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The Ionian, we are back!!

23rd August 2022 - Marina Frapa Dubrovnik - Uvala Sunj (6.36 nautical miles)

The previous two weeks had been fantastic sharing our floating home with family. After much planning, weather watching, making sure everyone was having a good time we were quite frankly pooped. We therefore decided to spend one extra night in the marina. Decadent I know but there you go. That evening we took a taxi back into the old town and found an Indian restaurant to have a curry. It was amazing!

As it turned out it was a shame that we stayed because we missed out on seeing Lucy and Jig one last time before they headed north. We would certainly have made a different decision if we had known it would be out last opportunity to anchor next to Falkor.

The next morning we set out from Marina Frapa at 2pm to make the short hop to Uvula Sunj again. A couple of days of chilling on a beach before our journey south. Our goal was to get to Preveza in Greece by the start of September as you have to pay a cruising tax to sail in Greek waters which can only be purchased for a calendar month. So if you arrived on the 31st you would still have to pay for the whole month. As it is not an insignificant amount we wanted to get value for our money. To get there we were going to pass through Montenegro and then make the long trip down to Preveza. Checking in at Corfu would have been easier but we had heard horror stories from other sailors about the check in process in Corfu and we wanted an easier ride. Especially since, strictly speaking, we would be entering back into the Schengen zone a full month earlier than we should have. Still, no stamp in the passport thanks to Ibiza so we thought we would give it a go. Whilst it’s strictly not necessary we decided to use an agent to assist with the process. The sailing community in the Med is full of scary stories of passport control officials counting days between stamps in your passport, logging on to vesselfinder.com to see where your boat has been and demanding to see your vessel’s logbook. We thought an agent might just help since they typically have a good relationship with the officials they deal with each day.

25th August 2022 - Uvala Sunj - Uvala Tiha, Cavtat (14.8 nautical miles)

So, more scary stories: we were told that once you check out of Croatia you have 10 minutes to get to your boat and leave. One person even told of being fined as they pointed their vessel back towards the Croatian coastline in order to raise their sails! We decided to head to Cavtat, spend the night at anchor, then check out first thing in the morning, then go. So at 10:30am we weighed anchor and headed out of the bay. The wind looked promising so we raised the main and unfurled the jib. However after less than two hours we were motor sailing. By 12pm we were entering the same bay that we checked in at the start of the month. As we couldn’t sit on the Q dock for the night we chose to anchor out from it as others had done. Once we dropped the hook, made sure it was set and got ready to open our post-anchor beers, a guy on a jet ski came over to us and told us that we had anchored too close to the Q dock. We had seen others anchoring in a similar position but to avoid conflict we decided to raise the anchor and move round to the bay on the other side of town. We would still be able to dinghy across in the morning to check out so no issue. As we saw him zoom off he went to the opposite side of the bay to the Q dock, and tied up to a tourist jetty which towed things like inflatable bananas or armchairs. He wasn't anyone official and we probably weren’t too close to the Q dock. We were just potentially in his way.

Uvala Tiha was a large bay on the northern side of Cavtat. The reviews on Navily did say that it suffered from katabatic winds developing so made sure there was plenty of room around us and stuck out 67m of chain in 10m of water. The bottom was all weed so we were equally nervous about whether it would hold. The weather forecast looked good, at most gusting to 7kn so we figured we were ok. We dinghied to the little harbour and had one last Croatian meal out, watching the sun set on a peaceful bay.


We opted for a reasonably early night as it would be a long old day down to Bar in Montenegro. By 11pm it was clear that the weather gods were sending us the dreaded katabatic winds. Since the weather forecasting had been particularly iffy in Croatia we had made sure we set the anchor and laid out the chain for the direction we expected the wind to come from. As we’ve mentioned before, our Rocna anchor doesn’t do well in weed if it has to reset. Our forecasted 7kn turned into 27kn and the anchor watch began. The boat sailed around on the bridle as the wind howled, angling the boat towards the rocky shore.

