Vonitsa to an Historic Fort in Corfu and a Return to U.K.

Tue 28 Aug 2018 09:00

We spent three very peaceful days at anchor in Vonitsa during which time there were never more than a handful of visitors and the charming promenade remained for the most part deserted. The restaurateurs told us that they did get busy but this being late July it must be a very short season. Near the centre of the town we came across a magnificent ancient plane tree, its heavily gnarled trunk fully fifteen metres in circumference. Higher up it was obvious that it had been struck by lightning on a number of occasions as there were huge splits in the wood and old jagged wounds in its bark. The tree must be venerated by the locals as a watering system had been put in place for it and some of the lower branches were supported by timber props.

The locals were out in force on our last evening as they gathered on the small island just off the town to which it is connected by a causeway, arriving by car, boat and mules for a religious service of some kind. It started around 19.30 and we had two to three hours of amplified chanting and prayers by the Greek Orthodox monks. For the first hour their tuneful utterings drifting across the still waters as the sun slipped behind the mountains was quite atmospheric but by 21.00 we were earnestly hoping that the end was nigh! I did wonder if the thunder storm later that night was divine approval or retribution.

On the 27th we weighed anchor for the short voyage through the gulf of to the town of Prevesa near the entrance to the gulf of Amvrakia. The dolphins still languidly plied their piscatorian trade in the still waters as we passed numerous fish farms.  The shore line occasional decorated with the rusting, skeletal remains of trawlers a testament perhaps to a past when the Mediterranean teemed with aquatic life.

We spotted a reasonable place on Prevesa town quay and med moored in smart fashion. The quayside and town a much pleasanter place than we had imagined. The road along the quayside is pedestrianised and despite the large numbers of holidaymakers frequenting the bars and restaurants the nights were not overly noisy. Kevin and Wendy from Oyster 485, Talisman came over to introduce themselves and admire Pamarzi. We shared a beer or two and swopped sailing stories for an hour or so. We dined that evening on typical Greek taverna fare in a bustling restaurant just back from the quay, the food pleasant enough the seating less so as the woven rushes etched criss cross patterns on to our nether regions.

Boat jobs and provisioning consumed most of the following day although we did take a couple of hours out to sip iced coffee and people watch at Café Diem. Dining at a quayside restaurant that evening notable mainly for its smiling and very professional lady ‘greeter’, we were treated to the spectacle of an intensely red ‘blood moon’ rising between dark clouds. It was quite a sight, neither of us had seen a blood or harvest moon quite as red before.

The following morning we were enjoying a breakfast of still warm bread from the local baker who had taken it out of the oven as I waited, when a young couple, German I think, with two small children in a very small, thirty foot charter boat started to attempt to med moor next to us. They laid their anchor chain over ours, very nearly hit the motor boat on their other side and then hit the quay. Their mooring lines were in a tangle and as I went to help they made three attempts to throw me the line before it reached me. We finally got them secured and the rather frazzled looking young wife made many expressions of thanks. Before we could leave next day they had to unmoor and relay there anchor chain so that it did not cross ours. Unfortunately they repeated their performance of yesterday but this time managed to get their little boat wrapped around the anchor chain of the big motor boat before we could get them snugged back in. Finally getting away around 10.30 after this repeat fiasco, Lynn piloted Pamarzi through the buoyed channel whilst I poked and hosed the mountain of thick, clay mud off our anchor. Out into the open sea we set a course northward to Two Rock bay on the mainland. Sadly when we arrived that afternoon we found no suitable spot to anchor so sailed on up the coast to Ormos Fanari where we got the hook down in ten metres in a sheltered spot. Interesting bay this as a walled river runs down one side of it from which fishing boats came and went only their uppermost parts visible above the wall until the emerged into the sea proper.

Gaios on the island of Paxos was to be our next destination, Lynn really keen to return to the little town we last visited in 2016. There are only a handful of places that are suitable for a boat of our size and on this occasion much to Lynn’s chagrin ‘there was no room at the inn’. Plan B was to go to Ormos Lacca at the northern end of the island and there we dropped the hook in about eight metres of gin clear pale turquoise water. We enjoyed a very peaceful night despite the fact that there were sixty or more boats anchored in the bay. We ate aboard that night consuming more of the tuna caught on our crossing from Sicily earlier in the cruise.

A cloudless, windless day next morning meant that it was motoring all the way to Corfu where I had booked a berth for twenty five days at the Sailing Club which is situated within the fort complex. By 14.00 that afternoon we were med moored under its towering fortifications. Certainly a remarkable place for a marina but we were not impressed by the swell brought in from the wake of passing ferries and cruise liners that left all the boats bouncing and jostling their fenders each time one passed. The iffy electricity supply also concerned me greatly; losing shore power whilst we were back in the U.K. would have very serious consequences.

We dined that evening in the Sailing Club restaurant which was every bit as good as Robert and Denise Drew had said and it made a very pleasant change from Greek taverna grub. We rather made pigs of ourselves starting with smoked salmon and guacamole crostini, grilled octopus, followed by calves liver in a rich Madeira sauce with creamed potatoes. And finishing with a semi freddo of meringue, ice cream and crushed almonds drenched in a dark chocolate sauce.

The boat next to us at the Sailing club was a Hanse 575 called Team Jones, we had seen it a few weeks earlier in Lefkas marina but had not met David and Charlotte the owners. They turned out to be a really nice couple and we enjoyed their company. They were going to over winter at the Sailing club but after chatting with us they decided to try to get a winter berth at Marina di Ragusa. A couple of days later they were delighted to tell us that they had secured a berth there on pontoon M a couple of boats along from us.

Some provisioning and a day of preparing the boat for the arrival of Charles, Gemma and grandchildren, Tilly and Felix was the order of the day on Thursday. They arrived around 20.00 that evening and we ate again at the Sailing club restaurant. We were not quite as glutinous as we had been the previous evening.

Giles our sailing friend and electrician from MdR unexpectedly turned up next morning and we enjoyed a chat and a beer later that afternoon. It was fun having the kids on board and as they went off to the beach Lynn and I washed down Pamarzi, not the easiest of tasks with the feeble water pressure here.

Reiterating my concerns over the power supply which continued to trip out Andreas the Harbour Master said he would in any event like us to move to a bows to berth on the sea wall where the electricity supply was better. So on Monday 6th August we moved across, mooring about three metres of the wall because it is too shallow to go any closer, with about sixty centimetres of water under our keel.  But with all our fenders deployed, four bow lines and two very heavy stern lines I felt reasonably comfortable leaving her there and indeed the power supply did seem to be stable.

A final meal with Charles, Gemma and the children at the restaurant, they are staying aboard holidaying for a week or so, and it was off to the airport for our 23.30 flight back to the U.K.