Freya & Us

Vessel Name: Freya of Wight
Vessel Make/Model: Westerly Oceanranger
Hailing Port: Portishead
19 April 2017 | Sarande, Albania 5,800 NM
17 April 2017 | Paxos, Greece - 5,748 NM
11 April 2017 | Nydri, Greece - 5,698 NM
03 April 2017 | Nydri, Greece - 5,698 NM
02 June 2016 | Preveza , Greece - 5,678 NM
12 May 2016 | Bristol - 5,553 nm
27 April 2016 | Crotone - 5,481 nm
20 April 2016 | Roccella Ionica - 5,413 nm
16 April 2016 | Isola Vulcano - 5,295 nm
11 April 2016 | Cetraro - 5,182 NM
10 April 2016 | Camerota - 5,143 NM
07 April 2016 | Agropoli - 5,106 NM
28 March 2016 | Gaeta - 4,998 NM
13 March 2016 | Gaeta - 4,998 NM
30 November 2015 | Bristol, 4,998 NM
11 November 2015 | Gaeta 4,998 NM
29 October 2015 | Gaeta, 4,998 NM
27 October 2015 | Pozzuoli, 4,958NM
19 October 2015 | Pozzuoli, 4,958 NM
11 October 2015 | Nettuno, 4,869 NM
Recent Blog Posts
19 April 2017 | Sarande, Albania 5,800 NM

Brexit

From Preveza we had a long and rolly motor through the swell to the island of Paxos where we anchored in Mongonisi bay for the night. The bay was deserted with no other boats and the one beach side taverna still closed for the winter. We loved it after the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks. Our [...]

17 April 2017 | Paxos, Greece - 5,748 NM

Heading North

As you can see from the title we have managed to escape from Velco bay, sorry I mean Nydri. But like the rest of our time there our last couple of days were lovely.

11 April 2017 | Nydri, Greece - 5,698 NM

Velcro Bay

Despite intending to stay in Nydri for only a few days, eight days after arriving we are still here. A mile further south from Nydri is Vliho Bay, otherwise known as Velcro Bay. Firstly because the bottom is soft sticky mud which makes for secure anchoring - boats stay put - and secondly because it is [...]

03 April 2017 | Nydri, Greece - 5,698 NM

Back on Board

After nearly a year away from the boat we returned to Freya last Wednesday.

02 June 2016 | Preveza , Greece - 5,678 NM

Alone at Sea

Things are going well at home, but we will need to be in Bristol for two or three more months at least. As we enter the summer season the marina fees in Italy become eye-wateringly expensive, so Freya had to move. I (Paul) flew out to Lueca and after a day recommissioning the boat, set off on a 125NM, [...]

12 May 2016 | Bristol - 5,553 nm

Back Home at Short Notice

We had a really exhilarating sail to Santa Maria di Leuca,. For the first hour or two there was no wind, but as per forecast it picked up and for nine hours we were sailing at around 6.5 kts with the wind on the beam. Two great sails in a row and we thought we were on a roll.

Brexit

19 April 2017 | Sarande, Albania 5,800 NM
Wind and Rain
From Preveza we had a long and rolly motor through the swell to the island of Paxos where we anchored in Mongonisi bay for the night. The bay was deserted with no other boats and the one beach side taverna still closed for the winter. We loved it after the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks. Our passage to Paxos was uncomfortable because of the swell and quite boring as there wasn't enough wind to sail. It was made worse because Freya is still sulking after being left for so long. The autopilot stopped working so we had to manually helm all the way. We were given a replacement control unit for the autopilot 4 years ago by our friends Phil and Julie (who had upgraded their system) so after eliminating everything else we could think of, fitted that and all seemed well.

The forecast was for rain later in the day, so we left Mongonisi quite early, well for us at least, and started off motoring towards Plateria on the mainland. We were making good progress under engine with the repaired autopilot working well. Then the wind picked up and we raised the sails and managed a whole half hour sailing close hauled at 5.5 kts before the wind disappeared and we had to motor again. There were a few spots of rain on the journey, but nothing to worry us as we could leave the steering to the autopilot while we sat under the spray hood.

