Log #33h Leaving Crete

September 17, 2004 in Log Series 30-39, Logs by Series, Series 33 Turkey - Greece to Rome, The Logs

We are still anchored at Vulcano on a grey rainy day. We have had a lot of rainy windy weather here in Italy the past few days. Using our Italian SIM chip in our Nokia mobile phone, I am once again able to send E-mail from the boat. Happiness is… My apologies to any of you who received an old log as well as my last Log #33g. I sent them out on automatic AOL from my laptop for the first time in months, and forgot to eliminate the old logs I was unable to send out previously. To stop the process I had to disconnect the phone hookup, but was not able to do so before a few of the old logs went out.

We are enjoying the spectacular views of the volcanic islands around us. We haven’t climbed up to the crater of any of them yet; we’ll wait for the rain and clouds to clear first. Paul and Sheryl Shard have a good DVD out on their experiences in this area last year.

More about Italy, these islands, the Strait of Messina, and Scilla and Charybdis in my next log.

All the best,

Aubrey


Log #33h Leaving Crete

Vulcano. Lipari Islands, Italy

September 17, 2004

While waiting for the 30 knot north and northwest winds to die down, we helped alongside a Brit boat, Altair, a 68 foot Oyster, with whom Judy wanted to swap books. We had a pleasant afternoon with them next day. Larry, an American who was part owner, had a library of 200 DVD’s, and lent me a couple for the evening. However I was not able to play them on my laptop, as they were on the North American area, and my Dell is still on the European area. I belatedly found out a couple of years ago that the world areas for DVD can be switched a maximum of 5 times, and then the computer is locked into the last area “permanently”. I found this out only after my fourth switch, and since I am now in the European area, I do not want to make the final switch to North American settings until I return to the Caribbean. I have heard that there are ways of getting around this limiting feature, but do not know enough about computers to risk trying it.

The storm outside kept up for several days. I went on a tour to the Samaria Gorge on Sept. 7th, the day Doug was to join us. Judy went to the airport to pick him up, as she didn’t want to go hiking through a gorge. Murphy’s Law, for the first time in three months, it rained! When we got to the gorge, it was raining and foggy. We were cautioned that the rain might wash down rock slides and the gorge would be quite treacherous to negotiate. However, rather than canceling it, those who wished to try it were allowed to, at their own risk, and the others would go to the Imbros Gorge, a slightly smaller gorge, but a dry one. As I had only a short sleeved shirt and short pants, I did not feel like getting wet for a four hour trek and elected to stay with the bus to visit the dry gorge. It was quite impressive, with several narrow passages only a few metres wide, and sheer cliffs towering 250 metres above. It was indeed a dry gorge, not a single stream or brook entered it, even though it had been raining earlier. I explored several cliffside caves, and took pictures of dramatic craggy rocks, narrow chasms, and mountain goats climbing the sheer walls. I saw one goat climbing straight down a rock wall, with its body stretched vertically downwards, like a squirrel climbing down a tree trunk. Very agile!

When I got back to Veleda, I was surprised that Altair was still alongside as they had planned to leave earlier. However, even they in that big 68 foot vessel did not want to go against force 7 winds and waves that had been working up for 5 days now. Doug from Toronto was on board Veleda, and brought with him a pile of our mail, some spare parts and medications, and several Canadian magazines and newspapers. The spray coming over the breakwater created a misty, foggy atmosphere, with the dock surfaces wet, and Veleda not only wet, but coated with several days of salt spray.

Next day we topped up with water, hauling it in buckets 100 metres down the dock from a tap, then attached our garden hose for a fresh water shower on the dock. The wind seemed to have settled down a bit. Altair had left earlier that morning, and so we called them on VHF to enquire as to the conditions outside. Manageable! OK, we were off at noon (I had refilled our jerry cans with diesel at 1.06 Euros per litre {about $5.00 US per gallon}) hoisting a double reefed main for our venture into the still heavy seas from six days of force 7 winds. As we had not planned to spend more than a couple of days in Heraklion, we decided to forego any further ports in Crete and just head straight for Sicily, 500 miles away. Checking out with the authorities before leaving was no problem. We paid only 19.00 Euros port charges for 7 days on the wall (it probably would have been at least 20 Euros a day if we had been in the marina), and were off.

We went out in reasonably heavy force 4 to 5 north winds, motorsailing into them. The winds shifted to the NW and became a light force 2 to 3. We motored on! In the first 24 hours we sailed only 6 hours, motoring through very light winds all night. By 0900 next morning the wind had come back up to a force 6 from the NW, causing us to be close hauled to the point of pinching. Then it lightened up to a force 2 to 3, forcing us to motorsail into the sloppy seas. As we left Crete behind, the prospect of motoring straight into the waves did not appeal, and so we altered course for Kithira, the island just off the southern tip of the Peloponessos, going alongside Kapsali (36˚ 08.6’ N, 023˚ 00.0’ E) at 2010, just after sunset.

In the 31 hours since we left Iraklion we had covered only 133 miles, and sailed only 7 hours. We didn’t mind the stopover, as Kapsali is a pleasant tourist town with small scale restaurants, boutiques, and some individual vacation homes around the shoreline. However it does seem to be a stop for cruise ships; we passed a large three masted sailing cruise ship at anchor as we came in, and next day there was a different three masted sailing ship anchored off. We wandered the shoreline street after checking in with the authorities, and had ice cream cones to celebrate our landfall.

With a strong NE wind forecast, we set off next day (Sept. 10), after a pleasant meal at a taverna overlooking the bay, with a double reef already tied into our mainsail, and within 20 minutes of leaving harbor we were sailing along on a fast broad reach at 6 to 7 knots. Rather than heading straight for Sicily we decided to head up the Peloponessos to Methoni. We kept the double reef in the main and had to reef the genoa 50% by evening, as we were in a full force 8 gale for most of the night. Entering between the islands leading to Methoni at about 0130, we motored the last 10 miles to drop anchor at 0330 off the fortress walls of Methoni (36˚ 48.9’ N, 021˚ 42.6’ E). We stopped in Methoni on our way down the Peloponessos in 2001, and thus had one of the few times where we have come into the same anchorage more than once. We covered the 79 miles in 14 hours, only two of which were under motor. An exhilarating sail!

After a sleep in, and a leisurely breakfast, we saw an American boat come in to anchor, flying the Seven Seas Cruising Association Commodore’s swallowtail pennant. We hoisted our SSCA pennant, and went over to visit Jim and Joy Carey on Kelaerin, and of course to exchange books. There was instant camaraderie with fellow SSCA members, and we enjoyed talking boats, dinghies, outboards, repairs, books, recipes, families, ports and countries visited. As they were heading from Italy to Turkey, we gave them our Turkish SIM card, and they gave us their Italian SIM card.

We wandered over town to get a few supplies from a good supermarket, and enjoyed a meal in a shoreside taverna. That evening we watched a 45 foot boat motorsail in very slowly, taking an inordinate amount of time to get the sails down and anchor. We suspect it had been dismasted as the mast was very short, and upon closer inspection saw that they were using a boom as their mast. We never did find out their story as we left next morning with light winds for our long leg to Italy and the Strait of Messina, 320 miles away.