Friday, 24 February 2017
Sunday 17th July 2016
My alarm clock heralded the arrival of ANEK's KYDON at the island of Crete's port of Souda. We had permission from Reception staff to stay on board until 7.30 a.m. which was a better option than disembarking at 6 a.m. Passengers can always request this facility, as the ship stays here for the day.
Photos taken, we disembarked into another sunny day at 31⁰ even now at 7.30. We walked from the quay into the nearby little main street, checked the bus timetables, and then enjoyed a breakfast outside one of the local cafes. We caught the bus to Chania town, and then walked the short distance to the main Bus Station, ready to catch the hourly bus at 10 a.m. west along the coast to near the port of Kissamos; this took an hour. Kissamos is the little port on a wide and sheltered bay, surrounded by high mountains, with sandy beaches, a few restaurants with rooms, local shops, and wonderful views all around. We made our way to our favourite beach area, settled on steamer-like chairs under the trees and prepared to enjoy the day doing nothing much.
Cold drinks soon arrived with a waiter, together with a tea tray for me, filled with a lovely china teapot, cups and saucers. Sand was under foot, with narrow wooden walkways between the seating and trees, and in front of us was the huge bay of sparkling blue sea; a couple of miles away we could see our ship for the overnight sailing to Piraeus. We spent the next few hours paddling, dozing, walking and talking, until 1.30 when we decided to move the few yards back to one of the nearby restaurants for a delicious lunch.
We arranged for a taxi to pick us up later and take us to the port of Kissamos and we arrived there in time to collect the booked tickets and go on board VITSENTZOS KORNAROS of Lane Sea Lines. She was built in 1976 at just 6,387 gross tons, as PRIDE OF WINCHESTER.
We sailed at 5.20 with the ropes removed as the ramp came up; the inevitable dog was on the quayside checking up on the activities. He stood quite near the ropes man and, when the order came to let go, the dog was not paying attention and as the rope came off the bollard we saw him suddenly leap up with the shock of it happening very near him! Luckily, I believe there is a photographic record of the surprised dog with all four legs off the ground.
We soon realised just how rough the seas were outside the area sheltered by the bay, although it was sunny and pleasant on deck for a while. Two and a half hours later we arrived at the narrow entrance of the port of Antikythira, and it was a great relief to get away from the rough seas outside. We haven't been here before and found the whole exercise of getting the passengers and their vehicles off and others on the ship quite, well, extraordinary in these extreme wind and sea conditions. No sooner were we within the narrow entrance to the tiny bay than we had to turn to port ready to get our stern lined up with the quay, with our turning circle extremely limited by a white buoy on the port side and mountainside rocks on our starboard side.
Most of us passengers headed forward at first to watch the turn, then to the stern to overlook several deck officers instructing the brave ropes men down on the ramp. It was obviously not easy to tie up on the quay, so the ramp was partly down, ready to be lowered at great speed as we finally approached. The wind and sea was having a powerful effect on the ship even within the relative safety of the little bay, and everyone admired the amazing seamanship that enabled us to get one rope ashore. Many of us applauded the crew for doing their jobs in what seemed to be extremely difficult conditions.
Passengers raced ashore when instructed, others rushed to embark when told to do so, and then one big car reversed up the ramp and onto the ship at great speed, again when told to go, go, go.
I think the whole exercise took about 20 minutes from when we entered the bay to when we left it, but goodness me, I think it took great skill to make the call at Antikythera. Presumably only small ships like ours, at 6,387 gross tons, are the only ones able to do it. I was told that in the winter there are only 55 inhabitants on this island, but it is popular in the summer when the ferries can get there.
I think I will draw the proverbial veil over the next few hours, as the sea conditions became very unpleasant and we three ferry folk felt unwell. I took no more photos that day, as I was seasick (ugh), and then we simply took to our beds very early hoping to endure the overnight hours until we reached Piraeus early tomorrow. I soon slept soundly and in no time it seemed to be morning, thank goodness.
Ships seen: Kydon, Vitsentzos Kornaros
To be continued...
Tuesday, 21 February 2017
Saturday 16th July 2016
We woke up on the island of Naxos to yet another beautiful sunny day, and soon made our way between the local houses set beside the steep winding cobblestoned little streets, down to the port.
