May 5th, 2012

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May 5 Santorini

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

I arrived Thursday evening on the island of Santorini. Tuesday morning started out as a very pleasant sail from Leros and by the time I dropped anchor in a small bay in the N.E. corner of Ormos Vathi on Astapalaia (36.37.238 N -026.24.000 E), I was bruised and sore and the boat was covered with a layer of salt. By early afternoon it was blowing a regular gale. It was a tight reach from the WNW.
Thank God for the tiny storm jib I bought in Cape Town. With the main triple reefed and the jib I had everything under control again. The bay was well protected from the swells with a narrow entrance but the willi-waws kept howling down the hills. The anchor remained firmly set. It was a desolate place. I could hear the bells of the goats finding the rare vegetation. I stayed put all Wednesday and the only communications I had was the weather forecast on VHF-23. It took me a while to figure out how to interpret their version of an English forecast. I had a chance to merge an English and a Dutch editing contribution to the “Mastmakers”. Both of them major improvements. I am waiting for a couple more parts to come in from my volunteer editors for both editions.

Thursday was a great sail for most of the day. I covered 45 nautical miles in 11 hours.  The first couple hours the wind was all over the place and I thought I had to make another plan than Santorini. But then the wind filled in and it varied between a broad and tight reach. For about two hours I was sailing above 6 knots and occasionally hitting above 7. I cannot remember ever having sailed this fast other than with a following current. I am supposed to have lost ½ knot of speed for now having the fixed prop instead of the previous folding prop. Again using the 120% jib and frequently changing between 3 and no rifs in the main sail.

I am moored in the Vikadha Marina on the very S.E. corner of the island. A Bulgarian boat helped me med moor next to them. With my little Bulgarian, picked up on the Danube and on the Black Sea, I surprised them coming in with “Kaksi?”,” Dobar Vechar” . Beyond my Finnish neighbor there was a Russian charter party. They had run out of Vodka and came to share the Raki with the ulgarians. The Bulgarian owner and his friend, Spassov, a laywer fom Sofia, also spoke Russian. (Bulgarian is about the closest to Russian of any of the Slavic languages) and they interpreted my English. The Russians were a lively bunch. And there were a lot of “Vashdrovas” toasted. Thanks to my German cruising friends Inge  Voss and Wolfgang Dinse of the “Stella Maris” I was able to impress them with my history knowledge of the 1877 liberation by the Russians of the Bulgarian occupation of the Turks. Last summer the three of us visited the gold covered spires of the St. Nicholas church at Shipka erected at one of the battle grounds commemorating the many Russian casualties of the liberation. ( see http://cometosea.us/?m=201108) .

Earlier in the evening I had Calamari dinner at the restaurant in the marina. I joined a table with “Bill” a one time U.S. resident, pilot who had worked for Delta Airlines and another Greek charter skipper, Willy Nelson look- a- like, who were later joined by three young Romanian natives living here. Claudiu also a charter skipper, Ady and his gorgeous wife Vera. Another opportunity to
revive my small Danube Romanian vocabulary.

I rented a car for a day and went sightseeing. The pictures will describe it better. The tall volcanic island imploded in one of the world’s biggest earthquakes around 1650 B.C. leaving just the crater’s rim. The views from the town of Fira and Oia are breathtaking. There is this wonderful fragrance all over that I could not identify at first. It were the Olive blossoms. In all the years I lived near olive orchards I have never smelled their blossoms. In Athens many of the street trees are oranges and they had a similar smell when I was there last month. Driving above the fields here there is a smell of sage.

My plan is to sail overnight, leaving tomorrow, Sunday, for the N.W. point of Crete and then sail around the west tip on to Loutro where I plan to meet a friend of my
niece Fransje who I met on in Haarlem at my nephew’s birthday party.  There is a strong S.W. blowing since yesterday and that would be right on the nose, it is supposed to blow out by tomorrow
and change again to the Meltempi Northerly. I am going to try and attend mass at 10 a.m. in English tomorrow morning in Fira at the Roman Catholic cathedral of St.John the Baptist.