Touring the Little Cyclades with the Uncanins

Kalantos probably isn’t the best place to pick up guests in Naxos. The taxi ride from the airport cost a small fortune but the upside was that the Uncanin clan got to see a fair bit of the interior.

Whilst waiting for the taxi to get to Kalantos – which was pretty much on the end of the road to nowhere, Dee and I decided to wash the boat. The fresh water arrived on the back of a truck and with no pump and just a hose, it took a bit of trickery to get the water onto the deck. At one stage we were filling buckets to get the job done.

UncaninsWith the new crew on board there was no reason to hang about in Kalantos, so off we went to Koufonisia. We thought we’d start with top shelf.

It was only 15nm across, but boy was it an eventful trip. As we hit the swell, Rachel hit the bucket and Danijela was starting to feel the effects of seasickness as well. Whilst all this was being dealt with a good dose of Sturgeon, we started to smell smoke. The smell was traced to a smoking solar panel. Washing the boat turned out to have some downsides as this must have contributed to shorting out the connector on top of the panel. So we disconnected the connector and isolated the faulty panel. Bummer. I’ve never heard of a panel catching fire and we had a look at the other four that were put on in Marmaris and their connections were all showing signs of corrosion.

As usual, it was blowing 30+ kts at Koufonisia when we got there. We anchored in the same spot and everyone enjoyed a swim before we set off to explore the chora, and check out one of the many restaurants.

After a couple of pleasant days it was time to move on and check out Iraklia, another of the Little Cyclades. The wind had died down and sailing between the islands afforded both more protection and brilliant scenery. We checked out one the bays at the bottom of Schionoussa along the way and did some people/boat spotting. These Little Cyclades are full of big arse private boats, as they obviously know the secret.

We pulled into the small harbour at the top of Iraklia, and decided the only spare spot was on the end of the ferry dock, which was vacant and okay. We swam off the back of the boat into the beach and explored yet another cutesy town, finishing off with another restaurant meal.

With a day to spare, it was time to head back to Naxos to explore one of its great beaches before dropping off the Uncanins.

For photos of Koufonisia, see

Uphill Against the Meltemi Ain’t No Fun.

With Alex’s and Milo’s Grand Tour successfully completed, it was time to head back North to pick up the Uncanin’s in Naxos in a week’s time. This meant battling the meltemi northwards.

We left Santorini (probably for the last time) and headed towards Sikinos, a Greek Island that had alluded us so far. The Meltemi initially behaved itself as we left the cauldron, but soon through a wobbly and picked up to 45kts on the nose. We set a bit of a tacking angle with a motor running and a couple of reefs in. Eric the Autopilot was enjoying the nasty chop and kept wanting to round-up. So on his the dive masts for a bit of manual steering in the spray that was hitting us in the face. After a couple of hours of alternating at the wheel we reached the lea of Sikinos and got Eric to play ball again as we tacked along the coast to the one and only decent anchorage, being the main port. We dropped anchor on beautiful sand and enjoyed the peace and quiet of a not too much going on at all place.

DSC_0936We did however hire a couple of scooters and take off and explore the island in a relatively car free environment. Somehow they had managed to build some beautiful roads on the island so it was a pleasure to scoot around. The one service station through us for a while until we worked out the lack of an attendant was due to it being automatic. We went up to an old church at the end of the island, climbed up to the monastery at the top of a tiny chora, ate a nice lunch at the said chora and swam at a nice beach with a good looking restaurant. We also stopped at the island’s sole winery perched on the side of a cliff to watch the sun go down. It only took about 4 hours to knock off the entire island.

After a relaxing couple of nights there, it was time to brave the meltemi and keep heading north. Our next destination was the little Cyclades, which believe it or not, is made up of a number of (very cute) little islands. But first we had to get there and this involved bashing our way up the channel between Ios and Sikonos. Once we’d done this we got a bit of a reach across to Schionoussa, our first Little Cyclades destination. We checked out a few anchorages and decided on the port, where we dropped anchor and tied our bum to shore, next to one of the two huge private launches that are owned by a couple of Greek shipping magnates, and supposedly spend all of their time anchored permanently in this bay. We had plans of spending a couple of nights there but next day the wind started blowing on our nose and we weren’t too impressed with the holding in the bay so we decided to try a different Little Cyclades. We pulled anchor and shot over to Koufonisia. Once again it was blowing 40kts but we got a good anchorage in the bay over nice sand. I love a good holding!