We watched SUPERFERRY II, of Golden Star Ferries, arrive and were soon able to embark up her ramp. We are to sail at 8.20 a.m. from here in Naxos to Mykonos which should take an hour and a half. I had bought a cheese pie on the quayside and that and coffee on the ship soon revived me. We have tickets in Distinguished Class, which always makes for a very comfortable journey for very little extra money. As we left the port we could see the little town of Naxos and the nearby island of Ariadne with its ancient arch built in 530 BC, which is all that remains of a temple to Apollo. We thought Naxos town was on a good-sized hill, but the further away we sailed the more we could see the mountains behind the town. They were extremely high and put the port town in perspective as we sailed away.
This ship was built in 1974 as PRINCE LAURENT with a gross tonnage of 4,986.
We arrived at the new port of Mykonos at 9.50 a.m., with several hours to spare before catching our next ferry this afternoon. I remembered the small hotel with pool that we had enjoyed visiting last year, and so we headed for Maki's Place. Sun loungers beside the pool, under palm trees, seemed the perfect place to enjoy a snack lunch and cool drinks, and a swim.
Several hours later we managed to get a lift from the hotel taxi down to the port, money changed hands, and all was well. The ship was to be late in, so we found some shade to sit in and I had an interesting chat in English (me) and Japanese (them) with two young ladies. They were using small hand-held battery-operated fans which had been filled with a little water, and when they were switched on the water became mist and sprayed their faces. We had a demonstration and each of us enjoyed trying the girls' new 'toys'.
We saw SUPERFERRY II leave, CHAMPION JET 2 arrive, load and leave, HELLENIC HIGHSPEED arrive, load and leave, THEOLOGOS P arrive, load and leave, FAST FERRIES ANDROS arrive, load and leave, PAROS JET arrive, load and leave, NISSOS MYKONOS arrive, load and leave, BLUE STAR NAXOS arrive, load and leave, and finally a sight to gladden our hearts: SUPERFERRY arrived and unloaded. She is to be our next ship of the trip. She joined Golden Star Ferries just 2 weeks ago, having been re-built in Piraeus this year (2016); her previous name was KOGANE MARU, built in Japan.
We are to sail from here in Mykonos to Rafina, with a call at Andros on the way. We had to wait for SUPERFERRY to unload and then we could board and climb the stairs. I admired the new artwork of what looked like illuminated glass fishes as we climbed the stairs and arrived in the empty but spacious lounge. Everything looked very new and unused, with a lot of dark wood-effect panelling all around the walls. The artificial flowers looked decorative amongst the seating. There was the inevitable little Japanese-styled staircase up to another part of the lounge; we enjoyed seeing the artwork of 'charts' amongst the airline style seating, with bigger charts on the side walls. Out on deck we admired the interesting seating curved into the outer railing.
We left Mykonos at 2.30 p.m. and enjoyed looking around this newly refurbished ship; nearly 3 hours later we arrived at the island of Andros and enjoyed seeing the Andros Hotel where we stayed last year as we neared the port.
People disembarked and many people embarked as we sailed off into the wide blue yonder. It was hot, we could see the distant mountains and revel in the blue sky and sea around us. At one point we passed sister ferry SUPERFERRY II, which we were on only this morning, and it was fun to hear the exchange of whistles as we passed each other.
We arrived early evening in Rafina and shared a taxi to the port of Piraeus, so that we could make sure of catching our next ferry, overnight to the island of Crete on board KYDON.
Before we boarded we walked along the quay to look at the sad sight of PANAGIA TINOU, the ex-HENGIST of Sealink days, sitting on the bottom of the quayside nearby. She looks so forlorn and terrible, and I could see just where I had sat out on her deck so many times in other years as we sailed out of Piraeus.
Once on board KYDON we could walk around and take pictures of this ship which is new to me, but has been with ANEK for some time. She was built in 1990 at 29,991 gross tons.
We watched our sailaway from Piraeus after dusk, then had a good dinner in the ship's restaurant. The daytime temperature had been 34C and even at night it was 29C so the outside air was wonderful, and we are looking forward to our arrival early tomorrow morning at the port of Souda on the island of Chania (Crete). We plan to have a relaxing day at a favourite tree-lined beach on the island.
Ships seen at Naxos: Superferry II
Ships seen at Mykonos: Superferry, Sea Bus Taxi from the new port to the old port, Nissos Mykonos, Paros Jet, Ekaterina P, Fast Ferries Andros, Theologos P, Hellenic Highspeed, Champion Jet 2, Superferry II,
Ships seen at Andros: Apiliotis
Ships seen at Piraeus: Highspeed 7, Highspeed 6, Highspeed 4, Blue Star Naxos, Kydon, Kritti II, Adamantos Korais, Panagia Tinou (ex-Hengist)
To be continued...