Lavrion to Gavrion and beyond

Lavrion to Gavrion and beyond

I watched the wind maps every day for ten days in the run up to my voyage from Lavrion, near Athens, towards Istanbul. It’s not obviously a good idea to be heading north when the meltemi wind from the north blows its strongest in the northern Aegean in August.

On the day we set out the wind forecast had dropped to a Force 5. Once out of the channel between Makronisos island and the mainland, where we’d no choice but to motor due north, we’ll be fine, I thought. I knew the boat could handle it. I hoped my two crew members would too. And despite both being seasick, they did. They handled it remarkably well and with great stoicism. They were not among those who become comatose. And while close reaching through a wind gusting regularly F6, across 28 nm of seas to match a F6 wind, they hung on bravely. My offer to turn downwind towards the island of Kea was rejected; the ladies were determined to see this through! Ten hours later we dropped the hook off Andros in a bay five miles downwind of the port the wind angle would not quite allow us to reach, sheltered from the seas but sadly not spared the williwaws which make sleep elusive.

The rest of the week was a doddle by comparison. The wind dropped to F3-4 for the one day we needed to cross the 72 nm from Andros to Chios, and though it picked up again thereafter we ran south for a day around Chios, then briefly north before the wind reached its peak on Friday and finally enjoyed a fast beam reach on Saturday from Chios port across to Cesme in Turkey.

Along the way we found sparklingly clean guest houses, great food, friendly people (apart from the port authorities where people in uniform seem to savour sadistically their power) and clear waters. And not once were we asked for harbour dues.

Heading further north to Istanbul can wait until the meltemi subsides in three to four weeks’ time. We were a little unlucky to find a week in which it blew at 20 knots or more almost every day and night. Though the locals tell me it’s becoming more common as climate change starts to bite.