Envoy is in Lefkas Marina for the winter while we are in Auckland enjoying summer. Many aspects of cruising in the Med are completely different to those found in New Zealand and one major difference is how cruisers secure themselves over-night.Most cru…
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This was damaged early in the season when I wrongly attempted to start the main engine while the generator was running and powering the battery charger while the start battery bank’s voltage was too low. It’s not a major issue for us as we’ve already replaced the inverter with a spare equally powerful Xantrex unit we had aboard. The Xantrex is only an inverter not a combination charger so charging when running the generator is now done using our Charles 60 amp charger. The Freedom charger was more powerful at 150 amps and for the future we have the option of the status quo, installing an additional new charger or installing a new inverter/charger, leaving the Xantrex as a spare once again. I’ll consider this during winter.
View of marina from Envoy’s top deck – we have a great position
So that’s at least eleven years and we thought it was time for a check. When the Sailand engineers arrived they suggested we check the whole exhaust system downstream from the exhaust manifold, since this is supposed to be checked every five years.
Mechanics pull out the vertical section of the exhaust
The main exhaust atop mechanic’s van
Close-up shows the white insulation discoloured by leaking soot
Envoy alongside wharf at Saranda, Albania
When the wind increased at Saranda a large ferry started to drag its anchor towards Envoy. Fortunately some crew were on hand to resolve this.
View of Saranda’s waterfront
Agri is a stunning anchorage in settled conditions
This house has been constructed using rocks obtained during excavation of the building site
These guys are shaping the rocks into blocks
Although we prepare for the worst we thankfully only get winds up to about 25 knots and no thunderstorms. The problem with thunderstorms here being they are usually accompanied by violent squalls and major wind direction shifts.
Engineer working on our water maker. The pump and membrane are on deck
Envoy alongside in Gouvia Marina for water maker work
Laurie by boat with four huge Yamaha outboards
Closer inspection shows four badly damaged propellers and bottoms of outboards
Envoy is now in Lefkas Marina for the winter and we’re home in Auckland for the southern hemisphere summer.Turkey and Greece have fought each other for centuries and during the period of 400 hundred years or so when Turkey occupied large parts of Gree…
As we return to Envoy from dinner ashore we all comment on how perfectly still the air is and how calm the sea is. Talk about the calm before the storm!
At 1230 we’re all rudely awoken by huge gusts of wind buffeting Envoy, then thunder, lightning and heavy rain. We all immediately get up and reaching the pilothouse see a Belgian aluminium yacht, Grand Chalem, dragging sideways down onto our bow. There is no time to take any evasive action before her starboard side squarely slams into our stretched-out anchor chain, bounces off, then slides bow first down our starboard side before disappearing into the night.
Grand Chalem’s skipper comes over in his RHIB to check and is also relieved there is to damage to either boat, probably because he had fenders on his hull. However he says is wife is somewhat traumatised by the experience and they will spend a few days secured to a pontoon in the harbour until they’re ready to venture forth again.
Amy and Laurie enjoying late afternoon drinks at Meganisi
We spotted this huge open RHIB at Gouvia Marina – about 13m and even has a small RHIB on its stern
Envoy anchored at Mourtos
Same anchorage shot from the idyllic beach
An interesting flower bed at Mourtos
A day tripper boat enters a sea cave near Mourtos
When the tour boat leaves we enter the cave
This part is much worse and requires a big stretch
While anchored at Keri a strong offshore wind develops one afternoon. Later we see an inflatable plastic turtle blowing from the beach towards us. We imagine that some poor child is crying over this lost turtle so Amy and I jump in the RHIB, retrieve it and head to shore. As we approach the beach Amy stands up and starts waving the turtle around to find its owners who turn out to be a young Chinese couple. They’re delighted to be reunited with their turtle but in less than a heartbeat they lose it again to the strong wind and again we retrieve it for them. I think these are the first oriental people we’ve seen in months as Greece is very mono-cultural and even among visitors you rarely see a non-European face.
Ormos Keri is the furthermost point we’ll be from our Lefkada home base and on 2 September we start heading back north to Cephalonia. Again we cruise up Zakyntos’s remote west coast and again the swell is rolling in too much to anchor, despite fine weather and a light wind.
It’s interesting how the decking and bar have been built into the rocks
Amy has left us after a great six weeks together, but the good news is that she’s moving back to live in Auckland arriving late November.
Amy snapped this turtle swimming around our RHIB
In Argostoli I buy a new trolling reel and some new lures as this is the season to catch tuna – watch this space (hopefully!)
Only thing missing is the fish!
Argostoli harbour viewed from castle – as you can see it’s very sheltered
Another great view from the castle
Laurie and Amy on ramp to castle’s main gate
Laurie at castle’s gate
During our driving tour we visit this spectacular cave
While filling our water containers ashore I meet some British cruisers who had just sailed here from Malta. Our original plan was to cruise to Malta until Envoy’s fire damage changed that. These people said Malta was a great place to visit by land but they didn’t enjoy cruising around there during July and August as the few anchorages were crowded and there were too many fast speedboats zipping around.
We move south to anchor off Spatia, somewhere he hadn’t been before, and like it so much we stay two nights. Here is great scenery and holding with very few other boats.
Here and at many similar bays locals and visitors leave their small craft such as RHIBs, kayaks, dinghys and trailerable motor boats unattended on moorings, unlocked without any fear of theft or damage. Sadly this is something you cannot do in most parts of New Zealand any longer – your boat would be stripped of all valuable gear or possibly stolen in total.
