Tuesday, July 17, 2018

exiting Turkey... and a whole lot of Greece

We are NOT from Delaware…

The tail / tale end of Turkey 
and a whole lot of Greece

In the Mediterranean there are lots of US flagged boats.  Specifically from Delaware.  We started noticing them in abundance in Cyprus.  Excited to see and possibly meet fellow countrymen so far from home, we would approach the boats / owners only to be met with bewilderment from the crew who often didn't speak English… After several encounters we finally outright asked someone and their response was because it was quite easy and cheap to register your boat in Delaware.  Even if you were not a resident.  

Solar panels… Before leaving the states we purchased flexible solar panels and had them sewn on to the bimini canvas.  They have a 10 year guarantee.  Free shipping; in the US.  So far we have replaced ALL of them 3 times… their life span appears to be about a year.  The company, true to their word, has replaced them with only a few questions and documentation from us.  However, we have to find a way, an affordable way, to get them to us.  Fortunately they have often failed just about the time we have had visitors coming.  Tom, brought the last 2 small panels that were actually larger than the ones we needed replacements for but they were the ones the company had on hand so… we took possession of them.  This meant we would need to alter the bimini cover to accommodate the larger panels.  We found a sailmaker in Fetiye who agreed to stitch the new velcro on at a reasonable rate.  Unfortunately, one of his family members passed away delaying the project.  We sent our condolences and reminded the work order… but, the sailmaker was not deterred.  He arrived with help around 5:30pm the night before our scheduled departure… took the canvas and promised to return it that night!  finished…. We finally went to bed around 10pm with a revised departure date… the weather had also taken a turn so we were not too inconvenienced by the canvas delay.  10:30 pm… someone on deck!    We both bolted for the companionway to discover the sailmaker bringing the finished canvas!!!!  Whaaaa   Jim told him to leave the canvas and we would see to it the next day as our departure was delayed due to weather.  Maybe the speedy service was due to Jim’s comment that there would be a bottle of Raki if he did indeed get the project done that night… Whatever the reason, we are able to leave within a day, the bill paid and the Raki delivered.

Good bye to Marmaris, next stop Greece… we checked out with an agent because that’s how they do it here.  90euros… We fought the wind and waves most of the morning and into the afternoon.  At around 2pm, Kathy checked her phone and discovered a message from the Marmaris Agent… sent 5 minutes after we departed.  ‘you must come back, you didi not collect your departure papers and you will not be allowed entry into Greece…’  W T F !!!  Jim immediately called the agent who assured us we had to have the papers… We consulted the charts and google maps for roads.  If we had to have the papers our plan was to find a bay that had a road where we could hitch a ride back to Marmaris, get the papers and hitch back to the boat.  We set a course for the bay with an adjoining road and called the officials.  Several phone calls later, the new official said they had contacted our next port (Symi, Greece) and Greece said to continue on and not to worry about the paper work…. By this time we were physically tired and mentally frustrated over the ‘paperwork’ debacle.  so we diverted into the bay we had charted in case we needed to retrieve the papers.  A boat boy (man) greeted us and offered us a free mooring ball if we ate at the restaurant on shore.  Fair enough so we did.  Captain Nemo’s was the one and only restaurant in the small bay.  Fish, sea food, lamb or chicken were the offerings.  No menu.  The meal was nice and the setting was lovely.  Hundreds of free range goats made there way to the shore just before sunset for a drink of water from a creek that fed the bay.  We slept very sound and were off early the next morning.  

Symi, Greece.  A small island.  A small port.  A large tourist destination.  And we arrived at the perfect time.  Greece uses the med mooring system but the do not usually run lines to laid moorings… So you have to drop an anchor, back to the quay and tied off on our own.  There was lots of room (temporarily) on the wall (quay) so we decided to back Inishnee stern to the wall… never having done this before.  Jim coached Kathy through the anchor procedure while he backed the boat perfectly to the wall!  Kathy ran back and tossed the shore lines to the harbor master… YEAH!!!   No drama.  Whew.  It appear as though we had done this before… many times. heheheh  Soon the wall was filling up with new arrivals including several ferry boats with day trippers.  

