Category: ~~

Ice Storm takes away a lovely tree

We have had such a great experience running the rental operations under the shade of an oak tree.  It’s been 7 summers with the lavish coverage making the hot days reasonable.   Unfortunately last winter the tree split in two during the ice storm.  Now there is a very large open space where the stump lies.

Many of you and we enjoyed the charm, habitat and shade provided by that tree, and now things are different…

The first photo was taken last season and the second photo was taken this last weekend.

 

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May 22, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Crete Circumnavigation 2016

Day 30 – Red Beach to Matala -finished

With no fuel, little water and barely a bite to eat we woke up early and got into the kayaks.  The sea was calmer after the wind finally let up at about 5am.  A relatively easy paddle brought us around Cape Matala and into the bay that was just beginning to get some sun.  What a nice time to finish the trip  The four of us paddled in and congratulated each other on a job well done.  What a trip!  30 days the sea.  Lovely camping, great people and food. 2 km’s for a trip total of 700 KM’s or 436 miles

Matala after 30 days

Matala after 30 days

Day 29 – Kali Limenes to Red Beach

We awoke to a chilly morning and the predicted North wind was marching along as we prepared ourselves with calories and morning laughter.  We thought this would be our last day as Matala lies only 18 km’s away.  So we got in the boats and paddled with a decent tail wind to Martesalo Beach which is the last place to stretch before trying to round Cape Lithino.

Pretty calm morning

Pretty calm morning

This is familiar territory for us as we have guided many days in the area.  We know that Lithino is formidable.  It marks the landscapes turn from east-west to north -south.  So after getting around it we would be paddle, yes, a headwind! to finish the trip.  With lots of antocipation we approached the Cape and saw a lot of white on the horizon.  We were ready for this moment after paddling for many days, feeling strong and tight.  We finally rounded the Cape into some really challenging seas.  We faced very large swells and a wind that would not take a break.  Once we were in it we had to power through because turning around in it would have been a challenging maneuver.  Keep in mind that paddling into a direct headwind is the most stable way to be in a kayak, although energy sapping.  After a battle we made it to Vathi Beach.  Vathi means deep and it was nice to get deep into some land to take a nice break from the extreme North / Northeast wind.  We spent 4 hours taking it easy here and observing the water.  We decided that even though the wind was still strong we had more protection from the land and so paddled on.

Wind on the water

Wind on the water

Kayaks at rest in Vathi

Kayaks at rest in Vathi

Back out on the water we experienced more ripping wind in our face and some intense gusts off shore (East)  a challenging combination.  The boats were being tested along with our minds trying to keep chilled out in these conditions.  slowly we made it to Red Beach which is just around the corner from Matala, but with a rowdy Cape in between.  We pumped out boats and warmed up on some rocks tried to get ready for a final push.  But the reality was that we were pretty worked out at this point and the wind was not letting up.  We could see it flying by with much spray and decided to camp for the night just over the hill from lovely Matala.  17 km’s

Day 28 – Tris Ekklisies to Kali Limenes

The paddle towards Cape Aspro is full of huge Southeast facing caves.  Absolutely amazing and fun to explore.  We were happy to have a nice sea to get on with it.

View to Cape Aspro

View to Cape Aspro

Two of the largest caves on the island.

Large caves.

Saltsicles

Saltsicles

After getting around the cape we paddled by the Monastery Koudhoma in an amazingly wild landscape.  There is a large forest of pine trees there making a nice smelling and green landscape.  Onward along the coves we got to one where we found an impressive shipwreck.  It’s a two year old wreck we found out after asking the locals at Agois Ioannis.

Wreck near Ioannis

Wreck near Ioannis

We had a nice time with a lovely old couple who run the Mini mart in Ioannis.  They were so fun and gave us a slice of cake to eat while we talked about our trip and their little town.  The papu said that the wind would pick up the day after tomorrow which gave us a reality check.  So we decided to paddle on to Lendas and get some more weather forecasts on the internet.  The paddling towards Lendas is very nice.  We passed Tripiti beach which has an annual deep free diving event due the the huge shelf underwater.  Then passing Cape Drathoula which has a nice low gorge coming out.  A great opportunity to hike up for 6 miles of remote wild lands.  But again, we wanted to make some k’s.  Crossing to Lendas we got a somewhat favorable offshore wind and we cruised into what was a busy little town.  Nice to see that even in mid October southern Crete is getting some good tourism.  Here is a shot of the headland that overshadows Lendas.

