Meet the Meltemi.

We had been warned and even spent several days hiding from the Meltemi last year. But this was different. We knew a wind event was coming, so we found a harbor, on Tinos, Greece. On the second morning stuck to the wall in Tinos, I woke again to the creaking of the dock lines and the howling of the wind. Neal and I came up into the cockpit and while observing the wind speeds of 40-55 knots, Neal observed one of our seat cushions was missing. Seat cushions that we checked were snapped down. I looked to see it floating ahead, towards the crashing seawall. Mauro started singing the mission impossible tune while he and I jumped in the dinghy for operation Cushion Overboard. We went battling out to sea (the harbor 100 meters in front of the boat seemed like the middle of the ocean) and rescued the seat cushion, then turned the dinghy INTO the 45-50 knots winds for part 2- Operation Salt Water Shower. I then went boat to boat asking if anyone planned to leave today, as I imagine the anchors are all on top of each other and everyone laughed at me. No one is leaving!

We are stern to on the inner harbor wall 10 feet from the taxi stand and across from cafés, where I sit now to eat rather than have breakfast “at sea”. Amante is the biggest boat on the wall, so she gets no wind protection from neighbors, and we spent the night rocking and rolling as if on delivery. Mauro did a masterful job of docking in 25-30, fortunately stern to the wind with only a bit of cross breeze, into a space with less than a foot to spare on each side. Neal wasn’t sure the anchor set well, but since we are blowing off, it seems to be well enough, but we still squish the poor 40 foot Oceanis? to port. Sitting here having eggs and bacon I didn’t intend to order, merely to inquire as to their availability, I watch as the big charter sailing yacht’s headsail unfurls, and the scrambling and yelling that ensues. The older Greek men who sit in the cafes watch the morning’s second drama, our cushion rescue likely the first. The world goes by as it has for 2000 years, and the Greek men drink their coffee, smoke their cigarettes, and perhaps play a game of backgammon.
The postcard version of Tinos:
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The reality:

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Momnevasia, Greece

Visited Oct 2015
Called the “Gibraltar of the Peloponnese” because it is nestled on a large sugar-loaf rock island, Momnevasia is gaining attention as a cruise ship stop and an all around jaw dropper. Tiny alleyways filled with shops and cafés, beautifully restored churches, and a sunset to die for, make Momnevasia a lovely place to stop.

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Season Opener

Lavrio, Greece Winter 2015 through May 10, 2016

Amante spent the winter high and dry in Lavrio, south of Athens on the Greek mainland in Attica. Work done, we left the dock at 6 p.m., the latest departure ever, and motored around the corner to Sounion, to spend one night under the Temple to Neptune, which beautifully lit at sunset.

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The plan was to get to Turkey quickly to reset our VAT clock, the work our way up the Dodecanese chain, then head back across the Cyclades in time to miss Meltemi season, which starts late June. Meltemi is the name of the prevailing horrid wind in Greece from the Northeast funneling through the Cyclades islands, and from the Northwest in the Dodocanese. We had a taste of the Meltemi last year and it was bitter.

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We stopped in Kea with light to spare, so we walked around the enormous harbor, lined with shops not quite ready for summer shoppers, and cafés full of empty tables. It is nice to get an early start of the season, if the weather allows.Protection was good in the harbor, even though the wind was oddly from the south and forecast to get stronger. With wind coming from the south, Scirocco, we decided to head to Mykonos, where our friends on Berkeley East were already hunkered down and enjoying sushi on the beach at one of Mykonos many fashionable restaurants.

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What’s better than waiting out a Scirocco in Mykonos with friends and hardly any tourists? A drone! Larry’s new drone allowed some great shots and the fun of watching Mary play catch with a four rotor aircraft flying right at her. A brave one, that Mary! What’s better still is having Mykonos all to ourselves. Too early in the season for the crowds, so we walked the streets alone. Fabulous!

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We also celebrated Captain Mauro’s birthday. We agreed to go out for a drink at one of Mykonos’ many trendy night clubs. Thankfully Mauro had mercy and picked a tamer one in Little Venice that played exceptional music. I shazammed several songs for my summer playlist.

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The good thing about Scirocco is that you get to visit bays that are normally untenable in the prevailing northerly Meltemi. We anchored in Mykonos for 4 nights in a bay with wind surfer rentals. It was perfectly calm. The bad part is with the wind, the Scirocco brings half the Sahara with it, covering every millimeter of the boat’s interior, and causes the red mud rain that is the scourge of every captain. It rained mud on us for about a week, just about every day after Mauro cleaned the boat. He wept often.

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Short Visit to Turkey

We went to Didim to check out of the EU, and to get some repairs. There isn’t much to see in Didim itself, but the marina was very nice with a nice hotel, spa and pool.
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Our repairs would have to be done in Bodrum, which is good, or we may have missed it!

Bodrum, Turkey

Bodrum Castle, formerly known as the Castle of St. Peter overlooks the harbor, filled with yachts of all sizes and the enormous fleet of Turkish Gulet boats.
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Bodrum, like just about all of the coastal parts of Turkey that we saw, flies about 3 million Turkish flags.
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Lots. We docked the boat to the sound of the Muezzin calling the town to prayer. The call to prayer is a haunting, exotic and quite beautiful sound, except at 5:30 in the morning. The night clubs stop blaring music at about 2, leaving you about 3 hours to sleep before it is time to get up and pray. Lucky I brought my earplugs.
The waterfront in Bodrum was more much crowded with tourists than in Greece.
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A Celebrity Cruise ship joined us on the day we toured the castle and the Nautical Archeological Museum. The food was excellent, and sufficient to feed a village. This is the mixed grill for 2:

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The people were super friendly, the work done at the marina on our dinghy was fast, well-done, and priced fairly, and the energy of the waterfront made our 4 days in Bodrum feel much too short.
My musings while walking around as a tourist; about tourism in general, from a Cruise ship in particular are here:

Walking in Bodrum

A beautiful place to stop for lunch is Buyuk Limini on the Datça peninsula to see the ruins of ancient greek city of Kinidos.
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This is a ruin just starting to be excavated as a touristic destination, but it was once a very large city. Just walking around we found many pieces of pottery laying about. The lower ampitheatre that held 5000 people was intact, though somewhat weathered.
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The upper one once held 20,000, but has been leveled by marble recycling. We walked until we were tired and saw a very small portion of this one large city, thought to be a part of the Dorian Hexapolis.

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We anchored overnight in flat calm water, and went to town the next morning to check out of Turkey. What a charming port town. With a peninsula separating two good anchorages, we had to flip a coin to choose the one on the harbor side. The other had more beach attractions, bars, hotels and cafes, but both sides were busy enough. The elementary school playground is about 100 meters from the sea and the sound of kids playing always adds a joyous note to any good beach bar. The waterfront was lined with park benches and picnic tables for the residents or tourists to sit along the water and while away the hours. I have seen this consideration before, but never with clean ashtrays at every table! We had a few Turkish Lira to spend, so we walked the streets a bit and bought some local honey, olive oil and a I heart Datça t-shirt.

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Gythira, Peleoponnese, Greece

Sept 25, 2015
We visited here by car while in the Kalamata marina. Lovely port town, perfect lunch stop.

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Patmos, Greece

May 17

Anchored in Meloi bay, very calm and flat in southwesterly winds. There is a small dock we used for the dinghy, and the town is about 1km away, up the road behind the church to the left facing the beach. Patmos has many opportunities for the avid walker, just to town, around town, to the bay opposite town, up to the Chora. We could have spent a week and hiked a marathon or so, but had a schedule. So only 3 days at Patmos.

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Patmos is known as the Jerusalem of the Aegean, because this is the island to which St. John was exiled in 95 AD and wrote the book of Revelation. We visited the Holy Cave of the Apocalypse where John was supposed to have lived while seeing the visions and dictating the Book of Revelations.

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There is a large crack in the cave, the crack that was from whence John heard the voice of God. We made the long uphill climb to the Monastery of St. John, founded in 1088 by a monk, the Blessed Christodoulos. The climb follows a rocky path unsuitable for any form of transport: horse, cart, or really foot. After touring we walked the tiny streets of the Chora, famous for its well-preserved Byzantine architecture. It was mostly asleep when we were there, about 2 p.m. We found a restaurant with a nice view and good coffee.
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The main harbor is very big and moors not only ferries and coast guard boats, but many visitor berths and Patmos-made fishing boats. There is also room for quite a few boats to anchor. Pretty waterfront, good restaurants, and friendly people- and at least then we were there, not too many tourists, make Patmos a gem of an island.

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Lunch stop

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