It was early in the morning when the double-reefed main blew out at the head. The wind was 40 knots true. Aboard Stressbuster, our Atlantic 70 cutter, we'd gotten an early start for the 55-mile run from Serifos, in the Greek Cyclades islands, to Hydra, on the western side of the Aegean in the Saronic islands. My husband, Kostas, and I had met our guests, Art and Kathy Knight, in Mykonos several days earlier for a leisurely cruise through the Cyclades.
But Aeolus, the Greek wind god, had other ideas. The meltemi-the strong, summer north wind-hadn't behaved as it usually does, dying at sunset and picking up again in late morning. We'd had relentless, nonstop wind of 30 to 45 knots for days, so we decided to make a break for the much more sheltered Saronics. We wrestled down the main and continued under the genoa. As we headed west, the winds eased, and we had a long but pleasant jaunt across the Aegean.
I'd thrown out my back just before we departed, and I was still not feeling quite up to snuff. The wind didn't help, but Art did. He stepped up to the plate and did most of the heavy work that's usually my job, such as handling weighty lines when docking, feeding and flaking the anchor chain into its well while the electric windlass cranks, and winching.
Besides my back issues, we were also crunched for time. When you're cruising or chartering, there's not much that can be done about the weather. But the difference with chartering is that following a schedule is a must; you don't have the luxury of waiting for a weather window.
The weather presented a bit of a dilemma in the galley as well. In the Cyclades, where the islands are fairly far apart, we generally eat lunch while under way rather than stopping for a meal and a swim.
Forget the Greek bouillabaisse and other lunch treats I'd planned-being in the galley was like being in a tilting funhouse. We needed finger food that could be prepared in advance while we were securely docked, so I reached into my mental recipe file and came up with an old favorite: stromboli. I've adapted this Italian dish to Greek cuisine, and the result is delicious.
Stromboli is simple to prepare and should be served at room temperature, and it possesses the added bonus of tasting excellent when it comes out of the fridge on the day after it's baked. Aside from the required phyllo dough and melted butter, it can be stuffed with whatever goodies you have on hand. It was the perfect dish for our time with the Knights.
We meet many wonderful people when they charter Stressbuster, and there are memories attached to all of them, so we keep a "voyages" book on board in which people write their memories of sailing with us, and I treasure it.
We had a good time during our sail despite the heavy wind, as Art and Kathy always looked on the bright side. They've gone down in my own personal version of the memory book as "The Knights in Shining Armor."
1 box frozen phyllo dough, thawed
for 24 hours in the refrigerator
1 cup butter, melted
18 slices salami
1 large jar roasted red peppers, chopped
2 small cans black olives, chopped
1 large bunch fresh spinach, *
chopped, cooked, and well drained
4 cups feta cheese, crumbled
4 cups cheddar or Gouda cheese,
*Canned spinach may be used.
Separate phyllo into two rectangles of four to five sheets each and spread out on a flat surface. Brush top sheet generously with melted butter. Arrange salami in three rows on left side of each dough rectangle. Sprinkle remaining ingredients over dough as if making a pizza.
Starting with the salami side, roll up dough like a jelly roll. Crimp the four ends of the loaves to seal. Brush outside of each loaf with more melted butter, including ends and seams.
Place loaves seam side down in a large, lightly oiled baking pan and make three small slits in the top of each loaf. Bake at 350 F for about 30 to 40 minutes or until filling is bubbly and dough is lightly browned. Cool to room temperature, slice, and arrange on a platter. Makes two loaves. Serves eight.