Next we ‘cleaned’ up and headed for the port police, then customs, then immigration.  Stamp, stamp… pay a few eros.  Welcome to Greece!  Not ONE single official asked for our exit papers from Turkey.  NO ONE!!!!  We were really happy we did not waste a day plus to retrieve the erroneous papers from the Turkish officials.  

We wandered around the village.  Found the grocery, laundry and chandlery shops.  Then decided to rent a scooter for the following day to tour the small but ‘interesting’  island. 

The Scooter!  The village is built on a hillside.  It’s buildings are painted various shades of pastel golds, creams and soft blues.  Doors and windows accented in contrasting colors.   As we approached the upper limits of the hill overlooking the village we stopped for a few pictures… One sight caught us off guard as it was sooo blatant and disgusting we could hardly believe it.  One of the LARGE ferries, several hundred passengers, docked 15ish boats from us was discharging its black water … SHIT!  into the harbor.  There will be ABSOLUTELY no swimming here for us…. aghhhhh … DAMN YOU SHIT SHIP!  

We continued over the hill and around the island.  Extremely barren.  Even goats have a hard time finding nibbles to eat.  The interior was much cooler and we had a quick hail shower.  The far side of the island in home to a small church and monastery.  Filled with silver candelabras and vibrant frescos covering the entire ceiling  … nothing more except a coupe of coffee shops for the tourists who come to see the church and give offerings.  
We turned around, its a one way road and headed back toward the village.  At the hill top we diverted to another village that is primarily for tourist and local fishing boats.  Quite, picturesque.  

After a couple of nights in the village we cast off and headed for the fishing village for our last evening.  

Nissyros, Greece 
What a lovely little island.  Again we backed to the quay and tied off.  A handful of shops and tavernas (restaurants) on the shore,  many offering showers for cruisers!  yeah…. but first, we wanted to see the island which of course the taverna nearest us, Captains Table,  could help with too, because the ‘Captain’ rented cars, scooters and buggies…

We decide on a buggy; a four wheeler with an awning.  We could ride on all the island roads as well as in and around the caldera that the island is famous for.  We grabbed our water bottle and headed off.  

We followed the map, exploring several little villages perched on the calderas edge.  The iconic white buildings with blue accents contrasted with the barren yellowed hillside.  

We then drove down into the caldera and paid our 3 euros to walk into the puffing, sulfur pit.  Fumes catching our breath at times.  A moon scape where few ventured into.  It was deathly hot and so we slogged back up to the buggy, bought another water and headed for the off road trails around the back side of the caldera  and the mountain.

A rough two track with spectacular views.  We stopped for pictures when the road permitted.  Sweating and enjoying the ride.  As we climbed higher and higher the buggy began lurching then quit… just quit.  Jim checked the obvious … we had fuel and the engine was not over heating… but it would not go.  

We luckily had phone service (thank you Google Phones and Project FI!!)  and called the ‘Captain’.   We did some trouble shooting but no good.  He was quite sorry and would be there to rescue us soon… ‘where are you?’… we managed as best we could to explain our route.  It's a small island and only a few roads so he was pretty sure he new where we were.  We admired the view over looking the sea from our skinny little rocky road on the back side of the hill…  

Jim puzzled over the problem and thought it might be lack of oil.. We tried in vain to open the hood but there seems to be know way to release it… then Jim thought… the seat.  Maybe its under the seat.  Which it was.  He located the oil stick, burnt his arm getting it our, but discovered that there was NO oil … The engine had an auto shut off for just this type of situation so the engine does not get ruined.  Jim called the ‘Captain’ but he was on his way and could not be reached.   The sun was creeping steadily toward the horizon when our replacement arrived… Captain had brought a brand new rental car… on this horrendous road… rocks jumping and sliding as he made his way up the track and to us.  We told him our findings, then we were off in the nice new car, Captain driving and the air conditioner cooling us off.  

