Log #23k To Thira (The Cyclades) and Rhodes (the Dodecanese)

January 20, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 23 Greece, The Logs

Toronto, Canada
Jan. 20, 2002

Hi Folks,
We’re back from Panama City, went to the Toronto Boat Show, and have had a couple of slide presentations of our trip so far. We have enjoyed meeting old friends and acquaintances, and seeing how things have changed or not changed in Toronto. Judy and I have been getting caught up on medical, dental, and eye checkups. So far everything is OK, but this week is not one I am looking forward to as I have a root canal and a biopsy of my prostate arranged. Lots of fun!

At the Boat Show, we bought ourselves a new Zodiac inflatable dinghy to replace Sprite, our damaged Quicksilver 270 dinghy. As reported in a previous log, it was damaged in a storm at Adhamus on Milos. I got an estimate for repairs after we arrived in Kemer, and an estimate for a used replacement dinghy as I was informed the repairs might not last very well due to the wear and age of the fabric. The repairs, in US dollars, came to about $450, and the used replacement dinghy at $600. I then got a quote for a new Quicksilver at about $1650, and a new locally manufacture rib JOKER boat inflatable at $2100. Together with the invoice from the engine repair ($450) done in Milos, I faxed these to Pantaenius in London. In that storm, we also had some damage done to our bow pulpit, but it came to only $250. If I had included it in my claim, the claim would then go into a different category for hull damage, and would result in a higher deductible of about $500, and would also be registered as a full insurance claim. Whereas the dinghy and outboard are in a separate category with a deductible of only about $200 US, and do not adversely affect my claims free record.

I didn’t know if the company would accept my claim for a new dinghy but sent in the estimates for the two prices of new dinghies anyway. After a short phone conversation, they accepted the claim for the engine repairs, and the cost of the new Quicksilver dinghy. No depreciation on my 8 year old Quicksilver was included, and I received a cheque (in equivalent British pounds) for $1650 for the dinghy plus $450 for the engine repairs, less $200 deductible for a total of about $1900 US final settlement, mailed directly to my bank account here in Toronto. I am very pleased with their service and settlement, in contrast to my former Canadian insurance company.

I’m not sure if I described that problem with the genoa and roller furling that were destroyed in a storm on my way to Mallorca last February. In that attempted claim I had over $6000 (Canadian) expenses for a new roller furler and genoa, and by the time the $1000 Cdn deductible and over 60% depreciation on the equipment was included, the company sent me a cheque for only $850 Cdn which I refused to cash as my claims free status was worth more than that pittance. Incidentally, I was paying $3000 Cdn annually for that Canadian insurance ($1000 Cdn deductible), whereas my Pantaenius insurance costs only $950 Cdn ($850 deductible, except for the tender which was only $300 deductible) for coverage of all European coastal and inland waters (including the Mediterranean) up to 200 nautical miles off shore. Thank you Pantaenius!

Thus we needed a new dinghy, and we planned to order one when we got back to Turkey. However at the Boat Show we decided to look at what was available over here. The prices in Canada were considerably cheaper. We looked at Avon, Mercury (Quicksilver), and Zodiac, between $1800 and $2100 Canadian. Then the thought hit us that perhaps we could buy it here and take it over with our luggage on the plane. They weighed only about 75 pounds. We settled on the Zodiac Cadet C285S at the Boat Show price of $1900 Canadian with Offshore Inflatable Boats here in Toronto. In addition, we made an arrangement, that as we are a yacht in transit, we would not be charged any tax, and would provide the company with copies of our documents returning to Turkey. This is far preferable than having to pay the tax, then trying to reclaim it later. In addition, the company, located not too far from the Toronto International Airport (Pearson), will transport it to the airport for us. Because of security concerns, one of the questions asked at the airport is “Did you pack your own bags?”  We have arranged to go up to the plant where they will unpack the dinghy for us, then help us repack it so we can be honest in saying “Yes, we packed our own bags.” We did not want to be faced with possibly having to open the dinghy bag at the airport. So now we have a new Sprite to take back with us.

Enjoy this log #23k, back in Greece, which takes us to Rhodes.

