It is Easter Sunday, and (as usual) the weather looks a little better. We haul anchor early, shortly after sunrise, heading for the island of Ios. We have The Sheven at helm as we motor out of Parikia into big wind and waves. We decide to motor at least until we get clear of the shores and rocks. The wind hits 30+ and the waves seem dang big – in the 12 to 15 ft range, perhaps. I want to be cautious about not overstating the waves. When we sit at the helm on Sunday, our heads are at least 10 FT above the waterline. Sometimes we are looking up at the crests above our heads at about 5 FT. By my estimation, the waves were therefore at least 15 FT.
The Sheven hits the speed record of the trip – 15.4 knots surfing down a wave. I enter the Spincter Zone several times and try to slow things down. Here is Sheven shortly after the speed record.
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We also get hit by occasional surprise waves that spray us with water at the helm or in the cockpit. We affectionately call these Rogue Wavelets. After rounding Paros and the southwest corner of Andiparos, we turn toward Ios under sail (double reefed). The passing goes fairly quickly and we can see the highest point on Paros where we had visited via ATV and car a couple of days earlier. We head up into the harbor of Ios on the southwest side of the island. It is a very well protected marina. We drop sails when we get into the narrow harbor, I have the helm as we motor into the marina, do reconnaissance, then spin around and Med Moor.
One of the things we’ve learned is to head in and do some recon before mooring, maybe stopping well off the dock, to check things out and strategize before heading to moor.
It’s Easter Sunday and the town seems a bit like a ghost town, with all stores/shops closed. Easter is a very big holiday for Greeks. There are big celebrations over multiple days and we soon discovered that it also involves many teens with fireworks. To call them fireworks is a definite understatement, and I would probably call them ‘explosives.’ They are *very* loud and low frequency booms. I’ve done construction in Alaska were we were blasting rock for aggregate using professional explosives and (seriously) they were not as loud as the things the teens were setting off. Susan, Sheven and I looked up the hill to the Chora and counted at least 7 beautiful churches leading up to the highest church. We then depart on what we now call ‘The Walk of the Seven Churches’.
It is a gorgeous town with lots of tiny walkways/roads. Although we didn’t know where exactly we were going, we kept heading up thru the various steps, narrow streets, passageways and walkways. We pass celebrations, families out eating, churches.
When we finally got to the top it was breathtaking. We could see the harbor and our boat far below, the beautiful churches and houses, etc. There was also a musical celebration going on in the village below and we could hear it clearly.
I’ve always heard how picturesque Greece is, and it is seriously picturesque. I’m pretty sure you could give a blind person a camera and they could randomly point and shoot and take award-winning photos. At the very top church, Sheven asks “who wants a beer?” We all do, of course, but where can we get one? The Sheven has carried them all the way up here.
There is excellent music from a festival in the town below us – singing, violin and accordion. It’s a “magic Mediterranean moment”.
As we sip the beer, we hear little squeaks and meows from the rocks below our feet. A cute litter of very young kittens come out on wobbly feet to see us.
As we descend through the town, about half way down, we stumble upon an awesome spa/resort called Liostasi. We find the rest of our crew there on a patio with a bar and an infinity pool overlooking the harbor. Tom has come here on his unending quest to find Crown Royal in the Cyclades Islands (he never did find it).
We are hungry, and we stop to dine at the spa. We are the only diners and they have to go find the chef, but it is worth the wait. We follow our normal routine of engorging ourselves, strolling to the boat in darkness and passing out. Ios was a favorite spot for many of us. I was surprised to read later that many cruisers avoid it because it’s too touristy and the throbbing disco setting around the marina keeps you awake all night. I think because it’s before tourist season we had quite a different experience. Also we were giddy about finally being under way again, the sunshine, easter celebrations, and the beautiful Walk of the Seven Churches.
And because we were moving again, here’s a map: