In the morning Tim and I got up early at 6 am, had some breakfast and I rowed to the shore to take Lucy for a walk. I looked like a complete dork trying to co-ordinate the paddles of the dinghy – I had never rowed before! We made it to the beach and I untied our stern line and rowed back a bit more professionally. We pulled the anchor up and I realised we had picked up a mooring ball like that wrapped around the anchor. Tim jumped in the water to assess the situation with the googles. He wrapped a small rope around one end of the anchor hoping to dip it, so the line would fall off and luckily his plan worked out. We had just seen another boat that wanted to leave the evening before and couldn’t get their anchor up. So we where glad we could solve the problem so quickly. So finally at 8 am we were ready to set sail for Kythnos.
The winds where predicted to be around 20-25 knots and Tim and Martin reckoned it would be good to go. Nina helmed for a bit and then me for about a couple of hours. Luca had a sleep in, some breakfast and felt sick pretty soon. The sea was pretty rough already. So we got the bucket out and he got rid of his breakfast pretty smartly. Shortly afterwards I started to feel off to and Tim took the helm. I was fine the previous 3 sails with no signs of sea sickness at all. I had taken a ginger seasickness tablet in the morning, made some ginger tea and had a ginger lolly, but the ginger didn’t really do the job.
The kids, dog and I where huddled up on the seats with blankets close to the spray dodger as there was lots of sea spray coming in. The wind and sea state went from bad to worse and a few hours into the journey I was wondering if we were going to make it. The noise was awful – the sails were reefed a lot, but still sounded like they would rip anytime soon. The waves where high and wild and to me it felt, like somebody put us in a washing machine and turned the wash cycle on. Tim manned the wheel and battled the weather for 6 hours pretty much by himself, while I was hugging our bucket, constantly vomiting, feeling like crap and being scared as anything. The kids and dog did really well and Polly held out well. It sounded so violent when she went banging down into the sea with bow. We had winds around 35-39 knots. Not at all like the weather forecast, but he Meltimi blows strongest in July and August and thanks to the Greek authorities we now have to rush in these sucky conditions all the way to Turkey within 2 weeks.
We finally made it to Kythnos and tried to find a bay that was relatively sheltered from the strong winds. We looked around 2 bays and decided to go into a smaller one with rocks either side and a little beach. It still felt pretty rolly and gusty. The Pisces crew put their anchor down in the bigger bay around the corner and said they felt pretty good there, so up the anchor came again and we motored to the next bay. Down the anchor went near Pieces and Luca and I went in the dinghy to the beach to take Lucy for her well deserved toilet brake. Luca drove the dingy and held on to it while I was taking Lucy. On the way back the motor wouldn’t start, so Luca and I had to row back to the boat – by then I was ready to jump into the next plane back to New Zealand! Once back at the boat our anchor dragged and we nearly swung into Pisces, so up the anchor came again and we re-anchored on the other side of the bay. There was still swell and a strong breeze and the boat felt pretty rocky. Tim decided to put a stern anchor out to face us into wind. After vomiting for 6 hours straight I decided I couldn’t face to sleep in the V-Berth and settled on one of the seats outside. There was lots of noise from the wind and boat and I ended up checking regularly how close to the rocks we where. Tim came out in the middle of the night and said it was quieter downstairs, but I still couldn’t sleep.
As soon as daylight came up we decided to head about 1 hour motor time to another bay that was supposed to be more sheltered from the Meltimi. Tim took the dinghy to the get the stern anchor out, but it was to heavy to pull the chain over the dinghy. He was exhausted from the battle the day before and no sleep in the night. He came back to the boat and completely forgot to tie on the dinghy, luckily I saw straight away it was floating away. He quickly put his flippers on and stripped off to swim after it. Ahhh, all the stupid things we do – I guess you live and learn. Once the dinghy was recovered we could luckily pull the stern anchor up with one of our winches straight to the boat. I pulled the other anchor up and we started motoring into the strong winds for hour to the next bay, which straight away felt a lot more comfortable. The Bay was called Ormos Kolona and had a beautiful sandbank to another little bay. We anchored free swinging first and had some breakfast. My first meal since the breakfast the day before. Tim took Lucy to shore and checked out a few other yachts who had anchored stern to the rocks and saw that there where steel rings on the shore to tie up to and the yachts looked a lot more settled. So we re anchored again with a stern line and where settled for a day of recovery.
The water was beautifully turquoise and clear and the bay and anchorage felt really sheltered. Tim put up the hammock on the front of the boat, which felt such a treat after the torture the day before. The kids went for swims, the paddle board came out and I baked some pizza wheels for lunch and an apple cake for afternoon tea. By then life seemed to be o.k. again. One message I heard again and again from other cruisers before we started our journey is that the highs of this life are really high and lows really low. And in only 5 days of cruising we already had a taste of that statement.