Our anchor windlass has been playing up - we think its motor needs new brushes - which makes med mooring using the anchor a bit more interesting. You need to give it a bit of a thump with a rubber mallet to get it started, very reminiscent of Basil Fawlty trying to get his car started. We will need to struggle on with it for a while at least until we get back to Nydri in mid May where we can get the right parts.

We spent our afternoon in Plateria sat in a bar overlooking the harbour entrance enjoying a beer and watching the forecast rain coming down, feeling a bit smug as we watched a few boats coming in with sodden crews. The next morning we left Greece and the EU, heading into Albania.

It was a lovely day for a motor, flat seas and brilliant sunshine without a breath of wind, not sailing but quite lovely really. As we crossed the border into Albania, down went the Greek courtesy flag and was replaced with the Albanian one, but this was joined by a yellow duster, otherwise known as the "Q" flag - in this case it really was a yellow duster as we don't have a Q flag! As we had left the EU and no longer have freedom of movement across borders, the "Q" flag must be flown until the immigration formalities have been completed. Its a requirement in Albania that we use an agent for this, which is just as well as they aren't really geared up for cruising yachts. We have to go through the same process as the big container ships or the ferries from Italy and Greece. In fact there are no yacht berths and we are moored on a side wall in the ferry port and have to walk through passport control and customs when we go into town, although so far each time we've done this the place is deserted and they wave us through.

Sarande is a nice modern seaside town spread around a big sandy bay. It has a laid back feel to it and everyone has been really friendly. Last night we ate out in a fish restaurant and steeled ourselves to struggle with the language. Faleminderit for "thank you" is the limit of our Albanian so far. But we needn't have worried, the restaurant was run by Greeks so we had two common languages, the waiter spoke his native Greek, Albanian and English. It's quite funny that the first Greek restaurant we ate in in Greece this year was run by an Albanian (Upside Down George) and our first Albanian restaurant was run by Greeks - and friends of Upside Down George!

Today we were planning to hire a car and head out to explore some of the sights around the area with out Kiwi neighbours but the weather isn't good, wind and heavy showers, so we are staying in town and delaying that until tomorrow.

The link to our map seems to be stopping people leaving comments on the blog, so I've removed it for now. I will be keeping it up to date so simply go to an earlier blog and click the link there to see it.

Heading North

17 April 2017 | Paxos, Greece - 5,748 NM
Overcast
As you can see from the title we have managed to escape from Velco bay, sorry I mean Nydri. But like the rest of our time there our last couple of days were lovely.

We walked inland for about 5km following a dry river bed to the Nydri Waterfalls. It was a lovely walk but given the lack of water we were prepared to be underwhelmed by the falls. We needn't have worried, after about 3km there was some water and a bit further on series of very pretty but small falls. This didn't look like the picture on the postcards so we carried on. All of a sudden ahead was the Nydri Falls Cafe and beyond it a path that wound itself uphill. We followed it for a few minutes and soon we had arrived. The falls were perhaps 30ft to 50ft above us cascading into a beautiful turquoise pool. Lovely. We returned via the cafe and prepared ourselves for the night's entertainment.

Josie, Lorraine's second cousin, was having an 18th birthday party on Dhesmio beach a few miles away. It was a beautiful spot and Arran did a great job in organising this night, some excellent food, a guitar and some singing. A great time was had by all. We were planning to leave the following day, aiming to leave around 11:00 and we had offered Josie a lift to Lefkas on the boat where she was going to spend a few days with a friend. Truthfully we would have been disappointed that if after her 18th birthday party (they continued partying after the BBQ) she made our departure time. So after finally making phone contact with her to say goodbye we set off on our own to Lefkas all of 8NM away.

We were only planning to stay one night, just long enough to collect our life raft and fit our new guard rails. As we finished tying on our mooring lines along came a familiar face to say hello. It was Robin from Miss Chips, a boat we met in Almerima in 2013 and did a bit of sailing with in early 2014, after which we headed in separate directions. We had a great evening with him and Becks, so much so that we didn't get around to fitting the guard rails.

