Challenging Start and Big Blue Amorgos
Katapola, Amorgos and Dhenoussa, Wednesday 25th May
We started with a bang. Having socialised in Lakki and stocked up, we headed for the Cyclades, stopping en-route at Levitha (all goats and barren rock). At first we anchored in the north of Amorgos, managing overnight to sit out an unforecast F6/7 quite happily under the shelter of a little islet. Morning and now gale force 8 winds made our anchor drag, so we upped and off to Katapola, the main little port of Amorgos. En-route, we were a bit surprised to be battered by F9 winds up to 54knots, made the prospect of mooring up on Katapola town quay (anchor out and stern to) a challenging prospect. We survived, the good boat survived and we made a fair deal of the mooring with the help of willing hands on the shore. For this type of mooring Richard deals with the anchor end and Wendy reverses up to quay with windward warp in hand - very glad to be safely tucked up!
Amorgos is a wonderful little island. It was one of the locations for the film The Big Blue (Luc Besson, late 80's) and there are signs of the film everywhere. The tiny port is lively and friendly, the main hilltop village or Chora is picture postcard - very Cycladic with gleaming white stucco and blue painted doors and church cupolas. But unusually, the Amorgons also use lots of red, which provides a striking background to the rampant bourgainvillea.
Amorgos has an iconic monastery, perched quite literally on the side of a cliff overlooking the sea, several kilometres from the main Chora. Don't come if you suffer from vertigo and unless you like the wild and lonely. We took the local bus (regular readers will know how I love Greek local buses - no chickens on this one), which dropped us off some way from the start of the climb. A winding stone path takes you up to the Monastery entrance. On hearing visitors, a man opened a small door and beckoned us in, first inspecting that we were appropriately and modestly dressed. I had brought a wraparound shawl for the purpose and R the zip-on bits to his shorts to make trousers. A tiny staircase went up to an antechamber with candles, pictures and iconography, then into the chapel itself. After your visit, you are ushered upstairs to a room with photos on the wall and a refectory table and are offered homemade loukoumi ("Turkish" Delight) and home-distilled Raki - for your health and welcome. Lovely!
We stayed a few days, enjoying meeting some fellow sailors from France, Denmark, Lebanon, local Greeks and others, each with their own stories and tales to tell. The local fishermen were proud to pose with any large catches they made that went straight onto restaurant plates. Wind abating a tad, we took our leave and headed for a bay on the islet of Dhenoussa - a couple of nights here, we went ashore for an explore and walked over the scrubby maquis to its wild rocky west coast, good for birds of prey, not so good for boats.
Next stop, weather willing, is Mykonos - not because we want to visit the fleshpots and nightlife, but because we want to visit sacred Delos - we'll need to take an excursion boat.
It's been a wild and windy old start.