It took another 45 minutes to navigate back to the village.  Captain offered the car to us if we wished to further explore but we were read for showers and dinner.  We ate at “Captains… of course.   We mutually agreed on a discounted rental price and settled our account.  Another peaceful night on the boat… almost.  The darn crickets here are quite loud.  Even son Alex could here them over the phone during a conversation…

We continued heading west, playing the Meltemi… the notorious summer winds that blast into the Mediterranean, Aegean Sea and are always coming from the exact direction you want to go…

The next big blow was expect to last for several days so we sought out a safe harbor to wait it out.  We island hopped until we reached Ios.  Stopping at a few sleepy harbors along the way.  We dropped the hook in 30 plus foot clear water on the south end of the island of 
Ios.  One road.  One bus a day.  Arrives at noon, leaves at 6pm.    Transporting the day trippers to this secured and private beach… 

We met another cruiser who had just rented a scooter
 from the Chora (main village).  He rode the bus to town in the evening, rental the scooter for multiple days, returned it and rode the noon bus back… sounds like a plan!  So, we packed a quick bag and headed to town on the beach bus.  We had also decided this would be a good place to catch ferry to Santorini.  It is difficult to take a small yacht there.  We rented a car with ac for several days so we could tour.  Our itinerary:  Return to the south bay and Inishnee via car rental.  Tour the island the next day.  Get up EARLY day 2 and drive to the ferry dock and return the rental car.  Catch the ferry, spend ALL day on Santorini, returning late that night.  Rent a room (prearranged) for that night.  Day 3 sleep in with AC in a big bed… get groceries and enjoy the fresh parties at the bakery.  Catch the noon thirty beach bus back to our bay where… hopefully Inishnee would still be waiting at anchor and not blown out to sea!


A lot of barren rock were goats are few and scrawny.  We drove to the point where we walked out to a peak cliff (15 minutes) to the foundation of a castle with a church.  Several buildings are still used, some by shepherds, some by those wanting solitude or to make an offering in the church at the top.  Spectacular views.  Scorching heat.  A bit of a breeze from the sea side and the top…

Homers Tomb.  Not Bart’s dad, but the The Iliad and the Odyssey author …  Local lore states that Homers body is buried at the top of this very remote peak. It is said that after his death the crew buried him at sea very near this spot on Ios.   The locals at the time claim to have discovered his body washed ashore.  They retrieved it, carried it up to the top of the hill and memorialized him, entombing his body on that spot.  Forever looking out to sea at the stunning views and spectacular sunsets.  

We wrapped up the days tour and headed back to Inishnee to get some rest for 

Santorini and the 2 joining islands make up what is left of a caldera from a volcano.  The center now a huge bay.  The massive explosion is believed to have caused the extinction of the Minoan civilization…  The ferry deposits you at the foot of the inside of this massive caldera. Steep and ominous black volcanic sides.  A switch back road takes you to the upper spine of the island where the majority of the islanders live.  We rented a car and had no idea what to see or do…  Poor planning or impromptu touring… either way, we made a long hot day of it.  We followed the spine through the capital city and on to the furthest point south.  Great views but droves of people.   

We would discover that Santorini is flooded with tourists… to the point that the government is trying desperately to curb the influx by raising prices, especially on housing… hoping to discourage some of the hordes of tourists… We are guilting but we were too close to Santorini to NOT go there … 

It was packed with tourists… Tons of restaurants, thousands of souvenir shops.  We ate lunch in the capital.  Then decided we needed a break from the masses.  

We drove to the northern most point and discovered a less crowded beach were we spent a few pleasant hours sitting, sipping and snoozing. 

Our bellies were getting  hungry so we set off again with a  quick stop in another village.  Winding streets designed for foot traffic… human, cat or donkey,  then back to the harbor for a double dinner.  
Pizza and water… then gyros and wine.  