The lion of Lendas from 4 km away.

The lion of Lendas from 4 km away.

Taking a break there we got some food and read the forecast to be pretty windy tomorrow, but worth attempting to make a push to Matala.  So we paddled the evening hours to Kali Limenes.  This was a nice calm paddle and enjoyable to addle along the shore among rocks and beaches.  Maybe not the prettiest, but it’s what you make of it.  We found a nice place to sleep and so we did. 35 KM’s

Day 27 – Catabatic Cove to Tris Ekklissies

We didn’t sleep all that well and the wind was still at it in the morning.  We decided to take a lesiurely time and hike the ridge to check out the other side.  After a few hours the sea calmed down and we paddled a lovely part of the coast towards Cape Alikipounta.  There were some folks fishing from shore as it was Sunday.  Everyone enjoying the calm sea now.  We got to check out many caves, remote beaches and gorges all the way to Tris Ekklisies (three churches).  This is a reallly off the beaten path town with no mini market.  But there was a taverna with a likeable captain serving us some tasty local salads and good food.  13 KM’s

Double Cave

Double Cave

Arch

Arch from a private cove

Day 26 – Arvi to Catabatic Cove

This is a North wind day.  While we are lucky to be were there are mountains to block most of it, we are getting some intense blasts of wind offshore.  Most if it has been in our face to Tsotsouros.  We took a break in town there for a Choratiki and then paddled onward as the afternoon offshore winds increased.  We passed the nice little town of Maridaki and then the wind was at our back.  Not swell because it was coming just offshore, but intense gusts at our back that kicked up some serious spray.  Pretty intense paddling as we just tried to keep some blades in the water and not let the gusts rattle us.  After turning a corner into a nice cove we decided to take it easy for the evening there and let the wind lighten up.  Eric took the opportunity to troll the cove and caught a barracuda, at sunset, which was a tasty treat for us after frying it up in the MSR pan.

Manipulating the landscape

Manipulating the landscape

Sunset as a Hunter's Full Moon rises.

Sunset as a Hunter’s Full Moon rises.

The wind started up again after dinner and was very intense overnight.  I awoke to the sound of kayaks moving on the beach and so weighted them down with some large rocks.  I decided to flip mine over.  In another hour I hear two kayaks get flipped over, one being mine that was upside down and another that had been right side up.  So back out of the sleeping bag to tighten up the situation even more.  Finally to sleep under a full moon!  18 KM’s

Headwindy!

Headwindy!

CP representing NWP.

CP representing NWP.

Day 25 – Amoudhares to West of Arvi

This was a nice easy day for us to stretch.  The wind just clocked around all the way at a few knots which gave us some vareity and a cool blow during a warm day.  This region is the hottest in Crete and is know for it’s greenhouses and banana fields.  We paddled to the seaside village of Mirtos which was a nice place to check out and get some second breakfast.  Then a good push to Arvi.

Tattered Greek flags look nice.

Tattered Greek flags look nice.

Arvi gorge

Arvi gorge

We had a brew at the taverna there and gave them a gift.  It was a bag full of fishing net floats we had been collecting along the way.  There seemed pretty happy about them and we were generously given some raki with zucchini flowers and dolmas!  Back on the water we saw some powder blue chapels and cruised our way to another sweet beach a bit West of the town of Arvi. 24 km’s

Camp in sunset light.

Camp in sunset light.

Day 24 – Kapsas to Amoudhares beach

We are interested in a big day today get get past the city of Ierapetra.  It’s at a place in the island where the North wind can pass through easily.  First there is little topography, a rarity in Crete.  Also it’s the thinnest place North to South, so any wind from the Greek mainland will blow us out.  This was a historical portage place in the Winter where boats would unload and move goods to South to Ierapetra over land to avoid sailing the East coast and sacrificing men and ships.  Trade to Egypt would be year round this way.  So wer were happy to awake to a calm sea and the rollers flattened down.  Paddling from camp early we made a long push to Agia Fotia for salad and coffee (17 km’s).  Pushing the agenda we paddled next to Ierapetra (Southernmost city in Europe) for supplies.

Eric getting fishing gear from a local.

Eric getting fishing gear from a local.

I enjoyed some zucchini balls on the water’s edge and watched a turtle do it’s thing for a while.  Lovely stop and pretty working class town.  But onward we paddled into the sunset to where we found a fantastic private beach.  We noticed the beach to have a few protected spots for turtle nests.

Carreta Carreta nest at Amoudhares beach.

Carreta Carreta nest at Amoudhares beach.

Nice to be here with a predicted North wind tomorrow.  36 km’s

Day 23 – Zakros to Moni Kapsas

After a rest day and watching the South wind blow we felt great to get back to it and the forecase wasn’t calling for much.  So we paddled out and got a little breeze from the side and after an hour surfed into Xerokampos a fine sandy beach in remote SE.  After stretching we decided to get back on the water and paddle out a little ways to some small islands and figure 8 through them for fun.  We saw a number of pelagic birds and thinking that they were part of a  shearwater colony.  Pretty fun to get offshore a bit, but we started to feel a headwind so got back close to shore to stay out of it.  To Agia Irini which is a nice little cobble beach with a fisherman’s camp.  Lots of caves about 50 meters up were former sea caves that have uplifted due to seismic activity over the years.  After a sesame bar and water we paddled on around to where we were heading West and began to feel a building headwind and sea.  We dug in and fought into about 12 knots and 5-6 foot waves to the Cape Gournoros.

Building sea at the cape.

Building sea at the cape.

Then into Gournoros where we had the biggest surf landing of the trip.  Big crashers onto a beach near a market.  A small reward for the effort and subsquent repair needed to get back on the water.  We are noticing the days dwindle faster, sunsetting before 7pm.

Surf launch time.

Surf launch time.

8 footers off of our side so we enjoyed the up and down.  We hurried along to Monastery Kapsas at the base of a tightly cut gorge, Perivolakia.  The monastery is stunning as it’s built into the cliffside like a sculptor did it.

Moni Kapsas camp

Moni Kapsas camp

Just after the sun set we landed and settled in for the night.  A much harder day than we expected.  29 km’s

Day 22 – Layover in Zakros

This is a South wind day.  Notos wind coming up fast and HOT.  We have time to say “maybe tomorrow” and go for a hike.  We hiked up Zakros gorge to the town of Ano Zakros and passed through the Valley of the Dead.  Zakros has a Minoan palace, one of four onthe island.  It means that there was a huge presence here of peoples trading with the Levant and Egypt.  They buried some of their dead in this gorge and we were luck to hike up it to the town on the hillside.  A market here let us get supplies for our next push around the SE side of Crete.

Plane Tree - Common in Crete

Plane Tree – Common in Crete

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Textures of the Gorge

Goats don't have it so bad

Goats don’t have it so bad

Capers hang from the walls of many gorges

Capers hang from the walls of many gorges

Day 21 – Vai to Zakros

Of all the days to enjoy this was high in the list.  Vai was a comfortable sleep with no mosquitos and a cool breeze coming down off the palm forest.  We felt good and paddled South into the sunshine.  The Ormos Grandes section of coast was feature filled and had sandy beaches that could be a nice stay for camping, but onward we floated.

Ormos Grandes

Ormos Grandes

We made way to Xiona and had a taverna lunch of Fava bean dip and many olives.  This powered us upfor three hours of blissful paddling in light winds around to some deep recesses in the rocks around Cape Plaka.  This cape sticks its arm way out on the East coast.  We found a lovely cave in the armpit and savored it for a while.  A km later we got to a remote gorge with only a couple of natural bathers.  We hope out of the boats and did an hours worth of hiking to experience the Chicklotikades gorge.  It was nice and quiet.  Easy to enjoy without the Winter / Spring rage of whitewater.  We walked up the dry wash of cobbles.

A place to stretch the legs.

A place to stretch the legs.

After this we got back into the sea and felt the predicted South wind building.  So webeat into the first headwind in a long time.  It was only for an hour and a half to finish the day at Zakros.  So it really felt good to get some workout.  27 km’s

Hobbies and Habits while paddling a month long canoe tour at Sea…

In October Crete is winding down from a long tourist season and the days are getting shorter.  So we easily and happily awaken for each sunrise.  What a treat.  On the water we log many hours in the cockpit and survey for turtles, flying fish and iridescent blue kingfishers.  Sometimes we see floating plastic and pick it up, put it on deck and find a trash can at the next beach.  Some of us contour the coast to see the details, others stay outside and get perspective, see more turtles.  At most beaches we talk to a curious tourist or local about the trip and the boats.  At this point we are an efficient group, but we have time on our side so it’s time to melt.

