Too Late for the Party

Ios is known as a party island, but by the time we got there in mid-September it was well and truly starting to wind down.

We arrived and parked in a beautiful bay called Ormos Milopotamou in incredibly crystal clear water – the visibility was awesome. We could just about see the anchor 40m away from the boat. Best viz we’ve had so far.

Safely anchored, we snorkelled into shore and had a look around. The bars and nightclubs that were going full tilt in July and August were now in their death-throws come mid-September.

With names like “Farout”, the bars were out to attract the young crowd. Ios attracts a lot of young Australians and there was quite a bit of evidence of this with Ozzie flags and paraphernalia scattered around.

It was great that it was uncrowded – I don’t think it would have been good in the middle of the seasons with lots of drunken Australians. We took advantage of the uncrowded beach and pulled up a couple of beach chairs and had a cocktail as we watched the sun go down.

Next day, we motored the short distance around to the main port, where for a change we picked up laid lines rather than dropping our anchor.

Our cunning plan was to leave the boat in Ios and catch a ferry across to Santorini. This plan was (luckily) foiled when we discovered all the early and late ferries were fully booked.

Instead we high tailed it up to the chora, in our case by foot (the rest of the crew took the bus) up some nice stairs. The chora is pretty cool, packed with bars, restaurants and shops as well as some archetypal Greek churches perched high up with great views.

We decided to designate it dancing night as surely there would be some great bars to go dancing in. This was in fact the case but all the bars were dead, bereft of people. This didn’t however stop Dee who managed to dance despite the empty dance floors.

Next day was Dockers vs Port and after a mixup in times we decided we needed to high tail it to Santorini and watch it there.


For our photos of Ios, see

A Hidden Gem of an Island

It was thanks to a nice lady in Siros (who fixed my watchband for free), who said we must go to Folegandros, that we ended up here.

We arrived after a long sail with geneker pulling us along nicely. The wall is quite small but we found a spot and did the usual anchor out the front and back tied to the wall with the gangplank out the back.

Later that evening two Greek guys from Samos, Dimitri and Christos, pulled up beside us in their motor boat, a traditional Greek fishing boat that had been fitted out for cruising. I helped them tie up and in return they gave us a gigantic bottle of wine. I suggested they come on board and help us drink it. We had a great night with them, first on La Mischief and later on their boat. It was interesting to get their perspective on the Greek crisis and life on Samos. We left them when they hopped on a bus up to the Chora, somewhere they had specifically come back to go to.

The Chora was indeed the highlight of the island. It’s perched on the side of a cliff face, a sort of mini Santorini. Still further up the cliff is a church, with a wonderful meandering path up to it. To get the best possible view, you climb on top of the church to look down onto the Chora. Great spot for sunset.

The Chora is an oasis of shady trees on an otherwise barren island. Its largely enclosed in a medieval kastro dating back to the 13th century, a tangle of narrow streets spanned by low archways bursting with colourful bougainvillea and hibiscus against the backdrop of white houses and blue frames.

The whole chora comes alive at night, lit up beautifully with restaurants and little shops. Perfect place to stop and eat Greek food at one of the many restaurants.

Next day we went to hire some scooters but got turned away because of a lack of international drivers license. Uh??? They did however rent us a car, so off we went to explore the island. We drove up and down the entire island, stopping off at a number of the beaches, which were delightful. It didn’t take long. We nearly got stuck driving up a steep road from one in a thoroughly gutless front wheel drive car but somehow managed to get enough grip to keep going. We also went back and explored the chora during daytime.

Next day we said goodbye to Folegandros – a real hidden gem of an island – as it was off to Ios.

For photos of Folegandros see

Venus De Milo Territory

Mylos sounded interesting so we penciled it in. It’s where a farmer dug up the Venus de Milo a few years ago. Most of her is in the Louvre in Paris, except for her arms that disappeared following an altercation between the Sultan’s Governor and the French, who had a brief skirmish over her.

It was a 50nm sail/motor from Naxos and as it was late in the day, we decided to anchor in a bay on the east side of Kimolos, a neighbouring island. We anchored in just enough sunsight to have a swim before darkness descended.

Next morning we had a blustery sail in a southerly – something of a change from the regular nor-westers. Made our original choice of anchorages very suspect so we just kept on going through the mini cruising area enclosed by Milos, Kimolos and Poliagos where Rod had suggested there was a number of attractive well sheltered anchorages. The wind of cause then swung round on the nose as we cruised up the north coast of Milos. We had a look at anchoring off a small island with a cave half way towards the turnoff to Ormos Milou, the sunken crater at the centre of Milos. Instead we kept going to Adamas, the main port in Milos and pulled up on the wall. It wasn’t very crowded so finding a spot was easy.

