Sunday, 31 May 2009

Skyros - The Northern Sporades, Aegean Sea ..... May 2009

26-30 May 2009

***Mark on our racy red scooter with the Chora in the background***Skyros Town Chora from the sea side***Abandoned windmill converted into sleepy seaside taverna***loads of little churches***

We had an early start from Evstratios which is in the Eastern Sporades and headed almost due south 65 miles to Skiros (Skyros) which is in the Northern Sporades. Just how you go from east to north by heading south is somewhat beyond me but we did it. We had a steady northerly forecast, but as we are learning very quickly sailing around the Greek Islands you don't always get what you are forecast. We did however, have a good downhill ride for 50 or so miles, and honed our rusty skills (and equipment) at gybing the pole. Always good to do these things to keep the brain working and also all the lines, clips, springs, shackles and countless other things to play with while poling out the sails. As we approached Skyros the wind eased leaving a very messy sloppy sea so we motored for an hour to get in the lee of the island then it was off again in lovely flat water with winds from all directions, keeping us on our toes. It's a lovely island, pine clad slopes coming down to the waters edge and several small deserted bays to tuck into, we kept going around the south western point, through the tiny shallow straight between Skyros and Valaxa with depths of 3.6m (sails down at this point!!) and round into the bay just north of Linaria.

Linaria is a great little spot, there is a large ferry that goes from there to Kimi on Evia every day, a handful of tavernas and a couple of small hotels ashore and that is about all the activity. There is a tiny town wall, dusty and noisy as also being improved and with some rusty bits of scaffolding sticking horizontally into the water, designed specifically for puncturing innocent dinghies that might sidle up too close!! The interesting thing about the new town wall is that it is made of block marble, very upmarket. They obviously have more marble than rocks around these parts.

We hired a scooter for a day to visit the Chora at Skyros Town, which is set cascading down the hill under the hilltops ruins of a Venetian Castle. The tiny carless streets wind around in a maze and we should have taken our GPS with us so we could find the scooter again! We stopped to put €2 petrol in which filled the tank completely so decided to tour some more and use it up. Without a map we set off on a somewhat circuitous route, never actually sure where we were going but safe in the fact we were on an island so sooner or later should find our way back to somewhere familiar. Lets just say there isn't much of Skyros we haven't seen, sandy bays, an unfinished marina built in a ridiculous spot, amazing vista from hilltops so steep that I almost had to get off and walk, small vineyards tucked in valleys, and sadly much devastation through the forest from what looked to be recent fires. With over 70kms covered and just €1 more fuel we had a great day.

But it was time for Huey to throw in a curly one, with the forecast showing a short blast from the south to come through overnight for about 5 hours then back to light northerlies. We were totally exposed to the south, there wasn't enough room in the harbour for us so we did the prudent thing and lifted anchor about 6pm and motored 3 miles across the bay to a small indentation with great coverage from the south. Shortly after we anchored a small fishing boat came in and laid his nets behind us, never a good thing for a quick getaway if necessary but we took a bearing on them - just in case, and tucked up from the building southerly settled for the night ..... ah but not for long.

At midnight we awoke to things not sounding quite right and the moon was coming in the wrong window. Our 'on again - off again' wind instruments worked briefly and registered over 30knots, from the north, with 3 miles of fetch and we are on a lee rocky shore, now way closer in than we were comfortable with. It is surprising how quickly you can wake up, turn everything on, get the anchor up and navigate around fishing nets in the dark, when the other option is possibly "Balvenie on the Rocks", and I don't mean scotch and ice!!!! So a mini night excursion, first time in the dark since overnighting from Cyprus to Turkey last year, we followed our GPS track back to Linaria Bay, dropped anchor right where we had been hours earlier in flat water and light winds, had a stiff drink for medicinal purposes and after a while went back to bed. Next morning it was a case of "did that really happen???", but a quick look around the totally salt covered boat confirmed that we hadn't dreamed it.

Cruising Info:
Anchorages -

Linaria Bay .. 38 50.82N 24 31.97E 11.5m sandy patches, easy to see bottom, good holding
Nikolaus Cove .. 38 47.73N 24 32.34E 10.5m sandy patches but lots of weed too. Holding maybe iffy, lots of weed on anchor when we pulled it up.
Internet - Linaria Bay Cafe on shorefront (closest to fuel station) had free wifi, have a drink and get the code. Large Mythos €3. Also another internet cafe around on road up to Port Police, not recommended €5 for small warm beer
Money - No ATM at Linaria, only at Skyros town
Provisions - A couple of small stores, much better in Skyros Town, excellent fruit, veg, bread and meat. Fuel station by dock - cash only no cards €1.04 per litre
Formalities - Port police up the hill. We took our transit log up, shouldn't have bothered. Charge on wall about €4 per night, think there was power and water

Sightseeing - Hired scooter from taverna right at harbour with Bike Hire sign €10, next to wifi cafe
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