March 2020 saw the lockdown of the UK due to Covid 19. We had planned to return to Sicily in February for a few weeks to do some maintenance and then again in April with Toni, Jason & Ralph, following their wedding. None of this happened. Northern Italy had an outbreak of Covid in February and there was a threat of them ‘locking down’, so we decided not to take our February Flight for fear of not being able to return to the UK for the wedding. Unfortunately the wedding was cancelled and by the end of March we, and the rest of the UK, were in Lockdown. The rest is history! Would we ever return to Money Penny?
We moved our many Easy Jet flights on numerous occasions but finally we were onboard for our return flight on the 25th July 2020. The airport had various safety systems in place and we sat in our own row with masks firmly in place. On our arrival at Catania Airport we queued to collect our hire car (for over an hour!) and then made the 2 hour journey, with supermarket stop, back to the marina.
We found Money Penny safe and sound but extremely dirty and spent most of the first week cleaning and preparing for our departure for Greece. Amanda & Jonnie had driven their car from Cardiff and kindly carried our new antifoul for us…..and the obligatory baked beans and marmite"! We would lift the boat out at a later date as her antifoul was sufficient for a few more months.
Our original plan had been to leave Ragusa in June and spend the following months cruising around Greece before Wintering in a Greek marina or yard. Our plans had changed due to the uncertainty of Covid, with us having taken an annual contract at Ragusa allowing us to have a base if a second ‘lockdown’ occurred giving us somewhere to return to. We made use of the hire car, stocking up on provisions and refuelling following our cleaning of the fuel tanks at the end of last season. On 1st August we left the Marina for a short ‘shakedown’ sail before cooking and sharing G & T’s with Amanda & Jonnie following their afternoon arrival.
At 11.06am on Monday 3rd August, having paid our Greek Cruising Tax online, (104.80 Euros per month) we departed Ragusa for a 300 mile trip across to Kefalonia in the Ionian Sea. For the first 50 miles we experienced a fantastic downwind sail. Our Genoa was poled out and we were making an average of 6.3 knots with a maximum of 11.5 when surfing the waves! “going great guns”!! Our bubble soon burst when at 19.45 the spinnaker pole snapped completely in half! Alistair went up on the foredeck and managed to release all the lines and fittings and we struggled for the next few hours with the genoa ‘flapping’ continually before finally turning on the engine at 3am. We had averaged 4.8 since midnight and our max was now only 7.5 kts! We motored sailed for most of the remaining journey.
At 4.30am on the morning of the 5th August we hit a thunder storm. Lightening flashed all around us and the crashes of thunder were sometimes directly above our heads……scary!!! By 6am we had travelled 227.5 miles and both of us were in need of firm ground and sleep! At 18.30 on the 5th we anchored off Argostoli and were welcomed by fellow sailors from Ragusa. Phew!! Just over 55 hours!
The bay at Argostoli was calm and peaceful and after a great night’s sleep, the following morning we took the dinghy ashore to ‘check in’. We had to visit the Port Police, pay a 15 euro entry fee, fill in a Covid declaration form and show proof that we had paid our cruising tax. All very straight forward. Our Greek adventure had begun!