Lifting

Laying up for the Winter

We are always very precise when it comes to laying up for the winter – over the years it has proven to be well invested time as we have never yet had a problem when we return to our boat in the Spring. We have developed a lay-up workplan that we follow with the tasks divided between us and it normally takes us two weeks to complete, partly in the water and partly after lifting on land. We were lifted on 25th and as usual all was well with the hull and the anti-fouling – the Coppercoat never ceases to amaze us every time we are lifted and inspect the bottom at the end of the season! This year we …….

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Cleopatra Marina

Messalonghi to Preveza

The last hop – which we decided to break up with a few days relaxing in Lefkada. At this time of the year, the bays are empty and there’s a chance we can anchor in peace – something we would never expect to do in the height of the summer! We had intended to leave early as it’s almost a 9 hour sail to the South coast of Lefkada but in the end we didn’t get away until around 10h00. On departure the anchor was completely stuck in thick clay/mud – all the links of the chain were full and we had to jetwash the chain and anchor as it was oozing gunge onto the winch! This is the place …….

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Messalonghi Lagoon

Athens to Messalonghi

From the Aegean to the Ionian – via the stunning Corinth Canal – this is a journey of several days with some pretty nasty weather black spots on the way. Once again, we’ll be storm hopping and trying to pick the best times and locations and once we’re back in the Ionian we’ll be on the home run! We checked out of Zea Marina in the morning and left the harbour around lunchtime for the 5-6 hour hop to the Corinth Canal. This is an area we have been in many times before, so we’ve got our usual anchor spot picked out and plan to cross the canal the following day. We only have a couple of days of weather …….

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Boufalos to Athens

With the next storm on the horizon, our next hide-out was planned to be Zea Marina in Athens, where we could take some time on land and meet up with friends. We weren’t expecting to make it in one go but intended to get around the point at Sounion and effectively out of the Aegean on the first day. We left early at 08h00 – it was going to be a long hike and we were expecting some challenging conditions. In the end, it was not as bad as we expected for once – we had following seas and after the first hour things were pretty calm and warm. Sounion is usually pretty busy and quite exposed so we decided …….

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Boufalos

Chalkida to Boufalos

We were stuck in Chalkida for a week – with the meltemi not easing up. Aghios Stefanos was calm and protected, but nothing there to do and nothing to see. We couldn’t wait to get going again and were watching the weather situation closely. We decided to leave the following Tuesday 3rd October, with no specific destination in mind but with more opportunities on the Southern side of Evvia. We didn’t leave until 13h30 and just wanted to make a few hours hop further down. It was cold and it was clear the Autumn had set in now – but the sun was out so not a bad start. Very soon however things changed again – we had heavy seas …….

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Upwind Chalkida

Skiathos to Chalkida

This return journey isn’t quite what we had planned – the idea was to be able to take the outside route of Evvia and to hop over the islands we have so far missed – the Southern Sporades island of Skyros and the Northern Cyclades islands of Andros, Tinos and Mykonos in a route back towards Corinth. However, it is not to be – we are storm hopping and running out of time – so we are forced to retrace our steps on the inside route of Evvia as the quickest and safest way back to base. Another storm is on the forecast with heavy rain on its way in. We left Skiathos at around 10h30 on the Sunday morning …….

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Skiathos

Porto Koufos to Skiathos Overnight

The morning started out still windy – but reduced to 15 knots and gradually subsiding. By the afternoon, the weather was calm and the forecast gave us a window which would allow us to make the crossing to Skiathos. Sailing at night has become second nature, so we had no problems to pull up the anchor at 16h30 and head out to sea. Initially, the sea was a bit lumpy as the storm residue subsided but the wind was perfect. The crossing was a classic cliche of “sailing into the sunset” with perfect sailing conditions on a gentle close reach and beautiful skies. As the night drew in, the winds dropped almost completely and we motored for most of the …….

