Kithnos - Sandbar Bay
And we’re off again! The strong northerly winds (“Meltemi”) are not due to die down for a couple of days yet, but with forecasts of only 20+knots, we felt good about getting away from the crowded anchorage at Hydra. We ended up being on the inside of a large raft of boats by the time we wanted to leave the crowded harbour, but a nice Swiss skipper left early enough for us to escape with no great drama. Our anchor picked up someone else’s anchor chain, but we managed to free ourselves quite painlessly. What with that and a bit of last minute shopping, we didn’t get off until 8:45 and motored for the 1st hour, shamelessly catching up on the last 2 weeks of “The Archers” podcasts.
The crossing to the nearest of the Cyclades was “interesting”: the expected winds didn’t appear until the very end but we did have some big rough seas mostly on the nose, making for slow progress and necessitating the engine as well as reefed sails for longer than we like. We even got wet a few times as waves broke over the foredeck and sprayed the full length of the boat.
We arrived in this beautiful bay by late afternoon, quite tired from the conditions and constant reefing. Probably as a result it took us 3 attempts to anchor, punctuated by some quick repairs to the anchor mechanism which keeps jamming. Words ensued, but they were soon forgotten, washed away by the remains of a bottle of “Cloudy Bay”, a wonderful present for our wedding anniversary (the day before).
I must mention a couple of recent close encounters with big fast boats. On a short crossing a few days ago (with Heather & Di) we were scared to death as we sailed through a narrow passage between 2 islands (narrow being a hundred metres or so). We were making good progress with just 1 sail up in roughish conditions when a big power yacht called “My Zoe” stormed through the same gap, headed right for us. I didn’t have time to radio him, but a couple of long blasts on our fog-horn seemed to wake him up to the danger. He swerved and missed us by a few 10’s of metres, still doing a good 20-30 knots. “Zoe” is Greek for life, and I think we all had a few moments thinking ours were over. The crossing to Kithnos had its own incident, when Lindsay spotted a boat on the screen headed for us at 30kts. We waited long enough to be certain it was on collision course then radioed him, at first in restrained tones, then less politely! He turned with a minute or so to spare, passing some hundreds of metres behind us. Was he going to turn then anyway, or did my radio call wake someone up? We often debate whether we should take avoiding action ourselves in these circumstances, when the rules of the seas say we have right of way and hence should maintain course & speed. In all 4 close encounters to date (2 crossing Biscay, 1 in the Ionian in an encounter with a British yacht we know), the only action I could take easily under sail would have been right into the path the other boat eventually took.
This bay, on the barren island of Kithnos, has magically clear, clean waters and a narrow sand bar that separates it from a similar bay beyond. The sand bar joins a smaller island to the main one and apparently there are some ancient ruins there of a temple and agora. The hillsides are dotted with sheep and goats and old dry stone walls and terraces which suggest that in times past more people lived here and actually managed to grow things in this very dry place. It’s good to have made it to our first stop in the Cyclades but unfortunately its delights are a little close to Athens and so busy with huge motor yachts and small cruise boats. Otherwise it’s perfect!