Friday, 31 July 2009

Paroikia Paros

Back Streets of Parokia Clare and Bunny at Girl's Lunch
Ancient Marble Mine
"Not Blue" Jewelery Shop
Old Home in Lefkas Town
Church in Lefkas
From a Hilltop on Paros
Hi from Clare, Friday 30th July 2009 PLENTY OF COMINGS AND GOINGS We came around to the western side of Paros to the township of Parokia a week ago. We are anchored in the large bay with many other boats. The town wharf is crowded with yachts moored two and three deep - glad we are not in there! As many as twelve ferries arrive each day delivering people and goods, so the town is lively with excellent facilities. We go in to town each day for supplies, internet or for a walk. A FRIENDLY GAME Most days we have spent time with our American neighbours Bill and Bunny on Onset. The guys enjoy talking about boats, batteries, sola panels and any amount of other technical issues that would put a girl to sleep. Fortunately Bunny and I go into town, browse through the shops, have lunch and chat for hours about girls things (which OK, would put a boy to sleep). The other night on Onset we played a game of Dominos called Mexican Train. It took about three hours with the lead changing constantly, but in the end Bill won. We teased him that firstly he was very lucky and secondly he was the scorer. Their daughter and her two children have arrived from America so tonight they are coming over after dinner. The kids can watch a DVD below while the adults have a few drinks in the cockpit. Eventually we will have to tear ourselves away from this comfortable lifestyle and go sailing, but there is no hurry. CHEESE PIES AND VEGETABLES Yesterday Andrew and I hired a bike and traveled around the island. We went to the town of Lefkes which is at the highest point and also in the centre of the island. A once isolated old Greek village, it is now quite the tourist attraction with outdoor restaurants, hotels with swimming pools and art and jewelry shop at every turn. The modern bakery was doing a roaring trade selling traditional cheese pies and delicious cakes. But as it is a old Greek village, just outside the bakery a weather beaten farmer sold fresh vegetables off the back of a cart. Like most Greek villages the church was the most substantial building in town. The vaulted ceiling was covered with biblical paintings, a mini Sistine Chapel, and any amount of marble, silver, gold, lace and crystal adornment. But for all its beauty, like every Greek church I've seen the congregation sits on very hard and uncomfortable chairs. THE FLASHLIGHT RETURNS We also visited an ancient marble mine. It was about seventy five metres underground. It was a fairly steep walk down to the cold darkness. Fortunately Andrew took a flashlight, but I chickened out half way down, it was a creepy place. I sat on a rock waiting for Andrew and considering how I was going to find him in the dark if he didn't return. Thankfully it wasn't too long before the flashlight re appeared and once again I thought 'I've never been so glad to see you in all my life'. ARE YOU STILL ON THE BACK OF THE BIKE? We took eight hours to circumnavigate the fifty five kilometre island, stopping for lunch, a swim and exploring. The bike was good fun and with the wind in my face, the smell of petrol fumes and the roar of the engine I felt like Anthony Hopkins in 'The World's Fastest Indian' However by the end of the day I staggered off the back of the bike thoroughly convinced I couldn't throw my leg over that seat one more time if you begged me. Andrew charged off into the rental office to return his helmet while I tried to get my legs to work properly. The guy in the office asked Andrew: "Where is the other helmet?" Andrew replied "Clare's got it" The guy asked "So where's Clare?" Andrew looked around and replied "Oh, she must have fallen off" Well I'm not as young as I used to be, but after a good night's sleep all it well. love CANDY

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Saturday, 25 July 2009

Patmos to Paros

Wave damage to the bow light
We made it
You use whatever you can find Paros transport
Typical street in the old town
Hi from Clare, Saturday 25th July 2009

WIND DIRECTION IS ANYONE'S GUESS. Our first opportunity to escape from Patmos came on Monday 20th. We were heading 60 miles west to Paros and the wind was forecast to drop to 25 knots from the north east - sounds good! We set off at 6.30am in a good breeze but once away from the effects of the island the wind died completely. We still had about 57 miles to go and realizing that things would change we turned the engine on and continued. It didn't take long before the wind came back with a vengeance but not from the NE as predicted. It firstly came from the north and then the north west. We saw a maximum wind strength of 36 knots. The sea was lumpy with waves coming from many directions. We were pitching into some and rolling with others. Some waves hit the boat side on and ended up in the cockpit - we got drenched. Before the trip was over we had the storm jib up only, we were harnessed on and wearing our wet weather coats. To make matters worst we passed 50 race boats going the the other direction with the wind. They all looked pretty comfortable sitting along the side waving to us and probably thinking "look at those suckers". Our trip took 11 hours of balancing to stay upright, by nightfall my legs were like jelly.

