Log #27n Panormos – A glorious anchorage

December 1, 2002 in Log Series 20 - 29, Series 27 Summer in Greece, The Logs

Kemer, Turkey
Dec. 1, 2002

Hi Folks,

The social whirl of activities here in the marina is such that we are not getting as much work done on Veleda as we should. However, we have until next April to get it completed. I’m still limping a bit from the strained Achilles tendon. The weather is still good. Judy is still taking aerobics three times a week and power walking twice weekly. I enjoyed the graduation antics of a scuba class graduation ceremony at the Navigator last night while Judy was in Antalya watching the latest Harry Potter movie. Next week there is a Baba Noel Santa Claus Peace Foundation conference in Antalya where I and a few others from different countries have been asked to give speeches about world peace. St. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, near here, and the tradition of gift giving and Santa coming down the chimney, originated from there.

I am having my fill of movies as well, as Frank on Vision brought back from the States the four BBC episodes of Horatio Hornblower and has been showing them in the library of the Navigator over the past week. In addition another cruising friend, Jean Francois from Monaco is getting ready to head home for a couple of months and has lent me a dozen or so DVD’s from his collection, including several classics such as Casablanca, Patton, The Sand Pebbles, The Gladiator, Cleopatra and others. When I return to Canada with my laptop later this month, I will not be able to rent North American DVD’s, as they are in a different world sector, and the DVD players can only switch sectors a total of five times and are then locked in to whatever the last sector was. I now only have one more switch left, and will wait until I have returned to the Caribbean and North America before making that last change.

Jean Francois has also been encouraging us to consider turning right when we go through Gibraltar a couple of years from now and going up the Portuguese, Spanish and French Biscay coasts for a season before crossing back to the Caribbean. Maybe?

The politics continue to be of interest. The headscarf issue is in the news. Many support permitting headscarves to be worn at public, and government functions and at educational institutions (currently banned), but others, including the military, fear that permitting such religious displays will be the thin edge of the wedge to permit more Islamic intrusion in government and the legal system. The ruling AK party, just elected with a majority, has Islamic roots, being the new name for the old banned Islamic party. Ergodan, the party leader, and Gul, the Prime Minister, have been trying to distance themselves and the party from Islamic influence to gain credibility, but have been undermined by a couple of Islamic displays by cabinet members. I don’t think this issue is over yet.

Enjoy the log about this beautiful anchorage we found on Astipalaia. All the best,

Log #27n Panormos – A glorious anchorage

Kemer, Turkey
Nov. 28, 2002

In getting ready to leave the anchorage at Naoussa we consulted our Navtex for weather, (force 4 to 5 from the SW) looked at the conditions in the bay and decided to head out. The heavy weather of last night seemed to have died, but we didn’t know how much wave action would still be out there. We were dithering a bit as to how far and where to go today, but we knew we wanted to go south and east, working our way out of the Aegean. It was Oct. 8th, and we wanted to be back in Kemer, Turkey by the beginning of November this year, remembering the storms we encountered crossing the southern stretch of the Aegean last year in the first two weeks of November. We were thinking of Amorgos, or farther, into the Dodecanese Islands. So by 0830 we had weighed anchor and by 0840 had the genoa unfurled, enjoying a pleasant motor sail out of the bay and around the northern tip of Paros, our final day’s destination yet to be determined.

I mention this bit of equivocation on our part, as we overheard a few others cruisers on the VHF, travelling in company, discussing and discussing and discussing weather conditions and destinations… ad infinitum. We have enough difficulty settling on our destinations without consulting the opinions and uncertainties of two or more other boats. This is another of the reasons we prefer to sail independently, as we can make our own decisions without having to offend others for not accepting their ideas, and have the flexibility of going where we wish, or changing our minds if we feel like it.