We dingied into town and were blown away by one of the cutest little choras we’d come across. It was one of those secret places that only the Greeks know about because there were plenty of Greeks holidaying there. The island also has some great beaches, and as the sun set, you could see all the people walking back from the beaches to the chora. Soon the chora was a lively mass of people, with great bars and restaurants overlooking the port and small marina (which we didn’t use).

Next morning it was up early to pick up Zeljko, Rachel,  Danijela and Ben from Naxos. Our cunning plan was to avoid the channel between Naxos and Paros and head round the west side of Naxos. The plan was working very smoothly right up to about half way up Naxos as we had a light wind from the south of all directions. Then wham – in came the Meltemi – at full strength. We battled it for about 30 minutes and them realized we weren’t going anywhere. We decided to give it away and head to the south of Naxos where we would get them to catch a taxi to.

We settled on Kalantos at the bottom of Naxos as the alternate pick up point and pulled into the wall there to await the Uncanins.

For pictures of Sikonos see

For photos of Schionoussa see

For photos of Koufonisia, see

Santorini – Still Stunning the Third Time Around

The sail into Santorini is always exhilarating – looking up at the massive cliffs with the whitewashed buildings perched on top, as well as the wind gusts and constant changes of wind directions. Santorini is still an active volcano and I read somewhere that it is the biggest caldera in the world. Always good to sail through an active volcano.

Like Mykonos you would think that Santorini would have a good marina. Even an average one would be good. But all they can muster is a fishing boat harbour, miles from the action, crammed full of catamarans that they do day tours on. We had to beg to get 3 days on the wall and for 2 days we had a 27 tonne Catana hanging precariously off our outside cleats in 40kts of wind. Snapped one of my mooring lines and chaffed another before we could get some lines directly from the Catana to the wall to help relieve the pressure. George, the captain of the Catana, from Crete, was most apologetic about it, and turned out to be a lovely guy.

Santorini is simply stunning. Being in the marina we had to rent a car for the whole duration, and we used it to good effect, visiting some places we’d been before (on my previous two trips) and some others that were new to us.


We of course checked out Fira and Ioa: Ioa for the sunset. In Ioa we “discovered” pool bars, where, for the price of a drink you can swim in a nice pool and enjoy a stunning view. No need to book into an expensive hotel to do this. This was a great precursor to the sunset show, where a big crowd gathers each day to watch the sun disappear in the west, and then applaud it doing so. Slightly weird – clapping the sun.

Santorini is making some good wines these days and we did a bit of a wine trek. I was determined to find Gaia Winery, which Sean had prepped me on as they export into Australia. We found it on a lovely beach on the East side of the Island, and enjoyed a great tasting overlooking the Med, followed by a short wine tour. We walked away with our wine stocks restocked with a couple more cartons. We also checked out Santo Winery, mainly for the stunning view.

We added the old port at Ios, Pyrgos and Ancient Thira to our list of personal Santorini highlights. Pyrgos had a great Castle and Church that we climbed up to through a cute village. Ancient Thira is perched on the top of a mountain, that you reach by driving up 30 odd switchbacks and then walk up a further 500m. Its breath-taking when you finally get, looking down at planes landing, and across to all of Santorini’s beaches. The ruins are also worth a look, and all in all, somewhere really worth adding to your where to go in Santorini list.

As far as old favourites went, we revisited Red Beach (good) and Ancient Akrotiri (not so good the second time round), and to the boys went out to the island in the middle, where there is still some smouldering sulphur. Dee and I took the opportunity to search out another pool bar, a 30 minute walk north from Fira, where the Mojito’s are made even better by a stunning view. The boys and I also did the obligatory donkey ride up from the port – Dee however would have nothing to do with it, preferring instead to stay firmly planted in the pool bar.


Santorini comes alive at night and we enjoyed a few delightful meals in restaurants perched on the side of the cliffs, enjoying the magical light show from all the other restaurants similarly perched on cliffs around us.