All the best,
Aubrey

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Log #23k To Thira (the Cyclades) and Rhodes (the Dodecanese)

Kemer, Turkey
Dec. 8, 2001
Covers the period Nov. 8 to 12, 2001

Milos is in a group of islands in the southern Aegean known as the Cyclades, so called as they more or less encircled Delos, the ancient centre of trade and worship. On our way from Adhamus to Apollonia, a distance of only 11 miles, we motored the 4 miles out the large Ormos Milou, enjoying the views of the small fishing villages, their whitewashed houses, with vibrant blue trim, built right into the rock walls on the shoreline so they can winch their small fishing boats into the attached “garages”. High on the summit, the chora (town or community) of Plaka looked like a snowy peak, the ancient white houses reflecting brightly the minimal sunlight against the dull wet grey of the mountain top. Altering to starboard, we skirted the north coast to see an island of columnar rocks that was mentioned in our Lonely Planet Guide. It was an interesting formation of octagonal columnar basalt, but not as dramatic as Staffa in the Scottish Hebrides.

Rounding the point, Ak Pelekoudha, we entered the east facing bay of Apollonia between two white, blue-domed, Greek Orthodox chapels on the points. It was sandy bottomed, with a single concrete fishing pier on the south shore, aligned north/south , about 30 metres in length on the seaward side where we moored (36˚ 45.9′ N, 024˚ 31.6 E). Being on the east side of the pier we were well sheltered from any S or SW winds, a comforting location after the frightening experience of Adhamus.

The outboard would not be ready until next day. We were favourably impressed with the dealership, Koynos Marine, as he had to order several parts, which arrived the following day, and he had the engine ready that same afternoon. We had a chance to see the engine apart to see what parts were needed. He asked if we wanted a valve job done or the piston rings replaced while it was open. We declined. as on an engine only 18 months old, such should not be necessary  (once he knew its age, he agreed). We then saw the engine, repaired, still in the tank and running smoothly. We informed him we would not be using the engine again until spring and he ran the engine dry, blowing in some anti-corrosion spray. He also recommended that in the Eastern Med we use an oil: gas mix of 1:200, rather than the original manufacturer’s 1:100. He delivered the engine the 300 metres to Veleda at the dock, and we strapped it on board. The cost came to 153,000 drachmas, about $450 Canadian.

That cost, plus the repair to Sprite and straightening out our bow pulpit, which was also damaged in the storm by the lines crossing from Kajsa, will probably make this worth an insurance claim. We faxed Pantaenius in London with the situation and a copy of the invoice, and indicated we would forward other estimates when we get to Kemer in Turkey. We’ll see how co-operative they are in settling this possible claim.

Apollonia is a pleasant little tourist town with a lovely sand beach, playground, public washroom, and beach showers. Several restaurants and tavernas line the shore side street near the fishing dock where we were located. We saw several fishing boats come in once or twice in the day with small catches that the locals came down to purchase from them; a meager return for a day out fishing.

We left in the dark at 2130 for a 53 mile overnight passage to arrive in Thira (also known as Santorini) at 0800 next day, again to an incomplete but secure marina at Vlikadha  on the SW corner (36˚ 20.2′ N, 025˚ 26.1′ E). Kajsa was there, but no one was on board. The crossing was uneventful in a brisk force 5/6 SSW wind, as we headed in an ESE direction, but slightly complicated by two factors. One, the main halyard was caught in our mast steps and couldn’t be freed without going up the mast, which we did not wish to risk at night in 2 metre seas. The second problem was with our new Simrad wheel pilot; the inner plastic liner in the circular outer ring was separating, and so we had to hand steer the whole night. We had enough wind to sail for a couple of hours, with the genoa only, at hull speed. Near midnight the wind increased to force 7, causing us to reef it 50%. However, the increased wind was accompanied by corresponding increased beam seas, causing an uncomfortable roll. After midnight the wind dropped back to a force 5, and to combat the rolling, we unfurled the reef in the genoa, turned on the engine and motor sailed the rest of the way.

Thira is a gigantic volcanic caldera, the main island shaped like a crescent moon, encompassing a bay 5 miles wide, facing west, and partially protected by a smaller island on the outer circumference called Thirasia. In the middle of this bay are two black volcanic islands of cinder and lava, called Palaia Kammeni and Nea Kammeni (Old and New Kammeni). Before 2000 BC, Thira and Crete were populated by the advanced, creative Minoan civilzation. The ruins at Akrotari on the SW arm of Thira are a testimony to that culture. This civilization ended abruptly around 1400 BC because of gigantic explosions of the volcano which also caused tsunamis which rolled over Crete, 60 miles away, with tidal waves 60 to 100 metres high, travelling at up to 160 km per hour, and covering it with 10 to 75 cm of volcanic ash. Thira is 5 times the size of Krakatoa, near Java, which had the largest volcanic eruption in recent history in 1883. The eruption of Thira is calculated to have been three times the force of Krakatoa. Some of the known statistics of Krakatoa are that 23 square miles of island disappeared, blast damage was caused to houses 160 km away, and tidal waves 17 metres high were reported at a lighthouse 88 km away, destroyed 300 towns and killed 36,000 people. (The above information from Rod Heikell’s Greek Waters Pilot).