26th August 2022 - Uvala Tiha, Cavtat, Croatia - Bar, then Sutomore, Montenegro (53.7 nautical miles)

Luckily for us, she held. The next morning with bleary eyes and our boat papers we dinghied across the harbour to make sure we were there at 7:30am when the customs, police and harbour master doors opened. By 8:10am we were running back to the dinghy, exit stamps in hand, and zooming back to the boat to raise the anchor. By 8:30am we were up and away. Not sure what happened to other people but nobody told us we had 10 mins to leave and nobody chased us out. All in all, apart from the dodgy weather forecasts, Croatia had been a beautiful sailing ground with lots of friendly people. It was a shame we couldn’t have seen more.

With no wind presenting itself we motored our way out of Croatian waters and back into Montenegro. This time we would not be going back into the Bay of Kotor. We’d planned to check in at Bar and hang around for a decent weather window to make the trip south. We motored the entire 53.7nm south towards Bar. Lucy had already shown us where the customs dock was so we headed round past the marina entrance and in to police dock. By this time it was 6pm so we thought we might have to spend the night on the dock and do the check in formalities the following morning. Carl brought her in side-to, against a concrete dock with tyre fenders. Luckily spaced a bit closer together than the ones in Zelenika. Once tied up and secure we went in search of the port police and we were in luck, they were still open. Once they had stamped the passports, they sent us in the direction of the harbour master. He was still open too! Mind you he was pretty grumpy. We eventually understood that there had been some kind of cyber-attack on his system so they could not register online our entry into the country. I put on a big smile and asked what we could do about it. He eventually started to fill in the forms for us manually and take payment so that we could be on our way. He’d sort it out when the system was back online. By the end of our time there he was giving us a few smiles and wishing us well. Next stop was paying the tourist tax. Whilst Carl was doing that I ran off to find a kiosk to pick up a data SIM card. Divide and conquer! At this rate we could be off the police dock in daylight hours and go anchor somewhere nice. With a final visit to the port police we were on our way. Job done!

We first thought we would just anchor outside the marina entrance but it was quite rolly so opted to head over to the beach at Sutomore, just up the coast from Bar. We dropped the anchor just as the sun was setting. After the previous night we were looking forward to a peaceful night, and an early one. Alas, it was not meant to be. Music til 1am and side on to a decent swell.

27th August 2022 - Sutomore - Maljevik (1.72 nautical miles)

Lucy and Jig had told us of beautiful little bay close by so at 11am we weighed anchor and motored round to Maljevik. It was quite a small bay with sandy patches interspersed with rocky areas. Luckily we were the only boat in there so we took our time motoring around to seek out a good spot. We eventually set the anchor down in 2m of sand, just opposite the beach bar. The surrounding area was covered in pine trees which smelt lovely. It was indeed a fantastic spot. We had found our hideout for the next few days while we waited for the end of the month. On day two I decided to have a snorkel around the boat and as I came up towards the anchor I saw a rope dangling down to the seabed. On closer inspection the splice on our bridle had come undone and one side was just dangling there. The boat was being held on just one end from the port hull. It hadn’t even been that windy there. This was the bridle that had come with the boat. We therefore rigged up a makeshift bridle to balance the weight. We’d have to get some more line and learn how to splice the ends pretty soon.

On our last evening in Maljevik we decided to go and have dinner at the beach bar. Just before sunset we watched as a guy sat down on one of the beach loungers and flew his drone out over the water. The drone headed towards Rockhopper and circled it reasonably close. It was clear he was quite skilled at flying it. Once he had retrieved it he came back into the bar and as he walked past our table I asked him whether he had got some good footage. When I explained that it was our boat that he had filmed he was very chatty. He ended up sitting down with us and asking us all about her. His name was Boyan. He was here on holiday from Serbia and it was his dream to buy a boat and set sail. He was so enthusiastic and offered to send us the footage that he had taken of Rockhopper. Our plan the following morning was to weigh anchor at 9am, head over to the marina to fuel up, then over to the customs dock to check out. It was about 4nm away from our location. Spontaneously I blurted out “Why don’t you come onboard for the trip to the marina and then you can get a taxi back?” He desperately wanted to see the boat and was so excited. I told him that he would have to be on the beach at 8:30am as we had a long day ahead but he assured us he would be there. He left us to go back to his girlfriend with a big smile on his face. I was thrilled that we could offer an experience to Boyan. Carl was not so thrilled. His sentiment was sort of “Of all the days you choose to invite a random guy onto the boat, you picked the day we start a 240nm sail!” Fair point.

