May 22, 2008
[ JOURNALENTRY BY MOLLY ]
Hello friends! We started our official honeymoon (after Grand Isle, Fest Internat’l and Jazzfest, and Grand Isle again) 14 days ago, arriving in London to greet the dawn. Trained down to Portsmouth for a few scenic (idyllic countryside) and fun hours and ret’d to Gatwick to meet fellow crew member Stacy White. From the airplane we watched the sun set on the shortest Thursday on record. We arrived Antalya, Turkey at 10pm local time – we’re now seven hours ahead of U.S. Central time.
Got to Antalya in pitch dark, took taxi to "Old City" thanks to Stacy’s vague bit of local knowledge, and were dropped off at ancient Hadrian’s Gate. Lucked out – young Turk saw helpless tourists in the dark alley and took us to charming Pensione Ninova. Awoke to a gorgeous, cool day in a beautiful town with the prettiest harbor – ancient and delightful. All flowers and tiny alleys, filled with vendor’s stands. Breakfast in the pensione garden was tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cheeses and delicious simit rolls. This would be repeated many times in Turkey – love this "salad" breakfast.
Hired taxi for wild ride down the coast highway to Kemer and made it to the Marina. The coast of Turkey is stunning and the view from the marina of the mountains spilling down into the azure sea is breathtaking. I knew nothing of this country and can tell you it is either way underrated or completely overlooked by most Americans. There are very few of us here (yay) and English is NOT the second (or third or fourth) most-used language. The people are lovely and the food is good once you figure out what you’re ordering! And we like the Efes beer – for those of you in the know, it, too, is a blue beer.
Since White Rabbit is up on a hard stand, we stayed for the first week at a hilarious Russian-owned all-inclusive hotel. The Turkish staff is great and the characters around here are not to be believed – it’s like a BBC sitcom with Boris, the KGB guy, Natasha with her spiky mullet, continous cigarette and her ear glued to the phone, the young English-speaking Turk bartender, our new Iranian friend, and the Russian hussies. Quite the cast here at the Hotel Brittania. We work during the day on the boat and spend the evenings here.
Finally, after a week of the hotel, the boat was splashed and we began to stay onboard in the slip. And after another week here, I’m getting used to it. The disco music from a nearby resort (3am and still going) keeps me up – they really love their disco here. It blares from every hotel, restaurant and bar and Wheat’s going mad. Worst of all is having to get up and go to the bathroom: dressing and climbing above deck, across the boat, climbing over the pulpit, crossing the passerella onto the dock and then strolling alongside the office building to the ladies room/showers is REALLY getting old. It’s like camping but no screens for the mosquitoes and the pee-tree is really far away. Of course no one told me about this part of the deal! C’est la vie. I’m sucking it up. (Unfortunately this gets even worse later. Joke’s on me. )
Since we’ve been here 2 weeks, we know Kemer well. It’s really a modern town suited to the Russians and Europeans on holiday with a brick and marble pedestrian boulevard lined with proper shops. It doesn’t really have any history or “city” side, just this town created to serve the holiday-goers and subsequent tourist boulevard. We have managed to limit the souveniers and have enjoyed the view, climbing over the nearest mountain (seriously!), Moonlight Beach and the subsequent bar without disco, a few exciting lifer birds and great shish kebap food. Umm. The prices are high, though, and this unexpected layover for repairs has dug into our budget. And doing nothing but work on the boat and endure the tension caused thereof is getting very old. Time to move on!
We expect to actually depart tomorrow and sail to Kos, Turkey. This town is not on our original waypoint list but bad weather is expected the next day on Thurs the 22nd so we’ll stay overnight there tomorrow. Hmmm, maybe a hotel and sleeping late in the rain? Crossing my fingers…
Unfortunately the wind was not with us (The Med was the Dead Sea today) so we motored toward Kos. But by afternoon the head wiind picked up and we would not have been able to make Kos before dark, necessary for that tricky marina entrance – we turned around and headed for Finike. More later… xoxox Molly and Wheat
May 29, 2008
[ JOURNALENTRY BY MOLLY ]
I suppose I’d better jump ahead – Stacy White wrote the last post for us, detailing Fineke and Kos. Here’s our story through our visit to Santorini:
Kos, when pronounced, rhymes with posh for good reason – it was heaven. Because it’s early in the season, we relaxed on fancy loungers at this multi-level bar/restaurant with marble decks that scamper straight from the sea up mighty boulders to the top of the cliff. The views and ambience are very special here. Wheat couldn’t help himself and had a swim, braving the water that wasn’t as cold as we thought it might be. A lovely, lovely day in Kos – skip Monaco forever and come here instead. (And Stacy wan’t kidding about the talking cat. I thought it was an old Turkish woman talking to her cat but when I looked down at the stoop there wasn’t no woman, it was the cat talking! The damn thing was calling the other cats to prayer or something. It was yodeling and yowling in Turkish, and had the other cat (and we) mesmerized. FREAKY.)
