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Archive for April, 2010

IT’S GREEK TO ME (or what a difference a week makes)

April 28th, 2010 No comments

Corfu struck us as more like Italy than parts of Greece we previously visited.  The buildings have red tile roofs and are soft pastel colors.  No white washed buildings with bright blue trim as we had seen in the Cyclades on a prior trip.  

Corfu or Sardinia?

Corfu or Sardinia?

The landscape is lush and green with many cypress and olive trees.  There are flowering trees as well this time of year and the fragrance of oleander scents the air. 

 Our first day ashore was taken up with clearing customs and immigration, getting our “transit log” and obtaining cell and internet service (the latter of which is very poor compared to Croatia).  We rented a moped to accomplish all these chores which made Kent (on the front) happier than Carol (on the back–holding on for dear life with her eyes closed–not much different than sailing in the dark). 

Speedy Kent

Speedy Kent

 After a couple days at Gouvia Marina we moved Destiny to the Noak Yacht Club which sits under the shadow of the Old Fortress in Corfu Town.  We wandered the streets like the tourists that we are, ate at sidewalk cafes and bought a local speciality, kumquat liquor (which is quite tasty).  The cafe scene is very diverse as evident below.

 

Corfu Cafe Scene

Corfu Cafe Scene

Even McDonald's has a sidewalk cafe

Even McDonald's has a sidewalk cafe

We attended church services on Sunday and then toured the Old Fortress, capturing some interesting pictures of Destiny docked at Noak Yacht Club.

Inside the Old Fortress

Inside the Old Fortress

At 35 Euros a night including water, but no power, this was a bargain.  In the season this marina will be filled to overflowing.  We’re the second boat from end of pier.

Noak Yacht Club from Fortress

Noak Yacht Club from Fortress

Destiny at Noak Y.C.

Destiny at Noak Y.C.

One night we had dinner along the shore at a wonderful restaurant with a view of the harbor and Old Fortress.

 

Twilight Dinner

Twilight Dinner

Jolie likes Greece too--she is welcome at dinner

Jolie likes Greece too--she is welcome at dinner

 Thoroughly rested and getting ready to move on we headed south to the Ionian island of Paxio where we anchored in a small, nearly land locked bay called Lakka.

 

Lekka on north end of Paxoi

Lakka on north end of Paxoi

Now a week from the day we left Dubrovnik we are totally immersed in Greece.  The people have been extremely friendly—even the officials and everyone we meet who is doing what we are doing comments on how “laid back” things are here vs. other countries.  We have been particularly surprised by how many people speak English.

 

Then on the other hand, our experience has been primarily in Corfu which reportedly has 1 Million visitors a year, most of them from Great Britian.  It is nice to see English on labels in the grocery store, albeit very small compared to the Greek.  Carol bought what she thought was sliced chicken only to read the fine print later and find that it was turkey.  Also, the local table wine is sold in bottles that resemble water bottles in the US but is quite palatable.

We’ll be working our way south through the Ionian islands toward the Corinth Canal which will take us into the Athens area over the next week.  More sunrises to follow.

Corfu Sunrise

Categories: Europe, Greece Tags:

PASSAGE TO GREECE

April 22nd, 2010 No comments

We left Dubrovnik just after 7 a.m. on April 20th in the company of our friends on Glass Slipper (John & Cyndi) and Excalibur (Jorge & Isabel) for the 200 NM passage to Corfu.  The weather forecast had been for favorable winds and we were hoping for a nice sail.  Wrong! 

Underway with Glass Slipper and Excalibur

Underway with Glass Slipper and Excalibur

The seas were very rolly and on the stern most of the way.  Although occasionally the light winds would carry a gennaker, it proved to be a tease. 

Gennaker Time. . .but not for long!

Gennaker Time. . .but not for long!

With the wind directly behind us (not in any forecast) we were barely able to carry sail at all, so motored most of the way.  As with all overnight passages there were memorable moments captured by the pictures that follow.

 

Sunset Spectacular

Sunset Spectacular

Going, going. . .

Going, going. . .

