13 to 15 September 2017
Kamares to Platis Yialos, Nisos Sifnos, N36° 55.78’ E24° 43.99’
11nm, 2 hours
After our crossing to the islands and a month of relying on the anchor we left Kamares early without even stepping ashore and headed south. It had been a month since we had enjoyed the security of a safe harbour with proper mooring lines and the constant, underlying anxiety of relying on the anchor and wondering if we are going to wake up in the same place was getting to us a bit. We had read about this mythical place with a safe harbour and proper moorings. It promised us a place we could sleep well at night and leave the boat knowing she wasn’t going anywhere. We couldn’t wait to get there.
On the way we passed the small island, Kitriani, which sits just off the south west tip of Sifnos. I had planned to navigate around it on the outside to be safe but as we approached other boats were making the passage between the two islands and so we followed suit, avoiding a rocky reef sticking out from Kitriani. The island’s only building was this small church. The wind had picked up and we sailed through and right into the bay at Platis Yialos.
Just as good as its promise of mooring lines, the harbour had a harbourmaster who actually answered his phone and was available to help us in. The wind we had found to blew us through the channel between the islands was now blowing at about 20 knots from the north and it made mooring tricky. We had to make a couple of attempts and when we finally got all the lines on, Spyros, the harbourmaster said “was that your first time?”. We would learn that this was his wicked sense of humour. Soon we were connected to water and electricity. We hadn’t filled up with water since Yefra and the water-maker is still broken.
With Pintail safely tied up in the harbour we could venture further afield and took the local bus up into Sifnos’ main town, Apollonia. Here was the Greece we had imagined in our minds – whitewashed houses, blue doors and domes.
At our coffee stop, shaded by vines, we had a brilliant conversation about European politics with the taverna’s owner and a French woman on the next table. Brexit is very often the first thing people mention when they discover we are from the UK and we roll our eyes. This journey has made us feel much more European than before and we are quick to assure people that we were not amongst the 51%. Although in Greece some people are less fond of their own membership of the EU, blaming it rather than their own government for its troubles. On more mundane matters, Stefan was in desperate need of a haircut so we popped into the local barbers.
From Apollonia we walked towards the sea to the kastro, on our way marvelling at yet more examples of how the island’s architecture is so perfectly colour coordinated with the landscape.
Another ancient settlement perched on the cliffside, the kastro overlooks neighbouring Antiparos and Paros.
We found ourselves almost entirely alone as we wandered around its alleys and under its arches.
Shh! I don’t think Stefan noticed that the kastro offered up these very casual reminders of its Roman past.
Sifnos has lots of well marked walking paths connecting its villages. We took one of them the next day. Here I am able to offer up evidence that I do take my turn at carrying the rucksack although there is perhaps much evidence to the contrary!
We walked through this green valley, through small-holdings with climbing goats and olive groves
and climbed higher up the side towards the inevitable monastery at the top
where, if it had not been in the way, we would have had a great view back down to the bay.
On our way back down we found examples of Sifnos’ traditional pottery. We are not sure whether these fancy pots have a practical purpose as lamps or chimney pots or are just purely decorative but they are very striking.
After three days on Sifnos we were rested and ready to move on to our next island, Kimolos, on our way to meet our friends Sarah and Jon on Milos…