These notes are intended to compliment Rod Heikell’s excellent Greek Waters Pilot, without which we would not have been able to properly and so expeditiously explore the Greek waters we love so much; we strongly urge you to buy each new edition as it is produced. It is never possible for such a comprehensive publication to be totally up to date thus, where appropriate; we have mentioned changes.
An area worth a longer stay in its own
right. The gulf is just like a large lake, roughly 15 nms across and
down with an eclectic mix of island and mainland ports and anchorages, mountainous
and low level shorelines. The mountains are very green with a wide assortment
of trees at the various levels; the lower level shorelines tree-lined with field
formations beyond that could fool you into believing you were in middle
An enormous fully operational working port attached to the town that is better described as a small city thus it serves all needs well, including chandlery. It is a lively place but the only place for visiting yachts to moor (We tried the town quay; it was impossible amongst all the laid moorings, the main chain of which we picked up on our anchor!) is away from the very long and active promenade but you need to heed what is said in Rod Heikell’s Pilot! There is a very nice under utilised new marina in the inner harbour but we did not explore the potential for its use by visitors.
A sleepy little town/village that sits within a bay with several anchorage opportunities plus two quays that can be used; one might only be suitable for bows-to but the main quay is certainly large enough and deep enough for stern-to mooring.
The bay within which the village sits also has coves and beaches off which anchoring is idyllic. There are tavernas ashore under a tree covered square that are simple, quiet and charming. There is also a small but well stocked supermarket that sells gas!
A very pretty overnight anchorage in the larger Ormos Ptelou. The beach is a quiet tree-lined tourist spot with two bars that appears to only open during the day and a few holiday apartments. There are tavernas at the western end of the bay where you can also anchor or walk to or take a dinghy ride to reach.
We much prefer the east anchorage that is off of a beach with two very quiet select holiday complexes; the two bars and might be interested in a bit more trade!
A small open harbour on the smallest of islands that has an inexplicable charm with just two tavernas. Mooring is not as the pilot but still possible on the ‘taverna’ mole (it does not belong to them but identifies it) or on the ‘water tank’ pontoon. A simple and very welcoming community of just two tavernas and a mini-market that you could almost empty with one shopping trip! There is a monastery on the top of the island that can be visited and is just a short walk (and climb) away. There no roads as such, just tracks that the island’s two tractors navigate to reach the other small communities.
There are numerous bays around the island that are ideal for at least a lunchtime stop, if not an overnight stay. Most are not mentioned in the Pilot. All are very peaceful and should be safe in most local prevailing winds.
This is where Sunsail is based, apparently a two-hour
coach ride from
A harbour within an open bay that the Pilot suggests is safe and Sunsail yachts appear to use though may be not the flotillas. We looked at it and found it too risky when the Meltemi was blowing a fairly normal F4 with three yachts that were moored up struggling to keep themselves apart and off the quay.
Technically outside of the Gulf and not in the
A simple little harbour on the Evian coast where the use of trip lines on anchors is advisable as there may be an old mooring chain on the bottom running north/south.
Great ethnic place with simple tavernas and bars. Water from tap at foot of mole. Fuel by tanker from petrol station half way to Pirgos; very helpful, if cantankerous, old chap. South side of mole looks inviting but beware the shallows 15m off!
A large bay with one or two lunchtime anchorages within it. It is just 3 nms from Platania, an alternative lunchtime stop when moving from the Sporades to Pagasitikos Kolpos or vice versa.
A rather nice little place with plenty of tavernas on the front, a couple of supermarkets and a bakers. Water on the quay if you can get to it!
Whilst it has a long quay this always seems to full of large and small fishing boats. Anchoring off is ok within the confines of the permanent moorings and the quay or south of them off the beach.
Sporades Greek for scattered as in sown and from where the word sporadic comes from. The islands are delightful, very green and surprisingly, each having its own clear identity.
From a sailing point of view probably the weakest of the Sporades for ports and anchorages but the town itself is excellent for provisioning and for eating out if you hunt the back streets for the Italianate Trattoria.
The harbour is susceptible to swell that is generally irksome rather than dangerous. Power and water are available if you can find the chap in charge (currently a Pakistani named Ali) and have the right fittings to tap in.
Anchoring off the beach is idyllic but limited by the two speedboat alleys from the beach and by the need to make sure anchors are well and truly dug in. Whilst the prevailing wind is offshore, several times we experienced the reverse with the wind and swell onshore even in an ENE’ly breeze.
