A Nightmare Crossing in the Cyclades, Greece

I closed my eyes, so that I couldn't see the waves that were coming in on us from behind.  Mykonos was fading in the distance and could only be seen when we were perched atop one of the giant waves. After that, we could only see it from one side, when the sailboat was leaning over and, just before we had a chance to drown, it would come back upright, as if Poseidon himself had taken pity and decided to spare us. We were at his mercy, or rather we were trapped in a raging sea that had lost all its magic because of the terror it was unleashing. 

Mykonos Town, Cyclades

Mykonos Town, Cyclades

We finally arrived at Naxos, seeing its shores on our left side. How impressive it was!  The largest island in the Cyclades, with its high peaks crossing from north to south. The Duchy of the Archipelago with the Venetian Sanudo family governing from 1207. Its myths had commenced long before the time of Homer, with Theseus abandoning Ariadne here, whom he had taken from Crete, and with Dionysus falling in love with her when he saw her sleeping, and marrying her.

The island of Naxos in the Cyclades

The island of Naxos in the Cyclades

All this was well and good, but as we crossed the strait to reach the harbour of Naoussa in Paros, directly opposite, and saw it in its blinding whiteness, climbing up the pretty hills. The meltemia were so strong that I feared we were going to capsize. We sat with our legs hanging in limbo, on the side of the boat that had been lifted into the air so that we could act as ballast, and I found myself wishing I was fifty kilos heavier.  I was soaked to the skin, holding on for dear life, and my face had become so salted and reddened by the sea and the sun that I must have looked like a smoked salmon.

When we finally dropped anchor in the small harbour of Naoussa, we were all quite exhausted. The crossing had been something more than eventful for my friends and they were now in need of coffee and rest, before gathering fresh supplies and setting off for the south of the island to have a swim and then heading off for Antiparos.

The picturesque harbour of Naoussa in Paros, Cyclades

The picturesque harbour of Naoussa in Paros, Cyclades

 It was impossible for me to follow them. I was already dreaming of Aegean Airlines, which I knew would safely fly me home to Athens. But when my foot had firmly touched land, I started to stagger and stumble around like I was drunk. My sea-legs were still with me!  

An excerpt from the book: GREECE, The Dance of the Seas   

 

Barbara Athanassiadis