When we leave Mykonos for Naxos
It is blowing (we dragged anchor twice)
We rollick downwind under headsail alone
We are pleased there are no ropes to splice

Like Mykonos, Naxos is charming but packed
The alleys wind up through the shops
And cafes and bars and old Frankish town
And at night the town fairly hops

We motor bike up through the hills behind town
Past the old marble pits gleaming white
We find Apiranthos and Filoti
Bougainvillea splashed upon white

Will this meltemi stop? It's been blowing for days
When it drops off a bit we're away
To Paroika on Paros'north western side
A beautiful big calm bay

You immediately feel that the tempo has dropped
From a city to country town
We wander around the stone flagged lanes
And steps winding up and down

Antiparos (by ferry) slows down even more
We have omelettes and coffee ashore
Then we bike tour again through the terraced hills
(They are, sadly, not worked any more)

It's a lovely calm night at Sikinos
When we anchor outside the mole
We climb up this morning to Kastro
This is close to the Greek Islands soul

Now we're tied up at Santorini
And Kerrie and Michael arrive
We descend the town steps, ride donkeys back up
And watch Thira come alive

There's an issue here with our papers
The bureaucrats have a field day
Then the customs display some creative skills
And we're legal to go on our way

We depart Vlikhada marina
And sail slowly round the caldera
Past the port and the plug and then Oia
At the northern most end of Thira

There's a mooring they've kept at Thirasia
We climb up the steps to the top
We swim and we sketch and the crew do their tasks
It's a good low-key place to stop

Now we're off west to Folegandros
The bus barely climbs up it's hill
To the Hora. It bustles, musicians arrive
But old-timers sit there still

We drop anchor off Poliagos
Under Manolonisi's lee
A stern line induces the wind to drop
We're alone with the moon and the sea

Times are changing, we find, at Milos
High priced Plaka is where you should be
But the fuel man shows us his veggie patch
And at Klima the canteloupe's free

When Kerrie and Michael's bike comes adrift
They decide to resign their commissions
We see the Free Spirits at Sifnos
When we anchor in calm conditions

This morning we're heading to Hydra
Will the rich and the famous be here?
We were here nearly 32 years ago
Some memories are dim,some seem clear

Were the donkeys like that on the waterfront?
Where's the hotel? Who can tell?
Were the cafes paved with marble then?
Ah yes, I remember it well

It blows from the north at Mandraki Bay
So we hurriedly get under way
It keeps blowing harder; we creep back in
To the shelter of Poros Bay

This cloud has its silver lining though:
Poros channel and town to explore
Tiled villas sweep down to the water here
And the greenery softens the shore

If the wind drops down in the morning
As it will, supposedly
We'll be sailing through the Corinth canal
And farewell the Aegean sea

JULY 2008




The weather forecast encourages us to leave Fournoi after breakfast before the winds increase. A large fishing boat comes in and it takes 6 men a long time to clean out and organize their nets.

Leaving Port Fournoi we head straight into 25kt winds and 2 metre waves. We travel along the northern side of Ikaria to avoid the fierce gusts you would experience coming down off the mountains to the south. This only adds 6 n.miles and, hopefully, we will get a good sail. And we do, sailing up to 8kts. in a north of west direction close into the coast, and watching the sun sparkle on the blue water.

I shouldn't have written this now - the wind has dropped out and we are motor-sailing to Evdilhos about half way along the northern coast, which looks precipitous. This village is a quiet fishing village with high mountains behind it and a large bluff to the seaward side.

Our first impressions are disappointing. There seems to be a great deal of heavy road works development happening, and the coast guard official appears to be very unwelcoming. The latter is because he is getting excited trying to make us understand a huge ferry is coming in to berth near where we are trying to anchor. We then try to tie up stern-to on a concrete jetty which has a large piece broken off it on the port side. With the strong swell here this is difficult, and there is a sense of unease amongst the team, especially when Ross asks Phil to jump from the dinghy at the stern of the yacht to the jetty. He manages a very impressive leap. We laugh about this later as we had a similar situation when Phil crewed with us circumnavigating Australia, and he justifiably went on strike. There is not much said, but a better option is not readily apparent.

Finally, the decision is made to anchor and use a flopper stopper on the port side. This piece of equipment is attached from the boom which hangs from the port side down several metres into the sea and acts to steady the boat. This is very successful and we are comfortably settled for the night. It is lovely to hear the cicadas chirping from the shore. The water here is idyllic for swimming - clear, turquoise and bracing.

We all go ashore to do a drawing before dinner. We try the local Retsina (wine flavoured with resin) and decide it's not for our palettes. Ross pays his respects to the coast guard, who is welcoming after all, and suggests two local places for dinner. We enjoy a candlelight dinner on the waterfront and watch as the night lights of the town come on and leave their reflection across the water. The town softens at night and is gradually growing on us. We end up having a really lovely time here.


After an early morning swim we leave to explore the island by car. Some of the interior of the island is very green with dry stone wall terracing, many oleanders, cacti of various types and Pencil Cyprus.

Karestos is a delightful small seaside town with a slate roofed church and without even a shop. Nobody appears to be up and about yet.

Driving through one of these mountain top villages a middle aged Greek woman waves us down outside her home. Sue asks for a lift to Therma, the seaside town known for its hot springs. This detour isn't very far and we all enjoy coming here.

Along the way we see many goat herds. They are able to survive in the most rugged countryside. From the n.east tip of the island there is a spectacular view back across the last few islands and their surrounding seas where we have just sailed by.
Argios Kirykos on the southern coast is the main port. It is large and is not protected from the prevailing winds as we are at Endhilos.

We up anchor at 11am to get underway before the wind comes up as forecast. We have a great sail of up to 8kts across the north coast listening to Beethoven's 9th symphony. Our destination is 50n.miles south west to Mykonos (about 7 hours). We are very fortunate it is a very calm evening and an excellent weather forecast so we can anchor off-shore a short dinghy ride to the old town. It is very unusual to be able to do this with the prevailing winds at this time of the year.

None of us have great expectations of Mykonos, especially after reading negative reports in some of the guide books. We all have a wonderful time here.


We're now alone,bound for Niseros
We moor at Mandraki port
There are motor bikes on the harbour front
We hire one for some sport.

The road winds up high to Nikea
The village seems barely alive
It has narrow lanes and colourful doors
Population: 35.

