Tony Olin prepares for another summer adventure

25 June 2019
Tony Olin prepares for another summer adventure
We were late getting back to DeDanann this year, three funerals of family and friends in the month of May kept us at home for much longer than normal. The journey down to Preveza is a long one, we fly to Athens with Aegean as they take Alfie in the hold then it’s a six hour road trip to Preveza, it was a long day as our flight took off from Dublin at midnight arriving 06.30 Athens time, then pick up a hire car for a one way trip to Preveza which is expensive because they charge €200 to return the car to Athens, there was not much point in taking a hotel at 06.30 and trying to sleep in the daytime.
The last funeral on the day we left was that of a neighbor in Finglas who came to work for me the day he left school and stayed for over thirty years both in Dublin and London, he moved where ever the work was and was at my side through all the big events in my life, like the day my first son was born, the day we got married, the days when we built our first and last home, the days when we made the big bucks, and the days when we were fighting off bank receivers at the gate. We shared some great times together and it was just terrible to see him die so young, such a painful death from cancer that was mis-diagnosed not once, but twice, in a leading Dublin hospital, his last few days thankfully were peaceful in the wonderful care of the hospice people. 
On arrival at the boat yard we grabbed a ladder, up the steps and it was straight to bed for all of us, even Alfie was knackered and he can sleep anywhere.
The next morning I was onto Waypoint sails who had taken our sails over the winter for cleaning and inspection/repair, they had our sails ready in their depot in the yard and had them fitted back on DeDanann in jig time. I got stuck into the antifouling, replaced a few anodes, sanitized the 1000 liter water tank, whilst Linda got the boat aired, cleaned up and comfortable for the summer ahead.
I gave the yard office three days  notice of wanting to lift in, I was abruptly told we would have to wait “Eleven” days as they were very busy with over a thousand boats launching in June and July. It ended up in a serious row, I told them in no uncertain terms that we were not spending two weeks in their mosquito infested yard just because they didn’t have the ability to deal with their clients in an efficient manner and I just wasn’t taking this approach that it was my fault for not giving several weeks notice in advance, in anyway, I have learned in over forty five years of business, that money talks, some palms had to be greased with euros, I haven’t met a Greek to refuse a dropsy yet and we were lifted in at 10.00 on the fourth morning and away to the new Preveza marina just across the bay.
The new Preveza marina is now under the control of the two Elois brothers who own the Cleopatra boat yard that we just left, they have done a fantastic job on the refurbishment project, to be honest, there are not too many Greeks down here as enterprising as these guys, they run their yard and the marina quite well and have become very wealthy men as a result. We have not been here since they took over as we were in Turkey for the last two years, we used to pay €18 a night in the old marina, it has gone up to €87 a night for DeDanann. This has put enormous pressure on the town quay as most cruisers won’t pay the marina fees and space was non existent if you were not sitting off the town quay waiting for boats to leave early in the mornings. We spent four days here in the marina whilst we awaited the delivery of a waste pump for one of the electric toilets, we did the big shop in the supermarket, a new smart tv and we were away with ourselves heading south for Lefkada.
We left in poor enough weather for this time of the year, it has been very wet and windy all through April and May, on our way out through the Preveza buoyed channel I ran the engine even though there was good NW wind, I noticed the turbo was not kicking in as it should, this is a problem most years after winter lay up, she would not rev above 1800 rpm, I just kept pulling the throttle back and then hard forward a good few times and bingo, I heard her start to whistle as she shot up to 2500 rpm and off we took making up to 9 knots the 10 miles to make the Lefkas canal bridge that opens on the hour for a few minutes to let the boats pass.
They have done great improvement works on the canal over these last couple of years, it used to be very shallow at the North entrance with only bits of twigs marking the deep water, We have often touched the bottom going through here in the past, well not any more, they maintain a minimum depth now of 5 meters and it is now properly buoyed.
The weather improved and our transit the 9 miles through the canal past the big town of Lefkas was a most enjoyable experience, we turned off the engine and had a pleasant slow sail with our spotlessly clean SP sails that have served us very well these last five years, to our arrival at the very nice anchorage at Tranquil Bay opposite the town of Nidri.
We crept in among the boats on anchor there, looked at how the other boats were lying to the wind, picked our spot and dropped the anchor, well!, no sooner had the anchor hit the bottom the Dutch skipper and his wife beside us were on deck menacingly enquiring , am I blind, moaning and groaning that our anchor was over theirs, I politely told them I didn’t think it was, to be honest, I felt like telling them to f!!! off, but resisted, in anyway, they upped anchor and moved, I was thankful we had not crossed them in the end.
The next morning I got our “newish” Zar dinghy into the water in order to slip ashore, I fit the 9hp engine, primed her up with fresh petrol, pulled the be-Jaysus  out of myself trying to get it started, despite having drained the carburetor and run the engine out of petrol at lay up last November, it still wouldn’t run properly. Out with the tool bag and off with the carb, a good clean up of the needle jets with one of Linda’s sowing needles and some carb cleaner and we were away again for the summer. Unleaded petrol is the curse of outboards and classic cars I know only too well. 
The best chandlery in the Eastern Mediterranean is here in Nidri, (Nidri Marine) it’s huge with piles of great second hand gear, a sailor can find anything from a needle to an anchor here and a decent family to deal with at most reasonable prices.
A few days on anchor here getting DeDanann ship shape at a leisurely pace is a most enjoyable pastime, in anyway, it was time to move on to our next port on the mainland, Palairos, a small fishing village that’s always worth a visit. We met up with the two Pearson brothers from Sheffield, UK, I had met these guys a few years ago in the boat yard in Preveza, they were no sailors and had bought a nice 32 footer from a neighbor in Sheffield that had become very ill and could no longer keep up his cruising, I spent a few days knocking about with them in the yard going over the art of sailing and navigation, they were a nervous wreck that first sail thinking she was capsizing with every little blow, their first med mooring was pure panic on the town quay in Preveza, one of the brothers near killed himself jumping ashore to run to the taverna I was lunching in to moor the boat for them.
They have since spent the last three years sailing all over the Ionian, Peloponnesus and Saronic Islands, they are now quite skilled sailors and this has opened up a whole new world since they sold the family butcher shops in Sheffield that they ran together.
Niki Pearson (66) has found himself a nice Thai lady of late and she was on board for a few weeks holiday, we all dined very well indeed on dorado that she caught each evening, done in all sorts of spices and herbs, her name is Soda and by God could she catch fish, it was just so natural the way she would sit there messing about with bread for bait, a few feet of line and a small hook, she would have them gutted and de scaled  in a flash. Soda could produce a tasty meal out of any leftovers and knock it up in jig time. They say the way to a mans heart is through his belly.
The Ionian has become very congested and is getting expensive due to the number of charter company’s operating here now, space on the town quays is getting harder each year to find and more expensive when you do find it. 
We will hang about for a while and head back to the Aegean for a gathering of Amel boats in early September on the Island of Seriphus, we are not sure whether to round the Peloponnesus or transit the Korinth Canal again.
DeDanann out.