It’s hard to believe that it has been over 7 months since we left Zoe behind in Greece. Despite being away for so long, those months did not go by quietly or uneventfully (would you have expected anything less?! Haha). Here is a quick recap of our off season. After spending a month and a half back in Phoenix, we headed to Maui for the months of December and January. Although it was extremely hard being away from family for the holidays, it was a good plan since we no longer had a house to return to in Phoenix (we sold it last April to build new). In February, we celebrated the marriage of my beautiful daughter Shawn to Mark. In March, we celebrated our grandson’s 2nd birthday on a wonderful, full family camping trip (family on both sides of the family were there). In the late hours of the last night, our kids burst into our tent to share the news that my son Ryan had proposed to Samantha (parents of our grandson). It truly was an exciting and eventful weekend! In April, Dan and I decided to do a 5 week trip to Australia (which had just opened up to tourists after 2 years of Covid lockdown). You can read about that amazing adventure in a previous blog post. When May arrived, we celebrated Dan’s son Jacob’s graduation from Northern Arizona University (woo hoo….all kids are through college)! We also had the pleasure of celebrating my beautiful niece Carolyn’s graduation, and her wedding to Nathan. This was a spectacular Romanian wedding, and like nothing we have ever experienced. It also gave us the opportunity to see friends and family that we haven’t seen in many years. And a final shout out to my son Richard (hired as a Delta pilot) and nephew Jason (hired as an Envoy/American pilot). Eventful, right???
On May 24th, we made it back to Zoe! We were thrilled to be back but dreading the amount of work that lay ahead of us. We weren’t scheduled to launch for a week, so we had plenty of time to get everything done but living on the hard is not a lot of fun (much more challenging than living in the water). We have definitely become more proficient at getting the boat in order as it only took us a few days to get her put back together and livable. One of our favorite tasks is a visit to this very large and colorful roadside farmer’s market. Here we loaded up with tons of delicious, locally grown vegetables and homemade products. We also made a trip to the hardware store for a few items including a fly swatter. I asked the clerk, but he had no clue what I was talking about. So, I put my fingers together, made a buzzing sound while fluttering my fingers and then took my other hand and went “WAP”! He busted up laughing but now understood what I was looking for! It’s always an adventure shopping in foreign places, and we always get a kick out trying to figure it all out and communicate effectively.
Unfortunately, despite having our boat for over 7 months, the yard did not do any of our service work until the day before and the day of launch. Of course, everyone showed up at the same time and chaos ensued! In the end, Zoe looked beautiful and went back into the water without a hitch. We spent two nights side tied to the marina quay trying to get our insurance sorted out. Apparently, Greece was now requiring a large liability policy in addition to our normal insurance, so Dan was sent scrambling trying to find coverage before we set sail (get caught without it and big fines are involved). We did end up finding coverage out of the UK. Unfortunately, they were closing for a 4 day weekend to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee, so we were stuck for at least another week.
Our second night on the dock, we were startled awake at 4:00 a.m. by this loud thumping on the boat. My immediate thought was that someone had climbed onto our boat. Dan got up and looked around, but there was no one. As we lay in bed, the sound got more intense. Dan said, “it’s probably just a fish slapping the hull”. In my head I said, “that’s gotta be a pretty big ass fish”! The sound continued to get louder and more frenetic, so we both jumped up and went out on deck. The sea was boiling with these 6 inch fish going absolutely crazy. They were leaping out of the water and on to the dock where they were flopping around helplessly. Dan jumped down off the boat and started flipping them back into the water. It was the craziest thing we’ve ever seen. We found out from the marinero the next morning that they were being hunted by some very large amberjack. They basically herd them creating this disorganized chaos. Apparently some of the seagulls got in on the action, plucking fish off the dock. What a crazy night!
