Hiding from the winds
18 September 2020 | Gythion
Since the last time we posted a blog we have been sailing around the Laconia Gulf keeping out of the weather!
From Porto Kayio we headed north for shelter from southerly winds and anchored in the bay at Gythion overnight. Then the wind changed to strong northerlies, Gythion has no shelter from this, so we made a windy passage across the gulf to Plytra and sat out that night whilst 20 knots went passed.
It became clear that a very strong weather system was building between Italy and the western side of Greece and this was likely to hit the Greek shores on Friday. We already wanted to get back around Cape Maleas and this had the added advantage that it would take us further away from the storm. So we headed south to the anchorage on the island of Elafonisis in F5/6 winds from our port side. We had the first reef in the main and a double reefed genoa, maybe we should have put a further reef in the main but we didn't feel overpressed. Splice behaved well but the ride was bumpy. Most of the wind was in the higher 25+ knots but sustained 30-33 knot blasts had us doing 9.2 knots, we think a Splice record speed! We spent a cchoppy Tuesday night in the anchorage hoping the weather forecasts that potentially showed a window to round the Cape late on Thursday would be right.
By Wednesday morning it was becoming clear that the window was closing fast and any passage would be very risky.
With regret we then turned about and sailed back up the gulf to Gythion as this is the only place in the gulf which offers protection from the south, west and reasonable east cover as well. We had an easier sail than expected having taken a chance on an early departure when the wind seemed to have dropped before the forecasts indicated it would. We arrived in Gythion around 13.00 hrs and tied up to the harbour wall in calm conditions.
Five more boats have joined us since as the weather closed in. The storm hit the islands of Kefalonia, Zakynthos and Ithica in the Ionian in the early hours of this morning (Friday). We have already seen video clips of sunken boats in places like Eufimia that we know well and the centre of the system is still around that area.
So far we have had gusts in the high 20's from south and east but we are well secured and reasonably sheltered here and Splice is doing OK at present.
One of the neighbouring boats, a French 54ft Amel ketch (2 masted) found its anchor was slipping so had to leave the quay and reset the anchor. Chris and another sailor (Italian) helped with the lines on the shore, a mix of English, French and the odd swearword in three languages serving for communication (no Brexit nonsense here!!). Of course the wind carried on and made things difficult. They tried to set two anchors at once and under the strain one of the chains or secured points gave way and they lost the anchor and chain overboard. Carolyn saw the chain end disappear over the bow and alerted all those working at the stern.
As I write a local diver has just recovered the (expensive) anchor and chain and is now looking for a second lost anchor at the other end of the harbour. Heavy rain showers are adding to the fun but, compared to further west on the Greek coast we are doing fine!
Main photo: Work to recover the anchor and chain underway