Log #27l Andros

November 24, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 27 Summer in Greece, The Logs

Nov. 24, 2002
Kemer, Turkey

Hi Folks,

We are having a very windy day here today with 35 to 40 gusting to 50 knots. However, the maina is quite secure and the staff are out checking the lines. Judy is off on a Sunday walk up to the Chimera (remember the fire breathing dragon that was impaled by Bellorophon of the Iliad, riding the winged horse Pegasus, and whose fiery breathe still blazes forth from the rocks?), while I have Veleda to myself for the day. However, we were there last year. Also, I have a strained Achilles tendon from playing tennis last week for the first time in over 30 years, and am limping like an old man. I hope it eases up before we leave, as I’d like to enjoy a bit more tennis while we are here.

Otherwise, all is going well. The weather in the day time is up to 24ْ C and at night down to about12ْ  C. Judy has been quite active here this year, going to aerobics three mornings a week and walks for three other mornings. There are many activities going on here, even more than last year. We are getting out and doing more touring of the area by rental car. I hope to rent a motor scooter to go up through the local mountains. They’re magnificent. I’ll mention some details of the tours when I get to the next series of logs back here in Turkey. But, I have to finish Greece first.

All the best,
Aubrey.

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Log #27l, Andros

Nov. 23, 2002
Kemer, Turkey

Departing Siros on Oct. 1, we motored all the 33 miles NW to Gavrion on Andros (37ْ 53.0’N, 024ْ 44.1’E), with a couple of futile attempts to motor sail. The light NNW force 4 wind dropped to nothing as we motored over the calm blue waters of the Aegean. Gavrion is below a cape on the NW coast of Andros, a wide deep inlet in which we initially intended to anchor until we saw the remains of a wreck at the head of the bay. There was room alongside the town docks adjacent to a new ferry pier (not shown on our older pilot), a pleasant change from bows to Med mooring. A delightful surprise was to be helped in by Brian and Susie on Riduna, a UK boat we met last winter in Kemer, moored just minutes earlier, behind us on the inner part of the ferry pier.

The town was fairly closed down now that it was off season, but there were a few markets, a couple of sleepy restaurants still open, a few forlornly empty boutiques, several other shops closed up for the winter and only one or two of the several car rental agencies open. We arranged for a car for next day to drive across the mountainous island to Andros Town. There we wandered down the main pedestrian mall to the Andros Archeological Museum, an excellent museum with well organized informational displays about the island’s history. It focused on the excavation finds and reconstruction drawings of Zagora and Paliopoli, two of the three ancient towns of the island. The third town, Ypsili, was only discovered after the museum was completed in 1981. Paliopoli, the oldest, dates back to the Mycenaean period (14th century BC), but the Zagora site, dating to 9th – 8th centuries BC, had more artifacts and gave a better picture of life there in the Geometric period, including the urban designs of its architecture, delicate Geometric pottery, and other aspects of life in that era. Maps of the island indicated the locations of these ancient sites. Later that afternoon when Alvin and I went to explore them, they were not easily accessible, unsigned, and way off the highway, remote from any roads. However, we went to the Zagora peninsula, and after wandering down ancient stone-slabbed, walled paths we came out above the site, able to identify the remains of the defensive wall separating it from the mainland. We found many ancient stone built structures (now used for animal shelters and storage) conforming to the architectural designs we saw in the museum. However, we did not have time to go right onto the site inside the boundaries of the defensive wall as Alvin had to catch the 1700 ferry.

After leaving the museum we went further down into the town to the nautical museum only to find out it was closed for the season. It was located on a large plaza, Plateia Kairi, with its statue of an unknown sailor, overlooking a promontory extending out into the sea, with the remains of a Venetian fortification on an island joined to the tip of the headland by an ancient steeply arched bridge, dominating the two bays either side. The town itself is an attractive well-kept Cycladic hora, with some fine old neoclassical mansions along the narrow streets and alleys, a reminder of more prosperous times under the Venetians and Ottoman Turks.

