Log #27a Kos into the Greek Aegean

September 29, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 27 Summer in Greece, The Logs

Finikas, Nisos Siros, Greek Aegean
Sept. 29, 2002

Hi Folks,

We had a great sail today, – hull speed, close hauled for four out of our six hour crossing from Fikiadha on Kithnos to Finikas on Siros, still in the Cyclades chain of Aegean islands.  All is well with us, but some fronts have been moving through, and yesterday was rainy and stormy, the second day in four months with rain, but also the second day within a week for rain. The bad weather seems to be starting already. We hope to be back in our winter mooring at Kemer by mid October, and avoid the fall storms we experienced last year in late October and November.

I’ll take this in to Ermoupolis the main town on the island tomorrow and hope to find an internet café. Maybe I can send it without having to use Notepad. Have the last two (Logs #26c and d) come through OK, as they had to be converted to Notepad from Microsoft Word?

This Log #27a starts our voyage into the Greek Aegean. I hope you enjoy it.

All the best,
Aubrey

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Log #27a Kos into the Greek Aegean

Finikas, Nisos Siros, Cyclades Islands, Greek Aegean
Sept. 29, 2002

August 19, 2002, – into the Greek Aegean again! Our last trip across the Aegean was last November in storm tossed seas that made us grateful for getting into our winter mooring at Kemer. All we have to contend with now is the Meltemi which of course blows from the northwest, the very direction we have to go to get up into the Aegean islands. However, crossing from Bodrum in Turkey over to Kos, our first island of the Dodecanese chain, we were able to sail very close hauled for about half the 10 mile distance to Kos Marina, a new, well-equipped marina. The cost was moderate, 13.25 Euros a night for our 9.75 metre boat, including electricity and water. The facilities were excellent, co-operative office staff, internet access, grocery store and chandlery, miscellaneous yacht brokers and charterers, laundry, travel lift (100 ton), large hard standing area, waste and oil disposal, fuel dock, and repair shops. Their showers are the best we have used at a marina, each stall a separate roomette with a glass enclosed shower, hooks inside and outside the shower, sturdy chrome shower heads, shelves for toiletries, separate wash basin with spacious counter top, mirrored walls, and enclosed toilet. There are additional toilets in a separate WC next door. The administrative office also houses a coast guard official who can sign boats in and out of the country, although this is open only from 0800 to 1500. We missed it on entry and had to go into town to do our paper work, but were able to clear out at 0815 when we left three days later. It is a good marina which we would highly recommend.

The paper work at the coast guard office cost 15.00€, 57.23€, and 29.35€, for exactly what we are not sure. The man issuing the documents spoke some English, but was abrupt and unhelpful when we tried to ask what the different charges were for. I suspect the 57.23€ was for our transit log which we can use in subsequent visits to Greek waters until it is filled up (with over 50 entrees), the other two for stamping Judy’s passport, and our entry fee? We are flying the British Red Ensign as EU boats pay less than non EU, even though there is supposed to be no charge for EU boats. The Greeks have lost in the EU courts but still charge this amount. If anyone knows how I can register a complaint with the UK or the EU, please let me know.

Incidentally, we are legitimately flying the Red Ensign, as when we were in London for the winter of 1999/2000, I took out British citizenship, as my dad was born in England and came to Canada as a child. I needed the passport to teach school in the East End of London (a horrible experience!). But since I am a British citizen, and had a residence in London (Limehouse Basin) I was also entitled to get a Small Ships Registry number, and Veleda is duly registered.

We enjoyed Kos, even though it is a tourist city, possibly second only to Rhodes in the Greek islands. In the town itself we of course had to visit the Castle of the Knights, a high walled Crusader fortress brooding over the entrance to the old town harbour, the old moat now filled in as the Avenue of the Palms. This was one of the three Crusader castles which dominated this corner of the East Mediterranean, the other two (which we have already seen and described in previous logs) at Rhodes and Bodrum. We visited other archeological remains of Casa Romana, an opulent 3rd century Roman villa being restored to its original layout, and a variety of Hellenistic and Roman ruins including the Temple of Dionysus, mosaics, the “nymphaeum” (once-lavish public latrines), and an “odeion” (a small Greek theatre). In the centre of town there are a couple of old mosques surrounded by tourist shops, but outside one of them was the plane tree beneath which Hippocrates was alleged to have taught his students. However, plane trees do not have a life span of more than 200 years, let alone 2500. There were many restaurants, narrow streets and walkways with all kinds of tourist shops, and a lovely beach strip along the main street leading back to the marina.

A major visit Judy wanted to make was to the Asclepion, the religious sanctuary to Asclepius, the god of healing, a healing centre, and a school of medicine where the training of students followed the teachings of Hippocrates. We took a tourist train up, giving us a view of Kos and the surrounding area from the heights of the sanctuary. It was on three levels, the first being the propylaea (entrance) and public baths, the second the Temple of Apollo, and the third the Temple of Asclepius. I would rate this as only OK, as we have seen far better ruins in Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon. We’re spoiled.

