In the Cretan heat I didn’t come across any mad dogs, but I did meet this simpatico Englishman (pictured right). As we were to sail in the same general direction it was decided to form a flotilla of two, at least as far as Chalki.
Leaving A.Nikolaos early (7:30 is early for me!), we hugged the Mirabello Bay coast making our way North in light variable winds. As the Aeolian Energy Park on Ak. Ioannis came abeam, gusts from the NW had Eileen of Avoca almost keeled over, even with two reefs. Mind you, my flotilla companions’ Westerly seemed similarly affected, bobbing about in the surprisingly agitated seas.
After two hours of the boating equivalent of “lets play hobby horse”, I set a course of 58 degrees and settled in to some steady tiller-pilot controlled sailing. By sunset Eileen approached the uninhabited island of Astakida. Vrak. Ounianisia had already been passed and was barely visible on the horizon as two conical peaks to the NW.
GPS track from Crete to Kos
Shortly after sunset, and despite a brilliant moon, Astakida just two miles distant, vanished from view.
The night sailing, though sultry, proved uneventful… until… two massive whales surfaced in a cascade of spume and wash, straddling Eileen…
nah… just kidding…
Port of Sitia, Crete
I’ve hired a car to stave off cabin fever and excessive skin wrinkling (due to too much time spent in the jacuzzi).
A morning spent diving to scrub the hull, lunch in sleepy Sitia, (much to the delight of the local restaurant strays whose plaintive feline cries I can never deny), then on to revisit Itanos beach Erimoupouli (where I had sheltered from last years gale).
Oh the joys of car air-conditioning. Had so much fun (more praise to ye almighty air-conditioner), it’s off to Irapetra in the South tomorrow.
Typical Meltemi forecast
I tried and failed to leave Agios Nickolaos and sail to Rhodes. According to the locals in Crete, the Meltemi is a little more persistent this year, making travel by sea somewhat uncomfortable.
I thought dry humor was the sole domain of the English. Apparently not! So I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad about turning back to wait for the next weather window.
An uncharacteristically hot engine, vicious swell, sunburn, unresponsive jib furler and seasickness were my other ego consoling excuses for turning back.
A few days extra preparation shouldn’t go astray. Except that a few days looks like becoming more than a week and I have a deadline to reach Kos by the 5th. Let me rephrase that… I have a “preference” to reach Kos by the 5th.
Day 11 and 12
A long leg of approximately 135NM passing to the East of Kithira by night. The section between Ak Tainaro and the north of Kithira proved to be quite challenging because of the constant stream of traffic heading to or from Athens. At one point I made the mistake of sitting in one place too long while on watch and a large tanker managed to approach via my blind spot. I only noticed when his searchlight lit up my sails. Too close for comfort!
By morning Crete was in view and before long I was entering the old Venetian port of Chania, careful to avoid the partially submerged outer breakwater which now serves little purpose other than as an effective navigational hazard.