Welcome to Lesbirdsnest.com - John and Eva Bird on the M/Y 'Destiny'.
lesbirds@msn.com Contact Us Phone: 0044 (0)787 222 69 65 or 0033 (0)620 719 335

DESTINY DIARY 2012, Part 1.

The Aegean whine, Greek salad and a bit of Turkey on the side.

So here we are again, another year of croozin, boozin and snoozin.
We arrived back in Alanya early on April 11th, 'Destiny' was out of the water and as usual we had a long work-list of things to do before we could go back to sea. Staying on land is not comfortable, boats are made for water not balancing on sticks in a boatyard, so we started with the antifouling and by the 14th we were back in the water - Yippee!
Our plan was to leave Alanya by the end of May and head north towards Istanbul, but as we all know plans are made to change. First we had our work list, which included changing the water maker installation to make it work off the main engine, which in turn meant modifying a lot of the engine room layout (filters, workbench, toolboxes, spare parts storage etc.) and other work that added themselves to the list - a burst water pipe on the hot water tank didn't help either. The top roof had to be repainted after we changed the sunscreen rails and we repainted the side decks in grey instead of the (vile) green. It was a lot of painting this year, but the boat looks better!
Alanya Market Alanya river restaurant
Alanya fruit and veg market. (Eva's favorite) A riverside lunch stop by the waterfall.
But it was not all work, we had a busy social life as well, we organized a boat jumble; made few euros selling unwanted items and took the opportunity to re-organize our storage on the boat. so, a month after our arrival I decided it was enough work and time to go sight-seeing.
Because we'd missed out last year, Hasan invited us to join the EMYR ( East Med Yacht Rally) down to Mersin on the Turkish south coast as honoured guests. That meant we had to postpone going north to Istanbul until the end of June.
Meanwhile, the Turkish government changed the rules so we could only stay in Turkey for 90 days, (i.e. we had to leave the country by July 10th) then we had to stay out for a further 90 days before we could renew our visa; the alternative was to take Turkish residency which John wasn't happy with. Then another hiccup occurred that made another change to our plans - because of the situation in the middle east (Syria), The EMYR itinerary was modified and they had to go to Cyprus before returning to Mersin (Turkey), not what we wanted to do and the extra week was squeezing our visa expiry date, so we had to cancel the EMYR again (see notes from last year). It seems that we were not meant to join the rally after all, what a disappointment again!

Cappadocia Visit.
Fairy Castles 1 Fairy Castles 2 Fairy Castles 3
No, they are not mushrooms, - they are houserooms, - built into the natural rocks!
Before we left this part of Turkey I wanted to visit Cappadocia, so on May 28th we rented a car and drove north to Konya, where we visited the mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Sufi mystic also known as Mevlna It was also the lodge known for the whirling dervishes. Then we spent two days in Cappadocia, visited Kaynakli, an underground city, John got claustrophobic in 4ft x 3ft tunnels, so it was a short visit. We went to Uchisar and Goreme and saw the incredible scenery, it's amazing what mother nature gets up to sometimes. But the highlight was the balloon trip. We stayed at the balloon company's hotel because we had to get up at 4 o'clock for a 7' o'clock flight (flying finishes at 9:00 a.m.), but it was worth it, the weather was perfect, calm and sunny, there were 8 of us in the balloon with a very competent and knowledgeable pilot.We gained an extra 1/2h in the air because the ground crew couldn't catch us! I just LOVEED IT though! After the flight the captain offers all of his crew a glass of champagne (to calm the nerves) and a medallion, to prove that you survived.
View from a balloon View from a montgolfiere View from an airship
The Balloons at Cappadocia. With up to 100 balloons each morning. That's a lot of balloons.
When we drove back to Alanya we drove through the Toros mountains, what a spectacular scenery and drive, a 1000 meter sheer drop on the side of the road. John was rightly scared about meeting a truck coming the other way( just concerned - Ed).
We also had the chance to visit the Antalia Museum just before leaving Alanya.
Cappadoce1.JPG Toros Mountains Toros Mountains
Cappadocia countryside. The Toros Mountains, very steep and very deep.
Back to Cruising.
For a good bye party we had a BBQ on our pontoon for June 4th and at 7.45 a.m. we left Alanya Marina to start our 2012 cruise.
