Storm in Pedi

Vasco da Gama
Ian Strathcarron
Fri 19 Aug 2011 08:26
We have sailed into the sanctuary of a large marina outside Kos town as two days of gales are predicted.  The wind is currrently blowing at 20 miles but it is refreshing as we are safely tied up and as the sun is still very hot in the day, the wind acts as a giant air conditioner.
The strong north westerly wind, the Meltemi, blows every day in the Agean from July until October, but we have found it to be most active in the afternoons, so by setting off at first light, we can usually arrive safely at a destination in a northwesterly direction by noon.
The last big gale struck while we were in Pedi port, a bus ride over the mountain away from the main town and port on the Greek island of Symi.  Symi is actually a large rock a few miles off the Turkish coast, and we were warned that anchoring was quite difficult.  Our anchor dragged at the first attempt but a space became available on the town quay, and we just had enough space to tie up there.  Later in the day, the boats tied up on the other side of the quay were told to move as a water tanker was coming in.  The tanker arrives twice a week from Rhodes to bring fresh water to the island.  They were kind enough to fill our tanks up as well. 
As the evening approached, and the wind howled, we noticed that several yachts, including the ones who had been on the quay, were motoring around the bay, trying to anchor.  The tanker left and the first boat to return was a German yacht called Manana.  Ian helped the nice German skipper tie up, but soon other boats started arriving as everyone's anchor was dragging in the gale.  We had gone to bed, but it was going to be a sleepless night, as one by one, the casualties appeared and Ian led the rescue efforts to bring the boats to safety.  Ian and the captain of Manana helped in Escape Key from the USA.  Then a very elegant Italian couple on a small elegant boat, unfortunately called Wally II, who had been careering around the bay for hours, approached the quay, backwards, and Ian and the German from Manana, and Fred from Escape Key, battled against the wind to get Wally II tied up.  At 2.30 in the morning, what Ian called 'the battlefield' was in full swing.  Ginny, an English yacht, lost its anchor and the rescue crew, now comprising Ian, the German captain, Fred and the captain of Wally, managed to rescue Ginny and pull her in alongside Escape Key. 
I stood on our deck, trying to look helpful, but not feeling strong enough to do anything useful.  Next to arrive was Mariella of Nice, with a couple and their daughter and a Griffon dog on board.  They were tied onto the end of the pontoon by the ever-growing rescue team.  A poor chap on a French boat, Hector, was unable to make contact and his wife was dropped ashore by a man in a RIB and Hector sailed around aimlessly.  Next came two Englishmen on Carib who were tied up alongside Manana.  We got very little sleep and the next day the pontoon was thick with yachts and there was a party atmosphere, as everybody sat together on the yachts, swaying in the rough sea and drinking beer. Ian was thanked by everybody, as he had helped all night, and brought six yachts to safety.   
We also helped in a group of Austrians on a charter boat the next day, and just after Ian and I had retired to bed for the night, a strong light flashed in our cabin and we heard a whistle sounding an alarm.  A German family were adrift, and again Ian jumped out of bed and brought in the boat with the help of the crew from Manana and Carib.
Two mornings later the sea was quiet and calm and we sailed back towards Turkey.