THE VOYAGES OF EOS 2013
PART 1 May - July
As usual Mike came out to the boat before me, in April this year, to Messolonghi. He had a number of problems with the boatyard but eventually managed to get Eos out and back into the water; unfortunately the yard damaged a sponson and the rubbing strake - not major though. See description/chart
Last year we had decided to do alterations to the passerelle, which involved a new gantry to replace the old masts; to add solar panels, new upholstery, carpet etc., and had found suitable people in the Preveza/Levkas areas to undertake the work. Mike and Diane moved the boat from Messolonghi to Preveza in very calm weather calling in at Fiskardho and Levkas en route. Note the carpet on the side deck
Mike came home in time to move house and go to Jennifer and Matt’s wedding; by the time we were due to leave England for France to stay with friends, we were absolutely exhausted. However a day or two on the boat and we were rested again.
Wednesday 22 May -19 June
Dull, bit of rain. Gradually the weather warmed up, rain went away and the usual weather pattern of the area resumed, calm am, breeze pm.
To get to boat we had another very early call to catch the 06.00 from Orly Airport to Athens, then the usual X93 to Athens bus station and a six hour coach trip to Preveza, hopefully the last time we do this particular trip as we shall be moving further north and using different airports.
As usual the boat was covered with North Africa’s red sand; she looked so awful we had to hose down immediately. Supper, then a good night’s sleep even by me.
A good deal of tidying and sorting to get boat ship shape again.
Shopping, washing. Mike took down the original masts we had erected on the aft deck to launch the old dinghy and serious work began.
We spent the next three weeks altering the doors to sliding, a little work on the sewage/grey waste pipework, organising the upholstery, works to bimini, passerelle and fittings for the solar panels.
In the meantime I enjoyed getting to know a real Greek town, shopping for all the absolutely delicious fresh fruit and veg. I hadn’t realised the Greeks had such a culture of patisseries, quite on a par with the French; of course, we also tested the spinach and feta pies. We ate out several times, Greek cuisine is not the most interesting but we probably tasted the best on offer. Most bakeries and small supermarkets now sell pretty coloured tiny little ice creams, big bite size, I don’t remember seeing them for sale last year.
There is a dear little old lady on the town quay roasting corn on the cob each night till very late. A restaurant where upper class widows meet for dinner; a town with SO many shoe shops. Dominoes is played with gusto by groups of men, I assume for money as there is intense interest in the game from the bystanders. Backgammon is still played in cafes but not as common as island Greece or in Turkey.
Preveza Marina is owned by Cleopatra Marina and run by Olga and her cousin Michael, the office a portacabin, no showers, loos etc., no cats either, these being kept at bay by the ‘dogs of war’ who dare anyone or anything to approach their domain.
5 jetties providing water and electricity for about 30 yachts at approx €360 inc per month (€1 per metre per day). Fuel by mini tanker. Very much a look after yourself place though Michael and Olga are unfailingly helpful 08.30-15.30. Improvements are scheduled to take place over the winter.
Mike had a beer and chat with marina Michael who trained as an electrical engineer but seems to have worked at all sorts since but not electrics. He was reticent on his views of Greek politics but did say he thought those people who would like, should be encouraged, with some training, to go back to the land, learn to be independent again and importantly revitalise agriculture/horticulture and the Greek countryside. He is another royalist and an Orthodox Greek Christian, I didn’t know they fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The weather gradually improved and we managed supper on deck the last night, this actually due to the fact that our beautiful new table was being used as a work bench and covered with a dust sheet and protecting plywood.
On our final day we bought a new rubber dinghy for which the vendor says we must make a cotton cloth cover for the inflatable floor and also for the entire boat, luckily I have an old sheet and a cleanish dust sheet. Once we are in Corfu to buy the strong elastic it will be fine. The old one had finally perished- 5 years seems to be it for Chinese glue.
The last item we had made by Nicholai is a drop extension to the bimini to shade us from low sun. Also on our last day we found diesel at a good price but not from the guy who had been hassling us for weeks, he needs to change his selling techniques as he drove us quite demented with his insistence to sell.
Lorry drivers had a bonanza when three ships loaded with sand came into the harbour whilst we were there, about 500 lorry loads to empty each ship we reckoned. The arrival of ships is not a regular occurrence here.