A "dolmoosh" (bus) ride later and we’re back in Finike, preparing to head to Rhodos. All the little delightful bright aqua cove beaches are along this highway ride, each with it’s own bar/restaurant renting loungers and umbrellas. Last time he was here, Stacy rented a car and drove this coast, bar hopping along the beaches. If we get a next time, that’s what we’ll do, too.
Finike is actually very cool as it is not a tourist town in any way. It’s a cool old city with a river through it with charming gardens and bridges, and it’s the orange capital, with many ort-istic statues commemorating the orange. It was great to be in a regular, bustling Turkish town and we were shocked at the difference in prices. Efes went from 3 Euros to just over 1 Euro, and the food was correspondingly cheaper. We’d have stayed another day if we hadn’t lost all our free days in Kemer. We did enjoy the UEFA Cup Final at a great Fineke bar, with the tables outdoors in the garden and a projection screen set up on the outdoor stage. Fun to participate in such a European diversion along with the locals. Too bad Manchester beat Chelsea in that double "overtime" shootout. This game would later give us fodder for meeting Brits all along our journey. Easy to engage strangers over futbol, and we got lots of non-typical American kudos for being aware of the favorite pasttime in the rest of the world.
We sailed for Rhodos after getting the boat hatch key duplicated in Finike. The captain likes to keep the main hatch key IN the hatch lock, thereby managing to stab every sailor in the back or in the face each time we go below. Wheat and Stacy argued this point with him to no avail (and I think I still have a scar from that damn key). Anyway, of course they were right and someone’s back bent that key right over in the lock, so the captain freaked out and ordered Stacy to get copies made. That alone was another unbuh experience. Try asking for that service sometime in another language! We kept getting what we thought were vague directions of the "over there around the corner"-type and indications that "he might not be open" but, when we finally approached the alley indicated by the third patient person who helped us, there was no storefront, just an old man sitting on a little wooden stool in front of a vacant city lot. He had a little tiny cart with a small parasol overhead. And on the cart was – you guessed it – a key-making machine. I kid you not. We could not believe our eyes (see pic). Not a hardware store or a locksmith, but a guy on a stool with a little cart. So we get the guy to make a copy of the key, and ask him for two more keys but he kept refusing to make any more. He had more blanks – we have no idea why he wouldn’t make more keys. He finally just packed up and left us laughing in the street. Bizarre!
We sailed overnight to the capital Rhodos, actually entering THE harbor/marina through the gates where the Colossus of Rhodes stood over two thousand years ago. Two THOUSAND years. (Lafayette is two hundred years old. The U.S. seems so insignificant sometimes.) It was pretty overwhelming to sail through that entrance as visitors have for centuries upon centuries. A very exciting moment that was stemmed only by the behavior of the panicked captain yelling orders and instructions – the chronic stress & tension caused by his ongoing beratement and constant tirades during the sail itself is not enough, departures and arrivals must be carried out with a maximum of hysteria as though everyone on board is either six years old or a total idiot, or both. So get over the harbor views and kick those other boats out of the way! USETHEPOLE, MAN! I stood fast and took pictures anyway, standing in the main hatch now that the key has been removed, so you can see each arrival if you want. Approaching these ancient cities by boat is riveting – they are always beautiful and surprising from the water! I’m very grateful to have had that experience; it’s a totally different perspective that I’ll always consider in future old-world travels.
