Tag Archives: crete

Passage Notes: Crete to Malta, Day 1

The 20 knots plus wind gusting from behind the island canned our beach morning plans – as nice and uninhabited and uncluttered Gramvousa on Crete’s most Western point looked like. At 0820 we lifted the anchor one last time in Greek waters and were of ready to set our storm sail. Not only did we know that we’d get the tail end of a strong Meltemi, but we had actually planed on using it to give us a good sail for at least the first 24 hours. We didn’t wanna have another five day motoring run like when we came from Malta to Greece. And it did blow. 30 Knots and sometimes more which would have been fine had it not been for the ugly swell. Two to three metre waves consistent with the occasional five to six is definitely not my idea of fun sailing. The jib, while it was still up, regularly got soaked a third up and the boom end kissed the sea after every wave. Navionics noted close to 9 knots of boat speed when we surfed down the waves – with our supposed hull speed, ia max, speed being 8kts! The boom kissed the water after every surge and got regularly soaked in the cockpit by breakers that went over the boat – something never experienced before.  Happy Dancer was literally dancing and the only thing that could keep me from losing it was the thought of selling this boat before we hit Gibraltar and moving into a nice stable house with backyard and veggie patch instead… Contrary to what I might have believed before, I’m not made of the same material as Bernard Moitessier, John Kretschmer and the like. I’m a mum. I’ve gone through pregnancies and given birth naturally without any chemical anesthetics twice. I don’t need to force myself into situations which make me feel sick. I don’t need to prove myself that I have endurance. I don’t need to test how long I can hold my breath… Can I hear the winds of change blowing?

Several hours into this ordeal we changed course to take the waves from our stern quarter which made it much more bearable, never mind the distance we’d lost on a direct course West to Malta as we were doing our record day anyway: Over 150 nm in the first 24 hrs! We were glad to feel the swell slowly subside after this.

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If you could feel the 40 kts wind then you’d be able to imagine what the seas roughly looked like behind this protective island.
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Passage Notes: Crete to Malta, Day 0

Pre-Script (rather than Post-Script): We’ve arrived safely in Malta. This is the notes from this week’s passage over the next few days while we are catching up on sleep, friends’ hugs and land under our feet.

ETD was 2 pm. We finally left at 3h30 pm which is actually quite good for hour standards. That means, ‘only’ 1.5 hrs of frustrated semi-frantic last-minute departure errands. But once the last phone calls were made, work emails sent, port police paid, water-tanks filled, provision kept and the latest grip files downloaded we left picturesque Chania (see Gallery above) behind, together with its 1001 tourists who’d have strolled past our boat St Tropez style over the last two days. As beautiful as it might be, we much prefer places that we have close to ourselves – such as Gramvousa Island where we stayed for a more relaxed last night in Greece after the most aweful seas we’ve ever encountered. Four metre waves on average, the occasional one up to six – not fun at all. The winds were a beautiful 15 to 20 knots and carrying us along at 7 knots consistent, but the rest was a survival washing machine which I hope to not experience again any time soon. In fact, the only thought that got me through it as I was cuddling my little one tight in the cockpit was selling the boat in Spain and exchanging it for a house with veggie garden in some sweet spot on this earth. On the good side, it means that the weather forecast for once was correct (most often than not it seems like the guys putting it out are playing lotto or gambling with it). The Meltemi, a strong Northerly which blesses the Aegean Sea for most of summer, must be blowing quite strong up north to be causing this kind of swell and this means that it will carry us along nicely for the first 24 hours or so as we’ll lift the anchor one last time on Greek soil with massive anticipation to see all our friends in Malta again.

Bye Bye Crete, Malta here we come!

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Entrance to Heraklion’s Venetien Harbour

Without a doubt, Crete has been our favourite part of Greece. It’s people seem friendlier, most food local, ancient history omnipresent and you don’t have to fight for mooring space with clueless charter boats. In fact, there’s so little sailing boats around that in the past 20 days we kept on bumping into the same people! We found the best marina in Greece in Ay Nikolao with free bbq facilities, laundry AND working shower (!); loved the local markets and Italian style town squares; never got tired of exploring more ruins; fell in love with funky university town and Crete’s capital Heraklion; had un unforgettable dinner at our sailmaker’s gorgeous garden place (Thanks again Korina & Gregoris!), strolled through picturesque Rethimnon and Xania and couldn’t get enough of arty cafes, toy-filled bars (yes, we travel with kids) and innumerable other loved and loving places.

