After spending the winter months in the UK I have once again arrived in Greece. I flew Easyjet to Athens and next day caught the early morning bus for the five hour trip to Preveza where 'Salara' was patiently awaiting my return. Such is the efficiency of Cleopatra Boatyard that a ladder had been propped against 'Salara' ready for me to climb on board. 'Salara' had spent the winter months ashore secured in a steel cradle. Before I left for UK last year I had taped plastic sheets over the windows to guard against leaks caused by the high volume of rain this area receives during the winter, consequently she was dry and sweet below deck. I really must save my pennies and install a complete set of new windows in the near future. After my arrival the weather was sunny and dry but the afternoon breeze from the snow capped mountains to the north still had a bite to it.
However the summer beckoned and after a couple of coats of antifouling paint was applied to the hull 'Salara' was ready for launch off, all other jobs having been completed before I left her last November. I paid my boatyard account beforehand as in common with other yards there is a 'no cash, no splash' policy. She was lowered into the water again on the 23 March. There were no leaks and the engine started immediately so I motored her a short distance to Preveza Town Quay to bend on the sails and get everything shipshape.
We stayed there for two nights before moving ten miles further into the Gulf of Amvrikakis to moor up in the small and quiet harbour in the town of Vonitsa.
Then after a few days the weather changed. Southerly winds, thunder storms and heavy rain. For the first week I did not mind too much as it enabled me to concentrate on doing a bit of varnishing in the cabins along with one or two other jobs that kept me below decks. However, after all the jobs were finished the weather continued to be very unpredictable so 'Salara' stayed in Vonitsa and I became bored.
'Harbour rot' Nelson called it.
Eventually after a month of really grotty weather 'Salara' was able to leave Vonitsa. I anchored at Preveza overnight and left the next morning in time to catch the 10.30 hrs bridge opening to gain access to the Levkas Canal. I was heading south to Nidri and Vlikho Bay as I needed to collect my light genoa which I had left with Sioux Sails for repair last year. It was a pleasant trip and 'Salara' was able to sail in a northerly breeze all the way to the anchorage at the head of Vlikho Bay.
The next day I picked up the newly repaired genoa, so now with all jobs done and the weather settling nicely into its summer routine all that is required is to decide where to go. So I shall decide over a beer.
With only four weeks or so until 'Salara' was due to be hauled ashore at Cleopatra Boatyard I was determined to make full use of the remaining sailing time. So with this in mind I left Vathi and organised myself a little cruise which took 'Salara' back across to Limin Petala on the mainland of Greece, then north through the Dragoneros Islands and the many fish farms which are sited there to the anchorage of Ormos Marathia near Astakos. There is a derelict campsite on shore here complete with a freshwater well which unfortunately vandals have filled with rubbish.
'Salara' then continued in very leisurely fashion using the light southerly breeze to push her further north and with the mizzen staysail set three knots was the best she could make. Time was on our side so I just relaxed in the cockpit and enjoyed the trip. The blistering heat of high summer was gone and it was a pleasure to soak up the sunshine. I stopped at the deserted village of Port Leone on Nisos Kalamos which I have found to be a pleasant and interesting anchorage. Even late in the season it was quite crowded. I anchored 'Salara' stern to small shingle beach with the kedge anchor ashore buried in the rocks.
The next stop was at Ormos Abelike on Nisos Meganisi where I stopped for the weekend anchored in idyllic surroundings before ending my little tour with a cracking good sail to Tranquil Bay, Nidri. In Nidri I took the opportunity to visit the local chandlery to buy engine oil, paint, grease and various other items in readiness for 'Salara's' forthcoming winter lay-up. I also needed to stock up with food as with the cooler weather my appetite has returned with a vengeance.
While in Nidri I took the No1 genoa to Sioux Sails so that the UV strip can be replaced during the winter. I could use the No2 genoa in the meantime.
With just over a week to go before it was time to haul out 'Salara' I left the anchorage of Tranquil Bay and headed back through the Levkas Canal to Preveza to be within easy reach of the boatyard at Preveza. However south east winds put in an appearance and it was then prudent to leave Preveza and head for Vonitsa eight miles further into Kolpos Amvrakakis where 'Salara' spent a pleasant and peaceful few days bows to in the small harbour. While there I took the opportunity to do an engine oil and filter change as well as a few other small maintenance jobs around the boat.
'Salara' was hauled out as arranged at 0800hrs on 4 November and by 0930hrs she had been pressure washed and secured in a steel cradle close to water and electricity. The hoist crew are very efficient in this yard.
'Salara' has now been put to bed for the winter and I leave tomorrow on the bus to Athens and then an Easyjet flight to UK.
'Salara' stayed at anchor at Preveza for a few days while I caught up on yet more small jobs from the maintenance list. As fast as I attend to one job on the list another replaces it but as all sailors know that is the nature of things nautical. While I was in Preveza I made the decision to leave 'Salara' in Greece for the winter and arranged for her to be hauled ashore at Cleopatra Boatyard, Preveza in early November. So until then I shall gently cruise among the Ionion Islands.
