Log #27c to Paros and Thira, and a fractured history of Greece

October 6, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 27 Summer in Greece, The Logs

Nauoussa, Paros, Greece
Oct. 6, 2002

Hi Folks,

We’re back on Paros for the second time. It is a rarity when we come into the same harbour twice. Usually, every entrance is a first time evolution. This time, we are at the town docks rather than anchored off the nude beach. The wind was blowing a strong force 7 which would have made that stretch untenable for anchoring. Here at the town docks we are nice and secure. There probably will be no charge, or if any, nominal at about €2.00 a night. We are in the lee of a large caique, a two masted tall ship; however, its generator is going and will probably drive us out to anchor if it keeps up.

We just past the 21,600 nautical mile distance since we left Toronto July 3rd, 1998, which we calculate is the circumference of the earth. However we have traveled only about 1/3 the circumference on our voyages, from Thunder Bay [085ْ W] on Lake Superior in the west to Israel [035ْ E] in the east for 120ْ out of 360ْ.

We noted several boats out at anchor, and have just come back from visiting Garry and Ann on board Toucan Tango a Canadian  boat that will be wintering in Kemer. We had a good chat with them and look forward to further contact with them here and in Kemer.

The bad weather of fall has been with us ever since October 1st, with rain ad heavy winds. We hope it lightens up as we would like to continue cruising until the end of October before going into Kemer Marina for the winter.

Enjoy this Log #27c, and don’t be too critical of my fractured history of the area. We enjoy seeing things we have read, about the history and legends of Greece. We have found different authorities have different perspectives and time lines for their interpretations, so take the material “with a grain of salt”.

Last night we were at a pleasant anchorage at  Nisos Gaidaros, an island a few miles off Ermopolis on Siros. We had the bay all to ourselves and went in for a snorkel in the clear shallow waters.

This will probably have to be sent with Notepad as the local internet does not have Microsoft Word. I understand that most of you are able to download it OK.

All the best,
Aubrey

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Log #27c to Paros and Thira, and a fractured history of Greece

Oct. 5, 2002
Enroute to Paros

Sept. 2, we set off for Paros (It is just a coincidence that I am writing this today, enroute to Paros, for the second time, from Andros.), a short 18 mile motoring trip. At least while motoring, we can recharge our batteries, run the watermaker, and leave the fridge on. In anchorages or ports, we use the holding tank so as not to foul up the waters, and then pump out, well offshore. I doubt that many other boaters are as conscientious, and I also question the waste disposal from many of the towns on the islands. However, we do our part to help keep the environment clean.

On the north end of Paros there is a large oblong bay, Ormos Naousis, with a northern opening, but a well sheltered bay, Ormos Ay Ioannou, behind a peninsula on the northwest side, at which we anchored (37ْ 25.3’ N, 025ْ 19.4’ E). It has nice sandy beaches, paths going across the peninsula and over to a local ferry service, a kilometre down the beach. We found out that it is a nude beach, and the ferry service just goes back and forth from Nauoussa, the town 1.5 miles across on the south side of the bay. (It will be interesting to see how many intrepid nudists will be lounging on the beach this time, in this cooler fall weather.) We like the town very much. It has town docks that we didn’t use, except to fill our water bags to replenish our tank water. There is a very co-operative laundry service for €6.00 per load, washed, dried, and folded. There are several good tavernas, markets and grocery stores, a bus terminal next to the docks, car rentals, internet access, and a DVD rental shop. We filled our jerry cans with diesel from a tanker truck that came to the town dock. We didn’t explore the island by bus or rental car, but may do so when we return. One thing for which the island is noted is its marble quarry, from which material has been taken from the time of the Cycladic civilization in the 3rd millennium BC, and for the Venus de Milo now in the Louvre, and for Napoleon’s Tomb in Paris. We found a Brit boat anchored nearby, “Spirit of Solent” with Neil and Tracy on board, with whom we exchanged reading materials. However we never did walk the beach. Oh well, next time.

We were making our way southwards as we wanted to go to Thira to see the archeological site at Akrotiri, which was closed when we were there last fall. Now we had a bit of wind with us and were able to sail most of the five hour trip to Nisos Skhinousa. We anchored in Mirsini with a line ashore, helped by Richard Old singlehanding on his classical looking Falmouth Pilot “William’s Joy”. We had him over for supper, didn’t bother launching Sprite, and left next day for the volcanic island of Thira, also known as Santorini.

As we were heading south in the Cyclades, we should have had the wind with us, but of course now that we were going south, the wind was very light. If we were headed north, it would be heavy against us. Murphy’s Law! We sailed and motorsailed off and on through very light force 1 to 3 SW breezes. At 4.5 knots we were going faster than the wind, and so motorsailed off and on over the 40 mile trip. This time we went right through the enormous caldera that was formed with the gigantic eruptions about 1450 BC. The high black volcanic cliffs with “white icing” of Greek houses and buildings on the summits are spectacular. There is no place for small yachts to anchor in this enormous bay. Large cruise ships do so off the port, using large buoys plus their anchors. There were two at anchor and we saw another six approaching. This is a favourite stop for them.

Down through the south end of the caldera, around Ak Akrotiri, we motored to the incomplete marina on the south coast, where we were the previous time, last fall. This time, it was more crowded, and we went alongside on an outer dock. However, the wind was starting to blow stronger and was pushing us onto the wall. We shifted to a bows-on mooring inside the circular port, but not without a couple of complications. On our approach to a spot beside a fishing boat, we dropped our stern anchor and slowly eased into the narrow slot, only to run out of line ten feet from the dock. We had 30 feet of chain on our 25 pound CQR stern anchor, plus another 80 feet of line. So we backed off, hauled in the line and chain, knotted another 60 foot length, and tried again. This time we had enough length, but when I tried to snug the anchor on the bottom, it not only slipped, but had caught itself on another anchor chain. I tried to haul it up, and clear it, but it was too heavy, and after having hauled up the chain in our first abortive attempt, I was getting fatigued, so I said, “Fuddle dud it!” and left it on the bottom still fouled. I then manœuvred awkwardly, with the stern anchor down, to make my bows-on approach. It held us off OK, and no one was on the sailboat next to us whose anchor line I had fouled. We were finally in!

