Holed up in Crete

St Barbara's Web Diary
Peter & Sue Goldsmith
Mon 13 Apr 2009 10:06

35:12.80N 25:42.85E

12.00 13th April

Ayios Nikolaos

Setting off just after lunch, Peter's plan was to have an overnight sail as
a familiarisation for Clive and a refresher for me. We set into a relaxed
routine, the afternoon's progress was largely dependent upon diesel rather
than wind power, as the breeze stayed too light to make much use of. As
evening approached the forethought of preparing dinner in the calm of the
natural harbour proved its worth. By the time we wanted to eat, whilst the
wind was still slight, the swell and chop in the waves had increased, making
any activity in the cabin uncomfortable, at least for Clive and I. Dinner
inside us, the roulette of watch allocation done, I went to sleep for a few
hours - although as so often is the case when you try, the sleep could be
measured in minutes.

At 11pm I was briefed by Clive, who had witnessed little shipping movement,
a small increase in wind but still not sailing and he sighted me on our
approach to the lighthouse at the end of Crete. As he went off to sleep,
once again all that stood between three mortal souls and the cruel sea was
me! There is a real pleasure in such responsibility, and as the moon rose,
visibility increased and I watched the coastline of Crete come closer with
first the lights of towns and villages being distinct, then more and more
until streets, houses and cars can be seen by illumination. Strapped to the
deck by my harness, constantly scanning the horizon, my watch takes on
something of a cross between the head twisting scene from The Exorcist and a
meerkat on acid. The wind did increase during my watch and Peter got up to
change us from motor to sail. For a couple of hours this pulled us along
smoothly and quietly, welcome after hours of the engine running. Alas, it
seemed not to last and as my watch approached the end the wind turned onto
our bow and dropped off. Once again with the engine running I took to my bed
for the semblance of sleep.

Peter's watch was to be more eventful still. A ship on the starboard side,
it's ironic that will all the ocean you end up converging, the gentleman
that he is Peter changed course to pass his stern. No sooner done than the
wind began to grow, enough to fill the sails and more. Pretty good in terms
of direction but neither the forecast or our ambitions wanted 25+ knots
pushing us offshore from the next port. Peter woke me as things were getting
really lively, we took the genny in and hoped that the lee of the land, as
we approached, would bring some relief. Exciting times and to add an extra
dimension, the autopilot found all of this just too much and took itself off
to sleep. Helming to keep the boat on the wind without losing too much
ground away from the target, we took it in turns until dawn broke behind us
and the autopilot came back out to play. All that stuff about lee shores
doesn't count for much in this Cretin bay. As we tried to pinch our way
along the shore to the marina mouth, we passed between a headland and an
island to be bashed by 30 knot winds and the obvious fact that this yacht
was not going to go into that marina! Since then, we've been anchored in the
most sheltered part of the bay, still with gusts in the mid 20, awaiting
some let up. On shore we know the calm of the marina, the gentle slosh of
the showers and the beckoning aroma of capacinno and coissants awaits. Today
I hope!