Dodecanese Part 2 – Visitors :)

We left Alinda on Leros and re-traced our tracks to Xerokampos for a night and then headed to Kos Marina, just south of Kos town. We’d booked in there for 3 nights to pick up my Mum and my niece who’d be joining us for a week.

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Xerokampos to Kos

It was a motor all of the way as there was no wind which is a bit of a rarity in these parts. We called up the marina on VHF channel 77 and were asked to wait at the entrance until the marinero arrived in his RIB to guide us in. By this time the wind had picked up to 20kts from the north. Luckily the berth we were allocated was south facing which meant we’d be reversing into the wind. It may sound odd but yachts will happily reverse straight into the wind and the wind would also help us turn into our berth. I’m pleased to say we didn’t make a hash of it as there were several spectators. Two of them were Carola and Bobby on Blue Pearl. We’d overwintered with them in Kalamata and met them at a couple of anchorages since. It never fails to amaze me how often we meet up with friends.

We arrived mid-day on the 10th and my mum was flying in on the evening of the 12th which gave us a couple of days to get Coriander ready, do some provisioning and check out the town. There is a good but fairly expensive supermarket in the marina and an excellent Kritikos supermarket just a few minutes walk away.

Kos marina is the base for several charter fleets. We’d been told that we’d have to leave the berth by 9am on the Friday. We knew that there was no chance of a berth Friday to Sunday, not that it was a problem for us. Of the 5 fingers, 3 were dedicated to charter boats.

The reception staff were very helpful and efficient. The costs weren’t too bad at €50 per night for 15.2m, More expensive than a town quay but way cheaper than Balearic and Italian marinas.

We walked along the promenade into the old town to get our bearings. It was quite a shock to the system to be in such a busy place after the quiet towns and anchorages that we’d become used to. Kos town is very much geared towards the tourist trade, the old harbour is full of tripper boats vying for trade and is surrounded by tavernas and coffee shops.

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Kos old harbour

Mike and Claire had hoped to anchor off Kos a few weeks earlier but the weather had been against them. Mike has a penchant for real ale and they’d researched a real ale venue which I’m pleased to say we found and tried 🙂

Early the next morning I took the walk in to town from the marina to the port police to get my Dekpa or cruising permit stamped. This has to be done each year and costs nothing though there are large fines if it isn’t done. The process was very quick and efficient. We’ve found all of the officials in Greece to be helpful and friendly although we’ve been careful to ensure we are compliant at all times so haven’t given any reason for there to be any problems.

We did another supermarket run and then headed to town for something to eat before getting the 9pm bus the 25km to Kos airport to meet Mum and Gabi. As an aside, the 9pm bus is the last one to the airport and there isn’t a later one back.

Their flight was of course delayed and we finally met them around 11pm. We took a taxi back to the marina, got everyone settled aboard Coriander and headed out to get something to eat as the travellers were hungry. One of the great things about Greece is that you can get a meal pretty much any time. In this case one of the tavernas in the marina served up two huge burger meals at midnight.

We decided to spend the next day in Kos town to sight see and leave the marina on Friday morning.

The stroll along the promenade to town was fine in the warm breeze but once in the shelter of the town it was stifling. Luckily there were plenty of tavernas to choose from.

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Welcome to Greece Mum and Gabi

Refreshed, we then took in some of the sights of Kos Town:

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Gazi Hassan Mosque
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The Agora

 

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Herakles and Antagoras fighting over a ram

and my favourite, the ancient Tree of Hippocates

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The Tree of Hippocrates

According to legend, Hippocrates of Kos (considered the father of medicine) taught his pupils the art of medicine in the shade of this tree.

Given that this was 2400 years ago and the trees don’t usually live much beyond 500 years it’s doubtful although it may be a descendent of the original tree.

Culture done, we left the marina at 8:30 the following morning. The winds were due to be strong northerlies to we chose to head along the south coast to Kamari where we’d be sheltered from the winds and the waves.

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Kos marina to Kamari

As forecast, the wind increased but we had a great beam reach along the coast, reaching 9.9kts at one point.

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Gabi helming to Kamari

Once we’d anchored and had lunch it was time for a swim to cool off.

Kamari is a smallish town and probably one of the least touristy on Kos. The wind had picked up as forecast and the sea was pretty choppy so we decided not to risk going ashore, being content to swim and chill.

We stayed at Kamari the next day because the winds were strong from the north and that was the direction we wanted to go. Not that it was a problem as the weather was gorgeous and the winds made the temperatures comfortable.

On the Sunday morning we decided upon a long sail up to Alinda on Leros. This was because we knew the charter boats would be leaving Kos and we wanted to get ahead of them.

