Greece uses Greek Gaz in tanks that can only be exchanged. But the fittings on these tanks are all different from what we use in North America and do not fit in our lockers anyway. So Gord  rigged up Greek-type fittings and hoses to attach to our tanks, rented a Greek tank and  transferred the gas from the Greek bottles to our Canadian ones. Highly illegal here but our only option. An all day job so good to get that out of the way as we don't want to run out of gas before morning coffee!!

May 3

Finally we set sail for Mykonos, anxious to meet my bro, Bruce for a visit. Mykonos is in the Cyclades group of islands on the western side of Greece mainland.