Our very own Friday night Top of the Pops. We present Two Get Lost’s top ten moments of the season (in no particular order, because it’s impossible to choose!)
#10: Our first overnight passage
It seems like such a long time ago now, that we let loose the mooring lines and took to sea on our own for the first time ever. Looking back, I wonder how I ever had the courage to do something so brave and ‘big’. With all the experience we now have after a season of sailing full time I still think I’ll find our next longer passage intimidating, and I’m so proud of us for tackling the journey over to Greece after just a few days of sailing on our own.
It was a highlight because of the adventure. Because once you’ve watched land disappear, and the signal on your phone, you realise you really are quite alone. No matter what, you will have to get through it without help. It’s exhilarating to realise it’s just you and the ocean, and very freeing. We learnt a lot on that journey, about ourselves and each other, and about Hot Chocolate. Our home, our car, our safety. In hindsight I can see it set us up perfectly for what was coming later in the season.
I will never forget that very first night, and how small and powerful and relaxed and afraid I felt. I remember how bright the stars were, I remember how warming cups of tea were and how silent the world was. It was one of my biggest ever achievements-not because it was a long and dangerous passage, but because of how hard I had fought to get to that point and how much courage it had taken to get there.
You can watch our overnight adventure here!
#9: Atokos anchorage
Our favourite ever anchorage. It’s very hard to explain in writing, or even to capture on video. This anchorage stole our hearts.
We arrived here by mistake, when the anchorage we had planned to stop in was far too busy. We were going to just continue on to our next destination when we sailed past this incredible looking cove, surrounded by huge cliffs with a tiny pebble beach. We were the only boat in this incredible anchorage, and the dramatic scenery made it feel like a wild and uncharted place (even though hours earlier we were sharing the spot with day boats and trip boats!) Being alone in an anchorage always feels special, so perhaps it was because we felt like we had stumbled across this magical place that made it stand out.
I got out the fishing line (ever the optimist), and immediately pulled a large bream from the sea. Maybe it was the free and nutritious food it provided that made this place special?
We dived from the boat into crystal clear water and snorkelled past cliffs that dropped down into the depths surrounded by schools of fish. We swam into a cave and saw huge colourful crabs and lion fish. We set up the hammock and read in the sunshine. We barbecued the fish over an open fire on the pebbled beach. We fell asleep outside to the sounds of a scops owl high up in the cliffs. Was it the nature that made this anchorage so memorable?
I’ve got no idea why this anchorage out of a hundred other beautiful places makes our favourite. I imagine it had something to do with the fact that it marked the time when we had finally started to relax and feel more confident in our abilities. We had realised it was ok to put boat jobs on hold and enjoy the places we arrived in. So I guess it’s very difficult to recommend a place to another sailor, knowing that actually what makes somewhere special is probably more the individual experience rather than the actual place. For whatever reason, we fell in love with Atokos, and it is definitely one of our top 10!
#8: Arriving in Porto Cheli
After an unscheduled night sail we arrived into Porto Cheli in the dark. It was only half an hour until sunrise so we decided to motor around a little outside the entrance to the bay so that we had some light for setting the hook in an unfamiliar place.
It was completely calm as we started the entrance up the long channel into the bay. With little coves and beautiful green scenery it was striking against the unusually grey sky. As we approached the bay the sun was just starting to break through the clouds and we spotted something moving in the water. It was big like a dolphin but not moving like one, so we stopped the boat and drifted while watching it through binoculars.
It was a monk seal! Monk seals are rare, and very shy. They mostly live in caves away from people, so we were surprised to see one so close to civilisation. We watching it dipping in and out of the water for ages, until it started to spit. The raindrops on the completely calm water looked beautiful, with the golden glow of sunset as the backdrop. A rainbow formed overhead and a kingfisher flew past lighting up the grey water below. It was one of those magical sailing moments that make you feel lucky to be living on a boat.
#7: Sailing from Zante to Katakolo
This stands out as our favourite sail so far. We left Keri in Zante in the search for somewhere quieter where we could happily leave the boat unattended for Adam’s work days. We were finding we had to be on constant watch for boats dropping anchor on us in this crowded anchorage and the unpredictable wind that was gusting in all directions around this bay was making us novice sailors nervous! We found a few anchorages just around the corner that we thought would be protected from the winds and hopefully quieter, so we headed for them.
On arrival it was clear they were completely useless. The wind was gusting even harder here, often reaching 30 knots, they were crowded with dive boats and day boats and it was one of the rare spots with no internet service.
So we did something we had never done before, we made a last minute decision to sail over to the mainland. The wind further from the cliffs seemed favourable and even though the forecast suggested no wind all day, there was obviously wind, we could feel it! So we set off, and we sailed the entire way. 8 hours with the wind on the beam. It was the first time we had managed to sail an entire ‘longer’ passage. It wasn’t the comfiest of sails, with the waves hitting the boat side on, but we went fast!
It makes the top 10 for being the first time we followed the wind and our instincts rather than the forecast. Our goal for next season is to gain confidence in doing this more.
#6: Exploring Pilos
This place was an unexpected highlight and we stayed much longer than we had planned. Pilos is a huge, very well protected bay that just kept on giving! We arrived in high winds and had a nightmare setting the anchor. It didn’t set the first time, and then it got tangled in the anchor locker for the first time, and it just wasn’t fun at all in high winds.