30th August 2022 - 1st September 2022 - Maljevik, then Bar - Preveza, Greece (238.7 nautical miles)

Well, at 8:25am, there he was, smartly dressed, waiting for us on the beach. Carl went to pick him up in the dinghy and once onboard he was like a kid in a candy store. He was filming everything (wished I’d tidied up a bit more…) and asking tonnes of questions. Carl attached the Code 0 sail ready for our passage and I attempted to answer Boyan’s questions. He had brought his drone so was going to fly it from the boat as we motored towards the marina. Unfortunately we wouldn’t be raising the sails for the short journey to the marina but he seemed happy enough. He got some great shots of the boat and had the experience of trying to catch the drone from a moving boat. All too soon we were getting ready to tie to the fuel dock. As Carl brought her in, Boyan filmed the lot, peppering him with questions. Even with the slight distraction he brought her in with no issues and we topped up the tanks. We waved a fond farewell to Boyan who promised us the edited footage from his time with Rockhopper. He did not disappoint, very dramatic. Full disclosure: the shots with sails up are not Rockhopper!

With full tanks and another 80L in the jerry cans we slipped the lines and headed round to the customs dock. Old pros at this one now so we made short work of the check out process. The previously grumpy harbour master was all smiles when he recognised us. The evening he checked us in he had gone to the beach at Sutomore for a swim after work and had seen us anchored there. By 11:10am we were on our way. Just outside the harbour we raised the sails in hope. For the next few hours we sailed with full main and jib downwind but as the day wore on the wind dropped a little so we furled the jib and threw out the Code 0. There wasn’t much swell so we were making excellent progress south, at one point achieving 7kn SOG. The day wore on and the wind started to drop. The swell started to cause the Code 0 to flap. Concerned that it could get damaged we rolled it away and attempted to fly the jib but on a barber hauler to make it balloon out a bit more. We’d achieved over 50nm without the engine but as night fell, so did our speed. Eventually we had to admit defeat and start an engine. There was added incentive to get going as there was lightning developing behind us so we wanted to keep a starry night sky overhead. The night progressed uneventfully under motor, each of us taking our 3hr shifts. I had the 3am-6am shift which was rewarded by some dolphins coming to say hello and a beautiful sunrise. As is typical with our crossings, the wind appeared for Carl and he was again able to fly the Code 0 by 7am. The wind was annoyingly dead downwind of us and we don’t have a downwind sail yet. Since the wind was a steady 10kn and we were travelling with a slight swell, we attempted something that we hadn’t done before on Rockhopper. We flew goose-wing with the Code 0 and the main sail. For those unfamiliar it is when the head sail flies on the opposite side to the main sail. That allowed us to sail dead downwind. It worked brilliantly (see video) and in 10kn of breeze we were averaging 6kn SOG. We sailed this way throughout the day, floating down the Albanian coast towards Greece. It was fantastic. 70nm of sailing. We don’t tend to like to fly the Code 0 at night, it’s not easy to furl on your own so as darkness fell and we entered our second night shift, we rolled her away and unfurled the jib. It might be slower but safer.

We had tried to plan it so that by the time we entered Greek waters it would be the 1st of September and we’d be covered by the cruising tax. Again, huge fines and scare stories of being caught in Greek waters without having paid for the tax. We were a bit off so hoped no-one would notice as we drifted past Corfu. Still, as the sun rose, it was the 1st of September, the wind had finally died and we motored our last 20nm towards Preveza. We dropped the hook in 5m of water outside the harbour in Preveza town. 238.7 nautical miles completed, our longest sail with just the two of us on board yet, and joy of joys, most of it done actually sailing!