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Porto Koufos - Siphonia Greece

Sikia to Porto Koufos

It seems we are plagued with weather issues this year! We had planned to make the crossing back to the Sporades directly from Sikia, but the forecast was showing yet another storm on the way in so we needed to find better shelter. We had spent the day in Sikia doing maintenance on the generator which needed a repair to the water pump so after the 2nd night in Sikia, we decided to duck around the corner to the protection of Koufos again. The waves were rolling from the beam making for an uncomfortable rounding of the headland of Sithonia and certainly all the bays in the area were untenable. The last time we had chosen to anchor in a …….

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Athos Monastery

Athos Peninsula – forbidden for women!

We felt like Diaporos was a Venus Flytrap – no matter how hard we tried to escape, we just ended up back in the same place! It’s a lovely area but really beginning to wear thin now. We also do need to be on our way or we’ll not make it back to Preveza in time. So ….. finally ….. with fuel and provisions on board, we pull up the anchor and make the short crossing back to the Athos peninsula in the morning with the intention of cruising down and crossing back to find a place for the night at the bottom. Athos is famous for its monasteries and is forbidden for women to go ashore – or indeed …….

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Friendly neighbours

Back to Diaporos!

Ammouliani is not a place to be – it wasn’t as bad as we expected as the sea calmed down overnight, but very busy with the boats from the campsite and the beach so not a place for us as it’s so busy. We also need to get fuel and we aren’t going to get that here. The only option was back in the direction of Diaporos with the intention to drop anchor somewhere and make calls to arrange fuel and go into the harbour when it is available. We chose Lagonisi as a change of scenery – having spent so long in Diaporos North Bay, we wanted to look at something different. It’s a lovely bay but quite a …….

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Ammouliani

Diaporos to Ammouliani

We had to leave Diaporos this morning (unfortunately!) as we are quickly running out of fuel and Ed has had enough of the wasps – we’ve given up the battle and just need to get out of here!  After having spent some time laying still, it took a few hours to get the boat back into a movable state – stowing and securing everything away, taking down the Fin Delta and working out how to fold it up again and giving the boat a good clean inside.  Ed also had to give the generator a service and oil change – as with all this usage we were well over the service period.  He also changed the filters in the water …….

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Diaporos

Diaporos Island – Halkidiki, Northern Greece

Diaporos has been a lovely haven of peace and tranquility for  most of the time – apart from hiding out from a storm one night, and the CONSTANT bombardment of speed boats (oh, and lets not forget the wasps!).  The island is tucked up in the Halkidiki peninsula (“Three Fingers”) in Northern Greece and has the channel to the mainland is protected by the fact that each entrance is fairly enclosed so it creates a sort of “inland sea”.  The area is beset with hazards – it’s extremely rocky and both the south and north entrances need to be navigated with care – not something to do at night!  Our CMap/Jepperson charts gave leading lines, and following those gave safe …….

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Kassandra Point to Diaporos

We woke quite early in Kassandra Point, which was hardly surprising given we were right out in the open, in front of a beach.  The Mantus had held perfectly – although there wasn’t really much wind to give it a real test.  We retrieved the anchor and left the bay around 10h45 intending to get to Porto Koufos on the next peninsula for the night.  There was nothing much to report with the journey – we traced our track backwards and had therefore seen it all the last time.  The wind was calm to start with and we were motoring – I had my laptop out in the cockpit and was happily catching up with some work.  Just before we …….

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Thessaloniki Marina to Kassandra Point

Departure from Thessaloniki didn’t go great …. 🙁 As planned we were up early and ready at the marina office when they opened – but we had to wait until the electrician could come along and read the meter, and disconnect the power supply so they can invoice the electricity consumption.  Grrr … nothing to do but wait.  In the end it didn’t take TOO long and we were all ready with the dinghy hoisted ready to go at 10h00 … so not too bad. Then disaster struck as usual …. !!  Ed was on the bow (unusually) because the lazy lines were extremely heavy, tied up in each other and pretty ancient – there was plenty of space in …….

