Beating up to Bari 98
25 March 2009 | Ionian/Adriatic
BEATING UP TO BARI 98
My Kelsall 39 tri Aqua Blue is based at Preveza Marine on the Aktion shore of the entrance to the Gulf of Amvrakia. It's most convenient for cruising the Ionian sea, especially if you can catch a flight to the local airport, which is not easy in the summer. In fact this year I booked flights to Corfu (overnight as usual), and crossed the Corfu channel by ferry at dawn. After three hours trying to snooze on a park bench in Igoumenitsa, I took the bus to Preveza and was on board by early afternoon.
Rapid fitting out in the 99F heat was pretty wearing and I began to think I was past it as my legs wobbled whilst carrying the 45lb CQR up a ladder! I had to start taking the rehydration salts available in any chem
Three days later the yard's Dutch hydraulic trailer was sliding Aqua Blue effortlessly into the warm water. There is a Travelhoist as well now for those who prefer them! The Prout cat "Ocelot" had just arrived from Italy with Colin on board who had recently helped deliver "Super Rose" from Gib to the UK with the owner Mike Butterfield for the RBR.
After a chat with a few yachties who had visited Croatia I headed straight for the Levkas canal, where a large Greek schooner was hard aground by Sta Maura fort. Once through the swing bridge, I managed to tie alongside the causeway singlehanded in the now fresh sea breeze and just made it to Levkas Marine by 2pm. Theo had managed to repair the large hole in the Narwhal inflatable at a very reasonable price, and one of his staff ran it back to Aqua Blue precariously balanced on the back of a scooter.
I then motored through the canal and on past Nidri, to gently run Aqua Blue aground on the mud in the narrows between Nidri and Vliho
I had crew to meet in Corfu so retransited the canal heading north on the last day in July, spending the following evening anchored in Parga bay. An Outremer 50 cat followed me in making a fine sight as it tacked up the coast at good speed, with a constant fine spray off it's leeward bow . It had a huge rig , four crew and a dog on board. The skipper later told me he kept his boat in Monastir, and was headed for southern Italy and Sicily before returning to Tunisia.
It was along day motorsailing up to Corfu town, although there was some wind as I tacked round AK Sidhero into Gouvia bay. I passed a large day sailing tri and noted a large American warship at anchor. Closing Gouvia I watched someone repeatedly trying to right a capsized Laser. I diverted towards the dinghy, which was crewed transom door!
An hour later Aqua Blue was tied to a pontoon in Gouvia marina. Italian powerboats were pouring in and their half naked crews were showering almost on the starboard float. The marina has undergone a huge expansion and the charges are quite moderate. There is no surcharge for multihulls but there is a surcharge for mooring alonside, which I did being singlehanded. In August 98 a twelve mtr yacht paid 5600Drachma/day or 682,700Dr/year. Security is much improved and the marina is now surrounded by a wire fence leaving just two guarded exits into Kondokali, where I had a reasonable meal in Harris (sic) bar. I had been slightly surprised by the number of boats coming south through the north Corfu channel, since until recentlly the Foreign office website was warning British yachts to avoid the area. Local opinion seems to be that is
The following night I spent at Corfu airport waiting for my crew. How the reps do it several times a week I don't know. I eventually arrived back at the boat at 7.00am with Stella, my seven yr old daughter Louise and regular crew Humphrey. With the temps still in the high nineties we spent the later morning in an airconditioned supermarket and the afternoon by a pool just outside theby one Otto Schein. The owner keeps it near Venice (expensively) and told me that visiting North Croatia was fine, you can even pay for your transit log by credit card! I had been hearing many conflicting stories about Croatia, especially the variable amount being paid by different yachts for the transit log.
We refuelled easily in the morning noting an elderly Piver Nimble being refitted ashore. we anchored in the calm south bay at Erikoussa, not far from the beach and a small Italian tri.
I rose early and guiltily motored away from the attractive beach before Louise was up, but after a morning's motoring west I cut the engine so she could swim , (at the end of a lifeline with a bouyancy aid of course!). Within minutes a northerly arrived and after speeding over the smooth Adriatic for a few more hours, we entered the hot and crowded harbour of Otranto at the bottom of the heel of Italy. You have to anchor right under the walls of the old town to avoid the large mooring buoys used by the freque
We revisited the cathedral in the morning to decipher the mosaic "tree of life" and in the market bought delicious sun dried tomatoes, ideal for chewing in the cockpit. By early afternoon we were slowly sailing up the coast in a light northeasterly, but Poe south of the town, about the only thing clearly visible there being no moon. As we passed through the outer breakwaters onto the smooth sea within, the boat immediately accelerated from seven to nine knots, dramatically demonstrating how much only moderately rough conditions slow you down. The harbour is huge and we sailed for some time, only rounding up to take down sails when we could just see into the narrow channel leading into the inner harbour. No sooner had we entered this, than we were loudly hailed by a pilot vessel who gesticulated at g the end of the Appian way. Brindisi was a busy port two thousand years ago!