In the marina, we were able to avail ourselves of the crappy showers/toilets and prepared to go into town (Wheat stood guard for me since the door didn’t close. The men didn’t even HAVE doors. It’s the Greek way.) We made our way to an ATM where Stacy spotted us 100 Euros – our first Euros so far. It’s always fun to look at new money until you realize that one Euro is worth $1.66 U.S.! We also note there are still doner kebaps available, but now they are called gyro pitas. Whatever you call it, we love it. This was near the bus stop in the modern cruise ship strip right behind the fanciest part of the marina. Right before that is the foot of the old, walled city – our first of the trip, and it was impressive. Upon entering the walled fortress, there seemed to be a Rennassaince Fest night with knights reenacting swordfights and little booths and spit-roasting pigs along the streets. The city is fine, and filled with tavernas, shops and even discos. We walked around and settled at one of the family owned restaurants to have dinner and drink Retsina, the cheap, resinous white wine. Cold and delicious!
Our next day in Rhodes Stacy and Wheat rented a car so that we could see the entire island. Before finding a vendor, we stopped at the gyros pita place by the bus station. We ate huge chicken gyros with French fries in them (as the pork was still undercooked) while watching the Greek owner create a full skewer of gyro meat. He pulled marinated steak after steak (this was all pork) out of a bin and layered one on top another each one bigger in circumference than the last. He packed them down before adding more. We could hardly imagine being able to lift the thing to get it on the "doner machine" which rotates the meat in front of three heating elements – each individually adjustable to cook the kebab properly as it reduces in size. (We knew from experience that later, in the evening, when the doner is small and pretty much on fire that they’d be done for the evening.)
Wheat found a car rental and they made a discussion about a rental, and the car was delivered by a nice gay man with good English. He walked us to the car and gave Stacy the keys and we were off. We drove west past the airport area, down along the quieter western coast, then midway down cut across the island on a "highway" that’s better referred to as a dirt road. One with boulders in it. And us in our V-1 rent-a-dink. It was pretty funny. Stacy turned out to be a masterful driver though so we made it back to paved civilization eventually. The middle of the island was fascinating. I got my first good look at olive groves, and we stopped in a town that seemed right out of the Alps, with all of it’s Swiss and Germanic influences. Swiss and Germanic prices, too, so we booked out of there and on to a little berg with a taverna overlooking the valley. The old man owner was there and his son was manning the grill. There were pictures of them on the wall that had to span at least thirty years of time – all spent right there, visiting with tourists and cooking them meals. They both seemed pretty happy in their little place in the world. (But they were WAY overcooking the meat – we’ve noticed this in both Greece and Turkey, they keep the meat on the spit until it loses half it weight/bulk, and then slice up the little hockey pucks and serve ‘em right up. At this point I’m missing beef and pork, but the grilled pork in Greece was the chewiest pork I’ve ever had to stomach.) We enjoyed our Mythos beers and drove on to the east coast, where tourism and rampant development meant the Greek version of Panama City Beach – seriously, THAT tacky. It was somehow both disappointing and comforting to realize that for good AND for ill, people are often the same halfway around the world. We booked out of there and found a great restaurant out in the boonies (Zathros’) with an English-speaking owner/chef who’d drove a cab in New York for years. We drank more Mythos (better than Efes) and I had a yummy beef stifado (like a tomato-y beef stew in a ceramic dish) while Stacy finally got a chance to order grilled octipoti (which I kept calling octipopo). It was admittedly over cooked with charring from the grill, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. By this time we had to head back (our relaxing day cruising the beaches of Rhodes has turned in to a grueling road rally!) so we zoomed the rest of the way and had an adventure in car return (YOU try to park a car in Rhodos! The fellas did a great job.) before heading to the "Bar Street" area and dining in an upstairs balcony overlooking the melee. Back to the boat for sleeping and prep for heading to the harbor of Tilos.
