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.

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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.

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 https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200510201110447&type=1&l=ff624cef56