But when the winds died down and we got the chance to go to land we were so pleased we were there. We walked to the castles ruins on top of the hill for the most incredible views out to see and of the horseshoe shaped beach that looks like something better suited to the Caribbean. We swam in luminescent seas at sunset and we watched a film as fireworks were set off in the background. We relaxed on the beach, explored sand dunes and paddled in crystal clear waters.
Then when we had done all we could on one end of the bay we motored over to the other end and spent time in the pretty little town. We treated ourselves to a drink in the cafe at sunset and made friends with the owner of the chandlery who gifted us his home made olive oil and a home grown melon! We loved our time in Pilos, and we’re pretty sure we’ll be back someday to see even more of it.
#5: The Blue Caves
Well, not just the blue caves but everything that went with it. Like a lot of these top 10, the wonder isn’t so much the place but more our experiences in that place. When we visited the blue caves we didn’t have high expectations. It’s a tourist trap and the daytime confirmed our predictions of hoards of tourists, unbelievable swell from tour boat after tour boat and to be honest, it was pretty horrific. But we stuck it out (because we were just so overjoyed that our anchor was holding!) and I’m so pleased we did.
Before sunset the crowds cleared and there was just us and another boat. We drank wine on the bow and watched the sun setting, and spotted a huge tuna jumping out of the water. It was amazing. It was like a dolphin, only very obviously a big fish, just arching out of the sea. Then we took the dinghy over to the caves and had them all to ourselves in the glow of sunset.
It’s impossible to pick one dolphin sighting, so we’ve picked them all!
The first time we saw dolphins from our own boat, while sailing just outside the marina in Sicily with our friends Jodie and Thom. Seeing them for the first time just Adam and I, when we had just fitted the autopilot and could both go up to the bow and watch them together. When we saw them for the first time in Greece, just two this time, that stayed with us for ages. Seeing them on our last sail of the season, only from a distance this time but watching them jump so high out of the water, like something from a painting.
And perhaps the best moment, when we saw them with parents. The biggest pod we’ve seen so far, that came to say hi at the perfect time. We all sat on the bow together and watched them dancing in the bow waves. It was a moment I had prayed for, and was just as magical as I had hoped it would be.
#3: Using Our New Windlass For The First Time
We arrived at Zante island in the late afternoon. It was blowing a consistent 25 knots, gusting 30 and we were sailing uncomfortably upwind for the final leg. The forecast (obviously) hadn’t predicted these higher winds, so we were worried about the anchorage as it wasn’t as protected as we would have liked, but there was no where suitable close by. We also hadn’t tested our new windlass in anger before, and really didn’t want to be caught out in a crowded anchorage with 30 knots of wind blowing us where ever it chose.
We found the only spot we could really anchor in, with very deep depths. The moment of truth. Would the new windlass be up to the task? The chain fed out perfectly, quickly and without doing it’s usual trick of tangling up inside the anchor locker. As the boat was blown back on the chain I felt it snatch and knew instantly that we were holding. After several months of feeding the chain out by hand and not managing to get the anchor to set, and having to haul it all up and try again, this felt incredible.
We anchored in record time, took transits and sat watching other boats have all sorts of difficulties anchoring in the high winds, feeling pretty happy that for once it wasn’t us! Definitely a top 10 moment, feeling a little less like the novice sailors we were!
#2: Catching A Tuna
Our most triumphant moment! We had pretty much given up on catching any big fish while we were sailing, we mostly put a lure out for something to do. We were enjoying a really lovely sail over to Kythira (which also should have made the list due to being absolutely stunning, but we just couldn’t squeeze it in!) when I noticed that the fishing line was really straining.
I started to reel it in, thinking I had caught some big bit of rubbish. Adam came to help and we saw that we were in fact hauling in a massive tuna! We had no idea what to do. Luckily it was really calm so Adam jumped into the dinghy and we managed to wrestle in inside. It was incredible to catch our food like that. So much food that it fed us for days, which was very fortunate indeed as the island we were on was pretty expensive!
You can read all about it all in more depth here.
#1: Sailing Off The Anchor
We actually did it! After watching people doing it all season and being so jealous and far too nervous to even try, we eventually plucked up the courage and sailed off the anchor and out of the anchorage. It was even better having my parents there to witness our success. We did actually put the motor on in neutral just in case we messed it up, but we didn’t need it once. It was pretty seamless if I do say so myself! It’s good to know that if we ever need that skill we can do it, though we will be fine tuning our technique next season so we really feel like pros.
Next-to anchor under sail…wish us luck!
So that’s it for the seasons highlights. It was tough to narrow it down to only 10, as we’ve had so many incredible experiences. We could have included every single time we had guests, or met new friends, or met up with old friends. Meeting people sailing is few and far between when you don’t moor in marinas or town quays, but when you do meet people they are always interesting, helpful and we always have a blast. We are very thankful to everyone that joined us in our adventure, and everyone we met along the way.
And now to look forward to the winter season. After a lot of overthinking, we decided to continue making less than sensible decisions. We should be spending the winter working on the boat while it’s out of the water. Instead, we have booked three months skiing in France. We didn’t give up work and head off into the unknown to get stuck doing something we hate, when we could be doing something we love-having another adventure!
When we are penniless and starving on the street in a few months time, you can all say I told you so! Until then we will remain wildly optimistic that we can make this work!