Greece Ionian to Rhodes via Dodecaneses

Greece - Ioninan to Rhodes

Check into Greece this time was a confusing
affair, seems they did not know how to deal with an Australian vessel, much
shuffling of paper, visits to three separate offices and phone calls to others,
in the end we got there, 30 Euros for the compulsory "cruising log
book" to be handed in where ever we check out. We wanted to get our Greek
sim card operational again so looked for a Vodafone office. Closed until 6,
didn't want to wait around as we were tired and frustrated at the long winded
check in procedure so by mid afternoon we were anchored in Tranquil Bay, 9
miles down the track. Tranquil by name only, more yachts anchored than we have
seen in one place for months, even a Kiwi yacht called Cuttyhunk. Unfortunately
the water was quite murky so after a good night’s sleep and a short
stroll around the town of Nidri, no Vodafone here, we headed for Cephalonia
Island and the small town anchorage Fiskardho.

Warm water, 23C, lovely swim,
warmer in the water than out, before a walk around town. No Vodafone shop but
we bought a recharge coupon only to find that our sim card must be out of date
or cancelled, bit hard to work out when the electronic lady gives the info in
Greek! A lot of yachts Med moored at the town marina, mostly bare boat charter
but a few cruisers as well, a lot more than we saw anywhere in the Adriatic
On Southwards to Zakinthos Island and the
port harbour, Limin Zakinthos, quite a big town, surely Vodafone here. Yes but
it is Saturday afternoon and won't be open until Monday. We didn't fancy being
anchored in a busy harbour in the middle of town for 2 days. With still a
couple of hours of light we walked the 2.5km up the old castle and church atop
of the hill overlooking the town.

Wonderful views. We had a choice, pay for
castle look around entry or have a beer at one of the little outdoor bars right
on the edge overlooking the town and port, no contest. The barman's name was
Arnold, from Austria, we had quite a chat, he wasn't related to the Governor of
California. He told us there was a "romantic path" through the forest
back down to town rather than the road we walked up on. It was much better. On
the way down we were discussing what to have for dinner, fish from the freezer
and pick up some frozen fries from the supermarket. That was before walked past
the open door of a butcher shop where the lady butcher was cutting up fresh
lamb for a customer. Real lamb, the whole carcass was less than a metre long.
Lamb chops, yes please. Sasha in particular had been hanging out for some lamb as
we had been unable to find any for months. Cooked on the gas bbq with saffron
rice and orange soy braised green beans ala Sasha, they were tender and
succulent. During the night I woke and thought I could hear something on the
deck, maybe a bird but possible something else as we had heard of animals,
namely rats, climbing up the anchor chain, then again could be just another
cruiser story. I got up to investigate, Sasha wanted to know what was going on,
immediately she yelled "not another rat!". I had just stepped into
the cockpit, Sasha was behind me on the steps up from the salon when she
screamed "the rat, the rat, it just went past my leg, I felt it".
After some partial calming I saw a small sponge on the salon floor, it had
fallen from the coach roof and must have touched Sasha's leg as it fell. Not
convinced! Then explained if it was a rat it would be dripping wet, there was
no evidence of water anywhere. We went back to bed and listened, nothing. 
In the morning, being Sunday, we were aroused
by the bells of the huge church tower less than two hundred metres from us.
While we had our  traditional beacon,
eggs, tomato etc Sunday breakfast we were treated to a full Greek Orthodox
quire and church service over their PA system.

Fifteen miles, around the corner,
we anchored in the far Western side of L...... Bay. The whole bay, in
particular the Eastern side, has severe restrictions for boating traffic as it
is a major Loggerhead turtle nesting site. At the time we arrived, early
October, it was turtle hatching time but we didn't go looking. Instead we went
by dingy to the small rock island in the middle of the bay to investigate the
huge water level caves and sandy beach. After an evening walk we returned to
Ednbal to find the freezer had tossed in the towel. It was trying to start but
after a few seconds would shut down. My worst nightmare, one of the few things
on board that we do not have a backup for. I got to the control module, no
fault lights tapped the compressor a few times, no real joy. Turned it off
while we had a drink and cogitated, that didn't help. Disconnected everything
and sprayed with contact cleaner, no better. Went through the handbook fault
section, no real help. Funny thing about the system is that it has a resistor
in the thermostat in the freezer itself that apparently sets or suits the speed
of the compressor and we had had trouble with it before but not the symptoms we
saw now. We measured the resistor from the control circuit end, I assure not as
easy as it sounds as it is an RJ connector 
the same as a telephone jack. The value seemed way too high so, as a
last resort I took the thermostat apart and measured the resistor, 680 ohms,
correct. Put it back together again, turned the freezer back on the umpteenth
time and hey "presto" away it went. Fortunately nothing had defrosted
so it was immediately drink and late dinner time.
Already it was October, if we were to be in
the Red Sea by mid December and attend to our ever increasing Marmaris, Turkey,
To Do List (Marmaris, we found, was still the best and cheapest place to boat
related work done, things made), we had better get going. We wanted to spend
some time in Elafonisos and other Greek island that we did not see last year.
Sasha put the plan together. Next day we did over 70nm, motoring all the way
with no wind, mostly mirror sea, to the first of the 3 Peloponnisos capes. Then
another 68, around the second to the third and our favourite bay, Sarakiniko,
on the Southern side of Elafonisos, to be only 289nm from Marmaris and some time
to spend on other Greek islands.
Sarakinika bay is quite big, about 1nm
across with almost, half a lovely sandy beach, good sand bottom for secure
anchoring, crystal clear water, 24C and very few people at the end of summer,
just one other yacht,  what more could
you want on a lovely sunny day. Alas it lasted only a day as a Northerly storm
swept down the Agaean Sea. Although it only brushed past us, we moved to the
more protected, Frangos bay to be more comfortable in the 30kt NE winds and
rain. Amongst the rain and wind we made a dash for it to the main town of
Neopolis, a few mole around the corner and the other
side of the much larger bay of Vatika. Made a dash may be a slight exaggeration,
we motored into 20kt winds to get there!

