| Shakedown crossings of the English Channel winter 2008.
Brighton, across the Bay of Biscay, down Spanish and Portugese coasts to Gibraltar May 2009.
Gibraltar, along the Spanish coast to Torreveija then to Formentara, Ibiza and Mallorca June 2009 en route to Sardinia and Rome. 2,600 miles by July.
Continued cruising through the summer, around Corsica, Elba, Sardinia and the Tuscany islands and coast of Italy before arriving in Rome at the end of Sep for the winter. Total of 4,500 miles during the year, the majority in the last 6 months. Some superb cruising in some very varied weather. Mostly superb, calm & sunshine but a fair number of F7s & F8s with some interesting thunderstorms to liven things up.
Departed Rome end March 2010 for this year's cruising. Traveled south down the Italian coast,past Anzio, to Ponza. Through the Bay of Naples, anchored under Vesuvious followed by a night in Capri-the most expensive marina yet! On down tha Amalfi coast past Salerno to Vibo Valentia. An enjoyable week there then across to the active volcanic islands of Stromboli and Vulcano. Drifted a couple of hundred yards off the shore at Vulcano and watched the magma being thrown into the air, tumbling down the mountain and bouncing into the sea. Clocked up our 5,000 miles leaving Vulcano then cruised down through the Straits of Messina and spent a night moored under Etna. Continued south Syracuse where we drowned ourselves in a sea of culture, walked miles and soaked up the atmosphere of Archimedes home town. We then moved down to anchor off the south eastern tip of Sicily before taking advantage of a short weather window to do a night crossing to Malta on 10th May.
Had the boat slipped in Malta, anodes checked, bottom cleaned & a new Ultra anchor fitted to replace the original, which we hadn't had much success with. A fascinating week was spent on the Island, which we explored as much as possible, before setting off north back to Sicily. Explored Siracuse for the second time then moved on to Taomina Bay wher we met Patrick and Chrissie on their Nordhavn 46, "Frog Kiss". Cruised NE across the Straits of Messina and along the sole of Italy, exploring towns and bays along the way, before heading off towards the Greek Ionian Islands. Slipped through the gap between Albania and Corfu and anchored off Lawrence Durrell's house. The rest of the summer was spent cruising around these beautiful islands and visiting numerous places, from the site of the original Olympic Games to many of the places featured in Homer's Odyssey. We were joined by several friends for a week or two at a time, as well as our son-in-law Simon and our grandchildren Joshua and Jessica. A superb summer cruising, exploring and making new friends, until we eventually left the boat in October, tied up in Corfu for the winter.
Departed Corfu early May 2011 for this year's cruising. With the boat newly polished we had intended to head towards Crete but a last minute tip from Dave & Angela Whalley on Minkey, that duty free fuel is available in Montenegro, had us heading north. After 200 miles and a night trip through a line of pretty active thunderstorms we arrived in Porto Montenegro. A few days were spent visiting the local area, including the walled town of Kotor, before we topped up with 6,500 litres of fuel at half the average European price and headed for Croatia. Porto Montenegro has to be recommended for its exceptionally helpful staff.
We checked into Croatia at Cavtat then traveled up to Dubrovnik, where we stayed in the marina for a few nights so we could explore the city. A fascinating place. We took in a couple of classical music concerts as well as dining at the self-professed world's 6th most romantic restaurant.
We continued moving slowly north, visiting the numerous anchorages, islands, restaurants and sights along the way until we reached the Dugi Otok in the Karnati Islands, where we turned round and headed back south, refuelling again in Montenegro on the way back to Greece. A few memorable events were:-
1. Being perched lightly on a shelf jutting out from the marina wall in Dubrovnik while several of the willing but baffled marina staff tried to pull the boat sideways.
2. Picking up an unmarked power cable when raising the anchor. A group of German girls in kayaks kindly tied our trip line to the anchor in exchange for a tour of the boat.
3. A guided tour of the old military sites on the island of Vis.
4. Being stopped by police in a RIB and spot fined 1000 kuna for speeding. We subsequently discovered there was no speed limit - just a little sideline being run.
5. Riding out some spectacular storms at anchor.
6. Numerous very friendly and helpful people.
We collected our son-in-law and grandchildren at Split on the way south, eventually dropping them off in Corfu 3 weeks later to catch their flight home.
Overall we cruised around 1,800 miles and towed the tender for around 1,300 of them. We spent about 4 nights in marinas during the 5 month cruise, the rest of the time at anchor and Tai-Pan stayed delightfully on song throughout. Our only problems were a shredded wing engine fan belt, a blown water maker fuse, a stuck main engine thermostat, a couple of loose electrical connections and a set of clogged injectors on our smaller generator. A great year, ending now as we have the lower hull polished prior to putting her to bed in Corfu again for the winter.
Back on board in May 2012 in Corfu. Re-provisioned then to Preveza for lift out, anodes and washdown. Headed south to Levkas, Ithica, Zakinthos then to the Western Peloponese. Fascinating cruising area, we kept going south, eventually arriving in Crete. Cruised gently along the north coast, heading east, aiming for shelter at the western end ahead of forecast strong winds. Arrived at Spinalonga and motored gently into the lagoon, having checked first in the tender that we could clear the sand bar. We had min depths of 3.4 metres which gave us 1.4 under the keel,hence the gently! We spent a week at anchor here while the gales blew themselves out. The wind reached 45 knots, F9, one night but we were well sheltered, although we did see a yacht dragging its anchor and having to move out. We toured Spinalonga, a fascinating island with its Venetian fort and recent history as a leper colony as written about in Victoria Hislop's "The Island".
We departed when the wind eased, intending to head north for Santorini, but with the Meltemi still kicking up a 2 metre sea we decided to retrace our steps and headed back west. We have visited some fascinating sites so far this year and some fabulous anchorages, eventually reaching our 10,000 mile point a week ago as we arrived at the island of Kathira. We then moved up through the Peloponnese, into the Gulf of Patras and the Gulf of Corinth, where we explored up as far as Delphi before heading back west to Messalonghi - very reminiscent of the Tai-Po Marshes in Hong Kong. With the temperatures up in the 40 deg Cs we decided to head north for Croatia, where the air and sea were both a little cooler. Arrived in August, during the Dubrovnik music festival, so managed to take in some great open air concerts. Refuelled in Montenegro before heading back to the Ionian in September. We had guests on board for a couple of weeks before returning to Corfu for the winter. Another superb cruising season with Turkey and possibly Cyprus on the agendsa for next year.