Greece Mykonos to Athens


The alternator arrived around midnight and Robbie and Jeff commenced the fitting of it to the main engine. (It charges the house bank of batteries on the boat) There was a problem with the alignment of the bolts to the bracket, they managed to alter the bracket to suit, then found that the belt wouldn’t fit. At this stage it looked very doubtful that it was going to fit. Jeff went to bed and Robbie continued until 3am in the morning and finally by removing some of the metal off the bracket to allow the alternator to fit in properly, he managed to get it fitting properly. Robbie started the engine which soon woke Jeff up and all was working as it should be, and the alternator is charging the house bank, albeit at a reduced rate due to the alternator being a smaller output than the original.

The original alternator is still in Athens and we ordered a new regulator from the USA, which we will collect when we arrive in Athens.






Unfortunately, after waiting 6 days for the alternator, we now cannot leave because of the high winds. It really is very unpleasant in this marina. The marina is only partially completed, the docks are just dirt and with the high winds everything is just covered in dirt. We have never seen the boat so dirty. Because of the high amount of boat traffic here, high speed ferries at least 5 different companies daily, the small Mykonos ferries from the New Port to the Old Port and the cruise ships, oh and of course don’t forget the idiots in the speed boats that roar out of the marina at high speed with no regard for the boats berthed in the marina. Their wakes all cause the boats to rock and roll dangerously. The boats are all practically touching each other here, all stern tied to the dock with many fenders on each side. So, each time a wake comes the boats are banging and bashing each other so we are continually adjusting ropes, fenders and anchor tension to avoid damage.

The other danger here is the high amount of charter boats, with inexperienced skippers in a marina where there is a lot of old mooring chains and ropes on the bottom, that they are not aware of and when they go to leave inevitably their anchor gets hooked up on the old chain, then the wind blows them onto the boats on the dock. We witnessed many boats blowing onto the yachts berthed right in front of us. Luckily, we were berthed on the outside arm of the marina, and although we experienced more swell and wakes, we did not have the problem of the boats blowing onto us.

There is an entrepurnial guy in a large rubber duck who charges 100 Euro to assist the boats and free their anchor.

So, there were times where Robbie did not feel he could leave the boat. However, we did leave a few times and one day hired a car with Barb and Jeff and explored Mykonos. We went up a scary narrow dirt road to the lighthouse, which is decrepit, rusty and uncared for but rather appealing. The view from the top was lovely, we could see all the whitecaps in the sea around the island which definitely enforced our decision to wait for the wind to drop before we left Mykonos. We drove over to the other side of the island to the popular beaches, which were packed full of tourists, the streets were so narrow at the end of one Jeff had to do about a 37 point turn to turn around!

The town itself is absolutely gorgeous! Narrow windy streets, no cars or scooters allowed in the town, excepting delivery trucks. And just look at the trucks, tiny 3 wheelers from the 50’s you just had to love them! The shops and businesses are all painted white with blue trim. We had lunch at Nico’s Taverna one day, and casually along walks a pink Pelican! Wow, he was beautiful and very tame. The waiters duck out the back and feed him a fish or two.






We had the pleasure of catching up with friends we met in Fethiye from England, Sue and John Craddock, they with their friends were on the cruise ship the Island Princess, so they came on board Southern Star, and we had a quick catch up for a couple of hours which was lovely. Their cruise ship had been diverted for one and a half days as they had to rescue 119 Syrian refugees. They stayed on the bow of the cruise ship and were fed and looked after by the crew until the Coast Guard came and took them. Apparently they did not want to leave the cruise ship and were aggressive and fighting.









Very sadly, once we could see that we potentially could be stuck here for another 4 days, we suggested Jeff and Barb maybe take a ferry to Andros, a lovely island, not very touristy and in a good location for them to be able to catch a ferry to the mainland, to then catch a flight back to Istanbul to fly home. We would attempt to make it to Andros when the wind died down. So they decided to do that and with much sadness we farewelled them as they caught the ferry. Along with Peter and Heidi, we all had a nice lunch and the last game of 6 handed 500 (we had all been enjoying this during their stay) We sat on the steps and watched the ferry leave and the wind caught Robbie’s much loved straw hat which promptly landed on the water and floated off. Bugger! It was just starting to have character too, with the odd hole here and there!

