Gladlee of Guernsey
14th – 19th September 1993
After an entirely uneventful 80-mile overnight passage (no chance of sailing) we berthed on the quay at Adhamas, on Milos, shortly before 10.30. The volcanic landscape, softened by time but scarred with modern mining activity, was familiar ground to Julie, who’d spent several months here in earlier times. We lost no time in wandering along to the Venus Village Hotel, where she’d worked for a while, and finding a receptionist who both remembered Julie and knew that her old friend Nicos was still on the island. After a beer we enquired after Nicos at the hotel’s town office, and before Julie could collect her wits the man himself was on the phone, appearing shortly afterwards with a couple of huge melons and an incredulous grin! We fed him a couple beers on board, and he promised to get back to us as soon as his busy week started to sort itself out. In the evening we managed to locate Julie’s other friend Stelios’ house, but there seemed to be nobody about. All quiet the next day, which we spent getting the windlass back in proper working order, cutting a gasket to size and finally filling the case with oil again before touching up the battered paintwork – everything seemed to work smoothly. On Thursday morning we reinstalled the windlass on its mountings, took on fuel from an unusually agreeable bowser driver and just had time to clear up before Stelios arrived bearing two more vast melons, and came on board to swap news as best as he and Julie could, given Stelios’ virtually non-existent English: with the help of pencil and paper, sign language and a lot of smiling and laughter they seemed to do pretty well! After a slight misunderstanding over arrangements (we turned up at Stelios’ house, he at the boat) we went out with Stelios in the evening, first to a pleasant hotel run by a couple of friends overlooking the town, where we had drinks and mezzes, then to the fish taverna below his old house, where his brother Yanni joined us – also visited his new house and a melon patch!
Next day we got the bus up the hill to Tripiti and Plaka, the hamlet almost at the highest point overlooking the entrance to the crater bay, where we looked round the very modest museum before following our noses down the hill again, we ended up doing a long loop round the west slope, with superb views over the bay and to seaward, before climbing gently back up again to arrive at the bus stop in Tripiti. Back at Adhamas Nicos turned up with a bagful of beer and profuse apologies for not giving us more of his time, but we arranged to meet for breakfast at Apollonia on Sunday to go and see Nicos nearby “farm”. Yanni then turned up at 20.00 with three Germans in tow and insisted on dragging us off for dinner (we’d eaten the previous night’s dinner for lunch!). One of the Germans Adelbert, turned out to have been working on the island when Julie had been there and was now on holiday with his wife – very nice couple, and we had an entertaining evening over another excellent 9if superfluous!) dinner. Saturday morning promised a bit of breeze for our trip round to Apollonia, but it proved to be largely illusory once we got out of the bay – some quite spectacular rock formations as we headed west, and good views of the neighbouring islands ahead. We anchored in the bay off Apollonia (more properly Pollonia: as we found from a road sign), a hamlet of a few houses and tavernas with an attractive tree-fringed beach, and went ashore for a long walk along the Adhamos road to find the mildly disappointing remains of Philacops, the oldest known settlement on Milos – fine seaside site though, and an interesting cleft in the cliffs nearby letting the sea in to a tiny beach.
Nicos duly turned up in the morning and took us a short distance along to his “farm”, a substantial plot attached to a small cottage, which work commitments had sadly forced him to let go to seed somewhat. Still, apart from the remains of a huge greenhouse there were chickens and fresh eggs, and Nicos prepared bags full of courgettes, aubergines, plums, eggs and, inevitably, more melons on us – plus a bunch of flowers for Julie. We had breakfast together at a taverna on the quay before going our respective ways, in our case promising to give some advance notice of our arrival next time! There appeared to be quite a stiff breeze whipping through Stena Limolou outside the bay, and we had 20 knots on the quarter as we raced down the coast of Nisos Poliagos and into open water for the run across to Folegandros. The wind never looked like easing, but the sea wasn’t yet a problem as we kept well off the steep north shore of Folegandros, watching three other yachts surging down the side of Sikinos from the NE to cross our bows into Karavostasi. In a steady F5 we executed a neat gybe a mile off the harbour and ran in past some ugly looking rocks to find the small quay pretty full of yachts and looking uncomfortably choppy in the slight swell, so we decided to anchor off and await developments before deciding whether or not to try and get lines ashore. The wind continued to pick up, and the night was gusty and unsettled – NNE F7 forecast.
