We have spent the last 10 days cruising the Cyclades Islands, like true sea gypsies, letting the wind dictate our course. So with a southerly wind blowing, we headed east. An early morning 6am start from Poros, led us to our first stop at Kithnos – the famous Sand Bar beach at Kolona. It really lived up to expectations, with a perfect anchorage facing into the sand bar and a beautiful taverna overlooking the bay. There were a number of Greeks enjoying their weekend, arriving in small motor boats, just big enough to camp out in. From there we scooted around to the other side of the island to Loutra, a pleasant fishing harbour a short walk from our anchorage. There was a 15 knot southerly breeze blowing which caused a couple of yachts to reconsider their stern-to anchoring position. Scott jumped in the dinghy to help them attach their lines and get settled in for the night.
Our next island was Siros, where Scott was keen to check out the deserted marina to see whether it was a suitable place to leave the boat. We soon discovered why the marina was deserted and had not found a private investor: it becomes untenable for yachts in a meltemi wind, which in this part of Greece, makes it an unattractive business proposition. For us though it gave us a good home for a couple of nights while the southerly was blowing. It was a short cycle ride into the town centre at Ermoupolis with all the provisions we needed. And we found a beautiful bay for swimming a half hour ride away. Our neighbours were Keith, a 50 something American solo sailor with some stories to tell about hallucinogenic drugs in Peru, and an Austrian couple in their seventies, who humbled us with their tales of tiller sailing (no autopilot!).
Keen for another exploration of Ancient Greece, we continued our Easterly direction to arrive at Rinia, which is the jumping off spot for Ancient Delos. Delos in 400 BC sat in the centre of major trading routes between Asia and Europe, and so this unlikely barren island became a thriving city sponsored by the Athenians keen to trade. The ruins are fascinating and we had the added bonus of seeing some Anthony Gormley sculptures that were placed around the site. You really get the feeling that this was a prosperous place in its heyday. One interesting piece of information that we gleaned from the guide: it was forbidden to die or give birth on the island. So pregnant women and the sick were ferried over to Rinia. The reason for this was that if you were not born on Delos you could not claim residency, and therefore, the prosperous city remained in the hands of the Athenians.
From Rinia we spent one rather uninspiring trip to Mykonos, walking over an hour to find a shop that would sell us milk and passing by a seedy looking night-time venue advertising Las Vegas dancing girls!
Continuing our strategy of following the wind and giving ourselves comfortable sails, we headed with the southwesterly to Ikaria – officially no longer in the Cyclades but now in the Eastern Sporades. We had no real expectations of Ikaria, but found it to be most welcoming, with very friendly people and a charming fishing port at Evdhilos.