Around the tip of the island we headed east in a good force 4 wind, but one metre swells left over from last night. We turned off the engine to see if we could maintain a good speed, which we did, altering to starboard to head down between Paros and Naxos. The wind was increasing (a funneling effect between the islands) to a strong force 6 from the west, so when we hoisted the main, we tied in a couple of reefs. We enjoyed a good brisk sail, altering to port around the south end of Naxos, and rigging the preventer as we were now on a run. I wish we had a whisker pole to wing out our genoa for these enjoyable downwind legs. That will be one of our priorities to purchase before we set off next year. They are not well known here in the Med. When we have enquired about them, we get a blank stare at the chandleries. However we have the name of a German supplier who has them, thanks to Pavlou Brothers, a good chandlery on Poros that at least knew what a whisker pole was and consulted a supplier for us.

We decided against Amorgos, and skirted the east side of Skhinoussa, hoping to find an anchorage in one of the bays. There was one marked in our pilot, a wide southern bay, but we saw several bays north of it. We anchored in the unmarked bay (36ْ 52.0’ N, 025ْ 32.1’ E) immediately north of the marked one, and enjoyed the isolation of a tranquil cove, all to ourselves, with good holding off the sandy beach, and a couple of farm houses ashore. We only saw two vehicles going to the farms that afternoon. At night though, we saw the lights of a car stop on the hillside. Lover’s lane I wondered? Then we saw a fishing boat come over to that side and land alongside the rocks. I thought it might be a fisherman using it as a temporary mooring for the night. No, with binoculars I saw it had a more solid cabin than the usual open boats, and then realized it was a ferry! Sure enough, an occupant from the car came down, jumped into the boat off the rocks (there was no landing as such) and then it took off through the night over towards Karos or Koufonisia, two off lying islands about 5 miles away. Local transportation!

In the morning when we left, we noticed the marked bay south of us, and were happy we anchored where we did. That bay seemed wide open with a rocky shore line. It probably would have been more sheltered from the prevailing NE winds, but as we had NW winds, our anchorage was nicely sheltered in a lee of the hills.

We were now heading in a SE direction, going with the wind for a change. Shortly after leaving we were buzzed by a low flying military fighter jet that zoomed less than 100 feet right over us. Fortunately we saw it coming, otherwise we would have been startled by its roar as it skimmed past us. We hoisted main and genoa for a pleasant sail, but had to jibe them as they were set too much by the lee. Then we furled the genoa and flew the spinnaker for the next 30 miles until we approached the NW corner of Astipalaia. It was great to have such a long spinnaker run for a change. We have not taken the opportunity to practice flying it much this year, but we were pleased to find we could fly it together with the main and on a straight downwind run. Previously we were concerned that it would wrap itself around the forestay with the wind directly aft. We fly it loose footed, without a spinnaker pole, using the “tacker”, a plastic sleeve around the furled genoa. I think I might be able to use a whisker pole to hold it out if necessary on straight downwind legs. I’ll check it out next year.

Astipalaia is the westernmost of the Dodecanese Islands off the SW heavily indented coast of Turkey. We were initially attracted to the landlocked inlet of Vathi on the west side of the NE arm of the island, but decided to try the little mentioned anchorage of Panormos first. FANTASTIC! In the pilot it is given only 3½ lines of mention and no diagram. As far as we are concerned it is the best anchorage we have been in throughout the Aegean!

Entering a deep but narrow (200 metre wide) separation of the barren hills, we came into a wide mountain fringed bay with glorious isolation. There are three main coves in this wide deserted bay. The first one to starboard as we entered was long and narrow, with a rocky beach at the end. We thought the bottom would not be good holding, although it was well sheltered. We anchored in the second, wider cove with a sand and pebble beach ashore, suggesting that the bottom might be sand for good holding. It was. We had the entire large crystal clear bay all to ourselves. There were no farms, houses, or restaurants, only a secluded whitewashed chapel flanked by the gaping roofless walls of ancient ruins in a meadow at the foot of the valley where we were anchored. I launched Sprite to check out the rest of the bay. The third cove was too narrow and rocky for anchoring. On the east side was a saddle between the hills that seemed to have ancient stone walls, terracing or separating fields. I will have to explore the area tomorrow.

