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So that we don't only get to know the marina, we rent a car for a day to explore the island. We are amazed at how beautiful the island is, which looks so barren from the sea. Bays that are also good for anchoring, beautiful beaches. And every place is different. We climb up to the Kastro from Agia Marina, look out from the bay of Pandeli to the windmills and visit the small crab church in the south of the island. It is built directly into the rock by the sea. Here are some pictures from our island tour:

Lakki, the largest village on the island, on the edge of which our marina is located, is architecturally out of the ordinary. The Italians occupied the island from 1913 to 1943 and used Lakki as a military base. During this time, they rebuilt the place in the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 1930s. Much of this can still be seen. However, only a few buildings are well preserved.

When we read up on the history of the island, we were struck by how it was "misused" again and again for various purposes: Although the island had taken part in the Greek liberation struggle, it was reassigned to the Ottoman Empire. After the Italian-Turkish war, Italian occupation (the whole island became an arms depot), Italian military and naval base, British occupation after the Second World War. In 1948 it was integrated into the Greek state.

Leros was also a place of exile for a long time: first a leper station, later during the 1967-1974 dictatorship an internment camp for political dissidents and a re-education camp for the children of communists. In 1957, the largest psychiatric clinic in Greece was set up here, where people were locked up in undignified conditions. From the 1980s onwards, the EU campaigned for qualified treatment methods.

Since 2008 there has been a camp for refugees on Leros, for many years it was overcrowded. Probably not any more. And today? We can see the camp from our boat mooring. It is fenced in and brightly lit at night. We can't find any information about it. We don't see any refugees in the town. It is obviously to keep them away from the tourists. But they are there anyway. And what is the EU doing?

There is just not only sailing, beautiful bays and picturesque villages. Leros has many faces, not only beautiful ones.

"A low over Taurus hardly changes." That's what the marine weather report has been telling us for days. And that's how it's supposed to stay for the next few days. A low over Taurus together with a high over Turkey causes the strong north wind Meltemi in the Aegean. Normally it blows strongest in July and August. Now we have it already towards the end of June. In the harbour of Lipsi it blows into our cockpit and the resulting swell makes our boat rock violently - even at night. This strains our nerves a little.

As the wind is supposed to get even stronger in the next few days, we decide to go to the marina in Leros a few days earlier. 15 nautical miles in a strong swell - after three hours, Marinero Jannis welcomes us with the dinghy even before we enter the marina and guides us to our berth. "Please give me the mooring," says Gisela, after she has tied down both bow lines. "It's already fixed in the back," says the marinero. From the dinghy, he had handed the mooring line directly to Walter, who was standing at the helm. Great service! We've never had that before. However, the boats at this jetty are packed so tightly that we can only deploy our fenders with a lot of effort. Something has to change there.

Now we have been in the summer quarters for our boat for two days, the Leros Marina Evros in Lakki. After so many small town harbours and anchorages, we have to get used to the marina flair again. But a warm shower and a washing machine are not to be scoffed at either.

We had already seen Volpert and Anja on their boat when we entered the marina. We knew that we would most likely meet here. We sailed together with Volpert about 25 years ago. A nice reunion after a long time. Now we have a few days to prepare for our departure on 4 July. And Walter can cure his back, which suffered during the exchange of the heavy batteries on Skyros.

The wind has been blowing from the northwest at over 30 knots since yesterday. We are moored in the harbour of the small island of Lipsi. As the inside of the pier is now fully occupied, boats that have fled the even stronger wind outside in the open sea are now trying to moor on the outside - a very challenging manoeuvre that most do not succeed at the first attempt. The bow anchor needs a lot of chain and must hold immediately, the boat must not slam across and be pushed onto the pier. "Harbour cinema" for those who are already moored, they sometimes say. But this is no fun. Some boats turn away again and look for a bay to anchor freely.

We sailed over from Patmos the day before yesterday with a nice half wind. That was a pleasure. Then the Meltemi came. The strong wind blows directly into the cockpit and there is no balmy summer evening on deck. But we are lying well, the anchor is holding and we have deployed our heavy lines with the jerk fenders to spare the other ropes. 