Again we toured the cathedral and found the market. There were eight yachts moored near us , all waiting for the fresh north westerlies to decrease. The German Dufour 31 behind us, who was also based at Preveza Marine, inquired about the conditions outside since the anchorage is some distance inland, and seemed surprised we had slogged up the coast. We left them at the quay and motored down to the e could nearly sail parrallel to the coast so I gave it half an hour and as we pulled away from Brindisi the conditions started to ease, just as Portishead had promised. Within a few hours we had sped nearly twenty miles up the coast and located the tiny port of Villanova. The harbour is very full of permanent moorings and we struggled to find a spot to anchor on a very short scope in only seven feet of water. At least Louise could swim. Before our cockpit meal we were bothered by two scruffy teenagers in a battered rowing boat with "paillot" crudely written on the side. They asked for 40,000 lire but eventually settled for 25,000 which I am sure did not find it's way to the harbourmaster. You have find these incidents amusing in southern Italy, otherwise you won'y enjoy your visit. Rain then sent us in to dine below!
The grey m. Especially when we would have to pay for the Croatian transit log for only a few days there. I did draw a line across the Adriatic to see where our port tack would take us , and it wasn't yet Croatia. By teatime we were coming back to the coast and later entered Monopoli, which is a large virtually empty harbour with clean water. I calculated that we had sailed 49miles to make 17 up the coast!! Aqua Blue will point up reasonably well but the leeway in stronger conditions kills the VMG. A crew discussion over aperatifs in the cocn make reasonable progress in the "wrong direction", but S
We had a day of R@R in Monopoli which has an interesting old quarter and a good restaurant "Arena" with a balcony overlooking the harbour. The following day we continued on to Bari, where we found the Porto Vecchio had a new outer mole, inside which we could conveniently anchor near some steps. The recommended north mole seemed to be the local nude sunbathing area. As the sun sank we walked to the huge Norman Basilica where we were surprised to find the bones of Santa Claus in the crypt.! Apparently some seamen from Bari had nicked them from Lycia in 1081. We walked round the old and new town for some time before finding a very good redtaurant "Sotto in Sopra", where we enjoyed excellent spaghett
Whilst Stella and Louise went in search of the nearest Salumeria, Humphrey and I lugged the water carriers to the ubiquitous "cast iron dispenser" so often mentioned in the pilot books for the Med. You often have to nip in between fisherman washing their catch before they display it nearby. We ran back down the coast for most of the day with the weather much improved and everyone on deck for the first time. Eventually we entered tiny Savelletri, not as crowded as Villanova but very shallow, ideal for a multi in settled weather really. We warped the stern towards the breakwater and could walk round the
We easily returned to Brindisi in an increasing northeasterly, passing a red cat flyng the Stars and Stripes on the way. And again tied up near the ferry stop although our previous eight companions had all gone. The quay is Via Admiraglio Millo just past the sailors monument, and above the nearby steps is a residential area with a smart cafe La Capannina and a clean playground with tree shade. From the top of the steps you can view half the Italian navy moored further up the harbour, and there are plenty of flights into the nearby airfield. I was roused from my bunk at midnight by three young Italians who clumped down to sit in the
We left relatively early and passed a US Frigate refuelling in the outer harbour. After motoring over a flat calm for a while a southerly headwind arrived and we had to slowly beat down the coast for the rest of the day , often tacking right on the beach for the slight lift. We finally anchored in Otranto again by 8.00pm, just in time to eat on the beach. The town was a blaze of lights, the 14th August being a "Ferie". We strolled through the crowds in the heat for a while before succumbing to tiredness, but were all up again at 1.00am to watch a huge fireworks display. At least Louise can watch them now (with her hands over her ears!).
Outside the entrance in the morning we refound the southerly F4, and after heading offshore for an hour I decided to recross the Adriatic back to Greece rather than continue south to Sta Maria de Leuca, which we've passed by on several occasions already. We'll get there one day. Some may find this flexieaded straight for Erikoussa. It was very hot and humid and we were glad of the newly installed Bimini top. I slipped on the damp cockpit floor in the evening and hurt my foot , I curse Interdeck everytime it happens. It should be called Slip Paint. Louise administered to my bleeding toenail as I gazed at the forbiddinever seen a single high speed power boat. There was no moon as mist descended and we had to strain our eyes to enter and anchor at Erikoussa again after un uneventful crossing.
I rose late and dived over the side to wake up. We spent the morning on the beach for Louise's benefit which is empty till the tripper boats arrive from Corfu. It's a great spot at the northern limit of Ionian cruising. After lunch we ran along the north coast of Corfu and inside Serpa reef where the water gets light enough to make even a multihuller grip the wheel tightly, to spend the night in Ay Stephanossual good meal now has a beach shower and a water tap which easily filled our tanks in the morning.
