July  2005
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Check out Weeks ending:    [2 July 05] [9 Jun 05] [16 Jul 05] [23 Jul 05]

Week ending 2 July 05 (Bob)

Waiting out the Meltemi - We had planned on a 2-3 day visit of Mykonos, but the weather dictated a different plan!  After one day of moderate winds when we explored the island, the Meltemi set in and the rest of the week it blew, winds ranging from 15 to 30+ knots.  We were confined to the boat several days, and one day when we braved the wind and went ashore we returned to find Long Passages 100' closer to a motor launch - we had dragged!  We mounted an anchor watch that night and relocated the next day, managing to get the anchor set after 3 tries! Thus, we we forced to stay in this beautiful island for a week, to wander thru women's clothing shops, peer at windows full of handmade jewelry and leather goods, and eat at waterfront restaurants.  The downside was that about 50# of Mykonos dirt blew onto LP, so the canvas, shrouds, deck and nooks and crannies were covered in grit, very much like our reminders of the Red Sea.

Delos -While LP was dragging its anchor we took a ferry to the adjacent island of Delos - a center of religion in ancient Greece.  A small, barren rocky island only 4 miles long, Delos has been inhabited for at least 5000 years, not including the time when the gods chose it as the birth place of Phoebus Apollo, son of Leto who struggled for nine days to give birth to this son of Zeus.  By 100 BC Delos was a free-port with a population of 25,000 controlled from Rome and Athens.  They left behind a set of ruins that rivals any we have seen, with markets, temples, streets, a stadium, theater district, and numerous other buildings. One of the highlights are the mosaics that have been preserved; some 'in situ' in the ruins and others relocated to the on-site museum.  Ferries run from Mykonos to Delos all morning and back during the afternoon - no one can stay on the island overnight.  In fact, in antiquity, no one was allowed to be die or be born on Delos, so the commuting pattern has been established for thousands of years.

Kithnos - After the Meltemi took a break we got up early for a 50-mile motoring trip, south of Siros and into the snug harbor of Loutra on the east side of Kithnos.  In this case, a friend advised us of a marina with space, lots of water and free electricity - what more could we ask for? When they arrived they called us on the radio and told us "..lots of room at the inn, you can just pick your spot...".  Ten minutes later they called again "...four boats just arrived and its getting crowded...".  And ten minutes later ... you get the idea, by the time we arrived all good spots in the marina had at least two boats in them - so when we arrived we rafted beside "Destiny" on the bulkhead, broke out the hose and bucket and tried to remove the salt collected en-route to Mykonos and some of its dirt.

Weather Information - As technology changes our method of collecting and reviewing weather information has also changed.  When we left the US in '92 we listened to short-wave radio and other cruisers, took notes, and guessed what was ahead.  Later came a weather-fax and a virtual picture from space to help us predict what to expect.  In the era of the internet, we now send short emails to two sources; one (data@buoyweather.com) returns a text prediction of wind conditions for the next 5 days and the other (query@saildocs.com) returns a file that can be overlaid on an electronic chart and shows pressure and wind for anywhere in the world.  The technology is amazing, but it still just provides information which we mere mortals must use to decide whether to venture out or not. 

Week ending 9 July 05 (Bob)

Athens - We decided to press on to Athens and prepare for a passage through the Corinth canal, so we motored in light, hot conditions from Kithnos to the Zea Marina in Athens.  We, along with 'Destiny', had bookings but when we arrived it seemed we had dropped in from outer space.  The launch led us on a sightseeing tour of the marina looking for a spot in every corner.  We rejected one and were finally stuffed between 2 boats.  Unlike the excellent service provided in Turkey, here the guys on the launch handed us a line and drove off, leaving us and the guy on the next boat to manage the Med-moor operation - we were not impressed!

Athens Archeological Museum - When we last visited Greece, every museum we visited was "closed for renovation" - in preparation for the 2004 Olympics.  This time we managed to get into Athens premier museum, the Archeological Museum which has outstanding examples of art work from Neolithic times (4000 BC) through the Bronze Age until about 300 AD.  All works are well described in Greek and English and our few complaints about lack of maps pale in comparison to the outstanding presentation.

Aphrodite

Bronze statue boy jockey

Gold mask

Bronze statue of Poseiden

Silver mirror

Woman's fertility statue

 

Santorini - When volcanoes and mankind meet to create an awe-inspiring location, Santorini must rank near the top.  Santorini (aka Thira) is a set of 4 islands around a semi-dormant volcano caldera - an eruption in 1926 and earthquake in 1956 make long-term planning a little difficult.  Many civilizations have settled on Santorini over the last 6000 years.  Around 1600 BC an enormous eruption buried the island  and re-shaped the islands - wiping out the Minoan civilization on Crete 60 miles to the south and sending a tsunami that reached as far as Israel. Despite the risks, ritzy jewelry stores and hotels hug the steep slopes overlooking the caldera over 700' below. We took a 40-knot Hellenic Seaways fast ferry from Athens and enjoyed:

  • Two days relaxing in the Caldera Studios hotel, a new place with outstanding views.
  • Driving around the island from Oia at the north to the marina and lighthouse at the south.
  • Having "sundowner's" with Don and Sandy as we watched the sun set over islands to our west.
  • Wandering through white stucco alleys replete with souvenirs and unique jewelry.
  • A break during the drive at Sehnor Zorba, a Tex-Mex restaurant run by a lady from Denver and her Greek husband, with good nachos and a fabulous view.
  • Archeological museum with a great selection of pottery and frescoes found at Akrotiri, a city buried by the 1600 BC eruption, similar to Pompeii.
  • Watching cruise ships, sometimes 5 at a time, anchored in the caldera with their fleets of launches bringing the tourists to shop and gawk.

We really enjoyed our time in Santorini and hope to return sometime when there are fewer tourists and cooler temperatures.

Aegean Behind Us! -  We have been nervous of the Meltemi and its potential for hurricane-strength winds since we entered the Mediterranean. We are now glad to be berthed in Zea Marina in Athens and have the Aegean and the meltemi behind us. Now all we have to face is the Sirocco, the Mistral, and the Levante and a few other well-known winds ahead of us - we can hardly wait.

Week ending 16 July 05 (Bob)

Kalamaki - We left Athens with light winds, but it built as we motored towards our objective, the Corinth Canal.  It was blowing 20 on the nose by the time we reached Kalamaki, the anchorage on the east end of the canal.  Since we had to travel 20-30 miles on the other side of the canal once through we monitored the weather in the Corinth Gulf for 2 days as it blew 20-25 from the NW - it would have been on the nose, of course. 

Corinth Canal - On 15 July we were up at 0600, filling out paperwork by 0700 and motoring thru the canal by 0725.  The Corinth Canal was visualized by many Greek leaders, including Julius Caesar, Nero, Hadrian (of Hadrian's Wall fame in England, the city wall in Antalya among many others).  In fact Nero started digging it with a golden pick, but if fell to French engineers in 1882-3 to dig the straight 4 mile ditch connecting Corinth and the Saronic gulfs, saving 185 miles around the Peloponnesus.  We motored at five knots with Calypso Flyer and several other early birds and popped out of the canal before 0800 - a good start to the day. By mid-afternoon we were tied to the quay in Galaxidhi, one of the points from which you can visit Delphi, which we visited in November 2003.

Trizonia - So far, most places we had visited in Greece were commercial centers or hubs for foreign visitors.  Our  next stop was Trizonia, a small island in the Gulf of Corinth and spot for Greek visitors.  The pace was slower, the people friendlier, and the food better.  We tied to the quay for 3 nights (no charge), wandered the village and island and enjoyed ourselves.  The 'marina' was started with EU funds and then work stopped when Greece had to spend their money to finish it - apparently a common story in Greece and Italy.  All of the heavy work had been done but there was no electricity or water - not a real problem for us and it beats paying €40/night in the real marinas.

Week ending 23 July 05 (Bob)

Rion/Patras - On leaving Trizonia we headed for the Ionian Sea, motoring as usual.  The exit from the Gulf of Corinth passes Rion, the narrowest point of the gulf and thus location a new bridge.  We saw it under construction when we passed here in 2003 and now it carries lots of traffic, yet vehicle ferries run back and forth just as frequently as before - it must be cheaper to take the ferry than pay the bridge toll.  We gave Patras a miss, the marina did not look inspiring when we last visited.  By the afternoon we had dropped the hook in Petala, a large, sheltered anchorage on the mainland.

Kefkas (or Lefkada) - About 40 miles north of the Gulf of Corinth is the island of Lefkas, we anchored in Tranquil Bay near Nidri for a couple of days and then checked into Lefkas Marina for a few days "waiting for weather".  The island is quite green and pretty with sandy beaches and turquoise waters.  The bay was not so tranquil as charter boats packed it, and in some cases jammed themselves into places too small to anchor - in one case a midnight move was in order as 2 boats played "bumper boats" in light winds.  Lefkas companion is Scorpio, a small lush island owned by Aristotle Onassis and thus one of the homes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis - now a private park.  Between Lefkas and the mainland is a shallow canal about 10 miles long.  This canal was originally dug by the Corinthians in the 8th century BC, and still allows the huge fleet of charter boats to shuttle between the Ionian and sheltered waters with ease.

Ionian so far - The Ionian seems to be a more settled body of water than the Aegean, pleasant breezes most of the time and picking up to 15-20 during the afternoons.  In the Aegean this week winds are predicted to be 25 to 40, with gusts to 50 knots, not pleasant for cruising.  The cruising grounds around Lefka are beautiful and protected, in our opinion the best we have seen in Greece so far.

Plans - We plan to cross to Italy next week and start the sprint to Spain.  We are hoping to meet up with friends in Paris at the end of September and Judi's niece in Italy sometime in November - a busy Fall.

 

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