A short account…

… of my not uneventful trip home on the boat follows:

I motored out of the harbour at Saranda, intending to use the engine all of the way to Corfu. It’s only about six miles from Saranda to the nearest point of the island. About two miles out, butting into a stiff breeze, the motor stopped. I inspected the tank. It was empty. If I hadn’t been in such a panic to get away, I would have checked. And as soon as I looked at the sail, I knew I should have checked that too. Most of the longer ropes had been cut off, presumably to use as ropes, since the pirates obviously weren’t keen on sail power. Did I mention that my phone battery had petered out on that call to Sophia? Was I about to ask the Albanian Authorities to top it up for me? I don’t think so. The radio? Missing. I hadn’t noticed all this. The boat was such a mess and I was in a hurry. There was a fishing net on the bow that was new.

It took me about half an hour to deploy quite a lot of canvas attached to the mast and the boom with the bits of rope I had left and pieces hacked from the net, but the wind was trying to push me south east, which would have wrecked me on the Albanian shore. It was an exhausting effort, single-handed, to adjust everything until I would be wrecked on the shore of Corfu, a much more appealing prospect. Meanwhile I spent a lot of time beam on to a choppy sea, which made matters a lot more difficult, as the boat whipped from side to side. It was a close-run thing, but I made a landfall off a sandy beach near Kalami, noticing in time that the anchor was not attached to anything. As I drifted downwind, I managed to tie together enough bits of rope and net to allow the anchor to reach bottom and we drifted further until it jammed securely in some rocks that I could plainly see in the crystal clear water. I swam ashore holding my wallet above water. Two hours later, I returned with two cans of fuel. I will spare you the excruciating details of penetrating a thorn forest to reach a road, walking and hitch-hiking to a garage, negotiating for two plastic cans, hitch-hiking back. Struggle Struggle. Struggle. The boat was not where I’d left it. But, happily, it wasn’t far away. Of course, it was now SO securely anchored that, after half an hour of diving, I couldn’t free it. So I cut it loose and limped down the coast on the engine, reaching a proper marina and boatyard near Ipsos as it got dark. I tethered the boat to a yacht that was legitimately moored but untenanted, and slumped into a deep sleep.

The following morning, at the expense of a credit card bill that’s going to make me gasp at the end of the month, I got myself re-supplied, re-rigged and refuelled at the boat yard. The rest was plain sailing – a couple of island hops and I was home.

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