While we were at the marina, a major yacht race used it for a stopover, with Greek dancing and presentations in front of the administration centre. I noted that the direction of the race was from Leros to Kos to Simi in a convenient southeast direction, with the Meltemi, allowing plenty of opportunity for spinnaker runs.

We left at 0815 Aug. 22nd after checking out with the coast guard office at the marina and paying our 0.88€ exit fee. Greece is currently using the Euro (€), since January of this year. The odd amount of 0.88€ was probably 200 Drachma in the former Greek currency. I suspect this amount will soon be rounded up to 1.00€, as many expenses have been over here since the introduction of the Euro. There have been justifiable criticisms of merchants who rounded up from Drachmas when the Euro was introduced. Incidentally at present the Euro is just a bit higher than the US dollar.

It was a close hauled motor sail the 18 miles over to Kalymnos (Kalimnos Town or Pothia) where we discovered an incomplete marina with floating docks in the inside of the commercial harbour. We went in port side to, but as we were being blown onto the docks by a northwesterly wind we shifted to the opposite side. However, the floating docks were not connected to the shoreside pier, and we had to clamber over a boat at the pier to get off and on.

Next day we caught a bus to Vlihadia, where there is an interesting underwater/sponge diving museum. We enjoyed the displays of diving gear used, fish tanks, a collection of amphorae found by local divers, and pictures of the area in the prosperous, but dangerous times of sponge diving. We learned that many of the inhabitants left Kalymnos for the USA, and moved to Tarpon Springs in Florida, where they established a sponge diving centre. We are aware of this aspect as we stopped in Tarpon Springs after coming across from Apalachicola on the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway to the west coast Intracoastal Waterway. It is a sponge capital populated by Greeks from Kalymnos. Taking local buses is a good way of seeing the island and the people. The Greek Orthodox Church is alive and well, judging from the number of black dressed ladies who cross themselves every time the bus passes a chapel or church, of which there are many. We have noted whitewashed chapels on hilltops and isolated headlands on many of the islands in Greece.

That night I went to the local movie theatre to see “Oceans Eleven” in English with Greek subtitles. Movies over here are in the original language, with Greek subtitles. It was an outdoor theatre, a walled off enclosure with plastic lawn chairs on a gravel base, a large screen with speakers at the front, and a little kiosk that sold refreshments during the intermission. I did not enjoy this remake as much as I did the original movie with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, Peter Lawford and the “Rat Pack”. But, I date myself!

Next day we rented a motor bike and Judy and I motored the entire length of the island, all the way up to Emborios on the northwest coast. Then we went to an interesting Folk Museum on the road to Vlihadia where we were taken on an individual tour of what life was like on Kalymnos as recently as 50 years ago, including the traditions, domestic routines and religious festivals, most involved with the sponge fishing. Back we went to Pothia and over to Vathi, a hamlet on a long fiord-like inlet. We followed mountain roads along the indented coast to reach this isolated port. From the mountain above the town we watched a few boats venture into the inlet to moor at the outer docks, then went down into the village to watch a few more yachts enter with varying degrees of success. This would be a pleasant place to moor for a few days on the town docks. It had gorgeous scenery, clear water, a swimming beach and showers at the end of the docks, a few tavernas in town, and some lovely trails up to ancient and medieval churches on the mountainside. It is located at the opening of a fertile valley, and we motored a few miles up it until coming onto dirt trails. Then we turned “chicken” and returned to Pothia, after putting more than 100 kilometres on the motor scooter. It was the first time I had been on a scooter since my year in Japan seven years ago. It was fun, and economical at only €12.00 for the day.

Our last day there we went to the local Nautical Museum in Pothia. It was interesting to see the nautical history of the Aegean. We saw some pictures of a Greek officer and a helicopter from a modern warship, but all the commentary was in Greek. We asked the curator what it was about, as we had seen the same pictures in the sponge diving museum a couple of days ago. He told us it was of a helicopter pilot who flew to the disputed island of Imia off the Turkish coast to plant the Greek flag after some Turkish presence on it. There was a similar dispute recently (July 2002) between Spain and Morocco when Morocco planted its flag on an island off its coast, and Spain sent in a destroyer to reassert its sovereignty.  — and so it goes!

We set off for Levitha on the 25th but after pounding into force 6 Meltemi, we altered course for Emborios, which we knew had a sheltered anchorage with buoys, as we had gone there on the motor scooter. There was a sheltered passage inside the island of Telendos, with dramatic mountain scenery and several fish farms in the area. We picked up a buoy from Nikolas Tavena, and had a couple of enjoyable meals there. We tried to leave next day, but the weather was nasty so we came back for another night. I wandered the hillsides, marveling at the barren mountainous country and trying to determine the age of several stone foundations I encountered that could be anywhere from 200 to 2000 years old.

We finally departed at 1400 on the 27th as things seemed to have settled down, and we were actually able to sail for an hour of the four hour trip to Levitha, where we secured to a buoy in a cove occupied by a fisherman who collected €6.00 for its use. We didn’t bother to lower the dinghy, and left next morning for Nisos Kinaros, another secluded anchorage at Ormos Pringo — where we picked up a RAT!