10. Ionian Sea, Corfu, Greece, Albania 2018-2022
Lido di Jesolo, Italy to Preveza, Greece, May 2018
During early May 2018 we relaunched Graptolite at Porto Turistico di Jesolo and Heike and I together with friend Hilmar set off south down the Adriatic to a new home in Greece.
It was about 700NM and we had a few overnight stops in Croatia and had an overnight passage skirting around the 12 mile limit off Albania to Corfu. Albania has had a bad rap in recent years for being difficult to clear into and having thieves run off with your kit.
In Corfu, we anchored off the Old Fortress but had some trouble with the starter motor and I had to tow Grapto with the dinghy into NAOK marina. Some very helpful guys there got us going again by whacking the motor with a hammer.
Hilmar left for home and Heike and I sailed on south to Preveza where we wanted to check out Cleopatra Marina as a winter berth. We arrived in the dark and anchored about 100 metres from the marina entrance. The next morning the starter motor wouldn’t respond to any amount of hammering and we had to have another tow from the marineros onto a pontoon. The name Cleopatra Marina is not quite as twee as it sounds. It is a homage to the sea battle of Actium (31BC) which was nearby. This was a fight between Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. Octavian won.
Preveza, Paxos, Lefkada, Meganisi, Vonitsa June 2018
Heike left to go to work and I pottered about at anchor until early June when John and Alison came to the boat for week. We meandered about, first going north to Paxos and then south to Lefkada and Meganisi then north again to Vonitsa in the bay of Amvrakikos near Preveza. The only mini-disaster was the engine over-heating while we in the Lefkas Canal. There was a strong cross-wind and we drifted gently into some rocks in the few minutes the engine was off while I got the airlock out of the seawater cooling system. A few scrapes on the anti-fouling but nothing serious.
Corfu, July 2018
I sailed single-handed back to Corfu after that and then hung around NAOK marina for most of the rest of June and July except for a quick trip to Norway. NAOK was initially free-of-charge for some legal dispute reason but then they started charging and I went back to anchoring in the bay. The marina had no facilities anyway except for a concrete wall to bang into when the swell from the big ships comes.
Sarande, Albania, August 2018
Heike came back in early August and we had a sail to Sarande, Albania. We took in some tourist sites there. One was the very popular Blue Eye spring. Very cold water. Another was the Greek, Roman, Medieval archaeological site of Butrint. Albania turned out to be very pleasant. We had to employ a shipping agent for the formalities, which is a bit unusual in this part of the world, and we were expected to berth near the port police station but apart from that everyone was very nice. including the chap who helped Heike use a local ATM. After leaving Albania we did a circumnavigation anticlockwise around Corfu and then south to Paxos and on to Preveza for the haul out for winter.
2019 was very busy for us with non-sailing travel (see www.chaos-travel.com) and we missed the season.
During 2020, COVID-19 put a stop to visits to Greece. We booked and paid for a lot of time in Preveza Marina. Hopefully, we have not lost that money.
COVID-19 is still doing its thing. The last update here is May 2021 and still it’s not really possible to get back to Preveza although Greece claims to be open. I am waiting on my second Astra-Zeneca which will be in July. Hopefully we can go then with a Covid passport but Grapto is likely to be uninhabitable after so long. Earlier this year we considered selling and getting a motor yacht but it didn’t work out and we are now intending to completely refit the old girl with new navigation electronics and other kit.
From May to September, I spent many weeks, months, onboard in the scorching heat of Cleopatra Marina boatyard trying to bring the old girl back to life. Admittedly, this was alternated with cruise ship runs through the Ionian, Aegean and Adriatic Seas (see www.chaos-travel.com) . The biggest frustration was after servicing the engine and having bits replaced it turned out that the diesel tank was gummed up with diesel bug and the oil-pan was leaking badly. I ordered a new engine but delivery would have been months away so it was cancelled and we had the old engine lifted out to see if it could be repaired. New parts for our problem are impossible to get as well so we had a used oil-pan shipped down from Split, Croatia. We are still waiting for it as I write.