Leaving Amorgos I continued east heading for the tiny island of Levitha. Sailing past the high cliffs of Amorgos provided not only dramatic views but some serious gusts of the land. The wind stayed good and I had a cracking sail about 3/4 of the way to Levitha before I had to put the motor on.
There are a couple of anchorages in Levitha, which is a tiny island with just one taverna, but most people take one of the mooring buoys at the east end of the main inlet. I was interested to see how I would manage to pick up the buoy sailing solo but by luck I managed it first time. I motored up to the buoy into the wind and when I got to within 5 metres put the engine in neutral, locked the wheel, ran forward and picked up the buoy with the boat hook. Fortunately it was flat calm. No doubt it would have been a different storg if there had been much wind.
I got there fairly early and watched many more boats come in till all the buoys were taken. Then a charter boat came in and forlornly motored around trying to find a buoy. So I took pity on them and told them they could raft up with me. Turned out they were Russians from St Petersburg and they invited me onboard for spaghetti bolognese that evening. They were a nice bunch, spoke good english, and we had a very convivial evening!
Over the next two weeks I sailed solo 200 miles from Ios back to Marmaris in Turkey. This turned out to be one of the most enjoyable times I had all summer. Yes it’s nice to have crew, but it’s also nice to have the boat to yourself and the wide open sea. Fortunately no night sailing was required as whoever made the Aegean conveniently placed islands with beautiful bays and anchorages every 20-30 miles. Also having bought Acheron new I was able to have the boat equipped with all the toys that make solo sailing easy: in mast furling, bow thruster and electric winches.
The first leg was from Ios to Myrsini (Schionhousa) 22.5 NM. I spent 3 days anchored in Ormos Livadi which was a lovely bay with a very nice taverna on the beach here I took my evening meals. Apart from swimming, relaxing and generally chilling out I also tried out my new anchor buoy made from a small fender, block and 10 metres of line with a weight.
Just after leaving Ios I had the experience of two high speed ferries passing me fairly close by, both doing 35 knots in opposite directions. In these situations I reckon AIS is a very handy tool as you can see the course they are taking a long time before they reach you and make sure you are well out of the way before they pass you.
I had a pleasant sail from Myrsini to Amorgos and just spent one night anchored in Kalotyri before heading off to Levitha.
I spent a few days in Ios, anchored in Ormos Kolitzani catching up with Barry and Aannsha on AB Sea.
I met Barry and Aannsha in Kas where they were overwintering in the harbour back in January. We became fast friends and developed a close bond that is common among sailors and less so in ‘normal life’.
They are amongst my sailing heroes. Not because they did the Golden Globe or rounded Cape Horn in a bathtub, but because with zero sailing experience they decided to sell their house, buy a boat and sail around the world. Neither were they people who previously walked across Mongolia or skied to the South Pole. Just ordinary folk who had done a bit of diving and travelling and decided it was time to get out of suburbia. They exemplify the can do attitude which when incorporated with a dream has moved the human race over a few thousand years from living in caves to walking on the surface of the moon (sorry Barry, the moon landings were not faked)! They are also proof that you don’t have to be wealthy to buy a boat and live aboard. Just determined and willing to make a few sacrifices. They have an excellent YouTube channel, Sailing A B Sea and produce a 15 minute video every week recounting their adventures, the good and the bad, sunny days, stormy days, and fixing the broken bits. If you want to know what it’s like to live aboard then I recommend you watch their channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1871D2uswg0Ji-v8_0oRyw
So we talked and laughed a lot, caught up with each other’s news and did our bit to reduce the EU wine lake!
From Kimolos we headed north east to Siphnos, and after an overnight stop headed onto Despotiko and then Ios. In Siphnos we anchored in a lovely little bay off Apokofto beach with a nice taverna ashore and a monastery on the headland. In Despotiko we anchored in a wild deserted bay on the south of the island.
