North of Leros island (March-June 2023)
On the 15 of March, we arrived in Leros to prepare for the new season. The trip to Leros was quite long as the flight to Leros was cancelled twice and finally we had to use the ferry arriving at Leros  at 3:30am. After a good rest on the boat, we started to complete the list of tasks to be done.  First, we applied some antifouling, cleaned and polished the hull and reconnected all the  instruments we had disconnected before leaving the boat to limit any damage in case lightning hit  the boat during the winter. A few days after Easter, Terus returned to the sea and our first stop  was in the port of Leros where we could finish preparing Terus by replacing the genset priming  pump and rehoisting the sails. In the Middle of April, we had to wait for a few more days until the  weather improved. We wanted southerly winds so we could visit the islands north of Leros.  However, as the prevailing wind was from the north, we had to wait a few days before we could sail to the islands of Chios, Ikaria, Oinussa and Lesbos. Those islands are still part of the Dodecanese  and are located close to the Turkish coast. Sometimes you have to wait several days, but the  islands are very interesting destinations as they are very different from the other Greek islands.  Ikaria island Located 10 miles west of Samos is the island of Ikaria. It has a little harbor that offers good  protection from the northerly winds. Beside the harbor there is a hot radioactive spring. If you  want to enjoy the water, no problem, but do not soak for longer than 3 or 4 minutes to limit the  amount of radiation. Further north of the harbor there is a bigger spring that is the main tourist  attraction on the island, but we did not go there.  Chios island Located 11 km from Turkey with an area of 850 Km², historically, this island has mostly been  occupied by Turks, Ottoman soldiers,  Genovese  and other colonists. For a time, slavery was legal  in Chios which benefited the economy of the island. Since ancient times, Chios has been known for  the production of “mastica”, a resin harvested from a particular tree that only grows in the  southern part of Chios. Originally, the gum was used as a medicine to protect the mouth and teeth  as well as avoid bad breath. The right to harvest the valuable resin was often reserved for the  ruling elite and anyone else who tried to engage in trading it could face the death penalty. Several   attempts have been made to cultivate the tree in other places, but for some unknown reason, the  trees failed to produce the valuable resin. Besides the use of the resin as a medicine it is a  valuable ingredient in chewing gum and ouzo, the national Greek alcoholic drink. There is also a  drink produced with mastica, but it is not so popular. To collect the resin, small notches are made  in the trunk and branches out of which a little resin is secreted. When the resin dries out it often  falls on the ground. The farmers growing the trees work all year long on their land to make sure  that the ground under the trees remains clean so that the little drops of resin can be gathered  easily. Once gathered, a lot of time is needed to clean the product, which today is still done  manually. There is a museum that explains very well all about the cultivation of mastica and I highly  recommend you visit it.  Not far away from the museum you can visit the village of Pyrgi. This  village has strange looking houses as they are white with geometric designs on the facades. It is  certainly very original.  As explained, Chios has often been invaded, but the worst invasion was by the Ottomans in 1822   when they killed 25,000 people and capture 45,000 to sell as slaves. The Ottomans were upset by  the fact that the people of Chios refused to join Turkey. If today the Greek people do not like the  Turks, it is partly because of this massacre from which only 15,000 people managed to escape. If  there was one thing that disappointed us in Chios it was the bad condition of the port and the fact  that it is located quite far from the city center. The harbor is free and offers very good  protection from the northerly winds. There is also a good supermarket where you can buy all food  related items, but for the rest, such as to rent a car, buy fresh fish etc.… you need to go to the  commercial harbor. If you prefer to wait for favorable winds you can go to the island of Oinoussa.  The island is located a few miles from the port of Chios. It is very nice, but the island only has a  bakery, so if you need groceries you have to  go back to Chios. I am sure there is a shuttle, but we  did not inquire about it. Oinoussa has a little maritime museum that we visited where you can see  several nice model boats all made of ivory.  