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Author: Debera and Mark Clark

Night Night Hapatoni for 2018 – Preveza 12th to 20th September 2018

Night Night Hapatoni for 2018 – Preveza 12th to 20th September 2018

We had a busy three days to prepare Hapatoni before her lift out on the 15th. With a long list of things nearly complete, we had a final bbq on the town quay on the last evening, with those gorgeous spicy Greek sausages.  We both felt the COBB bbq was a great addition to the inventory this year.

On the morning of the 15th, we motored the short distance across the bay from the town quay to Cleopatra marina for our 10am lift-out, there was no wind and the sea was flat as a mill pond. The lifting team at Cleopatra are very efficient, Hapatoni was quickly out of the water, jet washed and secured on the hard in her winter home.028 - 2018 Out of the Water - 002

We decided not to stay on Hapatoni while she was out of the water, it’s very difficult getting Hudson on and off, so we rented our usual Galini apartment in Sivota for our last few days.

028 - 2018 Out of the Water - 005After a day of not doing a lot on Sunday, we headed back to the boat on Monday to make sure everything was ok and then on for a bit of history, with a trip to the Roman museum in Preveza. Mark had been keen to visit because it covered The Battle at Actium between Marc Anthony, Cleopatra and Octavian.

Our friends Keith and Tracey arrived on Ammonite on the 18th. They came in earlier than they had planned, to make sure that they had a parking spot for the party on the day of the regatta on the 20th …  we were flying on the 20th, so missing the party – good planning huh!

It’s complicated to get Hudson back to Athens for our flight home, the most economical method is for Mark to fly from Preveza to Athens on the 18th, then hire a car and drive the 5 hours back to Sivota and then drive all three of us a further five hours back to Athens the day of our flight on the 20th … really, don’t ask.

We had drinks and dinner with Keith and Tracey on our final night at The Family Restaurant, at Yanni’s place. It seemed the right place for our last meal in Greece this summer.

028 - 2018 Out of the Water - 007Looking back on this summer, it started with some disappointments. Hapatoni was not re-launched till Mark’s birthday on the 31st May … 6 weeks after we returned to Greece.

Then, when we got back into the water, we had planned to sail up to Paxos and Corfu in early June before our friends Chris and Mary (from Bungay) arrived. This was quickly abandoned when we realised we needed to change all the batteries … which in fairness had exceeded their sell-by date, but they could have held out till the end of the summer – the joys of owning a boat.

The Iris hotel pontoon was a real find, there is water and electricity on the pontoon, a stunning setting and you can use the hotel pool and bar – what more can you ask for? While we were there, there was the minor issue of my emergency gall bladder operation and being rushed to Athens for five days, returning just in time for our friends Chris and Mary’s arrival from England – not the best timing, but we had a fabulous time with them.

The Peloponnese was brilliant, much cooler than further north, and very quiet, hardly a single Italian, hoorah, and when we hired the car in Kalamata to explore, the scenery in the mountains was breath taking.

It was great to finally get my parents out and show them the Greece that they will never see on their cruise ships, tiny islands and secluded beaches. It was their first time sailing on Hapatoni and I think they had a fabulous time.

With another year over, there have been a few more mishaps than normal and we were keen to return home to Hamble and see family and friends, five months is a long time away.

 

 

Farewell to the Kett’s in Preveza – 11th to 12th September 2018

Farewell to the Kett’s in Preveza – 11th to 12th September 2018

003 - 2018 - Preveza - 011Being our last day, we woke early as the plan was to leave at 9am. We decided to have breakfast at the Iris hotel, some had bacon and eggs and others the omelette, it was a hearty start to the day. Our aim was to go through the 11am floating bridge at Lefkas, so we took a slow motor through the Lefkas Canal, past the town and up to the bridge. Once past the bridge, the wind picked up as it always does and we could sail the final part of the journey to Preveza.  With both sails set, 12-15 knots of apparent wind, Hapatoni was close hauled and sailing a good 6 to 7 knots. Mark handed over the wheel to dad, who enjoyed the buzz and sailed us all the way.

We moored up on the town quay, just outside the bank but making sure we were far enough away from the noisy bars. With water and electric available, Mark and I will stay here until the morning of the 15th when the boat is lifted at Cleopatra marina across the bay, we can do many of our winter preparations on quayside.

