Monday, June 30, 2014

Cousins (and photos)

Zachary and Elisabeth (BeBe)
arrival at Athens airport.

Don't these two look like loving cousins in this photo taken at their arrival at the Athens airport less than a month ago?  (This apparently will be the summer of both of them sticking out their tongues every time they see that a photo is about to be taken.)

They actually do get along fairly well...much more like siblings than cousins because they spent so much of their first four years together while they stayed in our home during parents' working hours.  But, like all siblings (and cousins) they do argue about some things.  This summer trip the arguments have been about who can be in whose room on the boat and when.  Hence, the contract:

I'll leave it to their parents to figure out which one wrote the contract.  Oh, so glad not to be 12 or 13 again.  After executing the above contract, the kids have also discussed the 'cousin contract' (whereby each cousin must do something nice for the other cousin a minimum of 3 times daily) and a 'DS contract' (playing games).  Any agreement apparently must be in writing or it does not exist in their worlds.

We are still in the center bay of the Gulf of Kotor in Montenegro.  Very much enjoying the few anchorages.  It is calm in this huge bay even when winds blow stink, as is happening today. It will be difficult to force ourselves to move on to Croatia.  Frankly, I cannot see how Croatia could possibly be better than here.  Certainly cannot be any calmer.  And anchoring here is free, unlike Croatia.

Our days are spent swimming and reading and usual boat chores.  We particularly like being anchored on the NE side of Stradioti Island, where we are again today.  When provisions of breads and produce run low then we move and anchor off Tivat just across the bay.  Make a grocery store run, dispose of trash, and then head right back over here.  We still have not dug out the kayak.  And it is too windy today to let the kids take off in it anyway, so that dreaded job will be delayed once again.  The kayak is stored in the very back of our large cockpit lazarette and is a chore to access.  Must first remove everything else stored in there and then repack it all.  I think younger backs than ours might need to assist in that chore when we finally get around to doing it.

The dinghy outboard engine has been giving us fits.  This thing is 11 years old and time to die but we hope to nurse it along until we are in a place where a 2-stroke replacement can be purchased.  We very much do not want a 4-stroke outboard engine.  Bill has replaced the carburetor 3 times (we have several) and rebuilt all 3 again.  Also discovered that the fuel hose from the gas tank had deteriorated inside and collapsed.  That caused him to clean everything yet again to remove all tiny bits of pieces of hose that got everywhere in the system.  We took a taxi to every auto parts store in Tivat searching for new hose; then over to Kotor to several more shops until we found joy!  This is not the place to need boat parts or even auto parts like hoses.  Not easy to find.  Although the taxi driver told us that a shop can order anything from the country capital (cannot pronounce the name) and it would be here the following afternoon.  That would be our last resort.  Thankfully, the outboard finally seems to be running okay now.  

For other cruisers, there is a chandlery at Porto Montenegro Marina in Tivat but the selection is limited.  Also, we were able to get cooking gas refills in Tivat!  Bill updated with the information.  It was easy and surprisingly inexpensive.  I had expected propane refills to be problematic after reading that there are few places in the Adriatic area to purchase cooking gas.  We had our American 10-pound aluminum tank refilled and one of the European blue small tanks (Greek) refilled for only 11 Euro ($15).  We had our American 20-pound tank filled before leaving Gocek Turkey.  We used the small EU tanks all through Turkey and Greece, saving the big tank for later.  Then we switched to the American 20-pound tank after the small EU tank ran dry here in Montenegro.     Now we have the 20-pound (in use) plus the 10-pound American tanks plus one of the small EU blue tanks.  We now are set for cooking gas until sometime in Italy in the autumn.  It does take planning ahead.

Bill found some photos on his iPhone.  Many were from our trip to Santorini last month.  A beautiful place.
Coastline of Albania.  We did not stop in Albania.

Elisabeth sitting on my lap in Delphi Town.
I think this fisherman in Naxos found a wayward dinghy.
Bet one of the charter customers forgot to tie it right.
Rest break during a long hot walk at Santorini
Blue church domes of Santorini
Leaving Naxos en route to Santorini on fast ferry
Empty breakfast plates.  Quite a view for breakfast!

