Captain's Log, Stardate:
Captain's Log Stardate: 5/4/2001
Arrived Milos, Greece
Hi Once Again:
By now you are surely bored with all these antics we've been going through so feel free to click "delete" right now. Rest assured, we will not quiz you later.
Our last epistle ended with us in Crete pondering whether to leave for Thira aka Santorini. Winds were forecast to be strong out of the west but, since our course was NE, we thought we would give it a try. First step was to disentangle ourselves from our multiple dock lines and two anchors. We got all lines secure on board except the port aft dock line and the primary anchor. Recall that this Med-mooring nonsense requires one to drop the bow anchor as you back into the quay. Setting a second anchor is even more secure.
In our case, we were "Med-moored" with two stern lines, two springs, and a 200 foot length of 1/2 inch line I brought from Winterlude, running from the "L" quay to the port bow. All this was to keep us secure in another force 8 blow we had from the port beam. Anyway, all the lines had been removed except for the port stern line and the anchor because the now, only 10 kt wind was coming 45 degrees off the port bow. One crewmember was to haul in the stern line while the other attended to the anchor. As we drifted away from the dock, the first crewmember hauled it in and left in on the swim platform to go and assist with the anchor, storing of the now unneeded fenders, etc. Anyway, the next thing I knew, the line got caught in the port engine! So here we are in the channel lying to our anchor with again, only the stbd engine running, ice cold water, tube in my ear from an earlier surgery in France, finally on our glorious way to Thira. What to do?
Luckily, our neighbor Dane on Seventh Wave, a Brit finishing his circumnavigation, owed us one. You may recall, if you didn't hit "delete" too soon last time, that while he was in town the day before, the wind came up and Mary heard his wife struggling with the bow thrusters on their beautiful Halberg-Rassey ~47. So I jumped in the dinghy and, in the cold blowing spray, reset their port anchor twice. Anyway, I think I told you that story in my last report. So within five minutes, he had donned his wet suit and threw his BCD (bouancy control device) and tanks in his dinghy. Ten minutes after that, he had unfouled our prop! So what could have been another ignominious quandry in full view of hundreds of curious tourists out for a stroll on the quay, was instead a slight delay in our 92 NM journey to Thira.
However, the winds were not what they were cracked up to be; they were more! They built up to 30 kts but luckily, stayed on our port quarter, hence mostly behind us. That meant the waves were large and tended to propel us forward even faster. It was on this passage we set our own personal speed record in a sailboat: 15 kts! This was as per GPS and with 22 second averaging invoked. This was not during the few moments a boat will "surf" down a wave but more like what I would call "sustained." We would regularly hit maximums of 11 and 13 kts. Overall for this leg, we averaged 10 kts, not counting the half hour spent poking around in the dark looking for a place to anchor . . . in the center of a volcano!
Thira is just that. The towns are built high on the sheer cliffs that form the rim of the volcano which errupted in 1450 BC with cataclsmic power! It was, by far, the most powerful erruption of any in the geological history of the earth. It naturally wiped out the Minoan civilization on the island but also destroyed it on Crete as well. It threw hot chunks of lava 18 miles away. When the water fell back into the crater formed when the thing blew, it caused tidal wave 250 feet high, traveling at 100 mph! The sound of the explosion must have been heard 'round the world. How do we know that? Because it is estimated to have been three times more powerful than the Krakatoa (Java) eruption in1883. Even so, that smaller eruption was according to one account on August 27, 1883, "heard in Alice Springs Australia, Northern Malaya, and in Martinique in the Caribbean!" Was this what happened to Atlantis? Plato had written, "But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune, the island of Atlantis disappeared in the depths of the sea." Trouble is, it blew its stack six more times: 236 BC, 196 BC, 1570 AD, 1866, 1925, and most recently in 1956 which destroyed once again most of the housing on the island and created tsunamis 65 feet high! But luckily, it chose not to blow in late April of 2001 or we may have been saved the chore of spending three weeks bringing Escape Cay across the Atlantic; it would have been like a cork in a pop gun, making the trip much more quickly.
After tempting fate for four days anchored just off the "plug," we departed Thira for Sifnos, some 40 NM to the NNE. In Sifnos, we found a nice omega shaped bay where our crew, Heidi, caught a ferry to Athens to catch the return flight back to Hamburg where she lives. So I set about working on the boat, tweaking antennas, making connections at the nav station more permanent, reading more ship's manuals, etc. We found a nice restaurant on the beach with inexpensive food and 1/2 liter bottles of beer for $1.60. Good thing too, because the meltami winds began to blow early. Unseasonable as everyone said they were, they nonetheless blew at 25-35 kts for 3 days straight.