I’ve just finished reading Alistair Maclean’s novel, “Santorini” which uses Thira (Santorini) as the backdrop to a fantastic scenario where by a bomber carrying nuclear bombs crashed off Cape Akritori, not too far from where we were moored. The fear was that if they exploded, they would be powerful enough to initiate a tectonic shift in this sensitive area causing earthquakes and releasing a thermal plume and volcanic eruptions creating a cataclysm worse than the eruptions of the 1400 BC, with the spread of ash and radioactivity creating a nuclear winter, and the resultant tsunami inundating the entire eastern Mediterranean. I hope I haven’t spoiled the book for anyone, but it was written in 1986.

Thira is still active. In 236 BC Thirasia was separated from Thira in another large eruption. In 196 BC Palaia Kammeni was formed, and in 1711-12 Nea Kammeni was spawned. Thus the five mile wide bay is a gigantic caldera, with the Kammeni islands the still smoldering plug. We took a tour boat out (Talk about busmen’s holidays!) to Nea Kammeni, and climbed to the top of the black lava strewn crater to see and smell the sulphurous steam still seeping through the rim, then went to swim in the hot springs of Palaia Kammeni. They weren’t hot, but only lukewarm, with sulphurous bubbles oozing up through the red-brown mud in one of the inlets.

Some authorities speculate that it was Thira that spawned the legend of the Lost Continent of Atlantis.

The town of Thira is a popular tourist destination with several cruise ships anchoring in the dramatic backdrop of the bay 300 metres below.  We walked down the long zigzag walkway (580 steps) to the tour boat to the volcanic islands in the middle of the bay, but rode donkeys on the way back up. We drove a rental car around the island and to Akrotiri, only to find it was closed either for the season or for repairs. Judy will want to return to Thira if only to visit Akrotiri (possibly two and a half years from now on our way out the Med).

Joan and Rune on Kajsa left the day before us, and were heading up to Kos, while our next destination was Rhodes, the last stop before our winter home in Kemer, Turkey. We were getting anxious to get there and to get off the increasing winter-stormy waters of the Aegean.

We left at 0730 just before dawn for the 140 mile overnight passage to the famed isle of Rhodes in the Dodecanese chain of islands, the last before leaving Greek waters. We were headed east, with light force 3 to 4 northerly winds. For a pleasant change, we were able to sail most of the trip at close to hull speed. Our day’s run for the first 24 hours was 120 nautical miles, during which we sailed 17 hours, all be it hand steering hour on and hour off. At sunset we double reefed the main and genoa, and sailed in a brisk force 6/7 until about 0130 when we were in the lee of Nisos Tilos, and the wind dropped to a light force 3. Once out of the lee the wind went back up but only to force 5, enough to let us enjoy more sailing. We did not encounter much shipping on the passage, and as we approached the north end of Rhodes, we could see across to the mountains of the Turkish coast, about 25 miles away.

By 1230 we entered Mandraki Harbour, the old harbour of Rhodos, between two columns supporting deer sculptures, the symbol of Rhodes. This same entry was (according to some authorities) in ancient times straddled by the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the wonders of the ancient world. The harbour was filled with flotilla sailboats, caique tour boats, catamaran and hydrofoil ferries, coast guard and rescue boats. There was space on the pontoon docks across from the post office, law courts, coast guard office and National Theatre, and adjacent to an ornate Greek Orthodox church and the elegant arched Venetian Gothic Government House, all part of “New Town”. Across the harbour could be seen three medieval windmills and the 15th century fortress of Agios Nikolaos. Down the harbour could be seen the centerpiece of the “New Town”, the domed New Market, its covered arcades housing a delightful range of produce stalls, boutiques, restaurants, jewelry stores, fast food outlets and gyros shops, with taxi stands and bus station adjacent. Beyond this market could be seen the ramparts of the living medieval citadel called Old Town, the most picturesque fortress we have seen since Valetta in Malta. All this visible from our mooring at the pontoon (36˚ 27.0′ N, 028˚ 13.5′ E).

In my next log on Rhodes will be the sights, storms and complications experienced in this historic venue before our final passage to Turkey.