Log #23d Meganisi, Skorpios and Kefallonia (Ionian Islands)

December 18, 2001 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 23 Greece, The Logs

Toronto, Canada
Dec. 18, 2001

Hi Folks,

Here is the second of my pre-prepared logs in Greece, #23d around some of the Ionian islands.

I am still learning about my Dell laptop and with this log will attach a picture of us, given to us by Bill and Jean from their digital camera when they were on Veleda last October. Now that my laptop has the ability for pictures, both storing and sending, I am interested in getting a digital camera, and may be able to convert some of my slides into digital format. Some of you may not have the facilities for pictures, but I hope that sending picture attachments does not complicate your downloading of my logs. I know the problems that cruisers have with E-mail servers, internet access, mobiles, data lines, cyber cafes, and astronomical on line costs in foreign countries. I know when we are abroad that we cannot download at internet cafes. I hope the new laptop allows us to, but will not know for sure until we’re overseas with it. If you have any problems with the fact that an attachment may be periodically sent (but not essential to download as it will just be a complimentary picture or article related to my log, which will continue to be sent via cut and paste methods), let me know as I can easily make up a section of addresses to not receive attachments.

As I re-read and edit my logs, I find myself reliving some of the experiences and sensations from that fall trip through the warm Ionian Sea, a comforting memory in the cold wet snowy Canadian winter here in Toronto. That is not a complaint about the weather here, as I like cold and snow, especially when able to enjoy it either from a warm inside, or a planned activity outside such as snowmobiling, skating or cross country skiing. We had a snowfall a couple of days ago and I took a picture out the back of the house of the trees covered with heavy glistening snow. Similarly, I hope you can relive with the logs, the enjoyment and excitement of our journey through Greek waters. In October we were still having warm weather.

Enjoy the log and let me know if there are any problems with the occasional picture attachment.

All the best,
Aubrey

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Log #23d Meganisi, Skorpios and Kefallonia (Ionian Islands)

Adhamas, Milos (The Cyclades), Greece
Nov. 6, 2001
Covers the period Oct. 1 to 4, 2001

The uncompleted marina at Vathy on Ithaca (38 22.4N, 020 42.9E) was safe, convenient, and free, no electricity or water, but a lovely beach a few hundred metres up the road, and flanked by a couple of local tavernas. Fuel, water and vegetable trucks came by. We made the mistake of getting fuel from one, a sloppy procedure siphoning from 30 litre jerry cans at about double the price at the fuel pumps. The town itself looked pleasant, not too touristy in spite of the fact that the uncompleted harbour is used as a stop over for charter flotillas.

In company with Soleil Sans Fin, we left in the morning of Oct. 2 for a short 22 mile trip to another Vathy, this time on Meganisi. En route we stopped at some interesting large caves (Papanicolis Caves c 38 36.8N, 020 45.7E) on the west coast of Meganisi, put Sprite in the water, and Jean and I dinghied into the grotto-like caves. The water was startlingly clear, with the sun’s rays arcing down to the tortured white rock formations 10 to 20 feet below the azure blue surface. The rock at the water line, fringed with purple algae, lifted our eyes up the multi-hued crevices and outcroppings to the craggy, vaulted ceiling thirty feet above our heads. The cavern went in about fifty or sixty feet to a flat boulder just below the surface. If someone were to stand on it, it would look as if he or she were walking on water. We floated on a very gentle transparent surge inside, seeing as through undulating glass the sheer slope of the sides, the erosion of the rock reminding me of the roughness of coral. The water was so clear we could see every pebble, ripple, and grain of sand on the bottom. We heard some stories that a submarine had hidden there, but I doubt it, as a rock at the entrance is only 15 feet below the surface. However a patrol boat or small motor launch could easily fit in. Next time in a cave like this I want to be able to snorkel through the calm sparkling clear waters to enjoy even more the beauty of the above and below regions of such exquisite grottos.

I dropped Jean off on Soleil Sans Fin, and asked Judy to follow me in Veleda, up the shoreline a bit as I wanted to explore close in all the fascinating rock formations and enjoy the transparent view into the craggy shoreline depths. I dinghied close in being careful not to let the gentle surge set me on the forbidding rocks, as their black  jagged edges would puncture Sprite’s hypalon sides.

