Sugar 'n' Spice – Weblog 1

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Gouvia, Corfu, Greece


39˚ 38.85 N

19˚ 51.22 E

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Gouvia Marina

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We travelled back to Sugar ‘n’ Spice, on Wednesday 14th April. The only ‘blip’ to an otherwise very smooth trip was the need to leave home late on the Tuesday to catch a very early morning flight from Gatwick to Corfu. There it was a taxi to the Port, ferry to the mainland & then a car for a scenic drive down the coast to Preveza.

Unsurprisingly the boat was her usual dusty (mostly sand) self, but otherwise all seemed fine. The next 4 days became a blur of overhauling, cleaning, & reinstating sails, sprayhood & other equipment to set her up for sailing. We made trips to Lefkas & Preveza town to stock the larder, obtained gas & diesel, & Doug has his usual visit to the top of the mast to put the wind instruments (off for the winter) back & check the rigging.

On Friday, in a chance conversation, we heard about the volcanic ash cloud covering northern Europe & the disruption in air travel, & realised how very lucky we had been with the timing of our return to Greece.

The weather was mostly warm & sunny, & amongst the rapidly growing vegetation we encountered a sunbathing tortoise. At dusk the boatyard lit up with fireflies, looking like very tiny flying LED lights, & a Scops owl hooted rhythmically away in the distance.



Near us Paul & Jodie were working on the junk rigged ‘Zefka’, an Aldeburgh boat, & on Sunday Peter & Sandra, members at HPYC, one of our home clubs, but now living in France, arrived to fit out their boat, ‘CherryPicker’. So Sunday evening we had an “East Anglian” group for drinks, & then all carried on for a meal at the very good local taverna.

That night the wind blew & the rain came. The rain was still hammering down in the morning (Mon 19th April) & we were due to be first launch of the day. Fortunately it eased slightly as the carrier & crew arrived (both them & us in full waterproofs!) & all went smoothly.

Back afloat we headed for our previous anchorage just east of Preveza town to do a few more jobs, & enjoy the comparative quiet.

The rain continued to lash down all day, the surrounding land became a misty blur with the water, & we were glad we had some ‘indoor’ jobs to do & didn’t need to launch the dinghy for provisions!

Tuesday 20th April dawned fine & clear, so we headed out through the Preveza channel & back into the Ionian. The wind was on the nose (not forecast) so we put a reef in the main & set out for a beat northwest to Paxos. We saw a couple of yachts, sensibly going the opposite way & passed the tiny island of Anti-Paxos, then put in a second reef, before turning into the enclosed anchorage of Mongonisi on Paxos 42nm.

Some men were readying a taverna for the season (not in time for us though), a fisherman passed by & there were some horses up the hill, but everywhere else in the little hamlet still seemed closed for the winter. Still it was a very relaxing place after a rather more energetic first sail of the season than we had intended!

Next day (wed 21st April) we motored the 2.5nm north to Gaios, the main town of Paxos. The harbour lies behind an island so it was a shallow winding route past local small boats, one with a Squacco heron perched on its anchor chain, to the almost empty Town quay. We anchored stern to and went to explore the town.



Again the season had not started & a lot of shops were still closed after the winter, but we were able to restock the larder, & found a phone number for the diesel tanker service, so were able to fill the tanks, something we had not been able to do at the Preveza boatyard. After a sandwich lunch in one of the few open cafes we left Gaios (the heron was on a different boat) for another major trip – 4.5nm! to Lakka at the very north of Paxos.  Coming out of the sheltered harbour we found the wind on the nose (as forecast), but a surprising F4/5 –not forecast, & a very rolly sea. We motored north, the wind picked up to a F6 & it was a relief to turn into the narrow gap that makes Lakka bay virtually landlocked. Inside was a different scene, turquoise water & calm, & only 2 other boats at anchor, when according to the pilot you cannot find a space in summer!



Thursday 22nd April. A prompt start from Lakka for a very pleasant sail under full main & genny with the wind on the quarter. We crossed the channel to Corfu, & carried on north up the Corfu coast. We only saw a couple of yachts, but there were a lot of ferries going in various directions. As we came level with Corfu Town & its imposing fortresses the wind dropped & we furled the sails.



 The crossing ferries were almost reminiscent of Dover as we headed on to Gouvia & the marina there, 31nm.


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