It's no punishment to be stuck here in Meltemi. Lipsi is a beautiful little island with agriculture, viticulture and fishing. Things are quite tranquil here. While walking, we see bays with beautiful beaches, countless little blue and white churches, and on the heights we always have wide views over the many small surrounding islands. We can also see over to Leros, our next destination.

Manolis, in a white chef's waistcoat, comes onto the pier with his little daughter and hands us the menu of his restaurant in the village. We see very interesting dishes on it, for example "Grilled vegetables with honey vinaigrette" or "Tenderloin stuffed with dried tomatoes and cheese". We can't resist and go to "Manolis Tastes" for dinner one day. Simply delicious!

While walking, we discover Dimitris' farm. Here, Dimitris' son, Kostas, runs organic farming and winegrowing. We tell him that we also come from a wine-growing region and that, due to climate change, completely different grape varieties can now be grown there and the grape harvest is starting earlier and earlier. This is also the case on Lipsi, he reports. In the past, the grape harvest would have started towards the end of August, now it starts in July. We taste his wine, which he grows without using herbicides and without adding sulphur during pressing. The strongest one we taste has 16 alcohol percent. We take two bottles with us and decide to drink it only in small quantities. At Dimitri's farm we also meet three young women from Germany. They are doing a four-week voluntary service here to help with the local agriculture.

Back on our boat, the wind blows unabated and we wonder if we will be able to make our last beat to Leros tomorrow to the summer place for our boat as planned.          

More pictures from Lipsi:  

We look out over a rugged island world from the main village of the island of Patmos, the Chora, and can well imagine that there was a volcano or even several here in an earlier earth age. Today, the peaks rise out of the sea - a sunken caldera, a beautiful island with many headlands and wonderful anchorages.

The panoramic view also extends to the surrounding islands: Arki, Lipsi (that's where we want to go next), Leros (our mooring for the summer break can be guessed at in the haze), to the north the Phournoi Islands and Samos, to the west Ikaría (that's where we came from).

Video: Panorama

Above the Chora of Patmos towers the great monastery of St John, one of the most important pilgrimage sites of the Greek Orthodox Church. This attracts not only believers, but also otherwise many tourists.

We also walk to the three windmills on the Chora hill. The wings turn in the wind. They look much nicer than the modern windmills. In the past the farmers brought their grain there to be ground.

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Our boat is moored in Patmos Skala, the harbour town. There is a lot going on here. Ferries come, many sailing boats, also large exclusive cruise ships such as the Club Med ship that we have already seen in Saint Tropez. The harbour town of Patmos Skala seems a little oriental. Yes, we are not far from the Orient. And in the eventful history of the islands in the eastern Aegean, there were also times of Ottoman domination.

By bus we drive to Ormos Grikou, a totally protected bay with an imposing rock. Here there are mooring buoys, which are all occupied in the evening, and beautiful beaches. Summer has begun and it is already really hot. It's good to be in the shade under the trees on the beach. The water is crystal clear and not as cold as it was a few weeks ago. Before the bus takes us back to our boat, we have a cool draught beer in one of the beach tavernas. Ormos Grikou: an idyll.

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"All good things come in threes", they say. Does that also apply to bad things? We hope so! Yesterday on the way from the island of Icarìa to the island of Patmos, our engine didn't start. We had sailed, but then the wind took a break for lunch. It was like déjavu: the same thing had happened to us in April near Monemvasia. We then sailed into the harbour with our small sails. Lots of mud in the diesel tanks had blocked our fuel line. After the tanks and lines were cleaned, everything was OK again. Then a few weeks later at the northern tip of the island of Euboea the same thing. So, in the harbour of Oreoi, we put in an additional pre-filter. This third pre-filter was supposed to catch additional dirt. Well, that's what it did. After we couldn't start the engine for the third time and had ruled out all possible causes for the problem, we replaced the new filter in zero wind but a little swell. A bit of a mess. But with success. The engine started again and ran perfectly. And the removed filter was totally dirty. Where does all the dirt in the diesel come from? 