 

Gone

Gone

The following morning the weather and sea conditions were unchanged, but after a wonderful sunrise we caught our first glimpse of Greece.  The wind Gods were kind to us as we approached our final destination and we actually sailed for the last couple hours–so peaceful after hours of engine noise.

Sunrise over Albanian Coast

Sunrise over Albanian Coast

First Sight of Greece

First Sight of Greece

After a somewhat boring 33 hour, 225 NM passage (30 hrs. of it motoring) from Dubrovnik to Corfu we arrived at the Gouvia Marina about 5:30 p.m. on April 21st.  We actually thought it was 4:30 p.m. and didn’t discover the time difference until the following day, by which time it was really irrelevant. 

Marina Gouvia, Corfu

Marina Gouvia, Corfu

As we docked we asked the attendant about checking in and his reply was “Plenty of time tomorrow, just relax and enjoy yourself”.  We think we are going to like Greece.

Categories: Europe, Greece Tags:

ON TO GREECE—CORFU HERE WE COME

April 19th, 2010 No comments

We made a final visit to the walled City of Dubrovnik yesterday to people watch in a café and then have dinner.

Dubrovnik Cafe Scene

Dubrovnik Cafe Scene

Dubrovnik, like every other town we have visited in Croatia this spring, is very laid back in the off season.  But it gave Carol a chance to wear her gold ballet slippers–no boat fraus on Destiny. 

OK, so they are Dr.l Scholls

OK, so they are Dr. Scholls

The weather was sunny during the day, but overcast by late afternoon and threatening rain as we made our way back to the boat.  We were feeling a little less waterlogged until we awoke to heavy rain clouds—and fog this morning.  Jolie had to wear her pink slicker to go ashore for her morning walk.

Jolie walking in the rain

Jolie walking in the rain

By this time tomorrow we hope to be on our way to Corfu which is an overnight passage of just over 200 NM.  The forecast is for NW winds in the 10-15 kt. range which should be favorable for this passage which takes us south on a heading of about 161 true past the coasts of Montenegro and Albania to the island of Corfu off the northern Greek coast.  At our average speed of 6 kts. (which we hope will be mostly under sail) we should arrive at our destination by late afternoon on Wednesday.  We are docked next to our friends on Glass Slipper and Excalibur who will be heading for Corfu at the same time–and it is still raining.

Destiny, Glass Slipper & Excalibur prepare for passage to Corfu

Destiny, Glass Slipper & Excalibur prepare for passage to Corfu

We have had great internet connections in both Italy and Croatia and will be “off line” for a few days while we check our alternatives in Greece.  Corfu here we come!

Categories: Croatia, Europe Tags:

WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS. . .AND POURS!

April 16th, 2010 1 comment

Enough already.  It has been raining—no wrong word—pouring rain for the past four days.  It is very much like our first week on Destiny in Marblehead Harbor when Carol refused to leave the boat until the weather improved—but it didn’t for four days until she couldn’t take it anymore and left long enough for a Cosmopolitan for lunch at the Dolphin Yacht Club and a movie matinee of “Sex in the City”.  By the time we returned to Destiny that evening the weather had cleared.

Unfortunately, in Croatia is there are no decent Cosmos or theaters to escape to when anchored off a little town that is blessed with two churches but not much else as was recently the case in Lumbarda on the island of Korcula.

Another rainy day--Lumbarda

Another rainy day--Lumbarda

Our predicament was made all the worse when the Acer computer upon which we rely for weather, as well as staying in touch with the world, stopped working—just would not start.  Inexplicably, when plugged in on shore it came to life.  The tech who turned it on said “magic dust”—that works for us.  It did make us more conscious of how important it is to keep it dry and secure on board.   And there will be regular backups from now on.  Carol can’t bear the thought of losing any of her thousands of pictures.

We had a miserable day of 30 kt. winds on the nose on our way between the islands of  Hvar to Korcula several days ago.  After making it to the lee of Korcula we debated whether to stop in a protected anchorage or continue around the end of the island to the town of Korcula.  We made it as far as Lumbarda, a small town just south of Korcula.

