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...
Friday, 17 February 2017
Friday 15th July 2016
I took a 5.45 a.m. flight from Gatwick airport to Athens, flying east after takeoff, and I could see some of the City of London's skyline including the Shard skyscraper as we headed out.
We flew south of the River Thames and River Medway and I remembered visiting Chatham Historical Dockyard only three weeks ago. I spent a fascinating day there, seeing and hearing so many different things. My father had been apprenticed as a fitter to a nearby local ship builder and I took with me on my visit his Indentures of Apprenticeship dated April 1924. These ended in 1929 and several months later he went to sea as a very junior Engineer with Blue Star Line. Father's father had been an engine fitter in the Chatham Dockyard and in turn his father had been a blacksmith in the Dockyard. I just love knowing that they lived in Trafalgar Street! Nelson's ship VICTORY was of course built in Chatham Dockyard and launched in May 1765, took part in various sea battles, and became Nelson's flagship in 1803 until his death on board at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805. The ship can now be visited in Portsmouth, still afloat after all these years. Several members of staff at Chatham would love to have her back in the Dockyard where she was built...
Back to the real world of today, and we arrived in Athens at 11.15 local time into hot sunshine under a cloudless blue sky. What a wonderful contrast with home in the UK. An airport bus took me and one of my travelling companions into the port of Piraeus where we met our other travelling companion.
We bought water, food for lunch at a local bakery, and then walked round the inner harbour to look at the tragic sight of PANAGIA TINOU, better known more recently as AGIOS GEORGIOS and then originally as the famous HENGIST of Sealink days. She had been in winter layup in Piraeus's inner harbour but suddenly leaned over in May and now rests on the bottom, with a red boom around her. I have had many happy sailings on her from here but we all wondered if we might ever do so in the future.
Rather than dwell on that, we took the little ELENA boat out to Salamis island and enjoyed our picnic lunch on the way. It felt wonderful to be at sea again, passing so many big ferries and cruise ships in the Great Harbour as we headed out. We have many days of ferrying ahead of us and this was a wonderful start to the trip.
In lay-up we could see LOUIS AURA, looking unchanged, THEOFILOS, AQUA JEWEL, ALKYON, and of course RASA SAYANG (the sunken remains of the cruise ship BERGENSFJORD), and many other familiar names on the way to Salamis.
Panagia Tinou, ex Agios Georgios, ex Hengist
Back in the harbour we checked in for our first big ship of the trip: BLUE STAR PATMOS, which we are taking to Naxos via Paros. She was built in 2012 at 18,498 gross tons.
We left at 5.30 p.m., had a delicious fish dinner, enjoyed the warm sea airs, called briefly at Paros just before 10 p.m. and arrived at the island of Naxos at 10.50 p.m. We were met on the busy quayside by the man from our overnight Panorama Hotel, and we all walked up the steep hillside streets almost to the castle walls. It was hot and picturesque, and the air-conditioning, cool showers and comfy beds were very welcome.
Ships seen: Elena ferry to Salamis, Knossos Palace, Blue Horizon, Panagia Tinou, Prevelis, Vitsentzos Kornaros, Adamantes Korais, Flying Dolphins 18 and 29, Blue Star Patmos, Louis Aura, Theofilos at Perama, Corinthian small cruise ship, Agios Meklarios Aeginas, European Express, Pelagatis, Kriti I, Nearchos, Highspeed 4, Highspeed 6, Champion Jet 2, Spongebob Squarepants, Corse, Sunny (ex Trelleborg), Ionian Sky, Nissos Samos, Rasa Sayang (the remains of Bergensfjord), Kali P, Caribbean Galaxy (Atlantic Blue Seaways), Aqua Jewel, Alkyon, Flying Dolphin XVII and XVIII, Celebrity Reflection.
To be continued...