|16||aug||ZW||2||Finally, our bags are packed... Lots of t-shirts, swim shorts, 2 camera's (analog, so don't expect any visuals here within 3 weeks), an inflatable orca (now available with MyWeb-discount at Halfords! ;-) for which we still have to find an "appropriate" name (any suggestions?), chargers for the phones and the Palm of course, and all the other sh*t one packs for a holiday in sunny Greece.
Within 24 ours we'll have our first serious collision with a bottle of Ouzo... I can't wait!!
|17||aug||W||5||Schiphol, 15:05 - The excitement of the airport does its usual mind trick: I've already left Holland while still on the ground...
Checking in was surprisingly easy, and our friend Truke took care of a perfect start to our holiday by driving us all the way to the airport. (Thanx again!) If there _really_ are no delays, it's seems like nothing could go wrong...
|18||aug||W||4||Rhodos, 11:30 - The sun is already blazing. Last night's Ouzo is quietly losing it's grip on my body, I think a cool frappé (ice-coffee) will do the rest. I don't know how we did it (again): in this town filled with tourists we managed to find a bar where we were the only ones, amidst a cheerful bunch of proudly singing and dancing (and drinking) locals.
Hopefully we can board today, for I don't think we'll have the same luck two nights in a row. In half an hour I'll call Takis (the guy from the charter-company) again, to hear if the Medusa is already in from Athens. Officially we were to board Saturday afternoon, but NCN told us we could probably have the Medusa this morning. GMT that is...
|18||aug||W||5||Rhodos, 16:25 - Too bad... Due to rough weather they couldn't get the Medusa to Rhodos in time. But, probably lucky for us, Takis promised us Thanos would get us a bigger and better boat: a 42 ft-er Olympic called The Ouzo 14. (What's in a name? ;-) Unfortunately it still had to come in, so we had to find another place to spend the night ashore, again. :-(
Sitting at the marina with Willem & Renate, watching all the yachts coming in really made my "nautical" blood boil. I want to set sail, ASAP!
Tomorrow at about 2 o'clock we'll probably get to go aboard. (But again that's GMT.) So, after Mike & Inez arrive we'll do the necessary shopping, and... GO!
|20||aug||W||4||Rhodos, 08:15 - Yesterday, at about 18:00 hours, we could finally board the Ouzo 14. That's not bad if one remembers the official boarding-time was 5 o'clock, considering the "Greek way" of timing! The only we encountered was that we couldn't make the deposit with a credit card, as promised. But after some calls to Holland, Francien and Leo (of NCN) had taken care of this problem. We didn't have to pay ANY deposit, so I'll bet they will be watching this site closely for any signs of damage to the boat... :->
Last night, after shopping and welcome-aboard drinks, the six of us had a fine diner at one of the many tourist traps in the old town. After diner, Mike & Inez nearly fell asleep for they didn't have any sleep for about 42 hours. So we decided to head back to the boat, where only Chris & I we able to finish a last drink (from a bottle of Ouzo _13_ by the way), before falling in a relaxing boat-rocked sleep for the first time this holiday.
The wind held strong during the night, which kept me a bit worried. Normally the wind is only there at daytime. The only times I've felt so much wind during the night was when the (northerly) Meltemi-wind was blazing. But as I just found out, the hydrofoils are still going, so it couldn't be _that_ bad. We'll see after coffee and breakfast...
|21||aug||ZW||4||Livadia, 21:00 - After two days of sailing, we already lost a little track of time. After a beautiful sheltered bay at Simi, today we found a more open one called Ormos Livadia, at Nisis Tilos. The 8 or 9-hour trip to Tilos was mostly along the Turkish coast, an hour or so without wind, the rest with an easy 9-12 knots. During this trip, Willem found numerous ways of making a perfect fool of himself riding the orca, and we all enjoyed the shade of the bimini (a small tent screen across the back of the ship). We called the orca Stavros Willidapoulis, which ought to mean "Free Willy" in Greek. (Thanx for the suggestion, Peter!)
As the frequent (eager?) visitor of this site might have noticed, it's already though to make a _daily_ update. I've already found my free-ISP in Greece won't accept calls by GSM, so I'll have to connect via Holland, too bad. The emails we received are a great motivation to keep up the writing. (Way to go, mom! Henk-Jan, Renate&Willem say hi, also to the family.)
|22||aug||W||3||Livadia (Tilos), 11:30 - Today we'll try to make Sirina, a small island west of Tilos. I hope we'll make it before dark, for The Greek Waters Pilot (our Bible for these two weeks) warns about this. But, as the Greece Maybe Time is taking over our system, hurrying is even less attractive then wrecking the ship (just kidding, Francien), so we'll see about that...|
|23||aug||NW||5||Stampalia - Now THAT was some trip! Yesterday, we set sail from Tilos to Sirina (or Agios Ioannis). What should have been a 35-40 mile (nautical, so that's about 65-70 km) trip, took us a lot more time than I estimated. So 12 hours after our departure, when it was completely dark, (there were to much clouds for the moon to give us some light) we carefully approached the bay. Our maps didn't provide very much details, our GPS turned out to have the wrong map date so could only mislead us, and the Greek Waters Pilot could only tell us it was a deserted bay. And so it was (how could our bible be wrong): no lights ashore, no conspicuous landmarks or anything. Everyone aboard was tired, I didn't get any sleep at all but some had a few hours sleep on the rough ride over here. On top of it all, a strong wind suddenly came towards us, from the black hole where our "quiet" bay had to be...
We decided to go on: NW (against the prevailing wind which resembled the infamous Meltemi more and more) to Stampalia. Chrisje quickly improvised some delicious (especially under the circumstances) pasta, which was our first and last real meal in hours. We took shifts: Mike & Willem were to sail the first two hours, Chrisje and Inez the second, Renate and I would sail at sunrise. I "slept" in the saloon, so I would be alert to changes of the wind, and messages on the VHF. About half an hour before the end of the first shift, fear struck me: WARNING ALL SHIPS from Radio Hellas. In a second I sat behind the navigation-table. What this sweet female voice had to say almost made me panic: lots of names of Greek islands, and a lot of numbers and messages of which I could make zilch. Could it be that a gale warning would ruin this less pleasant trip even more?
When the same voice started talking some sort of English, it turned out to be only an indexed list of warnings about broken lights (including the one of our destination port at Stampalia) and military exercises around Crete. (Luckily, we weren't even close to Crete and wouldn't reach Stampalia for long... ;-)
Along the rest of the night, the wind went from 0 at the start of the second shift, to maybe (the wind meter also seems to have known better times) a sudden 30 knots under a strange deck of clouds. After a beautiful sunrise, with Livadhia bay, where we decided spend our time at Stampalia, in sight, I first got a little sleep on deck.
Ormos Livadhia turned out to have a lovely small, quietly humming beach with a few taverna's & cafes along with an impressive view of the beautiful white city surrounding the Italian fortress way up on the hill. A perfect place for a _long_ day of rest!
|25||aug||N||5||Port Kalimno - Yesterday, we arrived at Port Kalimno before sundown. It turned out to be a VERY busy place, with lots of cars and motorbikes passing between yachts at the quay and all the terraces along the boulevard. After being served a really dry fish by the friendly reincarnation of John Belushi, we found out it would not be a too noisy night after all: Luckily all the (other) shiploads of tourists left for the other side of the island, where all the clubs and disco's are.
The next morning it turned out we had had a little too much wine to go with the fish, so it took quite some time and a lot of frappé to get ready for departure again. No problem, for we would go to a bay just a few miles east.
|25||aug||NW||8||Vadhi Bay, Kalimno - I'm glad we only had to do a few miles today, for we finally met the Real Meltemi! I wouldn't be surprised if we got 40 knots of wind (8 Beaufort) at some time. Too bad there's no way to b sure for the wind meter has definitely lost its credibility. But all went well and we all gained confidence in each other and the rest of the boat. The wind blew dry and warm across the island, and I was completely covered with a white layer of salt when we arrived after a 3 hours roller coaster-ride.
This deep bay provides enough shelter and a lovely scenery... The romantic side of Greece: One taverna above the few yachts berthing here, further down the bay a few more in a little village. Goats walked high up on the rocks with their bells tingling from their necks, while we are feeding the small crabs on the quay some breadcrumbs from our stern.
|27||aug||NW||6||Pithagorion (Samos), 22:00 - We made it! We weren't sure yesterday, in Leros if we would make it so far north, but all the discussions about what we should do finally were in vain: despite the fierce Meltemi winds (probably 30-35 knots) and the ugly waves coming from the Strait of Samos, we managed to get out of the Dodecanese, into the Eastern Sporades.
For we were a bit misled by our Bible (printed 1992) and our map of southern Samos (last updated 1989), we first sailed into a spooky, quiet and dark new port, a mile east from Port Pithagorion. Luckily another sailor could tell us the right direction in a heavy German accent, while it was so dark, we couldn't even see him standing on the unfinished quay. Arriving in the right port after all, it was quite a contrast. We berthed the last spot on the terrace-filled boulevard. After a lousy giros in some stinky tourist-trapping taverna, and cosy cocktails at Rosetti's, we would have a day of resting and sightseeing tomorrow.
|28||aug||NW||6||Just outside Pithagorion (Samos), 20:50 - Exactly what we all needed: some shopping, hanging on one of the terraces straight across our boat and a little sightseeing. In my case this was confined to a short walk to the old church of Pithagorion and watching all the ships going out and in. Especially our neighbour was very interesting: a bewildered young Dutchman, sailing the Greek seas alone on a strange traditional sailing boat. He probably would have marvellous stories to tell, if he wouldn't have been so preoccupied with his Gameboy whilst loudly playing Doe Maar tapes.
