Port Said, Egypt to Santorini, Greece
May 3-7, 2018
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
31º 16.15′ N 32º 19.22′ E
Now that I’ve settled into the marina at the entrance to the Suez Canal in Port Said, it’s time to prepare for my sail to Santorini. A check of the wind forecast shows that I will have favorable winds for the next couple of days. Then the pattern is expected to shift to a westerly flow. That’s not exactly ideal for my voyage, but since the distance is less than 500 nm, I will deal with it. I hope to be ready to head out tomorrow morning.
Day 1 – Thursday, May 3, 2018
I was up at about 4:00 AM. After checking the wind forecast, I decided I would not wait for sunrise to head out of port. The forecast showed that the wind would calm around Port Said in 4-6 hours. I chose to not stick around for the calm. At 4:50 AM, I was ready to go. I raised anchor, set the sails and turned to the east.
The entrance channel for Port Said runs southwest-northeast. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing from the northeast. I tacked back and forth a few times until I was far enough up the channel to find an exit spot through the breakwater on the northwest side. Once I was through the breakwater, I turned to a heading of 317º, which put me on the starboard beam reach, very close to a perfect sailing angle. Wind speed was 5-8 knots, so not much speed this morning.
If my boat speed stays at 5 knots, I should be in the Greek Islands by Sunday. I’m guessing that I may find some stronger winds once I get some distance from the north coast of Africa.
At about 8:00 AM, the wind shifted around to become a headwind and the wind speed was down to an average of 2 knots. The forecast was right about the calm area. I just didn’t get far enough north to avoid it. I ended up turning northeast to get a wind angle I could sail. The rest of the day will probably be slow going until the wind direction and speed change this evening.
Today was not a very productive sailing day. The wind was very light up until about 4:00 PM this afternoon. At that time, the wind picked up and moved back to the northeast. By sunset, I was again traveling at 5-6 knots. I should make some good distance tonight. Unfortunately, the forecast is for a change from easterly to westerly flow by tomorrow evening. It looks like I’ll be busy at the helm tomorrow.
Day 2 – Friday, May 4, 2018
I was up at about 3:00 AM to check the helm and make sure I’m on course. The wind was continuing to blow from the east and I was still traveling 5-6 knots. A check of the wind forecast caused me some concern. If the forecast holds true, there will be a wind shift of about 180º in about 24 hours time. That would mean a direct headwind on this course. I decided that it would be prudent to get farther west at my current latitude. If I can get to a point directly south of my entrance into the Greek Islands, I should be able to sail nicely with the forecast wind shift. Once the autopilot was set again, I headed below for a few more hours of sleep.
05/04/2018 0409 UTC – 32º 23.3′ N 30º 56.54′ E
By early evening, the wind direction moved as it was forecast and the speed increased to 15-20 knots. My boat speed increased to 7 knots at times and I was making some good distance. Unfortunately, the wind is coming from the direction I want to sail, so I’m having to keep my heading farther north than I would like. I will have to tack to the southwest at some point.
Day 3 – Saturday, May 5, 2018
05/05/2018 0355 UTC – 34º 18.23′ N 29º 5.87′ E
At sunrise, the wind was still up around 20 knots. I was hoping to be able to pass just north of the island of Karpathos, but it looks like Rhodes is a more realistic sailing direction. If the wind holds, and the forecast has no changes for the next 3 days or so, I will head toward Rhodes, turn southwest at a point about 30 nm off the coast, then I will sail toward Crete, before turning northwest bound, headed again for Santorini. The extra sailing is not an issue since this voyage is so much shorter than my last few voyages. Anything under 1,000 nm feels like a walk in the park now.
Day 4 – Sunday, May 6, 2018
05/06/2018 0523 UTC – 35º 46.2′ N 27º 35.28′ E
Once the wind shifted a couple of days ago, the wind direction and speed has been fairly constant. The wind speed has been mostly around 15 knots. At about 7:30 AM this morning, I was sailing northwest bound and was located between Karpathos and Rhodes. Since the wind is supposed to continue out of the west, it looks like I will have to tack several times to reach Santorini. The weather is beautiful, for the most part, and it is good to be in the Mediterranean and to be in Greece.
Later in the day, the wind direction shifted to be out of the southwest, which allowed me to sail a more direct route to Santorini. This morning, I thought it was going to take another day to reach Santorini. When I went below for the night, I was confident that I would reach Santorini tomorrow.
Day 5 – Monday, May 7, 2018
05/07/2018 0519 UTC – 36º 31.23′ N 25º 35.33′ E
As the sun rose this morning, I had my first sight of Santorini. The wind is currently blowing from the direction of the island, so I am forced to sail north of the island before I can enter the caldera from the north side of the island. The wind speed has dropped to 6-7 knots, so it looks like I won’t be ready to anchor until sometime this afternoon.
After my morning report, the wind died off and I was only making about 2 knots SOG. I was a bit concerned that the lack of wind would last for several hours. However, shortly after noon, the wind picked up again and switched directions again. When I sailed into the caldera, the wind was blowing from the north-northeast. I anchored at the port near Thera. I plan to spend several days here enjoying my first Mediterranean port of call, not counting Port Said.
05/07/2018 1500 UTC – 36º 25′ N 25º 25.6′ E