Sunday, 31 May 2009

Into the Eastern Sporades, Aegean Sea, Greece ..... May 2009

22-27 May 2009

***Mark as King of the Castle, overlooking Myrina Harbour on Limnos***Still getting used to the Greek flags flying after 11 months in Turkey***The tiny harbour at Evstratos, from sea level and from the cemetery***

At last our spell of high winds abated, we checked out of Turkey, left the little marina at Canakkale (with many a less Liras!!!), and headed west down the Dardenelle Straits. With the current now with us, winds just aft of the beam and full sail up we flew across to Limnos. We clocked an all time high speed of 9.9knots, out in open flat water with a steady 15 knot Northeasterly pushing us on our way. You sure get there quicker doing those speeds but as we closed on Limnos (Lemnos) the winds eased as expected so we slowed down considerably. It is now not dark until just after 9pm so covering longer distances are achievable easily in daylight hours. We pulled into the large harbour of Moudhros, famous during WW1 as the hospital base for the Allied Forces, on the southern coast of Limnos for the night, just us and the seabirds in this deserted spot.

Next morning there was a slight Zephyr of a breeze so we had a very leisurely sail around to the main harbour of Myrina. They are doing roadworks along the quay, making it very dusty and noisy so instead of tying to the wall we dropped anchor in the bay amongst 6 other yachts. There are full check in facilities here so we checked into Greece and got our transit log. Myrina is an interesting little place, somewhat shut on Saturday, Sunday and during afternoon siesta (good for them) but it came alive on Monday morning. Small alleyways wind inland from the water and are filled with all sorts of interesting little stores and cafes, it has a really pleasant feel to it. The first holiday charter flight had also arrived in the weekend so it was the beginning of the tourist season but it felt mainly as though they were all locals.

There is a prominent rocky headland dominating the town, with ruins of a Genoese castle atop it, updated over the years by the Byzantines and Ottomans some of the walls and structures are in reasonable condition, its an easy climb up there and great view from the top all with free entry and unrestricted access.
Down in town they are digging up the back streets to put some pipes in. Looking down into the hole we were amazed to see ruins going down about 20 feet, a stone wall and archway from a previous time. Must be a nightmare every time they want to do anything, guess they have to get the archaeologists in first! We met up with some other cruising boats, Cosmos Mariner from Florida with Mary and Doug onboard, and Alchemy also from the USA with Dick and Ginger. It's always fun to meet new people and share stories and the odd sundowner or two.

From Limnos we started heading south, with light northerlies and flat seas we had a pleasant downwind sail to our first stop at the tiny village of Evstratios (Efstratios) on the island of Agios Evstratios. Almost totally devastated in an earthquake in 1968, The Rough Guide describes "that it must be one of the ugliest habitations in Greece". A somewhat harsh comment we felt, and although the new housing may not be as quaint as the ruined ones which clung to the hillside overlooking the tiny port, everyone has made an effort, they are all whitewashed buildings, some with the famous med blue trim, with overhanging vines and bougainvillea in full bloom. We had a walk up to the cemetery with a lovely vista over the harbour and right across to Mt Athos on the mainland, silhouetted by the sinking red sun. Then it was back down to a taverna on the harbour for our cheapest Greek drinks yet, a large (500ml) Mythos beer and a can of Sprite for €3. Back on Balvenie we sat next to the fishermen as they laboured away sorting and repairing their nets, seemingly a never ending task.

Cruising Info:
Anchorages -
Limnos .. Ormos Kavos 39 51.02N 25 14.57E 5.0m sand patches of weed, open to south very slight roll. Nothing there
Limnos .. Myrina Harbour 39 52.34N 25 03.50E 7.5m sand holding hold. Quay would be good but very dusty and noisy with works, but no charge at mo. Dinghy to steps by little fishing boat entrance
Evstratios .. Harbour wall 39 32.39 24 59.21 2.3m side tied, we didn't touch but must have been very close! Really only room for 2 yachts, any more and would have to raft but not even much room for that. Can not use dock on inside of harbour wall or end of harbour wall as ferries come into both. No charge made but we didn't find any one to check in with.
Internet - No wifi onboard. Limnos Excite Internet Cafe right at harbour €2 p/h. Evstratios didn't see anything.
Money - Plenty ATM's Limnos, go inland a little. Evstratios nothing.
Provisions - Water and power on dock, not currently working at either. All food within 5 minutes walk Limnos, good selection and quality. Small store Evstratios. Fuel tanker not able to access dock currently
Formalities - Checked into Greece in Limnos. very easy. Coastguard and Customs in same building at west end of harbour wall. Coastguard charge €15 and Transit log from Customs was €40.

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