The late ferry was VERY late… no explanation.  Just be patient.  2 hours later, we found our seats G5 and 6… and took a cay nap for the 1 hour return to Ios… Our hotel proprietor was waiting for us.  Showed us to our room and bid us good night.  

We returned to Inishnee the next afternoon via the beach bus and were much relieved to see her bobbing happily on the waves. 

Our next harbor / island… Sifnos.  We celebrated 24 years of marriage.  On board.  No shore excursion.   swimming.  sipping.   eating…

Serifos… We stayed aboard.  This bay was wishing easy reach of Athens and LOTS of day trippers in BIG cats took over the harbor.  No care given to setting their hooks of crowding.  One cat in particular was so close Jim had to get his bitch wings on and consult the caption… ‘no worries… we are fine, just here for a few hours…’   ahhhh, no shore exploring for us.  We were so close were able to converse with ‘inside voices’… no shouting although inside we were screaming… But, they did leave and the harbor was returned to its peaceful space for the rest of the evening and night. 

We next went to Kithnos where we hoped to stay and take the ferry to Athens!  But, the harbor master would not allow boats unattended overnight… so, we took on water, hosed off the boat and had refreshing cockpit showers!  Dinner out, where we watch the semi final match of the world cup… The morning brought a few challenges for this crew.  We had seen many anchors cross and hook other anchors in several of these harbors.  It is unavoidable because of there method these use here.  You just have to accept it and have a plan… Jim watched as the neighbors boat anchor pulled up another anchor, causing both crews some anxiety.  The leaving boat was able to unhook the anchor / chain by using a boat hook to lift the other chain etc off.  When we left, Kathy was on the bow retrieving the anchor.  She could see the lines crossed and slowly allowed the chains to slide along each other… Jim switch places with Kathy when the anchors were close and through slow manuvering and hauling the chain we broke free… Having heard a few unfortunate stories about this situation we were prepared with a tipping hook made special for this scenario.  We haven't used it yet…. but we are ready if needed!

On to Athens.  The Parthenon and the Acropolis can be seen easily from the sea as you approach.  

We took a slip at Zea Marina and decided to go bow in for privacy.  The marina boardwalk is open to the public… 

Checking the weather, we could expect lots of sun, no rain and plenty of heat.  high 90’s F.  A little research this time, we walked to the ferry / train terminal area for a quick ride to the city center of the tourist area.  Lots and LOTS of homeless people.  The parks are overgrown with weeds.  Graffiti everywhere.  

From the train station we were within walking distance to Parthenon and the Acropolis high on the hill… We started toward it, the heat already stifling at 10am.  Within a few steps of the train station was one of the many historical sites for antiquities, Hadrian’s Library.   

We decided to inquire about a map but planned to explore this site later.  Luckily we were at a booth that sold a multi ticket for the big attractions… 

Acropolis, Parthenon, Ancient Agora, Hadrian’s Arch… etc.  So we bought the multi pass ticket and continued up the hill to the main attraction… the Acropolis: the Parthenon, and several temples.  Ooo Myyyy Goooshhhh!  the line for tickets was incredible!  The end of the line wait approaching an hour.  The people were sweltering in the heat.  But!  because we by chance had our multi ticket …. we could bypass the line and go straight in… the path to the Acropolis and the ‘slopes’ are shaded with trees, a small breeze just barely making the long journey up from the sea.  

We followed the path to the steps of a temple where hundreds of people coming and going struggled to get up or down the narrow passage.  The cruise ships were in town… After squishing and pushing through the entrance the area flattens out and you can escape the pressing crowds for a small bit of breathing space.  The Parthenon is off limits to visitors, but you can circumnavigate the exterior.  There is restoration going on on nearly every one of the buildings; on the hill and below.  There is no escaping gate heat, only a few trees.  Also, no where to purchase souvenirs (yeah) or water (boo).  Combine those elements and most people are quick to leave the area.  

