Friday, July 25, 2008

Aegean Sea, Greece

July 18th, 2008

Chios to the Gulf of Corinth, Greece

Our next step was to traverse the Aegean Sea. The first stop was all of 5 miles off the coast of Turkey. You never realize just how close all these lands are. No wonder they kept arguing over what belonged to whom. With the winds constantly against us we were only making short trips each day. Hopping island to island, we made quick one night stops on the island of Chios, Kea and then the south eastern point of mainland Greece at Sounia Point. Here is located a temple to Poseidon. We have been
busy dusting off the memories of Greek history from our childhood and some extra reading to find out that Zeus, Hades and Poseidon were all brothers. Splitting up the world evenly, Zeus took all the heavens, Hades the under world and Poseidon the water world. Being the savvy tourists we have become, we realized that adults had to pay and children got in free to view the temple. Quickly give the kids the cameras, make them run up the hill and take the photos, problem solved. As kids will do, they
even figured out how to use new settings on the maiden voyage of our newest camera.

This particular anchorage didn't look quite sound enough for an overnight so we moved up the coast to Vouliagmeni. The original modern marina to be built in Greece. We soon found out it wasn't really a place to anchor either and the price was much to high to stay in a marina. The bay is home to every water sport imaginable. They have club sports here for wind surfing, slalom water skiing, and Optimus dinghy sailing. We attempted to officially check into the country here and found it nearly impossible
to do. No one had any great answers on how to efficiently complete the task so after hours with no reward we gave up and found our way up to Piraeus, the town just next to Athens and the Acropolis, our destination.

Much like our experience in Vouligameni, Athens proved to be even more difficult at finding a place to rest our heads. There was either no room in the inn or marinas simply wouldn't answer their radios. We could hear them speaking to each other, we could float right outside their entrance and see them sitting in their towers. After two hours of burning precious fuel we tied ourselves up to the most likely place, walked up to the office and pleaded our case. They couldn't say no. For 35 Euros
a day, no water or electricity how could it hurt them. We are curious about the usual customers they keep though as an armed guard escort in bullet proof jackets and motorcycles helped the guests of the lovely large motor boat across from us, leave the docks.

Early the next morning we gathered our maps and attempted the metro system. Thank goodness it is a forgiving system since we got on the wrong one and still managed to end up in the right place. The Acropolis was fun to see but we have to be honest and say viewing it through and entire cage of metal scaffolding with thousands of our closet friends is a bit of a disappointment, especially after viewing Ephesus up close and personally. It was difficult to imagine Alexander and Aristotle sitting around
discussing the fates and muses. Again as savvy tourists, we are not ashamed to say that we have learned the art of dividing and conquer. Each person attaches themselves to tour group with an English speaking guide, we reassemble and share the bits of knowledge we have gained. The grounds and gardens are lovely to tour, the small museum we could enter had great artifacts to view, and the fascinating part would be the continuous archeological digs that are going on all around you. You can watch
them chip away at the earth and pull up still more shard of pottery.

Next stop, the Corinth Canal. Not having much information on it we weren't sure what to expect. Large container ships to small boats alike pass through a canal cut right into the rock that once joined Peloponnese and the main land Greece. At it's tallest the rock stands 63 meters high and the water only 8 meters deep. We motored right into the canal and figured they would let us know what to do. Luck was on our side this day. We tied up to the dock, the manager hung his head out of the traffic
control tower and with a megaphone hailed us up to the office. Bruce and Kelly boy ran up, we paid our fees of $250, and apparently couldn't get back to the boats fast enough as the canal manager hung his head out the window once more with the megaphone and yelled, "Captain, HURRY". A giant container ship passed just before us and we were to follow him closely. Bridges up ahead that lets auto traffic traverse the gorge were waiting on us all. The high stone walls are breath taking but I doubt
the young gal bungee jumping off one of three bridges that cross the canal had time to stop and look at them as we did. Tristan rode the canal with a birds eye view from the top spreader. The gates at each end of the canal rise up from under water, again to provide a road to cross and stop unwanted travelers when needed.