This took a little while

We now melt on the east coast, a small but lovely and remote place known for sandy beaches, quiet gorges and wily winds.  Saturating in a deep cave to listen and close eyes, listen to the baritone gargle that never will quit.  The sounds of erosion at play.  Bobbing up and down and feeling human propelled and self sufficient.  Feathering the blades, playing with the the potential to utilize small aquatic energetic bits to propell us to out next corner.  A large rock Kriti is, but we now see that it’s not too big for time.  Time to explore, get into deep thoughts, share stories and learn the local ways.  We saw our first sunrise from the horizon line at Vai.  Maybe another two before we head West again.

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Sunrise at Vai

Day 20 – Sitia to Vai

Leaving a nice little non touristy city behind, Sitia.  Last night was a Saturday night there and family was enjoying.  There was a birthday party, many gatherings and some stray dogs playing around on the beach.

Morning in Sitia

Sunday morning in Sitia

We paddled Eastbound again and could smell the East.  There were some nice bays to see, and some energy to the sea.  Enough to give us a slight push and let our morning start with a little pep.  We got to a large Cape that is named “blue”, Mavros.  It was all that and more with surging waters and tall cliffsides.

Thin slot

Thin slot

Here’s a spot that we were able to back into and smell the dank confines of a cave.  It’s a mix of dove poo and salty algae, with a musty touch.   We paddled on to an isthmus where we decided to portage instead of paddle around the NE tip of the island.  The weather was good, but because it’s a NATO base of sorts we can’t take pictures and the portage was different and quicker for us.  After carrying our gear and boats to the other side we put in and were officially paddling the East coast.  We found it to be clean and nice with new distant islands out there to pique the interest.  Lots to look at and we made our way to Vai.  27km’s

Day 19 – Mochlos to Sitia

While sleeping last night it was HOT, Hot, hot.  So when we awoke to some gusty wind and a lot of dust in the air it made sense.  It was a strong South wind that brought some dust from Africa.  This made for an eerie sunrise that looked more like a moonrise.  We had a thin layer of dust on anything that we left out.  Here’s a picture of the small beach we crashed out on.

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Mochlos Camp in the morning Scirocco air

We paddled out and the wind shifted to out of the West so that we had a nice tailwind to start the morning.  This lasted for the first 30 minutes and then died out as we got close to some great rock formations including this arch.

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Great Arch

This was a great location and we savored it for a while before continuing around the next corner.  We paddled some more and got to Richtis canyon.  This is a highly touted gorge to hike so we checked it out.  It is about 3 km’s to hike up to a place where there is a year round waterfall and a nice pool at the bottom.  The hike was nice as it was thickly forested with plane trees and many other forest plants.  This made for a cool experience for us after being in the sun in the boats all morning.

Richtis canyon waterfall

Richtis canyon waterfall

We hiked back down to the boats and saddled back up for an afternoon of new coastline to the town of Sitia.  This section had some nice wild places with few buildings.  It’s a long way away from all of the bigger cities we have left behind.  Finally after 17km we got to Sitia and landed on a nice sandy beach.   We hope that tomorrow will get us around the NE corner of the island and heading South!  25 km’s

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Rocks on the way to Sitia

Day 18 – Plaka to Mochlos

Another leisurely start to the day and we continued to head East.  This took us by Spinalonga again but now during the busy daytime rush with many tour boats dropping poeple off for a walk on the island.  After slipping between the island and the peninsula we began a big crossing to get to the island of Psira. This took us a few hours plus and wound up being about 13 km’s across the large bay.  We chose to do this instead of going all the way into Agios Nikolaos.  This crossing wound up saving us a lot of km’s but we had to sacrifice some nice looking sections of coast in the deepest part of the bay.  We made it to Psira which was a Minoan site of importance.  It’s set nicely out on the water looking at the main island, Crete, from a lovely perspective.