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Thessaloniki Marina

After a week away staying in a luxury hotel in Amsterdam, it was a relief to be back home on the boat in Thessaloniki!  All these “luxuries” are all well and good – but I’ll take the luxury of our own boat any day of the week.  I missed the lap of the water on the hull, and being gently rocked to sleep – as well as my own decent shower, my own bed and having drinks and a kitchen on hand.  Can’t stand hotels!!!!  This must come from spending too much time in them in our previous life. The Dutch exams were a bit of a challenge but quietly confident they will be OK – unfortunately I have to …….

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Koufos to Thessaloniki

Well it was just as usual – the wind turned around 02h00 and the anchor dragged – oh what a surprise!  I’m getting used to the sleepless nights but to be honest getting pretty sick of them, and can’t wait to get our new Mantus anchor when we get to Thessaloniki.  This time, we have planted the anchor on a sand patch among the weed, so of course when it rotated it has ended up in the weed.  We didn’t have to re-anchor, as it did catch – at least enough, since we have only about 10 knots of wind.  I spent the rest of the night fitfully sleeping, up and down checking what was happening. Actually, Wednesday turned out …….

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Kyra Panagia to Koufos

All was well in the night – although the rafted boats did turn around and come very close to us, I shone our flashlight on them and decided that with no wind it would be OK …. Ed was out cold, so I took an executive decision.  We had a good night sleep, for once with no rocking around! The crossing to the “three fingers” of the Thessaloniki peninsula is pretty much a straight line over the open sea for about 40 miles – a study of the pilot guides had shown that there are very few, if any, places to anchor and only a few small harbours.  We had the feeling we won’t be spending much time in this …….

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Alonnisos to Kyra Panagia

Ormos Tzortzi ended up not being as bad as I thought it would be – fortunately the swell rolling in was from passing boats so it did die down in the evening and we ended with a calm night.  When we woke in the morning it was very pleasant – it was almost a shame to leave but we need to make tracks to get to Thessaloniki on time – although the weather forecast looked completely clear for the next week when we looked yesterday, there are now some windier conditions coming in the day after tomorrow so we don’t want to end up getting stuck or having to sail in bad weather! Still, we took it easy in the …….

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Skopelos to Alonnisos and Peristera

The bay at Ormos Stafylos was pretty bouncy – and we were woken up being bombarded with wasps.  As usual, we had left the cabin doors open for ventilation and the cabin was full of wasps!  No idea where they came from or why they picked us, but since Ed is allergic to wasp stings, we were a bit concerned.  We very quickly had a cup of coffee and managed to get all the wasps out of the cabin and closed the doors before pulling up the anchor and getting underway just after 09h00. We were planning to head for the island of Peristera, taking in the coast of Alonnisos on the way.  We cruised on engine along the remainder …….

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Skiathos to Skopelos

Today was an engine cruising day!  We left Ormos Siferi in Skiathos around lunchtime after a leisurely morning … we were about ready to leave when we caught the wake of a big ferry and the anchor came loose again … I don’t think I ever want to go to Ormos Siferi again!!!!  It was no problem as we were leaving anyway …. We decided to do a circumnavigation of Skiathos and it is a very beautiful island.  The bays on the south coast – Platania and Koukounaries – are busy, with several “day flotillas” and day trip boats – and of course mobbed with people on the beaches, parasols and beach bars.  We headed out into the Skiathos Strait …….

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Skiathos Harbour Respite

We ended up staying a few days in Skiathos – first of all to make sure the storm was well and truly gone …. we always hang around a day after everyone leaves the harbour as even after the wind has died down, the sea takes a little while to catch up!  In this particular case, I think it was more us that needed to recover than the sea! We ended up re-anchoring a few times – even though we had gone where we were directed, we weren’t happy being so close to the flight path so we moved a little bit closer in – then when our neighbours left we could move still closer in.  We spent a couple …….

