Tag Archives: greece

Day 5: Finikas to Parikia, Island of Paros

The weather (as usual) looks a little better this morning. Our crew futzes around town, since we are not in a hurry to leave. Barb finds a WiFi signal to poach, gets the forecast and the weather seems to be OK. A few of our neighbor boats leave.

Tom making best use of remaining shore time.
Tom making best use of remaining shore time.

As we are preparing to get under way, my VHF crackles with the dreaded mixture of many Greek words wrapped around the English phrase Gale Warning. While we had sailed (unplanned) in Gale force winds the last 4 days, we hadn’t ever departed with the knowledge that there was an active Gale warning.

We paused our departure and Sheven and I walked back into town, to a bakery with WiFi, and checked the weather on all 3 web sites. They all basically said today is 5-6 and tomorrow 7 or higher (Beaufort Scale). Perfect weather today for sailing. We scurried back to the boat and ready for departure.

We still haven’t figured out when you hear “Gale Warning” on channel 16, if it’s for any place in Greek waters or if it is for local waters. We have also never been able to find any information on any of the other channels they list for more information even though my VHF is programmed to scan all of those channels.

Tom is at the helm today. He is a smooth operator and we had a perfect departure.

Tom was lured from the swingset to the helm.
Tom was lured from the swingset to the helm.

We do a broad reach around the southern end of Siros and head for the town of Parikia on Paros. The winds start out perfect and comfortable – around 20 knots. Then (as usual) starts building later and as we approach Paros, we are running straight downwind and hitting 10.5 knots boat speed. That’s pretty fast for a boat this size, and the fastest we’ve done on the trip so far. Tom takes some pride in the speed, which seems to arouse a competitive spirit from The Sheven. I get a little nervous going that fast since I want to make sure we don’t get over powered, and I’m just starting to get a feeling for the boat. Not that we are in danger of capsizing, but I don’t want to stress Niko’s nice boat/rigging, or stress our passengers who are sitting in the saloon below.

I should mention, too, that our speedo doesn’t work on the boat so we are watching the ‘speed over ground’ GPS speed on the chart plotter. The speedo is the only significant thing that doesn’t work on the boat, which is a credit to Nikos, in my opinion. It would be nice to have, though, because then you can switch between ‘apparent’ and ‘true’ wind speeds which is handy for determining tactics.

For about 10 minutes, a group of dolphins comes to swim off our bows. We go sit on the trampoline and bow seat and watch them, watching us. I’ve experienced this often, but I find it thrilling every time. I like how they tilt their heads a little and you can see them looking right at you as you’re leaning over and looking at them. In Alaska we have Dahl porpoise that have black & white markings that look like mini killer whales. These guys were the grayish color similar to ones who played off our boat around Catalina Island (California) a couple of months ago.

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When we are about 2 miles from Paros, a squall line approaches. Since the wind was already gusting to 30+, I wasn’t looking forward to additional wind, so I said I thought we should drop the sails and motor the rest of the way. Everyone agreed. Daniel and I went up on the deck to drop the sails and wow, it felt dramatic. Tom pointed us into the wind and we were flying up waves, jumping off the crest and plowing down the next trough. All the while we were dropping the sails and trying to secure everything. I found out later the wind speed was showing 35+ knots. It’s humbling to feel the power of even 1 square meter of sail in a 35 knot breeze.

The wind then dropped a little and the squall line faded away. I think Daniel was worried that I would want to raise the sails again (I didn’t) because word is relayed to me that if I did want to raise the sails, we would need to “have a discussion”. I think our crew is getting tired of handling sails in 40+ MPH winds and we are at risk of mutiny.

Tom motors us into the northern approach to Parikia. Just to the west of us are Portes rocks where in September 2000 the ferry Samina crashed in a gale and 80 people drowned. It was nighttime and the wind was an 8 (34-40 knots), and somehow they managed to rescue 400 people off the ship. Quite an amazing feat, and I had read about how the northern wind and current aggressively sweeps ships toward the rocks, so I kept telling Tom “more left!”.

Our view of Parikia on the Island of Paros
Our view of Parikia on the Island of Paros

We got into the harbor, which is protected from the north, but the wind was still whipping up to 30+ knots. We motored over to the marina area, which is actually quite small and there wasn’t any space (as foretold by Jabba the Hutt). There are some nice anchorage areas, though, and we chose an area on the north side of the harbor. We paid extra special attention to setting our anchor since the forecast was for quite strong winds (7-8) tomorrow. This is where we plan to ride out the bad weather on Thursday.

Panoramic view of Parikia
Panoramic view of Parikia

We do a couple of dingy runs to shore and check out the town. We find several marine shops, but none of them have the CO2 cylinders for our vests. Turns out they are special order items. Note to self: bring extra cylinders on the next trip. Both Daniel and I have accidentally inflated our vests during the heat of battle.

