Southern Dodecanese sea kayak expedition
Kos to Rhodes

20 October - 4 November 2007

Click on highlighted area to see GPS route

Expedition Members: Steve and Josien Woolmer, Teresa Catteeuw, Inge and Marcel Pouwels, Rod Feldtmann.

See also a report by Inge Pouwels in Dutch

100,000 Paddle strokes, (Expedition report by Josien)

October 2007.  Having successfully managed a similar expedition from Milos to Santorini in 2005, we have come back for another adventure amongst the Greek islands. The trip has again been organised, and will be led by Rod Feldtmann who runs Sea Kayak Milos. We will be journeying from the island of Kos to the island of Rhodes in the Dodecanese island group.


The "team" meets up at the Best Western Hotel in Rhodes on Saturday 27th October, it consists of Steve and myself (Josien) Woolmer, Inge and Marcel Pouwels from the Netherlands, and Teresa Catteeuw from Austria. We have not met before and enjoy getting acquainted over a superb Greek dinner while we wait for Rod and the kayaks to arrive by ferry from Milos.  The expedition will be self-sufficient and we have brought all our camping equipment and personal gear for the duration of the 8-day trip. Rod is providing the Laser Rainbow sea kayaks, paddles and BAs.


After Rod’s arrival battle plans are drawn and early on Sunday morning after fitting and loading the boats we depart by fast ferry from Rhodes to Kos, where we will start our expedition. After shopping for provisions in Kos town we set off around midday heading for the southern side of the island only to have several canons fired at us as we paddle out of the harbour.  Our departure day, it turns out, coincided with “Ochi day”, a day of national pride commemorating the day the Greek army defeated the Italians in 1942.


We make camp after a 14km paddle, on a nice beach as light begins to fade, it is getting dark around 5.30pm, which is a slight disadvantage of a trip this time of year, although the sea temperature is a lovely 20C. Due to the time of year Rod proposes we go for early starts to make the most of daylight hours, this means we will be getting up at 5am most days and getting on the water by 7am. We prepare dinner in 2 groups around the campfire, and we are all asleep by 9.30.


Monday 29th, Kos to Yiali; true to his word Rod has us on the water by 7am, lovely to paddle as the light increases, we paddle along the south side of Kos 14km to to the tacky beach resort town of Kardamena. Lunch on the beach and a quick shop for some extra water supplies. We make the 11km crossing to Yiali, first crossing of the trip, in slightly strengthening winds, which add to the fun. Yiali Island is volcanic and heavily mined, the beach at our campsite for the night consists of a type of volcanic stone: Perlite, according to Rod (cat litter to you and me). Camp furniture is constructed and after dinner some camp games help to stretch the aching muscles. Total distance today 33km.

Tuesday 30th Yiali to Nisiros; our first port of call on Nisiros is Mandriaki "town" which does not offer an easy landing for our kayaks, we manage to land in a small rocky inlet where we leave the boats while we wonder around the town.  Lovely white buildings and pavement mosaics made out of black and white beach pebbles. Our approach to the island was observed by some of the locals and the catch phrase of the trip is born; you travel like that? From Kos to Rhodes!! CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!!!.

The beach, at Valiki, that we planned to camp on is too small, so we make our camp on the sea wall of a tiny harbour surrounding a deserted spa (hot spring) village, why bother with a tent just roll out your mat and sleeping bag. The island contains an extinct volcano, We make the 600m climb to Nikia town on the crater rim to view the of the volcano and to enjoy some Greek delicacies.


Wednesday 31st Nisiros to Tilos; woken by a loud Kikerikoo (Greek for cock-a-doodle-doo) from Rod at 5am. We manage bacon sarnies for breakfast, in Greece!! An early morning 12km crossing brings us to Donkey Island, where we stop to stretch our legs; not a donkey to be seen. Then onwards to Tilos where we are planning to spend 2 days, working our way around the island to the southern tip. From the tiny village where we land we are given a lift to the “capital” of the island by a friendly man who puts plastic garden chairs in his van for us to sit on.


The capital of Tilos seems almost deserted but it does contain 2 mini markets and 1 restaurant. We stock up on supplies and head back to our Kayaks by bus. The ladies on the bus look at he boats pulled up on the beach and when they realise they belong to us.........CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!!!!.  Camp that night is set up across the bay on what turns out to be an abandoned campsite, with a load of peacocks for company.


Thursday 1st November, Tilos north to south. During the night the wind came up and we wake to a force 5-6 from the south, with reasonable waves across the bay. No rush to set off then as we need a favourable wind to get to the southern end of the island. Time to relax, walk or, for Rod and Steve a challenging paddle across the bay to check out which side of the island will be most sheltered to paddle along. We need not have worried, by the time we set off around 1pm the wind is in our favour and Rod urges us on to manage the 18km to a point on the southern tip of Yiali. The starting point for our crossing to Halki tomorrow. We arrive just as the light begins to fade to on a beautiful beach where make we our camp, we barbecue potatoes and sausages over the campfire.


Friday 2nd, Tilos to Halki, a very light SE wind makes it a perfect morning for our longest crossing of the trip: 21km to Halki. We set off just after 7am and agree to stop for 5 minutes on the hour every hour for a brief rest and a snack. During these stops we award our selves energy foods such as bananas, fruit and nut bars and cold sausages from last nights barbecue (not a good idea as they leave your hands greasy and slipping on the paddles). The crossing is completed in 4 hours and 10 minutes. To break the monotony of the long crossing Rod asks us to work out the number of paddle strokes needed to cover a distance of 100m, measured on the GPS. Between us we average 60 strokes.  And now we can do the maths to work out how many strokes it will take us to complete 165km, the approximate total length of our journey: 100,000 paddle strokes


We haul the boats out on the rocky shore of the northern tip of Halki and take a well-deserved 1 1/2 hour lunch break at 11.30am. Later as we round the southern tip of the island the sea goes flat and turns a dark velvety blue, the island stands above this in a tall stretch of mountainous coast making for an almost surreal last 5km paddle to a beach to the east of Halki town. A very civilised dinner in town and back to the beach to camp for the night.

Saturday 3rd, Halki to Alimia 15km. We now have 2 days to cover the last 30 km back to the finish on Rhodes. We opt for a later start time 8am on the water. We paddle around the point and into Halki town where we stock up on supplies and have hot Bougatza, a Greek breakfast snack consisting of a custard filled pastry. The locals for whom the holiday season is over find great entertainment in our antics of landing the kayaks on the boat ramp in the harbour. Where have you come from? Kos! And where are you going to? Rhodes! CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!!!!


A leisurely paddle, on a flat sea, brings us to the lovely island of Alimia by lunchtime; we set up our last camp on this uninhabited island and spend the afternoon cleaning the kayaks, practicing rolling and exploring the deserted village. We chat to some local fishermen who give us freshly made fish soup. These CRAZY PEOPLE need looking after.


Sunday 4th, Alimia to Rhodes 15km. Again a late 8am start still no wind; Rod is dying for a good force 5 to lift the waves, but his wishes are not granted. We pass and explore a huge fish farm.  Rod consigns his temperamental head torch to the deep, throughout the journey he has had to bash his head to make it turn either on or off and he is beginning to worry about his reputation. Then it is time to make the crossing back to Rhodes, we arrive around 11.15 at Kamirou in a little harbour full of Sunday boaters and fishermen. After hauling out the kayaks for the last time, Rod hitches a ride back to Rhodes town to retrieve his car and the team retire to a quayside restaurant for a celebratory lunch, already making plans for the next expedition. CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!