Friday, June 10, 2011

Almost to Athens

Samos did not hold much for us in the way of sight-seeing because my bronchitis was still pretty bad.  I had wanted to see the famous aqueduct tunnels but we just never made it up there.  We stayed in the anchorage June 1 through 4 and then moved to the town quay when space became available.  Bill had been working on the watermaker (I'll let him write that story), but had been unable to get it working.  We were down to only 300 liters of water in the storage tank and he was getting worried, so we moved to the quay.  Yachts pay the same daily fee in Pithagorio whether anchored or at the quay with free water and electricity.  Frankly, I preferred the anchorage but I think Bill preferred the quay.  It was too noisy for me with all the bars and restaurants and motorbikes driving around town all night long.

Luckily for us, Marc and Jane (and kids: Caroline, Grant and Noah) on S/V IMAGINE arrived and helped us with our stern lines when mooring to the quay.  I honestly do not know how people handle this without any assistance.  But everyone was just sitting around watching us back up to the quay and not one person offered to help.  We had called Marc and knew he was on his way to help us.  He and Jane arrived just in time as we reached the concrete wall.  We owe them!!  Could not have done it without their help.  Bill was driving at the helm and no way could I have stepped off our stern steps onto that high concrete wall until we got the passarelle in place; and you cannot place the passarelle until the boat is securely docked and tied.

On Sunday evening we ate pizza dinner at one of the local restaurants with Marc and Jane and kids.  As we ended our meal the proprietor delivered to our table ouzo for the men, glasses of the special sweet Samos white wine for the ladies, and ice creams for the children --all complimentary!  Wasn't that nice!  And totally unexpected.  Bill pointed out that we had eaten earlier than normal for this area and that people were just then beginning to walk up and down the quay looking at all the restaurants trying to decide where to eat that evening.  If a restaurant has lots of people sitting at the tables, then that restaurant looks more inviting to prospective customers than a restaurant with empty tables.  Typical herd mentality:  others are there so it must be better than the place with no customers.  Maybe this ploy worked, because the place was filling up by the time we paid our tab and left. 

Monday, June 6, was Bill's birthday.  We had talked about it the previous evening during dinner, and 12-yr-old Caroline decided that every birthday demanded some form of cake or sweet treat to celebrate.  So she baked a batch of delicious brownies.  Marc, Jane and all 3 kids came over at sunset and presented Bill with a decorated plate of Happy Birthday Brownies as well as a homemade birthday card.  I loved this card!  The youngest boy (don't know his age but he is still at that stage of losing front teeth) had drawn the countries of the world as he remembered them; and had his older sister write the country names; and had drawn the route of a circumnavigation.  On the reverse side was written:  "Flying would be quicker but you took the fun way."  Then each family member had signed it and written some sort of sentiment.  Caroline wrote a little riddle: 
Question: What do you get when you cross and elephant with a kangaroo?
Answer (written upside down):  Great big holes all over Australia
I thought that was pretty darn cute.

They also gave us DVD's of the Horatio Hornblower series!  We love the series!

I also loved the world map and the route of the circumnavigation.  The crew of IMAGINE hail from Chicago.  The route starts and ends in the far northeast of the USA at the Great Lakes.  Too cute.  And I really appreciated the fact that the kids left the Red Sea and the entire continent of Africa entirely out of their world map.  For those who don't already know, Marc actually sailed through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea this year.  They were in the Maldives when the piracy got so bad.  The transport that we did was not yet arranged.  So Marc and Jane and kids backtracked over to the coast of India; motored completely up the Indian coast all the way to latitude 24 North (off Pakistan), before turning west over to Muscat.  Jane and the kids got off in Muscat, Oman; and stayed there until flying to Egypt to meet Marc when he arrived in Port Ghalib. Marc had 2 friends as crew for the grueling passage across the northern Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.  Then 1 crew member departed at Aden, and Marc and the remaining 1 friend sailed the rest of the distance up the Red Sea.   There were some harrowing experiences in the Gulf of Aden; at one time there were 3 pirate attacks going on encircling IMAGINE.  Very scary!  We are so, so glad he made it safely!!  

Circumnavigation route by kids on S/V IMAGINE

Noah & Grant checking out our engine room
Anyway, since the kids were not on the boat for that section of the passage, they have deleted it from their minds.  They did tour Egypt and Israel before sailing up to Turkey, but they left those 2 countries off as well.  I also just love the fact that Europe doesn't really exist.  They drew Turkey and then Poland (don't know where that came from??), but left out Greece,Italy, Spain France and England, etc.  I love the way kids' minds work!  You really never know what is going on in there!

The following day we departed Samos.  Next stop was the remote bay on the southernmost tip of the island of Fournoi, latitude 37.31.92N longitude 026.30.29E.  Loved this bay and had it all to ourselves until around 17:00 when the Swiss, Germans and French arrived on 3 other boats.  There were way too many very white bare butts showing there for awhile!  First thing the next morning we left for the 50+ mile sail over to Mykonos.  Mykonos supposedly is the gay capitol of Europe, but we saw no evidence of any more gay guys than normal.  We anchored off a beach resort at Ormos Ornos at latitude 37.24.98N longitude 025.19.53E.  This spot was a little exposed but was comfortable enough for us since we were only going to be there one night.  It was better than going father into the head of the bay where at least a dozen other sailboats were already anchored.  We wanted to be able to get out easily early the next morning.

The old and the new at Kea
The following day we motored up to the island of Kea, the first island south of the mainland peninsula.  While motoring that day we heard a response to a mayday call from the area where we had anchored at the southern tip of the island of Fournoi a few days earlier.  A yacht had struck a rock and was taking on water.  Never heard how that turned out.  

We are anchored in Limon Ay Nikolaou at latitude 37.40.13N longitude 024.19.24E, directly in front of an old coaling station for steamers plying between Black Sea ports and western Europe.  According to our sailing guide book, recent excavations on the northern side of this bay by an American school (very near to where we are anchored) have unearthed an important Bronze Age settlement inhabited from around 2000 BC to 1400 BC.  Pottery, domestic and ornamental, and the classic Cycladic figurines have been unearthed among the buildings, many of which are now just under the sea.  On the hill overlooking this small bay there is a new villa, very nice with tennis court and swimming pool and what appear to be 2 guest houses adjoining the main home.  Beneath this new home are some of the remains of the old coaling station.  Nice contrast between the old and the new, with knowledge that directly beneath the water at that area rests the old Bronze Age settlement.  BTW, we have noticed quite a few large, very nice villas on Mykonos and Kea.  There are obviously some well-heeled Greeks to afford places like this.  Some have helicopter pads and must be get-aways for rich owners, probably living in the not-too-distant Athens area.

Our charts indicate that there are underwater cables running near this area.  Yesterday 4 yachts came and anchored right over those cables.  We were careful to avoid that restricted area when we dropped our anchor.  The other yachts did not care at all that it was a restricted anchoring area.  I called out to one German boat as he was about to drop his anchor and warned him about the underwater cables.  He just shrugged his shoulders, said "thank you" and dropped the hook anyway.   Hope the island still has phone and electricity when those 4 yachts pull up their anchors.

Ormos Vourkari on island of Kea, Greece
To the east of where we are anchored is the tiny village of Ormos Vourkari.  The main village is way to the south side of this large multi-bay-bay at Ormos Livadhi.  There supposedly is a large rock carving on top of a hill about 20 minutes walk east of Vourkari.  This large carving is of a lion with a pussy-cat face and is attributed to an Ionian sculptor from around 600 B.C.  We decided that would be something for the grandkids to see, so we hope to return here with them later in the summer and check it out.

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