With the remainder of my sailing season organised I left the anchorage at Preveza and headed north to Nisos Paxoi and the lovely but very crowded anchorage of Lakka where I spent a couple of days relaxing and swimming in the clear waters of the bay.
The maintenance list having been ignored.
All through the month of August I have cruised 'Salara' in the Corfu locality and have visited many interesting and scenic anchorages. Some of my favourites being around the Sivota Islands off the Greek mainland opposite Corfu and Petriti on the east coast of Corfu. I have been visiting Corfu town for provisions on a regular basis and anchoring in Ormos Garitsas under the fortress which is handy for the town centre. The weather has been very hot with light winds apart from a couple of days as a frontal system passed through bringing strong northerlies. During that period 'Salara' was anchored in good shelter in the northern part of Ormos Igoumenitsa a large bay on the nearby coast of Greece.
I have really been rather lazy for the past few weeks and I have not had a great deal of motivation to leave the Corfu area with its clear water, lovely beaches and tremendous scenery. Eventually I did managed to tear myself away and sailed south down the coast back to Preveza in late September. A day later 'Salara' weathered a gale and violent thunderstorms while in the anchorage. At the same time fifteen miles away a tornado tore through the popular anchorage at Vliho on Lefkas causing devastation amongst the anchored yachts and killing one person.
'Salara' arrived there some days afterwards and I was astounded by the damage that it had caused.
At present 'Salara' is at anchor at Vathi on the island of Ithaca....The Kingdom of Odyseus.
The Meltemi winds kept 'Salara' in the anchorage in Ormos Naousa, Nisis Paros for four days, after which there was a short lull that enabled me to sail her to Nisis Serifos and the anchorage off the small town of Livhadion. I anchored 'Salara' in the bay allowing plenty of scope as the holding is not too good here, the bottom being weed over hard sand.
The Meltemi was forecast to blow again soon but I was happy that the anchor was well dug in and so went off happily to bed. In the early hours of the morning I awoke to find 'Salara' slowly dragging her anchor and judging by the navigation lights around her other yachts were in the same predicament with the wind blowing at 30 knots. I started the engine and recovered the anchor then managed the put 'Salara' on a substantial mooring which I had noticed previously and remembered for just such an eventuality. I could then have a cup of tea and return to bed, the excitement over.
The Meltemi held us up for another day but then when all gale warnings had ceased it was good to be able to put to sea again and sail on to the island of Nisis Kithnos a little further north which I hoped would give 'Salara' a more favourable slant for her last leg across the Aegean to Poros in the Saronic Gulf.
I spent a restful night with 'Salara' anchored with lines ashore in Loutra on the north east of the island. I left at dawn and motored her over a flat sea along the course line. The wind slowly built up until the early afternoon when 'Salara' was happily romping along with a useful breeze behind her. I was making for the south east entrance to Poros and for a moment considered sailing in and up the narrow channel but caution prevailed and I dropped the sails just short of the entrance. 'Salara' was soon at anchor on the Galatas side of the large enclosed bay.
In the morning I waited for the charter fleet to sail then motored over to the town quay as 'Salara' needed to be topped up with fuel and freshwater and I needed to be topped up with fresh food.
When I left Poros I sailed 'Salara' along the Peloponnes coast of the Saronic Gulf towards the Corinth Canal stopping at Palais Epidhavros and Korfos on the way.
'Salara' passed through the canal and into the Gulf of Corinth on the 8 July 2011. The cost of the transit was 130 euros.
I was lucky enough to be part of an early westbound convoy which gave me time to reach Andikiron on the north coast of the gulf where 'Salara' moored bows to the short harbour mole. Due to the high mountains surrounding the bay the wind screams in very strongly during the afternoons and I was more than glad of the protection of the harbour mole. 'Salara' left early one morning and pushed along by a useful breeze sailed out of the bay but once around the headland and into the Gulf of Corinth the breeze died completely and 'Salara' was left to motor all the way to the island of Trezonia. There is an unfinished marina here which lots of yachts use free of charge as far as I am aware. There seem to be a lot of hulks tied up here and one fairly large ketch has actually sunk alongside one of the jetties. 'Salara' anchored as usual because this is easier for me being a single hander plus the fact that it is virtually impossible for vermin to invade the yacht. Overlooking the bay is the derelict Lizzies Yacht Club which apparently was very well known for its good hospitality until the death of its owner some time ago.
After a couple of peaceful nights at anchor 'Salara' sailed on to Mesolongion at the western end of the Gulf of Patras. It is interesting to enter the long straight channel through the marshes to reach the harbour basin and the new marina. I did not want to stay long in Mesolongion as I was keen to continue further west and soon 'Salara' was heading for the anchorage of Limin Petala where she stayed for two days due to a strong northwesterly wind. When we finally left for Nidri, Lefkas, during the early morning, I was expecting to have the wind 'on the nose' within a couple of hours but as luck would have it 'Salara' was able to motor over a flat sea for the whole passage to Nidri where I found a slot to anchor her among the mass of yachts in Tranquil Bay.
