Final Days of the 2022 Season

Brexit and the rules which ordain that Terry, too, may only stay in the Schengen area for ninety days has significantly limited our time on Exotica.  This year, because of our month in Berlin and Leipzig we have had only eight weeks aboard.

Nonetheless, the weather has been so perfect in Ionian Greece,  It has been the best year ever of our sailing odyssey.  Suffice to say, we no longer feel we have to do long distances to end up in a different place each winter.  We now have a permanent base in Lefkas which is the centre of a splendid cruising ground, with multiple islands and bays for anchoring and turquoise water for swimming.  It’s also important to stay in Greek waters to avoid the administrative complications UK registered boats now have after Brexit.  We have spent more nights at anchor than ever before and only paid for three nights in marinas.

Hotel Europa pool

Having returned from Corfu to avoid some inclement weather we decided to hire a car for a roadtrip to explore the Peloponnese.  It was too far to sail there but an easy drive by car, five days motoring over 850 km through this peninsula which forms the southernmost part of Greece, dividing the Ionian from the Aegean.  The Peloponnese abounds in sites of ancient city states, such as Sparta, Mycenae, Olympia and Argos, which made up the Greek civilization from about 1,500 BC to 400 BC.

Dinner under olive trees

We drove past the sprawling capitol, Patras, down the west coast to Ancient Olympia, where the ruins of many ancient buildings are extensive.  Of particular note is the Temple of Hera, where every four years they light the Olympic Torch.  This is done by the action of the sun concentrated by a parabolic mirror.  Julie met a shopkeeper who claimed that her brother was one of the athletes who lit the flame for four Olympic Games, including Sydney in 2000. Hotel Europa, once we wound our way high above the ancient sites through tiny backstreets of the town, was the most comfortable, friendliest family hotel one could find. Balconies overlooking a beautiful pool and taverna under olive trees with mountains in the background.

Breakfast terrace view







Ancient Olympia site

Unprepossessing famous site







Stadium statistics

The First Olympic Stadium








Vast site

Archeologists at work







Model of Ancient Olympia

George’s lamp, actually lit the flame










Nafplio from Palamidi Fortress built by the Venetians

From Ancient Olympia we motored east across the width of the Peloponnese, through high mountains with storms brewing (thankfully we were on the edge of one ferocious storm which had us quite worried we may have done hail damage to our expensive rental!) to Nafplio, a small but attractive seaport which was for a very brief time, the first capital of Greece when it became an independent country from the Turks in the mid 1800’s.  Athens soon stepped in and took over.  Nafplio is now a busy tourist town with two impressive fortresses high above it.  However, the hotel we stayed in was large and soulless.

Sunset over Nafplio


The highlight was our visit to the excavated site of the Mycenae, particularly as Julie is attending the opera Elektra in a couple of weeks. Once the most powerful of the city states and the starting point of much myth and legend.  The leader of the Greeks in the Trojan war came from Mycenae and the ruling House of Atreus was steeped in blood.  Some of the tombs to be found on the site are credited with legendary names of Clytemnestra and Aegisthus but there is no supporting evidence for this.


Agamemnon’s gold mask

The Lion Gate, how did they know about lions in 1500 BC










How did they know about lions in 1500BC Greece?

Rich farmland covered in olive groves and vineyards









Clytemnestra’s tomb, maybe!

The entrance

Beehive vault









Immense size

Gathering storm, time to leave. An enormous downpour flooding roads on way back to the hotel.









New motorway between Rio Bridge and Vonitsa cut the journey considerably


We returned to Exotica for our final ten days and immediately took off to our favourite bay, Ormos Varko, which we call Goat Bay.  This time we saw plenty of goats to justify the name.  The water is shallow and clear, the anchor holding excellent and the music from the beach bar only really tiresome on a Saturday evening.  Otherwise, it is heaven.

Magical Goat Bay


Watching Mahler 3, Deborah Humble singing with Queensland Youth Orchestra, from the comfort of Exotica’s saloon.










Storm building over Polairos

The only uncomfortable time in the whole seven weeks was the next night spent at anchor in a wide and shallow bay near Palairos on the mainland.  Just before dark a huge electrical storm arose from the mountains and all we could do was put out a further 30 metres of anchor chain and wait for it.  Fortunately, although it rained heavily the wind didn’t get above 30 knots and we were comfortable and safe.

Storm has passed but a windy night at anchor


Downside was it was impossible to get to the excellent taverna on the beach, so the cook had to rustle up a meal made up of left overs on board, Salami Risotto, not bad at all.




Lamanaki marina Vliho Bay


Our final night was spent in Ormos Vliho where we tied up to a jetty belonging to the taverna across the street and had an excellent meal on a deck with water lapping, before a quiet night.


V good food and charming service


Early start past Nidri















Last motor up Lefkas channel for 2022


Now back in Lefkas for three days of washing and cleaning and all the jobs necessary to put Exotica to bed for the winter.




Eye of the storm





Lightening at 0430 hrs











Our home in Lefkas Marina


On Sunday, Julie returns to Australia direct from Athens while Terry will be in England for ten days visiting friends and relatives.

A wonderful seven weeks cruising

Eight on Board and an Octopus

This has been the most amazing summer in Greece. Never have we had such continuous fine weather. Day after day of warm sun with a little breeze in the afternoon and quiet, still nights. We’ve spent most at anchor in bays, some solitary and some, such as Lakka on the island of Paxos, full of at least 50 boats. Although sheltered it’s very shallow there, we anchor in 1.5m under the keel, and I dread to think what it must be like if there is a strong blow.

Culture at Lefkas Museum

A night in Lefkas to put the new washing machine into action. Couldn’t get into our favourite tuna taverna so walked along to the end of the pier and found a taverna serving nearly as good tuna and sardines. Next to us was a stage enclosed within the museum walls where began a production. We were fascinated and slipped inside, although there was a full house, and discovered they were performing Aeschylus – Prometheus Bound in ancient Greek. It was very polished and professional. A bit like having the Royal Shakespeare Company performing off the pier at Southend.

As a change from our favourite Goat Bay we anchored in the next bay at the top of Pogoina Bay on the mainland, a long beach along this wide bay, lots of room and good holding in sand, although Julie hadn’t found her turquoise water. We spent two nights, eating at Spiro’s taverna as the food was so good. On Sunday there was heavy music from the shore, but Monday was very peaceful.

Palairos Marina.

We then put into the little harbour of Palairos, a slightly rickety jetty but the fee was only 10 Euros plus 5 for electricity and water. As well as the innumerable Greek restaurants on the harbourfront we had been told there was an excellent Bangladshi one which was highly recommended, so instead of our regular moussaka and calamari we had chicken madras and beef dopiaza, although we asked for the madras to be hot, we should have asked for Vindaloo. Eating curry with the water lapping beside you was a treat.

Curry in Palairos.










Wood Bay – Kalamos


After a roly night in beautiful Woods Bay on Kalamos, we returned to our base in Lefkas to collect our son





With our Canadians en route to Ithaca

Edward and his wife Charmaine who were joining us for a week. Their first day out we had a grand sail south to the island of Ithaca and returned to Aeton Bay, deep in the heart of the island with the clearest water and a sandy bottom, it is perfect. We could hardly understand why we were almost the only boat anchored there.

Octopus on board



During the night there was short squall, and we thought a towel might have gone overboard. There was a flat shape on the seabed and Edward dived down to retrieve it only to discover it was a sheet of black plastic. He shook it out, brought it on board and bagged it for disposal. We were all swimming when Julie let out a scream as an octopus crawled out of the bag and headed along the cockpit towards the saloon. Edward quickly grabbed the fishing net we have for retrieving things that fall overboard and scooped the creature up before transferring it again to the ocean. Perhaps it should have gone on the barbecue.

Octopus turning itself into a rock








Octopus on the table


A storm in Ithaca town cleared in time for us to dinghy ashore and enjoy what we could have caught!

At anchor – Ithaca.











Flamingo – moonlight on Varco


We couldn’t miss sharing a night at anchor in Goat Bay with Ed and Char especially as in high summer there is a beach bar with varying volumes of “duff duff” music, which they assured us was from the 90’s. They swam ashore to savour the atmosphere. The brisk NW afternoon breeze dropped for a perfect full mooned night.



Sunrise – Lefkas Channel






We then made our way north towards Corfu, stopping for two nights in the charming but exceedingly popular Lakka, on the north eastern tip of Paxos. It is hard to find a place to anchor which is not too close to other boats and when you find a spot you are then watching out that someone else doesn’t park too close to you. A bit of anchor rage at times.

Anchor rage – Lakka

















From Lakka, we motored 31nm to the huge marina on the island of Corfu at Gouvia where after midnight Terry’s nephew Duncan, wife Nayeli and children Toren and Isla arrived. This is the first time we have had eight on board, luckily the early evening violent storm cleared and the children slept very happily in the cockpit.

A sailor yet

Exotica in Mandraki

Corfu Fort above Marina Mandraki

Our gentle sail towards Porto Mandraki, a delightful marina at the foot of the fort at Corfu, was threatened by a fast developing black cloud in the north moving quickly towards us so sails down and a very quick entry to our safe harbour. Fortunately, there’s a stony beach which the children loved and reportedly the best taverna in town where we had a delightful family meal.

Look at that Sea Bass






Lunch on Exotica

Goodbye is always hard







It’s always a bit sad leaving Mandraki marina but motored to Ipsos bay, north of Corfu town for a swim and lunch on board and were delighted to see a pod of dolphins playing around the boat. The first we have seen this year.

Dolphins off Corfu










It’s my flamingo


We spent two more nights at anchor with the Mexican family before they left us in a small marina at Benitses south of Corfu so they could explore the town.


Mexican breakfast.







We’d had the best fun with Canadians.

From there after a night at anchor in the far south of the island we motor sailed back to base in Lefkas as some rather windy weather is forecast for the next few days. Arriving for the 4pm bridge opening in 20 knots NW on a Friday was a nightmare. At least 30 boats negotiated the channel at snails pace, then caused a bottle neck at the entrance of the marina, waiting to fill up with fuel at the end of their charter. It was chaotic, so we slipped past and anchored at the south end of the channel in good holding and had a quiet night before returning to G25 to clean inside and out and do eight loads of washing!!





From the Sublime to the Serene. 

Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig and the Oper celebrated this fact by doing something which as far as anyone knows has never been done before. Namely to perform all the operas he wrote in their chronological order. This included the three early works which are hardly ever done.

Richard Wagner at 17, seen at a pictorial exhibition of his life from 1813 to 1834.

Early compositions 1832

This festival, not to be missed, continued to delight us. It was a feat of determination and organisational skills for Leipzig Oper to perform these immense productions as most nights they had to replace singers, musicians and even a conductor due to Covid. But always, the show went on.



Hayllar Tours saw to our every need and guided the unfortunate couple who contracted Covid. The inspiring talks by the Wagner Scholar, Heath Lees, gave us new insights into the music and side tours to Dresden and charming smaller towns such as Quedlingburg, Torgau and Halle were full of Reformation history.

Torgau Schloss, 164 spiral steps tin right tower

Climing towers at Torgau Schloss









The view from the top

Attending Rienzi

A highlight was arranging an after party at the conclusion of The Ring for Stefan Vinke (Siegfried) who brought along Lise Lindstrom (Brunnhilde) who in turn brought along Falk Struckmann (Klingsor in Parsifal). The Steigenberger doesn’t close the bar while they still have patrons so we were there until 2am with Stefan!

Siegfried and Brunnhilde relaxing after Gotterdammerung

Stephan Vinke meeting the Hayllar group

Last opera of thirteen.

Gotterdammerung curtain call from our front row seat.

Paying homage at the Fiestspelhaus on July on July 15th.


Our original plan to return to Berlin and then a flight to Preveza had to be abandoned as a result of the catastrophic state of European airlines where our Easyjet flight was cancelled then, yes, our Lufthansa Munich to Preveza was cancelled, so another day spent finding a Condor flight, which wasn’t cancelled. Thus, we hired a car and drove from Leipzig to Munich. Stopped off at Bayreuth to pay our respects at the Festspielhaus, the opera house which Wagner built for performances of his own works

Dinner with Juergen at Landshut, our last night in Germany

In Munich we met our friend Juergen who took us out to dinner at Landshut on the banks of the River Isar before returning to the airport hotel for a 6am flight to Preveza.  We were horrified by the length of the queues for planes at 4.30 am at Munich airport.  Fortunately, because we had so much baggage, Julie upgraded the baggage allowance which gave us priority boarding, so we were able to bypass the queues, otherwise, there is no doubt we would have missed the plane.

Back to Exotica July 16th

On Saturday 16th July, we returned to Exotica where we will remain until returning home. Sailand had left replacing the stern gland to the last minute, found they needed to lift the boat onto the crane to do this then returned Exotica back to her berth the day before we arrived, we then found fresh-ish water in the bilge which took two days of engineers trying to trace. We resolved that there was residual water from the stern gland leak which has eventually dried. We also replaced the old dinghy, which had too many leaks, with a brand new one, which also appears to have a leak. Is this the story of our lives!

Finally, we were able to set off to some of our favourite bays. The weather this year has been spectacular. In all our experience we have never had such settled conditions. Day after day of hot sunshine but very little wind so a good deal of motoring and only a few moments with the sails up.  However, the water is warm, 28C, and we fall into it when we get too hot.

