On Friday we spent our last day on the boat swimming and sunning ourselves on the beach of Troulos Bay before heading back to Skiathos Town to return our boat. It was a short trip but gave us time to think about all the great experiences we’ve had over the past two weeks sailing in the Sporades.
We had one last nice meal at a great little seafood restaurant in Skiathos Town and walked the streets on the solstice until late into the night.
To the people of the Sporades thank you for taking care of us on our trip. And to all the stray cats – even the surly ones – we hope you all find loving homes, and if not, may you find a little piece of fish or squid passed to you under the table by sympathetic tourists.
We anchored at famous Koukounaries Bay. Its said to be the nicest beach in Greece, but also voted one of the top 7 beaches in the world. The sand is like gold flecked talcum powder – very fine sand but with flecks that sparkle gold in the sun. Its a shallow gradual beach so the water is warm. It fronts a lagoon with a wildlife sanctuary behind it.
We went ashore and although we were early in the season the beach was still pretty busy. Tawny, Clara and I bought an umbrella and 3 chairs to rent in front of Kahlua Taverna and sat in the sun, swam, read, drank beers, ate lunch, relaxed, and enjoyed the people watching. Unlike the rest of the Sporades reachable by boat filled with French and Germans, this beach reached by plane and ferry seemed to have been populated by Russian tour packages.
In the afternoon tour boats from Skiathos Town started coming in and the beach filled in by the hundreds. Although we were enjoying the people watching others wanted to head to a little bay around the corner for the night. So we went back to the boat and navigated the dangerous shoal Vrak Marines to Troulos Beach and found ourselves the only boats (except for 1 Greek fishing boat) in the bay. We could still see the mega-yacht Al Mirqab. It was our warmest swimming area yet. Clara went ashore and tried a paddle board (but it was really an unstable surf board so the very nice beach rental people refused to take payment for it.)
We went ashore that night for dinner at Troulos Taverna. Food was good and we had breem (a delicate white fish) for the first time. The taverna had a cute little kitten that Clara was very smitten with. As the evening wore on and the wine and ouzo was poured it deteriorated into dancing with the wait staff. A fine evening.
Thursday, about 5 am, the wind starting blowing hard and shifted direction blowing us into the rocks. The anchors were holding but our stern ties became useless. We worried that our anchors may get tangled since we were rafted together and had 3 anchors out. By 6am we were looking for an exit strategy. We got the boats and shore lines untangled and by 7am or so we were headed to Skiathos and famous Koukounaries Bay. Its been said this is the nicest beach in Greece, but also voted one of the top 7 beaches in the world. The sand is said to be like gold flecked talcum powder.
As we approached I thought I saw a ship in the area we were heading. I bet it was a luxury private yacht and was right. It was the ship Al Mirqab the 10th largest private ship in the world owned by the Prime Minister of Qatar. It has its own Wikipedia entry. Its a beautiful looking yacht if you can get past the enormous wealth it represents. It cost some 700 Million British Pounds (that’s just over $1 Billion!)
Unbelievable amount of toys they put out for their guests (ski boat, parasail, water polo floating court, 6 skidoos (in the water and more inside the yacht, kyaks, etc.) The back of the yacht included 2 escalators to bring you back up to the lido deck from the waterline. It dominated the space but provided an interesting discussion for us.
We saw this boat on our way to the Skiathos graveyard and super quaint neighborhood. On our way back we saw this guy working to try and get it back into the water. He recruited Tom and I to lend him a hand.
The boat was unfathomably heavy with a cast iron engine dead center of the boat. They had greased skids and half a dozen men helping push it across them (and another dozen supervising).
We struggled to get it down the skids. It would slide off the skids and the prop and rudder would get stuck in the sand. They’d dig it out. Leverage it up. Slide in new skids and bark out orders in Greek to lift, push, haul, etc., punctuated by the occasional “Opa!” when it fell off the skid.
Eventually we did get it in the water and contemplated staying in the bay long enough to possibly get some fish from the fisherman later that day. But we moved on to Tsoungria Island just southwest of Skiathos.
We found ourselves scrambling around in our skivvies at 4am trying to figure out what alarm was going off. Initial we thought we had dragged anchor and had perhaps run aground. It turned out to be a low battery alert, although our panel showed we still had plenty of voltage at 12.4 volts.
After coffee we headed ashore to visit what looked to be a hillside graveyard I had spotted as we anchored the night before. The graveyard proved to be beautiful and tenderly cared for.
View of our boats from the graveyard
The graveyard was located in a Greek neighborhood so quaint it seemed to be make believe.
In the neighborhood were a few cars selling fresh fish or vegetables from the back of their cars.
We arrived by plane late Friday evening to be greeted by Michael from Fresh Studios. He had a small Persian compact car to pick up the ten of us and luggage. It took two trips, including Judy riding on the back of Michael’s brother’s motorbike.
We went in the second run with 6 of us (7 with driver) in the car and Tawny on my lap in the front seat.
Our rooms were simple but cozy. Unfortunately the AC didn’t work so I slept on the patio and awoke to this view of the harbor.
We picked up boat and headed to our first anchorage
Short update. limited bandwidth at this island taverna. Will upload more food images soon.
OMG! Fried feta with sesame and honey appetizer.
The most incredibly rich thick and delicious tzatziki.
Bacon wrapped chicken souvlaki with fresh squeezed lemon.
The mixed grill was delicious, save for the mystery grilled liver.
Ouzo bottle chandelier.
Complimentary flan from the management.