15 July 2012. We creep away from the Taverna at Polace on Mljet at 7am and made our way down the beautiful deep seaway of the National Park and set sail for Korcula.
A bit of concentrated navigation as we made our way through several narrow passes with plenty of off lying rocks before stopping for lunch and a swim by an off lying Island with the, still intact, remains of a large convent on the shore. Like the grand Monastery on the Greek Island of Symi this convent is in bad need of a clock adjuster for its bells were a little bit out of time.
It was however a beautiful anchorage with crystal clear water and dead flat sea so we stayed on for an hour or so before motoring the remaining three miles into Korcula town where there is a Marina which we entered for the night. All crew head off to visit the old city which is one of those ancient Venetian affairs with very narrow streets build using stone. The street stones had got so shiny over the years from being trodden on by zillions of sandals that one had to watch ones step for danger of slipping and breaking a hip or something. The architecture with its high archways and magnificent steeples was amazing as was the ambience of the whole place. A totally acceptable place to celebrate Jenny's birthday. The main call to fame of Korcula is that it was the birth place of Marco Polo and the Korculans have not missed the opportunity of making a buck or two out of the historical memory of the old chap.
16 July 2012 Next morning we had the chore of provisioning Elixir for the next few days and topping up the water. Paid the Marina Fee of 136 euro. That was our second night in a Marina in Croatia and due to the expense for very little in the way of facilities it is not a thing that we are keen to repeat too often. We return to bay of the Convent with the intention of anchoring there for the night only to find that the anchorage had become crowded and the wind was playing havoc . A quick change of plan to find a anchorage further down the coast towards Dubrovnik once again as sadly it was time that we were moving in that direction to drop off Keith, Rosemary and Philip Searle and to pick up Phil Clemow.
1900 hrs being 12 miles later we drop anchor in Trstenik for a very worrisome night being blown by 30 knot plus winds that meant that I had little sleep at all as Elixir bucked and snubbed at her anchor as we were hit by squall after squall. 17 July 0600 hrs and our anchor broke out and we headed straight for the rocks so there was a very active few minutes where all hands were called from various stages of sleep to retrieve the dragging anchor and set sail south. Stopped for a break at even another small island before make our way into Slano, a supposedly sheltered harbour on the mainland. Slano's was virtually wiped out in the wars of the 1990s where every house except for one was destroyed by artillery fire. Amazinglly the church also survived.
Now it has a couple of ultra modern looking hotels whose glass facades do nothing to restore what must have been a quite unique little coastal town. As we entered the bay we were approached by a jet ski with a woman in a white dress, complete even to wearing a string of perls, riding as pillion passenger. This lady spoke English and invited us to tie stern to with tailed mooring at their Taverna. There three other yachts tied there and I was in bad need of some sleep after the rough preceding night so we accepted their invitation. Around the Med if you accept the offer of a free mooring then you unreservedly accept that you will be eating at the offerer's taverna that evening. It looked a nice place and the safety of being tied to the shore was very attractive to all.
Well when we backed in towards the quay I suddenly became very aware of the depth that looked to all of us as though it could not accommodate us without our going aground. The Taverna owner assured us that there was enough depth and pointed to the larger yachts tied thereto. Five minutes later and hard aground we were stuck for the night. It was high tide and it was unlikely that we would be moving anytime soon.
The other yachts were also hard on the putty! Never mind we had a great dinner and the service was wonderful as was the nights sleep. 0500 and I am pacing the deck trying to work out how to get out of the mud. I decided that there was nothing I could do until the boats next door moved as I needed to use the spinnaker halyard from the top of Elixirs mast tied to the far end of the quay to winch her over enough to lift the keel out of the mud and float off. The challenge with this idea was that the other boats were also stuck. Eventually however I managed to persuade them to allow me to put my line over the top of their backstays to the end and tip Elixir and wulla! We floated out of our sticky trap. A quiet sail over to Sipan for lunch before we noticed a very dark patch on the water to windward and decided to up anchor and bolt from there too. Just in time we got away before all hell broke loose amongst the other anchored yachts and most followed us out of the windtunnel.