After leaving the town, we drove through the mountains to the wild Dipotamata Gorge, a narrow, lush, fertile, steep-walled, terraced valley, now under the protection of an EU heritage commission. We were cautioned by a local not to go down, as the ancient path is overgrown or washed out in several sections. We went – all the way to the bottom; past fragrant pomegranate, lemon and orange trees on overgrown terraced ledges; into mini alpine orchards, some with ancient stone dovecotes converted from water mills for which the area is famous; around ancient and not so ancient water troughs and tanks still diverting the mountainous run off into the moss-green fertile ground through ancient pottery pipes and more modern PVC tubing; right down to the controlled stream bed, channeled by ancient stone walls and contemporary concrete dams and culverts. From there we could look up both sides of this verdant paradise, the escarpment of cliffs and trees interspersed with ageless stone terraces, dovecotes, and water mills. It would have been nice to have had several days to explore this valley, especially an ancient cobblestoned path winding along the gorge, linking the mountain community of Korthi to Andros Town on the coast. However, Alvin had to catch a ferry, so back up we climbed, picking blackberries, and snitching a pomegranate overhanging the path, to bring to Judy waiting for us in the car. I hope they develop this path for easier access, as it is a memorable experience.

We got Alvin off on the 1700 ferry, and as it was still daylight went for another drive through the northern mountains. Gas in Greece is not as expensive as it is in Turkey, and the car cost only  €20.00 for one day. The drive was magnificent! I enjoy going through mountains. As we got higher, the barren upper crests were bathed in an ochre red from the setting sun. At one summit, we were only a hundred feet or so below a cloud layer that caught the silver wash of the waning sun to contrast the darker valleys below and the golden but barren curvature of the surrounding hills. The silver monochromatic panorama up and down the east coastline was spectacular, at one point letting us see down onto Andros Town with its promontory and Venetian Fort bisecting the two bays, and to the north, the mountains, bays and inlets of the irregular coastline. It was dark by the time we finished this circuit and got back to Veleda.

We had a good get together with Brian and Susie on Riduna to talk about the Black Sea which they visited this past summer. We bought the Black Sea Pilot and many charts from them. The discussion gave us the confidence to tackle the Black Sea next summer by ourselves, rather than depend on the KAYRA rally (which will not take place until summer of 204) or another Black Sea Flotilla. In addition we have decided we will go counter clockwise around as opposed to the clockwise directions other flotillas and rallies have gone, in order to take better advantage of the predominant winds and currents in the summer. Thanks Brian and Susie for the info, encouragement and your charts.

We cast off next day to head SSE, motor sailing again, into a light easterly breeze, going down the east coast of Siros this time, past the main town of Ermopolis, and over to a quiet sheltered deserted anchorage on Nisos Gaidharos, an uninhabited island three or four miles east of Siros. The pilot cautioned about a bar with 2.5 metres over I and good anchoring inside it. However, we noted the bar must have changed, as it was almost awash, and too close to shore for comfortable swinging room at anchor. However, we had a good set to our anchor and spent a quiet night in this isolated bay, which is frequented by the residents of nearby Ermopolis in the summer. This is another joy of cruising, that sailing off season allows more isolated access to beautiful areas that are overcrowded during the summer. The main problems are not with other yachties, but the tour boats, and day trippers, the caiques (in Greece), and the gulets (in Turkey). However, we have not been seriously crowded in the various anchorages we have been in here in the Aegean, as most tour boats want to be near restaurants and discos, leaving the more remote anchorages relatively open. However, we have heard some horror stories of Italy and France and overcrowding in season; except again, we don’t like marinas or built up locations where such crowding takes place.

Next day we were off to another favoured bay at Naoussa on Paros which we visited a month ago on our way across the Aegean to meet Alvin. Now we are returning towards Turkey, backtracking through some of the islands we visited enroute. I wonder if there will be any nudists bathing on the beach there now it is into the second week of October?

I’ll let you know in my next log.