Having anchored close to the south shore of Ormos Garitsas to shelter from the forecast south winds, what we actually got were thunderstorms, lightening and generally easterly winds.
When anchoring we’d found ourselves a patch of sand between the weed banks and as always had made sure the anchor was well ‘dug in’ so we settled down for the night until the thunder and lightening started. I was up and down with each wind shift and although the direction kept changing the wind speeds were low.
I was up at 2 in the morning watching the lightening over northern Corfu. There was so much of it I considered trying to take some video on my phone but that along with all out other electronics, PC Note Pads and small VHF were in the oven and microwave. These are reputed to act as Faraday Cages and protect the contents from lightening.
Then two bolts of lightening hit the bay a short distance from us, there was a fraction of a delay between the lightening and the accompanying thunder. Then there was a third strike. I saw the flash and heard the thunder as the sky lit up and felt the shock of the discharge all at the same time; although it probably didn’t hit us directly it was right on top of us. The battery monitor screen lit up but gave no information the other domestic display was completely blank and when I tried the navigation instruments there was nothing there either.
So lightening does strike twice and effectively ended of our sailing season, the one that started 2 months late after the last lightening strike and seen us sitting in Murter for a month with the water maker. A little demoralising.
Then the wind started rising and I would judge got to about 25 to 30 knots straight into the bay from the east, not the south as forecast and so I spent the rest of the night and following morning checking our anchor bearings in case we dragged our anchor. To be fair I have almost complete confidence in our new Mantus; once it has been dug in it stays dug in. Others in the anchorage were not so lucky. As dawn approached I watched two boats close to us dragging their anchors passed us towards the shore. One weighed anchor and left the other re anchored even closer to us …… By this time you couldn’t see the sea bed so he was guessing he’d miss the weeds.
With everything electrical apparently either not working or compromised it was a relief to find that both our engines worked as did the anchor windlass; our friends in Pink Penguin lost their windlass controls and one starter motor when they were hit in Croatia.
The weather deteriorated still further as the morning progressed and although I tried using my new laser range finder as well as my compass to monitor our position, the laser doesn’t ‘see’ through the rain – the idea was good though. So we simply sat and waited for a break in the weather in order to make a dash back round to Gouvia as our nearest port of safety. With the generator out of action we were running one engine to ‘keep the lights on’.
Our chance arrived at about midday, it was still raining but the wind dropped a bit and the skies were brightening. So all dressed in my foul weather gear I went forward to weigh anchor encountering a slight hitch as the anchor came into view. Before the stronger winds had set in we had been literally drifting around in circles over the anchor at the whim of the thunderstorms and so the chain had wrapped itself around the anchor swivel; the last links hadn’t freed themselves and so I couldn’t bring the anchor back up on board. I had to leave it dangling as we headed off out to sea until we had enough sea room that we could drift down wind while I worked to clear the anchor.
As we’re a catamaran the anchor was swinging around between the hulls without hitting anything; on a mono hull it would have been a different story and the anchor could have caused quite a bit of damage until it was cleared and stowed away properly. Clearing the tangle was a job for my Anchor Trip Hook and it turned out to be a relatively quick operation.
With the anchor secure we set off on our electronics-free passage back to Gouvia. I have charts and navigation software on my Note Pad but having been here before and also done the journey only two days before it wasn’t a challenging passage. Once out of Garitsas Bay and around Corfu Fortress the winds were behind us so with both engines on 2500 rpm we were comfortably whizzing along at 7.5 knots. Just under an hour later we were in the buoyed channel leading to the Marina.
Back in Gouvia it was time for a bit of sleep and I then set about dealing with the insurers and repair technicians. This is a big marina and a charter base so all the people we need are on hand and as the season is ending they are not as busy as they may be. I now have to work out how the essentials can be repaired in the next 6 weeks so that we can get to Prevezza and our place for the winter.
Our thoughts for the day were ‘Lightening doesn’t strike twice‘ and ‘Worse things happen at sea‘ ……..