CO2 cylinder from our life vests.  Turns our there are dozens of different types and we should have brought our own spares.
CO2 cylinder from our life vests. Turns our there are dozens of different types and we should have brought our own spares.

We get fairly drenched coming back to Sunday in the dingy (up wind). It’s about 1/3 mile, but 25 knot wind is a bit much for a small dingy with 4 or 5 people. By the time we come back, it’s dark – we are ready for that with flashlights and Daniel flicks Sunday’s lights on and off so we can find her amongst all the other lights.

I suggest that since we have this many people on the boat, we should rotate anchor watch about every hour just to keep an eye on things. The person on watch can read a book, etc. and periodically check to be sure we are not dragging and that nothing else ghastly is happening. There are lots of strange sounds on a boat like ours that is anchored or moored in high winds: clinking, banging, squeeking, gurgling, beeping, etc. If someone is on anchor watch, then the other 7 people can sleep peacefully and hopefully ignore the noises and motions of the boat.

See ALL PHOTOS for Day 5

day5map

 

Day 4: Loutra to Finikas, Island of Siros

We all went for runs/walks in the morning. Then breakfast at the same café – excellent eggs, omelets, bacon, pastries, Greek Coffee.

We noted that we were running short on rum, which is not a good thing for a sailing vessel. We went back to the tiny store we had visited the day before. The cute shopkeeper lady greeted us with big smiles, laughs, hugs, and kisses on both cheeks. She had two bottles of rum on her shelf, and there was a hand written price on the bottles of 17 Euros. We picked them up and when she saw our interest, she took the bottles away from us. While rapidly explaining something in Greek, she grabbed a magic marker, crossed out the 17 Euros and wrote 19 instead.

Our personal shopper on Loutra.
Our personal shopper on Loutra.

We joked about the hyper-inflation on Kithnos, but being aware of our relative isolation and lack of choices, we opted to continue the transaction. We took the bottles back from her. Then she took the bottles back from us again, while explaining in a stream of Greek the reason for her actions. She finally went to a phone on a nearby desk and made a call. We could hear her spelling BACARDI in Greek to someone on the other end of the phone. Then she motioned me over and gave me the phone. There was a man on the other end, obviously long distance, speaking broken English, who explained to me the bottle of rum was now 20 Euros. We bought one bottle instead of two. Daniel, who is a master bargainer, has since (constructively) critiqued our bargaining skills, and the criticisms are duly noted. Admittedly, we were beaten in the negotiations, but I thought we got 3 Euros of entertainment value.

day4Inflation
Grecian inflation. Started at 17E, had it ripped out of my hands and changed to 19E, I took it back off the shelf to buy but after a phone call, the final price was 20E. Prices still visible on label.
Checked the weather – still forecasting 5-6 from the North. Wednesday is supposed to be about the same, and then it is supposed to get worse (7) on Thursday. So we’ve decided to go east to the island of Siros, then on the next day, south to Paros. We figure that if the weather is nasty on Thursday, Paros would be a good place to be stuck – lots of things to do, and good shelter from the north.

On Siros, we’ll head for the town/harbor of Finikas, which is on the southwest corner of the island, and Paros, we’ll target the main harbor of Parikia.

With The Sheven at the helm again, we had an effortless & stress free departure.

As we headed almost due east to Siros, serious wind and waves on beam. Weather kept building and soon we were triple reefed with a mostly furled jib, making at least 8 knots. Winds went above 30 knots for the 3rd day in a row. I go to my special place, also known as the Sphincter Zone, wondering why every time we hoist the sails the wind goes at least 10 kts faster than it was previously.

Harness and tether being used to discipline Susan during a tantrum.
Harness and tether being used to discipline Susan during a tantrum.

Perhaps related, at this point we start realizing that the weather forecasts are probably for the towns/harbors which are usually quite protected. In hindsight, we reckon this is probably why we ended up having winds at least 10-15 knots stronger than forecast on almost every day.

When I’m grinding a line on the winch, my life vest inflation handle gets stuck in the line, yanks, and with a big HISSSSS! my vest inflates. It’s so tight around my neck it’s hard to laugh/talk without sounding like Donald Duck. The second accidental inflation of the trip. Since our vests auto-inflate, I should have had the manual handle snapped inside the vest so it would be less prone to accidental snagging.

Second accidental inflation of life vest
Second accidental inflation of life vest

In Finikas, we tied up alongside the dock and had fairly good protection from the wind and waves.

