Stories, jokes and useful information about the Aegean Sea- How did the Aegean take its name?
There are two theories:
1. According to Greek Mythology, the Aegean Sea owes its name to the King of Athens, Aigeas (Aegeas), who drowned himself in the Aegean Sea when he thought that his son Theseus had died trying to kill the Minotaur in Creta island.
2. In ancient times the Greeks called the large waves ‘aig(y)es’ (that means jumping goats). Thus we arrive at “Aegeon” = Aegean. In modern Greek it is called 'Aig(y)aio'.
- How large can these waves be?
Not very big but comparatively short and steep. The changes in the direction and force of the wind due to the many islands and channels very often create choppy seas.
- Wind? How strong can the wind be in the Aegean?
There are 3 levels of strong wind:
"Kapelatos" when it takes your hat (kapelo) from your head.
"Kareklatos" when it blows away the chairs (karekles) from the taverns.
"Cambanatos" when it rings the bells (cambanes) of the churches.
- Why are there so many churches in the Aegean islands?
Most of them are built as solemn promises of sailors to return safe from their trips.
- And those on the top of almost every mountain?
Those are dedicated to Prophet Elias. According to the myth he was a sailor who decided, (no wonder why), to live in a place where nobody had seen the Sea before. A shepherd up on a high mountain was the first person who could not recognize the oar he was holding.
- I heard someone calling "tsompanis" (shepherd) someone else in a port.
A bitter comment about his sailing (probably mooring) abilities.
- Is it difficult to moor in the ports of the islands?
If you are not used to "stern-to" or "bow-to" docking, yes. Also, it is not always easy to find a free place. Very often you have to dock on a second or third row and walk over other boats to go ashore.
- Is that allowed?
Yes. Of course you take off your shoes, you try not to pass from their cock-pit and you do not make a noise.
- Are the Ports noisy?
It depends but most of them are noisy because of the taverns and the bars along the quay. Ports ("Skala" is the name for most of them) are built recently (in Greek history recently means after 1830) after the extermination of piracy and grew mostly because of tourism. So, it is natural for them to be noisy, lively and cheerful day and night.
- Where there pirates in the Aegean?
Not to mention the Great Powers and their fleets there were other pirates as well. One of them the famous Barbarossa (red beard) was born in Palaiokipos, a village in the Gulf of Yera on Lesvos island. His father was a priest...
-What about the refugee crisis especially in Lesvos island?
Not only Lesvos but the whole Europe was not prepared to handle the refugee crisis when it reached its peak during the year 2015. This problem though was a chance for everybody to prove his attitude to life. While other countries were closing their borders, the people of Lesvos and the other East Aegean islands, together with volunteers from all over the World, were welcoming the refugees and offering them hospitality and security as they deserved it according to the International and, more important, to the Humanitarian law.
Today the situation is manageable. There will always be people who will try to cross the channel in order to escape from the War hoping for a better future in Europe but HCG will pick them from the borders and guide them to the camps for first aid and registration. No more garbage on the beaches, no more suffering, no more drowns.
Now Lesvos is trying to get back to normal and with its old and new friends to be the "Island of All Together".
- What is the "biggest danger" in the Aegean today?
To be seduced by its beauty...like the old sailors by the Sirens and not to pay attention to your charts and the weather.
- How do we learn about the weather when sailing in the Aegean?
The Port Authority will give you a 24h weather forecast as provided by the Hellenic National Meteorological Service which is updated every 6 hours and inform you about any Gale Warning.
On the VHF on channels depending on the area you sail, you will hear the same report or you can ask for it from channel 16 "Olympia Radio".
On the radio.
On TV after the news.
Through the Internet in countless weather forecast sites.
- Are these forecasts accurate?
Generally yes, but there are always the local conditions which play a great role. So, read the pilot books and ask the locals as well.
- Do the local people speak English?
Yes, most of them will understand the basic questions although they are not always able to answer them. But they will try to help you by all means.
Young people speak English and many of them French or German as well.
Older people in Lesvos might speak or understand Turkish.
- What are the relations between Greece and Turkey like?
Let's talk about Greek and Turkish people, especially those who live along the Aegean coastlines. You will find them living and cooperating in peace in many ways.
Greek and Turkish culture differ and have many in common at the same time. The result of their interrelation has positive influence, obvious in the architecture, the music, the cooking and other sides of our life.
- What makes Greek food special?
Its simplicity. There is no need to use special sauces or complicated ways of cooking, since the pure and fresh ingredients we use, result in rich in flavor and taste, healthy dishes.
- Is it easy to cook on board?
The truth is that cooking on board is easier than eating on board. You can cook even while sailing in rough weather but make sure you will reach a quiet anchorage or calm waters in time to enjoy your meal.
- How far is the usual day sail in a cruise?
