Greece - The Northern Ionian I
To view our previous log entries please use the following link: Italy, Sicily.
To view our next log entries please use the following link: Greece - The Northern Ionian II.
Log Entry Wednesday 1st September - we sit out bad weather at Vathi.
There is a bad weather front due to hit us within the next 12 hours, it comes fast with little warning, falling from the Adriatic to the north, thunder, strong winds, locally gale force. It is due to pass over by Thursday, the present shelter we have is reasonable, it is the largest port on the island, so we decide to sit it out.
We watch the boats flood in, different vessels, nationalities, all the quays fill quickly, some empty just as fast as the arriving winds attempt to drive them onto the wall behind them! We sit it out at anchor, it begins to fill, the odd vessel dragging it's anchor? It is our experience under these circumstances it is quite often the other vessels one has to watch, they may disturb your anchor, or even drag into you! We have a "Sunseeker 75" drop anchor close to us, is is very unstable at anchor, sways around continuously. We express our concern at his position, some times less than a boat length away from us, but he ignores us - we ask him if they would like to join us for dinner, as they are close enough! We actually photograph the boat for insurance purposes, just in case - the owner did not like that!
I keep a watch on our position, and others through the night, Sailaway bounces quite viciously at times. I watch the Navtex for weather updates, as I do so it broadcast two messages, one declaring a sailboat missing to the north, three persons on board and the second, the reporting of 5 red distress flares seen to the north of the island - all we are loosing is sleep thank god!
Log Entry Monday 30th August - The Port of Vathi.
Vathi, although the capital of Ithaca is a very relaxed and friendly place, at a much slower pace than that of previously visited main towns. It is connected by ferry to most of the main islands and is well suitable for provisions. It's ferry to Levkas gives it direct access to the mainland.It has one good service to provide us - banks, cash has been difficult to get where were we have visited to date, certainly, not all towns have cash points let alone banks. We have less than €8 to out name!
The town itself was almost completely destroyed by the great earth quake of 1953, only one or two of the larger mansions survived. It's rebuilt version is lovely to the eye, buildings climbing high into the surrounding mountain side, all of subtle, pale colours.
The town is obviously heavily dependant on tourism, as are all the towns in Greece, the large harbour/bay has numerous walls for visiting vessels to tie too - we are surprised by the pleasure traffic, a continuous change over of berths? The quays are lined with tavernas, spilling out over the roadside directly onto the waterside, there are whole sections of the quay that cannot be used as berths as one cannot get ashore due to the mass of tables lining the waters edge.
The streets are narrow, and again colourful, very clean and pleasant to walk and sit in, enjoying the many cafes, the water front being at least double the price of the back street, even for a coffee! A coffee on the front cost us €3.50 each, the only extra we got for that was wifi!
As we sit at anchor the water is full of local traffic, small fishing boats continuously move around, the day trip boats are still active, and of coarse the ferries, their size depending upon their routing. Every other day a large "roll on, roll off" ferry arrives about 0300 hours and leaves about 0600, we have heard it, even seen it, but never been awake enough to get a picture!
Log Entry Sunday 29th August - Moving on to Vathi on the Island of Ithaca.
Our trip today was to be less then twenty miles over to the island of Ithaca to the south west of us. We left in perfect weather, other than for sail boats, no wind and made our way down the east coast of Meganisi.
We rounded Meganisi and the small island of Kithros, as we did so wind appeared and up went our head sail and off went our engine.
We were able for a time to reach 4 knots in 6 knots of wind, for the next couple of hours, canvas was up, down, engine on, off, still we have the time. In the distance we can make out Ithaca through the mist.
We continue on past the island of Atoko, Ithaca getting closer and closer, irrespective of our speed.
We were a couple of miles offshore before the inlet we were making for became clear through the mist, the coast line, very steep, lots of small beaches probably only accessible by sea, but they were! The terrain makes it difficult to establish a visual confirmation of position.