First we stopped in Sid, to check all the systems were working. We met up with our German friends Peggy and Leo on 'Onni'. All went wwell and we continued next day to Phaselis, a much quieter place than Sid. We continued east, on Cap Basadalar and saw Eolia going back to Alanya after hey had finished their cruising. We finally dropped anchor in Kekova roads for the night.
On this visit we decided to visit the place, so we went to the village of aiz, and then walked to Kale Koy to see the remains of the Lycien tombs and underwater city and a 300BC Castle. Then we moved on to visit to our friend Ramadan who runs the beach restaurant in Nuri Beach at Kas. On the way to our next stop Gek we encounted some dolphins, then anchored in the busy bay of Boynz Bk, for a swim in a 21 blue water. Our next port of call was Marmaris where we wanted to get some work done. We were greeted by a small earthquake as we checked in (only a 6.5, but it made the girls run out of the office quite rapidly)! We stayed aout 2 weeks in Marmaris - we had some sun screens made for the aft deck, a new cover for the dinghy which we also had to have r to have repaired again, (properly this time). John also decided to add two extra solar panels on the aft roof to increase our electrical autonomy and a new regulator for the alternator, he also modified the windscreen washer system. Finally we had some Destiny T-Shirts made, but we never did find a reasonable price for a new bathing ladder, so that got left (again).
Side Kale Koy Kale Koy
Cleopatras ruins - well her palace. Lycian sarcophagus Kale Koy
Side
Kale Koy - View across the bay.
It was about this time that we learnt that our friend Sam from Blue Banana had finally succumbed to her cancer, very upsetting. We'd met Sam and Bill in Croatia a few of years back, they'd left San Francisco, way back when and had sailed via Australia and Asia around to the med via the Red Sea. They were planning to cross back to the Caribbean and then via the Panama to close the loop. They came and stayed with us over Christmas two years ago in France. It was the last time we saw her.
Sam
Sam
It was June 30th when we left the marina at Marmaris. We had 10 days left on our Turkish visa, and we still had to decide where to go for the summer! We anchored in Sere , a beautiful enclosed bay where we stayed for a couple a nights. It's nice to be able to go and swim from the boat when you want, although the sea was a cool 21! We moved on to Sogt and found a place on the pontoon of the Octopus restaurant for next two nights. Of course you feel obliged to eat there, but the bill was a bit expensive, and the people not really friendly, so we continue to Buzburin, a nice little place, where we were able to check out of Turkey. On July 4th we left Turkey for Greek waters! And found a spot in Symi, everybody likes Symi. It cost us a whole Euro15 to checheck back into the EU, scandalous! Simi is a very touristic town, but I liked it. The beautiful harbour surrounded by beautiful colorful houses. We rented a Quad bike and visited the island. We stopped at the Panimitis Monastery for lunch, it's a land locked bay, with blue water and just the monastery for company. We thought we might get around by boat, but it never happened.
Symi Monastary
Symi harbour. Panormitis Monastery bay.
Symi
A wide view of Symi.
We waited for a Meltemi (the Greek strong northerly wind, which whistles down the Aegean sea about as regularly as the local ferries) to pass before leaving Symi.
Five days later we left for the island of Tylos and anchored in Lavadia and had dinner on shore. Next day we sailed to Nesiros and found a place in Palon Harbour. We liked this place and stayed 3 nights. It's a small island, and the people are very friendly. They all speaks very good English which was comforting as I don't seems to make progress in learning Greek, and john's just plain useless - the squiggly writing doesn't help either!
We were recommended to rent a scooter and visit the volcano at the middle of the island. The drive and the visit to the Caldera was quite spectacular. I have never walked in the middle of a fuming hot volcano before. The colours and the smell are amazing, you could be on another planet! Just below the crust the water is boiling and steam is rising through little cracks and everywhere there are little 'sulfur flowers', formed by the sulfur coming up through the rocks! I thought the soles of my shoes were melting. An incredible experience, but quite warm and smelly.
After the volcano, we visited the village of Empouporios on the top of the island, which was mostly destroyed by an earthquake 50 years ago, but has a very interesting museum about the volcanos and how the Greek islands were created.
