Photo: Skala, Asipalaia, Greece. Credit: L. Borre.

Skala, Astipalaia, Greece

Photo: Hibiscus flowers in Greece. Credit: L. Borre.
While walking through town one day, we found a hibiscus in bloom which reminded us of one we used to have next to the front door of our house, except the one in Greece seemed more brilliant in the Mediterranean sun.

Logbook Entry

Dates: 09/25/09 – 09/29/09
Distance: 50 nm
Sailed from: Amorgos
Lat: 36°32.8’N
Long: 26°21.3’E

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.

We are also happy to be at a dock with water and electricity after 10-days without topping up the tank or fully recharging the batteries.  A quick cell phone call resulted in the appearance of Leftkis, the water man, arriving to turn on the water faucet right next to the boat — ahhhh, the simple pleasure of filling the tank with a hose rather than a five gallon jug! (See Paros log)

Photo: Astipalaia, Greece. Credit: L. Borre.
Looking across the harbor at the Asipalaia ferry dock and castle atop the hill.

A castle with two churches sits nestled on the hillside above the dock, and the rest of the white-washed, blocky buildings of the sleepy little town appear to tumble down the hillside like rocks in a streambed.  

Fishing boats and tavernas line the pebble beach encircling the small harbor inside the breakwater.  From our guidebook we learned that Astipalaia is considered a typical village in the Greek Islands with a chóra (upper town) and a kástro (castle).

Once again, things are not quite as they appear in the Greek Waters Pilot, but it would be impossible to keep up with the changes taking place in many of the harbors we have visited.  In this case, they have reinforced the breakwater, created a cement pier and added berthing spaces for yachts in the protected harbor, complete with water and electricity.  Tasteful lamp posts line the quay.  In the background, an EU sign indicates where the financing has come from.

Photo: Asipalaia Harbor, Greece. Credit: L. Borre.
Astipalaia Harbor, Greece

Unlike all of the other European countries we have visited so far, Greek “marinas” (many of which are actually town quays) are free, do not seem to have anyone in charge of managing the harbor area ,and do not have laid moorings with lines on buoys or tailed to the quay.  This means that everyone puts out their own anchor, and there is usually a bit of confusion, especially when anchors get crossed. They often do.  The good thing is that Greece has many more options for finding a safe and comfortable place for the night.  In this one harbor, there are several spaces to anchor, enough room for a dozen or so yachts to berth at the dock, and at least two other bays with protected anchorages nearby, depending on wind direction.  So far, we have managed to make our way through Greece by finding places to tie alongside or anchor out — a welcome relief for us with our double-ender and full keel which makes negotiating small harbors and Med mooring a real challenge.  

We are starting to get the hang of sailing in Greece: move when the weather is good and stop when it’s not quite right.  The odds are 100% that you will end-up waiting out weather in a really nice place, so we don’t worry too much about the places where we don’t have a chance to fully explore.  This is why we have decided to wait again for the winds to die down a bit before moving on.  The weather forecast promises that this will only be a two-day wait, so we figure, why worry about a day or two here and there when we are only a three-day sail from our destination: Turkey.

Photo: Asipalaia, Greece. Credit: L. Borre.
Guests aboard Gyatso in Astipalaia, Greece.

There are several other cruising boats doing the same as us, including another Tayana docked just behind us.  We were having lunch at a small, harborside cafe in town when we saw the Tayana logo on the sail of a much larger boat than ours.  It turned out to be Tehani-li, a 1988 Tayana 52 which was also designed by Robert Perry and built in the same yard as Gyatso.  We met Australian owners Karel and Phil later that afternoon.  We were soon onboard each other’s boats, sharing drinks and admiring the similarities and differences of the two Tayana designs.  They joined us for dinner — a gyro platter at the small taverna with a tiny porch along the harbor — and before we knew it, the clock struck midnight.  We returned to our boats on the ferry pier and retired for the night.

The socializing continued the next afternoon, with an impromptu party in Gyatso’s cockpit, after we had decided to wait out the strong winds forecast for the next two days.  Good thing we did, because when a French boat with Jean Pierre (French) and Patricia (American) arrived that afternoon, they reported taking green water over the bow of their sleek, aluminum, French-made yacht in strong winds and rough seas that very same day.  After catching their docklines on the pier in front of us, they joined the Tayana crowd onboard Gyatso for an afternoon of sipping wine and exchanging sailing stories.  Even their pet cat came onboard for awhile but was scolded after getting his leash tangled in the sail cover and walking across the awnings.

Photo: Cat on sailboat. Credit: L. Borre.
A neighboring yacht’s cat came aboard.