There we were, minding our own business pootling sedately up the Lefkas Channel when up behind us comes a 40m power boat which starts to overtake us. They overtake quite sedately, perhaps they didn’t want to make too much wash for us. Which would be all well and good if there hadn’t been a catamaran heading south down the channel. Even though they were past us, the power boat made no move to pull in front of us and the poor catamaran had to edge over towards the shallows with much shouting at the power boat.
We return to our gentle pootle, enjoying the calm and the wildlife. The channel is narrow and north boats stick to the east side, southbound boats to the west. Looking ahead we see a yacht coming south but drifting over to the east side right in our path. We slow down, yelling to get the attention of the people having a lovely time reclining on their foredeck. A head pops up from below and jumps to the helm. No one was driving! Its just a shame they didn’t drift off in the other direction to the shallows……
We were 20 minutes early for the bridge so joined in the with the boats waiting in the large pool. A few minutes before opening time we followed Wandering Dragon up closer to the bridge to be ready when it
opened. There was barely any wind which made hanging around much less anxious for us than if it was windy. We heard a siren but cars were still on the bridge and it was another few minutes before another siren went and the traffic stopped. We powered up on the engine to pick up some speed and soon we were through in second place! Behind us a long line of boats were following but only 2 went southbound.
We powered around the spit off the northern end, not wanting to slow down as boats don’t have brake lights and the boat behind wouldn’t know we had slowed. We felt a little trepidation as there were no buoys to mark the shallows but we made it through with a minimum depth of 3.5m. Hello northern Ionian.
The weather forecast foretold a storm for early afternoon and once out from behind Lefkas we could see it looming out to sea. A few sky grumbles helped make it’s presence clear. Full speed ahead for Preveza!
As we entered the buoyed channel, looking behind we could see Lefkas island being swallowed by roiling, dark clouds. The sky above us was now streaked with gray and the air was noticeably cooler. More coal for the engines!
Bands of rain like gray ribbons hanging from the sky could be seen passing south of us, we caught a few spits of rain but otherwise we missed the full onslaught of the storm. More relaxed now the storm had passed us by it was onwards to Vonitsa.
One of the reasons for coming to Vonitsa was to find a bit of calm and quiet after the busyness of the southern islands. It seemed at least 10 other boats had had the same idea though and were huddled behind the small island of Koukouvitsa, just east of Vonitsa. The afternoon wind had kicked in from the north west and white horses were starting to build off Vonitsa itself, the island broke up the waves and provided us with good shelter.
A causeway links the island to the mainland, all lit up in yellow and blue at night. Many people came along to wander, run or ride bikes and horses on the dirt track that runs around the tree covered island. As the sun set, it coloured the sky a burnt orange and the silhouettes of the trees and people against the burnished sky looked beautiful.
The Tortoise of Vonitsa Fort
Our friends had spotted a tortoise on their visit to the ruined Venetian fort at Vonitsa so our first morning there was taken with a tortoise hunt. It was about a 20 minute walk from the island along the back of a beach and Vonitsa seafront to steps leading up to the fort which sits on a hill with fantastic views across the town and harbour. Large sections of the fort are still in place; the imposing walls with their arrow slits, a few ruined buildings and a small chapel. As we rounded one wall our friends spotted a small tortoise in the shade of the wall. It didn’t seem too bothered about our presence and wandered around looking for things to munch on. We left it in peace to carry on around the fort.
The castle dates from the 11th century, built by the Venetians on the site of an older Byzantine castle. During the intervening centuries passed back and forth between the Venetians and Turks as wars were fought and lost with a few years at the start of the 1800’s in French hands. Then it fell back into Turk hands before becoming Greek; then Turk again before finally ending up as Greek.
The town of Vonitsa felt a little run down to us. It looks like a part EU funded improvement project was started but has now ground to a halt leaving large holes in the pavement with taped up wires sticking out. Bars and cafes line the seafront which were busy as was the main street which runs up from the beach, but there were lots of empty shop units.
20th August: Vlicho to Vonitsa, 26nm travelled
Weather: Light winds, storm moved in from west but stayed south of us
Position: 38 55.45’N 20 54.14’E
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