We arrived back in Preveza on Wednesday 24th April via the early Easyjet flight from Gatwick that arrived just before lunchtime here. That meant we had just over 24 hours to prep Splice before we were due to lift back into the water. A quick launch was key as it is Easter a week later here and they were about to close down for 5 days - spending that amount of time on the dusty hard with no real facilities and far from town with no car, wouldn't be the best start to the season.
Once aboard it became evident that the sails we had left stored in the saloon were no longer there! After a while and having spoken to the marina and the company contracted to change the standing rigging it transpired that CYS (who were only supposed to mend the sail bag and conduct engine servicing) had taken them to be inspected! We hadn't asked for this to be done, so had to arrange for them to be returned together with the serviced Liferaft and signed engine logs.
Our first job was to sterilize our water tanks, this needs doing as the water left in the tank over winter is no longer sweet. Three boxes of baby bottle sterilizing tablets and a full flush through all the taps and showers and that was done . We then spent the rest of the day pressure washing Splice due to her being covered in Sahara dust from the heavy rain storm a couple of days before. This is not unusual but was the worst covering of thick orange dust we have seen.
The next day was more sorting out and another Splice wash-down as it had rained overnight, adding more dust to the mix. Our scheduled launch at 15:00 didn't actually happen until 16:30. Once back in the water we headed across to Preveza Quay on the other side of the waterway. We found a large space towards the south end of the quay and Carolyn went shopping to get some fresh food onboard.
We met up with Ian and Laura on Rala who coincidentally were on the quay further down. We were invited to join them plus other friends for a meal and later went with Avril and Colin on S/Y Hodja, Nick on S/Y Toucan Too and David on S/Y Phased Out. The taverna they chose provided a great meal with various starters and mains accompanied by copious jugs of wine at a total cost for everything of €15.00/pp. We headed home very tired after the efforts of the two days, but pleased to be back on the water.
We spent a further five nights on the quay as we were waiting for the boxes we had sent from the UK to arrive. The combination of UK Easter holidays followed by the Greek version rather extended the timescale, they finally arrived after a 2 week trip. In the meantime we got the three sails back on the rig and made the boat look more like a cruiser than a abandoned storeroom. There are loads of tasks to do at the start of the season, checking all the systems, lifejackets, replaceing batteries in all the kit. Getting all the safety gear and mooring gear checked and back in its external or internal locations. Putting the two foresails on is a mornings work and the main took about 5 hours in total. Checking the sealed stern and bow compartments, polishing the stainless steel, servicing some of the 7 winches, we kept very busy.
we set off the inflation on our old lifejackets that were beyond use as they deflated in 10 minutes....wouldnt be much help
We managed some socialising with the boats mentioned above and with Alan and Maggie who we had previously met on their boat 'TobyNo' in the Balearics, they arrived a little further down the quay with their newer boat 'Kallista'
The Easter celebrations were more muted here. There was a low key procession along the quayside by people from each of the local churches on Good Friday, each lead by a much smaller icon carried by around 6 people (compared to the 30 plus engaged in supporting them in Cartegena) and we just missed some traditional plate smashing on Saturday morning but got to walk over the evidence as we passed down the highstreet! We tried to eat out on the Saturday night and were surprised to find everywhere closed, they were however open on the Friday and Sunday.
We still had two contractors due to visit but due to the holidays neither was available until at least Thursday (Mayday holiday follows Easter here this year with only one day work inbetween) so, as they were both based in Levkas Town, on Wednesday we motored down to be closer to their base.
Arriving around 11.15 after passing through the opening bridge at 11.00 we found there was no space anywhere on the quay for us, the odd single space but nothing that Splice could fit in. There are many charter boats still moored for the winter and the charter crews protect their area with dinghies and lines strung across any gaps despite it being a public quay. We dropped anchor in the small space in the centre of the harbour and waited but by 15.00 we were being buzzed by a charter cat that wanted to drop his anchor over ours to get into a space reserved by his mates. We'd had enough and opted to motor down the rest of the canal and anchor just outside for the night to try again the next day. LevkasTown has never been high on our list of favourite ports and today didn't increase its standing.
the view south from our anchorage at the southern end of the Levkas canal
The next day we did eventually get a space and managed to get the final two bits of work done, our log is now functional again and the new rig was checked and tuned. This was not however before the port police had made us leave the berth for 30 minutes to allow a ferry to dock (we weren't in a restricted area) and later, at 19.45 that night, we were ejected again and told to leave because they wanted the space for a fishing boat. Levkas is not a friendly port for cruisers, we spent the night back in the same anchorage.
At least we are now free to progress with out trip.
Main photo: Preveza quay as boats prepare for the season