July 3, 2011
Seven hours of mostly motoring brought us to the village of Vathi on the island of Ithaca. We anchored among the other yachts in a quiet corner of the bay. This big safe harbor attracts a lot of charter (you drive) boats. Chartering is a great way to spend a week or two in many of the most attractive cruising areas of the world. You just rent the boat, play, return it, and let somebody else take care of all the dirty work. These days, it sounds pretty appealing. Most charter-ers are reasonably knowledgeable in the ways of the sea. There are always exceptions. These exceptions make crowded anchorages ....interesting... Around about 2PM every afternoon they start arriving. This causes some stress among the crew of Freebird. You just never know what's going to happen. We have been ~ banged, slammed, smashed, drug down on, anchor ripped, etc. our share of times, usually with minor or no damage. So when charter boats start dropping anchor all around us, our antenna go up. It goes like this: Judy: "there's a loose one coming our way".... Dave: Keep an eye on em"... Judy: "They look pretty close"... Dave: "Naw, they're okay"... Judy: "you better look again"... Dave: #$#@%$#.! Then we go out on the bow and try and convince the offender that they are too close. This is done either by submissive begging, glaring at them with stern faces (stink eye) and selected hand signals, or a polite "Get the fuck off our anchor!" No approach is 100% effective. This is the biggest challenge we have found in the Mediterranean Sea. It's crowded. Close anchoring is the norm and we have had to adjust our tolerances. In the Pacific we used to spend our afternoons diving, kiting, or hiking etc. Here we are entertained with anchoring duels. All that said, we have met some expert sailors and lovely people in this neck of the woods. It's all part of the experience.
Ashore in Vathi we found tasty little restaurants, cafés, good bakeries, wine shops, and a small market, all the necessities. The town suffered severe damage in the 1953 earthquake. Most of the town has been since rebuilt and it's still an attractive place. We rented a car for a day and toured around the island. The views were spectacular. We had an exceptional lunch in a small fishing village. On the Fourth of July, we were the only American boat so our Independence Day celebration was pretty pathetic. (non -existent).
July 6, 2011
Meganisi, Levkas, Paxoi
We spent the next 10 days island hopping toward Corfu. Our days were spent swimming, reading, walking, finishing up small boat projects, and anchor dueling. We would occasionally head out for dinner at a local fish taverna. Sarah brought season 2 Glee with her so we got to catch up on that! Hurray! Or, we would just sit out under the stars and inhale that warm night air. We rented a car on two of the islands for sightseeing and coffee stops. Freebird got to sail a little between islands.
July 15, 2011
Corfu was the last and one of our most enchanting destinations in Greece. We spent over two weeks here anchored at the foot of the old Venetian fort on the bluff. It felt mystical to drop the hook where other craft have anchored for thousands of years. You could feel the history oozing out of the place. We took our dinghy up the narrow mote that surrounded the castle and tied up with the fishing boats. A stairway took us to the old town above, a town full of ancient stories. We walked the narrow alleyways on cobblestones that were polished smooth from centuries of countless footfalls. The coffee was good too.
Judy decided that this place warranted yet another trip to the dentist. The same tooth that we just got fixed in Athens just cracked off. The tooth saga continues....... One tooth, eight dentists, two countries.....so far. What fun!
We said a sad good by to Sarah. She caught a flight back to Seattle. Luck would have it that the day she left there was yet another taxi strike. Fortunately the airport was easy walking distance. We fell back into the rhythm of living on Freebird all alone.
To cheer us up we rented motor scooter and "rode like the wind." Breezing into the countryside and along shorelines with azul crystal clear waters, we arrived at the Achillon Palace. This was the summer residence of the Empress of Austria built in the 1800s. Later it became Kaiser Willhem's residence. It's full of beautiful artwork, painted ceilings, murals, sweet smelling wisteria covered walkways, gardens with impressive fountains and sculpture. It all stands high above the sparkling Ionian Sea below. Quite impressive!
Our expedition continued around the island where we found a seaside café for lunch just inches from the beach.
We returned via center of the island through ancient olive groves, the grand old trees shading our path. Around every corner was a picture perfect view of the countryside with the sea sparkling far below.
An exceptional day!
So ends our Greek adventure. Next up.... Italy!