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Kamari to Alinda

The first few miles were pretty bumpy once we started heading north as the swell had built up and was coming from that direction but once we’d got to the north of the island and could head for the pass between Kalymnos and Pserimos we could get the sails out and enjoy a good sail.

Alinda was where I’d done the diving course but this time I could do the tourist thing.

After Alinda, we sailed south to Xerokampos, via a diversion to Panteli to get a view of the windmills and town.

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Panteli with the fort and windmills on the skyline

Once at Xerokampos (again) it was time to break out the paddle board for Gabi. It was her first time on one and she was soon paddling around the moored yachts.

It was great to sit in the sun chatting and relaxing.

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Sitting in the breeze

After our hectic day we headed ashore for a meal at Taverna Aloni and then returned to Coriander for sundowners which, to be fair, went on long past sundown.

We were slowly making our way back to Kos and we re-visited Palionnisos where more swimming and eating ensued.

The following morning it was time for our final sail back to Kos marina. It was really strange for us to have a deadline, we could have spent another couple of days in each of the places we (re) visited.

We berthed back in the marina at 11:30am and had the rest of the day with Mum and Gabi before they had to get a taxi to the airport at 8pm that night.

We went out for lunch passing the statue just outside the marina gates

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Statue of Kos fort with masts behind

and had a lunch of pork Pita Gyros – The Greek delicacy

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Pita Gyros – Yum

At around 6pm we headed to one of the marina bars for a final meal before Mum and Gabi got the airport taxi. Readers may recall that we’d walked in to town on arriving at Kos to find a bar selling real ale. We should have tried the marina bar first as they sold it there!

Far too soon (weeks!) it was time for Mum and Gabi to leave. It was really sad to see them go and we missed their company..

We left the marina at 07:45 the next morning to make our way North, firstly stopping for the night at Alinda again

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and then on to the anchorage on the south coast of Leipsoi.

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Note track around anchorages on Leipsoi

Our first choice of anchorage was in the triple bay of Katsadia but all of the prime anchor locations had been taken and when we tried to anchor we couldn’t get the anchor to hold. The sailing directions mention that the bottom is flat rock and that’s what we found. We left that bay and anchored in acres of lovely sand in the bay to the east – Hohlakora Beach. I highly recommend this as it’s both quieter and much better holding. We shared a huge anchorage with just 2 other boats.

From Hohlakora we headed north once more to the beautiful moorings and bay on the island of Marathi.

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Leipsoi to Marathi

This gorgeous bay has 2 tavernas and a beach club. It is very sheltered and I highly recommend it although the moorings are pretty close together.

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Marathi moorings. Ok if there’s wind to keep the yachts facing the same way.

We were in need of supplies so we took the RIB across to the small harbour of Arki. We could have gone stern to the quay if we’d taken Coriander in and if we’d had more time we’d have loved to have spent a night there.

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Arki harbour

One of the taverna owners had built model boats and moored them in a small pool just outside his taverna, Fantastic!

The mooring buoys we were on was owned by the Pirate taverna which of course meant we ate there.

We were nearing the end of June by now and if our rough plans were to be met we needed to make our way North. Our next stop was an anchorage on the south of Samos called Limniona.

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Marathi to Limniona

This was a spetacular anchorage in the shadow of the highest mountain on Samos. The bottom gently shelves for hundreds of metres and is all sand. We joined a couple of yachts and after a swim had a quiet night. We’d wanted to go to the main town of Pythagorion but the anchorage had been closed when yachts anchored in the path of the ferry – such a shame.

We rose at 8:00am the following morning to a beautiful day with light winds. By 8:30 the winds had reached 40kts and it took the best part of 30 minutes to get the anchor up. Looking at the charts we decided our best option was to head back south to Patmos where there were lots of sheltered anchoring options.

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Samos back to Patmos

We unfurled half the jib and ran to Patmos, firstly anchoring off the town of Skala to go ashore and get supplies before we tucked in to a bay called Livadi to the north of Skala to shelter from the winds.

We’d had our first experience of the famed Meltemi winds for which the Aegean is notorious. These winds come out of nowhere and can be quite dangerous. They blow from June to September with various strengths and are formed when an area of high pressure (H) forms over the Balkans and low pressure (L) forms over Turkey

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Meltemi occur when high pressure (H) forms over the Balkans and low pressure (L) forms over Turkey

The bay with the trees behind it provided fantastic shelter for the 5 days that the Meltemi blew.

