Log #29a Symi, Kos, and Patmos

April 26, 2003 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 29 Greek Aegean to Istanbul, The Logs

Skala, Patmos, Greece
April 26, 2003

Hi Folks,

Here is the first of my series #29 going through Greece to Istanbul. We have had seven days of gale force winds over the past ten days! We are quite secure here alongside (not Med moored) the town dock.

All is well here, and we hope the SARS epidemic in Canada is contained and eliminated.

All the best, and a Happy Easter,

PS below is a survey I did for a student project on a subculture of cruisers. It looks like a valid project that I was happy to complete, and thought you might find my answers of interest.



Name – Aubrey MILLARD

Age – 65

Occupation before cruising – High School Teacher, History and English

How did you first become interested in sailing? – I was in the Canadian Navy during and after university

Where did you first learn to sail? – In the Navy

How many years have you been sailing? – 45 years

Country of citizenship? – Canada

Cruising Information

How long have you been cruising? – 5 years

How long do you intend to cruise?
– As long as possible consistent with good health and family matters. (another 10 to 20 years?)

What do you most like about it? – The independence and going to new places

What do you most dislike about it? – We have a small 32 foot sailboat, and the lack of space for storage is a problem. There are frustrations in using mobile phones, accessing the internet and sending E-mail from the boat or from internet cafes.

How many people are cruising with you?(age, sex, relation to you) – My wife, age 52

What kind of preparations did you need to make to begin and sustain cruising? – We both had considerable sailing experience before we left. We spent about a year planning our initial routes across the Atlantic, around the UK, through the rivers of France to the Mediterranean, the Balearics, Tunisia, Croatia, Greece and Turkey. We had to do upgrades to our boat, including a new engine, re-do our electrical system, install a heavy duty alternator, a wind generator, a water maker, new batteries, enclosed dodger/bimini cover for the cockpit, life raft, spare parts for everything, including a second hand main sail and genoa, and a series drogue sea anchor.

Have you noticed any internal stereotypes in the cruising community?(personalities, occupations, jobs, nationalities, etc) To a limited degree, but it is unhelpful to generalize or to stereotype people. There is a prejudice amongst some sailboaters against power boaters as being less considerate of others and the environment.

Have you noticed any stereotypes placed on cruisers from the outside? – Not so much as stereotypes, but reactions of others upon learning of our lifestyle. These reactions vary from envy (“I’d love to be able to do that!”), to self deprecation (“I’d never be able to do that!”), and uninformed dismissal, (“You’ve got to be crazy to do that!”). In most cases it is a combination of admiration and respect for not only the courage to sail the seas of the world, but for the independence to give up the traditional shore-bound life and security of home, and community, and the amenities and comforts of a house.

What qualities do you think people need to possess to be able to cruise for a long period of time?
– Independence, an enthusiasm for life and travel, compatibility or tolerance for whoever you are sailing with, adequate knowledge and experience of mechanical, navigational and seamanship skills, good heath, and a reasonable source of financial security to  be able to afford sailing.

Was cruising a life dream/goal for you, or something that you fell into later in life?
– It has been a goal for over 20 years. If we could have managed it, we would have taken a few years off our careers to cruise long before our retirement.

When you began to cruise did you feel any pressure positive or negative from your peers or family? – My wife’s mother had her concerns, but now sees we are happy in our choice, and we maintain close contact by phone, E-mail and trips back to Toronto each year for a month or two. The rest of our families are unqualifiedly happy for our adventurous lifestyle, so too for most of our peers. My wife’s dental patients and office staff were sad to have her retire so early.

What kind of education/skills are needed to cruise? – The necessary mechanical, navigational and seamanship skills that can be learned in courses offered by various sailing and yachting organizations, as well as experience from sailing with others. Common sense and a respect for the sea to ensure safety of your boat and crew are required.

If you had all means needed and supplied, would you do this forever? – YES!

Do you cruise 24/7/365, or do you go “home” every so often? – We go home for a month or two each year.

Do you ever get “homesick”? – Not really. We miss the growing up of grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. We are concerned for the health of family members and loved ones.

How has your cruising influenced people you know in and outside of the cruising community? – We have enjoyed sharing our experiences with others in the forms of slide presentations and writing of our logs as we travel. I think we have influenced a few people to go for their dreams. I have had many positive reactions to our logs from people who just enjoy living vicariously through them, as well as other sailors who are preparing for cruising and appreciate the technical and navigational information in my logs. Others yet enjoy some of my political commentaries on the places we visit, and the way world events impinge upon those areas. (e.g. We were in Turkey during the recent Iraq war.)

How has cruising helped you grow as a person? – I am more “laid back” I think, and I have enjoyed writing about our experiences. I think I was fairly mature before retiring, and was quite ready for this lifestyle.