Adamas was pretty low key so we caught a bus up to Plaka and wandered up to the very top where there is an old Frankish castle with some amazing views. The old town with its lovely lane ways was nice to wander around as well.

The next day was a big one. We left early(ish) to make sure we had time to visit Kleftiko, an amazing spot on the south-west tip of Milos, not to be missed under any circumstances. We anchored off and lowered the dingy and went exploring the white cliffs, swim throughs and caves. A spectacular coastline, not missed by the tour boats that started to arrive in droves. Our cunning plan to get there early worked a treat as we beat most (but not all) of the tour boats.

We parked the dingy up on the beach and snorkelled through a few of the caves, which was fun.

Then it was back to La Mischief and off to Folegandros.

For photos of Milos see

Sand Between our Toes on the Beaches of Naxos

The thing about Naxos is that the longer you stay, the more it grows on you. It’s the largest island of the Cylades and is the most fertile so lots of local produce.

We sailed past the marble arch on Nisos Apollonas and then rocked up to the small private marina in Naxos harbour and luckily found a berth. It’s a lot smaller than I remembered it, so it pays to get there early.

Deanne was keen to find a plate breaking Greek dancing restaurant and we hit gold in Naxos. They even poured a bit of fuel on the (concrete) floor and started dancing around that. We were very impressed.

The rest of our time in Naxos was spent wandering the small streets of the old city, especially beautiful at night with all the small shops and bars lit up, swimming at a couple of delightful beaches close to town, and sunset cocktails on Agia Anna, a beautiful sandy beach at the south end of town that’s not to be missed. It’s a tough life. Mt Zeus at 1000m is also the tallest peak in the Cyclades making a spectacular backdrop to our stay in the Hora.

In between we did a few boat jobs just to make sure we didn’t get too lazy. We also took on diesel from a truck that backed onto the pier – lot easier than going to a separate fuel jetty – although the downside is that you can’t use a credit card.

For photos of Naxos see


There’s Paros and then there’s Antiparos

We needed to get to Paros a few days earlier than planned because of an imminent meltemi. Geez…how many times have I written “meltemi” in these recent blogs. At least I know how to spell it. And according to the Greeks its been a mild summers when it comes to meltemis.

We had a nice run under Geneker, two-thirds of the way across until the wind blew up and turned on our nose a bit at the end. The kite surfers were having a great time as the wind hit 30kts, just off Paros.

The wall at Paroikia in Paros was chockers so we anchored out off the beach. Wasn’t too bad. The bottom was a bit weedy but the anchor dug in and we deployed the fortress as a second anchor as well.

Then it was off to explore the town. The backstreets were similar to Mykonos but without the crowds. It was a very pretty place with a Frankish castle in the middle and a church dating back to the 4th century – how old is that. Wow.

We found some nice restaurants and had the obligatory drink at the pirate bar.

Next day we hired a car and drove around the island. First stop was Butterfly Valley, which definitely lived up to its name. Then we set off for Aliki where Kevin and Di were anchored up. We eventually found them and there friends holed up in a restaurant (where else) and we had a great chat and a beer or two. I’d stayed with Kevin in Sydney earlier in the year but hadn’t seen Di since the Balearics last year. A good but brief catch-up as we both had different cruising plans.

Our next stop was Naousa, which is also a pretty port and old fishing village on the north coast – a nice old town to wander around. We tried to call into Moriatis Winery – the winery that makes the aptly named “Meltemi” wine – but it was closed. So then it was back to the boat to check on the real meltemi.

Next morning it was off to the airport to pick up Dale and Karen. My form with picking up friends is at rock bottom and it didn’t get any better. The anointed flight arrived on time and everyone got off but no Dale and Karen. Ah! Checked phone and emails but nothing. It turned out that Dale coundn’t get any reception at Athens airport so had no way to let us know that they had missed their connection. In the end we correctly guessed that they would be on the next flight – and they were. Phew!!!

Despite being tired, they were keen to do some sightseeing, so off we went in our hire car and got on a short ferry ride across to Antiparos. It was a lesson in boat handling as the ferry captain went onto the quay without an anchor out the front, side on to the meltemi screaming down the channel.

Antiparos was very cutesy and we had a great lunch at a typical Greek tavern, with the octopus drying out the front, before driving down to the nice bay at the bottom.

With Dale and Karen fading fast, we did a quick wander around town, before heading back to the boat.

We new crew on board, we had to present ourselves to the Port Police, to get a new crew list stamped. This time, they wanted everyone in attendance and the young police officer was most particular. Previously in Greece, a couple of us had dealt with the formalities, leaving everyone else back on the boat.

