When we set about planning season 2019, we still had a few question marks about our route and timing. Our winterising location was also yet to be chosen, however we had decided we wanted ITIKI to spend her winter on dry land, which is much easier on the boat. With friends and family wanting to join us in September we had to take a guess where we would be wintering and on balance thought it would probably be in Turkey at Marmaris. So a trip to Turkey was pencilled in towards the end of the season. As it turned the island of Leros in Greece was finally chosen as the place to go for winter, fortunately not too far from our cruising grounds in Turkey.
Having reached Artemis Boatyard on the island of Leros, eastern Cyclades, and survived our dance with the Meltemi, we can relax a little. The wind has backed off for the moment and it seems to be less intense closer to the Turkish coast (although it hasn’t finished with us yet…) We have covered a few of the 6000+ Greek islands but we don’t feel like we have seen much ashore, as the priority has been ducking for cover and getting to Leros. We barely had time to read about what we were missing in the guide book! Now we have a good week ahead to catch our breath and slow down and run south with the prevailing wind.
Now we are in the Aegean in the middle of Meltemi season. This means our journey across the northern Aegean for a pit stop at our winter port (the island of Leros), and down south to Turkey, will be at the mercy of these winds. They will very much dictate where and when we stay and what anchorages we choose. No point planning too far ahead or having a timetable to be somewhere.
For those of you who know Keith and I through our racing experience, you may have been surprised that we bought a catamaran (well two catamarans actually, as ITIKI is our second). For me personally, having always raced monohulls, and chartered them a few times as well, I really didn’t know any different. Keith as you know has dabbled in cats from the early days of racing Hobies, to his more recent dalliance with Adrenalin Rush Sailing (a Nacra 36 based on Hamilton Island) but as far as racing big boats goes, he is still a “mono-man”. The modern cruiser racers and cruising monos are of course very well laid out, spacious and wide and we had been considering the Hanse 40 amongst other options. All of that changed though when Keith did a delivery on a FP Levezzi (precursor to the Lipari) from Adelaide to Sydney. He came back a changed man extolling the virtues of a catamaran for living aboard. We then charted a cat in the Whitsundays for a few days to get a taste of it and I was instantly on the same page. So what’s the big deal? Here are the top 5 reasons why we chose a catamaran for our cruising adventures
We are in a tiny bay in Turkey, between Bozborun and Marmaris. We have seen 2 turtles swimming around and today I managed to join them for a little while. Really magical!
ITIKI is going to take us anti-clockwise around the Peloponnese Peninsula (PP), the 3 fingers that protrude south easterly at the very bottom of the Greek mainland. We cross back to the mainland leaving the Ionian crowds behind. Hopefully we will be back this way again when things are a bit quieter. Our next destination is Katakolon which is a very touristy town, hosting reasonable sized cruise ships who like us, use this as a gateway to visit the Archaeological site of Olympia. We tie up on the town quay for a couple of nights and hire a car to visit Olympia. This is truly an amazing site where the Pan-Hellenic, pre-cursor to the Ancient Olympic games, are said to have originated. Olympia was a major religious sanctuary of ancient Greece. The site was primarily dedicated to Zeus and the ruins of a large Temple of Zeus can still be seen here, not far from the 100m running track... The Pan-Hellenic Games were held every four years throughout Classical antiquity, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. The site itself is quite large and the museum holds some amazing bronze age artefacts so is also well worth a visit.
We managed to peel ourselves away from Preveza, and press on south to go around the Peloponnese peninsula and into the Aegean. Firstly we pass through the Lefkas canal which is actually a car ferry, strategically positioned between two sides of a canal so that it forms a road that cars drive over. On the hour the road closes, the car ferry moves out of the way and lets the boats through. We pass along the narrow canal with beautiful wetlands on one side and a road and marina on the other. A pretty spot and quite a different experience.
With over 6,000 islands, thousands of bays and anchorages, spectacular coastline, ancient ruins, cute white & blue buildings and beautiful weather Greece is an ideal cruising destination. So many cruisers fall in love with it and end up spending season after season cruising Greek waters. For a while there it seemed like we were the only ones not cruising in Greece! Well now finally we are.
Looking back over the past year of cruising it feels like a lifetime ago that we started out as babes in the woods. We have learnt a lot, including how we like to cruise and live aboard. We have seen some amazing sights and have met some wonderful people as well. We have certainly had some unforgettable experiences. Here are a few of our most memorable-est moments so far.
On Saturday the 4th of August 2018 at approximately 7 am Team ITIKI left the dock at La Rochelle and started our adventures. One year on and ITIKI has taken us 4,378nm, through 12 countries* and 2 continents. We had pretty much everything we needed to get going, and in any case France was closed for summer holidays so what you see is what you get! Like any boat and any home there are always things to add, tweaks and modifications – these have become known as “boat jobs” and certainly serve to keep skippers’ hands and minds busy on those “slower” days. You really need to live on your boat and experience your cruising lifestyle to find out what sort of additions you might like to ensure a more comfortable and safer cruising experience.
Other cruisers as well as FP gurus such as Cote Mar have offered ideas and inspiration for numerous essential as well as “nice to have” items; here are the top 5 items we added after leaving La Rochelle.
Lynda is slowly getting used to the transition from working to not working and racing to cruising.