We tacked slowly south to Corfu town passing "Aerosol" a fast looking Austrian F31. After the wind died we droned on as far as Petriti whose shallow sheltered beach anchorage I'm quite fond of. You can almost walk ashore, although there is a fishng mole you can use when the trawlers depart at dusk. It has been a flotilla base but seems too quiet now for it's three restaurants. It's hard to believe Kavos is only a few miles away.
After retrieving Louise from the beach we broad reached in the northwesterly which returns as soon as you leave the Corfu channel, across to Paxos and then ran down to Anti-Paxos which I'd never visited before not least due to the lack of pilotage information. We just nosed our waGaios or Parga, although we tore back to Mongonisi on Paxos in the fresh breeze, where I've several times had anchoring foul ups since the holding doesn't seem to be very good. This time however I motored past the mono's with the centreboard up and anchored on a shortish scope at the shallow end. When the wind dropped we warped the stern to the shore, gingerly avoiding the many sea urchins. Charter yachts poured in after us, some of whose crews seemed bent on aquiring all over tans, as they tried to winch olive trees out of the hillside. The last entrant was another Outremer cat who just anchored in the centre for the night.
In the morning I motored round through the vera few hours. Later we motored round the top end of Paxos and managed to drift across to anchor in Parga bay. Thunderstorms were forecast by navtex and one arrived shortly after we did. We could see the rolling cloud ccoming down the mountain and the first blast drove us back a hundred yards dragging the 35lb CQR. When it was over we laid the 45lber nearer the beach restaurant where Humprey had Octopus and Calamares, and afterwards walked overis a water taxi for those who don't inflate their dinghies.
All hands were required on the foredeck to recover "Big Bertha" in the morning calm and we moved round to spend an hour anchored off the town quay, although the port police will shoo you away if you get too close. It's in constant use by the ferries to Paxos. Incidentally this anchorage is on the cover of Paul Theroux's "The Pillars of Hercules". We then motorsailed up the coast in company with Rebogen, last seen in Gouvia, to anchor inside the island off Mourtos for lunch. While swimming with Louise I found the Italian tri seen in Erikoussa. The couple on board were from Milan but kept their boat in Otranto. They said it was a French copy of a Farrier which seems a bit cheeky, but there are quite a few examples of imitation and flattery around in the multihull world. I'll leave you to think of your own examples!
We started tacking northwest in the afternoon breeze which that day was fresh in the Cle to wind down the centreboard, which we usually have swept back somewhat , to slightly forward of vertical to rebalance the helm. I could hardly believe I'd learnt something new about Aqua Blue after 22yrs!! Eventually starboard tack took us back to Petriti for dinner on board, where we were kept awake by a visiting flotilla celebrating well into the early hours.
In the morning calm we motored up to Benitses to anchor just north of the small harbour, off a taverna with a shell museum above. I've always avoided this part of Corfu due to it's previous reputation but we found it surprisingly quiet. I thinsts she must visit this year. We took them out for a short trip next day and had a good cheap meal at the Bella Louisa. There's a clean pool and bar at the Fountain hotel. When we returned from the villa the following afternoon we found an Italian cat closely examining Aqua Blue. We motored up to anchor off Corfu town near another Outremer cat, they are good looking. Later a German Dehler moored stern to the outside the NAOK quay and a passing ferry boat wake smashed his transom against the wall. Be warned and anchor off.
After a very sloppy night the engine wouldn't start. The battery was OK, I was sure and I started to clean the terminals, but Humphrey quickly found a corroded cable at the solenoid. We made up a new connection with two lighter tezy day in a beautiful spot. Stella and Louise were packing as we returned to Corfu town. After a reasonable meal on a hotel verandah overlooking the town gardens we dozed on board for a few hours before taking a taxi to the airport at 2.00am. I stayed till 5.00am before returning to the boat from where I watched their plane pull away over the town. I managed two hours sleep before the Navtex awoke me, apparently someone had fallen out of a glider!!
Singlehanded now ,I motored down the Corfu channel until a light headwind had me slowly beating towards Mourtos . A high speed Minoan ferry came charging out of Igoumenitsa and passed very close. After admiring the very long bulb bow I spied the the wake, a good five feet high but not steep fortunatelin. I think he was listening to the blues on the cockpit speakers! I anchored in the NW corner of Parga bay for the third time that summer, very near the beach although Louise was not there to enjoy it. I didn't go ashore.
The night was so still I slept right through and missed the Navtex fcst again due to the bleepinder sail in the afternoon heat, eating chilled fruit washed down with very cold white wine. Demestica is OK! In fact I had to hand the reacher and unroll the genoa before I ran up the channel to drop sail off the Aktion shore. I managed to pick up the last buoy at the first attempt with the rusty Star mooring hook. I only use it twice a year but wouldn't be without it. Kettle on, holiday over!