Friday, 2 July 2010

Preveza and armed police on the jetty

Saturday 5th.June

An early rise was prompted by some minor traffic leaving the harbour and so we decided to make the most of the day by setting off early for Preveza via the Levkas canal. The canal links the Northern and Southern Ionian with the road bridge across the northern end opening on the hour. We arrived at the bridge about ten minutes to nine and were one of half a dozen boats heading north. Once through the canal there are really only a couple of places to go; Preveza on the mainland or the island of Paxos. We all fell into line with one flotilla heading to Paxos while our group pointed at Preveza.

The wind was on the nose and we all were under power line astern. The wind increased and towards the end of the trip it had become quite bumpy. We have memories of Preveza five years ago when we visited by road having travelled to look at a boat. We didn’t buy the boat and were equally unimpressed by Preveza however the town, one of the biggest in the area, is the gateway to a large gulf, an inland sea which is rarely visited by yachts and is home to dolphins and giant turtles. We had to see for ourselves. Also, during the time we’ve been here we have been in touch with Barry, the owner of a Moody 346, hoping to meet up as his boat is for sale and Colin, at the marina thinks it may suit us. Barry texts to say he’s in Preveza Marina – so a good opportunity to meet. The entrance to Preveza is well buoyed as it’s a port used by freight traffic and ferries. We follow the entrance channel and pass the town quay which is lined with boats and tavernas. There’s a fair in town with a large ferris wheel a useful landmark as it is sited just beyond the marina. We enter the marina and wonder where to report to get allocated a berth. There’s a conspicuous lack of a harbour office. We opt to take any vacant berth and then seek out the men who must be paid. As we pass one pontoon we notice a Moody 346 and shout ‘Barry?’ to those on board. They seem surprised we know their name. We introduce ourselves and ask what the berthing procedure is. ‘Take anything that’s vacant, it’s free, they haven’t got round to appointing a harbour master yet’. We moor two boats away from Barry on a brand new marina, apparently EU funded, and ours for free.

After sorting out our lines we join Barry with friends Derek and Sue on board the Moody. It’s a nice boat and clearly much loved by Barry. We invite them on board our boat for a 7 o’clock drink and then accept Barry’s invitation to join them for a meal at The Mermaid..a taverna they have discovered.

Preveza has more shops than most of the islands put together so we take the opportunity to re-stock. We were tempted by the fish (see pic above) but could not find a loaf big enough for the sandwiches.

From on board an Italian 'gin palace' moored opposite emerged a rather portly Italian skipper and a rather slim, not to say attractive, crew member. He passed her a package which, when opened up and assembled, turned into a satellite dish. IKEA would have been proud of the flat-pack ingenuity. For the next few hours they watched Italian TV and we were treated to the sound track.

Less than an hour later we hear raised voices and were amazed to see an armed policeman, a Greek coastguard, a fellow British sailor and a rather animated Greek in heated discussion. Actually they were all shouting at each other with arms waving like a semaphore station on speed. It transpires the Greek called the Coastguard who brought along the cop for support to tell our fellow sailor he had to move his mooring. Seemed a bit excessive force but when confronted by a cop with a gun, a coastguard with a walkie-talkie and a demented Greek with attitude it's pragmatic to move on. I helped with the lines and the re-mooring was achieved without a single shot being fired.

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The Crew

The Crew
On board at Lymington