Feedback from Crew 2, Wayde and Corrine
16 August 2017
Corrine, Jon, Vanessa and Wayde were our second crew in 2017. They were on board for 10 nights (09/06-19/06 2017) and we sailed about 90 NM (170 km) in that time. They joined us in Preveza and we visited Meganisi Island, Wasp Bay and Kastos town on Kastos island, One-House Bay on Atokos Island, Vathy and Filiatros Bay on Ithaki Island, and Antisamos Bay and Sami on Kefallonia Island. We rented cars and toured around Ithaki Island and Kefallonia Island.
Corrine & Wayde’s Clio Adventure - 10 June to 20 June 2017
As virgin international travellers we were excited but a little daunted by the prospect of a yacht cruise around the Ionian Sea islands. It was very reassuring to be travelling with our best friends Jon and Vanessa who also knew Francis and Chris the owners of Clio.
Did the cruise meet our expectations? Yes and far exceeded them. Francis and Chris were very welcoming hosts, friendly and easy to get along with. They were also very organised making the whole process simple and enjoyable. Their knowledge of the area and assistance with transport was invaluable in making the most of our time on board and ashore. Helpful suggestions on each day’s sailing in consultation with the crew (us) made sure we saw and did a variety of what the area had to offer without feeling too rushed or stressed. There was plenty of time for relaxation, reading, chatting and just taking in the views. It was a fantastic stress-free holiday in a beautiful, rugged setting.
And now for a day by day description put together from memory (it is now 2 months since we boarded Clio), diary notes and photos.
Arrival 9 June – Preveza
We arrived at about 6.30 pm local time after 21 hours in planes and 4 hours in a taxi (yes we elected to taxi from Athens airport to Preveza to save another three hours waiting for a six hour bus ride). Needless to say we were very glad to be there. Long haul flights are shit! We met Francis and Chris who made us welcome, showed us our cabins (roomier than we expected) and got us into holiday mode with drinks and nibbles on deck (woohoo).
A change of clothes and freshen up, then a wander around the Preveza waterfront cafes and restaurants for our first taste of local cuisine. Ventura was the restaurant selected and a fine choice it was. The food was delicious, the company excellent and a fun evening was had by all. Back to Clio for sleep in a bed!
One thing we would have to get used to is the long days. Sunrise was around 5 to 5.30 am and sunset not until around 9 pm.
Day 1 10 June – Preveza, Meganisi
The first morning of our cruise started with a long, early-morning walk along the shoreline of Preveza. We were getting a feel of how the locals lived. This was a Saturday so it was pretty quiet. Amazingly we came across plenty of Eucalypt trees so in some ways it was similar to coastal areas in Australia. The local architecture is unique though so you soon come back to reality. We were on the other side of the world in Greece! Wow!
Then it was off on a shopping expedition with Chris to stock up on supplies. We visited the local markets for fresh fruit and veg and also stocked up on some local wine. We got all the colours; white, rose, light red and dark red sold in 1.5 litre plastic screw cap bottles. The whole lot cost 13 Euros so it was obviously a good vintage .
There was one hiccup in our plans before we left Preveza when Wayde went to get some cash from an ATM with one of our cash cards. When he entered more than the daily cash limit the machine withheld the card. He was not happy but it was Saturday and there was nothing we could do. Luckily we had Corrine’s card which accessed the same funds so all was not lost. We would be careful in future and do transactions on week days in case there were any further issues.
We left Preveza around midday for our first bit of on water travel and motored over to Lefkada in perfect time for the hourly bridge opening (great navigating Francis) to allow us to traverse the channel and make our first anchorage and swim in the Ionian Sea. It was colder than we expected so it didn’t take long before we were back on board for a quick warm shower and a spot of lunch.
Next stop, a quiet anchorage on the island of Meganisi, for our first night away from port. Chris made Spanakopita for dinner (yum) and we washed it down with some local wine (drunk for effect, not taste). Sleep with the gentle rocking of the boat and lapping of the waves. Francis was not confident of our anchor security so he had a late night keeping watch while the rest of us slept on.
Day 2 11 June – Kastos
Our first snorkelling was at Wasp Bay, a short motor from our last anchorage. After an orientation presentation from Francis about what we might see we donned our gear and gave this snorkelling thing a shot. It was amazing. Thanks to Francis’ tips Corrine and I had a blast. Watching fish in their natural environment was such a wonderful privilege. The water was so clear you could see to quite deep. Wayde wasn’t too confident with duck diving but even just floating along gave stunning views of the flora and fauna. The fish were not too bothered by our presence.
There was a lot of light hearted ribbing about Francis’ Powerpoint presentation about the local flora and fauna but we thought it was excellent. It was exciting comparing what each of us had seen after each snorkelling excursion and the reference books on board aided identification of the species seen; a real highlight of the cruise.