PART OF THE ENTERTAINMENT We spent the next three days at anchor in a large bay on the north end of Paros. It was still windy with bullets coming through at up to 33 knots. Each day we would listen to Olympia Radio which is the Greek government coast radio system. They are there presumedly to help but some of the conversations are not what you would call 'customer focused'. The Olympia radio operator speaks quickly, shouts and is very abrupt. We heard a call from a woman on a French yacht requesting availability of a doctor when reaching port because the skipper's arm was out of his shoulder.


The French lady (who's English was pretty good) asked him to speak slowly because she couldn't understand him. Good call, nobody else can understand him either. There was silence for a while then Olympia Radio called the yacht and got the French speaking husband and berated him with: "HOW CAN I HELP YOU IF YOU CAN'T SPEAK ENGLISH?"

Eventually the French couple was put through to the Rescue Control Centre and had to go through the whole episode again. I don't know what would have been more painful, the injury or procuring help.

A FEW TALES TO TELL We have now come round to the western side of the island and into a large bay. There are many yachts here, good beaches and a lovely town with good facilities. As soon as we arrived an American couple came alongside in their dinghy and called out "Hi there, we were wondering when you were going to arrive" They (Bill and Bunny on Onset) had heard us on the radio recently and expected that eventually we would come around the western side of the island. We had drinks together last night on Eye Candy and tonight we will go to their boat and continue the conversation. They have been cruising for fifteen years and are here waiting for children and grand children to arrive for a holiday.

HOW TO USE ANCIENT COLUMNS. The town is fairly commercial along the waterfront. The back streets are more traditionally Greek with narrow white washed streets, old buildings with an interesting use of ancient columns, as photographed. Along these winding streets donkey power is still used to carry heavy loads. The town has a nice feel to it and I guess we will stay for a few days.


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Thursday, 16 July 2009

Fournoi and Patmos

Church and Castle
Old part of Town Candle lit Graves
Southern bay on Fournoi
Lots of steps
Main Harbour, Fournoi
Hi from Clare, Wednesday 15/07/09
THE PEACEFUL GLOW OF CANDLE LIGHT It was our last night in Pythagorian, Samos and we walked to an old castle and Greek church at the entrance of the bay. It was the old part of town favouring winding streets and tiny houses with most of the inhabitants sitting outside enjoying the cool of the evening. We passed by the church cemetery high on the hill. It was aglow with soft candle light as each headstone had a glassed in section where an oil candle burned. It was such a peaceful sight with numerous candles lit, flowers and photos at each grave. I couldn't help but think that far from a place of sadness, it seemed alive, peaceful and very much part of a close knit community. It was too dark to appreciate the beauty of the church, so we planned a return trip early next morning for photos.

PERFECT PEACE, BUT NOT FOR LONG The following day we sailed 15 miles at 40 degrees apparent to the south end of the next island of Fournoi. We anchored in a quiet bay with one other boat from New Zealand. This was their third day here and they raved about the calm conditions. We had a most pleasant evening with a few drinks together. Just as well as the next day the wind started to gather and it has been windy ever since. The New Zealander's David and Henrietta knew the island of Fournoi well. They said that the town harbour at the northern end of the island is very choppy in windy conditions. The best way to negotiate the town is to anchor in the bay next to the town and climb the stairs up over the hill. We ended up doing that a few days later when the wind gathered to twenty seven knots. We anchored and tied to a bollard near the pier and with the boat safe we negotiated hundreds of stairs (thanks David) up the hill, down the other side and back again. My calf muscles were complaining but I didn't dare say anything as Andrew was carrying all the shopping. I did try not to buy too much, but anyone who has shopped with me will know I failed.

THE CLASH OF TWO GENERATIONS The town is a non-tourist Greek village. Pokey little shop selling essentials, a few tavernas and lots of little fishing boats that didn't look at all seaworthy. A laidback society with a siesta in the middle of the day when most of the shops shut, but not the internet cafe. Welcome back to the progressive world, we had to wait to get a computer because I think just about every kid in town was there playing video games. I guess they don't have computers at home but that didn't stop them. Behind twenty computer screens were intent and excited faces playing the same seek and destroy game. The Greek kids were all talking on top of their voices. Andrew often says I don't speak loudly enough so I decided to match the kids. I yelled at Andrew sitting next to me, his head shot up with great alarm, but nobody else in the internet cafe batted an eye lid - I fitted in perfectly.