Just before "borreltijd" we lifted our anchor (and accidentally that of our strange neighbour) to anchor just outside the noisy and smelly port. Now we'll take the dinghy for a hopefully nice, diner. We'll probably end up in the place the Mel Gibson look-alike we met at Rosetti's last night, recommended. Tomorrow: Patmos.
|30||aug||NW||6||Patmos - A thrilling 5 hour speed trip took us to the _very_ touristy island of Patmos yesterday. Two huge cruise ships, which overtook us on the way from Samos, had barfed thousands of tourist over the main port (also conveniently named Skala). This would be the island where Renate and Willem would leave us, for they had to make their plane on Thursday from Rhodos. As they went shopping for ferry-tickets, Mike and I went searching for a supermarket. After a few hours sipping Ouzo and watching the cruise ship-cattle, we returned empty-handed to our boat. As it turned out, all the others had opened a bottle of Ouzo themselves. So we decided to improvise a party aboard that night, completed with a dance performance by the ladies on the front deck, Willem taking care of the music and disco-lights below.
This morning we rented 3 motorbikes to ride up to the monastery on the hill. It was wonderful to see the harbour beneath us, and the ancient monastery was quite nice as well. The biggest wonder of it all was that neither of us had an accident, considering the night before, the shape of the motorbikes, and the fact that only Mike had some experience driving such rotten vehicles.
When we had safely returned to the Ouzo 14, it was time for goodbyes. Renate and "biker" Bolle would take the night-ferry to Rhodos, which would leave them the rest of the day to ride around Patmos. Inez, Mike, Chrisje and I would set sail for Kalimno, this time a quiet, sheltered bay 2 Nm west of the well known port. After some troubles raising (or actually: pulling out) our main sail, and pulling up the anchor of our Scandinavian neighbours, we could finally leave for this 40+ mile trip.
|1||sept||W||3||Panormittis (Symi), 14:00 - Bummer: the small bay west of Port Kalimno looked lovely, but did not provide any "good shelter from the fierce gusts of the Meltemi blowing outside" (as our Bible said). So the day before yesterday, for the second time, we had entered the busy main port, this time by night. The Meltemi wind had done us much good that day, and even more yesterday: we did the 60 mile trip with (log) speeds up to 10 knots and an average of 7.5! (Afterwards, we lay side to side with Neptune smoking the proverbial cigarette: "Was it just as good to you...?") Too bad you guys had to miss this day, Renate & Willem. We send our love to you both, in rainy Holland. And I personally promise to bring your snorkelsetje! ;-)
To our horror, arriving at Symi the Greek Waters Pilot turned out to be fairly understated. The barely lit entrance of the bay had waves blowing over our deck with gust up to 40 knots coming from the rocks around us. When we had safely entered the small bay, it turned out to be filled with other yachts, so it was hard to find a nice spot for us to lay our anchor, the strong wind and ditto current not making it any easier.
This morning it turned out to be a peaceful little bay, with a huge beautiful white monastery ashore. At 11:00 the bells of the monastery suddenly welcomed nearly 600 day-trippers coming from 3 small ferries. Luckily, like a dog eating it's own vomit, an hour later the ferries took all of the tourists again and parted, probably for their next "astonishing site along the shores of Symi". As nearly all the other boats had left to, it is a perfect place to spend our day swimming until leaving for our final trip: back to Mandraki Harbour, Rhodos.
|2||sept||W||5||Rhodos, 13:00 - The trip to Mandraki went well, with enough wind and nice waves to let Mike feel the kick of riding them. When we entered the big port, it turned out to be even busier than when we left it two weeks ago. All the returning charters were laying stern to shore (as is customary in Greece), about 30 yachts side to side and 2-3 in front of each other. One of Thanos's helpers directed us to a spot between two huge, beautiful boats, so with the routine of the past two weeks, we berthed calmly just one boat away from the quay.
After we had celebrated our safe arrival with a bottle of local "champagne", we headed for the Kon-Tiki restaurant at the corner of the harbour. As we entered, our clothes & bodies filthy with salt and all the other stuff one doesn't care about after living aboard for two weeks, it turned out to be a really classy restaurant, very unlike the taverna's we'd seen before: uniformed waiters who were quite fluent in English and guests dressed-up like it was their prom-night. Chrisje and I decided to "let it roll" and share a 2 pound lobster and we all had a wonderful meal together with a bottle of Granrose (which cost just a little more than when Willem & I bought one at a gas station last week. ;-)
Early this morning we woke up with the bubbles of a diver, doing the underwater inspection of the boats. In an hour we packed our bags and cleaned out the Ouzo 14. Thanos had one of his men only check the sails, for the only trouble we'd had was with the inhaul of the main sail. (I hope you can sleep better now, Francien.) So, at about 11:00 we were ready for the deception of day-to-day life, starting with the busy city of Rhodos.
|2||sept||W||4||Hotel Cactus (Rhodos), 15:00 - While Mike and Inez were probably still in the cab to the airport, Chrisje and I took our first sweet-water swim in the hotel-pool. If they're not too much delayed, they must be flying over my head at this very moment. Have a nice journey home, guys! And good luck adjusting to CET (because the time-difference is much more than just an hour)...|