We had arranged to check into the country with our agent at 9:30am. She had booked a time slot with the port police for then. Unfortunately I had to inform her that we would be an hour late. Rather embarrassingly, that instantly turned into two hours late as I had forgotten that we had changed time zones. She assured us that it wasn’t a problem and that we would just do it the following day. Bonus, an extra Schengen day.

We were now back in the Ionian Sea - where it all began for us. After Carl completing his Day Skipper course and me my Competent Crew course in Swansea bay in 2013, we’d flown to Preveza and chartered our first yacht out of Palairos. Her name was Cleo and she was a 10 year old 34ft Jeanneau Sun Odyssey. We loved her. Little did we think we would bring our own boat back to these waters almost exactly 9 years later. We took the dinghy to shore and went in search of our first bottle of Mythos.

The following morning we met our agent who took us to get the Greek transit log, the receipt of the cruising tax and a crew list stamped up. She then drove us to the port police to get our passports stamped. The nerves started to kick in. We watched as she chatted away to the police officer while he scanned our passport... then stamped them. We have no idea what was said but as we left the building she told us that we were lucky it was that guy and not the usual woman. She said we could have been there for an hour as the lady would go through every stamp and count days. Phew!


That afternoon once we were safely back onboard, the heavens opened. Welcome to sunny Greece!

3rd September 2022 - Preveza - Sivota (25.4 nautical miles)

We'd spent a few days in Preveza, chilling out from the journey down and performing a few jobs on the boat. The saloon fridge had been struggling in the heat and badly needed a defrost so before we provisioned again we set about getting rid of the ice.

On the morning of the 3rd if was time to head down to Lefkada and through the Lefkas canal to the Southern Ionian. We were about to return to all the islands that we had loved so much on that first two week charter with Cleo. I have to say we were really excited to take Rockhopper in. After Carl popped into town to buy some line for the new bridle, we weighed anchor at 10am and set off for the canal, sailing on the Code 0 only. There is a swing bridge at the entrance which only opens on the hour so we were going to attempt to make the 11am opening. The bridge and canal are protected from open sea by a sand bank that you navigate around and then hover, waiting for the bridge to open. It’s always a bit of challenge as it is really shallow in places and there are usually 4 to 5 boats all hovering too. Inevitably there is always some impatient idiot who doesn’t want to queue and tries to get to the front then spin the boat round and around making it difficult for everyone else. We had one such idiot but apart from that it wasn’t too bad. Carl kept us hovering nicely and it helped that we were in a cat with a shallower draft. Finally, at 11:10am the traffic stopped and the bridge slowly swung open. One by one we all filed through, careful to avoid the other line of boats passing by on their way to the North Ionian Sea. Within minutes the Lefkas marina came into view. We had chartered out of here too and had stayed at the marina once or twice before. Lots of happy memories came to the surface as we motored by.

As soon as we were out of the canal we unfurled the Code 0 again and floated down towards the Meganisi Channel. We were in known territory now so opted for a lunch stop at a great little anchorage called Thilia beach. Crystal clear water and packed with little fish. A great place for a Greek salad and a swim.

By 4pm it was time to up anchor and head to our overnight stop. We had decided to anchor in Sivota, just outside the zone of the restaurant pontoons. Coming out of the channel and around the bottom of Lefkada we were hit with 15-20kn winds from the north west. We shot across towards Sivota and lowered the sails as we approached the entrance to the bay. All we could see was a sea of boats. We had only ever chartered in the Ionian in late September/early October, towards the end of the season. Even then it was pretty busy with charter boats. We had forgot the cardinal rule of sailing here. Never arrive after 5pm and expect to get in anywhere unless you are on a flotilla and they’ve reserved a spot for you. What had we been thinking? The wind was gusting 20kn into the bay and the anchorage was full. It was deep so trying to squeeze in between boats would not have made for a comfortable night, especially with that wind. We made a pass around the restaurant pontoons and saw one space available. We really didn’t want to be tied to a particular restaurant but as we looped around again (it was really too late to go anywhere else) and saw a guy on the dock waving at us we made our decision. Luckily the wind was blowing us off the dock so Carl had to force her quite hard in reverse to get there. After much huffing and puffing we finally managed to get her tied to the dock with lazy lines out on the bows. Right next to a boat full of Irish people who were playing the guitar and keyboard and having a sing along. Music to arrive by! We were then told by the guy on the pontoon that it was €45 per night, including water and electricity and that we could eat at any restaurant. We’ll take that! Result. After a dock beer and hanging around to fender off a boat that had come along side us, we headed into town. It really is a pretty street along the quayside, with great restaurants, bars and bakeries along it. Typically Greek, typically beautiful. Another stroll down memory lane for us.