One more day was spent checking out Paroikia, waiting for the Meltemi to blow itself out, before we sailing north-east to Ormos Ay Ioannou. Rod describes this bay as idyllic, with sun-baked rock eroded into wonderful shapes and clear turquoise water. I have to say – Rod nailed it. We spent a couple of days here, relaxing and swimming, tucked into the bay beautifully – the joys of having a cat.

We even managed a dingy ride over to Naousa to show the rest of the crew.

On the second night, we got our first bit of rain since we relaunched La Mischief in June. A novelty as a thunderstorm went over.

With boat freshly washed, we pulled anchored and headed to Paros’ near neighbour and twin – Naxos.

For photos of Paros please see

Thermal Delights.

Another short 20nm hop and we were in Loutra, a very cute little town on the West coast. Kithnos is Greek for Thermal Island and we were intrigued to see the hot thermal hot springs on this island.

King Otto, Greece’s first King, built an institute there to make use of the thermal hot springs. Its pretty run down so we satisfied ourselves with the rock pool at the far end of the beach, which the hot springs run into.

The town is very small, nothing much there except for a group of restaurants that line the water. The wall is really small so our plan to leave early and get there early worked a treat. And it was 6 euro for the night including water and electricity – bargain.

Next day we left for Ormos Kolona (Sand Bar Bay) – a place I’d visited last year – but this year it was buzzing with boats and people swimming and sunning themselves off the sandbar that separates two bays and provides a stunning backdrop, with yachts in both bays. We spent a couple of days there, with two lines ashore waiting out another (short) meltemi. The water was exquisite and the view from the restaurant looking down the sandbar superb. I was nice to chill out for a few days.

With the Meltemi over, it was time to head south to Sefinos and then to Paros.

We got to Sefinos early, but not early another to get a spot on the very small wall. So we decided to anchor off the beach, which turned out to be a good option as it was a very nice sandy beach. As you sail into Livadhi, Serifos’ main town, you are struck by the beauty of the Chora, with its gleaming white houses, on the hill behind it. The walk up there is a must do at sunset, all the way to the blue and white church on the very top of the 585m hill. The habour views are once again spectacular.

Sefinos was where we said goodbye to Karin who was off back to Uraguay. The number of women on board had dwindled down to 2!

Next stop was Paros to pick up Dale and Karen, where the boy/girl ratio would tip a bit more in my favour.

For photos of Kithnos see

For photos of Serifos see

Back to Reality

It was good to see the end of the meltemi and continue our Cyclades adventure. Our cunning plan was to head West to Syros and on as far as Kithnos and then head south to Serifos and then back to Paros to pick up Dale and Karen. Then to Naxos and then head South West to Mylos before island hopping to Ios, where we will catch a ferry to Santorini for a few days. Then back East to Rhodes and finally to Leros where we will put La Mischief on the hard for the winter.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Leaving Mykonos, we headed for Syros – 20nm away. We had a beautiful sail across and headed to Ermoupolis, the capital of the Cyclades. We pulled up to the wall stern to, right next to some fellow Aussies in Ric and Helve on Tangaroa. The wall is somewhat challenging with large ferries coming and going, creating large wakes that threaten to push you onto the wall. Gangplank management in the order of the day. But the plus side is the vibe created by all the restaurants, metres from La Mischief – great for people watching.

Ermoupolis was a great town. In the age of the steam ship it was a very powerful and important town and you can still see lots of mansions with exquisite wrought iron lining the streets. Some are still magnificent, some are abandoned shells of houses.

The streets are lined with marble, the old town is a delight to wander through and the granite rocks that form the breakwater could make a thousand brilliant kitchen benchtops.

The town is the largest in the Cyclades and has a couple of big churches, one Catholic and the other Greek Orthodox. We took a short sunset taxi ride up to a wonderful town up on the hill, Ano Syros with winding narrow lanes and whitewashed houses, then walked down back to the boat. It was originally a medieval Catholic settlement and still boasts a wonderful 13th century church.

With our dose of town life over, with its obligatory visit to the boat shop and supermarkets, it was off to explore the island. We headed across its Northern top and down o a nice little bay called Ormos Grammata for a lunchtime swim. It was too narrow for a nighttime anchorage so we kept going south to Ormos Kini, where we were reunited with Ric and Helve, who had circumnavigated the other way.

They had to re-anchor as they had just discovered a large uncharted rock right in the middle of the bay. Wow – not on charts and not in Rod. Beware.

After an Aussie restaurant night, and another day of enjoying the bay and the cute town it was off west to Kithnos.

For photos of Syros see


Mykonos – Blow your T#@s off

The sail across to Myconos was very uneventful with no wind and a glassed off sea. It can be a nasty crossing so we couldn’t complain.

