Not always sunshine and azure sea.

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"It depends on how well we are protected from there," our English neighbor explained as he pointed to one of the mountains on the small island of Meganisi.

Like us, he had seen the message that Hurricane Ianos would reach us within 36 hours. 
 
“We were here during a storm a few years ago. I think we will take the chance and stay put "he continued and added" if you plan to, you may want to go and talk to them now ".
 
We walked into the taverna. Here sat the son-in-law. He was in charge of the pontoon.
 
"No, all booked" he replied without looking up and in such a dismissive voice that we did not even consider asking what we should do next. 
 
We went back to Heron to discuss our options.
 
The wind would begin from northeast. That meant a no-go to Nidri, where we had been the day before.
 
Syvota, where had we been two days earlier? Surely the bay was well protected, but would the pontoons be able to withstand gusts of up to 47 m / s? Maybe. Maybe not. We did not want to try.
 
Then there was Lefkas. Here was a large and well-protected marina about two hours sailing away.
 
Encouraged, we called the marina.
 
“We are very busy right now. Everybody is calling. We're fully booked. Try to book on our website ” it sounded not very encouraging from a clearly stressed female voice.
 
How about anchoring in one of the many bays in the area? It would be easy to find one that provided shelter. But would the anchor hold in a hurricane? What if other boats in the bay started drifting? And would it even be possible to sail over to another bay when the wind changed its direction with the forecasted 90 degrees? There were too many unanswered questions for us to have the courage to pursue that opportunity.
 
What about Cleopatra Marina on the mainland?
 
We called.
 
"Let me see" a woman replied and asked "how many days did you say?"
 
"Four," we replied, as humbly as we could.
 
“Four days” repeated the voice and added "11 meters. Let me see, let me see ”.
 
There went what felt like an eternity. Then there was a liberating “That's ok. Be here before two o`clock. Look forward to seeing you ”.
 

Seeking shelter from Ianos

We were not the only ones seeking shelter from Ianos. As we sailed out of the bay we saw a small armada of sailboats in the narrow waters between Lefkas and the mainland. All on a northbound course. Away from Ianos, or the spinning bass, as it very de-dramatizing was called on facebook.
 
When we entered the Lefkas canal, large parts of the armada gathered. Some had been lucky and got a berth in Lefka's marina. Others, like us, were forced to seek shelter further north. When the bridge finally opened, we were in the middle of the fleet of the many northbound boats.
 
The bridge was opened and we sailed up the coast on the mainland towards Cleopatra Marina.
 
An hour later we reached the two buoys that marked the entrance to a lagoon with the difficult name Amvrakikos.
 
The lagoon is one of the largest wetland areas in Greece and is protected under the provisions of an international convention. Here is a rich wildlife with, among others, sea turtles, rare dolphin species and close to 300 bird species, several of which are endangered.  
 
Two rivers have their outlet in the lagoon, which is protected from the Ionian Sea by a narrow strait. This and the relatively low water depths make the water here warmer and less salty than out in the Ionian Sea.
 
Here is also - as one of the few places in the Mediterranean - tides that create a current in the strait of up to 3 knots.   
 
We sailed between the two buoys and headed into the strait.
 
Here sailed one of Rome's dictators, Marcus Antonius, and his ally Queen Cleopatra of Egypt on the morning of September 2, 31 BC. Their fleets had been in the lagoon for several months and were now forced into the Ionian Sea, where Rome's second dictator Gaius Octavian and his general Agrippa were waiting for them. Over noon, the naval battle between the nearly 800 warships began. It ended the same day. Gaius Octavian won. This ended the civil war that had begun after the assassination of Caesar. The republic became an empire with Gaius Octavian changing his name to Augustus as the first emperor. For the next many hundreds of years, there was peace in the areas around the Mediterranean, which the Romans called Mare Nostrum, which means Our Sea.
 
On our port side lay the town of Preveza and to starboard Cleopatra Marina. Behind the marina we saw several thousand masts. It was boats on land on the three large yards.  
 
When we got ready to dock, the tide was turning and we could dock and moor without having to take into account a transverse current.  

 

It is coming 

Over the next day, the marina began to fill up. 

“I was at the town quay at Preveza. It was terrible. I havn´t been sleeping at all ”told our Italian neighbor before he red-eyed disappeared below deck to get some of the night's sleep. 
 
