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SEDUCTIVE SYMI

September 2nd, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

We recently checked out of Turkey in Datca and returned to Greece and the island of Symi, just 5 NM from Turkey.  Although Symi has changed hands over its long history, including occupation by the Nazi’s during WWII, it has always been part of Greece despite its close proximity to Turkey.

Approaching Symi

Approaching Symi

Symi in foreground Turkey in background

Symi in foreground Turkey in background

In the two months we have been in Turkey we have sailed past Symi on numerous occasions, often commenting on how unappealing it was.  From a distance of several miles, Symi looks like nothing but barren rock. 

East Coast of Symi is stark from a distance

East Coast of Symi is stark from a distance

We were pleasantly surprised to find that hidden along its shore are marvelous anchorages with large pine trees covering much of the rock.  Sand beaches that can only be reached by boat are pristine and inviting.  

A narrow channel separates Symi  from an uninhabited island off its north shore

A narrow channel separates Symi from an uninhabited island off its north shore

The Town of Symi reminded us of Hydra in several respects.  The harbor is fairly small with great opportunity for anchors to cross and the town itself marches up the steep slopes that surround it.  Like Hydra, Symi is more colorful than towns in the sun drenched Cyclades, and reminiscent of Corfu as well with pockets of green vegetation and soft pastel houses. 

Most visitors arrive in Symi by ferry

Most visitors arrive in Symi by ferry

Clock Tower on north side of Symi harbor

Clock Tower on north side of Symi harbor

Colorful buildings line the quay

Colorful buildings line the quay

Head of Symi harbor

Head of Symi harbor

Symi town as seen from road

Symi town as seen from road

We anchored in Pethi just over the ridge from Symi and took a bus to town to check in. Pethi is a small village with a hotel and a couple restaurants.  It is fairly shallow at the head of the bay and offers good protection from the meltemi.

Pethi Harbor on east side of Symi

Pethi Harbor on east side of Symi

Leaving Pethi Harbor

Leaving Pethi Harbor

The anchorage at Thessalona Bay just south of Pethi is one of the most beautiful we have seen anywhere.  The steep cliffs that surround the bay are punctuated with caves and scattered trees that seem to grow directly from the rock.  The bay is quite deep until you are close to shore but it is possible to anchor and take a line ashore. 

Steep cliffs of Thessolona dwarf boats anchored off beach--easy to see why there is no road

Steep cliffs of Thessolona dwarf boats anchored off beach--easy to see why there is no road

Small beach and restaurant at Marathouda

Small beach and restaurant at Marathouda

After a night in Marathouda—we were the only boat in the anchorage overnight—we went to the very protected anchorage at Panormittis which is the site of a large monastery named after the Patron Saint of Symi who is also the Patron Saint of Sailors.  

Monastery at Panormittis dates to 18th Century

Monastery at Panormittis dates to 18th Century

Kent to the rescue of fellow sailors whose outboard died

Kent to the rescue of fellow sailors whose outboard died

The bell tower at the monastery is very ornate and dominates the shore.  The monastery no longer has monks, but rents Spartan rooms with bath and kitchen for about 20 euros a night.  We saw several families enjoying these accommodations.

Monastery Bell Tower

Monastery Bell Tower . . .with elaborate detail.

View of harbor from monastery courtyard

View of harbor from monastery courtyard

The water is comfortably warm for swimming and there is a small market that sells fresh bread and pastries as well as vegetables.

According to our pilot guide, this is the most protected harbor on Symi and boats flock here when a meltemi is expected.

Working boats. . .

Working boats. . .

and private yachts share the harbor--Destiny to right.

and private yachts share the harbor

An old windmill sits at harbor entrance

An old windmill sits at harbor entrance

Just outside the harbor are sheer rock cliffs and caves.  We snorkeled in water so crystal clear that you could see to depths of a hundred or more feet.  While the rock formations were interesting, there are very few fish.

We snorkeled into a cave shown to the right

We snorkeled into a cave shown to the right

When we arrived in Panormittis we were happy to see our friends, Dave and Lindsay on Rosa di Venti anchored nearby and enjoyed cocktails and dinner with them before heading off to Rhodes.

We’ll probably return to Turkey through Symi, so more to follow.

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