Volcano Caldera Sulfur flower
The Volcano. Walking on the moon. A Sulfur Flower.
Caldera
The Caldera on Nisiros.
On July 14th we moved on north, planning to go to Kalimnos. It was not a good day, the new alternator regulator failed when the diode splitter (from Alanya) short circuited and the water maker played up. On top of that we had 20knots of wind/waves on the nose. We found some shelter in Vathi bay but finally dropped the anchor in Xerokamos bay on the south of Leros with good shelter. The following day we went around to Lakki marina for regulator repairs and also to meet up again with our friends on 'Froggy' Pele and Lulu, who we had last seen in Croatia.
We liked the marina and its friendly staff and it was also good to socialize again. We had several 'happy hours' with Pele and Lulu, Marc from NZ and Mika from Finland. So we stayed there for 6 days, which allowed us to fix things. John installed a new diode splitter for the battery charging and had the alternator repaired. We rented a scooter whilst we were on the island which allowed us to tour the island and go to the swimming beaches each day, but the water wasn't very warm!
It was time to move on and we left the comfort of the marina on July 21st going toward Lipsi and again found wind on the nose (this was beginning to be a habit). We anchored in a nice bay on the island of Lera, but after an uncomfortable and windy night we continued toward Agathonis. We wanted to go to Ay Yeoryuiou harbour,but it was full so we dropped anchor in the next bay along, which was a quiet place populated only by goats. Next, we continued North to the island of Samos, and dropped anchor in the Pantharogion harbour, the birthplace of the famous square of the hypotenuse man. It's a very touristy place and the prices are accordingly high, nevertheless we did 'our thing' and visited the town and the castle.
The next day we went to the north side of the island in Vathi, (to make the following hop up to Kios easier). Vathi is the main harbour of the Island and was real Greece; no foreign tourist here. We were the only boat moored on the town quay but it was free, with free electricity so we could put on the air-con, and slept the better for it! But it was a bit eery, being the only yacht on a very long quayside.
Samos Samos Nesiros
Problems with the builders again! Samos Nisiros view
Our next stop was the Island of Kios. As we went north the sea became more and more uncomfortable and although we were just a short hop from the mainland, the mainland was Turkey and we weren't allowed to go there, so we decided to change course and head West. We finally arrived on the Island of Ikaria and moored on a new quay in Evdhilos, a small harbour on the north side on the Island, where we were the only boat but were still charged Euro7.15/night for the privilege.
Our main concern was to get to the other side of the Aegean to avoid the Meltemi winds! So, with the weather forecast reasonable, we continued west. We started the day with a flat calm - the first this year - but the wind got up and we finished with half a gale, up to 30Knots and a very uncomfortable sea! We had the jib out which took care of the worst of the rolling, but half way across, we noticed that the rig had all gone horribly slack. We couldn't immediately identify the problem, but thought that the forestay (the rigging between the top of the mast and the bow of the boat) had broken. We had to roll the jib away, which made the motion even more uncomfortable. Eventually we reached Mikonos after four hours of that horrible sea, but we didn't like what we found. Mikinos is known as a resort for, let's call them the younger more eccentric generation and when we were greeted by jet skis, disco's and sweaty BBQ'ing humanity in various states of undress, we headed back out into the horrible sea, which seemed a sanctuary after island life. South was the island of Poros, which was only some 15 Nmiles away. Going south with the wind and the waves behind us was a lot more relaxing and made the passage easier. We found a space in the newly built Neoussa marina, what a relief. I didn't fancy another windy night on the anchor, especially since we had a mast problem.
In the safety of the marina we needed to get the sail down, and identify what was wrong. With the help of an Italian Yachtie we took the jib off and accessed the forestay, but it turned out that the problem was the fitting at the mast head (the mast cap) - it had collapsed and bent and although it wasn't broken (probably caused by the strain of the wind and the waves), it needed to be repaired or replaced so we had to find a boat yard. For the time being, it wasn't going to get any worse and the mast wasn't going to fall down, but we were concerned by the lack of boat yards in the islands and this part of Greece!
