We dropped anchor off the beach off the Marina in Porto Santo (the northern and second largest island of the Madeira Archipelago) to wait for daylight before we entered the marina. Looking at the boats and the painted harbour walls, we realised that we were in a different part of the world.

Yachts are generally smaller, have self-steering devices, and look like they are prepared for distance ocean cruising. There are lots of families – an enterprising French woman from one of the yachts was selling crepes to supplement the cruising kitty – they made a delicious breakfast.


img_9959Porto Santo Marina was a delightful place to spend a few days. It is friendly, has a great, reasonable café with very fast wifi, and is next to a beach.


It is only a short walk from the very pleasant capital, Vila Baleira.


Having spent 4 days at sea, we needed to walk. The headland at the end of Porto Santo’s long sandy beach looked an appealing destination. I was sure I had read it was 3.5km, but after a very long walk we found it was actually 7 km each way. Luckily there was a great lunch spot half way and plenty of beautiful water for swimming. The planners here have very sensibly kept development away from the beachfront, with most resorts tucked behind the sand dunes. It is a great time of year, not too many tourists.



img_9993Madeira, the main island of the Madeira Archipelago was a half day’s sail south of Porto Santo, our first day sail rather than overnighter since we arrived back on Sea Cloud. Marina Quinta do Lorde which has a reputation for being friendly and very pleasant did not disappoint.



The only drawback is its distance from Funchal the capital, but as a car was really necessary to explore Madeira, it was not a problem. Madeira is well known for its walks, and it sure has been ‘discovered’. The last time we saw so many walkers was in the Cinque Terre in Italy. The walk from the Marina to the eastern end of the island was spectacular. Very volcanic and harsh in appearance, quite different from the rest of the island.



Urchin – another Aussie boat

After putting up our new mainsail, we headed for Funchal, where we had a great lunch of limpets (a Madeiran specialty) and the biggest sardines we have seen.

The gardens in Madeira are beautiful -everything seems to grow here. Funchal is a very attractive town, with parks, pretty old buildings, traditional dancers and a great market.



This young woman treated us to tastings of all sorts of dried and fresh fruits, but then doubled the quantity we asked for, then when we came to pay added another 20 Euros or so for good measure!


Our pleasant day was topped off by finally finding Aki, a shop which sold bean bags. We had been looking for fill for our bean bag since leaving Corfu, can’t believe we found them in Madeira! The more mundane side of cruising life…

The north coast of Madeira was spectacular with (a) surf beach, beautiful coastline, lush tropical terraced land and quirky small traditional houses in Santana.


img_0085img_0082Madeira has kilometres of levadas – water canals with adjacent pathways built across the steep mountainsides a source of water supply and irrigation, and incredible feats of engineering.

img_0145The levadas have become very popular walking paths, with a variety of trails throughout the island We took the short walk out to Balcones in the north east of the island, which as fabulous views down to the coastline. The tops of the mountains, as usual, were shrouded in cloud.

Madeira airport built over the sea fascinated us, especially when we heard that boats were stored underneath the 100m high runway over winter. Very safe from winter storms, the only problem seemed to be avgas dripping onto the boats.




The infrastructure in Madeira is incredible for a small island. There is an extensive network of road, tunnel and bridges making travel around the island very easy. I can’t imagine how traveling around this mountainous island must have been in previous times.

We were very lucky to hear about the festivities in Machico a small town not far from the marina. Thousands of locals were out with candles (and wax models of various body parts) parading through the streets, giving thanks for miracles.


The festivities ended in dinner – butchers set up their stalls, you buy your meat, load it onto skewers and BBQ!




Our final day was spent walking the spectacular walk along the levadas to the waterfall and 25 lakes in the hills north of Ribera Brava, towards the western end of the island. The day was almost cloudless, enabling fantastic views from the road leading to the trail head.



