A month at Aegean Cargo Sailing – Part 1August 10, 2021
A month at Aegean Cargo Sailing – Part 3September 5, 2021
Day 8 ll 07.08.21
Leaving Patmos, we set sail towards Lipsi where we will dock for a couple of hours to pick up new cargo. Once there, we make our way into the little village which, with its little houses, has a cozy atmosphere.
Arriving at the Alfa Farm we go into the little shop full of different kinds of cheese and olive oil. Not only do we make our way back to the boat with two boxes of cheese but we also got gifted a bag full of samples to try ourselves, one of each kind.
In the afternoon, we head towards Kalymnos. With a strong wind from behind we surf down the waves, enjoying a sailing challenge and being out in the elements. As the night comes and the the sky slowly changes color from pink to a dark blue we get into a zone of strong katabatic winds. With the boat heeling and soaked by the water splashing over it captain Loukas laughs and says “That’s what I like about sailing! That’s the thing worth doing!. And there is nothing I can do but agree.
Once we’ve reached Kalymnos we go out for a delicious late supper in one of the restaurants just by the peer. Whilst talking to the restaurant owner, he starts telling us his stories from back in the day when he was captain on a sailing cargo ship, having sailed all the way to Hong Kong. It is fascinating how the delivery of goods only by wind power seems like something so old and ancient nowadays whereas in reality it is not even a lifetime away.
Day 9, 10, 11 ll 08.08.-10.08.21
We spend a couple of days in Kalymnos, wandering through the streets, visiting museums such as the maritime museum. Its rooms are filled with pictures of crew leaving to go sponge fishing as well as showing the old uniforms they wore. Giving a great insight into the golden days of sponge fishing as well as the risks that came with it.
The harbor of Kalymnos stretches along the whole coast of the city and is full of boats, from sailing yachts to all sorts of fishing boats and a couple of super yachts. And one notices that the atmosphere is of people who really enjoy the sea.
Throughout the days we upgrade our beloved Porto Candia with an extra fridge (to make sure our cheese stays cooled) as well as with a wind turbine to keep the batteries charged at night. Once everything is installed and cleaned, Porto Candia is ready for our new crew to join.
Day 12 ll 11.08.21
We start our first day together with the passage towards Astypalea. With great wind and minor waves from the side we find ourselves having an amazing sail, reaching our destination in no time. Wanting to escape the heat in the cool sea rather than being stuck in a port, we put anchor in a sheltered area of one of the small islands just in front of Astypalea. Even without goggles the ground is perfectly visible in this crystal clear water. After some hours we decide to leave the turquoise sea behind to look for another bay to stay overnight. We settle in an open bay with nothing but nature around us. A quite strong and warm wind is blowing from the land and slowly the smell of the sea mixes with the smell of Loukas self made Briam cooking in the oven. With the last sun strays we enjoy our meal. Looking forward to a night of shooting stars. And, as the night drives even the last bit of light away until the line of the horizon isn’t visible anymore, silence settles over our boat. Only the little twinkling of the luminous plankton in the sea can make me take my eyes away from the sky. Like magic every movement results in green sparkles. Making it seem like a conversation between the sea and the stars. And we cannot resist to take the chance and jump in, lighting up everything around us with every motion. Whilst I slowly fall asleep on deck I start to understand how the myths of the oceans were formed and how people believed in the magic lying in the deep blue waters.
Day 13 ll 12.08.21
In the morning we wake up to the beautiful picture of a small fishing boat hauling its nets as the sun comes up. There are only two people on it: an old man in his fishing gear taking in the net and a woman at the stern of the boat steering the tiller. As they disappear on the horizon we lift our anchor and make our way towards the port of Chora.
We decide to take the bus up to the Venetian Castle of Querini. After enjoying the beautiful view and climbing through the old ruins we start to descend through the little alleys. The white color of the houses dunks everything in a soft, bright light, making the low ceilings seem almost magically higher, and the narrow streets wider.
In the evening we go out for a delicious meal in one of the traditional restaurants just on the beach. And whilst we enjoy the busy life of the evening, the laughters and conversations around us, we decide to spend again the next night on anchor away from human influences to stargaze. Or as Costi put it: “We’ve got an appointment with the universe.”
Day 14 ll 13.08.21
In the morning we walk over to the fishing boats that just arrived to buy some of their fresh catch of the day. The little white and blue boats with their yellow nets, the cats lurking for thrown out fish, and the fishermen in their gear, a cigarette in the corner of the mouth, revive an old romantic picture. I ask one of the fishermen at what time of the day they go out. “3 o’clock” he says and, after seeing the look on my face, he starts to laugh and says “yes, it’s hard work”. But the question if he enjoys his job he just answers with “Of course!”.
Once we have the fish packed in the fridge we set sails and head towards our first anchor spot from two days ago. With the wind suddenly shifting we end up with gusts of over 40 knots right on the nose. So we take off again to a sheltered bay. Relaxing, swimming, and preparing supper we are ready for yet another night sleeping outside and watching the stars slowly pass as the night gets longer.
Day 15 and 16 ll 14.08-15.08.21
From Astypalea we continue our journey towards Santorini where we will say goodbye to our current crew and pick up new guests to continue for our last big passages.
We decide to break the trip up into to legs, stopping in Anafi to spend the night. The winds are in our favor and once we leave the katabatics of Astypalea behind us we continue with solid 25 knots and up to two meter waves. The sea water splashes all over our boat, soaking even the last dry bits of our bodies and clothes. As we come closer we see the big mountain of Anafi. There are a hardly any houses on the island and our eyes get drawn to what seems like a little church just right on the edge of the cliff. The evening light and the big waves create an impressive picture and leave us in marvelous silence.
Exhausted but happy about the good sail we prepare our beds on deck and fall asleep with the fading light.
The next morning the sea has calmed down a bit and so we fly over the waves, arriving in Santorini in no time. Once there, we make our way up a little hill and enjoy an early supper with a great view.
To be continued…
by Hannah Gruner, volunteer crew at Aegean Cargo sailing Voyage 2021