We motor-sailed in light westerly wind to arrive in Tilos and find the tiniest, sleepiest little village yet. Nothing sleepy about our loud arrival, of course, but once in we were delighted to escape the boat into the little town. (Escape is the right word – remember the hated passarella? Now it’s over the bow, step on to the swiveling anchor while someone pulls the bow line to get the boat close enough to the dock to reach back with your foot until you can stretch onto the dock. The passarella wasn’t so bad…) Well, callng Tilos a town is a bit of a stretch, but we walked along the cove beach and terrific marble "boardwalk" until we came to one of the restaurants that looked, uh, more open than the others? Anyway, a man was out front raking the beach stones, so we jumped at the opportunity. "Can you sell us some Mythos?" we ask. "Of course" he replies, "I have nothing else to do!" Turns out he "has good English" as Wheat says and he surprises us with his knowledge of U.S. politics, going in to the details of the Democratic Party nomination battle that was nearing a conclusion between Obama and Hilary Clinton. Wheat points out that the guy was about as happy with the current U.S. government administration as we are. (This was not the first nor the last time we’d appreciate the knowledge that others have of our government, while we Americans are ignorant of their own country’s politics.) This was another Greek restaurant owner that had a big pork roast turning on a spit over a grill and was cooking the hell out of it, flare ups and all. We left after a few drinks because we definitely weren’t going to eat dinner there! There were no facilities whatsoever at this harbor, so we freshened up best we could (can’t use the head in port, nor could we pretty much ever use it anyway since it was broken most of the journey) and headed out for dinner. The next morning, Wheat was laid up with a wrenched back so Stacy and I enjoyed "English breakfast" at the harborside diner. This was our first egg & bacon (more like thinly sliced ham or Canadian bacon) on the trip and the egg was fantastic – a large, fresh egg with a bright yellow yolk. We missed eggs! We ate our breakfast and watched the docking and unloading of a big tramp freighter. After all the drama and activity, the cargo ended up being building materials – shrink-wrapped pallets of bricks and what looked like flagstone were unloaded onto the dock. The Greek Islands version of a Dufrene’s Lumber delivery in Grand Isle. After provisioning at the harbor market (OMG those prices were the worst – $10 peanut butter, etc.) we sailed on to Thirra.
On to Thirra, the island formerly known as Santorini. We had a smooth and uneventful motor trip and good thing because Wheat was laid out the whole trip with backtrouble. If the sound of Antalya was the call to prayer, and the call of Kos was the public address system ("we’ll be turning off the water now"), then the song of Thirra/Santorini is the dredging barge re-digging one side of the marina and the constant house sparrow chirp as they nest in the sandy cliffs. (It strikes us odd that these ancient islands occasionally change their name. The locals shrug it off and say one name is more modern but you can use either name. ???) We sail into a very different harbor here – a marina very busy with charming local fishing boats and their endless cleaning and repairing of yellow nets, yet no marina facilities to speak of. Apparently they are building a modern office and sanitary block, but it’s not completed yet. It’s the Greek way, as Stacy says. The harbor is at the base of the cliffs, and we’ve got to go up the cliff stairs to get to a restaurant to find any facilities. So, of course, we freshen up as best we can (and we’re looking mighty rough by this time – sunburned and windblown, people are starting to assume we’re sailors just in. Is is the rumpled clothes, the red faces, or the smell? We’re not sure we want to know.) and head up the stairway. Now enters Dimitri into the picture. Dimitri owns the restaurant and hotel at the top of the stairs and goes out into the street to waylay poor strangers before they get past him to another joint. He is a character! There’s no saying "no" to Dimitri. We settle in for Mythos and a lay of the land, next thing you know, his second lieutenent has come down on the beer prices and scored us a car rental for 25 Euros including tax (Stacy’s experience with the Rhodos car, which was 49 Euros PLUS an unexpected tax let him to make sure about the price before the Romanian guy drove the car to us). Stacy & I drive to town and find a pharmacy – after returning to Wheat with a fabulous back brace and some serious analgesics (everything the pharmacist told me was true!), Wheat was able to join us for dinner – we just drove him on up to Dimitri’s place.
The next morning we prep for another trip to town with showers sold to us by (who else?) our buddy Dimitri – again the price drops from 3 Euros per shower to 2.5 each, then after we shower and drink two large Mythos, we pay 10 Euros for all three of us including the beer. We loves us some Dimitri!
