Eastern Crete is stunning, a world of big scenery..... The mountains climb out of the sea, and you cannot be amazed by the beauty of the place. Elouda bay is situated just as you come round the headland and past Spinalonga Island, one of the last leper colonies in Europe. As we head past the island and into the bay, the depth climbed to just 4 meters below Maya, so 2 meters below her keel, and watching the bottom go past as you peer over the side can be quite unnerving. However, this soon dropped again & the bay itself is stunning for the the sheer tranquility of the place. Crete, and certainly eastern Crete are totally off the charter yacht circuit. Once the last tourist boat had left for the evening (which happened to be a day tripper, party boat!), we had the place to ourselves. Just the lights of Ay Nikolaus in the distance. Swimming in these kinds of clam shallow waters are stunning & warm. Although we had planned to go visit Spinalonga, as we are wintering in Crete, 10 minutes away in Ay Nicolaus we decided due to the masses of tourists to give it a wide berth for now & see the island on our return. So following a quick stop in at Ay Nicolaus marina to sort out winter things for Maya, such as haul out dates, we head onto the most deserted part of Crete, the far east & last stop on the Island Vai. Vai is home to the palm beach where the bounty advert was filmed, and there really isn't much else there. We were the only yacht around for miles, and we enjoyed two beautiful days anchored off, with only the company of a hermit-esque old man living on the rocks with his dogs for company.
And so on to Kasos & Karpenthos and eventually Rhodes....... Well actually we gave Kasos & Karpenthos a wide berth in the end. With the words of 'Rod Heikell', the gentlemen who has written many a sailing bible, including the ones on Greece & Turkey, ringing in my ears, speaking of 'angry seas' around these parts, it was a nervous & hasty departure. You see when the Meltami blows through the Aegean, it starts up at the top near Istanbul, and tends to go east or west. When it goes west it whistles down the eastern side of the Peloponnese, being channeled between the many island in the middle of the Aegean & the mainland & zips out past the most western part of Crete. But when the Meltami blows in the eastern side, again because the many island in the centre of the Aegean, the wind has 300 miles to pick up speed before it whistles through the gap of Crete & Kasos & between Kasos & Karpenthos, and again between Karpenthos & Rhodes. So with the beginning of a Meltami week/fortnight ahead, we pushed on and onto Rhodes, not wanting to get stuck with my parents arriving in Rhodes the following week. As it happened, even with no real Meltami blowing the gaps between the islands were like sitting in the cockpit with 20 hairdryers trained on you. This combined with a nasty cross sea, was enough to be thankful once in the lee of Rhodes. My only complaint was loosing what i can only imagine to be a massive fish, be it tuna or whatever, because we were unable to slow the boat down enough, in these conditions to pull in the lure..... The one that got away! My lure bore the teeth marks and that was that.
So after a long night at the helm, having been blown dried to bits, we finally receive some well deserved respite as we finally pulled in behind Rhodes. As it happened by not stopping in Kasos as we had wanted to we were now early for Mum & Micks arrival; So we went to a small bay just south of Rhodes Town - Lindos for a couple of days at anchor. Its a cute kind of place despite the hordes of tourists, but unfortunately in the water at anchor you get hounded by the waterspouts guys pulling every shape & creation behind them at speed, much to our pitching annoyance. And on land the beaches are over crowded and generally a bit tacky. That aside, we had a few lovely days just chilling out. I say chilling out, i mean that in the lying horizontal or hanging in the water kind of way, because one things for sure, you will never really chill out sitting on mirror in 40 degrees. This is something we had been warned about but boy did we get to learn about it first hand. Living on a boat i the eastern Med in mid July, August, September is not for the faint hearted without aircon. So during the days we swam to keep cool & took Audrey & Bertie on the obligatory donkey ride up to the ruins on the hill, and then would swim some more. In the evenings Nicky & I would hang off the back of the boat for 20mins before bed time just to cool our blood sufficently to sleep. We have decided going forward, we will have to either invest in a generator & an air conditioning unit for the boat or not be sailing in these parts at this time of year. Our sanity only just prevailed.
And so onto Rhodes, where we met up with Mum & Mick, and one of our other sailing family friends Pablo, Dini, Noah & Gael off SY Happy Dancer. We went into the new Rhodes marina which is an interesting place. A brand new massive marina all ready to rock & roll to bring in some juicy euro dollars for the cash strapped Greek government. Alas they forgot to put in 99% of the pontoons, doh! Nice try guys, try again next year. That aside the staff were lovely, and the ammenities such as water & electricity were running so all was fine down our end of the marina. We'd managed to get Mum & Mick booked into the Rhodes Sheraton which was right up their alley. They liked it, we liked it, everybody happy, job done. And we had a lovely week catching up. Now it has to be said going from Maya where you might just be able to swing a cat if you're lucky, to spending a few nights at the Sheraton, could be classed as an up grade for us simple sailing folk. But it was certainly a treat away from boat life that for sure. Choosing between which one of the 3 pools, or which one of the 3 pool bars involved some pretty tricky decision making, and Audrey & Bertie loved being by a hotel pool, much to my scorn. We did some of the obligatory sight seeing, of which there is plenty on Rhodes. But the heat being what it was made and excursion with kids especially exhausting. So we mostly enjoyed catching up with Mum & Mick whilst listening to the Aussies getting wooped in the Ashes, & drinking cold beer under the air con. Its the simple pleasures after all. It was also so nice to see our sailing friends again. We'd last seen them in Malta, and they'd already been to Turkey, and were now on their way back via Crete, before heading off to the Carrebean for the winter. They had really enjoyed Turkey, despite having done a lot of work on the boat. And it was so nice to be in the company of another cruising family again. As we bid them farewell, & fair winds we also decided to make our final last big passage of the season and onto Turkey.