Safely tied up at Dimitiri’s Taverna, Vathy

On Sunday July 24th Angela Bush arrived for six days.  We anchored in turquoise bays on the islands of Kastos and Ithaca.  Anchored stern to Dimitry’s Taverna in Vathi, main town in Ithaca we laid out all our chain and some warp which required considerable lateral thinking to get it back into the chain locker when we departed the following morning. Then we found that we had snared a bit of an underwater rope which caught on the anchor itself. Terry eventually cut this away with the breadknife.  All of this to the amusement of the flotilla on the jetty.

Dimitri’s pretty idyllic, with Angela

Angela left us on July 30th, so to Palairos Bay on the Greek mainland with Spiro’s delightful taverna on the beach. Unfortunately, being Sunday the beach bars were blasting out loud music which rather diminished the pleasure of the place, however we stayed an extra day as Monday was peaceful and serene and Spiro’s lamb chops at Taverna Paralia were to die for.

We have a few days to ourselves before our son Edward and wife Charmaine arrive from Canada to be followed by our Mexican relations whom we’ll meet in Corfu.


After 33 months enforced absence, we finally returned to Greece and Exotica on June 7th 2022.

The journey from Sydney to Athens was remarkably pain free on Qatar Airlines, stopping only briefly at Doha. 

Sydney from the air.

We then collected our car at Athens airport and drove five hours to Lefkas.  We briefly checked into the three star Ianos Hotel situated in the Lefkas Marina before, heart-in-mouth making our way to Pontoon G25 to inspect the boat which has languished, neglected by us, for all this time.

Arrival on board.

Imagine our joy and relief when we found Exotica to be in beautiful condition.  Neighbouring boat owners told us that they had ten workers beavering away all the day cleaning inside and out.  The boat was still stripped out with no sails, awnings or carpets but the decks were pristine, the inside dust free and the inox sparkling.  We sat on board and marvelled that all was well, then celebrated with the traditional mussels and a bottle of rosé.

Things then took a turn for the worse as we both had a very severe stomach upset – perhaps the mussels.  Were both laid low for the next three days which, fortunately in the hotel rather than on the boat.  During this time, we also discovered a leak from the stern gland – this is the rubber device through which the propeller shaft enters the water and which is supposed to stop water coming into the boat.  This hasn’t been replaced since 2013 so it will be before we set off for any serious trips.

The next few days were spent unpacking and stowing our possessions, then hoisting the sails into position and the intelligence test which is rigging the dodger and bimini.  Jobs which would take a professional twenty minutes but two hours for us to figure out.  It is amazing how much we have forgotten about how the boat works.

Finally, on Monday June 13th we set off for a sea trial. A beautiful day with absolutely no wind. We motored round the famous island of Scorpios paying our respects to the rock which we managed to hit in 2019. We hoisted the sails just to make sure they worked properly and quickly stowed them again before anchoring for lunch and a swim. All Julie’s skills of reversing into the marina berth in a side wind were amply remembered and demonstrated, no wonder she is Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s Yachtswoman of the Year!

Anchoring in Nikiana Bay.

During this time, we also met up with Jill and John Conroy, friends and fellow sailors from Sydney who have bought a fifty-two foot boat in Athens and are en route to Corsica.

After just over a week we have Exotica back to normal, only the stern gland to fix and so we motored back to Athens in the hire car.

We had a night at the Sofitel Airport Hotel before our early flight to Berlin where we had three days.  Two operas and a concert by the Berlin Philharmonie thanks to Sally and Antony Jeffrey plus meeting one of our crew from times past, Ralf Ladenthin who is now a resident in Berlin but planning a world tour.

Lunch at Hopfingerbrau Berlin with Ralf.
At Berlin Philharmonie

From Berlin we had a terrifyingly fast driver to Leipzig for the Wagner Festival 2022.  Every opera Richard Wagner wrote – 13 in all – over a month.  The first three operas, written at age 20, 22 and 24 are considered to be his immature works are not included in the general canon of his work. Rarely performed, they had much merit and gave us great pleasure. Chronologically followed by The Flying Dutchman and Tannhauser, the latter a challengingly controversial production.

We return to Exotica in three weeks, provided Luftansa does not cancel our flight, as Easyjet did, to cruise the islands of the Southern Ionian.

Last Few Days of the 2019 Season

Lunch in Corfu Town


We celebrated Julie’s birthday on September 8th in Corfu.

Sunrise Corfu Town

Dinner at Imperial Hotel, Kommeno, Corfu

Sudden downpour off Corfu south east coast

Monday September 9th we set off on the return trip from Corfu south to our home port in Lefkas Marina assisted by Anna and Tim, our final crew for the year.  Shortly after leaving Corfu Town we were hit by a nasty little squall with driving rain and 20 knot wind.  Visibility was so poor that we had everyone on deck keeping a lookout, all were soaked to the skin.

It passed, the sun came out and we had a fine sail back to our favourite harbour, Lakka, on the north east coast of the island of Paxos.

an now to inflate the birthday present

Sheer bliss in Lakka

This large, sheltered bay is very shallow, you anchor in 1-2 metres under the keel, in aquamarine water, which appears to get more opaque as the water gets warmer during the summer. A perfect spot to inflate Julie’s birthday present, a large pink flamingo which she has always coveted but Terry refused to countenance on board.  After falling off a few times she managed to mount it and lay happily for hours.

Two nights at anchor in Lakka is a must as it is such a pleasant place and quiet once the charters and flotillas have left in the morning.

Easy to find Exotica in a busy bay now!

Large flotilla in Mononisi

Then on to Mongonissi, this is only a few miles further south on Paxos but took quite some time to get there as we were sailing into the teeth of a strong southerly under grey skies.  Thus, we would sail across towards the mainland of Greece and tack back towards the island making little progress to the south.  Exotica is not a greyhound to windward.

At last we have found Greek dancing, the owner is right into it

Tim getting into the spirit of Greek dancing

Mongonissi harbour is deep and not much room to anchor, embarrassingly, we spent a long time failing to find a comfortable anchorage and ended up coming stern to on the quay.  A large flotilla, tied up beside us but it meant the charming, busy restaurant put on Greek dancing which Julie and Tim joined in with enthusiasm.  No plates were smashed though.

A swim before leaving Paxos, after the flotilla has gone

We motor sailed for the 33nm passage back to Lefkas, timing our approach to the swing bridge at the head of the canal for four pm.  The bridge only opens on the hour and doesn’t wait for stragglers, so timing is important.

It’s been a tradition this season to end each cruise with a night at anchor in Goat Bay

We motored down the Lefkas Canal to our favourite bay, Varko or Goat Bay, for our final night at anchor.  As ever the water is clear, temperature 26.8 degrees C at this time if the season with excellent holding so we celebrated with a swim in the warm water and washed down the last of the provisions with Greek wine.

The hills of Lefkada and Meganisi in the early morning

Full moon over Lefkas harbour on our last night

On September 13th. we had a short but pleasant sail back to our berth in Lefkas Marina and started the big clean up, much helped by Anna and Tim.

