Daily Archives: June 17, 2013

Skanzoura

After we left the Monastary of the Birth of the Virgin we headed for the deserted island of Skantzoura about 10 nautical miles and half way between the main Sporades and the island of Skyros.

It was a hot and very calm day. No wind. No sailing. The Aegean was flat and still.

We arrived at Skanzoura in Limani Bay (south side) in the early afternoon. The fishing boats we just coming in from the mid-day heat to rest in the bay for the night. Skanzoura is a low lying deserted island that once held a monastery (although we saw no evidence of one). Its frequented by fisherman as an outpost from the main ports and overnight anchorage for early morning fishing.

Clara and I swam and found an old battleship grappling anchor we had heard was rumored to be in the bay.

It was a very relaxing and lazy afternoon as we planned our crossing to Skyros.

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Monastery of the Birth of the Virgin

On the island of Kira Panagia there is a constant. A single soul – the Father of the Monastery of the Birth of the Virgin, since 993. (No, I didn’t forget a 1 before that, that’s 993 AD).

We left our safe harbor at Kira Panayia Bay to venture to the other side of the island to Monastery Bay where we were told the lone monk is known to entertain visitors.

We passed the rocky and rugged side of the island and made our way to Monastery Bay.

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We anchored in Monastery Bay and took a dingy in to the rocky rebuilt quay to ascend the hundreds of steps to the monastery.

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When we arrived the Father was cleaning a few fish he had caught and throwing the entrails to some of the cats that account for his companions on this desolate isle. He invited us in for Greek coffee, mint tea (from the island) and Turkish delight. While he left to the kitchen he invited us to look around the chapel and grounds.

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This monastery was the replacement to the ruin we saw the night before at our other anchorage. It dated from the1800s and is currently undergoing extensive restoration with new pointing on the interior and exterior walls, new gate, solar panels, battery cells, and soon to be new oak floors. And an old olive press that they hope to one day restore to working order. There were extensive gardens (olive trees, vegetables, and lots and lots of grapes)
Our tour continued outside the walls on the cliffs above the Aegean with Byzantine and Greek flags flying where he gave us his sermon on the immortality of the soul.

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He was a sweet and charming man who assured us that he was a worse sinner than any of us and would most certainly be going to Hell, but we, of course, where such nice people we had little to worry about.

Just to make sure, I slipped a 20 Euro note into the coffers of the chapel. It never hurts to have a little insurance policy.

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Stormy Near Miss

Thursday morning we woke to mixed weather. A few showers sprinkled with sun breaks. We left Steni Vala and headed up the east side of Alonissos past many caves. One called the Blue Cave (which is said to be deep enough to easily paddle into and explore) and 3 other nearby caves which legend says that a sea monster lives in the third cave and nobody who has ventured into is has ever returned.

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As we headed out across Steno Palagonisou (Palagonisou Strait) we could see a storm brewing on the horizon and coming straight for us. The only thing North of us now as we crossed to Nisos Kira Panayia is a great expanse of frothy Aegean. We battened down the hatches, had Clara get her life vest on, put things away down below and braced ourselves for getting windy and wet.

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We were very lucky. This storm missed us by meters. We had an 3-4x increase in wind and some raindrops. But nothing like this storm was packing. We skirted it. Afterwards the weather looked much better so we raised sales and headed for the cool blue waters of Kira Panayia Bay. We slipped in behind Pelerissa Rock and dropped sail to find an anchorage in this tranquil bay that featured an old rock wall, an abandoned monastery ruin, a few goats (apparently a breed unique in this world to this island) and an old olive grove. We went ashore and tried to find a trail to the ruins but with no luck. We returned for a day of swimming and I cooked a dinner of penne and chicken with a metaxa (Greek liqueur) cream and made plans for exploring these uninhabited islands of the lesser Sporades.

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Stormy Night Before Steni Vala

Wednesday night was wild with wind, thunder and lightning assaulting us us most the night. The Gods clearly still displeased with our further encroachment upon their sacred isles.

At 2am we had to adjust our mooring to ensure we didn’t hit a fishing boat near us. It proved a very restless night but a lazy morning as it was cold and poured rain most of the morning. We waited for a break in the weather before making our own break for Steni Vala further up the eastern side of Alonissos. As we made our break we saw about 8 or 9 other boats coming out of Patiriri that had been holed up there due to weather as well. We assumed they were all heading to the same place, and were correct, because there are few other anchorages in this area. We had an advantage in the race to Steni Vala because Votsi was slightly further North than the main port of Patiriri. As Steni Vala is a tiny port it was important that our 3 boats got their first.

We were far enough ahead to make a quick detour into Kokkinokastro, a beautiful bay were evidence of humans with Stone Age tools dating from 10-30K years B.C. There are some archeological digs you can explore there, but we didn’t have time so we headed out of the bay for Steni Vala.

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Steni Vala is a cute little family owned bay with a few small stores and tavernas. We found a good spot right in front of the Ikarus Cafe where we were told to find Kostas, “Who will have answers everything you need to know about the Sporades”. He was easy to find.

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After our onboard happy hour we asked Kostas which is the best restaurant to eat at. “This is difficult for me to answer. You see, this is my cousin” (pointing to his left) “And this is my cousin” Pointing to his right. “Any the next one my cousin”. So we rephrased the question. “Where would you eat?”. And he said, “At home with my wife”. So we choose a taverna based on their hand painted menus.

On the way to dinner Judy stopped off at her boat, “Delos” which due to so many problems they’d renamed “Doris”. Stern ties are common in the Aegean but in this particular moorage it was very shallow by the quay so they had to pull anchor out further which wouldn’t allow their gang plank to reach. So Barry had Barry-rigged a bunch of lines to use their dingy as a step to/from the boat. However, one of the ropes to the quay was tied to short so when Judy pushed herself off the quay to glide to over to Doris the dingy stopped suddenly short causing Judy to fall into the harbor.

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Just outside the restaurant we saw a local with a jig fishing off the pier. He took one quick throw and pull and had his dinner for the night.

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