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Hot and calm
Slipped 09.30. Goodbyes to all and off to Gaius, Paxos, No elec. Fuel & water by mini tanker. Payment for berth only sometimes.
An uneventful trip, though whilst mooring the anchor didn’t hold first time and I was on shore, all well in the end and our new wire-less headsets worked well - from America and called ‘marriage savers”!
I made the mistake of having rather oily but delicious calamari for a late lunch and then felt very unwell - too oily for me, I must learn!!
We are surrounded by swarthy Italians and French.
Used our new bimini extension to good effect. We have only been in Gaios for 4 hours and the lamppost bins have been emptied twice.
Several Liverpool families made themselves known to us, one inviting themselves on board to have a good look round - lucky we aren’t too stand offish!! One family has been coming to Paxos for 25 years.
Thursday 20 June 2013
Hot and calm
Very busy between Greek mainland and Corfu, certainly had to keep our wits about us, my new binocs are superb and having an inbuilt compass is really useful.
We called up Mandraki harbour Corfu. €40, elec/water who managed to find a space for us between Sunsail boats. Of course, as usual, we had to find a chandler (for an Albanian courtesy ensign) which entailed a long hot walk - we rewarded ourselves with ice creams.
This is a wonderful spot though I can’t remember why I thought it would be shaded by the castle walls - not a bit of it - really sweltering. Supper at the marina restaurant - excellent.
Friday 21 June 2013
Mike spent a happy morning checking with the police/coastguard etc about our leaving Greece for Albania, this took almost as long as in Hungary, finally we shall be OK if we bring the boat to their offices in the morning - well to the wall adjacent in the main part of the port. The new berths are now complete there, but we didn’t get any details.
I bought the fabric for the dinghy cover, sheeting which is wider than normal fabric, now to sew the hems.
Two cruise ships in for the hordes to buy up Corfiote merchandise.
Saturday 22 June 2013
Hot and calm
Finally we are off for Saranda Albania, the coastguard being very quick with our papers and off we went.
As at this date - 160 leke = £1. 140 leke = 1 euro
We swapped our courtesy flags at 11.14 only to find on arrival that Albania is just one hour ahead of UK not 2 as in Greece, which meant we were early for our rendezvous with our agent Agim. Never mind, we were helped in by the lovely Elena and a port policeman. To get into town we have to go through the customs building past the passport booths and luggage x-ray machines, which feels strange especially later in the evening when no officials are around; sometimes an old black dressed woman is waiting for something/someone.
On the quay there is elec/water. Fuel tanker can be arranged with Agim.
Of course this is the land of the Mercedes, I have never seen so many, old and newish. Albania was purported to have been the centre of a car thieving ring with particular emphasis on Mercs. Also a large number of Land Rover Discoveries, we are looking out for ours which was stolen in 1998. No luck.
We are close to the centre of town, fruit market, restaurants etc. Lots of loud music and happy families on the beach and swimming. Again, we had a fruitless visit to the Vodafone shop which had run out of the necessary gizmo, we shall be out of internet communication until Monday; there is wifi at the restaurant in the customs building but not strong enough to reach the boat. Couldn’t find fresh bread but did have supper out, very cheap for delicious fried prawns and octopus, served very quickly and bill produced before we had finished; the Albanians we have met have been nothing but helpful and smiling.
Although Albania is a secular country, about 70% of the population is Muslim, though we haven’t actually seen anyone wearing clothing which would suggest they were Muslim.
I am pleased to hear the muezzin again, the one here is particularly tuneful. Quite often we hear him and the church bells together
We were just going to bed when an Australian registered catamaran came alongside - they had been here previously but having anchored in a bay up the coast, were accosted by machine gun touting ‘security’ guards, unnerving to say the least, so beat a hasty retreat back here to report the incident which was dealt with very quickly by the highest authorities - Albanians being very keen to attract tourists and to be seen as a friendly and welcoming country.
Sunday 23 June 2013
Hot, sun, big lop early evening.
Up early to catch the 08.30 bus to Butrint, (45 mins on a stopping bus) an ancient city built to overlook and protect the straits between Corfu and Albania, surrounded by marsh land reminiscent of the Camargue. It is a beautiful place, the archaeological work still continues and we were lucky to find the ancient mosaic pavement in the Baptistry exposed, soon to be re-covered with fine sand to protect it. We weren’t organised for one of the marshland walks which would have been interesting to me at least, Mike not being so keen on wildlife!!