Three days we spent packing up the boat.  Sadly, our beloved washing machine died.  It appeared that a filter was blocked but when Terry, with some difficulty, extracted the filter he found it full of blades and rusty metal which indicated that a pump had disintegrated.  So, there was a lot of hand washing, sheets to the laundry and request to our engineers to source and replace it.

Exotica safely in berth G25 in Lefkas Marina


On September 16th we left Exotica sitting in her winter berth and trust that our guardianage company will do a significantly better job than their colleagues last year at Preveza, a few miles away.

This is the end of our seventh season, and it has not gone quite the way we expected. Schengen visa restrictions for Julie meant we did much more mileage than we intended but the passages to Athens in May and to Albania and Montenegro in July were exciting and interesting. We have also had many more guest crew this year which has added great variety and pleasure to the various passages.

Our plan for 2020 is to sail the boat north to Montenegro, via Albania, and we have booked a berth in a brand new Marina there. We’ll use this as a base to explore Montenegro and the islands of southern Croatia. Terry is looking for a crew to help him sail there in late May so if you are interested please get in touch.


Statistics for the 2019 Season

Travelling Days  –  57

Distance  –  1508 nautical miles

Guests – 14


First night family gathering at Overways


Our planned family reunion eventuated with James and Nicole flying from Cairns and Edward and Charmaine from Sun Peaks to spend four days at Bovey Castle in Devon and three nights in Covent Garden. So special to have us all together.


Bovey Castle, Dartmoor, Devon. Complete with 18 hole golf course

Vast grounds and gardens







Never too old to try something new, clay pigeon shooting while the boys play golf

Family four after 10 years

High tea, a treat in every way

Negotiated single track lanes to North Bovey, a quaint village of thatched cottages

At the practice range

Dining in our very elegant lodge

Impressive interior design

Jones, Clarke Sunday lunch in Buckinghamshire

From Dartmoor to Covent Garden after a rare family gathering at Overways

Airbnb sometimes comes up trumps, this one in Covent Garden was super


Curry party in Covent Garden

Last pub lunch together in Covent Garden, before James and Nicole return to Cairns


Escaping Greece in August

We left Exotica in her berth in Lefkas Marina on July 24th.  Julie, with her Australian passport, is only allowed ninety days in a one hundred and eighty period in the Schengen area, so we returned to England for the month of August.  We also hoped to avoid the particularly hot weather and the crowds of Italians, Germans and French who all take their holidays at the same time and swamp the Ionian Sea.

Dinner alfresco at the Edwards in Worthing


We made good use of our time visiting friends in the south of England who took us to the church we were married in nearly 40 years ago.  It is exactly the same as it was then, but since it is a Norman construction, what is 40 years?

Worthing beach on the hottest day, 38C

We were here nearly 40 years ago

St Mary’s West Chiltington, West Sussex

The Rectors since 1274, ours was 1974 Kenneth Lucas


Ancient wall paintings in X1 century St Marys Church West Chiltington


A summer walk along the Thames at Richmond


We stayed in Richmond and went to a Prom and an opera at Holland Park.  We watched polo at the Ham Polo Club as guests of our friend James.

Strauss at the Proms, Royal Albert Hall

Holland Park Opera, a new experience for us. A double bill, Il Segrreto di Susanna by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari and Iolanta by Tchaikovsky







Ham Polo Club

Lunching with James and friends at Ham Polo Club








Marlborough College chapel


Then to Marlborough College, Terry’s old school, where we spent a week at the Summer School there.  We both joined the singing class.  In the morning we sang ‘The Armed Man’ – a modern mass in traditional musical style and in the afternoon Music for Pleasure, to Terry’s horror, it was jazz, Elton John, the Lion King and Danny Boy!  He wanted to quit after the first session and do ‘Liberal Democracy Since the War’ but Julie suggested he use this opportunity to do something completely alien to him and swing with the rest of the group, and he did!

Inspirational interior of Marlborough chapel

The Court , Terry’s boarding house, B1, far left

The College rose garden next to the ancient Mound




The Refectory, feeding 900 three meals a day. Might not look like fine dining but the food certainly was.

Chocolate fountain, seriously naughty








Harry the Piano, a truly talented cabaret act. Our first night at Marlborough College Summer School. Every evening there was diverse entertainment.

Sensational performance of Eugene Onegin from Berlin Kommischeoper. Directed by Barry Koskie


Then to the Edinburgh Festival where we had concerts and more opera.  The weather in Scotland was dire, cold and wet so we really did escape the heat of the Mediterranean.




Fireworks every night for the Military Tattooo

Edinburgh Castle from Grassmarket

Jones family at Overways


Back to Buckinghamshire and Terry’s sister Margaret who had all her family at home including those who live in Mexico, so it was a great reunion. Here we watched Terry’s niece’s husband play cricket at Blenheim Palace on a perfect sunny day.

Nayeli at Hartwell Hall, Buckinghamshire


Ladies who tea, celebrating family birthdays at Hartwell Hall

James Garlick playing cricket at Blenheim Palace








Terry, James and Deborah on a perfect Glyndebourne evening

James Deborah and Terry at Glyndebourne lake

Two glorious days at Glyndebourne where it was at its very best.  Splendid opera productions of The Magic Flute and Rinaldo, magnificent weather and great company made these truly memorable occasions.  Just about the most civilised place in the world.

Sporting our new hats on a sunny Glyndebourne afternoon.

Seaford beach, near Newhaven, on a late summers day


Last night of Glyndebourne season foreworks



Filling in time before the afternoon Glyndebourne performance, a visit to the seaside, British style.





Bathing boxes on Seaforth beach

Hastings quaint second hand bookshop which serves wonderful Thai food on the side!


We always look forward to time with our dear friends in Brede, East Sussex. We all travelled up to London for the theatre, bought Cob nuts, Kent version of hazelnuts, in the local farmers market and a day in Rye.


Set of the excellent Captain Correllis Mandolin


Lizzy and Tony Dyson at Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End

Lamb House with beautiful gardens. Home of Henry James from 1895. Originally owned by James Lamb. King George 1 slept here in 1726 after his ship from Hanover to England was forced to stop nearby during a ferocious storm








The dining room

Lamb House, Rye, home to many Mayors of Rye since 1722







Fascinatingl map of the waterways in southern Kent during the X1V century. Now fields and small rivers.

Dinner for 16 in Overways garden


A last summers evening with the Jones clan.





The Jones offspring, aged 3, 5, 5, 7, 9, 9, 11


Anchoring in Port Leone, Kalamos. Much warmer than in June

On Wednesday August 24th. we met our friends Deborah, Bruce and James at Heathrow and took the flight to Preveza and re-joined Exotica in Lefkas.  We were pleased to see that the work on the boat that we had organised with a company at the Marina had been done satisfactorily in marked contradistinction to the over-winter boatyard whose workmanship was  universally dreadful.