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Looking towards Mochlos over some ruins at Psira

We enjoyed a while here and skipped some stones, before making the short crossing to Mochlos.  A small headwind made this slightly more challenging, but the wind for the day was generally a help, not a hindrance.   Mochlos is another small town with a small beach which we called home for the night.  This seems to be our latest trend, camping on the beaches in a small town.  It gives us a nice opportunity to go get some fresh food at a market or taverna and hopefully meet some locals, access to fresh water showers and potable water.  An outlet to plug in and a cool brew or Raki to embibe.  24 km’s

 

Day 17 – Milatos to Plaka

We are feeling great about our progress at this point.  Not only are we on a solid pace, but we are in a good position on the island in regard to the typical wind direction.  So this morning was a lesiurely one.  We got the kayaks all dried out well, looked after a few repair tasks and then put on at noon.  We paddled along the North shore and saw some cool comglomerate rocks.

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Wild Rocks

A few nice looking gorges and then took a break.  The really dramatic views occured after we paddled around Cape Aforesmenos.  This brought us around and into Mirabellou Bay.  We could see deep into the bay and the city of Agios Nikolaos, also across to the island of Psira.  This was nice but as beautiful were the rock cliffs and tall slender caves on our right side.  We paddled along towards the small town of Plaka.  Just before getting to the beach we saw the island of Spinalonga.  The winds were pretty light all day, but maybe a puff from the NW was in the air.

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Spinalonga

This was a venetian fortress built in the late 1500’s by the Venetians to protect the bay and the town of Elounda.  Much later in it’s history it became a leper colony for Greeks in the first half of the 20th century.  This was our final view before heading into Plaka and finding a Greek salad to cap the day.  We got the opportunity to have the Raki of a lifetime at the Mentor taverna.  A very small locals restaurant served up the Raki with the following to chase it down.  Paximadia (crunchy bread), Tarama Salata (fish roe), Tzatziki (cucumber, garlic dip), Moussaka, and some french tartar stuff.  Quite a nightcap!!!

It’s reliable and touching how Cretans open up to you.  I had sat down at this locals place with three tabes and endured what seemed to me an awkward 10 minutes waiting for a salad while some local men smoked and drank raki and laughed and laughed and couldn’t help but stare at me staring at the walls.  Later on we talked about the canoe trip and how beautiful the coast is.  Next morning one of the owners, Vanda, came to the beach at sunrise and checked out the boats because she was so curious and genuine.  27 KM’s

Day 16 – Amnissos to Milatos

An early start to the day and the sea was already full of lingering swell and the signs of a wind to come.  After paddling for an hour it was windy from the West pushing us along our way.  We got to Herrisonissou and took a break for some frappes.  This was a way to keep an eye on the water and see if was going to continue to bulid.  After a nice long break we saw the it was just beginning to mellow out so we go back in the kayaks and did a long crossing by Malia Bay.  This took us past Maila, Sisi and into the small town of Milatos.  That’s where we settled in for the night looking back on a pretty easy 30 km’s

Day 15 – Bali to Amnissos

Morning at camp

Morning at camp

We woke up at a dream beach and paddled outside to be greeted by a nice wind from the West.  We have been patiently awating a favorable wind for this entire trip and this is the first time we really got it.  Blowing about 13 knots out of the NW we stayed outside and rode the wave train.  In Crete the NW is called “Maistos”.  Lots of memories of wild and crazy Maistos on the South coast guiding clients over the years.  Today this felt so good to us and we felt that we deserved it at this point.  Lunch was in a little town to get us ready for an urban paddle past Heraklion.  This was a stressful part of the trip as there are a lot of boats and many of them are freighter size.

Big boat / Small boat

Small boat / Big boat

So we paddled into the beach more or less and skirted the shoreline for a long time until we got the the port.  This was extra challenging because the waves were coming from our side the entire time and were quite big.  We had a ton of klapotis (refracting waves) off the massive sea wall that protects the port.  So after experiencing hours of this up and down elevator drop we peeked around the corner and saw that the coast was clear, we paddled hard across.  Fortunately it wasn’t a busy moment, but a few minutes later this big one came cruising out of port.  The two to the left in the picture below were parked.  So we got lucky with our timing.