A church give us visual confirmation of our position and which estuary we were making for, we go on.
We identify the isle of Katzurbo, putting it to our starboard (right) side we enter the bay and Vathi is clearly visible.
We enter the bay and make for the anchorage in the south west corner off the isle of Lazeretto, the wind had now increased significantly, this would have done us proud outside, a lot of the gusts being due to the local terrain I believe. We drop anchor and make our selves comfortable.
The town is a colourful capital to the island, reaching high into the mountain, it's industry clearly based on tourism supporting ferries to Corfu and of coarse Cephhalonia.
Log Entry Saturday 28th August - Porto Atheni.
Atheni is a small port, suitable for small open craft only but it's large estuary provides excellant berthing for visiting yachts. There are two quays, the larger more used, especially by charter boats belongs to a Taverna. The second is stone, looked over by the "Yacht Club", which also has a small supermarket - you can either order a drink at the bar, or, buy some thing at the store. The same gent serves you, so obviously, both tasks cannot be carried out simultaneously - still it works well. As we land both the club and store are shut so we make our way up to the taverna and catch a cold drink, or two!
The Yacht Club also has wifi, so we return to Sailaway to return later, it's hot so we spend a few hours in the water in our secluded cove. Ann to my disgust "skinny dips?"
Later in the afternoon our privacy is destroyed as we are joined in our little cove by a power cruiser, full pack of toys aboard - no more skinny dipping for Ann?
We make our way back ashore to first grab a bite to eat then check the Yacht Club and it's wifi. We arrived just in time, Charter boats, a dozen or more began to arrive, tables were laid for quite a party. Time to get our order in before they all arrive, we did, service was quick, we hardly had time to play with the cats!
The food was good, and the service very pleasant, by the time we had finished the party had started.
When back on board we were approached by a fishing boat, mother and son . We were asked if we wanted fish, we bough a young tuna for €10, we cooked it for the dinner the next day, eating it nearly killed us, but we managed. We watched the following day as they returned, we refused and watched them make their way around the other boats.
Log Entry Friday 27th August - We move to Porto Atheni, still on the island of Meganisi.
We rise early to move on as the weekend approaches which means not only charter boat to contend with but also local traffic. We had been in Kapali for some time without realising it, time passes so quickly when there is no need to watch a clock - not even for tides?
We slip out of our anchorage the dew still on our decks and the morning mist spoiling the dramatic, mountainous views. The seasons are changing, the temperatures fall a lot further now at night creating the dew. The days are still hot, but the morning mist has increased also, still, nearly September? I will miss the consistent weather, Ann, believes it to be too hot and is looking forward to the winter, when it comes she will be saying some thing entirely different I am sure.
Atheni is only around the headland, but upon approaching it is difficult to make out because of the mist? We have to pass two points, both with out lying reefs, we do not have charts with this degree of detail so we stay well clear as is the "thing to do". Once into the bay there is a central reef running up the middle, our pilot book tells us "it is unmarked and several boats a season run on to it". We prefer not too, so stay well clear.
Once into the jagged bay the mist clears, all we have to do now is find some where secure to anchor.
We pass a local traffic, from beach bar to fisherman, no harm to us, and move further towards the port itself.
We find a small sheltered cove, home to three small open fishing boats - and now us!
Log Entry Thursday 26th August - Playtime with Bladefish.
The days pass so quickly in Kapali, visitors come and go, we spend our time relaxing , snorkeling, but today we bring our "Bladefish". Bladefish is a rechargeable propulsion device that not only pulls you through the water as you snorkel but will also take you down beneath the water. With three speeds one has to remember that when you dive, holding your breath, you need to keep enough air to get back to the top!
It takes some getting used to, we have great fun and make friend with children around us but I will not let them have a go!
Log Entry Monday 23rd August - a walk around the cove to Porto Vathi.
We wake early and catch the sun rising, well Ann did, I was still attempting to get out of bed? We briefly visited Vathi by sea, yesterday so we decided, over a cup of tea, to go ashore and make our way around the cove to Vathi, a 15/20 minute walk.
We, instead of using the dinghy, put our cloths and valuables into our "dry bag" and swim ashore, we change into our clothes on the roadside - no traffic at all, leaving our swimming gear and towel to dry on rocks, just off the roadside we make our way around the cove.
The scenery is beautiful, Levkas, Nisis Skorpios and Skorpidhi as well as mainland Greece clearly visible, local fishermen wave as they go about their business.
As we round the cove we see no one, no cars on the road, all is very peaceful. The entrance of the bay becomes clear, it always looks different, so simple by land as apposed to sea?
As we get closer to the town, a small church greets us, it's worth or usage is unclear, but one thing for sure, it's excellant upkeep means there is some reason for it's being there?
As we approach the outskirts of the town, evidence of the old fishing culture is still clearly apparent, small boats, nets lining the roadside and even an old gent repairing his rotten wooden keel - he waved as we passed.
A further two hundred yards and "all change!", thanks to the the tourist industry, cafes, tavernas, and of coarse "charter boats". We sit in a cafe and watch, numerous boats moving in all directions, raised voices - no courtesy what so ever - glad we stayed out. We watched one charter company bring in under instruction, about six vessels, once they got the hang of tying up stern too, after two or three attempts, they were left to it - god help their next port of call? Their arrivals took up about a good hour of our time, but we were shaded and watered so all was good for us.
We then had a walk around the small town, picking up a few things at the supermarket, on our way back to Sailaway on the out skirts of the village we re-visited the taverna we had previously used to look for lunch. We had our eye on the advertised "Greek Salads", asking for two we were told they only had sandwiches. Upon ordering two sandwiches, the guy then jumped on his scooter, one assumes it was his, and he swiftly returns with a loaf of bread? If he had said we had bread in our bag, we could have made our own?
The sandwiches were fine and our custom appreciated, we left to return to Sailaway, our swim wear and towel was now dry on the rocks, we changed on the roadside and swam our way to Sailaway, a good day had by us both!
Log Entry Monday 23rd August - moving on to Ormos Kapali.
Having been up to the village and lunch over, it's time to move on, on the taverna buoy, although nothing is said the expectations of "you will spend your money with us" is un easing to us - perhaps that is just us? The small marina is cleared by 1200 hours, we take some water using our jerry cans (60 litres) as we had been invited by the proprietor to come in once the marina had emptied and fill up - not sure if he realised we held 1200 litres, much greater than the production vessels they were used too? Our tanks were almost full as we run our water maker every day to replenish the 20 litres per day we use on average, most of that we drink - we do not bother washing? We pack up and leave, bidding our farewells.
We now plan to head for Port Vathi, heading east around the island, Vathi is the acclaimed capital of Meganisi and it's 2000 inhabitants. We look into the small harbour but it is quite full of vessels, the bay it 'self offers little opportunity to anchor other than another taverna and it's mooring facilities - no thanks! We decide to move a further few miles to the east to Ormos Kapali. It is a secluded bay, nothing other than water and trees, and of coarse other boats.
We arrive in the bay, it is almost empty, the depth of the water and it's quickly climbing shoreline requires that we drop our anchor and lay a line ashore, tying to a tree or rock? This is a first time for us, excitement grows but "Captain Panic" is clearly in full control. We drop our anchor in about 25m of water, another British flagged vessel is on our starboard (right hand) side. The wind is across us, in theory pushing us onto the along side vessel, we put Sailaway into reverse and balance her against the light breeze, she is now perfectly positioned relative to the shore. All we have to do now is get a line ashore and tie us up before the wind changes? I, "Captain Panic" jump into the dinghy, instructing Ann to pass me a greyish anchor rode (rope) I begin to row ashore as Ann feeds the rode (rope) out - seems quite simple, even for a first time? No, I get about 5m from the shore and I run out of rope, it's too short - silly Ann? I have Ann pull me in by the gray rope, we clearly need our green (100m) anchor rode? Sailaway continues to sit true and Ann begins to feed me out the green line as I row to the shore. As I reach the rugged, rocky shore I leap into the water holding both the dinghy and green line and begin swimming to the shore, I quickly realise the water is only one meter deep so to Ann's surprise I stop "battling the tide", stand up and walk ashore? Known as "Captain Cautious" I demand a second line is set, and we do so - it is now time to relax?