Our relatively late start was good as the number of walkers had decreased, a very good thing as the levada pathways are very narrow with incredible drop-offs in some places.




img_0156The weather has been very stable and sunny here on this side of the Atlantic, very unlike the mischief created by Hurricane Matthew and Nicole on the other side. As the weather systems move from the towards the Azores and then affect these islands, we have had to keep a close eye on the weather forecasts which have literally changed from day. We made the decision to leave on Monday as the Sunday evening forecasts looked ideal. By the morning, the new forecast showed no wind, so instead of sailing directly to Lanzarote, we diverted to Carga de Lapa (bay of limpets) the only anchorage on Ilhas Desertas, a group of islands 20Nm from Madeira. There was one tripper boat there when we arrived, when they left and we had the bay to ourselves. As very calm weather was predicted overnight, we picked up one of the moorings in the bay, had a swim and had lamb chops on the barbie, something we haven’t done since leaving Sardinia in early July.

img_0161Apart from a ranger station ashore (access without a permit is prohibited) these islands are barren, volcanic outcrops. An early morning swim and the sighting of two very rare monk seals (out of 24 reported to live near by) topped off a beautiful night in this very special place.img_0163img_0166

Gibraltar to Madeira

After a very pleasant 3 day sail/motor (458Nm) we could see the Rock of Gibraltar looming in the distance. Shipping had gradually increased, as had the current as we neared Gibraltar. Sea Cloud approached Marina Bay through the maze of anchored ships and refuelled – such cheap fuel here, about 1/3 what we had paid last time.



Our first impressions of Gibraltar – what a weird place! Marina Bay is literally between the airport runway and the Sunbourn floating hotel/casino.


Our impressions gradually changed as we got to know the town and the friendly people, deciding quirky, rather than weird was a better description.

Knowing the Hydrovane installation would not start until the following day, we ‘did’ Gibraltar, ie a tour of the main sights on the rock.



St Michael’s cave



img_9932img_9938The town, naturally, has a very English feel. The locals speak with a broad British accent, then you hear them break into the local dialect, a strange sounding version of Spanish.


Sea Cloud’s massive delivery – Hydrovane, Watt and Sea hydrogenerator, a new mainsail, volvo parts and miscellaneous other bits & tools were delivered by “Freight–It” –  great local company who dealt with the customs for us. Shipping to Gibraltar where we could get the goods VAT free made great financial sense and was very painless with the help of Kabir and Jai.


Ted Devey, our Hydrovane installer extraordinaire worked with Ian to install the new goodies. Ted, a retired engineer was the ideal person to work with Ian – very particular and methodical and keen to get everything just right. Sea Cloud was the 3rd Hydrovane he had installed in the past week, bringing his total of installations to over 30. Ted, having his own yacht (of course with  a Hydrovane) was also very knowledgeable and fortunately, as he was staying with us, a lot of fun and great company.


I made a few treks across the airport runway to the shops in La Linea, Spain. Now that was weird!


Karen and Dave Bowes arrived on SY Destiny, another HR48. It  was great to catch up with them again – always sociable and plenty of corporate knowledge to exchange about boat parts and systems.

The boxes gradually disappeared, a quick provision was done and  we quickly stowed everything – the forecast was ideal for leaving Gib, but with gale force winds predicted within 12 hours, we needed to move quickly. A last dinner with Ted, Dave and his crew Trenchard, Sea Cloud and Destiny left Gib, we on our 4 day 580 Nm sail to Madeira whereas Destiny headed for Lanzarote.


This was to be our first taste of the Atlantic, and our longest passage yet. A great chance to check how the new gear and of course the crew would handle the conditions. Our first 3 days we had winds were 25 – mid 30knots, and 2-3m seas, with the occasional 5m biggies rolling through. Not the best for sleeping, but something we need to get used to before our Atlantic crossing – so glad Gordon and Tine will be joining us! Three hours shifts during the night are a bit of a killer.

Our new equipment worked superbly – the Hydrovane (aka “Ted”) steered Sea Cloud reliably in the big winds. We need to refine our technique for the lighter breezes aft of the beam that we experienced later in the passage. Our Watt and Sea almost kept up with our power needs, a great bonus not to have to rely on the generator. We had done a lot of homework on communication options for the crossing. The “Iridium Go!” with Predictwind seemed to be the best option for us. Ian and Ted installed the Go and its external antenna in Gibraltar but having heard that it could be a bit tricky we were skeptical about how well it would work once offshore. Amazingly, we had no problems – 300Nm off Gibraltar we were receiving weather forecasts, emailing friends and chatting with Andrew and Emily, ensuring that the emergency sat phone option worked (linked to iPhone or iPad)img_4166. All so easy to set up and use.