Primary purpose, the Vodafone shop, we
hit pay dirt. The young lady was most helpful, got us back on line and set up
the phone internet connection, €1 per day: the admiral was happy. A long
walk to pick up two jerry cans of fuel, back to Ednbal and sailed, 20kts behind
us, back to Frangos bay. Only one small problem, while we had phone connection
where was still no internet connection; the admiral was not happy! The Greek Vodafone
saga continued. After another two days of rain, it finally fined up on Monday. We
climbed the hill, walked the beach, picnicked and swam, in the sun, a beautiful
day. Tuesday was forecast for the wind to finally swing from NE to Southerly so
we could sail the 70nm, NE, to Milos.
The anchor came up at 7am, we sailed out in
the dark but it didn't last long, by the time we were out in open sea, a couple
of hours later, the wind was back to NE, thankfully only 5kts or so, engine on
again. We motored almost all the way arriving at the huge, fully protected,
anchorage in Milos Bay at about 5. 
sundowners and T bone steak on the barbie for dinner. On shore we
inquired about a Vodafone shop, one about 4km up the road on the road the
Chora, in the village of Triovasalos, on a mission again. Apparently, like most
other shops it would open at 5pm, usual working hours 8 to 12, 5 to 9. An hour
to walk there have a look around the Chora (most Greek islands have a
"Chora", the old town centre, usually somewhere mid island and up
high to protect the citizens from invaders) called Plaka, be out of Vodafone by
5:30 and home before dark.

That was the plan, until we got to Vodafone, didn't
open until 6. At 5 past the lady came and unlocked. She tried to tell us that
because we did not buy the phone in Greece we could not get internet
connection. After some "discussion" she rang technical support and
"reconfigured" our phone for internet connection. Try in a couple of
hours, it takes some time for the system to pick us up. Uh, ha. Now 6:30, light
failing, off for the downhill work back to the port, no footpath of course so
trying not to get run over. Back safe and sound but alas still no phone
internet connection. This was becoming a bit of a pain!
In the morning we had an earlish start for
Folegandros, about 30nm, wind SW, aft quarter 
so able to sail it. A nice anchorage on the SE corner, lovely clear
water swimming in the ferry port bay. Here the Chora was 3km away, a lovely
walk, we took a picnic lunch that we had sitting on the edge of a cliff, 300m
above water and almost straight down. No vodafone shop here, thankfully!
With the SW breeze forecast to drop before
another Southerly storm in a couple of days we left early with two options,
18nm to Ios or 45 to Amorgos. After a few miles the wind dropped below 10kts
tight behind us so up went the Gennaker, we arrived in Ios early afternoon and
anchored. A couple hours later we were chased by the Harbour Police, no
anchoring allowed, apparently because of large ferry traffic, to relocated and
med moored at the town dock. This meant we would be stern on the Southerly, a
real pain when it rains. It took us 4 embarrassing attempts to get the right
amount of anchor chain out to go stern on to the dock, only the second time we
had done this! There were about 10 yachts tied up that night and the next, very
wet, day, including a catamaran, Midi, from New Zealnd, Bruce and Lesley on
board so of course a little Oz - Kiwi socialising took place. Between showers
we walked a little, no Vodafone shop here!
With a forecast 15 to 20kts SW, dropping
off in the afternoon,  we left early the
next morning to sail 56 miles, almost due East for Astipalaia and the NE bay of
Panormos. Out in the open sea we had over 25kt gusts from the aft quarter that
made for fast, lively sailing until the wind swung more to the West and started
to drop in the afternoon so up went the Gennaker. With 10 miles to go the wind
died and we motored in to see Midi, who had passed us earlier in the day, the
only other boat anchored in the uninhabited bay. The water was clear and
surprisingly cleans so swimming was most enjoyable. From Panormos we sailed to
the isthmus to walk over to the Southern side and the Chora called Skala, 6km
away. It was a lovely walk on a sunny day and the old, 13th century castle atop
of Skala was worthwhile exploring as were the narrow, too narrow for cars, streets
of the village.

