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Published: October 2nd 2009
Wash day in Skopelos
The calm before the storm
After Anne and Joe left, we started comedy of errors - or was it a tragedy. First there was the visit to the doctor when Kate’s eye swelled up. After 15 minutes she had some cream, tablets and a 150 euro bill. After a little disagreement, Kate calmly said “what I am going to do is say thank you, give you 50 euros and leave now”. And she did - she was spectacular! Then after a couple of nice days we planned our passage east across the Aegean, but by then the weather was against us so we had to wait a week in Skopelos for the gales to go away. The high point of that week was being invited for cocktails onboard the beautiful “Margaret Anne”, a 97 foot sailing boat that oozed luxury. You could forget the days of discomfort bouncing around tied to the harbour wall while sipping champagne and discussing the Doncaster Knights. Then the low point was a dodgy take-away and the subsequent food poisoning - we really weren’t very ready for action when the wind started to die down. And Andy wasn't ready to try and fix the blocked toilet pipe either!
Would you like salt with that?
The continuous sea spray over the harbour wall in Skopelos coated the boat in salt
189 miles in 3 days
Skopelos - Skantzoura - Skyros - Khios - Samos
After waiting for our “weather window”, it arrived. It wasn’t a very big window and the wind and sea hadn’t completely calmed down - the sea in the Aegean can be very lumpy with big waves which can make long passages really exhausting - and we’re not really into that. We had a good sail for the 45 miles to Skyros and re-checked the weather there. With a forecast of strong winds the following day, we decided to just carry on and complete the journey over-night. We had 3-hour-on and 3-hour-off watches for the 15 hours and 84 miles. We had the sails up the whole time and only had to turn the engine on to motor-sail for maybe a third of the time. It’s lovely cruising along under sail in the dark with no noises - magical. Although it’s funny how many eerie sounds you hear in the dead of night as you sail along alone on deck -I swear I heard whispering voices!! (Kate) In the night we saw the lights of fishing vessels, large container ships and 3 cruise ships passing us. We
both said we had been lying in the cockpit looking up at the stars - so many it was a blur. Two night-time watches each and we filled the time with games on the DS, reading and adjusting the sails every so often. We arrived at a deserted anchorage on Khios at 9am, dropped our hook and went straight to sleep to be awoken minutes later by the sound of gun-fire. Great!! We did sleep until midday when the shooting woke us again.
Whether the weather…
We moved around the coast to get away from the gun-fire, found a little bay with a small community and anchored with another couple of boats. A hot shower and we were feeling more alive - we were hardly eating still from the dodgy kebab and hadn’t had a tea, coffee or alcohol for 3 days. We went ashore and had a lovely meal with half a litre of wine - we’re back! But so was the wind. With more strong winds forecast we resigned ourselves to hiding out for another 4 or 5 days. The next morning things were unexpectedly calm and after a row ashore, search for weather, generous access to
No. Andy out checking all the mooring lines in the middle of the night. The reality of a port in a storm
a hotel’s wi-fi and a much more pleasant forecast, we decided to get going. So after 5 hours on Skyros and less than 24 hours on Khios, we sailed the last 50 miles to Samos to complete the dash across the Aegean. We had planned to do this 2 weeks ago but spent 14 days waiting and just 3 sailing - that’s life.
Samos was lovely - we thought we were on holiday! Lots of cafés, restaurants and would you believe, it was even quiet at night. We stayed for 4 days and one day hired a car to tour the island. Our highlight was visiting the 1 mile tunnel - hacked through stone 2,500 years ago by 2 guys at a time over 10 years - amazing. With just a month to go we have a bit more island hopping to do before jumping across to Turkey and following the coast to Marmaris where Freedom will spend the winter. Fingers crossed the wind plays its part!
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