Posted by Johnny
It’s been two weeks since our last post and in that time we’ve been up to all sorts; we had some lessons from friends, sailed through the night, reached a new top speed, returned to England for Dee’s wedding and my Mum’s birthday, discovered epic caves and anchored in amazing spots. This post should hopefully bring us up to date and the plan is to carry on in future with regular posts to a void another backlog.
From Kioni we set off on our first long passage across to Messolonghi. The passage time was about six hours with the waves and tail wind pushing us along at a healthy 6 knots. We were making such good time that we passed our plan B overnight spot by lunchtime. Our arrival at Messolonghi was slightly dampened when we were charged 25 Euros to stay in the marina without power or water. It was a calm day and we should have just dropped the hook outside the marina.
Messolonghi seems slightly on it’s heels and a bit forgotten. It is best known for a grim massacre in 1826 and as the death place of Lord Byron. There’s not a lot going on except an interesting sculpture garden commemorating the lives lost in the struggle for independence.
The next day we sailed to Patras where we would meet Julia’s friend Pawel in a few days time. We got in early as some weather was expected and we wanted to hire a car to call in on the oracle at Delphi. Patras is a fairly big city with an awesome fruit & veg market and a ruined fort with epic views over the city. The marina has seen better days and there were no signs of any staff for the first few days.
While there we met Andreas, a friend of a friend who runs the local sailing club, organises races and is also an instructor. He offered to let us sit in on a class the next day onboard his carbon fibre IMX racing yacht. The day started quite slowly but by the end of it we were racing along in 30kts of wind with full sails up and heeled right over. This was a totally different approach from what we had seen so far, confirmed by Andreas’s remark while observing a boat similar to Bumblebee straining into the wind with sails reefed right down; ‘..you see those sails reefed down… is not necessary!!” as we tear past at 10.5 knots.
That day we learnt a lot about angles of vanishing stability and are much more comfortable sailing with a decent amount of heel.
On Monday Pawel arrived from Warsaw to spend four days ironing out the bad habits we had taught ourselves. While not a qualified instructor he is a serious sailor and regularly competes. His approach is quite hardcore compared to our soft cruising style and it was clear we needed quite a bit of working on. Careful planning and a well organised cockpit was the order of the day and after a relaxing evening on anchor we awoke at 4am to a stirred up seas and strong winds which turned out to be Pawel’s favourite conditions! After a promising first day we decided to take on our first night sail so as the sun set we headed past Kefalonia and out to sea. The forecast turned out to be a little bit understated and we were soon bashing into a force 6 in pitch darkness. We decided it was a bit too much too soon so headed back to the inland sea and carried on our night sail in calmer water.
Sunrise saw us pull in to the island of Kastos where we anchored and sorted out some breakfast then went ashore to explore. We found some stunning bays and a tiny town but were soon back as our time with Pawel was short and we wanted to make the most of it.
The wind picked up as we left Kastos and we found ourselves blasting into 30 knots gusts and hit our record speed of 7.5 knots. We persevered with our course, tacking our way around the island as other boats turned tail and fled. We made it right across the open water and took shelter in Porto Atheni bay on Meganissi. Once in the shelter of the bay you’d never know it was blowing so strong.
The next day we made our way back to Preveza and tucked into the marina where Bumblebee would spend six nights as we had a wedding and birthday to attend back in England. Picking up the hire car deserves a post all to itself; I’ll just say it was not straightforward.
That’s it for this post, I’m still not up to date so more will follow soon..