If you need a sailmaker, handyguy, boat expert, mast climber or cave enthusiast in Crete, Gregoris in Heraklion is one of the few professionals who’s not only friendly and on-time, but really knows his stuff.

Crete is one of few Greek islands which is completely self-sufficient. A well and running economy based a lot around tourism unfortunately often means that bays which could be stunningly beautiful, like Bali or Elounda, are littered with sunbeds, ice cream vendors, ugly skyscraper hotels along the beach and boom boom teen beach parties till 5am (water indeed is a fabulous carrier of sound waves, grrr!), but Pablo shuts me up when complaining. Somehow Greece needs to get its economy back running. I guess he’s right and regrettably there seems to be a massive demand for this kind of holiday paradise en masse.

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Ay Nikolao

It’s been about a month since we took Happy Dancer out of the water to repaint the bottom and tackle another few things. Amazing how it affects the speed and fuel consumption in a positive way and so happy that this year’s anti-foul, contrary to the first one from the yard in Kilada seems to be doing its job properly without coming off at the touch of a finger. As such, we still cruise at around 5 knots, even with headwinds of 20 knots and more, typical for Crete summer when heading Westwards against the Meltemi.

Crete to Malta

We’ll leave for Malta later today and should arrive there on the weekend – maybe Friday eve if we don’t stop over at Gramvousa island. 435 nautical miles and hopefully a bit of wind ahead. We are hoping to catch the tail end of a meltemi for the first 24 hours and maybe a blow from the Ionina half way through the 4-5 day journey.  The kids are so excited to go back to Malta for a couple of weeks, they’ve started painting pictures for each and everyone of their little and big friends!

One last time we lift the anchor in Greece. Thanks for your beautiful islands, the history you’ve shared, all your winds have taught us, the friendships we made and souvlakis, fetta cheese and olive oil we devoured.

I’ve pre-scheduled a few recipe and yoga posts. You’ll here back from us life when we arrive in Valletta and can track our progress here until then. Unless our SSB miraculously decides to work, we won’t have internet access until our next landfall;) And here’s to the romance and uninterrupted  tranquility of the open sea!

Liveaboard Kayaker

One of the most amazing things about living on a boat – and one well worth paying the sacrifice of confined space, constant maintenance, unfavourable winds, expensive fuel and rolling bays for – is the things you see, mainly those you least expect.

During one of my morning runs I noticed an old guy living on his kayak. He had pulled it up under two palm trees on the beach and was sleeping snugly  in it as the sun only just creeped over the horizon after a windy night. The next night as I was lying there with the boys counting the stars on the night sky above us, I noticed this little thing anchored next to our boat – it was him, the live-aboard Kayaker! Had we not left the next morning, I would have invited him over for dinner. I won’t complain anymore about not having enough space on our 12 x 4 meter floatable home!

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Ruins and our own mortality

One of the things we love most visiting is local markets and ruins. The latter somehow has a magic spell on me as I trip over old carved and inscripted stones past rock tombs, my third eye sees the ghosts of the people who lived ordinary lives here thousands of years ago. Somehow visiting those places, whether it’s Lycian towns in Turkey, a former Lepper colony on Spinalonga Island or Myonian Palaces in Crete, are a tangible remainder of our own human mortality.

We take so many things too serious, yet almost everything will go the day our bodies disintegrate into dust and soil. I wonder what our descendants are going to say one day if they walk through the ruins of Mexico City, Shanghai and Cape Town, or observe the crumbling remainders of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. This time round, however, it might be the end of humanity as it is hard to imagine that London would turn into ruins, while New York City would continue to build skyscrapers. Contrary to back then, it is a connected world. Unfortunately not a united – and this might be the very reason it goes down one day? Until then, remembering the lightness of our own transience, enjoy each moment of every day – and live a life that’s worth living. Carpe Diem.

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Refreshing cold feet and drinks IN the river by a massive gorge – tables semi-submerged. Kids loving it. Grown ups too.

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