Log #27e More Cyclades – Serifos and Kithnos

October 19, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 27 Summer in Greece, The Logs

Oct. 19, 2002
Enroute to Fethiye, Turkey

Hi Folks,

We are back in Turkish waters, having cleared out of Greece at Symi a couple of days ago. We have not checked into Turkey formally yet as we have been anchored each night, enroute to Fethiye, where we hope to do our check in today. It is a quiet calm fall day, with a slight following wind, not enough to even motor sail, and so we are motoring as usual. The temperature is 23ْ C, and we have a quiet weather window for several days. We have to be sure every anchorage is a safe anchorage from all directions as the fall storms are starting, and we have been anchored through several of them already this month. That is why we will be back in Kemer before the end of the month. We got hammered by several last November when we were crossing the Aegean, including one that destroyed our dinghy, and want to be off the open waters earlier this year.

From Symi we anchored in Bozuk Buku, where I had a good hike around the ruins of ancient Loryma, and met up with Peg and Tom on Starboard Home who anchored a few hours after us. We have heard Tom on the SSB net at 0530 UTC as he is sometimes net control and also gives the weather info. We had a good get together with them, and exchanged some books. They will be off to Marmaris in a couple of days for the winter there.  I have written about Bozuk Buku before when we explored the extensive remains of the citadel that dominates the headland to the bay, and will describe it more when  get to the log for this area. We are surprised at the number of charter yachts that are still sailing this late in the season. There were over a dozen in Bozuk Buku.

We enjoyed the Greek islands but are happy to be back in Turkey. I’ll get this ready on a floppy disc to send from an internet café in Fethiye.

All the best,
Aubrey

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Log #27e More Cyclades – Serifos and Kithnos

And about chapels and batteries
Oct. 10, 2002
Ormos Vathi, Astipalia, Greece

On Sept. 11 (the anniversary of the terrorist attack on the US when we were in Hvar, Croatia last year) we motored the 16 miles from Sifnos to Serifos. These are part of the middle Cyclades in the southwestern Aegean. At Livadhi (37ْ 08.7’N, 024ْ 31.0’E), where we anchored off the wide sandy beach fringed with tavernas in about 5 metres of water, we were able to have laundry done, get fuel and water, and send E-mail. Next day we met Rejoice an EMYR boat, with Bob and Sue on board. Bob was one of the two energetic souls who ran up Masada when we were in Israel. We had a good visit with them and exchanged some reading material. We were going to take the bus up to the Hora above Livadhi, as we heard it was a beautiful Cycladic capital town with a 15th century Venetian fortress above it. The Venetians took or were awarded several Aegean islands and other areas of Greece for their naval, military, or economic support to whatever empire happened to be dominant at the time. However, we missed the bus as there was a new schedule out of season, and we were reading the seasonal one. Oh well, we have seen many horas on other islands.

Off to Kithnos on the 13th, we motored the 24 miles to an idyllic sandy beach/isthmus at Ormos Fikiadha (37ْ 24.9’ N, 024ْ 22.8’ E). This fine sand beach, about 50 metres wide and 200 metres long, links a promontory, Nisos Ay Louka, to the main part of the island, creating two bays, an outer western bay, more exposed, and the inner well-sheltered bay where we were anchored. The crest of the small promontory was topped with the traditional chapel, and a few ruins now used as animal shelters. These ruins are stone foundations that may or may not have any roof intact, the earthen or rock “floor” covered with goat hair and goat droppings, and castoff tins, plastic bottles, rotted beams and stones from the collapsed roof. I suspect many of them are hundreds of years old, and were originally for human habitation, possibly with animal shelters attached.

The chapel at the summit was the usual whitewashed blue-trimmed barrel domed structure with a small low walled plaza beside it, and a spectacular view over Ormos Fikiadha and Ormos Apokriosis, the next bay east. From these summits, one can see the wind patterns on the calm waters, the wave patterns and white caps on the rougher open seas, and the rollers as they bash themselves in plumes of spray against headland rocks. I enjoy hiking up to these deserted places of worship, and experiencing the quietness and isolation of these chapels. I have never met another person on any of these jaunts. Often there are no roads up to the chapels, and they are miles away from the nearest town or habitation. Their closed doors can usually be opened for entry (thus keeping out the donkeys, goats, and sheep), and the sanctuary is a dry dusty affair with a walled off altar area containing — maybe a rickety old table, or a wooden lectern, some dirty, greasy, waxed candle wicks or tapered candles with boxes of matches on the window ledge, grungy plastic bottles, empty or partly filled with oil (for floating the candle wicks), a decrepit broom and dust pan in a corner behind a square tin of sand and dirt. In the main section there is usually no furniture, or just a lectern. I have occasionally found three to six wooden high seated pews along the side walls, with the seat flap hinged so the worshipper can kneel (I suppose). The pictured icons on the altar screen often have dried out wooden frames with badly delaminated images, some behind glass, some not. The colours are still intense; black backgrounds, gold halos around the images, muted browns, reds, and yellows for the figures, each holding a religious symbol in one hand and holding the other hand, palm forward, with fingers extended, thumb touching a forefinger in some form of significant spiritual hand gesture. The ledges of the narrow windows have more candles, wicks, matches, and grubby oil jars with depleted burned out wicks congealed on the grimy surface. In a corner are more brooms, dustpan, a square tin can, and used plastic bags. The concrete floor is bare and dusty, with flakes from the whitewashed walls along the edges. A barren, dry sense of tranquility envelopes the sanctuary. Several times I have swept the floors of these chapels, my simple contribution to the unseen congregation. A few times I have tried to clean up the window ledges by moving the extra candle boxes or paper coverings, only to find dozens of disturbed insects. So I don’t bother with that aspect of helping to clean the places. Some of these remote chapels are quite old, but on others I have seen dates as recent as the 1960’s for their construction or renovations. I would like some time, to be able to talk to a local about the history and use of these chapels.

