Dolphin delights

And sailed gracefully out of the bay

Finally got around to adding the second part of our Sporades blog.

After un-tangling our anchor we set off for Planitis Bay, a secure bay set in the north end of Panagia Island, away from civilisation.

Once you reach the top of the island, you can see the secluded inlet, and we motored in and anchored in the bay.IMG_2488

It is a very quite and natural part of the island, the only downside is that the currents wash rubbish into the inlet, so the beach is littered with debris.

Nevetheless, the water was clear and I had a lovely swim in the bay.

As there is no taverna we dined on board, then say on deck into the evening to watch the stars as there were no steet lights to dim the view.

The next morning we had a fairly early departure as a thunder storm was forecast for that evening and we had a long sail to get back to a safer harbour, so we set off with a light breeze back down the north coast of Panagia and Alonissos Islands. The wind gave up fairly soon after departure so we motored on, thinking it would be a boring day, but we were proved very wrong.

We sighted a  pod of dolphins of our port bow, about 50 meters ahead, and were delighted when they started turning to join us, and we realised there were at least 20 dolphins including mother with babies. The sea was by now very flat, and we enjoyed half an hour watching them play in our bow wave, taking turns to stand at the bow. My video taken with my iphone turned out brilliant, here are some stills from it.

Eventually they left us to visit the rest of the flotilla behind us, and we motored on for a return visit to the Mama Mia Church – Church of Agios. This time the weather was in our favour.

Once we’d had our fill of this lovely church we noticed the wind had risen, and we set off around the north tip of Skopelos for a good sail. The wind got stronger as we progessed, so we reefed our sails and wizzed down the West coast at great speed (in a yacht this means about 7 mph).

Our stop for the night was Loutraki, a pretty village providing protection from the impending weather. Everyone (but me) wrapped up in waterprooks to walk to the taverna for the team meal, and we were entertained by the thunder and heavy downpour to accompany our delicious meal.

Luckily the rain stopped when the meal was over, so I didn’t get drenched.

Mondays trip was just a short hop down the coast, but as we were ready fairly early, and we’d seen dolphins in the bay before, we took the long route around Tsoungria Island, anchoring in the far bay for lunch and my best swim so far – lots of fish.

We sailed back over to Skopelos and rafted up in a beautiful bay of Panormos. The peace and solitude of this bay was broken by a loud crew on a nearby catamaran, and then into the evening by a taverna on the shore, but when we woke up all was quiet, so I slipped into the water for a quiet swim.

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Another long sail beckoned, so we set off under motor back to the mainland.

As I had enjoyed Koukounaris Bay on our first visit, we stopped off again for lunch and I had another wonderful swim. The beach was busier today as more holidaymakers had arrived, so we had an audience.

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Once we had lunched, the wind finally put in an appearance, and as soon as the anchor was up we hoisted the sails (not showing off at all, honest) and sailed gracefully out of the bay. Well, we have to provide them with photo opportunities.

A good sail took us to Kiriaki, a very pretty fishing town, not touched by tourism.

When we passed this harbour on our way out, we were intregued by masts aparently in midair on the shoreline. As we came into the bay we could see the Boat Building yard, with the boats up on metal ramps.

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As we had a smaller yacht, we were moored between the fishing boats at the far right end of the bay, along with Robin and David, which meant we had a pleasant walk through the village to the shops and tavernas.

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After a cocktail party on the largest yacht and dinner in the fish taverna, we had a quiet night in our corner of the harbour, while the sea rocked the boats in the main quay overnight.

Next morning, Mary Ann, Colin, Robin and David and ourselves decided to walk up the (steep) hill to the village of Trikeri. There is a lovely cobbled path up the hill, through flower filled countryside, with views down into the bay, and lots of butterflies enjoying the valerian.P1070531.JPG

The village at the top was charming, and provided us with a shady bar to enjoy a Frappe and Ice cream, and some group shots before working our way back down.

The lead crew had left Jake and his rib in the bay to ensure we didn’t have crossed anchors, as the fishing boat area had lazy lines galore. Lucky they did, as Robin and David required his assistance. But when he came to join us, the cord on his motor broke, so we took him onboard to taxi him to Trikeri Village round the headland.

