Log #29b Fournoi, Chios and Lesvos

May 4, 2003 in Log Series 20 - 29, Logs by Series, Series 29 Greek Aegean to Istanbul, The Logs

Mytilini, Lesvos, Greece
May 4, 2003

Hi Folks,

We are here on Lesvos in this OK town getting ready to tour it tomorrow by car. We checked in with the co-operative port authorities and toured two extremely good archeological museums and the castro free of charge for Sunday May 4th. I may be ale to send this from here if I can find an internet café, otherwise it will have to wait until we are back in Avalik, Turkey in a few days time. It is hot summer weather here now. The temperature today was up to 34 C, and no wind.

I started this log at Plomarion and finished here at Mytilini (also spelled Mitilini). All is well with us and we are looking forward to getting back to Turkey in a few days enroute to Istanbul.

Give me some feedback on my logs so that I know they are at least being read.

All the best,

Log #29b Fournoi, Chios and Lesvos

May 3, 2003

Plomarion, Lesvos

38 58.4N, 026 22.2E

Summer weather seems to have developed rapidly in the last few days. While we were on Patmos, we were subjected to gale force winds for three days solid, but they have moderated into light force 3 and 4 mostly from the north or northwest since then. Right now we are on Lesvos, in a good, new, uncompleted marina in Plomarion on the south coast.

Our pilot book did not indicate any marina facilities in the harbour, and so we were pleasantly surprised to find another camber inside with laid moorings. We actually went alongside first as there were no other yachts in the marina. Most of the other slips are taken up by local boats. However, I switched over to the stern mooring just in case another yacht comes in. The advantage of laid moorings is that a boat does not have to use its own anchor to hold it off the wall, as lines (lazy lines) are attached from underwater moorings to the shore bollards. These lazy lines can be picked up and pulled in, pulling our stern out and securing it to large concrete anchors lying out from the dock on the bottom. We always moor bows to for Mediterranean moorings, as our dinghy tow and dinghy (Sprite) on our stern makes stern to mooring impossible. Thus if we have to use our own anchor to hold us off, it is more difficult to manage than is our bow anchor. Then there is always the chance that some other boat may drop his anchor over ours making retrieval extremely difficult. Thus, laid moorings are greatly appreciated. There is no marina office, power and water stanchions are in place, but not hooked up, and no charges other than the €2.00 town dockage fee assessed by the Coast Guard port police when we registered with them. That is an extremely nominal price for such a good secure mooring in this pleasant town.

Plomarion is an unpretentious town, with narrow cobblestone streets and alleys winding up the hillside and along the concrete banks of a mountain stream. The houses and buildings have an Ottoman flare with wooden balconies hovering over the narrow passageways. It is a  pleasant working class Greek town not dominated by tourism, with a good harbour for local fishing boats, ferries, and the yacht marina (in suspended animation), sandwiched on the coast with olive groves and pine clad forests behind, stretching up to the mountains. We are impressed with the good food stores with fresh vegetables, fruits and meats. We were getting quite low on supplies as when we were in Chios a few days ago, the city was closed up for the May 1st holiday. Last night after walking around the town we enjoyed a coffee and baklava under the canopy of a spreading plane tree at a taverna beside a walkway crossing the mountain stream. However, we will spend only the one night here as we want to go to another secluded anchorage here on Lesvos before going to the larger town of Mytilini for a few days where we hope to rent a car to tour the island, and from which David will catch a plane back to Athens for his return to Toronto.

Lesvos (Λέσβος) is third largest of the Greek islands after Crete and Evia, and the largest of the eastern Sporades, only a few miles off the Izmir peninsula of Turkey. It has become a centre of artistic and philosophic achievement with such ancient notables as Sappho and Arion (literature), Terpander (music), Aristotle and Epicurus (philosophy) producing their works while on the island. Sappho, born on Lesvos in 630 BC, and renowned for her poems, some of which accepted the love of woman for woman, is responsible for the term “lesbian”, originating from the name of this island. The Greek symbol “β” is variously pronounced with a “V” sound or “B” sound. Sometimes the island’s name will be written “Lesbos”. It is also called Mytilini by the Greeks, as this is the name of the capital city (population 24,000) of the island.

Lesvos was unified from the dual city state structure in the 6th century BC giving it a peaceful existence conducive to the creative atmosphere for which it excelled. In 527 BC it was conquered by the Persians, then in 479 BC by the Athenians, then by the Romans (Julius Caesar), Byzantines, Venetians, Genoese, and Ottoman Turks. The island was ceded to Greece in 1912; then in 1941 occupied by the Germans until the end of World War II.

Going back to our early morning departure (0530) from Patmos on April 28th, we were able to motor sail with our genoa up for half the distance, and as the wind was light, we even tried out our new whisker pole. It is a heavier pole than our previous one, and has to have a bridle and be supported by our pole lift halyard. It will be difficult to handle in heavy weather.

