Thursday, May 21, 2009

Syros to Kea

The calmness overnight was replaced by another gale blowing through the anchorage. Enough was enough. We'd earned our right to an easy passage after fighting through the previous day's gale, couldn't the wind give us a break? The previous day's enthusiasm for doing battle with the weather deserted me. I just couldn't summon up the energy to head out into a gale again especially as this time we'd be close hauled over a larger distance (35 miles). What to do? There were other options, but they'd mean lose our hard-won northing. The sensible decision would have been to explore the island but Mark's imminent departure and the deadline of my next visitors kept me from making a decision. We worked out the latest we could leave would be 1pm and contrary to our experience of the previous day, with the wind increasing in the afternoon, the forecast indicated that the wind would decrease and the angle would improve later in the day. To mask my indecision we busied ourselves with boat jobs - a fuel filter change for the engine and an attempt to fix the previous day's damaged toilet seat supports. Thinking about something else was therapeutic, but the reality of our schedule meant that unless we made for Kea that day, I'd be unlikely to make to the Ionian in time to meet my friends as planned. Outside the wind felt harshly bitter, the sun was obscured - more like early season in northern Europe than summer in the Med. I was all set to call off the day's sailing when a small yacht entered the anchorage whose crew had cagoules covering bathing suits - could it really be that bad out there, perhaps I was going soft. We decided to leave.

We headed off tentatively with three reefs, but as we ventured out of the anchorage the wind died, so slowly we worked our way up to full sail. Perhaps after all, this would be a surprisingly easy trip. It was not to be; as we rounded the head-land the wind and sea increased and I reduced sail down to two then finally three reefs again.
When I left the UK, my waterproofs had already seen years of service and were loosing their ability to keep out the water, but I told myself I was off to the tropics with my years of apprenticeship to the sometimes harsh northern European climate behind me. I enviously watched Mark remain dry in his latest breathable oilskins while I became one with drowning rodents. Fortunately Mark saw the problem and stoically steered most of the way keeping up a great close-hauled course as the spray covered him, while I spent most of the time sheltered pathetically under the spray hood and busied myself with refreshments down below.

Halfway across the furling line dramatically snapped and the full genoa rapidly unfurled. We eventually managed to get the flogging sail under control, by rejoining the line and removing the blocks through which the knot wouldn't pass. It wasn't ideal, but it kept us going.

Finally drenched, cold and exhausted we arrived in the last light of the day at our destination - feeling more relief than elation.

21st May Kea: N37 34.7' E24deg16.7'

No comments: