We woke up early again, had a quick breakfast and left the harbour at around 9am. We turned south once we left the bay in order to cross the Dhísvaton Strait between Andros and Tinos, which brought us to the western side of Tinos. Our good friend Meltemi was quite strong and we resorted to only using the main sail--even then we had to use the second reef and then further shorten it. Our wind meter gave us a reading between 30-38 knots, so Meltemi was in full swing; this was a rough sail.
Once we crossed the strait things turned for the worse. We faced regular and strong gusts of wind and, about 6 nm from Tinos, we were hit by yet stronger Meltemi coming from North-East (our left). The sea was very rough with razor-sharp, choppy waves and I was at the helm for most of the journey taking on the elements alone! Waves were breaking on board with monstrous regularity--like in a movie--and the wind was so strong that my left eardrum was threatening to burst any moment. Once we neared the port in Tinos, I noticed a big old ferry in front of us (at about 2 o'clock) maneuvering to the big ferry pier, but it gave up on it soon and headed back out.
The ferry captain decided to try a different maneuver instead--he headed towards us, passed us at some distance, then turned back again and headed for the port--with us in the middle. At that point the ferry began to sound its big horn obnoxiously: there are a few sounds on this fair planet that make you feel as hopeless as a ferry horn in the middle of a storm. Now, technically, we had the right of way to the port, because we were ahead of the ferry; a gentlemanly captain would have waited for us to maneuver first and then do his own approach. But gentleman or not, this captain was on a schedule. And, as a general rule, it's a bad idea to quarrel with a ferry that is 1000 times bigger than you anyway.
So, after a honk or two Maurizio came on board, turned on the engine (that way we had more maneuvering agility) and we looped behind the ferry. We never got too close to it to be in real danger of a collision, but we were still closer than either of us would have wanted. So there it went, our obnoxious friend (didn't even honk to thank us) and we then entered the harbour ourselves. The wind remained quite strong and our own maneuvering was quite challenging.
Maurizio decided to moor bow-to (the front of the ship facing the pier) rather than stern-to (back of the ship facing the pier) or sideways as we did in the past, and he decided that for purely practical reasons: The engine on our ship, and on most other ships (and cars for that matter), was asymmetrical, which means that it was less powerful going back than forward. With the strong wind against us, Maurizio feared that, should he reverse to the pier, he would not have enough power to fight the wind during the delicate approach. A particularity of this maneuver is that it requires the use of a stern anchor--normally we used our bow anchors, but those were useless in this scenario (unless we wanted to anchor at a curb or a lamp). Maurizio did not have a permanent fixture for a stern anchor, but had a handy light aluminum anchor in storage, so he took it out, fixed it on a rope and we were ready to go. We slid right in between two other yachts, fixed the boat and finally caught our breath--what an adventure!
Maurizio made quick lunch and then we went to explore the town. It was somewhat less picturesque and more cosmopolitan than Andros, but still beautiful. We first walked around the island a bit and saw countless old windmills and dovecotes (pigeon houses). In fact, Tinos is famous for some of the most beautiful dovecotes in Greece--many of them date back to 18th and 19th centuries. Most of them do not serve their original function anymore, but they remain a beautiful addition to the countryside.
The central point of the island is Panagia Evangelistria, a church of significant pilgrimage in the Greek Orthodox tradition. The church was built around an icon that was miraculously revealed to a passing nun by the Virgin. This happened days after the modern Greek state was founded and the event was celebrated nationally. When we entered, there was a service in progress and men could not enter it in shorts, so I had to go back to the boat, put on jeans and walk up the hill again. The church was extravagantly rich with beautiful Byzantine architecture mixed with Baroque features--the icon itself was buried in gold and precious stones. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside so just imagine opulence and you'll get it. I went back to the boat, changed to shorts again and then went grocery shopping and made dinner.
We ended the day with our standard walk about town at night coupled with gelato and a long conversation about the role of conductors in classical music. Next on the list is Mykonos and, if all goes well, my dad will join us there at about 10pm. It looks like we're in for another rough day at the sea.