Just after passing the Port

Just after passing the Port

Then we passed the airport and a few km’s later landed at the first possible beach at Amnissos.  This was after 4:30 in the cockpit.  Great to have finished this section but we are a tired bunch.  Rashes building on the chest from good torso rotation and on the ass from the hips moving side to side.  We have completed half of the trip at this point, so lots to be proud of as we fall asleep to the sounds of landing airplanes.  Amnissos is a cool little historical place because it’s where the Prince of Lillies fresco was found in a villa.  Also it was a port to Knossos, the largest Minoan palace, and was where the Cretan support to the Trojan War launched from.  Biggest day yet at 47 km’s

Day 14 – Rockas to remote beach camp near Bali

Still experiencing a doldrum day on the water.  Minimal wind and we paddle straight to Rethymno.  Kind of blissful…

Smooth Waters

Smooth Waters

One of the larger towns on the North coast it has a really lovely Kastro (castle) on the water.  We passed a swimmer who asked what we were doing replied “That’s fucking great” in a choppy Greek accent.

Chris in front of the Castle. Rethymno

Chris in front of the Castle. Rethymno

After a brief stop here we paddled a long stretch of beach with countless swimmers enjoying the calm sea.  We were then surprised by a beautiful section of North facing caves.  Not the largest, but really fun and feature filled.  Eric found a swim through, so that he was able to dive down a few meters and go under to the other side of the cave!  Then there was an arch that William couldn’t resist jumping off.  Check out this amazing jump!  I was a tad late to catch him in the air.

Cliff Jump from and Arch

Cliff Jump from and arch

So much fun but we still needed to get to a camp and the nights are lasting less and less.  So we jammed it up and around Panormos and the sea just was beginning to liven up out of the NW.  This is our dream direction and while the forecast had been calling for this, we weren’t counting on it.  So there we were rock gardening in to the late light of the evening to get to a remote camp spot for the evening.  We lit a small campfire and sipped some Raki to finish off an amazing day on the North coast of Crete! 40 KM’s

Late lively paddle into camp

Late lively paddle into camp

Day 13 – Stavros to Rockas Beach

This morning’s paddle was one filled with mellow waters and amazing caves.  The coast after Stavros faces North and takes a pounding from the sea, so there are numerous very megalo (large) caves!  Check out the picture here for some scale.

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Megalo Cave!

Then we were able to get all the way around to the town of Marathi for a brief break with a Choriatiki (Greek Salad).  When you order a Greek salad in Crete, sometimes you get all of this.

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Salad makes for the best mid day paddling meal.

This fuel assisted in the Souda Bay crossing which was an hour and fifteen minutes of a push to get around the next Cape.  Souda Bay is a military base, so getting past quickly was nice.  There were huge military freighters deep in the bay.  We met up in Octopus Bay with Rick for a nice break and a frappe.  Then it was heading South along the big ridge to the busy beaches.  We pulled into Rocas beach just in time for sunset and a draft beer.  Great place to stop here with a friend who runs a chill little taverna on a more quiet part of the beach.  40 km’s

Day 12 – Rapiania to Stavros – Oct 1st

Today we got a breather from all of the wind.  So with the slightest puff from the NE we paddled along to the city of Chania.  It was a busy Saturday with swimmers and tourism but we took a little urban break for a couple of hours.  Got some fresh flaky spanikopita, tasty produce and then paddled away to the town of Stavros.  This was a strategic spot for us so that we could meet up with The Northwest Passage mastermind Papu Rick.  He had two kayaks for us to upgrade our fleet.  He had been using them to paddle around Santorini and other Cycladic islands.  Check out nwpassage.com if you are curious.  So a mellow day in the sea and a nice party with Rick made for a fine day.  30 km’s

Day 11 – Gramvousa to Rapiania

Wow.  what a day of paddling!  Into the last bit of NE winds which had blown for 8 days straight.  Across to Cape Spatha, the Northernmost point on our trip.  After curling around the cape we experienced some serious refracting waves called klapotis.  Sloppy slappy waves from all direction, but the wind settled down as predicted by the meteorologists.  We made it to the Diktyina sanctuary at Menies beach and enjoyed a well deserved break after about 5 1/2 hours going.  Pruned hands dried out and we enjoyed some stretch time.

