Crossing the Aegean – July 2011

With southerlies (headwinds) predicted after dropping Suzy and Paul in Piraeus, we made a last minute decision to take a ferry to Hydra for the weekend. This is the way to see Hydra, a beautiful town, with a very small and very crowded harbour, with no room for Sea Cloud without rafting up 4 boats deep. After an energetic and hot walk to the monastery above the town we spent the afternoon sitting in one of the cafes on the cliff admiring the crystal clear bay below. Perfect for reading, swimming and relaxing.

We left Athens in light north westerly winds – first stop back at Sandbar Bay on Kithnos.

Great to be getting some more wind – most days now yield a predictable N NW 15 – 20kts as the pattern of the Meltimi sets in July/August. We sailed to Livadou harbour on Serifos, anchoring in the bay with the view of the spectacular chora (hill town) above us.

Another very hot walk to the top, a fabulous view over the Aegean and the boats in the bay. Note Sea Cloud framed in the right arch of the belltower dwarfed by the 120ft ketch seen through the left!


Next anchorage was Naoussa Bay on northern tip of Paros, a beautiful, relatively calm bay despite moderately strong Meltimi. Paros town was almost deserted, such a contrast to our last visit in 2009.

With an increase in winds predicted (Bft 7-8), we headed for Naxos marina, recommended as a safe spot to leave Sea Cloud while we rented a car and explored the island. Wind howls through the marina and the regular surges which occurred with the many ferries entering and leaving this busy harbour made our mooring compensator lines essential. The island is beautiful – quite lush with white sandy beaches fringing the west and south coast. The Temple of Demeter, a well restored and displayed Doric temple set amidst farm land was well worth the visit.  

It was not surprising to see wind farms on the ridge lines adjacent to the older windmills that are ubiquitous throughout the Greek islands.

Winds finally decreased so after 4 days in Naxos, we headed down the lumpy Naxos strait in 20 -24kts, to Schinoussa. The main harbour is very small, quite shallow and looked too much hassle with 2 super yachts virtually filling the bay with lines everywhere. Ducked around a couple of bays and found good holding in relative isolation at anchor to the east of town. This island is not on the main ferry route, hence relatively under-developed, quiet and tastefully restored.

We managed to coordinate a few days with Andrew and his friend Greg who were staying on Ios –just 25Nm away to the SW of Schinoussa. We anchored in the ‘sheltered’ anchorage of Milopotamou Bay (blowing about 24knots but good holding in fine sand) close to the rather smart hotel overlooking the aqua blue bay in which Greg and Andrew were staying.

We were very pleasantly surprised by Ios, the beach was beautiful and relatively empty apart from a few hours in the afternoon when the speedboats hoon around the bay. The anchorage was one of the quietest we have experienced in Greece, as all the action occurs in the main town (chora) over the hill. Andrew and Greg had a chance to sail Sea Cloud in lovely breeze but mostly were impressed with the aft sunbaking/sleeping deck with potential for entertaining.

As Andrew and Greg left for more partying in Mykonos, we sailed to Katapola bay on Amorgos where we anchored one night in the bay, and another on the town wall. We rented a car to see the highly recommended Hozoviotissa (9C) Monastery, built into the middle of a sheer rockface, high above the crystal clear water of the Aegean. It is an incredibly spectacular site. Visitors to the monastery are welcomed with a glass of local Raki (liqueur) and a Turkish delight –type sweet.

 A swim in the crystal clear blue water below us at Ag Anna was very welcome following the hot climb to the monastery. Amorgos, among others with high mountainous ridges, creates extremely high winds and rough seas on its leeward side despite our relatively calm anchorage on the windward side.

Amorgos was full of surprises, small white washed hill towns dotting the island, wonderful looking anchorages (as long as the Meltemi is not too strong) and spectacular scenery and as everywhere in the Greek islands, lots of goats!

The chora (capital) is a charming village, with winding streets, welcoming small restaurants and shaded cafes. Sailed south from Amorgos in those 25+ knot winds we had viewed from the top of the island the previous day. Unfortunately these lee shore winds died about 5-10 miles off shore, so we motor-sailed until in the lee of our next island, Astapalaia, where the wind promptly picked up to 25kts again. We had planned to anchor in Maltezana bay, a ‘meltimi-proof’ anchorage, but the sight of the beautiful chora in the distance made us reconsider. We anchored in Livadhi bay, a lovely, uncrowded (1 other boat!) but windy anchorage.

Although the winds continued strongly overnight the good fine sand we were anchored in meant we could sleep well. Unfortunately as the winds did not drop overnight, we were reluctant to leave the boat unattended. So instead of visiting the chora, we set sail for Kamares on the south western end of Kos. Our last stop before Turkey was Simi. Checking out of Greece here was an incredibly efficient and easy process in comparison with our check into Greece a few months ago.