Late afternoon as the weather cooled and the shops started to open, the four of us plus dog, went for a walk around town, deciding not to stop for a drink but return for our bbq and go out again later when the town is in full flow. Once more we bbq’ed spicy Greek sausages, king prawns and salad bits, which were delicious. All feeling a bit weary, we sat on the back of Hapatoni watching the world go by, the town quay is certainly the place to parade and the bars were packed.

Mum and dad left Hapatoni at 9.30am getting a taxi to Preveza airport, with their flight at 12:05pm. The flight home and drive back to Ipswich went to plan.  With my parents departed our holiday is also nearly over and now the work begins to prepare Hapatoni for winter.

The Kett’s at the Iris Hotel Nidri – 10th September 2018

The Kett’s at the Iris Hotel Nidri – 10th September 2018

004 - 2018 - Nidri - 001We left Kioni at 7:50am, with no wind, motoring the 28 miles to Nidri. After an early morning call to Christos the owner of the Iris Hotel, we were able to secure a reservation for one night on their pontoon. We knew being a Monday the Sailing Holiday flotilla would leave about 11am, following their morning briefing and “how to sail guidelines”. As we arrived the flotilla had not left yet, but Christos had a reserved spot at the far end of the pontoon for us.

All keen to stretch our legs and explore (especially Hudson), we walked into Nidri town, showing my parents the sites and shops, purchasing some very large King prawns on the way for tomorrows bbq. We stopped for a fresh juice on the quay front which is lined with cafés, bars and restaurants all along the front, with views onto the busy tripper boat pontoon and beyond to pretty Tranquil bay. It is certainly the busiest place we have taken my parents to, full of holiday makers, a lot of them British.

Nidri 1The afternoon was spent by the poolside at the Iris Hotel, with us all (except Mark) making the most of our last sunbath and swim day (as no swimming opportunities in Preveza) – although Mark and Hudson popped up for the odd swim, beer o’clock and ice cream time. We went back into Nidri for dinner, choosing Italian as the boys both fancied pizza (very Greek), but delicious. The piece de resistance of the meal was the cheese cake provided free, (I didn’t have any) but all the others kept saying how delicious it was. With full bellies and tired feet, we re-tired back to the boat.451854

The Kett’s in Kioni – 7th to 10th September 2018

The Kett’s in Kioni – 7th to 10th September 2018

013 - 2018 - Kioni - 001Firstly, Congratulations to my parents Helen and Chris Kett on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

We arrived in Kioni at the perfect time mid-morning, with several spaces on the town quay. We moored up in a similar place to our last visit, ideal as it has the lowest chance of crossed anchors, and with the angle of the bay and quay this is the crossed anchor centre of the Ionian. All secure, we all immediately went for a cool down swim off the rocks at the entrance. A stunning spot with its clear waters, although mum took her time descending the ladder as she thought it was a little “fresh”.

Kioni 1

 

Following a restful afternoon, we left Mark at work on his book in the roof top bar and set off along the coastal road out of town walking to the church, although a lot of the walk was in the shade it was still hot so we joined Mark for a cool beer on our return.

Kioni 2To celebrated Mum and Dad’s 50th Anniversary, we started with cocktails & beer at the little quayside bar, moving on to taverna over-looking the bay. We shared a mixture of dishes including the taverna’s spit roast, lots of wine consumed, it was a really nice evening.

kioni 4We decided to stay for three days here and relax, mum and dad liked the village with its charm, pretty houses and a swimming area, plus there is lots to see with all the yacht activities. The days were very relaxed following a pattern, mum and I doing the Hudson morning walk, followed by a dip and then a late afternoon walk and beer.

The local transport, only the best for my parents…Kioni 6

We had a bbq on board on Saturday 8th, which we all thoroughly enjoyed, even better than the restaurant food. On our last day we walked to the three windmills on the cliffs at the entrance to the bay, I have been looking for the path to these for ages and we finally discovered it is hidden in the corner of the beach below the church. The last part is a bit of a trek but after all my visits to Kioni, I have final visited the windmills.

Kioni 5With Kioni certainly top of the list for favourite places visited by mum and dad we headed for the Iris Hotel pontoon in Nidri, to give my parents a taste of the Islands main holiday town – Nidri.

The Ketts in Sivota – 5th to 6th September 2018

The Ketts in Sivota – 5th to 6th September 2018

026 - 2018 - Sivota - 000We left Kastos early, keen to get to Sivota around 10.30am, hoping to find a space. As we left the protection of Kastos, the winds increased, with some gusts up to 25 knots. I was concerned for my parents, although bizarrely dad was still in bed having a lie-in. I had hoped for calm seas for mum, but she was fine and with the foresail out, we made good progress.

