In our last posting, we forgot to tell you about the local mastic trees unique to Khios cultivated for its resin. They mark the tree trunks to let the resin drip, for use in medicine and varnish-making, and since classical times as a chewing-gum for preserving the gums and sweetening the breath. The Arabs made an oil from the berries for lamps, and more recently it has been used as ‘mastika’- a potent liqueur. August was harvesting time, and we saw tiny beads of the resin on the sand prepared bases of the trees and along the cut lines of the bark, but failed to see how this could be sufficient to supply the island with enough chewing-gum, let alone the world!,and if you ask us it’s value would have to be more than the weight of gold to make it worthwhile collecting all the tiny droplets. despite a long conversation with a local it was impossible to pin down the real method of harvesting. We tried a taste of it but it was like eating dried evo stick with a hint of mint.
Ok, so another early start for the 48miles journey to Samos on the first day of the Meltemi, which was predicted on our weather charts to get up to only 25 knots in this area. We had a great sail, and the wind was steady, so we made good progress. By 4.30pm we were making the approach into Karlovasi harbour with a growing sea on the North West side of the island- not a great position for protection from the Meltemi but the alternative would have been an additional 25 miles to the other ports on the South of the island- which would mean arriving in the dark- and the write up for this harbour was that it was reasonable shelter once inside.
Down-wind sailing, rock and roll Solon!
Well, as the sea depths dropped around the entrance the waves built, and we all but surfed into the mouth of the entrance, following another yacht in with our Italian mates G & R behind us. Being Brits we politely circled several times waiting until the first boat had gone stern to, and eyed up our large spot which gave us a fair chance of doing a turkish style mooring- ie come in nose in dropping the chain anchor, use the chain to help spin you around at the last moment and then reverse the back end in. We couldn’t come in nose to as the winds were too strong to use only the rope anchor off the stern, so had no choice but to perform this manouvre that we had done only once before- great!. Italians being Italians and cannot help themselves, our mates then stole our prime wide spot whilst we were circling and gearing ourselves up for the drop. Just then, a massive ferry arrived and caused huge waves and currents in the harbour, jostling all the boats. We waited until it had started to unload the cars and then thought we would use it’s bulk to shield us from the wind and go for the park.
Although done with conviction and confidence, events conspired against us: the anchor winch jammed and too much chain escaped at the wrong time, the Swiss neighbour to our mates (under German flag!) had selfishly put a long line across the only remaining parking space and was refusing to remove it- even though he could see us coming in!, the wind picked up and we were forced to abandon our approach. Then followed a harrowing 5 minutes that seemed like hours, trying to hold Solon into the now gusting strong winds to prevent here from picking up all the other anchors as Noah had to manually haul in 40+ metres of chain that had escaped under the extreme duress of the now re-loaded ferry reversing and leaving the harbour! Boating stress or what!
Thankfully, the anchor was successfully retrieved, and we circled several more times, a second ferry came and went-we contemplated leaving and sailing on to the South (which in hind-sight we should have done). However, our mates safely in, they worked hard to talk a local fisherman into letting us use a spare lazy line further along the quay, and so we didn’t have to risk the anchor drop a second time- we settled for that. A beer or two later, we sat in the bar watching the boats go from bobbing, to gentle dancing to 1980’s disco dancing as we contemplated what it would be like to sleep inside! It was difficult enough to get onboard the boats, let alone stand up inside, and we cleared the central trott and quarter birth for the night- being less prone to movement than the bow of the boat.
We slept fitfully, but by early morning the ropes were making wrenching noises that we knew were not good, and the boat was heaving up and down in the waves. We dropped back further from the quay when we saw the damage the ropes had done to the front section, where the force had split the wood on the rail.
Nelly was feeling sea sick but it was too rough to jump from the front of the boat onto the quay, G & R came to shout about alternatives from the side of the quay. The sea outside the harbour wall was huge- dark grey and spray was coming over the top- so we did not like that option. The other yachts moored with an anchor were all worried it would not hold, and the Swiss guy was threatening to leave- OK if you all leave in turn but if one goes from the middle there is a danger of anchors getting tangled and someone else coming free- which is exactly what happened half and hour later as he pulled off- the large steel English boat next to him had his anchor dragged up which let the tension go on the front of the boat and he smacked his rear end into the concrete quay- damaging a large section of steel which could have been worse had it been GRP or wood. The decision was made that we could not stay- the wind was getting worse and would be for at least another day and night. No sign of the port police whose cosy office’s were just by the boats- no words of wisdom from them- nothing. A local fisherman told us that there were sufficient depths alongside the opposite quay wall, and that it was safer there- so we all helped each other relocate. It was marginally better there, although the boats were still lurching continuously they were blown off the quay rather than on it, and it looked preferable to risking the 25 miles in open sea option. Having successfully relocated, Nelly appeared having secured small apartment for the night- the best €30 spent so far this trip. It had a floor that was level! a fridge/freezer, a bed with clean linen , a shower, a small terrace, kitchen and WASHING MACHINE! We went from an all time low to a high in no-time, and were happy to visit the bucking Solon every few hours to see if she was still there! Luckily we were fully recharged by morning, enough to take the additional damage Solon had sustained when the large ferry pulled off and the currents created after it left bashed her into the quay side- hey ho!
Clean hair and ice, 2 loads of washing done- things were looking up!
The day after the winds, all looked much calmer, impossible to capture the rocking on a still photo but the damage to the rail shows the impact with the quay which could have been far worse- we got off lightly. We have never been so pleased to leave a harbour, and it was such a shame because the weather is such an important element of your experience boating, and Karlovasi will long be remembered for this nightmare stay by all the yacties in the harbour those 2 nights.
Sailing tales of the Southern side of Samos in next posting- have we put you all off yachting yet???