We loved being back in the Aegean, had good winds, at times challenging but fun sailing and uncrowded anchorages. We really had the opportunity to put Sea Cloud to the test and are pleased to say at the end of our first few months she is great, very comfortable, sails extremely well close hauled and reaching. Downwind she needs a strong breeze to keep moving at speed – we’ll need to familiarise ourselves with the cruising gennaker soon. Unfortunately, our 400 miles across the Aegean in 3 weeks was all a bit too rushed – partly due to the Schengen agreement which meant we had a deadline to get out of the EU. However, we did take advantage of the ideal sailing winds get to across to Turkey in preparation for leaving Sea Cloud in Marmaris while we go home for August.

June in the Ionian Islands


After a 4 day check-in to Greece (!) in Lefkas, we welcomed our first guests on board, Jenny Harris (unfortunately without David) and her brother Tony Brunskill who would spend 2 weeks with us seeing our favourite places in the Ionian.

A few days were spent on Meganisi Island, relaxing, swimming and drinking freddo cappuccinos.

We ventured back to Fiskardo to anchor on the crowded town wall where Sea Cloud’s stern was a metre from restaurant tables and our anchor line across the lines of another few boats. This is unavoidable in Fiskardo, but was preferable to anchoring in the bay where 14 yachts had dragged during the night during our last visit here in 2009.

The spectacular “Billy Goat Bay” on Ithaca’s east coast was a lovely spot for an afternoon swim. We couldn’t believe how the goats had made it to this site half way down the cliff face, or more importantly how they would ever get out again!

Huge thunderclouds made us head for the safety of Vathi, dropping the anchor in the first safe place we could find with one lightning strike 50m from the boat. Scary stuff, with lightening flashing all around us. After the storm as the clouds lifted we were rewarded by a wonderful sunset and a lovely calm night in deserted and beautiful bay.

Kioni and the famous Ithaca Onion Pie recommended by ‘fat Steve’ in 2009 did not disappoint! The reward of a nice lunch was much needed following a rather botched ‘med moor’ which rather upset captain Ian. Alright for him to complain from the deck while Tony and I tried to avoid the spiky sea anenomes while trying find appropriate rocks on which to tie Sea Cloud’s stern lines.

After saying goodbye to Jen and Tones, we had a day of catching up on chores back in Lefkas before the arrival of our next guests, Suzy and Paul Tait.

This was Suzy and Paul’s first visit to Greece. It was good to see Lefkas through new eyes for the rather charming place that it is. Previously we had associated visits to Lefkas with boat repairs and the inevitable associated hassles.

The calm weather and too little wind, meant that we could explore other anchorages, one being One House Bay on the east side of Atoko island. This uninhabited island has  a charming small chapel, beautiful crystal clear water and the most amazing rock formations.

We were very  upset to find that the beach had been used as a rubbish dump. This was obviously enjoyed by the herd of goats, who seemed to dine on rubbish and local vegetation, then wash it all down with sea water (see goat on right)! In true scientific way, we had to google this at the next opportunity to find that there was a published paper on sea water drinking by goats, who apparently can do so if their diet is supplemented by enough water bearing vegetation.Perhaps the necessary gut and renal physiology required to do this needs investigation?

Our last night in the Ionian was spent back in Kioni (more Ithaca onion pie) before heading up the Gulf towards Corinth.

It was good to be back to Galaxidhi, one of our favourite towns, where Angelo, owner of the OK Café, held our expected spare boat parts and organised a car for us to make the mandatory trip up the hill to Delphi.

The Corinth Canal. After an early start and a morning of motorsailing, we had a very amusing hour waiting at the entrance to the canal listening to the conversations between approaching boats and the man in the control tower who spoke in very heavily accented English. In particular we loved hearing a rather forward Kiwi woman in Laroobaa (Melbourne flag) asking why she had been kept waiting so long. The Greek man seemed to love the name and was heard saying “Go Laroobaa!” many times over the VHF as they came out of the canal.

To complete the cultural experience, we anchored off Old Epidauros a short taxi ride from the wonderful ancient site – the sanctuary of Asklepios, the cult following of which necessitated building the world famous amphitheatre and small stadium among the “dormitories” for the sick who made the pilgrimage here. Asklepios, a son of Apollo, had remarkable healing powers and the cult lived on for centuries after his death. Of course his famous pose leaning on the auger’s wand entwined with the magic serpent formed the elements of the caduceus – the doctors’ emblem.

Our last stop with Suzy and Paul was Aegina Island. We picked the right time to visit Aegina as the national Greek strikes meant that the usual very busy ferry port was very quiet, making for simple anchoring and a comfortable night.