20th – 25th September 1993
We spent the next three days sitting out a ‘meltemi’ gale, which sent 35-40 knots of gusts over the hills from time to time and raised a bit of swell in the bay, but otherwise gave us no worries once we’d laid the kedge and got used to the noise. More potentially dangerous was the occasional yacht trying to manoeuvre on or off the quay: a hapless young Dutch couple left the seaward side of the jetty (which must have been miserable) and tried to anchor several times, but in the process they were blown all over the place and eventually took out their bow lights on one of our stanchions: a large Greek charter yacht dropped anchor upwind of us and came within a whisker of backing into our bow (he eventually secured himself, after dragging both his anchors, with a long shore line straight across the exit from the quay area!). By the second day nobody was moving, except for an enterprising flotilla skipper who took various of his flock out for an hour or two’s round trip: the sea outside looked very rough, with waves breaking high over the rocks. By Wednesday afternoon things seemed to be easing a bit, and we paddles ashore for a look out to sea towards Sikinos and Ios (rough!), and a beer at the little taverna above the harbour. Next morning Julie went the couple of miles up the road to the village of Folegandros to find (with some difficulty) a bit of food in a rather quaint little place, catering for only fairly basic needs of the backpacker fraternity. Boats were starting to move off by now, with a forecast of steadily moderating weather: a friendly German couple on a charter boat passed for a chat on the way to the quay, but they were out when we went ashore again later for a drink. We had a swim to take a look at the anchors – not quite where we thought they were, but both (not surprisingly by now) well dug in.
They came up easily enough the following morning as we set off for Santorini in a NE/NW wind that seldom nudged over F3 – we gave up attempts to sail when 5 miles off the entrance to the crater and took the main down just inside at 15.15, being passed as we did so by two charter boats in company. The scenery was certainly spectacular, with the huge crater surrounded by towering grey cliffs, and the town of Thira sprawled along the rim 50 feet up like icing on top of a cake. We followed the charter boats in to the small quay, already fairly well occupied, backing along the side of a large ferry while a boatman secured our bow line to the single huge buoy. A solid-looking American boat followed with exaggerated caution, skippered, it turned out by a friendly and talkative Jim from Seattle. The mooring was clearly not going to be all that comfortable, with wash from passing ferries and tenders from cruise-ships kicking up an almost continuous chop, and with more yachts arriving to jam everyone tightly together: furthermore, now that we were almost in the middle of what amounted to a raft we started to wander how on earth we were ever going to get out! We refused offers of a donkey ride up to Thira (let alone the expensive funicular) and slogged up the steep zigzag path to the top which was well worth it for the views, if not for the town itself, which was predictably touristy and devoid charm. Neighbour Jim came over for a drink later and sold us a couple of surplus cases of Cyprus wine in Tetrabriks.
Having been promised water at any time after 07.30, Nigel got up early, only to hang around for the next three hours while a tripper boat filled up its tanks and various other people collared the hose. Julie gallantly clambered up the cliff again to do some shopping. We made friends with our charter boat neighbours, who turned out to be a cheerful young crowd, mostly from Belfast. The general feeling was that we must try and leave – the Irish had to press on towards Rhodes, and we were getting increasingly nervous about possible damage to the boat (two stanchions already bent, and this in virtually calm weather). The neighbouring ferry was persuaded to drop its mooring hawser to let us out, and the surprisingly well-organised Irish set about getting the three boats off their moorings, this involving untying the bow ropes of the yachts outside and passing each round each of the departing boats in turn before making them fast again. All went well, with the rearguard even remembering in the nick of time that they had no oars for their dinghy – we hastily passed them ours as we moved off, retrieving them after as we said our goodbyes and thank-yous safely offshore. It was a relief to get away, and we motored past the rough volcanic ‘plug’ in the centre of the crater and onto the southern entrance, finding an excellent anchorage on the S. side of the Ak Akrotiri at 15.30. Nigel went ashore just before sunset to climb up to the crater rim and get a magnificent panorama of Santorini looking north, with the heights of Ios visible in the background. An American boat (a different Jim, it seemed) came in after dark and anchored a few hundred metres away, but otherwise we had a very peaceful night: on the whole, though, we concluded that Santorini was probably best visited by air or ferry!
26th – 30th September 1993
We left soon after daybreak, with 55 miles to cover to Astipalaia (or Stampalia), on a slightly gloomy morning with cloud capping the top of Santorini: the gentler slopes of the seaward coast didn’t look much less forbidding than the crater, and we weren’t too sorry to leave it behind. Once round Anafi, 20 miles out, we set the cruising chute for 1½ hours until the wind gave out, meanwhile spotting our Irish friends several miles away on passage from Anafi to Stampalia. Julie got a couple of bites on the fishing line, nut nothing stayed on.
