Sugar 'n' Spice - Weblog

Date Filed

3/12/2009 at home in the UK


Preveza Marine, Aktio, Epirus, Greece


38° 57 N

20° 46 E

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 We are now back in the UK with Sugar ‘n’ Spice out of the water near Preveza on the west coast of mainland Greece. I apologise for the delay in posting the final blog for this year.

Thursday 1st October. Ithaca is supposed, in legend, to be Homer’s island so we thought we should try to see some of these sights. The information office could not provide much information on walking options, which our guide book suggested existed, so we hired a very small, very cheap car to explore a bit further afield. Ithaca is a fairly high island with hills rising sheer from the sea, so first it was over a ridge of hill to the little port of Pisaetos, facing Cephalonia. Returning we stopped at the top of the saddle to try & find the ruins of Odysseus’s castle. After scrambling around an area labelled Alalkomenae (the name of the castle) we decided that over the centuries it had merged with the rocks on the hillside & there was little to see. So it was on again to the pretty hillside village of Stavros, then down to sea level again to the small ‘resort’ hamlets of Frikes & Kioni.  Both had small harbours, & again the flotillas were much in evidence, although the season was obviously winding down with a lot of the tavernas closed for the season. Kioni had more attractive older properties as they had survived earlier earthquakes.



Retracing our route to Stavros (most roads are dead ends, because of the steep landscape) we took to the ‘high ground’.  The roads had been adventurous so far, but now we encountered multiple hairpin bends & goats roaming (& even snoozing) on the roads, as we climbed high along a ridge of mountains. The peak of the highest, Mt Nirito at 809metres, didn’t seem very far above us. We stopped to look at what seemed an almost deserted village & then a monastery with superb views, & only a caretaker in residence, before descending via more hairpins to sea level & on to Vathy.

Friday 2nd October. A prompt departure from Vathy, motoring in no wind, but the battery needed a charge. As we rounded the SE corner of Itaca the wind filled in & we unfurled the genny. Doug saw a dolphin rush by & then just before noon we completed our short passage to Sami in Cephalonia & went stern to the quay. 16 nm.

We went for our usual explore, lunch, provisions, laundry. As forecast the wind started to pick up later in the afternoon & the quay was packed fairly solid as other boats arrived to shelter. Others on the outside of the quay moved inside. A German on one boat suggested we strung long lines between the boats & to the upwind quay in case any anchors dragged, so lots of rope came out of lockers as we put this plan into operation. I must say it seemed an effective ploy as the wind increased. With the wind came thunder, lightening & heavy rain, & we stayed awake until the small hours (I think most others did too) when the wind started easing. The morning (3rd Oct) was a different day with the sun shining & sea looking benign again. We untied the web of ropes & the harbour activities returned to normal.

We walked along the coast to the next hamlet, Melissani. There, there is a lake in an underground cavern. Part of the roof has collapsed so the light makes the water a deep blue. So we went for a rowing boat ride!



This is the way visitors are able to see the cavern & our guide (the rower) was very well informed (& multilingual). The water in the cavern is brackish having come underground along a fault line originating 10 kms on the other side of the island & carries on  a further kilometre to exit out to sea. It was a surprise after the blue light of the cavern to climb back to sunlight.

Sunday 4th October. Our planned departure was somewhat delayed as Doug checked the email only to find Olympic had dumped our booked return flight to the UK scheduled for a few weeks time. We assume they didn’t have enough passengers for our internal flight linking to Athens.  After the initial annoyance had subsided we decided to take advantage of the good internet connection we had in Sami to at least sort out a return from Athens, so it was midday before we left. Fortunately we were only planning a short 2hr motor up the coast to an anchorage for the night. 12nm. There was a conflict of names here as the pilot called it Paliokaravo Bay & identified it as having an old loading gantry, which is certainly where we anchored, but our electronic chart  showed Paliokaravo as being one bay further north. I am making a point about this as later when we swam to check the anchor it became apparent that there was a very large chain laying right across the floor of the bay between two bollards. Further in to the bay towards the gantry was a total hotch potch of chains so it would be unwise for anyone to anchor further in than the line between the bollards. The pilot does not hint at any problem, & luckily we had dropped our own anchor just clear to seaward, although it was very deep there. (We had 35m of chain out).