No shortage of pretty little towns to look at along the coast.
We made our way from there under headsail alone doing some 8 knts to Dubrovnik where we would anchor in a bay and wait the arrival of Phil Clemow and the departure the following day of the Searles.
A very tired looking Phil Clemow looked like he had hitchhiked all the way from New Zealand! He assured us however that he had only been traveling for 36 hrs.
All on boasrd for the Searles last happy hour with us - this trip.
20th July and we wave goodbye to the Searles who we are going to miss a lot as they were really good company and by the end of their holiday had become very good handlers of Elixir and all of the things that go with being an excellent and fun crew.
On the way we get a welcome visit from our friends the dolphins.
21 July and having re-provisioned we head north once again through lots of island and sailing nicely under full sail we cover the 36 miles to Polace National park and anchor with stern lines to the shore.
22 July, Jenny and Phil do the bus trip thing to the lakes and I proceed to pay a 1,000 Kuna fine for exceeding 5kmh in my rubber ducky with its 5hp motor. (1,000 Kuna = nz$250 and a repentant red face). I was rather pleased however to find that my little rubber ducky can apparently exceed 12knots with just me on board. Brmmm Brmmm! Leader of the pack! Latent outlaw!
15:00 and we sail out of there for one of our better sails averaging under 8knots the 30 miles to Otok Lastovo Phil who was given the helm had a smile from ear to ear and looked in 7th heaven. For the first time this cruise we set a double anchor as there was lightning everywhere and we were obviously in for a good stormy and dark night. Already there were yachts dragging their anchors in Lastovo when we arrived. Well it blew and it thundered, there was both sheet and forked lightning, a proper light show.
For the first time in the years that we have been coming to the Med we had heavy rain but with our two anchors set at about 20 degrees apart on an angle looking from our bow we sat peacefully all night and now on the morning of the 23 July I am bringing this blog up to date.
11:00 12/07/12 we leave under the new Dubrovnik suspension bridge and head out to the island of Luka for the night.
13/07/12 Arrive in the Croatian National Park at Luka Prozura and tie stern to a Taverna. It appears that if you anchor in the bay you must pay anchorage fees to the National Park which roughly equate to having a meal at the Taverna where no fees are required to be paid. One does not have to be born a mathematician to work out the best deal!
14/07/12 I am writing up this blog whilst the Searl Family are off doing the National Park Tour and Jenny is having a catchup on the housekeeping
Midday and we arrive at Cleopatra Marina in Preveza and located Elixir looking all forlorn and a little ready for a bit of TLC. Located an unguarded ladder from elsewhere in the marina and boarded to find her just as we had left her in excellent condition down below with minimal dust and no sign of being any the worse for the long time without occupation. By the time night fell and we had returned the rental car we had restocked the pantries and fridge, went to town and did the supermarket, Port Captain and Customs essentials and located a SIM card for our telephone. We had removed a half a ton of winter grime off the decks and had her looking all shipshape, this night we slept despite the 27 degree midnight heat and having to attend toiletries by way of a steep ladder and walk on the rough mettle. Next day was a work day first up at 08:30 we had a man up the mast replacing our wind transducer that we had brought from NZ as hand luggage for fear of getting it squashed in our general luggage. I recalibrated our wind direction indicator and auto pilot, replaced the engine oil, oil filter and water pump rotor.
01/07/12 Jenny cleaned and scrubbed and did essential washing. Next morning paid our marina fees and had Elixir dropped in the briney. The motor started first pop and off we went over the harbour to the waterfront in the town basin.
Had a Gyros for lunch and set about bending on our sails and setting up for sea.
