2 July 05 (Bob)
the Meltemi - We had planned on a 2-3 day visit of Mykonos, but
the weather dictated a different plan!
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.
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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
returns a text prediction of wind conditions for the next 5 days and
the other (email@example.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.
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
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.
Bronze statue boy jockey
Bronze statue of Poseiden
Woman's fertility statue
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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
- 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
23 July 05 (Bob)
- 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
(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.