Another sailing season comes to an end. Following 2 nights on the town quay in Preveza, we motored over to Cleopatra marina on Tuesday 29th at 9:00 am, ready for our scheduled 10 am lift. The lifting team are very efficient, we were swiftly out, jet washed and parked once more in Row K (We always seem to end up in this row), but this time with a familiar neighbour, two boats down was Roger and Sisca’s yacht, Waterval.
Had to show you this “yacht” a few boats down from us, they created their own fake garden – weird.
We were lucky with the weather that day, the heavens open just as Hapatoni was in the cradle, so we were able to stay undercover and keep dry. Originally I was concerned it would be too hot to work and sleep on the boat on the hard for two days, so we booked a hotel with air conditioning. In fact, there was a lovely breeze mixed with clouds and sun while we finished preparing Hapatoni for her lonely eight months out of the water. Very handy, as Mark did not stop all day, which gave us Wednesday as a free day with hopefully a lie in (enjoying the cool air in our hotel room).Tasks completed two hot and sweaty bodies and one lazy dog retired to our hotel for a cooling shower before we headed out for a cool beer and early supper.
On Wednesday evening Mark flew to Athens on the 10.30 pm flight from Preveza, to collect a car from Athens airport and then drove the 4.5 hours back to us in Preveza, arriving back at the hotel at 3.30 am. Only to be woken up at 5.30am to drive all the way back to Athens for our 1.30 pm flight to Heathrow. We go through this palava every year because a one way car hire from the Ionian is very, very expensive and a car is the only way to get Hudson to the airport. Mark got some sleep on route, a number of red bulls were consumed and we made it to the cargo bay in time to drop poor Hudson off at 10.30am. He always howls when we leave him in his cage at the cargo hanger, it’s heart breaking, but it is a small price to pay for four months enjoying life in the Mediterranean.
Looking back on this year, our travels covered 1137 miles. We started earlier than usual to avoid any potential Brexit issues, flying out on 29th March and staying in a little apartment in Lefkas whilst we got the boat ready to launch on the 9th April. Because of the unsettled weather in that month, we parked Hapatoni in Vonitsa (a new find for us, a more rustic traditional Greek town), then moved on to one of our favourites, Gaios on the Island of Paxos. Even though it was wet and cold, we enjoyed April, finding new bars and catching up with our friends Christine and Peter before they headed south to the Aegean.
When the weather improved, we set sail on 30th April for the boot of Italy, staying there longer than we planned due to the weather, the Crotone bay is quite a wind and rain trap. Finally, we moved up through the very windy Messina Straits (well it was on the day we sailed through, it totally lived up to its reputation), with 40 knots of wind on the beam and very bumpy seas.
This part of the Italian coastline is very poor, not pretty and unfortunately, very dirty.
We finally arrived at the volcanic Aeolian Islands and visited most of them. We based ourselves out of Lipari for a while, took a tripper boat to Stromboli which obliged with a few lava eruptions. The island of Vulcano was interesting, we climbed its volcano which is also active, rotten egg, sulphurous fumes were all around us when we reached the crater. It is quite something to stand on the edge of an active volcano and even though we enjoyed the Aeolian Islands, Italy is expensive, touristy with limited anchorages, we will not be back. That is why we decided to cut short our Italian adventure and head back to Greece and the pretty little villages of the Ionian.
Our return to Greece was timed with an improvement in the weather, the sun finally came out to stay. June’s weather was very pleasant, we enjoyed ourselves Island hopping, relaxing in our favourite spots – Lakka, Kastos, Iris, Sivota and a few new anchorages. Friends, Keith and Tracey joined us in late June for a week, with Chris and Mary arriving shortly after. It was a fantastic 3-weeks, although our livers needed a rest after there departure, nonetheless, we hope they will all join us again next year. The weather reached the late 30’s at the end of June before a spectacular thunder and lighting display cleared the air. However, by the end of July the temperatures were in the 40’s, we were all struggling, the only way to keep cool is in the water.
We knew it was time to leave at the end of July, the Italians had started to arrive and we all know what that means … absolute chaos. Plus with the weather now so hot, we were looking forward to returning home to a more reasonable, sunny Hamble, to see family, friends and our home again. So, night night Hapatoni and hello The Lookout.