Things have been really happening fast on Slick and not always according to plan. We are sitting in Sicily right now after a short-feeling transit from Greece. My friend from grad-school, Mark Reed, has come and gone and soon I will get another visitor, but more on all that later. I feel like I have been really busy transiting and haven’t really had time to write blog posts, but now I am between people so I have a spot of time.

To catch up, after we left the Corinth Canal we headed for a town called Galixida. This was by far the nicest little town we visited to that point in Greece and surely the nicest in the Gulf of Corinth. We came in and stern-tied to the town wall and even though Nate and I haven’t done too many Med-moors, this one worked out. The main attraction here, besides the relaxed Greek village, is the Oracle of Delphi. It was a pretty good stack of rocks. Although, very unfortunately, the bus frequency in Greece is not so high so we didn’t get enough time to really appreciate the fairly large site. On a different note though, we also bought a large plastic crab that we are assured will catch us octopus. We’ve only tried it once with limited success (we didn’t lose it) but no octopus. Well, everyday can be a fishing day, but not everyday is a catching day.

We headed down the Gulf and went under the biggest suspension bridge in the whole world. That’s right, the whole world. Well, its the biggest if you put enough qualifiers on it. It was impressive anyhow. Oddly though, there was still a ferry service that ran between the ends of the bridge, needless to say, the ferries where all empty. We stopped the night in Mesologion. That place was a bit of a dump and felt a bit like the bayous. The water-police of Greece even came down and told us to lock our things down as they have had some theft lately. We also decided it was a fine time to fix the throttle cables. The bolts had been seized and I was unable to open up the control unit, so the reverse and forward directions where switched. Well, after nearly plowing into a boat while parking near Corinth and then hitting a ship-sized bollard on the docks here, bending my anchor, we decided it was time to try to fix it. Ten beers and four hours later, Nate and I had it repaired.

Upon leaving that town we came into the Ionian Sea. This is the part of Greece that I wish I would have spent the entire time in. When you think of chartering a boat, it seems everyone wants to go to the Aegean, but in my opinion, the Ionian is much better. The anchorages are protected and the hills even have trees. Our first stop was on Ithaca, the town of Vathi. It was a bit boring until we rode out a little blow.

We moved up to the Island of Lefkas. The first anchorage we picked out was a giant protected mud-hole called Vliko. It was full of sea-gypsies from England. We had previously been warned about it from some of the boat shops in Athens but really couldn’t believe such a place existed. Well it does, so we pulled up the hook and headed to Tranquil Bay off Nidri. It was much nicer. I still couldn’t get the diesel serviced though. So we changed the oil at least. We also changed the fuel filter and I am still having fuel problems. Part of this might have to do with Nate losing part of a latex glove down the fill line, but I think by now we’ve pulled all that out. The other sad event that happened in Nidri was I finally said goodbye to Shirley and Shielah, my fuel barrels from Panama. I really decided I needed the space with Mark coming soon. Plus the lady that ran the local used-marine shop was really nice and I thought she could find them a nice home. I told her though that they are twins and and couldn’t be separated. She looked at me strange, I am not sure that all translated right.

At this point things were starting to get difficult. We needed to be in Montenegro soon but there was a giant low pressure system moving our way and we needed to also run for shelter and certainly didn’t want to try to crash up the Adriatic. We headed for the very protected harbor of Prevesa. After much deliberation we finally convinced Mark to change his ticket and fly into Corfu, saving us the trip. We rode out a pretty serious blow in a very sketchy marina. In fact we only tied up about half of Slick, the rest hanging off the dock. I thought they should give me a discount since we only used about 15 feet of dock space, but they wouldn’t. On the strange side, there is a battle between the marina managers and the local port police as to who should get paid. In the end we paid the managers. Positively though, the local gyro shop made the best ones we had the entire time in Greece. They were so good that afterward we stopped eating them.

With a little more time at our disposal we headed to the island of Paxos, and anchored off the town of Gaios. We stern tied to a tree and it was a beautiful little area. Just enough tourism to be interesting but just far enough away to still be quaint. After a few days though, we headed up to Corfu to meet Mark.

The sail up was uneventful, and by sail I really mean a motor in flat calm water. We anchored under the Venetian Castle and thought all was well. As soon as we were settled a very angry squall came off the mainland and destroyed the anchorage. Everyone drug in the thick grass. They all pulled up and went to deeper water. We motored up hard on our anchor to stay off the lee shore (aka castle walls). After about a half hour the squall was gone but the seas were tore up. It had gusted over 40 knots and rained horizontally. Somewhere in the melee we lost part of Slick’s new swim ladder. We re-anchored but as the upper-level clouds started to move in again we could see that we were in for another hard squall. So we headed into the marina. No shame in that I guess. Once safe in the marina, the next squall came in, it was much angrier than the first. We watched the anchorages get tossed again and a very heroic effort by a mini-mega-yacht crew to save their boat from certain destruction.

That night we picked up Mark at the airport and showed him his new home. He adapted quickly to living in my garage. Unfortunately we didn’t get to be as welcoming as we had hoped as we spent nearly 5 hours in the water swimming the anchorage in search patterns to find the missing ladder part. It was cold and exhausting and we found lots of things, including an old amphora, but no ladder part. Damn, I just had that made too.

Checking out of Greece proved to be just as dysfunctional as anything else having to do with the government there. It was quite a pain as the immigration officer needed certain papers from the port captain and three times in a row the port authorities gave me the wrong papers. Eventually though, we checked out. We also checked out of the Schoengen area so that we are not docked for our days at sea. We headed back to Paxos to wait for the passage to Italy. Mark got a nice tour of the Island and Nate and I did boat chores. After two nights, we left.

The overnight passage was not so interesting, just lots of motoring. Thirty hours later, we arrived in Rochella Ionica. Upon getting into the shallow approach to the marina, my engine died. Fuel problems again. This time though when we got to the berth, Nate noticed that the fuel tank was very hot. It turns out the fuel return pumps hot fuel back into the tank. It isn’t dangerous, but I don’ think it is very good for the engine. Anyway, the whole point of stopping here was to have pizza by the meter and wine by the liter. We did, and then we left the next morning.

We arrived in Messina, on Sicily the next day. It was, again, a windless trip. The Italian immigration refused to stamp us back into the Schoengen area even though I explained to them numerous times and ways that we checked out of it. They didn’t even want to bother checking their computer to see and said everything was OK. So right now we are not actually checked into any country. Its strange. But they insist, so what can I do. I just hope this doesn’t count against my days in since we only get 90 out of 180 so this could be a real blessing. Or it could screw us, wait and see, wait and see. After we left Messina we headed though the straights between the toe and Sicily. This was kind of interesting for two reasons. First the massive current and upwelling made for several visits by the chickcharines, those weird little currents that toss you about. And second they have these very interesting sword-fishing-harpoon boats here. The have a tall mast where spotters look for the sleeping sword fish and then on an incredibly long bow-sprit a man sits with a harpoon to get the fish. I’ve never seen such a thing.

We pulled into Millazzo and cleaned up the boat. Mark departed after a short time thoroughly enjoying his trip. Nate and I cleaned the boat and Nate will leave tomorrow. Then my phantom traveler, who I shall name Susanna, will finally return to Slick. That will be quit nice and our plan is to head to the volcanic archipelago known as the Aeolian (or Lipari) Islands, home to Vulcan and Stormbolli. The weather looks quite settled and I am looking forward to a good trip. Hopefully we can sail a bit and maybe, just maybe, catch a fish.