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We are in Agios Nikolaos, Crete, since some days, overwhelmed by the celebrations that mark the end of the Blue Water Rally!

We have been lucky to get to Crete before the wind turned from the West/Northwest blowing for 3 consecutive days; the last group of yachts which were expected to transit the Canal the day after us, and that were postponed by one more day at the last minute, were not so lucky and had to tack all the way to here (and they did not enjoy it a little bit!).   Actually, some yachts gave up and headed directly to other destinations like Marmaris, Turkey.   Too bad they lost the celebrations!

Lucky yes, but not too much: we were approaching the eastern shores of crete in flat calm, when the engine packed up!!! (had it happened in the Suez Canal, at 1300 dollars an hour for a tow, it would have been a disaster!...)

After some hours of futile attempts at finding the source of the problem (air in the fuel lines) we temporarily solved the problem connecting the fuel pipes to a jerrycan; later it took us a day of work to discover an occlusion inside the water-separator filter: now it should be ok!
We were beginning to believe in a sort of "Curse of the Mediterranean", since we had a similar problem just when leaving the Med two years ago!...

We have not yet had the time to explore the island, but we certainly had the time to taste the local cuisine and expecially the size of the servings!!




Crete, and the comfortable marina at Agios Nikolaos have really enchanted us, we did not want to go away! (And in fact some Rally boats have decided to stay for some time...).









(left) the ancient port of Agios Nikolaos and (right) the celebrations of Orthodox Easter

Friend Keith and Susan of "Baccus", who were forced to drop off the Rally due to medical problems, have come to participate in the  the festivities for the conclusion of the Rally.    After the huge parties and the farewells to all friends of a two-year adventure, we felt a bit empty and aimless; talking to the other crews, the most frequent question was "what will you do next?" and the answer was almost invariably "I don't know, we will have to see how it goes".

Nearly nobody is planning to continue living-aboard, although many will leave the boat in the Med for one or two cruising seasons. Several, including ourselves, are planning to sell the boat used for the Rally and go back to something less complex and expensive to maintain.
Only Bob and Phyllis of "Gaia" plan to join the next Blue Water Rally, this time as crewmembers.  Certainly, nobody could imagine at the time that two years later their adventure was going to end tragically when they were both shot to death by Somali pirates.

And what about Crete? Beautifull, with dramatic landscapes that remind us of Corsica, taverns everywhere offering good food for reasonable prices, ancient ruins and Museums full of remainders of the Minoan civilization which make an intriguing comparison with Egypt's "new kingdom" which belongs to the same timeframe: here we see palaces and settlements, there we saw temples, here figurative arts are not very developed, there they were blossoming.

And then there are the continuous links to legendary tales, like the references to the bull as a deity but also as the protagonist of dangerous acrobatic games, and the confusing complexity of Minoan palaces, that make you think of the Minotaur and labyrinth legends, or the mystery of the sudden decadence of the Minoan civilization around 1450 BC, presumably due to a catastrophic eruption in Santorini which may be the origin of the myth of Atlantis.

And then the venetian Crete, surviving in some buildings, mostly fortresses which were protecting the many harbours, but strangely not in the houses, unlike what we saw in the Ionian islands.
Oddly, almost no sign of the two centuries of Ottoman domination, except for the odd mosque.

Certainly our visit has been made more pleasant by the fact of being off-season, with a relatively limited number of tourists around; in the peak of the season, it must be packed-full!!
Unfortunately, it's bitter-cold, we have to sleep in the sleeping bags, and bathing in the sea is out of the question!

Time to go, next stop Santorini.

The Rally final group photo




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Last Update: 21/09/2014

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