Average speed: 6.23 km/h
Total time: 03:14:15
A few days of serious West wind forced me to have a break. I didn’t fancy kayaking in 2m high waves. On the other hand, we had some fun playing in the big waves in Falasarna.
Today the forecast is 4 Beaufort, but at least it should be coming from North-East.
In the morning we drive to Sfinari. It’s still quiet around the Sunset taverna. Some partridges wander freely around. The sheperd is milking the goats. It’s already past 10 o’clock though by the time I set off, and the breeze is turning into a proper wind. I paddle along the coast to Cape Crow. As soon as I turn around it, the waves get serious. They are pushing me from behind at an angle, and I struggle to keep my course. I glance at the beautiful beach at the end of Kampos gorge, and I keep going.
I paddle by Afratolakkos beach, the water is flatter just around the cape and beautifully clear. I take a fairly straight line to a point a little bit before the end of the bay. The waves are quite serious now. I look for Xotikospilio, a deep, famous cave just behind the beach. In the 19th century, during Crete’s fight against the Ottomans, a group of locals sought shelter there, but were eventually found and killed. There are many similar episodes all around Crete, still remembered and commemorated today. I have visited the cave before, but I can’t see it today, the entrance is well hidden.
I ride the waves into Keramoti bay. I take a sharp turn looking for a little shelter, the wind finds ways around the rocks though and pushes me around. I aim again for the end of the bay, keeping a safe distance from the shore. I watch all the new luxury villas recently built or under construction along this wild stretch of coast. The coastline has much lower relief now, I am in Livadia. I remember the shallow rocks in the water and the little kiosk on the corner, where the coastal road turns up inland.
More flattish bits, greenhouses, straight roads. I paddle and paddle, the wind is changing. Some moments of confusion follow, where is it coming from now? It’s not pushing me from behind any longer, but it’s not coming from the side either. It feels like it’s in my face! The North-East has turned into a South-West. I am also having a hard time reading the geography of the coastline, not sure where I’m supposed to aim at. Are those low rocks the next point? Or that taller cliff? The mystery takes a while to clear up. I need to go around the shallow rocks, then paddle some more to get to Stomio. I must be tired.
Into Stomio bay, a quick peek at the remains of the quarry, then straight for the next point. I can see the monastery of Chrisoskalitissa now. Before getting out of the bay, I take a little tour of a well sheltered pool between the rocks. It’s so peaceful inside. Outside it’s blowing hard, I think it’s coming from West or North-West now, it keeps changing.
I’m tired, it’s been two hours and a half without any proper break. I go for my scheduled stop, Voulolimni, a perfectly circular natural coast lake, aurrounded by rocks with only a small, practically invisible entrance. Only if you know it you can find it. Again, it’s pretty wild out there, but it’s flat as a lake in here.
I stay on the boat for my break. Eat a small sandwich, force it down really, I’m not hungry. Gulp some water, take a video, ready to restart. I don’t want to miss the bus back and I still have quite some distance to cover. So I get out of this peaceful spot and I’m instantly scared. The sea is now all white, but the greatest shock are the waves, much taller than I remember only half an hour before, and I am still in the bay. The wind has picked up properly. I paddle ahead another 2-3 minutes, but I’m really not convinced, and worried about going around the cape before Elafonissi in these conditions. I know it’s a tricky place, wind-wise and full of shallow rocks. I turn back.
Tired and discouraged, I call Fiona to come and pick me up. She kindly obliges. I have all the time to eat the rest of my lunch, watch a guy rock dive while taking selfies, get some energy and spirit back. Driving home, I agree with my decision though, it does look pretty wild out there, with all the white horses. Better alive than brave!