Sunday, June 26, 2011

Left Athens to visit a few islands

Temple of Poseidon at Sounion
After our day trip to the Parthenon we decided it was time to get out of town.  Back to the islands, as the song goes.  Except that our first stop was not a real island but instead at Sounion at the very tip of the mainland peninsula, anchored right beneath the Temple of Poseidon.  Later, it turned out that we would visit this anchorage often due to bad weather.  We did not go ashore during our first visit to Sounion.  But the Temple of Poseidon looked really nice all lit up at night on the top of that hill overlooking the sea to one side and the anchorage bay on the other side.  This truly is the perfect location for a temple dedicated to the God of the Sea.

Temple of Poseidon at Sounion
The Temple of Poseidon was built circa 444 B.C.  Amazing that so much of it is still standing.  Granted, not much is in the original condition.  Mainly just a foundation and columns; but it still amazes me that these columns are still erect after almost 2500 years in an area known for earthquakes.

The next morning we moved on to the island of Kea.  Again motoring, of course.  Trey calls this Lake Med -- the seas totally flat glassy calm and not a breath of breeze.  Using lots of that expensive diesel this summer!

Swimming behind our boat in Kea
Swimming in Kea
We anchored in the same place we had anchored during our previous stop at Kea....near the old coaling station in the northern tip of the large bay.   Trey and Zach were hot and immediately jumped for a quick dip.  Bill and I think they are crazy to get in that cold water, but they enjoyed it.  Maybe soon it will be warm enough for us to jump in too. 

Kid's sailing lesson in Kea
In the bay not too far from where we anchored in Kea there were small sailing dinghies.  I really, really wish our grandson and granddaughter lived in an area where they could participate in a program like this.   They would enjoy it so much.

This was our first time to take a stern line ashore.  I really don't like doing this because it is a major hassle.  We carry the dinghy upside down on the mizzen deck and the outboard either mounted on the rail or stored down in the stern lazarette when at sea.  When we set the anchor then we must put the dinghy in the water and mount the outboard so that Bill can take a line ashore to tie off.  There is plenty of swinging room and the depths are perfect in this section of the bay, so why bother to do this stern-line-ashore nonsense!  However, the last time we were in Kea so many boats arrived on Saturday afternoon that the shores were lined completely.  So we brought a stern line ashore just in case this Saturday afternoon turned out to be as busy as the previous weekend had been.  For some reason, it wasn't.  This Saturday hardly any boats came to Kea and we shared this section of the bay with only a few other boats.  We needn't have bothered with that stern line after all.

Zachary wanted to fish.  We convinced him to wait until sunset (about 9:30 p.m. here).  Then he and his dad got in the dinghy and tied off to that silly stern line we had tied to shore.  They sat out there for 3 hours fishing in the dark.   Nary a nibble, but they enjoyed it.

The next morning we motored down to a beautiful bay called Ormos Kolona on the island of Kythnos; latitude 37.24.88N longitude 024.22.62E. 
Kythnos -- 2 anchorages back-to-back

This is a long bay open to the west.  Mega yachts lined the sides, tied stern-to the shore.  We went up near the beach and anchored to swing; none of the line-ashore stuff today.  This is a beautiful place.  There is a narrow strip of beach connecting the main island to a large segment that could almost be a separate small island if tides were a foot higher.  Behind this strip of beach is another anchorage and another bay.  Yachts anchor both east and west of this strip of beach in the different bays.  We were here to meet up with S/V IMAGINE from Chicago-- Marc and Jane and their kids Caroline, Grant and Noah.  We thought Zach and their kids would enjoy playing together for a few hours.

Marc & Jane, S/V IMAGINE from Chicago
The anchorage filled up quickly after our arrival and we worried that IMAGINE might not find space to anchor.  But they managed to anchor near us with no problem.  Later almost all the other boats left and IMAGINE moved to a better location nearby.  It was nice having the bay almost to ourselves that night.  For some reason all the other yachts moved around and anchored in the bay behind the strip of beach.  Of course, they were all charter boats and maybe their charter briefing had told them to do that.  Whatever the reason, we were delighted to have the western side of the beach and bay all to ourselves for the night.

