Durres, Albania to Corfu, Greece - A One Day Passage Turned into 3 Days! We are Now Legally in Greece Sept 12-15, 2019

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September 15th 2019
Published: November 15th 2019
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The next destination after Albania was Greece. We had to officially check out of the country and could have stopped at another town farther south, but we decided to head directly to Corfu, Greece. Our agent in Albania followed up with the check-out procedures and stopped at the boat to provide those to us so we could be on our way. We released the lines at 8:40AM on a very grey and cloudy day but it looked like we would have an opportunity to make it to Corfu with a fair weather window – not the best, but it didn’t sound like it would be too bad.

We had a pleasant visit by 4-5 dolphin around 10AM, but they just stopped by for a short time and headed on their way. It was such a quick visit we didn’t even get a chance to take any photos of them but this group had a couple of young ones with them. No matter how many times we see dolphin, it just always brightens our mood!

We had more surge than we would have liked, but it wasn’t too uncomfortable until about 1:30 in the afternoon when the winds picked up to 19-20 knots combined with 6 ft waves causing us to be quite “rolly” due to their being in opposite directions. By 3PM the waves had increased to about 7’ making it even more unpleasant, so Bob decided to check the chart to see if there was anywhere that we could anchor with some protection from the waves. The coast of Albania is not an easy one to find protection from, but in checking closely he saw that there was a small island called Sazan Island. It wasn’t going to give the best protection, but at least there would be some shelter that we hopefully could get for the night to get a break from these seas. Did we have to stop and could we have continued? Yes, we could have gone on as we have been in rougher seas than this, but we are now to the point that if we can stop and enjoy the journey more by doing so, we will do so. Maybe that is a sign of getting older, but we like to think of it as wiser!

The best cove that would provide protection unfortunately was a military base so that was out
Views of the Terrain of AlbaniaViews of the Terrain of AlbaniaViews of the Terrain of Albania

you can see roads crossing some areas
of the question, but a little further down there was a smaller indent that we hoped would work. When we rounded the point, we saw that someone else had the same idea as there was a catamaran already anchored there. We put down the anchor and stayed the night, but it definitely wasn’t the calmest of anchorages, but it did give us a chance to sleep even if it was a rocky night.

We left the anchorage early with 8-10 knots of wind still with some seas, but not as bad as yesterday as they were only about 3-4 feet high. The winds started to build again and we were up to 24-30 knots of wind by 10AM. We had talked to the catamaran anchored near us the night before and they said they were going to head to a place called Port Palermo the next day. We checked it out on our chart and it looked like it would provide some great protection, so we figured we would head there as well. We read about this anchorage on one of our apps that we use and found that at one end of the bay there is a military base. They had at various times allowed boats to anchor there for the night so we were hoping they would with us as well as that end of the bay would be the most protected due to the direction of the wind and waves. We arrived and saw that there were some buildings that didn’t seem heavily used, a military boat with one person near it and a nearby beach with a couple of people swimming. We checked out the depths and found a good place to anchor so put down our hook as the person near the base didn’t seem to object. As soon as we got a good hook we heard we were being called from shore by radio. We were told that it was a military station and that we could not anchor there. We asked if we could possibly stay for the night with the promise of not going ashore and asked as a result of it being a “place of refuse”, but the answer was no. We were then told to wait for a response in about 10 minutes. We kept the engine on and on eye on shore. We waited and waited and finally about 45 minutes later a car pulled up and a man got out, went over to their ship to use the radio and told us “I am the commander and you cannot anchor there.” We asked him where we could go and he told us that there is a concrete pier at the other end of the bay we could go to, so we pulled up anchor and headed there. On our app others had mentioned the pier but stated that it was very rough, very high and that the bollards were very far apart as they were for larger ships. Even so, that is where we needed to go. We made it there and their observations were definitely correct, but we were able to get settled with the use of plenty of fenders and lots of long lines. As we were officially checked out of the country we were not suppose to get off the boat so we figured the height difference wasn’t a problem (thankfully Bob could climb up to secure the lines). Later the catamaran showed up and Bob went to help them in. At this end of the bay there was a fort that the other couple said they were going to walk over to explore and asked if we’d like to join them. We told them that we really shouldn’t due to our already having checked out. Oh well, we were just glad to be out of the rough seas for a while.

The other couple came back from their walk and said they saw a restaurant nearby and were going to go for dinner and asked us to come along. We decided to be “illegal” and get off the boat and join them as it was quite close to where the boat was located. It was great to be on dry land again and to not have to cook as well as socialize with others.

After dinner we came back to the boat and were reminded once again that there is definitely a tide here as the boat was lower than when we left but fortunately with a little help I was able to get down to the boat! Even though we originally wanted to anchor at the other end of the bay, moving to the pier actually worked out fine.