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Paddling across Kissamou

We were energized and decided to continue paddling due South now along the Rodolou Peninsula a wonderfully wild stretch with a slight wind behind us now.  First time in a while not having to beat into the wind felt so good.  Flying fish accompanied us and we found a comfortable beach on the North coast to sleep.  A little meal at the nearby low key taverna Michalis and time for zzzz.  This will be our zone for next little while, paddling into a morning sun heading East.  Hopefully we will attract some of the typical West wind to push us along.  But for now it looks calm after a looonnnngg NE blow! 43 km’s

Day 10 – Falasarna to Gramvousa Island

It really felt good to get back on the water but the wind was still strong out of the NE.  We paddled into stiff headwinds but were in the lee from the biggest winds.  Our plan was to cue up close to the crossing so that we have the shortest distance (29km it turned out to be) in the kayaks.  The paddle today took us to Balos lagoon which is a beautiful aqua green color.  We checked that out and then went to Gramvousa Island.  This is an island steeped in rich history with an incredible fortress at the top.  Lots of resistance to the Turks occured right here! 14 km’s

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Short crossing to Gramvousa Island with fortress on top

 

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View from the Fortress

Day 8 & 9 – Layover Days

With a rowdy NE wind continuing to blow we decided to hang tight at Falasarna and wait it out.  It’s a nice sandy beach with some low key tourism and therefore a nice Greek salad to be had!  We spent one day going to Kissamos town and then another day checking out ancient Falasarna and hiking the rugged coastal trail.  Not too bad to be stuck there.

Day 7 – Koutoulos to Falasarna

An early start to the day to try to be ahead of the wind, but it was already gusting out of the NE again.  So we paddled under cloudy skies, heading North.  This section is very lovely with Kambos gorge, then Platanakia gorge and beautiful rock formations at Cape Papamouri.

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Cape Papamouri

Continuing North we got to the open Falasarna Bay and saw a second turtle.  It was just by the Port.  So a great sign to see another swimming freely here.

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Turtle sighting Number 2!

Paddling into Falasarna brings you back to an ancient time.  There is a lot of maritime history here as it was a great post because people could see all boat traffic coming from Greece, North Africa and Sicily.  Lots of pirate history and an amazing ruins at Ancient Falasarna above the pink sand beach.  We called it a day because of the NE wind persisting.  When we round Cape Gramvousa next we want the weather to be stable.  It’s not the case at the moment.  This is possibly the crux of the trip in regards to exposure and remoteness.  So a layover day here is a wise choice.  Blog time, rest the muscles and joints and get back to it as soon as we get a window in this NE weather system.  17 KM’s

Day 6 – Paleochora to Koutoulos

We headed West for the last time and enjoyed a cool breeze behind us towards Cape Krios, a beautiful cliffside.  We bode farewell to our familiar territory and headlands, then paddled NW to new places.

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Akrotiri Krios

We arrived at Elaphonisi which is a beautiful white sand spit to a small island.  It’s very popular with tourists and doesn’t have much natural shade.  So we ate a quick lunch and headed out.

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Elaphonisi

Heading North now we got to Cape (Akrotiri) Xeoskalo.  This was protecting us from the continuing NE wind.  For some fun we decided to punch through the reef into the maw!  Large waves, 7 feet or so, greeted us and we were on the treadmill again.

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Waves larger than they appear!! 

Paddling further took us past Livhadia and to the remote beach of Koutoulos.  Now we are able to see lovely sunsets and the Western sky.  Happy Anniversary Michele!!  30 KM’s 

Day 5 – Roumeli to Paleochora

The scenery from here heading West is absolutely breathtaking.  We paddled slowly as to enjoy it.  The wind was light.  Only challenge was getting some power back after a night of throwing up due to some food poisoning.  So little by little I ate some food and just kept the paddle churning, not the stomach 🙂

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Falcoln in the morning checking us out.

We had lunch in the nice little town called Sougia and then continued just around the corner to Ancient Lissos.  This place had many healing baths at its peak around 2000 years ago.

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View from upper Lissos, you can see the kayaks in the background on the beach.

A decent tailwind blew us the final section to Paleochora.  This is the second largest town on the South coast, but it’s still pretty quaint.  28 KM’s 

Day 4 – Frango to Agia Roumeli

After a poor sleep that was interrupted by sand fleas, mosquitos and drizzles off and on we got on the water.  A rainbow was our reward for the wet night.

