Wednesday we had a lazy morning of reading, swimming and generally lounging around in Stafolos. We were in no hurry to leave or arrive at a new destination. Relaxation is the order of things for the next few days. We eventually left for Panormous where we had previously anchored on Skopelos. We rafted all 3 boats together in an area of the bay where we could optimize 270 degrees that evening. Tawny, Clara and I went ashore to BLO taverna and had lunch of souvlaki, spaghetti carbonara, cool sherbet and spent our day swimming on beach, reading books, and relaxing. Its an interesting gravel beach with a very gradual but deep slope into the bay making for an excellent swimming area. We had happy hour on boats and then Judy, Tawny, and I went back to BLO to get their excellent bacon wrapped souvlaki and bring it back to the boat for dinner aboard. The sunset was spectacular.
It took us a little over 7 hours to reach very pretty Stafylos Bay from Skyros. Stafylos Bay features crystal clear waters of a protected bay surrounded by rugged and red cliffs with a sandy swimming beach and beach taverna in the center. Its fronted by a large headland (Stafylos Cape I believe) upon which a King (Minoan I believe) had established his castle and a city here at one time. There’s a huge cave under the headland in the entrance to the bay. There was also a later tomb found on the headland complete with treasures such as a gold hilted sword from the 15th century which now sits in the national antiquities museum in Athens. Here we had our best snorkeling and a nice meal at the cliff taverna with perhaps the sweetest feral cat we’d ever met.
Sunday (Father’s Day) we headed for the Skyros about 20-30nm away. We got an early start. Again there was no wind so we had to motor to Skyros instead of sail. It was still several hours before the island began to take shape before us. We decided to use the Valaxa Strait which would remove 6nm from our trip. Valaxa Strait is a very shallow and narrow passageway between Valaxa Island and Skyros that opens into Kalamitsa Gulf and Linaria Bay (the fishing town we’d spend the next few days). Much of the depths in the Valaxa Strait are only around 3 meters (we draw a little of 2 meters with our keel). But there is a sweet spot in the middle of about 5m deep. We posted watches on the bow and the water being so clear it was easier than anticipated to maneuver the boat through.
Linaria is a pretty little town with white washed cubist homes on the hill and a white and blue church on the point of the bay that welcomed us. The port is very small but very nice as they recently upgraded to lazy lines (pre-set anchor lines) so we had no need to drop an anchor for stern tie Mediterranean moorage style. There is also a port manager (George) who took care to help moor our boat and took care of all our needs; “You need shower? I have shower for you. Free internet, free water, free electric hookup, my boys will find bike and ride bike and swim with your daughter. You want to see Skyrian horse? I have friend. I call taxi for you. I rent you motorcycle. Eat here, best place in town. Your daughter like dog? We have English Sheep Dog. Anything you need, you find me, I’m always here”.
George told us about a place to get a drink up on the hill that looks back on Linaria. “Favorite place in all of Aegean”. And he was right. Great place to watch the sun set and get a drink. So we did. George was great. He delivered on all his promises and our petty demands. He and his wife were very sweet and really tried hard to make Clara feel at home. Then later that night we invited George and his wife Angela to have a glass of wine with us and thanked them for their help. We loved Linaria and Skyros. We’ll certainly be back again.
Linaria is a pretty little town with white washed cubist homes on the hill and a white and blue church on the point of the bay welcoming you to the harbor.
We had a fabulous meal and evening from the restaurant directly across from our moored boat. We sat outside for several hours to enjoy a leisurely meal and enjoyed the simple pace of very relaxed Linaria. Posted here are images of that meal and evening.
Monday we hired a taxi and went to Skiros Town (also known as Chora or Hora). Its a beautiful cubist style town perched upon a cliff overlooking the sea on the windward side of the island. The town has an interesting history. It has a prominent castle on the top of the mountain that used to be an acropolis and was converted into a monastery of St. George. It was under construction due to damage from an earthquake when we were there so we couldn’t go inside but we did walk the winding streets up through the town, over rooftops and small alleyways built atop each other so we could see the view from the top. It was spectacular.
World’s Collide! Its a blog-cross over event. See: Cult of Achilles . Legend says that Skiros Town (Hora) is where Thetis hid her son Achilles in order to thwart the prophecy that only he could help win the Trojan war but would also die there. She dressed him as a girl and he was brought up as one of King Lykomides’ daughters. However, Ulysses was able to discover him living there and took him to Troy and victory as well as his demise. Traveling here was a pilgrimage of sorts for me to see the home of Achilles after having recovered from severing my Achilles’ tendon last year.
Tuesday we left Skiros by 8:45 in the morning for he 38 nautical mile sail to Stafylos Bay back on Skopelos. The day was hot and uneventful with wind finally building enough that we could sail for a few hours. The highlight was seeing a school of dolphin headed south cross us as we headed west. They took a slight detour and came to play for a few minutes in our bow wave.
Soon after I spotted something that looked like a sailfish breaching the water. I saw it twice with others spotting once. It was confirmed by Jim (who was sailing far ahead of us) that they thought they spotted what they believed was a sailfish breaching the water as well. 7 or so hours later we arrived in a very pretty Stafylos Bay. Clear waters. Cliffs. Ample anchorage. A beach with umbrellas and a local taverna provided us places to snorkel, swim, eat, and sun ourselves.
We thought we had made arrangements for Clara to ride a famed Skyrian horse. The island of Skyros (Skiros) is home to a unique breed of horse. They are small horses, some of which still run wild on the island. Skyrian horses are ponies (like Shetlands) are bred and live only on this island. They are celebrated on the island in an annual festival where all the horses of the island are gathered together and judged.
We hired a taxi to take us to a horse farm in the middle of the island. He dropped us off and said he’d be back in about 2 hours to pick us up at 5pm. Unfortunately we didn’t know that the horse riding didn’t start until 6pm. So we were only able to pet the horses and photograph them. There were some day old babies that made it worth the special trip.
On the island of Skiros (Skyros) in the port of Linaria (a fantastic little fishing port) we sat down for dinner one night. We tried to order lamb but they didn’t have any. They said they had lamb but not time to cook it. They showed us their lamb and we asked for it tomorrow night and also asked if I could help cook it. They agreed. So around 7pm I headed over to the restaurant to help cook the lamb.
The experience was unforgettable. The small hot kitchen. The simplicity of the meal. The flavors. The stray cats. The wine. The weather. The company. It was a great way to have our last meal on Skiros, an island I’ll surely return to.
Sirens pulled it in
Poseidon now reads Dan Brown
My Kindle no more
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.