A Final Peak at the Peloponnese, Ep. 139

A couple of years ago, when Samuel Adams started hawking their ‘West Coast Style’ Rebel IPA, I was intrigued. Here I was a California-born living in Samuel Adams country on the East Coast. What could be a better beer to drink? If only one could solve the riddle of what ‘west coast style’ really meant. Beer aficionados touted its hoppier hops, but to a mere commoner like me, it was just a simple IPA. As we pointed Sea Rose up along the west coast of the Peloponnese peninsula, I wasn’t going to let a catchy marketing cliche get in the way of appreciating this region’s unique west coast style. If it meant a little beer tasting along the way, all the better!

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The Eyes of Venice, Ep. 138

It might help if you scrounge around ahead of time for the ouzo in the back of your liquor cabinet, but when I look at the layout of the Peloponnese coastline and bays, it reminds me of the profile of an American Bison, grazing on the plains of Yellowstone National Park. And with that spirit of the Wild West, we set off westbound from Limeni to cross the last 20 miles of open water to the port of Koroni.

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A Transformative State of Mind, Ep. 137

The Peloponnese landmass branches out into three prominent peninsulas on its southern shore, forming two long, deep bays. These peninsulas are barren, dry landscapes, with steep ridge lines running their length, reminding me of the spiny, crusty back of a Tyrannosaurus rex. And perhaps it is the threat of a T-rex emerging from the dead that keeps the general populous away from this region of Greece. Or the lack of roads. What remains is a number of small villages and, in the summer, a preponderance of mini-campers driven by modern day hippies trying to find a momentary escape from contemporary living. Perhaps there were a couple people onboard Sea Rose looking for a bit of the same.

We launched our exploration of these deep bays and peninsulas after an early morning departure from Elafonisos. I was hoping that the concentration of large motor yachts around the corner were not going to hinder our escape from a contemporary state of mind. Thankfully, the four hour trip across calm flat seas to the Mani peninsula and the port of Kayio was blissful – dare I say transformative. After so many days of high winds and nasty seas, it was magical to rediscover sailing in benign weather. 

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The Grand Gramvousa Island in Northwest Crete, Ep. 135

As is typical for much of Greece, morning winds are lighter than afternoon. If you need to go up-wind, it is best to leave early. At 7 am on the morning we would make our way to the northwest tip of Crete, we were tossing off our stern lines, raising our anchor and heading out of the charming harbor of Chania. The winds had been erratic and strong for the previous couple days, so we expected it to be a rough trip.

Zoomed in map of the northwest coastline of Crete – Notice the two long peninsulas stretching northward with Gramvousa near the tip of the outer peninsula!
Gramvousa Island on the top with the lagoon near the bottom make this a popular though remote tourist spot.
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More Volcanoes? Ep. 132

We’ve been out of the US for almost four weeks and we’ve been living aboard our sailboat for almost three. We know nothing more definitive today regarding how specific countries or even certain islands within a country will respond to increased risk of community spread of Covid-19 than we knew a month ago. We have come to believe the only thing that is certain is uncertainty. As tourism and summer vacation travel have increased in Europe, we have observed the implementation of new or adjusted restrictions. Because of this, we recently decided to extend the time we would sail in Greece before transiting to another country in the Mediterranean. We would re-evaluate regularly.

Our next big decision was where, in Greece, did we want to explore? We thought about going north toward the Saronic islands. We had spent a little time there after passing through the Corinth Canal but we had to move along into the Cyclades at that time. The main challenge with this option was fighting heavy winds. To get to the island of Hydra, for instance, we would need to head northwest into a region known for very strong and pretty much non-stop north winds, especially during the month of August, which we just crossed into! I suggested Crete; it had never been on our itinerary because of the limited time we had thought we would be in Greek waters. However, now that we have extra time and we were eager to take a break from the relentless winds in the Cyclades, we planned our passage toward the middle of Crete’s long northern coast, to Iraklion specifically. 

Greece and the Eastern islands in the Aegean Sea. We are currently in Milos, heading toward Santorini.
Our planned route from Milos with a stop-over in Santorini before we head to Crete!
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Be Open to the Unexpected, Ep. 131

This blog post covers our departure from Donousa, a stop along Naxos’s south coast and ends with stunning Milos and the nearby islands of Palaigos and Kimolos.

