We left Stefanos on Kythnos after breakfast on Wednesday morning to make our way to the island of Serifos, some 22nm south. We managed to get the genoa (headsail) out for about an hour of downwind sailing but then the wind died so on came the motor for the rest of the journey. We had heard that Livadia on Serifos was cute so we headed for there. The names of the islands in the Cyclades can be very confusing – Serifos, Sithnos, Sinos – all within spitting distance of each other.
We anchored off Livadia town in an area that should have been good holding but we knew that many boats had had problems in the past, did a few jobs, launched Baby Nimmie (aka the dinghy) and headed into town. Back to the boat for dinner and then to bed.
During the night it was so calm that all the boats were dancing around their proverbial handbags so the catamaran next to us was very close at various stages of the night. We let out more chain so we would be further away which helped a bit but we ended up staying up all night on anchor watch. The wind picked up around 9am and then our anchor started to drag. Suddenly we had 25 plus knots of wind and moving ever closer to the other boats. We lifted the anchor and tried to re-anchor three times but in the strong winds the anchor was just not holding in the weed and sand. The Meltemi wind was now gusting over 30 knots inside the anchorage. We decided enough was enough and left to go around the corner to another bay called Koutalas. It was only about 6nm but the wind and sea had now got up. We saw gusts of 44 knots as we went round but, as always, Nimmie took it in her stride and we safely entered the bay. Here it had excellent holding so that, despite the strong winds, the anchor set first time and with gusts of 38 knots, we settled in for the afternoon and evening. There were a few other boats around but we had all given each other plenty of space. Well, until a professionally crewed catamaran came in and tried to anchor by us. We told them in no uncertain terms that they were too close. Eventually they took the hint and moved away. Idiots.
We did an anchor watch of checking every two hours overnight but by the next morning you wouldn’t have even realised there had been a blow. Gently blowing around 12 knots with a few boats already left. We left after breakfast and made our way 27nm south to the island of Milos (of Venus de Milo fame).
Milos is shaped like a horseshoe similar to Santorini and for the same reason, a volcanic eruption many years ago. Consequently, it has a deep bay with many anchorages so you can pretty much shelter from any wind there. Perfect. It also has a rich history of mining, with many different ores having being excavated there over the years. We anchored just outside of the marina, near town. It was a lovely evening so we launched Baby Nimmie to look around town and do some provisioning. We also took the opportunity to visit the excellent Mining Museum in town. It made you realise what a hard life these workers had. One quarry employed 150 men to dig the rock out and 100 women to get the ore out of the rock pieces. The town of Adamas was a lovely place so we decided to eat out and splashed out on a couple of gyros at €3 each. We know how to really push the boat out! Finally, we were able to have a proper night’s sleep.
On the Saturday morning we wanted to sail around the island as there were supposed to be several excellent beaches/coves and rock formations. This was our only chance to have a look as we needed to catch a weather window the next day to go north to Paros. However, we had a snag – literally. Our anchor was caught around a huge chain that had been left on the seabed. When I say huge, the links were the thickness of an arm. It was too deep for us to dive down to and we also figured it was going to be too heavy to pull out even if we got down there. We then remembered that a friend of our friend, Jaco, was based in the marina. We contacted him and bless him, Nikos came out to the boat, free dived to the bottom and lifted the anchor free. It took him less than 5 mins. He wouldn’t take anything from us apart from some beer and a bottle of wine.
We had only been delayed a couple of hours so we made the most of the afternoon by motoring along the coast of the island in an anti clockwise direction. As we left the bay, we motored past the shoreline village of Klima, where there are boat garages at sea level.
The most spectacular cove we saw was at Kleftiko, also known as Pirate’s Cove. You can see why pirates based themselves there with a number of caves to hide in, reefs and rocks for the unwary and spots to secrete boats away from prying eyes. It also had the most amazing turquoise water. Gorgeous.
After a brief stop there to dinghy into the caves, we continued on passing amazing rock formations, disbanded mining villages and secluded beaches. We arrived in Apollonia on the NE corner of the island just before sunset and tied up to a mooring buoy that Nikos owned and had kindly let us use. We slept well that night!
Sunday morning the SW wind filled in and it was perfect for our trip NE to Paros. Unfortunately it didn’t stay strong enough for us to sail more than half an hour so we ended up motoring (again) the 36nm to Paros. It did mean that we could make water and fill the tanks. We arrived in Paroikia on the West side of the island around 4pm and tried to get into the harbour but there was no room apart from in the entrance itself. We tied up and a port police officer strolled up to us and told us that we didn’t want to stay there as we would hit the bottom with the wash created by the ferries coming in and out. He did think there would be space in the harbour in the morning though so we anchored in the bay for the night. On the Monday morning we kept an eagle eye out for anyone leaving and as soon as they did, we went straight in and tied up. We wanted to be in the inner harbour away from the ferry wash (there seems to be over 20 ferries a day here) and with some protection from the wind. We can only stay until Friday morning and we then have to leave so that there is room for the charter fleet to return but we can then come back in when they leave again on the Saturday or Sunday. There were strong winds forecast from Sunday so we are hoping to be able to pop back in before it blows up again as we have friends arriving next week. Fingers crossed. It does mean that we can provision easily, explore the island and get some chores done like the washing!