Monday 5th October. We made a relaxed departure from the anchorage, warning an incoming charter boat of the chains, & headed north a couple of miles to the village of Fiskardo. Venetian & Victorian lighthouses guard the entrance & we motored round to look at the attractive & busy the harbour. 

Then we hoisted the sails, & leaving Cephalonia sailed along the N Ithaca coast to anchor at the little steep sided island of Atokos, in the aptly named One House Bay. There were rather more boats though! (16nm & 20m chain). 

We were in time for a late lunch & were hugely amused by the antics of some butterflies (Two Tailed Pasha, according to book), who so wanted some wine we gave them a saucer to themselves!



Surprisingly only 3 of the boats anchored there stayed overnight.

Next day (6th Oct) was a prompt departure from Atokos sailing close hauled NEwards. We passed some gulls having a fishing/feeding frenzy, but the skipper didn’t get a line out in time. Mid morning we dropped anchor at Port Leone on Kalamos island. (8nm & 25m chain).

This smallish island is fairly close to the Greek mainland coast.  The anchorage is a deep sheltered bay, but the township of Port Leone was destroyed in an earthquake in 1953, & subsequently abandoned.  We took the canoes ashore to look at the ruined village & walked up the hill to the little church which has been rebuilt. There were plenty of goats in evidence. Later we canoed further round the bay to some nice beaches, but it was disappointing to find a lot of rubbish on them.

Wednesday 7th October we motored the 3.5 nm up the coast to Port Kalamos where we anchored stern to quay for a brief shopping trip & walk up the hill to the Hora. In our absence Sugar ‘n’ Spice found a fan club of Brits on the charter boat next to us – we didn’t take up their offer to swop.



Then it was on again sailing at first close hauled as we passed the pretty little town of Mytikas on the mainland shore, & later with cracked sheets, until we arrived at Ormos Kapali on Meganisi island & anchored in the west bay, where there were fewer boats. (13nm).

Another fairly deep anchorage, we had 30m chain out & decided to take a line round a tree on shore to stop ourselves swinging. The ‘dog’ had a canoe to tow the line this time. Later canoeing round the bay we surprised a kingfisher & had a lovely sighting as he flew along the shoreline.

Next morning (thurs 8th Oct) it was a relaxed start (after canoeing ashore to untie the line) for another short trip with no wind. This was enlivened by seeing flocks? of flying fish apparently disturbed by our approach. Arriving at Palairos on the mainland we anchored stern to quay helped by a taverna owner taking our lines as he touted for business. (8nm).

Palairos is the base for several flotilla & charter companies so the harbour filled up later.

We went for our usual wander around & up to the church & town, & in the evening decided to patronise our helpful taverna boss. We had a nice meal, then knowing we were sailors he told us a longer range forecast he had heard, that wind & rain were due monday onwards. Now thursday, we decided to check this when we next had a good internet connection.

Friday 9th October. A relaxed start from Palairos, motoring in little wind along the coast & then into the buoyed channel through the marshlands between Lefkas & the mainland. This leads to the town of Lefkas, where we found a space & went stern to the quay, with the Lefkas canal, splitting the island from the mainland, beyond it. (11nm).

In Lefkas we explored the quaint old town with its narrow streets & quirky clock tower, found a chandlery & the marina store for some boat bits.



Saturday 10th October. The canal is spanned by a bridge that lifts to allow boats through. We planned to go through at the 10am bridge, but the morning dawned with fog that actually got thicker as the sun rose, so we decided to wait for an hour, so we could see our way, & other traffic. The pilot did say that the bridge lifts were hourly. So at 11 we were duly untied & waiting, & we waited ….. until 12noon.



Later we heard that the schedule had only been 2 hourly all season! Anyway we were through the bridge, past the Santa Maura castle (14th century) guarding the causeway & sails were hoisted for a leisurely beat. Another long narrow channel led into the Gulf of Amvrakia, a vast inland sea, with Preveza at the mouth. Doug was able to contact the boatyard as we passed through to arrange for our lift out next week. We anchored just to the east of Preveza off Vrisoula. (11nm).

