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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Stormy weather (Καταιγίδα)

We went to bed on Saturday night with the wind whistling a very violent tune through the trees in the villages, which were dancing with their entire trunks to the aeolian dirge. We're not used to such violent weather in Crete, where winter comes very late, and probably for the shortest duration than anywhere else in the country. But this wind was something else: it seemed like Aeolus had reached the heights of fury. We heard the sounds of crashing debris and breakages, enormous creaks and groans, as if something was ready to fall, and the whistling didn't stop until morning.

When Aeolus rages his fury over the Earth, Poseidon bears the full brunt of his force. There is a small triangular patch in the horizon where we can glimpse the sea from our balcony. Although we could not observe the sea during the night, we knew what it probably looked like - choppy, rough, with rolling waves crashing onto the coast, spewing forth more debris as it sucked it up from the shore. The wind speed was something in the range of 11 on the Beaufort scale.

"Listen to that bitch, the sea," Zorba had once said. "That maker of widows." I wasn't worried about becoming a widow that night, as my husband was at home; my son was on my mind instead, as he was travelling back home from Athens on the overnight ferry with his sports team. They had left Hania the previous day in calm waters, and spent the day taking part in competition sport.

1st December 2013, 7.30am

From the balcony of our house, we are able to see the overnight ferry leaving at 9pm and entering the port the next day early in the morning. We were to pick up the boy at 7am, but that ship did not dock until well after 7:30am, and only with the help of tugs. While my husband was waiting for him at the port, I kept checking every so often to see when the familiar row of lights (the white ones in the photo - the yellow ones belong to the visiting Lyme Bay) would appear. 

Of course, there is always the element of worry when you know your loved ones are travelling by sea on a windy stormy day. My husband told me he didn't sleep all night. I slept quite peacefully, with the knowledge that there have been no ferry boat accidents in Cretan waters for the last 47 years, since the lessons learned in the tragedy of the SS Heraklion, which sank on 8 December 1966 after leaving from Souda Bay in Hania, bound for the port of Pireas. Cretan ferry boats are regarded these days as very safe.

But I still looked out the window every now and then to see when I would spot the ferry's lights, and when I did, you can imagine how relieved I was.

Bonus photo:
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