View from our bedroom window on Santorini
Note the 10-minute vector on the boat icon.  Fast ferry!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bigova and then Tivat

Glittering church dome in
distance when leaving Bar

We stayed in the marina in Bar only one night; got clearance formalities handled and finally found a courtesy flag for this country.  It was hot and not an attractive place to hang around since there was no swimming pool to entertain the kids.  They washed down the boat deck while I did a few loads of laundry.  As soon as the clothes were dry we made a quick decision to just leave.  There was no reason to hang around.  Save that marina money for a better place elsewhere.

Sometimes it takes so little to make her happy on
a rainy day.
It was a motor sail up the coast with light southerly winds on our backs.  Too light to sail.  And what a swell!!!  There must have been heavier weather somewhere south of here because there was a heck of a swell rolling up from that direction.  Not a comfortable day of sailing but not intolerable.  Once again we were thankful that these 2 grandchildren are not plagued by seasickness or queasiness.  They each played electronic games as we rolled side-to-side for hours.  It was obvious that our original anchorage would not work because of the strong southerly swell; so we changed destination from near Budva to a very sheltered bay farther north called Bigova.

Line 'em up!
While motoring along we received a hail from the other American boat that had arrived shortly before us at Bar the previous day.  They did manage to get cleared into Montenegro.  They had to purchase the newly required liability insurance in the amount of 1,000,000 Euro at a cost of 100 Euro, for which they received neither a policy nor a receipt.  After paying for the vignette (cruising permit) for one week and the required insurance, then the harbor master asked for their sailing certification/license and they did not have anything to give him.  After some discussion the harbor master accepted the captain's Texas driver's license as his sailing license.  Well...that is a first!  At any rate, they did manage to get clearance into Montenegro for a period of one week.

Zach's first espresso.

That boat also stopped at Bigova and they came over to S/V BeBe to chat over sundowners.  Turned out we have some mutual cruising friends they had met at Marina di Ragusa a couple of winters past.  Barb and Doug on S/V Plankton are also from Houston.  They have been cruising the western and central Med for the past 4 years.  They also are headed to Croatia for this summer so it is possible we might run into one another again.

Fortifications on west side of entrance to Gulf of Kotor.

Bigova is very well sheltered from every direction except north.  But it is surprisingly rolly in that protected bay.  The rolling nearly drove Bill mad.  It was not particularly bothering me or Zach or Elisabeth, but it really bothered Bill.  The exceptionally poor holding there bothered me.  Our Wasi Bugle anchor has never dragged.  Never.  Not even in very heavy conditions.  It always sticks solid. 

Well, we cannot boast that claim anymore!

Fortification on island near center of entrance to
Gulf of Kotor.  Venetian or Nazi?
During the 5 days we stayed in Bigova our anchor dragged at least once.  And we (me) did not like how we ended up laying in formation with other boats or rocks as the wind switched directions often, so we pulled the anchor up and re-anchored a total of 5 times in 5 days.  The sea bottom seemed to be a very thin layer of soil over solid rock, with heavy weed covering most of the area.  Each time the anchor brought up bushel baskets of weed or sea grass.  We set 3 anchor alarms each time...1 at the main nav station GPS; 1 on the GPS in the aft cabin where we sleep; and 1 on the tablet using Navionics with the free Anchor Alarm app from the Play Store online.  That tablet one has turned out to be my favorite anchor alarm.  It is very loud and really gets your attention instantly.  Very good to have when the anchor drags at 0200 and you are sound asleep.  None of that soft electronic beeping that the GPS alarms sound.  This is a clanging loud sound that cannot be ignored when in a sleepy haze.  I like it very much.