Back on Veleda we went for a swim in the clear waters and checked the set of the anchor. Supper in the cockpit allowed us to enjoy the peace and tranquility of that idyllic setting, watching the sun edge down over the western hills ahead of us, bathing the barren mountain sides behind us in a reddish golden glow. Later that night, I heard the sound of a single cylinder diesel engine, and saw the navigation lights of a small fishing boat as it came into the bay and puttered up out of sight into the first cove to moor, unseen, for the night. He left early in the morning for his fishing grounds. I went ashore to check out the chapel and ruins. There was no road leading to the chapel, but a dirt trail came over the side of the hill down to the beach. I wandered up the meadow and plucked some colourful wild flowers growing alongside a dried up stream bed for Judy. The rest of the terrain was parched and barren, with a couple of farmer’s fields sectioned off from the meadow by low stone walls on one side, ugly rusted barbed wire on the other. The fields were rock strewn, as if the stones grew out of the sterile earth, making passage across difficult to avoid twisting an ankle. It was a pleasant scene standing on the hillside above the chapel, seeing Veleda tranquilly at anchor off shore.

After dropping the flowers off to Judy, I dinghied over to the saddle on the far side to explore the fields there. Clambering up the eroded shoreline, I came onto several fields separated by stone walls and intact barbed wire fences. The stone walls had occasional mounds, and shelters of unknown origin or purpose. Going across the dry rock-strewn fields, I had to find openings in the fences to get across the saddle which led to the shore of the next bay to the east. It too was a well sheltered bay, but the bottom looked rocky and would probably not be good holding in which to anchor. However, it was an isolated picturesque inlet with a grove of olive trees lining the sandy beach below the fields I just crossed. The sandy beach continued to the end of the inlet and up a wide ravine that had traces of farming, a disused concrete well with broken irrigation channels, and bits of construction debris scattered around. On the far side of the ravine was an ancient set of overgrown stone steps rising up the cliff side. I clambered up them until they ran out at the cliff’s summit, onto steep slopes covered with scrub brush. I went up another few hundred feet, expecting that those steps would have led to some other ruins or signs of human activity. No such luck. I just found myself on parched dry bracken-covered steep slopes going up and up.

The view was fantastic! I could see the bay below, and across the saddle over to the next bay where Veleda lay at anchor about two or three kilometres away. The blue Mediterranean waters sparkled in the sunlight, as I saw wind zephyrs playing across the surface of the bay. I wished I had a telephoto lens to take a picture of Veleda at that distance with the intervening bay and saddle of dried fields in the foreground. I did not see a soul or any signs of farm houses or other habitation. In fact, as I think of it, no goats either, though there were goat droppings. I had this whole world to myself!

On my way back, crossing the fields I had to climb over a couple of wire fences as I did not find natural openings. Back on Veleda in the afternoon we saw our first people, as a moped wound its way down the trail onto the pasture in front of the chapel, and a man and woman went in for a nude swim and snorkel around the offlying rocks. Too crowded of us, and we left late afternoon to motor over to the far side of the five mile wide gulf separating the two mountain ranges of Astipalaia’s north coast to our original destination, the landlocked inlet of Vathi. This northern coast of the island is not inhabited except for the small fishing community and monastery in Vathi. The entrance was difficult to identify as there are several small headlands with shallow bays, except for the headland sheltering the narrow opening into the kilometre long inlet of Vathi. It was a disappointment after Panormos. Here the water was cloudy and polluted looking. The western bay by the fishing village was shallow and did not look inviting with the few dilapidated weatherworn houses forlornly spread along the shore road along with an abandoned quarry and factory. The east end had a few similarly unappealing houses below the hill hiding the monastery. It did not stand proud and bright, but was below the crest, and had wire fencing around the base of the hill. I did not even want to try to climb up to it, but went for a dinghy trip out the inlet over to the next bay. There was a chapel there, whitewashed and of interest. However when I landed and scrambled through the scrubby brush, disturbing a few goats on the way, I was again confronted by a wire fence. I didn’t feel like going all around through the brush to the road which led to the chapel, so I just retraced my steps and returned to Veleda. The inlet would provide good shelter in all conditions, but it was a let down after the glory of Panormos.

We left just before sunrise next morning for the 40 mile trip to the volcanic island of Nisiros.