We knew with winds forecast up to 35 knots, that Sivota would be busy, but hadn’t realised how busy, there was no room on any of the restaurants pontoon’s or even the Italian pontoon which costs 35 euros a night. Our usual parking up near the Liotrivi bar was also full. Luckily, we found a space just outside the supermarket. Unsure of the depth, we put our nose in to test it first and it seemed ok. However, after parking, Mark did another inspection and found we only had just over a foot below the rudder (a bit too close for comfort). Although safe for the time being, we decided we would not moor here again.

We enjoyed our two days in Sivota, getting on and off the boat and swimming was so much easier for dad, giving my parents more freedom. We spent the afternoon exploring the village and swimming off the beach.

Sivota 3Being the 5th September it was Mark’s and my 9th Wedding Anniversary, we had planned dinner out at the 12 Gods restaurant so we could have our favourite red snapper, but as the village was so busy and it was a bit windy (giving the air a cool feel, Mark even put his jeans on) we decided to opt for dinner at Yanna’s, it is more protected and we would be guaranteed special treatment and go to the 12 Gods the next day when its quieter.

Stopping in Sivota for two days gave us all a lie-in, although some more than others as mum and I still had to walk Hudson before it got too hot.

The boys relaxing….Sivota 1

Sivota 2The weather improved on the Thursday and there was a mass exodus of yachts in the morning. Our German neighbours had planned to leave but unfortunately their anchor caught on a massive old pontoon chain running in-front of where they had moored. They had no chance of being able to release their chain, without a diver. Mark secured their boat to the side of ours and the manager of the Italian pontoon dived down to release their anchor, then secured a rope from their boat to the sunken chain, thus giving them a temporary lazy line.  Trauma over they decided to stay another day. Whilst all this was happening an Italian on a boat opposite, ignoring the diver in the water, decided to leave (why he could not wait, who knows). They departed the pontoon without any planning, no one at the anchor, doing their best to ran over the diver and also attempted to pull out another boats anchor – chaos. Now when we talk about Italian sailors my parents will know what we mean, as today, they certainly lived up to their reputation.

Our departure from Sivota was not the usual smooth event, unfortunately the diver who had tied on the temporary lazy line for next door had crossed it over our anchor chain, stopping us from pulling up our anchor. Some kind divers from the apartments over the supermarket offered to help, which should have been straight forward but with three different languages, it was not easy. Finally released we left at 9am heading south to Kioni.

The Ketts in Kastos – 4th September 2018

The Ketts in Kastos – 4th September 2018

027 - 2018 Helen & Chris - 032 We were keen to show my parents Kastos as it is one of the remotest Islands in the Ionian, with only one village and about 50 permanent residents, of which the youngest is the owner of Mark’s favorite bar. Alex and his wife are both in their early 40’s, most of the other residents are 60 plus. Alex is an old rocker who likes to play Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bowie and many other classics of the 70’s, which is one the reasons Mark likes the bar.

It must be strange for the residents in the summer when the population more than quadruples with Athenians using their holiday homes and the massive influx of yachties.

 

Relaxed sailing on route to Kastos…

Kastos 1

We arrived at 11am, and long lined to the shore, giving mum and dad a new experience. Whenever we arrive at a new port, Hudson always sits at the back of the boat waiting to go ashore for his customary pee, even when at anchor or long-lined, where there is no easy or quick shore transfer. None the less, after Hapatoni was secured, Mark took Mum and Hudson ashore for a quick exploration of the island’s lampposts, which doesn’t take long. It has only one shop, now the little supermarket has closed, three tavernas and two bars.

Kastos 4Later in the afternoon we went ashore, the dinghy is a little difficult for dad to get in and out of, but we all made it. We walked to the windmill, just outside town, which has now been converted to a bar. It has the best views on the island, looking out to the mountains on the mainland and over the Ionian Sea in all directions. On the way back, we stopped at Mark’s favourite bar over-looking the bay for a swift G&T, finishing off back on the boat for a bbq.

