Wednesday, August 31, 2011


[Kyle]We finally did get a good night’s rest (mostly). About 1:30 in the morning Maryanne woke me to tell me she’d heard a bang and felt like we’d hit the boat beside us. I was asleep and couldn’t understand what she was talking about but she insisted on getting up to check. It turned out one of our stern lines had come un-cleated and we had indeed drifted into the boat alongside us (thank goodness for fenders). In order to get ashore to retrieve the lines I first had to take some of the slack out of the anchor chain (allowing Footprint to get closer to the wall), Maryanne jumped ashore and fed the line through the ring and tossed it back to me. We then cranked everything back into place and went back to bed. An hour or so later I heard banging and on investigating found that the wind had blown our passerelle into the boat and was now dangling lopsided and crashing into things (no doubt also waking Kate and Mark who were berthed directly below it).

Kate and Mark start the long journey home

We all got up early to share breakfast together before the mid-morning ferry departure back to Athens for Kate and Mark. Even though we must all have still been full from the previous night’s dinner we managed an assortment of Greek pastries that Kate and Mark had bought at a local bakery after dinner the evening before. We walked with Kate and Mark to the ferry terminal. Maryanne stayed with Mark and the bags while Kate and I went to the port Police to check Footprint in for the previous night’s arrival and to remove Kate and Mark from our official passenger list. Clearing in was uneventful, I asked if the port was closed due to the weather but the woman just chuckled and said “you’ve been to Athens? We never close”. I then asked her if they were open 24 hours in the event we would need to clear out that night – she said “yes, 24 hours, but not after midnight”.

On the walk to the port police Kate lobbied to have an extra day in Tinos for Maryanne’s sake. After the bashing we took the previous night I was also exhausted and could have used a rest day myself, but Turkey is still a long way away and we have very few extra days to throw around. If the weather was at all similar to the previous night I agreed there was no way we were going out in that, but if it really did turn out to be OK, then we would need to be on our way. Kate gave me a look that showed she didn’t really like my plan but once I explained I had no intention of leaving if the weather was bad, we sort of agreed to disagree. At the time of our walk it was still howling like crazy and the harbor continued to be buffeted and full of whitecaps, so it looked like there would be no chance we would actually leave that day and Kate would at least win by default. She is a good friend and wants to make sure we are safe and not subjected to any more misery than necessary; I appreciate her looking out for us.

After a short wait their ferry arrived, a gigantic catamaran perched high in the water we followed alongside behind the fence as they boarded and waved as their boat tore off into roaring winds, making it look surprisingly smooth.

They really were great to have aboard. The cruising world is filled with many stories of couples that come together for a vacation aboard and end up separating under bad terms. Kate and Mark were easy to get along with and in spite of horrible sea conditions always emerged at the other end of a rough sail with smiles and an eagerness to explore the next new place. I was very glad that they didn’t cut their visit short in Kythnos and had made it all the way to Tinos.

The boat felt surprisingly empty as we prepared Footprint for a possible departure that night without them. We hope their ferry journey back to Athens and their last night there would be a good one.

[Maryanne]With our friends gone, the guest room was again 'free' and our boat stowage could be rearranged to make access more convenient, we had lots to do before our next passage. I tried desperately to persuade Kyle we should take a lazy day and an extra night in Tinos to recover and get a good night’s sleep (the next passage was to be 60 miles and an overnight one). However the forecast was good, time pressure strong, and Kyle was keen to get going. Compromise? We’d prepare the boat as if to leave and if the forecast suggested we should stay we’d take the rest time after that, but we should be ready just in case. One of our big needs was water. Tinos is reputed to have the best water in Greece. I tried the hoses, but they didn’t work. I walked to the Port Police office, where I was told they didn’t handle that. Look for a woman in a sky blue shirt. There was no woman in a blue shirt. After much investigation, I found a phone number to call. I got a guy who said he’d be there at five. He wasn’t, but a woman with a blue shirt showed up at 6:30. Provisions, boat spares, and general rearrangement complete. Weather checked, harbor and distant seas looking calm – we were going! Doh!

[Kyle]Just about the time that we were going to resign ourselves to another night on Tinos the weather calmed down, really calmed down. There were no more whitecaps in the harbor and the wind was down into the teens (the forecast was correct?). It was also supposed to swing to the Northwest giving us a good tail wind for the long next leg to Ikaria.

The long climb up the the church, especially if you are on your knees

With the boat finally ready for passage we had a couple of hours before departure. We made a point of going to see Tinos’ main attraction The Church of Panagia Evangelistria. This relatively new church (built after 1822 when the icon was found on the site) is a Greek Orthodox version of the Catholic’s Lourdes, people from all over come to be cured of their ailments, it’s a big deal. Along one side of the main road from the harbor to the church is a carpeted strip to ease the journey for the pilgrims to supplicate themselves on hands and knees while pushing a candle up to the church. {Maryanne: They certainly deserve to be cured for the effort involved, I was puffing from the walk.}. The church is very simple on the outside with picturesque courtyards and stairways all painted in white or using the local Tinos Marble. The inside is very ornate, crammed full with silver chandeliers and votives brought by pilgrims for curing of their various ailments. We arrived just as a service was ending and popped in a side door to hear the last of the chanting in Greek. Once everyone had left we freely explored inside the church more thoroughly, regarding the silver decorations and half lit ambience of the church.

Tinos Church of the virgin Mary

We stayed until sunset and walked to the port police one last time to officially clear out. Again we had a Greek port police moment. There was only one man in the office and I feared that even though it wasn’t he might consider it officially past midnight, so to speak. We told him we wanted to clear out and presented our paperwork, he inspected it, and it seemed this is the first time he’d ever seen such paperwork. He advised we should come back at 8am. “But we want to leave now”, we pressed… Feeling bullied, he relented and resorted to a phone call where he was talked through the steps to take to clear us out, stamp here, write there, etc… Whew, we were free to leave now.

We departed just after sunset and were not the only boat to cast off her lines at that time. We had a fast trip down the coast of Tinos to the southern end where the wind just died in the lea of the island. We bobbed around for a couple of hours rolling back and forth in the left-over waves. I was thinking the horrible winds of Tinos would return at any moment and this was just a momentary lull in the lee of a local mountain, but the wind took a long time to materialize. Once we finally drifted into open water again, the wind did return, mercifully not in full force but remaining quite mild and we had a nice fast downwind reach to Ikaria in mild and comfortable seas (this is more like it). I had two thoughts: one was that I was glad it was not worse and therefore in big trouble with Maryanne (and even Kate); the other was that it was such a shame that Kate and Mark had not seen fine sailing like this during the entire time they were with us. Those mixed feelings would rise often over the next couple of days.

1 comment:

kate said...

golly... i teared up reading this post. thanks so much, kyle and maryanne, for the experience of a liftime. it may have had a few unsettling moments (don't you love how a little time enables you to recall things with a calmer perspective? :)) - but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves & are proud and grateful to have had more than a beachside vacation where all we did was sit & receive drinks with tiny umbrellas in them! thanks for everything, and don't think for a second you've dissuaded us from visiting the aegean (or the spanish riviera!) in future. we may have been cowering down below during the actual sails, but dammit, we made it to every scheduled island!
p.s. mark says you need to google an article re: willoughby spit sailboat 'maybe tomorrow' - i believe you saw the initial article about it on pilotonline, but there's a pretty funny follow-up when you have some spare reading time.