But seriously, the water is so blue (for Mums benefit) and clear, I feed the fish yesterdays bread. We had archived another milestone in our quest, dropped anchor and tied ashore - is there nothing we cannot do?
Log Entry Sunday 22nd August - a visit up to Spartakhori.
Spartakhori boasts the only bank and post office with currency exchange on the island. There is also no public transport on the island, other than the ferries, and no scooter/quad bike hire as on all the other islands. That is good in our opinion, although things will surely change in the demanding future as people recognise "opportunities" - shame?
The village of Spartakhori is high above the small port reached by a small winding roadway up the hillside occasionally complemented with steep stairways. The view is spectacular as one climbs, Sailaway now sits peacefully far below us.
All is visible from up here through the cypress trees, the lonely taverna, in comparison to Spiglia Taverna, across the bay, the small beach is popular and blasts music out until very late hours of the morning - we are thankful for Sailaway's good insulation.
When you finally reach Spartakhori you are greeted by a small super market and cafe, but the village appears picturesque and noticeably quiet. It's small, narrow streets add character and enchantment, barely a sole is seen?
The people met were friendly and helpful, one would ask "where had all the tourists from the ferries gone?" The church on the out skirts of the village was quaint but dominant.
In side the church it was spectacular, highly decorated and superbly maintained. Although the village offered nothing to us, other than a few groceries, it was nice to see that a place such as this could exist amongst these "tourist areas", clearly we say no impact of such in this village, how ever below in the port it was so different?
Log Entry Saturday 21st August - moving on to Spartakhori (Porto Spiglia) on the north of the island of Meganisi.
It's time for us to move on, having been here now for five days our feet are itching! We plan to "island hop" over to Meganisi, no great planning needed, other to avoid the ferries as it is less than 5 miles away? We rise fairly early as to try and avoid the plagues of charter vessels that move around the islands, and say our farewells to Eamon, Beki, Preban and Dolores. We have had a conversation with a local boat yard owner with regards to our lift out this year, who knows we may be back? This area has been locally renamed from "Vliho Bay to Velcro Bay" as people arrive and never leave, it is where "aging cruisers go to die!"
It is already hot and the waterway out of the island is waking up too. The scenery is beautiful, what damage the fire must have done in the next valley must be difficult to imagine, but with this climate I expect it grows back quickly?
With "Captain Cautious" clearly at the helm there is no concern with regards to traffic, some vessels literally move a few hundred yards in this vast bay to change scenery or neighbours? As you exit the Ormos (bay) the island of Madhouri stands between ourselves and mainland Greece, it's mountainous coast line unfortunately continuously masked in a haze?
As we exist Ormos Vliho, we turn south, holding Nisis Skorpios and Skorpidhi to our starboard (right hand) side. These two islands are the property of the Onassis family, now converted into nature reserves with permanent staff, self supportive farms and all - quite an investment? The spectacular views are never caught accurately on a camera? We pass a British flagged vessel, obviously a poorly disciplined live aboard? The vessel taking to the high seas with not only the bini still in place, but washing hanging in place on the rails to dry - disgusting, no respect for nautical disciplines!