We were very fortunate to have enough wind to sail all the way to Madeira. It was exciting to see the lights of Porto Santo (the second largest island in the Madeira group) in the distance. We dropped anchor in the bay outside the harbour to sleep a little more and wait for daylight, which is very late here as it is dark until after 8am. Now we are settled on the pontoon in the Marina Porto Santo – we have to get used to the idea of tides again!


Palma de Mallorca

As we were running out of time to have works done, Joost Graafmans, a friend of Holly and Robert’s delivered Sea Cloud from Valencia to Palma so works could be started before we arrived. After hearing of Joost’s experience as a captain of some seriously big boats, we realised just how lucky we were so lucky to have him looking after Sea Cloud.We returned to Mundimar to find Sea Cloud looking great and ready to have her mast with its new standing rigging put back in.



We headed back to Real Club Nautico Palma where we would spend the next week working on the boat and seeing what we could of Palma and Mallorca. Our spot at RCNP was on the new “Oyster” dock (full of very large Oyster yachts) right in front of the clubhouse, where we had access to the pool (never used) café (used very often) and very pleasant restaurant.


It was also a short walk into Palma’s wonderful old town. Joost, Gaby and their delightful son, Oscar introduced us to Saint Christina, an area close to the marina, with some good local restaurants and a daily market. We had one day to explore the north of the island by car, the hill town of Soller


and Port Soller nearby.



The coastal road through the delightful towns of Deia


and then though the hills to Valledermosa was spectacular.


Back in Palma it was a week of full on work, with John Dodd, the local Lewmar whiz installing our new more powerful windlass and Rodrigo and the team from Pro-Rigging tweaking our new rigging.


We made sure we had a few afternoons off to explore lovely Palma




Palma Cathedral

img_4038Ian was fascinated by the displays of the ham -Emily would not have so impressed.

After a test sail and more tweaking of the rig, we sailed off into the sunset towards Gibraltar, unfortunately once again bypassing many of the places we had intended to visit.

img_4082img_4084We achieved a lot in a week, but with more works to be done, we felt the pressure to move directly to Gibraltar.

Croatia to Spain

Our checkout from Cavtat, Croatia was delayed following a windless failure under the bows of this superyacht which rents for 550,000 Euros per week. Needless to say, the crew were very happy to help us with our problem!

1 Cavtat anchor

Kotor was as attractive as we remembered it, although really too small to cope with the 2 cruise ships anchored in the bay.

8 Kotor 5

7 Kotor yachts

Rather than risk anchoring, we took a tripper boat from Kotor to the small church dedicated to sailors on the island off Perast.

16 Kotor gulfMarina Porto Montenegro in Tivat is former naval base which has been transformed into a superyacht marina and village. The 5 star hotel, restaurants, designer label shops and fancy boats are quite a contrast to the modest town in the streets behind the waterfront.We’d booked to get some duty free fuel prior to our check out of Montenegro. Sea Cloud’s couple of hundred litres seemed so insignificant when we heard that there is one superyacht which takes on 500,000 litres of fuel every 8-10 weeks during the season!

16 Fair Lady

Fair Lady

We’d been checking weather for days and it looked as though we had a good weather window for sailing to Sicily, about 400Nm away. Leaving Montenegro in the evening, we arrived in Erikoussa the following evening for a sleep before the leg across to Sicily. The 48 hour passage was probably the most uncomfortable few days we have had on Sea Cloud yet. The days were okay, but the washing machine like motion and the constant thunder and lightning around us meant that sleep was almost impossible. The fortifications around the harbour entrance of Syracusa in SE Sicily were a very welcome sight! The large safe calm anchorage and the delightful town were just what we needed.

3 Syracusa dusk

13 syracuse cafes

2 Syracusa dock

5 Syracuse amphitheatre

Due to Schengen visa restrictions, we ended up with not nearly enough time to spend in this part of the world. The prevailing wind between Sicily and Sardinia is northwesterly, just the direction we needed to go. As southerlies were predicted for a few days we moved quickly north along the east coast of Sicily. A night’s stop in Riposto marina to avoid more horrible seas outside was rewarded by morning views of Mt Etna which overlooks the town.

21 Riposto

21 Etna Riposto

Taormina looked lovely in the morning light.