We walked into town that night with Peter and Heidi for dinner and watched the sun go down, we caught the Seabus ferry back to the marina, and the two skippers much prefer to be on their own boats!

Mykonos is fantastic, but the marina in the New Port is a definite no go, we would advise you to not take your boat to Mykonos!

On the 19th July the two skippers made the decision to leave and head for Tinos the nearest island, and then hopefully with the protection of the island make it up to Andros. Unfortunately the wind and the waves were not favourable and after an hour and a half of copping it on the nose the decision was made to head to Syros, an island to the West, which meant the 2 metre waves were more on our side rather than on the nose. It was better than heading North but still a very uncomfortable journey for me, Luckily Robbie doesn’t feel it, but I get really queasy when it’s rough like this.

We arrived at Syros just after 3:00pm and stern tied, Robbie tied Stormvogels lines for them as he was in the water anyway. The next morning Peter swam and untied our lines for us and we set off for Kithnos, arriving around lunch time. Again, the journey was rough and the sea messy making it uncomfortable. There was good shelter in the bay called Kolona and it was very picturesque, with a sand bar between it and the next bay and a Taverna sitting on the hill above the sand bar. We free anchored, the water was lovely and clear you could see the bottom and we swam. Robbie usually always swims and checks the anchor.




Yet another rescue mission accomplished – on our way in Stormvogels duck to shore the next morning we noticed that the cushions from a largish motor boat had blown into the water and they had not noticed. Peter manoeuvred the duck and Heidi rescued one smaller cushion and Robbie managed to manhandle the larger bed sized cushion, and we returned them to the very grateful owners. We walked up to the top of the hill with Peter and Heidi, there was a cottage up there but it looked private so we stayed away from that but on the other peak there were great views and a collection of rocks piled up. We tried putting a rock on the top but the wind just blew it off it was so strong.










We had sundowners in the Taverna, very cheap 2.50 Euro for a 500ml Fix beer and the food was lovely too. We had a few games of 500 and enjoyed the great view over the two bays, separated by the sandbank. We had the pleasure of witnessing an old man riding his donkey down from the cottage high on the hill, along the sandbank and onto the road.








The wind was not constant but very strong gusts at time and one of the yachts dragged their anchor, which Peter noticed and went to the rescue. They were sleeping and unaware they were dragging, however, their foresail was in shreds and the boat looked bedraggled and uncared for, perhaps even unseaworthy. We wondered if they were actually trying to hit the rocks as they dragged a few times after that. Eventually another yacht’s skipper went to their assistance and helped them to anchor and stern tie, right in front of us. Thankfully, they didn’t drag again.

 

Peter and Heidi hired a car and the next day I went with Peter to do some provisioning, and to return the hire car. This was an experience, Heidi did not want to go and now I knew why! The dirt track (you could not call it a road) was in places so steep, narrow and with big holes in the road, and a steep drop into the ocean and I had to shut my eyes and said very bad words a couple of times!! I was very pleased to arrive in the town and return the car. The downside was, that the taxi would not take us all the way back (can you blame him??) so he took us to Apokriosi and we had to walk the rest of the way, which the young girl in the local Taverna told us would take one hour. (We decided we needed a beer to sustain us for the steep walk!) We did it in 35 minutes and it was actually a very pleasant walk.

Robbie spotted us coming and Heidi and he joined us in the Taverna for a couple of beers and a very nice dinner, with of course a game of cards.

