No Time To Waste

Written by Pieter Jan on Sep 29, 2019 — 4 min read

From: Geralimena, Southern Peloponnesos, Greece
To: Koroni, Western Peloponnesos, Greece

No wind at all this morning. Not one knot. So we visited Geralimena, the town that looked quaint, lovely and inviting the night before. We were in dire need of bread and a place to dump our garbage. Cruising is all about finding places to dump your garbage, because you’re not supposed to chuck it all overboard. It’s bad for the dolphins. And there’s no convenient garbage boat that makes the rounds every monday or so. Could be a business idea. Just planting seeds here.

Anyway, we were slogging around town carrying a full garbage bag in the sweltering heat. The first thing we noticed is that everybody. moved.. very… slowly. Ok, it was a sunday, it was hot, but still, to be collectively miming the unbearable heaviness of being seemed a bit over the top. I propose to rename Gera Limena (Old Harbor) to it’s anagram Arge Limena (Slow Harbor). Greek relatives may correct me.

I tried asking for the nearest garbage container to the first native I saw. He ignored me completely. The second one, dawdling in slow motion behind the first one, ignored me too. Was the bag too smelly? Was I? Was I speaking too quickly for them? It was a very surreal experience.

We saw some women sitting on a coffee house terrace who seemed to notice us. I asked again — articulating my words slowly and carefully — for a place to get rid of our garbage. They consulted among each other for a good five minutes. Then one of them pointed down the street. We dragged our bag for another mile down the street. No garbage container. Chucking it all in the sea suddenly seemed like a viable idea. But we thought of the dolphins.

In the end we found a very fancy hotel where they explained us there are no containers in town and no garbage disposal service either. They told us to just put it in their truck. They would take care of it, no problem sir, you’re welcome. We didn’t think to ask what they do with the garbage. They probably drive it to the nearest cliff and chuck it all into the sea.

Next: finding bread. That was easier. I walked into another, less fancy, hotel and asked if they knew where we could buy bread. The waitress went to a cupboard, took out a loaf of bread and said: “1,50”. Easy peasy. We decided to have lunch with these helpful — albeit very sedate — people.

Several hours later we had finally received and finished our 5 appetizers. The wind had picked up in the meantime, so I was very anxious to leave. From where we were sitting, the wind seemed to come straight from the south, 12 to 15 knots, and we needed to go north-west. The prefect-sailing-conditions-alert was going off in my head on full blast. I may have rushed the waitress a bit in getting the check.

But alas! The cliffs were playing tricks on us, funneling the wind in all kinds of unexpected ways. Once we were in the open see, the wind turned out to be coming from the north-east. See the helpful diagram below:

The cliffs next to the town bent the wind so, that it seemed to be coming from the south
The cliffs next to the town bent the wind so, that it seemed to be coming from the south

But the wind was not too strong, and most importantly: the sea was almost flat. I put the daggerboards completely down and we could beat into the wind quite efficiently. Not fast, but the angles we were making were most satisfactory. I got a kick out of tweaking the sails and pinching a few degrees to windward.

Close-hauled, daggerboards down, flat sea
Close-hauled, daggerboards down, flat sea

A dolphin came to personally thank us for our responsible garbage disposal practices. Yes, we saw our first dolphin on this trip! I was starting to get worried because we didn’t see any yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if they packed their bags, took their spaceships and went to their home planet, with the plastic oceans and global warming and whatnot. Or perhaps I should say “catastrophic climate destabilization” instead of “global warming”, because let’s be honest, that’s what it is.

Sunset on the sea
Sunset on the sea

Night fell and we were still sailing. Sailing at night is not much different than sailing during the day. It’s a bit harder to see if your sails are set correctly and other boats are sometimes a bit harder to spot. Then the wind fell too to a dead calm and that was worse. We took in the sails, turned on the engine and motored the last bit.

We arrived in Koroni around midnight. Because the bottom is completely covered in weeds, it took 3 attempts and another hour to set the anchor. The kids slept through the whole racket. It’s good to know that, if we arrive in Polynesia and have to sail through a nocturnal nuke test, they would not even stir.