Finally, a fish has been landed!

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.

The Waikiki Beach Bar with Nimmie in the distance

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.

View from Waterway beach bar

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 be 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!

Ay. Efimia harbour

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.

A very happy fisherwoman!

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.

It really was that turquoise in the cave

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.

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Carnage in Cephalonia

We had planned to spend two days in Fiscardo but on Wednesday morning (15th August) our very nice neighbours managed to literally pick up our anchor as they were pulling up theirs! We could have relaid ours but decided to move on instead. As it was a beautiful day with little wind, we decided to go across to the north west coast of the island to a place called Assos. The town quay has room for a handful of boats but most boats anchor in the bay and take lines ashore. We found a lovely spot and tried a new way of taking lines ashore which entailed me holding station whilst Liz paddled the kayak ashore with lines to attach. Once a suitable rock was found, Liz tied the rope around the rock and then paddled back to the boat with the line. I dropped the anchor and motored back to Liz and picked up the line. All seemed to go well.

We then jumped off the boat for a well deserved snorkel before heading into town to climb up to the ruined Venetian Fort. It was built in 1611 and would have been able to control the NW corner of the island as well as the harbour. Dinner on board before a relatively early night.

The castle at Assos is from 1611 not Liz!

View from the Fort looking down on Assos Bay

Around 7am, it started to rain. Not much but enough to get up and close the hatches. It then started to rain more heavily and we noticed that the catamaran next to us had slipped back over our ropes. Next the thunder and lightning started. We then saw that a number of boats had dragged their anchors and were departing quickly to the safety of the bay opposite. At this point the wind was coming from the left (North) so we decided we would also get our lines in and motor forward away from the rocks. Liz jumped in to take the line off and as she did so, the wind came round 180 degrees and was blowing at somewhere between 30 and 40 knots – side on! We were then pushed onto other boats with Liz not yet back on board. Luckily, I managed to let the other line off from the boat and the kayak did a good job of being an extra fender. We could then motor forward, get the anchor up and away from danger although we managed to snarl the chain of another anchor but, with the help of our neighbours, we were able to untangle ourselves and move to the bay and anchor in relative calm. Others weren’t so lucky with at least two boats on the rocks who then needed to be towed off without too much damage. All of this happened in less than 90 mins. Needless to say we were both emotionally exhausted! We were in the bay opposite and well dug in by then so we decided to rest for the remainder of the day and leave the following morning.

So, on Friday, we continued down the western side of Cephalonia with its sweeping coastline and majestic cliffs. We saw a number of pretty bays and beaches but nothing to tempt us to stay. We also knew that the wind was going to pick up in the afternoon and were keen to get to Lixouri on the south coast. It’s set on the western side of the bay of Argostoli with the capital city of the island on the eastern side. For some reason, Lixouri is the forgotten port of the bay. It’s actually quite pretty with a town quay lined with restaurants and bars, pedestrianised streets and good shops. It was flattened in the 1953 earthquake (as was Argostoli) and the subsequent rebuilding stipulated that the buildings should only be two stories high. However, even more importantly, our friends Lisa and Rob Orme were there and in their Southerly 38, Hightime. We’d both been in the Ionian this summer but this was the first time our plans coincided. The icing on the cake was that the town quay was free and even had electricity and water! The water wasn’t great so we made sure we filled our tanks with water from the water maker before coming in.

Friday evening meant a lot of catching up over drinks on Hightime so dinner was a quick gyros in town. Saturday gave us an opportunity to reprovision the boat and wander around the shops as well as reciprocate with drinks on board.

On the ferry looking back at Lixouri with Nimmie in the background

On Sunday we caught the very good and very frequent ferry from Lixouri to Argostoli. It cost the princely sum of €2.80 per person each way. If you went round by road it would take 45 minutes. Argostoli is much bigger than Lixouri with the town quay rammed with boats and others anchored off in the harbour.

