Log #27b Into the Dodecanese and Cyclades, to Delos

October 3, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 27 Summer in Greece, The Logs

Gavrion, Andros, Greece
Oct. 3, 2002

Hi Folks,

We’re alongside between the ferry docks here in Gavrion on Andros Island for the third day. It is comfortable and secure from the force 6 and 7 winds that have been blowing for the last two days. On arrival we were assisted by Brian and Susy of Ridouna, a British yacht we met at Kemer last winter. Alvin left us yesterday catching the ferry to Porto Rafina, and then on to the airport, after spending a day touring Athens. It was good having him with us for the two weeks, as it gave us the warmth of home, bringing us up to date on his family, and an extra helper on board.

It is October now and fall has fallen, with the rains of the past few days, and now this heavy wind, and cool temperatures. As of Oct. 1st, we not only had to put a quilt on our berth, but had to close the forehatch for the first time since May (other than for rain and heavy seas of course).

There’s an internet café in town, but I don’t know if it has Microsoft Word. The last few have not had that program which is the one I use for my logs, and as a result, I have had to send them using Notepad. I understand some of you got machine language when you downloaded them. Sorry! Let me know and I will send out another copy when I can get Microsoft Works at an internet café.

Enoy this log which takes us into the Cyclades chain of islands and to Delos, the centre of the ancient Aegean world.

All the best,
Aubrey

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Log #27b Into the Dodecanese and Cyclades, to Delos

Oct. 1, 2002
Gavrion, Andros, Greece

Ormos Pringo, on Nisos Kinaros, is a narrow fiord-like cove (37ْ 00.2’ N, 026ْ 28.2’E) with a fisherman’s house at the end, where a couple of power yachts, a sailing yacht, and a small fishing boat were secured by long lines to posts and rocks ashore. We secured to a post ashore, a stern anchor, and a rock on the opposite shore, not alongside any yacht or fishing boat. The lines were 30 to 80 feet in length, and we used the dinghy to get around the area. Our lines were reasonably slack in that they were frequently in the water as Veleda surged gently on them. However, we acquired a rat from this location! We didn’t know until the day after leaving (we were there for 2 nights) when we found what we thought (hoped) were mouse droppings on the galley counter. It subsequently (after we poisoned it two weeks later and found the carcass a few days after that) turned out to be a RAT! It must have scurried across the lines from shore, in spite of their length and slackness. More about our effort to get rid of Algernon II (after the book “Flowers For Algernon”) later.

We came into this port of refuge because we were pounding into heavy seas, and would have had another 30 miles to go to our next destination. The motor yachts there had been in for the past 10 days, unwilling to venture out into the heavy seas, and the sailboat had been in for two days and was under pressure to get going to rendezvous with friends. We dinghied around the area in the afternoon, in the lee of the island, but it was still rough on the windward side. That night most of the yacht crews were at the fisherman’s house as they had been there for so long they were almost part of the family.

Next day we left, but turned around shortly after getting out of the lee of the island as we were into force 6 winds, with 2 metre seas, both on the nose, and returned to our mid-cove mooring. We heard from one of the boaters that there were originally eight families who lived up on the hilltop, but most left years ago with only this one fisherman’s family left on the island. As the houses and a chapel were still there, I had to go for a hike to see this deserted hamlet. It was a barren, sad set of ruins with stone fences, walkways, patios, caved in roofs, fallen wires from old generators and solar panels, and more stone fences stretching out into the barren fields to the edges of cliffs looking down hundreds of feet to the wave-bashed rocky shores below. There were two houses reasonably intact, one of which still had comfortable but simple furniture, and might still be occasionally used. The other was barren, but clean, ready for occupancy of a primitive nature. However they were stone hovels with concrete or plastered walls, wood beamed ceilings that could have been several hundred years old, judging from the fact that the other deteriorated dwellings were of the same primitive architecture. There was also a chapel, open and in good repair, complete with icons, hanging ornate but small brass chandeliers, and devotional candles ready for lighting. I had no change to make an offering in this isolated house of worship, so I took a broom from a corner and swept the floor as my contribution. It was a melancholy experience to be in this small hamlet where people built their homes, lived, worked, brought up families, and worshipped, now deserted on this barren island inhabited by only the fisherman’s family in the cove.

The view over the cliffs was spectacular. The ancient stone fences rabling across the rocky fields were in good shape but the few goats I saw were able to wander wherever they wished. The ripples and strata of the geological outcroppings at the summits made walking very difficult. I had to be sure I got back before dark as I did not want to slip and sprain an ankle. Returning past the fisherman’s house I was cordially invited for a drink in his halting limited English (more than my minimal Greek I fear). However his family was just ready for their supper and so I declined with thanks.