We relax on the cafe verandah
With the Icelanders we'd met before
Then the wind's in our face and the sun's in our eyes
And we're 19 years old once more.

We find Kos a bit disappointing
Like Rhodes but without the flair
We move on to Bodrum where Robbie and Phil
Have plenty of news to share.

We head out today towards Leros
Going Greek is the thing to do
But the wind comes up hard on the nose(again)
So we pull into Akyar Koyu.

Next day we drop anchor at Leros
At Pandeli,just off the beach
We eat with our feet in the pebbles tonight
These Greeks still have something to teach.

We set off again on the motor bikes
The castle's high up on the rock
The museum curator regales us with tales
(He has a plentiful stock).

We sail into Agathonisi(yippee!)
We must anchor in sixty feet
But it still offers six tavernas
And the view of the port's hard to beat.

Now it's Samos.We dock at Pythagorian
We're right in the centre of town
We've just tied up tight when Wendy and Phil
And their bags come sauntering down.

From Samos it's only a hypotenuse
To the ancient Ephesus site
There's a ferry to Kusadasi
The library's my favourite sight.

Now we're off on those powerful road bikes again
Exploring secluded towns
Psilli Ammos, Posidon and Kervelli Bay
With some swims and some rough ups and downs.

We sail west to Marathokambos
On Samos'south-western coast
We tie up beside a gulet here
We swim and have sketches to boast.

Fournoi,perhaps,is the pick of our spots
It's almost a never-ender
We sketch again, we walk to the church
We explore in the high speed tender.

The man who makes paint does very well here
Especially shades of blue
They paint the shutters and doors and sills
And the boats compete for it too.

Like the rest of the islands we've seen so far
They like Australians here
Nearly all claim Aussie relations
(Though the test of "relation's"unclear).

When Icarus flew a bit close to the sun
The wax melted out of his wings
He fell in the ocean just where we are now
Zeus said:"Just one of those things".

We anchor today at Evdhilos
On Icarus'northern shore
The swell settles down and the town comes alive
As we sit and sketch some more.

We leap up at dawn for the hill climb
Jack Brabham is at the wheel
Now we're sailing across to Mykonos
You would doubt that the blue is real.

We get here to find that the sea is so calm
We can anchor just off the town stage
We're not sure if anyone notices
We're not quite the average age.

July 2008




We go in by dinghy past the famous row of old windmills on the hilltop and tie up at the small beach in front of the waterfront busy with restaurants. Dinner here, at sunset, is a treat. We meet two young women from New Zealand here who are living and working at Cephalonia. They are great fun and ask us to look them up when we arrive there.

Dinner is interrupted when Ross notices the dinghy is filling with water from the wash of a large ferry. It is lucky he sees this happening or the weight of the dinghy might have broken its lanyard and let it loose to the seas. He and Phil empty it out and lift it up onto the beach.

Behind the waterfront is Little Venice. It is very easy to lose your sense of direction here. We wander through these narrow and winding ally ways looking for an Internet for Phil and Wendy so they can book their ferry trip to Athens, and then a flight to London.

We come across many white-washed churches and hundreds of small shops selling very trendy clothes, jewelry and sandals. There are also galleries, restaurants and bars. And crowds of people. It is a wonderful place to people watch, especially seeing the young in their fashions.

Bougainvillea seems to be in full bloom and cascading just in all the right places. Mykonos is definitely touristy but somehow seems to manage it well.


The wind is forecast to come up again, so we decide to up anchor and move to Ormos Bay for better protection. Just after we do this a very strong wind comes up. Phil and Robbie are anchored here too with their guests so we share some fun meeting for drinks on board and dinner on-shore at a taverna.

Phil and Wendy are staying an extra night rather than spending an extra night in Athens, so the four of us drive over to Super Paradise Beach and have a delicious lunch at the Coco Bar. The swimming is excellent, so we spend time just relaxing. There are obviously people here who lead alternative lifestyles, but everyone is happy relaxing in their own way.


We see Phil and Wendy off at their ferry. As Phil would say "we've had good fun" with them on board. Phil is such a keen crew, and we enjoyed Wendy's help with photography and the computer.


Barbequed tuna
Marinate the tuna in lime juice
Coat tuna in black sesame seeds and barbeque
serve with ratatouille,
potato salad with a light dressing and fresh oregano finely chopped over it.
and salad (including goats cheese, kos lettuce and avocado).

We make use of the hire car - provisioning, some extras for the boat and some more exploring of the island.

Later this afternoon we drag anchor, which you hope will never happen to you. The pilot book does warn of this here because of the weedy bottom. Fortunately, we are on the boat so all is well. Phil happens to call by at the right time again!

Early evening we have drinks with the American couple nearby. They have been traveling the world for 15 years, so are very interesting to talk with.

We can't believe the anchor starts to drag again tonight. Ross always sleeps lightly when there is any risk like this so we deal with it quickly and re-anchor and then have a sleep in.



FRIDAY, 11 JULY, 2008

We sail across to Naxos just with the headsail averaging 6 1/2 - 7 kts 173 south. Coming in we see the gateway of the unfinished temple to Apollo (the portarara) high up on the bluff in front of the anchorage. Looking towards the town we see the hilltop with the upper Venetian style architecture, the Kastro where the Venetians lived, and below the white box-like houses, the Bourgos where the Greeks lived.

We are dealing with very busy ports in the summer. Fortunately, we are on the boat when another yacht drags anchor and comes down on us. Three other yachties come over to help sort this out as the owners are ashore for the day. It is all part of coping with the Meltemi in the eastern Mediterranean. These are dry n.westerly winds which blow during the summer and are often quite strong.

The islands "favourite deity is Dionysos, the God of wine and ecstasy". This sets the tone for the town which comes to life at night as people wander through the stone pathed narrow alley ways lined with tavernas, colourful shops and galleries. Again, the bougainvillea is everywhere. We have dinner on the terrace of a locally recommended taverna, Boulamatsis.


We hire a motor bike to explore the Tragaea region. This area has spectacular scenery down to the sea with high mountainous slopes, many terraced slopes with olive trees and goats, and unspoiled Greek mountain villages, each with its own individuality, particularly the galleries with art and ceramics. One highlight is the area where marble is being quarried. It would be fascinating to know how they extract these enormous, heavy blocks by cutting it and lifting it out.

