The long tack – Wednesday 23rd May 2012


Overnight the wind has changed completely. Thank goodness we anchored in this sheltered bay rather than risking it off the coast at Tsonia. We motored out of the bay and around the headland along the North shore of Lesvos.
Our destination is Molyvos (sometimes called Mythymna, which I think prettier). The boys are aware of a ticking clock, unerringly counting the time to our return home, and they are keen to sail even though the wind is against us in direction. It is strong enough but we need to sail headlong into it- not good!
We can get there under sail by tacking, massive strides across the ocean, zig zagging our way across the sea between Turkey and Greece. Each stride will take an hour but we are in no hurry, so proceed.
I have never known Captain agree to tacking. In the past, he has shown himself to be a gentleman sailor, who considers the comfort of his crew. Indeed I have know John to feel slightly frustrated by his preference for easy motoring rather than put up sails. So the boys are delighted when Captain agrees so enthusiastically to tacking. Both have enormous fun at the helm and I sense some healthy competition as to who can steer to take best advantage of the wind. Louise’s husband has been suffering from a cold, but any remaining symptoms evaporate in the exhilaration of the sail. Four tacks are completed. The wind enables us to tap on nine knots, which is a brilliant speed. There is talk of racing other boats, although I am sure there is only one other yacht,; the rest are tankers!

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By the end of the day we moor in a double harbour in Mythymna and I am instantly charmed by the town. A row of tavernas line the quay and a large castle stands proudly over the houses which clamber up the hillside. We eat a late lunch in a taverna and this feels a luxury as we usually eat lunch on board.

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Even the cats of this town are happy.
The walk up the hill is very pleasant. Rows of vine covered streets mostly offering tourist tat in pretty shops. As we get higher the streets are covered in weeds. Eventually we reach the castle which offers a wonderful panorama on every side: farm, sea, trees, village.

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We eat at the “Captain’s Table” by the quay that night. The meal is fine and the atmosphere positively buzzes, in comparison with some of the places we have eaten recently. Despite all our walking through the town we had not found a loaf of bread so ask the restaurant if they can spare any. No problem!
Except that when we come to eat it, the crust is so hard we can hardly get our teeth into it! No wonder it was free.
Still it has been a brilliant day: excellent weather, brilliant sailing and two tavernas!

A strong wind to Tsonia – Tuesday 22nd May 2012


The inland waterway of Kolpos Yeras proves excellent shelter and very pretty. I am surprised how green Greece is because most of my travels while working have been dovetailed with school holidays, so this means high summer. Our anchor held well overnight. There is not sufficient wind to sail out of this water back to the open ocean, if you can ever call the Mediterranean ‘open’!
Our most reliable source of weather forecasting comes from a website aimed at windsurfers and surfers. It breaks the day into two-hour slots and has so far seemed very accurate. Today, as predicted we have enough wind to sail a steady course North, and we eat lunch on the move.
Shortly after eating the wind picks up to around 25-30 knots. We reef in the headsail to something akin to a pocket handkerchief and sail briskly along at 6-8 knots.

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Tsonia is such a tiny village on Lesvos that we almost miss it! The architecture implies money and the shoreline taverna has beautiful sunbeds, all empty, arranged across the sand. But we cannot achieve a firm anchorage here and are forced back along the coast to shelter behind a hill.
There is a taverna here too but we can see, without going ashore that it is not open. The kitchen fitters are hard at work and we will need to eat on board again. (Must check the labels before opening any other tins, we don’t want a repeat of tomato purée!)
The sun has been strong today, although we hardly felt it due to the wind. By the time we have anchored we allow ourselves an afternoon snooze. Swinging in the bay seems a great way to send you to sleep! Both John and Louise’s husband have really enjoyed the sailing today. We sip our gin and tonic that evening with a sense of total satisfaction and enjoy another great sunset.

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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.

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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?