The Meltimi winds arrived as expected so we’ve spent the past couple of days in Syros in defensive mode. Just yesterday two huge ferry boats ran aground here, which has the entire marina in a state of mild pandemonium. The winds regularly gust to 35 knots, which makes it very difficult to keep the boat moored on the dock safely. Already we’ve broken two dock lines and are constantly making adjustments to fenders and lines as ropes stretch, winds shift, and as the French ram the side of our boat. That is not a typo… we were rudely interrupted during lunch yesterday when a French couple on their 40 foot sailing boat accidentally slammed into the side of Tamarisk while trying to tie up to our starboard (right) side. It turns out they were uncomfortable on the dock on the other side of the harbor, and came our way seeking a calmer place to spend the night. The problem is that the skipper seemed to have no clue how to go about this parking maneuver in the windy conditions. Instead of putting the nose of the boat into the wind and slowly inching towards us sideways, he decided it was better to come straight at us with the wind to his side, then have his wife jump onto our boat and try to secure their bow line to the nose of our boat before the wind blew him down onto us. The first part went to plan (wife was able to jump onto our boat), but then everything went pear shaped quickly from there, and his boat collided into the side of ours a few seconds later. His next step was to attempt the same maneuver again, which to his surprise (and only his surprise) failed again when his bow slammed into our anchor. As we scrambled onto the deck to assess the situation, he was lining up for a third attempt using his same technique and it was clear a third collision was imminent. At this point we took the rope from the wife, which she was still holding and hoping to secure to our bow, and we threw it into the water. We instructed the skipper to stop and reverse away from our boat as we were not permitting him to tie on next to us after two collisions and in light of the dangerous wind conditions. He insisted on trying again, so our instructions became louder, shorter, and easier for him to understand, pardon our French. After we repatriated the wife back to the French ship using our dinghy, they went motoring off into the distance and the episode was thankfully over.
Benji arrives tonight, which means we’ll be on our way first thing in the morning heading for Kythnos, around 30 miles west of here. The Meltemi winds will be in full force all week, which is keeping many of the more timid sailors in the harbor. For us it means we’ll have our storm sails up for the first time (except for our practice runs with John Burnie a few weeks ago) and we’ll be playing it safe.