14 Taormina

15 Taormina coast

The Messina Straits which can be a piece of work with their strong currents, winds and whirlpools (bastardo in Italian, no translation needed). We were so lucky, our very calm conditions meant that the swordfishing fleet were out in their boats, an amazing site with their towers for spotting the fish and the huge bowsprit from which harpoons are thrown.

16 Swordfish5

16 swordfish6

16 Swordfish1

16 Swordfish2

One night in the Aeolian Islands was definitely not enough. We anchored in the bay in Vulcano, spectacular, although very rolly!

23 Aeolian is

Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace ship travelled the Messina straights and across to Vulcano ahead of us.17 Rainbow WarriorThe passage from Vulcano to Sardinia was an absolute pleasure, such a contrast from the trip to Sicily. We had calm seas, no shipping and spectacular sunsets. The only problem was not quite enough wind, we only sailed about a third of the way.

Our fist anchorage on Sardinia, Cala Branchini on the north eastern tip was a wonderful protected anchorage in the strong north westerly winds.


Ian Cala BThe north eastern coastline of Sardinia is spectacular. We can see why Sardinia is so popular amongst sailors, good  breezes, clear blue water and many places to anchor.




We’d heard that the Disneyland like town of Porto Cervo is a must see, and it didn’t disappoint. Although we were too early in the season for the ‘beautiful people’ the dock was still full of megayachts, not to mention fancy cars,



designer shops,


and the most beautiful manicured gardens, some with disguised garbage bins. Prices are crazy. I’d bought some plastic bowls in Corfu for 1.5o euro – the same bowls in Porto Cervo were selling for 42 euros each!



Ian’s work colleague, Eugene who was born in La Maddalena just happened to be visiting this lovely island at the same time as us. He delighted us with stories of his childhood on the island, showed us his part of northern Sardinia and introduced us to some of the fabulous local food and wine.


La Maddalena harbour




101This archipelago has some gorgeous anchorages which, predictably, were very popular at this time of the year.13

Castelsardo was our last stop on Northern Sardinia.



17We had been watching the weather closely to make sure had a reasonable passage between Sardinia and the Balearic Islands. Windyty, our latest addition to our frequently observed weather forecasts showed gale force winds and 3-4m seas for the next week.

106Sardinia to Mahon, Menorca was another pleasant 36hour passage. We’d expected to Menorca to be very crowded but were amazed have an anchorage to ourselves on our first night. 20

A planned 2 days in a secure berth at Mahon Marina turned into 4 as the winds continued to blow. What a pleasant place to be stuck – an interesting town and great tapas.



The other anchorage of 28272426With only a week left before leaving Sea Cloud, we sailed from Mahon to Palma in Mallorca. Palma, the place of superyachts is where we plan to have Sea Cloud re rigged and prepared for her Atlantic crossing. After a busy few days of meeting with tradesmen, we sailed across to the Marina de Real Juan Carlos, (aka the America’s Cup marina) in Valencia, where Sea Cloud is to stay for 6 weeks while we return to Australia.


After more than 4 weeks in Corfu we had to get out of Schengen, so Albania, Greece’s closest neighbor was the obvious choice. We had been intrigued by the sound of this country which had been pretty well shut off to the world until the last 20 years. We had heard mixed reports and our memories from sailing by in 2009 were of reports of unexploded mines in the waters off the coast.

We are pleased to report that our current impression of Albania is very positive. We have thoroughly enjoyed the country, its friendly and extremely helpful people, the food and the spectacular scenery. At no time did we experience any feelings of insecurity.

Check in to Albania was in the large holiday town/port of Vlores, assisted by the agent Freddi. Fortunately there was no wind as Sea Cloud lay next to concrete and black tyres in the commercial harbour.

Vlore check in

Vlores, like all Albanian towns we visited is a massive construction site – new apartment buildings, new roads, and surprisingly, a very cosmopolitan feel. It has a string of beaches between the town and Orikum, the location of the only marina in Alabania 7 Nm further south in  the Vlores gulf.


