Dawn Patrol. Greece at Last.

Leaving Montenegro for Greece seemed a simple proposition on paper. We had a 23 hour overnight hop down the Albanian coast in store and knew we needed to stay clear of their territorial waters because of security and COVID restrictions in Greece. So, it was 12 miles or more offshore and a straight shot. The weather window was perfect so we went into our typical planning mode and spent the day ticking the boxes on our list for our 5 pm departure time. The kids got their PCR tests at a local lab. The results to be emailed to us later that day. Che got a nosebleed in the waiting room BEFORE the test. Hmmm. We provisioned and spent the afternoon prepping Madame Geneva. I went to the marina office to check out and settle up only to find the office shuttered for the night. Apparently the pandemic has them short handed the same as everywhere else so the nice lady simply locked up and went home. Problem was that they had our boat documents and we owed them money. Omen number 2. After the marinero called her repeatedly for an hour she came back in street clothes, with her dog, and checked us out. Antonio pointed to the mountain tops and said we should wait because the afternoon thunder storm was coming and sometimes it blows 50 knots, sometimes not. It blew up. Lightning, thunder and wind blown rain. The whole shebang. Omen number 3. I watched from the cockpit as a huge arc of lightning struck an electrical power line on the mountain with a giant round ball of fire. Omen number 4? Yep. The rain subsided, the wind shut off and we motored to the fuel dock to fill up. They had no power. The fuel was there, we just couldn’t get any. We waited and I joked with the fuel guys that we should get some beer and pizza since departing wasn’t looking likely. In typical deadpan Montenegrin they offered to call a pizza place for us. My sense humor is lost in the former communist bloc. It hasn’t stopped me from confusing waitstaff though. Dad jokes and New York sarcasm must soldier on translation be damned. After an hour the lights came back on, the fuel flowed and we motored to the customs dock to clear out of Montenegro. The 24 hour offices were empty, doors open, lights off. Another awkward chat, this time with a police officer, got me moving to “it’s a green building over that way”. Harbor master, customs and port police, then we were finally free to go. Despite my superstition we untied the lines and watched the sun set off of our starboard quarter as we headed due south. Our longitude would not change for the entire night.

The gold-domed cathedral of Bar
Thank you Montenegro
A quick intercept by the Italian coast guard checking to see why Americans were coasting Albania.

One of the highlights of this leg so far was insisting our children stand watches overnight with no protests rather full enthusiasm! They ate dinner and relaxed below resting up for their first overnight not as passengers but as bonafide crew. The cockpit tethers were installed and each of us lashed in with sospenders. Kelly rested early as she is best in the wee hours while I typically stay up as late as I can and then take over again when Kelly runs out of steam sometime before dawn. Gherty picked the first watch and she was thrilled. We watched the AIS and strategized how to dodge 500 foot ships steaming out of Durres, Albania at 15 plus knots midnight to 2. Bio luminescent fairies sparkled in our wake. We discussed latitude and longitude, sailing and reminisced about so many other adventures. I passed the bridge to Kelly at 2 and Che, who was so excited he couldn’t sleep chose to swap watches with Quinn who was sleeping below in anticipation of his upcoming responsibilities. When I woke to relieve Kelly at 3 they were having such a good time she told me to roll over and grab some more z’s. Around 5 I was up so we swapped again. Quinn woke up on his own as he said “at 3:43 because he knew it was time for watch”. He and I shared the magic of a red sunrise over the Albanian coastal mountains. They all kept hourly “sit-reps” logging our lat and long, heading and speed on paper tethered in with a headlamp lit. I am still bursting over it. It’s everything. They are over 10,000 sea miles, 27 countries and salty as hell. And…so cool. No troubles, no seasickness, reading their books in high seas and truly absorbing whatever it is we’ve been doing out here all this time. Wether they chase this dragon in their own lives remains to be seen but, most importantly, they get it.

We left the Adriatic and entered yet another sea midday the following day. Welcome to the Ionian! We rolled into Gouvia, Corfu, Greece and tied up. A mellow night onboard with a movie and dinner to regroup on the first night we saved exploration of Corfu town for the following day. Another iconic European city with old fortresses, winding alleyways and coastal vistas over electric blue water was our prize. We enjoyed it immensely and headed around the top of Corfu to Afionas bay, a huge bay protected from the northwesterly gale we knew was coming. Here we sit swinging at anchor in strong winds with only one other boat a day later. The wind will subside overnight tonight and we will make our way further south to Paxi and Andipaxi 2 postcard islands south of here on the way to Preveza on the mainland. We’re in Greece for sure now. After 2 days at anchor, 10 games of chess and as many books read we are good. No complaints. Just enthusiasm. Perfect.

Stay tuned. Much love.


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