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Date: 14 Sep 2012 10:58:33
Title: Big Vathi day 3

As dusk turned to black the rain came with swirling gusting winds mostly having a southerly aspect, generally as forecast until about half hour before midnight. Lots more rain, lots of lightening and thunderous booms and then wind went to calm. "This is nice" we thinks. Better to have the rain alone and not have the wind gusting like a bellows. No chance!  First there was the gentlest whisper from the north and Ticketeeboo goes into a gentle waltz to gracefully drift back across our anchor. (Me hopes that extra 20m chain I put out still leaves us with enough room to swing in front of the little island, which we previously had with a reassuringly safe offshore wind. The bellows blow harder and we now find Ticketeeboo in a fairly hairy northerly which needed closely watching as we danced either side of our anchor with just enough room to spare between our stern and the now lee-shore island (with lots of street-lights brightly illuminating it's orchard and chapel).
The entrance to Big Vathi is from the north and it's quite narrow for a large ship. That's when I thought "This'll be interesting. That's the ferry ship due in around midnight. It's lit up like a fairy cake and coming into Vathi to berth in a squalling northerly wind. I'm so glad John CG HM asked us to clear our previous anchorage!"  Timing is everything and the ferry ship couldn't have chosen a better time to demonstrate their outstandingly professional skills. 30kts wind, incessantly gusting and swirling, thunder and lightening all around, driving rain and no possibility of sleep. Also, yachts who chose to moor sterns or bows to the southern wall were now on a perfect lee shore with waves and swell. As the ferry passed us we felt like we were surfing so we can imagine and sympathise with people on those yachts. What comes next. Firstly we notice some yachts with their navigation lights on. Some time to start dancing a free-flowing Viennese waltz, attired with green red and white lights, in the dark?  Then, suddenly and without notice all lights on the surrounding land go out, come on, go out, come on and finally stay out. The only light now comes from people on yachts in cockpits, anchor lights, a flashing green (showing the position of our friendly island, the fairy cake ferry ship (positively aglow by means of their faithful generators) and the dancing yachts (one in particular distinctively displaying anchor light as well navigation lights). There was no moon before and there's no moon now either because it's that time of the month again - again and there's tons of overhead cloud with heavy precipitation all around! No fear though because there's a regular abundance of lightening to show us the way. At about 2 o'clock the wind starts to calm and the 'midnight reverse' happens. As things sort of settle down and with the wind now with a southerly aspect again, not so exciting any more so Sue & I decide to hit the sack and try and get a little kip. No new noises to worry me until about 4 o'clock then I decided just to check around us. Thought I was seeing double because another yacht had dropped their hook too close and we were swinging with just 5m or less between our stern and their bow. They had two people in their cockpit showing no signs of wanting to anchor elsewhere (where there is acres of room). After half an hour I sort of spoke to them because either they needed to move or we would have to because it was becoming just too much to keep watching and waiting. They moved, although only after I was forced to motor away and stay on the donk whilst they pulled their anchor off the nearby seabed. No further immediate problem after that because they successfully re-dropped well enough away.
Another cup of tea later (thinks number five for the night) then Sue goes for a lay-down and wakes when ferry ship is getting ready to depart it's berth. Here we go, once again squally gusting following winds, driving rain and all lit up like a fairy cake.
Then it's my turn for a lay-down on the bed and Sue's turn to keep a watch (from the safety of our warm and dry saloon). You don't exactly fall asleep at times like this, just drift in and out of semi-consciousness. When I decided time for a look around in the daylight it became obvious we'de drifted back maybe 20 - 30m during the night so Sue takes the opportunity to do her stuff on the anchor and we re-drop our hook at yesterday evening's starting point!
We've heard from Sandra & Ray 's/y Stratagem' who have been sitting out similar conditions in Vlikho. They're fine and Sandra is a happy bunny too!
With plenty fun to keep us from wanting too much sleep and an extended free fresh-water yacht wash we are so lucky! It's now 1 o'clock and we know the weather will improve eventually.
Sue & Alan xxxx
PS Must buy a more reliable anchor soon!

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