Summer 2022

Exploring the Dodecanese

After a week at Leros we finally headed out of the bay. The strong winds of the meltemi had calmed down a little but there was still a force 5 northerly wind blowing. The sails went straight up and with one reef in each we had a lively downwind sail at 6-7 kts. Lots of other boats were out also enjoying the perfect sailing conditions.

We had initially planned a 23nm passage to a bay on the small island of Pserimos, but as ZigZag was doing good speeds and cruising comfortably through the waves, we decided to change course slightly and continue another 7nm to Kos.

This trip took us to within 2nm of the Turkish coast as we tried our best to steer a course which stayed within Greek territorial waters. We found once before many years ago, as we passed through the Gibraltar Straits, how it can still come as a surprise when you realise that your small journeys can suddenly result in you having sailed to a new continent.

On arrival at Kos we called the marina and was told to wait outside for the marinara to come and guide us in. After 30 minutes there was no sign of anyone (apart from the local Yellow Submarine) so I called again and was grudgingly given permission to proceed in to the marina, they appeared to have forgotten about us!

The afternoon breeze had picked up by now making it quite challenging to manoeuvre into a berth, Ziggy needs a long run up to be able to reverse straight, particularly when there’s a strong wind blowing. The marinaras were very impatient and a little rude shouting at us as we were not being fast enough for them, but thankfully by ignoring them and taking our time we managed to moor perfectly. Not a great start to our time in Kos!

Kos is the third largest island of the Dodecanese archipelago and is known for its historical sites, beautiful sandy beaches, and lush vegetation. The island has a long history dating back 5,000 years and has been influenced by many cultures, including the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Venetians, the medieval Knights, and the Ottomans giving it a mixture of medieval, Turkish and Italian architecture.

We were looking forward to exploring and set off to the old town, the beach was a little scruffy and not quite as expected, I guess the beautiful sandy beaches are at other resorts around the island.

Continuing on and the first site we arrived at was the ruins of the Ancient Agora. It is a large excavation area where a number of temples, baths, and houses with remaining mosaics, columns, and other pieces of construction belonging to several periods have been found.

Human habitation of the site is believed to date back to the Bronze Age, 2300-2000BC and has since gone through many changes. In 366BC the communities on the island united to found a new city on the NE tip of the island taking advantage of its location next to the harbour which was ideal for trading and the Agora became the center of Kos.

This remained unchanged until the Middle Ages when under the rule of the Knights of St John the city was fortified within a perimeter wall of 3km. It was damaged by an earthquake and rebuilt to elevate and link it to the harbour via a monumental gateway.

A further earthquake devastated the modern town of Kos in 1933. Italian archeologists used the period of reconstruction to carryout extensive excavations to uncover remains of the ancient city. We were able to walk freely around the site but it was difficult to identify the different structures.

The harbour in the town is dominated by the 15th century Neratzia Castle. The castle was constructed by the Knights of Saint John with local stone and some remains of previous constructions and buildings, it took several years to complete.

There is a long stone bridge built to link the castle, which was on a separate island, with the mainland. The moat was filled up in 1878 and transformed into a wide avenue.

We walked over the bridge which was guarded by cannons, to the entrance of the castle. Unfortunately, the gates were closed and there was no key available this time.

There were good views of the harbour from the bridge and some celebrations were taking place with a marching band on parade.

The harbour area was very touristy with waterside bars offering cheap drinks, souvenir shops, a train and many elaborate day trip boats trying to entice you out for a fun day partying on board.

Close to the harbour is the street where Kos nightlife takes place, as we walked through it was all very quiet while they were getting ready for another bacchanalian evening.

Having never been to Kos before we were looking forward to visiting, However, despite the signs telling me otherwise, I found the town a little disappointing.

The following day we left the marina, there were very light winds and flat water for the first half of the 21 nm journey. Then the wind picked up and we were speeding upwind, on a lean, with reefed sails at 6 kts.

We dropped our anchor in a bay on the south side of Nisis Yiali. It was a fairly shallow bay at 5m but as we were the only boat anchored we had plenty of space to let out 50m of chain.

Many volcanos have erupted in this area over the years and there was extensive quarry work in the bay. A large ship was being loaded with pumice stone via a long chute which extended into the sea.

As we watched the moon rise, it was a quiet night here. We are looking forward to exploring a volcano at our next destination where the whole island is formed by previous eruptions.

2 replies on “Exploring the Dodecanese”

It is great to see some ‘wind in the sails’ photos. It reminds me you are actually sailing around to these beautiful places. Also good to read that not everywhere you visit is as one might imagine.
May the weather continue to provide you with the perfect conditions to enjoy sailing.
Safe onward journey.

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