Midnight and we cast off from central nightclub disco frenzy and put to sea. A wonderful 30 mile moonlight sail, watching shipping go by on the radar and even had to don a light jacket about 3am as the moon set and the night got a chilly 16deg, by daybreak we had dropped anchor off Paxos. Had a swim before breakfast and moving in the narrow seaway to tie stern to the rocks and trees with our anchor having the job of holding our bow out to sea.
02/07/12 24 hours later so here we are!
To quote Ratty "There is nothing, absolutely nothing, like messing around in boats"
Just a very quick update. We received a garbled skype call from Carolyn and Paddy Mitchel (Caroyln in my Cousin from Aus.) on the night of the 2ndfollowed by a legible email letting us know that their Australian Yacht Kristiane was anchored at the North Eastern end of Corfu ready to head North to Bar which is a port town in Montenegro. Both Jenny and I were worried that our paths would not cross further north so we left Paxos early yesterday morning and headed the 35 miles to where we understood they were due to be anchored. It was a good opportunity to catch a breeze in daylight hours and do a bit of real sailing. We made the decision also in the knowledge that John Bamley off NZ yacht Rumba was planning to try to catch up with us at Paxos or Corfu. But as John had yet to arrive in Greece we took the most likely course and decided to cut Paddy and Carolyn off at the pass.
Around 3pm yesterday we did indeed see Kristiane anchored all by herself in a small bay called Agni. No one on board so we dropped our anchor beside them and settled down to wait for them to come out of hiding! Indeed an hour later, having no doubt reached the conclusion that we were not going to go away, they came back in their rubber ducky from the taverna in the bay next door and were most surprised to see us and a very happy hour ensued. We had the added bonus that their daughter Catherine was visiting them so we had the delightful opportunity to meet another of our Australian relatives. Kristiane finally had to head North as planned and we waved them all good bye and settled down for the rest of the night. This morning Jenny and I motored the 6 miles South to Limini Gouvion where we were sure to get better internet connection and be able to catch up on long overdue correspondence. We are anchored in beautiful clear blue water with a view out across the bay of cruising yachts and motor vessels and of course the buzzing water skiers and banana boat riders. We will settle here until the 6th when we check into Gouvia Marina to pick up Tauranga couple, Keith and Rosemary Searle before heading on up North, now with a crew of 4, to Montenegro. For those of you who are used to Google Earth you can spot our anchorage 39 39.7n 19 51.3s. SWMBO keeps asking what the plan for today is - I have no plan! (A swim and a sleep may well suffice)
07/07/12. Piked up Keith and Rosemary Searle and immediately went into Corfu Port by Bus to complete formalities for leaving Greece. Back by mid afternoon and having provisioned up we slipped out of Gouvia Marina and moved back up the coast for the night tied stern to a rock in Agni.
0600 08/07/12 and we motored North West away from Corfu and stopped for lunch and a welcome swim 25 miles away alongside the small Greek Island of Erikoussa.
Headed straight North lunch up off the coast of Albania destined for Bar in Montenegro 168 miles away. As the afternoon wore on the wind strengthened from the north and we were in a dead beat making our way up the coast, we found the best tack took us close along the coast of Albania and within 100 metres of the shore at one place. Deep reef in the main and motor sailing to gain height with 40knots across the deck. The wind finally died down around 18:00 although the seas remained rough. 20: 30 hours and we are off the Albanian island called Ishull I Sazanit with its huge light on its northern. With that light for company we entered into darkness hours and with the motor now doing 2300 fevs we were making good speed up the rhumb line. 30 hours straight of hard yakka and I believe that Jenny and Rosemary deserve a certificate for not chundering even once!
10:00 09/07/12 we enter the industrial port town of Bar in Montenegro and I head immediately off to Customs to be told that we would not be allowed to entre Montenegro because I did not have a copy of my coastal skippers license onboard. I sat that ticket back in the 1970s and have never before been asked to produce it. Montenegro it seems believes that to be safe one must have that piece of paper. We load up with fuel and water and leave at the end of the day with heavy hearts as this means that we will not have access to the Bay Of Kotor and so must straight to Dubrovnik, but we fooled them we found a sheltered little bay and all went swimming and lay at quiet anchor for the night.