We moved on to anchor at Kastos. The wind was picking up, so a planned dinner ashore in the village became Jon’s Frittata on board with more wine. We were anchored outside the harbour so the trip in on the tender boat (Chloe) would be a bit dodgy in the choppy conditions. It was amusing watching some other boats try to gain a secure anchorage in the increasing blustery conditions. It’s part of what you do for entertainment as a yachty.
Clio travel tip: If you go to the loo at night don’t wash your hands. The water pump is very noisy (deliberately) and you will wake every one.
Day 3 12 June – Kastos, Atakos, Ithaca (Vathy)
It was a beautiful morning and we took a trip ashore at Katsos for breakfast and a walk around the village. There was a funeral at the local church. We wondered what the locals did for a living in this little village on an island in the Ionian. It seemed like a quiet slow-paced kind of place.
From Katsos we had our first sailing experience as we headed to the uninhabited island of Atokos for more snorkelling along a spectacular rock face and a visit to the little chapel on the island. The girls went to the chapel on Chloe while the boys snorkelled. Under sail it was so peaceful and Wayde got to exercise his muscles on the winch furling the headsail. Francis and Chris reckon he set the record but we think they were just humouring him.
Snorkelling revealed some red starfish and Parrot fish along with many other species common to the area. It was a popular spot with at least a dozen other yachts anchored in the small bay.
After lunch it was time to head for our overnight anchorage in the port of Vathy on the island of Ithaca (locally, Ithaki). We plan a two night stay to do a day trip on the island and re-stock groceries.
Dinner was at a local restaurant on the waterfront; Greek cuisine of course. Highlights were the Pork with mustard and the Mushrooms with Blue Cheese. We are beginning to think that Greek wine is not to our palate as we have had none that we would rate.
Wayde was not feeling well with a bit of temperature this night. It was time for drugs (Panadol and cold and flu tablets) so thankfully we were in Vathy and had access to a Chemist.
Day 4 13 June – Vathy (Ithaca)
We hired a seven-seater van and the six of us set off to explore more of Ithaca onshore. Wayde was down with the flu but soldiered on. We were following Odysseus’ trail on Ithaca (one of Jon’s interests) so we explored the ruins of his palace first up. This involved some steep bushwalking and an encounter with some of the local goats who enjoyed some spectacular views from the elevated positions on the walk.
Lunch in Stavros (?). Very nice; calamari, Lamb Moussaka, Greek salad and house special fish baked with spices and currants (amazing). Corrine visited the church in Stavros and lit a candle for her Dad. It was very serene.
The roads are sealed but narrow and winding. Negotiating your way through some of the little villages can be a bit of an adventure with lots of very narrow streets and limited places to park. Other road users are pretty friendly and relaxed about it all. Huge thanks to Francis who was our driver on the islands. The Aussie crew decided that driving on the wrong side of the road on these roads would not be safe with any of them behind the wheel.
We stopped for a swim at a little pebble beach then drove back to Vathy for dinner of pizza and wine. The views from the mountainous terrain were awesome and we had to stop a couple of times for photos.
We marveled at some of the expensive and massive motor boats (stink boats as Chris referred to them) that are around the ports and anchorages as well as the myriad of other yachts. It is obviously a very popular holiday activity in these parts and the ports on each island rely on the trade to survive. Tourism is the main industry and for us newbie Oz travellers it was a relief that nearly everyone spoke enough English for us to have no trouble chatting to the locals.
Day 5 14 June – Vathy, Filiatro
We still have the van till midday so the crew did some more exploring of a Byzantine Church near Vathy. Wayde was still under the weather so decided to sit this one out and rest on Clio. Corrine takes advantage of some land-based public shower facilities with plenty of hot water as a treat from the on-board bathroom (functional but not spacious or luxurious).
Travel tip: wet wipes also make a great alternative to a shower when there is limited hot water. Maybe not recommended for a cold climate but in Greece in summer they work fine.
After some last minute shopping, we left Vathy at midday for a short hop to Filiatro beach and a quiet anchorage just off the tourist beach. We are getting to know the process of anchoring at a beach or inlet and Francis and Chris do it very well. There is time for some more swimming and snorkelling (2 red starfish and stacks of other fish varieties. We are treated to the sights of a yacht that anchors nearby and the German crew are partial to a bit of naturism. We trust they have applied sunscreen in the right places.
Dinner on board tonight was a delicious combination of aubergine, chicken, bacon, tomato, potato, garlic and oregano. With wine and Retsina to wash it down it was another day in paradise.