All clean and polished, we drive over to the town of Santorini. Santorini is stunning – a classic, picture perfect Greek Islands town that’s Wheat’s favorite. He’s been looking forward to this island for some time now. Santorini is everything you’d hope – high up on the mountain overlooking an incredible deep blue cliffside harbor, with all manor of sailing yachts and cruise ships moored below. The tender ships, zodiacs and dinghys bring in the visitors who scale the 600 steps to the town on foot or on donkey, or ride the steep cable car. All of the classic, thick walled buildings are white or off-white and seem immaculately clean. The accent paint color of choice here is the bright blue of the Greek flag, and this blue and white motif is everywhere you look. It’s completely charming and romantic, we took approximately one million pictures here. The tiny streets are filled with shops catering to the constant cruise ship crowd – they are fancy and very expensive. This is the one place on our journey that is as crowded as all of Europe will be in July and August; jam-packed with people. We luck out on grabbing a few cans of Mythos from a small souvenier shop with a small cooler in the corner and laugh at her "storage" area behind the counter – it’s the balcony with the fantastic view. We suggested she put three chairs out there instead and she could triple the price of her 1.5 Euro Mythos to make up for it. We got our requisite magnets there and enjoyed our beers while walking through town. We’d had no luck at the Internet café’ there the afternoon before (Stacy and I had gone out to reconnoiter while Wheat was laid up with a back injury) so after sightseeing we raced back to the boat in time for our afternoon departure. We made provisions on the way (83 Euros!) and got gasoline (3.35 Euros per litre) and rushed to get back in time. The blue-eyed Romanian kid came back for the car (our man Dimitri again, makin’ the call for us) and we were on our way to Kriti.
More later! Stay tuned… xoxoxo Molly & Wheat
May 31, 2008
[ JOURNAL ENTRY BY STACY ]
Greetings from the Greek island of Crete.
We have been traveling in the Greek Cyclades Islands, and have now arrived at our last stop in Greece, its largest island, Crete, in the town of Chania – (curiously also spelled Xhania, Hania, and other ways too). We arrived this morning at 8am from an overnight passage, blissfully uneventful, on a night of no wind, doing 2 hour on, 3 off shifts. We arrived from Santorini. It took about 17 hours to traverse the 85 miles of Aegean Sea. We have been traveling to islands with very limited facilities for yachtsmen, are exhausted, and thus Wheat and Molly found a room at a pansion near the harbour. I have taken one as well, enjoying a hot shower and a 2 hour sleep during the heat of the day. The room cost only 20 euros. It is an extension of the owner’s house, is ancient, has 15 foot ceilings, a courtyard and a balcony overlooking the harbour and sea. I just went out and found a copy of the International Herald Tribune, having had no news from the world in over a week, and had a big cup of Greek coffee (like Turkish coffee, with the grinds right in the cup – strong).
After a 2 day rest here we have a 465 mile jump to make to Valletta, Malta, about a 3 ½ day sail. Even more reason to take a room for a couple nights! That will put us in the central Mediterranean, poised to make progress to our goal in Gibraltar.
In my last report I think we were in the Fineke marina, Turkie, waiting out adverse weather. Well, it blew from the direction of our travel, west, for 3 days, strong. So the newlyweds and I did indeed catch a dolmus to Kas, where we had a great evening, night and next day. Kas is a delightful small harbour town, and now discovered, somewhat, by tourists, especially the British. The old town along the harbour has many narrow streets with many bars and restaurants, all dark and small and very nice in atmosphere. We walked thru the town and after an Efes beer at a harbourside café to get focused and to regain our fortitude, we walked down to the pansio n where Tonia and I stayed 2 years ago, the Lila Pansion. Wheat and Molly got my old room and I laughed with the Turkish women who ran the place about my being there 2 years previous, and they gave me a special one person room with a nice balcony overlooking the sea. It cost about $25 US. Walking thru the old town after, on our way to dinner, we were walking the dark old streets and Wheat and I heard a voice directly in front of us down on the ground, but all there was there was an old cat. Wheat and I took a double take and looked at each other and said “did that thing say that?!” and sure enough it was a talking cat. The damn cat talked for some time and people would pass and marvel at it. It spoke Turkish, and we stood there for some time absolutely spellbound, laughing our asses off each time it spoke. We then proceeded to a bar as we felt we ne eded a strong drink after such an episode; thus we drank Raki, the Turkish equivalent of ouzo from Greece. Then our host at the restaurant was a real character, and he sat with us for most of our meal; we would tell him we would buy his wine if he would sell it cheaper than on the menu; he said no problem. (This is a pattern here – At our hotel in Kemer the manager would use a calculator to translate the price of the room from Euros to Turkish lira to US dollars - I would then re do the entire process with his calculator with him watching and unsurprisingly arrive at a lower price, turn the calculator around and show it to him and he said “no problem” – similarly at a popular outdoor bar where we liked to take our evening Efes, the stated price was 4 lira. You just had to cajole the guy by saying “hey we drink many beers here we want to pay 3 lira” “No problem, for you, my friend, special pric e”) So we weren’t crazy asking this restranteur to give us a lower wine price, believe me. His brother the elder finally apparently told him to stop fraternizing with the tourists and giving them discounts, and then he wanted our assistance in meeting some English women at the next restaurant. Again his brother intervened, and we all laughed a lot. I believe we had the black sheep of this Turkish family as our host.
