We thought it would be a great opportunity to go to a homeopathic course by George Vithoulkas on the island of Alonnisis. He is a very famous homeopath and so this was an opportunity not to be missed. The problem was with weddings and visitors we were leaving our “sailing North” very late.
The meltemi winds which blow in the Eastern Greek Seas are said to start blowing “fitfully” in June, be at their worse in July and August and calm down in September and October.
So I thought, by fitfully, we would have a few days of wind and a few days without the wind, but this has been a funny year with the weather and we seem to have had a meltemi wind for the last 3 weeks and it is still blowing hard.
We obviously had miscalculated just how many days it would take us to travel north with the northerly winds. We don’t like being out in squalls of over 30 knots and we don’t like beating head first into large waves of more than 2 metres, because it is very uncomfortable and very tiring.
When our guests left on the 10th of June we had 2 weeks to travel 150 miles north and we thought plenty of time (mistake 1), I was working 5 of those days which left 9 traveling days. We also needed to stop off in Leros to stock up on coffee, wine and dog food. So from Leros we thought we could head westerly to the island of Mykonos and the winds would be more in our favour (mistake 2).
Not only did the wind howl around Mykonos, the beaches had blaring music all day and all night. This was not our idea of fun. When the wind dropped at 7pm we thought we could make it to the next island of Tinos before dark. (Mistake 3). This was most unlike me, I said yes, just go, I will find us a safe anchorage as we travel. We set off without checking the book. I had checked out the anchorages on the second island Andros but we only had two hours of daylight so that wouldn’t work. We were heading north for Tinos and suddenly I realised I couldn’t find any safe anchorages. The waves were getting bigger and after a brief discussion we made the decision to turn around and shelter in a little bay off another island on our port side called Reneia. We arrived just before dark and were surprised to find our friend Fabian anchored up nearby.
So we don’t want to travel through going the wrong way even as the winds dropped we knew it would be a hard slog. S we had decided we would cross over and go up the channel between Evia and mainland Greece. Tantalisingly, the Evia forecast was calm and we knew the seas would be a lot less bouncy, we just had to find the right moment to get across the the Doro Strait.
On Sunday afternoon the wind dropped to 20 knots with gusts of 25 but the sea had small, angry waves every 10 meters. We said we would try it and turn back if it was too rough for us. We had to try because we were now down to 5 sailing days (plus 2 work days) before the course starts and another 160 nm to go.
It is worth a point here that we had anticipated our journey as being a total of 180 nm from Kalymnos. We were adding on extra miles because we had chosen to go directly west from Leros because the weather looked calmer the other side of Mykonos. We then realised we wouldn’t get through the Doro Strait whilst there was any kind of wind so to take the Evia Channel was going to add another hundred miles to the journey. So what was going to be a 3 day sail between meltemi winds had developed into a 14 day mega journey more than double the number of nautical miles first anticipated, all using the engine because the wind was against us, and too many hours holed up waiting for the wind to abate.
We are now waiting in Gavrio on Andros and we will try again to cross the Doro Strait on Tuesday (I am working tomorrow and the winds say they may calm down on Tuesday afternoon). At this stage we can still make it.
We awoke at 3.45am to find the wind had dropped again. We would try again and this time would hopefully make it all the way to the top of Andros before the winds and waves picked up again. The winds certainly did pick up and blew constantly for the next few days. Having studied the weather meticulously, we were expecting a drop in the gusts from Sunday lunchtime so we hoped we would be able to make a break for it then. We had the Doro channel to cross before getting to the safety of the Evia channel.
This is what the book says about the Doro Strait:
“Current of 2-4 knots can reach 7knots in a storm. The meltemi funnels through the strait giving steep confused seas. Large ships will wait until the seas die down rather than risk traveling through”.
The Evia bridge opens at 10.30pm on Wednesday night. That is 60 nm into the channel. If we make that then we have Thursday and Friday to do 24 hours of sailing (or motoring if the winds are still on the nose). I am working on Saturday and we have Sunday as a reserve sailing day …. We can do it!
We are back on anchor and free to sail. (In the image above is the bay we are now sitting in). Well that is the theory anyway! In reality we need to do another shop and we need to pick up a parcel that hasn’t arrived yet So in the meantime we can test all of our...
Overwintering on a boat in Samos Marina, on the beautiful Greek island of Samos could be quite a lonely affair if it wasn’t for the live-aboard community, let’s refer to them as the ‘exuberant partakers of the odd libation’.... so one naturally forms, The Sunday Lunch...
With all of unknown surrounding Brexit, many UK sailors have been exploring all of the different ways in which we might or might not be affected by Brexit. Before we left the UK, we were approached by several doom and gloom merchants who felt that there was already...
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