Fortification on east side of entrance to Gulf of Kotor

The only reason we stayed in Bigova with its poor holding was that the weather was crappy.  It rained every single day we were anchored there.  Rain did clear for a few hours on a few days but most of the time it was drizzling or pouring.  Sometimes with 30+ knots wind and lots of lightning.  When this nastiness finally cleared we were more than ready to get the heck out of there.  On the first pretty day we motored a bit farther north and entered the enormous Bay of Kotor, which is called the Gulf of Kotor on some of our charts.

Saw at least 4 of these in
distance.  Had to look up
when got internet again.
Nazi WWII sub hidey-holes
The Gulf of Kotor is huge.  It is shaped like a backwards 'Z' with the very narrow entrance being at the western tip of the bottom line of that backwards Z.  There are 3 bays inside this gulf.  We did not stop in the westernmost bay because there is no suitable anchorage and we did not want to go to a dock.  The scenic Venetian walled town of Kotor is situated at the farthest eastern tip of the top line of that backwards Z.  Kotor is where one usually clears out of Montenegro when going north to Croatia.

Hidey-hole for a submarine in years past
Off to our starboard side after we passed the entrance fortifications there were many structures and fortifications and unidentifiable things that quite obviously had been for military use in years past.  One set of Quonset-type buildings had crudely painted signs identifying those as the Serbian War Prison.  I noticed at least 4 openings at water level that extended into the mountain;  these appeared for all the world to be something that Germany might have built for WWII to hide submarines.  
Look closely center top.  There were at least a dozen of raised
platforms like that hidden in the trees on mountainside

Do a Google search for Kotor WWII or Kotor submarines if you are interested in knowing more about this.

I would dearly love to see a blueprint or schematic of what was built inside and beneath that mountain by the Germans.

Just beneath center, note that strange structure.
What is it?  What was it used for?

Upper center right.  What was that cone shaped thing?

Mini submarines?

Weird, weird boat.  That guy  way up on top was driving it.

What a world of difference!  

We stopped in the 'center' bay, anchoring next to Porto Montenegro Marina at Tivat.  This is a five star marina constructed at what was a navy dock in years past.  Our charts still indicate that this is a military site and is off limits to pleasure yachts.  So very not true today!  This is a luxurious marina filled with mega-yachts...those fancy large motor yachts familiar in the Med.  The rich people boats.  And the shops ashore are mostly for those rich people too.  Way out of our price range.

Tivat town quay being completely renovated.

We have enjoyed this anchorage very much.  There is free Wi-Fi provided by the municipality of Tivat.  It is a slow connection but that is fine.  I am finding it more and more difficult to gather interest in writing blog postings.  We need to do something interesting to have something to write about.  Tomorrow we probably will move on into the last section of this bay or gulf -- into the bay where the old walled city of Kotor is situated.

Looking SE from Tivat anchorage near marina.
We are looking forward to visiting that old walled city but are finding it hard to force ourselves away from this little paradise of Tivat.

Today we took a taxi to shop for parts needed to repair our aging outboard engine.  Ended up going to 6 places and all the way to Kotor.  Found most parts needed but still need something that will have to be purchased online and shipped to us somewhere in Croatia.  We enjoyed getting a preview of Kotor.  Looks like a neat little city.

More of the town quay of Tivat and the swim area.
Looking north from Tivat anchorage.  Much of that
highest mountain is behind those clouds.
Very dramatic scenic views.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Arrival in Bar

Long way from boat to beach and back.  Good exercise
at Nisos Erikoussa for a couple of days.

We departed Nisos Erikoussa just north of Corfu at 07:40 on Friday the 13th.  And we had plenty of bananas on board.  Could we portend any more bad omens for sailors than that!

Albania -- a very long coastline

Good thing no one aboard is superstitious.  We gave none of those things a second thought.  The weather forecast was good on all 3 weather sites that we checked and per the grib files that we downloaded, and that was all that mattered to us.   There would be a gale of 35 to 45 knots in the northern Adriatic on Friday night but that would not affect us in the southern Adriatic.

Seas were flat calm and winds were very light, which meant a leisurely motor or motor sail straight north to clear in at the industrial port of Bar, Montenegro.  And that is exactly what we did.