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Packing up in the morning

A noticeable shift in the weather has occured and the West wind has clocked around to NE.  This made our morning particularly challenging because Frango area has many small gorges that allow the North wind to blow through.  This means offshore gusts and also means we needed to stay very close to shore in a wide bay that adds more km’s to our trip.  So we pasted ourselves to the shoreline and dealt with it.

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Managing in an offshore wind

We made it to Chora Sfakion to repair the broken rudder cable on one of the kayaks and chill out a bit.  Upon paddling away though we we lucky to see a turtle!

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Turtle sighting number 1 here in Chora Sfakion harbor

The paddle to Roumeli was nice as the NE (Gregale) wind assisted us a bit.  The White Mountains in this Sfakia region are very large and they block almost all Northern winds.  We paddled to Roumeli in some mellow waves and called it a great day! 28 KM’s

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Nice mountains between Loutro and Roumeli

Day 3 – Preveli to Frangokastell0

We got up and paddled again in some nice morning conditions and made it to our favorite lunch destination of Ana & Nikos taverna.  I powered up with a plate of fava bean dip and some zucchini balls.  Feeling good we paddled West again and the breeze was picking up steadily, so we paddled into the treadmill and made it to Frango to camp out for the night.  22 KM’s 

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Leaving the sheltered Palm Beach – Preveli

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Climbing liquid mountains

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Arriving at Frango a Venetian Fortress from the 1400’s

Day 2 – Georgois to Palm Beach 

This paddle was a lovely morning as the West wind (Zephyrios) had laid down.  Lingering swells of 3 feet made for a nice soothing way to come off a party evening.  Paddling towards the West is nice because the sun (Helios) is at our back for the beginning part of the day.

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Coming around the Agios Pavlos headland

But after we passed Triopetra beach the wind began to build steadily, as it typically does in the afternoons.  So we beat into it for a few hours to get to Palm Beach and quit for the day.  18 KM’s 

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One of the Trio petra

Day 1 – Matala to Agios Georgios

The trip began with a lightening storm that chased us off the ridge we were camped out upon.  Then it cleared for a few hours while we made final preparations.  We were all packed up to launch and the lightening began just as we began to float.

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Lightening Storm 1 minute after launch! 

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Waiting out the storm in Matala Bay with a FIX beer and an offering to Zeus.

Then we began to paddle into a building wind out of the West.  So straight into a headwind.  This made for a very long crossing to Agios Georgios after 4:11 in the kayaks and 16 km.  Challenging to pee 🙂  But we made it there and felt great about having completed the longest open water crossing the trip should have for us, on the first day.

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Landing Agois Georgios just before sunset

Raki and music at the taverna and a late night.  So much fun for a first day.

First Post – Crete Cyclo

September 19th, 2016 – Matala

dsc_0568 The sun is setting from Matala Beach in Europe’s southernmost locale, Crete.  Paximadia are the islands you see here and we will be heading West in their general direction tomorrow morning.  Our goal is to make the long journey around the island over the next month.  4 of us; Eric, William, Chris and I (Ryan) have been planning and gearing up for the past few months with excitment for this moment.

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and should offer 420 miles of beautiful coastline.  Having a reputation as a playground for the Gods it is now a lovely tourist attraction for travellers.  Due to its large size and tempermental seas we will paddle with caution and respect.

images Our starting point and hopeful finish is in Matala which is located in the center of the Southern shore. Matala has a long history as a port town for the Minoas and Romans, more recently as a hippy hangout for inspired musicians.  We have chosen to paddle clockwise around Kriti.  This will likely give us a stiff headwind to begin our paddle with the hopes of gaining a tailwind after we make it to the North shore.  There are some lovely cities in the North including Heraklion, Chania, Rethmenyo, and Agios Nikolaos.  Our preference will be to camp on some remote beaches, so we hope to paddle fast up North and fly by the hustle and bustle.  This should be a fantastic trip full of sun, wind, sand and friendly people.  Feel free to stay tuned for post updates as we adventure around and share our highlights of the trip.  Thanks to all of the family and friends who have been supportive of us on this endeavor.  We also would like to thank our sponsors who have graciously dontaed high quality equipment to help us around.  Tasc Performace Wear, Point 65 kayaks, Astral, Seal Optics, Werner paddles, Sea to Summit, Watershed drybags.  Epharisto Poli!!

September 19, 2016 | 5 Comments More