Strong Northeast winds and mild rain buffeted our homemade beach chair sleeping shelters overnight and the sand flies still managed to land a bite on every square inch of my face. My rudder cable broke after the first hour of paddling and after some creative engineering in town it was better than new. Today we had our first real tail wind, and it pushed us all the way to one of our favorite places, Agia Roumeli, right at the base of the Samaria Gorge where we shared beer and stories with our friend Pavlos. Before bed we made a pot of brown rice on the beach; we mixed it with olive oil and hot sauce and sat around it in the dark cramming our faces, drinking Retsina and Jack Daniels. We were exhausted, and even happier than we were tired.
Overnight, Nayr felt the effects of food poisoning. The source of it was never determined, and he was in remarkably good shape in the morning. He was hungry and tired, but ready to paddle. Four miles up the coast we found Tripiti Beach, and a perfect sea stack for bouldering and jumping. The sea conditions were perfect as we paddled along the steep cliffs of the Southwest coast and the smell of wild thyme was thick in the still air. Our next stop was the town of Sougia, for lunch and resupply. For anyone needing to tap into their inner “naturist”, Sougia is a good place to visit on Crete. You will not be alone in it.
We made a stop to hike around the ruins at Lissos, dating back to early Christianity, before making the final push to Paleochora where Nayr got a room to recover from the tumult of the previous night. The rest of us dined on brown rice, hot dogs, and barbecue sauce before crashing on borrowed beach chairs.
It turns out that beach chairs were not well designed for a 6’7″ person to sleep on. I probably could’ve guessed that but now we know for sure. The team hit the water at 8:45am after the necessary coffee, yogurt, and muesli. Today we turned the Southwest corner of Crete, with expectations of an easy morning and a tough afternoon (with the tailwind turning into a headwind) and so far we haven’t been more right about the weather. The morning was delightful, flying along with a stiff wind at our back, approaching the iconic postcard view of Elafonisi. Once we turned north, the reality of our afternoon headwind smacked us in the face, and we paddled for 3 hours into building seas before finally coming to a secluded beach whose name I can’t seem to find on a map. Tomorrow we plan to push all the way to the northwest corner of the island, and surpass the 100 mile mark! Only 350-400 miles to go… However, those miles don’t worry me much; the only think I can think about right now is how to get comfortable on this cobblestone beach, and get a few good hours of sleep.