04:00 10/07/12 Up anchor and motor quietly on up the coast seeking a breath of breeze.
We passed the Bay of Kotor later in the morning and proceeded to swelter in the +30 degree heat. We motored with our boom tent in place to provide a shady place to sit.
14:00 10/07/12 We obtain permission to go alongside the international wharf in Dubrovnik to clear customs and immigration before moving out to a small island for the night with all formalities in place.
08:30 11/07/12 Tied up at Dubrovnik ACI Marina for where we were due to stay overnight and to pick up Phil Searle who was flying into Croatia from the UK the next morning. Jenny and I took the opportunity to catch a bus the 5klm into the city to procure a Coratian Sim card for our phone with not less that 1 x gig of Internet Broadband.
Just a note as to some of the costs. Cruising Permit for Croatia 1 x month with Boat entry 2480 Kuna (4 x Kuna = $1nz) Sim card with Time 100 kuna. Bus trip 30 kuna each for day pass. Marina for 1 night 1,108 Kuna (Ouch!!!) Time to get out to the islands.
27/06/12 Left NZ on Jetstar for Singapore to have 8 hours in transit before leaving for Kuala Lumpur. The flight from NZ was the flight that cattle go on when they fly cattle's cattle class. We amused some passengers by breaking out our Subways and packets of nuts and enjoying a picnic, without a rug, about the half way mark. The plane you see would not stop! We spent plenty of time observing the unchanging landscape of outback Australia. After having a totally indulged few days with Ian and Jenny-May in Kuala Lumpur where those two went to no end of trouble and extravagant expense to ensure that we enjoyed the eating out experience that is so by far the best we have had anywhere in the world, Jenny and I left, comfortably bloated, on what was to be the most arduous part of the journey. We flew Malaysian Air from Kuala Lumpur leaving at midnight non stop 10 and a half hours to Istanbul, 4 hours in Istanbul transit to board a one and a half hour flight on Olympic Air for Athens where we had another 5 hour wait in transit. Re-boarded Olympic Air and flew straight to Corfu, rushed from the Corfu Airport to the ferry terminal and caught a late evening ferry to Iguomentsia. Off the ferry and located a little rental car then off to find our hotel. Had a shower and hit our pillows a straight non sleep 30 hours from Kuala Lumpur and still I could not sleep. My ankles were swollen my legs ached and I spend half the night worrying about what condition I was going to find Elixir in at Preveza the next day. First rule of driving in Greece is do not trust your navigator! When Google Maps says turn off a motorway at 11km then you probably should have turned off at 7km so we find the next off ramp for a little sojourn into the country areas of no English speaking but very friendly village people, but first find a village.
30/07/11 Jenny and I rent a 100cc scooter for the day at a cost of 12 Euro. Actually last time we rented a scooter was two years ago and that was a 75cc model, I figure that SWMBO might require a bit more power by now! Anyway the reason for the scooter is that Preveza is some 30km away and we are booked to have Elixir lifted on the 8th August so we needed the opportunity to go there to check it all out and familiarize ourselves with the whole environment.
Well it turned out to be a great day starting off by crossing the swing bridge, a steel affair with reinforcing type rods welded to the bridgetop for grip causing a real shudder for our scooter and for Jenny to declare once again that this was not her favorite form of travel! Wasps became a bit of a worry as I was wearing baggy shorts! My imagination of the repercussions if one was to actually catch one of these beasties meant I took it fairly easy most of the way. We were pleased with what we discovered at Preveza and also grateful for a Italian yacht that was showing us graphically what would happen if we ignored the cross current on arriving at the travel lift. The Italian yacht had a entanglement with about four other yachts and caused a great deal of consternation. Message learned there and part of the reason why I wanted to check it out. We went old castle visiting on the way back... again. All the while David and Elizabeth stayed back in Lefkas on yacht minding duties.
