Our Ever-Changing Backyard

19 June 2024 | Ҫandarli, Turkey
10 June 2024 | Ҫeşme Marina and Goldensands Beach, Turkey
03 June 2024 | Aegean Sea
18 May 2024 | Saronic Gulf, Greece
14 May 2024 | Porto Montenegro to Athens
14 April 2024 | Zakinthos to Sounion, Greece
13 November 2023 | Orikum, Albania
30 October 2023 | Durrës, Albania
29 October 2023 | Porto Montenegro to Athens, Greece
22 August 2023 | Montenegro

A few days in Orikum

13 November 2023 | Orikum, Albania
Vandy Shrader
On the hook again

From Dürres, we headed south to Orikum, a town near the south end of Vlorë Bay, about 60nm away, where we planned to anchor for a few days during a strong southerly blow.


The big picture

Though most of Albania's ports offer scant shelter for boats, Vlorë Bay provides protection from every direction except for north, so for us it would be perfect.


Good protection from the south

We had a lovely trip to Orikum, even sailing for a few hours, going 7-9 knots on calm water. Believe me, here in the Med, sailing is not always a given. Some people even say that "MED" is an acronym for "motor every day," which isn't far from the truth. Awildian's new feathering props slide silently through the water when he's sailing, causing very little drag, and his hull is clean, clean, clean, all of which make for a faster, more enjoyable sail.

Our new Sarca Excel anchor made its debut in Orikum, passing its first two tests - setting and resetting - with flying colors. Setting is when we deploy the anchor with an appropriate amount of chain for the depth, and it grabs the ground and holds. Resetting is when the anchor has to turn, due to a shift in the wind or current, and then resets itself and holds. We'd named this anchor Obama, as in "No Drama Obama," because "no drama" is what we want from our anchor.

We enjoyed being back on anchor, rocked to sleep with the gentle movement of the sea, and waking to the sounds of songbirds, roosters, and the shoosh of the waves on the sandy beach. We were also happy that all the modifications we'd made during the winter were working well, and made Awildian an even more comfortable and energy efficient home than he had been before.


Orikum's beautiful mountain backdrop

Playing with friends

During our time in Orikum, we enjoyed exploring and socializing. Seb and Suzanne of Racoon II, and Sarah and Peter of Flying Fish, had also arrived from Dürres, and another boat from Porto Montenegro, Venere, home to Tim and Laura, and their two young sons, Miles and Aidan, was anchored farther south in the bay.

Seb and Suzanne invited us over to sample some local Albanian white wines and beers. Albanian wines are sold in 1.5l plastic bottles, like those you'd buy bottled water in. Though their packaging was initially a bit off-putting for those of us accustomed to wine in bottles or even boxes, the wines were good, as were the beers.



Lonely Planet warns that "the local red wines are universally bad" so we didn't sample any of those.

One afternoon, Tim brought his energetic boys over to Awildian for a visit. The boys had a great time jumping on Awildian's trampoline (a novelty, since Venere is a monohull), while we chatted with Tim.

On another day, we went for a walk with Sarah, Seb and Suzanne, to stretch our legs and see the sights around Orikum. Turning right out of the marina, we walked along the paved road that led to town. The sights included lots of boxy, shabby, Soviet-bloc-style apartment buildings; a shepherd with his small flock of shaggy sheep (and one goat);



the concrete skeleton of an unfinished building, whose ground floor was occupied by a bunch of goats;



a narrow, crumbling bridge over a shallow river strewn with trash, and a long sandy beach.


Awildian hanging out off the beach

We were heading for a restaurant called Oriku, arriving for lunch just as the sky opened up. Fortunately, the rain didn't last long, and we were able to walk back to the marina after a delicious lunch, without getting wet.

An impromptu visit from friends
While at Orikum, we enjoyed an overnight visit from our German friends Andi and Kerstin, with whom we'd sailed in Croatia and Montenegro the previous autumn.



They were driving their van and boat trailer to Greece, where they'd left their boat, Venus. As Albania was on the way, they made a detour to the coast, to meet up with us. We had a great time catching up with them.

When they arrived at Orikum Marina, Andi parked the van and trailer in the carpark. He and Kerstin got out and began walking toward the marina docks, where Eric was waiting with the dinghy. The security guard who was stationed at the marina entrance approached Andi and spoke to him, probably telling him that he couldn't park the van and trailer there, but Andi couldn't know for sure, as it was in Albanian.

Andi smiled in a friendly way and replied - in German - that he was meeting a friend at the marina, and kept walking toward the docks.

The guard again spoke to him in Albanian. Andi again smiled and replied to him in German, and kept walking.

The police, who have a small outpost at the marina, came over to see what was happening. They spoke with the security guard, and then with Andi, in Albanian. Andi continued to smile disarmingly and reply in German, now also pointing at the dinghy, as he and Kerstin kept walking to where Eric was waiting.

The police then spoke with Eric, whose understanding of Albanian was no better than Andi's. All he could do was smile and tell them, in English, that he didn't speak Albanian. With the police and guard still talking, Kerstin and Andi - who was still smiling in a friendly way - climbed into the dinghy, and Eric whisked them off to Awildian.



The next morning, when Eric brought Andi and Kerstin back to the marina, the police and guards came over and again spoke with Andi in Albanian. Andi smiled and told them in German that he was going to move his van and trailer now. They followed Kerstin and Andi back to their van and watched as they climbed in, and, with some help from the guard to maneuver out of the carpark, drove away.

It would have been nice to do some more exploring inland from Orikum, but we were on a schedule and needed to keep moving. And so, soon after Andi and Kerstin were on their way, we moved to the beach town of Himarë, about 40 miles to the south.
Comments
Vessel Name: Awildian, previously SCOOTS (2012-2021)
Vessel Make/Model: Leopard 48
Hailing Port: San Francisco, CA
Crew: Eric and Vandy Shrader
About: We've been living aboard full time since September 2014. We sailed our Able Apogee 50, SCOOTS, from 2012-2021, and are now aboard our Leopard 48, Awildian, since March 2022.
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