Kastos 2Mum and Dad liked Kastos for its remoteness and beauty, however, there was some strong winds forecast in the area over the next 2 days, so we decided our next stop would be Sivota rather than Kioni, there are more mooring options and protection.  Kastos 3

 

 

The Ketts in Spartakori – 3rd September 2018

The Ketts in Spartakori – 3rd September 2018

008 - 2018 - Spartakhori - 001Following a good night’s sleep Hudson and I took mum and dad for a walk up to the floating bridge separating Lefkas from the mainland of Greece and around the town itself. This was followed by a two-hour sail to Spartakorion on the island of Meganissi.

Spartakori 3

You have to reserve a spot with Babis on the quay at Spartakori, he is most definitely the boss, it is his little kingdom. No booking probably means no parking. With the boat moored up, we had a leisurely lunch, followed by a swim for Mum and I and an afternoon nap for Dad and Mark – tough life. Later, we braved the steep hill up to the village which rests on the top of the cliff overlooking the bay. The view over the central Ionian and its islands is stunning. Naturally all this exercise was followed by a cool beer.

Spartakori 2

We had dinner in Babis’s taverna, it was busy as usual, with all the pontoons full. Dad enjoyed his first plate of calamari for the holiday and with supper complete we returned to the boat, as we planned to set sail the next day at 8am for the Island of Kastos, 3 hours to the east.

Spartakori 1

 

The Kett’s Arrive – Lefkas – 31st August to 3rd September 2018

The Kett’s Arrive – Lefkas – 31st August to 3rd September 2018

001 - 2018 - Lefkas - 001We finally moved from Sivota on Friday 31st August up to Lefkas to await the arrival of my parents on Sunday evening. This is not the ideal day to moor up on the Lefkas town quay as many of the local charter boat companies have their change over day on Saturday and they try to reserve space for their own returning yachts. None the less, we found a place outside the Margarita restaurant and bar and settled in for the weekend, realising too late that the bar plays loud music till about 5am. So, following a hot, airless and sleepless night, even with ear plugs, three grumpy sailors (including Hudson) were not impressed when a Charter company asked us to move over to allow one of their boats in.

Determined not to have another night of loud music we moved further up the quay to a quieter spot as a space became available. It seemed to be a day for shouting at the Charter companies as, whilst I was in the shower the catamaran next to us decided to leave with their new holiday makers, who did not seem to know what they were doing. On the way out, they tried to pull up our anchor, which in their defence I had dropped too far out and maybe just over their anchor (not my best mooring), but the palaver they made of it. If you can’t release a crossed anchor in the Ionian, then you are in trouble. The Charter company guy started shouting at us, so I lost the plot and told him, in no uncertain terms what I thought of him.

In the evening, we met up with Tina and Time, Alice and her friend Joe for dinner at the “Coloured Chair” restaurant, it was lovely to see the gang and catch up over a few drinks.

Sunday 2nd Sept, started in a much better frame of mind following a good night’s sleep. Hudson and I went off for an early morning walk around the town, before our final preparations for mum and dad’s arrival. I took the 7:15pm bus from Lefkas to the airport to meet them from their 9:20pm flight. Their flight arrived on time and we were on the back of the boat having a glass of wine by 10.15pm (as planned), with a light cooling breeze blowing.

Sivota – 21st to 31st August 2018

Sivota – 21st to 31st August 2018

026 - 2018 - Sivota - 000With Assos off the agenda, we decided to sail west around the outside of Cephalonia, the shortest way to reach the northern tip. We planned to stay the night in one of the small anchorages just passed Fiskardho and then on to Sivota on the Island of Lefkada the next day.

With 43 miles to travel we left bright and early at 7am, it took a good hour just to exit the bay, the sea was calm like a mill pond and initially there was very little wind. But as soon as we cleared the headland on the south western tip of the bay, it started to blow from the north east. We were lucky enough to sail most of the journey, although the wind varied from 5 knots, when the wind was blocked by a mountain range, up to 22 knots with the occasional katabatic blowing off those same mountains, thrown in for good luck. Up and down like a whores draws, as Mark would say. This didn’t seem to bother Mark who was a very happy camper, this was our best day sailing for the summer so far.

We reached the top of Cephalonia around 1pm and made the decision not to anchor off Fiskardho but to continue the extra 12 miles to Sivota. We had only planned to anchor, so that we could time our arrival into Sivota the next day for mid-morning to get the best chance of a space – it is high season and still Italian time.

As we entered the Sivota bay we were amazed, it was 3pm and the quay was pretty empty, and luck was further on our side, our favourite “side to” mooring next to Livotrivi’s bar was empty (photo below is the inside of Livotrivi’s bar). Perfect, we moored up and within a few minutes were over the side having a swim.