Next morning 06:50 we cast off from Lefkas and motored up the canal, through the bridge, hoisted sail and headed north 30 miles to Andipaxoi .
Passing through the swing bridge
Sun rising on exiting the canal
And Chanel now behind us
We enjoyed the sail while we had wind and getting out into some seaspace again.
Stopped at Andipaxoi for a swim and lunch after which we sailed on to Paxoi itself (pronounced "Paxos").
Entering the narrow channel of Paxoi
Such a Lovely little village that at nightime after all the tourist day boats return to Corfu becomes a joyful place to just be without all the hustle that goes on in the larger tourist traps.
David and I have no trouble launching the rubber ducky.
After we have done our mooring line knitting for the night along intertwined with all the other stayovers mooring lines we feel nice and secure.
Next day we visit the caves on the south side of the island and jenny and david actually take the rubber ducky right inside. It was faily crowded with visitor boats that I stayed onboard.
After visiting the caves on Paxoi we sail back to the mainland to a bay with an ancient castle and town called Parga.
The famous castle at Parga
This is what we were told happens when a Greek charter launch starts to lose money. If it sinks it stops costing for mooring and maintenence.
Next morning it is a nice walk into Parga and a vist to the castle.
So - Girls the above is all about shopping in Parga.
The Sail 40 miles back to Preveza
08:00 Waiting for the bus that will take us the 6 hours to Athens and the plane to Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur and eventually home to New Zealand for another 10 months. It has been an interesting and eventful 2011 Cruise all the way from Marmaris in Turkey to Preveza on the Ionian shore in Greece.
Father figure sent to the foredeck.. I really didn't think what I said was that bad!
Helm taken over by the aspiring!
After lunch we have a rather boisterous sail for 25 miles to Vathi on Nisos Ithaca.
A reef in both the main and the headsail. Notice that the horizon has gained a rather distinct heel!
We found a small anchorage amongst a handful of other yachts wherein we could wait out the windstorm.
Which way to go around the roundabout? No road markings here! and fast closing the lea shore, very, very fast.
Yachts started arriving in dribs and drabs and small flotillas of 3 or 4 and the anchorage soon filled up to bursting point. Wind gusting up to 35 knots and a rough sea around the rest of the bay caused challenges for all as boats jockeyed for whatever shelter could be had. There were cross words being exchanged as those that thought they owned the bay tried to tell others to go away. They of course had no where else to go. We were at the front of the bay with our anchor just off the shore so there was absolutely no room for boats to get between us and the shore, that however, did not stop a large catamaran right on nightfall trying anchor right on top of our anchor-line. He got the message in basic Kiwi and moved to the back!
Day dawned on 25/07/11 and with it an easing of the wind so we move out and make our way around the north end of Ithaca and on to Fiskardho a beautiful little settlement on the North Eastern tip of Nisos Cephalonia.
Sun kissing the shore.. Just a bit more of what we came for..Sigh...
Entrance to Fiskardo. Ancient lookout and signal station.
Back into the side with a zillion other yachts and put up our sun shades.
Jenny and Elizabeth were delivered to the shops by Chris in the rubber ducky while David did his walking thing. After a sleepless night previous I decided that top priority was checking out the inside of my eyelids.
David, Chris and Elizabeth escape the heat of the midday sun and fill in a bit of time while Jenny hits the shops.
It certainly is quaint and one can easily understand its international attraction.
I had warned all that we would not be staying the night and to back at the Yacht by 14:00 due to the chaotic nature of the place and my assumption that were there were so many young tourist about there was bound to be a disco in the finest tradition of Greek idyllic anchorages. A fair wind ensued as we made our way North West to Nisos Kastos and the main anchorage thereon of Kastos itself for the night.
Gin Palace took a real close look at us and spilt our martinis! Darn!
Once again we are welcomed to the land of flotilla charter groups and this tiny little anchorage of Kastos was acting host to 70 Yachts.