Santorini was where Alex and Milo left us, Alex to fly back to Sydney and Milo to continue onto Serbia. It was a great few weeks with Alex (and Milo) and we had a great time taking lots of photos and getting up to Mischief.

For photos of Santorini, please see

Tour De Party Islands

It’s amazing that as you approach Mykonos the wind can go from zero to 40kts in no time at all. We left Syros in about 30kts and halfway across it dropped to nothing before picking up to 40kts as we approached the Marina.

For somewhere as famous as Mykonos, the Marina is pretty average. It’s still half-finished and quite dusty. Worst of all, there’s a cable lying right across the middle for the laid lines that were never put in – so now its just an anchor fouler uperer. The trick is to make sure you drop your anchor way over near the other boats on the next finger so your chain lies across this and by the time you pick up your anchor you have cleared the problem. Its great fun watching all the charter boats try and get their anchor dislodged – its 150 euro to get a diver to help out. We were lucky – we got a side on berth in between some other cats.


Safely moored up, we set off to explore Mykonos. Despite its manic-ness, it’s still one of my favourites. This time, we hired a car and visited all the great beaches with all their ultra cool beach bars. Wandering through all the shops, people watching and taking lots of photos. Milo got a little bit excited when he saw the resident pelican walk into a bar. Sounds like the start of a joke.

In Syros, we got a nice note on the back of La Mischief from Jan and Dean, who we spent a night dancing on the back of La Mischief with in the Balearics, saying they were in the vicinity. So it was good to catch up with them in Mykonos. We spent a great night eating out and visiting a gay piano bar to 3am in the morning (Hey – its hard to find live music in Mykonos…its all DJ stuff).

Meanwhile Milo and Alex were also trying out the nocturnal nightlife in Mykonos. The night club at Super Paradise afforded Dee the chance to practice her Spanish the next morning. Now that’s cryptic.

We incorporated a trip to Delos, in our stay at Mykonos. Once again, we took the ferry as the wind stayed up the entire time we were at Mykonos. Delos used to be the trading centre of the Cyclades, with all the circles of the Cyclades (hence the name) emanating from there. It was pretty hot, but  Alex, Milo and I managed to tramp our way around all of it, whilst Dee stayed on Mykonos shopping!!!

With Mykonos done and dusted it was onto the next party island, Ios, via a short stop at the top of Paros to take some beautiful sunset shots and enjoy a wet dingy ride back from town.

Ios is full of young Aussies – thanks largely to Contiki. The wall was pretty full and it was once again blowing its socks off, so we went around to our favourite bay when the water is soooo clear. We dingied in and visited one of the coolest beach bars we had come across. And in the evenings we would catch a bus up to the Chora and walk (stumble) down the hill to the bay. We visited the Lord Byron restaurant for dinner – at one stage he wanted to buy Ios evidently.

There were however a few things we didn’t do. We didn’t visit the Slammers bar where kids go to drink shots in a motorcycle helmet before being hit on the head with anything that comes to hand. We didn’t do the 5 shots for 5 euros. We did however go to the Lost Boys bar and take some photos as my hockey team is referred to as the Lost Boys.

However, Santorini was beckoning, so it was time to pull up anchoring and head south to the photographers heaven.

Downhill to the Cyclades

After successfully getting Milo on board, we were straight off to Skyros. We had a nice sail  – its fun going downhill in the Greek Islands. Skyros has a small wall, which was all full, so the guy from the port took us over to some free mooring balls, right under a cliff with a cool bar perched on top. Great spot to swim and snorkel – much better than being on the wall.

Once again, we did the hire a car thing – primarily to drive up to the Chora, with the obligatory Venetian castle perched on top. On the walk up it was good to see the working donkeys, carrying all sorts of building material up the narrow steep streets.

We also visited a cool museum, set up by an old-time Skyros family with all sorts of interesting stuff they had collected. But the best part was still where we parked the boat.

