No Wind

Written by Pieter Jan on Sep 22, 2019 — 3 min read

From: Hydra, island Hydra, Greece
To: Vlychada bay, Western Peloponnesos, Greece

The wind was ok this morning. It had decreased during the night and the sea outside also looked less agitated. The forecast promised 15 knots, with gusts up to 20, so perfect conditions again. We decided to set sail for Monemvasia, a walled medieval town without cars.

Leaving Hydra went without a hitch. We began cruising downwind, indeed 12-15 knots on a broad reach. Hydra looked stunning in the morning sun.

We navigated some islands west of Hydra. A bit confusing sometimes (which island in the sea corresponds to which on the map?) but we got out without problems. One strange thing: there’s an island on the Navionics map (37º 15.796’ N, 23º 23.437’ E) that has a remark “This island does not exist”. We did get within 1 mile and we still couldn’t see it. Could someone investigate this further?

Once we passed the little islands west of Hydra, the waves became higher. Still a lot of leftover swell from the day before. Then the wind died completely.

These are frustrating conditions: big waves, no wind. The sails are limply flapping on every wave, the boom is swinging to and fro, and you’re not making any headway. I tried setting the spinnaker(a large light sail that is used when the wind comes _from behind_ your boat), but the wind was even to weak for that. On top of that, it was shifting constantly, and as we were going downwind, this meant switching the asymmetric spi every 15 minutes. Agony.

After a few hours of hoping against better judgement that the wind would pick up (“maybe it’s just the wind shadow of the islands!”), we decided to call it a day and turn on the engines. We had 30 miles to go and at 2 knots, that would take 15 to 24 hours. It was already well past 3PM by then. On top of that, we were entering a submarine and underwater weapons practise area.

But even on engine, doing 5 knots, 30 miles would take 6 hours. I decided to set course for a closer bay. Vlychada bay was marked on the map as nice, wide, with a sandy beach and absolutely beautiful. Still a good 4 hours away.

I spent the free time (no sails to tend to) fixing the engine panels. I had cut them out to fix a problem, and now they needed rebedding. We did not spot any submarines, but heard cryptic messages on the radio all the time.

We arrived well after dark near the bay. It was pitch black, no lights on the shore anywhere, no moon out. I found the bay thanks to Navionics alone. How people did this before GPS is beyond me. That’s probably why there are so many historic wrecks marked on the charts.

Boy, was I happy with the searchlight I bought. Barbara was shining the searchlight left and right on the cliffs while we slowly made our way into the bay. At the end of the bay we saw one small light and a reflector. We inched closer. Somebody signaled with a flashlight. I kept a close eye on the depth meter. The bay was much deeper than the chart said. Finally we dropped anchor and it took hold the first time.

The high beams of a car on the shore came on, then turned off again. Who were those people on the shore? Pirates? Beachcombers? The morning would tell. For now, we lay on the trampolines and looked at thousands of stars.

Sunset at Vlychada Bay
Sunset at Vlychada Bay