David and Elizabeth on Kastos
The charterers completely overrun the four available tavernas so we had our dinner on board again and contented ourselves with being shuttled back and forth in the rubber ducky to the throngs.
26/07/11 06:30 and we are off again. First we sail north to clear both Kastos and Nisos Kalamos then west.
I swear I felt some rain I tell you!
We pass several Island including Meganisi then Skorpios (the Onasis Island so Jenny put on her Jacky-O sunglasess and on to Nidri on Lefkas.
On arrival and while trying to pick an anchorage for the night we motored down the inland lagoon of Ormos Vlikho. We named this bay the Bay of broken dreams as everywhere there were yachts and motor launches in various states of decay some half sunk against the shore and indeed some with just masts showing. We did not like the feeling in there so returned to a Bay that we had seen on the Port side of the entrance and just a 100 metres across to the town. Chris check out bus timetables as he was due to leave the yacht next day and needed to find a way up to Corfu for his flight back to the UK. He discovered that the right bus was leaving at noon the next day. We spent the night and had a team meal out at the generous offering of Chris before, sadly,waving him goodbye next day on the 27th July. As Jenny had discovered a Laundry all our washing had been done by days end so we grabbed a Gyros each and hit the sea again. This time just 3 miles to the bottom end of Scorpios where we have just spent a beautiful peaceful night in company of just one other yacht. As network reception was 100% I made all booking arrangements for Jenny and I to fly home from Athens to which we will have to Bus (5 hrs). More on that all later.
We did manage to score a lovely anchorage just off Nidri.
We have our last meal with Chris before he gets the bus which will take him up the coast about 4hrs from where he will jump on a ferry to Corfu and then fly back to the UK.
27th July 20:30 hrs we had enough of the busy port lifestyle and moved about 20 minutes sail away to the picturesque Island of Scorpious for the night. On arrival the other yachts were just leaving and we had the bay to ourselves and one other late arrival. Still as can be and as peaceful as one could wish.
Jacki Onasis main beach home in the background gave this anchorage a sad touch.
Next morning Jenny David and Elizabeth went for a circumnavigation of the island in the rubber ducky before we slip away to visit Meganisi and the famous caves.
Apparently according to local storys the Greeks hid a submarine in here during the latter part of the 2nd World War.
Sometimes I just get the feeling I am being left behind!
We move around to the top of the Island where the local wasp inhabitants had planned a welcome for us. Jenny fought back by using citronella candles and sprinkling cinnamon on them ( the candles!). Much to our surprise it worked a treat! Whenever she made her poison they disappeared! I had suggested that we start by sprinkling the wasps on the candles first but nobody thought that was a good idea at all.
David and I had just caught sight of Jennys patented rat preventers! We pride ourselves in that are always ready to give positive encouragement to the lower deck hands!
See Cathy! I can look trendy with new togs in pink!
Outdoor dining under the stars at its finest on a hot balmy night in Meganisi. Lots of other boaties enjoying the same so was a very social occasion.
The access to this restaurant is by water so everyone gets a wet bum both on the way there and on the way back! Not to worry as in this heat one dries very quickly insitu - so to speak.
We spend two days in these little anchorages and then move up to Levkas. Lavkas is an Island with its town of the same name and a small canal controlling all comings and goings. There is a bridge over the canal for road traffic.
An ancient fort overlooks the entrance to the canal area and would have had quite an influence on traffic way back in the middle ages.
The bridge is opened on the hour ever hour of the day to allow for boat traffic to pass by.
Well we approached Levkas just as the bridge had opened and we were met by a rugby scrum of flotilla yachts heading our way on the 20meter wide water way. Depths at the edge of the canal were such that seagulls could walk along without getting their knees wet and in the middle it was just 5.5 metres deep. No room for any sort of drifting off and one had to keep eyes fixed on transits to save from any red faced mistakes.
No it was not deliberate that I backed Elixir up to the town mole just in front of the best Pita Gyroses in Town!