The next morning and a bit later than we planned and truth be told, feeling a little groggy we set to work, the first two guard rails went on fine, but the next two didn't fit. They were to long, one by three inches the other by five. There was a problem with the measuring, but also the boat is longer by two inches on the starboard side! We rushed them round to the riggers to have them shortened very conscious that it was now midday on the Thursday before Good Friday and they were about to shut for 4 days. Luckily they managed to squeeze us in that afternoon and by 4:00 pm they were installed on the boat, but by then we had lost the enthusiasm for moving and decided to stay another night in Lefkas. It did give us an opportunity to explore Lefkas and we discovered some lovely bits that we missed on our previous visits and on our pub crawl the night before.

The next morning we headed off to Preveza aiming for the 10:00 am bridge opening. The bridge is actually a barge with a drawbridge at either end that swings open to let boats through. The first time we went through it fully opened. This time we were the only boat passing through so he just opened the drawbridge while shouting at us to hurry, it looked like a very small hole to squeeze Freya through and we were worried about hitting the drawbridge with the mast as it was still going up, but in truth there was plenty of room.

We needed water and electricity to fully charge the batteries, so on hearing that the utility points on the town quay were out of service, we opted for the very reasonable marina in Preveza for two nights.

Preveza is lovely harbour town with a long sea front promenade and a pedestrian street behind and parallel to it. It was Good Friday and the Greek churches paraded flower covered altars through the streets, accompanied by brass bands and followed by the congregation carrying lighted candles to a square on the seafront. By the end of the evening they were perhaps half a dozen of the altars in the square. Not as full on a spectacle as the Spanish Semana Santa parades but very interesting to see. On the Saturday morning, which the Greeks call "Mekalo Sabado" or Big Saturday we went into town to see an even stranger tradition. The streets and balconies were full of people, many carrying terracotta pots, some plain, some with names on, others richly decorated. The people were waiting for a signal. It was due at 9:30 but in Greek style it came just before 10:00. The church bells rang and people started dropping the pots from the balconies and smashing them on the ground to shouts of "happy easter" and " have a long life". Surprisingly no one was brained by a falling pot or cut by flying fragments of terracotta and all seemed to enjoy it. This as followed by Greek music and dancing n the street.

Next we head north towards Albania.........

The link to our map seems to be stopping people leaving comments on the blog, so I've removed it for now. I will be keeping it up to date so simply go to an earlier blog and click the link there to see it.

Velcro Bay

11 April 2017 | Nydri, Greece - 5,698 NM
Sunny & Hot
Despite intending to stay in Nydri for only a few days, eight days after arriving we are still here. A mile further south from Nydri is Vliho Bay, otherwise known as Velcro Bay. Firstly because the bottom is soft sticky mud which makes for secure anchoring - boats stay put - and secondly because it is a lovely bay which together with Nydri's strong community (I think we may already know more people in Nydri than we do in Bristol) makes people stay put. We won't be leaving for a couple more days yet, but rest assured we will leaving and won't get stuck here as so many others have.

We have been slowly ticking off our remaining recommissioning jobs but mostly we have been chilling out and exploring the island of Lefkada. On the work side the most notable job was to replace what we thought were some blown diodes on the generator. This involved separating the alternator part from the engine part, a difficult job in the cramped confines of the cockpit locker where the generator lived. On doing this, it became clear that the issue was more serious, terminal in fact. A piece of plastic had failed and destroyed the windings in the alternator, so the whole thing has gone overboard (not literally) and the boat is now a few hundred kilos lighter. Thankfully we finally found someone qualified to service our life raft (2 years past its due date) and are also changing the guard rails on the top sides of the boat, so as well as going faster (less weight equals more speed) we should be that bit safer.