On the northeast headland of Ormos Fikiadha a large villa was under construction, but looked as if work had been suspended for some time. I clambered up to it to nose around the structures. There were three of them, stone exteriors, plastered whitewashed walls inside, with openings for electrical and plumbing fixtures hanging out, flat concrete roofs, unfinished square or rectangular openings for doors, and panoramic views from the windows. Slate patios and steps linked them, arching around the crest of the headland. Above the villa over the crest was its own small slate quarry where they obviously were getting and cutting the slate for the buildings – a very efficient use of natural materials. There was no road to the villa, and everything brought in had to be carted up the 200 foot steep rocky incline from the beach below. It is on a very dramatic headland with a spectacular view, and will be  magnificent if ever finished.

Meanwhile, back at the anchorage we watched as “Neliadrah” had difficulty in getting its anchor to hold, until we recommended they come in forward of us where there was better holding. We had a nice chat with Vic and Dot from Australia, and exchanged some reading materials.

I was noticing that, when charging our batteries by running the engine, the charge rate would soon drop from 80 plus amps to only 30 or 40 amps after ten to fifteen minutes. This was not right! I like the E-metre (Heart Interface Link–10 battery monitor) we have, as it displays several bits of information such as the voltage across the batteries, the present draw, the number of amp hours used from the full battery bank, the number of hours remaining to drop to the 50% level at the current rate of draw. We have (originally) 440 amp hours of battery power with four deep-cycle 110 amp hour 6 volt golf cart batteries married into two 12 volt pairs. When we have been at anchor for a couple of days, we will have used up anywhere from 100 to 150 amp hours with our lights, instrumentation, refrigeration, radios, inverter, and other electrical uses. Our wind generator can put out 3 amps if we have a 15 knot wind blowing across deck, but it cannot hope to keep up with our battery draw. Thus our heavy duty 100 amp alternator is our major source of battery recharging when at anchor. We have a smart charger unit which keeps the rate of charging high for longer periods of time, then slowly, after the batteries are closer to full, drops down to trickle charge levels. We have been quite happy with this system.

However, lately the alternator has been dropping to lower charge rates of 10 to 15 amps while the batteries are still low (i.e. – they are still 50 to 80 amp hours below full charge), thus taking five to ten hours to fully charge the batteries, an unacceptable situation. Usually an hour to an hour and a half running per day is enough to charge fully the batteries. It is time to find out where the problem lies. We start with our check of the alternator belt and smart charger connections. These seem to be OK. Check the battery terminals, they’re OK. Check all connections with a testing metre, and they are all functional. So we have to lift up the floor boards (as we have the smaller golf cart batteries on a special shelf right above the keelbolts below the main cabin sole), and check each cell with a hygrometer. One cell was sulphated and several were low in battery fluid, only half the 12 cells (3 cells in each of the 4 batteries) indicating above 12 volts. We topped up the low cells with distilled water and ran the engine for a half hour before rechecking with the hygrometer. All the cells took some charge, but it seems we will have to replace the batteries this winter. They will be five years old, and have served us well, giving us 12 months a year active duty for that time. The added fluid revived them to the extent they take a faster longer charge now and should last until we get back to Kemer for the winter.

We strolled through the fine sand of the beach and snorkeled along the coral-like craggy edges, and just enjoyed the exquisite view across the sand bar to watch the sunset over the bay to the west. The view over the rocky shoreline and headlands, and up the mountainous ravines and valleys, gave us a million dollar panorama, which we enjoy at most anchorages. At one point I was wondering what was on the crest of the hill behind the villa under construction. I thought my eyes were playing tricks, as I would see a tall post-like structure or radio antenna, then it would disappear, then I would see it canted at an awkward angle. It took several minutes of scrutiny to become aware that we were seeing the long blades of a three bladed wind generator just below the crest line. As they were moving very slowly, we could see only one blade, then nothing, then the next blade would present itself into our line of sight. We have since seen several such generators, some in wind farms of five or six on a crest. However, they are not as numerous as those we saw in Holland, but appear to be the same type.  For these, and not-so-distant islands, the visibility is often reduced by a haze (caused by dust particles in the air) common in the Mediterranean, even on “clear” days.

After a couple of lovely nights here, we weighed anchor on the 15th for Kea, only 20 miles away, where we were to experience our first heavy thunderstorm of the season.