We also make a detour and go off the main road down through small, bumpy, narrow lanes through fenced off farms to find an ancient basilica. We enjoy being in the countryside and smelling the freshly baled hay in the paddocks.

Once back at Naxos we head for the beach at Agia Anna, past the famous wind surfing area which looks so colourful.

SUNDAY, 13 JULY 2008

We wake up to high winds again gusting up to 30kts. We are planning to go to Paros which we can see easily 5.3 n.miles away. The agent we spoke with last night, a lovely Greek man who chatted to us over a cup of coffee, confirms the winds should start dying off about midday. This morning Robbie helps me with some computer issues, and I can help her with some physio. They have been busy with guests and are heading off elsewhere after lunch.

The wind does drop off so we set off after lunch. It is disappointing when the winds do come up again to 30kts and to the n.west just as we turn west to come round the northern tip of the island. The seas come up to a 4 metre swell, so we make very slow progress, even with the engine on 1900 revs. and half the mainsail up. Our slowest speed is 6kts. This has been Ross' least enjoyable passage yet.

Once we turn into a s.westerly direction the situation improves and we can sail with the headsail up, to average 6.5kts. We anchor at Paraika on the west coast. Sunset is just beautiful again when we go ashore to wander around the old town and have dinner at the oldest Greek restaurant on the island. The place comes to life as dusk falls. We appreciate the extra hours of light here until about 8.45pm. The climate is idyllic waking up to clear, blue skies every day and having reliably warm evenings. We haven't experienced rain at all in the Med. yet, which is a serious problem here, and why the marinas have restricted use of water.

Paxos has a very relaxed atmosphere and the people here are very friendly.

MONDAY, 14 JULY 2008

We take a motor bike and cross on the short ferry to Anti-Paros. The waters here are beautiful but not safe to sail through because they have shallow and rocky patches.

Anti-Paro is a very small island with a very attractive port lined with tavernas and it has a great bakery where we have the most delicious apple pastry. There is a lovely sense of space here as we motor about the island with its many grape vines and dry stone walled fences. There is a great deal of new very substantial home building. One of these homes has included its own chapel. We are told that the reason for seeing so many small chapels in our travels is that some people believe if they build their own chapel it will atone for a life time of sins. We see very little stock here, only four cows. There are many small attractive beaches.

Back on Paros island we ride up to Lefkes, set up high in the hills. No cars are permitted in the centre of this town. We are running out of superlatives for these Greek villages and experiences. It is a treat to walk through these alleyways.



MONDAY, 14 JULY 2008

This afternoon we leave for Sikinos. We are cautious here as there are strong currents and many large outcrops of rock. A large ferry went down here in 2000 losing many lives because they hadn't allowed enough for the leeway from the south setting current.

We have a reasonable sail until the wind drops out. We are continually surprised how few boats we see when we are sailing from place to place. Often there isn't another vessel in sight.

We enjoy another lovely Greek experience at Sikinos. We anchor at the mouth of Ormos Scala, one of the smallest ports we have seen. Fortunately it is a calm night. We have dinner up high onshore looking down over the port with the yacht and dinghy in sight. This always means Ross can relax more.


Next morning we walk straight up the steep incline for three and a half kls. to the delightful tiny village of Kastro. We take time to do a drawing here and have a cup of tea. Waiting for the bus to go back down we meet a young Greek woman who speaks excellent English. We hope she might come out on the boat with us but she is too busy. As with many people on the islands she spends 6 months a year working in Athens and the 6 summer months at home helping the family with their restaurant business.

Soon we motor to Santorini. It is calm without sufficient wind to sail. Here we have no choice but to go to the Vlikadha marina because its too deep to anchor within the caldera, the large crater of the volcano. Its spectacular looking at the white buildings of Thira and Oia from the water and their surrounding landscape, and equally spectacular looking down to the sea from these towns.

We are grateful to raft up beside the Mellett's as this small marina is full when we arrive. We have a fun dinner on Free Spirit tonight. They still have Phil's brother, Ian, and his wife Chris on board.


This morning we drive to the main port, Athinios, at the base of the high cliffs to meet Kerrie and Michael Giles who are arriving from Athens on the slow, overnight ferry. It is exciting to see them coming off this crowded ferry amongst many backpackers looking ready to have a great time. This is a very busy and chaotic place, accentuated by the fact that there isn't much space here at the base of the cliff.

Santorini with Kerrie and Michael
My driving Kerrie back up the steep, never ending S-bends is quite an introduction for her to the Greek Islands. The car keeps stalling at critical times, eg. when we have a large tourist bus waving us on. It has a very sensitive clutch which we confirm when Ross drives it later.

We venture into Thira, the main town. It is wonderful to see this place we have heard so much about with its alluring restaurants, array of jewellery and clothing shops, and galleries. Kerrie is definitely keen to have a retail fix! Of course, I'll have to accompany her. Neither of our husbands are very keen about this, and Ross has to start following up the saga of our cruising permit for Greece which we gave up when we went to Turkey briefly.

We take Kerrie and Michael back to the yacht to settle in. It is like Christmas on board with all the packages they have brought over, especially for Impulsive, and some wine and special champagne.

Tonight we return to Thira to walk down to the small port, Fira Scala, below. We watch the famous sunset at Santorini from here and then take a donkey ride back up. The light on the cliffs shows up their huge array of colours. We enjoy dinner at Rastonis looking over the spectacle of the Caldera of Santorini created by a volcanic explosion in 1650 B.C. In 1956 there was a major earthquake killing most of the people. Most of the houses of the two towns were ruined.

Sunset at Santorini

The four of us go back into Thira. Kerrie and I find a cutting edge Internet cafe to have a fresh fruit juice while we organize our emails. Ross, in the meantime, takes two and a half hours to obtain a new cruising permit. The Greeks are sticklers for the correct paper work. Ross has tried many times to do this and it has always been put in the too hard basket, but we have been told they can deal with it in Santerini. The problem now seems to be the time that has now lapsed since we checked out of Greece at Rhodes about a month ago. It is a great relief to be "all legal" again. Michael is busy keeping an eye on all of us, later helping Kerrie with shopping.

