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September 2007 - Greece

Sun. Sept 30, 2007 We put two loads of laundry in and decided to finish cleaning the boat so our clothes will stay clean while drying. It takes over 2 hours for the machine to run it's cycle. We washed the dirt from that last meltemi in Siros off the rigging (as high as we could reach)and the canvas. Johan and Eva rented a car and invited us along to explore the island. Leros Island is a pretty green island with deeply indented coastline with huge gulfs, the "four seas" of Leros. It isn't nearly as high as Amorgos but the roads are just as scary. We visited Platanos the Byzantine castle renovated by the Venetians and the Knights of St. John. It was very nice and they're doing restoration on it. We went down to little port of Panteli (a fishing village) for lunch. A sign greeted us "Welcome to the Island of Artemis"! I guess Artemis led us to this quiet lovely spot away from the meltemi winds! We hung our laundry to dry when we got back to the boat. It doesn't take long in this lovely weather.

Love Sally and Al

September 29, 2007

We got up early and headed out about 7:00. We changed course three times before we finally settled on going to Port Lakki, on Leros Island in the Dodecanese Islands. Lakki is the main port of Leros and was an anchorage for the Italian, German and later the British fleets. We're traveling with a Canadian boat "Northern Lights", Johan and Eva. We picked up a nice NW 15-20 kt wind off the port quarter and decided to travel the extra miles. (55-60 miles)We're on the quay with laid moorings, wireless internet (5 Euro an hour), showers and WASHING MACHINES! The former Italian Naval base is now the State Therapeutical Hospital and within the complex is a mansion once used as Mussolini's summer residence. We'll stay here for at least 3 or 4 days and enjoy exploring the island without worrying about the boat. It looks like we moved far enough east that this next meltemi won't hit here as hard or as long. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

September 27 - 28, 2007

We had another quiet motor to Nisos Amorgos about 36nm. We arrived around 3:00 to late to visit the monastery today. We walked around town and plan to rent a car tomorrow. Love and God Bless Sally and Al

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Amorgos Island | Monastery Panagios Hozovrotissa

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Amorgos Island | Mycenaena ruins

Fri. Sept. 28 We had a full busy day. We rented a car in and left for the monastery about 9:15. You never realize how high these mountains are until you drive on them. Monastery Chozoviotissa (Hozovrotissa) is built into an enormous rock cliff 180 meters above the sea. It was founded in 1088 and has the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary and a library with a collection of ancient manuscripts. A monk served us refreshments, water sweet brandy and a powdered sugar dipped sweet. We drove the entire island today, visiting the little towns, Mycenaean ruins and beautiful beaches. Oh so quiet, not too many tourists visit this island and the vistas were quite dramatic. Lots of narrow hairpin turn roads with goat wandering across. We walked long trails to find ruins that were difficult to distinguish from the landscape :-> but enjoyed the spectacular views. Looking to the weather again. Another meltami is expected in a couple of days. We may skip Santorini and move further east to avoid the big winds again. The Cyclades are a windy windy place!

Love Sally and Al

Greece | Aegean Sea |Cyclades Islands | Naxos Island | Naxos Harbor

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Naxos Island | Temple of Apollo

September 26, 2007

We had a quiet motor down to Naxos Island about 30 nm. Beautiful day and the islands look lovely. Picked up some stronger SE winds close to Naxos but just motored in. We moored stern to in Naxos Marina no laid moorings as mentioned in the guide so we dropped an anchor. Neat but touristy town. Like Mykonos lots of white washed buildings, narrow winding paths and alleyways. You feel like you could get lost in the maze. We walked up to the Temple of Apollo overlooking the harbor. We grilled swordfish on the George Foreman and then went out for our first ouzo followed by an ice cream cone :-> Leaving for Amorgos Island tomorrow and Santarini the next.

Love Sally and Al

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Siros Island | Ermoupolis

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands| Mykanos Harbor

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Delos | Temple to Artemis

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Delos | The Lion Terrace

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Delos

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Delos | statue of Artemis

September 25, 2007

Tuesday the winds are down to Force 7 today so we decided to take the ferry to Mykonos Island and Delos Island. We were up early to catch the 8 AM ferry. Mikonos is truly a tourist town. It a picture poscard setting and lots of ferries and cruise ships land here. Fortunately there were no ships in port until late afternoon. We took the 11:00 ferry to Delos. The seas were still built up from the five day blow. There is much more at Delos than meets the eye when you arrive. It's uninhabited with only the archeological site one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. According to legend Leto gave birth to Artemis and Apollo here. We hiked around 3 hours and had a great time. Of course our favorite was the Temple to Artemis. The Lion Terrace, theater, and mosaics were well worth the visit.