As the journey was so short we had planned to "day sail" then make our way into Spartakhori for the evening, or two - the wind dropped completely, which appears the case here to that puts a stop to that idea? As we make our way cautiously into Porto Spiglia, Spartakhori looks down at us from the top of the rugged coastline. the water is deep, with the shallowing beach line buoyed off for swimmers, the Spiglia Taverna begins to look inviting, they provide mooring facilities and you spend your money there. It is a cash generating system that we will later grow to dislike as their positions are quite strategic, perhaps, in some beautiful locations offering you their arrangement or you leave the bay?
After some waving and shouting between us and the taverna staff we pick up the only mooring buoy outside there small marina, the marina being fully equipped with water and electric. As is the norm the port is also serviced by ferries, as we have buses, they have ferries? We have a restful day, in the afternoon we take the dinghy ashore to sample the local beers, make our acquaintance with the proprietor, and of coarse end up back there in the evening? We spent a couple of hours, over a beer watching the taverna, they were turning away vessels, tell them to come back the day after tomorrow as they were fully booked. Then the charter vessels began to arrive, that kept us entertained for some time, they did well, packed the boats in like sardines. The food was good, we ate too much and upon settling the bill we were asked "what did you have?" - just like back home? We did not stay late as we were suffering due to the amount our stomachs had taken in, but we slept well!
Log Entry Wednesday 18th August - Vliho, Eamon, Beki and a barbecue!
Yesterday morning we took the dinghy over to Vliho in search of the yacht club, its washing machine and free wifi. We had a quick look around Vliho, it has to be such as it is a small hamlet of two rows of dwelling built along the road heading south. It is a place of character, the yacht club has a good atmosphere and is socially very good. It also has a quay in front of it with permanent moorings, we are told some boats have berthed for almost seven years enjoying the shelter the bay provides even during winter.
It boasts a number of small supermarkets, all is available, it also has a second hand chandlery - really worth spending some time digging around in the "jumble".
As night approaches we have to get prepared as Beki and Eamon are coming over for a barbecue, it, unfortunately co-en sides with a hillside fire. During the barbecue lighting process we are constantly bombarded by the noise of both sirens from the island's fire engines and the noise of the engines from the sea planes picking up and dumping sea water onto the flames. It was some what of a disaster for both parties, obviously significant damage to the island and uncooked food for for us as the barbecue went out, more so due to neglect - still on went the oven.
We have a good evening which went on quite late, catching up on the gossip and discussing each others future plans, it was amazing how quickly the time passes, and of coarse how quickly the barbecue goes out if neglected!
We awake in the morning to the sound of the aircraft still discharging sea water, every thing has a covering of ash - not from our barbecue!
Log Entry Monday 16th August - Time to move on up the east coast to Ormos Vliho.
It is time to leave the quiet bay of Rouda, it was relatively different to those others we have been into as there was not the turn over of boats. August is the main month here, it is clear that the charter companies use/recommend certain anchorages, those we clearly avoid. It is fun to watch them learn but the dangers and exposures come with them, whether they realise it or not - still, I am sure they are not all the same?
We say goodbye to the bay, our journey today, is again, relatively short, only 10 miles or so - it's good to "hop" rather then prepare and execute longer journeys, far more relaxing . We leave relatively early, about 1000 hours, our route is simple, follow the islands coastline (Levkas) to the east and continue up the east coast via "Stenon Megananisiou" between Levkas and Meganisi.
The channel is narrow, less than a mile wide and contains a number of other islands, Skorpidhi and Skorpios, owned by the Onassis family, now converted into private nature reserves. It is allowed to anchor around the islands but not to step foot on them "look but do not touch" we say. There is also smaller islands called Thilia and Madhouri.
The morning mist clears as we enter the channel, as does the traffic increase, to the east mainland Greece is visible through the haze.
There is much commercial traffic (ferries and pleasure cruises) as on could imagine, wealthy crewed vessels also, but, the most annoying are the inconsiderate power cruisers, usually 12 meters or less, screaming past, or worse "cutting you up" at 30 knots, creating all degree of bow waves. It appears with these type of craft a high degree of testerone (or stupidity) existing within the skippers. With the larger and more powerful vessels it appears that they have evolved a degree of "respect for others" and control there speed with a much greater degree of consideration for others?
