By Thomas Panagiotopoulos

At noon, in the following day, after having sailed in the south shores of Kassos, we reached the northeast edge of the island and from there, we set sail to the south cape of Karpathos at a distance of 6 NM.


Sailing in the northeast coastline of the island, after 10NM, we entered Pigadia bay where there is the port. After having refueled, we were setting our plans while enjoying our coffee in a seaside café. We spread the map of Karpathos on our table and we were looking for a small port which could host us for a few days, while using it as our base for our daily excursions. We ended up in Diafani which is on the northeast of the island. Our choice was based on the following reasons.
• It is a scenic and quiet village with a safe port. There are taverns, plenty of rooms to let, while the hospitality of its residents is memorable.
• We were separated from amazing shores such as St.Minas, kira Panagia, Achatas and Apellas beaches only by a few miles. These bays are in the south of Diafani towards Pigadia.
• At near distance, in the northwest edge of the island there is Tristomo, a natural bay of two metres long and three hundred metres width. The old and deserted little houses with their half-immersed yards take you back to past eras.
Olympos Karpathos• Very close, about 15 minutes by bus, there is Olympos whose seaport is Diafani. The approach  of Olympos from Pigadia by car is very difficult due to the rutty dirt road. The visit in this mountainous village is a true experience. Here, time has literally stopped. We are in the most traditional village of our country, were the women are still walking along the narrow streets wearing their signature local costumes, full of flowers and jewels. The old shoemaker’s, the wood-fired ovens, the windmills, the old cafés are in danger of extinction in other places but, here, they constitute the vital elements of the everyday life of the locals. The cubic-shaped houses perched on the steep side of the hill, reach the edge where the now famous, old windmills take over. The whole village snuggles among the high, impervious mountains isolated from the rest of the world. Its few residents love their land and are loyal to their customs and traditions by making provisions in order to remain intact throughout the years.
• A few miles northern there is the Saria isle which is separated from Karpathos with a narrow passage of a few metres long. On the northeast edge of the isle we see Palatia bay where in its heart there is a pebbled beach with a row of tamarix offering to us their valuable shade. On the east and right sides of the beach a whole settlement of low arched buildings is distinct, some of which being half destroyed and some of which being intact, probably constructed by the Saracen pirates who had chosen this place as a base for their raids.
Karpathos was a pleasant but also an unexpected surprise. A decoration of the Dodecanese with its own special colour and with its own time course. In no way we had expected to be impressed to such an extend. Perhaps because we had never heard anything about it or, because it had never happened to meet someone who visited it, since it ensures to go unnoticed in comparison with other much advertised travel destinations. We spent four wonderful days on the island, full of dreamy images.

Kastelorizo
At dawn, we left the port of Rhodes behind us. We had 71NM to cover to Kastelorizo. We entered a route of 100 degrees while the sea had already started wrinkling. As the sun was rising up in the horizon, the weather was becoming worse. But we did not care. The weather was behind us, while our mind was in our final destination.
We were at the entrance of the port which a few days ago looked incredibly distant. The inflatable was moving slowly in the hug of the leeward bay. We were living in a dream. Everything looked enchanting. The whole place was a painting. The charm of this island was such that we remained speechless and moved at the same time, for a long time. Moved, because in every corner of this place its long history is imprinted. Simply because we reached the furthest piece of our country. But, we were moved for one more reason. We reached our own Ithaca.
karpathosWe explored every corner, noticing and photographing the beautiful mansions until it started getting dark. The wandering in the narrow streets of this little village is a unique experience. The lights were switched on offering a fairytale aspect in this place, while people slowly started going out for their evening walk by the peaceful sea of the port. The next day, during the rising of the sun we were in the castle which is on the port. Next to the huge blue and white flag we were staring at the multiple isles some of which being greek and some turkish. In the port, Kasteloriso at this time is ‘dressed’ in its sweetest colours. The view from this point is enchanting. Having sat for a long time on the edge of the rock we were noticing the colourful one or two-storey houses, one adjacent to the other, along the coastline of the port. Spare, with small doors, windows and balconies having a view of the sea. No matter where you roll your eyes at, which corner you look at, the beauty is such that disarms you. All the residents of the island are no more than 200 souls. Whatever had remained intact by the disastrous earthquake of 1926 was destroyed by the german bombers in the second world war.
In the southeast side of the island there is the famous blue ‘cave’ or otherwise called Fokiali. You can enter its low and narrow entrance only with a small boat. We entered swimming and we were speechless in front of a dreamy spectacle. The colours of the water from the reflections of the sun were unique.  A feast of colours, with all the shades of the blue competing in beauty while the stalactites and stalagmites in strange shapes were making this magical scenery even more impressive. Perhaps, those people who claim that it is the most beautiful cave in the Mediterranean Sea are right.

The return
KastelorizoThe next morning, the long journey of our return was about to begin. There were a thousand thoughts on my mind. I went down in the inflatable, stuck under the tent of the bow and spread my nautical map of the Aegean Sea. We had to cover 450NM in the following three days. The next day arrived. The goal of our journey for that day was to reach St. Marina, which is in about the middle of the east side of Leros island,route of 158NM. I stretched for a while and I took a last breath getting a last smell from the sweetest port of Kasteloriso. I gave a friendly pat on the after float of the inflatable as if I was giving a ‘warm’ pat on the back. My hand turned on the ignition key mechanically, listening to the engine idling as if it was whispering that everything was alright. I knew that both of us would struggle in the long ascent. Our loyal inflatable would patiently follow our mutual passion by opening the way through the waves accordingly.
The norther that was blowing that morning was not capable of affecting our sailing. We were travelling with a steady speed of 25 knots.
We were in a high mood. We looked as if we needed this outlet. We liked this constant contact with the sea which the long voyage offers to you with all its difficulties. Absolute freedom is somewhere there, in the infinite blue. And, whoever discovers it, is happy. The smell of the sea, the smell of the salt on our skin, even our soaking wet clothes were deeply invigorating.
We are happy now with our dreams having become sweet memories which will warm our heart and travel us forever.