There were more strong winds coming through so off we headed to Samos to hide until they’d blown through. Samos has a wine museum which included some wine tasting, so no guessing where we headed to.
The huge wooden vats were made from black pines growing in the forests of Samos and could hold up to 80 tonnes. Samos wine is mainly sweet.
There tends to be a lot of wind in the Aegan at this time of year so we had a window to make a dash to the next island to again hide from more strong winds. This time it was Leros. You’ll notice so many of the islands end in “os”! As we don’t need much depth we managed to get a spot at the end of the harbour wall. With the wind came so much dust and the boat had a black film over it by the time we left here.
We took a walk to the other side of the island where there was a nice beach with restaurants lined along side.
Our next stop was Symi. We went to the bay where the Panormitis Monastery is. We’d been here a couple of years before. We were on anchor which was a nice change as we’d spent so much time on harbour walls this season. As boats approach the monastery it chimes the bells in welcome.
Our next leg was 69 nm from Symi over to Rhodes. Some of you are aware I’m one of the Canvey Crafters. We knit and crochet for various charities in the Canvey and surrounding areas. This includes blankets, hats, scarves, shawls, twiddle muffs (dementia), baby clothes, poppies and anything else we get asked for where someone is in need. The group was initially set up by a lady called Frances during the pandemic. So, who do we meet up with in Rhodes none other than Frances and her husband Greg. We had a lovely afternoon with them.
Our last Greek island before heading back to Turkey was Kastellorizo. Kastellorizo is just two kilometres off the Turkish coast and is the smallest of the Dodecanese islands and in the 2021 census recorded a population of just 594 people.. It is very picturesque with colourful houses along the harbour.
There is a blue cave here that can only be reached by a small boat and in calm weather. We took a trip boat with “Tony” who on arrival at the entrance to the cave told us to lie in the bottom of the boat, yes the entrance was that low, so we didn’t hit our heads as in we went. It was spectacular.
This was the end of our sailing season for 2022 as our next stop was Finike, Cuffysark’s home for the winter.
We checked out of Turkey and headed over to Lesbos. On arrival we bumped into Petra and Bogden who had been on the Black Sea rally with us but they were just leaving Lesbos. They decided to hang on for a couple of hours so we obviously had to have a couple of beers with them.
Lesbos is the third largest Greek island. We hired a car to have a look around. It wasn’t far to the other side of the island as the crow flies but by road there are lots of twists and turns and so made it much further. We drove to the Agios Taxiarchis Monastery. The story is that all the monks at the monastery were massacred during a Saracen raid. The only survivor was a young novice who was hiding in the roof and saw the Arch angel Michael fighting off the attackers with his sword. The novice, whilst the vision was fresh in his mind, made an icon of the saint using earth and blood from the fallen monks. Pilgrims buy metallic shoes to offer to the icon, the idea being that Michael will wear them at night and appear to them in visions.
Three saints, Raphael, Nicholas and Irene lived on Lesbos in the 15th century. They were unknown for 500 years until 1959 when the local villagers reported seeing them in visions. Following the visions excavations were undertaken and human remains were found and believed to those of the three saints who were martyred. Raphael was the Abbot of Karyes near the village of Thermi, . St Nicholas was a deacon at the monastery and St Irene was the 12-year-old daughter of the mayor of Thermi. During the Turkish invasion, on the 9th April 1463 a group of Christians went to St. Raphael’s monastery to hide from the Turkish. The Turks tortured the saints and St. Irene’s family in order to reveal where the other Christians were hiding. The saints are remembered by the Church in April on the first Tuesday after Orthodox Easter.
We visited the Petrified Forest, what the hell is that you may ask? A scared forest? No! There are hundreds of fossilised tree trunks from a 20 million year old forest. The petrication, which in layman terms, is the natural process in which dead things change to a substance like stone over a very long period of time and was created by lava and ash from volcanic eruptions. The lava and ash disappeared leaving the tree trunks behind.
The highest standing fossilised tree in the world, with a height of 7.20 meters and a circumference of 8.58 meters was here in the forest.
Additionally, there were quartz crystals, these due to the presence of iron became a deep violet colour and so called Amethyst. The name originates from the Greek word “amethystos” meaning “not intoxicated”. Ancient folk believed that the stone protected its owner against drunkenness. Also the birth stone for February, aptly mine!
We found a lovely restaurant by a very quiet beach where we had lunch followed by a dip.
Also on Lesbos is the Roman Aqueduct of Moria dating back to the second and third century AD. This 160-metre structure is the largest remaining section of an aqueduct that channelled water 26 kilometres to ancient Mytilene from the springs on Olympos Mountain. Two spans are complete at the top, giving a clear idea of the magnitude of the aqueduct 1,800 years ago. We arrived here late afternoon and there was a 5km running race just about to start.
We went to the lovely quiet island of Inousses. Some of the most important owners of Greek shipping companies were born on this island. Many now live abroad but return for the summer. At the entrance to the port is a bronze mermaid with a crown and a sailboat in her left hand. The sculpture was made by sculptress Maria Papaconstantinou in order to welcome the visitors of the island.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit many of the small bays due to the meltemi (strong wind) coming through and so we headed to Chios to hide from the wind for a few days. Chios is the fifth largest Greek island. Even though we were in Greece there was an old Hamam, which dated back to the 18th century, inside the Castle walls when it was once part of the Ottoman empire.
Chios is known as the Mastic Island, and that’s not the stuff that fills the gaps between the wall and the skirting board. Mastic is a resin that comes from mastic trees. It is also known as the “tears of Chios” as the resin drops from the trees. Apparently, it is the only place that mastic trees grow. They tried to grow them on some of the other islands to no avail.
Various things are made from the mastic, in the main chewing gum which it is suggested has some health benefits, but there was an array of items in the museum shop including shampoo and moisturiser. Mastika, a liquer, is available all over the island.
We visited Pyrgi, known as the painted village. Many of the buildings are decorated with geometric motifs. The motifs are created by applying a plastering to the wall which is then painted and then the designs are scraped out.