Trip Report- Just returned from Cyclades
First, I want to thank all who provided great advice and insights before my trip! It was all extremely helpful. Report on my trip:
We arrived Friday evening and got to our hotel in the Plaka area (Hotel Adams). Good inexpensive hotel. Acropolis view. Great location for exploring Athens by foot. We walked to Acropolis, Syntigma, Monisteraki, many other places. Found a sim card for my cell phone. Throughout the islands, I always had phone service.
We chartered through Albatross, located in the US. Everything worked out well, and I have no complaints. As it played out, we found that all the contract paperwork was for Meandros, a Greek company. I thought, OK, US broker represents Greek charter company. But the boat actually belonged to Kiriacoulis, which is a large charter company. With so many middlemen, it looks like an opportunity for confusion and finger-pointing. But, everything worked seamlessly.
We got the boat we'd reserved. Got it on time (early, actually), and in good shape. Provisioning took a little longer that I'd anticipated. Two of us handled the checkout, and the other two went provisioning. We started the process at about 13:30. Departed around 16:00. Sailed to Sounion. Anchored about 30 minutes before sunset. The temple of Posideon is pretty spectacular. Especially when it is lit up at night. Not much in the way of provisioning there. Took the dingy to shore and walked up to the Temple of Posideon.
Had a great sail to Kithnos.
Actually all of our passages were sailed. We motored an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening to keep the batteries topped off and fridge cold. Motored in and out of harbors. Other than that, sail all the way. No motoring because of lack-of-wind. Wind stayed between 10 and 25 knots. Maybe some gusts approaching 30 one day. We had heard that the prior week had some Meltemi winds, with many boats staying in port for 2-3 days. We had good luck on that-- perfect weather.
Attempted to med moor at Merikha,Kithnos. But, the mole was full. Looked like one spot available, but the port police told us it was too close to the ferry. This turned out to be a very good twist of fate. We backtracked to a nearby anchorage with a taverna. We had a great meal, wonderful waiter, appetizers, entrees, wine, dessert-- for 22 euro! For 4 people! Mealwise, this was definitly one of the high points. Although there were really no "low points". Did some snorkeling here also. Water is very clear, but marine life doesn't seem as plentiful as in the Carrib.
On to Serifos. Planned a lunch/swim stop at Koutala, but just did a fly-by instead. We made pretty late/leisurely departures. So, we pressed on to get into our next overnight anchorage: Livadhiou, Serifos. Sterned-to and found ourselves in the middle of a flotilla of Norweigians (about a dozen boats), and many other nationalities as well. Beautiful place. Got some provisions, a great meal, and a late night out in a night club. Many of the cruisers/charters ended up in the same night club till 3am or so. Everyone managed to negotiate their gangplanks without falling in. I would have lost that bet.
On to Sifnos. A little shorter sail. Good thing, as we made a slow start following the late night out. Also loaded up on pastries from the bakery before leaving.
Made a lunch stop at Kamares. Very nice place with many shops and tavernas. Our plan was to overnight at Vathi, and we kept to that plan. But, I was inclinded to stay at Kamares. Vathi was very nice as well. Not as many provisioning possibilies, but we didn't really need much. It was getting a little late, so we had dinner aboard that night. Didn't launch the dinghy till the next morning. After spending the morning walking around Vathi, we headed for Poliagos.
We sailed down the channel between Poliagos and Kimolos, then around the south side of Poliagos. Very spectacular! Beautiful high cliffs and caves. Large rocks sticking up to maybe 100 feet. We found a nice secluded cove with 20' depth and sand bottom. Snorkelled and swam. Headed back around to Psathi,Kimilos for the night.
Stern-to at the seawall for overnight. This turned out to be a rough anchorage. It was recommended by our checkout guy. It was fine when we tied up. But through the evening, the swell started coming into the harbor.
And, the way we were moored, the swell hit us on the beam. Made for a pretty uncomfortable night. Anchor held well. In hindsight, we might have been better off to untie from the dock and just swing on the anchor. But the harbor seemed to have some serious shoaling issues at the other end, also.
But there also many positives at Kimolos. We walked up to the main town. It was very beautiful. We started to see how much more there is to the islands than what you get at the waterfront. Had a great meal in a taverna. Just us, plus the folks from the other boat in the harbor, and a few locals. Everything fresh and homemade. Locally made yoghurt with honey and fruit!!! Certainly changes my thoughts on Yoghurt. Better than ice cream.
We had been given a recommended anchorage at Vathi,Folegandros. But we were starting to run out of time. We needed to be within an easy day's sail of Paros, so we stayed at a small anchorage in the eastern side of Sifnos.
Sailed on to Paros. This was a beat, but still a very nice sail. The boat (a Bavaria 38) sailed very nicely. We intentionally got a boat without a furling main. (You can pry those battens from my cold dead hands.)
Sterned to at the dock in Paroikia,Paros and spent one last night aboard.
I had a cell phone number for the guy who was supposed to check us in. When I called, the guy said "yeah, I just walked past your boat". I saw him on the dock and he waved. Checkin went smoothly, and we were on the next ferry for Santorini. Spend a few days there, then flew back to Athens to catch our flight home.
The absolute worst thing that happened during the whole trip was one rolly anchorage. That is close enough to perfection for me.
Most people spoke very good English. Though, I am very glad that I learned a fair amount of Greek prior to the trip. Between my wife and I we were able to work through some non-English-speaking cab drivers, waiters, shopkeepers in the more remote places. And even the ones who speak English appreciate the effort of at least knowing the basics of yes, no, please, thank you, etc.
I'd do it again in a heartbeat!