I went on to some music bars after the newlyweds retired, met some very interesting people and finally went home around 2.
After enjoying the town the next day we returned to Fineke and departed about 7PM. We were late returning and hence, since we were leaving Turkish waters, and going to Greece, we needed to check out of the country. The customs police at the marina said “closed – finished” “return Monday” (it was Friday), despite the fact that they specifically told me closing was at 7. So the captain, pissed at our lateness, suggested we pay the man “overtime” to process our passports. Great idea. I gave him 25 Turkish lira ($22) and problem solved. Very nice.
Unfortunately our 24 hour sail to Rhodos (Rhodes) 105 miles, was not. Light wind on the nose but big lumpy seas that had the WRiii sloshing all over the place. It was quite unpleasant. Queasy. Dark. No moon until around midnight. We carried on in shifts thru the night and at the 5-7am shift cap wanted the main up, normally a two person job. Wheat was due up in 15 minutes and I pointed that out but he wanted it up then, so I lashed on and went forward to do it. Halfway thru the process, after getting flung about, the main halyard got caught around the radar reflector and radar unit up the mast and we could not get it undone (normally sailor 2 takes up slack on the halyard as it is connected by sailor 1, but…….) Wheat tried to get it loose and couldn’t. With no sails up the boat was pitching heavily in the sea. Wheat volunteered to go up the mast on the boson’s chair and Bob and Victor cranked him up and I steered between dry heaves. Molly, new to sailing, had bad luck for a first sail and remained uncomfortable all night, but attended her shifts. It was really great. The mast was rolling probably thru 8-10 feet of arc and when you’re up there in that you’re holding on for dear life and Wheat kept screaming about various protuberances on the mast, such as lights, and what they were doing to his privates, and try as he might he could not get the damn halyard loose. So down he came and we carried on on the jib alone (later he developed bruises on his inner arms and thighs and his back went out!) Late morning and afternoon were better as the wind veered to allow us to point right at Rhodos town. At 6 pm as we were just an hour off the town, exhausted, and as a final joke the evening meltimi wind came up at 20-25 knots directly from the harbour mouth, to just give us that last test as we got there. “What the hell else can happen?” the captain asked. Fortunately with the charts and pilot book we found our way into the ancient Mandraki harbour and still water. The two columns at the entrance of the harbour are where the legs of the giant colossus of Rhodos stood over 2000 years ago.
We got tied in bow to, which requires us to drop a Danforth anchor amidships and pay it out astern as we approach a dock and whoever handles that is essentially the brakeman. We are the only ones to do this. Everyone else has different systems in place to go stern to by dropping their main bow anchor – operated electrically – and more importantly lifted by motor (the anchor and chain weigh probably 45 pounds). We have all long ago concluded that our system remains as it has because the captain is never involved in the process of deploying or lifting said anchor.
Anyway, Wheat did that and I caught the bow and tied it up. The others fended the two boats on either side of us. Everyone was exhausted but hungry and we went into the old walled city and had Greek food and retsina. Its funny how over here a change in countries – really now states as its all EU – makes everything so different. We threw out all 15 of our Turkish words and our favorite menu items and had to learn anew.
A word on Rhodos town. I first came here 15 years ago to meet the WRiii. I flew in from Athens and taxied to the boat and found the boat in the same Mandraki harbour. I of course then found the crew at the nearest taverna drinking and eating. There were celebrations going on I asked about it and was told that it was the town’s birthday – its 2,400th birthday. I sheepishly told the guy my ancient city was going to celebrate its 300th soon. “Oh,” he said “a new city – that must be very nice, it must be quite modern.” “yeah, very modern” I said, thinking of New Orleans..