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Mykannos | windmills

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Mykonos Island | maze of narrow lanes

The Paraportiani church, Little Venice, the windmills, and a maze of narrow lanes and alleys winding between the buildings were the highlights of Mykonos. White...when you think of Mykonos you see white. Everything is white washed regularly. Even much of the clothing hanging in the shop doorways and windows are white. We enjoyed a few beers on the waterfront and then decided to walk back to the New Port where we caught the Vodophone High Speed ferry back to Syros. Whoa what an experience. I felt like we were in fancy cruise ship. The seating areas were spacious with tables, shops, and bar. We made a stop at Tinos and never noticed the boats arrival or departure. Quite a difference from the regular ferry. We plan to head for Naxos tomorrow morning about 30 nm. Of course since we are heading SE the forecast is SE 4 to 5 :->.

Love Sally and Al

September 23, 2007

Another Force 9 day! Our poor boat is almost black with the dirt being blown on to it. We showered and were all dressed for church when we decided we just didn't feel safe leaving the boat for so long. We watched movies and read again today. On Monday the winds dropped to Force 8 so Al felt a little more like boat projects. He wired in the new CD player we brought back with us in June. If we had known how well it masked the howling wind we would have done it days ago. Fun to have music again on the boat. It lifts the spirits. We went up town for a while and down loaded some new pictures for Patrick to add to the website.

September 21 - 22, 2007

We are weathered in Siros. We don't like to leave the boat for long with the wind so wild. We had groceries delivered to the boat. Later we caught the bus and went into town. We did some internet and phone calls then headed back. We had up to Force 9 last night but all is well. We watch DVD's to mask the sound of the wind. Today we stayed aboard all day reading and watching movies. It doesn't look like this will lift before late Monday. We may still rent a car it all depends on the winds. We've decided against taking the ferry to Mikinos tomorrow as Force 8 is still predicted. We had wanted to get to Delos...

Love Sally and Al

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Siros Island | Ermoupolis

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Siros Island | Ermoupolis

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Siros Island | Ermoupolis

September 20, 2007

Well we tackled the second peak of Ermoupolis, the largest city of the Cyclades today. We were determined to reach the Catholic Cathedral. The city has twin peaks and is built like an amphitheater down to the sea. The Orthodox Cathedral on the eastern peak (visited yesterday) and the Catholic on the western peak. Both are lit at night and quite spectacular. Marble everywhere. Even the streets have marble down the center and sides with cobble in between. All the sidewalks, steps and piazzas are marble too. We climbed steps for at least an hour today to reach the cathedral. The houses are all connected and have steps and narrow alleys in between. It's the medieval quarter of town. The people park their cars in lots or ride the free buses then walk to their homes. We actually found three Catholic churches today. The French and Venetians brought Catholicism to Syro. Very modest compared to Italy but oh so familiar and comfortable. It's so difficult to feel a sense of belonging and welcome when we go into the Orthodox churches.

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Siros Island | Ermoupolis | Agios Nikolaos

The walk down was much easier and faster as we were quite hungry and thirsty. It was 2:30 before we found a spot for gyros (the best we've had so far) and a large bottle of water! Our German friend we met yesterday happened by and she joined us for lunch. After lunch we walked to the twin towers and blue and gold dome of Agios Nikolaos which marks the beginning of the Vaporia district. This is where Syro's ship owners built their Neo-Classical mansions on the cliffs overlooking the towns quay and the sea. Another spectacular sight. Great fun but we had another 3 miles to walk to get back to the bus. We had planned to catch the free bus by the quay but we waited at the wrong bus stop so we walked, as the next bus wasn't coming for 40 minutes. I guarantee no one has a need for a tread mill or step master in this town:-> We re tied our boat when we got back using our heavy lines with springs.

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Siros Island | Siros Marina

Our Greek and Spanish dock mates warned us about big winds coming again(Force 7 28-33 kts). We have three breakwalls before us and we are being blown off the dock. So we feel quite secure to leave the boat as oppose to when we were at anchor. A swell enters the harbor but it's not dangerous. Rock-a-bye baby tonight but at least we won't drag anchor.

Love Sally and Al

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Siros Island | Ermoupolis

September 19, 2007

What a glorious morning. Not a ripple in the anchorage and crystal clear water down 30 feet. We could see the individual blades of seaweed! After breakfast we motored 10nm to the east side of Siros Island to Marina Sirou near Ermoupolis. It's an unfinished marina so it's free. It has beautiful concrete docks, secure rings to tie to and electricity and water ready to be hooked up someday but not soon. I nice Greek fisherman and his young son gave us a the Champion grocery store where we caught a FREE bus to Ermoupolis.