We hired a car for a day and after dropping off the life raft at the service centre, embarked on a circumnavigation of the island plus a visit to its highest village, located strangely enough, atop the mountains in the middle. The island is beautiful with gorgeous bays and villages on the coast, hills carpeted with spring wild flowers nestling under cypress forests and olive groves. Higher up the hills the terrain changes, the trees replaced with scrubland, but still beautiful and the views were amazing. Away from the bigger towns of Lefkada, Nydri and Preveza nearly everywhere was still in winter shutdown, even the popular ports of Vasaliki and Sivita were closed apart from a single bar and a takeaway, so we did finally get lunch at around 15:30.

On Wednesday Nisos, the company Arran works for, started to launch the boats in their fleet and they invited us to come and watch. Now we have seen a few boat launches in our time, using travel lifts and mobile cradles, clever bits of kit that were most likely designed by Brains from Thunderbirds. But none of that fancy modern stuff for the boat yards in Nydri. Instead they use wooden sleds that they slide either side of the keel of a yacht, bolt them together and then they remove the props holding the boat so it drops "gently" on to the sled. The sled sits on "sleepers" that are liberally smeared with pig fat. The sled is then pulled into the sea using a cable and pulley system powered by big electric winches. By reconfiguring the cables and pulleys the sled can be moved to any location in the boatyard. Apart from replacing donkeys with electricity, this system of hauling and launching boats goes back at least five hundred years. Apparently health and safety is even reaching Greece and rumour has it that the cables and sleds will be replaced within a few years. It was quite exciting to watch the launches especially when you consider the speed at which they work, they aim for 11 launches a day, as much if not more than most boatyards using a travel lift.

Socially we been very busy as well. We attended "Upside Down George's" birthday party - an Albanian ex acrobat and now taverna owner, a film show at Vliho yacht club starring our Arran, had dinner at George's taverna with Peter a yachty friend from the UK and then went to "BobStock", a music festival/birthday party up the hill from Nydri, where Arran performed a couple of sets.

Just when we thought it was quieting down and we were thinking about moving on, Lorraine's second cousin, Josie, has come out here for her 18th birthday. So a bit more drinking etc. and a birthday barbie on the beach tomorrow beckon. So we won't be leaving until Wednesday at the earliest, but we have been invited to opening night of the wine bar on Thursday....what I did say about Velcro earlier?

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Click here for the interactive map of our travels

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Back on Board

03 April 2017 | Nydri, Greece - 5,698 NM
Sunny & Warm
After nearly a year away from the boat we returned to Freya last Wednesday.

Our first challenge was picking up our hire car on the Tuesday evening. We arrived at Preveza airport 40 minutes before our scheduled pick up time, after a pleasant but long bus journey from Athens. Despite having booked an "In Terminal" pickup there was no one there. In fact there was no one at the airport at all. It was closed - for the winter. We tried ringing the local hire company but there was no answer. We rang rentalcars.com who had no luck contacting anyone either, but they did confirm our booking was at the airport and to call back if we still had a problem. We sat down in the car park and settled down to wait the 30 minutes or so until our pickup time. It felt very surreal sat on the floor of a dusty and all but deserted car park, watching the AWACS plane in the adjacent military airport practice its takeoffs and landings. We were quite enjoying the experience and needn't have worried, a few minutes before it was due our car arrived and we were soon on our way.

Quite surprisingly given that no one had set foot her since last May, she was in fine form and there was no sign of damp or the all too common boaty smell from the bilges. After a quick spot of antifouling and the replacement of a dodgy seacock, by Lorraine's nephew, Arran, we were ready to be launched on the Friday. This involved another mooring first for us. Med mooring using our anchor as opposed to lazy lines. We managed this with no problems, despite the anchor windlass playing up and adding another job to the "to do" list.

After checking the seacock wasn't leaking - how could we doubt Arran's skills - we started on the difficult job, cleaning away 10 months accumulation of dust. We got this and our other important commissioning jobs done in good order and on Sunday morning we set sail.

Our goal was to make it to Nydri, all of 17 NM away. The first part of the journey was with the engine, as we had to navigate the narrow dredged channels on the exit from Preveza and then a brief sail to the Lefkas canal. We timed our passage to perfection arriving just on 12:00 to make the scheduled opening of the bridge. We motored through the canal to enter the sea again about 50 minutes later. From the exit we had a spirited close-hauled sail to Nydri, sailing at up to 6kts.