We stayed on Poros for a week, waiting for the weather to calm down (our neighbours had already been there for two weeks and still hadn't left when we went!). It was a good opportunity to visit Poros which is very popular with the Athenians with many smart young people coming to the island for their holidays. Neoussa is a small town with lots of little streets and many expensive shops all painted smartly white with the traditional blue doors and shutters. We visited the archeological museum in Parikia (the main town on the island) and the Ekatontapyliani church, which were very interesting.
Santorini Santorini Santorini
Santorini Island Looking across to the other side of the volcano.
Santorini Santorini Santorini
View from the sea.
Because we had time (Meltemi!) we decided to take a ferry trip to visit the island of Santorini. Santorini is the island that may have been the fabled island of Atlantis, it certainly had a Minoan culture there until in about 1675BC, the whole place exploded in a volcanic explosion, that was bigger than anything in known history, leaving only half of the crater. The dust caused a 'nuclear winter' and traces have been found all around the world. The volcano is still active but they assured us it would remain stable whilst we were there! - We knew we couldn't go there with 'Destiny' because there isn't a marina on the island and the depths make it impossible to anchor. So on a windy Wednesday morning we took the bus and the ferry for Santorini. The guide on the Santorini bus, was very good and told us about the history of the island, the volacno and all of the facts and figures. I was really impressed by Santorini and understood why it was so famous. It is really a gem, the contrast between the black, red and brown colors of the rock and the white villages on the top of the crater, especially Finika has to be seen and the size of the volcano is really impressive and to think that it's still active.
Neoussa Neoussa Peros
Neoussa town. The marina at Neoussa.
Finally on August 4th we left Poros. Beautiful seas with just a little wind for once, just as we like it. John needed to clean the propeller so we stopped at Kithnos island and dropped anchor in Joannou bay for lunch. We didn't like the place much so continued on to Loutra, a small harbour we had visited when we first came to Greece two years ago. When we left Kithnos we had planned to stop at the town of Karisto on the southern end of of Livia Island, but the wind and seas took us to the small bay of Vasilito on Megalo Petali, a little Island at the entrance of the Gulf of Evia where the water was so clear it was a delight to swim in it.
Later we found a problem with a water leak in the fresh water system, causing the water pump, which should be off when the water wasn't being used, to run continuously. After poking around John found a broken pipe in the most inaccessible part of the boat, under the galley and behind the transformer, which in turn is behind the fridge. He had to empty the cupboard under the sink, disconnect and remove the transformer (about 100Kgs) and make a temporary repair until we could find the correct type of pipe! I didn't know John could get into such small places!! (No comment - Ed)
More Meltemi was on the way and we had to go further north to find shelter further up the Evia Channel. We stopped in Nea Marmari for supplies, but it was a 'one-horse' town, where the only ATM machine in town didn't work and there were minimal groceries available. We did find a caf with wifi to download the weather files but we didn't like the place much, so we upped and left. When we lifted the anchor, we found an old chain and anchor completely tangled with our own chain - how do two inanimate objects manage such sophisticated tangles?. It took us a good 220mins to free ourselves from it and get on our way.
We continued north until we found a nice quiet anchorage in Voufalo, an almost landlocked bay with a tiny hamlet and only one taverna. It looked like it was abandoned, but it was safe and we spent two nights there for a rest and some peace.
On the 8th of August we made our way up to Khalkis. Khalkis (or Chalkida) straddles the causeway between the Greek mainland and the island of Evia. Although there is a new high bridge the town still has its ancient crossing where the channel is at its narrowest. The Khalkis bridge is only 40m wide but because of road traffic, the bridge only opens at night at slack water (there is a rip current of up to 6 knots) which can be any time between 21.30p.m. and 4a.m. You have to pay a toll to pass the bridge and then wait until the port control call you on the VHF to pass through.
We arrived in the early afternoon, but we weren't sure where to go to wait so went to the nearby Yacht Club and slotted ourselves in to a vacant berth. There was nobody around so we wandered along the quay to the yacht club clubhouse and asked the gentlemen there if we could stay for few hours until the bridge opened - they welcomed us and told us we could stay as long as we needed. We didn't know it then but we would end up staying in Khalkis for a month! That's another story and you'll find out about it in the next thrilling instalment of my 2012 cruising diary...

Neoussa Pirika Pirika
Neoussa. Back streets of Pirika. Flowers for the lady.
On to the Next Page
Back to the Home Page