Our favourite taverna in Lefkas, La Vinaria, the best grilled tuna

The only surviving building from the 1953 earthquake which destroyed houses and the fresh water system. This church has worshippers from nearby Kalamos town every Sunday


We were thus able to set off the next day and motored to Goat Bay, one of our favourites, to anchor overnight.  The water is clear and warm and just perfect for a late night swim.

The next day we had a grand sail to the island of Kalamos and anchored again for the night.


A provisioning stop in Port Kalamos

Such a pretty port. Kalamos






Then lunch at Georges taverna

Bay of emerald water on northern tip if Kalamos, an afternoon swim

Back to Porto Spilia, to enjoy Babi’s charm and food on the beach


The weather was perfect as we motored out of Spartachori north towards Lefkas and the canal to the north.  Suddenly there was a loud bang and the boat shook violently.  Two more bangs and then silence.  We had hit a rock right in the middle of open water.  Looking more closely, it was well marked on the chart but there is no navigational marker which really is pretty bad.  We called into Lefkas and had a diver go down and inspect the damage as well as an engineer to have a look at the keel bolts but Exotica is built very soundly and there was no significant damage except to our amour propre.




Our rocky bump just off Scorpios!







At anchor in Mongonisis at sunset

We continued north the same day and after 33nm we anchored in Mongonisis at the south east tip of Paxos. A small bay popular with flotillas who line the shallow village wall.

Mongonisi Beach Bar, James disappointed no Greek dancing or plate smashing on Sunday night!

Lakka, aquamarine waters

Antipaxos has a famous bay of emerald water, Agrapidia, visited daily by hordes of tourist boats with one hour slots to allow their 200 passengers to swim in the idyllic sea. There is enough room for sailing boats as well, but the day was overcast and not at it’s best so we anchored for lunch then motored to our favourite Paxos  anchorage at Lakka.

Akis Bar, Lakka. Thank you crew for a delicious dinner

There are always many boats here but somehow everyone manages to fit in.  We took the dinghy across to the town which is charming in a touristy way.  The ladies discovered some very fine dress shops, serious retail therapy.

Mandraki Marina tucked under walls of Corfu old fort

We dropped our guests off in the picturesque marina Mandraki under the walls of the castle at Corfu Town.  By no means the world’s best marina where the electricity was dodgy, the wi-fi unreliable and the fresh tap water, with which Terry filled the tanks, distinctly brown.  He had to empty the tanks completely, flush and refill at next marina to get clean water.  Worst of all our washing machine packed up….tragic. Nonetheless it was a pretty place and had a surprisingly excellent taverna.

Mandraki Marina tucked under walls of Corfu old fort

NAOK, Nautical Club of Corfu, excellent dining overlooking Exotica at anchor

Two days later Anna and Tim joined us in Corfu for the return journey to Lefkas and the end of our seventh season.  We are currently back in Lakka, which is even busier with yachts but still just as beautiful.


Return to Greece

Our tour around the wonderful Bay of Kotor

Exotica in Herceg Novi harbour

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.

From the highest of Herceg Novi’s three
castles looking towards Tivat

The old town square Herceg Novi

Where Operosa Montenegro Festival is held each August








A busy harbour, just enough room for a few visiting yachts

Magnolia trees in Herceg Novi, right next to the international water polo centre

The brand new Porto Novi marina

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….

At sunset

It won’t be empty like this next year, Exotica in the distance

Maybe our proposed berth for 2020







Bambi Beach at night

Cooler to depart Bar in the early morning, and quicker!


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.

Durres Archeological Museum, it is not a charming city

The inventor of alternate gangways

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.

A bit of a climb from the aft seats, thank goodness for pilates.


Sea mist over Durres harbour. The previous day there was thick sea fog until lunchtime



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.


Sunrise leaving Durres harbour

Calm evening in beautiful Sheen Janit before the strong southerly came in at midnight


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.

One mooring buoy for day trippers from Vlore

This 62ft cat had been beside us in Durres last night

On the ferry wharf in Sarande


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.

Ancient pillar on Sarande beach

Back to Restaraunt Limani for mussels

AIS can tell us the Aida Blu passenger ship will be .573nm away from us in 08.30 minutes


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.

Aida Blu in the distance, we slowed down to avoid a collision

You see some unusual sights on the water. this “boat” called Guilty had a British flag!



Then we found Guilty at home in Gouvia

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.

The headland of castles in Corfu are stunning in the early morning light

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.

Gentlemans Final at Wimbledon. Epic five hour match. Note the score, this is in the fifth set tie breaker. Federer did have his chances in the fourth set!

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.

Welcome dinner at La Vinari, our favourite tuna. Mid July and still need sleeves.

Full moon over Goat Bay aka Varko Bay


We then set off for a tour of the islands of the southern Ionian, anchoring in our favourite Goat Bay.

Unforecast NE blew into Spartahori causing an uncomfortable surge on the dock. Boats turned away, too dangerous to dock

Breakfast with a view of calm waters in Spartahori



Back to see Babis at Porto Spilia in Spartakhori.

Spartahori bouganvillia

Crew on watch en route to Ithaca

Anchored in a shallow, narrow passage between the two bays of Pera Pigadhi, SE Ithaca. Stern lines ashore


Anchored with lines ashore in a bay in Ithaca


Fascinating rock formations, came alive at night

Anthony raised the bar dressing for dinner on board, Terry was forced to change into a collared shirt!




Pera Pigadhi, this is Julie’s kind of water

Terry disconnecting shore lines

Sami Harbour, SE Cephalonia


We met up with friends of Carmen and Anthony in the harbour at Sami, in Cephalonia. 


Efemia to the north of Sami Bay

Melissanin underground lake near Sami. The water comes from Agristole, 24 klm underground and enters Sami Bay 2klm from here. In ancient times the “roof” of the mountain fell at this point making it shallow and crystal clear


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




Stalagmites and Stalagtites abound

Magical cave







Ancient town of Assos on NW coast of Cephalonia, untouched by earthquakes

Popular sheltered harbour




Assos overlooked by a Roman castle

Faded glory, ripe for renovation



I have never swum in water so turquoise. They say it’s a sandy beach but it’s not. There is a thick layer of big pebbles at the water’s edge making it difficult to walk on. Then it becomes deep very quickly causing rough waves breaking right on the beach in any wind. We were lucky to be there on a windless day.

Mirtos Beach. The finest stones make it look like sand further up the beach. Huge traffic jams on the tiny road and jammed carpark.




Dining on Sami waterfront we saw Valhalla arriving

The yacht in the distance was 185ft, I wonder what they were eating tonight



This fisherman was in the same spot each morning, Sami




Our anchor came up without being fouled leaving Sami Harbour

WE couldn’t get a free berth at 12 Gods, but the food was spectacular. They’ve promised us a berth next time

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.


