After a few days at Vonitsa, we headed to Preveza to wave farewell to our cruising companions of the last month or so as they headed back early to their winter quarters. On our way we saw some dolphins leaping and splashing in the distance. When we arrived at the anchorage the wind was blowing from the east so we ended up setting the anchor on what turned out to be a steepish slope. When the wind changed to westerly and was gusting to a F6 it turned out to not have been such a great place to drop as we realised we were ever so slowly moving backwards. We reset in deeper water where the seabed levelled out and the wind still blowing strong meant we set and held perfectly.
Ashore in the town we enjoyed an amble along the pedestrianised street, stuck our noses in an ouzo distillery where we almost felt drunk on just the smell alone. A bit too early to be partaking of any liquid ouzo so we wandered on and around the southern end of the town where we found a beach on the edge of a small eucalyptus wood which had PROPER SAND! It was grey coloured rather than cream, but it was oh so soft between the toes. Plenty of people were out swimming and lazing around in the shade of the trees. The sea was flat calm, the sky cloudless and with views down to Lefkas island it was a very pleasant place to hang out.
In the evening we headed for a farewell meal with Anne and Stephen at a taverna along the waterfront. We had a fleeting glimpse of a turtle as he bobbed up to the surface for a breather. So far every view of a turtle has been fleeting, they need to do more for their audience! As the evening lengthened the prom got busy as more and more people arrived for an amble. The tavernas filled up and a couple of friendly dogs toured around playing the dining crowd looking for tidbits with their big sad eyes (they looked well fed so they know how to play us right). BBQed corn on the cob was for sale at stalls along the front; an old lady who looked my mum’s age was topping and tailing corns as well as cooking and serving occasionally. Hopefully she enjoyed it rather than it having to be a necessity.
Pioneering into the Unknown
With the Dragons waved off, we waited for the morning wind to clock round to the west to head back into the gulf for a few days of wildlife spotting. On our way back in, with flat water all around we had lots more fleeting glimpses of turtles popping their heads up. We decided to do some pioneering and headed for a spot north of the Vouvalos (I do love the Greek names) islands, it wasn’t marked as an anchorage but looking at the chart we couldn’t see why it wouldn’t be good as one. The strong afternoon winds blow from the west to north west so our aim was to tuck in behind the higher bit of land on which Koronisia is built. A beach ashore made us think we would have mud or sand below us but the gulf water was too murky to see the bottom, even though we were in less than 3m. We nosed our way in slowly, the seabed shelving every so slightly until we had 1m under us. We were still around 300m off the beach but didn’t want to run out of water if something went wrong.
The wind did pick up and was blowing a F5 but the holding was good and the land gave us shelter. Another boat came to join us but kept their distance and as the sun sunk behind Koronisia we enjoyed seeing a flock of flamingoes fly by. Just after sunset the wind got up even more for a couple of hours and more from the south west which made life a tiny bit bumpy. As darkness fell,so did the wind and we were left bobbing on a calm sea again.
The next morning we headed ashore and walked out to the ‘crooked tree’; its pretty obvious which way the prevailing wind blows here. We wandered along the foreshore on a rough track and found more proper sand, this more the usual cream colour. Herons and egrets were stalking in the lagoon, dragonflies buzzed us and a snake swam by. We hoped to have got to the village by walking around the shore but some crumbly looking cliffs stopped our progress. Back to the road.
The village is built on what was once an island and the shallow edges of the gulf have been dammed off to form enormous lagoons. Along the lagoon walls are tracks with occasional bridges to join the lagoon to the gulf. The lagoon was teeming with every size of fish as well as bird life; wire nets were in place across the joins to stop the fish escaping. The tracks made a good walk and at the far end there were some pelicans.
We had a repeat of the strong winds from the night before, picking up just after sunset for a couple of hours then dieing back to nothing.
For rugby watching reasons we headed down to Vonitsa the next day, a dolphin did flips to entertain us along the way. We snuck into the space we were in last time, behind the island of Koukouvitsa. But this time it wasn’t such a great spot. The wind (unforecast) blew strong from the south east as it went dark, pushing us into shallow water with a lee shore not far off our stern. We were well in with the anchor but it was a tense few hours keeping ready to spring into action. It eased off about midnight but picked up on and off through the night. Time to move on!
We went into the gulf for some wildlife spotting hoping to see the turtles, dolphins and seals that the pilot books mention. We managed turtles and dolphins, but no seals. Oh well two out of three ain’t bad!
24th August: Vonitsa to Preveza: 8nm travelled: 38 57.995’N 20 45.565’E (green)
27th August: Preveza to Emerald Bay: 10nm travelled: 39 00.58’N 20 55.77’E (red)
29th August: Emerald Bay to Vonitsa: 7nm travelled (including a loop for dolphin watching): 38 55.42’N 20 54.12’E (blue)
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