June 2012 Dodecanese Islands

Arriving in Kos – a short (less than 20Nm) sail from Bodrum, we anchored stern to the wall in ancient Kos harbour. So nice being here so early in the season as there was only a small handful of yachts in this usually very hectic harbour. As much of the island (particularly the coastal roads) is flat, it’s a great place to cycle. The concept has been embraced by the community as dedicated bike paths have been built all around Kos town and the rural roads seem safe enough.


Kos has significance for the medical historian. It was here that Hippocrates focussed on his practice and teachings in the 4th century BC. The plane tree in the central square near the fort has certainly been replaced many times since he originally taught under it, but the current tree is very old and revered nonetheless. A 1 hour cycle up the hill to the north brings us to the Aesklepion – a temple complex dedicated to the healing cult of Aesclaepius built by the Greeks in 4th Century BC and added to as always by the Romans 300-400 yrs later. After a morning of cycling, the café near Hippocrates’ shady plane tree was a wonderful spot to relax. Taking advantage of the southerly winds we sailed north to Alinda – a bay on the east coast of the Island of Leros. We were the only yacht anchored in this part of the lovely bay with views of the Turkish fort high on the cliffs overlooking the fishing village of Ay Marina on the other side of the bay. Ay Marina has the best coffee so far! Pleasant walk back through the town, up to the saddle where Platanos (capital of Leros) overlooks Ay Marina to the north and Pandeli to the south. Memorable lunch by the old mill at the Mill restaurant, right on the water between Ay Marina and Alinda. In the calm, we anchored Sea Cloud off Mirties between Kalymnos Is and Telendos Is before searching out the world famous Babi’s Bar and Grill on shore. Babi played host but Dianna was away tour guiding in Rhodes and Kos. A long walk up to the hill was worth the fabulous views over the town and the adjacent Telendhos Island which apparently split from Kalymnos in an earthquake around 400AD.

It was a wonderful calm weather anchorage although as Telendhos is now, as is most of Kalymnos, a rock climbing destination and a very popular lunch/dinner spot) we were subjected to the constant traffic of the tripper boats between the two islands. Vathi on SE of Pserimos Island was a lovely anchorage, the smell of wild thyme wafting into the bay and the goats’ bells clanking in the evening and early morning. We liked it so much we decided it was a safe spot to be for the predicted southwesterly blow the following morning. Unfortunately, the wind came early and from the east – putting us on a lee shore. A hasty departure pulling up anchor in 1m waves and 20knot breeze was not fun!

Patmos deserves its Michelin 3 stars with its highly significant hilltop monastery and fortifications, the old Chora and wonderful isolated, picturesque bays with clear water. A great place for a few days. The town wall, although noisy with ubiquitous motorbikes sporting inadequate mufflers was a good place to meet other sailors, 2 Aussie boats encountered here.

Pithagorian on the south coast of Samos where we were to meet our friends Pat and Sandra Chick was a pleasant surprise – a lovely bay to anchor, good fun town wall (notwithstanding the circus of crossed anchors each morning). Good restaurants, pleasant waterside cafes and walks.

The Epualian tunnel – an 8 km long underground aqueduct/tunnel built in 500 BC was incredible. How did they manage to dig such a structure through 8km of rock, starting at both ends and manage to meet in the middle? Pithagorian was named after Pythagoras who was born here (although he spent much of his life as philosopher and mathematician elsewhere in Greece). Ruins of the temple of Hera, built 400BC and twice the size of the Parthenon, can be found just outside the city. It has clearly been an important location for a very long time.

The mooring buoys off Marathani Island were a good base for dinner ashore and a wander around the island, the home to many photogenic goats and the obligatory blue domed chapel on the hill.

Of course we had to visit Patmos again and have a drink at Jimmy’s Balcony with its wonderful view over Patmos Harbour and expansive views to the bays to the north.

Pat and Sandra’s last few days were spent at the idyllic Pandeli Bay on Leros where we took advantage of the good restaurants. Pat’s Yachtmaster qualifications were put to good use refining our man overboard retrieval procedures.

With Sea Cloud safely anchored in the bay, we trekked to the fortress on top of the hill  overlooking Pandeli and Alinda bays to justify another lunch again at the fabulous Mill restaurant on the water in Ay Marina.

We have thoroughly enjoyed the Dodecanese Islands. There are many picturesque and safe anchorages, and no crowds! Following Pat and Sandra’s departure we plan to spend a little more time here before hopefully braving the winds of the Aegean and sailing across to Santorini.