Argostoli Bell Tower

We wanted to go there to visit the bell tower and the archaeological museum (both shut!) and the museum dedicated to the Italian soldiers of the Acqui Division who were slaughtered by the Germans in 1943. The book, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, was based on them but the museum didn’t open to 8pm. Instead, we hoped to see some loggerhead turtles that can sometimes be found in the harbour and by the causeway.

Causeway in Argostoli

The causeway was built by Debousset in 1813 when the British ran the island. It’s the longest stone ‘bridge’ in Europe. It’s now closed to cars so makes a lovely walk to the other side of the bay. After lunch by the causeway, we wandered back towards the ferry and were honoured to see 4 different turtles, one of whom was at least a metre long and looked very old.

A very old turtle!

Back on board in the early evening for more drinks on Hightime before retiring. We were thinking of leaving today but with free mooring, electricity and even WiFi (courtesy of a nearby bar), we’ve decided to stay another day – we’ve all got too comfortable!

Early evening drinks with Lisa and Rob on their boat, Hightime

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Αντίο στη Λευκάδα (Goodbye Lefkada)

After a lovely two weeks in the U.K. with the Wall family celebrating John and Ruth’s Diamond Wedding Anniversary, we fly out at stupid o’clock from Gatwick back to Préveza. As it was an early flight, we had decided to get a hotel room at the airport rather than risk trains that early. The only problem was that we didn’t get to the hotel until 1am so only had 3 hours sleep. Needless to say, we were like Zombies last Friday. Still we managed to get the laundry and food shopping done before collapsing. We felt much more human on Saturday so went about our chores with renewed vigour. We had brought back various spares with us from England so spent Saturday and Sunday replacing things including the foot switch on the windlass (pretty crucial for raising the anchor), the music speaker in the cockpit that had given up the ghost back in June and the water filter under the sink. We treated ourselves to Gyros (filled pitta bread) in town for the princely sum of €8 for two of them including beer and water!

On Monday morning we were ready to continue our adventures but first we needed to pop over to Lefkas Town to pick up our liferaft that had been serviced whilst we were away. As we also needed fuel, the company kindly delivered it to the fuel pontoon at Lefkas Marina. We wanted to explore the western side of Lefkas so this meant that we needed to go through the floating bridge (again) rather than go down the eastern side. We timed it well and arrived at the bridge for the 1pm opening but nothing happened. We were told that we would have to wait until 2pm so we and the other four boats waiting all dropped our anchor in the middle of the channel and had lunch!

Mylos Beach

The western side of Lefkada is very dramatic with lovely beaches and steep cliffs. Many of the beaches are no longer accessible after the earthquake in 2015 so they look even more remote. At one, there seemed to be a flotilla of super yachts and there were setting up a banquet on the beach. We thought we might stay at Mylos Beach but the swell was coming straight in and would for much of the night thus making it very uncomfortable. It was a beautiful spot though.

Sappho’s leap – we think!

We continued on to various beaches and bays but they were all untenable for one reason or another.

Fancy neighbours in Vasiliki

In the end we went into Vasiliki on the south of Lefkada where we knew we would be out of the swell and wind in good holding. However, as we were coming in we had winds of over 25 knots sweeping down the mountains. Luckily, by the time we reached the top of the bay to anchor, the wind had dropped to 10 knots and no swell. Bliss. Our neighbours for the evening were a couple of large yachts (40 and 46m long) so obviously we were keeping good company.

This morning we left Lefkada for the last time and made our way to Fiskardo on Cephalonia.

Entrance to Fiskado – Venetian lighthouse to the left

We anchored and took lines ashore in strong cross winds so we were grateful for the help of our next door skipper who was an ex flotilla skipper. You could tell from the way she gave directions – reminded me of one or two teachers we know! The harbour was pretty busy when we arrived but at least twice as many boats arrived after us and were still coming in at 8pm.

