(For Dutch click here) It’s almost five years since we live and sail fulltime on a small sailboat and still I have no sea legs. I have to train them again every season. Just like my sea stomach, sea body and sea head. It is best to build it up slowly, but there’s no time for that. So after five months in the sheltered harbor of Mesolonghi, we sail in three day trips to Kyparissia, in the southwest of the Peloponese. With faltering technology, the coldest Greek winter in 30 years and the next predicted winter storm as a serious deadline.
The first day is the worst. A real Monday, so to speak. A bit more wind than expected and higher, messy waves. Coco’s engine stutters, especially the first few hours, and we don’t know why. The rudder has little movement, probably due to fouling that we should have removed. I myself am a bit seasick all day. Nausea is the least of my problems. Although I wouldn’t really recommend bean soup with sausage and bacon as the perfect sailorsmeal, my sea stomach keeps it all neatly inside. The biggest problem with seasickness is that it gets into my head. I spend all day obsessively thinking about trading our boat for a house or a motorhome and have trouble thinking clearly and logically in general. My body is also functioning poorly. In my sailing suit, life jacket and boots I move like a Michelin man over our swaying boat and my fine motor skills are even worse. Tying a clove hitch quickly is suddenly quite a challenge. ‘Focus Matty, focus’, I talk to myself. I ask Ron for the umpteenth time how long it will take until we reach our destination.
With high waves from behind we eventually reach the harbor of Kyllini, which is located on a lee shore. At the direction of two fishermen at the entrance, we try to maneuver the boat to the first free spot at the end of the pier directly behind the green light. As we sail back out to turn around, I suddenly hear a familiar sound. A dull boom. Our Coco gently touches the ground for a moment. The harbor entrance turns out to be a bit more silted up than we had already read. We decide to moor a little further. That’s not working out really subtle either. Because of the faltering engine and a strong wind pushing us away from the pontoon, Ron doesn’t dare to decelerate too much. One of our fenders then gets stuck into one of the large, yellow car tires against the quay, resulting in a rather sudden stop. I use the forward energy of this collision to quickly jump to the side with our center and front mooringlines. Although I get stuck between various obstacles with my ‘Michelin man body’, I still manage to secure the boat. Finally we have arrived. Day one is over. I’m glad we took off, Ron says. Me too, I sigh.
Kyllini looks dead and abandoned at first glance. Then the first ferries arrive in the outer harbour. Quickly unload and load again, cars off and on. It is bustling with excitement. Around 9 o’clock in the evening our inner harbor suddenly fills up with – by Greek standards – large fishing boats. We doubtfully wonder how we are going to get our much-needed night’s sleep here. But, as is often the case in ports, it is suddenly dead quiet around 10 o’clock pm. Thank goodness. We still have some sleep to catch up on and the alarm clock is set at 6 o’clock again. Not necessary, because around half past three the fishingboats all leave again waking me up too. Ready for day two. When I get the boat ready for sailing, I almost fall down. There is a thick layer of ice on the foredeck. It is still winter in Greece.
On our way further south to Katakolon we round three small capes and emerge from the shelter of the southernmost Ionian island of Zakynthos. Fortunately, wind and waves are cooperating better today. Only just before the last cape at Katakolon does a strong afternoon breeze rise. We’re a bit concerned about mooring, but it turns out not to be necessary. When we are close to the quay there is suddenly almost no wind left. The weather gods are kind to us today. We are greeted by our Slovenian friend Tony, a fellow sailor. His boat is here on the hard. We chat, but keep it short. Too bad there’s no time for a drink this time. We have to go on…
Wednesday the alarm is already at 5 o’clock. We want to leave even earlier to arrive in Kyparissia before noon and to avoid too strong winds. Also this day we rise and shine before the alarm. There is some swell from the east rolling into the harbor. The waves are at right angles to our Coco, which gently rolls sideways. Very irritating and if it increases also dangerous, because we are alongside the quay. Fortunately, locally there is still a gentle breeze in the opposite direction, keeping our Coco away from the quay. We drink our coffee, prepare the boat, walk the dogs and then get the hell out of here. It is still dark when we slip our moorings around 6 o’clock.
Fortunately, the devil is not in the tail this time and the last stretch is light. It is a wonderfully quiet trip and before we know it we arrive at our final stop for now: Kyparissia. Tired but satisfied. Finally we sail again and we’re ready for new adventures with our sea legs, sea stomach, sea body and sea head.