By Thomas Panagiotopoulos

We knew in advance what we had to face within the next 18nm until Imeri Gamvousa isle. Indeed, as we were leaving the lantern, the landscape immediately changed. The sweet face of the sea was replaced by big pounding waves which were fiercely coming towards our port.

The ribs were disappearing in the huge waves of the white sea. Only VHF antennas appeared now and then while the wind was constantly becoming stronger. Having the weather on our side, we could keep a dignified speed.
With the inflatable being either on the top of the waves or in their deep dimples, it is not a secret that I felt I was flying. It was as if my mind had stopped. I wasn’t thinking anything. To be exact, I was flying from the one wave to the other being lost in the absolute blue color of the wild sea being assimilated with the deep blue sky. I was coming down with force crossing by the ridge of each wave to be afterwards in the top of the next one. A pat on my shoulder made me wake up from my lethargy. I had crossed several miles being absolutely tuned with the pulse of the wild sea. I swept the salt off my face and looked around me trying to come back to reality.
PreveliWe had already reached Imeri Gramvousa and while sailing openly from its east side we entered the leeward bay which is on the south exactly below the Venetian castle. We tied up by the little dock just opposite the small chapel of St. Nikolaos. The weather was milder here and was an ideal place to get a rest and spend the night.
From Imeri Gramvousa we could begin our acquaintance with the west and south Crete, including Gavdos and Gaidouronisi (Chrysi), to end up in Sidero cape, in the northeast edge of the big island (Crete). It was a route of 250NM which we aimed to cover within 6-8 days, choosing to spend the night in its best places.

Gramvousa peninsula along with Imeri Gramvousa isle and the smaller Tigani cape set the borders of a big sea and leeward area of about 1NM diameter. In the south part of this sea area, Balos lagoon is formed with the enchanting water and white sand which ends in the north in a wide strip of sand, leaving a small and very shallow passage from which we can drag the rib in the small «lake».
You will be literally speechless facing the unique spectacle which we see nowhere else in our country. Shining and clear water, in all tones of the blue and green colors with the dazzling white sand entering everywhere compose a magical landscape, purely exotic, which reminds  of a tropical place. The power of the landscape is such that captivates our thought as our eyes look hungrily again and again towards every direction, as if they want to attract something from its uniqueness.
Early in the morning, the weather being markedly milder, we set sail for Elafonisi, in the southwest edge of Crete. We quickly covered the 21 NM which separated us from our destination and in less than an hour we reached the lantern in the west edge of the isle. Elafonisi is connected with the land through a narrow strip of bright white sand which barely projects from the sea. Around this strip there is a small lagoon with incredibly crystal-clear water, while in the parts where the water licks the shore, the thin sand has an incredible pink color from the worn shells similar to which we have never seen anywhere else.

GavdosIn the afternoon, we entered wonderful Loutro where we could spend the night. The next morning we started our trip to Gavdos, in 180 degrees, 20NM southern, in the southmost edge of our country but also that of Europe. So, there was Gavdos, in the hug of the Libyan Sea. The name «Gavdos» has become a synonym for words such as calmness, isolation and peace, an untouched and virgin place, away from any kind of human intervention. So, we are expecting to see something special, something which will enchant us and keep us there, in the same way as Calypso kept Odysseus near her. Few people live here, no more than 50, scattered in four or five settlements. They are settlements of two or three families.
Our acquaintance with the island started in its west side, from Kefali to Tripiti capes. This entire piece is steep and unwelcoming with no beach. So, we soon reached Tripiti cape, the southmost cape of Greece. Here, there are arches of exceptional beauty which pierce the small peninsula and look like exit gates towards the Dark Continent which is at a distance of less than 150NM.
In the afternoon we entered Karave, the port of the island. A makeshift pier where the ship which starts from Paliohora as well as the local boats which upload their supplies anchor, a tavern and five houses constitute the infrastructure of the island. As soon as the sun set, we returned to Tripiti bay where we aimed to spend the night. The peace and beauty of the bay acted determinately and soon we fell asleep on our ribs.
The schedule for the next day included the circumnavigation of the north shores where there are the most beautiful beaches. The first stop was Sarakiniko bay full of white sand with tamarisk and cedars. Several houses, built offhand, look like illegal ones. Three or four small taverns with wattles and tents stuck among the cedars complete the picture of this place. Here, the heart of the island beats. But, everything moves in slow motion. Time here is not important. Swimming, fishing, a cold beer in some plain taverns and in the evening fresh fish and a chat until late. A bit far away from Sarakiniko there is St. John’s beach. Its golden sand in the hillside decorated with cedars constitutes a favorite destination for campers.
ChrysiAfter we spend a few days in Gavdos which in reality looked like a lot more, in the afternoon we set sail for Preveli beach. The picture was fantastic. The first thing we have to do is to ascend the trail that leads high up in the steep rock. The view that we face is unique as the water of the canyon ends up in the west edge of the beach. The river banks are full of palm trees while on the left, as well as on the right, there are huge rocks.
We set sail for Chrysi isle or Gaidouronisi as it is widely known, 9NM south of Ierapetra. In 20 minutes we approached the island. We tied up in a makeshift dock, almost half sunken, which was made by fishermen to tie up their boats. Shortly, we were in Mr. Kostas’s tavern which has been here for several years. The tavern is the only building on the island. Simple and hospitable, with a few tables scattered around underneath the shade of the bamboo roof. We sat and were refreshed with a cold beer.
Around us the landscape was like a fairyland. Chrysi or Chrysea according to the ancient Greeks – took its name from its amazing beaches which take a golden color next to the crystal-clear water. A small dot in the map, with a parameter of no more than 7NM, in the infinity of the Libyan Sea. An idyllic place with white sand full of colorful tiny shells. Sand dunes decorated with cedars which grow only in Africa, the branches of which are sided due to the strong wind, form shady corners which host a lot of tents. Absolute freedom. Time and clocks are useless in this place. We only stayed for one day on the island but it was enough to convince us that paradise is here!