Sailing the Greek Islands - Santorini

Sailing the Cyclades

Stan and I join 8 others on a 15m Beneteau sailboat in Santorini.

We head out into the blue waters of the Aegean. 

Strangely, our skipper, Dean, we knew from the British Virgin Islands. 

He works summers in Europe - and winters in the Caribbean.

The others we don't know yet.
They don't know each other, either. 

Yes, most everyone is much younger than we are. 
As usual. 

But - it winds up being a great bunch.

This summer, the Greek economy is on the brink of disaster. 

No one accepts credit cards. Cash only.
ATM withdrawals are severely limited.
And only possible for foreigners.

There's an atmosphere of uncertainty.

With the boat, sometimes - we anchor.

More often, we pull into a marina.

We bring the boat in stern first, which is new for us.

It's high season on the Greek Islands.
On some days, we have to wait until a space opens up. 

Usually, I prefer the freedom of being at anchor.  It's quiet.

But being in port is handier for getting around the islands and exploring.

These days, there are probably more pleasure boats than working boats.
Tourism is a big deal here. 

Especially this summer, with the economic issues.

On our stops, we visit olive makers and distilleries.

Churches and ruins and monasteries. 

By local bus, boat - and mostly on foot.

Greek seafood. Greek cheese. Greek olives. 
We're always on the hunt for a decent bottle of Greek wine. 
(-a difficult quest-!)

The Greek islands are normally known for their fierce winds in late summer. 

However, when we arrive to go sailing, the wind dies completely. 

It's glassy clear and beautiful. 
But not sailing weather.

Plus, without the winds, it's hot. Very hot.

"The magic of the islands settled over us as gently and clingingly as pollen." - Gerald Durrell

We set sail from Santorini.

 To Ios - Amargos - Schinousa - Naxos
- to Mykonos - Despotiko - Sifnos
Folegandros (my favorite) and - back to Oia, Santorini.

The Cyclades.

After 10 days, dirty, sore and tired, we return to Santorini. 
Our Greek island sailing adventure is over.

I've always wanted to "sail the Greek islands"!
Channel my inner Ulysses...hunting for adventures.

Stan and I rent a place - a cave house (really!) just outside Oia, on Santorini.

Then - settle in for a week of unlimited electric power and running water.
On the grid. 

Unlike living on a boat.

The hills on these islands used to be fields of tomatoes, olives, grapes.

Now most of the water has been diverted to the hotels. 

It's VERY dry.

But it's still beautiful.

 The view is splendid. 
The temperature perfect. Quiet. 

A white cat is snuggled beside me, eyes closed. 
Neighbor women hanging out washing in the morning sun. 

Gorgeous sunsets, whitewashed walkways. 

Stan playing guitar. 

There's a nearby tavern for dinner. 
Outdoor tables. 

Low key and friendly. 

Or - we walk into Oia and shop for groceries. 

There are no cars in our part of the island.

The market woman has her son drive us home on our first day. 
"You have too much to carry!" she said. 

"My son will take you back. 
Finikia is not far." 

We do have a lot to carry. 
Water and wine, yogurt, pasta, cheese, olives - the usual.

But - I have NO idea what our "address" is! 

We just walked up tiny pathways. 

How to get to our house by car-? 
No idea! 

Tough times for the Greeks, but they're still friendly and welcoming to the many tourists who flock to the islands. It's easy to see why people have been coming here for so long.

It's dramatic and just so very thoroughly - Greek.