No one had told us about the millions of flies in the Adriatic

We spotted more porpoises off the long coast of Albania than we have seen cumulative during the past 3 years in the Med.  There were several pods feeding around the boat in all directions at one point.  Then a few more small pods spotted separately a little farther north.  There were absolutely zero fishing boats off the coast of Albania.  Maybe the porpoises know that this must be an area that is not over-fished like the rest of the Med. 

Beer-thirty while underway.  Note our fancy mosquito
netting to keep the millions of flies out of the boat.
During the 40-50 years that the communist dictator forced Albania to be isolated from the rest of the world, many Albanians fled the country in whatever kind of boat they could find.  Just like the Cubans trying to reach Florida shores, the Albanians were trying to reach Italian shores.  Desperate people do desperate things.  In an effort to stop the people fleeing, the dictator ordered all boats destroyed in Albania except his military vessels.  And mined the coastal waters.  As a result, the fish are more plentiful in those waters still today.  And the people as yet have not been able to afford to buy or build more boats.  Give them time.

Raising the asymmetrical sail.  Zachary said if anyone
needed to wear a PFD when waters are that calm then
they have no business being on a boat.

I also spotted a small shark dorsal fin going back and forth!  This is the first shark I have spotted in the Med.  No doubt about it; this was a small shark.  We did not get close enough to see what kind.  I was glad that it did not bite the fishing lure that we were trailing.

Late afternoon the wind picked up a tiny bit, allowing us to fly the asymmetrical.  This was the first time either of the grandkids had seen this sail.  It was much easier to deploy and retrieve with the extra pairs of hands provided by Zachary and with Elisabeth at the helm.  It would have been possible to fly this sail until about 10:00 that night, but we doused it when it was time for Bill to go to sleep early.  No point in waking him up later to assist taking in a sail.

Zachary shared the first watch with me -- 1800 to 0130 -- while Bill and Elisabeth slept.  They both like to retire early anyway, although normally not so early as 1800.  They awakened and relieved me and Zach at 0130 and we went to sleep until 0700.  This is the typical watch schedule that Bill and I follow on passages.  I am a night owl and Bill is an early riser so this schedule works well for us.  It went okay with the kids but they both were very tired today.

Night watch during a full moon.  Playing computer games.

S/V BeBe and crew are all cleared into Montenegro.  American friends were denied clearance into Montenegro in 2012 because they did not have an ICC -- an International Competency Certificate which is issued in Britain.  Well...duh!  Why would Americans get a sailing competency certificate issued in England or Europe?  Makes no sense.  Both Bill and I have our captains license and the Harbourmaster here in Bar was very happy with that.  Another boat, people also from Texas, also arrived here this morning.  The Harbourmaster mentioned that they did not have proper insurance and also did not have any form of certification/ICC/captains license.  He was just shaking his head as he told the story.  I do not know if they were granted clearance today or if they will be forced to move on as our other American friends had to do back in 2012.

We opted to purchase a 30-day vignette (cruising permit).  The choice was either only one week or 30 days.  One week would have cost 125 Euro; the 30-days cost 225 Euro.  We probably will stay in Montenegro for 2 weeks, so basically that extra week cost us 100 Euro.  One week simply is not enough time to see anything at all of any country.  

We are docked at the 'better' of the 2 marinas in Bar.  This is a major commercial port and not attractive for pleasure yachting.  I won't provide the name of the marina where we are docked since I cannot think of anything positive to say about this place.  

Elisabeth and I spoke with a travel/tour agent this afternoon and there are a couple of day tours that we would like to do; but these are not offered daily and there is no way we want to sit in this dilapidated marina for $100 per day for another 6 days just to go on a tour.  Maybe we will find similar tours elsewhere. 

Oh!  I thought of something positive to say about this marina.  It has free Wi-Fi.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Up to Corfu and goodbye to Greece

As always, click on any image for larger view.

