Friday, 24 February 2017
SUMMER 2016 - July ferrying, Part 3
Sunday 17th July 2016
My alarm clock heralded the arrival of ANEK's KYDON at the island of Crete's port of Souda. We had permission from Reception staff to stay on board until 7.30 a.m. which was a better option than disembarking at 6 a.m. Passengers can always request this facility, as the ship stays here for the day.
Photos taken, we disembarked into another sunny day at 31⁰ even now at 7.30. We walked from the quay into the nearby little main street, checked the bus timetables, and then enjoyed a breakfast outside one of the local cafes. We caught the bus to Chania town, and then walked the short distance to the main Bus Station, ready to catch the hourly bus at 10 a.m. west along the coast to near the port of Kissamos; this took an hour. Kissamos is the little port on a wide and sheltered bay, surrounded by high mountains, with sandy beaches, a few restaurants with rooms, local shops, and wonderful views all around. We made our way to our favourite beach area, settled on steamer-like chairs under the trees and prepared to enjoy the day doing nothing much.
Cold drinks soon arrived with a waiter, together with a tea tray for me, filled with a lovely china teapot, cups and saucers. Sand was under foot, with narrow wooden walkways between the seating and trees, and in front of us was the huge bay of sparkling blue sea; a couple of miles away we could see our ship for the overnight sailing to Piraeus. We spent the next few hours paddling, dozing, walking and talking, until 1.30 when we decided to move the few yards back to one of the nearby restaurants for a delicious lunch.
We arranged for a taxi to pick us up later and take us to the port of Kissamos and we arrived there in time to collect the booked tickets and go on board VITSENTZOS KORNAROS of Lane Sea Lines. She was built in 1976 at just 6,387 gross tons, as PRIDE OF WINCHESTER.
We sailed at 5.20 with the ropes removed as the ramp came up; the inevitable dog was on the quayside checking up on the activities. He stood quite near the ropes man and, when the order came to let go, the dog was not paying attention and as the rope came off the bollard we saw him suddenly leap up with the shock of it happening very near him! Luckily, I believe there is a photographic record of the surprised dog with all four legs off the ground.
We soon realised just how rough the seas were outside the area sheltered by the bay, although it was sunny and pleasant on deck for a while. Two and a half hours later we arrived at the narrow entrance of the port of Antikythira, and it was a great relief to get away from the rough seas outside. We haven't been here before and found the whole exercise of getting the passengers and their vehicles off and others on the ship quite, well, extraordinary in these extreme wind and sea conditions. No sooner were we within the narrow entrance to the tiny bay than we had to turn to port ready to get our stern lined up with the quay, with our turning circle extremely limited by a white buoy on the port side and mountainside rocks on our starboard side.
Most of us passengers headed forward at first to watch the turn, then to the stern to overlook several deck officers instructing the brave ropes men down on the ramp. It was obviously not easy to tie up on the quay, so the ramp was partly down, ready to be lowered at great speed as we finally approached. The wind and sea was having a powerful effect on the ship even within the relative safety of the little bay, and everyone admired the amazing seamanship that enabled us to get one rope ashore. Many of us applauded the crew for doing their jobs in what seemed to be extremely difficult conditions.
Passengers raced ashore when instructed, others rushed to embark when told to do so, and then one big car reversed up the ramp and onto the ship at great speed, again when told to go, go, go.
I think the whole exercise took about 20 minutes from when we entered the bay to when we left it, but goodness me, I think it took great skill to make the call at Antikythera. Presumably only small ships like ours, at 6,387 gross tons, are the only ones able to do it. I was told that in the winter there are only 55 inhabitants on this island, but it is popular in the summer when the ferries can get there.
I think I will draw the proverbial veil over the next few hours, as the sea conditions became very unpleasant and we three ferry folk felt unwell. I took no more photos that day, as I was seasick (ugh), and then we simply took to our beds very early hoping to endure the overnight hours until we reached Piraeus early tomorrow. I soon slept soundly and in no time it seemed to be morning, thank goodness.
Ships seen: Kydon, Vitsentzos Kornaros
To be continued...