The ferries and hovercraft come and go, the escorting of passengers to and fro entails a good deal of shouting and loud whistling.
Early evening a heavy lop appeared, the boat next door in danger of major damage from the rough concrete jetty corner; owners out, I managed to get on board and reorganised their fenders till brawny men arrived to tighten up lines. Policeman in charge of the new little rib astern quite agitated (think Captain Gruber and his little tank)
Election day, no result as yet. We heard later that the socialists won; the general feeling is not which party has won, but the fact the election was the first free and fair.
Delicious fish supper.
Monday 24 June 2013
A new swimming area off the main beach is being formed adjacent to this part of the harbour with spectator seating, starting blocks etc. I am watching small children having their swimming lesson whilst a team of labourers barrow cement into place to form the seating.
We found a Carpenters loving taxi driver to take us to the Blue Eye water falls about 40 minutes from here, not quite as spectacular as we had been led to believe but a very attractive setting; the river flows over a spot where very cold clear blue water bubbles up from deep deep down. We took our taxi driver for a coffee at the restaurant partly built out over the river, it reminded me of Staglands outside Wellington in New Zealand.
On the advice of our Aus next door sailors, we went to Fredi’s restaurant which serves more excellent food at ridiculous prices.
Tuesday 25 June 2013
Caught a furgon mini bus (similar system to the Turkish dolmus) to Gjirokaster, about 1.5 hours. This is a new modern town but higher up the hill is the castle and old ‘city’ of lovely stone houses and grey roofs, very slippery cobbled marble roads, a few shops and cafes. The castle, greatest in Albania and largest in the Balkans, the last phase being built by the indomitable Ali Pasha, now houses a collection of Italian and German tanks and some English Naval guns. An arena/stage was built in 1968 for the National Folk Festival which occurs every 5 years.
We had lunch at a very local cafe and had salad and lamb kebabs. It is invariably the children who serve us as they are learning English at school.
We walked very slowly down the treacherous road to the new town and spent a bit of time finding out from where our furgon would leave, a very helpful couple walked us to the right place, unfortunately the only bus was a very clapped out orange Mercedes van; eventually it was full and off we went and are here to tell the tale.
Supper again at Fredi’s.
Wednesday 26 June 2013
Slightly cooler, wind 4/5.
Slipped 09.45 for Porto Palermo, an old fishing village with a T shaped quay, no facilities, several fishing boats, taverna food not v impressive but pleasant and shady terrace. Good swimming. A torch is required at night as the centre of quay is very dilapidated and falling in - big holes.
It took us about 3 hours NE in a very loppy sea until we turned the headland and tucked into the very high quay which has wide gaps between the concrete piles. Lucky we are used to big locks, but daunting for sailing boats lower in the water. The Italians from Saranda also in and came for drinks later in the day with Nicky (English married to Jaco) interpreting for us/them.
Mike started wiring up the solar panels. I finished the dinghy cover.
About 17.00 a very fierce katabatic wind till 08.30 the next day, we felt well sheltered but quite cold.
Unsatisfactory supper at the restaurant. Just going to bed when two policemen called to check we were OK.
Thursday 27 June 2013
Hottish, no wind till 17.00, another katabatic wind.
Up earlyish and decided to stay and finish solar panel works. The forecast for the next few days is not too good but we will leave early Friday.
Eureka! we have power from the solar panels. I painted the twiddly bits around stanchions etc. on the deck.
Managed to find time to visit another of Ali Pasha’s castles, this one in very good condition. It sits on a headland across the bay reached by a causeway. On the way back we found a shed full of huge sacks of dried sage, we had also seen some sage used as bedding for cattle in their byre.
The church of St. Nicolao is still used, I wonder who by as there don’t appear to be any houses around apart from the restaurant.
Friday 28 June 2013
Hot later after katabatic wind died down.
Slipped 08.45 for Orikum the only marina in Albania. The katabatic wind was still so strong we had to wait for it to die down before we could slip past the fishing boat moored behind us. A good but rollicking trip.
We are seeing great evidence of Enver Hoxha’s bunkers, thousands of them, most very small, from a distance they look like large woolly sheep, others larger. He ordered the building of 700,000 after 1968 when Albania left the Warsaw Pact and was fearful of invasion from the Soviets as in Czechoslovakia.