Some stops are nothing more than functional … 100% utilitarian, with little to no entertainment value and that’s just how it is! This should be fine, right? However, it is easy for all of us to get caught up in wanting an amazing experience at every turn. We really struggle when we have friends or family on board because they only have a week and we want each day to be full to the point of overflowing with sights and activities; we hope that each evening’s anchorage will be beautiful and memorable – yet one without drama where we can all get a restful night’s sleep. If you have spent any time living on a sailboat or going on an extended driving trip, you know how hard it is to balance moving along on your planned, longer-term route while also having enriching or exciting experiences.

I was looking at the current portion of our summer’s journey as something to tolerate between special stops. We had recently left the amazing islands of Samos, Patmos and Arki and we were headed toward renown Milos but we had at least two stops along the way. However, the first of these stops was in Roussa Harbor on Donousa – the final island Tom covered in the previous blog – and it was a very pleasant surprise and a place I would hate to categorize as functional. We had a beautiful anchorage with calm seas in the large, protected bay as the wind was wild just outside and the busy, welcoming taverna fed our souls as well as our bodies.

Overlooking the harbor at Donousa where Sea Rose alone is at anchor
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Love Thy Siesta, Love Thy Sister, Ep. 130

There are not many marine preserves in Greece – in fact, not many in the entire the Med – but we set our course for the island of Arki, a soon-to-be ratified part of the North Dodecanese Wildlife Refuge, and a short distance from Leros where we had started from just a week ago. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a protected area in Greece, but our arrival in the calm harbor of Port Augusta answered any doubts I had. Here was an only slightly larger version of the charming little village of Agathonisi that we had visited last week. Approaching the small town quay, we could see plenty of space around the few boats already med moored to the quay. After the warmup at Agathonisi, Karen was in natural form as she turned Sea Rose around and began backing into the quay as I lowered the anchor. Med mooring with two people is a bit tricky, as you can really use a third person to manage tying the stern lines to the quay. Thankfully, a gentleman from a nearby boat wandered over and helped with that task. And the reduced breeze reduced the stress level as well. 

Port Augusta, on the island of Arki
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Boat Projects in Paradise – Ep. 129

It was July 15th when we were finally underway for this pandemic-impacted sailing season. There were far more unknowns to contend with this year but since we already acted on the tough decision to come to Europe amid all the potential for new and changing travel restrictions we had to dive in and start exploring. This summer would be an exercise in flexibility … and not of the musculature type!

For our first night away from Sea Rose’s winter home, we set our course for Agathonisi, a short trip to a small island to the NE of Leros. Being early season, we have a list of projects that would steal our time over the coming days, so picking a place close by seemed perfect. Being afternoon when we finally departed the boatyard, we immediately experienced high winds and quickly found ourselves flying past small islets at 9 kts of boat speed. I hope we’re ready for this wild ride!

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A Visa and A Smirk, Ep. 128

Our daughter, with a bit of a smirk, said, “I’ll see you in a day or two” as she dropped us off at the airport. The problem was, we were packed to the gunwales with gear for a summer of sailing onboard Sea Rose, and we had no intention of coming back home in a few days. But this is the era of Covid-19 and most any effort to plan for the future seems futile. 

A nearly empty international terminal in Boston, apart from all of our bags!
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The Home Stretch, Ep. 127

Our previous blog left off with us exploring the wonderful island of Kalimnos by rental car with our friends, Conner and Andree! They would be flying out today to make their way back to Athens and then eventually to the United States. They kept the car since the harbor where Sea Rose is docked is on the opposite side of the island from the Kalimnos Airport.

We walked them and their luggage to the car and said our good-byes. We would be leaving the dock as soon as we had Sea Rose prepared for her final sail of 2019. We had about 20 miles ahead of us to get up to the northern end of Leros Island, where Sea Rose would be hauled out and stored for the winter. See the map of our starting and destination islands below as a reference.

Our last 20-mile sail from Kalimnos to Leros Island, Greece
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