Saturday, 15 September 2012

Day 284: Parking Bay (12/08/2012)

The festivities lasted long into the early hours.

A perenial stow-away on any Greek bare-boat charter is the Beer Thief. Unbeknown to us though, he had expanded his operations from the Aegean and diversified into hard liquor. By morning the cockpit was awash with empty bottles of rum and vodka; all that was left of our liquor locker after his predations in the night.

The unpredictable Bora that had seemed so ferocious last night, had calmed to a light breeze that barely ruffled the parasols as we ate breakfast. Apart from the lack of tides, the pleasure of  Mediterranean cruising is that a temperature differential between land and sea creates the clockwork routine of morning and afternoon sea breezes that you can set your watch by.

We were out of harbour and into the roadway before 10 o'clock. The wind picked up as the sun's arc started to warm the land and we were leaning into a force 6 before the hour was out. One of the joys of the first heel of the day is the startled expression of every first timer as they cling to the super-structure, blood draining from their face while grimly calculating the chances of the yacht capsizing. It takes time to truly believe that the most extreme heel rarely exceeds 35 degrees and that a bottle keeled cruising yacht will right itself from 120 degrees even with a sail full of sea water.

That being said, Simon wasn't taking any chances and began intoning some ancient incantation to the Herefordshire Cider Deity while Adrian produced something looking suspiciously like fresh goat's blood and began daubing it liberally over Jess and the feta salad that she was knocking up for lunch.

Stopping for the statutory pre-lunch swim in an pretty inlet, shared only with an old man in a toy sized fishing boat, we splashed and dived until hunger drew us back to the boat and up the cramp inducing bathing ladder. The old man's family probably went hungry that night after we scared away his catch but the feta salad was none the worse for Adrian's diabolical sprinklings.

Reefing in the main sail a little as the lunch time lull departed, we cruised south from Agana at a steady 5 knots, around the Jelinak headland, past the west coast of Drvenik and through the narrow channel between Solta and Stifanska. Then, turning to the south west and hugging the south coast of Solta, we crossed the open water to the island of Vis to the south and into the main harbour.

The wind had rolled in some heavy cloud as we rounded the headland into the town quay. At this point it began to dawn on us that the Greek practice of parking boats 5 deep had yet to catch on here. The quay was hardly creaking under the weight of rafted flotillas from every nation but even so there was nowhere to come stern to, let alone alongside.

While flags from a hundred countries flapped wildly in the rigging we trawled the aisles of this aquatic car park where everyone had decided to take up not only their space but half of the neighbouring one as well.We tried a dozen times to force an entry between boats were there was a slight gap but were thwarted at every turn. The web of springs and lazy-lines threatened to foul the prop; worse still, the wind was on the beam and the nose blew off at the critical moment of every sortie. The final straw was the private mega-ferries; apparently unsatisfied at being bubble-wrapped in a cocoon of giant fenders they deployed tactics normally reserved to repel boarders. As a John was flung across the deck by an oligarch's water cannon, Adrian inspected the harpoon protruding from his bottom.

Recognising that valuable drinking time was being lost, we opted for the worst best option and ventured away from the quayside and into the forest of swaying masts to find an anchorage. The look on John's face said that anything would do, provided that it was out of range of the swing circumference of anything more valuable than us.

Eventually, the anchor bit, the beer was opened and we toasted the foolhardy skippers, anchored closer to land, who had overlooked the gnashing rocks onto which they would inevitably swing during the night with splintering consequences.

After a couple of sharpeners, the liquor locker was exhausted and the prospect of remaining aboard with nothing else to drink pushed us to reckless extremes. The tender was pumped up and the outboard coaxed into life before the alarmingly over laden inflatable carried us in a drunken zig-zag toward the quay as sea water lapped over the transom and into the trousers of those on the low side.

Victualled with with suitably nautical fodder at a restaurant selling little more that beer and pizza in a tent erected between two Venetian architectural gems, we considered the evening's postprandial entertainment. The debate quickly polarised with the rival factions taking increasingly extreme positions. As is ever the case, the couples opted for Dubonnet on ice and an early turn in while John and Adrian, buttocks freshly patched, started as they meant to continue - complete with hair product and shirts just a little too tight for men their age.

Apparently the tent in which we dined was only ever a temporary structure which, as soon as we drained our glasses and departed, was collapsed and removed to make way for a cauldron of hedonistic debauchery. A DJ appeared with a menu of tub-thumping Euro-pop, a box of glow-sticks was distributed, and the massed ranks of the badly parked, disgorged from their flotillas to revel into the earlier hours.

Somewhere in the darkness came the sound of splintering fibreglass.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! But we need to see some of your photos!