Our arrival into the Saronic Gulf was a little early, so we twiddled our thumbs at a few anchorages before the grandchildren arrived at the Athens airport.  We hung out in Chapel Cove off Ormos Anavissou for 5 nights while the wind blew itself out and we needed a change of scenery.  Then we moved up to Varkiza and anchored off the beach at 37.48.952N  023.45.933E.  We had anchored here back in 2011 and knew the area.  

Glassy calm when entered Ionian Sea.  And we were
very glad to have the calm after the Gulf of Corinth.
There is every kind of water sport imaginable at Varkiza.  As in so many places in Greece it is challenging to find a place to land or tie off a dinghy, but we did manage to do this one day.  Bill went into the tiny fishing harbor and let me climb out; then he moved the dinghy to the very high concrete wall.  One must use a stern anchor for the dinghy at that wall.  There are 2 issues: being capable of climbing up onto that high concrete wall and the shallow depth of water.  Bill managed both, although getting back out with the dinghy loaded with our purchases caused the dinghy to drag bottom several times.  Our dinghy has an aluminum double hull and is not easily damaged but the hull shape also is not conducive for ultra-shallow water depth.  He churned the sand and then picked me up back at that tiny fishing boat 'marina.'

How we sail today.  With tablets and iPhones.
We took a taxi at Varkiza to a distant Lidl and stocked up again on favorite items.  We had bought several bottles of wine at the Lidl in Kos and discovered that one was very much to our tastes; we bought a few of the half-cases.  We will skip buying any other brand or type of wine as long as we can find this one at Lidl locations as we move around.  This was worth the taxi ride out there and back.

Corinth Canal
Varkiza is a great anchorage as long as wind does not come from west or south.  When the forecast called for SW winds it was time to move on.  But not far.  We motored another 8 NM around the point to another anchorage familiar to us near Voula and dropped anchor at 37.49.170N   023.45.933E.  This anchorage provides shelter from SW and S winds but is exposed to NW and N winds.  When the winds changed again 3 days later we had no choice but to move on.  Much to our displeasure, the direction change happened a day before the forecast predicted.    At 0200 the wind picked up from the NW and by daylight the anchor was up and we were motoring directly into rapidly building waves and wind.  Getting over to the island of Salamis was torturous!  Took over 4 hours to motor 14 NM.  Even at 2500 rpm the SOG was only 3.5 knots!  

Cargo ship exiting Corinth Canal into Saronic Gulf
Dropped anchor in a small bay called Peranis at 37.54.00N  023.30.038E on the eastern side of the island of Salamis.  This anchorage provides good shelter from N or NW or W winds but is exposed to the S, SE and NE.  One thing we have learned here in Greece is to always have an alternate anchorage selected and a course plotted just in case wind switches direction, which happens all too frequently and often with no prediction forecast.  We stayed here only one night because the forecast was for 45 knot wind from the NE to hit us on Friday around noon.  
After the experience getting out of Voula we did not want to chance this NE wind possibly arriving early, so we contacted Zea Marina and arranged to arrive on Thursday rather than Friday.  It was great being able to dock with no high winds buffeting us about.

BeBe (Elisabeth) driving through
Corinth Canal
This was our fourth or fifth time to dock at Zea Marina.  It is a convenient location to dock when meeting someone at the airport.  The airport is quite some distance away.  The X96 express bus stops just a couple of block from the marina and goes straight to the airport with only a few stops along the way.  There are other marinas that are closer (in fact, the bus goes right by the Lidl that we visited when anchored at Varkiza), but there are very few stops on the route; so Zea Marina is the most convenient marina in our opinions.

Zachary driving through Corinth Canal

On Friday we took a taxi out to Flisvos Marina in Faliron and met up with fellow Amel owner Dimitris Krasopoulos and his wife Maria.  Our taxi driver got lost and first took us to where the Millennium Falcon was docked.  The Millennium Falcon has been purchased by a wealthy Greek woman who lives in Athens and London.  Sorry everyone, but I continue to think this yacht is just plain ugly.  I do not care how innovative and expensive it is; it is ugly.  Dimitris treated us to a fantastic lunch of octopus and calamari and several Greek delicacies.  Very delicious!  And I discovered that I like ouzo!  I tried ouzo many years ago and very much did not care for it.  But that was served straight on ice.  Here in Greece ouzo is first poured into a glass with a few ice cubes and then diluted with water, causing it to become cloudy.  This produces a much lighter drink that is refreshing on warm days.  Dimitris said that it is Greek custom to only drink ouzo when you are beside the sea.  Never drink it in the mountains or inland.  Well...okay; if you say so.  This was a perfectly delightful afternoon.