We dinghied into town for happy hour and then back on Nimrod for dinner.

Local sculptures in the hotel courtyard in Fiskado

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Guest blog by Judy & David Wall

Arrived Sunday evening to the beautiful town of Preveza. A quick G&T on the boat and off to dinner. The food at Ventura was delicious. Fabulous atmosphere with many restaurants and tables lining the pedestrian streets.

On the quay side at Prèveza

Monday, after a quick walk to town and gathering yummy bakery treats, we set off for Nidri … after our job descriptions and safety briefing (of course)! We motored across the sea and Jo timed the opening of the floating bridge perfectly. We were on our way to more wide open water. It was a bit cloudy but we thought the weather would hold… it didn’t! David took the helm while the jib was out (no mainsail today… hmmm) and we made our way across the bay. We finally settled ourselves in at anchor in the quiet bay of Vliko near Nidri. We managed to stay fairly dry through the various storms, thunder and lightning. We let out the anchor but weren’t convinced we were holding so we attempted to lift the anchor to reset it BUT THEN the windlass anchor foot switch failed us. Jo quickly shut off the circuit breaker and we had to do a relay of shouting “on/off” while Judy was down below turning the circuit on and off and Liz was manning the anchor. We finally felt comfortable with the anchor holding… so we waited out the various rain showers (we kept saying “I think it’s going to clear soon… just as the next rain shower rolled in). We enjoyed the amazing cloud colors and formations. We played games, showered up, and had Dimitri himself pick us up via “boat taxi” to go to dinner at Dimitri’s taverna just on the shore of our little bay. The storms kept rolling in as we ate a delicious meal on the water. Back to Nimmie safe and sound. Thanks Dimitri!

Storm clouds gathering as we eat at Dimitri’s

Early morning swim after the storms have gone

Tuesday started with Liz’s delish banana pancakes. We had sunny skies and set off on an adventure to Sivota. We wanted to arrive midday to get a spot on the pontoon so we could enjoy the little village and have a delicious dinner by the water at 12 Gods Taverna. We wandered around the shops and found a nice little beach to have a swim. Later that day the winds kicked up a bit while David and Judy were kayaking.

Sneaky afternoon beer in Sivota

We had a nice easy day, enjoyed free showers at the 12 Gods before suiting up in our new Nimrod crew gear and sipping on a few pink Gin &Tonics while hanging around on 4 hammocks. Absolutely lovely!! Yummy dinner at 12 Gods Taverna and back to Nimmie for a beautiful cool night.

Team Nimrod!

Wednesday morning we mooched around the shops a bit and had breakfast at a yummy bakery before untying Nimmie and setting sail at about noon to find some caves to explore. We raised the jib (but still no mainsail…hmmm) when we were out of the harbor and Judy took the helm for a bit until we found the Papanikolis Cave on Meganisi to explore. Judy and David explored the cave via kayak while Jo and Liz stayed on Nimmie.

David & Judy kayaking at the cave

We then sailed past Jackie Onassis’ island, Skorpios, but could not get close to anchor and swim. On we moved to Port Atheni on Meganisi where we anchored and put lines ashore to spend the night. Judy and David earned their keep by jumping off with the lines and swimming ashore to tie onto a tree or rock. By late afternoon we were settled in. We went for a swim and took the dinghy across the bay to a little beach and bar.

Drinks at the Jammin’ beach bar in Port Atheni

After a cocktail we set off to explore the coral reef just inside our bay. Another lovely evening on the boat. We cooked steaks and enjoyed yet another delicious meal by Liz.

Investigating the reef at Port Atheni

Thursday morning we had Greek salad omelettes by Chef Liz. We took it slow and swam around the bay for a bit before releasing the shore lines and heading across toward the mainland and a pretty bay called Varko. We enjoyed stunning turquoise waters and fun beach bar.

