Wind was forecast! We had just arrived in Vathi on Ithica and planned a few days doing some jobs, restocking our larder, topping up with water and fuel, sorting the anchor windlass, fitting hooks in the sail locker. But then everything changed.
We have had so little wind so far here in the Ionian that we have done very little sailing. Most of our journeys have been solely by engine and all of our journeys we had had to have the engine on some of the way as the wind died or changed direction completely. But now the forecast was looking good.
It said Sunday was 15 to 20 knots with gusts of 25. It was forecast North Westerly which would mean if we went back to Kalamos we could sail the whole way. But what about our plans?
We decided the jobs could be done at any time, the restocking we could do when we came back, this was an opportunity not to be missed. We pulled up the mainsail, we lifted the anchor, or rather we attempted to but the windlass decided it would not play ball so I had to pull up the last 6 meters of chain and anchor by hand in the wind as we moved away into the bay. (Oooops that job definitely needs sorting).
The wind was blowing hard, tunnelling in through the entrance of the bay, we hoped it would not be too much wind. I took over steering while Paul went to try to get the chain down into the chain locker, we had the mainsail up and we were heading directly into the wind. We rounded the corner out into the bay ….. and the wind died!
We slowed to a mere half a knot, the wind was messing about. First it was coming from the south east and then the north west, we had unfurled the Genoa and were now changing tack every five minutes as the wind died, started again, died then came up from the other direction.
We traveled slowly, sometimes very slowly if you can call it traveling at all. There was another boat with us, experiencing the same. Where was this great wind?
We continued practicing our tacking, as the wind toyed with us. I like to think of this as my workout, (I never was very good at the fitness stuff), pulling on ropes, trying to stand in a way that gives you the best leverage. Paul then asks me to go up front to release the sail which didn’t make it around the radar as the wind dropped again at the crucial moment.
I know this is a test for me, Paul is so good at introducing me to new tasks to build my confidence slowly. There was a time in the not to distant past when I would have laughed at him if he had even suggested I go up front while the sails are out. I am less of a wimp now and am quite confident moving around the boat with the sails out but hanging on the sail and trying to flip it was new for me but with no wind, even I could do it without feeling in danger.
The sun came up, we passed our favourite anchorage and Paul started to think about all of the jobs he could be doing. “Look, there is some wind, we just need to make it to there” I pointed hopefully to the ripples in the distance.
“We could turn back and…..” “No just lets go a bit further ….” I hate giving up especially after I had managed to persuade Paul to abandon all of his jobs and take me sailing. We persevered a while longer, just lolling in the calm flat sea. We could see sails out on the horizon but of course they might still have had their engines on. The boat beside us gave up, they lowered their sails and switched on their motor. I was determined to have just a bit of sailing even if it took a while!
Paul looked at me but I pretended not to notice, just a bit longer, we have time! I knew I was pushing my luck. And then it came. It hit us a good half mile out, it was a good north westerly and blowing at 15 knots. We were away. Straight up to six and a half knots in a matter of minutes, Paul started trimming the sails and I had a sigh of relief. YESSSSSSS hurray!
The waves were only just half a meter, the gusts raised to 22 /25 knots but we had a good steady wind in a fabulous beam reach. Top Cat hardly noticed the waves, no banging or rolling, it was perfect.
The sail was 20 miles from Ithica to Kalamos. After the first half mile coming out of the bay (which took nearly an hour) we sailed the rest beautifully. Top speed was seven and a half knots with most achieved at 6 knots. We had one reef in the mainsail with the Genoa out fully. It was our best sail to date! Good winds, small waves, great sunshine … what more to life is there?
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