Lesbos Island After having waited for several days on Chios because of the northerly winds, we had a little  window of southerly winds which we took advantage of to move to the island of Lesbos. Our first  attempt failed because the wind changed direction soon after our departure, but two days later it  was much better. Lesbos is a big island, and you need a car to explore it. In the west of the island  there is a big area where you can see a lot of fossilized trees that are 18 million years old. At that  time, a big volcanic eruption covered the western part of the island with a big layer of dust. Many  of the trees that were buried under the dust became fossils and when you travel in that area you  see very many fossilized trees. Today since roads are being constructed, it is not rare for new  fossilized trees to be discovered. There is a little museum that explains very well the formation of  those fossilized trees and it contains a few trunks.    While you drive across the island you notice that the cultivation of olives is the agricultural  activity on the island. In the past, the oil was mainly used to make soap, but today a lot of the old  soap factories  have been abandoned. Luckily, one oil press factory  has been beautifully restored  and is open for visitors. This olive oil museum allows you to understand the oil extraction process.  The machines used to extract the oil have been repaired well and are in good working order. Even  the steam machine that powered the plant is working. From the steam machine you see the big  belts in the ceiling that transferred the power to the rest of the plant. We were surprised to  learn that after they were pressed to extract the oil, the remaining olive skins were used as  combustible fuel in the steam machine. In other words, the factory was carbon neutral before its  time. During the winter months the factory could grind grain to produce flour and keep providing  jobs for the workers.     After the factory tour, we went north to visit the village of Methymna. Above the village there is  a fort built in the 14th century, that protected the village. It was ideally located to watch out for  any approaching Turkish army. Below the fortress there are some nice beaches and hotels if you  like to stay and enjoy that kind of place.      But the most important places to visit in Lesbos are the Ouzo factories. Lesbos has 2 inner seas  and around them there is a particular Aniseed plant, with a particular taste, that grows only there.  This particular aniseed is the basic ingredient of ouzo, the national Greek liquor. The plant is  smaller than other aniseed plants found in the rest of Europe. We visited two factories, and it was  really interesting to see the manufacturing process. The first plant was closed to visitors, but we  were lucky, as the guide decided to explain to  us the Ouzo making process. We could not visit the  production area, but the explanation we were given in the museum was very interesting. To make  Ouzo you need a large number of ingredients, and the recipe is more than 100 years old and hidden  in vaults. To limit variations in the taste from year to year, they mix 3 years’ worth of ingredients  together. Among the ingredients are aniseed, cloves, mastika, mint,  salt and many other things. In  the factory they produce different kinds of Ouzo with different levels of alcohol content, up to  50%. The second factory that we visited did allow us to visit the production area and the bottling  line. Needles to say, we thanked the factories by purchasing some bottles of Ouzo and since we  had a good impression we find that it tastes very good.   But we still don’t know what is the best way to drink Ouzo. Some say dry, while others recommend  with ice and a little bit water. So, I recommend that try both ways and then stick to the one you  prefer. To make Ouzo a large quantity of synthetic alcohol is required as other alcohol produced  from fermentation always has a particular taste that alters the normal Ouzo taste.During our stay  in Leros, we stayed in the main harbor when we needed a car, but otherwise we went to the inner  seas were it was extremely quiet. Along the shore you can see some abandoned oil factories  serving as testimony to the old soap industry.  Samos island We had already visited Samos, but we decided to return to meet some Belgian friends in the port  of Maratocampos located on the south west side of Samos. This harbor is well protected and the  village around the harbor is very quiet. There are two places where you can moor. If you tie up to  the pontoon at the front of the entrance, you are safe unless the wind comes from the south. The  place offers water and electricity. If you go to the marina on the west side, you can find a place  protected from all winds and can enjoy showers and washing machines. However, we heard a rumor  that in the future the harbor will be made available for ferries to drop passengers and cars. We  hope that this will not destroy the charm of the port of Maratocampo.   
Mastic shrup Area were mastic is growing Village de Pyrgi Monastry of Nea Moni Moulins près du port Oinussa Tronc fossilisé Fosil wood Oil press Kettle Machine a vapeur Gouverneur machine vapeur Steam engine Governor of steam engine Some of the  ingredients to make ouzo Oil storage Alambics Boiler

Our Wakes: 2023

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