In the Gulf of Amvrakikos

Tuesday 1 – Saturday 5 June

We landed the dinghy on the edge of a convenient tiny harbour for local small fishing craft, and strolled along the beach walk into Vonitsa town.  Our first stop was the town quay, to check out the options for coming in to top up our water tanks, as the water in the Gulf did not look clean enough for us to make our own onboard.  There we found our old friends ‘Why Not!’ from the boatyard, and were invited aboard for coffee and a catch up.  Their cute puppy is now a mostly grown good-sized dog, but still well-behaved and friendly.

By the time we left it was lunchtime, so we tried out Molos, the taverna on the quay they’d recommended, and enjoyed a very good lunch, in spite of Mate managing to throw a full glass of water all over the table – even before starting on the wine.  We then made our way to the top of the high street to the supermarket, and took it all back to the boat for a quiet evening.

On Wednesday we went ashore again, this time in walking boots, to hike up the hillside to the chapel built into the rock face.  It was painted white and clearly visible from the (first) approach path, but the track was closed off by a very makeshift, but no less clear, fence barring our way.  We tried another route with equally little success, and a short skid back down the scree by one member of the team, before slogging up the edge of the main road to the last option, a sort of forestry track passable by an all-terrain vehicle.  Here we disturbed a black snake on a patch of dry bare soil, and were later advised that this species is the only poisonous one in Greece.

Looks promising…
…or not

The sign from the road did not suggest the chapel was inaccessible, but far enough along not to be visible from the road, it became apparent that we were not welcome, and we gave up and returned to the boat.

On Thursday we pottered around the islet and completed our second successful Med-mooring, stern to the quay with the anchor out front, to fill up with water and buy fresh bread.  On this occasion we tucked between other yachts, but all went smoothly.  Mate took the opportunity to use the water we were taking on to clean the heads (bathroom) and galley (kitchen), and Skipper ensured the decks were dusted off and the windows offered a view once again.

On our way back out into the Gulf, we struggled to raise the anchor and discovered we’d managed to hook an old, discarded concrete block securing a redundant ‘lazy line’.  These make Med mooring easier as they substitute for the anchor, and are picked up with a boat hook as the yacht is slid into the space.  We dragged the block several metres away from the quay in our attempts to release our anchor, but eventually we were free with no damage done to our boat or the town quay.

Once out on the water, we found the wind had blown up to its usual afternoon strength, which would give us a reasonable sail to the ‘top right’ ie NE corner of the Gulf, but a hard beat back to our planned anchorage in the lee of a lagoon midway along the North shore.  As the direct line was only six miles, we decided to give the engine a good run, which would give us plenty of hot water to enjoy showers later.  The new Brunton’s Autoprop, a feathering model where the blades fold in when not in use, improving our streamlining and hydro-dynamics, was put through its paces in a choppy sea, and we were glad to settle at anchor in shallow water out of the line of fetch from the wind.

On Friday morning, Mate was again delegated the job of anchor retrieval, after Skipper had decided the sea bed was sandy and we’d lay out all the chain that had acquired unpleasant growth and muck on Preveza town quay – 40 metres was about twice the length we actually needed.  Unfortunately, the chain came up thick with slimy green pondweed and other grime, that took ages to pick and poke off, along with copious quantities of mud.  She was rewarded with several sightings of turtles on the way back to Preveza, where we ended up two slots South of our previous berth.  We made the docking difficult for ourselves by leaving the dinghy tied up alongside, which affected our approach line, but we got there in the end.

We made the most of one night back in civilisation with a quick dash around all the services and shops we’d enjoyed on our extended stay here, and dinner with the lovely Tina at Taverna Mythos on the town quay.

On the Saturday we escaped the clutches of the town (without having been charged for our stay), and once again enjoyed a much quieter night in the nearby anchorage.