[Kyle]In order to take Kate and Mark with us aboard Footprint, we needed to add their names as passengers to our crew list. Since we’re allowed to check out of a port 24 hours in advance, we thought we’d pop into the Port Police office and sort it all out the night before, so that we could leave early. When we arrived, the young lady there, who was standing in front of the open doors of the darkened office, said we would have to do it the next day. Maryanne asked when they were open. “Twenty-four hours. Not now.” Um, uh…nevermind. We tried again later that night after showers. There were more of them, but we got the same answer. Why do something now that could be put off for the day shift?
When we checked out the next morning, the guy started suspiciously asking about our boat and hinting that they were thinking of closing the port due to the weather. They are technically allowed to do this, our guidebook suggests they often threaten this but rarely do it. We found it a bit surprising as the forecast was not that bad and we had seen several small fishing boats headed out. After many assurances that Footprint could handle most weather, he let me leave after signing a statement that I understood the forecast, which he translated for me from Greek, and was departing at my own risk (we were also told this could well happen in our trusty cruising guide).
Well, we had a great fast sail southeastwards along the Attic coast, at least for a while. Then the wind rose up to double the forecast (even the Greek forecast) and stayed there. It then became pretty horrible. By the time we reached our intended anchorage at Ák Sounion, we all just wanted it to be over.
Except that it wasn’t. Our anchorage was full. It took us another two hours of poking our way along the coast before we found a spot that was secure, although it was still blowing like crazy. Shell-shocked, we all tried to make the best of the remainder of the evening. We were pretty tired from the beating we took, so we all went to bed earlier than usual, where we slept fitfully. In the morning, over breakfast, we all confessed to having spent our respective night dreaming about storms, grounding and anchor dragging.
[Maryanne]As Kyle explained, it was a miserable sailing day especially considering it was the first day of the Greek sailing experience for Kate and Mark and all we showed them was misery (oops!). Kyle had checked the weather forecast both in his preferred way (grib files with raw forecast data) and by checking the local official marine forecasts; neither gave him cause for concern. Our guidebooks were clear that local officials didn't like to take much responsibility for the many inexperienced charter sailors, and regularly threatened closed ports and bad weather unnecessarily, this knowledge added to our confidence in ignoring their concerns. Finally the winds were much stronger than even forecast. Should we have taken the Piraeus Port Police warnings more seriously? Who knows - we keep moving west and hope for better days ahead. The sun keeps shining and the forecasts look reasonable. ;-)