The Spanish Sailors' Ionian Fortnight
06 August 2019 | Ionian
We have just spent a wonderful fortnight in the Ionian with our lovely Spanish friends, Carlos and Judith. We planned several different routes and places to visit over the two weeks. This blog entry is going to give you the story and will link into a photo album on Njord's blog called "The Spanish Sailors' Fortnight".
There are so many places to go that our aim was to try and give a feel of every type of mooring and Greek experience the Ionian has to offer. This ranged from idyllic anchorages with turtles popping their heads up whilst buzzing around in Dennis (the dinghy) to a pretty protected key hole village that totally caters (and very efficiently) to the cruising community, to the inland sea and to a marina for a refill, recharge and the best spit roast chicken in the Ionian, with many lovely anchorages in between.
Njord made her way from the Peloponnese to Cleopatra Marina, Preveza to pick up Judith and Carlos. They arrived late in the evening, we had a meal on board, caught up with all our news and looked at the informal passage plan to see if it was what Carlos and Judith were up for.
Preveza, Cleopatra Marina
There are very strong currents in the marina. Expert marineros in their ribs help push you out of the berth and swing you round if required. We each got our instruction from Captain Vic and left the berth in one easy manoeuvre. We navigated down the Preveza channel easily and once in open water popped up the sails, both main and genoa and managed a nice sail to the Lefkas canal to wait for the road bridge to open.
To pass through you need to drop the sails and queue up as the road bridge swings open to let the yachts through. The local tourist guide even mentions to expect traffic jams on the hour every hour up to sunset due to yachts passing through. We passed through the well buoyed and dredged canal and put up the sails again to sail (slowly as there was not much wind) towards Nidri.
Vlikho Bay, Nidri on Nisos Lefkas
Shortly after arriving we safely anchored in the bay which is huge and has plenty of room. We set ourselves up in the middle of the bay so we could reach either side easily. We then whipped up a salad lunch, cold beers and very chilled white wine. It was about 32 degrees, so very hot and much liquid refreshment is going to be needed on this holiday. Carlos and Judith found a lovely swimming pool and we all went across to Geni (the location in the bay) for a swim and a round or two of chilled drinks. See the blog album for the swimming pool. The water is not very clear or clean in the bay to swim and there were jelly fish everywhere, not good for swimming activities.
Sivota, Nisos Lefkas
The next morning, after croissants from the local bakery we raised the anchor and used the iron donkey to take us through the channel between Lefkas and Megannisi. There was no wind at all. The idea was to stop in Rounda Bay for a swim and lunch. It was very busy and as it is deep fairly close to the beach we found it difficult to choose a place to drop the anchor to give us enough swinging room.
Lunch was just ready in the cockpit, when the tourist police came by and told everyone to leave as we were all allegedly less than 300 metres from the beach. That would put us in too deep water to anchor so we decided to carry on to Sivota. Here, Vic and I had pre-booked, which is necessary in high season, a free berth at 12 Gods Taverna. We were the first boat in and had to manoeuvre around a motor yacht to line up. The restaurant has a marinero who helps and he pushed us round with his rib. Sivota is busy with yachts and charters. The water, electricity and berths are free as long as you eat in the Taverna that the pontoon belongs to. The Tavernas and cafes have all been entrepreneurial and set up the yacht facilities with lazy lines and facilities. It is a very pretty place.
Palarios, Mainland Greece
Next on the itinerary was the complete opposite. A large bay with a harbour that has little room unless you are a charter boat, but a quiet anchorage. We got the sails up for a short while and Judith took the helm for most of the day. She did a good job. The mountains tower above the harbour and give a very pretty view from the cockpit.
Here we started on the slippery road to ruin with homemade margueritas.
We have been good with our water consumption so far, but with 4 on board I had planned a marina stop for provisions, Grand Marnier (to perfect the margueritas), and water and give our batteries a shore power boost. As it was a Friday and the start of the charter changeover for the weekend the town was packed.
Before leaving I went to the spit roast house (up the main street on the lefthand side) to pick up a steaming hot roast chicken for our lunch. We left the berth with too much time for the next road bridge opening so had to manage the current and idle around for a while. Once through the channel, the sails went up and we had a magnificent sail at an average of 5.8 knots up to Preveza. The wind was even right to sail in the channel until the last bend before the harbour.
Vonista, Inland Sea
We all agreed this was the jewel in the crown on our trip. We put the sails up and had a beautiful sail once we had entered into the big expanse of the inland sea to Vonista. We anchored off the town and the beach. The water is shallow so we were quite far off with 4 other boats, but so warm and clear. There were sea urchins on the sea bed so we had to wear our swimming shoes. We chose to stay an extra day here and took Dennis to the little island connected by a causeway for a beautiful walk in the pine forest.
Parga, Mainland Greece
From the best time on the trip to the worse. We needed to start making our way towards Corfu for the end of the trip and the weather forecast was showing stronger winds and higher wave heights in two days time. We wanted to get ahead of the bad weather. So Vic and I set off for Parga at 06.00 leaving Judith & Carlos to snooze. The forecast was a day out and we had a dreadful time with wind on the nose and higher wave heights than forecast on our beam. We tried to zig zag to keep the waves coming at a more comfortable angle but it was a rough ride. The wave height was forecast at 0.7m and we had over 2.5m waves. Parga eventually came into sight and we anchored safely in sand in a busy bay as there are not many bolt holes along this coastline. The night was calm thank goodness and we were all very quiet.
The next morning we woke up and the sea was flat calm, the bad weather had past and the sun was out. Off we set and got the sails up after an hour or so and had a cracking sail to the south east coast of Corfu. Carlos is a racing sailor and excellent at setting Njord's sails to get the best speed out of her in the wind conditions. We tacked across the bay and had a cracking sail. We anchored past the rocky outcrop further from the fishing village this time opposite the Panorama Taverna. And what a view, do go to the blog album for some more stunning views. This blog's photo is from the taverna at cocktail hour.
Here we swam in the sea, spent the day at a lovely pool and went to the Taverna twice in one day!
Gouvia Marina, Corfu
The last stop was Gouvia Marina for Carlos and Judith to return to Madrid and Njord to come out of the water for her annual "beauty treatments". The berth was tight between two larger yachts but Captain Vic spun her at right angles to the berth to line her up with the bow thrusters and she slid in like a real pro. The crew worked well together as a team too.
The Star of the Season
Dennis was the star of this trip. The last time Carlos sailed with us Dennis' engine misbehaved and Dennis truely earned his name Dennis The Menace. He had been behaving for us, but the first day Carlos took him for a spin the engine wouldn't start once it was hot. He must have been teasing Carlos! After consultation with Crazy Diamond's Dad in Devon and Carlos cleaning the spark plug he started first go every time and went out on some sort of a mission almost everyday. In the last post we showed the glue we used to try and stop his leak. It worked, marvellous stuff!
Now go to the Blog Gallery and look at "The Spanish Sailors' Ionian Fortnight" for more great photos and snipets of our trip.