Monday, mid of October a caring sailor approached us in Patmos with a warning about southeasterly strong winds. Maybe not so nice with the harbor being open to southeast we thought. The forecasts tell us 20 to 25 knots. Hm, not sooo strong, ey? But why are all the boats gone? The nice lady from the port then told us to better anchor a little further in a small bay because there really is coming some heavy weather. Ah, maybe thats why we feel so alone in port. So we move.
Tuesday early morning starts sunny with the predicted 25 knots of wind from southeast. Fun ride to Mykonos we thought. Lets start it easy with the staysail (little jib) and reef two on the mainsail as waves were higher than expected. Two hours west of Patmos it got tempting. Clouds cut the light, waves went choppy and wind blew 35 knots. Hm, was it really smart to leave the bay? Shall we head back? Shit no, sails are up, tanks are full. What could happen? Bang! Mainsail tore. Winds up to 50 knots. Waves disturbingly high and breaking. So, into the harness, engine on and bow to the wind to take the mainsail in. Shrrrrrrr! Sheet of the foresail got loose and into the propeller. Wumps. Engine stops. Really? Mainsail, jib and engine lost in one maneuver? I felt like crying. But hey, we didn’t loose the rudder due to some marauding orcas.
Not being able to steer the boat in bad weather feels shitty. Especially when the wind blows you against the cliffs of Ikaria. What the hack are we going to do? Cut the rope, take in the useless foresail and luckily let out a tiny part of our main genoa. Giving our best tacking upwind. Which is a Sisyphus task without the mainsail.
At night we made it around the west cape of Ikaria. Puh. We were so relieved. No smudge on the cliffs. Only to enter a main cargo strait. With lots of huge cargo vessels. You ever seen them by night? It’s like a skyscraper coming your way. Didn’t we buy a mobile VHF device? Hello big cargo ship, we have some problems with maneuvering. Do you see us on your display? Would you mind to change course? Hey little pleasure craft I see you on my screens. I will alter my course. When the big ship is 400 meters behind you and meanwhile looking like a mountain with ski resorts lit at night, we ask again. Hey Big Ship, you really see us? Don’t worry, taking over on your port side. Have a nice watch. They were all very professional, friendly and helpful. And they did change course.
Surviving the attack of the tankers we came into lighter waves, wind and fewer crossing mountains. Of course now the wind changed. Where before the wind blew us to Mykonos, it now came from Mykonos. Again zigzag tacking against the wind.
It was Wednesday noon the wind coming straight from our destination 10 miles away. Since hours we were sailing the same line not getting any closer than 10 miles. Coming down from all this adrenaline we were very exhausted. It felt like leaving a battlefield. That was the moment we called the coast guard. We were never going to make it. Someone had to tug us in. Though it was kind of embarrassing and cost a broken thumb of Raoul we were very happy to be safe and cosy in the marina.
Next time we will pay forecasts more attention. We will look out for flapping sheets and ropes. We will hopefully not tear our new mainsail. We will listen to other sailors. We will wonder if all boats leave the harbor. And we will potentially stay in port when there are high waves and strong winds. Really. Next time.