I guess sooner or later, with all the night sailing we had been doing there was going to be at some point an ‘incident’. As with most ‘incidents’ at sea this one came with no warning, was scary, and we had to think on our feet with no previous experience of a similar situation and resolve it.
It all started quite well and we left Piraeus with a fair wind on our beam and sailed the first few miles. The wind died off mid afternoon and we motor sailed for a while, then the wind picked up later that night. We we were passing the island of Folegandros around 03:00 when it all went wrong. I was down below having a rest in the aft cabin when I heard an awful groaning and creaking noise. I shot up into the cockpit and shouted at Alex ‘WTF’ is going on? I could see we had 17 knots of wind on the beam with the main and foresail out and we were only making 1 knot. Clearly we had run into something. A quick look at the depth reading and the chart conformed we had 500 metres of water underneath us, so we had not run aground. We were obviously dragging a large underwater object. It was pitch black but using a torch we could not see anything hooked up on the bow or stern. So to had to be something on the keel, prop or rudder. The rudder moved freely so that left the keel or the prop. Fortunately we were sailing and not motoring. We decided to drop the sails as the boat was trying to power forward, but by now only doing 0.5 of a knot. We dropped both sails and drifted. I could see a ferry on the AIS a couple of miles away heading towards us. After 2-3 minutes we noticed our speed had picked up to 2 knots even though we had no sail on. So we must have broken free! We hoisted the main and genoa and took off at 7 knots breathing a collective sigh of relief. Our only worry was whether or not it was safe to run the engine. to sail to the nearest bay where we could drop the anchor and wait till daylight to dive under the boat and have a look. We had been sailing for Santorini, but Sikinos was closer and had a sheltered harbour ideal for anchoring. As soon as we got there about 10:00 AM Alex went over the side and had a look. There was nothing to be seen on the keel, pop or rudder. What was it? we will never know. Probably a discarded fishing net.
Arriving at Sikinos
Sikinos turned out to be a beautiful unspoiled island with a charming harbour. We spent three days there and learnt from a Swiss couple on another yacht that Santorini was very unfriendly to yachtsmen and mobbed with tourists, so perhaps it was for the best.
I climbed the hill above the harbour to a beautiful little orthodox church and thanked he who rules the wind and waves for a safe passage thus far. 1451 miles.
Tied up safe and sound in Sikinos harbour
Enjoying an Alpha beer!
116 miles, 21 hours