It's a long way from Halifax to Preveza. The journey took 21 hours from the time we left the door of our house in Halifax until we landed in Athens, and another 10 hours via bus and taxi before we arrived at the marina. It was a relief to see that everything was in good shape on Aisling. The Australians beside us had not been so lucky, and had taken some damage to their starboard side during a big wind.
It's always a bit of an adjustment when we return to the boat after an extended period at home, and this time was worse than usual. Less than 24 hours after we arrived back in Preveza, we received the sad news that my uncle Kenneth had died. It wasn't possible for me to get back to Nova Scotia on time for the funeral, but I was grateful that my brother, our children and our aunt were there to help my Mom through such a difficult time.
As usual, we had a few repair jobs that needed to be done before we could set sail. The throttle cable needed to be adjusted, and Rick hoped that the Cleopatra boatyard could install the solar panels that he'd carried with him all the way from Canada. (They couldn't, unless we were willing to hang around for two weeks.) Another burning issue was resolving a stinky odor in the head that had been plaguing us for months. After spending hundreds of dollars on a new holding tank and new plumbing, it still lingered. We asked the Cleopatra boatyard to investigate the problem. They concluded that the vent hose was too small, and suggested replacing it. Unfortunately, this meant hauling the boat to install a larger through-hull. On the bright side, the vent was installed in record time and Aisling was floating again within 48 hours. The bad news was that the smell was still there. Argh. If anyone has any suggestions, please send them along.
Our 2 p.m. launch put us into the water just as the afternoon wind was kicking up. The next problem would be getting Aisling to our place on the pontoon. The tight quarters and current around the docks at Cleopatra marina can make it quite tricky to maneuver, and the problem with the throttle cable made things even trickier. Let's just say that a bit of fending off was needed as we pulled in to our spot next to the Italian boat Arielle. Perhaps it was not the best way to meet the neighbours, but it ended happily. Later that afternoon, Giuseppe (Joe) and his British wife Pat invited us over for a glass of wine with their friends Massimo and Adele. We also met Oliver, their beautiful Norwegian Forest cat, who apparently liked us a lot because he dropped in to Aisling for several visits.
Naturally, as soon as we were ready to leave, the weather turned mean. Two nights in a row, we were woken up to brilliant lightning accompanied by crashing thunder that was definitely too close for comfort. Cleopatra marina is not an ideal place to hang around, and we were glad when Michel and Ghislaine (Magibourg III) and then John and Jan (Brigantia) arrived to keep us company. Finally, 10 days after we'd arrived in Prevez, we set sail for Parga. Although to be honest, no sailing was done, because what little wind there was was dead on the nose. Never mind, it was great to finally be underway!
The narrow streets of Parga would be charming, if it weren't for the numerous shops offering designer ouzo, Hawaiian shirts, bathing cps with plastic flowers, Bob Marley posters and (my personal favourite) "3D aprons made of spotless material". But touristy towns have usually become touristy for good reason, and the views were incredible, especially from the old Venetian castle (later owned by Ali Pasha) that overlooks the town.
We had an amazing lunch in a taverna on the waterfront, the name of which I sadly forgot to write down. This may well have been the best calamari I have ever tasted. And the scordalia...a creamy garlicy dip made with olive oil and mashed potatoes..yummy!
Then, in a surprising "when in Rome" move, Rick decided to try out the very touristy fish spa, where a pedicure is provided by tiny fish that nibble the dry skin off your feet. We'd seen these in several other places, and my reaction has always been "thanks but no thanks". But actually, it was kind of fun, and Rick swears his feet hasn't felt so soft in years.
We had two sleepless nights in Parga, the first caused by big swells that rolled into the anchorage, the second caused by thumping music ashore that didn't let up until 4 a.m. It was time to move on. Next stop, Corfu!