Buying a catamaran in our late 60s – a nerve wracking experience

After an unforgettable couple of days in Rome we set off towards Brindisi in southeastern Italy where we planned to catch a ferry to Igoumenitsa in Greece and from there drive to Athens to complete the purchase of our Lagoon 420 catamaran.

Rome to Lago Di Lesina

It was an exciting time but nerve wracking too. Why nerve wracking? Well for all sorts of reasons. Some relating to anxiety about getting the payment through (our bank in Australia had been very reluctant to part with our money for the deposit and had caused us much angst).

Our new home to be?

Then there was not knowing who we could ask to do the survey, whether it was going to be thorough enough, or whether the survey would turn up something unexpected which could mean the purchase would fall through.

A Roman puss checking our van out

There was also the nagging doubt about whether at our age (coming up to 68) we were being totally crazy/selfish spending a lot of money on a floating retirement apartment. And how would we get on “going over to the dark side” and buying and living aboard a catamaran after having five monohulls together over the last thirty-five years?

There was some stunning countryside on the way to Lago Di Lesina

Also having enjoyed land travel over the last year and a half in our campervan would we adjust to life on the water again? Were our (actually my) boat handling skills still intact or had we (I) forgotten what to do? Were our bodies up to the physical aspects of living on a boat or had we become too soft and flabby and inflexible? The answers to all of these questions and more would unfold in the coming days, weeks and months.

But first the trip to Brendisi!

The front at Lago Di Lesina

We headed first to Lago Di Lesina – a large lake that is linked to the Adriatic Sea by two canals. We had chosen this spot because it had a nice sounding lakeside motor home site but it was so much more than that.

Pumpkin time!
These Eucalypts made us a little homesick for Australia
Bikes being used as planters

A glorious evening stroll along the edge of the lake brought back memories of our time in SE Asia as there were various fish traps and fish farms dotted along the shoreline – made from what looked like random sticks, fishing net and various other materials.

This scene could have been somewhere in SE Asia
The familiar sight of fishing s**t
Another beautiful sunset

We also walked by a wild fowl park run by the local council where we saw many species of ducks as well as white and black swans all enjoying the beautiful evening.

Black and white swans and many species of ducks
The white swans enjoying the last of the sunlight
Shelters for all kinds of water fowl
Thanks for posing swans
A gorgeous orange glow
Bicycle pedalos?!
More bikes
A sculpture on the front at Lago Di Lesina

The next morning we set off for the Port of Brindisi where we were hoping to buy a ticket to catch the night ferry to Greece. After driving around down unmade roads and tracks that didn’t appear to lead anywhere we eventually found the ticket office. Fortunately there were plenty of places left on board and we were even able to book a cabin.

Trying to find the ticket office in Brindisi. Terrible road – felt like we were in the middle of nowhere!

We were first in one of the lines to get on the boat although I wasn’t allowed to stay in the van – on this route only the driver takes it on board and everyone else has to go on as foot passengers.

Our ferry to Greece
Frieda the campervan heading the queue onto the ferry (Lefthand side)

The cabin was clean with nice freshly pressed white sheets and a small ensuite bathroom, so after a very good and hearty dinner we were able to have a few hours of reasonably good sleep. Unfortunately we were roused from our beds at some ungodly hour (Greece was an hour ahead of Italy so what was 4.30 am Greek time was in fact 3.30 am for us.)

Great fish, chips, Greek salad and any fresh fruit you wanted
It was very dark when we arrived in Greece

After a long wait to dock during which we sat and wished we had stayed in our bunks longer, we eventually disembarked in what seemed the middle of the night, in the pitch dark.

No lights on the road – just the headlights from the trucks coming off the ferry

It was quite eerie driving along the dark roads once we had passed all the trucks that had disembarked before us. There was not a light to be seen anywhere. Then it became really foggy which was even more disorienting, especially as we were suffering from a lack of sleep.

The fog was quite thick for a while

Once the sun came up we enjoyed the rest of the drive to Vonitsa on the western side of Greece in the Ambracian Gulf. We had been delighted by this little seaside town when we had discovered it earlier in the year and were happy to be returning.

Parked by the cruising yachts at Vonitsa

We parked safely right next to the boats tied up in the little harbour. We were so close to the water that It felt almost like being on a boat again!

That afternoon we took our e-bikes for a lovely ride along the road next to the shore. We came to a narrow bridge that led to a very small island with a little chapel in amongst beautiful trees. There was a beautiful anchorage on one side of the island and we made a mental note to return there in our new boat one of these days!

The footbridge leading to the small island
The Greek flag flying outside the chapel
The chapel surrounded by beautiful trees
It was a lovely anchorage
Scarcely any tide here so no worries just tying up your dinghy to a tree or something
The water was so clear and clean
The island end of the bridge

We kept going and then turned inland down a narrow farm track where we passed a number of small holdings, heard the clanking of goat bells and met a herd of cows strolling calmly along the track.

How now brown cow

We cycled back and had a cold beer in a pretty little beachside bar. On the way to the van afterwards we saw about ten cats on one of the doorsteps all waiting for their evening meal.

Such a great place for a sundowner
The cats were super friendly
This one took such a liking to Jonathan
Must be dinner time!

Later we walked back to the same bar for dinner – huge plates of mussels and calamari, a massive salad, almost a whole loaf of bread and omg why did we do this? A plate of chips. There was heaps left over even though we had both done our best. It miraculously only cost 23 Euros (about 37 Australian dollars) including beers!

Ahhh Greece
Just one or two mussels

The following day we were on the road again heading towards Alimos Marina in Athens where our catamaran was waiting for us and where at least some of our misgivings about buying another boat were to be addressed.

The beautiful but tiny chapel in the grounds of the Venetian fortress in Vonitsa

The Rion-Antirrion Bridge – on the way to Athens at last.

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Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

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