I was enthralled by the grandeur, looking up from the surface base to the towering crevices, ornately sculpted in shades of tawny gold, amber, rust, eggshell, and stark white rock faces, some with streaks of slate green weeping over the rippled strata. The shoreline was edged with black eroded bases, some prickly and coral-like in their treacherous spikes; others ebony smooth, weathered, glossy surfaces pleading to be touched or stroked to be believed. The intricate patterns and washes of colour and textures could not have been surpassed by Van Gogh in his most intense moods. The azure blue water peppered with the sun’s rays revealed an underwater world of equally ornate rockery inhabited by flashing minnows, steel-blue tail-dotted fish, a few long slender needle fish, and black spiky sea urchins. I wish I could have spent more time drifting along this spectacular coast, but Judy was still off shore waiting for me in Veleda. A fantastic high to dwell in nature’s beauty!

After boarding Veleda, we continued around the north end of Meganisi to go bows to on the town docks of Vathi alongside Soleil Sans Fin. Bill then wanted to shift to an alongside opening left at the docks, and we followed to raft alongside him. However when we tried to haul up our anchor, it was fouled by another boater who had laid his anchor chain over ours. He came out in a dinghy to lift his chain and pulled it up to the point where it was attached to rope line which promptly wound around our propeller. After going in with mask and snorkel to free it, we then went alongside Soleil Sans Fin, totally frustrated and exhausted from the hour long experience of shifting locations, which should only have been a ten minute move!

However, we had a lovely fish supper on the actual fishing dock, the boats less then 15 feet away, and checkered table cloths and small hurricane lanterns on the table, and the owner’s son explaining the best catches to eat that night. It was a totally enjoyable evening at George’s Taverna.

In “THE ULYSSES VOYAGE ” Tim Severin  makes a good argument to identify Meganisi as the island of Thrinacia in “The Odyssey”, favoured island of the Sun King, Hyperion, and his sacred cattle. Odysseus and his crew were stranded there for a month, during which time his crew slew several sacred cattle, incurring the wrath of Hyperion who then (via Zeus) sent storms to destroy their boat, with only Odysseus surviving. The Homeric name for the island, Thrinacia, suggests a link of three, and the three deep bays on the northeast coast of Meganisi could be linked to the three prongs of a fish spear, a “thrinax” or even a “trident”. In addition, Port Atheni the best of the three bays has Ak Elia (Cape Elia) named in honour of St. Elias, the Christian “replacement” for the pagan Sun God, Helios, another link to the isle favoured by Hyperion for his sacred cattle.

Next day, Oct 3, after sending some E-mail from a bowered cloister at a local taverna/hotel, we left for a short 3 mile motor over to Skorpios (38 41.5N, 020 44.8E), the island of Aristotle Onassis and his last bride, Jackie Kennedy. We initially were going to stay there for a lunch stop, but enjoyed the scenery in this protected anchorage so much that we stayed the night. Boaters are not allowed to land on the island, but we enjoyed snorkeling around some interesting rocky outcrops. Most of the buildings were set in beneath lush trees and foliage, but we saw the bath house favoured by Jackie and the large landing docks for their major yacht, Christina. I am not sure, but I think it was a Canadian frigate, a bit smaller than a destroyer, that was modified to become the Christina.

Another enjoyable pastime while there was feeding the fish. We created a feeding frenzy when we threw bread crumbs in the water. It was fascinating to watch the schools of fish roil the surface of the water as they attacked each morsel. Judy and I went in with our masks and snorkels to feed and watch them. Judy was able to hand feed them several times. There were three different species from 3 to 6 inches in length. Some were plain dark brown; others were steel blue with black dots on their tail fins. When they turned upside down in their underwater gyrations, their silver and white belly scales flashed brilliantly in the sunlight.

Completing our circumnavigation and inspection from sea of Skorpios next day, we motored 12 miles to anchor back in Tranquil Bay across from Nidri on Levkas for a few days while still awaiting our new stove to be delivered.