A short trip into the little khaiki harbour and walk through the nature reserve will lead you to some shops and a raft of tourist tavernas. Some are not too bad so it is worth the trip.
We believe the adjacent bay (O. Platanias) is similar though we did not try it.
There is an excellent lunchtime spot on the west side of Nisos Tsoungria just off the coast; it has reminders of Emerald Bay in the Ionian. There are similar anchorages off N. Arko though we did not try them.
There is a pontoon as the pilot says and water is available.
A pleasant stop that leads you to take the bus or a taxi the short ride up to Glossa where a drink in the church square will amuse and dinner in Agananti taverna.
Despite the warnings in the pilot, this is a must in all but seriously adverse weather; we would vacate in any wind with west in it over F4. It has a long quay; space has to be left for the hydrofoil and occasional small freighter . Tavernas ashore are good if a just little pricey but renowned for their fish dishes. Also it is a great swimming bay.
BUT the Pilot’s warning about damaging swell is valid; it comes in on the beam and we experienced it (without damage to us) in a F3/4 northwesterly and watched the crosstrees and rails of other yachts clashing. Staggered crosstrees and anchors well dug in are vital if damage is to be avoided.
Water and fuel by tanker only.
Ormos Panormou (Panormous Bay)
Possibly the most famous bay in the Sporades because of the book Gates of the Wind and its author Michael Carroll and the house that is mentioned in the book. A beautiful anchorage albeit requiring stern lines ashore. The adjacent part of the bay, a short dinghy ride away, has tavernas that are sensibly priced despite their beachside location and brilliant sunset views.
We found the holding in Limonari unacceptable for an overnight stop as our CQR type anchor dragged through the apparently soft sand bottom. Otherwise this is a great anchorage for swimming and has tavernas ashore.
An excellent harbour with plenty of quay space. Slight adverse affect of ferry swell but nothing that cannot be compensated for by an anchor well dug in and good shore moorings. The days to visit should be picked carefully with an eye on the longer range forecast as, if the Meltemi chooses to really blow, it can prove impossible and decidedly dangerous to try and leave here in all but the largest of yachts. Even the ferries do not come in those conditions and that, albeit rarely, can last up to a week. In those circumstances the ferries use Agnondas.
Water and fuel by tanker. There are no longer taps on the quay as the Pilot suggests.
The quayside is full of life with plenty of tavernas and there are two very special tavernas set back from the front that are a bit more expensive but worth the addition for those who want something a little special; Perivoli is a sophisticated restaurant set in a delightful country garden environment that serves their own home-grown produce. It is probably the second most remarkable restaurant we have found .
This is understandably a very popular spot that has retained its ‘villagey’ feel despite its expansion and popularity.
A water tap is ‘controlled’ by the owner of one of the bars and supermarket. Buy his food and or drink in his bar and the water is free.
There are some difficulties with parts of the quay requiring bows-to only mooring. However, they were working on this whilst we were there so that may be changing.
Lovely anchorage, good clear sandy bottom, safe in the prevailing winds (we anchored in F5). Beach used to be a busy one; we saw just six people and they were gone by 14.00.
Next door to the last mentioned bay, larger but same comments except you could free swing a whole flotilla and it is also protected in reasonable south-westerlies, in fact all but easterly winds.
Excellent Emerald Bay type lunchtime spot.
The main port for the island and, in our view, only worth a visit for provisions or a trip up to the chora.
Technically part of the northern Sporades but well to the east of the rest of the group and with a character more akin to the Cyclades than the Sporades. We loved all three of the stopping places we used and our two/three days there.
A nice enough bay, surrounded by pine-covered hills and mountain slopes and a safe anchorage within which to swim and enjoy the abundant bird life. Once the Greek holidaymakers, of which there were but twenty, depart for their dinner, watch the Eleanoras Falcons wheeling high above the surrounding peaks.
The island’s only port but not its capital; that is the chora on the dangerously exposed east coast. There are plenty of tavernas and shops and mooring can be alongside or stern-to.
The arrival of the daily ferry is an event not to be missed. You will love the music!
A visit to the chora is a must but do not expect to eat lunch there. Take the bus or a taxi.
A lovely, if barren, bay on the south east coast of Skyros and the trip from Linaria to there is quite stunning. There are three or four possible anchorages within the bay depending on your personal taste and from where the wind blows.
Ormos Renes is in the otherwise unoccupied part of Skyros at least ten miles from the nearest village or made up road. We spent a nice peaceful day and night there chilling out with periodic swims between studying the flocks of mountain goats and sheep wandering the surrounding hillsides and the numerous falcons overhead.