Earlier this week the Meltemi dealt us a harsh blow by tearing up our jib in 35 knot wimds and forcing us to abandon our crossing from Syros to Kythnos. After U-turning to Syros for sail repairs and to regain confidence, we left again on Thursday for Round 2 with the Meltemi. Almost all the other boats stayed in the harbor that day because the forecast was intimidating, but we were in no mood to sit around the harbor again – it was time to settle things with the Meltemi. The battle was a doozy and the Meltemi threw down everything she had starting with winds in the low 20’s, but continuing to build until we found ourselves in the discomfort of 35 knots of wind again. With safety harnesses on, storm jib up, and mainsail fully reefed, the wind continued to build but we continued fearlessly…. actually we were crapping our pants, but we continued on anyway. This angered the Meltemi so she kicked it up to 40 knots, then 43 (which, for you yachties, is a force 9 wind). Although we felt we had too much sail for winds that high, we were able to spill wind from the mainsail and just hang on tight while the boat plowed through the waves at over 13 knots. It was a huge relief to enter the shelter of Kythnos when the seas calmed down, then the Meltemi finally conceded defeat.
Kythnos is an island that really appears to be struggling from the economic problems here. The island has around 10 gorgeous bays with little beachfront restaurants, taverns, and beach bars. What’s so unusual is that there’s literally nobody to be found anywhere – little ghost towns in the middle of paradise.
With the new confidence that goes along with beating the Meltemi we set sail from Kythnos early yesterday morning and headed to Poros around 45 miles further west. We literally sailed out of the Meltemi as winds dropped from 25 knots in the morning to around 0 knots by the time we neared Poros. We’re already telling other sailors here we want the Meltemi back (but only because it makes us look cool).
This morning we headed south toward Hydra just 10 miles away, where Benji’s ferry sadly departs from tomorrow morning. As we get ready to hop in the dinghy for Benji’s last night out, we’re faced with the big decision of whether we head south tomorrow for the southern tip of Greece, or go north towards the Corinth Canal (a short cut on the way to Croatia that would save us around 2 days of sailing). We’re behind schedule and should be getting to Croatia already, so one way or another the progress west needs to accelerate.