Trip on Karoto starting 2012-09-22 in BSAOct12

Kos, Greece. Sept 22-29 2012. – report by Sue Fowle

Bernard Smyth and I joined a CSSA group who had chartered a Bavaria 50' from Istion, a company based in Kos MarinaMap. She was called 'Karoto', Esperanto for 'carrot' so had carrot coloured bimini, hood and sail trim. All a bit too conspicuous when mooring, but then again sailing is such a spectator sport! She was a roomy boat with 3 heads and enough cabins for no enforced sharing.

We sailed north from Kos to PserimosMap, LerosMap, Patmos, our northernmost destination, then back via Archangelos Bay on LerosMap and KalymnosMap .Each day we had an opportunity for a lunchtime swim though the water was quite cool at 27C and the lack of marine life was remarkable. Despite many boats on charter from the marina, it was quiet once out on the water, some boats preferring to go south. Our overnight stops were extremely varied - from small harbours where all the streets were sand to the busy equivalent of a town quay in Patmos, an anchorage off the town of Paneli to a lonely, moonlit anchorage in Archangelos Bay where we were serenaded by an orchestra of goat bells.

At the beginning and end of the week we had NW winds gusting up to F5 but much lighter in the middle of the week so we got some exciting passages under sail and Karoto sailed smoothly. We soon got used to her furling mainsail. The anchorages were quite tricky- ensuring the anchor was holding meant several attempts or long periods observing transits. Other sailors with more local knowledge were generally helpful. The size of the boat made some moorings tricky too, often in narrow, shallow harbours such as Vathi on Kalymnos where the harbour was only about 100' wide, approached by a fjord like entrance which funneled the evening wind. It was shallow as well and there was a little gentle bouncing on the rudder until we pulled away from the wall on the anchor-then the plank didn’t reach the jetty. Consequently one of the crew had an unexpected dip in the harbour before supper. It took well over an hour to get the carrot safely tied up so we were certainly that evening’s entertainment!

Victualling at the new marina in Kos was very efficient. We ordered some food to start us off as we were arriving late at on Saturday night but contrary to our info the incredibly well stocked 'supermarket' was open on Sunday. Would they miss the opportunity with so many charters starting on Sundays? We topped up the fridge at Patmos where there are shops opposite the moorings. Water is a problem on the islands but our tanks were filled from a mini bowser at a minimal charge by a Greek with a strong Ozzie accent. Apart from one meal at anchor we ate out each night, all reasonably priced meals with a wide varied of food often family specialities.

Scenically it is a beautiful area - the Dodecanese are volcanic islands rising 2000' out of the sea. Some of the harbours are guarded by Crusader castles. The most dramatic was at Patmos where we arrived on the feast day of St. John the Evangelist who reputedly wrote the 'Apocalypse' in a local cave. Two of us went off exploring and found the monasteries full of immaculately dressed villagers attending liturgies led by Orthodox priests in their spectacular ceremonial gold robes. As we walked back to the port on a cobbled mule track it was very easy to imagine how it must have been in Crusader times.

We covered about 150nm which was quite do-able in 6 days sailing but a longer trip would have given more time for exploring the area. Our skipper had hoped to reach Pythagorion on Samos, but it would have meant missing out some of the remoter islands. Our EasyJet flights from Gatwick to Kos were expensive - £350 - as airlines have consolidated Greek flights due to the Euro crisis - so ironically there are loads of good deals in accommodation once you get there. It would be interesting to do a comparison using flights to Bodrum from Bristol and then getting the 'Flying Dolphin' hydrofoil or ferry across to Kos. The more adventurous option!

We had a few problems- the dinghy was small and very flimsy as was the outboard, which packed up on us in Leros. However once we contacted Istion they promptly replaced the shearpin in Patmos. There were problems with door handles which fell off frequently, trapping people in and out of the heads. One of our crew however must have had an interesting former life as he was very adept at breaking in and out!! The traveller was at the top of the companionway and the lines constantly ‘rode’ due to the position and small size of the winches.

Once back in the marina, Karoto’s rudder passing inspection, she was joined, at speed, by a luxuriously appointed Hanse 54.The following day we asked to look around, just in case next time…. However its size seemed a distinct disadvantage and below, as in so many large yachts, there were huge spaces hardly ideal in a bouncy sea. Somehow our vividly coloured carrot seemed to redeem itself!

There was a good balance to the trip - some brisk sailing, tricky nav opportunities, even trickier mooring opportunities and historic sight-seeing including Kos Town with its very large archaeological area. And of course, welcoming Greeks, ouzo and wall to wall sunshine......

Route – Kos Town – 36.53.31N 27.17.35E

Pserimos – 36.55.50N 27.08.01E

Pandeli,Leros – 37.08.54N 26.51.43E

Skala, Patmos – 37.19.21N 26.24.44E

Archangelos,Leros – 37.11.54N 26.46.21E

Vathi,Kalymnos – 36.58.27N 27.01.50E

Kos Marina,Kos Greece  36.8914,27.3019
Pserimos  36.9444,27.1441
Leros  37.1488,26.838
Archangelos, Leros  37.2042,26.7753
Kalymnos  36.9483,26.9882