I noticed someone had built their new house incorporating 3 bunkers in the garden wall, rather like little gazebos in an English garden, and another could be a cycle store or for gardening equipment.
The Swiss boat, we had met in Saranda and Palermo, came in also, she is just about the only boat we have seen actually sailing. We may or may not get our papers before leaving tomorrow morning. You have to pay an agent to get official authorisation, but in this case he hasn’t, though most if not all the work has been done by the harbour master here.
Water and elec at Marina, small bar but nothing else. Restaurant in village 1km though we didn’t visit.
Saturday 29 June 2013
Warm, calm then mighty 40 knot squall. Not forecast.
Slipped 08.30, uneventful early part of trip, 60 nm. The coast is marshy with many river estuaries and no refuge for yachts. About 14.30 the wind started getting stronger and for approx 30 mins a very nasty squall; we rode the waves north westwards towards Italy and wondered if we would ever be able to turn northwards again. Very nasty indeed and caught us slightly unprepared in that things weren’t fastened down as well as they should have been, the old zips in the bimini burst, the stay around our new table came untied and the bookcase in the galley nearly came away; all china and glass, kitchen things stayed in place. During this mayhem 3 porpoises came to play. Mike was brilliant. After 30 mins the wind eased slightly and at 16.45 we came into Durres Port, alongside. We must have looked a bit of a shambles.
Durres was the capital of Albania until 1920 when for strategic reasons the capital moved to Tirana.
The port area is enormous and busy, but room for a few yachts beyond the tugs. Call up on channel 15. 10 euros per day and 50 euros to the agent. No facilities.
An English/Italian speaking fitter came along for a chat. He a royalist too and thinks the European countries which still have monarchies are so stable and normal. Fed up with not earning enough to live decently, fed up with politicians; we told him we were too and not everything in Britain was wonderful but I don’t think he believed us.
Supper at The Holiday, such well trained waiters, nicely designed glass, lamps etc.
Sunday 30 June 2013
Moved further up the quay beyond the tugs where we shouldn’t be in the way when work starts in earnest on Monday after the election last weekend.
Caught bus to Tirana, 45 mins and 130 leks pp.
The bus station in Tirana, typically busy, dusty and with the usual tatty stalls selling tatty things. We walked down Avenues Skanderbeg, Zog, George Bush - all wide, tree lined and quite elegant, lots of the old Communist era buildings, some have been transformed and painted bright colours, but not the Enver Hoxha Museum pyramid, designed by his daughter, now empty and dilapidated, children climb up and slide down the old marble and glass exteriors.
Found a good pizza place for lunch, walked back to the bus station past some more old buildings, back in Durres about 16.00. Just missed the end of the British Grand prix after buying a beer for 70p specially to watch it
Monday 1 July 2013
Spent a long time searching for the post office, it would have been helpful if the security guard hadn’t sent me in the wrong direction! Once I found the place, which was full, I was pushed to the front of the queue by various young women much to the annoyance of the older men.
Did a bit of this and that but mainly watched the tugs bringing ships in and out of the harbour. Bearing in mind the Albanians drop their rubbish anywhere, it is extraordinary that the harbour is cleared - two old men in an old orange boat go to and fro with their large fishing nets collecting flotsam and jetsam. The dockyard itself is also immaculate. The deputy harbour master came for a visit and a chat, everyone is so keen to find out why we are visiting Albania, we are so pleased we made the effort.
The Albanian petrol stations are superbly landscaped with beautifully pruned trees and shrubs; also where they are able, the inhabitants appear to make lovely private gardens.
Just for the record Mike is getting thinner and thinner and I am getting fatter and fatter - not at all good from my point of view!!
Tuesday 2 July 2013
Warm/hot. Lop to start then s/s 2
Slipped 07.45, though called back by harbour master as he didn’t think we had asked permission, he got us muddled with an Italian boat coming in at that moment. Arrived at harbour entrance as two ferries came in, plenty of room though. Apart from the two ferries we didn’t see a single other boat/ship all the trip.
12.30 arrived Shengyin port alongside. Fishing port, no facilities. Port police, customs, immigration and Fredi the agent. Call ch. 71, no answer, 16 no answer. Signs of old military installations above harbour, old minesweeper, submarine holes.
Immediately we were taken to the port cafe for drinks and to sign papers.
