Sitting in Marathouda on Wednesday 8 August we examined the weather forecasts because we are back to dodging the Meltemi which was always going to be our biggest challenge in heading west across the Aegean.
Although not the Meltemi, currently the winds across Simi tend to be light overnight and into the morning before picking up to between 15 to 25 knots from the northwest in the afternoon and early evening but the Meltemi was due to begin blowing in earnest at the weekend and remain with us for most of next week. We needed somewhere to sit it out.
We had hoped to visit Monastery Bay on Symi’s west coast before heading off for the island of Tilos and then Astipalia planning to leave early in the mornings and arriving as the wind picked up. The Pilot Book describes the port of Livhadia on Tilos as quite small and stated that the laid moorings off the town quay were ‘reported to be in disrepair’. In settled weather we’d have gone and looked and if necessary anchored in the bay, but the PB further advised that the anchorage was not tenable in a strong Meltemi although did not attempt to quantify the description ‘strong’, so there was no Plan B.
However: Nysiros was only a few miles further to sail and we knew it was well sheltered. If we couldn’t get in we could go across to Kamares on Kos and anchor there.
So we set off horribly early on Thursday morning, by which I mean 4.30 am horribly early, aiming to be in Pali by 11.30, thereby beating the afternoon blow and arriving between the rush hours.
It can be quite daunting leaving a pitch black anchorage under just star light with the radar and echo sounder the only real clue as to how far away that shadow is! That shadow being the rocky coast line or off laying island!
The moon rose at about 5 but was a sliver of a crescent and was of little help other than to hint at where we’d been. But by 5.30 the sky was lightening and by 6.30 the sun was rising over the island but by then we were clear of Symi and its outlaying islands and were set on our course towards Nisyros. The passage went as planned and we arrived in Pali at 11.30 and even found ‘our’ spot on the harbour wall was vacant.
And so we settled back down to wait for a break in the Meltemi to allow us to continue our voyage west, but it isn’t looking likely that the winds will die down sufficiently for the rest of the week or much of next week either. But we’re not alone., even those heading north or east are sitting it out too!