Day 6 15 June – Filiatro, Antisamos
Corrine was up early watching the sunrise over the sea. After breakfast we moved the island of Cephalonia (Kefallonia locally); one of the big Ionian islands. Our first anchorage was at Antisamos beach. This is one of the tourist beaches accessible from the port of Sami. Chris refers to it as the Greek Riviera. We anchor a little away from the main beach and enjoy some more swimming and relaxation.
Wayde seems to be recovering finally and even goes for a short swim in the afternoon. We have a nice chat to a couple from Ireland in the yacht anchored nearby. Fried rice for dinner and a very peaceful night’s sleep.
Clio travel tip: Peeing off the back of the boat at night is fine and much more convenient than the toilet. Not recommended if tied up in port though; better for secluded anchorages. Ladies need to hang on tight to avoid falling in
Day 7 16 June – Antisamos, Sami
After a morning swim and breakfast at Antisamos we decide to move around the corner (literally) to the port of Sami. There is a prediction of storms and high winds coming in the next day or so and Francis suggests we would be more comfortable in port rather than at anchorage in Antisamos bay.
Once we dock we go for sight-seeing walk with Jon and Vanessa around the town of Sami. We have lunch at a waterfront restaurant and sample some local Kefallonia beer. It is better than the wine. Chris tells us of a beach with shower facilities so it is off to the beach for a swim and a shower.
Dinner is at the Mermaid restaurant including stuffed tomatoes, lamb in paper, beef and tomato and chips! Nearly every dish comes with chips we have noticed at most restaurants. Is this a Greek thing or is it just for us tourists?
We head off for a coffee before going back to Clio and while is videoing some local musicians singing and dancing ‘Zorba the Greek’ Corrine is encouraged by the singer to join in. She tried to get me up as well but I just laughed and enjoyed the show.
Day 8 17 June – Sami
We planned to get another van for a day trip around some of Kefallonia but due to insurance issues with the rental company we cannot get one without an international license. We tried with Avis Budget but they had to get a seven-seater from their other office and it would not be available till tomorrow. It was also very expensive but we decide there is little option if we want to see Kefallonia so we book it and spend another quiet day in Sami.
The winds are really howling across the bay so it is just as well we are in shelter of port. Sami port is very crowded as many boats make for shelter today. As it turned out the storm didn’t eventuate; just some strong winds and very choppy seas.
With shops available Wayde rounded up ingredients for Spaghetti Bolognese for dinner on board. Unfortunately it appears Francis has contracted the same lurgy as Wayde (sorry!) and he hits the bed early with drugs.
Day 9 18 June – Sami, Fiskardo, Sami
Today is a day trip by car to Fiskardo in the north of Kefallonia. We visited the cave at Melissani and wandered around a monastery with some amazing views on the way there. The port of Fiskardo has many shops and restaurants all clustered around the waterfront.
Lunch was at Panormos restaurant on the entrance to the harbour. Wonderful views from the terrace and excellent food made for 10 out 10 experience. Right next door was a Roman burial ground which we explored. The history of this country is hard to comprehend for us coming from Australia with its short history since white settlement.
Francis retired to the car for rest (still not well), Jono took a breather in the shops, while the rest of us went for a bush walk to a Phoenician Light house and monastery ruin. After gelato it was back to the car for the return journey via Mirtos Beach. This is on the western coast of Kefallonia and has real waves unlike most of the protected waters of the islands we had visited so far. With the high winds the waves were smashing in so we didn’t swim. The water colour here was wild; a really light milky blue. The island is very mountainous and the views down to the beach were stunning on the way in.
It was a scratch dinner on board. Everyone retired early so we sat on deck till twilight (nearly 10 pm).
Day 10 19 June – Sami
Chris had found an easy way to get us to Athens for our flights to Edinburgh on the 20th. We could catch a bus in Sami at 7 am and it would drive to Poros. The bus then went by ferry (with us) to the mainland at Kolini and then by road to the main bus terminal in Athens. From there we could catch a bus to the airport. Simple!
The early start tomorrow meant it was not practical to move to another anchorage so we had another day in Sami. Corrine went to the hairdresser for a wash and blow dry. Intermittent and short showers did not make for good hair care. We sorted out the packing for the next part of our adventure and generally had a lazy last day on board. Many boats left that morning as the weather had abated so the port was quiet. Our farewell dinner was at one of the waterfront restaurants with the crew in their Clio crew shirts. The end of the cruise was nigh.
Farewell 20 June – Sami
We say goodbye and many thanks to Francis and Chris. They have been wonderful hosts and guides on our cruise. It has been a brilliant experience that we have thoroughly enjoyed. We thought it was a great balance between activity and downtime and we got to see a good cross section of the kinds of things available to do in the islands.
Our trip to Athens went as planned without a hitch even though the bus driver chose to speak no English. We managed to wing it without a problem. Our first international holiday was one to remember for all the right reasons.