Orikum marina, set up in 1994 by an enterprising Italian, Luigi, only has about 6 visitor berths. The marina is very safe with laid lines, but has a horrifyingly shallow entrance – only just deep enough to cope with our 2.34m draft. (Shallowest sounding was 2.6m). The grand plan is for an 800 berth marina, but there are no signs of expansion at present although the barriers to such enterprises seem to be decreasing in Albania.

marina orikumorikum entrance

We rented a car to explore the Ancient sites and UNESCO listed towns scattered throughout Albania. The first at Apollonia, a Greek then Roman city, just north of Vlores.Aplollonia 2Left over from communist era (ended in 1992) are an estimated 700,000 concrete bunkers, scattered throughout the country including among the well tended, fertile farmed land, very typical of Albania.


Driving is a challenge. It is no exaggeration to say that virtually every road in the country seems to be under construction or repair and potholes can be huge! There are main highways along the coast and to the capital, Tirana. We have never seen more Mercedes cars in one country – yet they share roundabouts with donkeys, horse and carts…

transport 3 transport1 transport 2Two donkey roundabout

Berati is an attractive village, set on the river, with well preserved white Ottoman houses nestled on the hill (of “a thousand windows”) to the citadel on the peak. The citadel, which encircles the top is still inhabited and has wonderful views of the nearby mountains and the village below.

BeratBerati view

During the communist era, religion was banned and most places of worship in Albania were demolished. Fortunately, the mediaeval churches and two mosques in Berati were classified as being of historical significance so were preserved. One of the churches has a very impressive collection of icons by the 16th century Albania painter Onufri.

mosque Berati

The town has a very Ottoman feel – as can be seen in the Ethnographic Museum (C 1810).

museum BeratiThe pedestrian mall along the river is lined with cafes; full but remarkable for the lack of women in them. It is the focal centre of the town, with all the locals promenading here each evening.

Berati promenade

Hotel Osumi, was typical of our accommodation in Albania – friendly people, good simple clean and comfortable accommodation and great breakfasts. All for about half the price of anywhere else.

Hotel Osumi BeratiTirana, Albania’s capital is a bustling, mainly modern city with an interesting mix of old and new architecture.

Tirana modern

Hotel Opera, where we stayed had only been open since January this year. Its location next to the National Museum and within walking distance of all the sites, was in a great location. The view from our room is very typical of Albania – old buildings being surrounded by construction.

National museum

Tirana old and new

= For Sale

= For Sale

Korca, in the east of Albania was our next stop. The town, which has been recently modernized has some lovely old restored buildings in its very cosmopolitan feeling main street.

Korce mall

Its pedestrian mall ends in a rather strange tower, which provides a great view of the town.


We lucked out here. A highlight of Korca for us was the opportunity to attend an intimate concert in the local arts centre. This was sponsored by the Italian ministry of culture who funded 2 highly accomplished Italian musicians to give a master class for the local kids followed by a concert performance comprising Concerti for guitar and viola including works by Schubert and Paganini. It was quite surreal, being surrounded by teenage men with mohican hair cuts riveted to this lovely music.

Korce concert

Parking, as in all these towns is a challenge in incredibly narrow (yes – two way) streets. You can see why rental cars check for scratches on return! This small guest house had the BEST breakfast.


Korca has a great local produce market in the original Ottoman market area.

Korca markets

The roads between Korca and Permet were a not to be repeated experience! They were very challenging with the 160km through the mountains taking about 8 hours – rarely getting into 3rd gear. The good news is they are rebuilding a lot of the roads, and the views were fantastic.

roadsroads2 mountain roadsmountain passWe had made a very last minute booking to join a 3 day hiking trek through the Zagoria mountains staying with local farmers, organized by Zbulo, or Discover Albania (  We would highly recommend this company which has established great travel adventures for tourists in conjunction with local Albanians.

Unfortunately, a wrong choice at a roadside restaurant the day before meant we missed the first day of the hike.  The bowl of what was billed as “chicken soup with meat balls”, comprised tripe and pieces of liver floating in a lukewarm milky broth. Although this sent alarm bells, but we were stupidly polite and suffered the consequences. This was our only bad food experience. The food overall is simple, fresh and delicious – definitely Albanian, but with Greek, Turkish and Italian influences. As we were tied to a hotel bathroom for the first 12 hrs, Endrit from Zbulo tours arranged for our host for the first night, Mani, to pick us up in his 4 WD and drive us to the village late that day. Seemed fairly easy, until we realized the isolation of the village and the roads these people have to negotiate to get to town. The amazing views were well worth the bone rattling drive up to and over the 1200m pass to the valley behind.

mountain top

valley viewMani and his uncle

Mani and his family live in Limar, a small village of 5 or 6 sheep farming families high in the hills.


