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Sailing from Athens to Rhodes, by Alan Inglish

Skippers Report from Athens to Rhodes.
The Greek Islands, May / June 2006

By Alan Inglis, [Greek Sailing Holidays] New Zealand
Greetings from your Kiwi skipper & tour guide.

The first of two charters this season has concluded with a two day stop-over in Rhodes. The group enjoyed all of the sights & shopping, the Old Town within the Castle of the Knights, this is a paradise for the bargain hunter. Also a must, is a trip down to Lindos, a popular resort beach and ancient castle 30kms south of Rhodes town. The 21 day sailing adventure started in Athens. We arrived in from Singapore and booked into our hotel in central Athens,

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(Alan with a perfect view to Akropolis)

..only a few minutes walk from the Acropolis, the meat & fish markets, plus the famous flea markets nearby.

On the Saturday morning Vagelis from Sailing in Blue, had organised a coach for us to Kalamaki Marina, 50 Euros.

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We boarded our 50.4 foot Cyclades luxury yacht," Siora Maria" this is a brand new yacht and we Where the first clients to charter it. Four generous cabins, with own private toilet & shower, huge cockpit with complete protection from the sun, a large spray dodger & very large bimini. Excellent galley & saloon lounge, well appointed navigation station GPS plotter Navtex, VHF Stereo system etc. Also for my first time on a yacht we had our own 220 volt power supply by way of a generator-set with plug outlets in each cabin so you can re-charge your appliances & cell phones. All the bells and whistles. But most of all, this yacht has "AIRCONDITIONING" in every cabin and the main saloon, boy was that great when the temperature started to climb into the high 30's. This yacht also has a furling headsail, plus a furling main with electric winch. This made life so easy. So with the inventory checked and briefings all completed with owner & the crew we set off to our first island, Aigina approx 21 nautical miles away.

We moored the yacht next to some fishing boats, and all had a beautiful Greek meal at a restaurant overlooking the marina. This was to set the pace for the rest of the trip. As we departed the next morning our anchor had snagged one of the fishing boats stern anchors, this required the use of my secret weapon "The anchor trip", which allows us to free an entangled anchor. Usually this activity attracts an audience and we have overheard some comments such as "How the hell did they do that so quickly".

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While they are still wondering what went on, we had departed to the next Island. The weather in May is generally warm, in the mid 20's, and light winds. We did get a little sailing done, but had to motor-sail with the main more than we would have liked. The reason I like to motor-sail with the main up, is it dampens the roll of the yacht and makes for a smoother ride. After all we are on holiday!

 

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Kithnos Island has two special locations, first; a beautiful bay "Fikiadha" a narrow sand bar separates it from an equally beautiful bay "Kolona". A swim and lunch here is always a treat. But the best kept secret is the thermal springs of "Loutra" on the western side, and now has a brand new marina with power & water at each berth, an excellent facility. It is only a short sailing day over to the island of Siros one of the Northern Cyclades group. Ermoupolis is the main town and is a very busy ship building, and commercial centre. There is also a Casino here too, excellent restaurants, shopping and some nice beaches on the East Coast, easily reached with a rental car or motor scooters.

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Mykonos and Delos, 21 nautical miles to the east, this is the one of the main tourist locations of Greece. The new marina some 3 km's away from the main town, is able to accommodate up to 3 massive cruise ships at a time plus the old port still has a busy timetable of ferries. The narrow alley ways can be congested at any time the cruise ships are in. The setting sun is a must see, up on the hill where the 5 windmills stand. Pelican square is also a popular photo opportunity with the 3 resident Pelicans walking amongst the tourists.

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Ancient Delos was once the political & religious centre of the ancient world. Legend has it that Apollo was born there. An entry fee of 5 Euros.[ allow 2 hours to explore the ruins.]

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Paros is to the south, a sleepy fishing village atmosphere. Naoussa is at the northern tip of the Island. As a favourite with the crew, there is good eating out, with a swimming beach next to the marina, and Parikia the capital of Paros a few miles west. Still heading south our next stop was Ios. This is the backpackers Island with the World famous "Far Out" camping resort over the hill located on beautiful Milopotamos beach. Also an evening at the "Lord Byron" restaurant is not to be missed.

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Murray&Margo, Bill & Steph

Next stop Santorini. Spectacular scenery, and a wonder to behold. The white houses on the cliff tops look like snow from a distance. As you get closer the 300m cliffs drop into the deep blue waters of the Caldera... Truly mind blowing! Again cruise ships are at anchor & on moorings under the cable car & donkey path which zig zags its way up the steep cliffs to the main town of Thira.

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So many shops with everything from jewellery to T-shirts, artwork, restaurants and Museums. Spectacular views across the Caldera especially at sunset, [ a must see.]