We too were ready after after only an hour or so, which really is plenty of time anyway.  We shushed our way back down through the entrance / exit steps.  Sweaty and wanting water.  We headed for the parking lot where the ‘Hop on Hop off’ busses wait and bought 2 two day passes… on a covered open air bus… we rode it the full loop, 80 plus minutes.  



Replenishing our water loss and seeing the sights from 2 stories high, noting things we would like to return to.  We rode the bus around again to the Archeological Museum stop where we had lunch at a cafe before attempting the museum.   Good thing!  it was huge.  Two floors and dozens of rooms, not air-conditioned…. full of incredible artifacts snatched from all over the area.  The descriptions in English as well as Greek.  

By the time we exited the museum we were ready for home.  Back on the “Hop on / off’, the train station and home.  Inishnee was HOT… oh so hot.  We had closed it up in the unlikely event of rain or… more likely the intrusion of uninvited guests.  Which by the way we decided we had…. Jim continued to hear the ‘crickets’ every night from a week ago… he finally tracked down their hiding spot in the cockpit drains… and, well.  sorry, there were exterminated.  
The next day we toured most of the remaining sites, hopping on and off the bus.  Hydrating often and stopping to just sit and people watch.  Another full day and we returned to the boat, again hot and stuffy.  

Our final day in Athens.  Cleaning, hair cuts, groceries.  Napping.  Relaxing.  


Off again.  Heading west and south.  We seem to have skirted the Meltiemi…. but now we get to  experience the Katabatlic winds… same type of winds.  Different area.  

A plotted  30 mile day and dropped the hook in a relatively quite bay with a decent breeze.  Several more boats ducked in and Jim again had to get out the bitch wings and go on deck to ‘encourage’ the neighboring boat to relocate… grudgingly they did.  A few grumbly looks cast our way.  Boat anchoring protocol says you should relocated if the captain of the boat you are encroaching on asks you too… provided they have a reasonable reason.  As the afternoon worn on and the winds picked up, they changed direction… and caused all the boats to swing… grrrr Now we were the offenders because we had a LOT of chain out and we were within a boats length of another couple boats that were tied to shore.  Our swing circles could not have crossed but…. we decided to move and anchor out farther.  The benefit of moving farther out in the bay meant more breeze!   Thank you!  We had a peaceful and relatively cool night for sleeping.  

Anther day, another bay.  We upped the anchor… ever so slowly because the windless was acting up.  Later inspection would find the battery low, something we would need to keep tabs on… possibly  replace.  We wove our way through the cluster of islands and the mainland.  Lots of charter boats heading out.  
Jim plotted a course for 1… a bay off an island or 2 … the mainland.  A few miles apart.  We eventually decide on the large mainland bay with the shallower water… just in case we needed to get a new battery.  Within a few miles of the entrance to the bay, we were overtaken by a fleet of charter boats.  ALL flying multiple, huge flags on their starboard  spreaders.  We assume from their home countries, states or ?  They also all had banners 'The Yacht Week'…   

A Google search explained the mass of boats.  It a summer event, week by week.  Each boat with at least 8 people (and captain?) mid 20’s? …A preset itinerary.   3 countries to choose from.  This group had 22 boats, all sail, monohull and cats.  One lone boat anchored, the rest rafted in two groups… 7 and 14!  together… They trickled in all afternoon.  Music and dancing and probably drinking.  This would NEVER work in the U.S.   someone would get hurt / drown.  Someone would sue.  Bye-bye business…. The group seemed very organized.  A boat came out to collect the passengers and take them to shore for more drinks and music.  Surprisingly,  the music was daily quiet and by 10 pm… they seem to have quieted to a whisper… 
Meanwhile, back on Inishnee, we made arrangements for laundry the next day.  No harm in holding up on our end and giving the Yacht Week time to enjoy their next destination sans Inishnee… 
The battery tested fine, probably just overworked by hauling in 165’ of chain multiple times, but we will continue to monitor it.  We had a quiet dinner.  The following day bought up on chores and the blog.  And just enjoyed being on the hook with no pressing matters to attend too.