Preveza is about 10 NM away from Lefkas town. We left one hour later than we initially planned because of the crossed anchor incident that caused us to miss the opening of the bridge. There was still a lot of wind coming from the North East which meant not many waves but also coming from the direction we were heading to. It was a nice and sporty, but very short, sail since we had to head dead into the wind to enter the channel that leads into Preveza and the Ambracian gulf, so once more we did most of it on our diesel-sail. We decided to anchor just above the fishing harbor of Preveza as it was closer to the boat yard where Halcyon Days was going to spend the winter and we wanted to have a look there before making our final decision. We still had to walk more than 30 min to get there from our anchorage. The boat yard looked very Greek (a bit messy) but otherwise it seemed fine, a good place to winter our boat. We met Dimitris, the owner of the boatyard and his dogs and cats and we felt immediately at home. We then left Preveza and anchored in the bay just above Vonitsa in the Ambracian gulf, which we had for ourselves. We had the impression of being anchored in a mountain lake somewhere in Canada. The bay was very sheltered and quiet, so very calm seas surrounded by hills covered in pine tree forests. A few words about the Ambracian (Amvrakikos) gulf: it is the largest wetland area of Greece and one of the most important wetlands of Europe. It is known for its rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. For instance, it is possible to spot bottlenose dolphins, seals, turtles and all kind of birds which are endangered. We really looked forward to spot some of these species.
We were expecting bad weather for the next day with wind and rain, starting at noon. We thought we could cover the 2 NM to reach Vonitsa in the morning before all hell would break loose. Unfortunately hell came already in the morning, something we didn’t notice until we left our really well sheltered bay. So we were quite shaken and soaked during our short trip. We were quite happy to reach the harbor of Vonitsa and scrambled around the breakwater to put an end to our misery. We visited the castle and the city in the afternoon when the rain stopped. The view from the castle was really nice. The city itself is more of a working town city than a touristic place but we didn’t mind that at all. After spending two days in Vonitsa we first sailed north and had the most amazing time with dolphins. They played with the boat for a good 10 minutes, jumping out of the water and doing all kind of dolphin tricks. They really tried to interact with us, the more enthusiastic we got, the more enthusiastic the dolphins got. We also spotted some turtles, though from much further away than the dolphins. Unfortunately they don’t like their picture taken so we ended up with a lot of pictures of water ripples caused by turtles diving under water. We anchored not far from Nikopolis, as we planned to visit the old ruins the next day. However the wind picked up in the night and increased some more in the morning. Things were getting really uncomfortable at our anchorage so we kept Nikopolis for another time. We instead sailed back to Preveza (which would be our last sail of 2017 with Halcyon Days, it was a very nice sail!) and moored on the town quay to visit the city. We shared the town quay with a Bowman 46, which is our ultimate dreamboat. We had a talk with the kind Dutch owner and he let us have a look aboard. Now we like it even more! Unfortunately it doesn’t really fit in our budget, so unless we win the lottery we’ll stick to our idea of replacing our Varne 27 with an Alpa 11.50 in a couple of years.
We liked Preveza, it reminded us a bit of Lefkas town.
The next day was the big day: Halcyon Days was going to be taken out of the water!