At 8.20 on the 28th August we left Serifos on our return passage to the east coast of the Peloponnese and into the Saronic Gulf.
The passage took us 10.5 hours of motor sailing and another 1.5 hours trying to complete the last couple of miles and find a suitable anchorage. We finally dropped anchor off the Island of Dokos at 20.20. Dokos is a small island situated in the Argo-Saronic Gulf, in between Hydra and the Peloponnese. It is separated from the mainland of Greece by a narrow strait which is sometimes referred to as "the Hydra Gulf". On the eastern side of the island there is a lighthouse which was constructed in 1923 and is 9 meters tall and built in the shape of a round tower. Tourists are only able to visit the island of Dokos by water taxi from Hydra, Ermioni or Spetses as there are no ferries routes to the island. It is therefore popular with nature lovers, hikers and with people that are looking for peace and quiet.
We approached the Island from the South and had marked out a number of possible anchorages. The first three were not suitable and after what felt like hours we chose an anchorage to the North. Our first attempt at anchoring in the sheltered horseshoe bay on the Northern shore was a failure! The anchor entangled itself in an old tyre and was difficult to remove. By the time we had freed ourselves it was dark and we were exhausted. Unfortunately we failed to get the tyre onboard and it returned to the bottom of the sea! Hopefully it will provide a home for fish and marine growth in the future! On our second attempt the anchor held and we were so glad to be able to tuck ourselves up in bed!
The following morning we woke to a mirrored sea and very few neighbours so decided to spend the day and another night in this beautifully sheltered, quiet and (at last), windless bay. We launched the paddleboard and as the water was so clear, Judith went for her morning exercise in search of the offending tyre!
During our first swim of the day we noticed a stowaway onboard Moneypenny’s rudder! A praying mantis had decided to take a ride. To this day we don’t know how long he had been there but we returned him to the beach by means of a ‘swim’ and a plastic tub!
Greece’s quiet anchorages had been easy to find this year due to the lack of charter boats and we regularly enjoyed the piece and quiet of our own company, however, mid morning we noticed a small motorboat entering the large bay. They could have chosen ANYWHERE but as you can see from the photograph, they obviously preferred company!!! I have also included a photograph to show how big the bay was and how easy it would have been for them to have found a space of there own. We could have literally jumped onto their boat!!! No amount of staring would move them so eventually we erected a ‘sun shade’ between us and them!!
On the 30th August we weighed anchor and motored the 5.8 miles across to Ermioni on the mainland (the Eastern Peloponnese).
The commercial port and harbour of Limani is located on the Northern side, with the lively Mandrakia on the Southern side of the peninsula. At the Eastern end of the town, is the archaeological pine-cladded forest area called the Bisti. Here you can enjoy a walk at any time of the day, as there is plenty of shade, and visit the 5th Cen. BC temple of Athena, and other Ancient, Byzantine and Medieval monuments. You can also swim in the clear blue sea, from the rocky coves along the Southern side of the Bisti, which overlook the islands of Dokos and Hydra. There are no beaches in Ermioni, apart from a very small stretch of sand close to the Bisti, where some local residents go to enjoy their swim. The sea surrounds the town from three sides, giving the feel of being on an island.
We moored on the free town quay in Limani and were soon joined by a very expensive motorboat with a very ‘smart’ Italian couple onboard. The bathing costumes and other outfits (and there were many over the next 24 hours) were amazing. Direct from Milan. What a lovely couple, great company.
We settled in and then decided to explore. The restaurants in the Port were busy serving the late lunchtime customers, but we decided to take a walk over to see what we were missing on the ‘other side’. We made our way through the streets eventually appearing on the extremely quiet South Quay, Mandrakia. Bars and restaurants lined the Quay but they were all quiet and most were closed. We were shocked as the Quay side had provision for numerous yacht and motorboats. Where were they all? Covid certainly looked like it was having an affect on the businesses in Ermioni.
The South Quay
We made our way back towards the North Quay but firstly decided to continue our walk out to the headland through the pine forest. What a beautiful walk passing monuments, old & new, along the way and taking in the breath-taking views. As we approached the end of the headland we noticed a little cove with a narrow staircase down to the shore. A swim was on the cards but we had no swimming costumes, (although we did have a small towel in our backpack). There was no one around so underwear it was! As we approached the water, we noticed three people descending the stairway….typical! We dived under and then turned to acknowledge them by which time they had also stripped to their underwear (minus there tops!) and were entering the water. They say ‘what a small world’ but the two girls, Alice & Pip were from Wales and Pip’s parents even had a property within three miles of our home! They were making their way around Greece crewing wherever they were needed.
After our swim we returned to Money Penny and ‘dressed’ for dinner (Outfits direct from ‘the wardrobe of Money Penny’ nowhere near the beauty of Milan) and headed out for an early meal in a shoreside restaurant overlooking the North Quay, followed by another walk over to the South Quay. We were in for a shock! This time the South Quay was lined with large charter yachts, their guests and crew filling the bustling bars and restaurants. No Covid distancing here! Following an after dinner drink and and some people watching in a chic cocktail bar, we headed off to bed.
Topping up on the quay!
The following morning we decided to ‘flag’ down the diesel tanker and top up our tanks before heading off back across the gulf to see if we could get into the cosmopolitan town that we had heard so much about, Idra (Hydra). The yacht that Pip and Alice were crewing on left just before us. They had told us they were also heading for Idra. We followed the yacht off the Quay and out of the bay.
Throughout the 11 mile crossing we had little wind, but we hoisted the sails and attempted to sail with no luck. Unfortunately this allowed the yacht that Pip & Alice were on to arrive in Idra before us and they took the last spot on the quay. Normally the yachts are moored 4 or 5 deep here and we debated starting the second row, however, we didn’t want to be ‘locked’ in the following morning so decided to head back out and take a look at an adjoining bay. We moored stern to against the rocks in Mandraki Bay and spent the next couple of hours swimming, paddle boarding and watching other boats arriving.
We had been told that it was possible to ‘order’ a water taxi from Mandraki Bay to the Idra. We spoke to the charter yacht moored adjacent to us and arranged to share the taxi. At 5.30 pm (as ordered) the water taxi pulled up alongside Money Penny. 20 Euros for the trip, (10 each yacht) Well worth the experience.
Our view from our taxi!
The cosmopolitan island of Idra (Hydra) is in the Saronic Islands, located in the Aegean Sea. It’s name references the natural springs on the island and it is only a 2hr ferry ride from Athens. The Island is a ‘car free’ zone with people travelling either by foot, boat or donkey to get around. The small water taxis buzz in and out of the harbour taking people around the island, across the short stretch of water to the shores of the Peloponnese or even as far as Athens. There are elegant stone mansions, narrow alleyways, and a number of churches and museums to visit within the capital. We were again lucky that we were exploring at an extremely quiet time.
We sat and had a coffee at a small café overlooking the harbour, took a walk around the pretty narrow streets and eventually met up with Alice & Pip at a sundowner cocktail bar where we chatted and drank cocktails as the sun disappeared over the horizon. The only disappointment for Alistair was that the chips that he had noticed on the menu (and craved), turned out to be crisps!
One of the beautiful yachts that arrived while we were in Hydra.
We decided to walk the 2 miles back to Money Penny along the coast path in the dark and knowing that when we arrived we would have to swim back! All good fun! It was a clear night and there were great views from the path of the taxis zipping back and forth, the stars and the lights on the opposite shore. Unfortunately our stay was spoilt by a charter boat anchored not far from us that partied all night! We made sure that we made lots of noise before leaving the following morning!