From the Ionian to the Gulf of Patras
Updated: Jun 5, 2019
It’s a beautiful world
Sometimes you wonder if you’re doing the right thing. Leaving normality behind. Replacing it with bright colours every which way you look. The blue, blue seas. And of course, it’s not all fine and sunny but I mean doing this sailing thing which brings you closer to nature, to primal things, to danger, survival and using important judgement skills. But then you remember the shortness of time, the smallness of our individual lives and the largeness of the world and all the things to see in it. When I think about things this way there is no doubt in my mind that this is the best use possible of my time. Last week we lost our good friend Nick. We had worked and traveled with him. We had really become close friends. Then one day he was gone. Died suddenly, snatched away. It left a hole in my heart and it has changed my perspective of what we are doing as these things often do. I always felt we were incredibly fortunate to be able to see the world and experience nature in this way, but this most recent loss is another reminder that we need to treat these experiences with such respect. The kind of respect reserved for precious things that are very rare and fragile. They cannot be taken for granted. Remembering that the number of days we have left is completely uncertain. This lifestyle is not for everyone and I can understand many people who would put a much higher value on different things but for us now this is as good as it gets.
What a journey so far
So far this has been the most stimulating experience of my life. The learning curve is the biggest one I have ever known. This isn’t just learning a new sport. We are liveaboards. I am learning to sail first and foremost but after that I am learning to live nomadically on a boat and how to maintain that boat inside and out. To ensure it is provisioned and that we are fed enough and on time. I am learning about the environment, the sea, the weather, the mountains, the currents, the tides, the charts. As a couple we are learning how we work together in this environment which is our permanent home, workplace and holiday. This learning experience is hard to compare to anything one thing because it is an entire way of life. We are moving our house through countries every few weeks. We are learning the rules in each place. But it is truly wonderful, and all the hard work involved is paid back ten-fold by the satisfaction of being able to pack up and sail off to somewhere amazing from somewhere amazing.
Leftkas, Meganisi and Ithaca
Our journey continues...After leaving Nidri on Leftkas where they have a huge chandlery, a very crowded bay and a healthy charter base we arrived back at Meganisi island, off Leftkas. The anchorage was called Atherinos bay. It’s the kind of place you drop anchor, secure your lines and jump into the most incredibly clear water almost the moment the engines are turned off. There was a lovely spit of land too which meant we could easily go for walk around the whole bay. Then we paddled around the bay. I got the usual fishing stuff out and wiled away a few more hours. I really need to work on my fishing. No fish caught. A few days later we went to the island of Ithaca, to a great town called Vathy. It is quite a busy harbour and it took us at least 30 minutes to drop anchor. An hour later we decided we were far too close to the town quay and so we moved to the opposite side. That night we were invited aboard Bon Bini, our friends Tom and Camilla’s beautiful boat. Right Meow was there too, and we enjoyed the ambience of our harbour lights around us. In the early hours of the following morning a boat dragged right past us onto the rocks. They were ok thankfully. We awoke to a wet and dreary morning but that soon cleared up and Jim and I went out for a walk and wander about. We explored the town first. Most of the town’s buildings were destroyed in 1953 by an earthquake, and so the town now with its newer buildings looks quite modern but tastefully done. The town’s bars, restaurants and cafes are all quite upmarket but inexpensive and the facilities in general are excellent, great grocery stores, supermarkets, laundry and printing facilities. We then did a great hike up and down hills to Minimata beach. Already desperate for a ‘swimming’ anchorage we left the following morning but not before a delicious meal with our good friends on-board Right Meow.
'Catana cove', Kefalonia
Leaving Vathy, Ithaca, we headed with Right Meow to Kefalonia, the island south west of Ithaca. This short sail is a great example of how things can happen in both long and short passages! We had thought of going to Zakynthos but decided that since we hadn’t managed to get moving until noon that would have been a bit ambitious. So, we decided on this shorter hop. It would easier… We set off, beating upwind and I got plenty of practice tacking which was much needed. The wind was building and, looking through the binoculars, we saw some overpowered boats up ahead near the land. We put a reef in. We were aiming for the Fiscardo area, north east corner. As we approached that area the wind continued to build, and we took down our sails and prepared to moor up. cove next to Foki beach which is unnamed was a totally empty beautiful tiny place. Perfect for our two Catanas and so we decided to stay there. After Right Meow secured themselves, they were on hand to help us. We dropped our anchor and they helped to secure our long lines to some rocks. But the wind changed direction and we were being quickly pushed onto the rocks on our portside. I was at the stern keeping the lines out of the water and away from the prop. and things got a little hairy to say the least. The rocks kept getting closer, the line looser, the wind stronger, the captain…less happy. After some adjustment, the wind changing angle and a few strong pushes from Right Meow’s dingy we were secured and safe. Oh, and in THE most beautiful anchorage. I never wanted to leave. Then queue swimming, paddling and fishing routine. Still no fish! The next morning Virginia and I walked to Foki beach. It was a bit of a scramble through a rocky forest land away from ‘Catana Cove’ until we reached the road. Then about two miles and one snake later we reached Foki beach. When we returned to the boats our men were well stuck into messy boat maintenance. That evening, another delicious BBQ.
Anti Sami, Ithaca, Petalas, Messolonghi
We stayed there for two nights leaving reluctantly wondering if we would ever find such a place again. Making our way down south we arrived at the bay of Anti Sami also on Kefalonia. This bay is large and surrounded by enormous humps of land that make for a very exotic atmosphere, we could have been in the south pacific somewhere. Planning to stay the night we dropped anchor however after two hours we realised the anchorage was going to be very unprotected from the north easterly wind. So, we lifted our anchor and headed for the southern tip of Ithaca keeping in mind our overall direction, to go through the Corinth canal. After a much longer and more tiring afternoon than anticipated, after dropping anchor, dragging.. dropping again and finally holding we had arrived at the evening’s new ‘home’. This place was between Ithaca and a tiny island on Ithaca’s south east corner. It had the most amazing fish life and birds everywhere. We had a house cocktail on Right Meow and got an early night. The following morning after one short lived downpour we set off and three hours later arrived just off the mainland anchored off an island called Petalas. The landscape there is quite barren although we saw the usual goats and lots of bird-life and fish. We hiked up a hill towards a cave, but I turned around after seeing numerous enormous spiders. Fishing attempts continued too, still though; no fish caught. The following day we left and headed for Messolonghi via Exo Louris. a very remote, desolate inlet with no other boats. That afternoon we dropped anchor in Messolonghi where we will stay for a few days re-provisioning before continuing our journey to the Aegean via the Corinth canal.