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Volos to Skiathos and Storm Medusa

The weather in Volos didn’t improve during Friday afternoon and it was impossible to leave so we waited through the evening – it did eventually calm down and the sea was flat around midnight but Ed preferred to leave very early than to sail overnight all the way.  I didn’t go to bed, as I’m not good at early mornings and am always better if I don’t get any sleep at all, than a couple of hours.  While he slept, I prepared the boat and we were ready to just start the engine and go. I woke him at 05h00, and we were on the way at 05h10 – still dark so running on radar. There was a full moon …….

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Vathoudi to Volos

We weren’t originally planning to go into Volos as once the storm had passed we intended to head to the Sporades and cruise round Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonnisos before heading up towards Thessaloniki.  However, as tends to happen frequently, plans change and we decided it made sense to try and properly fix the dinghy as there were several Yamaha dealers in Volos according to the internet. We pulled up the anchor around mid-day and left Vathoudi on a course straight for Volos and immediately we were in the middle of the remnants of the storm with the churned up sea once you got out of the protection of the bay.  We remember why we always say that after a storm, …….

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Pigadi to Vathoudi

We ended up staying in the little fishing harbour of Pigadi for two nights – catching up on some work and maintenance.  The harbour has a trailer boat launch slip, and there were a couple of speed boats being launched – gave us something to look at and laugh!  The usual principle applied – and although we started on our own there, the second day several other yachts came into the harbour and anchored on the second night.  It was one of those bays that we thought was a “one yacht space” – but then 5 yachts later you realise that there is more space than you thought!  There is a tiny quayside which is big enough for one yacht on …….

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Chalkida to Pigadi

After crossing the bridge in the middle of the night, we anchored in a big bay just the other side at around 01h30 – the anchor alarm went off early in the morning as the boat turned and the alarm circle wasn’t set accurately enough (we didn’t sit up watching the circle form at that time in the morning!).  We decided to leave – and pulled the anchor up just before 08h000 – very early for us!  There was no wind whatsoever – the wind meter was struggling to record 1 knot – and the sea was glassy, not a ripple in sight other than the wakes of the odd boat here and there.  The temperatures were soaring into the …….

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Sikies to Chalkida and the Bridge

The journey from Sikies to Chalkida was 32 nautical miles and took us the afternoon, yet again running on engine.  We could have sailed as the wind was 12-14 knots S/SW so we would have been easily doing good speeds down wind – however, we weren’t in the mood to sail and wanted to follow the coastline and see where we were going.  Until we approached Chalkida there wasn’t very much to see or do – the coastline in the end was pretty uneventful.  There isn’t a big population in this area and although there are a few towns with ferry terminals, it is unremarkable. As you approach Chalkida, the landscape changes and it becomes much more industrial – as …….

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Karystos to Sikies (Evvoia)

The meltemi only lasted a couple of days and it wasn’t long before the wind forecast on the inside route of Evvoia was perfectly flat and we could continue our journey northwards without any problems.  We weighed anchor at 11h45 and were back on the engine coastal cruising – there are lots of little islands and bays at the southern end of Evvoia but other than a couple of ferry ports and towns, not many you could stay in which were not full of fish farms. Skipper Ed is at least smiling again !!!  We’re back to blue skies and sunshine, at least for the moment. At around 17h30 we came across the bay of Sikies … and this was a …….

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Lavrion to Karystos

We left the little bay in Lavrion just before 13h00 having researched the locations in the area to work out where we could hide out from the meltemi on it’s way in.  Where we were was too open and rolly – and although the weather today looks dodgy if we don’t move then we’ll be stuck here for days.  It was raining this morning so we held off for a bit waiting to see what happened – then decided to go at lunchtime. We were heading north of course …. into the wind.  The plan was to clear the small island of Makronisos then take a straight line course to the bay of Karystos, on the southern tip of Evvoia – …….

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Corinth to Lavrion

In the end, we stayed a couple of nights on anchor in Kalamaki (Isthmia/Corinth) – neither of us slept well the first night with mosquitos and the heat and we didn’t wake up until late.  There was also bad weather forecast – not so much the wind, but heavy rain and thunderstorms and by the time we woke up, there was not enough time to make it across the gulf to Sounio area and no other good anchorages on the way either.  The last time we had stayed here, our anchor had come loose – so we were careful to make sure we were well set, although we have confidence that the new Rocna is not going anywhere! We caught …….