When we had left the UAE to fly home to the UK in 2021 and take receipt of Rockhopper, a stop in Greece was necessary to avoid being stuck in a Heathrow quarantine hotel for two weeks at £2K each. According to the UK’s rules, Greece was an amber country allowing us to quarantine at home whereas the UAE was a red list country. We had decided to spend the £2K on a holiday for two weeks rather than a Travelodge and crappy meals. We had spent one week in Athens and Mykonos, and the second week we had chartered a boat in the Ionian with our friends Ian and Liz. Greece had only just opened up to UK visitors at the time and the anchorages were blissfully empty. This year, as we sat for dinner looking out over the bay, it was clear that this was no longer the case. There were many more charter companies now than we remembered, even in 2021. The place was packed. We decided that we would get to places reasonably early and stake our claim.


4th September 2022 - Sivota - Port Leone (13.6 nautical miles)

The next morning after having a lovely breakfast on shore, we slipped the lines at 11:50am and made our way to Port Leone on Kalamos. After about an hour of motoring we threw out the Code 0 and sailed a bit of the way. Turns out sailing with a large sail in waters infested with other boats charging about and narrowish channels between islands is more hassle than its worth. Before long we packed it away and just motored round to the bay. Port Leone is a peaceful place with the remains of a small town, long since abandoned. An earthquake in the 1950’s severed the water line to the town and was beyond repair so the inhabitants moved away. The only building that is maintained is the chapel on the rocky promontory. In the past we had just dropped the anchor and free swung but as we were staying the night and the bay was filling up with boats we opted to drop the anchor in 9.5m and take long lines ashore. It was a great place to watch the chaos, have a swim and enjoy a bbq as the sun set.

5th September 2022 - Port Leone - Kioni (14.6 nautical miles)

After me jumping into the water to go and retrieve our lines from the shore, we weighed anchor at 11:20am and headed out from Kalamos in the direction of Ithaca. We were doing a bit of a zigzag pattern across the South Ionian islands but I guess we wanted to see some of our favourite places before heading south. The next stop would be another favourite. Kioni - the scene of many a ‘happy’ night out with friends. Only once had we managed to tie up to the town quay - on that first flotilla week in 2013. Since then we always had to anchor and take really long lines ashore on the opposite side, against a rocky shore. On the plus side, there were clear rocks and even rings in the rock to tie the lines to. On the tricky side, you were usually fender to fender with other boats. Packed like sardines about 25m from the shore, anchored in 15m (hopefully not across anyone else's anchor) and then quickly tie off at the back. On one occasion in the past on a charter monohull we had been anchored here and clearly not put out enough chain. After a particularly heavy night out we were woken to the sound of someone banging on our hull, shouting ‘Your anchor, it is dragging!’ The German guys next to us were concerned our boat would start to thrash about and damage theirs. Fair point. It was p*ssing it down with lightning and thunder and a choppy sea, with a head feeling like a bowling ball I had to get in the dinghy and go and retrieve our lines. Meanwhile Carl pulled up the anchor. It was at that point that I realised that a) I didn’t have a bra on and my white top was drenched; and b) I didn’t have the oars on the dinghy. I’d used the lines to drag myself to the shore to untie them. Once off I was left stranded. I used the German’s line to get back to their boat and they took pity on me, dangled a line off their boat for me to hold on to as he walked me to the front of their boat where I could again join ours. I’d have been more embarrassed if I hadn’t felt like death. As I said, fond memories!

