Southern Route, Dodecanese Islands Sail, Greece.
We have arrived at Kos Marina, Kos Island, Dodecanese, Greece. This is our starting base marina for a week of sailing these sunny Greek islands. The marina is a few minutes walk from Kos Harbor where our mates Eric and Beth have arrived by ferry from Bodrum, Turkey ten miles across the bay.
We’ll gather this afternoon at the comfortable Marina Cafe to discuss our itinerary: we have the choice of heading north or south for a round-trip sail to a half dozen ports and coves before return to Kos next Friday. The wind forecast is for 12-18 kn all week with no rain – perfect!
I’ll do the yacht check-out with our agency later this afternoon while a couple of our mates provision to start us along or way. Each evening we’ll have dinner at a new overnight stop so light breakfast and lunches will be all we need.
Leaving Kos Marina about 9:30 am Sunday, we slide smoothly out of our slip,assisted by our bow thrusters, and have sails up within 15 minutes of passing the marina breakwater mole. Sailing south to clear the SE tip of Kos Island, we head 220 degrees SW towards Paloi, Nisyros, about 22 miles from Kos Marina.The wind shifts from 8 – 18 kn but stays steady from the NE until we were about an hour from Paloi. A sudden shift to the west had us going from a broad reach to close haul and reefing the sails. We have furling main and jib sails so not difficult to reef in wind. Eric is keen on the helm so Stewart and I manage the reefing while Beth and Gill adjust sheets as necessary.
We have about 5 hours of fine sailing an a sunny day with temps about 75 F when we drop (furl) the sails and motor into the pretty harbor of Paloi. Colorful tavernas line the waterfront with traditional white and blue trim predominate. An excellent med-mooring, stern-to with the anchor out for our crew’s first docking leaves us in good spirits for a celebratory Mythos beer.
Strolling about the small waterfront area with its little Orthodox church, we find the Paralia Cafe at the corner of the quay overlooking the beach where an Orthodox priest joins the handful of late afternoon locals sipping their beer.
After some tidying up on Celena, we enjoy the view of the harbor from the Astradeni Taverna that sits across from our yacht, Celena, and finally have dinner at Aphrodite Tavern. For euro 70 we devour fish, seafod in orzo, piles of peppers stuffed with seasoned rice and liters of rose wine. A delicious end to our first day of cruising.
Our destination for Monday is a 30 mile sail SE towards the island of Symi. We’ll anchor overnight at Panoramitos, a quiet cove with a monastery commanding the waterfront. Six hrs. of sailing in 5-15 kn of wind over our left shoulder brought us to this peaceful cove. The entrance is hard to find but the 100 meter wide channel leads to an oval, aquamarine pool. The six yachts in place when we arrived multiplied to about 18 by dusk. Lots of room if spots are carefully considered. A swim followed by a cold Mythos gives us an appetite. We bundle into the dinghy and enjoy a relaxing evening at the only taverna ordering goat kleftiko, veggie dishes, pitchers of cold wine and tasty yogurt with honey and nuts. Our terrace view with the steep hills behind the taverna is an alluringly austere setting for an excellent meal with new sailing friends.
We have a short sail to Symi Town on Tuesday so we schedule a lunchtime swim. About 11:30 am we cruise into Nasuo; a deep bay surrounded by grey rock cliffs with pines trees clinging to the steep sides. Anchoring in 65 ft., Eric & Beth dinghy a 50 m. line to shore and tie the stern to large rock outcrop. Resting in 40 ft. of clear, blue water we can see the sandy bottom from Celena’s cockpit.
Two hours later we pull the anchor and let out the jib for a leisurely 7 mile sail to Symi Town. The long, narrow harbor is flanked on both sides by steep hills. Perched on top of each other are yellow, blue and ochre columned houses. The waterfront is lined with restaurants, cafes, tavernas and shops. This is a popular destination with day trippers on Turkish gulets mixing with guests from the 100+ ft. mega yachts. We tucked into the south quay with a well-executed med mooring using the anchor.