In any case, we were able to reach our destination on Patmos relaxed. One thing is clear: we will buy a family pack of these pre-filters. And: All bad things are hopefully only three.  

At the island of Icaría, Icarus had flown so high that the sun melted the wax that held his wings together - he crashed, his father Daedalus buried him here - so far the legend goes, a huge impressive monument on the harbour pier in Agios Kyrikos reminds us. 

We came the 47 nautical miles from the south coast of the island of Chios with a north-northwest wind and a very strong swell to Icaría. In the afternoon, the already strong wind increased again and we had to contend with fierce gusts shooting down from the high mountains of the island. So once again a tough ride.

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The port of Agios Kyrikos is not recommended in the sailor’s guidebook - the strongest gusts in the Aegean are found here, they say. We made it, no sails were torn from the mast, but when you sit in the cockpit in the morning and want to put sugar in your coffee, the spoon is three-quarters empty when it arrives over the cup (in the harbour!).

Icaría - a very wild island, with gorges, vertical cliffs, tiny bays and picturesque villages, some of which are so narrow that it can be scary, when you drive in - as we did - with the rental car. How do we get out of here? So are the breakneck serpentine roads around the many rocky outcrops, some of them almost 1000m above sea level, with vertical drop-offs right next to the narrow road. 

Ag. Kyrikos is very Greek, very relaxed, very quiet, the few tourists here are mostly Greeks. Very winding alleys, sometimes you can hardly get past the chairs and tables of the restaurants.

We are moored in a tiny little marina that has functioning water connections, but no electricity. But it doesn't cost anything either. And: in the rock face at the edge of the marina springs a hot, radium-containing healing spring. You can bathe in it in Therma, two kilometres away, where it flows directly into the sea. You swim through 50 metres of sea water, currently 20 degrees, then you are in a natural pool like in a bathtub, estimated at 40 degrees, the water comes directly from a grotto in the rock face. 

Icaría - all in all a beautiful mixture of rugged wildness, intensified by the extremely strong winds, and cosy relaxed idyll. 

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Under cloudy sky in a thundery mood, we leave the harbour of Psara and set course for Chios. On the west coast, after a beautiful day of sailing with plenty of wind, we moor in the harbour of Limia/Volissos.

Homer is said to have come from the island of Chios - he is said to have taught children here, but nothing more precise has been related. The island has been inhabited for 5,000 years and experienced several periods of prosperity under the Greeks, but also under the Venetians and Turks, until in 1824, when Chios joined the Greek liberation struggle, the Turks killed 40,000 inhabitants and sold 25,000 into slavery........Chios itself is historically said to have had the first slave market, but under Greek rule.

In the northern part of the island there are not only high, barren mountains, but also wonderfully green and fertile valleys.

In the small harbour of Limia/Volissos, there are usually a maximum of three boats - but now another 15 came to take part in a regatta from Athens to Chios and back. The second event on the Greek Whitsunday was 20 horsemen who rode into the bay with their horses and held a feast. Most of them looked quite wild with their black and white neck- and headscarves and leather boots. Are these the cowboys of Chios? 

Volissos: Medieval village with Frankonian castle (Crusaders, 11th century)

Volissos is a beautiful little medieval town, 2 km from the harbour on the hillside, with a Frankish (here the collective term for crusaders) castle from the 11th century. Steep winding streets, partly dilapidated, partly very nicely restored houses, lead up to the castle, from which one has a wide view of the many bays and the entire coast. 

After three days, we set off in the direction of the southern part of the island, in the meantime the Meltemi announced itself with a strong north wind. There is a lot of wind and waves. On the way to Ikaria we stay for one (restless) night in a small anchorage in the southern part of Chios, as the only boat, far and wide no house, no artificial light, very lonely and very impressive. The southern part of Chios is rather barren, rocky, with little vegetation, not as lushly green as some valleys in the north - in any case, a very varied island. 

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