Day 18 ll 17.08.21
We decide to meet Moritz and Isabella, who already got off board the day before, in the Cycladic Bronze Age settlement Akrotiri. As Santorini is full of tourists this year, Loukas and I can’t be bothered to try and get a Taxi or rental car. So we end up sailing the two Miles North-West, drop our anchor in a bay close to the museum, put all our things in a dry bag and swim to land. The ancient city is an impressive site to visit. It is covered completely by a roof, making it possible to escape the heat, and the sun strays coming through leave strange shadows on the old stone walls. Around noon time we take the bus up to Thira where we meet Bettina and Björn, who will join us on board in the following days. The city is packed with tourists, travelers, and shopping maniacs. One souvenir shop follows the other only interrupted by frozen yoghurt and jewellery stores. There doesn’t seem to be any “real” life around. All second levels of buildings are either apartments or hotels and as much as I enjoy the view over the Caldera of Santorini I am relieved to leave the City behind again. Once in the bus we make our way down the windy roads until we get off in front of the Koutsoyannopoulos Wine Museum. Located on the premises of the Family Winery is the only natural underground wine museum in all of Greece, which has an 8m depth and 300m length. Walking through the old tunnels one doesn’t only get gifted with convincing reasons to drink red wine, but also gets a glimpse of what life was like as a winemaker and how important the different craftsmanship were for the island. After the museum we get together to taste the famous wines of Santorini that are, due to the soil of volcanic origin, of a unique taste. Our day comes to an end in a restaurant right by the beach, far away from any urban bustle. And together with our “old” and “new” crew sitting at the table we toast to the good hours behind us and the new adventures that are yet to come.
Day 19 ll 18.08.21
We leave late in the afternoon with the sunlight making the coast appear in a warm orange light. On our way to Ios we pass through the Caldera of Santorini. Sailing close by the volcanic islands we can closely see the mysterious forms the cold lava has left behind. And while we use the little wind there is and very slowly continue our way we get overtaken by one Catamaran after another, not even bothering to put their sails up. We enjoy them passing by, knowing that contrary to them we’re not in a hurry but have all the time in the world to take in the landscape, its change of colour as the sun goes down, to listen to the sound of the waves against the boat and to let our mind keep up with the distance we travel.
Day 20 ll 19.08.21
We leave early in the morning and sail into the port of Ios to pick up new cheese from Diaseli traditional cheesery and museum. Once everything is stored we get invited to go up to the farm for a cheese tasting so we get to know the new tastes we carry on board.
On our way to Schinoussa we encounter great winds, going close hauled all the way. Early in the night we get into the wind-shadow of the neighbouring islands and slowly sail through the quiet night into a small bay where we put anchor. The wind carries the sound of music to the boat and on land you can see only two houses, one of them being a restaurant. Hungry from the strong winds we immediately pack our things into the dry bag, put our swimming gear on and make our way through the water towards the beach and supper. Arriving just before the kitchen closes we get the opportunity to taste the island’s famous Fava. With full bellies and sleepy eyes we swim back to the boat, happily falling asleep in a silent dark night.
Day 21 ll 20.08.21
In the morning we set sails towards Paros. With the wind a good angle and force four to five we tack our way up. As always there are only few other brave sailboats on the horizon and we have the rest of the sea to ourselves. With the boat heeling and hardly any waves it really turns out to be a great sail. And so we enter the bay of Naoussa with the warm evening light, heading into the port to stay for a couple of days.
Day 22-24 ll 21.08.-23.08.21
We drive up to Lefkes, a small town in the hills. It is full of beautiful houses, extremely well maintained and clean. The windy narrow streets make one curious to discover what lies behind the next edifices. And so we walk from corner to corner, intrigued by the little details we find: small squares covered with wine plants, tiny churches, dark shadows covering half of a building or street, complementing the white of the houses. After a delicious lunch we continue our way to the ancient Marble Quarries. It is the place where the Parian marble, one of the finest varieties of marble was found. It was much preferred by the renowned Greek sculptors mainly due to its transparency and fine consistency. Nowadays there still lives a sculptor next to the site working with marble where you can go in and have a look around. Before returning to our boat we make a short stop at one of the Wine suppliers. Picking up two new boxes of wine from Alissafi winery and getting gifted with samples of self-made olive oil.
The next morning we make our way towards the Environmental and Cultural Park of Paros, which has been declared as a protected area, due to its historical, cultural and natural importance. By the old monastery we visit the exhibition of Paros in Russian cartography and learn about the Russian naval base in Naoussa in the Russian-Ottoman War. I am impressed by the details of the shown maps of the Archipelago containing mainly hydrographic information on safe courses, depths, reefs and land points of orientation, as well as description of the naval basis and military installations. After filling our brains we take a walk through the park. The waves break on the rough cliff and the sea shows us it’s wild and boisterous side. Due to heavy wind we decide to stay one more day in Paros and spend the coming morning by the beach. In the evening we visit Kostos, a small town further inland. With its tiny streets and houses and almost no one around it seems like a doll-town, everything being neat, clean and ready to play.
