Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Off to the Greek Cyclades Islands at last

Leaving the Greek mainland

[Kyle]We had originally planned an early start to arrive at a new island location by noon each day giving time to explore each new neighborhood in the afternoons and evenings. We were aware of occasional nasty winds in the region, the Meltemi winds. Very strong they can die out after a day or blow hard for a week. The latest forecast for the next week showed not only a persistent Meltemi but also indicated a reversal of the normal diurnal pattern. Typically the Meltemi (when it blows) is lighter in the morning and stronger in the afternoon, but our forecasts indicated that the strong winds that buffeted the boat the night before and gave us all a disturbed night would not die off until after noon; because of that we decided to depart later in the day allowing us this morning to explore the current anchorage.

The wind was still strong when we woke. We had breakfast and Kate and Mark swam ashore to explore while Maryanne and I prepared Footprint for departure. If the wind had started to die down in the afternoon, it was not enough to be noticeable; we left anyway expecting (hoping) for the forecast reduction.

The sailing was nice in the lee in the last of the Attic peninsular where were conservatively sailing with only a double-reefed main. The water was flat as we deliberately hugged the coast passing several very nice looking homes and a couple of small villages before leaving the mainland at the Temple to Poseidon at Ak Sounion. Once into the open Agean Sea the gusty wind coming off the land stabilized and although it was still blowing hard we unrolled the Jib to its double reefed position and had a fast sail across the gap to the island of Kea.

In spite of the strong conditions the ride was much more comfortable than the previous day; rather than short chop that had us rolling wildly with hulls mismatched on trough and crest. These waves, which had been rolling and building unimpeded since the Island of Evvoia 20nm to the North, were larger and spaced more kindly for Footprint, giving us a slower, gentler, rolling motion.

At Kea we pulled into the anchorage at the back of Ormos Kavia which was completely protected from the swell, although still very windy. The anchorage was quite full apart from Footprint’s favorite spot close to the beach, in the zone too shallow for most boats. The thing is we had managed the whole day so far without using the engine and I was determined to keep it that way, so we anchored on the outside of the boats in deeper water with plenty of scope. It was pretty cool. We managed to tack our way to our chosen spot, lower the anchor and back down all under sail. Total engine time for the day 0.0hours. This location also had the benefit of offering clear departure under sail the following day. The downside of course was that we were furthest from the beach, and building Meltemi winds and a long row made us dismiss our plans for dinner ashore.

Arriving in time for sunset on the island of Kea

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