It’s nearly three weeks since we left Poros with clean clothes, sparkling new anchor chain for our brand new gypsy and reconditioned windlass, and tanks filled appropriately with diesel and water. But we haven’t got very far east.

We touched on Kythnos, anchoring in a glorious double bay divided by a sliver of a sand spit, then on to Seriphos where we had the kind of experience that is good to have from time to time. I was reminded of the power of the elements and of how insignificant we are in the face of them. The wind had steadily increased during the day and was really blowing as we turned to port and into what we naively thought would be the sheltered lee of the island. Instead it whipped around the edge of the land and gusted off the hills, the short choppy wave crests white with spume blowing like a snowstorm off the top of them. We nosed up into wind to roll in the gennie which was a long and noisy business, then started the engine and pointed into wind to let down the main. As the boat pitched and rolled all at once the engine gave out a bellow like I’ve never heard before and our eyes met, horrified. We were both thinking the same thing that we had got a rope in the water and now it was wrapped around the prop – seconds later I realised that it must have been the prop whirring in mid air! Phew! It was amazing how little progress our engine made against wind and sea. Eventually, with all the sails safely in we ventured into a safe anchorage and spent the night there before going on to Livadi, the ‘capital’ of Seriphos. The island is brown and barren like most in the Cyclades. There are ravines and crags, its typical hill top town, the Chora, making a scattering of brilliance with its little white cubed houses cascading higgledy-piggledy down the rocky hill. We took a rattling bus up the alpine steep and hairpin bends, stopping to reverse when bus met bus. Then we were dropped off and walked further up to where the land meets the sky and where, silhouetted in the setting sun was an iconic Cycladian white dome and cross. Back down in the square we sampled the cognac coloured wine of the area, and some mezes although where the vines grow is a mystery to me.

We looked ahead at the weather and saw the infamous meltemi was coming and so we set off for Naousa on Paros so that we would be in position for our friends to join us later in the week.

It is always rather pleasing when the weather does what it says, so when at midnight or so, a gentle warm wind stirred and we congratulated ourselves on being tucked up safely, we little imagined the full force that would hit us a few hours later and stay for a further four whole days and prevent us leaving the boat. Our outboard has not worked satisfactorily for the last few seasons and we were unable to get ashore as to row in these winds is very difficult. We now have our eyes firmly set on an electric outboard. So with food and, more seriously alcohol, supplies running low we made it to harbour on the fifth day so that we could meet String and Ben who were arriving the following day. We were still in the jaws of the meltemi so we were land based for a few days. We hired a car to investigate more of the island, first stop was to the main harbour at Parikia where we recognized a boat called ‘My Way’ that we had met in Evia in May (quite extraordinary) and marvelled at a little duck who was curled up EXACTLY in the circle of shade provided by a street sign. He had water and a box of straw beside him and was obviously living a charmed life. I wondered if he got up every so often to shuffle his position as the sun moved across the sky. We had a memorable lunch with stupendous views, sussed out possible boltholes for the future, watched kite surfers rush and leap like the bull dancers of Crete, had ice creams, well the greedy ones did, and still there was a treat in store – a bronze age acropolis overlooking Naousa bay which we found, scaled and loved.

After three very rolly nights in harbour, we broke free and took the very small journey across the bay back to where we had holed up during the big winds. During that time the thwart (seat/bench) of our new dinghy (“excellent blue”) became detached and now lay on the bottom of the sea............somewhere. Finding ourselves back in almost the same location a full seven days later and in calm seas we set up an operation to ‘locate and retrieve’! Before breakfast I swam out on a search directed by the OC and as I made an angled return to the boat I spotted the shiny rectangular shape of the thwart. So swallowing much water in my excitement, I waved and shouted then trod water patiently while two trusted operatives aboard made various complicated calculations to do with bearings and waypoints, laser ranging and GPS and anything else they could think of that would help pinpoint the location for the retrieval phase of the exercise. After breakfast, we moved closer to the site confident that I could be directed without trouble to the location. Did this happen? No it did not! Someone had blundered! Technology had proved superior to the skills of the operator. Found again, we buoyed the site nearly drowning Ben as he struggled in a rapidly deflating tender with an anchor and a magnetic line that seemed to have a mind of its own and clung to itself whenever possible. We released the buoy sure of our spot and promptly lost sight of the thwart. By this time it was all getting a bit obsessive. In short I found and lost the flipping thing 3 times. Retrieving it from the bottom was another game. I tried to loop it with a chain, then Andy and I did a bit of pair trawling with long ropes and chains and I was quite pleased to see how well we worked together and was thoroughly enjoying the challenge and it was all jolly good fun when suddenly Andy said ‘sod it!’ and just like a sleek, diving sea bird , speared straight down some seven metres, grabbed it and surfaced triumphant - why the hell he hadn’t done that in the first place I don’t know, but then we wouldn’t have had nearly so much fun would we?

