We needed to get some sail up to steady the boat. I managed, in 45 minutes of nauseous struggle with the wind and the waves battering the front deck, to raise the storm jib, then the mizzen, and SailingActs settled down as we picked up speed. I pulled on the foul-weather gear Janet gave me for Christmas the year before and ploughed through the torrents of rain and great gusts of wind, peals of thunder and bolts of lightning. I realized, with gratitude, that we had purchased an extremely seaworthy boat.

Then the squall passed, the sun came out, and for the final hour that day, we followed the course we had plotted over waters we had never before crossed, on a boat we had never before sailed. We were heading for the island of Palaio Trikeri, some 16 miles from Volos. The charts made sense, the descriptions were accurate, and we found the harbor -- full of charter boats. As in Volos, when we had pulled away from the wharf, everyone in the harbor seemed to be watching us as we drew near. Not wanting to demonstrate to the spectators that we had never dropped SailingActs' anchor before, we decided on a secluded anchorage just west of the harbor. Janet released the brake on the windlass, and the anchor dropped but did not seem to hold.

"Let's try over there," I suggested to Janet, pointing to a patch of sandy bottom we could see through the crystal-clear water. "I'll push the button to run the windlass and raise the anchor. Then I'll move the boat and you release it when we get directly above that spot."

I went back to the cockpit and pushed the anchor-windlass button. Nothing happened. I tried again harder, jiggling then pounding the button. There was no movement or noise from the anchor windlass. Did Captain Steve forget to tell me something?

Although Palaio Trikeri is a very small and rather remote island, and even though the anchorage we chose was even more remote, there were a couple of houses on the cliffs overlooking the little bay in which we were struggling. One of the island's few inhabitants watched the whole nautical circus with binoculars from the porch of his house above the little bay. Others joined him. I ended up cranking endless yards of chain up with my hands, which I thought were quite tough by this time, but I had blisters before I finished the job. We finally got the anchor up, found another anchorage on our chart, and headed toward it with the hope that in this one there would be no spectators. If it's this difficult to anchor smoothly, I thought to myself, what will it be like trying to back into a crowded berth? Tomorrow we're going to do some practice maneuvers, I vowed.

We tried again in the isolated anchorage we spotted. Watching the depth sounder carefully, we crept into 12 feet of water and dropped the anchor, which set firmly, then backed the boat toward the shore. As our cruising guide recommended and is often done in the Mediterranean for extra protection, I took a line to shore with the dinghy and fastened it to a tree on the water's edge. Before boarding SailingActs, I checked the depth under her keel. There were only about six inches -- too risky. Though very tired, we decided to reset the anchor a little farther out. I'm still not sure what happened next as Janet attempted to payout the line tied to shore while I winched up the anchor by hand, then motored forward in order to drop the anchor in deeper water. Somehow the line became tangled, and as we moved ahead, the rope suddenly whipped through Janet's bare hands and she screamed with pain and fear. It was terrible. She sat in the cockpit sobbing with the pain and frustration.

We eventually got the anchor reset and the boat tied off properly, but Janet was still in shock and pain. That evening wasn't quite as idyllic as we imagined it would be in our first anchorage. We had sailed only 16 miles that day but were physically and emotionally exhausted. And we still have several thousand miles and 14 months to go, I thought to myself.