Wasps are a problem on some islands, in Sivota they say if you burn Greek coffee it will repel them????

This is what happens when people don’t put their anchor down properly, they drag onto other boats, even in calm conditions….charterers!





My vegetarian skills are improving

Our last night at sea with Carmen and Anthony, back to Varko bay, the other side of Goat Bay. A brisk NW from 4-7pm then a calm night







Early morning swim felt like bathing in velvet

Sun setting and moon rising over Lefkas port


After a day of cleaning and packing we dined on board and were rewarded by  a beautiful sunset.




Music in the cockpit, sunset on the foredeck

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.

From Montenegro back to Greece.

Through Albania to Montenegro

Course of Exotica – Lefkas to Montenegro

When we took a marina berth in Lefkas for a year we had the intention of doing less sea miles than in previous years and merely pottering around the Ionian Sea exploring the local harbours and anchorages.  This was not to be as Julie’s problem with the Schengen visa (she can only stay in EU countries for 90 days in any 180-day period) has meant that we have sailed Exotica from Greece to Montenegro via Albania.

Kotor, early morning cruise ships arrival. Exotica the only blue yacht in far left of photo

We are currently in the delightful town of Kotor, nestled between huge mountains in this charming inland sea.

Ancient city of Nicopolis

Prior to this journey we had a week around the Ionian with our friend Robert Mitchell. The day he arrived was stormy so we left Exotica secured in her berth and took a taxi to Nicopolis, just north of Preveza, where Emperor Augustus built a city to celebrate his victory over Anthony and Cleopatra at Actium in 31 BC.

Ancient city of Nicopolis

Nicopolis amphitheatre being renovated








The next day we sailed to Spatakhori on the island of Meganissy where we tied up alongside the powerboat of friends we had first met in Malta in 2015. 

One Life to Live, motor boat end of jetty and Exotica meet up in the stunning bay on Meganissi





Met up with Debs and Eric in Spartohori, Haven’t seen them since 2015, just as much fun

Stunning ceiling and light in Spartohori’s beautiful church perched on the edge of the town cliffs

Our first time in Cephalonia, beautiful town of Eufemia


We joined them again the next day in Eufemia on the island of Cephalonia for another fine taverna meal.


Chelsea defeated Arsenal 5-2 in the European Cup final, watched with Eric and Debs on Exotica

Farewell mussels to Robert at Lefkas Marina



Back in Lefkas we were joined by John Studdert and Dennis Mather and made a few short trips, the weather began dull and cool but warmed up as the week progressed. 


We anchored one night in Petala, the first night at anchor on our passage to Athens, a tad warmer this time. Dennis and John swam….then another night back in Spatakhori at the wonderfully welcoming Taverna Porto Spilia

Still chilly at end of first week in June, Eufemia, Cephalonia.

Exotica packed up for our 10 days away




We then left the boat for an opera trip.



Terry braving the rain for the traditional photo at Longborough

The Grahams elegant home, Longborough

First to England and a night at Longborough, a favourite country house opera where we saw the new production of Rheingold which is the start of their next complete Ring Cycle.  It was the most bitterly cold, wet and miserable night imaginable but the music was sensational.  The production, under the direction of Amy Lane and the baton of Anthony Negus, was a breath of fresh air. The choreography, lighting and costumes made the most of the small stage and talented cast. It bodes well for the full Ring in 2023.

Excitement before Das Rheingold at Longborough, a taste of the imaginative set

Wonderful acoustic

The following day we were off to Budapest for the complete Ring.  This production, which we saw in 2008, is semi-staged, it was the cast of some of the world’s best Wagner singers in Stefan Vinke, Catherine Foster, Stuart Skelton and Gerhard Siegel that enticed us back. The Palace of Arts is famous for it’s acoustics, musically it is the best Ring we have seen but we felt the staging lacked imagination.  Unusually the four operas which comprise the Ring were performed on four consecutive nights, this is hard on the singers, musicians and the audience sitting on seats where the upholstery has sunken somewhat.

Stuart Skelton, Siegmund; Catherine Foster, Brunnhilde; Stefan Vinke, Siegfried; and Albert Pesendorfer, Hunding and Hagan met with the Habsburg Heritage group run by Robert Avery

Architectually pleasing, the brass play the fist few bars of the next act to call the audience into the theatre





The Palace of Arts, Budapest

View of Danube from the Palace of Arts

The Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra were magnificent under the baton of Adam Fischer.

Curtain call after Siegfried. Allison Oakes, third from the right, will be Brunnhilde in the Brisbane Ring 2020








Curtain call after Gotterdammerung, Brunnhilde’s red coat was only colour. Bravo Catherine Foster and Stefan Vinke

NSW Wagner Society with Waltraute







Plummers, Cropleys and Clarkes on the last night

Our hotel was on Margaret Island, roses in full bloom







An avenue of roses, every one fragrant

Lakka in northern Paxos, sheer bliss.

We returned to Greece on June 19th. to find that summer had arrived and the coldest May and early June in living memory had finally departed.  Jane and Jeff Carryer joined us for our passage to Albania.

The next morning, we approached the harbourmaster and police to leave Greece and were immediately wrapped in Greek officialdom and spent three hours marching from one to the other to get the right piece of paper.  It was a frustrating morning when we had so far to go. However, we finally got away and had a long day of sailing and motoring to the island of Paxos where we found one of the most beautiful bays in Greece with turquoise water, sandy bottom and excellent shelter and holding.  Needless to say, it was full of yachts but there was plenty of room for us.

Sarande bay not very sheltered but quite shallow


From there the next stop was our first port in Albania.  This country has been isolated from the rest of the world since the war with a hard line communist regime, a bit like North Korea.  However, in recent years it has opened up a great deal and now has a kind of democracy.  We were a little scared of going there as very few yachts stop in Albania and there is very limited infrastructure for non-commercial craft.  Nonetheless we contacted agents in each harbour we stopped at and they were universally helpful and informative.  Our first night was in Sarande, the southernmost Albanian port which is actually a popular seaside resort, only room for one or two yachts on the customs quay but  very safe.  We went ashore and had the best mussels ever in a seafront restaurant.  Also managed to get an Albanian SIM card for the phone.

Carryers and Clarkes enjoying Albanian hospitalily

Restoran Limani of mussel fame, the tiny harbour for small motor boats. Not sure what sign on red boat says, For rent, for sale?






Sarande bay, a pleasant introduction to Albania

From a distance the rounded bunkers looked like sheep.

It was 57 miles to our next port, Albania’s only marina at Orikum.  The headland at the entrance is the home of thousands of army bunkers, a truly sobering sight. We anchored for lunch and a swim in a sheltered bay on the west side of Vlore Bay. Jeff noticed fishing net around our prop, not easy to cut away using a snorkel so Terry deployed our battery operated deck snorkel, which enabled both Terry and Jeff 20 minutes under the boat to cut the net away.