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Beautiful sheltered beach (and taverna)

After 4 days the winds eased enough for us to be happy to go ashore for a meal and drink, and to look back at Coriander at anchor.

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Coriander at Livadi

Time had got the better of us and we needed to make serious headway north so we decided upon a 2 day passage from Patmos and the dodecanese to Lesbos where we’d meet up once more with Owl and Pussycat.

Dodecanese Part 1

The Dodecanese, literally “twelve islands” are a group of 15 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the southeastern Aegean Sea, off the coast of Asia Minor (Turkey), of which 26 are inhabited. Τhis island group generally defines the eastern limit of the Sea of Crete. They belong to the wider Southern Sporades island group.

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The Dodecanese (bottom right)

We left Amorgos and the Cyclades on the 15th of May and had a great sail to (another) Vathy on Butterfly Island or Astypalaia.

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Amorgos to Butterfly Island and the Dodecanese

We joined Owl and Pussycat in the very sheltered anchorage just off the taverna at Exo Vathi

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Vathi on Astypalaias

The anchorage had been recommended to us by friends on Destination Anywhere who’d sheltered there from the meltemi wind the year before. We went ashore for a walk and drink and visited the taverna which was someones front room. The menu depended upon what had been caught that day – Octopus on the day we visited. It also seemed to be the only place in the village with a TV as locals turned up to watch together.

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Vathi Taverna

After a night we headed around the island to the anchorage at Analipsis. This is a series of sheltered anchorages in pretty bays sheltered behind islands.

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Sail round to Analipsis

Apparently the anchorages were used by pirates in the past and there is a monument to them on a headland in the bay.

It was very quiet while we were there, only 2 other yachts sharing the anchorage on the first night. The town is very small with just a couple of tavernas and a single shop. Mike and Claire moved on the town of Astypalea or Astypalaia as they were needing diesel while we anchored in the next bay off a delightful taverna.

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Coriander anchored off the taverna

We had the anchorage to ourselves which was amazing given how beautiful it is. Speaking to the taverna owner that night he said it would remain quite until July when it would be pretty busy for around 6 weeks before quieting down again.

Our friends messaged to say that the harbour and Chora of Astapalea were well worth visiting so the next morning we motored over and anchored in the harbour. When anchoring stern to the quay it is often difficult to judge where other people’s anchors are and it is not uncommon for the chains to become crossed, leading to fun and games when people try to leave. Here it wasn’t a problem because the crystal clear water allowed the laid anchors to be seen easily and thus avoided.

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Moored in Astypalea harbour

The harbour and Chora were a delight. We climbed to the castle (as usual) to take in the views and explored the Chora.

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The castle and Chora

The row of windmills in the Chora are quite famous.

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Astypalea windmills and the castle

As is normal, the castle contained a number of churches which were still in use.

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One of the churches
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The view from the castle towards the island anchorages
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Looking towards the harbour, town and castle from across the bay.

Across from the windmills there is a row of restaurants. We’d chosen a small family run restaurant called ‘Αγερι Εστιατοριο’ and I have to say the food was fantastic and amazingly good value (cheap). If we ever return we’ll definitely eat there.

One other place of note that had been recommended was the Ouzeri Anastasia. It was still closed for the winter when we originally moored but opened on our final day there and we had the honour of being their first customers of 2019.

From Astypalea, the 2 yachts split up for a short time as Mike and Claire wanted to go to Kos and we wanted to give Kos a miss for a while as we’d arranged to meet family there in the following month.

We had a fast and excellent sail to Pserimos, a small island between Kos and Kalymnos.

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Astypalea to Pserimos

This was one of those sails that make it all worthwhile, we only motored out of the harbour and into the anchorage – a total of 10 minutes in all. It was interesting sailing along the north coast of Kos as it is just mile upon mile of beach resort.

Rounding the SE corner of the island we passed a Greek gun emplacement with a huge Greek flag painted on the cliff facing Turkey which was just over 4 miles away.

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Pserimos Anchorage across from Turkey

The anchorage is quite remote with no roads to it. The water is crystal clear and the bottom sandy. The peace was shattered twice daily by tripper boats full of holidaymakers from Kos anchoring for a swim stop.

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Looking across to Turkey

Mike and Claire joined us after a couple of days so we went for a walk over the hill to visit the main port on the opposite side of the island.

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The trek over the hill from the anchorage

The walk was only a couple of miles and was well worth it, the town is very small but gorgeous.

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Pserimos town.

We walked through the town and then along the beach where we had to stop at a bar for refreshments.

There are several tavernas along the seafront to cater for the many day trip boats from Kos.