To celebrate our achievements at the end of the day we paddled to shore and climbed the saddle and admired the views to the north. Then proceeded to a little bar on the beach where I had to make my own cocktail. I had spied a bottle of Campari in the fridge, the barman had plenty of fresh oranges but didn’t know how to mix the drink so invited me behind the bar to make it myself! Then we had to make up a price but at least he knows now how to mix Campari and orange – delicious.

From the bay in Paros we set off for the neighbouring island of Naxos where Theseus abandoned Ariadne, however we had not been on the way ten minutes when we changed our minds and swung north towards South Bay on Rinia. So that’s what I love, we find ourselves somewhere we’ve never heard of and had never intended to come to. Rinia seemed totally barren although guide books assured us there were sizeable farms here. It is opposite the sacred and once powerful Delos, described somewhere as the “Wall Street” of its time. It’s unimaginable now but I am told the Gods still walk there however it’ll have to wait for another time. Back to Rinia – there’s a mystery – what were they shooting? Men in high viz jackets (well most of them – unusual to see health and safety taken so seriously in Greece) dogs and guns. There seemed no pattern to their sport, sometimes sticks bashed the spiky undergrowth, the shots were down and along. Whatever it was, was being the operative word, was very small – starlings, rats, lizards, snakes, answers on a postcard please, any self respecting rabbit would be deep in their burrows given the noise that started at 0630!

From here we had an exciting sail across to Mykonos, our friend the meltemi was back. Poor String and Ben had to leave at about 7 am the next day when the sea was at its calmest so we could be sure of getting them ashore. So here we are again, four days on the boat but this time we have chosen our moment and Andy has valiantly rowed me ashore. Me with bikini on under a dress and everything in a waterproof bag in case I have to swim back to the boat in the event it is too windy for him to risk the row.

We’re off tomorrow for Kos

Jinti

We touched on Kythnos, anchoring in a glorious double bay divided by a sliver of a sand spit, then on to Seriphos where we had the kind of experience that is good to have from time to time.  I was reminded of the power of the elements and of how insignificant we are in the face of them.  The wind had steadily increased during the day and was really blowing as we turned to port and into what we naively thought would be the sheltered lee of the island.  Instead it whipped around the edge of the land and gusted off the hills, the short choppy wave crests white with spume blowing like a snowstorm off the top of them.  We nosed up into wind to roll in the gennie which was a long and noisy business, then started the engine and pointed into wind to let down the main.  As the boat pitched and rolled all at once the engine gave out a bellow like I’ve never heard before and our eyes met, horrified.  We were both thinking the same thing that we had got a rope in the water and now it was wrapped around the prop – seconds later I realised that it must have been the prop whirring in mid air!  Phew! It was amazing how little progress our engine made against wind and sea.  Eventually, with all the sails safely in we ventured into a safe anchorage and spent the night there before going on to Livadi, the ‘capital’ of Seriphos.  The island is brown and barren like most in the Cyclades.  There are ravines and crags, its typical hill top town, the Chora, making a scattering of brilliance with its little white cubed houses cascading higgledy-piggledy down the rocky hill.  We took a rattling bus up the alpine steep and hairpin bends, stopping to reverse when bus met bus.  Then we were dropped off and walked further up to where the land meets the sky and where, silhouetted in the setting sun was an iconic Cycladian white dome and cross.  Back down in the square we sampled the cognac coloured wine of the area, and some mezes although where the vines grow is a mystery to me.


We looked ahead at the weather and saw the infamous meltemi was coming and so we set off for Naousa on Paros so that we would be in position for our friends to join us later in the week.

It is always rather pleasing when the weather does what it says, so when at midnight or so, a gentle warm wind stirred and we congratulated ourselves on being tucked up safely, we little imagined the full force that would hit us a few hours later and stay for a further four whole days and prevent us leaving the boat.  Our outboard has not worked satisfactorily for the last few seasons and we were unable to get ashore as to row in these winds is very difficult.  We now have our eyes firmly set on an electric outboard.  So with food and, more seriously alcohol, supplies running low we made it to harbour on the fifth day so that we could meet String and Ben who were arriving the following day.  We were still in the jaws of the meltemi so we were land based for a few days.  We hired a car to investigate more of the island, first stop was to the main harbour at Parikia  where we recognized a boat called ‘My Way’ that we had met in  Evia in May (quite extraordinary) and marvelled at a little duck who was curled up EXACTLY in the circle of shade provided by a street sign.  He had water and a box of straw beside him and was obviously living a charmed life.    I wondered if he got up every so often to shuffle his position as the sun moved across the sky.  We had a memorable lunch with stupendous views, sussed out possible boltholes for the future, watched kite surfers rush and leap like the bull dancers of Crete, had ice creams, well the greedy ones did, and still there was a treat in store – a bronze age acropolis overlooking Naousa bay which we found, scaled and loved.  