Entrance to Vlore bay. WW11 bunkers by the thousand

Leaving the rather dull Orikum Marina

Orikum marina is in the south east of Vlore bay, a huge, shallow, protected bay used as a naval base during WW1. Built with money donated by the EU the marina is somewhat underutilised and a bit sad with quite a few unloved boats growing weeds on their hulls.  Julie and Jane decided to go to the supermarket in the evening but were forced to retreat by savage dogs.

Orikum channel is extremely shallow, it’s vital to keep within the narrow buoys

Christina O in Durres


A good 61 nautical mile sail with wind 10-18 knots behind us to Durres, the largest and busiest port in Albania where the agent put us alongside a rough old harbour wall.  There were a number of cargo vessels close by as was Christina O, the enormous pleasure boat which used to belong to Aristotle Onassis and which has been beautifully restored at the cost of many millions. Now owned by a Greek under a Maltese flag and used for charters.

A brush with fame and amazing history







Exotica tied up in Durres port, as was Christina O

Restorant Mema House, truly the worst food, don’t go there

Our agent recommended a local restaurant serving traditional Albanian cuisine.  The specialty was lamb baked in a ceramic dish.  This proved somewhat disappointing as there was very little lamb and much polenta and it had obviously come straight from the microwave.  The wine was pretty ordinary as well.

The extraordinary thing about Durres was the number of smart cars driving around in heavy traffic.  More Mercedes, BMWs and Audis than anywhere else outside Mayfair. Strange considering the poverty of the country generally.

Extraordinary storm formation, with revolving funnel


A grey day from Durres to Bar in Montenegro, storm clouds gathered, two of them with rotating funnels reaching towards the sea.  Julie took fright, reduced sails and motored with haste away from the offending danger.Thankfully it was short lived but it was a long days motoring against wind and swell.



Welcome to Bar in Montenegro

St Nikola’s Orthodox Church, Bar, the gold domed roofs can be seen for miles

After the 65nm passage Terry then had another two-hour tussle with Montenegrin officialdom having to attend the Harbourmaster, Police and then Customs in that order as well as queuing for nearly an hour in the Post Office to pay 32 Euro.  Every transaction requires reams of paperwork completed by people who can only type with one finger.  There was no problem it just took forever.

Montenegro’s dramatic mountains farewell to Bar


We watched this pool under construction in 2015

From Bar we motored north to the Bay of Kotor, 40nm, and retraced our steps of 2015 by spending a night at Porto Montenegro, one of the fanciest marinas in the Mediterranean.  Julie had wangled an invitation to the Yacht Club so we were invited to use the magnificent facilities including the infinity swimming pool with its spectacular view over the bay.

Infinity to infinity

Whatever next, high heeled running shoes!! Shops in Marina Porto Montenegro are very swanky

So special to have friends of 50 years on board, watching the sun set Porto Montenegro Marina

New crew, Jules

Dining in Tivat

History of Kotor



Exotica had two nights in Kotor, a very ancient city deep in the bay surrounded by high mountains and a dramatic city wall which stretches far up the hillside.

The ancient city of Kotor, fortified mountain wall which kept the Ottomans out, lit up at night

Blue Grotto – Jules, Jules and Terry

We had an hour long speedboat ride to the Blue Grotto, just at the entrance of the Bay of Kotor where our bodies became blue in the iridescent water, then into WW11 caves where submarines hid, and then to ancient Perast and the islands off it.

Speedboats jostling with skill to dodge the swimmers

Pretty impressive



Entering submarine tunnel with polystarene camouflage.

Our Lady of the Rocks, ornate chapel with stunning Venetian glass light. Popular for weddings


Perast, restored palaces now hotels


Exotica in Risan

Not ideal to tie up to a sign post!





An unsophisticated town with renowned orthopaedic hospital we are told

Charming staff and owner




Excellent food at Restoran Risan

Having farewelled our crew we are now relaxing in beautiful, friendly Montenegro for a few more days before heading south again via Albania to Greece, alone this time but feel confident tackling Albanian ports and bureaucracy.

Thanks to Jane and Jeff who thought they were joining us for a gentle cruise around the Ionian islands and ended up helping us with the 250 nautical mile passage up the coast and to Jules Maxwell for her bubbly personality.

A Tense Start to 2019 and an Athenian Odyssey

We had a somewhat disastrous start to the 2019 Exotica sailing season, which we can hardly believe is our seventh in the Mediterranean.

At the end of last year we left Croatia and sailed, via Italy, to Greece and left the boat at Cleopatra Marina in Preveza which is on the Greek mainland about 50 miles south of Corfu.

Launching on a cold May 1st

This was, by far, our least happy experience with a boatyard for winter storage. When we arrived back to Exotica on May 1st we found the boat covered in dirt both from the dusty boatyard and also Sahara sand which is deposited when it rains and the wind is southerly. Leaving dirty streaks in the white gelcoat. Inside the boat, which we had left neat and pristine, was a shambles. Whenever workmen had done any maintenance they had failed to clean up after themselves and the place was a mess. Furthermore, they had not ordered the batteries as requested and the ones installed were flat.

After first clean

The list of our dissatisfaction is too long to enumerate but, suffice to say, we will not be returning or recommending this boatyard. Once the boat was in the water we checked the bilge, only to find a thick layer of yellow, oily, dirty liquid covering our normally perfectly clean, dry bilge. The boatyard manager was summoned, couldn’t recognise the turpentine smell and declared it was nothing to do with them, ascertained there was no leak from the fuel tank, got his men to sop it up and waved us goodbye.

Welcomed by a new scratch on port side, not happy

Worse was to come. On our second night we were returning from quite a good meal late in the evening. Julie got aboard using the passarelle but when Terry stepped onto it a clip on the side broke and he suddenly found himself under water. Unfortunately, he was carrying Julie’s iPhone and his own iPad, which although were still held tightly, were instantly dead. In addition, his glasses also went to the bottom. It could have been worse; he must have missed hitting his head on the dock by a fraction.

Castle of Santa Maura built in 1300 by the island’s Frankish ruler, Giovanni Orsini

Procession of boats entering the Lefkas channel

We left Preveza the next day with few regrets and motored to Lefkas, where we have taken a berth in the Marina for a whole year. For the first time on our travels we have decided to have a base. This is a good spot in the middle of the Ionian, the sea to the west of Greece. It is close to an airport for the arrival and departure of guests and a pleasant town with all facilities and the best grilled tuna at restaurant La Vinaria.
Within a couple of days of arrival,

Wildflowers on a dismal day, good for touring Castle of Maura

Ruined remains of the city it once was

The causeway from mainland to Lefkas town

Lesley White, our first guest arrived to cold winds and driving rain, the weather finally improved so we set off on a trip to Athens.