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Varko Beach

We had a yummy Greek salad lunch (thanks Liz), swam and snorkelled for a few hours before setting off to make the 6pm opening of the floating bridge. Again, Jo timed our arrival perfectly and we were on our way through to Preveza. We had 13 knot winds and storm clouds in the distance, so there was a suggestion to put up the main sail! David & Judy were very excited at the idea of actually laying eyes on the main sail… but still no luck. With the storm clouds around us, Jo and Liz decided it was best to motor as we would have to tack all the way.

So the question remains…. do they actually have a mainsail?

Throughout the week, David tried fishing at every opportunity but had as much luck/success as his sister! Maybe fishing isn’t in their genes.

We had an evening of cleaning up Nimrod and then walking into the town for a lively last dinner. Nimmie will rest at the marina for a couple of weeks while Liz and Jo return to England with Judy and David for a Wall family holiday in the south of England next week to celebrate Ruth and John’s Diamond wedding anniversary!

Thank you to Liz and Jo for a fabulous week of great hospitality, fun laughs, delicious food & wine and of course the gorgeous turquoise waters. We will be back!

A note to the next guest blogger: WANTED: picture evidence of Nimrod’s mainsail.

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Lefkas and Meganisi

We’ve spent the last five days in the Lefkas area. The last time we were there was 2003 when we both learnt to sail with Neilsen. It was lovely revisiting old haunts.

We left Vonitsa at lunchtime on Monday having bought fresh provisions in the morning. We were blessed with yet more dolphins en route to Preveza. We were going to use the Lefkas Canal for the first time and we could understand why the pilot books urge caution when entering it when the wind and sea have built up. We, of course, arrived at the entrance as the wind had got up to 20 knots and we had 20 mins before the floating bridge opened on the hour. There was a waiting quay you can use and we only managed to tie up with the help of the motor yacht in front of us. However, the favour was returned when they set off to go through the bridge and found one of their lines was caught. Liz quickly jumped off Nimmie and untied it for them.

The canal itself is very pretty as it is essentially a lagoon that separates Lefkas from the mainland. It takes about 45 minutes to navigate the length of it but by then you are well and truly in the southern Ionian.

Lefkas Canal

Our overnight stop was Port Atheni on Meganisi. The name doesn’t do the bay on the NE corner of the island justice – turquoise water, tavernas and beach. It is a lot busier than Croatia or the northern Ionian islands but we still managed to anchor and take lines ashore. We had also been told that rats try to climb up your ropes here so we installed ‘rat protectors’ otherwise known as cut off water bottles on our lines. By which time it was after 8pm so no time for a G&T in the hammock. A very peaceful night and a leisurely breakfast before setting off. The afternoon sea breeze here gives you several hours of sailing, as long as you don’t want to go south or southwest!

After investigating several coves we had remembered from our previous visit, we sailed down to the SE tip of Lefkas at Vasiliki. It is a watersport centre as well as a large anchorage. You can see why as the afternoon sea breeze comes straight in! However, once the sun had set, things calmed down a bit although the wind was greater than forecast due to the katabatic effect of the hills around.

We left early the next day as there were strong winds forecast for the next two days and we wanted to find a safe spot near Nidri, halfway up the eastern side of Lefkas. There is an anchorage in Vlikho Bay that is described as a ‘hurricane hole’. It’s really well sheltered from pretty much every direction – perfect. Quite a few other boats had similar ideas but we found a spot we were happy with. We put out plenty of chain as it was forecast to gust F5/6. We went into Nidri in the afternoon and reminisced about the Nielsen base there at the Athos Hotel with its Tree Bar. Those were the days. The Wednesday night was pretty uneventful as the holding is excellent in gluppy mud.