From here we drive up to Oia, the village on the northern most tip of the island. This charming place is a delight to walk through, and now we have the difficulty in choosing somewhere for lunch. We finally all agree on a very friendly, family run taverna, with delicious Greek cuisine. It is very hot so we enjoy a light meal, and the view back across the caldera. There is a slight breeze up here.

Santorini - Old Port
We all vote for dinner on the yacht tonight after a full day. Ross cooks up a great barbeque.

FRIDAY, 18 JULY 2008

We sail through the Caldera. This is a most memorable experience and we are so fortunate to have a calm day.

Sailing through the Caldera
We venture over to Thirasia Island. This island was separated from the main island in 236B.C. We are lucky to have a large buoy to tie up to here. Again, anchoring is difficult because of the depths.

After a late lunch on board we walk up the steep path to the Hora, the cliff top village of Manolas. We make time to have a drawing session here. We only see locals up here. There is one small taverna here to have a drink and take in the view. We are amazed to look down to see another yacht come and raft up next to us on the same buoy. It's fine, and we have to get used to these situations when it's too deep to anchor.

Dinner is at the only taverna available at 8pm. They cook on a grill over the open coals and it is delicious. Meantime, the now full moon is creeping up in the sky as a large orange ball.




We have spasmodic sailing in a n.west direction to the very small and rugged island of Folegrandos and anchor on the western side of the island at Angali Beach, in Vathi Bay. It is lovely swimming here.
Hilltop Hora on Foliangros Is.
View from Hora

We catch the bus up the island's steep ridge to the capital of Hora, a beautiful little village but tending to be a bit touristy. We enjoy an evening drink in the town centre where no cars are allowed under the shade of very old trees and watch as many well-dressed people walk by. Tonight they are holding one of their festival music concerts billed as the best available on the island.
Hilltop cafe at Hora (Folegrandos)

We take the bus back down to a restaurant by the water, as recommended by a local, for a very relaxed dinner. Ross is happier here where he can keep an eye on Impulsive.

Folegrandos has been used as a political prison since Roman times up until the C20.

SUNDAY, 20 JULY 2008

This morning we take a dinghy ride to the beach at the neighbouring small cove. Yesterday afternoon we saw endless small ferries taking people (again well-heeled) to and from this beach. It is well worth it, as we have one of our best swims ever. It is such a delight not to be worrying about what might be in the water, eg. sharks, stingrays, jellyfish or stonefish. The water still has a high salt content, so floating is a very relaxing pastime here.

Soon we leave in a n.westerly direction for Poliegos. We go off course so we can enjoy one and a half hours sailing and then motor up into the wind to the anchorage. This is a very secluded little island with a beautiful setting and nothing there but an old ruin. We enjoy the contrast between these quiet places and the busier ones like Santorini.

It takes Ross and Michael some time to put out a strong mooring line (a warp) from the stern. Kerrie and I have time to paint which is a real treat. Ross spoils us and makes a delicious salad nicoise for dinner.

MONDAY, 21 JULY 2008
Sailing past Klima

We start off with a good sail, and then the wind drops out, and we motor in a westerly direction to Milos close to its striking coastline with its post volcanic rocks of stunning shapes and colours. We tie up stern to the dock at Adamas. A Dutch family with two teenage boys pull in alongside us. They are great fun to have as neighbours.

Milos has a high mineral content. It now produces bentonite and perlite.

We ride motorbikes high up to the Plaka, the capitol of the island. It has wonderful views across the Gulf of Milos. We have a drink at "Utopia" to take all this in. Ross is not impressed with the prices here - $35 for 3 beers and a mineral water. This is the same as it was in Santorini - about quadruple the price for everything. We wander through the narrow streets and their whitewashed courtyards, balconies with brightly coloured flowers, old churches and museums. It is also well worth the walk up to the summit, Castro, even though it's hot, to see the views down across the farmlands with their newly baled hay, and out across to the very calm and blue sea. It is also interesting to watch other yachts coming in.

Castro was first inhabited when the island was constantly under pirate attack. Many of the hilltop villages were built for this reason.

We meet Kerrie and Michael for dinner as planned back down the hill at Barkos family restaurant. This is very relaxed, great Greek cuisine and back to sensible prices.

Unfortunately, we come ahead of Kerrie and Michael and don't realize they have had a spill off their bike. Thankfully, they are both alright physically but poor Kerrie is very shaken. We offer to go back to the boat with them but they think a drink, or two, and a good dinner should help.

When we get back into Adamas we can't believe the transformation from a quiet seaside town with not many people about to a place that is really buzzing with people everywhere. The place is lively with music. A yacht not far from us has four talented musicians playing and singing on the back of their boat.


The man who delivers our fuel is charming. He has a cup of tea with us and invites us to his station, "farm" and house.
Kerrie bravely comes on the bike again. This isn't easy for her but Michael is taking all care. Our first stop is to our new friend's place. The Greek's are overwhelming with their hospitality. He gives us at least a week's provisions from his veggie garden.

Next we wind our way up a very steep road to Klima. This is built around a small protected cove. The cave-like boathouses have been dug out of soft rock for protection against the strong north winds. Over the years they have been extended, improved and brightly painted and are now used as permanent homes by fishermen and as summer houses for holiday-makers. A fruit and veggie man is there with his ute and scales. We try to buy a cantaloupe which he slices for us to share, but he insists on giving it to us. This is a very efficient way for the locals to shop.

We pass by the old catacombs on our climb back up to Tripiti with its picturesque windmills and its imposing church built in 1880.

We are not so successful in finding the two recommended beaches we look for. We see more of the island though, including farms, market gardens and the mineral plants. On our way back we find a local beach which is lovely for a quick swim and which has many young families there laughing and having fun.

Ross is keen to leave for our next destination, Sifnos, to get there in the light. Kerrie and Michael decide to stay here and have a quiet day or two so Kerrie can have a proper relax before they meet other friends for a week in Italy. We are sorry they won't be with us for the next two days to Hydra but understand. I would do the same. It is lovely to just stay put for a while when you are travelling. So we say good-bye after a wonderful time together, and lots of fun.


Shrimps and calamari shasliks cooked on the barbecue (one shrimp one and one calamari one each, cooked separately as the calamari needs a little longer
Serve with : tamarind sauce
wild rice
greens eg. asparagus if available

Ross and I get underway for Sifnos. We were originally going to Seferos but our Dutch neighbours are going to Sifnos and the Melletts are there with Andrew and his partner. They all persuade us this is a good idea.

