We rather fell in love with Montenegro and seriously considered moving the boat there for the winter. But the thought of doing the 250 nautical mile passage north again dissuaded us! The advantage of this area is that there are no charter companies or flotillas, A few charter yachts come down from Croatia but it is much quieter on the water than Greece, which is overrun with charter companies, which have moved recently from Turkey.
We’d hoped to have had a free week at the brand new five star Marina at Porto Novi, as it’s part of our marina’s group, but it was not officially open until the next week, however, they were very welcoming and gave us a free night alongside. It is likely to be very smart, quite expensive and targeting smaller boats than Porto Montenegro. Maybe next year….
We had four overnight stops on our return journey to Greece. Bar, the southernmost port in Montenegro, where we managed to check out via the harbourmaster and police with much less trouble than on our arrival here three weeks previously. It’s not an attractive town but will be remembered for tasting our first Negroni cocktail.
Our early start rewarded us with a pod of dolphins swimming under the boat on the 50nm passage to Durres, where in the the weeks since we were last here they have installed “lazy” bow lines for yachts to come stern to like marinas elsewhere. This was all very well, but the quay they have selected is high, for container ships, so getting on and off the boat in the normal manner was difficult as our passarelle was far too steep. However, a lash up with bargeboards across the pushpit and plenty of rope lifted the passarelle high enough for a very satisfactory and safe gangway. Only a little ingenuity required.
We left Durres at first light the next day in a heavy sea mist which gave us some concern as the channel away from the port is very narrow and there are shallows and rocks all around. Fortunately it lifted and there was no traffic anyway.
We motor-sailed for seven hours to the entrance of Vlore bay where we were hit a 15 knot headwind. We decided against bashing into it for another five hours to Sarande. Anchored in Sheen Janit, the little bay we’d lunched in with Jane and Jeff. It is sheltered, clear water, good holding and we had a comfortable night in the southerly.
Motored the entire 52nm to the final stop in Albania, Sarande, where we put down 80 metres of anchor chain coming astern to the ferry quay. Another high quay necessitating the elevated, botch up, passarelle. It was a beautiful evening so we finished off the orange Tanqueray on the foredeck in moonlight.
A 16nm motor across the channel to Gouvia on Corfu and Julie starts counting Schengen days again. This was not without its problems, we had to take a taxi to the commercial port to get Julie’s passport stamped.
Storms were forecast so we stayed an extra day to wash clothes and the boat. A bright, hot morning but the whole area including the marina was without electricity so while we hosed the decks we put the generator on to power the washing machine, finished hanging washing on deck when it began to gently, but persistently, rain Sahara sand!
The storm came at midnight, 36 knots from the north when it had been forecast to be a southerly. We were both out on deck in the pouring rain, had to put the motor on to tighten the bow line as the stern was being pushed onto the jetty. It proved the point that even if the weather is settled it is important to have all the lines appropriately placed and tight since storms can be fierce, however brief they may be.
As the promised NW wind didn’t eventuate, again we motor sailed the 67nm to our home port in Lefkas and were happy to be back in our snug berth and to stay still for a couple of days.
We also replaced the mainsail which was fifteen years old, had lost its shape and was tending to stick when furling. This is a dangerous complication of the in-mast furler. The new one works very sweetly so far.
On Saturday 13th. July we were joined by our friends Carmen and Anthony for ten days. Once again on guest’s first day the weather was poor, wet and windy, so we elected to stay put and they watched the Men’s Final at Wimbledon, all five hours of it.
We then set off for a tour of the islands of the southern Ionian, anchoring in our favourite Goat Bay.
Back to see Babis at Porto Spilia in Spartakhori.
Anchored with lines ashore in a bay in Ithaca
We met up with friends of Carmen and Anthony in the harbour at Sami, in Cephalonia.
We stayed there an extra day, hired a taxi and driver and explored the island, stopping at an amazing underground lake, the picturesque harbour at Assos and finally the beach at Myrtos. It was very hot so a swim was most welcome
A night in Sivota, just about the busiest harbour in Lefkada, followed by the quietest anchorage completed the trip and by Tuesday July 23rd. we were back home in Lefkas for cleaning and closing up the boat.
After a day of cleaning and packing we dined on board and were rewarded by a beautiful sunset.
We decided to leave the boat for the month of August as the Ionian is impossibly busy with all the Europeans on holiday. So, on Wednesday July 24th. we left with our guests and flew to London where we have a busy itinerary of seeing family but also the Proms, Holland Park Opera, Edinburgh Festival and Glyndebourne to look forward to.