Vlikho Bay, Nidri is quite pretty and very sheltered

On Thursday morning the weather forecast had increased the predicted wind strength so we decided to stay put and work on our list of boat jobs. By 11am the wind was consistently a F4 (16 knots) and getting stronger. By 3pm it was gusting 30 knots and boats were flooding in as we suspect it was closer to 40 knots outside. We were very glad we made the decision to stay put as we knew the anchor was dug in. However, we did have our own incident when the dinghy flipped with the outboard attached. Normally, we take the outboard off when there are strong winds but we thought Baby Nimmie was safely tethered and so this wouldn’t happen. We were wrong! Luckily, we spotted it pretty quickly so got the outboard on board and flushed the water out, took various bits apart and put it all back together again. Fingers crossed we started it up and it worked! We suspect that we have done some irreparable damage as engines and salt water don’t mix. We shall see.

The wind didn’t abate until around 10pm but at least we were able to sleep knowing the anchor had held and no one else seemed to have dragged. On Friday morning (July 20), we quickly did some shopping in Nidri town (and tried out the outboard again) and set off to explore some anchorages on the mainland. We found a wonderful one at Ormos Varko with amazing sand, turquoise water and a nice beach bar. This time it was a lunchtime stop but we will be back!

Ormos Varko – wonderful turquoise water

Back up the Lefkas Canal for the 5pm bridge and into Preveza where we are to be joined on Sunday by Liz’s brother, David and sister in law, Judy.

Sunset in the Preveza anchorage

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Parga to Preveza

Parga has a large anchorage so we felt sure there would be room after we had left Anti Paxos on the Thursday evening. What we hadn’t contended with was the fact that there would be an Italian rally anchored there! Luckily, we found a spot. It was quite pretty although the beach was packed full of sunbeds so no doubt the view from the beach was the better option!

Parga without the sunbeds!

As this was purely a safe stopover, we moved on relatively early for us down the coast. Whilst we were in Paxos, Liz had found a fishing shop and bought a recommended lure for small tuna. On our way down the coast, she actually caught one! Amazing, only the second (or is it third?) time she has been successful fishing in the Med. We decided to let it go as we had food on board we needed to eat but excited for the next time.

Liz’s first tuna

Our destination was Two Rock Bay, only ten miles south of Parga but a world away from it all. A small cove with amazing turquoise water, a small beach, a cave and even a bar. Not sure why it’s called Two Rock as we could see four! However, it was lovely and probably our favourite place so far this summer.

Two Rock Bay

We stayed there 24 hours, swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding and then made our way to Preveza. Preveza town itself is only a few miles from the airport and feels quite authentic even though the town quay has been spruced up with bars and restaurants. There is a marina and a large anchorage so you can guess which one we opted for. As we dropped the anchor we heard someone shout Nimrod and we saw our neighbours from Bari, a lovely French couple who had overwintered there and left at the end of May.

It was easy to dinghy ashore for the shops and also to catch a taxi to the ancient city of Nicopolis, which means city of victory. It was built by Octavia, Julius Caesar’s nephew after he defeated Mark Anthony at the Battle of Aktio in 31BC. It was well worth the 8€ was entrance fee as that covered three sites and the museum.

Nicopolis

 

On the Sunday (July 15th), we went into the Gulf of Amvrakikos that Preveza sits on the edge of. It’s some 180 square miles and incredibly quiet as charterers don’t tend to go there. There are a lot of fish farms and, consequently, quite a few dolphins to be seen. We went to the main town of Vonitsa and anchored off. We really liked it as it was not pretentious, had great shops (supermarkets and hardware stores!) and some nice restaurants. We treated ourselves to a meal out at To Maistrale which had tables on the beach so we could watch Nimmie from ours!

Dinner on the beach at Vonista

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Paxoi and more mooring antics (parts two and three!)

We had heard that Paxos island, ten miles west of the mainland and just south of Corfu, gets very crowded in summer so you need to get there early to grab a spot. Our first port of call was Lakka in the north. A lovely natural harbour, well sheltered with a town quay, bars and restaurants. We were going to anchor and heeded advice that it’s best to anchor and take lines ashore in the north end. By 11am we were tied up and swimming off the back of the boat.

