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July - Back to the Ionian where our dream began

We have spent the last month making our way back to the Ionian and this blog is the halfway mark on our 2013 journey. It is a significant moment as we are in Fiskardo, Cephalonia where our dream of buying and sailing a yacht to Greece was conceived.

We left Poros after 2 days socialising with Mike, Yacht Atlas who had followed Kouros and ourselves up from Ermioni, and headed for Epidavros, a small port on the mainland in the NW of the Saronic Gulf. Kouros had left before us and we were going to meet them there.

We went sterns-to and soon found it to be very noisy as they were preparing for an agriculture/local produce market and also music festival and were busy hammering and nailing setting up the stalls and rehearsing their dancing. So we only had a one night here and decided we would leave and return at the weekend when the festivals were under way and we would also anchor to be away from the noise.

So Kouros and Madison set sail for a tiny (and we mean tiny) fishing village called Little Vathi to escape the noise. It was only 10 miles south east of Epidavros on the Methana peninsula so a quick hop. It didn't even have a little shop, a bread van came every morning with fresh supplies. What a stunning little harbour, it had a tiny entrance and was nearly perfectly square with boats on 3 sides so we had to be ready to moor up before we actually entered the harbour and have our fenders and lines all in place. It was so lovely Diane and I wanted to stay for a couple of nights. So as a compromise to not moving on Derrick and Karl took Kouros for a sail in the bay while the girls stayed behind on Madison, drank G&T, chatted and played games. A perfect compromise! Mike on Yacht Atlas also arrived so we all went out for dinner together.

Our return to Epidavros entailed a lovely sail across and we dropped anchor in the bay. After a siesta and dinner onboard we all went ashore to explore the local products on show and tasted a few things on offer including Crepe Suzette - not very Greek but made with local produce. There was music on in a little ancient amphitheatre which is still used, just a few hundred metres from the town which we tried to see but unfortunately it wasticketed and had already started.

The next day it was time to head for Korfos, our last stop before heading through the Corinth and saying goodbye to Yacht Kouros. This was a lovely friendly town. There were hundreds of kids all jumping off the pontoon having a great time and making a fuss of Smudge. We practiced our Greek with them and they practiced their English with us. We enjoyed a lovely swim in the beautiful water and as always socialising with Kouros. We both stayed two nights, so again as a compromise, Karl and Derrick went sailing on Kouros and Diane and I had another girlie afternoon on Maddie with more G&T and Backgammon.

We finally said farewell to Yacht Kouros after a lovely 2 months cruising with them and headed west and they headed back up the Evia Channel. It is strange not seeing them most days and we miss them. Now we will have to make an effort to start mixing again with other yachties.

We got to the Corinth Canal around lunchtime and were expecting to wait a few hours to get through but thankfully we just made it in time to pay in the office for the transit of the canal before being told to go straight away. Last time we transited the canal we had it all to ourselves but this time there were 5 yachts but it was still not too busy and a lovely experience. Upon exiting the canal we had another few hours of sailing to a town called Kiato on the south coast of the Gulf of Corinth. Kiato is a bit sad and neglected so we only stayed for a night. Karl had a quick cycle to the local Lidl supermarket for a few more cheap supplies and we headed off for the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth which we were going to cruise along as last time we flew through, barely stopping. Our first stop on the north coast was Itea. We managed a bit of a sail there but as always the wind was on the nose however this was soon forgotten when a small pod of dolphins came and swam at our bow. Smudge wasn't too sure about this when we took her forward to see them but it could have been the motion that put her off rather than a dislike of dolphins.

Itea is the best port to stay in for a visit to the ancient archaeological site of Delphi. We settled in nicely in Itea and met a Swedish yachting couple, Marie and Pele with their little poodle, Milu. We had seen them in passing a few times in the Saronic. They came on board for a drink. We introduced Smudge and Milu but they were only going to tolerate each other and not be best of friends. We got up early the next morning ready to get the bus to Delphi only to discover dogs aren't allowed on the bus unless they're in a dog carrier. So turned around and went back to Maddie for a cuppa and ships meeting. Karl said he wasn't so bothered about Delphi so it was decided he would stay with Smudge and the next morning I set off again. It was worth it, Delphi is fantastic and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time exploring the site.

We noticed that Smudge developed a poorly paw while in Itea. We think this is due to the hot pavements, although we have only been letting her out in the shade or cool of the morning or evening. Her pads have still dried out and one had cracked and she walking on it quite gingerly. So we had to keep it bandaged up while she was walking and have spent 2 weeks doing this and also putting Vaseline on them 2-3 times a day. This seems to have done the trick and they are looking a lot better now.

We also met a Scottish family in Itea, The Berry Clan - Robin, Morven, Douglas (11), Roshan (9), Digby (7) and Nisha (5) - hail from Dunkeld and picked up their newly acquired yacht, Leesa Christina from Italy and have sailed it down to Greece and are having a lovely long summer on her. We only chatted for a bit in Itea but then met up with them a week or so later.

After 2 nights in Itea, we left for the beautiful port of Galaxidhi. This is only 4 miles from Itea so a very quick hop. A bonus of being here is we can get water and electricity for free. It is a stunning little village full of 18th and 19th century with a backdrop of parkland and a great place to wander around. We found a little taverna on the first night tucked away on a back street away from the hubbub of the waterfront and enjoyed a lovely meal there then the next day we treated ourselves to a pizza on the waterfront. We managed to get all our washing done here and also gave Maddie a good scrub down too.