So there I was again in the 2,415th year of Rhodos town. We got a day off, again because of howling west winds, and so rented a car – the newly weds and I – and toured Rhodos island.. It was delightful, with flowers everywhere, cold Mythos beer everywhere, and walking in remote mountain villages. The beaches and towns were crowded with tourists even though it is still May. We ate at a small seaside town and of course met another Greek man that lived for years in the states. He pointed out, in good English, that there are 12 million Greeks in Greece and 4 million in the USA. I ate grilled octopus and anchovies and washed them down with lot s of retsina.
Another note on Turkey vs. Greece. If you use just their bathrooms as a point of comparison the difference is distinct. In the monolithic marble baths of the Turks, with a sign-in sheet for the employee whereby he must certify with his signature that he has cleaned the bathroom spotlessly every hour, everything is right. In Mandraki, there was a crappy (pardon the pun) little bathroom, not so clean, with no doors on the toilets or showers, no hooks to hang clothes, no paper, etc. Some might have guessed it would be the other way around. Greece may have ruled the world one day, with its culture and language, but those days are over, meh son.
(Before I forget, I wanted to pass on that gasoline is Turkey is now over 3 lira a liter making it about $10US per gallon. In Rhodos, using Euros, with a weak dollar, it is about $8.50US.).
We departed Rhodos Tuesday morning about 6. Wheat lifted the anchor, and I helped carry it up front, around all the shrouds, meaning you had to hold the anchor and chain and lift it far out in front of you and pass it along to the next guy. And of course it came up with a bonus 25 pound clump of ancient Mandraki clay, which had to be remove by lifting and dropping the anchor into the water, maybe 25 times, until it was clean. This proved by days end to be too much for our backs. We both complained back in the cockpit that our backs hurt and Bob asked “What the hell is wrong with you guys???” to which I responded “Captain, your crew is getting old.”< o:p>
We motor sailed for 45 miles due west into light westerly winds, tacking. Using the main sail only and the engine allows us to go about 25-30 degrees off the wind and thus travel far fewer miles than on sail alone which would require us to sail 45 degrees off the wind. We went to the little island of Tilos, very quiet. We barely fit into the little harbour. The island has only a few hundred inhabitants. A little promenade along the waterfront had tavernas, and we made our way to one and enjoyed the Mythos beer ice cold in the heat of the afternoon. The Greek owner, having lived in the states, spoke fondly of USA but of course not of its Government these days. All the Greeks and Europeans he said are for the black guy. He also bemoaned the state of his little island as overdeveloped and full of Euro trash. A group of 4 young women strolled by and he said “you see, not one of them is Greek – they all are working here, from Rumania, Bulgaria and such” “The English are buying up the island and building holiday homes” We told him to watch out for the Russian onslaught and he said it was already coming. “They don’t even ask the price and just hand over the money with big tip.” (In both Turkey and Greece we saw menus with $200 lobster offerings – the Russians must be those custom ers).
Wheat and my backs were really hurting and so we each took a flexural. Anyway we had a nice dinner there – I had whole grilled calamari stuffed with feta, tomates and spices, all of course washed down with retsina (the joy of retsina is that it is really nice and refreshing – if you like it – and very cheap). Vic our Irish mate walked along and joined us and ordered a bottle of ouzo, beers and such. He is a true Irishman at heart. Wheat and I had to limit ourselves since we were full of flexeril for our paining backs.
Sleeping in the tiny quiet harbour was easy. There were charter yachts there and the harbour was full with only 10 vessels.
Next morning Wheat could not even get out of the V berth. My back felt better but not great. Molly and I had a great breakfast at the outdoor café next to the boat and we were off at 11 for a 104 mile trip to Santorini. Again the weather was from the west but at only about 10 knots so we again motor sailed and tacked. With Wheat out of action the rest of us had two hour on and two hour off shifts, which as you can imagine gives you precious sleep. As soon as you get off and climb into your bunk, after getting off all the harnesses, life vests, jackets and layers of clothes – for it is chilly at night – and finally fall asleep, an hour later someone is tapping you on your shoulder and saying “It’s your shift” and so you reverse the proces s.