S/V BeBe transiting Corinth Canal
The next day the grandkids' flight from the USA to Frankfurt arrived late, causing them to miss their connection for the flight to Athens.  This is the first time Zachary and Elisabeth have flown on their own without being 'unaccompanied minors' -- wouldn't you know they would get stuck in the Frankfurt airport for 5 hours without adult supervision.  The cousins managed fine and even called us to let us know which flight to meet later that afternoon.  Unfortunately, since they arrived so late we were unable to do any shopping at the nearby Carrefour.  Who knew that Carrefour closes at 8 pm!  And is closed on Sundays.  Oh well, we would miss out on that good bacon and lots of other favorite things we wanted.  Not staying another night in a marina just to buy groceries.  Glad we had stocked up on beer and drinks before the kids arrived.

Parts of the walls of the Corinth Canal are covered
in stone or brick that has deteriorated over years.
We departed Zea Marina on Sunday morning, 1 June.  Forecast was for 8-9 knots from the NW.  We started off sailing tight on the wind but soon the wind was up to 35 knots!  Oh great; here we go again!  We sailed on for a few hours and then decided to douse the sails and motor, thinking we would have a good angle to motor up to the eastern side of Salamis island. However, the wind dropped strength enough that we were able to motor all the way west to the anchorage next to the entrance of the Corinth Canal.  Whew!  Glad that was over!  Both kids declared that they do not enjoy sailing upwind beating into 35 knots wind.  It was a lively day.

Exiting Corinth Canal into Gulf of Corinth

Next day we motored through the Corinth Canal.  This canal is a marvel to me.  I won't write the history here.  Check it out yourself if you are so inclined.  The simplest info is here
Corinth Canal history and images

Both Zachary and Elisabeth took turns driving the boat through the canal...under Bill's close supervision, of course.  I was too busy taking dozens of photos to care about manning the helm.  (Besides, I handled the helm all the way through the Panama Canal; it was Bill's turn to drive through a narrow canal.  

Bill meeting new people at Delphi
When we popped out on the northwestern end of the canal the weather was already building again.  Forecast had been for 8-9 knots from NW, so we were expecting to beat into it again today.  However, instead of 8-9 knots we again were hit with 35 knots wind!  And absolutely nothing we could do about it because there are no nearby anchorages.  We did change destinations and turned due north after rounding the point (after 4 hours of 3-meter rough seas and strong wind on our nose) and motored/motor-sailed 25 NM up to a tiny anchorage called Paralia Saranda.  This bay is very deep until almost on the beach.  We dropped the anchor at 38.14.144N  022.04.568E in 17 meter depth.  Could only put out 54 meter chain or we would have been on the beach as the boat swung on anchor.  It was a slightly rolly night but we were all glad to be there rather than being beat up in those steep seas.  The next morning we motored 30 NM northwest to Itea and docked in the abandoned marina which is now a town dock.  No electricity or water but it was great being side-tied to a concrete dock.

Zach and BeBe at Delphi
The next day we took the bus up to the ancient site of Delphi to see where the famous Oracle(s) lived so long ago.  Scenery was gorgeous and this was a nice day.  Both grandkids were decidedly unimpressed with the site of Delphi.  They said after visiting Ephesus that all other ancient sites are not quite so impressive.  Bill and I enjoyed the museum.  The fine detail of the marble statues and carvings are wondrous to me.  However did the artists do such fine detail work so long ago with the limited tools available to them at that time.  