The island used to have gold and silver mining until C5 B.C., and now has a long tradition of pottery making.

There are views across the port, which are surrounded by high mountains.

Drinks on Free Spirit followed by a delicious dinner in a taverna ashore is a good way to the end the day. We always enjoy the stimulating company of the younger ones.


Ross and I wake at 4am. as a big swell comes in. We are sure we can't go back to sleep so we get underway. The trip to Hydra will be about 10 hours and we want to make the most of our time there. We both have a sleep on the way. We sail with the headsail only for a while, then with both sails. Unfortunately, the wind drops out and we then have to motor all the way with no wind, and for some time there is a strong swell. Later the wind comes up enough in the right direction to flatten it out and this is very relaxing with the calmer seas.

During this trip we realize we must sort out our timing to be in Rome as planned to fly home (we have booked our flights). We have so enjoyed just relaxing in the Greek Islands and soaking in their culture, beauty and climate it is quite a surprise to find we need to do some planning ahead.

Coming along Hydra's n.east coast is barren. We come into anchor in a small cove, Mandraki.
Tying up stern-to

We are just happily settled when a man swims out to suggest we anchored over lots of old anchors and tyres, and that we should be stern to the rocks. This manoeuvre is difficult here and takes us ages. It seems strange too because several other boats about our size have simply anchored. However, we would never ignore a local's advice, and fouling one's anchor is a problem.

After a refreshing swim we make the short dinghy ride around to Hydra town. It is the only place during this leg of our trip we have visited before and are pleased to see little has changed since 1978! There are more up-market shops and tavernas but little else is different. The small harbour is still filled with yachts and small fishing boats. Donkeys and mules still wait at the waterfront to carry luggage. It is lovely to meander back up from the waterfront through the narrow alley ways lined with jewellery, clothing shops and galleries towards the houses which have red tiled roofs.

We return to Mandraki and, after an evening's drawing session from the dinghy, we go to a local taverna for dinner.



WEDNESDAY, 23 JULY 2008 (Cont.)

Ross is sitting where he can watch Impulsive while we order dinner. He is concerned we are tied up so close to the shore. He soon notices the mast has moved a little closer to shore as the strong n. westerly wind comes up. The holding here with the wind coming in this direction will be untenable, so he quickly leaves and goes in the dinghy to check. In the meantime, the restaurant holds our dinner and agree they can put it in take-away packaging if necessary. Ross confirms we have to leave immediately so this is what we do, having a sip of our wine as we go. The people here have been very considerate and understanding. As we return to Impulsive we realize all the other boats have left or are pulling up their anchors to do so.
It takes us some time to get away as Ross has us so securely tied up to this stern to mooring. We are relieved to finally be underway and without any damage to the boat. Once organized we enjoy the dinner. We plan to sail overnight to the Corinth Canal, but at about midnight the wind comes up more and soon we are bashing straight into it, making little headway. We decide to find shelter at 2am in a small cove outside the channel to Poros. We drop the anchor for the rest of the night. What a relief to be in calm waters and falling into bed.

We wake early and up anchor at 5.30am to get underway while it's still calm. These meltemi winds seem to come up in the afternoon. What a gem of a place Ross chose to anchor at. As we pass up the narrow canal we wish we have time to stop here. You can sense there is a lovely atmosphere here. We read later it is a popular holiday destination from Athens. The town is on one side with charming architecture of the old houses along the channel and its whitewashed houses with their red tiled roofs you can see in the narrow alley ways leading up high to the clock tower and cathedral. Some people are up and about already preparing for the day . We are close enough to shore to see people going in and out of the bakery. On the other side you look over to the mountainous Peloponnese.

All is calm until 9.30am when 30kt winds (the scale of 6-7) come up against us in the more exposed seas here, and we are lucky to make 3kts boat speed. None of this was apparent in the forecasts, and it is frustrating they are so often wrong in these areas. We would never leave on a passage with a forecast like this. We wonder if we are going around the world the wrong way! To continue like this is unpleasant and hard on the boat so we turn back and anchor in a lovely cove at Poros. We have time to explore here after all and enjoy it very much.

FRIDAY, 25 JULY 2008

Again we set off early, hopeful with a reasonable forecast from sea mail weather. We went in to see the port officials yesterday and they only give a forecast from 7am each morning. Also we have learned that they give lower wind forecasts than expected because they don't want the tourist ferries to be cancelled. Again we experience 30 kts of wind against us. The seas rise up and are very choppy, so we give in and head in through many fish farms to anchor at a deep inlet south of Korfos called Ormos Selounda, which is part of the Peloponnese. Again, the skipper has found a lovely anchorage surrounded by high mountains, barren up high and wooded lower down.

We meet other very friendly and helpful yachties here all waiting for the right weather window to get through to the Corinth Canal. The main issue is that you need to wait until there is a good forecast to get to the canal and then another one for when you come out into the Corinth Bay. The latter can have very strong seas and winds against you and, if the small Corinth marina is full, it is a long distance until you can find protection. Apparently, the heavy winds we are experiencing are coming across from the Adriatic. There isn't a good weather window until Monday so we look forward to exploring the beautiful Peloponnese. Not many tourists come to this area apparently, but it is a favourite area for Greek people.

These same people encourage us to move Impulsive and bring her in stern to the quay for better protection. This means we step off the boat and can sit down at the restaurant for a very late (3.30pm) and lengthy lunch. We check the weather on the Internet with a Swiss man who has some fancy adaptor. There is no Internet cafe here.

Unfortunately, the restaurateur wasn't happy with where we dropped our anchor as much as we tried to do as he requested (they want to fit boats in as tightly as possible and to avoid fouling anchors). This set the tone for a while but all is well when we leave. It is a great benefit to have Impulsive well secured to go off for the day.

We are told there is an open air concert on tonight 30 ks away at Epidhavros in its well preserved classical theatre. We are very disappointed to find we cannot get transport there at this late stage. In this tiny place there are no car hire places available and the taxi won't take us in to Corinth until tomorrow to hire a car. This is a 45 minute drive. We are very tired so we have a light dinner on board and a good sleep ready to leave early tomorrow morning.



We drive in the taxi to Corinth through green wooded countryside with an abundance of olive trees. The seas look benign. At Corinth the winds are strong and the seas are big. A motor cruiser tried to go out and came back in after 5 n.miles. We are pleased to have made the right decision.