Thankfully, we had arrived at 2:30pm, loads of space around us and packing 100m of chain this time round. We dropped out 65m of chain and when we were close I swam ashore to tie us off to a ring on one side and a rock on the other. We even had time for Carl to swim out to where the anchor was (unbelievably he could see it in 15m of water) and get me to draw the chain in until it properly bit. It was time to hang out the fenders, sit on the front with a G&T and watch the madness unfold. We had never really noticed it before but chartering a yacht for a week seems very popular with groups of middle-aged men. Where are all the women?

By 5pm our line of boats was full. We had a group of English guys on a monohull to our starboard side, and a group of Israeli men to our port. Earlier, when the Israeli guys had come in there had been a lot of shouting and gesticulating. Initially we thought they were angry but I think it was just them chatting to one another. When we waved to say hello they were all big smiles and asked us where the supermarket was. Once we told them where it was they offered to bring us back anything that we might need. Very sweet guys.

At 6:30pm we took the dinghy round to a little dock and walked round into town. Typically just a street along the quayside with great bars and restaurants. Sipping an Espresso Martini we decided to stay another night. Why not? After dinner we went to a little bar in one of the back streets for a drink or two. At around 11pm we walked back to where we had left the dinghy. The wind had picked up and there was a wicked swell thrashing our dinghy all over the place. We had been completely protected where we were on that backstreet, having no idea that the weather had turned. The dinghy was bashing about and by some miracle, Carl managed to launch himself into it. I untied the line and then waited for a small lull to get in. It didn’t really come but nevertheless I, rather unceremoniously, found myself in the dinghy and we made our way back to the boat. All the boats in the line were bouncing up and down, back and forth. Luckily for us, we had positioned ourselves on a bit of an angle so the boats either side of us were not actually fender to fender. The way the boats were moving it might have ripped them off the stantions if they were. Somehow we managed to get back on the boat and very quickly raise the dinghy without Carl trapping his fingers in the lifting eyes. Most boats had everyone on deck monitoring. A poor group of people came to find their dinghy up out of the water and on the rocks. The waves were crashing into the rocks where they were so there was no way they would get back onboard until it calmed down. By midnight we could see that the Israeli boat had dragged anchor and was so close to the rocks it was a bit scary. We yelled over to them that we thought they had dragged. The guy simply said ‘Yes, a little bit’ but they retightened their stern lines and went to bed. Since they were closer to the shore now the boat was bouncing all over the place. It was a bit tense but all in all it didn’t appear that any damage was done. We later learnt that one of the liveaboard guys further down the line had had a sleepless night assisting his neighbours and trying to ensure they didn’t damage his boat.

The morning brought calm, serene seas. As if it never happened. As we were sitting having our morning coffee at the front, I could see these two swirls in the water, travelling up towards the entrance to the bay. They were about a metre apart, moving in unison. Initially I thought it was divers below, with their bubbles breaching the surface. Then all of a sudden the entire sea around us undulated in a gentle roll, unlike the wake of a ship or boat going by. Carl and I both noticed it and both thought it might have been an earthquake. Nothing reported but weird nonetheless.

7th September 2022 - Kioni - Polis Beach (10.6 nautical miles)

So, an eventful time in Kioni but it was time to move on. Although a favourite of ours we decided not to try and take Rockhopper into Fiskardo on Cephalonia. We had been there many times and due to the town quays horseshoe shape and its popularity, it was a spot prone to snagging others anchors. We decided to give it a miss and head across to the other side of Ithaca, to Polis beach.

Polis was a quiet anchorage with a little beach and a small dock with a road that switchbacked up to the town of Stavros, way above. We had once hitchhiked up the road to the town and had lunch at a beautiful restaurant set in gardens, the trees decorated with lights, lanterns and wind chimes. Scattered around were big pots of flowers, herbs and chillies. The owners had once picked a few chillies and given them to us to try. She was a Swedish woman who had married a Greek man and had run the restaurant for years. A truly fantastic spot but sadly they had decided to close it the following season. They were getting older and wanted to enjoy their retirement, the restaurant was hard work and relentless in the summer.