Ice cream lunch in Delphi town
The kids enjoyed their pizza lunch in the quaint town on the mountainside more than they enjoyed Delphi or the museum.  But I am still glad we made the trip.  It is also possible to make a slightly longer trip and visit Meteora.  This would have been really interesting to me but we did not have the time.
Meteora Greece

Walls at Delphi were once covered in plaster.  Must
have been beautiful back then.  And lots of color.

Sample in museum of the colors
that once adorned buildings
at ancient Delphi.

Moving mountains at Delphi
Next morning we were on our way by 05:30.  Our hope was to make it to Navpaktos, the town with the tiny  medieval harbor.  S/V BeBe is too large to go inside the harbor but it is possible to anchor outside the entrance if the weather is settled.  Both kids wanted to visit Navpaktos.  But, yet again, forecast weather and actual weather were totally opposite.  Wind ranged 20 to 35 knots from NW and there was no way we would be able to anchor outside that tiny harbor entrance in those conditions.  
Very colorful boat at Trissona
So we changed destinations and instead sheltered overnight in the small harbor on the eastern side of Nisos Trissona.  Dropped anchor at 38.22.040N  022.04.568E after another 25 NM of motoring, most of that distance directly into the wind.  This was getting very annoying.  By this point both Bill and I were seriously re-considering remaining in the Med for another season.  We were both ready to just start sailing/motoring west and get the heck out of the Med.  We were really tired of this nasty weather.

Graffiti in today's town of Delphi
The steep steps killed me
at Delphi town.
Next morning we were again on our way by 05:30.  Seas were much, much calmer and wind was way down.  For the first time in weeks the weather was exactly as forecast!  And we took full advantage of it.   Zachary and Elisabeth wanted us to stop briefly at Navpaktos but we did not want to waste over 2 hours of time to do it.  Sorry kids, you will have to be happy with whatever tiny harbors we find in Croatia.  We were moving on while the moving was good.  We motored 60 NM this day, dropping anchor at abandoned Port Marathia near Ak Tourkovigla, a few miles SW of Astakos.  Wind picked up for the final 2 hours but the first 8 1/2 hours was smooth and calm motoring.  We were all glad to reach the anchorage.  This is a very small anchorage that provides good shelter from N and NW winds.  We thought there was room only for one boat, but soon two other smaller boats joined us and there was room for all of us...barely.
Rion - Andrion Bridge at separation of Gulf of Corinth
and Gulf of Patras.  This one is so high that it did not look
like our mast would hit as we went beneath it as with all
other bridges.

Resting after climbing steep steps at Delphi town.
Up early once again and on our way by 05:30 for another 60 NM motor up the Ionian Sea.  This day we motored through the long and ultra-narrow channel on the NE tip of the island of Lefkas, a/k/a Lefkada.  The swing bridge on the northern entrance of this channel opens on the hour, so we were able to drop anchor when the bridge was in sight at the 90-degree turn from west to north.  There was plenty of room for all the boats in transit to hang out for the 20 minutes or so waiting for the bridge to open.  Gave us time for a quick lunch.  Zachary made hot dogs and sliced apples for us and we ate in the cockpit with our eyes glued to the bridge.  The bridge only stays open a few minutes so we had to be ready to go as soon as the bridge started to swing open.  

Foot fight after exiting Lefkas Channel
Once through the Lefkas Channel we once again changed destinations.  (First we rescued yet another fender.  When we spot a floating fender we treat it like a 'man overboard' drill and rescue it.  This is the third fender rescued while Zachary and Elisabeth were with us.)  We had planned to anchor at Preveza but the weather was so benign that it did not make sense to stop when there were many hours of daylight left.  So we motored up to Ormos Ayiou Ioannou, some 3 NM east of Paraga.  This little bay did not even show up on our electronic charts until I drilled down 4 levels.  Then it was easy to see that there was a tiny cove in the bay that should provide good shelter from NW or N or NE winds.  Would be untenable in W or SW winds.  As the wind was very light from NW and not predicted to change for days, we opted to try this tiny cove for the night.  Dropped anchor at 39.16.6156N   020.27.953E.   It was lovely.  A tiny bit rolly during the night, but nothing uncomfortable.  And the kids were able to swim off the boat for the first time this summer.  It has been much too cold for them to get into the water.  This day was the first really warm day and they enjoyed swimming in the cold bay water.  We covered another 60 NM this day.