We decided against going into the marina, instead choosing Ormos Ornos as our anchorage. It’s a 20 minute walk into Mykonos town so not too bad. We anchored in about 7m over patchy sand (in hindsight not the best).

The place is rather crazy at this time of the year – I enjoyed it better last year in October when the crowds had disappeared. It was wall to wall people in the town and the roads were full of crazy drivers on all sorts of cars and scooters.

Mykonos was where we supercharged the Charlie’s Angels formulae up to a 4 to 1 ratio, when we picked up Kim off the ferry. Sherry left a few days later so things returned to a somewhat more manageable 3-1 ratio.

With the 4 girls in tow, I somehow managed to get them all off the boat at the agreed time and onto a short ferry ride across to Delos, where there is a whole ancient Roman city in ruins, some say second only to Pompeii. I’d have to say it would be a long second if that’s the case. But it was still very impressive wandering around. There were a few yachts there anchored in the channel so it’s a good option to take your boat across rather than catch a ferry as we did.

Back from our ancient history tour, we headed back to the boat as the meltemi was starting to build. For the rest of the day, it steadily built all the way up to 45kts. Mykonos is Greek for “island of wind” and it was living up to its name.

About 10.30pm, the anchor drift alarm went off – we’d started to drag. So off we went trying to re-anchor in the dark of night with the wind whistling around us. We re-anchored briefly for about 10 minutes and then we dragged again. We thought about going somewhere else but decided against it.

We pulled up the anchor ready for another shot to find a second anchor (from an old disused mooring) jammed tight into our own anchor. Oh what fun!!!

So the rest of the night was spent motoring in place swinging on a pair of anchors that were not holding. In between we watched another cat drag a couple of times and our mono neighbor, who was maintaining an anchor watch all night, dragged just before dawn.

Morning could not come soon enough. As soon as it did, we were able to see more clearly what we were up against and managed to drop the other anchor off. Then it was off to find another bay. We motored up and down the south coast checking a few out and then came back to the first one – Platys Gyalos.

Turned out to be a very good choice – sandy bottom with good holding – perfect. We anchored in the eastern part of the bay in 3m of clear wind swept water and said our goodbyes to Sherry, before sitting out the rest of the meltemi. The wind managed to peak at 53 kts but this time we didn’t move an inch.

So what did we learn??? Firstly, we need to pay more attention to the bottom. In Ormos Ornos was light weed over sand and “Rod” mentioned there was poor holding in places. I’d snorkeled over the anchor several times but when push came to shove it, Rod was right.

The second thing we did was to break out the second anchor – a fortress – and start playing around using it. I’d done a lot of reading previously on deploying two anchors and came to the conclusion that the best way is to drop approximately 2-3x scope using the primary anchor and then shackel the fortress with 7m of chain to the main anchor chain and then throw it over, before letting out the full amount of anchor chain (scope >= 5x). We’ve done this a few times since and it seems to work well. We sat out another meltemi in Paros using this arrangement. The fortress is a great second anchor and we’ve watched it hold La Mischief on it own several times.

Towards the end of the meltemi, we were confident enough to leave Karin and Kim on the boat and go for a walk along the coast to check out Paranga Beach, followed by Paradise and then Super (Duper) Paradise. At best it was an eye opener, at worst it was somewhere to be avoided. But I did like the gay guy in speedos with the Gucci bag with two toy dogs hanging out of the top of the bag. Should have been brave enough to ask for a photo.

And so ended Mykonos. A crazy island at that time of the year. Overcrowded everywhere, including the roads, overpriced, artificial and not half as enjoyable as when I visited in low season last year. Luckily we had lots of other more authentic islands to visit.

For photos of Mykonos see


Patmos – Greece’s Answer to Jerusalem

We arrived at Patmos after a short sail across from Lipso and decided to anchor around the corner from Skala –  the main harbour town – in a nice bay called Ormos Meloyi. It was a short walk into Skala over a hill – perfect.

Patmos is the most northerly of the Dodecanese and has numerous nice bays to anchor in.  We were only there for a couple of days so we only got to try out one.

Patmos is famous for the monastery of St John the Divine. You can pay your entrance fee and wander around the monastery and its museum, before checking out the picturesque chora that surrounds the monastery, which is also quite impressive.

To get there, it’s a long walk up a big hill and after exhausting ourselves walking up forever, I can see why John may have been in the right mood to dream up the apocalypse and the Book of Revelations.

After checking out the monastery, we dashed down to the sacred cave where John put pen to paper and wrote out the whole Revelations thing. They say the whole place is like the Jerusalem of the Greek Orthodox Church.

History lesson over, we spent a few pleasant hours wandering the tourist streets of Skala. But the weather was looking ideal for a crossing to Myconos so we pulled up anchor and pointed West.

For pictures of Patmos see