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our new engine to conk out in dangerous situations which had us questioning why we hadn’t bought a camper van instead. We think one of the many plastic bags polluting the sea off Cape Kremmidhi (western Peloponnese) was sucked into Leonie’s water intake causing the engine to overheat and cut out. At the time we were near the rocky cliffs in a stiff onshore wind. On another occasion a piece of rogue plastic in the fuel tank blocked the fuel pipe, again during strong winds and while we were near the shore. We managed to escape both episodes unscathed. Arriving in the Greek Ionian Sea after a 32-hour crossing from Italy was another milestone as a sud-


stillness of central France and it’s pretty villages where no souls stir, the bountiful Champagne region carpeted in grapevines, the serene River Saone and the wildlife it sustains, the mighty Rhone and the medieval towns on its banks and not forgetting the Petit Rhone where we reached the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and swam in its clear waters on our wedding anniversary. The Golden Isles off France’s Azur coast are a well-kept


secret which we were delighted to have discovered. Dubbed France’s very own Caribbean, they are the English Riviera’s last frontier. Menton, a seaside town below the Alpes Maritimes and on the border with Italy, is memo- rable because we spent a whole winter there and made some lovely friends, John and Irene, who shared with us lots of mountain walks and fun wine-fuelled evenings with good food and dancing in their apartment. Corsica is on the bucket list of islands we would like


to revisit, exploring its mountainous interior and rugged coastline. My first ever solo night-time watch from Menton to Corsica was a milestone, nerve wracking at first but helped by a friendly dolphin who swam alongside the cockpit with me under the twinkling stars. The death of our 22-year-old engine off the Italian island


of Capri was a heart-sinking episode in the first 12 months of our voyage and nearly spelled the end of the dream. The coastguards towed us to Capri, which at €130 a night has got to be the most expensive marina in the Mediter- ranean. We were there for three weeks waiting for a new engine to be delivered. The marina gave us a discount of over 50 per cent but the bill was still an eye watering €1,200 (reduced from €2,700). Later in the voyage blockages in the fuel pipe caused


Leonie stuck in the corner of Marina Grande, Capri (waiting for delivery of a new engine)


Lefkas canal as it enters the Inland Ionian Sea


den storm, which came out of nowhere, served to show us just how much we had learned since leaving Dartmouth a year earlier. We worked as a team to change course for a safer anchorage; Carl reefed the sails and I took the helm with confidence, so unlike the quivering wreck I had been during the storm on passage to Honfleur. Corfu remains a highlight of our voyage not only be- cause it marked our arrival in the Greek Islands (our dream destination) but also because we were invited to take part in the island’s first ever classic yacht regatta staged by Mandraki harbour (my favourite marina situated under the old fort in Corfu Town) where we enjoyed four days of hospitality and racing with our fellow competitors and won a trophy! Three years later we returned to Corfu for its famous Easter celebrations, the biggest in the whole


Leonie racing Gypsy Moth III at the Corfu Classic Regatta


Porquerolles, one of the Golden Isle


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