Winter is coming…

Well, as the saying goes, better late than never.  I’ve definitely drug my feet in completing our final post of the sailing season.  I guess you could say I am in mourning 🙂  So, here is the rest of the story…..

As the close of our season was rapidly coming to an end, we decided to make our way to the town of Preveza.  The thunderstorms had  gone away, and we were left with sunny skies and moderate breezes.  We had been watching the weather and our remaining days very closely after finding out that the swing bridge between the island of Lefkada and mainland Greece had broken.  This is a car bridge from the island to the mainland that opens once on the hour to allow boats to pass through.  When it broke down, it would no longer swing away which meant the only boats that would be able to pass through the channel had to have a beam (the width at the farthest part of your boat) no more than 5 meters.  Zoe is 7.25 meters wide!  We would not be able to fit.  If the bridge did not get repaired in a timely manner, we would be forced to sail all the way around the island, adding significant time to our journey (an hour and a half trip would turn into an 8-9 hour trip).  We had a slot booked at the Marina to have Zoe hauled out on Wednesday the 16th of October.  We anxiously watched the bridge from our berth in the marina.  You can imagine our excitement when we saw a couple of catamarans head up the channel, and the bridge fully opened.  Woo hoo!  We decided it was best not to wait until haul out time in case the bridge broke again.  We scrambled to get underway and make the next bridge opening.  At this point, we would have about a week to cruise around if the weather permitted.  

Last sunset in Lefkas Marina before heading north.
Lots of boat traffic in the Lefkas canal headed to the bridge opening
The canal has a swing bridge that opens once an hour to let boats pass through, saving a long trip around the island to head north from Lefkas

We headed out of the marina and up channel to get in the line up of boats waiting for the bridge to be opened.  Once it cleared, we all zoomed through the gap out into the open sea.  It would be about an hour and a half to motor to Preveza.  The forecasts were still all over the map, so we opted to head to a brand new marina in Preveza and spend some time digging deeper into this town since this was the area where Zoe would be wintering, and where we will prepare her for re-launching next spring.  Anyway, we had tried to book with Preveza Marina before the last big storm, but they had been full.  This time, they were able to accommodate us.  Once we arrived, the marinero directed us to our spot and helped us to tie up.  We were in an awesome spot close to all the marina facilities and an easy walk to the town center.  It was a beautiful marina and definitely one of our favorites.  

Preveza Town
Enjoying the cobblestoned alleys of Preveza town

We spent the next few days getting to know our new stomping ground, eventually riding our bikes to the ruins of a castle nearby.  As we rode down into the center “courtyard” of the ruins, we were quickly enveloped by a very creepy feeling.  Surrounding us on all sides were high stone walls with rotting rooms behind them.  As you walked by the dark, gaping openings, the roosting pigeons made their unhappiness very clear.  If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Birds,” this would be a scene out of that.  The unease was further magnified by the graffiti and evidence of human misbehavior within the hidden sanctuaries of the castle.  As we continued our exploration, we found our way up a decrepit, stone staircase that led up to the ramparts and an amazing view of the Ionian Sea.  Despite the overcast skies, you could still see the varying hues of blue, green, and black across the water.  Unlike sites you see in America (and even other parts of the world) which are fenced off for safety, the ramparts had an abrupt edge where one misstep would send you plummeting to the rocks or sea below…..no fence, no barrier, nothing…..just crumbling rock being retaken by nature.  By this point, I had gotten a little bit braver and ventured into some of the abandoned halls…..yep, still super creepy.  They were very, very dark, and I had no interest in encountering whatever might be hiding or lurking in there.  After Dan managed to flush out a barrage of pigeons, we decided it was time to go.

Our bikes in the ancient castle courtyard.
Enjoying a quiet day of exploration in the ruins
Strategic view south to Lefkas from the castle

At this point, we had paid for 3 days in this awesome marina, but decided that we could really have a lot of fun here.  There were beautiful beaches not far away and great places to ride our bikes.  We had just come to the decision that we would stay put in this lovely marina when Dan received an email telling us there was an issue with the large travel lift that would lift Zoe out of the water.  They told us that they needed to move our winter haul out from Wednesday of the following week to Sunday!  Are you kidding me???  We had less than 2 days to play around in the heart of Preveza before Zoe would be out of the water and stored on land.  Then comes the real fun….prepping her to be shutdown for the next 5-6 months 🙁

Zoe lifted out of the water and headed to her winter storage home.
Zoe getting settled into “catamaran row”
Three diesels onboard Zoe, and each one needs annual maintenance before winter shutdown. Dan is working on our generator in this picture
We stripped the topsides of all canvas, sails and rigging for storage out of the elements
Some new cruising friends we met at the marina. Great Greek dinner and conversation had by all!
Looking back on Zoe as we are about to close the door for 5 months of storage.

Unfortunately, we had already purchased our tickets to fly out of Preveza which meant we could not head home earlier despite the boat being put away for winter.  We decided we’d take our time getting her shut down and head inland by car for a bit of exploration off the water.  We rented a car and headed to Meteora which is a rock formation consisting of one of the largest and most steeply built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries. The six monasteries are built on immense natural pillars and hill-like rounded boulders that dominate the local area.   The sight of these very old monasteries perched high in the sky are absolutely breathtaking.  We arrived in the town of Kalabaka, at the base of these towering rocks.  Dan found us a great little AirBnb that looked out at the cliff face.  We wandered the town that evening taking in the beauty and getting the scoop on where to go and the best things to see.

View from the Airbnb in Kalabaka
Dinner under the rocks of Meteora

The following day, we drove up into rocky formations to take a closer look at these famous monasteries.  Given the somewhat extreme locations of these monasteries, each had it’s own set of unique challenges for accessing them.  Only one of the six had an easy entrance where you just walked straight in over the roadway.  The remaining 5 required an incredible amount of stair climbing to reach the entrance (and of course lots more steps once you got inside).  This day definitely provided a strenuous workout, but you could not beat the views.  Check out the pictures, and you’ll see what I mean.

One of the several monasteries perched precariously on a rock spire
Breathtaking views
Cable car to get supplies to the monastery
Robyn enjoying the views
Beautiful Meteora
Meteora views. Just amazing
Walking the exquisite grounds
Grand Meteoron Monastery
Monk’s kitchen
Looking for wine in all of the wrong places

We spent a great 3 days driving through the inner parts of Greece before heading back to the boat to finalize her shut down.  Once complete, we said a very sad farewell to Zoe.  It was time to head home.  We had a 3 hour flight from Preveza, Greece to London where we spent our 15th wedding anniversary.  The next day was an 11 hour flight to from London to Phoenix.   There you have it.  We had another wonderful cruising season in the Med. and met so many great people.  While we are happy to be home with family and friends, we are also very excited for the adventures ahead in our next cruising season.  We wanted to thank all of you who have followed along on our journey.  As I’ve mentioned before, our purpose of our blog is to document our travel adventures.  We may go quiet for a period of time until we get our winter adventures figured out.  We hope you’ll stick around to see what kind of trouble we can get into in the near future.

Courtesy flags of five countries we sailed to this season – From left – Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece. As a visiting US flagged yacht, it’s required to fly these when in that country’s waters.
0 0 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

4 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Harriet J Hickman
Harriet J Hickman
9 months ago

Beautiful picture and glad you are safe at home.

Tom Strebel
Tom Strebel
9 months ago

Looks Fun. Can’t wait to see the next adventure and read about next summer’s cruising season.