Today was a big day. We set course for the legendary Samtorini, also known as Thira. Both the sea and the wind continued to be rough and virtually the entire journey was against the wind. Lisa and Maurizio steered the whole way voluntarily, they knew we were on treacherous grounds (sea, really). We had lots of what we began to call "salty showers" from waves breaking on board for the first half of the trip, luckily Neptune showed a bit more mercy in the second half of the journey. We originally intended to moor in the harbour on the southern tip of Santorini, but the wind was too strong for us to find good shelter there and the harbour was overcrowded anyway. So, instead we decided to go a bit further west, find a sheltered bay, swim and wait for the wind to calm down and then assess our options. We shall see what happens!Read More
Greek Sailing Odyssey
I woke up at 9am and noticed--probably at least in part due to being still half-asleep--that the sea in this harbour sounded like a river: waves were very small and frequent and hit the pier almost constantly, giving me an illusion that there was a stream nearby. Once I pondered that thought for a bit more, I had a quick breakfast and grabbed a book as Maurizio and Lisa went for a walk around Astypalaia. We left at about midday and set course to Anafi. The wind was strong for most of the journey and the sea was quite rough. The good news was that we kept on making very good progress, the high of the day was 9.7kn under my stewardship. My dad came at a close second with 9.3 kn. It seems our family has high wind in favour!Read More
I woke up at 7:30 just as I heard the roar of the boat's engine--it was time to move. I rushed on board to help with the fenders and maneuvering and we were soon out of the port. Sadly, our enthusiasm was not matched by that of the wind; soon after leaving the port we hit a patch of no wind and so we had to turn the engine on for a few more miles to get us through to an area with more wind. As a side note--we rarely ever used our engine during navigation. Dull as it was at times to be stuck with no or little wind in the middle of the journey, we usually weathered it and slowly made our way to an area with more wind--we only ever really used the engine for the absolute final approach to ports as the engine made the ship more easier to maneuver. But today was an exception, we really had to make progress and could not have afforded to waste precious hours standing still.Read More
Today was yet another day when me and my dad woke up early to go sightseeing before we sail off--this time our destination was the Platanos castle. We caught the 7:43 bus, which was on time! Amusingly, the bus driver kept on honking throughout the whole trip, frequently but irregularly enough to catch you off-guard and make you yank instinctively each time. You see, there are many reasons to honk in Greece: a vehicular 'hello' to a car--any car--passing you in the opposite direction, a warning to pedestrians, or an alert to general traffic when the bus was approaching a turn; the streets were often quite narrow and cars could easily crash into the bus if they didn't know it was right around the corner. Noble and sociable as the reasons were, the constant fanfare from the bus must have been greatly enjoyed by anybody who lived by the street at such wee hours of the day.Read More
I was woken by a very strong gust of wind that got through a small ventilation opening in my cabin--made a huge squeek! Once we all got a bite to eat for breakfast, we went for a long walk around the south-east part of the island--a bay on the other side of the island was our ultimate destination. Once we stepped off the boat, my dad my day lost a hat in a particularly powerful gust of wind. Not the best way to start the walk! In Greece, you do really want to do your best to hold on to a hat; it's often the only thing saving you from being burned alive under the ever-beating sun. But it was not lost for good: It turned out that Lisa had lost a shoe last night as it fell into the sea, but she managed to find a corner in the harbour where the currents and waves converged, waited for the shoe to do-si-do there and simply fished it out. We decided to do the same--by the time we're back from the walk the hat should be ready to be salvaged!Read More
Today was an exciting day. We woke up early to catch the 7:40 bus to the Chora (generic name for the main village on a Greek island, usually also the one placed at the highest altitude of other settlements) and the monastery. The bus was on time (early, actually!) and dropped us off close to the monastery in about 15 minutes. The entrance was closed even though the monastery was supposed to open at 8am--not everybody in Patmos was quite as punctual as our bus driver! It took the warden 25 minutes to come open it--it looks like late night partying in bars that we see everywhere finally caught up with somebody.Read More
Today we woke up exceptionally early, at 7:30, just as the wash of waves from Lisa's ferry rocked the boat. Once aboard, Lisa joined us for a walk around the town. We went on the top of a nearby hill where we found--surprise, surprise--a church! Then we bought some bread (fresh from the oven, yum!) and paid for moorage at the harbour, which was €11 for the night.Read More
Today we woke up at around 9am and followed through on our plan from last night--first order of business was to walk up to the church on the top of the hill dominating over the port. The walk only took about 15 minutes and most of the path was made of newly-restored cobbles and steps. Even though it was still quite early in the day, the temperature began to rise regardless and sweat soon kicked in. But it was all worth it--the view was gorgeous.Read More
As per usual, we went for a second walk around Kalomeria in the morning. I found a post office, posted a whole bunch of postcards that I had written so far and then we bought some groceries. Our meals so far have been very simple--Maurizio is a vegetarian and only eats fresh ingredients--none of the canned stuff! So our shopping consisted of spaghetti, fresh tomatoes--you haven't eaten tomatoes until you've eaten fresh Greek tomatoes--and garlic. Mix it with some olive oil and you've got a lunch!Read More
Today we woke up quite late, but then again we didn't get to sleep until quite late last night. After a light breakfast and a quick swim in the bay, we headed out--we had more schlepping to do! The destination was Kalomeria, a town on the north-east coast of the island. The sea was calm and the sail went by fast, but then again there were three of us to share the load, so one figures!Read More