As there was good wind, we then went out and sailed around Palio Trikeri, capturing some good shots of fellow flotilla.

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Thats a good angle!

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On our last day we motored back to Orei, and enjoyed the last team meal and award presentations.

I’d like to give a big Thank You to our Sailing Holidays lead Crew, Jake, Becky and Tom, who helped us have a wonderful holiday – we will be back (next 2 flots already booked).

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Sporades Sailing

There is a delightful walk up the hill in the old town

We travel further afield for my next blog – a 2 week flotilla sail around the Greece Sporades.

Late on Friday evening we arrived at our Beneteau 331 yacht to join the flotilla of 10 boats , 30 crew and lead boat Athina and her crew of Jake, Tom and Becky, in Orei harbour. After our first night onboard, we woke to a beautiful morning, and the first trip was from Orei to Ahilio. We managed a good 2.5 hours of sailing, and after the customary Ouzo and lemon, or beer, met for a team meal, and were blessed with a stunning sunset.

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After a swim in the harbour, our trip the next day would take us from the mainland over to Skiathos island, and the perfect Koukounaries beach. This beach is rightly classed as one the top beaches in Greece.

En-route we spied our first dolphins, but they didn’t come close.

The flotilla anchored in the bay, and the turquoise waters tempted me in for swim. The sand is white and water crystal clear.

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The bay is home to 3 swans, 2 white and one black, who visited each yacht in turn.

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Many of the crew decided to row ashore and dine in the village, but we stayed aboard and made a salad – Greek of course, and then sat on the deck watching the stars.

The next leg takes us across to Skopelos Island, and a new harbour of Nea Klima. As the trip was short, and we were eager for more sailing, we went to long way around the North of  Skiathos Island, but as we approached Skopelos the wind died, and we started motoring along, until we spied several dolphins. We slowed our motor and gently followed a pod of around 12 or more dolphins, who, while not coming to play around the boat, were happy to stay close by and put on a great show for us. Eventually we alerted the flotilla, and Tom from the lead crew zoomed out in his rib, only for the pod to disappear, but luckily, just after we decided they had gone, they returned and amused us for a while longer. I missed a great shot when Tom created a large bow wave, and 4 dolphins surfed it right next to his rib. After an hours bliss we motored into Neo Klima, a pretty and quiet village.

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I ventured for a swim in the harbour despite a few jellyfish.

We were entertained the following morning by this gentleman fixing his boat – first he used his main halyard to raise his ladder, then proceeded to fix something at the top of his mast – where are Health and Safety when you need them?

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This cute boat sat next to the quay. It looks like a boat a child would draw.P1070473

The weather forecast for Tuesday was for strong winds, and due to issues with our mainsail, we motored around the top of Skopelos to the town of the same name. On our way we passed the church where Mamma Mia was filmed, but dull weather and high waves meant photos were not good, so we hastened into the safety of the town quay, where were remained for 3 nights.

The sea wall was large and constructed of huge rock, then a wide concrete pier where cars could drive, and our yachts safely tucked behind, but the winds were able to send waves crashing over and reach the deck.

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There is a delightful walk up the hill in the old town, with incredible views down over the bay, if you could catch your breath from the wind.

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Luckily Skopelos had quaint shops and many tavernas to entertain us during our enforced stay. The lead crew organised a quiz one afternoon, and helped by Mick and Tash from yacht Eirini, our team won the prize of a bottle of gin.

At last the winds died and we travelled on to Steni Vala, on the South of Alenissos island.

This finally felt like real Greece, no tourists, and not many other yachts in the small fishing quay.

I had a great swim, and we had a team meal in the sea front taverna.

 

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I’m sure we have new member to the flotillaIMG_1925

Lets have a closer look:

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Hm, not sure the red fishing boat is one of us. Our yacht, Aristi is to the right, with the England flag, and I’m offering a prize if you can identify our second flag.

We had a pleasant stroll up the hills surrounding the bay and watched large ants, and lizards basking in the sun.

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As this marked the end of our first week, I shall leave here, back soon.