Dolphins, tiny town and the Big Blue

It seemed such a shame to have to leave the wide and beautiful bay of Ormos Agiou Ioannou on Paros after only one night but we had to get out of Greece quickly or possibly face fines for overstaying (even though for two and a half months we were required to stay put because of Covid-19 lockdown).

The chapel in beautiful Ormos Agiou Ioannou

So we kept on going and headed to a little island called Schoinoussa and anchored in the tiny port of Mersini.

The tiny port of Mersini on Schoinoussa Sunday is on the right

We had a fantastic sail there – made extra special by having a pod of six dolphins accompany us for about half an hour. Such a magical experience, always.

I was so busy watching the dolphins that I missed all the good shots!
It was such fun watching them leap out of the water then swim by on their sides to take a good look at us.

The port at Schoinoussa was really small with just a few tiny fishing boats and a couple of pleasure boats moored, an elderly navy frigate berthed and one other charter yacht anchored. The port might be small but it is regarded as one of the best shelters for small boats in the Aegean.

The “Small Cyclades” ferry
Tiny fishing boats for a tiny harbour!
The port was small but provided great shelter
It seemed quite crowded with another yacht at anchor but in reality there was plenty of space

In a cove nearby, a massive super yacht lay moored Mediterranean style (bow anchor and lines ashore attached to rocks). There was one tender for the staff (there were at least ten) and a separate shiny white tender for the two guests/owners.

A massive super yacht in a small cove nearby

On shore were two lovely looking tavernas – we were tempted to go and have a meal at one of them but had already prepared something so we decided to eat on board.

The two tavernas
This was the taverna where the occupants of the super yacht had their dinner

There are only around 250 inhabitants in two towns on this fertile nine square kilometres island but every year it receives thousands of visitors – of the feathered variety – as it is an important migratory station for many birds.

Migratory birds flock to this island

The following day we walked to the tiny Chora (main town) 1.2 kilometres from the port. The area was very rural and the tiny town was surrounded by fields with vegetables growing and sheep and goats grazing.

A windmill in the distance and fields surrounding the chora
Sheep trying to find something to graze on

We stopped for a drink at one of the tavernas and watched the world go by – a fork lift truck making deliveries (the Main Street being too narrow for a van), a man riding a donkey, children playing.

The taverna we stopped at
It had a great view of the Main Street
It was all go – first deliveries using a forklift
…then a chap on a donkey riding by

We bought some lovely fresh vegetables grown on the island before walking back on the very pleasant and well-made path to the port.

An ancient cottage
These reminded us of Australia!
Glorious bougainvillea
Port Mersini this way!
The fantastic paved stairway back to the port

That afternoon we set off for our next destination – Amorgos. We had been waiting to arrive at this wonderful island (featured in the Luc Besson movie The Big Blue) ever since we had been told about it’s great beauty by a lady who owned a photography shop in Athens.

Not sure who this was farewelling us from Schoinoussa

We arrived in the early evening and were one again the only boat anchored in the lovely harbour.

Alone again!

We were intrigued to discover that there were three entirely separate villages in this one small area – in the south-east corner the port, Katapola, in the middle Rachidi and over the other side, Xilikeratidi.

The port Katapola (with ferry in)
The middle village, Rachidi
Opposite the port, Xilikeratidi

Once we settled Sunday down we went ashore at Xilikeratidi and walked round to Katapola along the water’s edge. There were very few people about but there were a couple of pretty tavernas open where locals were playing backgammon and others enjoying a catch up with friends.

Le Grand Bleu cafe in Xilikeratidi named after the famous movie
Walking passed Rachidi on the way to Jatapola
In Rachidi there were masses of ducks on the beach
That favourite Greek pastime – Backgammon!
Lovely old timer in the port

Wandering through the old part of Katapola we came upon a tiny chapel – Panagia Katapoliani – where a priest and a young boy (we later learnt, his son) singing the evening service together. This little Church, we were told later, was built over a pre-Christian basilica, a temple dedicated to Apollo. It was interesting to see that parts of the temple had been incorporated into the structure of the Church.

Wandering through Katapola
Panagia Katapoliani – built in the site of a temple dedicated to the god Apollo
It was curious to see parts from the Greek temple incorporated in the Church building and surrounding walls
An ancient column in the wall of the Church

We were anxious to explore Amorgos as we had heard so much about it so decided to stay another day and hire a car so we could have a really good look round.

A lovely spot to people watch

So much to look forward to as the sun went down on another great day in the Greek Islands.

So much to look forward to as the sun went down

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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