Rather than going all the way up to Chios (over 65 miles) we stopped after 20 miles at a pleasant isolated anchorage (37 33.6N, 026 29.3E) on Nisos Fournoi. David and I went for a long run in Sprite, skirting fabulous towering rock formations, exploring the little coves and crevices and glorying in the fantastic beauty and clarity of the water with the underwater boulders undulating through the blue-green depths. We could see clearly rock formations, sea urchins and small schools of fish 25 feet below the surface. Periodically I would shut the engine off and we would just drift, enjoying the silence, clarity, and beauty of a small crevice, cove, or cave. Wending our way up the coast we passed a couple of pleasant beaches with some small scale holiday apartments (Kladharidh), but with few people around as it is too early in the season. We puttered slowly through the narrow shallow opening between Nisos Founoi and Nisos Dhiapori, a long, uninhabited island in the middle of the channel (Poros Fournon) between Fornoi and Fimaina, and around to the very pleasant town of Fournoi, also known as Kampos.

We were greeted by a little old lady who spoke no English, but hugged us and welcomed us to the town as we got out of the dinghy. The town itself seemed most pleasant, with a few tavernas on the waterfront, an extensive new concrete hard for fishing boats, a couple of long concrete piers for a ferry and another at which an inter-island cargo ship was docked. The narrow streets that wended their way up from the water were fringed with trees, their whitewashed bases lining the occasional stretch of sidewalk. We heard music and children playing as we wandered up through the streets mixed with shops, houses and a few attractive apartment buildings with ornate balconies. One side of the waterfront was bordered by a small sand beach with a few fishing boats drawn up. Above the large concrete hard we walked up to a small chapel, then around a most attractive walkway ascending the hill beneath a couple of ancient windmills, overlooking the channel, and bordered by shimmering slate stone walls behind which were riotous spring wild flowers flaunting their colours to the strong afternoon sun. After watching the cargo ship leave, we went down to Sprite and headed across the channel to another small fishing village on Nisos Dhiapori. We were most impressed with the quiet life of these islands, and would recommend them to anyone looking for a quiet Aegean get-away.

Down the west coast of Nisos Dhiapori we again puttered along the primitive rocky coastline, south of Veleda’s location and up Nisos Fournoi back to the bay where Veleda still rested quietly at anchor. But rather than going back on board we went over to the stony beach and walked up to the ancient quarry overlooking the bay, where we saw the deep etched marble cuts, and the remains of quarried and shaped columns and rectangular bases for long forgotten temples. Back on Veleda we had a lovely meal as we watched the sun set in this secluded bay with absolutely no other lights whatever other than the flamboyant stars of a quiet clear moonless night (We didn’t even put on our anchor light!).

Next morning we were off early again at 0540 for the 45 mile motor (still against the wind) to anchor at the easily forgotten town of Emborios on the southern part of Nisos Chios (38 11.2N, 026 01.8E). The only redeeming feature was that some of the houses had the interesting geometric designs on their walls. We dinghied over to a black rock beach around the cove, and had a difficult time finding an open shop to buy a couple of bottles of diet Coke in town.

Unfortunately our impression of Chios town next day was not much better. We were asked to check in with the Coast Guard port authorities located over the opposite side of the harbour. They said we had to check in with customs, who promptly said  no, we were already entered into Greece and did not have to check with them. After another half hour wait we were finally stamped through, but asked to return to pick up our cruising permit before leaving. We paid € 8.06 for two days alongside, although we only stayed one night as we wanted to get out of the noisy (but closed down for the May 1st holiday) city. Even though we arrived on Friday April 30th, all the stores were closed except for noisy tavernas, and one butcher shop where we were able to get fresh meat.

After walking around the town for the morning, we left at noon hour on May 1st to motor up to Nisos Pasas, where we went alongside a nice concrete dock with 15 feet depth in a secluded cove overlooked by a chapel up on the hillside. Glorious isolation after the hurly burly of the motor cycles, scooters, horns, buzz of high powered radio controlled speed boats, and the damnable sound trucks blasting their commercial, communist or fascist messages along the harbour front of Chios town (We watched a May Day speaker harangue a small crowd with red flags flying on the side lines, and observed posters of twin snakes in the shape of a swastika coming out of an egg shell depicting the USA with slogans of “No Imperialism!” all over town.).

David and I went for a walk up to the chapel, with a beautiful view over the cove where Veleda was secured alongside. We also saw an isolated military post higher up on a crest, and so walked up to see if anyone was there. There were two donkeys, and a platoon of 8 soldiers at the summit. We were invited in for a beer or glass of water to join them as they were finishing their afternoon meal. On the walls were pictures and silhouettes of Turkish navy ships, as this was an observation station overlooking the Egriliman Strait, across to Turkey four miles away, and a possible source of illegal immigrants. They were quite friendly and informed us of a fresh water well near where Veleda was moored. They spent 30 days on that duty at a time; — BORING!

Down at Veleda we only filled up a plastic water bag and our sun shower from the well, as we were advised that the water although fresh was not potable. After that David and I went in for a skinny dip only to be disturbed by a fishing boat coming alongside the other side of the pier with a family on board for a May 1st holiday outing. So as we got out, we draped towels over ourselves until we wriggled into our bathing suits, then showered off with the sun shower, our first for several days. The boat left an hour or so later as we had a lovely barbecued chicken supper.

We are still following our Atkins diet, but allow David to have some bread and sugar and milk in his tea and coffee. However, we still eat well with salads and exquisitely spiced meats and sauces. David is not suffering! Although— he may lose some weight while with us.

Next day, May 2nd, we left after a western omelet breakfast and actually sailed for an hour on the 30 mile trip to Plomarion on Lesvos where, as mentioned at the beginning of this log, we were pleasantly surprised by the new marina in the harbour.