No Vodafone shop here either. Back on Ednbal we headed over to
the lagoon like bay of Vathi for a comfortable night where Bruce and Lesley
joined us for dinner.
It was a bit of a slow start the next day but we finally got away for the 36 mile,
beam on sail, in 20+ kts, to Kos. A couple of miles out we hooked a fish, the
first in over 1,000nm of trawling, but lost it, bugger! Another 15 miles on,
while we were doing over 7kts in 25kts of wind beam on with 3 reefs in the main
and headsail, off screamed the reel again, this time we landed a small
Swordfish, you beauty!

Swordfish for dinner in Kamares Bay, South Western Kos.
In the morning we caught the bus to Kos town, 45km NE. Kos town was nice to
look around, we checked out the old Agora (market place) ruins origin 300BC but
demolished by earthquakes from time to time that have, in part, been resurrected.

Here we also found a Vodafone shop, maybe we could finally sort out an internet
connection. Not so, the staff were most unhelpful, they would only give us the
number of technical support that we should ring from a fixed land phone so
someone could instruct us on configuring our mobile, real helpful!! With just
two more Greek islands to visit before entering Turkey we were starting to lose
faith! Only one thing for it, call tech support from the mobile and see if we
get someone helpful. Sasha took the plunge and, after just a couple of
transfers, got a guy who listened. He checked our phone status and said
"your phone has never been activated for internet". He activated and
an hour later we were online, alaluhya!!     
From Kos a lovely 45 mile downwind sail to
Symi, a mid size Greek Island, just a few miles off the Turkish coast, with
numerous very protected anchorages. Initially we headed into Symi town but
anchoring in the deep water, 20m plus, of the bay was not on and we did not
like the idea of tying up in med moor fashion to the town dock, so off a couple
if miles around the corner to Pedi Bay. Another typical well protected Greek
island anchorage, wouldn't really matter what direction the wind blew you would
be comfortable. Ashore we walked over the hill to Symi town. The whole way was
built up, peoples houses and small businesses. Most of the houses were only
accessible by foot, the small businesses were in spots accessible by car. Why?
The "streets" between the houses are one person wide, many corners so
constricted that not even a scooter could be used, on top of which there are
steps everywhere, most houses at differing levels to one another.

All quite
amazing, with virtually all the walls white, splashes of colour here and there,
churches what seemed like every few metres, it was a fascinating walk. While in
the bay we met up with Aussies, Val and Graham on Silver Heels II who had recently
come through the Suez from the Red Sea and since that was where we were heading
their feedback was most useful. We were keen to have a look at a monastery on
the shores of a bay on the other end of the island about 10 miles away. A nice
sail most of the way bought us into another bay, virtually a lagoon with a 50m
or so entry. Again well protected so long as you were not right in front of the
entry. Here we met up again with Bruce and Lesley on Midi. Another late night,
well early morning, those Kiwis know how to party!
Next planned stop another Greek island,
Rhodes. The forecast was for 15kts NW veering to North and dropping. Given the
anchorage at Rhodes town is open to the North we were a little hesitant but
hoped, with dropping wind it would be OK. No sooner we got out of the bay we
had 30kts gusting to near 40, thankfully off the aft quarter. We thought it was
cabatic wind off the islands mountainous terrain. As we started to turn to the
lee of Southern side the wind dropped, 15 as forecast, no problem. We continued
our route direct to Rhodes, on the NE end of the island, which takes you very
close to Turkey, along the Marmaris peninsular. Soon the wind was increasing
again, over 25kts NNW, we had to rethink our plan to anchor in Rhodes tonight. The
best option seemed to be a small, very sheltered bay on the Southern side of
the Turkish Marmaris Peninsular. Only problem, we had not checked out of Greece
or in to Turkey. We had been to the bay earlier in the year so knew it was
almost deserted and unlikely to be visited by officialdom. It continued to blow
until the early hours of the morning making us very glad we had not sailed to
Rhodes! In the morning we had a very leisurely 15nm light down wind sail to
Rhodes and anchored in the bay where it was still a little rolly. Rhodes had
two major attractions, a place to top up with fuel before the trip to the Red
Sea (30% cheaper than Turkey) and some cheap restocking at one of the bulk
supermarkets, Lidl. We walked the 3km to Lidl but caught a taxi back with 9
cartons of beer, which, along with the rest of our shopping, filled the boot
and part of the back seat of the Mercedes taxi. Only problem, where to store it
all on Ednbal? But we managed! Before we left Rhodes we caught up with Midi
again, this time a reasonably early night. The forecast for all the next week
was virtually no wind so after already 3 sunny, warm, calm days in Rhodes we
motored the 25 miles to Turkey's Marmaris Bay and anchored out the front of the
harbour back in familiar territory.