We departed Kolona Bay, the following morning at 10:00am for the mainland. The wind had dropped in the bay and we hoped it would be a good crossing. Not so! Again we had an uncomfortable journey and we decided to cop it, and make it all the way to Athens which we did and arrived in the Ay Kosmos marina at 5.20pm that night. This marina was developed for the 2004 Athens Olympics, for the sailing races. We were assisted on the dock by marina staff with a mooring line, which feeder rope got caught in our prop and was quickly cut by our line cutter. The assistant was not very impressed. The mooring rope is a large rope and they have a feeder line that you pull to engage or disengage the mooring rope. Luckily I had tied the feeder rope and the mooring line on our front cleat so it was no problem.

The marina is large, water and electricity included in the daily rate and the docks are concrete NOT DIRT YAY!!!, large enough for cars and trucks to drive on.

The following morning we got fuel from a truck at 1.15 Euro per litre which we thought was a very good price for Greece. We filled up taking 1750 litres. The guys were real friendly and were saying they are very quiet now, almost none of the local boats are taking any diesel. An indication of the situation in Greece, the locals are holding on to their money and not spending. They said their market used to be 90% local and 10% international, and now the local has dropped to 5%!

Peter and Heidi caught the tram into the city and we had to wait for the diesel to arrive, and also the air-conditioner in the kitchen was pumping out hot air, not cold and we had to wait for the technician to arrive. So we took the opportunity to clean the boat thoroughly from top to bottom, inside and out. Peter and Heidi very kindly collected our old alternator with the new regulator on it for us, from the auto electrician in Athens.

Yesterday, the 25th July we caught an early tram to go into Athens city and then to the Acropolis. We had to exit the tram and then take the underground train for one stop and we were virtually right at the Acropolis. It stands very high on a hill above Athens and was a very steep walk to the top. They are simply amazing structures, and words cannot explain or do justice to these colossal marble and stone columns, statues and temple foundations. How they constructed these buildings thousands of years ago is simply incredible. It was very hot, with no wind or breeze and there were lots of tourists. We were glad we went early in the day as it no doubt got much warmer later on. 

Peter and Robbie left us to go to Piraeus to some ships chandlery stores and Heidi and I wandered around the shops for a few hours. The city is very pleasant, with ancient monuments scattered here and there. It was busy, but with a population of around 4 million people, no wonder. The people are very friendly and helpful.


We departed the marina, just before 7am with 5 knots of wind, in fog, which ended up getting quite thick, we passed quite close to one big ship and we could barely see it. Thank god we have radar and a fog horn! We will head through the Corinth Canal, this is a man-made canal that connects the Aegean Sea to the Ionian Sea. It was started by the French, and completed by the Greeks in 1893. It is 3.2miles long, 25 metres wide with a maximum draft of 6.5metres. It rises to 76 metres tall at the highest part of the cut. Currents of 1-3 knots and wind from either side can make passage through the canal very difficult. Large ships with tugs also traverse the canal and their wash can also cause problems if you are too close behind them. The fee to transit the canal is one of the highest in the world. We can vouch for this, they charged us $299 Euro’s to transit the canal today! When I queried why so expensive he told me” you are a motorboat, you will save a lot of money by going through the canal”! So it would have taken us 400 miles to go around and this equates to around 800 litres of diesel for us, plus the time to do it, so I guess he has a good argument!

Once I completed the paperwork and payment we only had to wait 15 minutes until we got the call on the VHF to commence our transit through the canal. Maximum speed we are allowed to do is 7 knots, which is fine by us we normally cruise at 6.5 knots.

There were 3 boats ahead of us, including Stormvogel right in front of us. The wind was blowing around 14 knots so we had a great passage through the canal, seeing paint scrapes from (we presume) big ships on the sides, a turtle, a bungee jump, fishermen spearfishing and cars traversing the bridges across the canal.






It took about 20 minutes from start to finish, and as we came out the other side they were preparing to raise the traffic bridge that they had lowered into the water to let us pass. There were cars lined up and people standing on the bridge approaches waving to us. It was pretty stress free but I wouldn’t like to transit the canal when the wind is really blowing hard.

So we are now in the Ionian Sea with only 1.0 knot of wind, in and will anchor tonight somewhere in a bay on the mainland!

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