We rented a car and toured the island. Our favorite was the highest village, Zia. Set on a mountain side, it provides lovely views and has some very quaint, artistic cafes to enjoy the serenity. Although other parts are quite touristic, you can find a place to escape that. There is also a trail to hike to the top of the mountain.

View from Zia

View from Zia

We saw a HR 46, “Beaucastel” with a Swedish flag in the old harbor so we walked over to investigate. Nobody was on board but Roland recognized the name of the boat. After some texting we agreed to meet for dinner the following night and had a nice time with Leif and Anna Karin. 

A nice sail took us next to Symi, to the southwest corner, Panormitis. Here we shared a bay with a large Monastery. The bell tower rang at the top of the hour and one chime the bottom of the hour through the day, beginning at 0600 until 2100.



The next anchorage was on the east side of the island, Pethi. This was our favorite as there is a very small village, one restaurant at the seaside. A very personable place. That evening we heard a large splash and a thump against the boat. We scurried on deck but as it was dark could not see anything but heard the rhythmic blowing and surfacing of what we think was a small whale. It did not sound like the quick movements of a dolphin. No harm done just a startle to probably the whale as well.



A short distance around a point took us to the main village of Symi. Here you do not find the typical Greek white houses. All the houses are painted in more sand and muted colors. The harbor, although quite small, is very active with daily ferry arrivals, a cruise ship and several tourist boats. It is certainly not a quiet, peaceful place but provides lots of entertainment.



Cruise ship in Symi

Cruise ship in Symi

We walked to the other side of the harbor as the Greek Coast Guard boat was arriving. They had a large turtle on board. They understood when they saw him that something was wrong as he could not dive so they got him on board, which was probably not a easy task. They suspected he had swallowed some plastic floating in the water so put him on the next ferry to Rhodes where there is a Aquarium so he could visit the “turtle doctor”.

Turtle with breading problem

Turtle with breathing problem

On a more somber note, we also saw 50 Syrian refugees that had arrived during the night. They were lying on the cobblestones under a truck trailer for shade. Some were around the the courtyard playing with children. They were middle aged, dressed quite well and were obviously looking for a better life. They pay quite a lot of money to hire a Turk to smuggle them to the EU, the Greek islands being so close. Flashbacks of WWII movies present themselves as you see this.

We did find a cheaply made inflatable used for trafficking.  Cheap plywood was used and you could see from the marks on the transom that the outboard had only been installed once. If coastguard spot them before stepping  on Greece soil, the idea is to cut a hole in the tubes in order to be rescued and not towed back to Turkey.  Unfortunatly not everyone can swim and have to pay with their life.

Cheap made inflatable.  Only used once to take refugees from Turkey to Greece

Cheap made inflatable. Only used once to take refugees from Turkey to Greece

This was a turkish gulet without a engine, that was used to transport refugees to Symi.  The refugees are a big burden for the coastguard.   Roland asked Port Police what they do with the refugees?  He was told that they  let them loose after two days with a letter from the prosecuter that they are illegaly in Greece and have 6 month to leave the country.  The refugees that can afford it then continue their journey to the northern countries in the EU in there search for a better life.

Gulet used for trafficking of refugees.

Gulet used for trafficking of refugees.

The village of Symi has steep hills on all sides. A restaurant we decided upon for my birthday was of course at the top. So after a climb and hundreds of steps we arrived to the restaurant only to find it closed. (too early in the season). Well at least we worked up a appetite for dinner back down in the harbor. The next morning with construction going on around our boat, we decided it was time to leave for our next destination, Rhodes.


KOS AND SYMI — 11 Comments

  1. Very interesting. it would be hard to see all of those refugees. I feel sorry for them. I understand Sweden is taking more of them than any other European country. Your tax rate is already pretty high, so probably will effect it even more.
    Enjoy your pictures and travelogue so much. Love, Helen

  2. Like you said… WWII refugees all over again. Yesterday being mother’s day I thought about how mom at 13 tried to smuggle herself from Germany to Austria while her brother made it to Sweden. Another brother ended in Uruguay jumping off a merchant marine boat. My dad made it to Siberia from Poland, and most of the rest of the family on both sides did not make it at all, once the bad guys came. Mom of course got caught and spent four years in concentration camp before ending up in Sweden as well for a short time.She was rescued by a Swedish Blue Cross truck .. .

    So nothing to do with making a point on religion, I just always feel for those from all walks of life that have to abandon their homeland to escape inhumanity, genocide or economic malaises… tough realities for so many.

    Yet , funny that some of mine ended up in Sweden.. ?… Come to think of it, Roland & I do look a bit alike !!!!

    By the way, It that the Leif that crossed the Atlantic with us on SR? … common name I suppose.. ?..

    Fair winds and safe travels, while missing whales and big turtles!!!
    Maybe play loud human music all night at anchor !!!! because the bottoms of HR’s do look like a possible mate to whales during mating season ?…

    I guess you might say, humped by a whale !!! ?…

    Love you guys !!!

  3. Lika roligt som vanligt att följa er.Tyvärr drivs vi utav något fortfarande, vi vet inte vad…..så vi jobbar än.
    Hälsningar Mats o Lotta

    • Det svåraste beslutet av alla var just att bestämma sig för att sluta jobba. När det var gjort så föll alla andra bitar på plats.

      Lycka till,

      Roland & Vickie

  4. Trevlig berättelse! Jag pratade med Coast guard på Leros rån ett så populärt lanoch enligt dem så är det första flyktingarna säger:”we wan’t to go to Sweden.” Jag är lite stolt över att komma från ett så populärt land fast jag tycker andra länder också skulle jobba på detta.
    Vi ännu på Lipsi.

    • Hej på er,

      Hoppas att vi ses. Vi seglar norrut imorgon. Plockar upp vänner på Kos mitten nästa vecka. Kommer att kolla in öarna mellan Rhodos och Kos innan dess.

      Ha det bra,

      Roland & Vickie

  5. Ciao HR Sailors! Terrific post and photos, thank you for the first hand, thoughtful observations on a very important subject. As for the whale, I am a bit jealous as we have just sailed across the pacific and have yet to see any! Ha ha! Cheers, hugs from all of us aboard FG in Polynesia!

    • Thank goodness for email, photos and your fantastic videos. Could we be be any further apart?
      Greece and the Tumamoto Atolls??? Your photos are absolutely gorgeous. True Paradise.
      “Ching Ching” from Bella Luna to Feelin’ Good!

  6. Dear Vickie and Roland Fantastic technical articles and very nice report – photos
    Sorry for refugees

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