We knew today was going to be a good one but we weren’t expecting this:
Having weighed anchor from Pabuc and motoring out we were thinking we were going to have to motor towards Knidos before getting the sails out, but before long we were close hauled and caning it. As the wind picked up so the clouds started rolling in and Liz and I got a little apprehensive. There was not another boat in sight across the whole of the Goekova bay and the weather looked appalling. We knew the meltem (the local strong W and NW winds) was going to be kicking in hard at some point and the anvil-shaped storm cloud hanging over Kos like a harbinger of doom was racing to meet us bang in the middle. Reefing early to anticipate any wrong-doings by the weather we continued to make progress towards Knidos until we hit the lee of Kos and our speed dropped.
After motoring for a short while the wind picked up and we were off again. We picked up speed so I decided to reef the jib but as we did so an almighty downpour dumped a few tons of water on top of Esper without any warning! Within a second the visibility dropped to 50 metres, blocking sight of two approaching boats, the waves were flattened and the sails got a really good rinsing! Fortunately the wind dropped at the same time so it wasn’t all bad but it took us by complete surprise, most of all Liz who hadn’t done up her oilies properly. Mmmm, don’t you yachties just love that wet neck and back combination?
This was only the beginning though. After heading round Knidos point we were now on a broad reach with the wind picking up to over 20 knots over our shoulder. Being on a starboard tack we managed to scare a couple of Sunsail boats but all was well until I realised we were going to have to rig up a preventer. With Esper pitching and rolling it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a steady course and the boom threatened to swing across the boat, so I had to get Liz to rig up the rope that runs from the boom, down the outside of the boat to the bow, through a fair-lead and back to the cockpit around a winch. This ‘preventer’ stops the boom from dangerously flying across the cockpit, taking the top of your head off. Rigging this up is not something a lady should have to do in her first 20+ knots of running downwind. The boat was really tipping over from side to side as the crests on the increasingly growing waves were getting rougher. Every time the boat pitched I had to reassure myself that Liz was secure and in control. She was, though, and as soon as the preventer was rigged we were able to let the boom out and gain some steerage.
Not for long though. The wind had now started hitting 25 knots and Esper once more became unmanageable. What is it they say? ‘When you think about reefing you already should have done’. After our squall I’d got out a full main, jib and mizzen and was concentrating so much on handling Esper as she surfed down the waves that I’d neglected to consider how much sail we had out. We reefed both the main and the jib and were quite in control, surfing at 7 knots boat speed, hitting 8 at times with up to 9 knots speed over ground.
As an exercise I asked Liz to work out at what point we should gybe in order to get us to our next destination, Kalaboshi. According to Rod Heikell, whose pilot book we use all the time, this anchorage was a great respite from the meltem. Liz spent some time down below doing her calculations whilst I continued to fly down the waves. After a quick chat we decided to gybe the boat, but what with the running back stays, the preventer and so on we took a while to sort the boat out and before I knew it I’d accidentally gybed! As a precaution we had already furled away the jib so just as we started preparing the jib for the new course I checked the speed of the boat under just a reefed main and a reefed mizzen only to see that we were doing a constant 7 knots! I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t realise Esper would maintain such a steady course on a beam reach (wind coming over the side of the boat) under just her main and mizzen. Also we felt we had far more control over her and decided we were quite happy cruising along as we were. We continued like this for a couple of hours with sloppy but strong waves ushering us sideways, but eventually made our destination with plenty of light-hours left.
The tiny hamlet of Kalaboshi is a very chilled place with just a few shacks for restaurants, a jetty and a couple of pensions. It reminded me very much of somewhere in the Caribbean, whilst the strange tall jutting rocks by the jetty reminded Liz of Thailand. The anchorage is ok but with another couple of boats in front of us we had to anchor out a little. Still, we nipped ashore, took a few snaps and had a beer. Whilst ashore we were watching Esper swing round like a loon on her 50m of chain. We’d anchored secure enough but on shore the wind seemed to be picking up, not dying down as it normally does at night in this part of the world. We necked our beers and rowed back to the boat to find that the wind was easily blowing 15 knots in this so called ‘well protected’ anchorage.
Right now, with Liz in bed and me sitting up to write this journal, the wind is now blowing a constant 20+ knots and gusting up to 30 knots. The anchor is well dug in and my transit line still hasn’t changed, but now it’s dark I can’t see it and the anchor chain is making funny noises every now and then. The wind is blowing hard enough that the boat is tipping over and I have to lean over the laptop to readjust myself to an upright position. I can hear the water slopping all around poor Esper. I’m not sure how well I’m going to sleep tonight and I’m exhausted after the six hours of sailing we’ve done today.
Bloody Rod Heikell, what is he talking about? Protected anchorage??? And with no GPRS reception we’re unsure of the weather tomorrow!