We are currently just leaving the island of Amorgos still on our way over to Leros. Paul tells we have had 25 to 30 knots of wind for a whole month. We have had 2 or 3 days with partial slack but the waves have stayed quite big and have been giving us a rocky ride, not many sailing days and not many walks with the dog because the dinghy ride in can be quite a roller coaster
We have been mostly at anchor all summer. We went in to the quay yesterday because we needed water so we decided to treat ourselves to lunch out, an easy afternoon in front of a film with a bottle of wine. In the morning, I wanted to work on my computer at the cafe, so that I could treat myself to a hot chocolate and pinch some wifi seeing as I had nearly used all of my quota. Because of our previous computer problems, this plan had formed in my head as the answer to all of my stresses! (A box of Jaffa cakes would probably have done the job but they are hard to come by in these remote islands).
Our day started well. We went in “stern to” when we saw a space, we anchored successfully and easily threw our ropes and tied up securely. A good job, easy!
I took Lilly for a lovely walk and enjoyed the shelter of the small town. It is a little bit scruffy, lots of greenery and blooming climbers and not much tourism. Paul filled us up with water and connected the electricity and managed to buy 2 large bottles of gas (which will last us a year).
We planned a day of luxury. We planned to heat the water, give the batteries a boost, watch a few films, charge our toothbrushes and enjoy a quiet day tied to the quay.
Lunch ashore was fantastic … I had slow cooked goat in cinnamon and oregano, Paul had slow cooked octopus with a chickpea mash, a bit like a warm humus. We were treated by the owner of the Taverna to a half litre of wine for telling the other sailors to eat at the same place and another half litre of wine from the sailors we had helped to tie up and secure alongside us.
The afternoon was looked extremely relaxed if not sleepy. I settled down to a film while Paul installed the new gas supply. (We had run out 2 or 3 weeks previously so had been using a portable camping stove we had bought with us). We were looking forward to being able to use the cooker again.
An hour into our sleepy afternoon we were interrupted by shouting and hollering along the quay. The wind was once more pounding up the bay and the boats arriving were having a difficult time trying to moor up. (We have it so easy with the catamaran as we have 2 engines and so can go backwards in a straight line fairly easily. Monohulls cannot).
The folks arriving had obviously had a difficult crossing, they were in their wet weather gear and emergency life jackets. They were probably quite rattled, tired and needing a hot drink. However firstly they had to put their anchor down at least 50 meters out into the bay and then back into their slot (whilst being guided by the 2 boats each side). We were 2 boats away (we stupidly thought out of harm’s way), but unfortunately because they weren’t so good at putting the anchor down in the right place, or because they didn’t understand the shouts from the helpers, they laid their anchor across both our chain and the boat next to us and then dragged all of our anchors right down across the other boats.
We realised we were about to hit the quay as now we had the wind driving us back towards the concrete, our anchor was no longer doing its job as it had been dragged down to our starboard side. We turned on the engines to keep us in forward gear whilst I grabbed 2 ropes out of the locker and threw lines to the catamaran on our port side in the hope that they would hold us steady. Meanwhile Paul and the other sailors were still trying to secure the sailing boat that had now completely blown off course.
I was feeling very pleased with myself having thrown the ropes a good 5 meters in the wind and successfully secured our boat for the time being. It was only then the catamaran crew informed me they were leaving at 6 in the morning. So much for my easy afternoon and relaxing morning alongside!
We decided our only safe option was to untangle our anchor and go back out to our anchorage. This would mean we wouldn’t have to be up at 5.30am and have to do it in the dark when our neighbours planned to leave. So we retrieved our ropes … followed our anchor chain right down the quay and went back to our ‘rocky rolly’ anchorage in the bay.
The next morning we tried again. (I still wanted to have a hot chocolate in the cafe), we knew this would be our last stop at a town before we tie up for the winter so this was my only chance (this was my excuse anyway). We also planned to put the slow cooker on if we had electric again. We would be able to make a stew or a curry. After 5 months at anchor it is odd what suddenly becomes a luxury!
We went in, this time laying 80 meters of chain because the wind was blowing hard. Because the catamaran had left we took his space but unfortunately we couldn’t secure the port side far enough away from the quay to remain safe. When we put the engine into forward the wind still blew us back on the port side. The anchor windlass couldn’t pull up anymore slack, we had to abort the mission and return to the anchorage once more.
Would I ever get my chocolate?
After another night on the mooring and time to consider our approach, we decided that the angle of the anchor was to blame and if we could go in straighter, not laying the anchor up wind as directed by the harbour guy, we stood a better chance of safely mooring up.
We decided to try again before breakfast (and before the harbour man arrived). We reversed directly in and the anchor held us a good 9 feet away for the wall. It was perfect. We were in and TopCat was held safely away from the concrete.
Unfortunately our good future didn’t last very long. Another sailboat arrived about 5 minutes after we had moored up. Unfortunately he wasn’t very experienced at Med mooring and after messing about for 10 minutes we realised he had picked up our anchor and also that of our neighbours.
This was a real mess. It meant that we were all at the peril of the wind whilst we unwound our chains. The poor Captain from the sailboat didn’t have any idea what to to do. The French man next to us did his best to advise which meant that Paul had to do most of the instruction shouting across the wind …. And all before a coffee!
Eventually the new sailboat released us (this time there was no one on our port side to hold us steady). The French man went forward to retrieve his anchor but by now our anchor was wrapped around his. Because he was a lot more experienced he dangled over the edge of his boat and untangled the mess. We then swept forward, relaid our anchor, tied back up to the quay and took the ropes for the French man to secure him next to us.
Meanwhile the new sailboat had several more abortive attempts to moor before the Harbour man jumped aboard to do it for them. Whilst this was happening, another French boat arrived. “Oh he’s fine,” exclaimed our neighbour, “he knows what he is doing!” And with this the new French boat dropped his anchor and reversed into the spot next to our French neighbour so fast we thought he was nuts. He had prepared fenders at his stern to protect him from the crash against the concrete quay, but he was in, in straight, in one attempt. “Wow! That was impressive.”
So by eleven am we could safely have coffee and breakfast! At 11.15am our French neighbours arrived with a bottle of homemade Rum …. I can’t remember much more!
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