To say we touched the shores of five different countries on three continents during the 2009 cruising season sounds like a lot, but while we were underway, it just felt like we were slowly island hopping our way from Italy to Turkey. What was impressive is that this year’s cruising grounds happened to take us through the crossroads of the eastern and western basins of the Mediterranean Sea and across the cultural divide between Europe and Africa, and Christianity and Islam.
We’ve “cleared-out” of Greece here in Simi and are headed to Marmaris, Turkey tomorrow. Since we chose to anchor in this beautiful bay rather than taking a berth in the town of Simi, we had to make a bit more effort to complete exit formalities.
After a pleasant day motoring and sailing in light to no wind with the occasional rain shower, we tied-up alongside the ferry dock in Astipalaia with a fishing boat and several other yachts. The ferry is not due in until 9:30 a.m., but we’re not on the part of the pier it uses. This is a good thing because after two long days and 105 miles of sailing, we are ready for a day of rest.
The forecast was for 10-15 knots of wind, and we had hoped that by waiting until today, this would actually be the case. The harbor in Paroika was completely calm, so we decided to get around the north side of the island before the wind picked up too much, but by the time we rounded the point and headed north, the wind was soon blowing 20-25 knots on the nose. We managed to slowly make our way through the rough seas — the staysail is great for this job — and point our bow south through the channel between Paros and Naxos, the island to the east. We had a great downwind run between the islands, admiring the rocky coastline and pretty little villages on either side. Then we turned east, rounding the southern end of Naxos and snaking our way through some small islands before sailing on a reach for the final ten miles to Amorgos. Except for struggling to make it around the north end of Paros, it was one of those great sailing days which made waiting in Paros for five days worth it.
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.
Calm weather but unfortunately not much wind for the long passage to Kithnos today. We found lots of charter boats in Loutra when we arrived, but the harbormaster managed to find space for us tied alongside the end of the pier and rafted off the stern of a big catamaran.
We passed through the Corinth Canal and into the Aegean Sea today — a short-cut that saves five days of sailing at a time in the season when we really need it. We’re making a beeline for Turkey — as much as this is possible in the Greek Islands — to find a winter home for Gyatso. We didn’t mind that the weather was totally calm on this particular day.
Two nights we waited here for the Corinth Canal to re-open on Wednesday (closed on Tuesdays). Laundry is on the line and provisions are onboard.
On the first night, we took a berth along the fisherman’s quay because according to David, the friendly owner of Striding Edge, the British yacht next to us, “The fisherman say the boat that takes this spot is on the other side of the island for a few days.” He gave us his extra mooring line until we could get our own secured which was much easier than setting our anchor in the small, crowded harbor. We invited our neighbor aboard for a glass of wine or two, and then we all went out for Chinese food. Although the food was rather ordinary, we all enjoyed the meal — Chinese food is something you don’t find very often in this part of the world!
Both of us are having a hard time imagining that we are actually here in the Gulf of Corinth in Galaxidi, a small harbor just a short distance from Delphi, the place the ancient Greeks considered the center of the world. After departing Patras this morning, we passed under the Rion Bridge and out of the Gulf of Patras. We were not sorry to leave that stormy body of water.