Once through the canal and into the gulf we used the wind as our friend to sail toward many other famous destinations such as the Delphi. Home to the most famous and heralded oracle of the time. Though she spoke in only gibberish, the priests would translate the persons future for them. On the Peloponesse side are such famous sites as Sparta itself, and the original site of the Olympic games in 1000 B.C. to name just a couple. We found a treasure of an anchorage on the tiny island of Trizonia.
Trizonia coordinates 38 22.053N,022 04.753E
A public marina that appears to have been started many years ago but never finished, and it was FREE. A joyous thing in our world. We found inexpensive and fairly reliable internet there with kind locals and fresh produce. A hike around the island, the Moorea crew painted their water line and the boys had the opportunity to ride the Kelly's bikes around the dock for 3 days. It was the perfect stay before we headed out into the Ionian Sea to round out our time in Greece.
until next time,
your Ohana Kai crew

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Marmaris to Kusadasi, Turkey

July 5th, 2008

Marmaris to Kusadasi, Turkey
coordinates 37 52.113N,027 15.748E

We can certainly see why many cruisers get stuck here in Turkey and spend a season or two. The cruising grounds are beautiful and they make it amazingly comfortable and convenient for one on land. There are quite a few marina's, though a little expensive for our pockets. There is just so much to see and do.

Marmaris coordinates 36 49.539N,028 28.596E
We made landfall here and found a beautiful basin. For those familiar with Lake Tahoe in California, it is very reminiscent of it. Pine forest right down to the waters edge and just like Reno, scores of resorts and small music thumping, blaring night clubs, lining the North Shore. Our two weeks here were spent doing a few boat projects. There are so many chandleries here that if you can't find the part you need, you must not need it. We were introduced to more tasty versions of kebob and kofte,
a spicy meat ball of sorts, and marveled at their traditional style sail boats called "gulets". They have a marvelous design and size that we have not seen in any other boats to date. Nearly every major point or port has a citadel or castle to mark the spot so we enjoyed the views to be had from the top of the one built here. A few days of wake boarding for the boys and practicing the art of dodging carpet sellers. Turkey is famous for their woven "double knot" style of weaving and the works are
beautiful. Best thing of all, the older they are the more valuable. You don't get that equation often.

One of the greatest experiences in Turkey for us has to be the opportunity to watch their football (soccer) team through their eyes as they competed in the European Championships. They made it as far as semi finals, a huge feat for any one. Each game they won you would have thought they had taken the final trophy home. So much pride and joy is infectious. After each win a parade of cars, scooters, all the towns buses, and any one on foot who could walk carrying larger than life flags, flares,
fireworks. You name it, they filled the streets until all hours of the night in celebration. Without fail, to make each game more suspenseful, all the action happened within the last two minutes of the game or the overtime.

From there our pals on s/v Moorea reunited with us and we slowly made our way up the western coast to Kusadasi where we planned to see the ruins of Ephesus. Amazingly each point or town has it's own little set of ruins and ancient citadels overlooking each bay. There is always something fun here to go explore. So much history and culture we are getting dizzy.
There are a multitude of anchorages to stay in and luckily they are all within a days hop so no overnight sails for a while. Alexander the Great, Homer, Socrates, famed sculptors and thinkers all walked here. The only down side would be the wind direction. Which ever direction you want to head there will be your wind. We have perfected our tacking skills and our plotted course is a perfect zig zag.

Ephesus proved to be as wonderful as the guide books exclaimed. We rented a car and made our way inland. To visualize the 3rd century BC. men, women and children draped in their robes and walking from the city councils agora or meeting place to the public bathroom or pool and the library, each step lined in white marble is fascinating. Though much of it is simply the foundations of buildings left standing, there are enough columns and symmetrically carves cornices and capitals, bits of colorful
glass mosaics and beheaded statues to make it feel real. A full amphitheater complete with back stage tunnels to walk through and get out your first night jitters before performing on stage was a lot of fun. You can certainly imagine the splendor of the library and see the men sitting on the steps debating the latest theory. In it's time, it was a leading port city and sea trade center. Today it stands miles inland after silting filled in the shores leaving it land locked. As it's various attackers
each took their turns of ruling, it passed from worshiping the greatest Greek gods, Christianity and then to Islam. Each member adding a new worship center or minaret as it saw fit. Neighboring sites and towns hold the believed chapels and homes of St. John and Mary, the mother of Jesus.

A final stop at a rug making center completed our stay in Turkey. We had the chance to watch how they removed the silk from the cocoons, and then to see the women practice the art of "double knot" techniques. The value of the carpet is gauged by how many knots per square in one can tie. The thinner the thread the more knots. They roll them out covering the floor and insist that you walk around on $80,000 rugs. We nearly had heart attacks. Despite the fact that the salesman knew that we could
never afford to buy nor store such a treasure he took his time to personally teach and talk with us about these breath taking and intricate designs.
until next time,
the Ohana Kai crew