We reached a deserted Livadhi Bay on Stampalia shortly before 18.00, anchoring off the beach in time to watch the last of the sun light up the ruins of the citadel on the promontory above. In the morning we walked over the ridge to the village of Skala below the citadel – several yachts (including the Irish) down in the harbour on the other side. A pleasant little place, with a few shops and a bar or two; but a real treat when we wandered up through a warren of lanes with colourful doorways and flowers, cats all over the place, to the area round the citadel; a charming church and some splendid views over the bay to the east (also “Gladlee” at anchor, neatly framed in the gateway to the citadel courtyard). The island seemed quite bare, but with much softer contours than Santorini and a pleasant enough brown colour rather than the volcanic grey. We spotted pelicans and Eleanora’s falcons flying over the harbour, on our way down for shopping and beers on a little terrace, and another pelican was paddling about in our bay when we got back to find some friendly German holidaymakers sitting on the dinghy. Weighed anchor and headed round the point, spotting dolphins following a fishing boat into Skala harbour, then across the bay between the islands to the narrow inlet of Agrilithi, where we anchored off-beach and attached our stern line to a heap of rocks. Nothing but sheep about, quite a desolate spot, but very peaceful – rather disappointing birds, though.
The next day brought a steady NW breeze, and we tentatively decided to set off for Rhodes in the late afternoon. A Dutch Westerly Konsort turned up and for some unaccountable reason anchored far too close to us, then apologised for doing so! We politely insisted that they move – madame evidently thought the anchorage less attractive than the Pilot suggested, so eventually they left again. Julie discovered weevils in the store locker (lots of pasta aboard), while Nigel worked on a North Africa piece for “Yachting World”. At 17.15 we weighed anchor and left the inlet, soon moving nicely at 5-6 knots with a F4/5 on the quarter, though with a rather tedious swell on the beam. We put a precautionary reef in as it got dark, but the wind stayed steady and there was a virtual full moon as we passed the sheer bulk of Niseros island to port soon after midnight. An hour later the wind had freshened to over 20 knots, and we took in a second reef for Julie’s watch, but by 04.30 it was dropping and backing astern of us to the extent that we couldn’t hold a course.
On went the engine until just before 08.00, when we’d just cleared Simi to port and had the coast of Rhodes in sight ahead and to starboard (not to mention Turkey only 4 miles off the port bow!) – the wind picked up again from N/NW, and we sailed goose-winged down to Ak Milon before gybing the genoa to fetch the entrance to Mandraki Harbour. The harbour was predictably packed, and as usual there seemed to be no organisation, but a German yacht left as we were eyeing up possible moorings, and with advice from a nearby Israeli on the positioning of our anchor we backed in to a semi-raft alongside a deserted British boat. A number of familiar yachts were there (or arrived soon afterwards): our Irish friends from Santorini, the Belgian/German couple from Yerikas, the noisy Belgian in the Westerly from Calabria and a remarkable yellow-and-black striped ketch with hugely raked masts, “Maalech”, which we’d last seen in Dwerja Bay on Gozo.
Venturing into Rhodes was a bit of a culture shock: traffic, lots of tourists, smart shops and a few quite impressive public buildings on the waterfront, alongside the walled old city which we planned to explore later. Our first priority was to find our mail, which to our relief had turned up (together with our long-awaited copy of the new “Turkish Waters Pilot”) at the former Camper and Nicholson’s agency, and we had a look at the pleasant market just behind the harbour – shops round the outside and a small open space with cafés and restaurants in the middle. We walked through the old city in the early evening, much of it over-restored and taken over by fast food joints and tourist shops (slightly reminiscent of one of the “villages” at Epcot in Disneyworld), but with a few fine original buildings and one marvellous street of “auberges” leading up to the Knights’ Palace – some attractive alleyways off the main tourist track as well. We got up reasonably early next morning to have another look before the hordes arrives and to visit the archaeological museum, housed in one of the former hospitals – a magnificent building with a charming walled garden, even if the exhibits were nothing particularly memorable.
We didn’t particularly want to stay longer in Rhodes, but nor did it seem prudent to arrive in Fethiye to start immigration formalities for Turkey on a Friday afternoon (it now being Thursday) – so we decided on another overnight passage. We belatedly discovered an excellent supermarket behind the post office (the small shops near the yacht quay were a predictable rip-off) and id a huge shop there in the afternoon after some rather good döner kebab – whatever the Greeks choose to call it! – in the market. Wind whistling through the rigging during dinner set the nerves jangling a bit, but in the end we weighed anchor at 21.30, hoisted double-reefed main inside the harbour entrance and left harbour very tidily just before 22.00 with 20-25 knots of wind just abaft the beam. The breeze slowly moderated as we decided, at 01.00, that we’d entered Turkish waters.