Finally, we left Lixouri. It was so easy to just idle our time away there with everything we needed without any charges in the company of friends. However, we had places to visit if we were going to get to Athens by mid October! We had spent Monday catching up on admin (work and personal) before casting off around midday on Tuesday. It looked like we would have a lovely sail but, of course, the wind was on the nose until we got to the head of the bay and then pretty much died. Motor on we continued anti clockwise around Cephalonia along the south coast to Lourdas beach. Rob and Lisa had said how nice it was and it even had a beach bar. We kayaked over and had lovely views back towards Nimmie whilst having a drink at the Waikiki bar.
We were wondering whether to spend the night there but the swell didn’t seem to be dissipating so we back tracked a couple of miles to a bay called Spartia, where we would be sheltered from the swell. Having anchored in turquoise water, Jo dived down to check the anchor and it had set well but if we swung in the night our chain could get snagged on rocks so we moved and reset in a better place. It’s so much easier to check this sort of thing when you can see the bottom!
After dinner on board and a peaceful night’s sleep we took the dinghy to explore the bay and found yet another bar (Waterway) for morning coffee! We then continued our journey around southern Cephalonia.
For the first time in ages, we actually had both sails up and sailed the whole afternoon until we reached Katelios on the SE tip of the island. It was a busy little anchorage but again turquoise water. The bottom was hard packed sand so it took a couple of goes to get the anchor probably dug in. In the morning, after another quiet night, Liz kayaked around the bay as we had read that turtles can sometimes be seen there. No luck though.
Our next port of call was going to Sami in the large bay of Kolpos Samos on the east coast of the island. This was where Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed. The book is so much better than the film. Anyway, Sami has a town quay but no electricity and you can usually find a space, even in high summer. However, we ended up diverting to Ag Efimia in the NW corner of the same bay as they did have electricity. On the way round, after Liz had caught a fish (more on that in a moment), we realised that the batteries were down to 65%. Because we were motoring, we had been making water, charging freezers and fridges but only going at about 1600 revs despite clocking over 6 knots. It appeared that there was a problem with the alternator, hence the diversion to Efimia as it did have electricity and hopefully a mechanic! We arrived around 3pm and moored up with the help of very directive harbour staff. You can’t blame them as they need to get a lot of people in and they have a lot of inexperienced flotillas so they wanted to ensure no crosses anchors but, boy, do the ‘instructions’ grate. Luckily, there was an engineer (with a good reputation) coming to look at another boat so we waited. Around 8.30pm he finished with the other boat and came aboard. The good news is that the alternator, split diode and batteries are all working well. I think the problem was that we weren’t running the engine in high enough revs. Too efficient!
Anyway, back to the FISH. We had about 70m of fishing line out as we went across shoals on the SE tip. All of a sudden, the line squeaked and we had caught a fish. This time, Liz was ready and the fish was landed. The only problem was, what was it and was it edible? The books we had suggested Amberjack but they tended to be big and this was definitely not big. Luckily, Liz found a fishing shop with a book by its owner on Greek fish. Bingo, it was a Meagre fish, part of the tuna family. We had it as a starter marinated in soy sauce and honey mustard and figs. Delicious.
We had already decided that we wanted to stay at least two nights as there was bad weather due and there isn’t anything more miserable at anchor than torrential rain and thunderstorms. We managed to get a two night stay but anything longer would depend on the flotillas coming back in as they were the bread and butter for this town. Ag. Efimia used to be the primary port for this side of Cephalonia but after the earthquake, the British rebuilt Sami and created a ferry port there. Consequently, Ay. Efimia struggled to compete until tourism hit. Now the harbour is full most days during the summer and the bars and restaurants thrive. It is also far more sheltered than Sami so it was a good decision to come in.
We wanted to go to the Melissani Cave which is a bit like the Mexican Cenotes or sinkholes. It is on the outskirts of Sami so we grabbed a taxi and joined the queue of tourists. It had turquoise waters inside the cave with a ceiling that collapsed over a 1,000 years ago and not as a result of the 1953 earthquake that some guidebooks suggest. Afterwards, we walked into Sami and visited the lake where the water emerges. Sami itself is much bigger than Efimia but no different to many island harbours we’ve seen in the Ionian. After a lunch stop for gyros, we jumped in a taxi to head home having heard thunder.
The weather today has been erratic with rain showers and thunder on and off all day. We decided to stay another night as it’s only around €13 a night and safe. There was a break in the weather around 4pm so we ventured out for walk and a dip in the sea. We found two beaches that looked like they had deposited white pebbles to enhance the clear water to make it look turquoise. After a humid day, a dip in the sea was just the ticket.