We had a really good sail into Santorini. Lots of wind and luckily from a good direction. You’ve no idea how the direction the wind is coming from is so key to sailing. If its nose on, it’s no good, if it’s up your backside, it’s no good. It’s obvious that sailing is wind dependent but I didn’t realize some directions were so bad.
We had everything today. The wind came and went, then was good for a long time. We raced along, 7 or 8 knots or so, then for a while it was considered too much by el capitan, so we scandalized the main.
You have your main sail, which is taught, a triangle, the bottom being attached along the boom. It’s usually desirable to be quite taught so that the wind hits it. The back edge of the sail is known as the ‘leech’ and usually is quit tight so that the wind doesn’t leech away- got it? So if you lift the boom up a bit higher, by using a rope called a ‘ topping lift’, you cause the back edge to bow out and spill some of the wind. It makes the boat easier to control and less likely to ‘ weather helm’ -(could’ve done with this in the gulf of Corinth!). This is called ‘scandalising the main’. It’s not so much fun when you know what it is is it? Bet you wish I hadn’t told you! I suppose the main is scandalised because you’ve taken the wind out of its sail!
We entered the Caldera of Santorini. Can you imagine that? We sailed over or through a Caldera. It was spectacular. If you’ve been there you’ll know. Steep, high, colourfull cliffs with white towns impossibly perched on the top, houses on houses, tumbling, clinging, beautiful.
We got shouted at- again!- when we tried to pick up a buoy for a lunch stop. My first buoy. But soon we were on another buoy, out of shouting range. I think the first one belonged to a fisherman. We were right under Oia, one of the principle towns and imho, the nicer of the two. The other is Fira. Oia has the iconic blue multi domed view.
After lunch Brian helmed(very well) and such was the wind – behind us- that we tried goosewinging. That’s where you have one sail put on one side and the other out on the other side. Helming is tricky as there is very little margin for error, but Brian coped! If you move too far one way or the other, one of the sails tries to swop sides and if that sail is the main, it’s bad news. That’s called crash jib and is a bad thing.
Later, with a more conventional rig, we were well heeled over making good speed when we whooshed pastanother yacht. They only had the main out, we waved as we went literally sailing past. They must’ve taken this as a challenge, soon they had their other sail out, all hands to the deck. They were a bigger boat than us and they gained. Brian did a fine job of trying to get in their way. Simon said, as they were the overtaking boat, we just had to hold our course. We had to negotiate rocks so we moved to starboard- in front of them! They came in behind us. As we passed the rocks our plan was to turn left towards our destination, but they decided to overtake on the port or left side. So it was quite dramatic! They cheered, we waved and everyone was laughing. I wish I’d taken a picture, it was so good! Quite close but not too close. There was also a very close by catamaran hailing them, their friends we think so it was all action for the briefest moment. That was 1all, but they then went in a different direction so we’ll call it a draw.
We reached the harbour safely despite nurfing the bottom, it was very shallow on the way in.
We had a lovely time with Gill and Brian. They didn’t have the best weather but we had a couple of beach visits and sunbathed on the boat. They also had thunder and lightening and torrential rain. But we had lots of nice evenings and days and enjoyed their company. They learnt a bit about sailing too!!
We all enjoyed Santorini, a spectacular island worthy of a longer visit, as was Ios. We’ll leave Mykonos to the beautiful (young) people! (Mostly nude allegedly although we didn’t see any). We did know that we wouldn’t be welcome anchoring in certain bays, for that reason!!
Footnote:- we left the harbour at Vlikhada, Santorini, the only harbour for yachts and usually full. Very shallow on the entrance and exit, they need to dredge it. We got stuck!! It all happens to us!! The harbour master yelled, Simon revved a lot, forward, back, lots of sand churning in the water. A yacht trying to come in stood back and watched. Simon asked me to put out some mainsail (in the harbour entrance!!) , which had the effect of pushing the boat over a bit, enough to float clear. Phew!! The waiting yacht turned back and left!! Sensible.