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