The harbour of Vlihada on the south end of Santorini is a difficult entrance as there are submerged rocks and specific instructions on how to approach. We made it safely and tied up alongsides – meaning no anchor necessary thank you. The harbour area is unattractive, dry and dusty. With no facilities, not even a bathroom. But we walked around and climbed the 50 or so steps up to the cliffs around the harbour and found tavernas with great views of the harbour. Molly and I went up there and stopped at the first one - Dimitri’s place – and met Dimitri. He was grea t, had good English and greeted everyone the same way- with a booming “ Kali merra, kali merra, how are you?” With the harbour devoid of services he was the de facto provide all guy. For the next 2 days he was our go-to guy. Need a meal? Go to Dimitri. Need a shower? No problem use one of his hotel room showers, 2 euros. Need a car? Dimitri would call the Romanian kid who would bring us a car. Three generations of Dimitri’s family worked the place, with a cliffside dining room and across the street another dining room and kitchen and guest house. “Dimitri more Mythos!” “Dimitri do you have bread for our boat?” “Of course” Wheat was holed up in the V berth, so Molly and I rented a car and toured Santorini. It is an active volcano and is the most famous post card of Greece, with its town up high on a cliff all white and blue buildings and narrow streets, about 800 feet above the caldera of the volcano now ocean, with cruise ships visiting and people everywhere. It is beautiful. When we returned we got Wheat into the car for his first meal in 24 hours an of course drove him to Dimitri. Dimitri’s first question, after having talked to us earlier was to inquire about how is the back? We have doctor if you need. Big meal and asleep exhausted from the night shifts.
We toured again the next day and left at 2PM for the sail to here in Crete. We had nice winds on the beam and hauled ass for a while and then it dies and we motored the night through, 2 hours on 3 off since Wheat was back in the mix.
So now the church bells are ringing, we are drinking cold white wine and the heat of the day is breaking – time to go out and walk about and try to send this missive to you all.
Today is Saturday May 31. Make a joke on my mom and all of you call her and wish her a happy 86th birthday by calling her at 340.392.0860 on Sunday. It would really make her laugh.
Best from over here,
June 01, 2008
[ JOURNALENTRY BY WHEAT ]
greetings from hania, crete, greece. just a short note to say hi. this is my first chance to write-it’s hard to find time between sailing from point to point, then fueling, provisioning, repairing, catching up on lost sleep and having a look around to send many letters. we have a partial day off here before a 450 mile, 3-4 day sail to malta. we spent 11 days (longer than we wanted) in kemer, turkey before setting sail. there were repairs and upkeep, etc. to be done. we headed to finike, turkey for the shakedown. enjoyed the champions cup final there on a big screen in a seaside taverna.(didn’t care for the result, tho). left turkey for the greek island of rhodos where the colossus used to preside. enjoyed walking in the old town, within the old castle walls. next, a short sail( motor) to greek island of telos. very quiet after the tourist rush of rhodes. upon departure i sprained my back pulling up the anchor and was grateful for a very light western wind as we motored overnight to san torini. molly returned from town with a back brace and some pain relievers and we visited the beautiful old town with amazing views overlooking the volcano whose caldera forms the island. a long overnight brought us here to crete. we had a good sailing breeze for a while but again had to resort to the motor. prevailing winds in this part of the med are light, from wnw so we’re hoping for some of that northerly. hope you all are well. more soon, molly and wheat
June 09, 2008
[ MOLLY & WHEATBIDFAREWELL TO THEWHITERABBIT III AT VALLETTA ]
… completed our visit to Malta by visiting the ornate cathedral built by the Knights of St John … incredible marble inlay floor told life story of resident knight buried beneath … also visited stone temple from 3600 BC … these and others found on Malta are the oldest free-standing buildings on the planet … we spent 3 days visiting the nearby island of Gozo which we decided was a real dirt clod in the rough … traveled, last night (6/13), via ferry to Pozallo,Sicily where we’ll look around for a bit — probably here in the southeast corner, making our way to Syracusa and Catania
… all the best, M & W
June 18, 2008
[ TRAPANI – PALERMO / MONREALE ]
June 23, 2008
[ JOURNALENTRY BY MOLLY ]