The final leg to Ios provided some good sailing with a light south westerly. I decided to roll out the code 0 to make a bit more speed and within a minute of deploying it the wind suddenly went from 8 to 20 knots and I had quite a struggle to furl it with the furling Lind deciding to jam!
When the wind eventually abated we headed south again to Milos. We had good wind on our quarter to start with, but it dropped off and we motored the last few miles.
The main town in Milos, Adamas sported a decent pontoon with water and electricity so we tied up there with the luxury of a lazy line for the bow. It was a good opportunity to do some shopping and enjoy eating ashore after being stuck onboard in Seriphos. I stayed there three days and then headed north east for Kimolos, with the intention of making my way to Ios to meet up with friends Barry ans Ansha on AB Sea.
Kimolos didn’t have much on it but the bay we anchored in was sensational and I was able to get my first photo with my new waterproof drone!
From Syros, another leg south to Seriphos. The bay of the main town of Livadi is huge, but the holding is pretty doubtful so we tied back onto the concrete jetty on the outside of the harbour. This proved to be a mistake. The next morning I awoke to the sound of the stern grinding against the jetty. The wind had got up to 30 knots and our anchor was dragging and we were being pushed back onto the concrete. After messing about for an hour trying pull in the anchor a bit we decided there was no option but to cast off and motor into the bay and anchor there. This we did but it took 5 attempts to get the anchor to hold. By then it was early afternoon and we sat in the cockpit and watched a stream of charter boats careering into the bay, go into the harbour, come out again and try and get their anchor into the weedy bottom. This was quite entertaining until one of them managed to pull up our anchor! The yacht was from Dream Yacht Charter! How quickly in sailing the dream turns into a nightmare! We found ourselves locked in an embrace with the german boat drifting towards some nasty looking ballast on the harbour wall. In the nick of time they managed to free our anchor from their chain and we made the decision to head to another bay a few miles away that promised more shelter and better holding.
It was a pretty bumpy ride with the wind hitting 40-45 knots but when we got there the bay was practically empty and there was a nice sandy bottom to dig our anchor in. There we stayed for the next 2 days while the storm blew out.
From Andros we headed south to Delphini Bay in Syros. We enjoyed a light westerly wind and a flat sea and had a very relaxing enjoyable sail flying our big code 0 sail.
Once anchored in Syros we spent the next 3 days on photography and captured some good images of Holly the mermaid and sea siren, including some underwater stills and video. Also some more conventional images on land. After that Holly headed back to the UK and was pretty sad to leave the boat. I think she had discovered a whole new side to her personality as a mermaid!
I spent a couple of days in Porto Rafti, did some shopping and finally got a gas refill after trailing around several places with a helpful taxi driver. Holly and Lesley arrived and we set off for Andros. Holly is a fine art figure model and I had worked with her on many photo projects over the years.
We decided to break the voyage to Andros in half by stopping in Karistou which is at the southern end of Nisos Evoia. The winds were light but we managed some good sailing before motoring into a nice sheltered bay to the south west of Karistou. It was completely empty and had good holding. So we dropped the anchor and poured ourselves a drink, congratualting ourselves on a good first days sailing and finding such a perfect spot. Then a disgusting smell wafted over us. It was coming from the land and a brief study of google earth showed a satellite image of a sewage treatment works on the hill overlooking us! It took us about ten seconds to figure out that we couldn’t possibly stay there so we pulled up the anchor and motored to the bay next to to the town. We just stopped there one night and then headed the next morning to Andros.
The weather was perfect with plenty of wind and a flat sea and we had a terrific sail across to Ormos Fellos on the north east end of Andros. There was a submarine cable marked on the chart running right through the middle of the bay so we anchored well away in the eastern corner. We didn’t want to be responsible for putting the lights out in Andros!
Holly had brought with her a mermaid tail which we had ordered from a specialist supplier in the US. The plan was to get some fun images for my 2020 calendar above and below water.
So the next morning Holly donned her tail and we headed ashore in the dinghy for some rocks nearby which looked like just the kind of place a mermaid might bask in the sun. I think we got some good results!