15 to 20 nautical miles is the distance we will travel in most cases. This means a morning sail so we can be in our destination before noon. In some cases though, when we have to cross from one group of islands to the other, a longer trip is necessary. An early morning start is the best way to avoid the strong sun and enjoy most of the day in a calm anchorage.
- Is sailing in the night dangerous?
No, if you are well prepared and an experienced sailor. Still though, it is difficult to avoid floating trash which might cause serious problems in your engine or hull.
- Is the Aegean polluted?
The Aegean is one of the cleanest seas, since there are no big industries or large cities on the islands. This is proved by the 394 Blue Flags in Greek beaches and 9 more in Greek marinas.
Unfortunately sometimes many of us act carelessly. Thus, litter can be carried by the wind and the currents in even the most inaccessible beaches. So it is in our hands to keep it clean.
- Are there many marinas in the Aegean?
Not like in other tourist parts of the World. You will find just a few of the typical luxury marinas and most of them on the Turkish coast. In a way we are glad that still there are small picturesque fishing ports to spend a couple of days and unspoiled coves to hide. Once in a while we reach a bigger port for supplies.
- Should we buy all the supplies we will need before we start our trip?
Mytilene has a big, good market, cheaper than any other place around so you should buy the basics here. Buy fresh food supplies though, from the ports you reach during your trip. A good pilot book or your skipper will inform you about the facilities offered in every port.
- What about fuel?
Fill up your tank and a couple of reserve tanks before you start. If you have to add fuel, put it first in the reserve tanks.
- What about water?
You can find drinking water in most of the ports in the North Aegean. Again, a pilot book or your skipper will help you to plan when and from where to fill up your tanks during your trip.
- I have been sailing in the Aegean for many years, why hire a professional skipper?
If you want to be the skipper for your crew, its up to you. Don't you think though that you deserve carefree vacations as well? Since you have been in the Aegean before, you know that the skipper can never "relax" even with his boat tied in the port.
- How experienced should we be on a sailing trip with a professional skipper?
From sailing champions to ...completely "innocent". Any skipper will plan the trip according to his crew and he will try to make it a pleasant experience for everybody. He will inspire his crew to participate in order to enjoy the beauty of sailing but he has in mind that he might have to handle any tough situation alone.
- What is a tough situation?
If you are on vacation even the chance to have a toilet plugged with paper is a tough situation.
- Can sailing be dangerous?
Yes, if you do not take all the appropriate measures of safety, if you do not take care of the boat and its equipment, if you act irresponsibly, if you drink alcohol while sailing, if...
- And you call that a vacation?
For some people, sailing is a way to adjust and join their mind and body with nature. It is a temptation and also a unique way to do it. In cruising with a sailboat, sailing is also a way to reach virgin, unspoiled places at a low cost.
- What is the cost of a sailing trip?
Many factors influence the cost of a sailing trip. At any case you can compare it with the cost of a good hotel in the same area and the same season but with a sailboat you can see many more places at no cost. Not to mention that you can cook most of your meals on board. On the other hand, packing a boat with 10 or even 12 people in order to share the cost, ruins the whole picture.
Expensive? Maybe. Worth it? Yes.
- What is the best season for sailing vacations?
Sailing is a sport and a way to travel. A sailboat can take you wherever you want, whenever you want and for any reason you want. So if you want sailing as a sport, at least in the Aegean, there is no dead season.
If you are looking for swimming and lying in the sun, then come in the summer. If you do not want crowds, then do not come in August. If you are looking for bird watching, then choose early spring or autumn. If you want hiking or cycling, then do not choose the hot summer months.
- Hiking, cycling, bird-watching, scuba diving, 4Χ4.. is it possible to combine all this with sailing?
Not only possible but a must. It is a unique way to get the whole picture of the place you visit. Adjust your program according to your interests and physical abilities and enjoy with all your senses.
- But is there enough time? We are on vacations!!!!
Do not forget that in Lesvos all these activities are just next to you and even more they are part of its everyday's life. So the question is: How deep you want to dive in Paradise?
- Paradase? Don 't you exaggerate a bit?
Let's see what some well-known people say about Lesvos:
MIKIS THEODORAKIS Composer
"Mytilene has indelibly marked me as a child, since I spent there the best first years of my childhood when my father was Director of the Prefecture. Starring for hours the heavy seas and the beautifull blue color, which I have not forgotten since."
LEFTERIS PAPADOPOULOS songwriter
"What can I say about Lesvos? Every so often I write about this magical island, this holy, the most lovable place."
ALKISTI PROTOPSALTI Singer
"Unforgettable place. I have made very good friends in Mytilene. The enchanted sea, where me and my friend Stratos, fished for hours. The best memories in my life."
ALBERT CAMUS Writer
"Later, when we moored at Sigri, I was impressed by the picturesque landscape of austerity, ordinary people, the Petrified Forest and the legend about the other on the sea bottom. Here I want to come to live and work. It is the place of the gods! "
More helpful FAQ in Matt Barrett's http://www.greektravel.com/faq/index.html