I needed to have the plastic windows replaced in the cockpit screens so I took the opportunity to visit the Ghecko Covers at Vliho to get that attended to.
'Salara' spent about ten days in the area at anchor either in Vliho or Tranquil Bay
before heading north through the Levkas Canal. She then had a short but bumpy trip against the prevailing northwest wind to Preveza to drop anchor just off the fishing harbour.
'Salara' left Yacht Marine and the coast of Turkey on the 18 May for the short trip to Rhodes and back into EU waters. I was happy to be back at sea and as 'Salara' progressed the wind piped up and she was able to sail. However, that did not last long as the genoa halliard chafed through at the eye due to a bad lead at the top of the furling system. I had to take the sail off and during that operation slipped and cut my head open. Blood in the scuppers, as in Nelson's time.
I bundled the sail down the fore hatch and then cleaned myself up. Thankfully it was nothing too serious but it just reminded me that as a single hander I have to be ultra careful.
I motored the rest of the way into Mandraki harbour in Rhodes and berthed bows to the quay. I then had to visit the necessary authorities to clear in to Greece. No problems, just a lot of walking.
I stayed in Rhodes for three nights and explored the old and very interesting city as well as doing some work on 'Salara'. One of the jobs was to splice a short length of wire into the genoa halliard to prevent the chafe problem from occurring again.
Since leaving Rhodes I have cruised 'Salara' north through the Dodecanese Islands visiting many interesting and beautiful places. The one which impressed me most was the volcanic island of Nisiros where I hired a scooter and went wobbling off to see the crater and tour the island for the day.
I took 'Salara' as far as Samos which, I believe, is one of the Eastern Sporades islands. I had enjoyed a restful few weeks and had regained my confidence in my sailing abilities after my heart bypass in January. I have not felt so fit for a long time.
As my plan was to cross the Aegean before the Meltemi season started in earnest in July it was time to make my way westwards so I sailed to Patmos and then crossed to Naxos in the Cyclades. I stopped for the night at a small anchorage called Ormos Panormos in the south of the island and then continued to Naxos harbour early the following morning. After a couple of days in Naxos, which I spent exploring the pleasant little town, I moved 'Salara' on to Nisis Paros and at present she is tucked into an anchorage in Ormos Naousa sheltering from some strong northerlies, the first of the Meltemi.
I finally returned to Turkey on 6 May. I caught an early flight from London Gatwick which meant that my arrival in Turkey was at 1300 hours so it gave me plenty of time to travel by taxi from Dalaman airport to the boatyard at Marmaris. Everything ran smoothly and I found 'Salara' conveniently placed near the main office block and toilet facilities, not to mention the temptations of the marina bar. She had been moved during my extended stay in UK as she was blocking in other boats.
I scrounged a ladder and climbed aboard to find the decks covered with dust, wood shavings and varnish scrapings but nothing that a good hose down would not clear. Below decks she was dry and sweet so I unpacked my case and stowed everything away in the familiar lockers and drawers. I have lived on board 'Salara' for fifteen years now and in that time I have come to know every screw, nut and bolt virtually on a personal basis. By the time I had connected her to a convenient electricity point I was effortlessly slipping back into nautical life. I treated myself to a meal at the marina restaurant then settled down for an early night as the next few days promised to be busy ones.
The main jobs to do were the antifouling of the hull and the reassembly of propellor shaft and stuffing box arrangement. Last year, before I left for UK I had ordered and paid for the antifouling and also arranged for 'Salara's' anchor chain to be sent away for re galvanising, so it was urgent that I arrange for delivery of these items for the coming Monday.
The next morning I was on the local dolmus to Marmaris town fearing that something would be amiss as the original delivery date was in late February. I should not have worried as the very helpful staff at Anfora Chandlers had everything in hand. They arranged to deliver the smart re galvanised chain on the Monday and I took the antifouling away with me so that I could make an instant start.
It was also necessary to get 'Salara' out of customs bond now that I had returned to Turkey. One of the advantages of being in a large well run marina like Yacht Marine is that they will do this for you as part of their service. They also clear yachts in and out of Turkey and provide transit logs.
The work all went according to plan and I finished with a day to spare before launch off date on the 12 May, despite finding it necessary to also replace the three 110ah domestic batteries and to alter the wiring slightly.
On launch off day 'Salara' was towards the end of the long list of lifts. I spent a boring day counting the other yachts as they were launched and willing the hoist crew to greater speed. Eventually it was our turn and 'Salara' was picked up and whisked off with me chasing along behind with the remains of the antifouling so that I could touch up the parts of the hull that had been covered by the cradle pads. Quickly and efficiently it was all over and she was once more afloat. I dashed below to check for leaks before they took the slings away and was relieved to find that everything was OK. The engine started first time and 'Salara' is now tied bows to in a marina berth, which, by the way, is about as far as you can get, in this massive marina, from the bar.
Is there a message there somewhere? This pontoon is by far the longest single pontoon that I have ever been on and the walk from 'Salara' to the shower block could be classed as I modest hike. Never before have I seen so many eighty year olds riding bikes on the way to their morning ablutions!