We lifted the anchor from Finikas at 07.12hrs and once we got clear of the islands shadow we had a nice downwind sail across the 22 miles to the island of Paros. With the wind around 15 knots from the port quarter, genoa and a reef in the main gave us a comfortable ride.
As we drew closer to Paros with our speed at 6.5 knots we were joined for the first time this year by two dolphins playing in our bow wave, they stayed for about 20 minutes and lost interest as the wind died a bit.
Dolphins on the bow (sorry about the foot!)
We had used the port of Paroiika's internet booking system as this is the only way you can get onto the quay there, though we were disappointed that our slot was still on the outside of the quay. This meant that we delibrately kept ourselves away from the quay by lowering 'Fid' to help get us ashore as our plank and passerelle would have been too short and possibly have been damaged had we had a big surge from the wind and ferries. Despite being head to the prevailing northerlies the short fetch meant it was still tenable in the 15 knots that blew whilst we were moored there. (Some boats - mostly charters - stayed there all through the stronger winds, but we wouldn't have risked that).
The quay at Paroikia , the motor yacht to our starboard ran his noisy generator all night for his air-con. He wonders why sailors hate motor boats!
Paroikia is a large and busy town with regular ferries to other ports. Around 20 ships a day come and go so the town is full and there are many bars and tavernas catering for the crowds. We did a lot of stocking up as we knew strong winds were coming and enjoyed a couple of evenings eating in town. We found a good bar to watch the sun go down, the crowds gather on the west facing promenade each evening and an ice cold 'Mamoas' (local beer) with free meze was too good to resist - we went there both nights for apperitif's. Our meals at a popular but quite basic 'Gyros' place and a more upmarket coffee house/taverna were very good too.
Sunset from Paroikia promenade
A fact of life in the Cyclades is that the meltemi will come along regularly. We could see five days of strong north winds arriving so we moved off the quay side and found a good spot on the centre of the bay to drop the hook. As is also always the case many other boats will then arrive, often late when the wind has already started blowing, and try to find a place to anchor. We've spent quite a lot of the last few days watching for idiots attemping to anchor over our chain or too close to Splice. Last night there were around 100 boats in the bay or harbour so it's crowded but there's space if people use it well. Skippered charter catamarans seem to be the worst, determined to force themselves into spaces near the harbour or shore. We've also had a large anchored French monohull knock his engine into gear when no one was on deck, the boat was doing mad circles around its anchor, into and out of the swim zone until either the motion or our foghorn signals brought him back up to sort it out. Luckily there was no one nearby to be hit.
The forecast 38 knot winds have not arrived in the bay so far, but we've had four days of winds over 20 knots and topping out at 29 knots. The seas outside look quite rough so the wind is probably greater where its funneled between the islands.
It's a frustrating time over such a period, you can't really work on deck as the wind is too strong and doing anything with the engines which would take them offline is not smart as they can be needed instantly if something goes wrong. Much of the time we have been reading and playing 'Solitaire', Carolyn has made some bread which is a lot better than some of our previous efforts and we've done a few small boat jobs. There might have been a little more dozing than we normally undertake! Unfortunately there is also a beach bar in the bay which plays very loud 'thumpy thumpy' music from noon to late... its been driving the Skipper mad, at least when the wind blows strongly we can't hear it so much!!
An unusual visitor at anchor. The 'thumpy thumpy' club is sponsored by this local drinks company - one way to promote the product!
The winds are due to abate tomorrow so we hope to sail the following day towards Sifnos and get cruising again.
We have been very fortunate that we haven't been in any of the areas affected by the fires which are to the north and west of where we are. Very upsetting to see so much devastation which has been exacerbated by the strong winds.
Main Photo: lunchtime view of the bay whilst we wait for the winds to abate