Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ionian "Holiday"

One good way to get a wry laugh out of most cruisers is to inquire about or comment on their "holiday". You will most likely be informed that it is not a holiday, it is a way of life, for better or worse. So it is with considerable trepidation and with fingers crossed, wood knocked on, etc, that I say this time in the the Ionian Islands has approached "holiday" status. 

Sami quay, very international
And like a lot of "holidays" some of it has become rather a blur. I'll dig out the logbook….on recommendation of some English cruisers we went from Agios Andreas to Sami on Cephalonia rather than Euphimia, from there on to Kioni on Ithaki, Sivota on Cephalonia, then Nea Thilia off Meganisi, Spartochori, Ormos Abelike, and now back to Spartochori on Meganisi.
The harbor at Sami, Cephalonia
We did a bare boat charter here twenty-five years ago, our first bare boat charter actually. And we loved the Ionians. As we expected, some things have changed. There are about a gazillion more boats in the area than twenty-five years ago. The bay at Sivota we sailed out of in 1992 had one small "hotel" with a few rooms and one little taverna. Sunsail had a little wooden quay. Now its still a beautiful place but the shore is lined with tavernas and shops and I counted over a hundred boats at the quay.
The quay at Sivolta
Where we once pretty much had anywhere we wanted to ourselves we now were rather amazed to have a lovely anchorage in the channel between Meganisi and Nea Thilia without another boat in sight for the night. Most any Ionian anchorage mentioned in Rod Heikell's "Greek Waters Pilot", the bible for sailing Greek waters including the Ionian, is certainly occupied and often crowded. However, with a little research and  use of the Mark1A eyeball it is possible to find places not mentioned in Heikell. And there are cynics who feel that's exactly what he has in mind. You really wanna solitude, you find it yourself. 
Kioni, Ithaki
This afternoon we're back in Spartochori on Meganisi, one of the few places we've visited twice on this trip. Babis, the proprietor of Tavena Porto Spilia, is about as professional as they get and has a good taverna in a beautiful and unspoiled location with free electricity,  water, showers and good fast internet. Just eat a meal at his taverna and he's a friend for life. His docks are well maintained and the friendliness is genuine. As a result, Babis and Company seem to be doing very well. Good guys do win out in the long run. 
The view from Spartochori
We've been kind of alternating between anchoring out and being at some quay for the night. We haven't paid any dockage fees since Patras nor have we seen a port authority. Yesterday evening, for the first time this year, we had to move the boat because of a wind shift that put us in a nasty position too close to a rocky shoreline. A mile away in a tiny  cove we anchored again, stern tied to shore and had a quiet night with some other boats who had done the same. 
Passage making, Ionian style
Tonight we'll enjoy a good taverna meal. Janet has taken off for a hike up the hill to the village of Spartochori, which is a gem, and I'm slaving away over a hot laptop. Tomorrow we'll make a major move, ten miles at least, through the Levkas canal up to Levkas town and we may actually be in a marina for the night. Either the town quay or the marina will get a few Euros out of us and I'll have to do the right thing and check in with the port authorities for once. Next day we plan on a true passage, by Ionian standards, of thirty-five miles up to Paxoi Island. And the next day up to Corfu where, thanks to a tip from SV Rozinante, we have confirmed reservations at Mandraki Marina which should be very nice. Thank you Skip and Bobby. 

In the village, Kioni
So it will be goodbye to this kind of inland sea formed by  Levkas, Cephalonia, Ithaki and the other Ionian Islands. Any good vista will reveal a scene not unlike Puget Sound on a sunny summer day. There are boats underway where ever one looks and  a rugged,  much indented coastline with mountains all around. If the mountains aren't  quite so high,  the water is warmer. The sun can be a little oppressive at max heating, but you're not likely to encounter any foggy stuff. 

Janet above Spartochori
We've been quite lucky with no nasty noserly winds to fight and few charter boats have threatened our anchorages. I've had to break out the "anchor thief" only once to escape an anchor laid across our chain. Although we've done little sailing we have had great swimming in wonderfully clear waters. We've had warm days and cool nights and blue skies every day.  Although it is  much more traveled than it once was this is  still a wonderful area and just maybe its our favorite island group in Greece.

Love to all,
Bill & Janet

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is quite a statement that these might be your favorite group of islands. The photos are very special. Glad to hear you had a nice "Holiday".