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Archive for July, 2014

Greetings Everyone,

Please pray for wisdom for us at this time.  My 99 year old Dad is in hospital with heart and lung problems and not responding well to the treatment.  I asked the doctor to make an assessment as to whether he thinks he will recover.  At the moment it could be either way and we are making tentative plans to secure to boat and fly home if necessary.

We are in Malta, a tiny rocky island with about 400,000 population, wall to wall housing, the most efficient bus service imaginable and a strong British flavour.  It had two major sieges — by the Turks against the Knights of St John in the 16th century and in WW11 when the Maltese and British defence forces faced heavy bombing and starvation.  The Maltese were awarded, collectively as a nation, the George Cross for their gallantry.

We may catch up with some of you earlier than expected if anything happens to Dad.  I had two months or so of good quality time with my Dad before we left Australia and both of us know he is in God’s hands no matter what.

Thanks for your caring and support.

God bless,

Pam and Phil

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Greetings Everyone,

What a great day we’ve had in Syracusa, Sicily!!  The windlass is fixed (before we left Greece).  Phil spent a good hour explaining the Gospel to Mike, the German mechanic who said, “I wish I had more time to spend with you.  I’ve never heard it put like this before.”  He was from East Germany and was brought up as an atheist and had only experienced the Greek Orthodox system here which he had rejected.

Then we set out for a 2.5 day sail to Sicily and actually sailed half the time and tried out wind vane steering which works a treat.

Syracusa is a delight — great open air food markets, always a plus, and a wealth of historic interest.  It is a fortified city with a fortress castle built in 1240AD surrounded by huge city walls all in remarkable condition.  We spent the morning roaming the castle grounds and the old city streets with impressive Byzantine buildings all squashed together.  Then we went to an exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci machines with working models of all the amazing devices he invented and watched a film re-enactment of his life — Amazing!

When we cleared in I showed photos of my “Sicilian” family to a young man and pointed to Enzo saying, “He looks like you.”  “Yes he does”, he said and laughed.  The anchorage is good, the people are friendly, the town picturesque and interesting so we are planning to stay for a week or so before moving on to Malta and then Tunisia.

Wish you could all be here with us — it’s fine and sunny and 30+ degrees.

God bless,

Pam and Phil

PS  Phil forgot to mention in the last update that he always thought Albania was a poor country.  Well in Sarande 75% of the vehicle were Mercedes or BMW’s and late models at that.  All the taxis were Mercedes.

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yotreps3

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Greetings Everyone,

Albania didn’t turn out to be the safe haven we’d hoped for.  We cleared in to Sarande a pretty seaside town and did an admiral Med tie up to the wharf between two large motor cruisers.  It is school holidays for all July and August and Sarande is obviously THE place to go with all of Albania there and endless streams of ferries and hydrofoils across from Corfu packed with tourists.  In the long evening twilights people mill around the promenade — a cross between Surfers Paradise and Luna Park with Ferris wheels and dodgem cars and outdoor cafes.

We took a local bus to Bitrint, a strategic area across the narrow passage from Corfu.  The Romans built huge fortifications and an elegant castle in the most beautiful tree lined setting with the Ionian Sea on one side and a large inland lake on the other.  The whole has been declared a UNESCO heritage site and is well preserved and sign posted.  We took a picnic lunch and spent an enjoyable day there.

The nightmare began a few days later for us when we decided to anchor off rather than continue to pay the mooring fees.  As we started to lower the anchor the windlass broke.  With much puffing and grunting Phil managed to claw it back a few links at a time.  We rang the agent (you have to have one in Albania) to see about going back on the wharf.  But — no space.  Albania does not cater for yachts and there is only wharf space for five vessels in this major clearance port.  Here the wharfs are all built for huge ships and ferries.  The is only one marina in Albania and it is not at Sarande.  Also, there are no chandelries, no spare parts and no repairmen.

They directed us to the shipping wharf with huge protruding buffers which threatened to demolish the anchor, bows and the stern and dinghy all at one as there is a continual swell coming into the harbour.  We finally secured 1/2 a dozen lines and rose up and down on the surge shredding the covers off our fenders and groaning against the wharf.  We couldn’t stay there all night with out damage so they allowed us to move in the dark and sandwich in between a ferry and a large motor cruiser on a wharf that had tyres instead of solid buffers and was slightly less aggressive.  We had to leave by 9am before another ferry came in.

In the night Phil had the brilliant idea to sail the seventy mile back to Preveza in Greece where we knew we could tie up to the long town wharf and hopefully get the help we needed.  So we cleared out of Sarande and arrived at Preveza about midnight.

Phil has pulled the windlass apart and found a German mechanic who is procuring the needed part — a small roll-pin that had sheared — and hopefully we will be fixed by tomorrow and we can proceed to Italy or maybe Malta.

Please pray for wise planning as winds are fickle and harbours crowded and it;s not all plain sailing!!

God bless,

Pam and Phil

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yotreps02

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Greetings Everyone,

Greece is a strange place — very lay-back, sometimes frustratingly so.  Crossing the Corinth Gulf we anchored at Trizonia, a small island with a “free” harbour.  No-one pays and people leave boats there for unspecified times.  One large yacht — maybe a fifty footer had sunk and laid alongside the marina wharf with only its masts showing.  It had been there for at least ten years and looked like being there for at least as long again.  Nevertheless it was a very beautiful island.  We walked up the hill overlooking the harbour and found a half finished mansion surrounded by fruit trees and a for sale sign up and reckoned it would make a good option for retirement.  No we didn’t buy it.

Sailing up the west coast of Greece we stopped in a very large enclosed bay at Preveza and walked back along the coast on a path lined with gum trees to the entrance of the bay which was guarded by 4th century Venetian forts on both headlands.  We thought there would have been a fee to enter and maybe a guide to explain the history but NO.  The outside was stark and forbidding and looked as it must have done for centuries but inside was neglect, graffiti, broken windows and vandalism — just left to disintegrate.  You can feel the downturn in the Greek economy and it is things like this that suffer.  It’s no-one responsibility so nothing happens.

Next week we are clearing out of Greece and into Albania.  It is only a few miles across from Corfu Island and is not a Shengan visa country.  Our intentions are to spend about three weeks there and ease our visa situation.  From what we hear from other yachties the Albanians are keen for tourists to come and are very welcoming.  Another adventure about to begin!!

God bless,

Pam and Phil

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