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | Siros Island | Ermoupolis

We had a nice lunch. Al chose the famous Siros sausages and I ordered the oven baked stuffed peppers, tomato and cheese. We had a tomato,cucumber, olive salad and bread. Yum always looking to try new things. We walked and climbed 3-400 steps to the hill top to visit the large Catholic Cathedral (a novelty in Greece) We finally reached the top and found another Greek Orthodox church. A young woman pointed across the town to another very tall hilltop and said that is the Catholic church. Another day... We visited another Orthodox church on our way back to the boat St. George (slaying the dragon) and an interesting cemetery. We stopped at the Champion grocery store and got a few thing. It's quite large so we plan to stock up the day we rent a car and can get things back to the boat more easily. We plan to wait out this next big meltami wind here tied to the dock! We want to visit Delos (birthplace of Artemis and Apollo)so plan to take the ferry to Mikonos and a tour boat to Delos on Sunday. Tuesdays and Sundays are the only days the high speed ferry arrives before the Delos boat departs. Oh well there is plenty to see here and we have a safe place to leave the boat while we explore the island.

Love Sally and Al

Greece | Aegean Sea | Cyclades Islands | sail to Syros Island

Greece | Aegean Sea |Cyclades Islands | Siros Island | Finikas anchorage

September 18, 2007

The wind finally quit howling about 3 AM and I finally was sure we weren't going to drag and slept restfully. We pulled anchor after breakfast and headed out for Sirou (Siros), our third Cyclades Island in three days. We were looking for a town to buy bread, fruit and vegetables. "A miraculous day of sailing," says Al. We had a beam reach 15-25 kts of wind with the Yankee and main flying going 6.5-7.5 kts for 20 nm on just one tack. Just lovely...2 meter seas left over from yesterday but they died down after a couple of hours. We dropped anchor in Finikas on the SW side of Siros Island about 12:30. We dropped the dinghy into the water and went ashore for lunch. We met a group of eight friends from Seattle chartering a boat. They were in our same anchorage last night. They invited us to join them for lunch and we had a nice visit. Our friends Val and Bob Ouellette called with their travel plans. They will be joining us in Rhodes, Greece October 16 and will sail with us to Kemer, Turkey. We're excited to have some crew on board. Our first crew since Patrick and Nicci left August 2006. Then our son Justin and girlfriend Chris will join us November 16 and we'll do some land traveling. Our biggest worries these days are, where shall we go next and how much wind do we want to play with today?

Love Sally and Al

Greece | Aegean Sea |Attic Coast | Sounion anchorage

September 15, 16 & 17, 2007

Saturday we had a quiet motor down to Sounion anchorage off the Attic Coast (24 nm). We were anchored below the Temple of Poseidon. It was a lovely spot and the temple was lit at night.

Greece | Aegean Sea |Cyclades Islands | Kea Island | Ay Nikolaou anchred in Ormos Vourkari

Sept. 16 Sunday we got up early to beat the heavy winds predicted for the afternoon to Kea Island. We had a great sail for two hours then the wind switched more out of the NE and we had to beat 5 nm into Ay Nikolaou. We were able to anchor in Ormos Vourkari windy/choppy but out of the big seas. We put the dinghy in the water and went ashore. Not much ashore to see but it's a pretty anchorage. The town we wanted to visit in the same bay was not protected from the meltemi (strong N winds) at all. The wind quieted down to 6-10 kts over night.

Greece | Aegean Sea |Cyclades Islands| Kithnos Island | sail over north end of Kea

Sept. 17 We should have stayed put but decided since Loutra Kithnos was only 15 nm we'd go for it. We figured once over the north end of Kea it would be a downwind sail when the winds picked up. We put out the jib and motored for an hour and half before we could turn downwind. We were facing 2-3 meter seas and 20 kts of wind so we got a little wet. We were flying 7-9 kts once we turned downwind and rode the waves. We arrived at Loutra with 30-35 kts of wind and no where safe to moor or anchor. The mooring spots we had hoped for were full and the anchorage had no space to maneuver around the boats already anchored and tied to shore. So after about half an hour off we went pounding into the bay again heading for an anchorage 5 nm away on the east side of Kithnos. We finally dropped anchor about 1:30 which held after the second try. The wind is still howling and we are swinging but we are safely anchored. No place to go here so we'll just relax after such a hairy morning.

I wrote too soon about 4;00 we dragged anchor again. After 3 hours of strong winds we figured we were set good. We decided to move to the other anchorage in the same bay Ay Stefanos. 5 other boats in here and we seem to be holding. Still windy with gusts 25. At least the boat isn't tipping from side to side :->

Love Sally and Al

Greece | Aegean Sea | Athens |view from Ancient Acropolis of Ancient Agora of Athens

Greece | Aegean Sea | Athens |Temple Hephaestus

Greece | Aegean Sea | Athens |Parthenon