It’s a hot day so we chill on Celena until the early evening when Eric & Beth go for a wander, Stewart & Gill look for the bakery and I catch up on my logs at the Dadoofin Cafe a few meters down the waterfront. Costas, the owners’s father plays with his baby granddaughter while his son, Teo, serves rounds of Greek coffee or draft Mythos. Stewart joins me for a beer while we watch the big Turkish gulets maneuver into their moorings as the stacked houses across the harbor shimmer in the sun.
Our scouts selected a small Taverna in a little courtyard one street back from the waterfront. The Trata Trawler Taverna sits below a once grand home with a statue of a local hero atop its third story columned facade. Beth & Eric proclaim the veg mousaka “the best” while Stewart and I mumble equally positive comments with mouths full of garlic lamb; Gill, more politely, agrees that her whiting fish is outstanding, as well as substantial. Carafes of house rose disappear.
We have a 20 nm sail to Tilos so we’re up and out of Symi Harbor by 9 am while pondering the possibility of saving and hour by carefully motoring between Symi Island and Nimos Island to its NE. Charts show a minimum 12 m. depth and the Pilot Guide says it is navigable (“but don’t look down”!). We creep through and confirm the 12 m. depth while looking down through crystal clear water to sand, weed and low rocks.
As we head WSW towards Tilos the NW wind gradually freshens to 8-12 kn, Celena cruises along at 5 kn and we enjoy a perfect sailing day on a close haul to Lividia, Tilos.
Lividia Bay is large with a broad mouth easily seen from an eastern approach. The small harbor is tucked into the NW corner. As we enter, the harbormaster waves us to the inside of the breakwater mole for an easy side-on mooring between a colorful local fishing boat and a 53 Beneteau. I later meet up with the harbor master at Gorgonoa Tavera’s pleasant rooftop terrace with its perfect view over the harbor to swap stories of moorings gone wrong (after the remaining spot along the inner wall was rammed by a 50 Jenneau as we watched and he shouted in vain).
Nikos’ wood-fired Taverna is the dinner choice. Eric & Beth again go for heaps stuffed peppers and dolmades, Gill de-bones her fish while Stewart and I savor slow cooked spiced meatballs in an herb tomato sauce with rice or chips. We’re too full for the usual post dinner ice cream, we decide for a walk along the beach and a late night cocktail at the Roka Cafe at the corner of the beach promenade. We plan an 8:30 am departure to give time for a lunch and swim stop.
Light winds has us motor sailing up the east coast of Tilos. The entrance to Orfos Cove is invisible from 100 m out but our chart plotter brings us to the narrow channel into this little cove. We anchor in 35 ft. of clear water, easily seeing the chain along the sandy bottom. Following a swim and delicious salad lunch a la Gill we’re off to Nisyros.
The working harbor of Mandraki is windy and sits about 200 m. east of the old town. Three day-tripper gulets and a ferry sit on the west pier. Next to the last gulet Stewart spies the words “sailing boats” in faint washed-out paint on the pier wall. We make a quick turn, drop 50 m. of anchor chain and back into the pier.
The ‘mom and pop’ Captain’s Taverna dishes out our favored appetizers of saganaki, garlic salad dip and giganta beans. Three of us order the tasty slow cooked lamb, falling off the bone, and the veggy plates are heaped with peppers stuffed with rice and herbs.
Our neighboring gulet has been replaced by a gleaming 100 ft. clipper-rigged schooner hired out of Athens for a birthday party. Over twice Celena’s length, it helps protect us from the NW wind. Off the pier at 9 am for our final sailing day, we are soon cruising on a beam reach at 7 kn in winds of 12-15 kn. Beth takes a clinical approach to guiding us towards the SE tip of Kos and we’re at the fuel dock by 2 pm.
With 18 euros to fill the the tank and 5 – 15 euros for port fees, all agree this has been a fun and frugal South Dodecanese Sailing adventure.