Approaching Donoussa in the early/ mid 1990s

At Donoussa, larger ferries use the new harbour. The Skopelitis uses the older, smaller harbour nearer to the centre of the village. The Skopelitis no doubt continued to use the older quay as it was more conveniently placed for deliveries, especially in the days when there was even less in the way of wheeled transport than there is today. There is still little in the way of transport on Donoussa, but more than there was a few years ago. [Note from England: in summer 1998 the Express Skopelitis was brought into service; being larger than the old Skopelitis, she uses the new harbour. The Skopelitis I refer to here is the old, original, Skopelitis. There are also now more roads on Donousa]

On other islands the Skopelitis docks by way of her "car ramp," on the side of the ship at the back. "Car ramp" is probably too grand a word for a ramp to an area of the Skopelitis that could in theory carry two small cars. In practice, the area is so crammed full of boxes, parcels, and (especially at Easter) slaughtered lambs packaged up like mummies, that there is no room for a car.

At Donoussa, a small gate on the front deck is used for embarking and disembarking. The locals and regular travellers in these parts know this know this. Most other people see what is happening. However I have known passengers wait around at the back of the boat for the ship to dock - when the ship has docked and undocked at the front. I remember that at Donoussa one English chap was most irate about it. As the Skopelitis was pulling away from Donoussa, he kept demanding that he be returned to Donoussa, and that the Skopelitis should dock 'properly'. He was told words to the effect of "hard luck mate, we'll take you to Koufonissi and you can come back tonight." He had wanted to get off at Donoussa but he stayed on the boat. The only way back was by the same boat on the return trip. It is easy to laugh - but everyone has to learn the ropes somehow. If I had wanted to get off at Donoussa the first time I was on a ferry that called in there, I could well have missed it! I thought about my first trip to the Cyclades, when I was hovering at the ‘wrong’ end of the Panagia Tinou waiting for her to dock, without realising that the other end of the ship was tied up to the harbour. At least that chap knew that the island was Donoussa. The islands do not have name plates like railway stations, and often novices have no idea where they are. One young girl asked me once as we approached Katapola "The boat, does she go on to Chora!" For those who do not know, Chora is inland and uphill.

It is easy to laugh… But… At Naxos, the Skopelitis usually docks at the small boat harbour. Once when I was waiting to catch a fast boat at 3.15 (I hang my head in shame, the Skopelitis left at 3) the Skopelitis was moored in the big boats quay. Confusing. I never discovered why, and if I had wanted to catch her, I might have waited in vain at the wrong quay. I kept my head down - as I felt like a traitor not going on the local boat - but arriving at 5.30 instead of about 10.30 is quite an advantage.