Dingy moorings at Spatia
We moor our RHIB – front right in a nearby small boat harbour. There are many hundreds or probably thousands of similar very small harbours throughout Greece
Storm clouds over Envoy
See how the clouds are rolling down from the hilltop
The wind strength increases, the seas come up and we have a slightly rough crossing until we reach the shelter of Zakynthos. We cruise down the island’s rugged west coast, famous for its vast number of caves – in fact we’ve never seen a stretch of coast with so many.
We’d hoped to find some semi-sheltered bay where we could anchor overnight but the ground swell is too much and we have to keep going, just stopping briefly to take photos at famous Wreck Bay – said to be the most photographed bay in Greece. The crew of a charter catamaran anchored in the bay seem to be a bit inebriated judging by their loud music and gyrating on deck and we have to take evasive action when a teenage girl dives into the water and obliviously starts swimming across Envoy’s intended track.
Marathonisi Island has the appearance of a turtle
By sheer luck we time our visit perfectly as three rangers are digging up a nest where eggs have been laid to help some turtles find their way out of the sand and down to the water. It’s a wonderful experience to see five turtles, each about the size of a thumbnail, flipper their way down the beach and launch themselves into the sea for their first time.
The Rangers are excavating a turtles nest to help baby turtles
This beach gets a lot of visitors brought out by ferry and catering is provided by several floating cafes which come out each day and run themselves ashore.
A bit of commercial crassness at the turtle breeding area
Di in Corfu fish and produce market
Fish shops and markets are common place, supplied by an estimated 82,000 commercial fishing boats employing 314,000 people. Virtually every seaside village has its own tiny shallow harbour, generally consisting of a simple rock wall providing some shelter to its fishing boat fleet – mostly boats under 10 metres.
The family villa’s caretaker lives aboard this unusually painted boat
Envoy at anchor in Ormos Skhoinis
Further out in the bay a superyacht is anchored looking more like a floating childrens’ playground than a serious boat.
While a boat of this size would turn heads back in New Zealand, there are hundreds of boats like this in the Med and nobody really bats an eyelid.
Very close to this anchorage is a stunning unnamed bay with a rustic but ramshackle beach bar.
Sitting outside the bar is a very thin older man looking like a biblical prophet cleaning some recently caught squid that are covered in wasps. When Di and Amy commented on this he replied “wasps don’t worry me they are my friends.” We think this highly amusing as wasps have been an issue in some bays and both Di and Amy have been stung. Very few flies or mosquitoes though.
This ferry drives up onto the beach to disembark day trippers using a builder’s ladder
We move on to Cephalonia, the largest of seven main Ionian islands, although there are many dozen smaller islands. I’m sure I’ve mentioned previously that this island is also where the events took place on which the novel and movie Captain Corelli’s mandolin are based. That is in 1943 German soldiers massacred around 5,000 Italian soldiers of the Acqui Division who had surrendered and represented no threat to the Germans.
The lush valley leading inland from Ay Eufimia
During the 1920s Turks living in Greece were sent home as were Greeks living in Turkey and now the village remains largely ruined.
This old building contains rusty remains of olive presses
Cruising down to Ormos Katelios we put our trolling lure in the water for the first time this year and catch a small tuna. It’s far too small to eat but at least it proves the lure works.
Looking down on Ormos Katelios
When we started our water maker for the first time this season it ran fine but the second time it had some problems. The salinity was high, the fresh water produced seemed warmer than usual and the pump rpm varied by about plus or minus 5 bar. I don’t know what it is about water makers but lots of cruisers seem to have issues with them. While in Mandraki Marina technician Angelos made a few checks and cleaned the intake water seacock but it made little difference. We met him a few days later and he installed a new high pressure membrane. This also made no improvement so he removed the main pump to check in his workshop. We’re awaiting the result of this and meanwhile having no problems finding plenty of free fresh water from the shore.
Igoumenitsa Creek is a great protected anchorage
Washing day aboard Midi
Lots of people do bow riding here – a practice which is illegal in New Zealand due to horrific injuries and deaths when people fall in and the propeller hits them
Highly dangerous bow riding
Beautiful garden bar at Petriti
They sell a selection of hand painted olive oil jars for just five Euros each
Below the bar is this awesome swimming cove
Most everywhere has been light winds and seas so calm that we didn’t use our stabilisers for days. But that changed when we cruised 32 miles in five hours from Parga to Preveza. We had winds over 25 knots and breaking, closely spaced two to three metre seas on our starboard beam. The stabilisers had trouble coping with these waves and several times we had to “tack” to take the seas at more of an angle to the beam. At times the autopilot also had trouble coping with the vicious movements and I had to steer by hand for a few short periods. Normally Envoy is so stable that it would be rare to spill a coffee – but on this trip the cups sure were sliding!
Manioti’s beach bar
Envoy at anchor viewed from bar
Manioti with Amy and Laurie
Laurie and Amy enjoy a cold beer
From there we headed through the canal that makes Lefkas an island and into the marina to get a temporary Plexiglas window fitted as so far we’ve not been able to locate a supplier for a new Triplex glass one. While maneuvering into the marina we jammed the tail end of our RHIB’s painter in the bow thruster’s propeller and couldn’t use it, making for an interesting time berthing in the confined marina spaces. Next day a diver tried unsuccessfully to free the painter so we had to lift Envoy out of the water and were then able to free it quite quickly. Unfortunately the bow thruster’s sudden stop caused some damage to the 24V motor so it’s been removed and is currently ashore getting repaired while we carried on. We’ve since heard that it’s successfully fixed.
Rope jammed behind bow thruster propeller
I’m going to add photos tomorrow.