Weird. 
 
We had had a completely quiet night. Cleopatra Marina had been sheltered from the strong south-easterly wind that had blown right towards the town quay in Preveza on the other side of the strait. Less than a quarter of a mile from us. 
 
During the afternoon, dark clouds began to pull up across the sky from the south. 
 
The flow of boats seeking into the lagoon through the strait stopped. The boats that were now entering the marina received the message “Sorry. Fully booked ”, even though there were still vacancies. (Later we learned that the pressure on anchors for pontoons and hauling lines can become so strong that they risk drifting if the marina is completely filled up). Extra moorings were laid out, sprayhoods and biminis dismantled, dinghies rolled up or extra well fastened and loose objects lashed or laid down below deck.
 
"You need to get further away from the pontoon" said the harbor master and before we really knew it we had him and three other men on board. They loosened the aft mooring lines and pulled Heron a few feet further out into the basin. Then they asked us to start the engine and reverse at full power. When we were again barely two meters from the pontoon, they fastened the stern mooring lines. Heron now lay completely tight with the same pressure on all lines.
 
“You never know. Better prepared for the worst, ”laughed the harbor master, before he and the three men left us to secure the mooring on our neighboring Italian boat. But it was not just us and our Italian neighbor who had our lines looked after. The mooring lines on all the boats in the marina, manned as unmanned, were checked by the four men. On the manned they politely asked permission to go on board, and on the unmanned, they simply went on board. 
 
When it got dark, it started to rain. Cats and Dogs. It continued as we went to bed.
 
As it was getting lighter, we woke up by howling in the rig. No doubt. Ianos had come and blew from the northeast. Cleopatra Marina was no longer sheltered. But there were no waves. Heron lay well and solidly in her tight mooring lines in the strong wind. We fell asleep. When we woke up a few hours later, the wind had died almost completely. All day and night it rained, rained and rained. Early the next morning the wind came again. This time from the northwest. Same speed as the day before and again no waves. During the morning it stopped raining and in the late afternoon the wind completely died.
 
Ianos had passed us. 
 
We had been lucky and only been on the edge of Hurricane Ianos.
 
Just twentyfivenautical miles further south, they had been less fortunate. Here Ianos had passed with full force and had caused great destruction. People had died. Houses flooded, villages buried in meter-thick layers of rock and mud. Trees had been knocked down. Cars and houses destroyed. Half a hundred yachts had sunk in its moorings and an unknown number washed ashore. 
 
The Mediterranean is not just sun and azure sea, one wrote on his blog. 
 
… We could not agree more. 
 
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PS

Did you know that Typhoon, Tropical Cyclone, Cyclone, Hurricane and Medican mean the same thing? 
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Camilla Hansen
Camilla Hansen
1. December 2020 20: 22

No too strange having just sat in the harbor in nidri Boatyard and retold your adventures to an Englishman. In the end, I say we lack the medical narrative. Pictures taken last hour while I was telling

Kim Keiniche
Kim Keiniche
1. December 2020 20: 24

Dear Carl and Pia
I can well understand that you take a year more down there, but you will then get busy getting around and experiencing all the amazing places there are. 
We hope, as I said, that we will get the Swan home in 2021. Will not go there until around June 10, when we just have to have our youngest grandchild confirmed. 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Kh. Kim and Lene 

Erik Larsson
Erik Larsson
1. December 2020 20: 25

Good luck
Khe

Lars Løfsted
Lars Løfsted
1. December 2020 20: 27

Thank you for the exciting story, about the storm and the ancient Roman Empire

Mette Vennegaard
Mette Vennegaard
1. December 2020 20: 44

Hi Carl and Pia
Thank you for the report - good that you found a safe haven. Still good trip.
Kh Mette and Gunnar

Anette
Anette
1. December 2020 21: 13

Well, that's why we're never getting a boat. Thank you Carl and Pia for a shocking experience and story “time”. Distance Knus

Michael Larsen
Michael Larsen
4. December 2020 21: 52

We are also sailors, mostly in our Nordic waters. We were on holiday in Nidri this week where the medic passed. It was an exciting day with master warnings on the phones and wind and rain in solid amounts. The picture of the same sunken boat as your picture was taken the evening after.
Fantastic area - also for a "country sailor".

Per Nagel
Per Nagel
5. December 2020 10: 12

Uf!

