Tag Archives: meltemi

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.

Gramvousa_471
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.