Rescue – Friday 18th May 2012

I could hear thunder all night long in the quiet bay. It did not seem very close but rumbled around disturbing sleep. We needed to be up early to have finished breakfast by 9.00 so the engineer could come to fix the cooling system. Whilst we knew he would come, we had no idea how he might get to us. We looked around for roads leading to the bay, but there were very few. We hoped he might come in a boat as we were swinging out in the bay at anchor. However, if he only drove and walked to the coast, we needed to inflate our dingy to get him aboard.
Needless to say, he came in his own dingy with an assistant and got to work re-doing the tests we had run to find the cause of our trouble. Having completed our routine tests he began to pull the engine apart until he found the difficulty.
We were rescued!
It was all over by 11.30 and we continued our travels through drizzle without wind. It is not so much fun just motoring around from island to island, but it is effective.
Three hours later we arrived in a small island called Ionousses, near Khios. Originally a centre for Greek shipping magnets, it is rumoured to have moneyed inhabitants. If this is the case, I must say they hide it well these days.
The harbour is tiny, but picturesque. There are hardly any tourists here and a faded decadence is hinted at by the ruined dwellings that seem to be empty throughout the town. Some houses up the hill are in total ruin, it is overrun by cats, all of whom look very bedraggled and display large scabs. Shops are hidden in the houses, but most are firmly closed for the afternoon, as is often the way in Greece.

There are three restaurants but only one is serving food, the others are bars. Our meal was very cheap but tasty and we shared the place with two Greek families and their children.


Sailing along – Thursday 17th May 2012

Sailing is, of course, all about wind. The direction, the strength: the gusting, the continuity of it makes or breaks a sail.

Overnight, in our isolated bay, I was aware of the motion of the ocean, and could hear the anchor chain drag over the seabed, yet, we awake to find our anchorage held well.
After breakfast, gazing over the green shore (not a building in sight), we sail off to another bay several miles away. Each morning Captain briefs us on the wind forecast, and our course. Various possibilities are considered and our day is agreed.
Out at sea, the wind gets up; 25-35 knots so we achieve 9 knots speed at times. The sails are reeled almost to pocket handkerchief size and we still zoom along. The beginning of the journey offers calm seas, but as we approach our destination, the sea begins to churn. The waves reach 2 metres high. This is the Mediterranean Sea, where tide and wind is far calmer than one might expect on the open ocean. Nevertheless, this is an exciting ride. You need a strong stomach as a sailor – and it helps if you like fairground rides (which I don’t).
Our bay for the night is very well sheltered. We can tuck right in away from the wind, so we need to motor in. Sadly, this reveals a problem. The engine is not cooling properly and we need to call out the engineer.
Such amazing service! They offer to come straight out if we are in danger. But we are fine, quite safe and settle to preparing the evening meal on board. Tonight I take my turn to be head chef. The food is good but the atmosphere is tainted by the prospect of the engineer arriving at 9.00 in the morning and what they might find.
Will they be able to get us going again without having to interrupt our itinery?