From full speed ahead to dead stop...then off again
Three weeks on board Lady Roslyn by ourselves has been an adventurous one where we went from full speed ahead out of Athens, to a dead stop in Sifnos and then off again. After a few extremely busy days of prepping our yacht in Athens, we headed off to the Cyclades by ourselves – 3 glorious weeks lay ahead of us before our first guests arrived. A couple of days in Kythnos at Sandbar Bay were blissful where we started to relax, swim in a still chilly ocean, unpack and re-organise the boat - getting into sailing mode again. It took a couple of nights to get used to being at anchor again, on high alert for any change in the wind and new sounds; but I settled in and started to sift out which sounds were important and which could be ignored.
We sailed to Livadi, Serifos and enjoyed the Chora (the old town draping over the hillside) and started to get a taste of the Cyclades. The white houses against a backdrop of deep blue sea are really picture perfect and exactly what you imagine. However, being there before the season really starts is a blessing, as it's slightly cooler, not crowded and there is time to chat to the owners of the restaurants and shops who are desperately waiting for the tourists to arrive. A night in Mega Livadi on Serifos was a reminder of the thousands of stray cats in Greece, as we had 10 of them around our table for dinner. We felt so sorry for the one eyed, pregnant, scrawny, scratched-faced animals that we ate only half our dinner and fed the rest to them – making sure each one got a tasty morsel.
The wind began to blow a few days into our trip and we were reminded that we were now in the Cyclades where the Meltemi is a frequent visitor and this was not the usual "gin and tonic" sailing that we have had in the Ionians and elsewhere. The rolling at night at anchor and the strong gusts funneling down from the hilltops into the bay, was something that I was going to have to get used to. On the day we sailed from Serifos to Sifnos the wind was over 20 knots and with our main sail and genoa up, we were going a fair speed. To say I was not a little anxious, especially when Nic decided to fly the drone while we were underway with sails up, would be a lie. At times I was too nervous to sit at the helm and would rather sit inside or at the outside table looking backwards, or listening to a podcast to distract me. Up until then we were full steam ahead – busy every day either exploring, cleaning, re-organizing, doing maintenance, looking where to go next….we were truly underway and really getting into the swing of things. We then arrived in Sifos….and it was a full stop.
The wind was expected to pick up over the next few days with the Meltemi coming through quite forcefully; so we tied up to the quay in Vathi, Sifnos and I felt quite safe as Lady Roslyn was trussed up like a turkey. We wanted to be able to rent a car for a few days, explore the island and get out of the wind. We had an absolute ball being locals on Sifnos, hiking some trails, taking a cooking lesson on an organic farm (a huge highlight of our trip), having cocktails every night at our local restaurant in Vathi, chatting to locals as well as fellow sailors. We expected to stay 3 days, but the Meltemi was up, I was not keen to leave in winds of over 40 knots, so we stayed for 6 days – coming to a full stop in our first three weeks together. We had the luxury to be able to be flexible and change our plans, so we were not phased at all with the lack of sailing over those 6 days. For me it was symbolic of where I am in my life journey – a time for me to slow down, pause, reflect, take a breath; just stopping for a while and being flexible. For the last 5 years I have had little time to do all this. This little “full stop” was a reminder of where I am right now….…at the end of one journey and the beginning of another…reassessing where I am, what I want to do and realizing that I don’t need to know right now – its fine to just… PAUSE.
On day 6 we headed out of Sifnos to sail to Milos in winds of up to 40 knots and seas that were not calm at all. I was not happy – the waves looked too big, the wind too strong and when the sails went up I took myself off to a seat where I could lie down and bury my head under my jacket. Nic, on the other hand, was confident, in his element and urging me to join him at the helm. I eventually crept up and lay down at the helm station, chewing on ginger and not being very good company. After 3 hours we arrived in Adamas, Milos and I was glad to be tied up to the quay. For the next two days, although the wind still blew, we were able to hire a car and explore the dramatic volcanic landscape of Milos. The chalky white cliffs set against turquoise seas was the perfect setting for a few photo shoots! The beaches on Milos as well as time spent at Kelftiko, which can only be visited by boat, were some highlights of our trip. A special night after Milos in a secluded bay, devoid of another boat, person, house and road, felt like a Robinson Crusoe experience before we had a beautiful 4 hour sail to Antiparos for our last night before our guests arrived.
In three weeks we have so enjoyed the time on our own, going where we want to go, doing exactly what we feel like doing, laughing so much together, eating delicious food at some special restaurants and hearing the personal and sometimes heartfelt stories of many local Greek people. We are now well under way. We have experienced more wind than we have had before and I have realized that it’s not all "gin and tonic" sailing. I have had my anxious moments, I’ve been out of my comfort zone and been wakeful some nights with the creaks, strains and sounds from the boat. However, Lady Roslyn has felt safe and I have confidence in her and my wonderful husband. But mostly, I have got into a gentle rhythm of living slowly and being more present, enjoying the company of my husband, laughing so much and not getting caught up in the day to day stress of life and what the media brings to it. I have missed our daughters but been in constant contact and know they will be joining us in a few weeks’ time. This is the beginning of our next journey….and it’s been a very special start…spending time together for the first three weeks was definitely the best decision we could have made so far. So, from full steam ahead out of Athens, to a full stop in Sifnos, we are now off again cruising the Cyclades…..and living every moment to the full!