We left early the second morning, hopefully before any strong winds came up and beyond the lee of the island encountered only light force 2 northwest airs. We were originally headed for Amorgos, but when off the north end of this island we changed our minds and decided to make as much northing as possible in these settled conditions, and motored up to Nisos Dhenoussa. It was during this stretch that I discovered the mouse droppings. Mooring alongside the town dock at Stavros (no other yachts were there, and I suppose we could have stayed) allowed us to do some shopping (including two sticky type mouse traps), after which we slipped and went around the headland to anchor in Ormos Dhendro, with clear water and a sandy nude beach. As we wanted to get up to Delos 40 miles away, and to avoid any late morning build up of the Meltemi, we left at 0615 next day.

Delos was a high priority for us as it was once the centre of the ancient world in the political, economic and religious realms. As an oracle it was second only to Delphi. It is the alleged birthplace of Apollo, and the hub of the Cyclades chain of mid-Aegean islands, through which most sea transport from the Dardanelles, Athens, Crete and the Mediterranean had to pass. It had been inhabited from about 3000 BC, and by the 8th century BC established a festival to honour Apollo. It came under Athenian control by the 5th century BC, undergoing several “purifications” confirming its religious importance and significance as an oracle. As a part of the “purification” was an edict that no-one could be born or die on Delos, pregnant women and the terminally ill were shipped over to nearby Rinia. It reached its height of power in the Hellenistic era (323 to 31 BC), serving as the treasury of the Delian League, and the economic center for wealthy merchants, mariners, and bankers from as far away as Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, whose citizens settled on Delos, building temples to their various gods and bringing an effective workable multicultural dimension to the island. Under Rome it became a free port making it even more prosperous, “due largely to a lucrative slave market that sold up to 10,000 people a day”, according to the Lonely Planet “Greek Islands” guide. I have difficulty fathoming such numbers, but as it was the Roman period, possibly the many prisoners captured by the Roman legions were “processed” as slaves through this economic center. After the Roman period Byzantium did not seem to have much influence here, but Delos became prey to pirates and to looters of antiquities, hastening its demise.

In a future log, I will attempt to give a thumbnail sketch of the historical periods which the Aegean islands and Greece went through.

Yachts or dinghies are not allowed to land or anchor on or near Delos! The tripper boats have a monopoly on the one jetty, and as the entire island is an archeological site fees of €15.00 per person are charged. There are no convenient anchorages unless one wants to go across the main channel to Rinia, several miles to a secure location. We decided to go over to Mikinos and take a tripper boat to Delos next day. Just north of the town of Mikonos there is an incomplete, and so free, marina which we checked out. It was quite full with large megayachts at the one end and sailing yachts and fishing boats further in, moored every which way, leaving little room. It was also exposed to the Meltemi blowing down the length of the marina. It seemed to us to be an unfriendly, inhospitable place, a long way from the main town, so we gave up and went several miles south around the southwest peninsula of the island into Ormos Ornos, where there were several large yachts and other sailing yachts at anchor or on mooring buoys.

We wanted to be up at the head of the bay in shallow (3 to 5 metre) water, but that was where all the mooring buoys were, most occupied with local boats. However we asked a Swiss yacht that I noticed was on a buoy only 100 metres off the beach if there were any others available for use or rent. He replied that they were moored on theirs for two days, and no one came by to charge or ask them to move. He also indicated a mooring buoy astern of them that appeared secure and had not been used since they were there. So, we picked it up and stayed there free, undisturbed, and secure for two days. We have done this in several places where an anchorage is occupied by private buoys. We will pick up an empty buoy, and then snorkel over it to make sure it is well anchored for a boat our size. If there are any locals or other live-aboard “yachties” around, we will ask about it. In most cases it will be a buoy no longer used, or the owner no longer has a boat, or is off with his boat for an extended period of time, or the buoy has not been used for several days. We have never been “kicked off” a buoy or asked to leave. We try to use “common sense” before making such a move. Most locals are co-operative and will let us know what the situation is regarding such buoys and their use.

From Ormos Ornos we took a local small ferry over to Delos in the morning and came back late afternoon, perfect for us. Another day we took a bus into Mikonos town, to visit a couple of museums, get some supplies, and send some E-mail. Prices for the internet in the Aegean islands seem standard at about € 0.10 a minute or € 6.00 an hour, higher than most other places. The Euro is almost at par with the US dollar. Mikonos town itself is a tourist trap, albeit a nice one.

The trip to Delos was enjoyable. There are the excavated remains of a large city, with ancient narrow walkways, gaping foundations of houses and temples with a few pillars and statuary still present, remains of cisterns, aqueducts, and sewers, plus a few mansions with mosaic floors still intact. The museum was only OK, as the best pieces from the site were in the Athens Archeological Museum. We wished we could have spent more time at Delos, but the boat didn’t arrive until 1030, and departed at 1530. Too bad the site isn’t more user friendly to dinghies and yachties so we could have spent more time there. Oh well, we were off the third day to another nude beach.