It was 1:00 a.m. and Emil and I were sitting on anchor watch. He was at the helm outside, and I was at the nav station inside. Why were we on anchor watch, you might be wondering? Boy, do I have a story for you!
We had come into Vlicho bay (a well known hurricane hole) because some of the forecasts were showing some rather blowy conditions Friday and Saturday. Since we love the nearby towns on this island, we enjoy spending some time on land exploring. Oops, I’m getting a little ahead of myself, so let me back up a bit.
We successfully launched on June 23rd, as planned. We spent two days in the water at our marina finishing up some work on the boat before getting underway.
We decided to head north to “Two Rock Bay” to do a shakedown of the boat without being too far from the marina. We fell in love with this bay last year due to the awesome snorkeling and cool caves to explore. Since boat traffic still seemed a bit light this year, we were able to find an ideal spot with very few boats around. We enjoyed a lot of swimming, floating and snorkeling while the area was under an extreme heat advisory. A Swiss boat anchored behind us and before we knew it a young couple was headed to our boat in their dinghy. It turned out that they had connected with a young German couple that we had met two years ago in Montenegro. Since we all pretty much follow each other via Facebook and/or blogs, the couple we had met knew that the four of us were in the same bay and had told them to keep and eye out for us and come say hello. It turns out our new friends were on a 6 month sabbatical to sail the Med. We spent the next few days hanging out in the water and had a great evening at the bar at the top of the anchorage. Sailing is a very social community and some of our greatest times are the many friends we make along the way from all over the world. Hopefully, we will cross paths with them again soon in our adventures around the Med.
After picking up our friend Emil from the airport, we joined some Kiwi friends we met last year for some beers, stories and laughs. It was a great night and midnight came before we knew it. The next morning, we headed south through the swing bridge to another favorite bay, Ormos Varko. Our luck continued and the bay was wide open, so we set our anchor for a few days of fun. The boys found some new adventures by creating a rope swing off the mast. The bay did not stay quiet for long as more and more boats streamed in.
After a few days, it was time to make our way to our hidey hole for the upcoming winds. The morning was cloudy with a few sprinkles of rain and a pretty brisk breeze already happening. Of course, this was nowhere in any forecasts. As I raised the anchor up, the shackle that attaches that anchor to the chain firmly wedged itself in the anchor roller. I tried to let it back down a bit to free it up, but it was firmly wedged. I was getting ready to grab onto it to try and help it when I realized that I had a lot of extra anchor chain laying on the deck by the windlass. I knew that once that 70 pound anchor let loose, all the chain was going to add to the downward momentum…..a very dangerous situation for any body part in it’s path. Unfortunately, there was just enough play in the chain that when I freed the shackle the anchor slammed down on my middle finger. The pain was excruciating! It immediately began to swell and turn black 🙁 I had no idea if it was broken since it hit between the first and second knuckle. I immediately began to ice it while continuing to help get us underway.
As I mentioned before, we were headed to a bay to wait out the high winds so this would be a good place to see a doctor. I splinted my finger until we could get in to see someone. Since we needed to make water, we spent an extra hour sailing to our destination, but eventually we got in and settled. We all hopped in the dinghy and headed to Nidri town to visit the clinic. I must’ve done a good job on my self splinting since the nurse asked me if I had been to the pharmacy to have it done before arriving. Needless to say, they did not like the look of it and told me I would need to go to the main town of Lefkada to see a radiologist who would be waiting for me. Now that’s service! The downside was that this town was about 20 minutes away which meant a 40 euro cab ride (round trip) or a 40 euro rental car. We opted for the rental car since we had planned to do some sightseeing anyway. In the end, it turned out that there was no break (woo hoo). In the meantime, I have to keep it splinted which is not working well for life on a boat 🙁
The next day, we rented a car again to run around the island and revisit some of our favorite places. We are starting to become regulars at some of these places as we bring guests every time we are here. Not to mention, it gave us the opportunity to stock up on our favorite olive products and large amounts of wine (hey, we are here for 4 more months…..no judgement!)
We returned to the boat in the late afternoon in order to be on board for the afternoon winds. Around 7:30 p.m. we decided conditions were good to head into the town of Nidri to one of my favorite beachside restaurants for some lamb kleftiko. They gave us an amazing table at the water’s edge, and we enjoyed a fantastic dinner (and I got a night off cooking!) After dinner, we strolled the heart of town where it was bustling with Friday night activity. At about 9:30, we decided we were ready to head back to the boat. As we pulled into the parking lot near where we left our dinghy, we were horrified to see it bashing on the stone dock. The wind was shrieking, spraying off of the two foot whitecaps rolling across the bay. This was bad….really, really bad. We had only been a 10 minute drive away and it was night and day between the two waterfronts. We scrambled to get into the dinghy while keeping it off the wall and potentially popping. In the meantime, we were being doused with water. It only went downhill from there. The 1/2 mile ride back to the boat was terrifying as waves crashed over our little dinghy dousing us in smelly, bay water. I was genuinely terrified that we might capsize in the waves or take on too much water. Obviously, we made it back and got everything and everyone secured on Zoe. We also fired up the engines and made preparations in the event our anchor broke free in these 30 knot gusts (20-25 knots sustained).
So, that brings us to where this story began. Dan and Emil had been up on deck monitoring the weather and the boats around us. Dan came below deck around midnight to get some sleep while Emil stayed up at the helm watching things. I came up and joined him in keeping an eye on things in case we needed to fire up the engines and get moving. At about 1:30 a.m. the gusts had tamped down to something a little less frightening, and sustained winds were a little bit calmer. We decided it was probably ok to head down and get some sleep. Needless to say, I did not sleep and was up again at 4:30 a.m when the gusts started up for another round. Unfortunately, it was dark and terrifying as all this was transpiring, so I have no pictures or video to share. However, the fun hit again the following day! Luckily (if you want to call it that), we were onboard, and it was during daylight hours. The winds were even nastier, leaving us with a pit in our stomach for about 9 hours. This time our gusts were over 35 knots and unrelenting. We were fortunate that things settled down to a less frightening blow by about 10:30 that night. Let’s just say it was a VERY long day and evening. I did manage to capture some video footage, but it does not do the ferocity of the wind any justice. Fingers crossed that fair weather lies ahead!