Pisces came over to the Bay as well and Tim helped them set their stern line. They had trouble anchoring this time and nearly swung into us this time. We delivered some pizza wheels for their lunch and they invited us over dumpling making in the evening for dinner. I had an afternoon snooze and afterwards we went over to Pisces to learn how to make dumplings. Yvette has Chinese heritage and her mum taught her how to do them. They where so yummy and the process of making them so satisfying. After dinner we went for a walk to an old chapel on the hill to watch the sunset. It was really windy on the hill and after falling asleep and pretty calm conditions we woke up to a horrible rolling boat in the middle of the night. Tim and I checked out the situation and went back to bed with no sleep for me anymore. In the morning Tim loosened the stern line a bit, so we could face into the wind, which calmed down the rolling a bit. We would see big waves and white caps on the horizon outside of the bay and I was glad we were tucked in here.
The next day Tim tried to install a switch to isolate the batteries from our system so the generator could start the water maker. Our generator is struggling to start the water maker, because as soon as we start it it starts to charge the batteries and then doesn’t have enough juice left to start the water maker. Once we are in Turkey we have to get that sorted properly. Our solar system doesn’t work still either. We have 3 new batteries and 3 fixed plus a mobile solar panel but we have flat batteries all the time even if we don’t use anything else other than 1 fridge, which is all wrong. Some nights we can’t even put on the anchor lights. Tim tried so hard to have this sorted at the marina in Athens unplugging us from the mains power, making a power budged, getting batteries and appliances tested and unfortunately Armando didn’t take his concern seriously enough. Once in Marmaris we have to get this sorted, as at the moment we can’t even use the autopilot and have to be super mindful what is being switched on.
We went to explore a really cool little hot pool right by the beach in the sand. It just had piled up rocks around it and was right on the edge of the beautiful turquoise water with the barren hills in the background. We 4 just fitted in and had a beautiful long hot soak, which reminded us of the hot pools at Lake Rotoiti.
Afterwards Tim, Nina, Lucy and I went for a walk up the hills to get a few of the bay from higher up. There is beauty everywhere. The scenery is just mind blowing and pays off for all the days that are a bit sucky.
The next morning I tidied up our food storage and checked the bilges for water. They where dry this time. Luca and Nina had a call with their friends in New Zealand, which seems to boost their mood quite significantly. I did a load of washing, while Tim had the generator going to try and charge up our batteries. We had another swim and then got ready to leave Kythnos for Serifos, as the wind was forecast to calm down from lunchtime. I was really nervous about this passage, since the last one was a bit rough for all of and certainly gave me a fright.
The passage went well, but took longer than expected and the sea felt quite unsettled again with some big swells. I felt o.k. this time, Luca got seasick again, but he doesn’t seem to want to listen to any of our advise either. Nina felt off a bit and Tim pretty much sailed the whole way. It took approx. 3.5 hours. When we approached Serifos we figured we would either settle in Livadhi bay, the main town or in Koutala. The winds around the island felt very gusty when we came into Livadhi. But the town looked so pretty terraced up the hill and what I had read about sounded really good. Tim didn’t feel so good about and headed back out to Koutala. I got the cruising guide out again and read up about Livadhi again and asked if we could at least check the port out and it turned out that gut instinct was perfect.
There are many downsides and dramas we have had due to Covid but one upside is, that there is not much happening tourist wise. We found a great spot in the little harbor just as the sun was setting, which I imagine would be impossible during the usual main season. We tied up and and had a bit of a tidy up and everyone agreed to go for a little wander to see if we can find something reasonable to eat. Souvlaki or Gyros is the national dish here and apparently the prices for it are regulated by the government. You get a pita wrap with chicken or pork or veggies with french fries, sauces and salad for around 2.90 Euros per wrap. Its one of the few things we can afford going out.
Before we left we met an Italian family at the jetty, who just arrived in their catamaran and came to town in their dinghy. They tied up to a mooring ball. They also had a dog and 2 kids similar ages to ours. The kids couldn’t really speak English, so that was a bit of a shame. In Serifos near the port is a whole row of restaurants with pretty tables and chairs right by the beach in the sand. We bumped into the Italian family again and decided to have dinner together. That is one of the things I love about travelling this way. We are meeting so many lovely and interesting people. The couple had cruised together before they had kids and went to the Caribbean and then helped out at the America’s Cup. On returning they bought a catamaran and started their charter business. They take 3 months off every year during the European summer holidays to cruise with their kids and dog. That night we went to bed a lot happier, despite the disco music drifting in from the taverna’s.