Friday, October 29, 2010

Panormitis, Simi, Greece

36 30N, 27 52E

Progress has been delightfully slow recently, as we hole up for a week
at a time while the equinoctal weather goes through and the Med goes
through its unsettled patch, before (hopefully) going nice and gentle
in early November again. We've been crossing some jobs off the winter
list while we bob around the anchor, and it is wonderful to be able to
sit and look at the natural world around in our tea breaks, instead of
the concrete walls of a marina, or be jostled by the hustle bustle of
marina activity timetables.
Our view on the world at the moment is a monastery and lots of goats
in a fairly protected bay, though we are on a gentle wash cycle as the
Mediterranean surge works it's way in and we roll side to side making
us stagger around the boat seeming slightly drunk even when we're not.
The peace is only broken when the small ferry arrives and leaves, and
a monk runs along to ring the bells vigourously in an energetic,
tuneful welcome.
We were sitting up top yesterday, sipping our coffee, Stu gazing
across the bay. His eyes narrowed and mine followed ... there was a
whitish grey seal slowly mooching across the bay. Once it saw us
watching, it dived in embarrassment, like it wasn't supposed to be
seen here.
We looked seals up on the internet, maybe it was a common seal, but it
would be nice to think that it was one of the few 500 remaining monk
seals in the world, they are known to be in this part of the world -
the males are dark, but the females can be light grey. Imagine that -
a female monk seal visiting monastery bay!
Today, a large drilling machine arrived on the back of a truck in the
small bay. An elderly monk led a tree chopping team around the
perimeter road, clearing the path for the drilling machine. Once it
reached it's destination at the headland it wasted no time in going
vertical and drilling loudly, for what we don't know. Maybe the monks
have found oil here? We just can't leave without finding out......

Soon we will stock up on un-Islamic things (salami, pork, bacon,
booze) in Simi town and then head for Bozburun, a short distance
across the water in Turkey, where it is rumoured that there is a fair
priced agent to do the necessary check-in procedure. We all used to do
this ourselves without an agent until the Turks made it impossible,
ensuring a few more tourist bucks left tourist pockets and benefitted
the local economy.
Also have stocked up on yoghurt and feta, and olive oil. I can't
believe the Turks and Greeks lived together for hundreds of years and
even now very close, and Turks still can't make dairy goods of any
quality. At least we know their local markets will be filled with
exceptionally fresh green stuff and the best seasonal produce.
Something the Greeks haven't learned from the Turks.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A late season cruise in the Dodecanese islands

We've certainly started to slow down and enjoy the Greek islands that we haven't been to before, after the hectic east-west bashing of the Black Sea. It is nice to just sit in a port for several days at a time, and watch the Greeks enjoy their easy-going laid back lives enjoying all the upgraded facilities paid for by us via the EU.

We virtually circumnavigated Lesbos, and had a fun day on a quadbike exploring all the dirt roads to the beaches, then managed to leave on the 3rd attempt of being defeated by southerly winds. Then we spent a very pleasant time in Chios/Hios/Xios/Khios, however you wish to translate it, visiting the Mastic villages where they harvest the stuff that used to go into chewing gum, jelly beans, glue and cosmetics before petrochemical alternatives were found. Then on to Samos, where we spent a pleasant few days in Pythagorio, I wonder if you can guess who was born there.....We did a long cycle of about 15 miles, which doesn't sound so much but 2 hours of it were slogging non-stop uphill.

After a short stop in Arki, too small to be any sort of community but a popular stop with charter boats spending their bucks in the 2 tavernas.

Now we are in Lipsi, a delightful little island. As we came in we spotted 'Cruising Queen' alongside a small jetty. We guessed correctly that it would be free, as Claus always finds the best places! So now we have the perfect little place to wait out the first really inclement weather of the season. Some thunder and lightning today, and enough rain to warrant putting on the bimini sides. Its a good excuse to get a few indoor jobs done, as we won't have a lot of time to do any in Marmaris before we fly off to Blighty (bbbrrrrrr) and New Zealand.

Despite the rain, it still feels good to be on the move, and not tied down to a marina base yet. Almost all of the boats about now are German, or Swiss and the charterers are mostly Germans making the most of late season bargains.

We are not at all in a hurry to catch up with all the Brits in Marmaris, so well described by Orca Joss as overweight and underdressed, usually loud and lobster pink too.

The only saving graces are that you can easily get any sort boaty work done (there's lots of choice of tradesmen and plenty of yachties to provide recommendations or otherwise, unlike Finike where you're at the mercy of the marina monopoly pirates), and that we will be able to catch up with old friends on Roamer and Birvidik.

For our entertainment here, there's a little taverna in the square with daily specials, and a 1 minute walk to a perfect sandy beach for swimming, and a friendly ouzeri providing mezes in the traditional fashion. So we will stay here until we get bored and then go to Leros, to wait out the next autumnal storm.

We frequently ponder what we will do next year. It would be wonderful to play in the Greek islands again, but maybe you can have too much of a good thing, and we can always come back in years to come, they will still be here. Since we haven't had any visitors on the boat this year, we feel that we might as well be travelling further afield, while we have the time and energy to make the most of it. We would still have a spring and summer to travel to Madeira and Canaries, via Crete, Peloponnese, Sicily, southern Sardinia, Balearics and Gibralter, and then head across to the Caribbean for winter. Can anyone think of a reason we shouldn't ???.....Maybe we would have more winter visitors there....?

PS Pictures and Black Sea blog will follow at some point when I have better internet and I have the time.