Dates: 09/18/09 – 09/24/09
Distance: 44 nm
Sailed from: Kithnos
A great sail in 12 knots of wind this morning before the wind dropped off, and then we motored or motor-sailed the rest of the way. We anchored in the protected harbor of Paroika on the island of Paros, Greece and waited out a meltemi (north wind) for what turned out to be five days. We arrived on a Friday, before the wind kicked up, but by Saturday night, both the marina and anchorage were filled with yachts seeking protection from the strong winds.
Inside the harbor it blew a steady 20-25 knots for four days, but we could see that it was blowing much more out on the open water, judging by the worn looks and greenish tinge on the faces of the charter boat crews arriving each day. Unlike us cruising sailors, they only have a week or two on their rented boats. We tend to sit and wait for weather to improve, but they don’t have much choice. We find that going out in bad weather creates a lot of wear and tear on the boat and crew which is not something we can afford when covering the long distances that we do in a season.
It turns out that Paros is not a bad place to sit and wait for good weather. Although we spent the better part of two days keeping anchor watch onboard when the wind was blowing the strongest, we made regular trips ashore for lunch or dinner, to visit the free internet cafe, and shop for provisions. We even rented a car for a day and drove around the island, visiting the ancient marble quarries for which the island is so famous, the former capital of Lefkes (not to be confused with the island of Levkas that we visited in the Ionian Sea), a hilltop town which boasts a population with the longest life-span in the Med and has restaurants that make a healthy and delicious variation of the typical Greek salad, a kite-boarding beach and a trendy harbor on the weather-beaten north side of the island.
The town of Paroika is very pleasant with tavernas lining the shore and a quaint old section of town with narrow, winding, white-washed alleyways. We kept anchor watch one day from a beachside bar while sipping a glass of Ouzo. For a brief moment, we felt as if we had been transported to the Caribbean minus the ti’ punch.
Patras is a hub for Greek ferries which come in lots of shapes, sizes and speeds. The boxy high-speed catamarans seem to skim across the water from one port to the next. Some of the large car and truck ferries have a large bulb at the bow, like an ocean-going ship. Many let go of their anchors with a loud roar of chain and big splash “ker-plop” when the anchor drops into the water before they back in to the ferry landing. All discharge passengers and freight remarkably fast before re-loading, weighing anchor and zooming off to the next port. Some leave a trail of black or brown smoke in their wake. We watched this routine many times every day in Patras and saw a few near collisions with yachts that were entering the harbor just as the ferry was arriving or departing. They move so fast, it seems to take others by surprise. Note to self, “Give ferries a wide berth even when they are at the dock because they don’t usually stay that way for very long!”
Because we didn’t have time to top-up our water tank before leaving the last port, water became an issue during our stay in Paros. The water tank ran dry on the second day which meant we had to bring water to the boat using the dinghy and 5 gallon jerry cans — not a fun job in the heavy chop of the harbor. Water is in short supply in the Greek Islands, so filling the cans required walking two blocks to the end of the fishing pier. One run ashore yielded 10 gallons of water, so Lisa set-up a water shuttle system using Rinky and the ever-handy trolley. She would get so covered in salt-spray when making the trip to town that she dedicated one set of clothing for making the water runs each day. There’s nothing like hand-carrying cans of water to make you appreciate how precious freshwater really is! We weren’t the only ones in the anchorage dealing with this issue. The crew of another American yacht went to the market and bought a trolley just like ours for the task! Living aboard a boat, we already make water conservation a high priority. For those few days in Paros, however, we were all the more conservative.
A Time Warp
The day before we left, Peter and his son Will from Time Warp, the other American boat in the anchorage, brought over a loaf of freshly baked wheat bread which they had made. It was delicious and lasted us for two days — thanks, guys! We joked with them about the appropriateness of their boat’s name. They left the east coast of the U.S. on June 1st and are already in Greece — compared to us, they are in a time warp!