139488870_1444727068We decided to stay in Sivota until my parents arrive as there is everything we need here, and our mooring spot is secure for all conditions. As we have said before, it is a pretty village, lots to see and very relaxing, life is easy here.

002 - 2018 - Sivota - 003Sivota has been a surprise this week, we expected it to be busy every night especially with the Italians, but some nights we have had empty restaurant pontoons and spaces on the quay. As the week passed the number of Italian ribs has decreased daily and the number of British boats is beginning to increase again.

We had some weather forecast for a few days mid-stay, mainly rain with a small risk of a thunderstorm. Surprisingly, this is perfect for us to go exploring, as we can leave Hudson in the car if we need to and it won’t be too hot.

So with a car hired, the chandler in Nidri was our first stop, Mark went in to buy some floating mooring lines but came out empty handed, deciding to make the current ones last … a first for Mark.

We then drove to Preveza and enjoyed lunch on the town quay, which was very busy. The new marina was pretty full considering they are charging 59 euro’s a night and it is still not finished. Refuelled we drove to the other side of Preveza to see the Roman ruins, the Nicopolis from the days of Octavian 31BC following the battle with Anthony and Cleopatra (yes, research for Mark’s book).

026 - 2018 - Sivota - 001Our time here has passed very quickly with the usual activities and social events, I am looking forward to moving to Lefkas in preparation for Mum and Dad arriving on Sunday 2nd September, Hudson is so excited.

Argostoli – 17th to 21st August 2018

Argostoli – 17th to 21st August 2018

025 - 2018 - Argostoli - 000Keen to depart Zakinthos we left at 7:20am to motor (not much wind) the 48 miles to Argostoli, the capital and principle harbour of the island of Cephalonia.

We were a little apprehensive as we knew Argostoli had a cruise ship pier. My parents stopped there a few years ago on their Mediterranean cruise and we hoped it would not be another Zakinthos. As we approached, the first thing we noticed was the number of super yachts lined up, and centre stage was the beautiful Christina “O”. At just under 100 metres long, she reminds you of the stylish 60’s or cruising down the Nile. She once belonged to billionaire Greek shipowner, Aristotle Onassis.

025 - 2018 - Argostoli - 002The town quay is quite long, but the space for visiting yachts is not, we had to squeeze in between the super yachts and tripper boats. There is a marina, but it is pretty much abandoned except for the odd dumped and decaying boat. It is a long walk from the town, which is probably the reason for its lack of use.

025 - 2018 - Argostoli - 004However, the town centre is very clean and tidy with lots of modern shops, both designer and tat (it caters for all needs). The main street is paved and pedestrianised, running parallel and two roads back from the main quay. Café bars and restaurants line the quay and there is a market area with well stocked butchers, fish mongers and fruit & veg shops. The local fisherman also sell their catch on the quay which encourages a family of five turtles to live in the bay.

025 - 2018 - Argostoli - 007025 - 2018 - Argostoli - 003We immediately liked the town, it had a nice, well-kept feel. Surprisingly to stay the night is only 10 euro’s with free water.

025 - 2018 - Argostoli - 006

On the Monday, following a relaxing weekend and some fabulous fresh tuna, we decided to hire a car for the day to explore Cephalonia. Our first stop was the highest point on the Island (Mark’s idea), Mount Ainos, which is a national park with stunning views. Very few cars go up there, although the very top was a little disappointing with great slabs of concrete supporting the telephone and mobile antennae’s.

025 - 2018 - Argostoli - 010The next stop was the Melissani Lake Cave near Sami. Silly us, visiting the number one tourist site at the height of tourist season. Queues marched off into the distance and fresh coaches arrived every few minutes. We didn’t stay and instead headed to check out the coastal village of Assos, where we had planned to anchor next.

025 - 2018 - Argostoli - 012Assos is a small village on the north of Cephalonia, snuggled into the side of a steep hill and very popular because it is so pretty. There are several hotels and apartments overlooking the beach and harbour, which is exposed to the prevailing NW winds – so you can only anchor here in very calm conditions. We stopped for lunch under the trees, having the mixed seafood platter, the calamari was the best we have ever had and we have had a lot of calamari. Unfortunately, we decided not to anchor here though, because it is so exposed, there was only a couple of smaller yachts long lined to the quay, which is too shallow for us.

025 - 2018 - Argostoli - 014Sightseeing finished we headed back to the boat, now needing to re-think where to go next.