Lines ashore in Lakka

By 1pm another 20 boats had come in but only a few had left. This continued right up into the evening. By dusk, 50 boats were in the anchorage and that would have been fine if there weren’t weird currents and wind patterns. Boats were all swinging at different angles and getting very close to each other. Some ended up re-anchoring. The town itself is quite sweet with lots of shops for Liz to browse in. We decided to stay two nights.

Another amazing turquoise harbour at Lakka

We left Lakka early on the Tuesday morning as we wanted to get to Gaios just down the coast. It is very popular as well and we were keen to snaffle a spot on one of the quays as we were staying for a couple of days. It’s set in a narrow channel so you have to drop your anchor and then motor back to the quay. We decided to go for the north quay slightly out of town as we saw a spot free. We were pretty sure that the town quay would be full of charter boats and we weren’t sure whether we would end up with crossed anchors. This was the first time we had to pay for mooring since leaving Italy but at €24 a night we weren’t too upset as we could also fill up with water and recharge our batteries.

Chaos at Gaios

Whilst we were having dinner on the first night, an old, classic yacht came in looking for a berth. They had to anchor opposite us and then tie ashore on rocks on the island. I presume that the boat doesn’t go well backwards as they hit the same boat next to them twice before getting it right. Much hollering and screaming amongst the three gentlemen aboard.

Later, we strolled into town to catch the second half of the France Belgium game. On the Wednesday, we hired a scooter to tour the island and were just going to pick it up when we saw that someone was about to come in next to us. They perfected it really well except they had forgotten to drop their anchor so had to do it all again!

The island itself is lovely and only 15km long. It has two main roads and lots of tracks. Luckily, our scooter was 200hp so could cope with both the terrain and the hills! We spent the day exploring the island including the white cliffs at Erimitis, Trypitos’ arch, coves and beach bars (much to Liz’s delight) before settling down for a meal to watch the England Croatia semi final.

White cliffs at Erimitis

Harbour at Logos

Trypitos’ Arch

We had decided that we would have a leisurely morning so Liz could do some more shopping but this was cut short when our neighbours decided to leave and went out at such an angle that they managed to catch our anchor chain around their keel. Yes, the same ones who forgot to put their anchor down first time! We managed to sort them out but felt we probably ought to leave relatively promptly in case something else happened.

We continued south to a harbour called Mongonisi that apparently got good reviews but when we arrived it was full of charter boats so we moved onto Anti Paxos.

Voutoumi Bay, Anti Paxos

We found the most amazing turquoise beach on the north of this little island. You can see why super yachts come here. Voutoumi Bay was extraordinary with its white sand, turquoise water and trendy beach bar. We stayed for a few hours to soak in the atmosphere but we knew that it wasn’t going to be an overnight stop for us. At around 5pm we set sail (and for once we really did sail!) for the main land to ensure we had a safe anchorage for the night.

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Mourtos and mooring antics part one

We left Petriti on Friday morning and made our way to Mourtos, on the mainland. There are a couple of islands there that provide good anchorages and shelter from the prevailing NW wind. For the first time since we left Italy we actually managed to sail although we did have the engine running to top all the batteries and also make some water. Having not been in a marina or on a town quay for a week, we found that we have managed to use up nearly one of our water tanks (around 250 litres).

We arrived in Mourtos around midday to find that the bay (called Middle Bay) we wanted to be in virtually empty so we anchored and then added lines ashore to keep us out of the channel between the islands. As the afternoon progressed, more and more boats arrived and anchored pretty much anywhere, including the channel so clearly no one else worried about it! The currents and back eddies running between the islands caused all sorts of commotion as no one boat sat the same as the next one so it made for an interesting spectacle.

