When the weather forecast finally indicates two calm days, we are ready. Our stocks have been replenished to the maximum, because we don’t know how long it will take before we’ll run into amenities such as running fresh water and a supermarket again. When double reefed we still sail out of the bay at top speed, we wonder what will become of the ‘calm weather’ forecast. As soon as we leave the shelter of the bay behind us, there are also the high waves after two weeks of Meltemi. It promises to be a tough journey. With the waves almost exactly sideways on our Coco, we regularly imagine ourselves in a washing machine. Fortunately, our speed is good and we pick up a mooring early in the afternoon in the perfectly sheltered eastern bay of the almost uninhabited island of Levitha.
Only one family lives here with goats, a vegetable garden and a taverna. There we eat the most delicious wild goat that we have tasted so far. When I carefully walk through the pitch-black darkness to the toilet in another small building, I am overwhelmed by the clearest starry sky I have ever seen. Apart from the three bulbs above the terrace, there is no artificial light on Levitha. For that you have to be about 25 nautical miles away. The toilet itself is also a special experience. The light in the old, low building turns on automatically when you open the door simply because the switch is very practically installed just behind it.
The flashlights we brought with us turn out to be no superfluous luxury when we try to find our way back after dinner, slightly tipsy, along a sandy path strewn with small and large boulders. With our anchor light in the bay and sparsely applied white paint stripes along the path as the only navigation points, we search our way back to our dinghy. Now and then we stop for a while. With extinguished flashlights in a moonless night surrounded by total darkness we watch the star spectacle above our heads again. There is indeed nothing here. It’s absolutely magnificent.
We would have preferred to stay a few more days on Levitha, but there are simply few days when you can sail ‘quietly’ on the Aegean Sea. So we continue the next morning. From nothing to nowhere: Ormos Vathy on Astipalea. The Greeks on Levitha allready warn us: there is nothing there. And they are right. Not much, anyway. Unless you include the numerous goats, sheep and other livestock. A handful of people live here, the nearest shop is 20 km away on a mountainous and partly unpaved road, there is no water and electricity and you have to walk a few hundred meters for telephone and data coverage. After another uncomfortable crossing, we moor alongside the jetty of taverna ‘Galini’, not suspecting how long our stay here will last.
The days in Mesa Vathy, as this hamlet is called, are slowly ticking by. Even if the Meltemi on the rest of the Aegean Sea lulls for a while, it still blows about 6 Beaufort here. Our next goal is the village of Skala on the other side of the island. With a slightly concerned look, a fisherman inquires about the length of our Coco. He has not launched his own boat yet, because in July and August it is the same every day here, about 7 Beaufort. And the coast around the island is notorious. First we have to leave a bay on a lee shore and then round a cape with fast increasing depths and ditto waves. An American sailing yacht leaves for Kos on a relatively quiet morning. Two hours later they anchor again in the bay. The sea was too high for them.
My carefully stocked supplies are steadily decreasing. After a week I start to worry. Our 170 liter water tank is slowly emptying and our food supply continues to shrink. We will not starve to death next to a tavern, but it’s definitely not the way to go.
In addition, we have a problem topping up our calling credit at Vodafone and are at risk of running out of data. And no data means no weather forecast and therefore no departure. Fortunately also, or perhaps precisely, in Greece applies: when the need is greatest, salvation is near.
Maria from the tavern is so kind to brings us some groceries when she visits the supermarket and gives us 20 liters of drinkable water. Water is a precious commodity here, because there is no running water for the houses either. Once a week a tanker comes to deliver it to the houses.
A house further on, a woman bakes bread in a wood-fired outdoor oven and we also get our share. Manoli, the fisherman of the tavern, brings us some fresh fish and an old woman who we help with her injured hand eggs and melon. This way we’ll get by. Meeting a Greek/German family who have a house on the island even results in a visit to a genuin supermarket where I stock up again in order to be able to keep it up for a long time if necessary. Dimitris comes to pick me up and bring me back under the motto: who does good, meets well. I call it karma, he calls it God. Turns out there are still good things coming from religion.
However, nothing as changeable as the weather and nothing as changeable as sailing plans. A day later we dare to take our chance at last. After 12 days in nothing and nowhere we finally sail to somewhere: Maltezana on the south side of Astipalea. At the end of the afternoon Dimitris is standing next to our boat again and enthusiastically congratulates us on our successful ‘escape’. All’s well that ends well!