Søren Jean Larsen
Søren Jean Larsen
5. December 2020 10: 13

You were lucky!
And sensible

Hanne Østerbye
Hanne Østerbye
5. December 2020 10: 14

A harsh experience, you saved the storm from luckilycomment image , but sad to see the nightmare going on in the eye of the hurricane.

Luc Ghysels
Luc Ghysels
5. December 2020 10: 17

The hurricane was warned for 5 days, only 40 cm from Lefkas varcdet safecat be !!
Was even in Patras Marina about 10 days after we left Kefalonia and escaped without wind, only rain
Meteo Greece Sailingmaps really hit track and field !!
S / Y GipsyAalborg
Aegina GR
data: image / svg + xml,% 3csvg xmlns =
1

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Anita Siig Borup Jakobsen
Anita Siig Borup Jakobsen
5. December 2020 10: 19

We were well and safely in Preveza 

Ditte-Marie Post
Ditte-Marie Post
5. December 2020 10: 21

What a story, wow

Grethe Juh
Grethe Juh
5. December 2020 10: 21

Just exciting enoughcomment image
Well you came to safety

Karin Kjærgaard Nielsen
Karin Kjærgaard Nielsen
5. December 2020 10: 23

Hope there is peace now and that you enjoy life in the heat

Jens Boye Mørch
Jens Boye Mørch
5. December 2020 10: 23

Uha Mediterranean can be very harsh, after a near death experience in a hurricane 12 years ago in a Møn 830, I have got more than enough of those waters.

Niels Nielsby
Niels Nielsby
5. December 2020 10: 24

Exciting story to live into. Sailed in the area in 2019. The lagoon harbor Lakka north of the island is a large spacious natural harbor, where there will be shelter from wind and waves in all directions. There I would probably find a place to lay an anchor. It must hold in the bow if the engine is on. Then you have to be vigilant and wait to sleep until you get old. The problem is then if other boats' anchors do not hold. Maybe 2 extra anchors out from the hedge at a V angle so you can move a few meters from side to side,... Read more »

Kenneth Sloth Sørensen
Kenneth Sloth Sørensen
5. December 2020 10: 25

As usual good story from the two of you.
We rode the spinning bass off in Monemvasia together with Søren and Lise. Here we also lay well and safely in free portcomment image

Glenn Whalan
Glenn Whalan
5. December 2020 11: 34

Great reporting, I was transported there. I am also sorry for everyone's loss but pleased you survived.

Andie Camper
Andie Camper
5. December 2020 11: 35

I managed to tuck up in the corner of Little Vatty for the duration of Ianos, lucky to get in. The wind was mainly off the land and our lines held well although one really chaffed on rough metal ring. The biggest issue has been trying to get rid of the pine needles, they blew all over us and got stuck in every crevice. Small prices to pay for being safe ad sound.

Inka Maaret
Inka Maaret
5. December 2020 11: 36

We weathered Ianos in the Preveza anchorage opposite Cleopatra. It was fine. We were lucky, like you!

Phil Longhurst
Phil Longhurst
5. December 2020 11: 36

Very well written, great style, much enjoyed… and good decisions!

Roslyn Dorey-Adams
Roslyn Dorey-Adams
5. December 2020 11: 37

I had the misfortune of being on an ex charter yacht (we'd picked up for delivery) needing to take shelter in Vathy, Ithaca for this. With gusts of 105kts by 3am, the anchor started dragging and the windlass couldn't cope which left us with 60m chain out and no way to haul it in. We tried unsuccessfully to safely reposition ourselves but to avoid risk to other nearby yachts ended up having to cut the anchor loose, with the idea of ​​motoring around the bay until it passed and then lashing up alongside a section of the town quay. Fate... Read more »

Karen Hall
Karen Hall
5. December 2020 11: 41

I am so pleased that you all came through safe, but having read many stories I am staggered it took so long for people to be aware of the impending situation. We were in Polis beach on Monday expecting to stay for 2 nights and then heading over to Agios Effimia. Woke up on Tuesday and checked the weather (we do it several times a day when sailing) and could clearly see the forecast. At that point it was expected to stay south and hit only Zakynthos. Nevertheless we left our mooring and headed north to Lefkada to... Read more »

Paul Evenden
Paul Evenden
5. December 2020 11: 42

We were in Vathi Ithaca
Pretty full on.
One boat sank as described earlier but another that went ashore we towed off virtually undamaged a couple of days later after a diver had inspected her. She subsequently sailed back to Italy.
The boats that sank in Efemia were mostly charter boats moored up between charters I think.
We got through pretty much unscathed, everything worked and nothing broke. Highest wind speed I saw was F11 but after that I was clipped on in the cockpit keeping my head down in case of flying debris.