Next morning we continued south on our way to Andros, with wind instruments that decided to fabricate both direction and wind strength. Mmmm. Anyway we decided to put up the geneker for the first time this season, relying on guess work to decide how strong the wind was. It lasted a while until the meltemi decided to make an appearance. We reefed down and positively zoomed into Batsi doing 8s and 9s. It was still blowing 40kts (guess) in the harbour so coming alongside with the wind pushing us into the dock was a little exciting.

Safely on the wall, we sat it out a few days and checked out Batsi – which wasn’t a bad place to be holed up in -until it dropped enough to head over to Kea, a relatively short 35nm away on a beam reach. Kea gets a good write-up, especially the Chora, but there wasn’t much of a crowd there because the crisis affected Greeks from Athens weren’t coming across and it had a bit of a dead feel about it. However the giant pussycat on the side of the hill that was carved out in the height of the Greek empire was pretty impressive.

Next stop on our downwind run was Syros, where we were last year. It was just as enjoyable as last time, with its cool beach bars, a lively wall where the restaurants are a footstep away from the back of La Mischief, and quite a few mansions with exquisite wrought iron. Some are still magnificent, some are just abandoned shells of houses. The old town is a delight to wander with its marble streets. The town is the largest in the Cyclades and has a couple of big churches, one Catholic and the other Greek Orthodox. We went up to Ano Syros once again, a medieval Catholic settlement with its winding narrow lanes and whitewashed houses, and its wonderful 13th century church.

Whilst there we fixed one problem and found another. The problem with the wind instruments was traced to a leak where the wiring that ran down from the mast entered the boat, resulting in a junction box full of rain water. On the flip side, we had our top batten car pull out of the batten box, and no amount of lock tight would keep them together. So time to order a new box from Incidence in France.

After a couple of days (and nights where the boys hit the clubs), it was time to take the boys across to Mykonos to get some more nocturnal experiences like nowhere else!!!

Skiathos – Mamma Mia on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays Anyone?

A lot has happened since my last blog, with many miles travelled, an on board robbery which included my laptop (with a whole heap of unfinished blogs) and camera, and some fairly hefty boat maintenance issues to address as La Mischief starts to show her age.

So lets start again with our adventures with my son, Alex and his mate Milo, which all began in Skiathos.

After anchoring in the bay, we checked out the town and worked out that if you timed it right you could get a spot on the town wall. With Alex and his multitude of camera gear coming, we thought the wall was an excellent place to get him settled in.

The airport at Skiathos right next to the town bay, an by right next, I mean 20m. Makes for some interesting plane watching. Alex duly arrived and we got him settled in with a nice meal overlooking the old port. Skiathos is a great little spot, with nice shopping streets, lots of restaurants overlooking the old port, and of course Mamma Mia playing at the outdoor cinema on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays (and no – we didn’t make it, but thanks for asking!)

Next day we hired a car and drove around the island – the highlight being the old deserted Chora on end of a cliff. Complete with drawbridge for keeping baddies out. If that didn’t work there was always boiling oil.

We also visited a nice monastery with wine that cures sadness (thought all wine did that?) and some really nice beaches on south side, which Skiathos is famous for – noting the great anchoring opportunities.

Returning to La Mischief, we invited Lynn, a very old (as in long time) friend of Jenny’s and got the low down on the Greek economic crisis, which has been blown out of all proportion by the press, who haven’t grasped the fact that nothing has changed for tourists – its only the locals who are suffering.

We had a day’s wait for Milo, so we shot off to Skopelos (the next island across) for the day. Got another hire car and drove round to Mamma Mia church – you just can’t get enough of Mamma Mia in this neck of the woods. It was well worth it as the church has a very spectacular location, perched on top of a cliff, overlooking the ocean.

We did a circuit of the island, stopping at a few very cute bays with small walls and small resorts at their head. Quite green and once again a favourite island of ours. Last stop was Skopolos town, which got a tick of approval. Driving back to the boat, we got caught in a big thunderstorm. We were running a bit late, which meant we got back in the dark so decided just to anchor in the same spot in the bay as the wall fills up at night.

Next morning, it was off to pick up Alex’s friend Milo in the dingy, who arrived on a 6.30am flight from Athens.

With Milo (and windsurfer sail) safely on board, it was off to Skyros.

For pictures of Skiathos, please see

For pictures of Skopelos see