We’d checked the weather and seen that we had favourable winds to sail to Levitha or Donkey island, named as such by MIke and Claire after their visit several years ago.

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Pserimos to Levitha

It was another fast sail all of the way. The anchorage is very secure in a dogleg. Anchorage is a bit of a misnomer because the farmer had laid around 20 moorings which made anchoring impossible. We knew about this and as it was still early season there were plenty still free.

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Levitha moorings

The farmer came round each boat to see if we wanted to eat at his farmhouse restaurant, which of course we did.

We’d booked the table for 8pm, however, at 7:30 we noticed all of the other boats had gone ashore so we decided to head there early. We were the last to arrive but after a short wait the owner prepared a table. We’d left it a bit late and some of the starters were finished. Not too surprising because it is the only ‘restaurant’ on the island and the visiting boats are the only clients. The salad and barbecued burgers were good and the wine ok. We were however shocked by the bill (which included the mooring fee). The red wine had been charged at €17 per half litre, not good when we’d been paying around €4. There wasn’t a menu so we hadn’t been forwarned of the cost. White wine was charged at €6. We think it was a mistake and I fully understand that it is a remote location but it nonetheless marred the evening. On the positive, it is a destination that we’d discussed visiting several times and we were glad to have done so.

From Levitha we sailed back east to Palionisou on Kalymnos.

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Levitha to Kalymnos

The first couple of miles were pretty rolly as the southerly swell rebounded against Levitha but once clear we had a great sail back between Kalymnos and Leros. As we passed between the islands we saw a village and anchorage tucked away that we hadn’t considered.

There is very little at Palionisou aside from 2 tavernas and a beach bar. Each of the tavernas have put in moorings which are free to use as long as you eat ashore. They are in deep water and very substantial and would be safe when the Meltemi blows.

After a swim to cool down we went ashore to the taverna on the western side of the bay – the white mooring side.

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Palionisou, Coriander at far right.

We only had the one night there but it was noted as a good place to bring our visitors in the next month.

We motored the 9 miles to Xerokampos on Leros, the anchorage that we’d spotted on the way to Palionisou. I really don’t know why we hadn’t considered it earlier because it’s a beautiful anchorage and small town.

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Palionisou to Xerokampos

There are 3 sets of mooring buoys laid by different restaurants. We’d been warned to take the yellow ones on the west of the bay. The white ones are supposed to be ok but the red ones were suspect at the time we visited.

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Coriander on mooring at Xerokampos

The owner of the taverna who’s buoys we were using is incredibly helpful. If he sees someone having trouble mooring, or knows that strong winds are likely he’ll come out in his boat to help or offer advice. While we were here the first time, he had a diver inspect all of his moorings. The meals in the taverna are also very good and reasonably priced.

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Xerokampos beach from the bus stop

We decided to take a bus trip the short way across the island to the capital – Lakki. This is a Naval base so the anchoring possibilities are limited although there are 2 marinas here.

The naval base was originally built by the Italians when they ruled the Aegean between 1912 and 1942 and their influence in the architecture is very obvious.

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Lakki, Leros

We had lunch at a deli and checked the bus timetable for the return journey. We found that we’d been looking at the high season timetable and there wouldn’t be any more for several hours. The taxi rank was just outside the deli and we found that we could get a taxi back for just €1 more than the bus had been for the 4 of us so we took a taxi back and headed for the beach bar.

Our next motor was a few miles up the coast of Leros to Alinda.

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Xerokampos to Alinda

We anchored in the North West corner of the bay, at the opposite side to the harbour. At this time of the year the winds are predominately northerly and we were completely sheltered from the winds and swell while the harbour was quite choppy.

Alinda is a great anchorage with plenty of landing stages for going ashore in the dinghy and several tavernas and pizza restaurants. It is very much a tourist resort but still quiet at this time of the year (mid May). Around half of the hotels were open and the rest were being painted ready for the season.

At the weekend the beaches were filled with locals. All of the tavernas had sun loungers with drinks and snack service.

One of the reasons for visiting this bay was that it was the home of Hydrovius Diving Center. I’d qualified as a BSAC diver many years ago but was conscious that I wasn’t current and also that PADI was a more recognised qualification. I arranged to do a conversion course / refresher over the course of a couple of days and also some dives.

I highly recommend the dive master Konstantinos Kouvas (Kostos) as a dive leader, instructor and guide.

The first dive was to a cave and a seaplane that had been sunk in the war.

On the second day I sat my exam and passed easily, most things hadn’t changed. The 3rd day was a cliff dive followed by a dive on a landing craft.

It was now time to head back South to Kos marina and Visitors 🙂 but that’s for the next edition.