So this was quite eventful! My dad and I woke up early, at around 7:40, in order to catch the first ferry ferry to Delos (cost €17 return). Now why do people with a sailboat need a ferry to get to an island? Because the authorities decided to declare Delos a no-mooring zone, probably due to the fact that the entire island is basically an archeological site--it used to be a mighty island! Legend has it that Leto, a titaness and a mistress to Zeus, was pregnant with Apollo and Artemis, but Herq, Zeus's wife, cursed Leto and said that she could give birth nowhere on Earth. Leto prayed to Zeus, who intervened and requested Poseidon to anchor Delos, which used to be a wandering underwater island, with chains and bring it above the water. Finally, Leto was able to birth Artemis and Apollo, the God of Sun. And sun there was! There was only one tree on the whole island--a tree where, according to same legend, the anointed birth happened.Read More
First I will tell you a bit more about Tinos, because we went for another walk around the town in the morning. We woke up at 9am, just in time for the regular weather forecast over the VHF (Very High Frequency) radio (it's every day at 9am, 1pm, 7pm, 9pm and 1am). The conditions continued to be pretty rough and Maurizio said that we better leave in the afternoon, hoping that the sea would calm later in the day. Luckily the sail from Tinos to Mykonos was only about 10 miles--one of the shortest distances during the whole trip--so we would not be at the mercy of the elements for too long anyway.Read More
We woke up early again, had a quick breakfast and left the harbour at around 9am. We turned south once we left the bay in order to cross the Dhísvaton Strait between Andros and Tinos, which brought us to the western side of Tinos. Our good friend Meltemi was quite strong and we resorted to only using the main sail--even then we had to use the second reef and then further shorten it. Our wind meter gave us a reading between 30-38 knots, so Meltemi was in full swing; this was a rough sail. Once we crossed the strait things turned for the worse. We faced regular and strong gusts of wind and, about 6 nm from Tinos, we were hit by yet stronger Meltemi coming from North-East (our left). The sea was very rough with razor-sharp, choppy waves and I was at the helm for most of the journey taking on the elements alone!Read More
The sixth day of our Sailing Odyssey was in fact sailing-less; we decided to spend the whole day in Andros and explore the nearby town of Kastron. The good news for you is that there will be tons of pictures in this post! You will recall from my previous post that we arrived here at night and initially moored stern-to, but the first thing we did in the morning was to re-moor, this time sideways. All in all, this took us about 40 minutes. I do not recall now what the reason behind the manoeuvre was, but, as with all things that have to do with mooring, the direction and strength of the wind must have been the decisive factor. Once safely affixed, we had a quick breakfast and went to the Kastron, which was a short walk from the port.Read More
I woke up at 8:30, had breakfast and then went into town with Maurizio. We did our usual grocery run, but this time added a fresh tuna fish from a local fishmonger. I also finally found a post office, bought 5 prepaid envelopes and 5 separate stamps for postcards; I decided to embark on a postcard-writing marathon. Once we left Euboea, we set sail to Andros and hit a pretty strong northern wind against us straight away. Maurizio cooked the fish for lunch simply: in olive oil and lemon--chefs worldwide note: it was totally delicious. We travelled through the Doro Channel (aka Kafierus Strait) for most of the afternoon.
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I woke up at 8:20 and the ship happened to be turned in such a way that I saw the beautiful Poseidon Temple right outside my little cabin window--what a way to start the day! We had a quick breakfast and then Maurizio went for a swim; I decided to read a book instead. After years and years of reading just academic texts (no complaints), I wanted to brush up on books that people actually want to read, so I loaded up my iPad with a great battery of choices. I started with "Catch-22."Read More
Maurizio and I woke up at 8:30. We wanted to have a look around the town of Agia Marina, but since we were anchored some distance away from the shore (rather than moored right at a pier like we were before), we had to take the inflatable rescue boat to shore. Maurizio had a small engine for the rescue boat on board, but we went old-school and paddled instead; we did not have that much distance to cover anyway (or at least that's what I thought before I realised we would have to paddle against the waves).Read More
Woke up at 9am--a little better than the shamefully late start yesterday--and then Maurizio and I went back to town briefly to buy a loaf of bread. We sailed off at about 9:40 and headed for the Corinth Canal, which was a little complicated.
You see, the canal allows ships to pass in only one direction at a time; if it happens to be closed in the direction that you want to go, you have to wait for the ships to pass one way before the direction changes. The canal control also requires ships to gather in convoys--if you miss your convoy you could end up waiting for another one for a few hours. A passage through the canal takes about 45 minutes and Maurizio tells me the channel radio control people are notorious for telling ships to move faster and faster.Read More
We woke up at around 10am and went for another short walk to the town of Galaxidi, because Lisa had to catch a bus and then a ferry and a flight (and probably another bus and then walk and then god knows what) to return back to Monfalcone. Maurizio and I were to be the entirety of Oxalis's crew for a week to come.
Just before we dropped Lisa off, we commenced a regular morning ritual: stop by an Internet cafe to check the weather forecast for the day. The usual metrics such as temperature and precipitation were of little use to us, mostly because, in Greece in the summer, it's always 30 degrees Celsius and sunny. What we were interested in as sailors--what a fancy moniker--was the wind strength and direction.Read More
So having a map kinda defeats the whole purpose of having an Odyssey, I suppose, but at least you can now track the journey post-fact. It is an embedded Google map, so you can zoom in and out and move left, right, up, down and just do basically whatever you want.Read More