Manis houseAs well as teaching the 5 local children in the village, Mani and his father milk their flock of 200 sheep twice daily. They grow their own fruit and veg and honey.  During spring and autumn, Mani and Marguerite host small groups of walkers to supplement their income. We were treated to wonderful food and Albanian hospitality, but did decline the traditional Raki to kick start the day.

Mani's mother bee hives

Cimi, our local guide and Robyn a co-hiker from Canada, were great company. Cimi spoke enough English to communicate his love and knowledge of the mountains and the way of life here as well as the wealth of herbs and edible vegetation along the route.

Cimi and Robyn

The trek from Limar to Hoshteve took us 10km, through villages and mountain meadows. The paths have recently been signposted with the assistance of Cimi. trail signs

Day 1 orchidsRobynBridgeAfter a rainy walk we arrived in the small bar in Hoshteve for Raki and a local beer in front of the fire. We were transferred by 4wd to the Duli Guest house in Sheper, where we spent the night hosted by Anetta and Edmond. Mani had transported our bags to Sheper by donkey – he was heading back on the 3 hour journey in the rain after meeting us for a drink.

Dinner was in the cosy lounge room in front of the fire. It was strange to be sitting there watching Spiderman on TV with Albanian subtitles!

BreakfastSheper Anetta andCimi’s brother arrived with his horse accompanied by its 4 week old foal to transport our luggage. It was incredible how the foal coped with this trek, which it had first done in its first week of life. Both mum and foal remarkably sure footed on some very steep scree slopes.

preparing luggagehorse transfer

We trekked up to the Dhembeli pass along ancient caravan trails which are still used by shepherds to move their stock from southern Albania (over 10 days walk) to these lush alpine pastures.

climbing climbing 2

resting huts

A lunch break overlooking the town of valley was much appreciated before the 1250m descent back over rocky scree slopes into Permet.Albania 288 Albania 287 Albania 290

We passed through a small village of Leuse, which has an Orthodox church with the most lovely frescoes.

frescoesThe walk was the most wonderful experience – an absolute highlight of our Albanian visit.

Leaving Permet, we had a leisurely drive back to Sea Cloud over decent roads.
Permet town

post trekWe stopped in Gjirokaster, another UNESCO town with a castle (used as a prison until recently), cobbled streets and attractive houses.
Gjior best castle gjiro


The following winds en route from Orikum to Saranda, the southern most port in Albania, gave us the opportunity to continue to refine our poled out headsail and boom preventer so necessary for the weeks of continuous downwind sailing we will be experiencing later in the year.


Saranda is a bustling touristy town only 7Nm from Corfu.

Saranda Saranda veiw

It has a small, very secure yacht harbour adjacent to the ferry dock. Including Sea Cloud, 3 out of the 8 boats had Aussie flags. In recent weeks, not a day has passed that we haven’t been anchored near Australians. Our agent (compulsory) in Saranda was the lovely Jelja Serani (Saranda summer holidays; info@sarandasummer She and her husband were extremely efficient and friendly, made the check in/out process very painless; renting us a car and providing us with information about the local area.

Saranda yacht harbour

We visited the Roman ruins of Butrint much of which have been excavated in the past 10yrs.Byzantine church mosaic Butrint lake Butrint amphitheatre Butrint 2

The Blue Eye about half an hour north of Saranda where the pure spring water gushes up to the surface from a cave hundred of meters deep, is the most beautiful colour. The dark centre and blue “iris” give its name.

Blue Eye

A very rainy few days ended our time in Saranda, doing jobs on Sea Cloud before our next adventure, heading north to Croatia.

Back in San Stefano, the season has definitely started – we were the only boat here 2 weeks ago, last night there were 8! Summer also seems to have finally arrived… has been very slow coming this year.