ANCHORS AWAY! We went back to the southern end of the island in search of our 'peaceful bay' but all that was just a distant memory and we spent the night with two anchors out in very gusty conditions. The following morning (Sunday 13th) we headed south to Patmos to seek shelter from the north westerly winds. Another great 15 mile sail with the wind behind us, doing 7.5 knots with only the jib up. We have been at Patmos for the past three days, seems like forever. We are expecting thirty knots today in gusty conditions. We spend our days going for walks, sitting on the beach, swimming, reading and doing a few chores. Yesterday I hung the washing out on the rails to blow dry, had a cup of tea, then brought the washing in.

We will just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings. Oh the joy of cruising! love CANDY

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Wednesday, 8 July 2009

F&A - Arki and Samos

Peaceful Bay at Arki Monument to Pythagoras Clare, Andrew & Wendy
600BC Tunnel
Andrew in Samos Town
Hi from Clare, 8/7/09 PEACEFUL BAY We sailed from Patmos to the next island Arki on the 1st July and anchored in a quiet and secluded bay. About the only noise to be heard was the clanging of bells from a large herd of goats grazing nearby. It was a very peaceful bay and so we enjoyed swimming, relaxing, and a walk into the small village. It is quite noticeable how few tourists are around this year. There were two large gullets in the bay at Arki. These vessels are usually carry dozens of people but one vessel had two guests (and three staff) and the other had a small family on board. So if you like being pampered, here is your chance. PYTHAGORAS We left Arki and sailed to the island of Samos on 4th July. We had a great sail for three quarters of the 20 mile trip with the wind at 60 degrees apparent, but as we got into the lee of the large mountains of Samos the wind came from all directions and was very gusty. We are anchored in the harbour of Pythagorion at Samos, the town was named after the mathematician Pythagoras who was born here 580BC. It is a nice sea side resort with cobbled streets and plenty on restaurants and tourist shops. For us, the most interesting thing here is a tunnel excavated to bring water to the town around 600BC. It runs from the north spring behind the mountains to the south of Pythagorion. Two teams, one on the south and one on the north built the tunnel. The two teams met in the middle of the 1 kilometre tunnel with less than a metre difference. Not a bad effort hey!
WHO NEEDS LASER ALIGNMENT We climbed to the top of the hill with an Ausie couple Wendy and Stephan who's boat was also anchored in the bay. It is a small world as Wendy has an Aunty who lives a few streets away from our home in Kiama - we wouldn't want to be on the run! We spent most of the day together. Andrew helped Stephan commission his water maker which they have had for a couple of years. We had drinks on Eye Candy that night and talked until 1am before we drew breath long enough to enquire 'what's the time'?
SAMOS TOWN The following day (Monday) Andrew and I took the local bus across the other side of the island to Samos town. Quite different from the tourist town of Pythagorion, Samos is a thriving little city with all amenities,parks and gardens and fashionable shops. We eagerly made our way to the museum but no luck as the sign said 'open every day " hurray 'except Monday' boo! Oh well, can't win them all. Late in the day we left the harbour and took the boat to a small bay at the other end of the island. We watched the full moon rise over the mountain silhouetting the communication towers against the massive red ball. I tried to photograph it but to no avail, it was just one of those magnificent sights I will have to remember.
BEACH BBQ Last night we had a BBQ on the beach (more about that later) with an English couple, Karen and Andrew, that we met when anchored in the bay at Arki. They are leaving their boat in the marina and heading back to England. Andrew and I decided to take the dinghy around from the harbour to the marina. Not the best idea we have ever had, it was quite the adventurous trip in choppy seas. We knew what we were in for as we watched a small fishing boat coming in and bouncing through the waves. However we didn't want to leave the dinghy unattended for hours on the wharf at night and walk to the marina. Andrew negotiated the waves pretty well and we rode them up and down, but of course there is always a couple of waves that jump up and drown you, we arrived in wet clothes - good thing it was a warm night.
The BBQ was great, Karen and Andrew had some Belgian friends with them also and so the six of us set up our BBQ on the beach. The beach was a small area of white rocks near the marina. Sand is a bit of a novelty in the Med and about the only thing that resembled a beach was the presence of sea water. However we still had a good night sitting around on the rocks and bits of drift wood. We built a fire in a little pit and in no time we were feasting on pork chops, chicken, kababs, sausage and a various salads. Once again the lively conversation was only halted by the lateness of the evening. Fortunately the seas had flattened out by the time we left and the return trip to the harbour was smooth and eventful.
WHAT'S NEXT We will leave here in the morning and hopefully find a calmer place for a few days. The harbour here is at the base of a mountain range and the wind is very fluky. The boats are dancing around, giggling about and changing directions constantly. Not the most pleasant place but the company has been great.

Love Candy

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