sea kayak expedition
Milos to Santorini
12-19 April 2005
Expedition Members: Steve and Josien Woolmer, Rod Feldtmann.
Click on centre area to enlarge map
An Awesome adventure (Expedition report by Josien)
tent and sleeping bags have been aired, the salt has been washed out of our
paddling kit and the smell of wood-smoke has “sadly” been removed from our
clothes after washing. We are home after an 8-day sea kayak expedition in
Greece, filled with an enormous sense of achievement, dead chuffed to have
successfully completed this adventure: it was AWESOME!!!
arrived on Milos in the Greek Mediterranean on Tuesday, and were welcomed by Rod
who runs sea Kayak Milos and with whom we had paddled around the island nearly 2
time the plan was to undertake an island hopping expedition from Milos to
Santorini, a total distance of 150 km, taking in several of the other Cycladic
islands on the way. We had been warned the trip was not for the faint hearted or
inexperienced paddler, but having been out with us before Rod was confident we
possessed the skills and determination required.
the day we arrived we undertook a short 12km warm up paddle, across Milos bay,
to get used to the boats and set them up to suit us. We would all three; Steve,
Josien and Rod, be paddling Rainbow Lasers, Italian made sea-kayaks, with ample
bulkhead space to enable us to carry all the kit required for a 7 night camping
expedition. They are good straight tracking boats, although I was allowed the
“privilege” of a rudder being the smaller, not quite so strong, member of
the 13th of April saw us setting off, at around midday, from Pollonia
beach in the North-East of Milos with fully laden kayaks on the first leg of our
trip. We firstly crossed to Kimolos and after a brief exploration of the village
from there to Poliegos, the largest uninhabited island in the Mediterranean.
Where we made camp on a beautiful beach, beneath the lighthouse, on the Eastern
side of the island. Dinner consisted of steak cooked over the charcoal produced
by our driftwood fire.
wind/weather forecast for the coming 6 days was encouraging though not ideal. As
we were soon to find out, the success of trip is highly dependant on both wind
direction and strength.
wind had been getting stronger during the day and the next morning (Thursday) we
woke up to wind force 7 and huge waves (10-12 feet high at times; we did paddle
out and have a little look). This forced us to postpone the intended crossing to
Folegandros until Friday. We spent the day exploring the island, and climbing up
to the lighthouse for a better view of the sea state.
our joy Friday’s conditions turned out to be perfect the wind, still strong
but veered to the West, provided us with a much reduced sea state and a push
from behind. We completed the 24km crossing to Folegandros in 3 hours and 50
minutes. While Steve and Rod hiked from the beach to the nearest village, to
replenish our water supplies, I minded the boats (my excuse, and relaxed my
aching limbs in the sun). As the wind was in our favour we paddled a further
14km to our next campsite at Livadi beach on the southern end of Folegandros,
making up for our lost day. We hitched a ride up to the town for a superb
a smooth sea faced us at sun rise, we breakfasted on chocolate filled
croissants, a Greek specialty, packed all our kit back into the kayaks and set
off on a superb day’s paddling via several smaller islands to Sikinos. Along
ever changing steep cliffs, we found an inlet below one of the countless tiny
white Greek churches, with just enough room to haul the boats out. A narrow,
steep path allowed us to climb all the way to the summit of the island, where in
the village we snacked on Greek salad, Calamari and enjoyed a well-earned cold
beer. Camp that night at Malta beach on the Eastern end of the island,
beautifully secluded and strangely sheltered from the strengthening East wind,
with plenty of drift wood for one of our now famous huge camp fires and lots of
large stones for Steve and Rod to build camp furniture with.
Sunday we have to resort to plan B: the wind is unabated force 6 from the East,
and although we try, it is too strong a head wind to allow us to cross the 9km
to Ios. While Steve and I explore locally Rod marches all the way to Sikinos
village and back to ensure we have sufficient water, and also finds some
delicious pork chops for our bbq dinner. Red Sahara dust blown in by the
Easterly winds turns the sky an eerie pink.
an early start with a now SW tail wind finds us sitting on the beach by the
harbour on Ios by 10 am. We have to face the fact that the wind direction is not
going to change sufficiently to allow us to complete the journey by kayak. The
North wind we need to enable us to cross the 18km from Ios to Santorini is not
going to happen by tomorrow. Not to be thwarted in our aim to get to Santorini
we board the 2pm ferry from Ios. We manhandle the fully laden kayaks onto the
car deck, and leave them with the piles of luggage and suitcases already there.
Huge seas break right over the bow and decks of the ferry, at least we do not
have to feel as if we whimped out of this crossing.
the third time on the trip we have to resort to plan B when we find that having
got to Santorini the now gale force winds are preventing us from leaving the
dock area and paddling to our next beach camp. We have to resort to squatting
round the back of the harbour authorities building overnight, and spend most of
Tuesday exploring Santorini by hire car until the wind dies down and we make our
escape around 4pm.
the 20th is last day of our expedition and we are rewarded with
beautiful sunshine, no wind and a calm sea. We make the most of it and explore
the Caldera, the sunken volcanic crater that forms the inner sea of the near
circular island of Santorini. We paddle to Nea Kamini, the “new” volcanic
island in the centre, to visit the hot springs and the volcano. A relaxed paddle
to the Northern tip of the island is followed by a very pleasant lunch at Ia.
The early part of the evening is spent in the sun cooking dinner on a small
beach below an old mining area. To round it all off we paddle back to the port
10 pm we board the ferry back to Milos where we arrive at 2am on Thursday
Later that day we find a note stuck to our bedroom door: THE SURF IS UP FANCY A PADDLE, ROD.