We now headed our bow towards Marmaris in Turkey which was to be our winter stop-over but on route we still had a number of islands we wanted to revisit. All of the islands we had called at in 2007 but due to our mast problem in that year hadn't spent time exploring them in any depth.
South end of Amorgos
In 2007 we spent a couple of days in a very small bay on the South end of Amorgos sheltering from some strong northerly winds, this time we were headed for Katapola the main village halfway up the island.
Sailing between islands in the Aegean is normally pretty straight forward, most islands are only a few miles apart (between 15 and 30 miles) and a large part of navigation is by No1 eyeball. However there are numerous rocks and small islands which will catch you out if you don't pay due attention.
Many of them are unlit and if sailing after dark extra caution must be taken, Greece doesn't have a comparable lifeboat service to the U.K.
Sailing from Amorgos to Astipalaia we passed Pondikousa Island which as you can see from the photograph looks very much like a dragon (or at least we thought so), so we renamed it Dragon Island.
Our route from Ios to Turkey was in a south westerly direction following the seasonal wind direction for this time of year, thus all our sailing was with a favourable wind, usually from directly behind. Not the fastest point of sailing but at least you can have a civilised lunch with a glass of wine without it sliding off the table.
We had spent a few days in Skala last year. It is a beautiful setting, the bay is horseshoe shaped with the village wrapped around the bay. Last year when we visited it looked like they were in the process of creating an inner harbour and to our surprise on our arrival this year it was 95 percent finished. Now you might think what's so special about that? Well as we have sailed round the Greek Islands we have found the EU pouring millions of Euros into the island's harbours. In the majority of cases the Greek Government is supposed to fund the final 25 percent to finish the work, but it never happens. So the majority of marina harbours we have visited are 75 percent complete and that is the way they have stood for many years. The bit we can't understand is why the EU keeps pouring money in without getting the Greek Government to finish the work which has already been funded.
2007 Skala Harbour 2008 Skala Harbour
In 2007 we were the only yacht in the harbour, this year as you can see from the photograph there are four yachts. During our time on the quay the contractors were putting the finishing touches by connecting the water and electricity. With proper facilities I expect the number of yachts visiting Skala next year will increase dramatically.
A Locust, I think?
We weren't the only visitor to the harbour at this time.
We spent a week in Skala just chilling out and having the odd walk up to the cafe in the village where they serve the best frappe in the Aegean. But as the saying says 'time waits for no man' and we had two more islands to visit on route to Marmaris.
Friends on board
Our next island 46 miles to the southwest was to be Tilos, which just happens to be one of our favourites, here we would meet up with some old friends from last year's stopover.
As you travel round ever now and again you come across an oasis and Tilos has one in the form of the Croma cafe bar. Run by a couple of Manchurians they can't do enough to make your stay feel like a home from home. For anyone visiting Tilos this one is a must.
Owner's of the Croma cafe bar
And in the evening when everything closes down in town you take to the hills, literally. At midnight the pub in an old village, deserted since the end of WWII opens. A free hourly min-bus service runs from the town to the pub which is about 3 miles up into the hills .There are no residents in the village so the music and dancing continues on well into the wee small hours.
Tillos's Nite Spot
While sitting in the harbour at Tilos we were entertained with the loading and unloading of the various ferries which supply the island. This is the island's life line, everything the island needs from a small parcel to a lorry load of building blocks arrives by sea and when the lorry is too big to drive on to the ferry, there's always the helping hand from a JCB to push the back end round.
Health and Safety at work
Don't think they use this method in Britain, something to do with Health and Safety.
We had a good sail to Rhodes our last Greek island before entering Turkish waters. We are not overly enthusiastic about the town of Rhodes although we are told other parts of the island are beautiful. The island attracts a large number of cruise liners to its port and the Old Town is full of trinket and souvenir shops, most of which are selling a load of tack to the visitors.
Busy Rhodes Harbour Mandraki Yacht Harbour
Rhodes doesn't have a marina and the yacht harbour is usually full with no berths for visiting yachts, most berths being taken up by charter companies. Fortunately there are two unfinished harbours (the type I mentioned earlier, funded by EU money) a couple of miles up the coast.
While heading up to find a space in one of the unfinished harbours we past the ferry port and were surprised to see two four masted cruise ships in the harbour. One was not unusual but this was the first time we had seen two.
Not one but two four masters
Our time in Rhodes was spent shopping for things which are hard to find in Turkey or are more expensive there. The main items being alcohol and diesel. Once this chore had been completed and we had cleared out of the country and the EU (we were now heading for a non EU country) we set sail for Marmaris in Turkey a mere 26 miles distant, again enjoying some good sailing.
Turkey here we come
This completed our 2008 cruise of the Aegean Islands. We were now looking forward to spending some time with friends flying out from the UK and joining us for a couple of weeks holiday in Turkey with the odd day sail thrown in. A few weeks later we were joined by our latest grandson Oliver, one year old, and his parents who wanted to try the delights of Turkey. This was a perfect finish to what we consider to be one of our most enjoyable cruising years, we have visited seventeen islands, sailed eight hundred odd miles, met many interesting people and a number of new friends.
We hope you also had a good year and take this opportunity in wishing you a Happy and Good New Year for 2009, we are certainly looking forward to ours.
Tom and Anne