After 32nm south, our first stop was a delightful bay in the lee of the island, Nisis Petalas, just north of the Gulf of Patras where we had a most comfortable night with only one other yacht in sight – rare for the Ionian.

Dinner on board in Patras

Then on to Patras, a 37nm passage, the third biggest city in Greece and the capital of the Peloponnese. We took a lazy line on the town quay wall which was so high that it was mighty dangerous to climb off the boat. Julie and Lesley did, very gingerly, and declared the town to be charming, full of designer shops but not one supermarket to be found.

Early morning passage under Rion Bridge, longest suspension bridge, 2,252m, air height 25-45m

Car ferries supplement the bridge

From Patras to Corinth we had one of the best sails ever. After an early start we caught a following wind up to 28 knots and with full sail we barrelled down the Gulf of Corinth, the stretch of water that divides the Greek mainland from the Peloponnese. At times Exotica was surfing at 10.5 knots, very exhilarating if a bit scary. We had to gybe about seven times and then, the weather gods being kind, the wind dropped as we entered the little harbour of Corinth, after our 66nm ride.

We tied up to the last spot on the floating pontoon, directed by George, who said that would be 25 euros for one night, no water or electricity. We gladly paid, only to be confronted by an earnest, young French Canadian couple who said he was illegal, they had taken a photo of him and reported him to the port police! The Germans beside us had paid him 10 euros for two nights.

The pink taverna in Corinth, unpronounceable name but terrific food.

We were directed to an excellent restaurant in a back street in Corinth town and had a fine meal.

Entering Corinth Canal May 11th

Two road and one railway bridge span the highest section of the canal

Early tourists waving from the bridge

Another early start meant we could enter the Corinth Canal without waiting, a six kilometer cut through the piece of land which joins the Peloponnese to Greece. It is 23 metres wide and rises 90 metres above the water. This canal was started by the Emperor Nero in 87 AD but not completed until 1893 by French engineers. It is said to be the most expensive canal by length in the world to travel through.

The never to be forgotten steps at Isthmia, treasure is on the bottom

It was made even more expensive for us when Terry, while he was scrambling on to the dock to pay, inadvertently flicked the wallet containing all our kitty money, into the water and about 500 Euros went to the bottom. Another disaster which left him feeling old and stupid.

Marina Zea, superyachts

We still had another four hours before reaching Piraeus, the port of Athens. Probably, with Marseilles, one of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean. We had a booking for a week in Marina Zea, an enormous marina full of super yachts. We had a comfortable place close to the town with electricity and water provided. Our bilge problem had  continued to cause us grief, so we employed an engineer who immediately diagnosed diesel as the culprit. He believed there had been an overflow when the engine was serviced by Cleopatra leaving the bowels of Exotica flowing with diesel. Five hours and three hundred euros later there is an improvement but Julie continues to have her head regularly in the bilge sopping the residue.

Exotica in Marina Zea

Large fleet of small boats racing in Piraeus

Lesley braving the Piraeus to Athens train

Over the next seven days we negotiated the Athens transport system on buses and trains and saw all the sights as well as finding the Australian Embassy, which sadly was not a smart villa in the right side of town but part of the third floor of an anonymous office block. However, they were there waiting to receive our votes which did not arrive in Australia until after the election is over.

The Acropolis can bee seen from many squares in Athens

The modern Acropolis Museum

New Acropolis Museum, they leave an empty spot for the Elgin marbles

The Roman arena at the foot of the Acropolis

Sunset at the Parthenon

Temple of Nike

Hundred of steep steps to Lycebettus furnicular

Worth the view from Mount Lycebettus

Changing of the Guard every hour at Athens Parliament

Best mussels at Parmigiana restaurant on Marina Zea waterfront, a long lunch

Spectacular food at Belle Ami in Piraeus

Charming ambience

Leaving Athens at daybreak

On Saturday May 18th we departed at daybreak from Athens to make the return journey through the Corinth Canal and the Gulf of Corinth where this time we had a cold hard motor against the wind and sea. Made more tedious by having to wait over two hours before entering the canal because of very slow towing tugs.

Sunrise over Athens

Towing tugs at last exit Corinth Canal, May 18th

Return journey through Corinth Canal

Still snow on mountains above Itea

After 74nm we arrived at our destination was Itea, where again, we got the last spot on the town quay. No water or electricity here either, but no charge.

Itea is a small, neat town on the north shore of the Gulf, from where we took a local bus to Delphi, a twenty minute ride.

Spectacular bus drive to Delphi

City carved into mountainside

We toured the museum and the archaeological site where remains of the Temple of Apollo and the site of the Delphic oracle from the 6th and 5th centuries BC have been uncovered. The site itself is carved into the hillside and requires much climbing to get to the stadium at the top. It was very busy with tourists although this is only the start of the season. Met up with some Aussies, who are also on their seventh summer cruising, and had a very jolly evening on Exotica.

Arena with a view

Original wall of five sided marble blocks supporting Temple of Appollo

Temples of Delphi

An old man, hardly damaged at all

Roman boy

Twins from 5BC found in Delphi

Ancient Greek boy

Spectacular artwork found in Delphi

Cold leaving Itea

From Itea to Messolonghi, a 56nm day. Famous for being the town where Lord Byron died in 1824 and also for a massacre of up to 9000 of the townsfolks by the Turks in 1826 .

Back under Rion Bridge near Patras

Messolonghi channel, 3m under the keel

Exotica at night in Messolonghi

Messolonghi will be remembered for a beggar, mistaken for a waiter, who grabbed chips left on Julie’s plate and shoved them into his mouth, ran away, then returned trying to snatch the salad. Sad

A comfortable night alongside the quay but a less than inspiring town nowadays.
It has been an unseasonably cold May, we’ve been grateful for our thick waterproofs and beanies. One joy of the Gulfs of Patras and Corinth were the sightings of several dolphin pods.

Asian style houses on stilts in Messolonghi channel

More houses on stilts

Sunset at anchor in Vathi, Ithica

From Messalonghi we motored to Vathi on the island of Ithaca where we anchored in the bay for a comfortable night.

Motley crew in Spartahori

Then to Spatakhori, a small inlet on the north of Meganissi, a free berth at the restaurant of Babis Konidaris and a rendezvous with Juliet and Nick Mason-Jones on their yacht Johanem.  We first met them outside Rome in 2015 and our sailing paths have crossed on frequent occasions in Italy, Croatia and Greece ever since.  Early next morning they were off to the Gulf of Corinth.

Farewell lunch with Lesley, Marina Lefkas

We made our way back to our home base in Lefkas for four loads of washing and some electrical repairs and update out safety equipment. Farewell to Lesley.

Our Athenian Odyssey, two hundred nautical miles each way.

Lefkas to Athens - Black = Outward journey Red = Return

The Athenian Odyssey – Lefkas to Athens.


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







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.


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