Preveza and Vonitsa

We are still not quite ready – with the speakers for the anchor alarm having blown up, we need to wait for the new ones to arrive as we don’t feel comfortable laying at anchor without an alarm.  We decided to go and explore the inland lagoon of Preveza and at least lay at anchor in a better environment than sitting in the marina at Cleopatra!

We left Cleopatra Marina on 4th June at midday and motored a few hours towards Vonitsa – we really could have sailed as the afternoon wind was blowing from the west at around 15 knots but we wanted to check a few things underway so we took the easy solution.  It’s just so nice to be on the water again – and although we’ve taken longer than we had hoped to be ready, we are leaving earlier than we ever done before!  We went first to the popular anchorage of Vonitsa, hiding behind a little island – but as we could expect I guess, the anchorage was pretty busy and we decided to find our own little spot a bit further back, dropping our brand new Rocna anchor at around 14h00.

On dropping the anchor – the first time with the new 33kg Rocna – we noticed that there was a potential issue with the new bow roller design in that the new welded on “wings” to block the anchor coming too far backwards and to lock it in place, could cause an issue with the chain, as the chain caught around it when setting.  We need to be careful with this until the bow roller can be properly remade over the winter and to ensure that the chain is in front of the boat when setting and that the bridle is immediately put in place.

We had the bay to ourselves to start with – but one of the disadvantages of having an AIS transponder is that everyone can see where you are, and before long a few other yachts had joined us in the bay.  We set the anchor alarm on the iPhone – although neither of us are very comfortable with it as it isn’t very reliable, but there isn’t really much else we can do.  We’re quite familiar with the patterns of the winds around here, so we shouldn’t have too many problems!

The following day, the wind changed northerly at around 15h00 and we weren’t comfortable with how close one of the other yachts had anchored to us so we re-anchored slightly further away.  We are going to stay here a few days and there’s a storm forecast later in the week so we want to be secure – and we’re not yet used to the Rocna.

In the evening, we switched the water maker on to top up aft tank and when we took a shower we noticed a bad smell coming from the water – after searching high and low in the bilges (because it smelt like bad eggs or waste water!) we discovered that the water maker pre-filter was completely dirty and clogged up – even though it had only just been put back into commission.  The water is not usable so we had to switch to forward tank and empty the aft tank into the sea and we need to sterilise the whole system again!

The following day, we removed the pre-filter removed and replaced it with a clean one, flushed out the water maker and hoses with clean water and sterilised the system with low concentration bleach.  The tanks were filled up again and flushed to sterilise before being refilled again.  As a result, the generator was running for almost the entire day to run the water-maker as tanks were effectively filled three times which means we made 600 litres of water.  Good job our water maker is high spec as it was making 54.5 litres per hour.  We did a lot of research to find out what had caused this problem and discovered that the fresh water flush has never been working properly!  The flush is intended to keep the whole system clean by removing all traces of sea water after you have finished making water each time – however, our fresh water pump is not strong enough to deliver enough fresh water, so the machine was taking in half sea water and half fresh water, negating the whole point of the flush!  Need to sort that one out …..

On the Thursday at around 12h45 the wind turned to east and increased to 15 knot gusts – the yacht who came in yesterday afternoon did not have enough scope to be outside of our swing circle so again we re-anchored 100m further away towards the other side of the bay – it’s annoying when you have to do this, but others don’t seem to share our concerns so maybe we’re just paranoid 🙂  The Rocna anchor came up without a problem but the chain and anchor were covered in heavy mud and tonnes of horrible algae!  This is not a nice place for water quality but I guess that’s to be expected with so many fish farms around and a trapped lake of water.

The storm was not so bad – the wind came up for a bit and gusted around 15 knots and the sea was bumpy for a couple of hours bouncing us around but the thunder and lightening skirted around the edge of us, with just a few spats of rain.  I’ve been busy getting data prepared to go into our new electronic logbook software – counting inventory and cleaning/checking everything as I go.  Ed has been busy sorting out his hard disks and video/photo files so we can get our new YouTube channel up and running.

On Friday 9th June, we got the message to say that the speakers had arrived in Preveza at the e-shop pickup point …. we weighed anchor in Vonitsa and headed back to town.  On the way, we had issues with the navigation as the TZT appears not to be set up properly with no AIS signals and it will not transmit routes to the auto-pilot – we also have no speed through water or true wind speed so it looks like the log wheel got stuck with algae laying at anchor.  We checked out the town marina at Preveza but decided that it wasn’t the ideal place as we couldn’t go alongside and the depths were dodgy in some places – so we decided just to drop anchor outside the town and ended up laying beside our Australian friends in Macnoon.  

We managed to sort out the TZT which was just a configuration issue with the the software upgrade – but we still have no log data!  We really need to dive and clean the log wheel, but the water is not very inviting …..  We took the dinghy into town to collect the delivery at e-shop – but the dinghy engine cut-out half way across the harbour with over-heating.  Ed reckons it’s not an issue as it’s happened before – so he just switched off, let it cool down a bit and we were away again.  We had dinner in town then came back to Liberation to install the new speakers – so now we have an anchor alarm, running on Bluetooth … phew!  We both feel a lot safer now 🙂

On Saturday, we took the dinghy in to town again and hired a car to do a big provisioning trip for the next couple of months on board.  We also needed a few parts – an upgraded fresh water pump to improve the fresh water flush on the water maker and new docklines to replace the ones which were broken in Cleopatra Marina.  We thought this was going to be a big challenge … and I could already see a long day of traipsing around endless chandleries in front of me … but it was one of those days where everything seemed to go right first time – which is pretty rare for us!

We found the higher powered water pump at the first chandlery over in Cleopatra – then we headed to Lefkada where we found the right docklines at WayPoint and even managed to get them spliced in the same day, despite the fact that they were very busy with charter yacht changeover.  We got to LIDL in Lefkada and loaded our trollies and were just at the till when they were going to close (just in time!) – then the same thing happened back in the Preveza LIDL where we finished the shop.  All round success!  We also bought another dock spring at Theo’s chandlery in Lefkada to replace the one which snapped in half.

We came back to the boat at about 16h15 with the dinghy loaded down – it wouldn’t go into plane with the weight of us and the shopping, so we just chugged across the bay ….. with the engine over-heating again just as we got back to the boat.  Ed still isn’t too concerned, but this is beginning to worry me a bit!  We stowed everything away and had a relaxing few hours then Ed decided to change the water pump. That didn’t go so great – took hours!  The higher capacity pump caused some issues and was tricky to get it in the space as of course it was a bit bigger – and then the additional water pressure meant we had to do a lot of adjustments as the plumbing in the boat had some difficulty coping with the extra water (we removed some pressure reducers in the taps, and tweaked the settings on the pump).  We were still at it at midnight …. so Ed was up early on the Sunday morning and finished it off, before dropping the rental car keys back to the town.

We we finally ready to really leave at around 13h00 – and pulled the anchor up to get the hell out of Preveza!

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