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Transiting the Gulfs of Patras and Corinth

The two gulfs – Patras and Corinth – are areas where we have almost always come across high winds and challenging seas – particularly when heading west as you are nose into the afternoon blast.  There are also very few places you can stop along the way.  Apart from the sailing challenges, you also have to deal with the navigation challenges of passing the Rhion Bridge and the Corinth Canal – but if you follow the rules and keep the authorities happy, this can be done without any trouble. Day 1 – Messolonghi to Galaxidi – Transiting the Rhion Bridge We pulled up our anchor in Messolonghi at 10h15 and returned down the channel to a glassy sea and very …….

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Astakos to Messolonghi

The area on the mainland around the entrance to the Patras Gulf does not have a lot of suitable places to stop with shelter – it is a lowland area with lots of marshes, and a lot of shallow water.  We are heading towards the Corinth Canal to get us back into the Aegean as quickly as possible to beat the arrival of the Meltemi – so we’re skipping the other Ionian Islands where we have spent so much time in earlier years anyway. The harbour and marina of Messolonghi is an easy distance from Astakos and it’s a place we’ve never been to before.  Some other blogs we follow recommended it and it seems to be the standard stopping …….

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Preveza to Astakos

We were happy to weigh the anchor outside Preveza at around 13h00 on 11th June and at last we were heading out of the bay into the open sea – free at last!  We’ve got the usual Ionian afternoon breeze with a westerly at around 15 knots … great for a close reach sail over to the Lefkada bridge.  We hoisted the sails and were reaching 6-7 knots in no time – putting the sail battens in the right way this year seems to have made a difference 🙂 Just two hours later, we were dropping the sails again on the approach to Lefkada – with perfect timing for the bridge opening on the hour at 15h00.  It feels like …….

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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 …….

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Getting Liberation Ready for 2017

This year we have managed to get out to Greece much earlier than usual – thanks to our staff back in the Alps and the UK taking over a lot of things – and to the fact that Chris is able to work from the boat as needed.  We had a few projects to do this year so Ed’s plan was to be there early and have everything ready by the time I arrived. Ed arrived at Cleopatra Marina in Preveza on 7th April after taking the overnight ferry from Ancona to Igoumenitsa with our motor-home – the Anek Lines “camper deck” is pretty cool – as you stay in your van for the journey and can sleep in your …….

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x – Opatija to Rab

We leave Opatija and cruise some of the Northern Croatian islands – Krk – Prvic – Rab and cruise the infamous Velebitski Canal which features in almost every severe weather warning in Croatia!  In Rab, we moored at the ACI Marina Rab – a very small marina with some dodgy depths and tiny access!  We refuelled before entering the marina.  In Rab we did some more maintenance. The Volvo engine got it’s first service by the best engineers we have ever seen – they were immaculate with protection of the boat, laying down covers and taking extreme care. Ed did the first service on the generator – no mechanical problems but he discovered a shaved fuel line and repositioned it. Ed …….

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Croatia – Umag to Opatija

We were finally ready at 15h00 on 24th July and we started the engine and left ACI Marina Umag.  Half an hour later, we were out in the bay and tried to calibrate the auto-pilot …. which fails!  We must be doing something wrong but after an hour of going round in circles, we gave up – we probably should have gone back into the marina at Umag and got it sorted out by Almi d.o.o. but we just couldn’t face going back again, so decided to keep going and deal with it on the way.  We also noticed that the triducer was not working properly, as we didn’t have any speed data! At 17h00, we hoisted the sails for …….