One thing is for sure with the cruising life, you never know how a passage will be even after checking two or three forecast as they are only forecast! Many times they are right on, but this time was not what we expected. It is always hard as well to figure out how the surge and waves will be as those definitely have an impact on how comfortable a passage you will have. Oh well, we were getting close to Greece, the last country we will be in before our final destination this season of Turkey

What was supposed to be a one day, 22 hour passage was now turning into 3 shorter but rougher passages. On the 3rd day we left the pier at 6:30AM in 10 knot winds, but now with only about 2 foot surges and 1 foot waves which of course were in opposite directions but better than the last two days! By 9AM the seas were choppy with 3’ waves, but we kept pushing on and by 2PM we were coming into Corfu. Now we had a decision to make, either head directly over to the commercial area where the customs office and port police are located or to go to the Gouvia Marina
Clouds Can Always Help You Spot IslandsClouds Can Always Help You Spot IslandsClouds Can Always Help You Spot Islands

if the land isn't visible, here it was no problem to see
which was a little distance away from town and the official offices. We had been in touch with others that had checked in and out of Corfu before and it seemed that you could go to either place to check in. If we went to the commercial area we could do the check in process there and then move over to the marina as that was where we decided to go after having the passage that we did. If we went to the marina we could start the process there but then would have to go into town which didn’t sound bad as we would want to do that anyway. Fortunately neither of us get seasick, but today Bob started to not feel the best earlier in the day and still wasn’t feeling up to par, so that made the decision for us – we would head to the marina. We were given a spot right next to a power boat that was not at the exact same height as us, but that is what fenders are for – we have found that over here close quarters in the marina are the norm.

After we got our power hooked up I left Bob at the boat to rest and I went to the office to check in and start the process of checking into the country as well. When I got to the office to start the check in process to the country there were a number of people ahead of me. Soon after getting there the official came out and said she would not see any more than the ones that are already in line – I figured I lucked out. After waiting for more than an hour as she was working with numerous charter companies checking in people that were starting their week of chartering, she told me that she couldn’t help me as I needed to complete other paperwork first. We arrived on a Saturday and she told me she’d be back in the office on Monday. I asked if I could go to the other location to complete everything and she said I could but that I could wait until Monday and come back to here. I was actually surprised at that as typically you aren’t suppose to be walking around in a country until you are officially checked in. Welcome to Greece!

As we now have to wait to officially check into the country we figure we will stay a second night in the marina. This would give us a chance to do our laundry, but… found out that the laundry was closed as it was late on Saturday and unfortunately they are closed on Sunday as well! So much for that plan.

Fortunately Bob was feeling better the next day so we decided to catch the bus into the center of Corfu and head to the harbor to check in so we could leave the next day. It was good as it gave us a chance to stretch our legs after being on the boat for 3 days and to see a little bit of the city. First priority though was to get to the port police and the immigration office. It took a little while as we had to start at one office, walk to the far side of the harbor for the next office and then return with paperwork to the first office. Everyone was helpful once we found the offices, but the process was time consuming due to the location of the offices. It probably would have been
A Landmark of Port Palermo A Landmark of Port Palermo A Landmark of Port Palermo

where we stopped the 2nd night
easier to bring the boat over, but as we were settled into the marina we decided getting there by land would work as well.

We took the rest of the day walking around Corfu. There is a very prominent fortress that takes up the complete promontory. The old town of Corfu had been previous protected by Byzantine defenses, but then later the Venetians decided to make changes by putting in a moat which created an artificial island which the fortress sits on. It has protected Corfu from 3 different Ottoman sieges, the first in 1537, second in 1571 and the last in 1716. We didn’t take the time to wander through the fortress and instead just wandered along the waterfront, enjoying a wonderful park there and meandering through the streets.

We have been hoping to get to our final destination in Turkey the first part of October, but in looking at the number of miles we still have to go we are now being more realistic and figuring it will be more likely the 2nd week of October. We figured that factoring in the miles, the need to factor in the weather and that there were a couple of places we’d like to see on the way, we should move on.

We had hoped to arrive in Greece a couple of days ago, but you have to go with the flow when living on a boat, otherwise you can get yourself too stressed out. We know we will not spend too much time in Greece, but our plan next year is to return to Greece so we aren’t getting too upset about the need to miss some of the places we’d like to visit. On we go now that we are legal in Greece!


Additional photos below
Photos: 29, Displayed: 29


The Gouvia Marina in Corfu Has Lots to OfferThe Gouvia Marina in Corfu Has Lots to Offer
The Gouvia Marina in Corfu Has Lots to Offer

and even has a business of Bob's!
Corfu Is Definitely a Tourist TownCorfu Is Definitely a Tourist Town
Corfu Is Definitely a Tourist Town

proven by the fact there is a "little tourist train"!
Now in Greece, Our First "Greek" MealNow in Greece, Our First "Greek" Meal
Now in Greece, Our First "Greek" Meal

moussaka, greek salad & a gift of fruit!

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