I normally allow a couple of days on Santorini, as there is so much to see. Wine tasting at the local winery is always popular. Red Beach, Akritiri Ruins, closed till further notice as a woman fell from a viewing platform a while ago and they have not opened it since.

A rental car is the best way to get around the road up to ancient Thira is truly an experience. Then at the top end of the Island is the village of Ia.This is one of the most photographed locations on Santorini and the Sunsets are breathtaking

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.(Red Beach)

From Santorini we start heading east towards the Turkish coast and the Dodecanese group of Islands.

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Amorgosis a perfect stopover and boasts an amazing Monastery built into the cliffs over 1000 years ago. Heading north east up to Patmos is where you'll find the famous Monastery of Saint John. With an excellent museum, it was built in the 10th century as a fortress to protect it from pirates.

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Now we are close to the Turkish mainland and head south down the chain of Islands to Rhodes.

After leaving PATMOS, we sail down to KALYMNOS to a beautiful little cove called Emborios. Here we find an oasis called "Harry's Paradise" a garden setting just like a tropical Island. There are mooring buoys for the visiting yachts to stay overnight on. A lovely spot.

 

Also on Kalymnos is the inlet of Vathi. Very popular with visiting yachts and day tripper boats from Turkey. It is a small fiord type inlet with excellent swimming and eating out. The main town of Pothia has a large harbour and very good anchorage. Only a few meters walk from the yacht and you are in the centre of town.

This is also one of the main Islands where sponge diving has been a huge part of their economy but not much is done these days as all the sponges now come from Malta.

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KOS is only 8 nautical miles away and, in my opinion, has the best marina in the Greek Islands. Excellent onshore facilities, hot showers, mini-market, internet, power & water on each berth. Staff assist with berthing of your yacht, they are very efficient.

This is also a good location to leave the yacht and catch a ferry over to Bodrum for the day in Turkey. Included in your ticket price of 20 Euros is a tour of Bodrum, then shopping and eating out again? Cheap clothing, and jewellery too.

As we sail south around the cape of mainland Turkey we arrive at the beautiful Island of SYMI . This is my personal favourite of all the islands. The main port of Symi is a deep busy harbour, but it is different to other Greek Islands as it has retained its neo-classical elegance. Symi was once famous for ship building and sponge diving but now tourism plays a major part in its day to day life.

At the southern end of the island is the sheltered inlet of Panormittis, where the Monastery of the Arch-Angel Michael of Panormittis is the main attraction. Each day tripper ferries from Rhodes bring tourists by the boat load, so it pays to look through the museum and chaple before 11am.

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Symi has many beautiful swimming bays but the best one by far is Thessalona on the east side. It has the most beautiful turquoise water and 300m high cliffs, just the most perfect place on the planet.alan11.jpg

You can see the anchor on the white sand bottom, swimming is superb and lunch on board our luxury yacht in this location doesn't get any better than this. On shore is a little church attended by the locals, [you can only get into this place by boat.] best onths to visit is May/June or Sept/ Oct.

Rhodes, the largest of the Dodeconese islands is our destination after 21 days exploring the Aegean. We leave our luxury yacht and book into our hotel for Saturday and Sundaynights, giving every one plenty of time to explore the sights of Rhodes.

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You will need the whole day to see the old town within the walls of the medieval castle of the Knights of Saint John, and the castle is a museum restored as it was centuries ago, well worth a visit.

Lindos is about 30kms south of Rhodes town, here too are ruins of a medieval castle and a very popular tourist beach, In July the valley of the butterflies is worth a look as they only come out during July each year. [If your charter is in July?

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The group has an early flight to Athens on Monday morning, 7:15am departure, for the 55min flight to connect with their Singapore Airlines flight back to NZ or Australia. Ngareta and I spent a week down on Crete with a rental car, this was the best way to have a good look at all Crete had to offer. The Friday saw us fly to Athens where Ngareta went onto NZ, and I meet with my second group who had just arrived in from Singapore. We then flew down to Rhodes where the yacht was waiting for us for our return trip back to Athens. Retracing almost the same route as the first group.

A big thank you to Vagelis and his team at "Sailing in blue" apart for some teething problems with a brand new yacht everything went smoothly during both charters.

I have been skippering yachts throughout the Aegean over the last 12 years, and "Sailing in Blue" is by far the most friendly and helpful charter company I have dealt with.

His yachts are always in top condition and have all the extra gear on board, such as GPS plotter, rollaway main, and for the first time our brand new yacht had air conditioning plus a gen set for onboard power, such a luxury. I will see you all again next year with another group from down under...

 

Your Kiwi Skipper Alan Inglis