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Successful anchoring technique – our way

Our preference is to always stay at anchor – and this is something we have done with all our boats so we have lots of experience of what works for us and we are very pedantic about our alarms so we can get a good nights sleep without worry.  In this blog, I’m sharing our technique and how we use our technology to help ….. Anchoring Hardware and the Basic Principles We use a Jambo anchor – the question “which is the best anchor” is one that will always create a lot of controversy with the boating community and everyone has his own opinion.  The truth is that the best anchor to use will depend on the sea bed – …….

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Back and ready to go!

We’re back at Umag after a rushed 48 hours – the camper and trailer are now safely parked in our warehouse in France.  Our trip home was a bit eventful as we discovered that we had a power cut at our warehouse while we’d been away and the power was still off …. unfortunately we had two large commercial walk-in freezers full of bacon and sausages, which we import each season for the English breakfast we provide in our ski chalets.  Everything had defrosted and the whole warehouse stank to high heaven.  We had no time to sort the problem out as it would take days to dispose of everything and clean up the mess – so we had no …….

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Final touches and odd jobs

There have been lots of major projects over the last few months but there was also a list of little changes which we’ve made along the way to make Liberation more practical and just like home.  Lots of things we just noticed as we went along ….. Passerelle / Gangway – and other associated bits In the Mediterranean – for those who don’t know – you nearly always moor with what is called a “Med Mooring” or “Stern To”.  Simply said, the process involves tying up the bow of the boat somehow – either by dropping the anchor some way off the quayside, or by using a laid line in a marina – and then reversing the boat to the …….

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Croatia joins the EU – VAT amnesty scheme

Croatia’s accession to the EU has been a long time coming – tonight they will become the 28th member country of the European after an application process which has taken 10 years.  In 1991, the country declared independence from socialist Yugoslavia but the Serbian dominated Yugoslav army seized back a third of the country which resulted in a four year war.  Without wishing to get into the politics of the situation, some of the scars of this time remain on the countryside – and we had first hand experience of some of the shocking impacts when we traveled inland and got lost, ending up in the middle of a bombed out village which had been deserted and never reclaimed, years …….

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Too much optimism – now too much stress

Ed’s optimism of a few days ago has faded as he is struggling to do what is needed on his own – he can’t get into the tiny spaces necessary, and he needs another pair of hands and some “project management” to try and focus on what needs to be done.  I have now rushed to finish the essential work – and decided that everything else will need to wait and I need to help him out to move us forwards.  We sat down and made a plan so we can get some logic into the job …. Keto will be arriving in a few days to finish off their tasks and over the last days we have ticked off …….

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We’re Getting There …. Slowly!

Well, we’ve been at the marina now for nearly a week and the weather has not helped in the slightest. It’s been cold and raining for most of the week – which is a bit tricky when you’re trying to do things like varnishing the teak with several coats as it just isn’t drying! As usual, everything seems to take longer than you think it will – and with boats everything is in tiny little corners where arms won’t fit and things have a habit of disappearing into the bilge when you drop them. Ed has crossed a few things off the list though and even though the boat looks like a war zone, he assures me it’s not as …….

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First Days on Liberation

Well – we’re finally here in Croatia but nowhere near being able to sail away yet. The list of jobs to be done is as long as your arm and as usual things don’t go quite according to the plan. The boat looks like a tornado just struck inside and it’s hard to see how everything will be ready!!! The Bavaria dealer was supposed to be here last week to finish the last work – but won’t be arriving now until 2nd June – so more delays to our plans. Mind you, Ed has so much to do that it really won’t make so much difference.  He’s working long days onboard trying to work his way through the list on …….

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Visit to Umag

22nd – 23rd April 2013 A flying visit for both of us as we’re in the middle of closedown in the Alps – but we need to visit the fiscal representative in Croatia and the lawyers and sign a whole load of documents to get the importation process underway – there are deadlines to make sure that we can complete the process before Croatia enter the EU. We drive down with one of our minibuses and book ourselves into a hotel overnight as the boat is not in a state to sleep onboard.  Chris ends up with a kidney infection and tests out the great service of the emergency department of the local Croatian hospital – don’t understand a word, …….

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