So the day before yesterday, Wednesday, we pulled out of Vathi (on Sifnos) when the winds dropped to the sucker level (to suck us out) of 10-15 kts but, as expected, we found them much higher on the outside. Once out of the lee of Sifnos, we had 25-30 from the north and 8-10 foot seas while our heading to Milos was 260. Could have been worse. With the whole jib out--not too big on a cat--we made 8.5 to 9 kts the whole way but the ride was so wild that the A/P had trouble holding our course sometimes, probably because the boat was so unbalanced. We just didn't feel like unholstering the main to what, the 2nd or third reef? But it was only two hours until we hit the lee of Milos and then another hour or less to our anchorage. The scenery as we approached Milos was, well, stunning.
We saw steep cliffs with "Horas" or small towns up on top like snow capped peaks (they are all white with blue trim--must be strict zoning codes or deed covenants here). Below some of the cliffs were small secluded beaches with surf crashing into the rocks on either side. The water was a deep royal blue except near the shore where it was a dazzling turquoise blending to white foam.
But never mind all that, after docking in "Adhamas," we immediately found a restaurant that would let us do email for 100 draculas a minute, our gain . . . your loss. Most won't let you do it for love nor money! Plus the food is good AND, again, 1/2 liter bottles of beer for 600 dr's. or the same $1.60. "Dr." stands for drachma, not doctor. Of course there wouldn't be 600 doctors here. But we found 9 on a single boat! An "Antigua" (Fountain Pajot 37, ten years old) docked here last night. Get this: As a perk, these Polish doctors (all gynecologists) are treated to a 7 day cruise in Greece aboard a chartered yacht. So they fly (or take the bus for all I know) to Athens where they pile into this unlikely cat. They then blasted straight down to Thira for 36 straight hours at sea. Four out of nine got seasick. (Now if medical doctors get seasick, what chance do we mortals have?) The tenth person, a Polish charter captain with lots of experience in the Greek Islands, gave us some good tips on places to go. When I asked him if it wasn't a little crowded on board, he said it wasn't too bad, especially with nearly half seasick. As a charter captain, he looks forward to that statistic as a way of making the boat seem larger: Half the crew go to their bunks and stay out of the way for the duration!
I noticed the boat had a cleat missing and their dock lines were tied to a winch instead. Plus, one of the jib sheets came off the clew for about 3 feet and then there was a knot with the a different colored line going back to the cockpit. When I asked Mirek about those anomalies, he said that, for some reason, the starboard jib sheet snapped while underway. What's worse, the remainder was dragged by the wind into the water where a good chunk of it became tangled in the prop . . . but not all of it. The remainder drifted over to the port prop and stopped that engine dead as well! So there they were, at sea in strong winds, no jib, no engines, and 40% of the crew seasick. They limped into shore on the main and one of the crew was assigned to dive the props in water our gage showed to be 62.8 degrees. The missing cleat? Oh, the nuts fell off from behind. No big deal. Mirek simply assigned a doc to run into town to find new screws. I had in my voluminous parts bins, a flat head ss screw just the right size but not two of them. So they bought two hex heads for sake of uniformity and presto, as good as new. Plus, since they had to go to a marine store anyway, they bought a new boat hook to replace the one a crewmember inadvertently let slip from his hands. (Are these the same hands that perform hysterectomies?) Some vacation! Of course my take on it is, why would a GYN ever leave the exam room?
So here we are, leading a boring life, waiting for our watermaker parts to arrive in a week or two. These parts are supposed to arrive duty free because they are not for import into Greece. But another yachtie guy I met had ordered parts through West Marine only to find them held up in Athens for duty. He refused to pay and there they sit. WM offered to pay the duty but he refused their offer on principle. Will we be looking at the same fate? Or will he have trained them for us by then? His name is "John," one of the more dedicated sailor/fathers I know.
John and Sara are on their last leg back to England after a two year circumnavigation. Eleven month old Harry was born in Fiji. Sara was in labor as John dinghied her to the hospital in Fiji where Harry was born. Harry's first 4 weeks were spent on land and thereafter, rocking and rolling in their Pacific Seacraft Crealock 47? Perhaps this would be the best cure for seasickness: Rock and roll in the womb for 9 months and then spend the next ten months at sea! Too bad our kids are all grown up. Was Sara really worried about being so late-term pregnant on a sailboat? Not too much; John is a pediatric surgeon on sabatical.
Hope all is well with you!