Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Heading west

It’s hard to believe that it’s already September. Here in Syracuse, Sicily, it’s still quite hot, but the days are getting noticeably shorter, and it’s with mixed feelings that we’re heading west again. Greece was wonderful, and we can definitely understand how many cruisers find themselves staying there or coming back year after year. If we could figure out a way to do that ourselves, I think we would.

Our last days in Greece were spent hanging out with the Tulloch family on Islay Mist. From Meganísi both boats sailed southwest to Cephalonia where we found a nice cove just south of Fiskardho. Our cove had crystal clear water and a nice afternoon breeze to keep us cool. It also had a big cave to visit, and it was just a short dinghy ride to town. The first evening we all went to town to check things out and get a few supplies. John and Alistair talked to people and determined that it would be cheap enough to moor at the pier there, even paying extra for electricity and potable water, but both boats decided against it since it would mean giving up our beautiful anchorage for little benefit. We both spend plenty of time in marinas and not that much time anchored where we can swim off the back of the boat whenever we want.

John hiked around to get this shot of the cove. Islay Mist is in the foreground, then Solstice. We don’t know the other boat.

Another shot of the two of us from the water

Beach at the head of the cove

After two nights in the cove, it was time for Islay Mist to head east to Athens so that Linda and the girls could catch their flight out this morning. They’re going back to the Shetlands for a visit with family and friends. It seemed awfully quiet without them around for our last night in the cove, but we’re staying in touch through texting and Facebook. I’m pretty sure that we’ll see them again someday—at their place or ours.

Last fast dinghy ride with girls: Kaylee (ladybug) on the left and big sister, Alisha (bumblebee), on the right

Our passage from Greece to Sicily was uneventful. We sailed some and could have sailed more, but we wanted to be sure to clear the path of some gales that were forecast to be coming down the Adriatic. For the most part we had 10-15 knot winds on the beam, and the seas weren’t too bad, apart from a stretch of two-meter swell, which is uncomfortable. Poor John seemed to be off watch and trying to get some sleep every time we hit a patch of rough water.

We also spent more time than I would have liked in the vicinity of one particular tanker. I’d come on watch to hear that it had just passed us, and then its lights wouldn’t disappear from the horizon. Instead we’d gain on it again. The radar at this point would show it going every which way, and its signal on AIS would say it was underway to Genoa. Then when we were less than five miles away, the signal would change to say it was “not under command.” This happened twice, always when I was on watch, and I thought it was pretty spooky. John thinks they were having engine problems or something.

When we came into the anchorage here at Syracuse, we noticed two things immediately: the water was brown (not good), and there were three American boats already anchored here (nice). One of the boats, Cormorant, we met in Corfu. Another boat, Moonshadow, is from Portland, Oregon. The third boat, Marguerite, is from Berkeley, California. We haven’t met the people on Moonshadow yet, but Harry and Jane from Cormorant first met them in New Zealand, so we know they’re circumnavigating. We did talk a bit with Barbara on Marguerite and learned that they crossed the Atlantic from Florida in 2009. American boats are rare in our experience. Even rarer are West Coast boats.

We haven’t seen much of Syracuse yet, but it’s supposed to be quite nice. We think we’ll hang around for a day or two to see the archeological museum and maybe take a trip to Mt. Etna. Lingering will also serve the purpose of letting the seas calm down after the gales that have been happening all around. Favorable winds are forecast for most of the coming week.

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