Our first evening with lines ashore at Mourtos

We decided the next morning to anchor over the other side of the channel as a strong NW wind was due in the afternoon and we didn’t want to be pushed back onto the rocks. Most of the boats from the previous evening had left so we picked a spot in shallow water that would afford us great shelter later on. Very pleased with ourselves, we dinghied over to the town and bought provisions and had a look around. Mourtos has a lovely frontage/town quay with bars and restaurants along it. We also wanted to explore the other bays so we made our way back to the boat.

Mourtos town quay

We spent the afternoon in a bay around the corner that has a sand bar running through the centre of it. Nielsen have a yachting and watersport centre on one side but you can anchor on the other and there was also a public beach. The wind was starting to get up so we thought we had better get back. More boats had come into anchor, including one we had met in Gouvia when we were getting our Greek permits. All seemed well though so we settled down to watch the England football match. Around half time, we noticed that the local rental boats were being brought over from the town quay, presumably to keep themsafe during the strong winds. They anchored them together fore and aft about 30m away from us so we weren’t too perturbed. About 30 mins into the second half, we realised that they had added more boats and by now they were getting very close and we were in danger of drifting onto them. The guys who had put them there cane back and we told them in no uncertain terms that what they had done was ridiculous. Their boats weren’t going anywhere yet the rest of us were all at anchor so we were bound to swing. They were adamant that all would be fine as long as we pulled in 3m of chain. Rubbish or some such word came to mind! Because of the odd eddies and currents, we kept drifting back onto their boats so we gave up and pulled our anchor up. There was no room where we were to re-anchor so we popped round to the bay we had seen earlier (called 4th bay) but it was full. We came back to our original bay to find that someone had left so we were able to anchor. By this time it was 8.30pm and dusk was coming soon. We got settled and Liz made a wonderful dinner of stuffed squid with tomatoes, pepper and feta. In the meantime, various boats were trying to moor near us but in the high winds their anchors were either dragging or they were to close to the shore.

After a traumatic evening, a lovely relaxing meal

Welcome to the Ionian in summer!

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Corfu Town

On Tuesday morning (July 3rd) we dinghied over to Corfu Town from the anchorage and looked for a place to park Baby Nimmie. The nearby marina/yacht club had had reports of no longer being managed so we were reluctant to leave it there untended for several hours. The sea moat around the old Fort hadn’t completely silted up so we went down it to see whether we could leave her there. There were various huts along the side of the moat with small local boats moored up so we tied up about half way along and climbed the stairs to come out by the entrance to the fort.

Sea boat around the old fort with Nimrod in the bay

Corfu has been heavily fortified over the years by its various ‘occupants’, especially the Venetians who built two forts. The ‘Old Fort’ is right at the end of the channel looking across to Albania and you can imagine the guns protecting both the town and the waters below. We walked up to the lighthouse at the top of the hill to find magnificent views across the channel. It was blistering hot though so we were glad that we had got there in the morning before it got even warmer!

View across the bay from the old fort

The fort houses various exhibitions including Byzantine mosaics and paintings as well as water colours by a local artist.

On our way out, we looked across to check on Baby Nimmie only to see that the gate half way up the stairs was locked! Oops. We went for a closer inspection and it had been locked but luckily it was easy enough to open. Phew!

The town itself has large gardens, wide Italianate boulevards and even a cricket pitch. The narrow streets of the old town could have been anywhere in southern Italy with the marble cobblestones.

The Liston boulevard

We wandered round for a hour or two but then decided to get back to both the dinghy and Nimmie and have lunch on board. We went back into town in the evening to find a bar to watch the England v Columbia World Cup game as our tv can’t pick up Greek digital tv apparently. (It was fine in Italy but clearly our 8 year old tv is getting past it!) After the game, we had celebratory drinks at the rooftop bar at Hotel Cavalieri, even though it was past midnight. Lovely cool breeze and still very warm.