We got there at 12:20pm and barely recognised the place. There was now a harbour there with small boats and a restaurant on the shore. After setting the anchor in 14m with 55m of chain out we watched as about 15 boats came in and anchored all around us. Some extremely close. Luckily the closest ones didn’t stay the night but I guess the secret of Polis beach was out.


8th September 2022 - Polis Beach - Ay Eufimia (13.8 nautical miles)

In the end it was a really peaceful night but at 9am we weighed anchor. It was time to start making our way south. It wasn’t a long journey but we made a meal of it, tacking back and forth, making the 9nm journey more like almost 14. Even so, we arrived at 12:15pm and Med moored to the town quay on the instruction of the local harbour master. Taking full advantage of being tied to shore we took our Bromptons out for a cycle. We hadn’t had our transit log stamped in a while (which you are supposed to do in every port) so we thought we would cycle round the large bay to Sami and get it done there. It was a 20km round trip so a good chance to get some exercise. After checking in (which the coastguard sweared we didn’t need to do - I give up) we stopped off for lunch in Sami and a quick look at the local chandlery. We saw a lovely little bar along the way so stopped off for a cheeky beer on the way back. As we rode back through Ay Eufimia a guy waved to us and wanted a chat. He told us that he worked from Brompton and had written the software that automated their build process to allow them to export all over the world. He was thrilled to see us on the bikes in Greece. We chatted for a while and told him how happy we were with them. A random encounter but lovely all the same.

9th September 2022 - Ay Eufimia - Agios Nikolaos, Zakynthos (33.5 nautical miles)

Our next stop was somewhere we had not been to before. As we were travelling south towards the Corinth canal we decided to stop off on the island of Zakynthos. This was the home of the iconic Shipwreck Beach with its towering white cliff surrounds and powder blue water and I desperately wanted to see it. It’s on the exposed western side of the island and, true to Greenwood luck, there had been an earthquake and a landslide a few days before so it was no longer viable to anchor there overnight. The coastguard had been turning people away. We slipped the lines at 9:45am and raised the anchor. Luckily no other anchors were over ours, we’d seen others struggle that morning. Once we got clear of the coast of Cephalonia the wind hit us from the south west. The sails were up but we had motored down in the lee of the island. Once clear the apparent wind speed shot up to 25kn and, for the first time in a while, we chose to put a reef in the main. From 2pm we sailed across to the north east side of Zakynthos. As soon as we got in the lee of the island the wind stopped dead. There was a clear line in the water where it choppy and where it was not. Perfect. We had called ahead and booked a mooring ball at Costas restaurant in Agios Nikolaos. Nearing the mooring field we were met by Costas who gave us instructions on which ball to take and what to do. He had his own mooring line which he attached to our port bow cleat and then told us that, although the mooring was strong, he was expecting strong winds until 11pm and it would be advisable if we payed out our anchor too. He took it in his dinghy, about 35m out and dropped it so we could drag it in to set it. He called it our ‘safety line’.

Sadly we could see that none of the trip boats had been out that day to Shipwreck Beach so our assertions that the beach was closed to visitors was confirmed. We’d try a drive by the next day before heading across to the mainland. Disappointing, but since the wind was coming from the west the anchorage would not have been tenable to stay overnight anyway.

We have some friends who have a beautiful Amel 50 monohull. Theirs is hull #1. There were two other Amel 50s in the bay and, knowing that they are all part of a Facebook group, we messaged Aine to find out whether they knew the owners of SV Pelican. They told us that they had not met them but it was David and Susan Poole. That night as we were having dinner at Costa’s restaurant we saw them dinghy across and sit next to us. After dinner as they walked past Carl said, rather abruptly I might add, ‘Are you David?’ Taken aback at first he gingerly said …’yes?’ We then explained how we knew his name and got chatting to everyone. He was British but had lived in America for a long time with his American wife Susan. Great travellers and a very interesting couple. Happily this would not be the only time we met up with Dave and Susan on SV Pelican. The territory was all new to us now so we were looking forward to more discoveries on the mainland…and the canal! Open for a short few months after being closed for a few years due to landslides. The most expensive canal per metre in the world.

OUR ROUTE:





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