We had 2 nights in Galaxidhi then headed for a tiny island called Trizonia (about 1.5miles). We had been here before and knew it was peaceful place to visit. It was another 2 night stop and we met Marie and Pele and Milu again and had drinks with them. We enjoyed a beer on the waterfront watching the families swimming and just chilling and relaxing (we do a lot of that).

We had a early departure the next day as we wanted to go to the medieval harbour of Navpaktos and this only has space for about 4 or 5 small yachts as it is a tiny circular harbour in the lovely historical town of Navpaktos. The early start paid off and we managed to get a space all to ourselves on a short length of quay. The approach to the medieval harbour is stunning and there is a castle perched high above town and the old town is still surrounded by the old city walls. As we got in so early and as the old town is full of tiny shaded streets we managed to have a rare excursion out with Smudge during the day as we didn't need to worry about her burning her paws. We normally wait until 7.00pm to do this.

That evening we met a British couple with their catamaran, Ted and Ginny and they came aboard for drinks and a chat and then we all went ashore for a small bite to eat. We made plans with Ginny to meet at 7.00am the next morning and take a walk up to the castle. Ted isn't a walker so it would just be Ginny joining us. The early climb was worth it, the views were fabulous. We returned from the walk grabbed some breakfast and as the wind was blowing strongly in our favour we decided to throw off the ropes and head under the Rion bridge for Missalonghi in the north of the Gulf of Corinth. We had a fabulous sail. The wind was blowing a F5/6 and we sailed nearly the whole journey under only our jib (only the last 3 miles were under motor as we navigated the channel up to Missalonghi) including under the Rion bridge. We hit 7.7kts at one point - which is very fast for Madison especially given we didn't have the mainsail up. We arrived in Missalonghi in good time. Missalonghi was our last port of call in the Gulf before we arrived in the Ionian for our second visit. One night in Missalonghi is enough, we find it a bit sad and neglected, although there are many sailors who winter here.

On 18th of July we arrived in Poros, Cephalonia - The Ionian. We are glad to be back in the Ionian as it is a lovely place to cruise about (like Scottish islands but with better weather). However it wasn't to be a quiet start to our arrival in the Ionian as a British yacht came in and managed to catch his propellor in our neighbouring boat's anchor chain and then proceeded to pick up our anchor chain behind his bulb keel and drag it under our neighbouring boat as he tried to motor backwards. It was a bit of a shambles and took about an hour to sort him out but things went peaceful again. Karl, along with a couple of guys off a French yacht, had got into the water to help the yacht that was causing all the chaos and they were very grateful when Karl dived down to take our chain off their keel. We then had to motor out and re-lay our anchor. All this drama was made better by the fact that there were no raised voices and everyone worked together to resolve it. Afterwards the skipper of the British yacht that had caught all the anchors delivered a dozen cold beers to us as a thanks, so that helped a lot!

We left Poros for the town of Sami the next day. This was made famous by the film Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Sami is another beautiful place. The Berry Clan, from Yacht Leesa Christina were here too so we spent the next couple of days socialising with them. The kids were regularly found on Madison as we played games and chatted. They are such lovely kids that it's a pleasure to have them over. Karl helped Robin with a few jobs on the his yacht over the next couple of days. We all went out for gyros, then Morven kindly gave us lunch too. On the 3rd day we both departed Sami for a beautiful anchorage on the island of Ithaca for a lunch stop and a swim and then headed to Vathi, the main town on Ithaca.

Vathi is one of our favourite places in the Ionian. The Berry Clan went on anchor here but we went sterns-to the quay as it's easier with Smudge. The kids came over for a wee while and then we were invited over for a chicken curry dinner and passed another pleasant evening in their company. However the wind had increased while we were there and bay was a bit choppy so it wasn't to be a late night as we had to dinghy back to Madison and try not to get too wet on the way. The Berry Clan departed the next day for the island of Meganisi but we decided to stay around Ithaca and Cephalonia a few more days but hope to catch up with them later. After a 2nd night in Vathi we headed north (a whole 6 miles) to a little fishing village called Kioni. Wow, another lovely place to stay. It is stunning. It gets really busy for a few hours in the afternoon with tripper boats but then it's just the yachts that stay overnight and things quieten down, although there are an amazing number of yachts that can squeeze into such a small place. We enjoyed a couple of early morning walks with Smudge around the village which is built on a hill so when you get up a bit high there are beautiful views of the bay and surrounding countryside. Karl also got a haircut from me and has lost his golden locks but it will be much easier and cooler for him.

After 3 nights in Kioni it was time to move again. This time to the village of Frikes, a whole 3 miles away. Frikes was pleasant enough but not nearly as lovely as it's close neighbour Kioni. We only spent a night here as we had plans to set off sharp to Fiskardo the next day. Our memory of Frikes will not be the best - this is where we had a cheap gyros dinner served by the most unfriendly staff and where poor Smudge was chased by an aggressive cat. She didn't know what was going on - it was certainly role reversal in the world of Cats and Dogs! We did however have a lovely walk at 7am to a disused windmill which had lovely views.

So here we are, 12 weeks into our trip and we have made it to Fiskardo. Fiskardo is very significant for us as this is where the dream to buy a yacht and go sailing in Greece was conceived, back in 2005. It was lovely coming into the harbour by boat rather than by bus. We treated ourselves to a meal in a lovely restaurant to mark the occasion. We're having a couple of nights in Fiskardo before heading back to Sami for a couple days. We will then head further north into the Ionian towards Lefkas, Paxos and Corfu.























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