Compared to our part-time paradise on Gramvousa, our stay in Chania has somewhat more infernal features. In the beautiful old venetian harbour we are moored between two music terraces. It’s already mid-September, but the city is still crawling with tourists. Every evening we are treated to a deafening mix of traditional Cretan live music and something that can best be described as ‘nothing-going-on-boom-tjak-house’. Chania rocks! A true torture for the ear and not conducive to a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately this is not our biggest problem.
Yes, we could have seen it coming. Bad weather is predicted with lots of wind and high waves. Just like the entire north coast of Crete, Chania lies on the lee shore of the infamous Meltemi. The harbour is well protected, but if a fierce northerly is blowing, extra lines are needed, according to the Pilot. With a good sense of understatement that is, as will become clear later. We can still go to Souda, where the harbour offers better shelter, but we don’t. We want to see Chania and there is a good chandler as well. And you do get used to everything after a while, including daily musical torture. We make up for the missed hours of sleep during daytime. So we decide to stay and wait.
Very appropriate it is friday 13th when it starts: Chania rocks, but this time it’s the water. The harbour is slowly transforming into a wave pool. The night before, we alert our neighbour to his one mooringline to hold his large motor sailer in place. One of the three strands is already broken. He immediately drops his anchor, so from that side we probably no longer have anything to fear. The next morning we get to work installing extra lines and snubbers on our own ship. We tighten the mooring line and pull Coco further from the quay. On our other side is a beautiful large sailing yacht. While we are busy with Coco and it is already quite choppy, one of its back lines breaks with a huge bang. It scares the shit out of me. For a moment it seems that more lines will follow. The slightly too thin lines are creaking and squeaking. I’m afraid, afraid that this big yacht will end up crushing our Coco. The power of the swell is really frightening. Fortunately the wind is coming from the right direction and the ship is being blown away from us. Just in time a crew member returns and starts installing new and extra lines. Slowly everyone seems to be ready. Ready for a few days of storm.
Damn right wind is coming, although we don’t get to see the worst of that. The strongest wind, 9 to 10 Beaufort, and the highest waves, around 4 meters, are further away at sea. Ferries no longer sail on the entire Aegean Sea. Our biggest problem is the swell that all of this produces in the port. Coco looks like a prancing horse in the water. Her bow goes furiously up and down. She is pushed to the quay until the mooring line is pulled tight, then she is pulled back with a hard jerk and then torpedoed forward again by pulling the front lines tightly. Just before we hit the quay with our anchors, the mooring line slows her down again. It is better not to keep on looking at this for too long. Bad for your heart. How bad is this going to be? How long will this last? I’m afraid, afraid for our boat, our house. Everything is spinning in my head. I try to reassure myself by thinking the worst thing that can happen is damage to the boat. After all, we are in a harbour. And so I manage to fall asleep late at night and miss some of the misery. At half past four in the morning we are all awake again. It is still crazy outside. Chania still rocks! And everything on the boat rocks along. Even pouring a cup of coffee without spilling has become a real a challenge.
Since we are still ok, we now are reasonably certain that our Coco is properly secured and we feel a little less unsafe. We dare to leave the boat alone for a while and go for a walk with the three of us. We make a tour through Chania and take a closer look at the wild sea. Not much is left of the breakwater in front of the port entrance, the green buoy to mark its end has disappeared and large waves roll into the outer harbour unimpeded. No wonder Coco is being knocked around over and over again.
“You have an audience,” says the Canadian neighbour, when we return to Coco via the dinghy. We can no longer use the gangway, because the distance to the quay is too great and Coco moves too much, so we use the dinghy as a ferry. Two people and a dog in a small dinghy that is swinging and shaking at a sloshing quay is of course a spectacular sight. Plenty of photos and videos are being taken. We suddenly have become a tourist attraction. Secretly everyone hopes that this will go wrong, but luckily for us it doesn’t. When we are all safely back on board, we get a spontaneous applause.
Eventually it lasts until Monday before it gets more quiet and the prancing horse Coco becomes a rocking horse again. Chania wave pool has closed down. Chania rocks. In all perspectives. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. Like a friend of ours reacted, we’re just glad that ‘Chania rocks’ didn’t end up being ‘Chania ón the rocks’.