Karine Thomas
Karine Thomas
5. December 2020 11: 43

Always humbling reading

Oscar Catamaran
Oscar Catamaran
5. December 2020 11: 43

Great read, thank you. We were in Cleopatra Marina also during Ianos. Like you, we were very impressed, and thankful to be there, and with how the 4 Marina men looked after not only the boats, but also captains and crew, before and during the storm.

Paul Evenden
Paul Evenden
5. December 2020 11: 44

Cleopatra marina is very exposed from some directions, boats had cleats ripped out there in a summer storm a couple of years ago.
Preveza marina being solid concrete rather than floating pontoons would be my choice. (If there was a choice!)

Paul Evenden
Paul Evenden
5. December 2020 11: 44

Title pic is a charter boat sunk on Nidri town quay, they apparently put a crane on the ferry to lift it out ?? !!

Gabriel Efstathiou Katsampouris
Gabriel Efstathiou Katsampouris
5. December 2020 11: 46

Very nice storytelling, however during Ianos we did not have any loss of human life in the sea…
And you are right, whille you are in the sea in order to stay safe you must pre-act as you did!

Nicolai Ehlers
Nicolai Ehlers
5. December 2020 11: 49

Thank you for sharing your experiences with the rest of us, enjoyable and exciting reading.
Merry Christmas to you.

Klara Karlsson
Klara Karlsson
5. December 2020 11: 52

Wow, that's what happened to that boat. They were a little too close to the quay and had not tightened the stern ramps enough. In a gust of wind, one corner of the stern hit the quay, right where the hinges to the bathing platforms were, which resulted in the bathing platform being opened and unable to close again. There were big waves so the boat took in a lot of water. The lone man started scooping but did not have time to get everything that came in. He jumped up on the quay and called the rental company, which did not make it there before the boat sank. No one injured anyway!

Carin Sjölander
Carin Sjölander
5. December 2020 11: 55

Nature is a tough companion. Good story. Thanks!

Nikos Mazarakis
Nikos Mazarakis
5. December 2020 11: 57

Yes its true with S winds up to 40kts!

Paula Conroy
Paula Conroy
5. December 2020 11: 58

Very good article.

Karen Ludwig
Karen Ludwig
6. December 2020 1: 03

That's so hard to look at.

Sailor Toni
Sailor Toni
6. December 2020 1: 04

What a great sadness it is to have these images. I feel bad that I have to feel the armor, turning my sueno oto

Andreas Bart
Andreas Bart
6. December 2020 21: 58

such happens with a boat when it gets serious which was not designed from me…
or to relativize it… when it was dedicated from moneymakers but not from carefuly designers…

Anne-Grete Länkholm
Anne-Grete Länkholm
6. December 2020 21: 58

Well in came whole-skinned through 

Nina Henningsen
Nina Henningsen
6. December 2020 21: 59

Uha how are you now grandparents hugs to you.

Sus Svenningsen
Sus Svenningsen
7. December 2020 8: 57

In short - good seamanship hugs Morten & Sus😊🇩🇰

Bjarne Huusfeldt
Bjarne Huusfeldt
7. December 2020 20: 07

Dear Carl and Pia, Cyclone Ianos 2000 thank you for an exciting story. I my lady and skipper Keld Hummer on Moody 42 “Freedom” sailing around the Ionian Sea around Corfu, Syvota, Paxos and Paxos Bay Mongonissi. Where we experienced Typhoon Ianos. We lay in the bay at anchor, luckily kept the anchor but it was probably the worst night we have ever had at sea. Several of the boats tore loose or drifted but fortunately nothing serious. If it is ok I will ask permission to retell your story in our club magazine in TSK Thurø sailing club. I hope... Read more »

Birgitte Dam
Birgitte Dam
11. December 2020 11: 16

There are not many dramas that can compare to real life. Pyha. Many greetings from Gitte