This return journey isn’t quite what we had planned – the idea was to be able to take the outside route of Evvia and to hop over the islands we have so far missed – the Southern Sporades island of Skyros and the Northern Cyclades islands of Andros, Tinos and Mykonos in a route back towards Corinth. However, it is not to be – we are storm hopping and running out of time – so we are forced to retrace our steps on the inside route of Evvia as the quickest and safest way back to base.
Another storm is on the forecast with heavy rain on its way in. We left Skiathos at around 10h30 on the Sunday morning – which for us is an early departure – in order to reach the protection of Evvia before the storm. We checked out the charts and the pilot guides and were aiming for Loutra, which seemed to offer a number of opportunities to anchor. However, when we arrived we found the protected areas were far too deep and there was too much swell in the shallower areas. The depths are rubbish on the charts!!!!!! After motoring around for some time, we gave up and had no choice but to find an alternative location. The nearest possibility was on the other side of the Evvia channel – and with the sun going down and darkness coming in, this was not a pleasant prospect. We had to cross in heavy swell to the mainland coast to hide behind the island of Atalanti – with 15 knots Eastern wind it should have been easy but we had 2m waves on the beam! When heading for a place you don’t know, this is pretty unpleasant in the dark.
Relying on the charts and our instruments, we battled through the beam waves and finally arrived at Nisos Atalanti. We found a sheltered location for the night, although it was a bit in the open and we were worried about other boats – dropping anchor around 21h45. What started as a pleasant sunny day departing Skiathos had ended with horrible seas and uncertainty of where we were!
The next morning we were on our way again at 10h30 and were pushing to reach Chalkida as soon as possible. We expected calm conditions for the day and wanted to get through the bridge before the weather closed in again. However, the wind and sea was not at all as we expected and we ended up rolling all the way to Chalkida, motor-sailing partly downwind and partly on the beam, with heavy seas. It was cold and cloudy at first, but warmed up a bit later when the sun came out. There was thunder and lightning all around us but we luckily didn’t get any rain. As we approached Chalkida, we saw a friend sailing in the opposite direction upwind – and his sails and boat heeling tell the story of how it was that day!
We arrived at Chalkida ready to cross that night and moored up on Waiting Pontoon B – what a nightmare!!! We spent 6 hours bouncing up and down and crashing on the pontoon, constantly re-adjusting fenders and hanging on. We did get the chance to refuel though so that’s a good thing – and the bridge opened earlier than scheduled at 23h15 instead of 00:30. Once again in familiar waters, we knew exactly where to anchor on the South side and were safely and happily tucked up in bed before midnight on Tuesday. What a hike it has been to get here non-stop – but with yet another storm on the way, we don’t have much choice.
The following morning we pulled up anchor and moved a few miles to a more private place – we’re going to be here for a while sitting out the latest meltemi! We toodled under the bridges and found a quiet sheltered place at Ormos Aghios Stefanos, just south of the town. We’ll be here a few days for sure – a meltemi is blowing 30-40 knots outside Evvia so we’re just going to sit here pretty until it has passed 🙂