Making Water

Written by Pieter Jan on Oct 9, 2019 — 4 min read

From: Polis bay, Ithaki island, Greece
To: Agrapidia bay, Antipaxoi island, Greece

The wind turned 180 degrees at night. This almost always happens in bays when there’s not a lot of wind. Only this time it happened in the exact opposite way of what you would expect: land wind during the day, sea wind during the night. Because we were anchored quite close to the beach to begin with and the boat rotated around its anchor, we ended up about 10 meters from the beach. I woke up at 6 AM because the surf suddenly sounded very loud.

I came on deck and saw the small English sailboat that anchored in front of us yesterday evening bobbing happily up and down, its rudder about half a meter from the beach. It was a little disturbing to see, to be honest. I reassured myself: “Vite & Rêves has less draft than these guys, we’ll be fine.” Our anchor held fast, we didn’t touch ground, we didn’t touch the other boat. After an hour, the child of the morning, the rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared. The wind shifted to parallel to the beach and all was well again. I went back to bed for two more hours of much-needed sleep.

Living on a boat entails constant worry. This is something they don’t advertise in the brochures. In a house, you can go out and be pretty sure that when you come back, your house will still be there. In a boat this is not entirely certain. Part of it is out of your control as well. The wind can turn or increase, other people arrive and anchor too close, or they leave and pick up your anchor on the way out. Burglars can not only take all of your stuff, but your entire home as well. This reminds me I should really check our insurance.

Vite & Rêves amongst a worrying amount of other sailboats
Vite & Rêves amongst a worrying amount of other sailboats

The morning brought perfect sailing weather. I didn’t notice at first, still groggy and undercaffeinated, but Barbara was prodding me relentlessly: “Let’s go, the wind is good, we’re missing valuable weather!” She’ll turn into a wholehearted sailor before the year is over, I’m sure of it.

We flew out of the Ithaki channel with the wind at our back, the main and the Code D wing on wing. I counted over 50 sailboats around us. Dodging them was a nice refresher of the right-of-way rules.

Over 50 sailboats came out here today
Over 50 sailboats came out here today

One of the sailboats turned into the same direction as we were going. Racing time! They soon accepted defeat and stopped to anchor at a beach. We continued, now passing the island Lefkas. The wind died suddenly and completely.

They would soon be ours
They would soon be ours

We decided to motor the rest of the way to Antipaxoi. As the engine was running, I thought: “Why not put all this excess power to good use? Let’s try out the watermaker.” The watermaker makes fresh water from salt water through a process called reverse osmosis. The seawater is pressed through a membrane with holes so tiny that only H2O molecules can pass from one side to the other. The result is pure water. The catch is that it takes an ungodly amount of power and is outrageously ineffective. You can hear the machine slaving away while you see a discouraging quantity of drops appear from the exit hose. After half an hour the salt concentration in the produced water is low enough to be drinkable.

Halfway between the islands we got visited by a helicopter and a bee. The helicopter flew onward but the bee was clearly exhausted. Over 20 km from home with nowhere to rest in between. We made a spoon of sugar water and put the bee next to it. It started drinking voraciously. After 10 minutes of drinking and resting, the bee flew up, hovered a while in front of me and landed on my hand. Then it flew away, returned to the boat and landed on Barbara’s hand. Then it flew back home. We felt like bona fide Disney princesses.

Save the bees
Save the bees

We arrived at night in Antipaxoi and tried three bays before we found one to our liking. Small island, small bays. The rocks on the side of the bays still seemed very big though.