San stefano


With just one day in Athens, we made sure we had enough time to visit the Archeological Museum which houses treasures from the many islands we have visited over the past few years.
Archeological museumOf course we made time to have our first Mythos of the season in one of the very smart cafes close to our hotel.

first mythos athensBack in Preveza, we were please to see Sea Cloud had been very well looked after at Ionian Marine. Within 2 days she was cleaned, launched and we were on our way to  Gouvia Marina in Corfu where we planned to spend a few weeks getting her ready for the season. We couldn’t complain about our view in Gouvia- what a lovely spot.

Marina view 2We shared our pontoon in the marina with the Sailing Holidays flotilla, so there was lots of action during the day, with all the crews busily preparing boats for the season. We spent some time with Barrie (a Kiwi) and Heidi, the owners of the business which has 160 boats in the Ionian.

full marinaHaving seen these flotillas of in previous seasons, we had been always been very impressed how their young and cheery skippers and crew managed a fleet 10 or so boats of keen sailors, who were often complete novices.  Allan Berwick, a mate of theirs down to help for the season is the author of the RYA rigging book, a well thumbed book in our library.  Allan was very generous with his time going over Sea Cloud’s rigging and providing many helpful suggestions for setting her up for long distance cruising.

Roly poly rigger

While in Gouvia, we’ve had a few very hectic, sometimes frustrating weeks. Luckily, there have been other cruisers to meet – sharing meals, usually at our local favourite, the very good (and cheap) Zorbas. The only issue is the meal size, in one word, huge! We have met up with 2 lovely couples from Melbourne, living the dream as we are, Jan and Terry (below) on La Qunita who also plan an Atlantic crossing this year, and Jane and Stuart on Epicurius, who are heading east towards Turkey.

Terry Jan

Spending time with Andy, Nina Too’s skipper has been fun. Andy, a rambunctious Scot, about the same age as our Andrew, regaled us with stories on his voyages to the Antarctic and through the Pacific on Infinity (check out Infinity’s blog, they visit some incredible places!).  During dinner he was trying to talk Ian and I into taking Sea Cloud to Antarctica…


Greek Orthodox Easter is the time to be in Corfu. The island is well known for its music and Easter celebrations, which attract thousands of Greek (and other) tourists to the island’s capital. Local people of all ages are involved in the local bands and processions through the town on Good Friday, from early in the afternoon, until late in the evening.

processions parade viewyacht club

Each church has a procession through the town, with singing, a band and groups of small children carrying Easter baskets, high school children and unexpectedly large groups of boy scouts and girl guides.

paradeGood Friday is a very somber occasion, with hauntingly beautiful music played by these wonderful local bands. We were thrilled to see our electronics whiz Spiros who was part of his church procession.

SpirosWe retreated to an Italian restaurant for dinner. Our corner table was a great spot for viewing one of the parades.

Copy of Corfu dinner parade 2038dinner paradeparade and dinner

Processions continued, in front of very large and well behaved crowds, all enjoying the spectacle, well almost all. This teenager sitting on a box in front of us looked pretty unimpressed.

Corfu 2016 033

The finale of the evening was the 360 strong Corfu band marching through the streets of this beautiful town.friday night procession

Easter Saturday is another really big day in Corfu, where thousands of people come out to see the smashing of pots in the main square and streets of Corfu town.

pots for saleRed flags are hung down from the buildings showing where pots will be thrown..

Red flagsCrowds move in closer to the middle of the square to miss the water being thrown to indicate the landing place for the pots. Throwers ready themselves, then at 11am, it begins.

readygoThe finale of really big pots is preceded by a countdown, then everyone stands back…

pot smashingthen scramble to souvenir the pieces when it is all over

souvenirsAustralian OHS would have a fit, one mis-thrown pot could be a bit of a disaster!

Easter CorfuA great time to be in Corfu, most memorable was the wonderful music and atmosphere on the evening of Good Friday.

Ian’s birthday (Easter Sunday) was celebrated with the traditional dish of the day, lamb, in Taverna Elizabeth in the small rural village of Doukades.

Easter birthday

Followed by a drive to the Sunset Bar at Longos beach at the top of the island. Spectacular spot, but full of 20 somethings and very loud music, so we didn’t linger.Longos Beach sunset barAfter 4 long weeks in the marina, we finally dropped our mooring lines and left Gouvia, having our first night at anchor in San Stefano on the north east of Corfu. We’ve just left there after a coffee in the local taverna where we planned our next adventure, Albania!