Sailing the Greek Islands – Mary’s version

The following are partial entries from the log of Mary, one of the guests who joined us for a week in Greece this past July.  This was a great week with 4 sailors on board I had a break!

…The three of us take a taxi to Alimos Marina and waited at the Skipper’s Bar for everyone. Valerie is the first to meet us and she brings us up to date with what is happening in her busy life. She has had several charters back to back and is ready for a break.
Soon, Tracy and the two “extra guys” join us and we head to the boat. They have already been there and put their gear on board. We pass our bags up and have to clear the passarella in order to get on board. I quickly determine that this device and I will not become friends. A passarella is basically an eight foot (?) long and foot wide board that balances (precariously, I might add) from the stern (the back of the boat) to the shore or dock. Now picture it tied to the stern of the boat, but delicately balanced on the dock, on a small fender (rubber bumper thingy) and now picture the end of the passarella, with that rubber bumper thingy, rocking and rolling with the ocean. In my mind’s eye, I can envision disaster in my immediate future. There is nothing to hold on to and my goat like dexterity left me somewhere in the seventh grade. I dreaded this maneuver each and every time I embark and disembark from this boat.  Capt. Valerie assures me that I will “be one” with the passarella by the end of the week. NOT!
The boat, “Maya” is a Bavaria 49 and shows beautiful German craftsmanship. She has an aft cockpit with dual steering. The cockpit is cushioned, roomy, has both a bimini and dodger.  She boasts a forward V-berth, two side crew quarters, two aft double berths and three heads. The main salon is roomy and the galley is open and easy to manage. The floors and walls are teak and in beautiful condition. The boat is clean, well cared for and still looks brand new. Her decks are clean, her lines are neat and she looks ready and able. We stow our gear and prepare to get underway. By 10:30 AM we are out of the marina and headed for the island of Poros.
The color of the island growth varies in shades of a dusty gray-green to lush greens. The flowers we see are oleander and bougainvillea. The reds, pinks and whites are everywhere, both cultivated and wild. The land mass varies too from farmlands, to mountainsides, rocky crags and caves. It is amazing that all these different characteristics can appear on the same island. You can see small villages clustered together then wide expanse before the next village. Monasteries and churches appear on the top of mountains and in the center of a village. It is predominantly Greek Orthodox Christianity that is practiced here. We can spot domed churches with crosses on top throughout the area.
We arrive at Poros and Valerie executes a perfect “Mediterranean mooring” which means she dropped her anchor in the harbor and backed the boat toward the dock where lines were looped onto huge dock cleats then secured on cleats aboard Maya. Maya’s anchor has an electric windless and Tracy and Debbie opted for anchor duty. One fed the anchor rode (chain) out and kept an eye to make certain it was secure. The other communicated with Valerie with hand signals to let her know where the rode was and how much was out. Once she knew it had taken hold, she threw docks lines out to waiting hands and John secured the stern of the boat to the dock cleats. It really was amazing to watch a crew that had never sailed together before work smoothly in sync. Kudos to the captain and crew, they made it look so easy! We are “in” for the night.
Poros is a busy, happening place. There are motor scooters everywhere, zipping this way and that. The engines are so quiet, you need to keep an eye out or you are likely to get run down as they pop out of nowhere. Helmets are not required and from what I can gather, neither is common sense. We saw three on one scooter pass by us. I’m just glad my kids didn’t see that!
There are shops and tavernas galore and we walk the length of the dock area passing by sailboats, motorboats and cruise ships from ports all over the world. There are street vendors and street beggars here too. It is hard to tell if they are homeless people or someone running a scam. We walk down the street dockside and there are octopus hanging on racks out in the sun next to grills, ready for dinner. We check out a few tavernas, find the local super market and load up on water and Mythos beer and a few other essentials, before returning to the boat. Some of us napped and some us did some more exploring before heading out to dinner at “George’s”. Again, our group chose a wide variety of appetizers for the group rather than entrees.
It is Sunday morning and I am up early to get ready for the church service. I tiptoe around my cabin and try hard not to disturb anyone. They will probably sleep in until I return. I poke my head up the companionway to catch a glimpse of the morning and the village is still asleep. I can spot a few early risers on other boats, drinking their coffee and reading their books.  I still try desperately not to waken anyone and I move stealthily across the cockpit toward my “friend” the passarella. I was getting ready to untie the line that secures it to the boat at night, when all of a sudden these loud bells began to ring non-stop! Clang, clang, clang!!! Apparently, they were announcing that the church service would begin in fifteen minutes.  Everyone on the boat shot up out of a dead sleep. Debbie and I cracked up because there I was pussyfooting around when these bells woke up the entire village! Well, so much for good intentions…
….Most of my boat mates were up and getting ready to set sail for Hydra. Poros and Hydra are in the Argo-Saronic Islands group in the Aegean Sea. We pretty much have no wind, so for the most part we are motoring to Hydra. The sun is hot and we buttered up with sunscreen. Valerie told us that we were lucky because the weather was so nice. She said the previous week the temperatures were in the forties. We are all shocked thinking that in two weeks the weather could change from cool to hot so drastically and we comment on the temperature spread. Val straightens us out in explaining she was talking Celsius rather than Fahrenheit. That changes things considerably!
We arrived at the harbor and it is more crowded than Poros! Again, Debbie and Tracy were on anchor duty, Mark and Bill secured fenders to the side of the boat and John and I are at the stern ready to toss lines to waiting hands. Valerie is backing the boat to the dock with a dazzling smile on her face. There is a man on shore calling “Valeria!  Valeria” and giving her hand motions as to which way to back up to the harbor wall…
Debbie and I walked to the end of the point where there was a maritime museum that was quite interesting. After the museum, we walked to the old fort and climbed to the top. We counted 105 steps up and 79 down…go figure. The view from the top was outstanding. Hydra is famous for its white buildings with contrasting red tiles roofs and this vantage point offers the best view. It is beautiful! There are no motor vehicles on Hydra with the exception of the garbage truck. No cars are allowed and it certainly adds to the ambience of this island. If one does not walk, the option of a donkey is available. Donkeys are seen carrying people, luggage, building supplies, groceries and anything else that may need to be transported.
We checked out some shops as we walked back toward the boat. The streets are emptying of its activity and several shops are closing as they participate in a siesta from 3 PM to 6 PM.  Seems like a good idea so we returned to the boat to re-group and nap and then the fun began…
We plan to watch the sunset at the top of the mountain at the Hydroneta, sunset bar. We walked the marble and stone sidewalks up around the shops and to a tree where a local artist has his easel set up and he sketches beautiful pen and ink drawings of the harbor below. We stop to browse only for a moment and continue up to the taverna. We find seats at tables situated beside the stoned wall, order drinks and wait for the show. Mother Nature does not fail us! The view is spectacular and the sunset reflects shades of rose, orange and gold that would take your breath away. No one is talking, no one looks away and only the cameras are busy. As the last bit of sun dips below the island mountaintop and the reflection in the water disappears, Mark in his infinitive wisdom declares, “This doesn’t suck”. We all concur.