AND SO TO GREECE

On Friday August 31st. we made our eleventh crossing of the Adriatic, starting at dawn from the small port of Santa Foce di Melendugno

Greece in sight, Orthoni Island

on the Italian east coast and heading due east into the rising sun.  We had a little breeze directly behind us so augmented the motor with the sails and were a little ahead of schedule when the first Greek islands came into view.

 

 

 

Sleepy village of Orthoni, the closest Greek island to Italy

We slipped into the tiny island of Orthoni on the extreme north west of Greece before we checked into customs.  Although the small harbour and anchorage was very full of boats we managed to find a spot over sand with only a few rocks and had a comfortable night with little wind.  We met a young Australian couple who have sold up everything, bought a yacht and with very little experience and two dogs plan to sail the Atlantic in November.  We are sure they will make it.

A misty motor along the north coast of Corfu

The next day we made for the island of Corfu and the huge marina of Gouvia on the east coast of the island.  We had been told that the formalities for bringing a boat into Greece were fearsome and that failure to abide by the rules risked all kinds of problems, and costs.  Thus, we were a little anxious about our first stop not being a port of entry. In the event it was remarkably easy and took less than an hour of walking between the Marina Office and the Port Police.  Furthermore, it only cost 50 Euro in comparison to the thousands they extract in Croatia.

Enormous Gouvia Marina, just north of Corfu town

We celebrated our arrival in Greece with a meal at the Marina restaurant and ordered the best bottle of wine on the menu.  Our recall from the last time we sailed these waters  in 1982 that the Greek wine was undrinkable, Retsina or Domestica.  Nowadays, however, even the house wines are palatable.

The Sunday was spent doing a massive clean up in preparation for the arrival of Terry’s sister Margaret and our friends Lizzy and Tony Dyson who have joined us regularly at this time over the past few years.  They arrived on a very late flight from England.

Fort on Corfu town headland

 

 

 

 

We sailed past Corfu Harbour, astonished to see Sailing Yacht A, owned by Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko. 468ft built in Kiel, designed by Dutch Dykstra Naval architect, Philippe Starck, it’s three 100 metre carbon masts built by British firm Magna Structures. Naturally there is a helipad on the bow

Endless beach umbrellas on Parga beach. Clear water

We set off south first thing the next morning and, in bright sunshine but no wind, motored thirty miles to a large bay on the Greek mainland called Parga. There were already a few boats in the bay and after a few attempts we managed to find a good spot where the anchor would hold in sand and far enough from the rocky outcrop which we discovered when we went for a swim.  Unfortunately, when the wind died completely at night  the swell coming into the bay from the sea caused the boat to roll from side to side so nobody had a good night’s sleep.

Burrata starter at anchor in Parga bay

Jostling with flotilla boats to enter Lefkas channel

The forecast for the next couple of days was for strong winds so we decided to head straight for our destination, the marina on the island of Lefkas.  We delayed our start from Parga to wait for the wind which duly arrived, and we had an exciting sail due south.  There is a swing bridge on the entry into Lefkas which opens on the hour.  We were sailing so fast that we were going to arrive too early so reduced sail to slow down.  However, we still had to wait for half an hour along with about 15 other boats all going through the bridge down the canal.

Bridge opens every hour, mostly!

Keeping our distance in current and 20 knot cross wind

Our first passage down the Lefkas canal in 20 knots of breeze did cause a little anxiety but we managed to turn into the Lefkas marina and find a secure berth with minimal problems.  It was then time to relax with a cocktail followed by a meal in the town.

 

So far so good

Skipper and crew worried?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Away from the main drag, perfect start to our Lefkas experience

 

Lefkas is very much a holiday resort full of tourists. The town itself is vibrant with many good restaurants and the marina is smart and well run.  We are seriously considering taking a year’s contract and making this our base for our 2019 season.

Taverna Eytyxia, Lefkas

Lefkas salt pans

As predicted the winds were strong all day and night so we stayed tied up securely in the marina and explored the town, the museum and the telephone shop.  We were spoiled in Croatia for internet which was excellent, always available and cheap.  Here in Greece it is very expensive so no more Netflix on rainy evenings.

