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Published: August 15th 2009
on the northern coast of Evia
After a week of gale force winds on Paros and a forecast of the same for another week, we decided to travel the 200 plus miles north to the Sporades where the Meltemi wind doesn’t blow as strong. We set out at 7am on 19th July knowing the wind was forecast to return on the afternoon of the 20th. There are 2 harbours on the island of Andros that would be safe and if we were lucky, we may make it across the Doro strait between Andros and Evia into the gulf which is much more protected. The weather was calm and the sea flat so we mostly motored, but managed an hour or two under sail. We would have been fine - if not for a bit of drama!
A Bit of a Drama
For a week or so we have had a bit of a rattle coming from under the boat. We investigated and discovered the “rope cutter” was loose. (This is a nasty sharp thing attached to the propeller shaft which prevents the propeller getting tangled in rope or net, it cuts through them.) Anyway, after 10 hours of travelling the rattle was joined by
A moment of quiet during the storm. Freedom is the second yacht from the right
a clunk - just enough to worry us so 10 miles from the Doro Straights we turned into the first safe bay and anchored. I - Andy - spent the next hour taking deep breaths, diving under the boat and slowly removing 2 long screws with an allen-key. Hopefully - no more rattles and clunks.
Never trust a Forecast
Everything was looking good - calm seas, no wind and the forecast was not due to change until mid-day tomorrow. We had plenty of time to wake in the morning and pootle across the difficult Dora Straights. Or so we thought until we were woken at 3am by the gusting winds and by 4 am it was 25 knots - a force 6. We sat this out until daylight and then decided to motor the 3 miles round a headland to the safer looking harbour of Batsi.
What else could go wrong?
As we motored southwest out of the bay we realise we had been very well protected even in the open bay, the northerly wind was blowing over 40 knots - force 9 - and the sea was pretty rough. As we turned the headland to go northwest
Straining on the lines in Batsi
The old saying is "it doesn't do any good in the locker" so we tied on our lines then tied on a load more for insurance
into Batsi we were battling short high waves with the engine pushed to almost maximum. With just 3 miles to go the engine alarm went off - great - it was over-heating. (Later I found this was just a low coolant level, but at the time just not what you want) Anyway after turning the engine off a couple of times and with painfully slow progress we got to Batsi.. The sea spray coming over the decks and into our faces was like whole buckets of water. After anchoring we were so ready for a coffee.
A Safe Harbour
After settling into a safe anchorage we then started to search out something a bit more comfortable. The wind was whipping up the sea and the boat was bouncing around and suffering sea spray. We had a good look around and saw the most protected spot was just on the outside of the concrete quay so we slid in and tied off. Time for breakfast!
Batsi on the island of Evia
We spent the next 4 days in the strongest winds we have ever known, regularly blowing steadily over 40 knots and gusting as high as 60 knots. We
Drying the laundry in a force 9
we cleverly threaded the washing line through all the clothes before pegging them on
were tied off with lines and extra lines - and even chains to ensure there was no chafe on the concrete quay. Being us and making sure that we looked after Freedom we both worried, but we were safe and the sun shone.
We crossed the Dora straights with no drama and travelled up the west coast of Evia to Kalkida, where we moored in a marina (European funding and unfinished of course) which was safe and secure. This gave us the opportunity to go to Athens for a couple of days and be tourists. We took the train and stayed for one night at the Parthenon hotel close to the Acropolis. Wewere right on top of the Plaka district (a bustle of shops) and most of the ancient sites. Out memorable moments were climbing onto the Acropolis and seeing the Parthenon, walking the old streets (since the Olympics cleaned up and pedestrianised) and sitting on Filopappos hill with a bottle of sparkly overlooking the Acropolis at sunset. And there was also the joy of air-conditioning in the hotel!
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