As we make our way between the main land (Levkas) and the island Madhouri, we give way to a ferry using the same channel, turning into Ormos Vliho it appears the whole water world breaks loose. We have every thing one could imagine in front of us as we comes across Nidri, it's challenging keeping clear!
Now our task is to find Eamon and Beki (Wayward), "like looking for a needle in a hay stack" it appears at first. We enter "Tranquil Bay", it was obviously named a long time ago as today is it any thing but. It is full of not only anchored boats, but some sunken vessels, those also that look like they have been ran up into the mud, secured and not been visited for some time/
We see one vessel, tied to a quay, it had obviously sunk in time and pulled the quay down with it? It is a shame but no one seems to care, it has effectively turned a lovely bay into a "scarp yard for boats".
We head further towards the town of Vliho in search of Wayward, this Ormos, provides excellant shelter due to the mountains but it also is extremely hot! Eventually we find Wayward and we drop anchor a head of her. We make Sailaway secure and drop our dinghy, it is clear there is no one on board, but we knock any way. Beki and Eamon have secured work locally, so we assume that is where they will be? We decide to head back in the dinghy up to Nidri, we take the computer as it is some time since we checked email. It is quite a journey up to Nidri in the dinghy, but it beats walking, especially in this heat.
At Nidri, we land our dinghy, make it secure and go in search of wifi and a cold drink - that is easy, as a holiday town there is the usual rows of bars, hotels, most with pools - buy a water and you can use wifi and swim? We pick a hotel/pool bar sit down and enjoy cold drinks and delicious ice creams. Upon checking our email, we have one from Beki & Eamon, telling us they are looking forward to seeing us, I write back "we are behind you!", see you later.
We walk around the town,picking up "bits and pieces" from the stores, there is a street which runs parallel to the waterside promenade - every thing on this street is about 30% cheaper, even the small supermarkets - amazing what you have to pay for a sea view!
We head back to Sailaway and meet up with Beki & Eamon that evening, Beki returns first so we have a couple of drinks on Sailaway and catch up with the gossip, Eamon returns later and we continue the evening on Wayward.
Log Entry Saturday 14th August - Another day in Ormos Rouda.
We have decided to stay another day here, it's relatively quiet, the surrounding mountains are beautiful, and of coarse the weather is good. Looking around the bay one area attracts our attention, at first we think it is a water side taverna - no it is a camp site located into one of the hill side ravines.
We decide to head into Mikro Yialis, hopefully grab a bite to eat, there are only two restruant's, we are looking for fish. When looking at the menu's the least you would pay for fish was €30 each, moving up to €50 each! No thanks, if nothing else just out of principle, so we decide to have a couple of drinks and then eat back on Sailaway.
We wander into the only taverna on the front and settle down for an hour or so, I relax and Ann takes care of some stuff!
It's nice to look upon Sailaway at anchor, the view, what ever the back drop provides us with a sense of achievement.
The next day we rise early, and first of all snorkel, we then did out the inflatable canoe we bought in Sardinia second hand, once blown up the challenge is then to climb in - mission accomplished. We take the canoe around the bay, putting in a couple of hours of our precious time!
Tomorrow we intend to move around to Nidri, lets see how we feel when we wake up!
Log Entry Friday 13th August - Engine fixed, ignoring superstition (Friday the thirteenth and moving around Levkas to Ormos Rouda.
Our engine parts, and spares, we will not be caught again, arrived Wednesday as promised. Yesterday they were fitted and the engine tested - perfect! Our plan was to move across the south of Levkas (the island) up the east coast to Nidri to meet up with Eamon and Beki (Wayward of Cork). We were to make the trip in steps, our first step was to Ormos Rouda, only about 10 miles away, but our aim was to enjoy the good sailing as well as the places we were to visit.
We had had a bit of a restless night so we did not rise until 0900 hours, still into action and prepare to leave. Every thing was tidied away quickly, the engine started, anchor up - we were under way. It seemed strange leaving Ormos Vasiliki, we had only been there seven or eight days but it had seemed a lot longer? As we left the bay looking across to Ak Dhoukato, the light house we had rounded from Sicily, looked quite prominent even through the mist. To the sea ward side was "Sappo's Leap", magnificant white cliffs where at one time records told of criminals being flung off them - if they survived the fall and the sea did not kill them, they were innocent?
We now turned east along the most southerly edge of the island, the waters were quiet, with only local fisherman occupying the waters, that was about to change?
As we rounded Ak Lipso the waters turned quite busy, first a cruise boat, ok, it's holiday season, this week is a Geek national holiday week.
We were then hit from all sides, the quantity of vessels was unbelievable, I quickly had Ann pass me the "rules of the road" booklet in order for me to brush up on the regs, it had been so long since we had used them? The quick refresher was needed, we came to "close quarters" a number of times with other sailing vessels, still it all worked out.
Getting our bearings turned out to be quite difficult, looking for a bay on a hilly shore is hard enough, but the landscape was further confused by the nearby island of Meganisi, even the channel between the two (Levkas and Meganisi) looked like a bay from our position? Still, establishing our bay's position, we came about (put the sails on the other side because of the wind, to the less nautical minded!) and sailed into Ormos Rouda.
We made our way to the head of the bay where a couple of yachts lay at anchor, this anchorage was deep, we dropped our anchor in 15m of water, the shore rose up very quickly, a stern line ashore may be in order to hold us secure? At the head was a beach and usual holiday accommodation, in the north east corner was a small fishing harbour "Mikro Yialis", too small and shallow for us to enter. We tidy up, put up the bini to protect us from the sun and relax - a new place to look at in a beautiful setting.
Log Entry Monday 9th August - Passing the time awaiting our engine spares.
Our "bits" are due Wednesday, all we have to do is keep our selves busy? There are a few bits and pieces to fix or put right following our trip here, there always is some thing to repair, or in deed "improve". On board, due to a restriction of space and of coarse, safety, every thing must have a place. The last thing one would want as one is launched off a wave is to be hit by a tool box as you make a coffee!
Consequently, jobs can tack a little longer than expected, still today we have only a couple of things to look at - Ann keeps watch to make sure we do not hit an iceberg, or some thing similar! If I am ever unsure or uncertain as to my next coarse of action, or solution to the problem, I can guarantee Ann is always there to help?
We are anchored in "Ormos Vasilikis", a south facing bay with Vasiliki in the east corner and Pondi in the west. There is no harbour at Pondi, in fact from where we sit there appears to be very little at all? We decide to have a look over, we land the dinghy on the beach, secure it and walk up to the main road - our suspicions are correct, it is literally a "one road town". Off it lies numerous apartments over looking the beach, a shop and two tavernas.
Still we are here now, we have a brief look around the store, attached to it we find what turns out to be an excellant bread shop. Every thing cooked in the shop, we buy bread and, well, we are unable to resist the numerous fresh pies they display - all still warm. We cross the road and have a couple of coffees in one of the tavernas, looking out at Sailaway, before we return.
Log Entry Saturday 7th August - A trip to Vasilikas to order spares and of coarse, look around.
Yesterday was spent discussing our problems with Lancing Marine, identifying requirements and availability, all is good, our bits are in stock, all we need now was a delivery address ashore. As I pull together documentation, part numbers etc Ann sits in the cockpit and keeps me up to speed with what's going on.
We are anchored across a couple of water sports centres, wind surfing is very popular here, under stand able as the winds increase around lunch time reaching up to 25 knots, dying off early evening, this happens daily apparently.
As we make our way across the bay in the dinghy a organised regatta collect, starter guns are sounded and they sail off into the islands.
Walking up into the main street we find the Tourist Information office where we discuss our problem (the lack of delivery address) it is declared as very strait forward. If the parcel is just "mail" it will be received by the Post Office, if delivered by courier it goes to the book shop! Off to the book shop we go. We meet a very polite lady called Angela who explains the procedure, with minor language issues resolved all is clear, from a local cafe we place the order, delivery mid next week - a job well done!
The town is quite small, heavily based on tourism as one would guess, but the cost of living is relatively high, similar to Italy to our surprise but their failing economy is clearly to blame?
We walk around finding out where every thing is and how things work - seems very straight forward, but quite limited with regards to supplies etc.
We hear an interesting story from an English lad, there is an ongoing feud in the village over a fight between an Englishman working as a Wind surfer Instructor and a local Greek. The Company had to sack him and he has gone into hiding? All seems a little extreme until I (Kevin) is hit by a delivery truck making his way slowly up the main street, breaking his wing mirror. As he rolled his eyes at me I shouted "that was not my fault", he drove off! We pondered as to whether that was an attempted "hit and run" on an Englishman, or merely and accident?
The same English chap tells us of a good place to eat, we are hungry and of coarse due a celebration - so we make our way along the water front to the restaurant.
The town at one time was clearly a small fishing port, now only a hand full of small, open fishing boats were present, mainly small pleasure craft with two quays for visiting pleasure vessels - berthing free. There are "roll on, roll off" ferries feeding the islands. We decide to stay at anchor until the engine is repaired, most of the visiting vessels are "well worn" live aboard's.
We find the restaurant and settle down for a long lunch, the recommendations were accurate, the staff very pleasant. We had a lovely local lunch complemented with local wine. Our return to sailaway was also interesting, the wind had gained strength now about 25 knots, the waves were soaking us. We also had to make our way through now an intense field of "high speed" wind surfers! We had a good laugh, but climbed back on Sailaway soaked to the skin.
Log Entry Friday 6th August - Arriving on Levkas, in the Northern Ionian.
With our Greek courtesy flag flying we were well on our way to Levkas, on Wednesday the 5th, at 1800 hours, we spotted the Islands through the mist, both Cephhalonia/Kefalonia and Levkas, less that 75 miles to go! We had motored very lightly as and when we had to, monitoring and repairing our leaking heat exchanger when needed. Then a little good luck for us, we were hit by a un forecast, but very welcome strong north westerly winds (20/25 knots).
We had gone from almost no wind, to a welcome "blast", we were now reefed, still making 6 to 8 knots. The wind was on the beam, as was the resulting high seas, 3 to 4 meters at least, still we were making good progress. "Feast or famine" as we all know it as? It continued to blow through the night, the building, breaking waves on our beam flooding our cockpit at times, still the water was quite warm! We made our way across what seemed to be shipping lanes, not charted but heavily used, as usual we had a mix of good consideration from most of the freighters, only one vessel forced us to take avoiding action! We were less than 15 miles from our destination when the wind began to drop, we increased sail area to keep up our speed with what wind we had, then the wind went completely. We were back to our "limping engine", we kept as much canvas up as possible to give stability as we slid down the waves as they continued to approach us from the side, it was a good 3 hours before the sea had fallen to less than 1m.
Our destination was an anchorage off Ponti, near Vasilikas, located in a large bay, with easy access even under sail if need be. We believe from there we could order the required spares from England, fit them and move on up to Vliho to meet up with Eamon & Beki (Wayward of Cork), one always has to have a plan!
As we approached the anchorage the water was flat, our trusty engine got us in without a problem, our anchor went down, we tidied up and retired for a few hours of needed sleep - at last we were in Greece. It had taken us 96 hours to cover 247 miles, not exactly a great achievement but we had managed our issues well we thought!