Leaving Turkey, Entering Greece
We made our way north up the coast of Turkey where the small islands of Greece are within a one hour sail and todays unsettling differences between these two nations fade as you view the ruins from the Hellenistic period. When sailing off-shore the only reminder of todays religious and political boundaries is the courtesy flag at the spreaders.
Datca was our last official stop in Turkey and this quaint tourist town lives up to the rave reviews provided by our Turkish friends and acquaintances. I even had one more turkish haircut. We checked out of Turkey using an agent for a cost of 50 YTL but we did however, anchor in Knidos for our final night in Turkey.
We cleared into Greece at Kos, home of Hippocrates.The birthplace of modern medicine is becoming a modern tourists center with numerous ferries delivering visitors to stroll the shops and restaurants. Shiraz was tied up to the inner city wharf, back dropped by a fortress which was once occupied by the crusaders. The wall is fabricated using stone block and a row of round Grecian columns lying horizontally. These ruin columns were probably 2000 years old when they were used to construct the fortification during the times of the crusades.
Clearing in was simple requiring only two stops. We were given our "transit log" and told that we were required to check into and out of each island we visited. Kos is a wonderful place to stroll looking for just the right restaurants and we spent two nights walking around admiring the tourist scene.
When we went to check out we were asked several times to come back later. The young officer behind the desk played the "island time" card. "Here in Greece we don't care so much about time...." kiddingly I reminded him that Greece was a member of the EU and that he was in fact a member of the military and wondered if it would be okay if he showed up for role call in the morning 30 minutes late. Well from then on he refused to talk to me . Least I be categorized as an ugly American, I repeatedly used the word "mate" and "eh" in hopes of confusing him a little. Finally the next morning we were off before the winds picked up.
The Greeks use the Turkish word "meltemi" for the northerly winds that howl during the summer months. The 25 to 30 plus knots can keep you "in situ" not so much for the winds but for the gust that reach 40 knots. On the days we decide to move, we are underway by 0630 when the winds and seas are calm. By midmorning we may be able to sail but the prevailing winds are from the north/northwest and for now that is our direction of travel. We tuck in before most other boats, especially the charter boats, and enjoy the little harbor or sandy (read rocky) beach. We search for places to anchor to
avoid the crossed anchor lines created by med mooring which can create a bit of a fire drill.
On most of the islands that we have visited the main settlement, the chora, is built on the highest part of the island so in ancient civilizations one could see the pirates coming and at least have some time to depart with daughters and valuables. Most, if not all, of the homes are white with blue trim. Quite beautiful against the stark dry landscape of the Cyclade Islands.
As far as the "transit log" goes, we have visited the port police at several islands and were told that we shouldn't worry about it, we should just go on. In Iso we were told that it was only necessary if we pulled into the main port and actually paid for space on the quay. At another island we pointed out to the policeman that he had stamped it in the wrong place. Anyway it is one of those perplexing requirements where it is best to remind yourself that you are a guest in this country.
It took us a while to understand vacationing in Greece. First of all the islands we have visited are pretty remote, there are no beaches as we Americans think of beaches, Greek food is wholesome but plain and everything is expensive, a loaf of bread that cost $.35 USD in Turkey cost $2.60 in Greece. But on the other hand everything is quaint and beautiful. The craggy shoreline and the crystal blue water and the people are very nice. It is interesting to listen to the chatter between a couple of waiters. With sweeping jesters and raised voices you never know if there is an argument about to ensue or if you are about to hear the punch line of a joke. Visitors catch a bus or take their rental car to the many beaches or lounge around the resturants in comfortable sofas drinking iced coffe drinks and just enjoy the time off work. I guess what we were missing was that we had forgot that people work everyday and this is vacation time. They just want to get out in the sun, eat out or just lazy around and maybe dance at night.
Anyway we were marooned in the Harbor of Milos for over a week waiting for the Force 6/7 winds(everything is given in Beaufort scales) to shift from the southwest to any other direction and it took a while. We shopped for groceries, filled the fuel tanks, rode the buses, ate lunch and walked miles and miles albeit mostly down hill.
We will post the rest of our photos on flickr so if you are interested in looking at more photos just click on the photo gallery tab. Enjoy!
How you know when your in the Cyclade Islands of Greece:
- the waters are crystal blue and you can see 60 feet down.
- you can't spot a fish bigger than a sardine and fish is the most expensive thing on the menu.
- not a day goes by that the winds don't gust out of the north between 25 and 30 knots.
- every building you see is white.
- many of the beaches look like "spring break".
- the crew on the boat that pulls in near you could be butt naked!!!!!!!
History and Mythology:
Greece is all about history and mythology and here are some of the events that happened on the islands we visited:
- Kos : Home of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine
- Anafi : Apollo raised this island from the sea to provide refuge for Jason and the Argonauts.
- Thira : Once believed to be the location of the "lost city of Atlantis" since a great deal of the island was destroyed by a volcanic eruption, in fact we sailed through the rim and across the crater which is some 200 plus feet deep.
- Iso: Burial place of Homer
- Amorgo's: Home of the poet Simonedes (do you remember your favorite poem by Simonedes?)
- Milos: Aphrodite of Milos (Venus de Milos) was uncovered here in the 19th century and legend has it that she lost her arms in an ensuing fight for ownership. The French won and today the statute sits in the Louvre.
If you're headed our way:
- It's good to have an anchor thief aboard. This hook with a quick release allows you to pick up the chain of your neighbors anchor and hold it up while you raise you anchor. You can then drop the chain and your neighbor can tighten up his line. That is if he was helpful in letting it out after its discovered that he had crossed over your line. And if he's not on the boat well, you get the picture, there is always a bit of drama.