Sugar 'n' Spice - Weblog

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Poros, Saronic Gulf, Greece




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Note:  We are in Poros on 20th September. Blog is only completed to 6th September.  Will catch up later.


Wednesday 26th August we headed to Stanstead for an evening flight to Athens. Arriving in the early hours of thursday (27th August) we had a long & tedious wait for our flight to Leros, on a small turbo prop aircraft. The landing was interesting. It seemed very close to the hills, & was downhill towards the sea! Then it was a 20 minute taxi ride across the island to find Sugar’n’Spice waiting for us, covered, as usual, in pink dust. This time we couldn’t blame a sirocco, just the hot & dusty climate, & otherwise she was fine.  So the first job (unscheduled) was to hose the decks down so we didn’t walk it down below, then 40 winks to make up for the previous night, before heading into Lakki for supper.



The next couple of days were filled with various jobs to ready the boat, plus several provisioning runs using the dinghy.  A lot of boats around us were packing up for the year, after their summer break, & we were vastly amused by a little girl on an Italian boat (Issima) opposite who was hauling fish after fish out of the harbour with a very miniature fishing rod. She led her slightly older (& in the main very tolerant) brother, a merry dance too!

Sunday 30th August. We made a mid morning departure from Leros marina, with lots of waving to the Italian family. The wind was light & fickle so it was a motor trip to the little hamlet of Emborios on Kalymnos, the next island south (7 nm).  It was a very pleasant place, but the holding is poor, so the tavernas lay buoys to claim your patronage.  We went ashore to ‘pay our dues’, & a stroll, then had a swim & watched the world go by.

Next morning  (31st August) we left for Porthia, the main town/port of Kalymnos. Leaving Emborios we passed between the steep barren islet of Telendos & several little resorts on the west coast of Kalymnos.  The wind was fickle so it was a mix of motoring when it was too light & some frisky reaching with the genny. Arriving in Porthia around midday we berthed stern to the quay (10.9 nm) & went for a recce. The wind is set to increase again so we intend stopping here a couple of days.

So tuesday (1st September – is autumn here?) we took a bus to the Vathi valley, NE up the coast. The little hamlet of Rina is at the head of a long narrow inlet, described as a fjiord, & there is only limited space for yachts. Having watched some charter boats struggle to get off the stub of a quay in the increasingly gusty wind we were glad were had taken the boat into Porthia.



Vathi has a good water supply so is a pleasantly green place with a lot of cultivation stretching back up the valley floor, & a little river full of fish flowing through Rina. The return bus trip was a surprise as the bus route took a huge loop, on a barely bus wide road, up the valley to remote churches & farms, giving us a lovely view of the fields & cultivation.

Wednesday we visited the sponge diving museum.  Kalymnos is noted for its sponge divers all over the world, & the array of antique diving gear & old photos was amazing.  It was a very dangerous occupation & lots of the divers died or were crippled with the bends.  We also visited a sponge shop, where the lady proprietor explained more of the practicalities of cleaning & preparing the sponges for use (interesting to us as we see a lot while snorkelling). Probably because she didn’t have a pushy sales pitch we bought a ‘real’ sponge, but I don’t know who will win ownership of this valuable item!  Later Doug walked up the hill behind the port to a monastery & viewpoint to take pictures over the Town (I opted out having bruised my foot, so not good for walking).



Thursday 3rd September. A relaxed departure from Kalymnos for another short trip (9.2 nm), but a lovely sail with just the genny to the island of Pserimos. Here we anchored in Ormos Vathi, a sheltered bay on the east side, with a sandy beach at its head. The coast of Turkey was to the east & the island of Kos to the south. There were several other boats there, but as the afternoon wore on most departed. We went snorkelling & Doug found a cuttlefish. We both dived to look at him, & he swam under an overhanging rock & led us to two more – exciting. Then Doug found a red, white & dark ‘millipede’ which we later found in the book as a bearded fireworm. Lucky we didn’t prod it as the bristles (legs) can apparently give you a sting like a burn. Anyrate it was an interesting place to swim. As the sun slipped behind the hills we saw the dark shapes of some falcons  gliding & soaring along the steep rocky coast.  We believe they were the Eleonora’s falcons that a summer migrants to some of the remoter & more rugged islands in this area.

Friday 4th September. We left this lovely spot, again just unrolling the genny, for the 7.6 nm trip to Kos. There we found the marina full (we had half expected this as it was Friday – change over time for charter boats) so we anchored stern to the quay in Kos Town main harbour right under the walls of the castle.



We filled the water tanks – nice as we had had to fill one with non potable, but OK for washing etc, in Kalymnos so were glad to get that refilled with fresh. Then it was off to the ancient town for a stroll & lunch. In the afternoon we went round the castle & had a bird’s eye view down on the boat from the ramparts.

Saturday 5th September. A prompt start from Kos eastwards along the coast under full sail.. The wind died briefly under the lee at the end of the island, then picked up again, & we were sailing along the Turkish coast of the Datca peninsular. There were more yachts, ships & gulets (traditional Turkish sailing boats, although most we are seeing are upmarket holiday cruise boats, mostly motoring) about than we have been used to seeing for quite some time, mostly on roughly similar courses to us.  Mid afternoon we passed between the island of Simi & Nimos islet to its north. This is a very narrow channel with the rocky cliffs of both islands rising sheer out of the sea, & has only about 4m of water through it, shallow in the scale of things here, & as the water is clear you can see rocks & weed on the bottom! Needless to say as we went through a large gulet was coming the opposite way & a fisherman in a row boat was mid channel in the narrowest part. So we arrived at Simi town about tea time after 37 nm.

As we arrived in the rather busy harbour a yacht was in the middle of the channel with its anchor firmly hooked under something at the harbour bottom. With a queue of boats building up behind us we dropped our anchor & went stern to the quay in the place they had vacated. Once secure we joined the onlookers as the crew tried to lift their anchor & whatever had hooked it. There was a lot of manoeuvring then they wedged in on the far side between a gulet & another yacht & someone went down with a mask to have a look. Helped by their new neighbours there was more heaving & shoving, a motorboat came out, lifted his anchor bringing another chain with it. A lad from the gulet helped them free that, then the gulet itself lifted its anchor, but had hooked nothing, So the yacht tried again to lift his anchor & was still held fast, but this time, another dive & a line to the bottom, to every ones relief they were free! It had taken about 3 hours to sort out, & they had only visited the harbour for a few hours. With the evening well on we had supper on board then went for a recce & gelati in the lively town.




Next morning (6th September) we walked up one of the staircases that leads to Horio, the old town, topped by the ruined walls of a castle & a church. The views were terrific, over Simi town & port, a row of windmills to the adjacent deep bay of Pedhi & of the Italianate mansions of the town itself. Then after collecting some provisions we left the harbour & motored  east past some amazing bays totally encircled by sheer cliffs to anchor  in the less daunting bay of Marathounda (6.5 nm). This was lively with people enjoying Sunday, & although the sea bed was rocky there were enormous shoals of small fish as if they had just hatched.