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Little harbours and big ships

Greece has over 1400 islands and islets and many of these don’t have an airport so it’s no surprise that ferries are a popular mode of transport. It’s not uncommon to arrive at a small harbour, only to be followed in sometime later by a rather large ferry, deftly manoeuvring only a few metres away from where you’re moored. It’s a bit disconcerting the first time, but the ferry captains seem to know what they doing.


That’s Loki moored at the top left-hand end of the marina.

“Hey Donny, do you think there is any wind under that cloud?”


They do a good thunderstorm in this part of the world. One minute blue skies and sunshine, the next ominous black clouds followed by breeze (lots of it!) and torrential rain. Welcome to the northern Sporades. (Head north from Athens, up inside and around the top of Evia, Greece’s 2nd largest island). We’ve witnessed a couple of events, one where a yacht at anchor near us was lying on it’s side, gunwales in the water (the top side of the boat) and their dingy was doing sideways cartwheels at the end of it’s tether behind the boat – spinning so fast that it snapped off their wooden flagstaff, complete with flag. Happily they managed to retrieve both their anchors before they dragged on top of us.

14-06-17__MG_1799The view of Skiathos harbour, looks better the day after a thunderstorm.

We had a fabulous catch-up with Billy, Dora & the girls, and Chris, Penny & Bridgette in Nea Marmara, on the Chalkidiki Peninsula, northern Greece mainland. I suspect we wouldn’t have made it so far north and seen so much of the Aegean if there hadn’t been a plan to meet up. We enjoyed relaxing days on the beach, were treated to Soula and Michael’s home cooking and had a lovely day cruise with Capitan Panagiotis, amongst other things. And what a gorgeous bunch of young women our friends have produced!

During the cruise Michael dived down and caught some “fooska” (please excuse the phonetic spelling), a lot like oysters but yellowish orange, served freshly shucked with lemon juice and olive oil. If a picture is worth a thousand words then Fitzy’s face tells the story.

From Nea Marmara we headed around to the other side of the Sinthonia Peninsula to Nisos Dhiaporos before making our way south to the Eastern Sporades. First stop was Limnos, stuck out in the middle of nowhere in the northern Aegean. According to Greek mythology, the women of the island refused to serve Aphrodite who in turn afflicted the women with appallingly bad breath, causing their husbands to ignore them. The infuriated women subsequently went on a killing spree murdering all the men folk. The tale continues that Jason and the Argonauts came across an island full of frustrated women in their travels and stopped off for a couple of years to help the girls out and repopulate the island. Decent chaps! (You can’t go past the Greeks for a good yarn).

We anchored stern-to the town quay at Myrina, Limnos, a lovely small town beneath the hilltop remains of a 13th century Genoese fortress, and hired a car to drive around the island. Limnos has got everything from sandy beaches to wetlands, salt lakes, massive sand dunes and a unique architecture combining Greek, Italianate and colonial influences. Moudros Bay was the base for the ill-fated Gallipoli naval offensive and home to Winston Churchill’s headquarters. The two small military cemeteries of Commonwealth soldiers are meticulously maintained to this day. Seeing the graves of so many young Kiwi and Aussie lads was a somewhat sobering experience. We also found one of the island’s smallest churches nestled under a craggy overhang up in the hills. Great views from the top.

Continuing south we headed for Lesvos, enjoying some spirited sailing along the way. This island is home to some eleven million olive trees and the grand old mansions of the olive barons from a bygone era line parts of the shoreline on the approach into Mytilini. The Refugee Museum which tells the story of the 1922-23 post-war population exchange between Greece and Turkey is worth a visit, as is the Olive Press Museum. Next stop was Oinoussa, a very small island that punches above it weight in maritime terms. This little island is the ancestral home of some of the richest shipping barons in Greece, who became hugely wealthy in the 19th & early 20th centuries. Apparently Greek ship owners control some 70 million tonnes of shipping, about the same as the rest of the EU combined. A local told us that their Naval Academy produces “Captains, only captains. No engineers or stewards, just captains”. The small maritime museum and the shipping families’ mausoleums attest to the islands heritage.

We are currently in Chios with the first of July’s visitors, my sister Barb & Cecily, arriving tomorrow. We are looking forward to once again catching up with family and friends from home.

I’ve changed the format a little for this post. Have interspersed some of the images within the copy. Let me know if you think it works better……….or if you are reading any of it??? No comments received after the last post. Yes, I know it’s cold in Melbourne, so hopefully you’re sitting in front of a fire with a glass of red in your hand. We saw some of the images after the recent storm. Looks like Melbourne winter has set in.

We are well. Hope all is good with you and yours too.