The old Corinth town was destroyed years ago by earthquakes and is now a sprawling, featureless town. This is partly because the buildings have been replaced with modern, concrete ones that can resist earthquakes better. The old town site is worthy of a visit apparently, but we didn't make it.

We drive along the coast road with its views and turn off up a very steep incline with high escarpments beside a steep sided Vouraikos gorge to Zahlorou, about 100ks. from Corinth, and its small train station. This small train is a highlight of the area. Unfortunately, the train is under repair but we can follow near its track anyway. It is very beautiful here by a running creek and well shaded with many plain trees. It's also cooler. We go back down to Diakofto, a small seaside town where the train ride begins. Many olive and lemon trees grow in this area, and you can look back up to the high mountains above where there are numerous chalets for the ski season. We have lunch at Costas run by a family who have lived in Australia for many years.

We drive back along the coast road towards the wine area and turn off to the Nemea wine road. The countryside here is an agricultural belt amongst rolling hills. Some of the wineries are perched up high and we were amazed the vines look so healthy where they must have to withstand high winds. We have a tasting at a smaller, more personal vineyard and buy some Kthma from the local grape and Cabernet Sauvignon.

This has been many hours of driving for Ross but a lovely "Greek" experience that we hadn't planned.

When we arrive back to Impulsive a young German family have pulled in beside us and are great fun. After dinner on shore off the stern of the yacht we have drinks with the Swiss skipper, Alan, and his crew. The latters cousin, also from Switzerland, is with them and she has been living on the island for 10 years since she was widowed at an early age. She is very informative about the life and culture here. She goes "home" for 4 months a year to ski.



SUNDAY, 27 JULY 2008

We are up very early to move the boat out to drop the anchor. First we have hot apple pastries from the bakery. Last night the guys on the quay ask us to move on. We aren't so pleased about this because we plan to leave the boat for the day and enjoy the security of being tied up. The issue is they have a large number of charter boats coming in and they usually have a lot of crew on board who will eat at this taverna. They don't charge us to tie up here so the taverna is their livelihood, and so when we come in with only two crew they prefer us to move on sooner rather than later. So we get our ration of water and move off. Unfortunately, the guys here have very explosive manners but, once they explain to us why, we are happy. The woman we spoke with says the water truck comes to her every three days. The water shortage here is serious and so we can't wash down the boat. Apparently, there are similar restrictions in some yacht clubs in Melbourne now.

We set off to make a round trip to Delphi along the spectacular coast road towards Athens, just getting a glimpse of the canal as we pass over the top of it, and then turn off in a n.west direction to Thebes passing through rolling hills of agricultural countryside with many acres of potatoes being grown and harvested. The disastrous bushfires are just north of Athens. We then start winding our way up the slopes of Mount Parnassus to Delphi, an amazing site set high up on the cliff tops. This is the site of the ancient temple and oracle of Apollo in Greece. It was the centre of the world in ancient Greek religion. From 582 Delphi was the site of the Pythian Games. (I stupidly sprained my ankle this morning so was pleased to make it to the top).

The museum is modern and holds artifacts dating back to 650B.C. The archaeological site is fascinating to walk through, perched up so high and with stunning views. It is lovely the way the soft grey-green of the olive trees below blend in so well with the old stonework. Apollo's sanctuary, the theatre and the stadium are the main features for us. We wonder if any buildings or sites of today will be so well preserved in another 2,700 years.
Part of frieze exhibited in the gallery

We have a quick, light lunch in Delphi looking over the views below out as far as the Corinth Bay. It looks so benign out there it is difficult to believe it won't calm down until tomorrow. Again, this trip is hours of driving but it means we can sail overnight without stopping for a visit to Delphi, and so make up a day.

We drive back along the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth and west of the canal in a westerly direction. We plan to stop just at Nafpactos at the west end of the Gulf of Corinth. Coming into this small, ancient, circular, stonewalled harbour by boat would be wonderful. We doubt if we could get our boat in and there wouldn't be room for her anyway. There are numerous attractive tavernas set around the harbour and in the main square just beyond. We have a drink here and are sorry we have to move on.

The Greeks like their tolls along their road systems. The drive over the suspension bridge at the western end of the Gulf of Corinth is very expensive. It is an engineering feat. They charge accordingly at 11 euros. The other tolls are all 2.5 euros.

It has been an experience to drive along the northern (today) and southern (yesterday and today) coasts of the Corinth Gulf as we plan to sail straight through here tomorrow.

MONDAY, 28 JULY 2008

We up anchor early and make our way to the Corinth Canal. We have breakfast as we go listening to Mozart's flute and harp concertos. It is very calm today.

We have a cleaning and scrubbing session as we go along, because with the water restrictions we can't hose and brush down the boat, which is much easier and does a better job.

To pass through the canal is very expensive - $500- and at weekends it is double. We may have tried to leave yesterday but, with the extra expense and a not perfect weather forecast, we decided to wait. The canal is closed on Tuesday so we are pleased to have excellent weather today.

It is an exciting time passing through the canal. We have to wait 2 hours to go through, doing our paperwork ashore and then watching the boats coming out from the west side from small sailing boats and motor cruisers to the very large cargo ships. Building this canal was a great feat. It was first thought of in C7 B.C. and not completed until 1893. Passing along its 6ks it is very impressive looking up the 90m vertical sides. It is fun waving to the people on the bridges looking down at the boats passing through.
Corinth Canal

We are sailing here in company with Alan from Switzerland. He is hoping we can sail along the northern coast of the Gulf of Patra with them towards the Ionian Islands but, unfortunately, we have to move on. We will keep in touch and, hopefully, meet up again soon.

The calm weather holds for the overnight sail. It is an interesting experience to go under the suspension bridge that we drove over yesterday. We have to radio the traffic control here to be told which section to pass through - the deepest one for the commercial boats and either side for yachts and cruisers. Each section is well lit at night so it is very clear where to go. The only challenge can be the small car ferries that still cross frequently, even though the bridge is operating.


We are heading for the Ionian group of islands to slip into Argostoli, the capital on Kefallonia, at about 9.30am. Sadly, the island was devastated by the 1953 earthquake so suffers architecturally with the modern style buildings. However, the beaches and small harbours, rugged mountains and cliffs, and some ancient sites make this an excellent stop. Also, we are hoping to catch up with the N.Z. girls we met in Mykonos.