Tranquil Bay, Nidri

There are several wrecks in this bay, slightly alarming

 

 

The next two days we spent exploring the island of Lefkas, anchoring first in Tranquil Bay opposite the town of Nidri where, as its name suggests, we had a very quiet night.  Then to Sivota, a bay on the south coast of the island where we tied up to a brand new pontoon.  We are learning all the time the differences between Croatia and Greece.  Here the yachting infrastructure, i.e. moorings, marinas and pontoons, is much less developed, but it is all about half the price.  However, Greece is a lot busier with many more charter yachts and flotillas.

Crew mucking around in boats

Nidri with mainland mountains in the distance

 

 

 

Tranquil Bay full

It really was a tranquil night at anchor

 

 

 

 

 

Sivota

Are those storm clouds over Sivota?

Saturday September 8th. was Julie’s birthday and one of our least successful of the season.  The plan was to anchor in one of the bays on the north coast of Meganissi, a small island to the east of Lefkas. After exploring a few bays, we tried to anchor in one where quite a few yachts were already riding comfortably.  We must have spent two fruitless hours trying to get the anchor to hold and when it finally did we found we were too close to the rocks at the edge.  As you tour around trying to find a space all the other boats are watching you and ready to shout at you if you are coming too close or likely to foul their anchor.  Stressful? Yes!

Furthermore, as we were struggling to find a spot a great storm cloud with flashes of lightening and thunder approached and looked very threatening.  In the event the worst of it passed to the south of us and we only had a little rain, but it didn’t decrease the level of stress much.

The storm has cleared, now for birthday cake

Finally, we gave it away and returned to Tranquil Bay, off Nidri, where we had been successful two nights ago.  The wind dropped, the sun came out we had birthday champagne, courtesy of our guests, and chilli con carne.

 

Evening light, back in Tranquil Bay

entering Lefkas channel from the south

The next day we made our way north, through the Lefkas canal and the swing bridge, which held us up for an hour, and a final perfect sail in 12 knots of breeze to Preveza, a large port on the mainland of Greece and close to an airport, where our guests left after a week on board.

Exotica in Preveza marina

Old charm in Preveza

Sailing into Preveza is interesting since it was in these exact waters on September 2nd. 31 BC that the Battle of Actium was fought between the fleets of Octavian, later Emperor Augustus, and the joint fleets of Anthony and Cleopatra.  Octavian won, and Anthony and Cleopatra retreated to Egypt and their deaths shortly afterwards.

We stayed in Preveza an extra day to unblock a toilet.  Terry spent the whole morning trying to access the motor on our electric toilet which had suddenly stopped working and tripped its fuse. It was hot, awkward and unrewarding, apart from being rather smelly.  A local plumber was working on an adjacent boat and agreed to come and look at it.  Within ten minutes and with the aid of a screwdriver and a wrench he had easily fixed the problem.  Terry gave him a good tip on top of his modest fee deciding to leave these jobs to the experts in future.

At anchor near Vonitsa

Our final ten days was spent exploring further anchorages in the middle Ionian.  We spent a couple of nights near Vonitsa a town with a tenth century castle which we explored for two euros and had completely to ourselves.

 

Vonitsa castle dating from 1060

Vonitsa castle

 

 

 

Vonitsa castle

Our bay in the distance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greek gum trees!

Unusual footbridge connecting the island over  shallow rocks

At last, aquamarine water in Orsomo Varko

 

 

Our last night of the 2018 season was spent in a beautiful bay with crystal clear water and good holding.  A great memory to take home and look forward to next year.

 

Evening light on mountains

Suspect this bay is chock a block in high season

 

 

 

 

 

 

The narrow channel into Preveza and Cleopatra marina

Into lifting dock

 

 

Exotica was slipped at Cleopatra Marina, Preveza on Tuesday September 18th. and after a night spent in a hotel in the town we took the plane back to England and thence home to Australia.

Lifting

A very clean bottom

Now for our slot

How much further?

Exorica’s home for the winter

No accounting for some peoples sense of humour

We missed the spectacular English summer, in true form our arrival has brought rain and cold winds but special family moments.

 

Exotica’s Travels 2018

Statistics for 2018 Cruise

Distance Travelled   1,319.8 nautical miles  in 60 days.                                           Engine hours – 275.9        Guests 7

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s