Mediterranean 2008 / - 12 Friends Visit in Halkidiki

We had arrived a bit early in the Halkidiki so we had to spend the time in this lovely cruising ground. For once we could go day sailing without a destination in mind, so if the wind blew from the north we sailed south. Then if the wind came up from the east we sailed west. It was a great experience. Fortunatly there are innumerable place to stay. The wind drops away in the evening so we motor to a new bay each night and drop anchor.

Richard and Marita arrived in Nea Marmaris after the inevitable rush to catch a 5 am charter flight out of Gatwick. They arrived on a very hot day without wind. They took a greek taxi to the bus station then boarded the local bus to Nea Marmaris. It arrived early so we were not at the bus stop as promised and there was some confusion when they had to get off. After a frantic phone call they jumped off in the centre of the town and we met them on the waterfront. A cold Mythos beer soon set then on the track to the cruising lifestyle. We had lunch and set about getting Malua ship shape in the Bristol style for four people. That evening we had dinner at a waterfront restuarant after setting about knocking a hole into the 20 liters of Limnos wine we had purchased for the occasion. Every Thursday in Nea Marmaris there is a good local market with fruit, veg, meat and fish on sale by the local vendors. In addition there are the sellers of everything one does not need but can afford "for a very good price" We stocked up on the essentials while Marita splashed out on the little extras in life that make it fun.

We then let go the aft lines and started to pull up the anchor amonst the many other anchors and mooring blocks of the local harbour. The wind was of couse right in our face blowing us back onto the dock and the other vessels. The anchor winch kept cutting out at the trip switch which should have been an indication that something was wrong, and wrong it was. The chain was under a Greek boat's anchor so we had to pull that to the surface put a line round it and unhook it before we could make any progress away from the bows of the other yachts. We came to the 15 meter mark and our anchor was still in 10 meters of water and not going to come up. It was firmly hooked under a chain attached to a large concrete mooring block. I quickly put on my mask and with a line from the boat dived down the 10 meter to attach a trip line to the anchor. with this attached I let the anchor chain loose and the tripping line pulled the head of the anchor from under the mooring block chain and we where free. Quite a bit of exitement to start a cruising holiday. It was then off to Porto Koufo for a quite evening on board.

The next day again dawned cloudless and unfortunatly windless so we motored round the point and north up the rugged coast to the great bay of Sikios. The anchor would not take after 6 tries so we deceided to go stern to the little wharf along side the fishing boats. Francesco was on his mooring so we could not use that. The snorkelling in the bay proved that the Greeks had fished out the seabed years ago but the fish in the restaurant made up for it. Francesco joined us for a great night of seafood, laughts and Italian stories. A quiet night, beautiful sunrise but again no wind so we motored north to a beautiful set of island around Nisis Dhiaporos. That evening we paddled through the northern passage in the kyaks and a paddle ski which we found floating alone way out to sea. A braai on the stern of Malua with the local sausage reminded everybody of the good time we all had in South Africa, Richard and I going back more than 50 years!

We has planned to take a cruise on a "pirate ship" to the south of the Akti peninsular to see the Monasteries of Athos. Malua was left at anchor in the Panayia bay. We arrived early and secured a great seat on the top deck before the bus loads of greek and other tourest decended on the vessel. It was quite different motoring across the sea in a large vessel not worrying about the wind and the waves especially around the notoriously rough Aki Pinnes at the base of the high Mount Athos. The description of the monasteries was factual but could not possible answer the question "why do people become monks and hermits never to return to the real world off the peninsula?" We cruised past eight of the sites keeping more than 500meters off the land because womem may not go any nearer to the land in case they excited the monks! We stoped at Ouranopolis for lunch along with the 400 other people on the cruise ships and then returned to cross the head of the bay and be back for the buses to be filled and leave us in the quite of the bay to have a evening meal at a waterside restaurant. On returning to Malua there was a minor panic when I discovered that I had droped my keys in the sand at the restaurant table. We were fortunate to be able to unloaked the companionway with the spare key hidden for just such an event. (we found the keys the next day in the sand)

The following day we went to the fish market on the wharf and purchase mussels and fresh sardines which we fried in olive oil along with paella rice Marita put together. The following evening we had the mussels in an Italian inspiered pasta dish which Denny created. We eat and drink well on Malua.

We sailed south with a light wind behind us and again entered the Sikios bay. This time we picked up Francesco's mooring. Dinner on board with lots of conversation before heading off the next day south round the cape Arki Psevdhokavas and back into the lovley protected bay of Porto Koufo. This time we anchored off the beach in the south next to the lagoon. No wind during the night or the next morning.

We stopped in at a lovely secluded bay just south of Porto Carras Marina for lunch and a swim before motoring back into Nea Marmaris harbour. We were able to squeeze into a spot on the floating jetty. That evening Richard took us out to a fantastic fish restaurant on a platform over the sea. While we eat squid, octopus and fish the fish below in the water were well fed from out left overs and the local bread. A great night to celebrate the end of a wonderful cruising time with our friends. Thanks R & M

The following day be uped anchor without any problems and set sail the 400nm south across the Agean back to Turkey. Fortunatly the wind was behind us and we raced off at 7 knots, quite a change from the previous four weeks. Here are some pictures of our friends visit

The next stage of the expidition was the sail south to get our visas and then south again to Turkey and finally to Marmaris to haul out for the winter.Back to Turkey

The next few pages is the account of the trip through Northern Greece.