Day 25 ll 24.08.21
As the weather has calmed down we set sails in the morning and head towards Syros. There we stop in the small and beautiful harbour on the west side to pick up more cargo (cheese from Tyrosyra). After enjoying another freshly made Briam from Loukas we continue our way to Tinos. As we sail east the wind increases and with its angle it is clear to us that going to Tinos would mean a long time tacking against strong katabatic winds. So we end up following our current course and seek shelter in Rinia. It almost seems like an uninhabited island and we can see its black coastline in front of the endless urban lights of Mykonos. After the days in the harbour it feels good to be out in nature again, almost alone in a bay, away from noise and artificial lights.
Day 26 ll 25.08.21
Early in the morning we start our passage towards Andros, the northernmost island of the Greek Cyclades archipelago. Whilst sailing we get to experience a common weather phenomenon of the Greek islands: about half way between Tinos and Syros the wind changes completely. Whilst close to Tinos we face its unpredictable katabatic winds, just a couple of meters to the west the wind almost dies completely, letting our sails luff. It is fascinating to be able to look to your right and see a rougher sea, full of white horses and then turn to your left where you sight a calm blue. Whenever we cross the line too far into windless waters the sounds dies, the noise of the wind goes and suddenly one doesn’t have to raise their voice again for the others to hear. So we end up tacking just on the edge of the katabatic winds, using it to make our way up to Andros. Before entering the harbour we put anchor in front of the port of the ancient city of Paleopolis whose remains are still evident today, submerged in the sea. Through the turquoise sea you can clearly see its old breakwater enclosing an underwater part of the beach.
Once docked, we load our car with packages of Fava Schinoussas, Ikariotissa beer and Kalymnos Sea Food to deliver to Zozef’s restaurant further south on the island. Whilst driving the windy coast road we are curious to find out what exactly Captain Loukas means when saying “very special restaurant”. The landscape of Andros with its big hills and steep coast is breath taking. It almost seems as if nature is dominating the island, not leaving room for big hotels and settlements, but only small houses here and there. The restaurant is below the street with a cozy outside space covered by trees and filled with a homey atmosphere.
Katerina Remoundou is specialized in cooking with local and seasonal products, making traditional meals in creative variations as well as own creations. There you’ll definitely get a delicious taste you haven’t experienced before! Joining for supper is Dimitra, who works at the core of the SailMed team, taking care of the coordination and communication. She was my first contact with the project and I am delighted to have finally met her after all this lovely email exchange!
After the great meal we drive to Andros, the city of ship-owners and noble buildings, to have a late stroll around. We make our way through the lively squares, full of people eating, laughter and conversations. We pass by a group of kids playing football in front of a church. The further we go the quieter the streets get. Every so often one can hear subdued music and mumbling coming from the houses. It is unclear to say if the small alleys on each side run into dead ends or just wind themselves sharply around the corners. Only sometimes they give away the view to a black night where, at daytime, one could see the sea to its right as well as to its left. And sometimes through the sparse lighting one can spot small plants secretly growing out of the neat facades and pavement ground.
Day 27 ll 26.08.21
We start our day with breakfast in Andriakon close by the harbour. It finds its charm through the unique inventory, each chair and table being different, and one can tell how much love and creativity has been put in building this place. It is filled with organic products, local wild herbs and spices. Behind the counter you can see a vessel full of sand where traditional Greek coffee is made.
Late morning we head for our last longer passage towards Kea. The predictions weren’t very promising with basically no wind, but Poseidon is on our side and so we glide over the flat sea, the sails filled just enough to give us a good speed. In Kea we take the taxi up to Ioulis, a city beautifully built in the steep hill. The higher we go the more impressive the view over the island becomes. My eyes get lost in all the little details that are to discover as we climb up the sinuous streets: small cafés, colourful houses, kids playing chess on a square, an atmosphere of normal every-day life. We end our day on a big terrace full of evening bustle, tasting the traditional Greek cuisine. And whilst having conversations about our roles in the world, how we have to take initiative and responsibility, we paint pictures of needed change and ideas to live in a more sustainable way.
Day 28 ll 27.08.21
We leave Kea with the sun coming up. It is our last journey before bringing back Porto Candia to her owner in Lavrio. And as the sun slowly creeps up behind the coast line I happily look back to all the days spent on board. In Lavrio we dismantle our wind turbine and solar panels, take everything out of the boat and finally step off board packed with new impressions, experiences, ideas and moments we will take with us wherever we go.
by Hannah Gruner, volunteer crew at Aegean Cargo Sailing Voyage 2021