We drive up the coast to Myrtos beach. Just getting there along these steep winding roads with hairpin bends one after the other, and taking in the scenery along the mountainous coastline seeing the most fantastic stretch of blue waters, is an experience in itself. Myrtos Beach, where Captain Corelli's Mandolin was filmed, is said to be in the ten top beaches of the world. We have a blissful afternoon here swimming in the beautiful blue water and then dropping off to sleep under an umbrella. The facilities are basic here with just a snack bar and the usual hire of umbrellas and lounges.
Mertos Beach

13 ks. north we come to Assos. This would have to be the jewel of the area. We spend time here drawing, looking back over the bay to the isthmus with its whitewashed and newer pastel houses, many with vine covered terraces. Later we walk up to the Venetian fortress high up on the peninsular. The views from here over the surrounding seas and coastline are spectacular, especially as the sun is beginning to set and casting beautiful lights over the water.

At such short notice we are unable to catch up with the N.Z. girls. They have guests from home. They suggest dinner in a day or two but we need to move on while the forecast is favourable. Another meltemi is forecast for Thursday. They are keen to have a sail too but, unfortunately, it's not working out.


Today we are motoring in calm weather 50 n.miles north to Fiskardo, so we are passing by the same coastline we drove by yesterday. This is the only town on the island not ruined by the earthquake.



We are finally through the Corinth Canal
And the now-tame Corinth Bay
The admiral deals with the Rion Bridge
(There aren't even tolls to pay)

Now we're crossing the gulf of Patros
And this morning right on first light
We make out Cephallonia
It's a very welcome sight

We tie up at Argostoli
And do the mountain climb
To the famous stony Myrtos Beach
Where it's watermelon time

We besiege the Venetian fortress
At the tiny Assos port
There's a shady spot to sit and sketch
(Some tones may not have been caught)

The Lonely Planet says of Fiskardho
It's for "yachties with attitude"
We're not at all sure what to make of this
Perhaps they meant "altitude"?

We put out our long lines with real panache
In case we must pass some test
The people next door need help from us
And we're just as good as the rest

When we go ashore we find the port
Is a sunny low-key place
It has tables laid for thousands,but
Of "attitude" barely a trace

We sail north to Anti Paxos
We have trouble anchoring here
We walk to the hill top taverna
Note this: orange juice,not beer

All the boats depart by late afternoon
For Paxos for the night
We anchor at Gaios; the harbour displays
Venice pinks in the evening light

We motor-scoot north up to Laka
Back via Longos to the east
We are charged "August" prices to do it
(Demand doubles today, at least)

It's a calm flat sea as we motor north
Towards old Corfu Town
We have an anxious meeting here
With an artist of some renown

It works out all right 'cos we ply him with drinks
So that when Warren comes to look
He nods with approval and puts a gold star
Rather liberally through the sketch book

We dine well with Warren at Pelekas
Then up for an overnight stay
At the memory-laden Levant Hotel
(Which might have had its day)

There's a quick overnight at Laka
And one last go at Greek food
Now we're off across the Ionian Sea
To catch the Sicilian mood.





Coming into Fiskado is a lovely sight with yachts and cruises coming and going into this busy little harbour. This is the only village on Kefalonia not ruined by the 1953 earthquake, so it still has its Venetian buildings standing as they were. The hills behind are green wooded areas with pockets of Cyprus trees.
Helping an English family tie up stern to

Ross helps an English family into a stern to tie up next to us. It is their first time so the husband is very appreciative.

There is a relaxed feel about the place even though there are super yachts and cruisers and some trendy people here. We have a light, simple dinner ashore to sample the atmosphere. Later we walk along the coast to look at some ancient ruins.


We sail n.east averaging 6kts. for 6 1/2 hours to Anti-Paxos. Fighter jets are flying very low above us. It seems they are just above our mast and the noise is incredible. A naval ship is traveling near us for some time too. Perhaps it is a naval exercise happening?

We have anchoring problems at a charming small Agrapidia bay where there is a tiny boat harbour. We are unable to get a good holding so move on.

Just dropping into a very small island like Anti-Paxos with all its grapevines and beautiful beaches in the late afternoon is what you dream about. The lovely waters with the deeper dark tones through to the turquoise and then the palest blue enhanced by the sun shining through to the crumbled white limestone below. We go ashore to the pretty pebbled beach, Voutoumi, where children are making "pebble " castles. We walk up to the top of the hill to the taverna to appreciate the views. We really like the fresh orange juices in Greece but think at E5-7 each we should squeeze our own. Later we swim off the boat in these translucent waters. This anchorage is not recommended for overnight holding so we move a short distance to Paxos and anchor off Gaios harbour. It is so popular here all the stern-to mooring space is filled early in the day. There is still some space on the other side of the town but if there is enough protection and a good holding we are happier just to drop the anchor. It is quieter and has a lovely sense of space. Also the water is clean for swimming off the yacht.

This picturesque village is built around the port which is protected by 2 small islands. It is the smallest of the Ionian Islands and is a cluster of small islands and rocky islets.

We enjoy the Venetian architecture along the busy waterfront, and find a delicious low-key dinner in a Greek family taverna in behind the main tourist area. The town comes to life as night falls, especially around the main square.

Paxos was named the cultural village of Europe in 2004. This is to make all possible efforts to continue and improve the cultural life in the villages.


We explore the island on a motorbike. We are told prices go up on August 1 because it is the height of the season. We have been paying E10 per day elsewhere and they are asking E8 per hour here. Fortunately, it is a very small island. We travel n.east along the smoother coastline. The western coastline has the abrupt limestone cliffs as we saw in Kefalonia. Inland there are endless olive groves which produce the famous olive oil which they export from here.

Lakka and Longos are the other two small harbours here and are a treat to visit. We spend time soaking in the atmosphere at each one, having a long orange juice at one and a warm fresh apple pastry from the bakery at the next.

We have a "close shave" on the bike this morning, and it is Ross' skillful driving that saves us a spill. Another bike pulls out of a road in front of us and just props when he sees a car coming. We have a few unstable wiggles and just miss clipping his bike as we get around behind him.