What stereotypes, if any, has cruising broke for you, about people, places, culture, etc.? – It has allowed me to see the world from the viewpoints of other countries and cultures. It has made me more a pacifist having seen the agony of individuals and families experiencing not only terrorism, warfare, tyranny, and occupation, but also poverty, starvation, poor hygiene, and limited education.

Any additional comments or questions? – I would be interested in any summaries generated from this research. (SVveledaiv@aol.com)

Thank you for Participating!!



Log #29a Symi, Kos, and Patmos

Patmos, Greece

April 25, 2003

I start writing this, here on Patmos on the Greek Orthodox Good Friday, April 25th. Our Lonely Planet Guide book says, this is a place for pilgrimage for both Orthodox and western Christians, as St John the Divine wrote the Book of Revelation while banished here from Ephesus (in Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Domitian in 95 AD.  I will describe our trip up to the fortress-like Monastery of St. John the Theologian and the Monastery Cave of the Apocalypse after we have visited them.

But I get ahead of myself, as I haven’t written anything since my last log #28f on Leaving Turkey and Entering Greece. This is the first of the #29 series of logs of our travels through the Greek Aegean on our way up to Istanbul.

I mentioned the frustrations encountered in Symi town in my last log. After that we went around to Panormitis, a well protected bay on the south west coast of Symi. There we anchored in the sheltered bay, with a lovely view of the monastery and its tall Baroque bell tower. After SY Cheri, with Conny and Vagn from Denmark, left for Tilos, we stayed on for what we thought would be another lazy day at a secure anchorage. However it turned into three more days with force 8 gales blowing through the valleys from different directions, pounding Veleda from one side, then the other, with 35 knot winds, frequently gusting to 50 and 60 knots. Our wind speed indicator pegs at 60 knots and several times over the next three days it was pegged. We tried to get out the second day, but turned back at the entrance. Then a concern was whether our anchor was solidly set to withstand force 8 winds gusting down through the valleys. It held OK, but was a constant concern; what if it dragged?  Unfortunately we were out of cell phone coverage, and knew we would be late for picking up our friend David on April 21st. If we could not leave the next day we would have to dinghy ashore and catch a cab over the mountains to Symi town to leave a message for him.

We did leave the next day, April 21st, but again were going into force 8 winds from the northwest. So we turned around again, but rather than going back into Panormitis, we went south around the island, and skirted alongside the cliff edged coast up to Pedhi, the next bay down from Symi town, where we went alongside the town dock. This dock is used for the water tankers, but we were informed the tanker had left that morning and would not be back for a day or two. We appreciated a secure solid dock to weather out the rest of the force 8 gale, and we were within cell phone range, and were able to take a local bus over the hill to Symi town to do some grocery shopping. We left a message for David at Kos Marina that we would be delayed and to get a room until the next day, when we hoped to be there by late afternoon. I didn’t go into Symi town to send any E-mail, as I did not want to frustrate myself with the poor service. We enjoyed a relatively quiet night alongside and left in the morning for the sail northwest to Kos. Pedhi is a good alternative anchorage or alongside mooring location to Symi.

Going out at 0600 we were hailed by a Greek Coast Guard patrol boat off Symi, who came off our port side and just asked where we were coming from and headed, then wished us a good sail. No problem! North of Symi we were actually able to sail for an hour or so with reefed main and genoa, until the wind died and we motored the remaining 30 miles to Kos. It was better than pounding into force 8 NW winds!

Kos has a good marina, with excellent washrooms, friendly service, a good internet connection, as well as water and electricity included in the economical charge of €13.35 for our 9.75m vessel. However their hookups to the power points were a larger fixture and they did not have any adaptors for rent. We were not going to buy one for just one or two nights, and the clerk at their chandlery was an unhelpful individual. We ran into this same problem last year. I should have “leaned” on them a bit more to demand a loaner, but I didn’t. However, it gave us a chance to light up out wood/coal stove for the first time in two years to keep us warm that cold rainy night.  David was most impressed with the little stove with a glass plate front sparkling with the fire inside, and giving off a comfortable warmth for the cool wet evening. The weather this spring has been horrible, what with cold gale force winds for four and five days at a time preventing any northward voyaging, and the rain squalls blowing through like winter conditions; I can see why many are reluctant to set sail until May!

We stayed another day because of strong winds, so David and I went for a walk exploring the ancient architecture of Kos. Next morning, April 24th it was calm, so we left at 0550 to get as far as possible before the Meltemi winds blew. We decide to head straight for Patmos 46 miles away, and actually managed to sail for 90 minutes out of the 10 hour trip. So far in the 74 hours of “sailing” time since we left Kemer, April 5th, including 11 days travelling, we have sailed without engine only a total of 5 hours!  I do not like the winds in the Aegean or the Med! Starting from the south of the Aegean, one cannot go north without motoring as the predominant wind is north and northwest.