Early drinks at cafe then supper at a smart fish restaurant, immaculately clean, white linen cloths and table napkins, nice glasses, about 100 covers but only 5 eating tonight; fish very good.
We watched the loading of trawler nets, an art form, such care taken, stowed in short folds fore and aft across the width of the ship. Fishing boat movements throughout the night, I wonder if we are in their way again?
Wednesday 3 July 2013
Warm/hot little wind
I went shopping and found a whole new holiday area, a new promenade is being built, a wide beach, a small pleasure harbour, holiday flats and lots of holiday makers.
Arrived back at boat, Mike had had coffee with the harbour masters, both had served in Hoxha’s navy, They were impressed with our Rhine and Danube trips. Fredi has invited us to lunch with some of his friends, 12.00 sharp. A water tanker has arrived but no fuel.
Fredi’s friends turned out to be the local doctor, the captain of the ship just docked adjacent to us and the pilot, we were a little late and the others were already eating steaks from an enormous Krap fish (carp, we think) caught in Lake Shkoder, absolutely delicious, cooked in a tomato/cream sauce, salad etc and lots of raki and beer, I am glad we opted for beer. Fredi was the only one with a bit of English, lucky for football which kept the conversation going, politics, shipping, sport, Tirana etc were all conversation subjects in our best Albanian.
Shopped for raki etc at another little supermarket where again the daughter was learning English at school and said how pleased she was to speak to people from outside Albania.
The adjacent ship is unloading dry cement and will be doing so all night!!
Still awaiting our fuel.
Thursday 4 July 2013
Hot, warm, cloudy later
We waited and waited for our fuel, at one time it was rumoured Fredi was in a tanker in a traffic jam - no. Eventually he arrived with some old cans and a large funnel and we siphoned off sufficient from the next door fishing boat. We actually had enough fuel but didn’t want to disturb the sludge at the bottom of the tanks. In Marina Bar we intend having a tank inspection and possibly a clean so were running down to an extent.
10.45 slipped. 12.20 crossed the border into Montenegro and changed courtesy flags.
Arrived Bar 15.35, no answer to our calls, eventually a guy called us to our jetty alongside. Took Mike ages to go through customs, police, port etc.
The mountains round the bay are nearly as magnificent as those at Kalamata.
Of course we went dongle hunting, all ok and were directed to a very nice typical Montenegrin restaurant, Fitt, and had delicious veal stuffed with ham and cheese and chips!
Bar feels very Balkan, a lot of vocab feels Czech and the people don’t look Mediterranean. There are some high end shops and again hundreds of shoe shops, so far haven’t seen any food.
Friday 5 July 2013
Warm, wind later, big clouds over mountains
Washing the boat day to clear off all the salt and grime from the ports. The first time in ages I cleaned the fenders which have had a really rough time, I don’t think big buoy has ever been cleaned.
Mike investigating whether we take out a 12 month contract here, though they can’t lift us out; also we must ask around to see how safe the marina is weatherwise.
This is quite a bling place and the land of the sea going boy racer, most of the boats here are motor boats, medium large and small and one, either new or superbly restored, ‘dhow’ rigged clinker dinghy. As far as I can see still no English. Yes, found one ‘Sexy Beast’ a rather top heavy small motor boat.
We are back in a country where registering your boat in the USA is common, we haven’t seen this since leaving Turkey.
Saturday and Sunday 6/7 July 2013
At long last I finished painting the decks, now glistening white. Tidied and took photos of boat to show those who have never seen her.
Supper at a restaurant in the old orangery belonging to the ‘chateau’ which is now a museum but was the residence of the king??? Another instance of very well trained staff and two who had just been on an exchange year in America.
Monday/Tuesday 8/9 July 2013
Home. Final tidy and close up of boat. Taxi to Podgorica. Ryanair flight to Brussels Charleroi. Night at Ibis Hotel at Fleurus, about 5km from airport. Very pleasant backing on to fields, though our room on the front was close to the busy road.
Free taxi back to airport, a bit early for flight but time for breakfast.
And that was the end of our sailing for the year. Gillie came out and met with our Kiwi team who should have been doing the trip from Split to Dubrovnik, but this was not possible.
However, all the necessary works got done by them working together and a good time was had by all- except me!
Next year to Venice and then down the Italian coast to Sicily.
More photos of Albania/Montenegro on the Countries tab