Back in Gaios we replenish the provisions and set off for the east coast of Corfu, a 5 1/2 hour trip with some sailing. We both enjoy these longer passages, especially with this glorious weather, and the sailing is an added bonus.

We are excited to be returning to Corfu where we came two years ago for a two week art tour with the artist Warren Curry. He has been coming here for ten years now and holds one of these sessions each year. He has just had a very successful exhibition here and is holding his next one in Victoria next November. He was offered another exhibition in Paxos this year but felt exhibitioned out (he had one at home earlier in the year) but plans to do this next year.

Warren has dinner on Impulsive which is such fun. We are very appreciative of his constructive critique he gives us for our art works. It's not quite the gold stars but very encouraging.


Unfortunately, we have knocked and bent a stanchion coming in here to Gouvia marina in Garitsa Bay yesterday evening. Ross has hired a bike and is trying to find somewhere to get it repaired. It is lucky we plan to be here for several days, because being Saturday it is difficult to get work like this done during the weekend. He finds a helpful contact who can do it by mid-morning Monday when we hope to leave.
Dinner with Warren and Stephanie

We set off to Pelekas on the west coast to meet Warren at his house. We leave early so we can retrace our steps from our previous trip here. We have a call from Warren saying he has booked us in to the Levant Hotel for the night, where we stayed 2 years ago. After his mostly unlit bike ride back last night (we had suggested he stay on the boat), with its steep and winding roads he doesn't think its safe for us to try. It's about a 40 minute trip across the island, so we are delighted with this proposal. We go there first to park the bike and leave our small knap-sack of luggage. We have a tiny attic room which is the last room available. (This is our first night off the boat since we left Cyprus. She really is like our home now).

The neo-classic style hotel has a charming atmosphere even though it is in need of some renovations. It is close to the western shore of the island on the summit of Pelekas Hill with panoramic views of the surrounding area and the famous sunset. Close by is Kaiser's Observatory where Empress Elizabeth of Austria and Kaiser 11 of Germany enjoyed their favourite stroll.
Levant Hotel

It's a lovely walk down to the village to Warren's house. What a wonderful night we have with Warren and his business friend Stephanie, at his small Greek house just oozing with atmosphere, and with its views over miles of Corfu with its pockets of olive groves and pencil Cyprus trees and the sea. We also see some of his art which we always admire and enjoy. They serve up a delicious warm Thai green curry chicken dish served on a bed of salad.


The plan was to take Warren sailing with us today or tomorrow, but he has been extremely generous with his time and has other commitments to work around, especially his painting. So we say good-bye until we all get back to Australia.

We spend a lovely morning at Stephanie's house in the nearby countryside. She is a very interesting person, including being an artist herself, and has held some of Warren's exhibitions. She is also a professional health therapist, so I am spoiled with a massage - a combined Swiss/Thai one she likes to use.

We decide to miss the famous near-by beaches of Pelekas and Paleokastritsa this time. We had a lovely time there 2 years ago and today they will be very hot and busy, being holiday season and Sunday.

The trip back to Impulsive, as Stephanie suggests, is off the main road and through the forest with scattered farms and vegetable gardens.

As she also suggested, we venture off in the cool of the evening instead to Kommeno Bay to the Imperial hotel. We have a quick change in the car park out of the bike riding gear and in we go. As warned, the hotel is an architectural disaster, but the site is wonderful. The swim is refreshing but we don't put our heads under as the water isn't as clean and clear as we are used to. We have been spoiled out on the smaller islands. We enjoy a relaxed drink here with a view over the sea. Everything is ultra expensive. A cup of green tea is E7.5 and a whole packet of this tea is only E3.5 in the supermarket.

It is a great surprise to hear from Steve and Meg's friends Scotty and Sophie Vickers-Willis. We hope to have a rendezvous with them somewhere in the islands but, unfortunately, the timing isn't right. We are disappointed as this would have been great fun and a good opportunity to catch up with news from home.


After we have a busy morning provisioning, refitting the stanchion which looks as good as new, a long session on the computer with Scott by phone in the Internet cafe, and finishing off several other jobs, we head off in a s.east direction retracing our steps to Paxos. There is not much wind so we motor sail with the headsail up averaging 6.5kts.
This time we anchor at Lakki, the small harbour we so enjoyed visiting on the bike a few days ago.

This is one of the most picturesque harbours we have come into. It is small but it is amazing how many boats are anchored here. Luckily it is a shallow anchorage so we don't have to put out too much chain which will minimize our chances of tangling anchors, a hazard in the busy high season. An evening swim and a drink on board is very pleasant. Going ashore to walk along the waterfront and have dinner by the water is a lovely way to spend our last night after 8 weeks in the Greek Islands. The dinner was delicious - grilled stuffed squid, seafood risotto and Greek salad accompanied by the local organic red wine.


1. Salad with crumbled walnuts
Lettuce and rocket mixed and put onto individual plates
cover with sliced avocado, 4-5 large prawns each, crumbled walnuts
pour over light blue cheese dressing

2.for each serve
half an avocado each
filled with mixture of: tinned tuna
small dices of cucumber
small dices of red pepper
small dices of hard-boiled egg
finely chopped anchovy fillets
soft feta spooned gently through the above ingredients
light vinaigrette dressing (with mayonnaise-optional)


We are up bright and early to leave for Sicily. Mid-morning we receive a call from Stefhanie to see if she can join us in Paxos today. Sadly, the timing isn't right again. She wasn't able to come the previous 2 days so we are hoping she will visit Australia soon.

We were really looking forward to our time in the Greek Islands and we have loved it - hundreds of islands, often within a close sail of each other. There is great variety and diversity within the groups. There are hundreds of beautiful beaches and stunning waters everywhere. We also enjoyed the many different styles of architecture and tavernas. The history here is long and interesting, as is the local mythology. The Greeks have been very welcoming and helpful and it is certainly a place to take one's time and relax.

We have no wind today and a beam swell. We need some wind so we can put up a sail to flatten off the roll.

As we set off on an overnight sail across the Ionian Sea we have a light wind just north of west. We have 3 hours with the headsail being filled, which helped our speed to average 7kts, but later dropped back to 20 degrees off the bow instead of 5. It is glorious out here with the sun sparkling on the water, and the swell has settled now the wind has flattened out. We both read in the evening light out in the cockpit.

During the night the wind comes up to 24kts so we average 7kts S.O.G.