We found there was a good internet connection & checked the weather. As our man in Palairos had said there was rain & wind forecast for monday & after. We were very grateful for his tip off – it proved most useful.

Sunday (11th Oct) we went ashore to check out the town. A lot was closed as it was sunday, but we found the harbour was full of local boats so the only alternative to anchoring was the Town Quay or wall. Returning to the boat, & mindful of the forecast, we took the dry sails off to stow for the winter lay up.

Monday morning (12th Oct) we made a prompt departure for Vonitsa, a town in the Gulf of Amvrakia, motoring – NO sails!  The rain started, accompanied by thunder, but by mid morning we were in the shelter of the little harbour of Vonitsa, stern to quay, but with laid lines. (7.3nm). We were also next to Spectre, owned by Trevor Wright from our home sailing club, who also has a flat in Vonitsa.



That afternoon & next day (13th Oct) continued wet & windy. In the lulls we made some brief excursions into the Town, found there was another HPYC boat nearby (Optima Navis), so the owners, Collin & Margaret Wheatley came for drinks one evening, & on the tuesday Doug got an engine oil change & service done.

Wednesday 14th October, with a day of better weather ahead we made an early start back to the Preveza anchorage. A mid morning call to the boatyard found they could lift us out a lunchtime today (a day earlier than booked but there was a windier forecast for the thursday). So it was a rush to do the final ‘afloat’ jobs – log out, hoist Doug up mast to remove wind instruments etc – then we were off to the lifting bay for our haulout at 1pm at Preveza Marine. This is one of 3 boatyards at Aktio, on the south side of the channel to the Gulf of Amvrakia, whilst the town of Preveza is on the north side. The two are joined by a road & tunnel under the channel.


Total logged distance        2212.8nm                                             [Engine hours  264.4]


As with Malta this was a very efficient operation, but this time Sugar ‘n’ Spice is in a metal cradle due to the earthquake risk! and with extra wooden props as well (belt & braces).

Thursday 15th October to Monday 19th October. We attacked the chores of laying a boat up plus cleaning inside & out, laundry, organising the yard to do some jobs over the winter.

The weather was very mixed with a lot of rain which did not help with doing the jobs, & created a lot of dirt underfoot. There also seemed to be a very voracious variety of mosquito in the area, so we were burning mossi coils &/or spraying the boat most of the time.

We took one trip to the town of Preveza (the yard runs a minibus once a day) for some shopping & to make our number with the Port Police. We also had an evening out in Vonitsa where we joined Trevor, his wife Pam, the Optima Navis’s & some mutual friends, Richard & Cathy Brown who had been sailing with him, for supper.


Having had our internal flight to Athens dumped we did not relish a 5 hour bus ride as a replacement so Monday (19th Oct) lunchtime we hired a car for 3 days.



We then had a most lovely drive north through the mountains (glorious autumn colours) to the lakeside town of Ioannina, where we stayed high up overlooking the town & lake. Next day it was eastwards along the old road, very narrow & winding up & down gorges & mountains, but with little traffic as there is now a new expressway that most people use.



Over the Katara Pass at 1694m, the road led down through a ski area (no snow as yet), & the hills became more gentle. Then we came to the village of Kastraki in the Meteora. This is a most amazing area as rock pinnacles tower into the sky topped with ornate monasteries. We walked to one of the lower monasteries that afternoon & the following morning drove the ‘tourist’ trail round the higher ones, stopping often to gaze, before reluctantly heading south.




We wished we had had longer to walk more in this spectacular area, but were lucky to visit it in lovely weather & at a relatively uncrowded time of year. At first we were crossing a huge well cultivated plain, then more hills appeared & as we descended we could see the island of Evvoia & the channel between it & the mainland that we had sailed in early June. After Lamia we made our way off the main road, for a closer look at the water & then found a hotel on the sea front just a few miles from where we had anchored in Kolpos Alatantis those months ago.



So next morning (thur 22nd Oct) we joined the motorway for the final stage to Athens & our flight to Stanstead & home.

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