Malta to Greek Islands log – July/August 2009
24 July, Gatwick Airport: My plane was late. Not really the greatest of inconveniences since Boo Too was late and was now not due to arrive in Malta until the early hours of 25 August. However I was due to meet up with Henry and have dinner in an excellent restaurant in Valetta so there was mild anxiety as to whether I would get anything to eat or not!
A good night’s sleep and awake to brilliant sunshine and an SMS from Jeremy to say Boo Too is safely docked and taking on fuel. After breakfast Henry and I make our way to Grand Harbour Marina and join the boat. Some supplies come aboard, a leisurely lunch and then we are off, sails up and on our way to Spetsai.
We have some cracking sailing over the next couple of days, beam reaching across the Ionian Sea and then on the nose for the last 50nm heading north to Spetsai, arriving in the early hours of 28 July. At anchor in the beautiful bay of Zogiormia at the north west end of Spetsai. We spent most of the day in this lovely peaceful anchorage before motoring round to the Old Harbour in Spetsai town. Chris Louis, who I had not seen for 40 years, came aboard with her Irish boyfriend, Mike for drinks before we all went ashore for dinner.
We left Spetsai at a leisurely 11am and sailed north to Piraeus (Athens) arriving at about 7.30pm. Difficulty getting into the berth in the Floisvos Marina since our main generator had broken down and consequently we did not have enough power to operate the bowthruster. A couple of goes were required using the tender as a make do thruster.
30 - 21 July
Henry departs in the early morning of 30 July and we spend a frenetic day getting the boat cleaned up and ready for Boo’s arrival the next day. Tom Ledger leaves in the early evening. Jerome Vaughan joins us for dinner on board that night. An enjoyable evening. The following morning Belinda and Donald say their goodbyes and head for the airport. Boo, Tara. Henry Vaughan, Sam Hoare, Alice Murray and Lizzie Lowes arrive after a quick trip to the Acropolis and the Plaka. Dinner on board.
Sails up and away we go towards the island of Kea, 50nm’s away. Good sailing as the wind progressively strengthens. The bay of Ormos Vourkari is very well protected from the Meltemi and one would hardly be aware of the storms that could be raging outside. Plenty of wakeboarding, waterskiing and other water sports were engaged in over the next day and a half. Tara’s 18th Birthday dinner was celebrated on board and then the young took off to try out the local delights in the village. The next morning some of us took the local bus up to the Chora which was a little cooler and certainly colourful!
An early morning start before the Meltemi got blowing too strongly and off towards Mikonos. A very good run under two reefs in the main and using the staysail rather than the jib. Still making up to 10knts. Decided to anchor in a bay on the south side of the island rather than off the town due to the Meltemi blowing up to 40knts. We had to come in under sail and drop the anchor because the exhaust elbow on the main engine had blown a seam. Sent a text message to Jerome inviting him for dinner but no reply. Boo and party went ashore for a drink in the beach bar – very expensive. An early dinner on board and then off to bed.
Up early, wind dropped considerably and decided to leave Mikonos and sail to the north east corner of Paros. A lovely big, well protected bay, great for water sports. Alice and Tara discovered a nude catamaran and then discovered the binoculars!! The town of Naousa is pretty and delightful. Looks as if it has been seriously upgraded in the last ten years. Dinner on board both nights after drinks in the town. Followed by a night sail – departed at midnight on 5 August – to Thira/Santorini.
Moored stern to in Santorini by 7am. Boo and I were up early to take the funicular to the Chora but ended up walking since the queue for the funicular was about an hour long from all the passengers off the four cruise ships in the bay. The place was over run with tourists and very hot. Not to be recommended in August! Jeremy collected Henry Doyle, Alice Straker and Kane Jonsson from the airport while we found an hotel for the departing guests, Henry Vaughan, Sam Hoare, Lissy Lowes and Alice Murray, to spend the night. Dinner ashore in a not very good restaurant, fond goodbyes to the departees and then back down in the funicular, cast off, up anchor and away on our next overnight sail to the island of Astipalaia. A good sail, a gentle reach making about 7 knts.
At anchor by 7.45am in the lovely Ormos Livadhia, Astipalaia. Took the tender around to the town to fill up the jerry cans of fuel for the outboard. A charming little town with a new harbour, built about two years ago. Water sports in the afternoon with a fierce competition to see who could flip whom from the doughnut. Jeremy and Billy trying very hard to both flip and stay on! Later in the day Boo, Kane, Alice and I walked up to the fort at the top of the Chora and then on down the far side. Jeremy went to pick us up but headed back to the harbour instead of the bay. Eventually we flagged down the tender to Dardanella, now skippered by Bill Bailey (ex Pendennis) and the crew very kindly went to collect Boo from the shore. We had all swum to the boat. Eventually Jeremy returned! Dinner on board.
6.00am departure for Tilos, a 60 mile sail away. Good wind and brisk sailing. The main bay, ormos Livadi, is very pretty and not in the least bit spoilt by tourists. Very much a Greek holiday island. Boo, Scott and I had lunch ashore at a quaint little restaurant run by Mama, her son and daughter – all good home cooking. I had been there three years earlier with Judith and the owner claimed to remember me – very good Greek bullshit! Water sports in the afternoon and a broken heat exchanger on the generator in the evening so no aircon that night. An Italian schooner came in after dark and insisted on dropping anchor right beside us. Given it had the whole bay to choose from one had to wonder why.
After a swim and breakfast we set off for Simi and the passage between Simi and Nimos which is very narrow and only about 4m deep. So with our hearts in our mouths we sailed through watching the depth gauge record shallower and shallower water until we had less than a meter under the keel. Then it started getting deeper again – huge sigh of relief! We anchored just outside the town of Simi in deep water and with a refreshing breeze. Oliver slipped on the transom steps and managed to damage his toe and bruise his back which all rather annoyed him. After another excellent dinner on board the young ones went ashore and were next heard of at about 5am boarding the boat. One assumes a good time was had by all!
A short motor round to the lovely ormos Pethi. As the crow flies about half a mile from Simi Town but about 3nm by boat. In the afternoon strong gusts of wind started coming off the mountains known as katabatic winds. A motor boat started dragging its anchor and scraped by Boo Too with about a meter to spare. Then a very heavily ladened tramp ship came in and we were asked to move to let it through to the jetty.
A leisurely breakfast and then off towards Lindos on the island of Rhodos via Serce Liman, a delightful bay in Turkey. We dropped anchor in the middle of the bay. The entrance is very narrow and well hidden so unless you are looking carefully, very easy to miss but once through the gap it opens out into a gloriously secluded bay. We had and early lunch and then were on our way to Lindos – about a 38nm sail. Good winds and other sailing boats going the same way. It was pleasing to overhaul all of them, but then we should have! At anchor in ormos Lindos in the late afternoon.
Boo and Oliver took donkeys up the hill to the castle but the queue was so long to get into the castle that they decided not to bother – having seen it a few times already many years ago. They found the one good hotel/restaurant called Melenos, in Lindos and after a cup of coffee booked a table for seven for dinner. A relaxing day with more water sports. Tara, Alice and Kayne have all been practicing their wakeboarding as have Henry and Jeremy. The dinner was superb!
The morning was taken up with more water sports and with Boo, Oliver and Scott returning to Melenos for a final cup of coffee! After lunch on board we set sail for the town of Rhodos and had good winds all the way. At anchor in the big yacht harbour by about 6pm and a wander around the old town before a final dinner on Boo Too. Departures the following morning and sad goodbyes!