After a week on the hard, 2 nights on the marina wall, and one night on anchor in the bay next to the marina, we decided to just take our chances with the insurance. Worst case, we had the emails showing that we would have the coverage just not the official paperwork until the Tuesday after the Queen’s Jubilee. So, we set sail for one of our favorite bays to while away a few days. We timed our arrival in Two Rock Bay for Friday knowing that charter boats (which usually swarm here) would need to be back to base, and the bay should be pretty wide open. It was, and we landed a gorgeous spot near the cliffs in pristine sand. We were quickly greeted by my little fish friends who love to hang out around the boat waiting for handouts. We also had our first swim of the season. It was a little chilly but well worth it.
After several days in the bay, it was time to get moving again (and no, still no insurance paperwork yet). We headed to another of our favorite bays, Petriti on the island of Corfu. This turned out to be a very good decision since it wasn’t more than a few days before the mother of all storms blew through (at least from our personal experiences). By the time the forecasts showed the magnitude, and the news stations actually gave the storm a name, it was too late for us to duck into a marina. Greece does not have a lot of marinas to begin with, and one of our two options is a charter base making it impossible to get a spot on Fridays since the charter boats are due back. This meant riding it out on the water and trusting our anchor (and my anchoring skills….which have come a long way, by the way!). Not to toot my own horn, but I have become eagle-eyed at picking out the sand spots and highly adept at landing the anchor and setting it in a small sand spot surrounded by weed and/or rock (weed and rock are not your friend when anchoring). Okay, I guess I tooted. Never mind I’ve probably pissed off the sea gods now! I take it back, I take it back!
We had already prepped the boat earlier in the evening by letting out a lot more anchor chain and stowing everything that could blow away or come crashing down. It wasn’t long before the wind started kicking up, so from 2:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m I stayed up in the salon keeping an eye on things. We had already been through 33 knots of gusts the day before, and nothing was approaching that, so I headed down to bed. At 9:00 a.m., I heard the wind kicking up yet again (another one of my superpowers 🤣)and told Dan that it was time to get up, the storm was here. Within a half hour, the wind was howling, rain pouring, hail, and thunder and lightning simultaneously. Every year, we get hit with a storm, and I foolishly think it’s the scariest storm I have ever been in on the boat. Every year, I am proven wrong! We managed to come through the storm completely unscathed (at least physically…..not so sure about mentally!). The rest of the day was calm but rainy. Just when we thought we were in for a nice, peaceful evening, the wind switched direction. Before we knew it, the boat was bucking like a bronco from a large swell. We watched the shoreline behind us soar up 4-5 feet and then disappear completely. Luckily, we don’t get seasick, but it was violent enough to make us both incredibly dizzy. Fortunately, it was over after a few hours. Ahh, the joys of sailing.
Since our plan is to head over to Italy and then Sicily, we decided it was time to get moving north again (and no, we STILL don’t have our insurance sorted out! Now, just to be clear, our umbrella policy in America covers the boat’s liability requirements but try explaining that to a Greek official). The winds in the channel between Greece and Italy can get very interesting, so we have been carefully watching the forecasts to find our best window (this will require an overnight passage….my favorite….not). We decided to spend a couple days anchored off the castle wall in Corfu town since this is where we will need to check out of the country and take care of formalities. If you followed our blog last year, then you know that we are in the same spot as last year where we witnessed two deaths in the same day (one a drowning and one a suicide by jumping from the castle wall). Needless to say, we still feel scarred from that experience and don’t find the same degree of joy in this spot anymore. We also found this spot incredibly crowded this year (after we anchored, of course). We had two boats that anchored way too close (one had to pull up chain to keep from hitting us when he swung around!) Yeah, definitely time to go!
We only spent 2 nights here which is unusual for us, but between playing bumper boats and the hordes of people in town (the cruise ships are back in full swing!), we were ready to go. Our last night, we spent a fun evening with some new friends from the UK who happened to be on a boat like ours before checking out of Greece the following morning. From there, we had a 3 hour sail (more like motor) to Sarande, Albania. Stay tuned for some new adventures (finally!) from this beautiful country!