Stormy Seas

18 May

It was all falling into place. We’d managed to see a little bit of Skyros. The forecast looked OK for a 70-mile passage north-eastwards to Limnos – SSE 4-6, that’ll do nicely. We had a great evening with Lynn & Paul from a neighbouring boat, Spellbound, and Yiorgos, the port manager. Fantastic food, great company and far too much to drink. Maybe we should have taken a little more notice when the Croatian guys on the next boat looked slightly incredulous when we said we were leaving the next day for Limnos. But we knew best. We’d already seen the forecast, hadn’t we?!

We headed out at the crack of dawn knowing that the wind would be on the nose until we had covered the 10 miles to the bottom of the island. But we were looking forward to a fast sail, with the wind on the beam for the 62 mile leg straight across to Limnos.

If I tell you that I didn’t make regular log entries (in fact, apart from the first, there were no entries at all) because we soon found that we were starting to feel pretty seasick and spending time below was kept to a minimum, you’ll get the idea that the weather was a lot bumpier than we anticipated. (Why didn’t we think of taking anti-seasickness tablets? It didn’t even occur to us.)

We DID start crossing with the forecast wind from the south east at 15-20 knots. It didn’t stay that way though. By about 12pm the wind was up to about 28-30 knots, into a Force 7. No problem. We reefed down both mainsail and the genoa and we were romping along at 8 knots. Except that the wind had other ideas. It blew and it blew, and then it blew some more. By about 2.30pm it was blowing steadily at 40-45 knots, Force 9 or a severe gale.

We reefed as much as we could, eventually getting rid of the genoa altogether. We were still travelling along at a fair lick, which was a bonus as far as I was concerned – it meant at least we’d arrive at our destination sooner. The main issue was the size of the waves, which by now were a considerable size with large breaking crests. They were tossing the boat around like a cork. She coped well though and didn’t let us down.

As we got further across the Aegean we started to encounter shipping heading to and from Istanbul. Twice we had to alter course to avoid large vessels and, in doing so experienced the full force of the wind and waves as we headed into them. A couple of times we did consider heading off downwind, it would have been much easier. The only problem was that taking that course of action would have had us making landfall in Turkey and potential problems of not clearing customs at an official port of entry. So we soldiered on, trying to ensure that we corrected the leeway we were making by heading slightly further upwind.
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In our original cunning plan the pleasant F4-6 was going to have died down to a whispery F1-2 by the time we reached our chosen anchorage of Sigri. Got it wrong again! 😳

As we entered the bay the wind had died down somewhat. It was now only blowing at F8! Great fun for anchoring. Our first attempt was unsuccessful but on the second go the anchor dug in good and hard and, with 75 metres of chain out, we could finally eat and have a hot shower and dry clothes. What a learning curve!

Although it wasn’t a pleasant experience, I never felt that we weren’t coping. In fact, the whole experience has increased our confidence in ourselves and in the boat. Big lesson learned though – make sure you have the very latest weather forecast. If we’d thought to check the forecasts in the morning before our planned departure, we’d NEVER have left.
(Edit: the maximum wind speed we recorded was 49.3 knots)
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7 Responses to “Stormy Seas”

  1. shauna bunnell May 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    Hi guys, Actually, this is Bob reading on Shauna’s link. AWESOME. Of course you were fine. You know what you’re doing and you have a stalwart boat. Great photos, Love you both. We’ll sail together again. Next time, I’ll bring Shauna. Or not……

  2. peteandlu May 18, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    Thanks for that vote of confidence, Bob. Come any time and of course you’ll bring Shauna! X

  3. Sara May 20, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    At least you weren’t bored!! You are better sailors than you think you are!
    Love Sara

  4. lamputts May 23, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    After reading this I remembered why we bought a caravan! Seriously, though, glad you were both ok. You must have a great sense of achievement having got through that blow.

  5. Claire Proctor May 29, 2013 at 6:17 am #

    You must have been exhausted. What a sail and what an experience. Well done! x

    • peteandlu June 8, 2013 at 5:29 am #

      Thanks, Claire x

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