 

Something about this looks sort-of surreal, like a Dali painting.  Susan and Tom in Finnikas
Something about this looks sort-of surreal, like a Dali painting. Susan and Tom in Finnikas

 

Daniel at Sunset
Daniel at Sunset

We met Dale and his daughter Victoria on a Beneteau Oceanis 42, Itylle 6. They had left Kithnos about an hour after us and were almost fully knocked down by the wind/waves with no jib and a fully reefed main. When they docked, we grabbed their lines and Victoria looked quite shell shocked. I’m guessing she is around 14 years old. She was just standing on the deck with big wide eyes, and I’m pretty sure if she could have pushed some magic button and been beamed any place else in the world, she would have.

Tom and Daniel on Shore Leave
Tom and Daniel on Shore Leave
Panorama of dock at Finnias
Panorama of dock at Finikas

Went to a yummy taverna/restaurant – all 8 of us.

Dinner at Finikas, where we met Jabba The Most Interesting Man in the World
Dinner at Finikas, where we met Jabba The Most Interesting Man in the World

We were the only party there for a while, then another group came in of charter sailors and their hired captain. We think the captain was American, but he kept going into and out of various accents. He reminded me of a cross between Jabba the Hutt (Star Wars) and Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World. (“Stay Thirsty, My Friend”)

When he found out we were on the Cat in the harbor, we had an interesting conversation. Snippet:

Jabba the Hutt (in suave accent mode): You know, they are ruining the Mediterranean.
Me: Who is ruining the Mediterranean?
Jabba: Catamarans
Me: Huh?
Jabba: They pull into a port, and the people never get off the boat. They never eat at local restaurants, go get laundry done, or help support the local economy. They are ruining the Mediterranean.

This seemed like a strange thing to tell a group of 8 people who are off a catamaran and you meet them eating at a restaurant.

Me: Huh.
Jabba: And they are too large and take up too much room.

This also seemed strange coming from a morbidly obese guy who barely fit on a normal chair. Yes, I was thinking, our boat is fairly big, but we have eight people on it, so volume per person was probably about the same as Jabba’s sloop.

He also told us that going to Paros was a foolish idea because of the weather and that they wouldn’t allow our boat (a horrible catamaran) in the marina. I was bone tired and buzzed from the wine and decided to not engage in any verbal light sword action. This was the first time I’d ever put a big Cat thru its paces, too, so I was still forming my opinion.

In hindsight, I’d be willing to bet that Jabba had never sailed on a Catamaran, and he probably had some penis envy brewing because our boat was bigger, more comfortable, faster, and we could sit at our table in the boat with a 360 degree panoramic view. There has also been speculation by our crew that he was pounding his chest to look better in front of his paid charter customers.

We enjoyed the cute town of Finikas, although we didn’t get to spend a lot of time there because we wanted to get to Paros before the weather came down on Thursday.

Barb at Finikas
Barb at Finikas

I have to say that I’m impressed with our boat. While I’ve sailed monohulls of all sizes/types my whole life, I’ve only been on a Cat one other time for 3 days. Sunday has handled the big weather amazingly well, and I think we were much more comfortable that we would be with the heeling of a monohull. It has done very well on the big waves, too. Some were in the 12-15 foot range and breaking. I wouldn’t choose to go out in those, but there we were, and the boat did really well. During the rough weather, most of the crew were below sleeping or in the saloon, relatively comfortable. On a monohull, we would have been heeled over at least 30 degrees and rolling more, so they would have needed to be strapped in their berths to sleep.

The whole monohull versus catamaran debate gets into a religious war, but I can say for sure that it was more pleasant for crew who were not outside sailing than if we had been in a monohull.

At one point yesterday, we were pounding through 30+ knots of wind and waves. I was up by the helm and looked down into the saloon. Someone had poured a beer into a pint glass, and it was sitting on the counter, full and not spilling. I’m used (on monohulls) to anything that is unsecured flying all over the boat in those kinds of conditions and found it quite amazing.

day4Mark

I find myself liking our boat. I respect other people’s preferences for monohulls, but the intolerance makes me mad. Yet another example of how bigotry comes in all different flavors – even about the number of hulls that a sailboat has!

Stuff I’m glad we brought: Our handheld marine VHF radios. You can’t hear the ship’s VHF if you are at the helm, so I have my handheld strapped around my neck. Also, my new Icom IC-M34 seems to pick up signals that the VHF in the boat never receives. I don’t know if it’s because my radio is better, or if the antenna on the boat just isn’t hooked up properly. It’s also nice to have the handhelds when we communicate with our crew on shore or in the dingy. Mine is also waterproof and floats. I love my radio. Is that wrong?

Note from the future: We found out the ship’s radio wasn’t working. Nikos did some radio checks when we got back to Athens and got no reply, so we couldn’t really have called anyone for help, other than the Spot Connect at we brought.

See ALL PHOTOS from Day 4. Most were taken by The Sheven.

Day 4 Map
Day 4 Map