Friday, 13 December 2013

Autumn in Patroklos Island

Written by Antonis Iordanoglou


Years ago I heard my father talking about Gaidouronisi (donkey island in Greek), as we drove to Cape Sounion, watching this remote island, located quite close to the shore. We now know the place as Patroclos (or Patroclus’) island and since I got my speedboat I often moor at its sandy beaches and protected bays.



Island of Patroclus...

On that October Saturday, I had gone spearfishing with a friend, again in that island. The weather was weird: it started like a north wind but kept changing direction west - east. The clarity at the atmosphere was amazing. We loiter at the spotless horizon all the nearby Cyclades islands up to Serifos. What a sweet autumn afternoon...
 
Very few boats had come out to the sea that day and quiet was absolute. Underwater it was quiet too; fish were not many, but the images were full of greatness.



I was watching around, during my dives, the remains of the many shipwrecks of Patroclus. Broken crockery everywhere, iron plates, wires, handles from ancient jugs tied to incredible formations with the colourful rocks of the seabed, trimmed with all kinds of seaweed, anemones and sponges. I've seen those remains many times.


So what? They are always beautiful.

We finished diving and swam around the boat and then we sat on the boat to drink some coffee. "Heeey… you there... let’s go to Harakas, let’s go out...“ I heard two fishermen shouting to each other on a caique with a wheezy diesel engine, which passed near us.
 
Harakas? Why Harakas?

Harakas is a beach just opposite of Patroclus’ island, at the coast.



But the beach got its name from the island. I see...

Patroclus’ Harax, was named the island in antiquity. Harax meant wall, fortification, army camp; the camp of Patroclus. This Patroclus was not the unlucky friend of Achilles, in Trojian War, the famous Homeric poem. He was the admiral of the Egyptian king Ptolemy, who came to this island and set up a camp, as the historian Pausanias wrote to its book "Attica". This camp was used to help the Athenians during the Chremonidean War (262-266 AD), when the army of Antigonus was hitting them mercilessly. Admiral Patroklus fortified the island near the Attica coast and dashed with his fleet from there to hit the army of Antigonus. But he did not managed a lot though. Because the sailors of his fleet were unrelated to land operations. While Antigonus’ army was sweeping Attica...
 


Those momentous events happened in our small Patroclus’ island. Nothing reminds those times today except the name of the admiral. And if anything from the Egyptian fleet still remains here, it is well hidden among the rocks of the seabed.

Other Egyptians, apart from some workers at the Patroclus’ fish farms, do not exist on the island anymore.

It got dark so we had to leave.

 “ ... and the small deserted island called Patroclus “ (as Pausanias wrote)  remained behind us .


Where am I?
The island of Patroclus is about 900 meters from the coast of Attica, just before Cape Sounion, near Legrena village. The only way to get there is by a private boat. During the summer months an excursion boat usually performs some routes from the small port, just opposite of the fish farms. You reach Legrena area by car following the Poseidonos - Sounion highway.


Author's Bio
Antonis is a travel writer, cartographer, and journalist for over 15 years. He worked as travel writer and travel editor in chief for the biggest Greek newspapers and travel magazines. He has created many travel guides for the unexplored Greece and for the Greek islands, many coffee table books and maps for many editors.
See more of Antonis in his Twitter page.