Hotel Cavalieri roof garden

On Weds morning we left our anchorage to go searching for beach bars. Liz had read about a lovely one a few miles north of Gouvia so we went back on ourselves to have a look. Unfortunately, it didn’t even look open despite the beach looking very nice so on we went. Next stop Mouse Island opposite the Durrell’s Pink House and right under the flightpath to Corfu Airport! After taking some pictures (you can’t actually see the Durrell’s house from the sea), we then went on to find the Achilleion Palace. Sadly, again we couldn’t see it as it was behind trees.

Not that we were close to the runway or anything!

Our evening stop was the delightful village of Petriti on the south of Corfu. We anchored in 4m of sand and turquoise water and within ten minutes of getting there, we had both jumped in the water to cool off and check the anchor. The water was so clear that you could see that it was well dug in.

Petriti anchorage

We had heard good reports about the Panorama taverna about half a mile from the anchorage so we took the dinghy for a drink. The place was an oasis of calm and tranquility with lush gardens, hammocks, terrace and dockside tables. We decided to try their own wine (very good) and some calamari and tzatziki before retiring back to the boat for our main meal.

Entrance to the Panorama Taverna gardens

This morning (Thursday), we took the dinghy over to the town to do some food shopping. We had only meant to pick up some bread but the local supermarket was excellent and cheap so we ended up getting two 3 litre flagons of local wine, some swordfish, fruit and bottled water (that they were selling for €1.50 for 5 litres). This afternoon has been spent chilling on the boat having done a few chores but mainly watching the antics of people anchoring. The French (as usual) don’t bother to slow down when dropping the anchor and then look baffled when it drags. One British boat came in and politely asked if he was too close. We said no but he re-anchored anyway. Having said that, he re-anchored closer to us but at least he asked!

This evening we tried a couple more tavernas in Notos (about half a mile away) for a sundowner or two before going back on board to have the swordfish with salad and a nice bottle of cold, white wine.

Electra’s Botanic Garden Restaurant

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Northern Corfu

We left Erikoussa on Sunday morning feeling slightly refreshed although it was a bit of a rolly night. No idea where the swell came from as we should have been safely tucked away from it. I can only imagine it was the wash from various large ships passing on their way up into the Adriatic. We were so tired that it didn’t matter too much.

We made our way to the east side of Corfu to Kalami Bay where Lawrence Durrell had a house. The wind was very light so we motored the whole 4 hours. The bay was pretty full and we would have had to anchor in quite deep water so we decided to go around the corner to O. Agni. It was a delightful bay. We anchored and then took lines ashore using our new webbing. Our neighbours were Aussies who were very entertaining and quite good guard dogs when we took the dinghy round to the Durrell’s White House in Kalami for a drink. It has been beautifully renovated and has lots of quirky touches to reflect its heritage.

Lawrence Durrell’s White House

Ormos Agni

An Austrian boat had tried to anchor near us earlier but their anchor was over ours (we did have 60m out!) so they had given up but came back later and were seen off by our friendly neighbours who also had 60m of chain out.

The new webbing in action!

We ate out at a lovely taverna called Agni’s which was a short dinghy ride away. Being an hour ahead of Italy meant that it was still light at 9.30pm.

A fabulous meal at Agni’s

Today we checked in officially at Gouvia. It is a massive marina holding over 1500 yachts and has a local Port Authority office there. We anchored across the bay (saving money as always!) and took the dinghy across. It took quite a long time because there was a bit of a queue and all the paperwork is written out by hand. Still we had the necessary document to allow us to cruise in Greece for the year. As Gouvia is a major charter centre, it also has a fuel berth so we took advantage to refill our tanks from the crossing. It has been really hot today with our weather station registering 43 degrees in the sun!

We want to explore Corfu Town tomorrow so we decided to move round to O. Garitsas bay this evening which is just to the south of Corfu Town. In fact, we are currently anchored under the Venetian Fortress with a positive dirth of superyachts for company!

Venetian fortress in Corfu Town

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