We left Kos at 0550, even though sunrise was not until 0625, in order to make as much distance as possible motoring before the northwest winds come up late morning. We did have a good sail for 90 minutes and at the end before starting the engine to motor up to Skala Patmos, we hove to for the practice to see how our slightly modified genoa would hold us in that position. It worked quite well, and Judy identified that, had we been conducting a “man overboard” drill, we would have stopped less than 30 feet from where he went over. Should we ever have to, we plan to use heaving to as our man overboard procedure when under sail or motor sailing, as this “quick stop” method keeps the boat in closer contact with the victim.

There were only two sailboats and a large power yacht stern to on the docks when we arrived, and plenty of free dock space. Fearing the forecast northwest winds which would blow down the bay, I elected to go alongside rather than Med moor. This is far easier, as there is no stern anchor to let go, fear it will drag, and to retrieve upon leaving. Shortly after arriving, the US boat ahead of us, TRAUMEREI, a Bavaria 42, checked with us and shifted their mooring from stern to, to alongside, as their anchor was already dragging. The northwest gales started again and have been raging for two days now. Since then the Swedish motorsailor and the large 50 metre power yacht have both shifted their moorings to alongside as the wind blowing down the bay caused their bow anchors to drag. The wind has been blowing a force 8 gale with gusts again up to 50 and 60 knots for the past two days, and continues as I finish this log to hopefully send out tonight, April 26.

On the evening of Good Friday we went into the town square, crowded, with the liturgies chanted from two of the local churches echoing from loudspeakers, and bells periodically pealing forlorn melancholy  chimes, punctuated by the occasional explosion of firecrackers. The liturgy went on and on and on, finally ending about 2200 with processions from both churches around the waterfront and back to the town square. The processions were led by scarlet cloaked altar boys carrying staffs of candles, golden ornaments, stars, and icons. Following them were the priests in their golden vestments, bejeweled crosses hanging from their necks, their hands moving in benedictions to the candle-carrying adherents and spectators. Next came a floral wreathed crucifix followed by a silver embossed shrouded funeral bier of Christ, arched by bowers of white flowers. The religious parade then massed in the town square to more chanted liturgies from three priests and a couple of lay cantors upon an ornate gilded dais.  However, the liturgies were delayed a few minutes until they could get the PA system working properly. I was surprised to see an honor guard of soldiers in battle fatigues and helmets, with reversed rifles, escorting the bier. After the last liturgy, the crowd just dispersed and the evening petered out with no other festivity.

Today David and I walked up to the Monastery Cave of the Apocalypse where St John the Divine wrote the Book of Revelations while exiled from Smyrna in Turkey in about 95 AD. A Greek Orthodox mass had just been held there, and there were flowers scattered around the stone floor, and a tub of cut bread for the parishioners to take home with them. It was a sweet slightly ginger flavored bread. The cave itself extended into the side of the hill, several hundred feet below the chora and monastery at the summit. Greek Orthodox altar screens were installed inside the cave, with all the icons, ornate hanging sanctuary lights, concrete arches, domes, and windows overlooking the west coast of Patmos, facing towards Smyrna 35 miles away in Turkey. from which St. John was exiled. The rock walls of the cave still created the atmosphere under which those words of the Book of Revelations were inspired.

Onwards and upwards we wended our way to the monastery at the summit, a fortress-like walled castle, with a couple of central courtyards around which were located an ornate chapel, grimed with centuries of candle smoke, and living areas for the inhabitants. Here too, after the mass which was just finishing as we arrived, were tubs of bread, scented flowers, and packages of figs given to the parishioners.  David and I went up to the Abbot’s chambers to be greeted by him and offered coffee and cookies following the service. It was quite impressive to wander about the ancient corridors and stairs of this historic but still active monastery. There were several other chapels, convents and religious quadrangles around the monastery and throughout the white walled chora on this summit. The view from the ramparts was magnificent as the entire island could be seen, north and south, as well as a few of the off-lying islands, and Turkey far to the west. The gale force winds howling around up there were reflected by the seagulls and hooded crows soaring on their currents, the trees swaying in unison, and the whitecaps on the windward side of the island testifying to the tumult out on the water. We wandered through the labyrinth of whitewashed alleys, down steps overlooking barrel vaulted chapels, single, double, and triple-steepled belltowers, and the narrow laneways of the chora. We ended our visit with a Greek salad and a bottle of Retsina on a taverna patio overlooking the harbor and bays of Skala where Veleda was moored several kilometres below. It was a beautiful sunny but windy day to make a pilgrimage to this Greek Orthodox Monastery on this Holy Saturday of the Easter weekend.