Next day we dinghied the two miles over to Akrotiri, and visited the site. It was a roofed over set of ruins, with ongoing construction to expand and raise the present roof structure. There were walls, rooms, walkways, stairs and various niches, doors and windows of a softer sandstone rock. However we were not allowed to stray from the roped off walk ways to explore any of the remains. The greatest finds of the excavation were the stunning ochre coloured frescoes which have been removed to the National Archeological Museum in Athens. They didn’t even have any large reproductions of them or sketches of the original buildings at Akrotiri. Frankly, it was a bit of a disappointment, especially considering we went over 50 miles south of our cruising area for three or four days to see it. An hour later we were in Sprite, heading back to Veleda where we soon slipped or lines and proceeded north again to Ios.

I might add that before we dinghied to Akrotiri, I went out in Sprite, with a length of line wrapped under our anchor rode, shifting it along until I was able to raise the anchor up to the dinghy. I then motored off at an angle, away from the other chain on the bottom and released the anchor, free of any underwater obstruction. I didn’t want the boat beside us to have to clear my fouled anchor before they were able to leave.

Akrotiri was a Minoan outpost that was destroyed by the gigantic volcanic eruption which created the caldera in 1450 BC. It was preserved like Pompeii, intact under a layer of ash; except here there were no signs of bodies, indicating the people had time to flee before the eruption, and the town was covered, preserved for posterity. Incidentally, when we were later in Athens at the National Archeological Museum, we were still unable to see the frescoes, as those rooms were temporarily out of bounds due to renovations. It seems that “armchair” archeologists who go only to museums see more of the treasures of antiquity than those of us who actually go to the sites! I can appreciate that the treasures are better preserved in a museum, but I wish the sites would also have a mini museum with large pictures or replicas of what has been removed from the sites.

Getting back to some history, the volcanic eruption on Thira is the largest in recorded history. Prior  to this event, the Cycladic and Minoan cultures were Europe’s earliest civilizations, dating back to the Bronze Age about 3000 BC when settlers from Phoenicia (Lebanon) brought smelting techniques to the area.   The cataclysm at Thira was responsible for the destruction of the advanced Minoan civilization centered on Crete which lasted from 2000 to 1450 BC. This gentle civilization abruptly ended with the tidal waves, ash, and other earthquakes associated with the eruptions on Thira, over 70  miles to the north. This in turn contributed to the demise of the Mycenaean culture centered on Mycenae in the Peloponnisos, and to the Cycladic civilization in the Aegean, leading to an ancient ”age of darkness” dominated by the Dorians (the Dorian period lasted from about 1200 to 800 BC) until the transition from the Bronze Age civilizations to the Iron Age about 1100 BC.

The Greek cultures on the mainland and the Aegean islands continued to develop in their learning, arts and trade into what is called the “Geometric Period” between 900 to 700 BC, with pottery and designs featuring intricate linear geometric patterns, and primitive sticklike figures of humans, not as well evolved as the frescoes found in Akrotiri. This was also the age in which Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad were first written down. The following “Archaic Period” extended from 700 to 480 BC, its arts featuring idealized representations of gods and man. This ended at the time of the Persian Wars, with the naval Battle of Salamis when the Athenians defeated the Persian fleet, the Battle of Thermopylae when the Spartans died to a man holding back the Persians, and lastly the Battle of Marathon which finally saved Greece from the Persian forces. These events gave the stability for the “Classical Period”, also known as “the Golden Age” with its great works of art, lasting from 480 to 323 BC, which coincided with the Peloponnesian War and the Macedonian conquest. It was early in this period when the Parthenon was commissioned, Sophocles wrote Oedipus Rex, and Socrates taught young Athenians to think. Remember, there was no Greece as such, but a series of city states, such as Sparta, Athens, Corinth, Delos, Thebes, Rhodes, and others, often vying for power or dominance. Many of these city states expanded with colonies in the Aegean islands, along the coast of the Mediterranean (including Croatia, Italy and France) and onto the mainland of Asia Minor, and the coasts of Anatolia {Turkey}.

The Hellenistic Period, during which Greece was under the political domination of first Macedonia and then Rome, went from 323 to 31 BC. In 31 BC Roman control became more direct after the Battle of Actium, when the forces of Octavian defeated Antony, giving rise to the Roman Period (Rome had conquered most of the Cyclades by 190 BC). Rome took, reproduced, adapted or copied many of the features of Hellenistic art. This Roman Period went from 31 BC to 330 AD when Constantine was converted to Christianity, beginning the Christian or Byzantine era. Greek was also the language of the New Testament (St. Paul [Saul of Tarsus in what is now Turkey] and St John, who wrote the Book of Revelation while on Patmos in the Aegean, and the other apostles wrote the gospels in Greek).

In the 9th century, the Arabs captured Crete. In the 13th century the Venetians took over the Cyclades and Crete. The Ottoman Turks dominated the area from the 14th century until the 19th century when the beginnings of an independent Greek state started with a temporary capital at Aigina in 1827. Greece was established in its present state after WW II and the return of the Dodecanese Islands in 1947.

The above is a simplified fractured history of developments in Greek history, but we enjoy sailing through the areas in which it was made.