Greece proved as delightful as anticipated. Our plan was to go from Turkey to Spain in one season so what follows is based upon that constraint.
We departed Alanya in mid April and after an overnight passage to Kekova Roads we put the hook down and tried to remember what it was like to be cruisers again after 6 months in a marina. From there we hopped along to Fethiye where we stopped briefly for a windlass rebuild and to enjoy dinner ashore with friends, then to Marmaris to reconnect with several boats we had not seen since Thailand.
Our next goal was to get island hop north in the Agean to the Sporades or farther north before the meltemi kicked in around mid June. The plan worked well with most days a mix of motoring and sailing. Some days we motored all day but we at least we never encountered strong winds on the nose.
Some brief details are below
Rhodes- it was the weekend so we anchored in the unfinsihed harbor south of the main harbor where the workboats were. At 7am Monday they were rousting us to move out of their way so off we went. Old town is fantastic and worth the trip. Rented a car and drove to the monastery.
Symi- cleared in (bring all the usual papers plus your insurance coverage). Easy clearance but have to walk twice around the harbor. We anchored in Pethi and walked in taking the bus back.
Niseros- side tied but as it got more crowded we med moored. Rented a scooter to explore island and volcano.
Khalymnos- anchor in Atki Liman- very nice spot. Just us and the fish farms.
Patmos - Side tied at Skala harbor. Empty when we arrived so we side tied but a few days later it got crowded with charter boats and we felt bad for being side tied but no real problems. Still room for all. Wonderful island to settle in a bit and explore by motorbike and get to know a few locals. Good hike to monastery.
Samos- anchored in outer harbor. Interesting town- hiked out to airport and up to tunnel.
Turkey- Cesme anchored just outside of unfinished marina just west of existing piers (38 19.23N 026 17.22E) Good spot to sit out 35 knots from the south.
Lesvos- wonderful anchorage with 360 degree protection and no one there at 39 00.10N 26 32.3E. Later moved to Mithilini. Most cruisers go to free unfinished marina. We went inside inner harbor and side tied to the wall putting us in the center of town. (We don't often chose to be tied up like this where all the action and noise is but it was fun for a change). Rented a car to see the island and drove through some incredible tiny Greek towns. Also stopped at a obscure museum mentioned in Lonely Planet that is hard to find and very unassuming until you get inside and find hundreds of original lithographs by Chagal, Miro, Picasso, Monet, Cezanne, Matisse and others.
Turkey- Avyalik. Anchored outside marina in settled weather. Good market day.
Ouinoussa- Anchored in Mandraki harbor. Very pretty place but not much here. Nice hike up hill to church. Reputed to be a nice maritime museum but it was closed.
Khios- Just one night in a tiny bay at the south end 38 11.26N 026 01.79E Only room for a few boats.
Mykonos- med moored at free marina which has lazy lines. Spent over a week here. Fantastic place with much to see and delightful streets for walking and people watching.
Santorini- Santorini is an absolute must see. One of the most photogenic spots I have found in 30 years of making travel movies for television. However it is not yacht friendly as it is a volcano meaning the cliff walls come down into the water and keep going straight down so there is nowhere to anchor. The harbors are full of the local boats. All the towns are up on top of the cliffs and you MUST see the sunset from up there about 9 pm. Walking down in the dark to find your dinghy and then get to your yacht would be no picnic. Coupled with that Santorini is far to the south of all the other islands and way out of your way. So do what we did and leave your boat safe in Mykonos and take the fast ferry to Santorini. We spent only two nights in Santorini and that was enough though more would have been fine too. (Cost was: ferry 41 E per person each way, 60E for nice room at Loizos pension in Fira- though next time I would stay at Oia town. We did an all day boat trip to the volcano for about 20 E each)
Syros- we anchored in Finkas which was nice and took the bus to the main town of Ermopolus for the afternoon but others report the docks at Ermopolous are fine too.
Kea- anchored in front of town docks and explored hora.
Athens/Pireaus- Zea marina. Very friendly and well located. Pulled in at 3 pm and by 7 pm our broken davits and stern rail had been rewelded by a very reasonably priced stainless welder. Next day we stocked up with great prices at the 4 nearby chandleries and Carrefour food market, leaving us a day and a half to explore Athens. Transport from the marina is very easy via bus and train.
Corinth canal- we anchored just east of the canal and went in at 0730 to pay our fees via credit card.. Took about 10 minutes and we were on our way- scenic and expensive but worth it for us.
Ithaka was one of our favorite stops-- Make sure to rent a motorbike and tour the island. Fantastic views.
Prevasa- we side tied to the wall here and liked it very much. Stayed several days rented a car and drove to Vicos Gorge and to up to Meteroa to see all the wonderful monasteries in the cliffs. Got good welding done at the smaller yard across the bay. The mermaid restaurant is FANTASTIC- best we found in Greece.
Corfu- nice stop. Great views from the castle. Can take dinghy from anchorage all the way around headland to chandleries otherwise it is a long, long walk. Clearing out- Greece is EU and therefore Schengen so you probably want to stop the clock on your EU entry. You can clear out up at the marina north of town and mail in your cruising permit but if you do that you will NOT get a passport out stamp. So best bet is to go to customs at cruise ship terminal and do everything there.
Erikoussa- good stop after clearing out of Corfu to give you early start to Croatia or Italy
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