The plan for the day was to board Odysseus and motor west to the village of Loutro. Loutro is only accessible by sea, so it retains a timeless, tranquil feel.
The first swim starts east of Loutra and follows the coast for about 3km to Sweet Water Beach. After the swim we will board Odysseus and return to Loutro for lunch. After lunch we return to Sweet Water Beach and continue the swim west along the coast for about 2km until we reach Lover’s Cave. For those inclined, it is only another 800m to swim to Sfakia; otherwise, a very short trip aboard Odysseus.
The orange cap group had adopted the name “All the President’s Men” due to having Wayne, Jenny, Steve C and Deborah in the group. Unfortunately, Wayne was impeached for high crimes and misdemeanours committed the day before and as punishment promoted to the pink caps (AKA the Pink Ladies) where he was warmly welcomed by Steve F, Narelle and Anne-Marie.
Sea conditions had calmed significantly overnight much to the relief of all. We boarded Odysseus and enjoyed, for the first time, the trip along this beautiful rugged coastline.
It turns out the section of coast between Loutro and Sfakia has the coldest water in all of Crete, and they were right. The welling of spring water caused a progressive drop in sea temperature from 19C at the start of the swim to 18C at the finish. Combined with the duration of the swim and frequent stops, the cold water took a toll on many of the swimmers. Upon arrival at Sweet Water Beach, frozen bodies wallowed up and lay on the warm rocks doing their best impression of walrus trying to warm themselves. The worst effected were ferried back to Odysseus and wrapped in towels and warm clothes to recover. Those who were not bothered by the cold water, had enjoyed swimming taking their time to explore the numerous caves along the way, some which went deep into the cliffs.
After lunch, we motored back to Sweet Water Beach. The wind had picked up, but it was not a big issue as were swimming with the waves. For the second swim of the day, a few tried wearing ill fitting wetsuits that were kept on board with mixed success. Not everyone opted to take part in the afternoon swim, but for those that did the water temperature rose slightly the further we got from Sweet Water Beach. The swim finished at Lover’s Cave, with most glad to get out of the water and back on board Odysseus. Only four hardy souls opted to continue swimming the extra 800 or so metres back to our the Xenia Hotel. A solid 6km all up for some.
Evenings are starting to follow a pattern: drinks and nibbles on the Hotel deck from 6:00 to 8:00pm, followed by dinner and more drinks at one of tavernas. Of course, the highlight of the day is the presentation of BigBlue Award during drinks. Yesterday’s winner, Deb, found choosing between two deserving candidates very difficult. In the end, Sue’s falling over and going arse up in the toilet at the restaurant at lunch won the day. Well done Sue.
As an over all observation, swimming in Crete is much more challenging than was Lefkada. There, flat warm water made swimming almost effortless. In contrast, the rugged south coast of Crete is exposed to the open ocean and subject to swells and wind waves. Add the cold water, present this time of year, and you have to work much harder during each swim.
Having said that, being here is an amazing experience and everyone is up for the challenge, but not surprisingly, there were no complaints when Noa announced tomorrow is a day off swimming as we will be doing an 8km walk down Imros Gorge.
To be continued...