Hellenic thunderstorm

View of the mainland from Kastos. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018
View of the mainland from Kastos. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018

The weather has changed. The usual north-western wind persists, but brings not the usual blue sky of the flag, but dark greys and blacks. Thunder and lightening awoke us last night before the arrival of a hammering rain. It was 3.30am when naked we scattered about the boat closing hatches and moving clothes and cushions inside. The thunderstorm then kept us awake for a good hour before subsiding and sleep could be resumed. The morning was cooler, the smell of rain lingering on deck. For protection  against the predicted winds a fisherman advises us to change bays. We prepare and leave. The clouds make us expectant but unsure of what.

We drop anchor in Atherinos Bay, where we are sheltered from the winds from nearly all directions. My father the captain orders much of the chain out, and as I work the windlass I count the marks for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and then 60 meters of anchor chain. Then I swim to the shore and tie two stern lines to trees sturdier than the rocks. Anchored thus to three points, we are safe.

The sun returns after lunch, and the heat resumes nearly to full normal capacity. Donning hats and suncream we take the dinghy to shore and the gravel lane that leads to Vathi for provisions. After the 20 minute walk we rest with an ice cream at a street cafe. The waitress tells us there is no electricity on Meganisi today; there is an issue on the power line all the way up on Lefkas. As we listen to her we hear electricity in the air; far away still, but rolling in closer.

Clouds over Abelake Bay. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018
Clouds over Abelake Bay. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018

We hurry to the unlit shop and buy the yogurt, vegetables, and safety pins we need. Then we walk along the gravel path over the hills back to Atherinos. The sky darkens, but the emerald water still glimmers under the resting boats. We again close all windows and hatches, tie up our dinghy and lay out the waterproofs in expectation. We have a swim before the sky clouds over, and then sit down in the cockpit and wait.

The thunder nears, and soon we see lightening behind the hills of the island. The wind seems uncertain as to where to go, and the flags and ropes on the boat run whichever way. It slowly grows colder. An hour passes. I read, look out, read. My father falls asleep. With a steady pace the sky blackens over Kalamos and the mainland, and soon over Meganisi. It comes from the north-west. The lightening becomes more frequent and the time between it and the thunder shortens. My father the captain awakes and wonders what is going on upstairs. Helios’ chariot is gone by now, in fear or in aid of the approaching Zeus, I do not know.

Glory in approaching storm, Atherinos Bay, Meganissi. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018
Glory in approaching storm, Atherinos Bay, Meganissi. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018

I ask my father how the boat’s lightening rod works. Unreassuring but honest he says he has no idea. We look to our left at the much larger some fifty meters away with its much higher mast, and relax. To be extra certain I take out a blanket I bought on Kefalonia, untie the talisman against the evil eye that it is wrapped in, and hang it over the cockpit. We are well looked after now.

The protective eye. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018
The protective eye. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018

We are wearing our waterproofs when the wrath of Zeus descends. We brew tea and drink to his honour as the rain finally cascades from the heavens, the whiplash lightening whitens the sky, and the thunder moves through the sea, the boat and us.

The rain heavy upon us, we retreat to the belly of the boat for whisky and card games. Despite the reverberating thunder and clamorous rain there is no wind, and we lay still as a cradle. The protective eye watches over us, as we watch the Gods in their frolicking or the fighting from within our windows.

Rain over Meganisi. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018
Rain over Meganisi. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018
Rain over Meganisi. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018
Rain over Meganisi. Photo: Jessica Zarins, 2018

 

 

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