Monday, 15th May 2015
Second starts, birthdays and Mermelade
We escaped Leros whilst awaiting delivery of the various repair bits and our new cockpit cushions and explored first, a fjord-like inlet (Vathy) on the island of Kalymnos and then on down to a bay in the north of Pserimos, an island close to Kos. Vathy is in a fertile valley on an otherwise barren island, full of oranges, tangerines, lemons and vegetables and is also a haven for kayakers. We left to go to Pserimos only because the wind was changing to an unhelpful direction and increasing, making Vathy uncomfortable. Pserimos was fine. Next morning we were due to head back to Leros to pick up our bits in a forecast F5/6 SE (wind behind us - fine). We got out of the entrance and straight into a F8. So went back in to wait for another few hours for it all to die. Tried again at midday, it was fine - F5/6 as forecast. Halfway up the Kalymnos coast, though it picked up and up, culminating in a F9 with big seas. We could not turn back and face into it, so just had to ride it out. Not pleasant, but the little boat coped admirably. And once into the shelter of Lakki again, all was well.
We duly picked up our cushions, the canvas covers are skilfully done and just right. We had gone on our bikes to collect them. The owner decided we would struggle; he would take them down to the boat in his car with Richard, and then bring him back to collect his bike. I waited on his terrace in the shade. On his return he hurried inside to get me a present - a huge jar of homemade "mermelade" - it was plum jam, from his garden across the way. A lovely man.
All our mucking about complete, and everything working, we could finally leave properly. We went first to Vlikhadia Bay on the south of Kalymnos for our first swim in clear blue (if a bit cold) water. There is a fabulous little dive and sponge museum here, full of wonderful shells, sponges, spears, various artefacts and diving gear through the ages. It was started by a local diver and is maintained to a high standard by his son today. Then on to Pothia, which is the main port and town of the island, a real place that hasn't totally succumbed to tourism. Richard likes it as it has the best assortment of "real" workshops and tool shops around. It also has great fish markets, butchers and fresh produce. It was a good place to celebrate his birthday. He had cards, calls, texts and messages; presents I had smuggled into the luggage under the polishers and fuel filters; and best sticky baklava and fish supper out. We hired a car to explore the island and covered every bit of it. It is famous for its sponge diving heritage, but also for climbing. People apparently come from all over the world to climb is vertical rock-faces; it is a year-round industry. It is also famous for its thyme honey; there are colourful beehives all over the hillsides. Apart from the fertile valley of Vathy mentioned earlier, the island is a barren, craggy place. We like it.
We also like it for the boating community that comes and goes and Yannis, the "harbourmaster" who orchestrates everything and looks after us all. We had Canadians, Norwegians, Australians, Germans, French and other Brits for company, plus charterers from all over the world. Lots of boat chat…
Time to say goodbye to our new-found friends (we will no doubt bump into them somewhere again) and head south. First stop was the fabulous volcanic island of Nisyros (quick stop this time, the fumaroles obviously active with the smell of sulphur) and second (now) further south with lovely, easy sailing to Tilos - sweet little port and an island that seems to attract hikers and ramblers.
We're not quite sure of the next stops, there is a blow coming for the weekend so need to decide where we want to be for that. We are sort of heading east. We have got E-Visas now for Turkey. Sorry, Marcus, but we have decided to poke our noses back in there and maybe spend a month exploring some of the Turkish "turquoise coast". We have met many who have said it is just fine. We would like to go again before any potential deterioration in relations, politics, activity, etc. It is the ordinary merchant and worker that suffers with falling visitor numbers. It is such a beautiful and friendly place. If we feel at all uncomfortable, Greece is only a sail away….