Finally warm enough for them to swim.
About 2 hours after we exited the Lefkas Channel we heard a VHF radio hail from a British sailor.  First he tried calling Lefkas Port Police and got no response.  Then he tried the Greek national radio monitoring system -- the name of which we cannot understand.  It sounds like Libya Radio but is Greek.  The 'Libya Radio' finally answered his hail and we and everyone else on channel 16 heard the British guy report that 3 sailboats had gone aground in the Lefkas Channel.  Okay; I know this guy thought he was doing the right thing by reporting these groundings to the authorities; but we would not have done that.  Not one of those grounded boats had called to report a problem.  For all we know they were capable of getting themselves back to floating without requiring assistance.  What the do-gooder British guy probably did not know is that Greece has a rule that if a boat experiences any problem that requires towing or assistance then that vessel must be certified seaworthy by a marine surveyor before it is allowed to be moved again.  A marine surveyor would cost minimum $1,000 to certify a sailboat to be seaworthy.  So it is no wonder that not one of those 3 grounded boats wanted to report their grounding to the authorities.  The British guy thought he was helping or doing the right thing but he likely just cost those 3 boats a minimum $1,000 each.

Snacks prepared by 2 loving grandchildren.
They knew how tired we were!
Next morning we slept in a half hour (we were getting very tired of these early morning departures to motor all day long, even though weather has been significantly improved since we exited the Gulf of Corinth and Gulf of Patras and entered the Ionian Sea.  We motored 41 NM this day and arrived at Gouvia Marina in Corfu.  This was our destination and we made it on schedule.  We wanted to clear out of Greece as quickly as possible so we can begin our 90 days out of Schengen territory.  All this so that we can enter Italy in mid-September and be legal on the Schengen time limitations.  It is a shame that we could not take any time to enjoy the Ionian Sea and the lovely Greek isles here, but Schengen rules dominate our every thought these days.  It is always nagging at the backs of our minds.  Europeans have no concept of how stressful and difficult it is for non-EU people to cruise the Med.

Castle at Corfu at Old Town.
Today we rented a car.  Found a large Lidl supermarket and once again stocked up with a few more half-cases of our current favorite wine, plus lots of good pork products and all sorts of other goodies.  Also found a Carrefour and bought a few kilos of good streaky smoked bacon and some Kerrygold cheddar cheese that our granddaughter loves so much.  And visited the port authorities, customs and passport control in the main commercial harbor.  Boats can clear in and out of Gouvia Marina if they are remaining in Greece, but if departing Greece then one must visit the main commercial harbor for formalities.  We are officially cleared out now, passports stamped and ready to go.  Still not sure whether we will leave tomorrow or the next day; that will depend on the weather forecast in the morning.  We know not to trust a weather forecast given tonight; it probably would change by morning.  Also, we still have not decided if we are going to Albania to coastal hop north or just sail straight to Montenegro.  That decision will be made depending on the weather forecast at the time we leave the fuel dock of this marina.  Although, if we are going to Albania then we need to call the agent before leaving Greek cell phone area since our phones and internet will not work in Albania.  

Another castle or fort at Corfu.  Extensive walls.
Kids are enjoying the marina swimming pool.  Bill and I are enjoying resting.  After the passages from Pireaus/Athens to here, we need a bit of rest.  FWIW, I have never been so happy as I was to say goodbye to the Gulf of Corinth and the Gulf of Patras.  Hoping beyond hope that the Adriatic Sea is kinder that the Saronic Gulf and the Gulf of Corinth.  Those were horrible for us.  I have heard from other sailors in the Aegean that the weather has been just as bad and unpredictable there too thus far this summer.  Other than that, we have thoroughly enjoyed our time in Greece this year.