And back again. I stayed in NL for the winter. You might say that’s not an obvious choice, but wintertime in Greece on the West side is not very pleasant. Lot’s of rain and cold. Not the freezing cold, but the unpleasant cold.
But I needed to see the dentist a couple of times. Finally it is all done. I can have a descent meal again. You often do not realize the importance of a proper set of teeth.
I also wanted to take care of my mother. She is getting really old.
In the meantime got my last license for the DSC radio.
Ellen wanted out for a trip and her choice was Cuba. I was not very enthusiastic about Cuba, but it’s the Caribbean and politically a strange country, so could be interesting.
And some skating! Yess.
So a lot went on in NL.
I flew back the 21st of April, the first direct flight of the year to Preveza. I did a lot of shopping on the internet, so I had too much baggage. Ellen would come over in May and bring the rest. All technical gear which I loved to install. And Ellen asked: “Do you really need that”. “Yes of course!”
But first thinks first. The boat had to be painted and checked. All the sails and lines had to be brought back in place. Well you know. Lot of things to do. And there are always surprises. The boat would be launched the 28th of April instead of the end of the month. I did arrive already later than originally planned, so less time to prepare everything.
I rented a nice B&B in Lefkada and a car. Last year I stayed in Preveza, but Lefkada is a nicer place to stay.
Worked hard and renamed the boat. Renaming a boat is, of course, not something to be done lightly. Since the beginning of time, sailors have sworn that there are unlucky ships and the unluckiest ships of all are those who have defied the Gods and changed their names. According to the legend, each and every vessel is recorded by name in ‘The Ledger of the Deep’ and is known personally to Neptune, the God of the Sea. It is logical therefore, if you wish to change the name of your boat, the first thing you must do is to purge its name from the Ledger of the Deep and from Neptune’s memory.
Well I did all that is necessary. Every trace of the Name, that shall not to be mentioned anymore, has been removed.
Her name is Ellena and mind the pronunciation. Elléna. It is a Greek name and means ‘Greek’. But also ‘most beautiful woman’, protector of all men at sea. After I’ve done all the protocols the name also needed to be registered in Belgium.
Bought an Epirb, AIS, WiFi NMEA, voltage boosters, etc. So you can understand, lots of nice gear. Well the first one, the Epirb, is really wonderful. If I engage it, it will send via satellite my GPS position and boat specs to the coastguard and they will order any nearby ship to rescue me. So I only have to stay put for 2 days max and someone will show up in the middle of the ocean.
With AIS you receive radio signals from other ships, most commercial. So it is like a radar. Professional boats are required to also send a signal. My ship now also sends a signal.
Some guy thought it would be nice to capture all those signals by costal stations worldwide and show them on a website.
So now you can see the position of my boat on this map. Nice huh?
So finally the boat gets launched. I am always a bit nervous during those events. All the time searching my head. “Is there anything I did not think of?”. When the boat touches the water, the crane stops descending the boat, giving me the opportunity to check for leaks. Nope, all good. So they lowered her in and told me to start my engines. And of course, nothing. I mean totally nothing. The engines did not start. So we managed to bring the boat beside a pontoon and the men warned me, I will have to pay for staying here. Yeah, yeah. I examined everything, checked, cleaned, etc. Then the harbor master arrived: “You will have to pay for staying here.”. “Yeah, sure. How much is it?”. If they are that eager in collecting money, you know they will ask way to much. So stalling is the best option. “I will call you on the radio for the price”. “Okay” and I went on. And then, out of the blue, the engines did start. So I immediately sailed away from those hawks.
I went for that nice bay I stayed last year for a couple of days. Just to have a quiet time and do all the rest that has to be done for a trip. Well it turned out not so quiet. The wind forecast predicted a strong wind during the night, so I decided to go to the key at a nearby village. Another sailor who anchored with me, decided the same. Still we both had not much sleep. It was rough and we both needed to keep watch.
Ellen would fly to Corfu, so I will sail to the island. A trip of 18 hours or so. Best time for departure will be in the afternoon. Then I will arrive in the morning and have lots of time to look for a nice place to anchor. I left the key after 2 days at around 13:00. That is a bit early, but the weather was good, at least I thought so. Before heading for the sea a very strong wind came up right on the nose, so I decided to go to the shore. The one from which the wind was coming from. Go on anchorage and do some sleeping. I could use that after the past night.
I woke around 17:00 and all was quiet. Well perfect timing, so I left for Corfu.
After a night of nice sailing I saw Corfu at around 7 AM. On Google maps, I examined before, I thought there was a nice anchorage near the airport. Well it appeared to be not so nice. The planes came right over. I sailed on and discovered a nice bay near a marina. This marina charges you 85 euro’s per night. Hmm, Corfu, very touristic. But an anchor place was in opposite of the marina. Very good. Free showers, free water and a couple of very well equipped nautical shops. Even a bus stop for Corfu town.
And the next day to the airport!
It was very good to have Ellen around. She wanted to see Greece in Spring. She enjoyed all the blooming nature. We hired a car for a couple of days and toured throughout the island, did some sailing along the East coast and had a very good time together.
Ellen stayed for a week. It was wonderful having here around.
Now I am in the same bay again. It is safe, quiet and a town with good shops for all of my technical needs. To give you some idea what is going on.
I had the idea of replacing the lights on the top of the mast. You must have them turned on all night when on anchor. I will spend a lot of time on anchor so LED will reduce power consumption enormously. I bought climbing tools and the climbing went very well. All tools in a bag and 18m above sea level I felt comfortable. Then I cannot get the damn lamp opened. So down again. Get some extra tools and up again. Then something brakes. So going down again. Finally I can start replacing the lamps. Just at the moment you are a bit balancing, a big speedboat comes by. So fastened my seatbelts and just hang on. After that I’ve learned a bit of living like a retired man, I quit. Make a descent salad. Pour a glass of wine and tomorrow is another day.
So there is navigation gear, new batteries, some GRP repairs, . . . I like it here, really.
After this I have two plans. One is going along the coast up North. So Albania, Croatia and Italy (Venice). The other plan is going to Crete and Turkey. I think it will be the latter. Hope the weather will cooperate because the Aegean Sea can be harsh, but Istanbul is lovely.