May 17, 2009
A slight problem with flight bookings meant that I was travelling out to Greece four hours later than the skipper and the almost inevitable flight delay at Gatwick made this five and a half hours.
Still I arrived at Preveza airport at about 17:00 and with the boatyard only 3 km away, and with my hatred of inflated airport taxi prices, it was a half hour walk trundling my sea-bag to the entrance to Preveza Marine, the boatyard where the “Fox” had spent the winter.
A quick call to the skipper’s mobile and I found my way to the “Fox” my home for the next couple of weeks.
She is a “classic” design, of about the same era as the Jaguars that I have hired out here over the years, but without many of the “modern” features, that have since been added to the Jaguars…
A cool-box which requires bags of ice cubes to keep it cool, no hot water, solar shower bag etc.
We slip off to the local taverna for a meal and on return find that the cabin lights wont come on, and that all the ship’s torches are dead. No problem, my trusty head torch will allow us to see enough to get to sleep, (the first time I had ever had to sleep on a yacht that was sitting firmly on the ground)
May 18, 2009
Up in the morning I slip down the ladder for my normal morning exercise, and have a look around the area.
Then back to the boat for a limited breakfast (a good job I brought two cornish pasties with me!)
With the launching booked for 12:00 we spent the morning doing a few maintenance tasks.
Applying a multimeter to the cabin lights show them to have 0.8V when the switch is on, and 0 when it is off. I suspect we have some corrosion on the switch… Repeated on/off movements clears it and the lights come on. Install a replacement fitting for one of the lights and that one job done.
Time to get the the sails rigged and furled before the launching trailer arrives.
Once the “Fox” was loaded onto the trailer it was a sureal experience to be trundling through the boatyard on the deck of a yacht three metres or more above the ground.
At the dockside “Fox” was transfered to the travel hoist and it was time for her to find the water for the first time since last summer.
Now for the acid test, will the engine start. It does and we are away, with our destination, Preveza Town Quay, in full view only about a mile away.
Still we take advantage of our afternoon to get the sails up and check that we have them rigged correctly and then take her in side-to on the quay, as there is plenty of room.
May 19, 2009
Up fairly early in the morning for a prowl around Preveza and find some essentials for breakfast.
Once the skipper emerges its back to the supermarket to store the boat for our voyage south.
Passing a chandlery I pop in looking for whipping twine, as I have seen the “fluffy” state of our mooring lines. Its an English owned chandlers but my request falls on deaf ears as regards the staff (dont you just melt the ends..) Luckily a fellow customer says “I have some you can have, were are only a couple of berths along from you , I’ll drop it along when I get back to the boat.”
Back to the boat with the supplies and the skipper reminds me that the torch batteries are flat. Out with the multimeter and I quickly trace the problem to blown bulbs not flat batteries and its off on a bulb hunt.
How many electrical stores in the UK do you know who will happily sell you a torch or replacement batteries but don’t stock bulbs? Well I rapidly find that the situation in Preveza is much the same, but venturing away from the main drag eventually manage to track some down in a little hardware store.
Back to the Fox and we are ready to set off, and yes I am now the proud owner of half a spool of whipping twine…
May 19, 2009
Leaving Preveza I always follow the three sets of channel markers to make sure that I am well clear of the shallows before I turn on to the course for our next waypoint.
Today we are heading south towards the Levkas Canal and the swing bridge, which I know from previous trips will open each hour on the hour (or thereabouts!) if the bridge-keeper sees one or more boats waiting.
My little Garmin 76CX hand-held GPS with in-built chart display, raises the skipper’s eyebrows, as I lay her on course for the entrance.
He has a full blown chart-plotter down below but his distrust of electronic navigation doesn’t really stem from a distrust of the concept, more from a techno-phobe mind that doesn’t really understand how to use it…
After many trips to the Ionian I have many of the local navigation points loaded as waypoints and most of the hazards as proximity alarms. I don’t rely on the GPS it just acts as a simple way to check the course and remind me of things that may slip my memory. It is also waterproof which makes it easy to compare what you can see with what appears on the charts.
May 19, 2009
We motor-sail south towards the Levkas Bridge aiming for the 14:00 swing, and arriving slightly ahead of time I have to hold the Fox stationary waiting for the bridge to open.
When the time comes the bridge-master decides that there is no need to swing the entire bridge but simply lifts the western drawbridge and we squeeze through the gap.
Down the Levkas Canal, and we are out into the “Inland Sea” and heading south towards Meghanisi.
May 19, 2009
As we exit the Levkas Canal we get a good breeze and get Fox sailing down to pass the island of Skorpios.
The skipper decides that we will put into Sparchahori for the night which prompts a little technical discussion about the use of proximity alarms as we skirt the Hemoniti Shoal which lies between Skorpios and Meganissi.
I have come far too close to this shoal once in the past, if you are close enough to see the bottom come up to meet you then your are certainly too close! My little GPS now warbles at me if I get within half a mile of it!
May 19, 2009
We get into Porto Spiglia and head up to the taverna at the head of the inlet, nice welcome there and more shelter than at the one near the village quay. Suddenly I discover an old adversery, the ferry Meghanisi (aka Jaws) is parked there taking up half the quay.
When I saw Meghanisi 2 a couple of years ago I thought that the original one had gone to the great breakers yard, but apparently she was away for a major refit and will soon be back to her old route and tricks.
My first ever trip to the Ionian started with a run-in with the Meghanisi here. I was trying to moor up at the village quay next to the ferry berth and had a foul up dropping the kedge. It is deep over there and I was trying to recover the kedge for another try when suddenly around the headland appeared this great big ferry with its bow door already down and my little Cobra 850 in its sights.
dum dum dum hence we now call her JAWS!
It is, I am told, the only time that the crew of the Meghanisi were ever seen to RUN to fend off.
Once the ferry had departed and we were moored up the level in my whisky bottle went down significantly.
May 20, 2009
Out of Porto Spiglia and then left hand down a bit until we can see the channel and on we go hoping for a decent breeze but meanwhile plonk plonk plonk from the diesel.
May 20, 2009
Is it enough to sail? Engine off and we drift along.
The breeze is picking up and we are sailing at last.
May 20, 2009
A good sail across towards Cephelonia and then its sails down and motor into Fiscardo.
Oops the pontoon is out of action, thats half the moorings gone, and the quay looks busy already.
This is where Peter’s facination with bows-to mooring comes into its own, pick a spot between two boats with a bit of space between them and in we go, sharp end first!