Water Football on S/V IMAGINE
Bill took Zach over to meet the kids on IMAGINE and soon they were playing "water football."  The rules were vague but something about throwing a football while someone jumps off the boat.  They score in they can catch the football before landing in the water.  Good exercise.  Zach told me later he felt a little bad because he is so much heavier than Grant and Noah, and that they have such good suntans.  I told him that is because they live on a boat and are in the sun and swimming a lot and get lots more exercise than he gets back in Houston.  He was envious of their strong abdominal muscles and now wants to work on his.

Jane reminded us that it was Father's Day (really?  hadn't even thought about that!)  Caroline baked special brownies for her dad for Father's Day and they invited us over to share after dinner.  The kids watched a movie and played and ate all the remaining brownies while we adults sat on the stern deck and visited.  A good time was had by all.

Early the next morning Zachary asked Bill to take him ashore.  He wanted to climb the hill by himself.  There are ancient ruins on the high hillside.  Frankly, we would probably not have realized these were ancient ruins if the sailing guide had not mentioned this fact and provided a sketch of the location of these ruins.  To us it all just looked like scattered rocks.  But if you looked closely you could make out a pattern to the fallen rocks.  Obviously something had been constructed here at some point in distant past......supposedly well more than 2,000 years ago.

Ancient ruins on hillside at Kythnos
We gave Zachary a handheld VHF radio and told him to stay in touch as he climbed.  I had watched a small herd of large goats cross the beach and start up that steep hill about an hour before he decided to make this climb.   We sat in the cockpit drinking morning coffee and watched Zach make his way up the hillside.  He made it to the top and then we lost sight of him.  But he remembered to stay in touch with us via radio -- especially important now that we could no longer see him.  Soon we heard his say he was returning RIGHT NOW!!  Seems he encountered some of those large goats I had seen earlier and some of them had large horns and did not look friendly.  

Yellow spot upper left is Zach climbing hillside at Kythnos
He made his way back down the hillside, picking up souvenirs along the way.  He returned with several pieces of broken marble which had been shaped and polished on one side; obviously used to build something sometime.  I am glad he had this opportunity to go exploring by himself and hope we can return when Elisabeth is with us in a week or two so they both can go exploring up there.  There are even more ancient ruins farther west along the top of this partial-island.  And there is a hot spring on the other side of this bay that they might enjoy exploring.  We shall return.

Blue domed church on hillside on Kea
After Zach's climb we pulled anchor and motored back to Kea.  This time we sought out the Port Police to have our transit log stamped.  Must be that not very many people properly check in with the Port Police here because it took the guy awhile to find the receipt books and the little tin can holding the fees collected.  We wondered what happens when that little can gets full? Where do the monies collected go?

Weather was predicted to kick up the following day (Tuesday).  Winds were predicted to increase from the north at 25 knots.  We decided the best thing to do would be to head back west and return to Sounion.   We were afraid to risk going any farther south or east because Trey's flight home was scheduled very early Sunday morning.  We did not want to get stranded during high winds and not be able to get Trey to Piraeus so he could get to the airport.  Seas picked up noticeably and winds continued to increase all day.  We anchored in Sounion beneath the Temple of Poseidon in 30 knots winds.....the bay filled with white horses galloping across the sea.  We were all very glad we had made the decision not to proceed to Syros or Mykonos.  It would have been very uncomfortable and very slow getting back north in these winds.  And the winds were predicted to continue at least 4 days.  

This was our first experience with the famous meltimi winds of the Aegean Sea.  Many areas of the world have special names for local weather phenomena, especially for high winds.  In Greece and Turkey these winds are called meltimi and blow very strong for 3-4 days at a time, especially during the summer months. 

M-E-L-T-I-M-I = My Enjoyable Lovely Time In Med Interrupted

Captain Zachary
Zachary has started his own blog for his summer in the Greek Isles.  Anyone wishing to follow and read his perspective, here is the link:
Zachary's Summer in Greece

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