We are now moored alongside the town quay (pontoon) where we will stay a few days completing our commissioning jobs and gate crashing Arran's social life. We have to attend George's birthday party, visit Vliho yacht club for a film night and then finally a musical revue featuring our very own Arran at the weekend.

Today's plan for the next few weeks is a gentle amble North and then into Albania for a few weeks cruising before we return to the Ionian to meet up with family in May.


Click here for the interactive map of our travels

Alone at Sea

02 June 2016 | Preveza , Greece - 5,678 NM
Sunny & Hot
Things are going well at home, but we will need to be in Bristol for two or three more months at least. As we enter the summer season the marina fees in Italy become eye-wateringly expensive, so Freya had to move. I (Paul) flew out to Lueca and after a day recommissioning the boat, set off on a 125NM, 20 hour passage to Preveza in Greece, where 9 months was the same price as a 1 month stay in Italy.

This was my first ever solo passage and I was excited and apprehensive in equal measure. My biggest fear wasn't being at sea on my own, coping with the lack of sleep or even encountering heavy weather, it was leaving our Italian berth and parking the boat at the other end. Mooring a boat is easier with two people and it makes sense for the physically stronger of the two people to handle the mooring lines and for the other one to steer the boat. So generally Lorraine takes the helm and I've handled the ropes. It's been five years since I've parked Freya and to cap it all I had to do it on my own.

There was very little wind as I left Lueca and leaving the berth was undramatic, but as I motored out of the harbour I had to dodge a few fishing boats in the entrance that seemed to be doing their best to force me into the shallows by the harbour wall. Once in clear water, I hoisted the mainsail, but not the jib, as there was very little wind and set course to Preveza. The seas were calm, the wind almost non-existent and my next course change was 122 nautical miles ahead, it was going to be fine. Half an hour later I spotted a motor boat approaching me at speed. It was the coastguard in a heavily armed 20m patrol boat. There were two guys in the wheel house and another manning the large gun on the foredeck. They slowed to my speed and ran parallel to my course staying about 100m to starboard. I waved and they ignored me. I slowed slightly and waved again but they still didn't respond so I ignored them as well. They ran parallel to me for about 5 minutes and then waved and headed back to shore at great speed. I'm not sure what it was all about, I assume they read the name of the boat and were checking ashore that I wasn't too dodgy or something.

The next excitement was the sight of a lone dolphin playing in the water, and then all was quiet until the evening when the challenge was to nap for no more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time. If you can't see anything on the horizon, you have about that long before you need to check again for any passing boats or whatever else you might hit. Using an alarm clock, which I was constantly resetting to ensure I didn't oversleep, I managed OK. I love nighttime passages and the moon didn't come up until the early hours so I was treated to a wonderful star studded sky. At one point I turned off the navigation lights for a few minutes to enjoy Freya's phosphorescent wake and the sky in all its glory - truly magical.

I approached Preveza just after sunrise but the low sun made it difficult to see the buoys that mark the entrance channel into the bay, made even harder by the hordes of tiny fishing boats that were out at the time. I weaved my way through all these obstructions and just off the boatyard came to a halt to tie on the fenders and put on my mooring lines. Just as I wondering where exactly I should berth, the security guard came to the harbour wall and pointed to a slot. I managed to go alongside exactly where he wanted me and bought the boat to a stop. I stepped off the side, handed him the forward line which he secured while I did stern one. It was my lucky day, you would have thought I knew what I was doing.

The boat was lifted the next day and Arran, Lorraine's nephew, who lives and works nearby came and helped me put Freya to bed. I spent the following night with Arran who showed me around Nidri where he lives, before I returned to Bristol the following morning. An enjoyable few days away, (3 countries in 5 days) but it felt very strange being on the boat without Lorraine.

With fair winds we may be able to return to Freya for a month or so at the end of the season, but if not she is securely berthed for as long as is necessary.

Picture is of Arran in Nidri, not sure if he was desperate for the loo or something;-)

Click here for the interactive map of our travels
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Freya of Wight's Photos -

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