After three very rolly nights in harbour, we broke free and took the very small journey across the bay back to where we had holed up during the big winds.  During that time the thwart (seat/bench) of our new dinghy (“excellent blue”) became detached and now lay on the bottom of the sea............somewhere.  Finding ourselves back in almost the same location a full seven days later and in calm seas we set up an operation to ‘locate and retrieve’!  Before breakfast I swam out on a search directed by the OC and as I made an angled return to the boat I spotted the shiny rectangular shape of the thwart.  So swallowing much water in my excitement, I waved and shouted then trod water patiently while two trusted operatives aboard made various complicated calculations to do with bearings and waypoints, laser ranging and GPS and anything else they could think of that would help pinpoint the location for the retrieval phase of the exercise.  After breakfast, we moved closer to the site confident that I could be directed without trouble to the location.  Did this happen?  No it did not!  Someone had blundered!  Technology had proved superior to the skills of the operator.  Found again, we buoyed the site nearly drowning Ben as he struggled in a rapidly deflating tender with an anchor and a magnetic line that seemed to have a mind of its own and clung to itself whenever possible.  We released the buoy sure of our spot and promptly lost sight of the thwart.  By this time it was all getting a bit obsessive.  In short I found and lost the flipping thing 3 times.  Retrieving it from the bottom was another game.  I tried to loop it with a chain, then Andy and I did a bit of pair trawling with long ropes and chains and I was quite pleased to see how well we worked together and was thoroughly enjoying the challenge and it was all jolly good fun when suddenly Andy said ‘sod it!’ and just like a sleek, diving sea bird , speared straight down some seven metres, grabbed it and surfaced triumphant - why the hell he hadn’t done that in the first place I don’t know, but then we wouldn’t have had nearly so much fun would we?

To celebrate our achievements at the end of the day we paddled to shore and climbed the saddle and admired the views to the north.  Then proceeded to a little bar on the beach where I had to make my own cocktail.  I had spied a bottle of Campari in the fridge, the barman had plenty of fresh oranges but didn’t know how to mix the drink so invited me behind the bar to make it myself!  Then we had to make up a price but at least he knows now how to mix Campari and orange – delicious.

From the bay in Paros we set off for the neighbouring island of Naxos where Theseus abandoned Ariadne, however we had not been on the way ten minutes when we changed our minds and swung north towards South Bay on Rinia.  So that’s what I love, we find ourselves somewhere we’ve never heard of and had never intended to come to.  Rinia seemed totally barren although guide books assured us there were sizeable farms here.  It is opposite the sacred and once powerful Delos, described somewhere as the “Wall Street” of its time.  It’s unimaginable now but I am told the Gods still walk there however it’ll have to wait for another time.  Back to Rinia – there’s a mystery – what were they shooting?  Men in high viz jackets (well most of them – unusual to see health and safety taken so seriously in Greece) dogs and guns.  There seemed no pattern to their sport, sometimes sticks bashed the spiky undergrowth, the shots were down and along.  Whatever it was, was being the operative word, was very small – starlings, rats, lizards, snakes, answers on a postcard please, any self respecting rabbit would be deep in their burrows given the noise that started at 0630!

From here we had an exciting sail across to Mykonos, our friend the meltemi was back.    Poor String and Ben had to leave at about 7 am the next day when the sea was at its calmest so we could be sure of getting them ashore.  So here we are again, four days on the boat but this time we have chosen our moment and Andy has valiantly rowed me ashore.  Me with bikini on under a dress and everything in a waterproof bag in case I have to swim back to the boat in the event it is too windy for him to risk the row.

We’re off tomorrow for Kos

Jinti


Mostly Meltemi

Livadi Chora, Seriphos

Spot the Duck !!

 ..leap like bull dancers.

Tea in the bronze age acropolis

The swimmer

Setting up for a pair trawling sweep

DIY Campari


 ‘Tommy-Hatsu’ Tender to Selkie Dancer, faithful companion of seven years.  After sterling service, an inevitable decline and eventual expiration.

Ignominiously in a skip on Seriphos