After a couple of lovely nights in one of our favorite marinas (Preveza Marina), we headed to the swing bridge in Lefkada to while away the rest of our season in the southern parts of the Ionian. Our first stop was Ormos Varko where we met some new American friends that Dan had been talking to in online sailing groups for close to a year. We joined Steve and Emily on their boat for happy hour and had a great time getting to know them. We spent several days anchored in the bay. It’s usually one of our favorite swimming spots, but unfortunately the outside temperatures had finally started to cool off making swimming not an overly appealing idea.
Our next stop was Vlicho Bay, a favorite hidey hole for storms. However, you might remember that we got hammered in this bay last year by strong winds and ended up losing our dinghy to a puncture wound. We opted to anchor here for a few days in order to explore the town of Nidri (another one of my favorites) and pick up a new guest. Dan’s friend and colleague from his civilian Navy days happened to be in Italy, so he flew over to Preveza to join us for some time on Zoe. We decided to rent a car and go pick him up at the airport so we could take him to some of our favorite spots (the olive oil museum, the Lefkada winery, and the town of Vassiliki). Before heading back to the boat, we stopped at our favorite spot (Tom’s Sea Side Restaurant) for lamb kleftiko on the beach at the water’s edge. Yum!
The next day, the 3 of us were under way to the island of Kastos. Mark enjoyed a swim in the beautiful bay that we had all to ourselves. Afterwards, we headed around the point to town and hoofed it up the hill to the windmill bar for some cocktails and a sunset view over the sea (and Zoe, of course). Since we wanted to show Mark as much as we could in the short time he was visiting, we headed out the next day to an anchorage we had never been to called Mytikas. Once we had Zoe securely anchored, we headed into town for a walk and some exploration. We wandered through the streets of this quaint little village before eventually stopping at a seaside taverna for an ice cold beer.
We had been enjoying a run of really nice days, so wouldn’t you know, it was time for some nasty weather to come through. We decided to try the ne in Lefkada to ride out the weather. At first, the owner of the pontoons tried to shoe us away. Then, for some reason, he had a change of heart. He and his helpers escorted us to a spot and told us to tie up side to. Nobody was tied like this, so we felt a little awkward (especially as boats came in looking for space, and we were piggishly taking up 40 feet/12 meters of dock). We wanted to hang a huge sign that said that we were told to tie this way! The guy had wanted us this way because in the last big storm that came through, his charter boats and the dock all dragged because of the windage on the sides of the catamarans. This way, our bow and stern were in the direction of the wind.
We showed Mark around Lefkada and that evening headed into town for Dan’s birthday dinner. While talking with the owner of the restaurant, she told us that the weather system coming through was forecasted to be really bad and included tornado warnings. Tornado warnings?!? You have got to be kidding me! I am glad we are not at anchor, but now I don’t want to be on a boat period! Not even a half hour later, everyone’s phone went off with that severe weather alert…..talk about scary. Well, it did get very windy, and there were thunderstorms…..but no tornadoes (whew)! The next day, we discovered that Steve and Emily were docked on a different pontoon down the way from us, so we invited them for happy hour on our boat. We had an awesome night of stories and laughter (and way too much wine…but hey, we are safely docked so that’s ok). Unfortunately, Mark would be leaving us soon, so we decided to stay on the pontoon since this was the closest point to the airport while staying south of the swing bridge.
We left Lefkada the day after Mark disembarked, and made our way to the island of Ithaca. Our time was rapidly winding down, so this was as far south as we would go this year. Unfortunately, another round of strong wind was headed our way, and we would not be protected in this particular bay. As a matter of fact, both the islands of Ithaca and Cephalonia were going to get blasted by this system. So, guess where we went? Yep, back to Vlicho. The wind came as predicted….gusting to 30 knots, but Zoe’s anchor held like a champ. Needless to say, it was a sleepless night between the howling wind and making sure Zoe stayed put. In the end, we spent 6 days here growing barnacles….but we had lots of fun. We spent hours walking, went to a Greek night at a taverna with dancing and plate throwing, and found a new favorite place for lamb kleftiko.
We were now a week away from hauling Zoe out of the water. We wanted to be somewhat close, so we headed back through the swing bridge and into the inland sea. We anchored outside of a seaside village called Vonitsa. We walked the town and then headed up the hill to the remains of a castle. It had great views and was fun to explore. At one point, we came upon a turtle on it’s back frantically paddling his legs in an attempt to flip over….not happening. Dan graciously gave the guy a helping hand and put him right side up.
We spent two nights in Vonitsa and decided it was time to move on. We headed back north to a series of little islands (more like rock formations jutting out of the water). There was no one anchored here. This was not surprising since the depth was only 1.5 – 2 meters….we draw 1.3 meters, a little unsettling to say the least. We got ourselves settled in and were treated to sea turtles and dolphins cruising by. That evening, we decided to do a BBQ on the beach. What a great way to end the season. The swell came in during the wee hours of the morning sending us bouncing all around. This made both of us a little nervous because we were anchored so shallow (we were worried that our rudders might ground out if the swell got any bigger). We pulled up anchor and headed for Preveza Marina. We spent 3 days here beginning the process of shutting Zoe down. A week of rain was in the forecast, so it was important to get the sails down so they could be stored dry.
Haul out day had arrived, and with it, pouring rain! Every single year we’ve hauled out, we’ve been plagued with pouring rain. This year was no different. Luckily, it came without wind. Last year, the wind was so fierce the marineros had to assist with their high powered dinghy to drag us off the dock. So, Zoe is now on land, and we are hard at work getting everything stripped, cleaned and put away until we return next season. We have come to the decision that we are ready to leave Greece behind and explore new horizons. Our plan next season is to do a deep exploration of Italy, Sicily and Malta. They say boats and plans are written in sand….haha, but that is our goal for next season. Stay tuned next season for some new sights and adventures (finally)! As always, we will be back in the off season to share some new land adventures. Thanks for following along with us!
That’s a wrap for 2022!
145 nights in the water
1089 miles covered
37 nights at anchor
30 nights in a marina
47 days in the US in the middle of our season
Longest passage 171 miles
5 overnight passages