Slogging our way to Korcula

Slogging our way to Korcula

Korcula is a very sleepy town this time of year.  The many outdoor restaurants that line the town wall overlooking the channel that separates Korcula from the mainland are just beginning to stir—lots of cleaning but no cooking.  Carol has decided that Korcula is to mainland Croatia what Martha’s Vineyard is to Cape Cod—a short ferry ride away.  While Hvar, on the other hand, is like Nantucket—just far enough from the mainland to be a challenge, and very special as a result.

Korcula in the Rain

Korcula in the Rain

The last day we have been at the ACI Marina in Dubrovnik where we received a delivery of parts from the US to repair our generator which has been periodically giving us trouble.  It seems that when we fix one thing, something else breaks—did we mention that “when it rains, it pours” both literally and figuratively?  The good news is that our shipment arrived in five days rather than two weeks as was the case last July when we needed to replace part of the transmission shortly after we arrived in Croatia.  Kent has had his head in the engine compartment for two days, and with any luck we’ll be ready to head for Greece when the weather window arrives for that passage.  Repairs are a part of life on board, and in this case it included sail repairs to the genoa, which should be done later today.

Kent and his generator

Kent and his generator

The thing about spring weather in Croatia is that the patterns are large and move VERY slowly.  In the fall, the weather came through with a vengeance but was gone in a flash.  Spring is a different story—day after day of torrential rain, with not a glimpse of sun.  We and everything on the boat seems waterlogged at this point—even Jolie, who good trooper that she is slogs through the water puddles with abandon thinking how lucky she is to be a dog—even in Croatia.

Jolie enjoys a rare sunny day in Solta

Jolie enjoys a rare sunny day in Solta

Jolie gets a Trim

Jolie gets a Trim

Just when you think you can’t stand one more day of rain, there is a brief break in the weather and a glorious sunset like the one last night that turned the river outside the marina pink and gold.

Twilight ACI Marina Dubrovnik

Twilight ACI Marina Dubrovnik

River Sunset

River Sunset

Of course, today it is raining again.  A universal truth:  April showers bring May flowers in Marblehead and Paris, but in Croatia the flowers also come in April. 

Wisteria in Bloom

Wisteria in Bloom

Hopefully, Greece will be dry and sunny and the flowers will already be in bloom when we arrive in Corfu in a few days.

Categories: Croatia, Europe Tags:

SPRING IN CROATIA—LOVE “OFF SEASON”

April 10th, 2010 No comments

Having arrived in Croatia mid-July last year, our first experience of some of the places we are now revisiting was “summer madness”.  Every harbor and anchorage was crowded with boats.  The island towns were full of tourists who arrived daily on jam packed Jadrolinija ferries from mainland ports, like Split.

Summer in Hvar

Summer in Hvar

April has been a joy.  The harbor at Hvar (pronounced “Var”) which was so packed with boats in August that we had to anchor off a nearby island,  is now empty.   Destiny and Glass Slipper, who arrived just after us, are the only boats in a space that held mega-yachts and innumerable private boats when we were last here.  Better yet no one is interested in collecting “harbor dues” which are charged even to anchor in many ports during “the season”.

Destiny & Glass Slipper-April in Hvar

Destiny & Glass Slipper-April in Hvar

August in Hvar

August in Hvar

Same View April--just Destiny & Glass Slipper

Same View April--just Destiny & Glass Slipper

 The downside to these empty harbors and anchorages is the over night temperatures in the 50’s which leave the cabin frigid in the morning.  With the water temperature in the low 60’s and the air temperature in the 50’s we have condensation forming on the boat over night and also in the cabin.  When it rains, it pours and the weather patterns seem to last longer than in the summer.

The islands are covered with yellow flowering plants that appear to be similar to the scotch broom that covers Nantucket in the spring.  Everything is much greener than in last summer flowers are more prevalent and the trees are heavy with fruit.

Yellow flowers cover islands

Yellow flowers cover islands

Flowers abound in port side parks

Flowers abound in port side parks

Citrus with Castle backdrop

Citrus with Castle backdrop

 A sure sign that spring has arrived is the return of sunworshipers to the outdoor cafes that line the main square in Hvar.  As the sun moves from one side of the square to the other as the day progresses, the cafe dwellers migrate along with it.

Hvar cafe scene

Hvar cafe scene

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