So we finally left Preveza town on Thursday 12th April. We headed a few hours south for Lefkas for a final bit of boat fixing. The stitching on the canvas of the sprayhood and the lazy bags on the boom was coming apart with UV damage and needed redoing and we had been recommended to get them done by Spiros in Lefkas. Somehow we managed to stay in Lefkas till the following Tuesday. Lefkas is a lively small town with pragmatic parking.
We found space on the town quay where Roger in the next boat gave us a very warm welcome and a great number of top tips. He and his wife had just launched having spent the winter in the marina. There were about 70 'live-aboards' this year, several of whom we met, mostly retired in their sixties. The expat life seems more appealing than expected. There is a village like feel to the place with people swapping skills, offering free guitar lessons, ballroom dancing lessons, stretch classes, a bridge group, a knitting group and a shanty choir in the Irish pub on a Monday evening run by the talented and beautiful young Rosa with a strikingly beautiful voice. I know because we were there. Paul was singing.
We were moored by a small park with cafes, chandleries and all manner of shops just by the gangplank. Our local 'Pirates Cafe' proved a pleasant place to have mid-morning coffee and connect to the internet.
In Lefkas the fixing continues. So far the list of Paul's achievements includes getting the life raft serviced, removing the passarelle, getting a man to fix the glassfibre hole, buying a new gangplank, overhauling the toilet pump, getting someone to make a new bow roller for the anchor, fitting the new bowroller (as below, at Cleopatra Marina) sourcing some new chain and extending the anchor chain by 20 meters, servicing the engine, fixing a light in the cockpit, buying and fitting a replacement music system, flushing and sterilising the water tanks, getting the canvas restitched, checking the self steering gear, replacing the gas adapters, hoses and regulators, buying new mooring lines, trying out a 'third generation' anchor and procuring a new rear fender. Plus fixing my guitar to the wall. (Though he STILL hasn't installed that mood lighting....!!!) Here is our anchor roller, with the replacement roller on the right showing the shape it should be. Almost worn through..
Meanwhile I have been playing to my strengths in the polishing and cleaning department. (Did I mention that..?) The southerly winds brought a covering of red dust to every surface, the same red dust in fact that we diligently removed two weeks ago. Oh the vanity of a clean white boat. If the sand could just stay in the Sahara that would be helpful. But the teak decking (as above) has been cleaned and oiled and though in places it is almost worn through, it now has a warm glow and looks the part. Generally we are getting quite ship-shape.
In the interests of home making I bought an orange linen shirt in a second hand shop and made cushion covers with the tiny sewing machine that was on board. It looks like a toy but actually works much to my surprise!
We have also enhanced our interior with a pot plant, bought in a charming garden centre occupying an open air space between two buildings in the middle of town.
The flowering plant is pleasingly purple and its sweet peppery smell helps to override the faint smell of urine. You always seem to get this on boats. I have worked out it's actually the smell of the resin coating on the fiberglass interior, but it does have a faint whiff of urinal. Now we have a sweet peppery smell instead, a pleasing improvement.
There are two fold up bicycles on board which mean that we can get about on land. Whilst in Preveza we cycled a ten mile return trip to see the ancient ruins of Nicopolis one afternoon. The ruins were closed, but en route we found a Lidl stocking guitars.
The shepherd in the field adjoining the Lidl car park seemed quite interested in our guitar purchase - but perhaps also in our bicycles.
The guitar came with a bag with shoulder straps so after testing it out in the car park I duly strapped it on my back and cycled back to the boat with it. Paul seems to have thought of everything, somehow he even got Lidl to sell guitars at just the right time. The bicycles also come in very handy for food shopping. In Lefkas the yachties all cycle round on them, looking - as we do - oddly ridiculous. But the fold up bikes are inspired. We keep them in the 'shed', a large storage room behind the bathroom.
This morning we said farewell to our congenial new acquaintances Roger, Simon and Julie and set sail for Abiliki Bay on the island of Meganisi where we are now at anchor for the night. Paul has had the first swim of the season. A chilly 17 degrees or so. Here he is recovering afterwards.
So we are finally underway having left 'Velcro Island' as Lefkas is called. People tend to come back apparently. As we may do.... Rosa is running a singing workshop at the marina this Friday.