Kithnos – Cyclades – now I know why all the hype!!!
We arrived at Kolona Bay on the island of Kithnos on the 4th of August 2015 after a 3 and a half hour down wind sleigh-ride in 20to 30 knots of wind (very minimal seas – lots of fun!). Our plan was to stay for two nights. We ended up staying five. We probably would have stayed more if we didn’t have someplace to be on the 14th, and if it hadn’t been the first Greek island anchorage we’d ever been to.
Kolona Bay is a wonderful place. It’s part of a double bay divided by a sand isthmus joining Kithnos to the little island of Naylouka. The water is crystal clear, the clearest water we’ve seen yet in an anchorage. The beach is somewhat difficult to reach by land so it doesn’t get crowded. Life on Kolona Bay was wonderful, the only possible negative being that it was relatively crowded at times, but then it was the first week of August, the first week that all of Europe goes on vacation! If this is what cruising is going to be like, we may never stop!
We lazed our days away reading, swimming, sleeping and simply enjoying each other’s company. After 5 days of doing nothing more energetic than going out for dinner, we feel we’ve almost recharged our batteries!! Almost!
I did do one bit of energetic labour. Seems that all the bits of a boat that are exposed underwater (those that have not had antifouling painted on them), like the propellers, get all sorts of interesting things attaching themselves and growing on them!
I couldn’t believe what I saw when I jumped in with mask and flippers; after three months Purrr’s was well on her way to becoming the next barrier reef! Later that evening, after I completely exhausted myself trying to come up with a tool that I could use to scrape off these stubborn crustaceans (the closest thing I had to a scraper was a flat screw driver, but the job would surely take a week with it), I gave up and decided it was time for a beer. The moment I reached for my favourite bottle opener, I knew I had found what could possibly be the best barnacle remover and propeller scrapper ever! When I finally got at it the next day (I had already opened a beer and there was no way I was letting that get warm!) it took less than 2 hours to remove every single bit of unwanted crustacean.
The third evening at Kolona, we decided to get dressed 🙂 and go out for dinner. A little way up the side of the hill, overlooking the beach and both anchorages is a nice little taverna with an open air charcoal grill and a funky stone, wood and rope bar. Their icy cold beer and delicious food was only topped by the spectacular view of the sunset out over the anchorage. There Sue met our new friends, Heather and Yorgo and their friend Pano. She got acquainted with them as I was chatting with my son Daniel; it was the first time in about 6 weeks that our schedules aligned! We parted with the traditional invites to each other’s boat for a drink…
The next evening, at the suggestion of our new friends, we took the dinghy to the nearest little port, Merikhas, which is about 3 miles (2 of which is open water) from where we were anchored, a quick 15 to 20 minute downwind dinghy ride. From there we took the local bus for a very exciting 15 minute ride on a very narrow winding road (“narrow” defined as: bus and car cannot usually pass each other without one or the other pulling off the side of the road!) along the edge of the rocky, hilly countryside often with the sea beside, okay, below us to the hillside town of Chora. Chora is a wonderful traditional Greek village that has just enough touristic influences to prevent you from getting bored of it too quickly. Winding, narrow flagstone streets with cafes and tavernas spilling into them, and yup, whitewashed stone buildings with lots of azure blue trim. Walk a little off the main tourist street and it becomes completely rustic. Little offshoot laneways with views out over the rolling rocky hillside. Just how we imagined Greece to look. We had a great dinner in one of the handful of tavernas, and then grabbed a taxi back to Merikhas and our dinghy.
We arrived at Merikhas at about midnight and were pleasantly surprised to find a waterfront alive with people. So we parked ourselves in a cafe/bar on the beach and ordered a nightcap. It was just about then that I glanced out the harbour in the general direction that Purrr was anchored and saw absolutely nothing but a pitch black wall about 100 yards out from the beach! I had completely forgotten that the moon wasn’t set to rise until about 3 am! I had known this, and had prepared for it before leaving Purrr by making sure I had my cell phone with its wonderfully useful GPS and chart plotter, with me. What I had forgotten was that it was not fully charged, and I had gotten carried away taking pictures of our evening, so it was completely dead! No problem, one very helpful server, who of course had a Samsung charger, and an hour later, and my phone was sufficiently charged to get us home. All that time, and Sue never said a word. She was ready to go much earlier, and as far as she was concerned we didn’t need the GPS/Charts – and that is one of the reasons why I love her so much!! As it turned out I was only able to get one look at my chart as we left the harbour – because as soon as we turned out of the harbour we were met head on with a good 20+ knot breeze and almost one meter waves. Sue ended up riding most of the way crouched on the floor holding onto both hulls and her bag, in total darkness. 15 minutes later we turned the corner into the flat Kolona Bay to the sliver of a moon just peeking out over the hills of Kithnos.
Our last day in Kolona Bay turned out to be our best. We spent a wonderful afternoon and evening with our new friends, and their dog Mingo, that started with a beer in their cockpit telling each other sailing and other assorted adventure and misadventure stories. After that we all took a short dingy ride to the little island of Naylouka, home of many sheep and goats, for a sunset walk. When you make great new friends, why stop at sunset!?!? So before we knew it we had made plans to combine our evening meal and all prepare and have it together on Purrr. And what a fun and delicious meal that turned out to be! Sue started her Carrots and onion rice (which she served with homemade Trini hot sauce), while Yorgo cleaned and cut potatoes into fries that he then fried in olive oil – which I later learned (when I looked for the French fries at dinner) would go into his famous (French) fried potato and onion omelet. I bbq’d some tasty Greek sausages, and Sue added a fresh salad complete with feta and olives of course. All was consumed with a couple of bottles of Sicilian wine and Greek beer over much laughter and enjoyment! As if that wasn’t enough, after dinner we all climbed into our two dinghies for a short ride to the north side of the bay and a secluded stone beach that had a natural hot spring hot tub on it. When we were all seated or lying in the stone hot tub, under the most incredible sky, no light anywhere, more stars that I have ever seen anywhere, Yorgo produced a special bottle of “Rakhi”(spelling??), which is a type of homemade Ouzo that is aged in the sun – absolutely delicious!
And so our almost week long stay on the island of Kithnos came to an end. The next afternoon we lifted anchor and headed out for places unknown, literally as it turns out!!….