And so the last leg of our journey to the Greek mainland. The aim was to get to Porto Rafti for a crew change. Porto Rafti is the nearest sheltered anchorage to Athens airport where crew were departing and arriving from.
We decided to break the voyage to Porto Rafti with an overnight anchorage on the southern end of Makronosis. The island is uninhabited and according to the cruising guide there was quite a scenic bay we could drop anchor in at the southern end. When we go there there was already a motor cruiser and a fishing boat taking up prime spots and after a couple of attempts to get our anchor in a place that would give us swinging room we gave up and motored up the east coast of the island. It was blowing pretty hard but we weren’t too worried as there appeared to be a few other options on the way north. The first bay we tried our anchor dragged. The second bay we had more luck and settled in for the night. Makronosis is a desolate place. After the second world war the Greek government has used it as a prison camp for communist partisans and apparently the conditions for the prisoners were dreadful. There was a terrible air of sadness about the place and we were glad to leave the next morning for Porto Rafti.
We had a good sail north, close hauled and only had to motor for the last 3 miles when the wind came straight onto the nose. When we came into Porto Rafti we could see a small quay with a space so we dropped our anchor and motored back onto the quay, only to be waved off and told that it was private. So we went to haul up our anchor only to discover that it was stuck fast on a huge mooring chain. We managed to winch it up to within a couple of meters of the surface with the windlass straining and the bow dipping, and I was thinking that I would have to go into the water when Flaminia managed to get a loop of line around the roll bar of the anchor. We gave the anchor a bit of slack and then with a tug on the line it came free and we headed off into the bay and anchored.
After leaving Ormos Kolona in Kythnos we made a short hop to a bay on the south west coast of Kea which looked to be a nice anchorage.
After one night there we decided it was a bit rolly and pushed on to the main town in Kea, Korrissia and tied up on the town quay. It’s nice once in a while to do this and enjoy the hustle and bustle of these little island towns. Watch the ferries come and go, explore the town, shops and tavernas and generally watch the world walk past your cockpit!
The shops are usually pretty limited and I trailed around a few places one afternoon trying to get a refill for one of our Camping Gas 907 cylinders to no avail. Still its nice just to be able to step off the boat and take a wander, and talk to the other yachties!
From Batsi in Andros we headed south west to Kythnos to an anchorage that had been recommend to us – Ormos Kolona.
There are two bays separated by a sand bar. Both anchorages were pretty crowded when we got there. We tried the east bay first but couldn’t find a space to get our anchor in so motored back around the headland to the west bay which is much bigger. The water is beautiful and clear and there is a hot spring on one of the beaches which is a short dinghy ride to the north side of the bay. There is a nice restaurant above the beach which was open all day.
We stayed for a couple of days, swimming and walking along the beach and peninsular. A spectacular place and well worth the visit.
After we said goodbye to Alex, a new crew member arrived: Flaminia. We headed north west from Mykonos to Tinos where Lindsay jumped off and got the ferry back to Piraeus.
We had good wind on the beam on the way up and made good speed flying the code 0. While I was doing the sailing stuff in the cockpit Flaminia gave Lindsay some Reiki down in the saloon!
When you come into the main harbour at Tinos beware of a gap in the breakwater, which can look like an entrance but is actually part of the harbour wall that has been destroyed by storms and is just below the surface with waves breaking over it.
After an overnight stop in Tinos, where we caught up with Aussie friends Greg and Leanne who were anchored in the harbour on their cat, blue Nomads, we headed north west again to Andros. There wasn’t a lot of wind so we motored a fair bit, but were treated to a visit by a dolphin on the way.
We had another overnight stop in Ormos Plaka, a nice bay, but a bit exposed to swell so we kept going up the coast of Andross to the town of Batsi which had a sheltered anchorage. We stayed in Batsi for a couple of days and hired a quad bike and did a bit of a tour of the island.